Tricks and Trends for the Upcoming Holiday Season: Julie Van Rosendaal and Pierre Lemielle, Keoma Franceschi, Michael and Anna Olsen, Elizabeth Baird and Emily Richards
You deserve it. Pamper yourself. Take some time away from home to get with the program! The trends for the holiday season are offered up on a silver platter at Christmas in November at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. You will be the hostess with the mostess without any doubt, upon returning home.
And while there, what about a spa treatment? The schedule is busy, but if you drive up, you will have time the first day. I got a pedicure before dinner one day. It is just what the doctor ordered: beautiful feet that no one could see. My own little secret fetish and the only out of pocket money spent the entire time.
Michael and Anna Olsen
Celebrity Chefs, Michael and Anna Olsen are excellent, informative presenters. I would not miss their class. It is simply too much fun and there is always something I learn that is practical in their class. Michael emanates personality and is a natural comedian, though don’t think for a minute that this couple depends upon off the cuff moments to interject a laugh here and there. This is a well planned, carefully written 75 minutes of entertainment with new humor each year… and the jokes are truly fresh in all manners of speaking! Well worth the time spent.
You want an example? SOFA season is almost upon us… “Sweater Over Fat Ass”. Of course, Anna made it hilarious.
Tricks and Tips from the Olsen’s
- Stuffing a pork roast? Do not bother to roll out the meat, stuff it and tie it up; simply use a centre cut loin of know-your-farmer grass fed pork from your local butcher and slice through the middle of it, leaving the edges in tact to create a slit. Turn the loin on its end, open this slit with your hands into a “hole”and fill the hole with the stuffing
- Making a cheesecake? Anna’s recipe uses four 8 ounce packages of cream cheese and will easily feed 16. It takes 4 hours from start to finish. She doesn’t fool around with her cheese cake. Leave a comment below and I will send you her recipe.
- Copious amounts of sour cream add to a satiny texture
- It needs to be a full fat sour cream as there are less sugars in it; lemon will tighten it as will heat
- Take a look at the bottom of your Spring Form Pan. There is a lip on the bottom of the disc. It is turned up when you get the pan and when used that way, almost impossible to slide any cake off of. Turn it over. The sides will still lock into the bottom properly and the cake will then slip off of the bottom disc with ease.
- For an Egg Nog Cheesecake: add 1 tablespoon of rum and a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- Of course, cracking on the top is always an issue. Anna’s tips to avoid this:
- use the paddle, not the wisk, to avoid cracking: on high for the cheese
- do not incorporate air with the eggs when mixing them into the cheese as they will expand in the hot oven, then contract when cool, cracking the surface of your cheesecake
- Most critical tip:
- pre-heat your oven to 400F as the centre of the cheesecake must cook, but the outside must not over-cook
- place cake in the oven at 400F for 10 minutes, then adjust heat to 225F for 25 minutes; turn off the oven and crack the door of it open with the handle of a wooden spoon and let the cheesecake remain cooking for another hour.
- Cool completely to room temperature before refrigerating, or the crust may crack
- Loosen the sides around the spring form pan with a palatte knife before refrigeration to avoid cracking top
- Saving grace:
- New York Cheesecake always has sour cream on top, so if your cake cracks, that will cover it
- How to slice a cheesecake? Use hot tap water on your knife, wipe with paper towel and melt as you slice for the cleanest slice; repeat for each slice
Serving 32 with the large 16 serving cheesecake? Slice cake for 16; place small bowl on top, as per photo below, and slice circle around rim of bowl: there will be 16 small wedges and 16 outer pieces
- Copious amounts of sour cream add to a satiny texture
- Baking an apple pie? Both Michael and Anna have judged many a baking and cooking contests. Think texture and flavour. Advice on making a prize winning apple pie recipe:
- Use at least three different kinds of apples: use a firm tart hold its shape apple for the body like a Granny Smith; use a Spartan, Gala, or even Delicious to round out the flavour-texture combination and then the Macintosh apple can be added to fill in between the apple slices as it will turn to mush when baked for the quintessential “appley” taste.
Keoma Franceschi with Teresa Spinelli
This is the first year that Christmas in November offered sessions from Sponsors. The Italian Centre Shops in Edmonton are where I buy all of my groceries after going to the Farmer’s Markets. Teresa, the owner, is a local food icon and one of my personal heroes. She brought Keoma Franceschi from Italy October 2012 and he is the master chef of Massimo’s Cucina Italiana.
I was privileged to have a fantastic meal there this summer just before my dad got ill. That is why I didn’t write about it. But, this session was a highlight for me. Keoma is not a Celebrity Chef (yet) which is what I have always appreciated about Christmas in November. There are the well-known icons and there are other presenters excellent at what they do. This time, with Sponsorships, there is the possibility for the promotion of goods to overshadow the experience, but that was not the case. Who doesn’t like Italian food? This sponsorship enhanced my experience and presented by this young, “hot” (the younger crowd was flustered just watching him) chef, the experience resonated with me. He taught us how to prepare simple food as his grandmother taught him.
Pasta from scratch, then formed it into tortelloni and the best polenta I have eaten in my entire life. I will be stalking Keoma until I succeed at making his polenta. I have the recipe, and soon you will find my efforts published. Polenta I have eaten is dense. His was unexpectedly light and lush.
Every bite was sensational. His knowledge was intimate and evident and his manner was light and full of humor. Keoma will make handmade pasta for any reservation at the restaurant as long as you call in advance and request it. An invitation will be extended to him to teach everyone how to make his Polenta at Eat Alberta 2014. Make sure you are signed up!
Teresa was there, initially to translate, but it was apparent that his English was solid. However, as one of the major sponsors, as in all of the sponsored sessions, the sponsor attends and I learn so much from Teresa every time we speak. This time, two keen points of interest:
- The Italian Centre Shop is carrying what has been deemed the best olive oil in the world selling for about 40 dollars a bottle and I cannot wait to taste mine
- To import cheese from Italy, Teresa needs to buy from those that own the quotas. These are not people in the food industry, and once those people die, their cheese quota dies with them. It is complicated. It is tragic. It was designed to encourage buying local. Of course, that makes sense. Yet, there must be the opportunity for specialty and import stores to bring in cheese from abroad without such a convoluted system in place. I will be interviewing her about this in the new year as I want to learn more.
Tricks and Tips from Keoma and Teresa
You know how when you go on a holiday and have a lot of photos of something and very few of another, it usually means you were having such a good time that you didn’t take any photos. At least that is how it is for me. And this is how it was for the note taking this session. It was the end of the day. I was exhausted, and I didn’t write down the tips and tricks, though there were many, as this couple is from my home town. Ah! Apologies. Again, sign up for Eat Alberta to learn how to make this yourself. (I am counting on him to say yes.)
Julie Van Rosendaal and Pierre Lemielle
Looking for a pair of sore cheeks? And I don’t mean from sitting down for too long. This is the session for giggles. Oh, my! I have never laughed so hard for such a long while. The Christmas in November Gala was the evening before the last session. I attended Julie and Pierre the last morning. Whispers. No loud voices please. Dark glasses. Shades pulled. It was one heck of a party the night before. Come 9 am, glasses were pulled off, eyes lit up, and Julie perked right up. It was probably one heck of an effort, but she can pull anything off. I am her number one fan.
Did you know that ever since she was 7 years old she knew she was going to be a cookbook author? She is living her dream, embraces those around her making each of us better at what we do through knowing her. She is the most open and generous food writer that I know. And funny? That I did not know, but I certainly do now. She says that her husband says they never get the “good stuff” twice at her house. As soon as she gets it right, she goes on to the next thing. Pierre is one of her friends that is a chef, a food blogger and a talented artist. As Julie is the Queen of initiating innovative cookbook projects, she has begun to co-author some of her books with friends. Alice Eats is the book she and Pierre worked on together. He drew. She photographed. Both cooked… I think. And both wrote. The images are captivating and whimsical. Pierre could easily sell wall paper for a child’s room from the designs in the book. I would actually like to buy furniture like the ones he drew, too.
Pierre was whisking up the lemon curd, looked up and very seriously, ” This is a high whisk wesipie.”
He shared his “best ever” homemade mayonnaise recipe:
Pierre’s Homemade Mayo for Alice
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard (you can add more for flavour)
- 1 tablespoon lemon or vinegar
- I cup oil (not olive oil: canola or a flavourless oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Place yolk and mustard in a bowl; whisk
- Add oil in a slow drizzle, whisking continuously: oil, whisk-whisk-whisk, oil, whisk-whisk-whisk, oil…
- When mixture begins to thicken, add the acid: lemon or vinegar
- Keep whisking for a strong emulsion (soon after adding the acid); then add oil in a continuous stream whisking constantly until one cup oil is added
- Add salt; leave on counter for an hour before refrigerating (to stabilize the pH) and the mayo will then last about a week and a half instead of a few days
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge makes amazing hang over pastries. After a couple of bites of the one below, like Alice in Wonderland grewwwww, Julie perked up like a master puppeteer was working her limbs and head with strings. Head up. Left. Right. Great big smile. Pause. Big shake all over… bbbbrrrrr – and on with the show!
Someone in the audience had corrected Julie’s pronunciation of “scone”. She says it as we all do on the Canadian prairies… sc- long o- ne. The gal said that the proper way to say the work is “scon” , rhyming with “gone”. How do you say it? Everyone I know says scone: long o. In any case, there was more than a few titters as Julie fumbled about with that.
Tricks and Tips from Julie and Pierre
- The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge makes amazing hang over pastries
- Don’t use egg white in homemade mayo
- Learn the correct pronunciation of what you are cooking before your presentation (or just say it how mommy taught you)
- Cold Oil French Fries are Julie’s new favourite thing; seriously, the best fries, Julie says, are made by plopping the potatoes in cold oil
- Butter stabilizes cream cheese so it won’t break when making a cream cheese icing
- You can use black currant juice to make curd as effectively as lemon curd
- Pose in a ridiculous position when someone is taking a photo of you and they may stop (not if it’s me)
Grandma Maude would have loved Julie’s Treacle Cake. It was too bitter for me and mom. It is dense and a very small square is extremely filling. I so enjoyed the taste as it brought back memories of licking spoons in Grandma’s kitchen as a tiny tot… tippy-toed on the little chrome stool with the black rubber ribbed lining on top.
Elizabeth Baird and Emily Richards
What a thrill to sit in front of two of my Canadian Living icons. Especially in front of Elizabeth Baird for the first time and just a day after she attended the 2013 Taste Canada food writing awards where she and Rose Murray won in the category of general cookbooks for their co-authored Canadian classic: Canada’s Favourite Recipes, published by Whitecap Books. The awards recognize excellence in Canadian culinary publishing.
This has been quite a year for Canadian food and Elizabeth as she was awarded the Order of Canada on June 28, 2013, specifically for her “contributions to the promotion of Canada’s diverse food heritage, as an author and former food editor.” Established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Canada is the centrepiece of the Canadian Honours System, and recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. The Order recognizes people in all sectors of Canadian society. Their contributions are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country. Elizabeth Baird is Canada’s Julia Child, but different. She has consistently worked to understand and promote Canadian food and as I share her passion, I have been completely enamoured by her life’s work. Particularly the last five years of my life.
And that isn’t all. The same night that Elizabeth accepted the food writing award from Taste Canada, she was inducted into the Taste Canada Hall of Fame: ELIZABETH BAIRD: Elizabeth Baird’s distinguished career in food began with an invitation from publisher James Lorimer to write a book about Canadian cooking. Classic Canadian Cooking, published in 1974, was her entrée into food writing. She went on to work at various newspapers, but it was her work as food editor of Canadian Living Magazine – for 20 years – that truly made her a household name. Along with magazines, there were other opportunities in radio and television – especially Canadian Living Cooks on the Food Network. And then there were cookbooks, over 30 of them in all, most notably The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook. Elizabeth is the recipient of numerous awards and honours including the Founder’s Award from Cuisine Canada, a National Magazine Award, a Silver Ladle from the Toronto Culinary Guild, and she was also named the Women’s Culinary Network’s Woman of the Year. Most recently, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
Now, you probably understand my reverie. Yet, I will add that Emily Richards is also a hero to me. I wrote about her after attending the Canadian Food Bloggers conference in March. Hearing her speak about her cookbook publishing ventures had me add her to my list of Valiant Women. These two clearly love and respect one another. It was crystal clear throughout the symbiotic rhythm of their presentation and heartwarming to witness.
What do we call whipping cream with no fat in it, Emily? “Wishful Thinking”
I didn’t expect Elizabeth to have such wit. Yet, as Robert Sternberg once said, “humour is restructured intelligence”, so I should not have been so surprised. Her naughty little moments were just risqué enough to add that bit of unexpected zest and intrigue not unlike the recipes shared. Elizabeth called it “grivoise” as the French would say” and twinkled. There was really nothing novel about the recipes presented: a cheese dip, a mushroom paté, seasoned shrimp and dates stuffed with cheese wrapped with pork, yet I was actually startled by the tastes as that little extra je ne sais quoi…. that “somethin’ somethin’’ was added to the mix. I didn’t see it, but I tasted it. Tested ‘til perfect and working with a recipe matters in the Canadian Living Test Kitchen and these two gals know flavour. Lip smackin’ yummy.
Tricks and Tips from Elizabeth and Emily
- The Canadian Living Christmas Cookbook 1993“The best tortierre recipe ever is in that cookbook.” ELizabeth Baird.
- Buy Canada’s Favourite Recipes; it is the Taste Canada award winner that Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird co-authored.
- Don’t want a LOT of skin on the citrus of a lemon; look for lemons with little tits. If you get big tits there will be thicker skin.
- Always buy an extra lemon in case you get a dry one
- Dark green limes are the freshest
- Mushrooms and onions must be caramelized until all liquid comes out and the brown in the pan as the texture improves and flavor becomes more intense
- Sherry will lift the flavor in the mushroom pate recipe.
- When measuring flour, spoon the flour into the cup, and level it off, or measure its weight with a scale
- A little kitchen aide coffee grinder is great for crushing seeds; then sift them
- Toast seeds and nuts before using them in recipes to bring out their flavours
- Buy fresh ginger that is plump and juicy, not withered and gnarly; then freeze the remainder and grate as needed.
- People who pay money for aroma therapy are missing out; just head to the kitchen and zest some lemon or lime
- Bottled lemon or lime juice works really well to clean the sink, but is not good when used in food: use freshly squeezed at all times
Chef Corbin Tomaszeski and Mixologist Micah Dew were two presenters I didn’t see, but heard nothing but rave reviews about both, so hope they are back doing what they do best, with Lynn Crawford at Christmas in November 2014!
5 Reasons to attend Christmas in November 2013
This is the last article in this series.
Part 1: eXtra Value
Part 2: Much food, friendship and frivolity
Part 3: Atmosphere and Ambiance
Part 4: Service second to none
Part 5: You deserve it
Full Disclosure: Mom and I paid for our Christmas in November Package as explained above; however, I was upgraded to the Silver Anniversary Package in exchange for writing a couple of articles about the event. I just cannot do a couple of articles. There is simply too much to share. But, I didn’t pay for the Silver Anniversary Package and certainly enjoyed it in exchange for my writing, here, and more to come. (Above is Julie’s squirrel just before it dove into the chocolate fountain!)