70s Week: Terrific Women Make Mai-Tais

Rarely, if ever do we want to get personal on this blog. Jen and I prefer to keep it about the food and photography when we can but as we stumbled across an old photo set, stashed away in one of Jen’s well-loved Helen Reddy albums, we realized it was coming up on the 40th anniversary of when we met. It was May 5th, 1974 when our paths first crossed on set of the cable access show Terrific Women, starring local celebrities Linda Davis and Joy Johanson.

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It feels like it was just yesterday so to commemorate this major Crustcrumbs milestone, we’ve decided to make May 5th-9th, 70s Week! All week long we’ll be going through more of Jen’s vinyl collection to unearth the rest of our Terrific Women archives, sharing a few favourite recipes, stories, behind-the-scenes photos, and videos from those early days on set.

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As I remember it, I was just finishing my culinary training at George Brown and Jen had begun taking on more local gigs, joining the team as a unit stills photographer, after wrapping another successful season of The Beachcombers. Terrific Women was not a cooking show. Linda was always the first to admit she didn’t eat, but inevitably in their attempt to put together a show that would instruct women how to lead successful, independent lives, Joy’s enthusiasm for home economics and Linda’s overwhelming urges to have a good time, persuaded them to shoot multiple episodes on entertaining. In fact, their innovations on the subject were leaps and bounds ahead of their time, which is something you’ll see in the footage we’ve pulled together this week.

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It’s amazing with the sheer volume of lousy cocktails and excessive drinking that happened on set that we can still stomach the sight of another mixed drink—nowadays it’s probably better to just give us a cigarette and a glass of Mateus. Back then of course, it was all maraschino cherries and disco naps. A typical shoot always started out with a drink, nothing as complicated as the Mai-Tai they made in the episode below, usually just a couple fingers of Kahlúa in our morning coffee, a Brown Cow to deliver a healthy does of calcium, or a Bloody Mary to get some roughage into us.

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Every recipe that appeared on the Terrific Women show was concocted by Linda and Joy exclusively with a little thievery from local discos and their favourite Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks. Not surprisingly, it was Joy’s misadventure that led her to con this Mai-Tai recipe from a bartender when we were all out celebrating the end of another productive day, early into the Tuesday morning hours. Joy was somehow able to ruse the bartender into temporarily believing the baby bump she had been sporting for the last eight and a half months had something to do with him. He felt bad enough that he wrote this drink recipe across her stomach as a parting gift for the groovy evening they shared together.

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On the show it was sort of an inside joke to put a shot glass on the table for them to use because it was such a ridiculous idea that either of them would take the time to measure-out their booze. This is the actual recipe they made on the show with its measured proportions, though to stay in the spirit of the show, we’ll be making our drinks tonight by free-pouring the alcohol just like Linda and Joy used to do in 1974.


Makes 1 cocktail

Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 oz apricot brandy
1/2 oz blue curaçao
2 oz dark rum

To serve:

1 pineapple, hollowed-out and frozen
Sliced pineapple, to garnish
Sliced oranges, to garnish
Maraschino cherries, to garnish
Ice cubes

Combine the lime juice, apricot brandy, blue curaçao, and dark rum in the hollowed-out shell of a frozen pineapple and stir to combine. Add ice to fill the shell and garnish with skewers of pineapple, orange, and maraschino cherries.

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The White Rye Daiquiri

Spring in Toronto generally means stepping into our small outdoor spaces, sweeping away remnants of the previous summer’s container gardens, and scouring the blanket of grit accumulated over the last six months. Cold, damp April showers blending the old dirt with new growth and fresh topsoil is where we looked to for our inspiration in this spring cocktail shoot. Only problem is that our balconies aren’t really strewn with decaying flora right now. All we have are uncharacteristically organized stacks of empty planters and patio furniture.

Spring Cocktail

The rule of thumb for planting In Ontario is to wait until the May 2-4 weekend when we’re at last safe from overnight frosts and other plant-killing weather, so new buds aren’t exactly popping their heads up on our balconies just yet. Thankfully, Jen has a green thumb and has started many of her tomatoes, peppers and herbs from seed inside. A quick trip to Young Jong Fruit & Flower Market, along the popular strip of Avenue and Davenport florists, also helps to fill in the gaps for new and dried spring flowers. The added assistance of my cocktail-loving, and skilled set-designer friend Justine helped to put the finishing touches (and rain drops) on the scene.

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I wanted to make something refreshing and clear to mimic the spring rain pouring down on us and I really wanted to come up with something using white whisky because it’s a clear spirit that’s enjoyed in its infancy. We may be waiting a month or so before we see spring mature into summer but at least we don’t have to wait years for it to happen like whisky-makers do for their product. White whisky, also known as white dog and perhaps even more unflatteringly, moonshine, doesn’t contain any of the aged-characteristics that whisky-drinkers love. It doesn’t actually taste much like whisky, and depending on the brand, it could more closely resemble the flavour profile of tequila.

Spring Cocktail

Where I would normally never want a lime near my whisky, the rules change for its un-aged counterpart. Though I hate to do it when we’re suffering through a lime crisis, I think this spirit needs the sourness of lime. An old-fashioned daiquiri, subbing out the white rum for white whisky makes great use of a spirit better known for being distilled into bathtubs in the backwoods of Tennessee. This cocktail tastes of spring and would do well with the addition of some herbal flourishes like thyme, lemon verbena, lavender, or mint. The herbal notes will have to wait for summer though, giving time for the plants to grow sturdy and robust before I cut them down for happy hour.

Spring Cocktail

The White Rye Daiquiri

makes 1 cocktail

3/4 oz lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 oz simple syrup
1/4 oz Cointreau
3 oz white rye whisky
1 small egg white (optional)

In a cocktail shaker combine the lime juice, simple syrup, Cointreau, white whisky, and egg white. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds to ensure the egg white is fully incorporated, then fill the shaker with ice and shake again for 20 seconds or until the outside of the shaker feels very cold. Strain and serve in a chilled cocktail glass with additional ice.

Spring Cocktail

The Cookbook Store

The Cookbook Store
On Sunday, March 23rd I attended an afternoon potluck open to a community of people that I’ve come to know over the last 6 years at my job working at The Cookbook Store. Jen graciously came along, “in the name of Crustcrumbs”, to document the last occasion we’d get to meet at 850 Yonge and talk about cookbooks. Working at The Cookbook Store has been one of the few jobs I’ve felt at home in. When I started I never imagined I’d stay on as long as I did, but I also had no idea what kind of people I would get to meet.

The Cookbook Store

Alison Fryer and Jennifer Grange

The store was a well-known hub for visiting authors and chefs. A strip of corkboard running behind the cash area that faced Yorkville Avenue was filled with sun-bleached and pin-holed photos of author visits going back to the store’s first years. I got a kick out of seeing the pictures of James BarberKen Kostick and Mary Jo Eustace because their shows were the ones I grew up on, for better or worse, and I liked how they were at one time part of The Cookbook Store’s community.

The Cookbook Store

Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver with Alison

The Cookbook Store

Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake on a pedestal, as it should be. Maybe one of the most talked about cakes I’ve ever known.

I got to meet people that truly made up Toronto’s culinary scene through the 80s, 90s and 00s, beyond the celebrities whose photos were on that corkboard. These were the people that made the job interesting. I didn’t know Toronto had a butler school and that the man in charge, Charles MacPherson, aka Charles the Butler, was a regular of the store from its early days. I also found it fascinating that Charles and Ted Reader, Canada’s barbecue king, used to work together as caterers. Ted Reader became a regular at the store when he was a George Brown culinary student, like so many Torontonians, including myself have been. Ted Reader also cooked for one of the store’s first pop-up dinners, balancing hot plates and serving dishes behind the cash desk.

The Cookbook Store

Alison Fryer with Josh Josephson, owner of The Cookbook Store.

The last of the store’s pop-up dinners I’m proud to say I got to be part of because it gave me a chance to collaborate with several creative and talented people, including chef Matt Kantor and food stylist Janice Poon. Janice Poon, another long-time friend of the store, having owned a boutique down the street in the 80s as well as working with Dinah Koo, who still has Dinah’s Cupboard on Cumberland street not far from The Cookbook Store, called to tell Alison Fryer (manager of The Cookbook Store for 31 years) about the success of her new blog Feeding Hannibal, which detailed her experiences food styling for NBC’s Hannibal. Out of that one phone call, the Hannibal pop-up dinner was born. Alison gave me the chance to make the cocktail for that dinner and I’d say it went over fairly well because when season two started to shoot, Janice asked me if I’d like to work on the show with her.

The Cookbook Store
If you were to make a flow chart of all the people that have connected through that store over the last 31 years, you’d see the kind of incestuous city Toronto really is. Having an open door to the food and publishing industries for that long has created an invaluable network of people that I’m extremely grateful to know. That’s why when Alison called to tell me they’d decided to close the store, my first thought was that I’d miss meeting all the different people that shared the store as a community centre for food and publishing professionals, far more effective than the most connected LinkedIn profile.

The Cookbook Store

Former Cookbook Store staff member, Kevin Jeung http://bit.ly/1eb5G4o.

Now that they’ve been closed for just over a month, I realize how much I miss being surrounded by cookbooks. There were so many books, too many that I didn’t yet buy. Backlist titles such as Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking and Julia Child’s The Way to Cook were staples of the French section and I enjoyed reading through them during my shifts but I never ended up buying them. Like a lot of people I took advantage of the idea that the store would always be there. I will miss the British section the most with all its special import titles that were unavailable in most other stores. The British books always had better covers than their North American editions and contained the original measurements that use weight rather than volume. You need a scale to cook from them and as a store employee I was all too eager to tell you to go buy a digital kitchen scale, just as I am here on this blog.

The Cookbook Store

For the potluck we all brought a dish that we felt represented The Cookbook Store. Wearing something red, the store’s official colour was also an option.

Jennifer Grange, who had been working at the store since three months after they opened in April 1983, has a fondness for the Brits. I believe it was Jennifer who got to know Nigella Lawson’s writing first while reading her column in British Vogue. That’s when they decided to start importing Nigella’s first book, before Canadian publishers knew who she was. Jennifer and I share many of the same tastes in cookbooks and food. I’m sad now that I can’t go into that store to find Jennifer behind the cash, ready to pile books in front of me to tell me which ones to buy. That’s how I got to own many of the cookbooks in my collection, including Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

The Cookbook Store

It’s true, Jennifer and Alison put Ottolenghi in front of a lot of people and it was met with considerable enthusiasm. When I was working at the store I was happy to bombard customers with Jennifer, telling them what recipes we’d made from the book and why they needed to buy it, despite the lousy conversion rate from British pounds to the Canadian dollar. The first Ottolenghi and Tamimi book—not to be confused as their third, as it was just re-released in North America with a different cover after the success of Plenty and Jerusalem—represents some of my best memories working at the store. Later when Yotam and Sami were promoting their book Jerusalem, they came to the store for an event and I used my iPhone video skills to shoot this interview and then I got them to sign my book.

The Cookbook Store

Jennifer Wlodarczyk, the store’s first and only vegan staff member, greatly improved the vegan section in the store.

The Cookbook Store

Our Crustcrumbs offering next to Jennifer Wlodarczyk’s vegan pierogi with real sour cream because Jennifer knows how to win over non-vegans.

Saying goodbye to the store but not the people, Alison decided to throw a potluck to celebrate, a bit like a wake at a funeral, a couple weeks following their last day in business. I had been in the store helping to remove the bookshelves and demolish the cash counter. I also helped to empty the dreaded upstairs storage and prop room—a room packed to the ceiling with props (some of which will be making their way onto Crustcrumbs) from the past 30 years of window displays. It wasn’t a shock to see the store hollowed out like it was on the day of the potluck but it’s a sad thing to see now whenever I pass by the intersection at Yonge and Yorkville.

The Cookbook Store

Shamelessly self-promoting Crustcrumbs, here is Ottolenghi’s “Crushed New Potatoes with Horseradish and Sorrel”.

To single out just one recipe to make for the potluck, after having so many discussions about food and cooking in that store was impossible. I decided to make something from Ottolenghi knowing that anything from that book would be a crowd pleaser. “Crushed New Potatoes with Horseradish and Sorrel” is what I went with and yes, it’s essentially potato salad but it’s one of those classic Ottolenghi and Tamimi recipes that takes familiar vegetables and ingredients like potatoes, horseradish, and yogurt, and combines them in a way that seems entirely exotic. Besides, potato salad is the quintessential potluck food, comforting and food safe enough to sit out for a few hours.

The Cookbook Store

Cheese! If these walls could talk, they’d say we ate a lot of cheese over the last 31 years.

The Cookbook Store

It was good to see everyone from former staff, to customers and authors all congregated for one last time in that space, sharing recipes and reminiscing over experiences tied together by cookbooks. I don’t know that another place like The Cookbook Store could exist. The boom of independent bookstores we saw in the 80s isn’t likely to happen again in this city. That said, Alison continues to plan special events, without the bricks and mortar store, such as lunch with Ruth Reichl at The Chef’s House, which offers a chance for writers, chefs, and readers to connect over a meal with one of their culinary heroes. And that sense of community that The Cookbook Store helped build will prosper through new channels that encourage people to cook and love food. I already see it in blogs like Joel and Dana’s WellPreserved, the work Mardi Michels does cooking with Les Petit Chefs, and Joshna Maharaj’s work with Sick Kids and Ryerson University. It all comes back to getting people together to get them cooking, which is something I first learned to do at The Cookbook Store.

The Cookbook Store

Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I know you’re not going to make sticky toffee pudding in a wood box while standing around in three feet of snow. We didn’t – well we did but we finished the dessert in the oven – and even if we had taken it all the way, it would still only be for the sake of taking pictures of it baking in a wooden wine crate. Maybe it was a result of a little cabin fever, stubbornness, and a few craft porters tipping the 10% ABV point, leaving me with little fear of the cold and non-stop snow we’d been seeing all day. Determination meant we were going to get the most wintery photo-set out of this weekend, frostbite be damned.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

The real reason for the wooden oven experiment was to show that sticky toffee pudding is pretty hard to mess up. It’s a dark, damp cake made with dates and treacly brown sugar, and because of this it can stand up to a lot of undeserved punishment. So on top of the unconventional make-shift oven, we went with a gluten free version of sticky toffee pudding. The nubbly almond meal and dousing of bourbon really make this cake dense – a bit brick-like in the stomach, which would only be a welcome thing on such a bleak winter’s day.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This is one of those recipes that really benefits from those big impossibly plump and soft organic Medjool dates that are somehow fresher than the non-organic varieties. The bourbon is optional, though appropriate with all the butter and brown sugar happening in this cake. If you wanted to leave the bourbon out entirely, you could replace it with water.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

As for serving this cake, you have to make the sauce to accompany it. It’s rich and comforting and this pudding needs that kind of familiarity as the cake itself, though related to a sticky toffee pudding, is nothing close to what would satisfy a sticky toffee pudding purist. Though as we have taken an unconventional route thus far, you might as well add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to serve along with it, letting the melting custard meld with the hot sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Hopefully soon, wintery scenes like this will be a distant memory and when we’re no longer trapped by snow and ice, we can repress those memories and replace them with this pudding. Now that it’s finally spring, it’s time to finally shift the focus onto brighter, more verdant adventures.


Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

For the Pudding
250g organic Medjool dates, pitted
50g Demerara sugar
125ml water
75ml bourbon
100g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
200g ground almonds
20g coconut flour
3 large eggs

For the Sauce
65g Demerara sugar
65g unsalted butter
125ml whipping cream (35% M.F.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Alternatively you could butter 6 ramekins or any other dish that’s large enough to take the batter.

In a small saucepan, combine the dates, sugar, water, and bourbon and heat over medium-high until the liquid begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes to let the dates soften. Pour the dates and their liquid into a food processor and add the butter, ground ginger, and ground almonds. Purée everything until fairly smooth – a few bits of date are fine in the final pudding. Add the coconut flour and eggs and blend again until fully incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a tester comes out relatively clean.

For the sauce, bring the sugar, cream and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until it reaches the consistency of thin custard.

To serve, place a piece of the warm pudding in a bowl or dessert plate with high sides and drench in the sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Hickory Smoked Venison Shoulder

I think we’re all sick of that cozy feeling we seek in wintertime. Putting on layers of constraining itchy clothes, lacing up bulky boots for a journey of only a few minutes, and wrapping a scarf around my head, up to my eyes, leaving bits scarf fluff caught in my throat, I think like everyone else, I’m over it. I want to be able to tell a story of drinking breezy cocktails in Miami or finding food along the boardwalk on Venice beach.

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I’m not going to do that though because it’s too easy. Character doesn’t come cheap and we are, if anything, paying dearly for our witty, sarcastic and bitter character. We’re still talking winter because it’s unfortunately still here. Just wait until spring actually pops up in Toronto, and then, I’m afraid to say it should I jinx it, summer along behind it. We will drop the bitterness and pick up a distinctly west-coast positivity that can only exist when the weather isn’t holding us hostage under a blanket.

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This meal was created for our ice fishing weekend. Inspired by the woodland environment, I wanted venison and I wanted it to be heavy, wrapped in an extra layer of fat (just like all Canadians in winter), and infused with hickory smoke. I like making roasts that take up a lot of time. Spending a bit of prep to get it in the heat, then forgetting about it until it’s time to eat. Venison doesn’t generally need much time in the heat though, which is why I went with a shoulder roast. For all its leanness, it still has some connective tissues that benefit from slow cooking to break them down.

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If you wanted to do this in an oven and don’t want to have a smoke out in your kitchen, you could certainly bard the roast with double smoked bacon, which would keep the roast moist while also providing a good dose of smoke flavour. I used hickory chips on the barbecue so using bacon wasn’t really necessary and even while maintaining a relatively low temperature on the barbecue, it’s still a harsher heat than the oven so barding in a heavier layer of pork fat is preferred.

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There are a lot of robust flavours venison can pair with. I like juniper, garlic, pepper, wine, bay, oregano, lemon, thyme and onion to not only flavour the meat but any sides to be served with it. Sweetness and acidity are also welcome additions to game meat, hence the pomegranate molasses in the marinade, which also caramelizes on the roast as it cooks.

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We kept the sides simple for this dinner because we’d spent the entire day outside in the snow and could barely manage to lift a pot by the end. A wild rice salad, featuring a vinaigrette of lemon, fresh oregano, parsley and olive oil, with some shallot and pomegranate molasses mixed through is a nutty and herbaceous compliment to the venison. Roasted celeriac purée, simply flavoured with heavy cream and fresh thyme is extremely satisfying and dare I say, cozy, along side.

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Hickory Smoked Venison Shoulder

Serves 4-6

1.13 kg boneless venison shoulder, tied
pork fat for barding
1 bag hickory wood chips, soaked
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

For the marinade:

1 tablespoon whole juniper
1 tablespoon whole allspice
5 whole cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
300ml red wine
100ml sweet sherry or port
100ml olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Combine the juniper, allspice, cloves, peppercorns, and garlic in a mortar and pestle and crush until the spices are coarsely ground. To a large heavy freezer bag or a vessel big enough to hold all the marinade ingredients plus the venison, add the spices and the rest of the marinade ingredients. Mix to dissolve the sugar then plunk in the venison. Leave to marinate overnight or up to 2 days.

When ready to barbecue, remove the venison from the marinade, season with the salt and tie the pork fat around it. Place the venison in a barbecue safe pan and decant the marinade into a separate foil pan. In another foil pan add the soaked wood chips and cover with aluminum foil, piercing the top, which will allow the smoke to escape later.

With the lid down, preheat the barbecue to 275°F, placing the pan with the wood chips over direct heat. When the chips begin to smoke, place the pan with the venison over indirect heat and the pan with the reserved marinade somewhere in between direct and indirect heat. Leave the venison to cook for approximately 2 hours, opening the lid to check as little as possible to help keep the smoke from escaping.

When ready, let the meat rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then remove what’s left of the barding fat before serving.