Giordano Barbera D’asti (2007)


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Giordano Barbera d'astiI had a number of options in choosing what to pair with my osso buco. I did think local … really, I did. But in the end, I went to the terroir of the dish, I went to Northern Italy, and I selected from my cellar a wine that’s been sitting there for about 5 years, waiting. Now you might conclude from this that this must be an extraordinary wine, beyond your reach … why else did he keep it for that long? The truth is it is an affordable wine and easy to locate. And the fact is that I started cellaring it to see if it improved with a bit more age … and then I kinda forgot it was there … and half way through  the cellaring I thought, well, you’ve kept it this long, you might as well save it for something special now. Enter my osso buco ….

A first taste is bright cherries and an under-ripe Italian prune-plum. With a buttery finish, it has a nice syrupy clinginess to it that belies the fact that is a $14 bottle of wine. Richly flavoured, this will stand up to strongly flavoured and acidic foods like the meaty rich tomato sauces of Northern Italy … but it’s an excellent and very affordable pairing with pizza as well.

As you can see, it pours a rich dark dark almost blackberry or black cherry … in other words, it looks like it tastes. Arguably, my experience is a bit different than many since it’s been in my cellar for so long, but 15 minutes in, the alcohol was less commanding and the wine just settled in for a beautiful petting of my palette. Still with excellent tanins, that’s why it stands up well to these foods. While the wine is what I’d say is medium-bodied and quite dry it also has a flavour that tastes sweet … the flavour, not the wine itself, if you get my distinction. The aftertaste with that inherent smooth creaminess reminds me of a cherry ripple ice cream at the end … and I just want another, and another, and another scoop.

Excellent excellent value. Buy it now, save a bottle or two if you’re inclined … or drink it now. However, if you do, I’d suggest an hour Giordano Barbera d'asti (back)or two of decanting, depending on what you’re serving with it. But be to be clear, this is a wine to be paired with food … like most Italian wines.


  • Price: $13.95
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Sweetness: Very dry
  • Where to buy: LCBO
  • Food Pairing: Osso Buco

Rating: 88/100

Osso Buco


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Osso buco PlatedThere are few dishes in the world that I love as much as osso buco which, purely translated, is “hole in the bone.” I love it for the marriage of all its flavours into a comforting, richness. I love the philosophy of this dish. It is “slow food” done to perfection.

While this classic Italian dish has as many variations as there are Italian families, the most traditional version calls for the use of the veal shank. If you’re hung up on or ethically opposed to using veal, a similar cut from another protein source is not uncommon. Ultimately it is the ‘hole in the bone’ that makes this dish spectacular … along with the fact this dish exemplifies all that is superlative about Italian cuisine.

As I’ve said before, what I admire and love so much about Italian cuisine is its emphasis on using great ingredients together to tell often a simple but mind-blowing story.

The story of osso buco, as I say, is the story of that hole in the bone. With Easter or any great holiday feast, the foods we eat are almost always slow-cooked “on the bone”: turkey, goose, ham, prime rib. It’s the story of how those bones, and the contents of those bones, infuse the dish with so much flavour. It’s why the veal shank is cut the way it is, to have a big piece of bone and the marrow well exposed for the whole cooking process. It’s why the marrow melts in the braising … it’s why osso buco is to die for ….

The lesson: pick your veal shanks carefully. It’s not just a bone. It’s flavour … it’s the dish.

If you’ve heard tell or tasted osso buco before, you know it is famed for being a tender tender mouth melting piece of meat. However, don’t read from this that a shank is tender. It’s not. It’s anything but tender. It’s the braising that makes it tender. As with many braising methods then, it’s what you put in the braise that becomes important … and in most cases, it’s some version of a mirepoix, the holy trinity of ingredients found in most sauces, stews, and soups: celery, onion, carrot. Sometimes bell pepper is added or substituted, but you get the idea. However, I’m not personally big on celery and so given this is an Italian dish, I chose to substitute fennel instead … which I think is superior both in terms of flavour and because it doesn’t get ‘mushy’ during long cooking processes.

My other change in this dish was with the classic gremolata, the Milanese condiment of fresh herbs which brings some zest and pungency (in this case, from the parsley) to the richness of the dish … it brings balance. In my experience, however, the gremolata sometimes fails because of the traditional inclusion of minced, fresh garlic. That’s why I chose to take advantage of the oven and roasting time to roast the garlic as well … a process which mellowed the garlic by bringing out the sugars and putting it in balance with the lemon zest.

Osso buco bone marrowFinally, while not everyone is a fan of it, I personally think the perfect accompaniment for this dish is polenta … and I’ll provide a creamy recipe next. Nevertheless, if you really are against it, well, I’d wager you haven’t had good polenta … which you’d think would become more popular since it’s a classic gluten-free dish. Either way, rice would work as well … or even orzo pasta. And if you want to abandon the presentation entirely, well, once it’s all cooked, remove the meat from the bone, mix it in the sauce, and you will have a rustic bolognese you will never forget.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to scoop out the delicate marrow at the end. I know that will leave some of you squeamish, but if you have the palette and the heart of a real foodie, trust me, that’s what the dish is all about. Spread some of that deliciousness on a crostini or put some on that creamy polenta and you’ll have a treat that will rock your world.

Prep time:   20 mintues
Cook time:  2 hours
Total time:  2½ hours
Servings:    4

Osso Buco


  • Osso buco ingredients2 pounds (900g) veal shanks,
  • 1/4 cup (250mL) all-purpose flour
    → a chickpea-based gluten-free flour worked well
  • 1/4 cup (250mL) butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 teaspoon (4mL) dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup (250mL) dry white wine
  • 1 cup (250mL) beef stock
  • 1 cup (250mL) canned tomato sauce
    (or 12oz diced tomatoes)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1/4 cup (65mL) chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 small clove garlic, roasted and minced
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) grated lemon zest
  • pinch fresh ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Chop your ingredients and set aside.
    Osso buco mirepoix
  2. Lightly coat the veal shanks with flour. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the veal shanks to the pan and cook them until lightly browned on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
    Brown the Osso buco Add the chopped onion to the same saucepan and sauté for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Make sure you scrape up the little bits of flour and veal to prevent them from burning … they’re there for a reason, but don’t burn them.
    Saute onions for Osso bucoAdd the carrot, fennel and parsnip and continue sautéing for another 4 minutes until other veggies have lightly caramelized and you can smell the light aroma of the fennel. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.Saute rest of veggies for Osso buco Deglaze the pan with wine. This is the reason you kept all those brown bits in there and are sure they didn’t burn. This the rich flavour key to so many dishes.
    Add wine to Osso Buco Deglaze Osso BucoAdd the beef stock and tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper. While diced tomatoes are also ok here, why use them when you have homemade tomato sauce concentrated with the flavours from your own garden?
    Add tomato to Osso Buco Osso buco sauceAdd the veal shanks. Be careful so they’re as deep in the pan as possible and not resting on the veggies.
    Prepare osso buco for ovenBring the pan to a simmer then cover and place the osso buco in the oven at 350ºF (175ºC) for 45 minutes. Place the clove of garlic on the lid of the pan and let roast for 15-20 minutes until soft and the natural sugars just begin to ooze. Remove the garlic from oven and let cool. Meanwhile, every 15 minutes, remove pan from oven baste the shanks with the sauce and return it to the oven. After 45 minutes, reduce heat to 325ºF (160ºC) and continue to braise for another hour.
    Baste Osso buco The veal shanks will be done when the meat is tender, easily separates with fork but isn’t yet falling off the bone (which would ruin the presentation, right?). Remove from oven, test sauce for seasoning (adjust if necessary), and let rest, covered for 15 minutes or so while you finish off the sides (e.g. polenta).
    Osso buco Finished
  3. In the last half hour of cooking, prepare the gremolata for the garnish. Chiffonade (i.e. tightly and finely chop) the parsley and add it to a small bowl.
    Chiffonade parsleyUsing a zester, pull long strands of zest off a lemon until you have roughly a teaspoon worth.
    Zest the lemon into strandsCoarsely chop and add to the bowl. Remove the skin of the roasted garlic then lightly smash/crush/mince it and add it to the bowl. Toss in a pinch of pepper and mix it all up together.
  4. With a slotted spoon, carefully lift and the osso buco from the pan and place over rice or polenta. Arrange some of the veggies around the plate and then spoon over some of the sauce.
    Osso buco 24With your fingers, sprinkle the gremolata over the veal just before serving…Osso buco 29

And serve with a nice Italian wine, e.g. a Barbera d’Asti from Piedmont like this one from Giordano which I reviewed.

Fear Not


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Fear not
In breath there is hope
Don’t tremble
In arms there is strength
Don’t stumble
In legs there is a way
Don’t despair
In the jaw there is courage
Don’t weep

In eyes there is compassion
Don’t fall
With my back I will carry
Don’t quit
In thought there is resolve
Don’t retreat
In touch there is connection
Don’t subtract
In morning there is a day
Don’t hunger
In food there is love
Don’t break

In my heart is your soul.

© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Read more poetry here ….

Macaroni and Six-Cheeses … with pancetta crumble


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Mac and Cheese (plated)If there was a food equivalent of original sin, I think I’ve discovered it.

Long have I had the notion of creating a gourmet version of a childhood comfort food so many of us grew up on … create something very very adult.

The inspiration for this comes from watching Gordon Ramsay several years ago challenge his chefs to take a childhood memory and create something gourmet with it. His own personal example was reinventing his Mom’s Mac & Cheese. Then, a few years ago, my best friend treated me to an unforgettable dinner at La Queue de Cheval in Montreal, ranked one of the best steakhouses in the world … and one of the sides we had with our kobe beef rib steaks was the most jaw dropping decadent Mac & Cheese I’d ever imagined or tasted … until tonight.

My ambition was the following:

  1. Create a dish that was akin to fondue with pasta
  2. Create a superlatively adult dish
  3. Bring local ingredients in where it made sense

Henry Pelham Late Harvest WineIn order to accomplish #1, the fondue effect, I chose my cheeses very carefully, including some cheeses that had strength and a sharper character, others that were creamy, and some that would create those tell-tale strings so true to fondue. The secret ingredient in this was also a dram of alcohol … inspired by the Kirsch that comes in some authentic Swiss fondues. Beyond some stronger cheeses and the dram of wine, what would make #2 more adult than some Italian bacon — pancetta — and then giving it a bit of a kick with some jalapeños? And finally, #3 was really more a principle in how I tackled #1 and #2. That is I chose a the creamy, nutty, and rich Oka artisan cheese, a “local” cheese maker situated between Ottawa and Montreal and which was founded by an order of Trappist monks in the 1890s … and I also returned to the St-Albert cheese curds I infamously used in my Cranberry-Maple Poutine to layer in unique tooth feel and some decadent mouthfuls of cheese throughout. Staying “local” also factored into my choice to replace the cherry liquor (Kirsch) with a local “ice wine” from Henry of Pelham estates … which is more accurately a “late harvest” wine than ice wine, a distinction which is important because it isn’t as sweet … and I wanted the hint of sweetness and wine without really layering it on. Wow, that was a good idea …. If you can’t get your hands on a true “late harvest” wine, then I’d recommend a good Sauterne instead.

Finally, yes, these pictures are of a gluten-free Mac & Cheese. I fed it to 6 people and none of them guessed it was a bi-coloured quinoa macaroni (from GoGo Quinoa) that had wheat-eaters and celiacs heading out to buy some. As well, while I’ve not had success with gluten-free béchamels that need to rise (like in my moussaka), as a sauce, it works just as well to use another starch like cornstarch.

Mac and Cheese Ramekin (plated)A couple of final cooking notes: were I to make it again, I think I’d reduce the butter and the “flour” (or starch) or omit it entirely. In truth, I hummed-and-hawed over this part a lot, whether to make a traditional béchamel sauce (as is traditional for Mac & Cheese), thin it instead and reduce the starch, or omit the starch entirely. I choose for a thin béchamel because I wanted the dish to be as creamy as possible. The fact is, it was perfect out of the oven and eaten hot and ‘fresh.’ But, to reheat it, the sauce thickened more, the milk fat separated, and while it wasn’t at all “dry,” it wasn’t the consistency on day-two as I had fondly remembered. Truthfully, there may be no real fix for this. Cream, butter, and cheese don’t reheat well with pasta. However, the flavours were still decadent on day 2 … nothing lost there. As well, for serving and neatness, I prepared this in individual ramekins as you’ll see. You can easily make this in a lasagna pan or casserole, but just note that a larger container may need 5 minutes more for cooking. The broiling at the end is optional, and depends on your oven, but I recommend it to crisp up the cheese a bit … this is versus leaving the Mac & Cheese in the oven longer to create the same effect. The difference? Longer cooking will increase the chance of fat separation from the cheese. So note: Don’t overcook!

Weight grated cheddar on scaleFinally a note on preparing the cheese: use a kitchen scale would be my advice. Measuring most cheeses by ‘volume’ is an exceptionally inexact science because you can’t pack the cheese (this defeats the purpose of grating it). If you don’t have a kitchen scale, well, you can either eyeball it and hope … or ask the folks at your cheese counter to measure you out the right weights when you purchase them.

Ultimately, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did and can put aside your doctor’s orders about cholesterol for a day and just dive in and enjoy a sinful, delicious creation.

Prep time:   30-40 minutes
Cook time:  20 minutes
Total time:  50-60 minutes
Servings:    8-12

Macaroni and Six-Cheeses … with pancetta crumble


  • Mac and Cheese Ingredients1 package (16 ounces/454g) macaroni
  • 1 cup (250mL), roughly 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-2 jalapeños, finely minced (optional)
  • 4 oz (115g) pancetta, divided (optional)
    → half goes in the sauce, the other half is dry-crumbled for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons (45mL) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons (45mL) all-purpose flour
    → substitute cornstarch for gluten-free sauce
  • 2 cups (500mL) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup (250mL) 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup (125mL) late harvest ice-wine
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5mL) dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1mL) Kosher salt
  • Mac and Six Cheeses8 ounces (225g) 2-year old cheddar, grated
  • 6 ounces (170g) gruyere, finely grated
  • 6 ounces (170g) fresh cheese curds
  • 4 ounces (115g) Oka cheese, grated
    → or substitute Gouda
  • 4 ounces (115g) Fontina, grated
  • 2 ounces (55g) (1 cup), Parmigiano Reggiano finely grated  


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Rinse well under cold water to arrest the cooking.
    Cooked macaroni
  3. Meanwhile, separately grate the Parmesan and set aside. Measure out the cheese curds, and set aside. Then, together grate the final three cheeses (Oka, cheddar, and gruyere) and mix together.Grate Parmesan for Mac & Cheese Grate Cheeses for Mac & Cheese
  4. In a large pot, heat butter over medium-high heat.
    Melt butter for Mac & CheeseAdd onion; cook and stir for 4 minutes or until slightly golden.
    Saute onions for Mac & CheeseAdd half the pancetta, and fry for another 2 minutes until pancetta is cooked.
    Add pancetta for Mac & CheeseAdd garlic and jalapeños and sauté for another minute.
    Add garlic jalapeños for Mac & CheeseStir in flour (or cornstarch) until blended and continue to cook for another minute or 2 two until the flour/starch starts to swell and rise.
    Add flour for Mac & CheeseThen add the late harvest wine ….
    Add wine to Mac & CheeseGradually stir in the milk until it thickens.
    Add milk to Mac & CheeseAdd cream, ground mustard, pepper and salt.
    Add spices to Mac & Cheese sauceBring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
    Thicken Mac & Cheese sauce
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the Parmesan and 1 cup of the mixed cheeses. Remove from heat.Add cheeses to Mac & Cheese sauce Mac & Cheese sauce ready
  6. Fry up the remaining pancetta until crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside. When cool, chop up into “bacon bits.”Pancetta crumble
  7. When the pasta noodles are done, pour in the cheese sauce.Mac and Cheese22 Mac and Cheese23Stir in the cheese curds until everything is well mixed.add cheese curds to Mac & Cheese
  8. Layer in half the noodles into the casseroles and then layer with half the remaining cheese. Pour in the remaining noodles and sauce.Top with bacon and then the remaining cheese.Mac and Cheese25 Mac and Cheese27 Mac and Cheese29 Mac and Cheese32 Mac and Cheese35
  9. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 10-15 minutes or until cheese has melted. If it hasn’t turned a golden brown on top, place macaroni and cheese under the broiler for a few minutes, watching carefully. Remove and let cool before serving.
    Mac and Cheese Out of Oven 1 Mac and Cheese Out of Oven 2

Wine Pairing: Serve with with a semi-dry Riesling or a new world Sauvignon Blanc.

Triple Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings


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Lemon Pepper Chicken WingsSeasons come and seasons go … and Meyer lemon season is drawing to a sad close for another year. And with a couple of lonely looking lemons which had seen better months staring back at me, it was a question of what was something else, something different again, that I could do with them. Every year, I seek new ideas for Meyer lemons and try new ways to use these amazing fruits. I’ve done everything from sugar cookies to salmon with the highlight this year being the Meyer lemon meringue pie I did a few months ago — god that was good.

So I thought — chicken wings. Well, I probably more accurately craved chicken wings and then thought about them, but the point is, they were on my mind. One of my favourite wing versions is any variation on the “salt and pepper” wing — simple in flavour. The challenge with making wings at home rather than a restaurant is the choice to deep-fry or not — and it’s a decision made more acute with a “dry rub” wing because its crispness is more pronounced rather than one dripping in gooey sauces (not that there is anything wrong with those). Over the years, I’ve had a range of salt-pepper wings that also included lemon, some great, some very forgettable. The question was, could I make them at home … without a deep-fryer? Could I get to crispy? And I could I amp up the lemon flavour in these bad boys to make them totally unforgettable?

The answer was a resounding yes in all matters. No, the wings didn’t have that deep-fried texture (exactly), but they had a very satisfying mouthfeel which was the point. As for the lemon flavour — “triple lemon” you ask? Simple: lemon zest (and lots of it which is possible with a Meyer lemon), some lemon juice, and lemon pepper. If you can’t find the lemon pepper, just throw a bit more zest into the flour-spice mixture.

Cooking Tips: There isn’t much to tip, in truth. The key to doing wings at home is to not under-bake them. You want to make sure they’re cooked to the bone — which is when the meat will fall off the bone and make you go “ahhh.” I personally think an important key in my own success of doing them at home is doing them on an earthenware pan … not on a non-stick pan. It just produces a better, more evenly distributed heat too cook them from top and below and the slight porosity of the pan makes for a crisper final product. So while baking them might take a little longer to cook them through and through, it doesn’t really require much of you — this is a simple recipe which gives you plenty of time to sit down with a beer or a glass of wine and enjoy the company of your friends or family while the wings do their thing. Perfect for a Friday night. Perfect for the end of a season.

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  60 minutes
Rest time:  10 minutes
Total Time: 80 minutes
Servings:    4-6

Sweet Ginger-Garlic Chicken Wings

Wing Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds (1kg) chicken wings, cut into pieces, tips removed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup (80mL) corn flour (not cornmeal)
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) lemon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2½ mL) paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1mL) garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2½ mL) Kosher sea salt
    + extra salt to pass over the plate before serving

Lemon Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup (60mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of two Meyer lemons


  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C).
  2. If necessary, prepare your chicken wings by segmenting them at the joint and then by removing the tips (discarding the tips which otherwise have a tendency to cook faster and burn).
    Prepare Chicken Wings
  3. Mix flour and seasonings together in a sturdy plastic bag.
    Lemon Pepper Wing SeasoningsBeat the egg yolk in a large bowl.
    Beat Egg for Wings Then place the wings in the eggwash and toss to coat them all.
    Place Chicken Wings in the Eggwash
  4. Place the chicken wings in 2-3 batches inside the bag and seal/hold tight and shake until chicken is fully coated and no ‘wet’ spots on the wings remain. Arrange wings on baking sheets, making sure none of the wings are touching.
    Arrange Lemon Pepper WingsBake the wings in oven at 400˚F (200˚C) and bake for 25 minutes.
    Bake Lemon Pepper Wings
  5. Meanwhile, make the the lemon glaze. Start by zesting the lemons with a fine rasp (microplane).
    Zest Lemons for Wings… and in a medium bowl, add the olive and then juice one of the lemons. Add the lemon zest, and mix well together.
    Make Lemon Glaze for Wings
  6. After 25 minutes of baking, remove wings and turn them over …
    Flip Lemon Pepper Wings… and return to oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
    Finish baking Lemon Pepper WingsRemove wings from oven … and toss them in the glaze.
    Toss Lemon Pepper Wings in GlazeRearrange them on the baking sheet now, return them back to the oven for another 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn oven to broil and broil a few more minutes until golden and crispy.
    Broil Lemon Pepper WingsRemove from oven, let stand 5-10 minutes before serving … and enjoy.
    Lemon Pepper Wings Stand Lemon Pepper Wings Done


Maple-Teriyaki Pacific Salmon


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Maple Teriyaki Salmon PlatedIf there has been one unifying ingredient as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project, it has been maple. This is not surprising given the prominence of this ingredient in our airport gift shops and the fact the leaf is emblazoned on our flag. It’s also not surprising, then, that it has shown up in a number of my contributions to this project already, especially as in the heart of a maple producing region. It’s for that reason that my intention this month, as part of the project, was to visit a maple farm and share with you the process of how it is collected and made, from tree to table. And it was my further intention to transform that harvest into a unique recipe for you all.

Well, the truth is, we live life because it can’t be predicted … you must live each day to discover what surprises it will bring. As for surprises, well to start, we’ve had a long long winter in Ottawa which while it was great for cross-country skiing, it has nevertheless been long and cold and, as a result, the sap has been late in running this year. And if that weren’t hiccough enough, as some of my very kind and constant readers have discovered, my life has been turned a bit on its ear the past month, with everything from change at work, challenges within my relationship, sickness, and now the sad news that my dog is entering the final chapter in our life together. And so even while this blog is much more than a hobby to me — it is creative outlet for a passion that runs deep — some of my plans for it have nevertheless been slowed … and this month’s contribution to the Food Project has been limited to just the unique recipe which I was still able to create: maple-teriyaki salmon.

In truth, it is designed to be a simple simple recipe … because I wanted the maple to shine yet still be in a balance of flavours. It’s what I’ve chosen to call “Simple by Design — For a Taste Divine.” Yes, I’m going to trademark that :).

I’ve made my own teriyaki sauce a few times, but not for a number of years. Why I stopped, I can’t quite say because to make it is easier than almost any other glaze or sauce. And to do it yourself means that not only do you save money, you control the ingredients and can ensure it is organic, gluten-free (if you want), and free of MSG and any other nasties. And, so yes, since I (re)created this, I’ve been asking myself why I ever stopped making it in the first place….

Anyway, the notion was to replace the conventional sugar that gives teriyaki its sweetness with maple syrup instead and give a Canadian twist on this classic Japanese sauce. The trick in the substitution is the same one we all face in any substitution of a solid ingredient with a liquid one, and that is keeping the ‘water’ in balance to maintain consistency. This was the principle dilemma I had in concocting my maple-apple jelly as well. Nevertheless, as soy sauce is the other main liquid ingredient in teriyaki, you know that just omitting the water would present a new challenge: salt. My solution was to draw on my experience having lived in China and to use the lesser known “dark soy” (which is principally a Chinese ingredient and which contrasts with “light” coloured soy) which has three complementary features: less sodium, more thickness, and more sweetness by way of the caramel in it. For those seeking a gluten-free alternative, use a “lite” tamari sauce where the “lite” in this case refers to low sodium.

The maple-teriyaki sauce can be made any time in advance … if time is really an issue. However, it doesn’t take long to make it alongside the salmon which will cook in 20 minutes or less. Yes, not only is this “Simple by Design — For a Taste Divine,” it’s also quick!

Cooking Tips and Notes: A few other quick tips. You can ultimately use any salmon you’d like for this recipe, but my preference is for the more delicate, less oily, and slightly milder wild-Pacific salmon. It also tends to be smaller which means it cooks faster. Therefore, you will need to adjust your cooking times for thicker cuts of fillet. Next, you should note that cooking a whole fillet (vs. individual servings) presents a couple of important nuances. First, it takes longer to cook a whole fillet … but it will be moister. However, when you cut a cooked fillet into serving sizes, it will break and flake apart in a ragged mess … which impacts presentation. For that reason, I choose to divide the fillet into portion sizes before cooking instead. All to say, the most important note is the one which is true of any seafood — don’t overcook it! Finally, I unusually chose to place the sesame seeds directly on the salmon and under the sauce — this was intentionally done to provide a surface that would help the teriyaki sauce ‘stick’ to the salmon and not run off during baking.

Sauce time:     10 minutes
Salmon time:   15-20 minutes
Total time:       30 minutes
Servings:         6-8

Maple-Teriyaki Salmon


  • Maple Teriyaki Ingredients1/4 (60mL) cup dark soy sauce
    → Substitute 1/4 cup lite tamari sauce for gluten-free
  • 1/3 cup (80mL) real maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) Mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) apple cider vinegar
    → Substitute rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) sesame oil
  • 1½ teaspoons (7½ mL) fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon (½mL) chile paste (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon (7mL) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) cold water
  • 1½lbs (750g) Wild Pacific salmon fillet, cut into servings
  • 1-2 tablespoons (30mL( sesame seeds
  • 1 green onion, diced


  1. Preheat  the oven to 325 ºF (160ºC) In a small saucepan, measure together the soy, maples syrup, Mirin, vinegar, and sesame oil … and, optionally, a pinch of chile paste if you want a bit of a ‘kick’ to your teriyaki.Mince the garlic and ginger and add it in as well.
    Add Maple Syrup to Maple Teriyaki Mince Garlic and Ginger for Maple Teriyaki
    Mix Maple Teriyaki IngredientsHeat the sauce over medium-high heat and bring to rolling boil, and simmer for another 2 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent burning. The intention is to “cook” the ginger and garlic and slightly thicken the sauce. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.Simmer Maple Teriyaki SauceMeanwhile, in small bowl, measure the cornstarch and sprinkle in the cold water. Whisk it together until smooth and incorporated and no lumps.Combine cornstarch and waterNow, slowly drizzle in some of the teriyaki sauce to temper the cornstarch mixture … and whisk smooth.Add Maple Teriyaki Sauce to CornstarchPour this mixture back into the rest of the teriyaki sauce in the saucepan and whisk well.

    Whisk Maple Teriyaki Sauce with CornstarchReturn saucepan to medium-high heat and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for another 1½-2 minutes …
    Simmer Maple Teriyaki Sauce
    … until cornstarch has been activated and the sauce is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool while you prepare the salmon.
    Maple Teriyaki Sauce Done

  2.  Wash and dry salmon and cut your fillet into desired serving sizes and place them on a slightly oiled baking pan.Sprinkle with sesame seeds.Sesame Seeds on Maple Teriyaki SalmonTop with teriyaki sauce.Add Glaze to Maple Teriyaki SalmonTurn oven to broil and place salmon under broiler for 3-4 minutes. Turn oven back to 325 and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness of your salmon.Maple Teriyaki Salmon BakedRemove from oven when salmon barely flakes with a fork. Let stand for about 5 minutes while sauce thickens then serve with dice green onions.
    Maple Teriyaki Salmon

His News


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Ben NewsThe news: a bark that bites through my heart
Words on a screen scratching at my soul
My world shakes and it flings me down
I choke on the hairy diagnosis
And it claws at my breaking eyes.
The clock chimes, the hands move,
Eighteen years are now ticking
Sands caught in his paws, now loose,
He is slipping the leash that binds
Us together, man and best friend.
I weep at the news like a conclusion
Remind myself he doesn’t know;
He lives because he loves – those eyes and ears
Trained on me, following – I never leave him –
Bright with life … he is my story of goodness, pure,
Warm fur pressed against my cheek, we are
Still connected: a tongue licking my tears.

© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Read more poetry here … and discover Ben and his beginning in my “Benjamin Project.”

“Original Organic Lager” Mill St. Brewery


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Mill Street Original Organic LagerContinuing with my lager exploration, I’ve circled back to one that I first tried soon after it was introduced, one that I drank on location at the original Mill Street Brewery in Toronto’s “Distillery District.” The brewery first started production in 2002 and was one of Toronto’s first craft brewers and deserves recognition for being at the forefront of the movement to make beer once again an art rather than just a beverage consumed by the blue-collar men. It also deserves recognition as Ontario’s first certified organic beer.

One of the first and most eminent of their creations is their organic lager which, at 4.2%, has more backbone than you’d expect. While the beer pours with a very active and ample head, the carbonation is on the lower end and, once the head dissipates, you’ll be left with a beer on the flatter end of the scale. The waters are a cool bright gold with just a hint of haze and it is not uncommon to find a bit of sediment in the bottom of the bottle from the residual yeasts. If you didn’t know better, I’d wager you think you had a glass of apple juice in front of you.

Mill Street Lager (bottle)True to many lagers, the yeast is prevalent, not just in the bottom of the glass, which is owing to the distinct fermentation method associated with lagers. Up front, the beer is mostly grassy, yeast, and sweetness on the tongue, a sweetness that pulls in some apple fruitiness in the middle and ends with a refreshing, off-sour aftertaste. All in all, if don’t like the smell of beer, this is one that isn’t going to offend many drinkers with its rather thin aroma. Obviously at 4.2% the beer lacks some gravity and it does have a thinness to it, for certain. Having said that, I’d expect it to taste much thinner than it does, so good work by the malts and hops and which is why I say this beer has some surprising backbone to it – so I don’t think it would be fair to say the beer is watery.

I will say that it’s far from being my favourite lager out there – my vote still goes to Beau’s Lugtread Lager – but Mill Street’s is not going to offend many people. It would be a great beer at baseball game … or with friends after a baseball game with nachos and wings. Because of the low alcohol and refreshing flavour, I’d say this is a quaffing beer, not a sipping beer, and decent enough when the hot rays of summer strike us again.

Stats:  Lager. 4.2% Toronto, Ontario.
Colour: Medium gold, unfiltered
Mouth Feel: Light flavour, low gravity, ultimately thin and light in the mouth with refreshing finish.
Purchased:  LCBO (and available at many other distributors)
Pairings: Nachos

78 points

Keint-he Winery – Chardonnay (2009)


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Keint-He Chardonnay1Moving to another burgeoning wine region of the country, Prince Edward County. This hidden peninsula is quietly tucked away between where Lake Ontario gives its final gasp and becomes the head waters of the St Lawrence, this is a relatively young wine producing region with some delicious secrets that I’ve quite grown to love discovering on my trip with close and very dear friends each year.

Here is a chardonnay that I purchased on a trip a couple years ago and which I believe can still be had through some special orders. This is an unusual chardonnay in that it combines the crispness of an unoaked chardonnay with the full butteriness of an oaken chardonnay. That is to say, this is likely to be a real crowd pleaser.

The crispness is tight on the tongue from that first sip. Pinenut and bit of resin to cleanse the palette beautifully before you take a residual taste of butter and almonds to close. It is certainly bright off the tongue which salivates as the light golden waters swirl around in the mouth … and you hunger for another taste. As I recall, it pulls off this remarkable feat by the addition of another grape, Pinot Meunier, which was separated oaken in this case.

In the middle, there is white fruit like fresh grape and plum pulling in the acidity at the ends along with some lemony citrus which makes it an excellent pairing with buttery seafood (read: scallops and shrimp or even lobster) but also with olive-oil loaded carbs like an angel-hair pasta with Parmesan … or my focaccia.

As I say, it doesn’t have the over powering oaks or that love-it-or-hate-it chardonnay ‘taste’ that you find in bigger reserves. However, it has a richness that distinguishes it from other non-oaked chardonnays. The creaminess is delicious, tantalizing … sexy even.


  • Price: $20.00
  • Alcohol: 12.5%
  • Sweetness: Dry
  • Where to buy: Special order
  • Food Pairing: Focaccia with Figs (recipe coming)

Rating: 90/100


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