Nutrition
Written by Patrick Mathieu
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is not just an old adage that mom or dad would use to try to get you to eat something before running out the door first thing in the morning.
Written by Patrick Mathieu
Summer is an exceptional time of year to be a cook. Markets and gardens are bursting with gorgeous fruits and vegetables in their prime. Here is my comprehensive guide on how to buy, store and prepare Canadian produce.
Written by Patrick Mathieu
As I am sure we are all aware, fire fighting is one of the most dangerous jobs on earth. We give so much of ourselves to others in their time of need, and in consequence, we are often exposed to high levels of physical and mental stress during our shifts. Unfortunately, this leads to higher rates of illness and injury among firefighters than the general population. In a profession where culture change can take an excruciatingly long time, firefighter mental and physical wellness has not gone unnoticed. The issue is quickly moving to the forefront, and is now a major focus in many fire departments.

First responders are much more likely to develop a mental disorder than the general Canadian population, a 2017 study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry found. It is an issue that absolutely needs to be addressed and action can’t come fast enough. Education in firefighter health, behavioural wellness and self-care has been taking shape on an international level. The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) has taken huge strides in promoting overall wellness. IAFF programs such as the Peer Fitness Training Program and Peer Support Training Program are available to all members, especially ones who might be struggling with any life/work issues. All firefighters should be able to enjoy a happy and productive work/life balance and these programs provide the tools to help prepare us for the high demands of the job, and life in general.

I had the privilege of sitting in on the IAFF Peer Support Training course offered in Toronto in late January, and it was amazing to see my brothers and sisters from departments  across Ontario all sharing the same concern: some of our members are struggling. Issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse and suicide are impacting our membership across the province. During this course we learned how to help our members cope in times of need, find appropriate professional help if necessary, and how we can provide personal support. We are so used to helping the public, but what happens when one of our own needs us? We have to be ready and able to help our colleagues in an instant.

If we think of optimal behavioural wellness as a puzzle, the perfect configuration of good mental and physical health, then there is one more piece to unite the two: nutrition. Not for a second do I proclaim to be a nutritionist or dietitian, but I think we can all agree on these notions:
  • If I eat more fruits and vegetables, I will be healthier.
  • If I eat more whole grains, balanced/whole foods, I will be healthier.
  • If I stay away from processed, high fat/sugar foods the majority of the time, I will be healthier.
  • If I eat in moderation, I will be healthier.
  • If I cook my own meals, I will be healthier.
These are facts, plain and simple. I have found in my public speaking engagements at fire departments that firefighters want good food and simple nutrition. They want tasty, balanced meals, no fad diets, nothing complicated, just real food that provides the energy we need to face life’s obstacles, both on the job and in life. The body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid rate.  Australian scientists found high-calorie diets consisting of nutrient-poor, processed foods are associated with increases in depression and other mental disorders, in a 2014 paper published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology. Studies show that those with balanced, nutrient-dense diets report lower levels of mental health issues compared those with poor diets. What we eat plays an important role in our mental and physical health.

If we can put all of the pieces of the puzzle together, then I think firefighters will be on the right road to living long, happy and healthy lives. If we can utilize the physical fitness and mental resiliency tools at our disposal as firefighters, hopefully we can maintain our bodies and minds throughout our careers and into a happy and healthy retirement. I believe if we link the two components of optimal behavioural wellness with proper nutrition then the puzzle will be complete.

Firefighters would do absolutely anything to help keep each other safe at a fire scene, so why would daily life be any different? As a united membership, we can make a difference. I have included three healthy recipes to ensure members in your fire hall or home are all eating well-balanced, nutritious, and of course, delicious meals. Let’s eat well and stay safe.



Sous-vide carne asada and grilled veggies with chimichurri sauce

For the steak:
  • 3 bulbs roughly chopped garlic
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 8 large limes)
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup clear tequila
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 bunch roughly chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt
  • 1 Ziploc sealable bag
  • 1 1/2 to 2 flank steak
  • 1 tablespoon butter
For the veggies:
  •  ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 3 red bell peppers, seeded and halved
  • 3 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total), sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch-thick rounds
  • 3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ½ inch-thick rectangles
  • 12 cremini mushrooms
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 12 green onions, roots cut off
  • 12 small tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup bocconcini cheese
  • Chimichurri sauce for serving, recipe follows
Combine the garlic, lime juice, tequila, soy sauce, cilantro, jalapeno, cumin, black pepper and salt in a re-sealable plastic bag. Add the steak and let marinate at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

Prepare a water bath to 131 degrees Fahrenheit using a precision cooker tool.

Using the water immersion method place the flank steak into the heated bath and set the timer for 90 minutes. When the 90 minutes is up, remove the steak from the bath and pat dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper and using a cast iron pan brushed with one tablespoon of avocado oil sear the flank steak over very high heat for about a minute or two per side. Add the butter and baste the steak in the last few seconds of cooking. Remove the steak from the pan and allow to rest while you grill your veggies.

Heat your grill over high heat. Brush the vegetables with ¼ cup of the oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables liberally with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, starting with the sweet potatoes for about eight to10 minutes; seven minutes for the peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms; and four minutes for the asparagus, green onions and tomatoes. The key to getting those great grill marks is to not shift the vegetables too frequently once they’ve been placed on the hot grill. To plate, place vegetables on a large platter, slice the steak across the grain and lay on top of the vegetables. Scatter bocconcini cheese around the vegetables and steak. Drizzle the entire platter with chimichurri sauce and enjoy!

StationHouse Chimichurri Sauce
  • 1 cup lightly packed parsley
  • ½ cup lightly packed cilantro  
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, white and green part minced
  • 3/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Place all chimichurri sauce ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well chopped, but not pureed. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Place in a glass screw top Mason jar and use on everything!


Grilled halibut with blood orange quinoa salad

For the salad:
  • 3 blood oranges
  • 8 thin slices fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 small jalapeno, minced (with seeds for maximum heat if preferred)
  • 2 green onions (both white and green parts), minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ½ cup black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the fish:
  • 2 pounds skinless halibut cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Steel skewers
Peel two of the blood oranges reserving the peel and segments separately. Warm the blood orange peels, ginger, and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the oil starts to bubble, after about two minutes, remove from heat. Set the oil aside to steep while you prepare the rest of the dish. Strain and reserve the oil.

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa in a bowl and drain. Put the quinoa in a small saucepan with the vegetable stock and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Set aside off the heat, for five minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and fluff with a fork.

Juice the third blood orange over a bowl, there should be roughly about two tablespoons. Whisk the orange juice with the vinegar, honey, and salt to taste in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in three tablespoons of the reserved blood orange oil then season with pepper to taste.  

Toss quinoa with the dressing, jalapeno, green onions, shallots, black beans, and cilantro. Slice the reserved blood orange segments in half and add them to the salad.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

For the halibut, preheat a grill to high heat. Thread the halibut cubes onto the metal skewers. Season the halibut skewers with salt and pepper and brush with some of the blood orange oil. Grill the skewers, turning as each side browns, basting with the orange oil, about three minutes per side. Place halibut skewers on top of quinoa salad and enjoy!


Super greens & aged cheddar soup

Ingredients
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 cup packed spinach
  • 1 cup chopped packed kale
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup shredded old white cheddar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated lemon zest
  • Smoky pepitas for serving, recipe follows
  • Diced avocado, for serving
Smoky Pepitas
  • 1 cup pepitas (or 2 cups sunflower seeds)
  • 1 tablespaoon avocado oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
Cut the broccoli florets from the stems and roughly chop the stems into ½ inch pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high. Add the onion, celery, and broccoli stems. Lower the heat to medium, and season with salt and pepper.

Cook the vegetables slowly until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer.

Add the thyme with the broccoli florets, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes until all the vegetables are very tender.

Purée the soup with a hand blender until smooth. Add the aged cheddar a handful at a time stirring constantly to incorporate it. Add the lemon zest and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve garnished with smoky pepitas and diced avocado. Enjoy!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the pepitas into a bowl with the oil and spices and then toss to coat.

Spread the coated pepitas onto a baking sheet and then place in the oven for six to seven minutes until toasted.

Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container until ready to use.



Patrick Mathieu is an acting captain at Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. Mathieu is the author of Firehouse Chef: Favourite Recipes from Canada’s Firefighters, published in 2016. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it    
Written by Patrick Mathieu
As I sit down to write this article, a lot of big things are happening in my life. My beautiful wife is 32 weeks pregnant and our home is under renovation. Throw in work, kids and activities and my deadline for this article has well passed (sorry to my very patient editors).
Written by Patrick Mathieu
Now that fall is upon us and the cold winter months are right around the corner, this is my favourite time to spend free days in the kitchen creating some new recipes. I like to think of a new dish as a blank canvas; what can I do to make this canvas really pop? I have always prided my cooking on bold flavours, and I have learned over the years that spices are what bring the blank canvas to life.
Written by Patrick Mathieu
Finally friends, summer is upon us. As Canadians, we patiently wait for these few cherished months to get outside, reacquaint ourselves with our neighbours and enjoy our beautiful surroundings. In the cooking world, summer means it’s time to roll out the grill. It is hard to beat the satisfaction of standing over your grill on a beautiful summer day. Needless to say, everyone loves a good barbecue.
Written by Sean Kingswell
For good reason, firefighters pay a considerable amount of attention to keeping equipment properly fuelled.  Trucks, saws, fans and generators are regularly and meticulously checked. We all know how a machine runs with the wrong fuel or not enough fuel. It is equally important that firefighters fuel their bodies properly every day.
Written by Patrick Mathieu
I can hardly believe I have been sharing recipes, tips and cooking stories from life in the firehouse for more than six years. My first column spoke to the camaraderie and huge benefits that a platoon can experience from time spent together in the kitchen.
Written by Patrick Mathieu
We have all heard the adage: a family that cooks together, stays together. As a firehouse chef for 16 years, an avid cook at home and a lover of all things food, I couldn’t agree more with this motto.

There is something about meal time that brings people together. At home, meals are opportunities for family members to catch up with each other during busy days, to sit and talk without distraction and to reconnect. My wife Andrea and I value every opportunity and make it a priority to sit and enjoy meal time with our children. We love to cook together and we love to eat our creations together. This simple philosophy has built a strong and very happy family, and the reward is evident in our family’s bond. 

The same philosophy holds true in our fire houses. In the fire service, we pride ourselves on teamwork and unity, whether it is at an emergency scene, community event or in and around our stations. Eating and cooking is part of our firefighter culture and I have seen the immense team-building benefits that result from a platoon cooking together. When all hands are involved in the preparation of a meal, members can easily bond and feel as though they are part of a team. As with a family at home, taking the time to cook, eat and reconnect over a good meal will do your platoon a world of good.

To get the biggest rewards out of cooking together you need to get your family or platoon present and involved in the kitchen, whether it is in the prep, chopping or dicing, standing by a pot stirring or mixing, or even on clean-up duty. My most-requested recipes at the fire house and at home all have one common ingredient: they are dishes that are made together. At my fire house perhaps the most-requested meal is my jalapeño kettle chip fish tacos (see recipe). This is one of my favourite meals to make and eat as well. What makes these tacos so special is, of course, the super flavourful crispy-coated fish, but now, after years of making this dish, everyone on my platoon has a hand in making a component. One member makes the pico de gallo, one makes the avocado lime crema, another makes the slaw and Sriracha aioli while a few of us coat and cook the fish. With everyone in the kitchen, we talk, laugh, joke and create something special together, and every member appreciates the process and the final product. 

My platoon cooks and eats together at every opportunity and I know this, in part, contributes to our strong team bond. At home the same benefits apply. During busy weeknights, my family keeps things simple, yet still takes the time to cook and eat together. Our recipe for mushroom and burrata lasagnette is well worth the minimal effort required. As I prepare the lasagnette, my wife is by my side helping to chop and prep a simple salad. Our children share our passion for cooking and are learning as I did as a boy, watching and helping my family cook. Even the smallest kitchen tasks, such as cracking eggs, measuring flour, mixing and stirring, are exciting and fun for children. Weekends and breakfast are perfect opportunities to create something special with the kids. My recipe for cheesecake pancakes is just right for young chefs in the family to lend a hand and make something they will love to eat.

I encourage everyone to embrace the philosophy of families that cook together, stay together, both in your homes and fire houses. Soon the philosophy becomes habit and a way of life.

Patrick Mathieu is an acting captain at Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. He was recently featured in Food Network’s Chopped Canada.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   @StationHouseCCo




Jalapeño kettle chip fish tacos
Ingredients
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) fresh haddock fillets or any mild whitefish
  • 1 cup flour, seasoned with Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 bags jalapeño kettle chips, crushed
  • Canola or peanut oil
  • Corn tortillas
  • Spicy avocado lime crema
  • Pico de gallo
  • Sriracha aioli  - (See recipes at www.cdnfirefighter.com / health and wellness / nutrition)
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, finely shredded
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or a large deep skillet to 350 F.
  2. Set up a breading station by having a bowl for each the seasoned flour, beaten eggs and crushed kettle chips. Dust the fish pieces lightly with seasoned flour. Then dip fish into beaten eggs, then toss in the crushed kettle chips pushing down on them to make them stick. Repeat the process with the remaining fish. When your oil is hot enough, fry fish for a couple of minutes per side or until crispy and golden brown. Drain on paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
  3. When ready to serve heat the corn tortillas as per package directions. Spread the avocado lime crema on a tortilla and place fried fish on top. Add shredded cabbage and garnish with pico de gallo and Sriracha aioli. Enjoy!

Cheesecake pancakes with maple peppered bacon
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil + 1 tbsp for cooking
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 cups chopped frozen cheesecake
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Butter, confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream, for topping (optional)
  • Maple peppered bacon (directions below)
  • 1 large egg
Instructions

  1. Mix the strawberries, jam and maple syrup in a small pot and simmer over low heat as you prepare the pancakes. Preheat the oven to 200 F.
  2. Pulse the flour, buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheesecake pieces, keeping them whole.
  3. Melt the butter and the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, pour about 1/4 cup batter into the skillet for each pancake. Cook until bubbly, about four minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown. Transfer pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Serve topped with the strawberry sauce, and top with butter, confectioners sugar or whipped cream.
  4. Maple peppered bacon: Position wire racks on two rimmed baking sheets. Lay one pound bacon in a single layer on the racks and bake seven minutes at 375 F. Brushing bacon with maple syrup and continue baking until caramelized, about 25 minutes, flipping, brushing with syrup and seasoning with pepper every five minutes. Let cool. Enjoy with the pancakes!

Mushroom and burrata lasagnette
Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
  • 1½ pounds mixed mushrooms (such as chanterelle, crimini, and oyster), cut into bite-size pieces
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 6 fresh pasta sheets (about 7x5 inches) or 12 dried lasagna noodles
  • 8 ounces burrata or fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves
Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Heat two tablespoons of the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and starting to crisp, about eight to 10 minutes. Add shallots, wine, thyme and remaining one tablespoon butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the skillet is dry, about five minutes. Scoop mushrooms into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine ricotta, cream and oregano in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Working in batches, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 30 seconds. (If using dried noodles, cook until al dente.) Transfer noodles to a large-rimmed baking sheet as you go, brushing with oil and overlapping as needed.
  4. Spread a thin layer of ricotta mixture in a small coquette or ramekin and top with a pasta sheet (if using dried, use two noodles side by side). Spread a large spoonful of ricotta mixture over pasta, scatter some mushrooms over, then add a piece of burrata. Top evenly with some Parmesan and one basil leaf.
  5. Repeat layering process (starting with noodles and ending with basil) a few more times; finish with the last of the Parmesan and a grind or two of pepper.
  6. Cover lasagnette with foil and bake until warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool at least five minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Patrick Mathieu is an acting captain at Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. He was recently featured in Food Network’s Chopped Canada.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   @StationHouseCCo




Written by Patrick Mathieu
We have all heard the adage: a family that cooks together, stays together. As a firehouse chef for 16 years, an avid cook at home and a lover of all things food, I couldn’t agree more with this motto. There is something about meal time that brings people together. At home, meals are opportunities for family members to catch up with each other during busy days, to sit and talk without distraction and to reconnect. My wife Andrea and I value every opportunity and make it a priority to sit and enjoy meal time with our children. We love to cook together and we love to eat our creations together. This simple philosophy has built a strong and very happy family, and the reward is evident in our family’s bond.

The same philosophy holds true in our fire houses. In the fire service, we pride ourselves on teamwork and unity, whether it is at an emergency scene, community event or in and around our stations. Eating and cooking is part of our firefighter culture and I have seen the immense team-building benefits that result from a platoon cooking together. When all hands are involved in the preparation of a meal, members can easily bond and feel as though they are part of a team. As with a family at home, taking the time to cook, eat and reconnect over a good meal will do your platoon a world of good.

To get the biggest rewards out of cooking together you need to get your family or platoon present and involved in the kitchen, whether it is in the prep, chopping or dicing, standing by a pot stirring or mixing, or even on clean-up duty. My most-requested recipes at the fire house and at home all have one common ingredient: they are dishes that are made together. At my fire house perhaps the most-requested meal is my jalapeño kettle chip fish tacos (see recipe). This is one of my favourite meals to make and eat as well. What makes these tacos so special is, of course, the super flavourful crispy-coated fish, but now, after years of making this dish, everyone on my platoon has a hand in making a component. One member makes the pico de gallo, one makes the avocado lime crema, another makes the slaw and Sriracha aioli while a few of us coat and cook the fish. With everyone in the kitchen, we talk, laugh, joke and create something special together, and every member appreciates the process and the final product.

My platoon cooks and eats together at every opportunity on shift and I know this, in part, contributes to our strong team bond. At home the same benefits apply. During busy weeknights, my family keeps things simple, yet still takes the time to cook and eat together. Our recipe for mushroom and burrata lasagnette (see recipe) is well worth the minimal effort required. As I prepare the lasagnette, my wife is by my side helping to chop and prep a simple salad (see recipe). Our children share our passion for cooking and are learning as I did as a young boy, watching and helping my family cook. Even the smallest kitchen tasks, such as cracking eggs, measuring flour, mixing and stirring, are exciting and fun for children. Weekends and breakfast are perfect opportunities to create something special with the kids. Be patient, be prepared for a little more of a mess and guide them along the way and you will find kids make excellent sous chefs. My recipe for cheesecake pancakes is just right for the little chefs of the family to lend a hand and make something they will love to eat.

I encourage everyone to embrace the philosophy of families that cook together, stay together, both in your homes and fire houses. Soon the philosophy becomes habit and a way of life. Building and strengthening relationships and growing a solid family and team has never been easier, or more delicious!




Jalapeño kettle chip fish tacos
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) fresh haddock fillets or any mild whitefish
  • 1 cup flour, seasoned with Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 bags jalapeño kettle chips, crushed
  • Canola or peanut oil
  • Corn tortillas
  • Spicy avocado lime crema (recipe follows)
  • Pico de gallo (recipe follows)
  • Sriracha aioli (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, finely shredded
1. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or a large deep skillet to 350 F.

2. Set up a breading station by having a bowl for each the seasoned flour, beaten eggs and crushed kettle chips. Dust the fish pieces lightly with seasoned flour. Then dip fish into beaten eggs, then toss in the crushed kettle chips pushing down on them to make them stick. Repeat with process with the remaining fish. When your oil is hot enough, fry fish for a couple of minutes per side or until crispy and golden brown. Drain on paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

3. When ready to serve heat the corn tortillas as per package directions. Spread the avocado lime crema on a tortilla and place fried fish on top. Add shredded cabbage and garnish with pico de gallo and Sriracha aioli. Enjoy!

Spicy avocado lime crema
  • 4 avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 lime and zest
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, chopped
  • A few drops of green Tabasco sauce
  • A handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Using a food processor, mix all the ingredients together. Keep in the refrigerator.

Pico de gallo

  • 2 tomatoes, seeded, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • A handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
In a bowl mix together all the ingredients. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Sriracha aioli
  • 1 cup good-quality mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
In a bowl mix together all the ingredients. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.



Mushroom and burrata lasagnette
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
  • 1½ pounds mixed mushrooms (such as chanterelle, crimini, and oyster), cut into bite-size pieces
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 6 fresh pasta sheets (about 7x5 inches) or 12 dried lasagna noodles
  • 8 ounces burrata or fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Heat two tablespoons of the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and starting to crisp, about eight to 10 minutes. Add shallots, wine, thyme and remaining one tablespoon butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the skillet is dry, about five minutes. Scoop mushrooms into a bowl and set aside.

2. Combine ricotta, cream and oregano in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Working in batches, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 30 seconds. (If using dried noodles, cook until al dente.) Transfer noodles to a large-rimmed baking sheet as you go, brushing with oil and overlapping as needed.

4. Spread a thin layer of ricotta mixture in a small coquette or ramekin and top with a pasta sheet (if using dried, use two noodles side by side). Spread a large spoonful of ricotta mixture over pasta, scatter some mushrooms over, then add a piece of burrata. Top evenly with some Parmesan and one basil leaf.

5. Repeat layering process (starting with noodles and ending with basil) a few more times; finish with the last of the Parmesan and a grind or two of pepper.

6. Cover lasagnette with foil and bake until warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool at least five minutes before serving. Enjoy!



Sweet and salty fall harvest salad

For the salad:
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 bunch of kale or other dark leafy greens, washed, stems removed, and roughly chopped (about 8 cups)
  • 1 cup blue cheese, cubed
  • 1 large apple, cored and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup dried cherries
For the maple vinaigrette:
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spread the squash out on a large baking sheet and drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkle with some salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. Roast for 35 minutes, toss the squash, and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, tossing periodically until the squash is browned and softened.

2. While the squash roasts, make the candied pecan clusters. Have a baking sheet with parchment paper ready and set aside. Heat the butter and brown sugar over medium heat in a medium non-stick pan until bubbling. Toss the pecans into the butter-sugar mixture until coated. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar turns a dark amber colour. Pour the pecans out onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and spread them out with a rubber spatula. Allow them to cool completely before breaking them up into clusters.

3. Make the vinaigrette by whisking the maple syrup, 1/4 cup olive oil, mustard, vinegar and salt together in a medium bowl or shake it all together in a mason jar. Whisk in additional olive oil in small increments up to 1/3 cup total until you reach your desired dressing consistency.

4. In a large bowl, toss the kale with the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil until the kale turns bright green and glossy, about two to three minutes.

5. Top the kale with the squash, blue cheese, apples, cranberries, and pecan clusters. Drizzle the maple vinaigrette over the top of the salad before serving while the squash is still warm. Enjoy!



Cheesecake pancakes with maple peppered bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus 1 tbsp for cooking
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 cups chopped frozen cheesecake
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Butter, confectioners' sugar or whipped cream, for topping (optional)
  • Maple peppered bacon (directions below)
1. Mix the strawberries, jam and maple syrup in a small pot and simmer over low heat as you prepare the pancakes. Preheat the oven to 200 F.

2. Pulse the flour, buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheesecake pieces, keeping them whole.

3. Melt the butter and the oil in a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Working in batches, pour about 1/4 cup batter into the skillet for each pancake. Cook until bubbly on top, about four minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown, about two more minutes. Transfer the finished pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Serve the pancakes topped with the strawberry sauce, and top with butter, confectioners' sugar or whipped cream, if you wish.

4. Maple peppered bacon: Position wire racks on two rimmed baking sheets. Lay one pound bacon in a single layer on the racks and bake seven minutes at 375 F. Brushing bacon with maple syrup and continue baking until caramelized, about 25 minutes, flipping, brushing with syrup and seasoning with pepper every five minutes. Let cool five minutes on the racks. Enjoy with the pancakes!


Patrick Mathieu is an acting captain at Waterloo Fire Rescue in Ontario. He was recently featured in Food Network’s Chopped Canada. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it @StationHouseCCo


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