When I was a kid, almost every vacation involved driving for 24 hours from Saskatchewan to central British Columbia. We came for the scenery – mountains, icy blue lakes, and Bedrock City in Kelowna (why they would close that place I’ll never know). We also came for a few other reasons, namely salmon, blackberries, and peaches. Oh and throw a few apples in there and you’ve got a nice pile of souvenirs for people from the prairies.
Fast forward to today – after living in Vancouver for 13 years, I still think that British Columbia is a beautiful place to be, and I’ve become quite the expert of local cuisine. I don’t always necessarily have the skill to cook it, but I definitely like to eat it.
With such diverse culture in B.C., we have access to raspberry fields forever, freshly caught fish, and some downhome treats that are not only unique, they’re downright delicious.
This week on Shelly’s Friday Favourites, we’re taking a look at Westcoast Cuisine. Here are a few recipes that are uniquely B.C.:
This easy no-bake treat is a staple at my house during Christmas. Named after the city of Nanaimo, the earliest confirmed recipe for these bars showed up in a local cookbook in 1953. If you ever visit Nanaimo, the cookbook is on display at the Nanaimo museum.
Use a square pan like the Cuisinart 9” Square Cake Pan for best results.
For bottom layer:
1/2 cup European-style cultured unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup toasted coconut
For middle layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cream
2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups powdered sugar
For top layer:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons European-style cultured unsalted butter
- Make the bottom layer: Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.
- Make the middle layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. With an offset spatula, spread over bottom layer in pan.
- Make top layer: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator, using offset spatula to distribute layer evenly. Once hardened, cut into small bars.
Makes roughly 16 2″x2″ squares.
B.C. Asparagus and Smoke Salmon Sald with Chive Vinaigrette
British Columbians are fortunate that we can find freshly caught salmon almost anywhere we shop. Although salmon tastes amazing just grilled on the BBQ, this recipe is a sure hit if you ever have guests over.
For best results, pick up a non-stick frying pan like the Paderno Ceramic Non-Stick Frying Pan.
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar ( 15 mL)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard ( 2 mL)
1/4 teaspoon salt ( 1 mL)
1/3 cup olive oil ( 75 mL)
2 tablespoons snipped chives ( 30 mL)
1 bunch thin asparagus
8 cups mesclun ( 2 L)
12 slices smoked salmon, preferably B.C. wild
- Partially fill a large frying pan with water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Fill a bowl with ice water.
- In a small bowl, whisk vinegar with Dijon and salt. Whisk in oil. Add chives. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus.
- Slip asparagus into boiling water. Cook until tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain. Plunge into ice water. When cool, drain. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Place greens on salad plates. Top with a few asparagus spears. Loosely fold salmon over spears. Drizzle dressing over the top.
B.C. Blackberry Cobbler
Where I live, if I want blackberries I can just walk down the street and pick them straight off the nearest shrub. They grow so plentifully that people have to cut them back or they’ll take over, and if you know where to look you can find blackberries that are bigger than a medium sized strawberry.
This cobbler takes full advantage of fresh blackberries, and looks gorgeous served in glass bowls.
- 6 cups blackberries
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 4 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- butter to grease baking dishes
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk make a sour milk using 1/2 cup milk and 2 tsp vinegar)
Allow topping to sit for several minutes and give a stir, and then add to ingredients.
- Place berries in a glass bowl. Add other filling ingredients and stir gently to mix. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 425ºF.
- Measure dry ingredients for topping together. Cut in cold butter until fine. Using a fork stir in milk and mix until everything is incorporated, but don’t over mix.
- Grease baking dishes well with butter. Divide berry mixture into baking dishes or put it all into one dish. Heat in microwave for 5 minutes, stirring between.
- Drop mounds of topping over warmed berry mixture and place in pre heated oven immediately.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. The dough will rise and take on a nice golden brown colour.
- Serve warm with ice cream.
If you live on the Westcoast or have a trip planned soon, be sure to try one or two of these uniquely British Columbia recipes.
Next week on Shelly’s Friday Favourites we’ll be talking Prairie cuisine! If you have a favourite central Canadian recipe, be sure to share.