Regional recipes from Canada's top chefs

How to make the country's quintessential dishes
  • Aug 09, 2015
  • 2,849 words
  • 12 minutes
Use ontario pumpkins to make the perfect pumpkin cheesecake (recipe below)
Use ontario pumpkins to make the perfect pumpkin cheesecake (recipe below)
Expand Image

The fall harvest means restaurants are bursting at the seams with dishes featuring local ingredients. We gathered recipes from some of the tops chefs and eateries across the country that showcase Canada’s distinct regional fare.

Prince Edward Island: rock crab and potatoes
Submitted by Paul Lucas, executive chef at Lobster on the wharf

Cajun Belle Isle Crab Cakes with Red Skin Potatoes

Ingredients as per 1 lb of crabmeat
1 tbsp cajun seasoning (see directions below)
2 eggs
½ cup regular bread crumbs approx.
2 medium sized boiled red skin potatoes (cooled, peeled and diced)

Basic egg wash
1 egg
2 cups milk

Seasoned panko crust
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp each onion salt, fresh ground pepper, dried parsley, Spanish paprika and cumin

– Combine drained crabmeat, eggs and seasoning with cooled, diced and peeled potatoes in a bowl. Using hands, work in enough regular bread crumbs until it can be formed into balls that will hold their shape. Cover mixture and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
– Form into appropriate sized balls for your needs (larger for mains, smaller for appetizers).
– Pre heat oven to 375 F
– Put flour for dredging in a separate bowl.
– In a separate bowl, whisk egg and milk to prepare egg wash.
– Combine all ingredients for seasoned panko crust and set aside in separate bowl.
– Keeping one hand for dry mixing and the other for wet, remove chilled crab cake balls and completely coat in plain flour. Dip each ball into egg wash and then place in seasoned panko. Press each ball down in seasoned panko crumbs to form cakes (flatten and shape with hands if needed). Chill until ready to cook.
– Working in batches, heat just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. To test if the temperature is right, drop a bit of the panko crumbs in the oil. If they brown quickly, the oil is ready.
– Place cakes in pan and fry until golden brown on each side. Place on cooling rack on top of a sheet pan and finish cooking in a preheated oven until internal temperature reaches 170 C (should not take more than a few minutes, depending on the thickness and size of your cakes).

Cajun seasoning
I like to use equal parts of the following spices: paprika, thyme, oregano, sea salt (or smoked sea salt), black peppercorns, celery salt, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated onion, chili powder, cayenne pepper, 2 or 3 bay leafs and sugar. Place all these ingredients in a food processor or a very clean electric coffee mill and reduce to a fine powder. If you wish to blacken the cakes, add extra sugar to the mix to get a good hard crust.

Nova Scotia: apples
Courtesy of
Chef Alain Bossé, The Kilted Chef

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake

6 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon Cake
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup soft butter
1 tsp lemon zest
3 eggs, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk

– Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Melt butter with sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Add the apple slices and sauté until soft. Set aside.
– Grease an 8-inch spring-form pan with butter and line with parchment paper. Arrange the apples in a pleasing design and pour the butter brown sugar mix over top. Set aside.
– Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix to incorporate. Then add half the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk. Mix just until smooth.
– Spread the batter evenly over the apples. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with foil (in case the berry juices leak). Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes. Serve with fresh whipped or clotted cream.

New Brunswick: Caraquet oysters
Courtesy of
Chef Alex Haun, Chef, Savour in the Garden

Oyster duo with Marinated Cucumber Salad

Ed Note: This recipe features Beausoleil oysters, but you can easily substitute Caraquet oysters

Bacon and Sabayon Oyster
4 Beausoleil oysters (or Caraquet)
2 egg yolks 
1 drop fresh lemon juice
¼ cup white wine
6 chives, thinly sliced 
2 slices bacon, chopped
½ onion, diced
1 tbsp oil
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Crispy Oyster with Aioli
4 Beausoleil oysters (or Caraquet)
½ cup mayonnaise
½ clove garlic, minced
1 tsp parsley, minced
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
1 egg, whisked with ¼ cup milk
½ cup panko
½ cup flour mixed with 1 tsp. minced parsley
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Marinated Cucumber Salad
½ English cucumber
1 cup white wine vinegar
½ red bell pepper
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Cucumber salad

  • Julienne the bell pepper and place in cold water for a minimum of 2 hours until the pieces are curled.
  • Cut cucumber in half and remove seeds. Julienne the halves to create thin long strips. Place strips in a mixture of vinegar, salt and pepper for 20 minutes.
  • Assemble by forming cucumber pieces into mounded balls and placing them in 4 cleaned shells reserved from the oysters. Top with pepper curls.

Bacon and sabayon oysters

  • Sauté bacon and onion in oil until slightly golden in colour. Remove and drain excess fat.
  • Shuck oysters, reserving shells.
  • Bring a small pot of water to a simmer; cover with a bowl that fits snugly onto the pot. Make sabayon by placing yolks, white wine, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the bowl and whisking until slightly stiff and stable (do not scramble).
  • Assemble by placing 1 oyster each in 4 of the reserved shells. Top with the onion-bacon mixture, followed by a tablespoon of sabayon. Garnish with sliced chives. If desired, slightly hit each oyster with the flame of a blow torch for some colour. 

Crispy oysters with aioli

  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper to create aioli. Set aside.
  • Shuck oysters, reserving shells. Coat oysters evenly in flour, dip in egg-milk wash, then follow with a coating of panko. Place in deep fryer (or frying pan with hot oil) until golden brown.
  • Place oysters on a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Assemble by placing a small spoonful of aioli in 4 of the reserved oyster shells, topping with an oyster. 

To assemble
– On a rectangular plate, assemble 3 individual piles of sea salt. Place the shell with the cucumber salad in the middle of each plate. Place the oysters on either side of salad shell. Repeat with 3 more plates and serve.

Newfoundland and Labrador: partridgeberries
Submitted by Cora Brett, cook at Nicole’s Café

Partridgeberry Chutney 

7 cups partridgeberries 
4 apples (peeled and chopped fine)
1/4 cup celery (chopped fine) 
2 med onions (chopped fine) 
3 cups water 
2 cups sugar 
1/4 tsp cloves 
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

– Combine all ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes and thicken with cornstarch.

At Nicole’s Café, we serve the chutney on our Fogo Island Caribou Burger with peppered bacon, roasted garlic mayo and pickled red onions alongside our hand-cut fries.

Quebec: wild game
Courtesy of
Martin Picard, chef, author and TV personality

Moose Ravioli

Ravioli Pasta Dough
3 cups semolina (or thin flour)
5 eggs

2.2 lbs moose meat: liver, heart and minced moose meat (mainly meat)
2 eggs
1 lb ricotta
200 g grated parmesan
1 oz olive oil
3 cloves of garlic

Reduced stock (from spare ribs or moose shank)
½ cup dried tomatoes
½ cup raw foie gras, in cubes
6 egg yolks

Ravioli Pasta Dough
– Mix all ingredients together. Make a ball of pasta dough and set aside.

-Cook the heart, liver and minced moose. Set aside to cool. Mix together with remaining ingredients.
– Roll out pasta dough (1/10 inch thick and long enough to cover the entire mould)
– Lay the dough across the bottom of the ravioli mould. Fill with stuffing, and moisten the edges with water. Cover with second layer of pasta dough.
– To ensure the two layers of pasta dough stick together, roll over them a few times with the rolling pin.

– In the mixer, combine the stock with the egg yolks. Sauté the dried tomatoes and cubes of foie gras in butter, and add to the sauce.

Ontario: pumpkins and wine
Submitted by Ross Midgley, executive chef at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery

Pumpkin Cheese Cake

2 lbs cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp 35% cream
2 tbsp lemon zest
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger, ground
1 tsp salt
5 eggs, large
15 oz pumpkin purée (roast, peel and seed fresh pie pumpkins and blitz in a food processor)
3 tbsp bourbon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

– Line a 12-inch spring-form pan with crushed gingersnap cookies.
– In a mixer with a paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese, sugar, cream, lemon zest, flour, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
– Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
– In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, bourbon, vanilla and nutmeg.
– Once very creamy, add the pumpkin mixture to the cheese mixture and stir to combine well.
– Place in a 450 F oven and immediately turn oven down to 275 F. Bake for about 1- 1.5 hours and let cool completely in oven with door open.
– The cake is best if allowed to cool and set for 12 hours in fridge. Serve with a glass of 2013 Ravine Vineyard.

Manitoba: Wild rice
Courtesy of
Kathryne, Media Chef and Creator of Food Musings blog

Wild Rice & Quinoa Cakes

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked wild rice
2 eggs
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
¼ cup chopped pecans
canola oil for frying

– Throw everything in a bowl and mix thoroughly (I used my hands). Scoop out using a shallow measuring cup that will create the patty shape. I used a flat no-stick grill that I sprayed with canola oil, but more oil would create an even crispier texture.
– Cook on one side on a hot grill about five minutes. Press down with an egg lifter to flatten the patty even further before flipping. Cook on second side until they reach desired crispiness. Serve with regular or no-fat sour cream.

Alberta: grass-fed beef
Courtesy of
Matt Dunigan, former CFL quarterback and TV personality

Alberta Beef Dip Sandwich

6-lb sirloin tip roast with good marbling, evenly cut

½ cup olive oil
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
1 tbsp Dijon or grainy mustard
½ cup dark beer
Salt and pepper to taste

Dipping Sauce
2 cups low-sodium beef stock
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 large Spanish onion thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

– In a medium bowl, add all marinade ingredients (excluding the salt) and mix to combine.
– Place the roast in a large sealable bag. Pour the marinade over the roast and toss to coat evenly.
– Marinate the roast in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4-6 hours or overnight.

Dipping Sauce
– Once the roast has marinated, preheat barbeque to 325 F (160 C) leaving the middle burner turned off.
– Remove roast from marinade and discard any excess. Season roast with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
– Mount roast on rotisserie following manufactures instructions.
– Pour all the dipping sauce ingredients into a drip pan. Place the drip pan over the grate with heat turned off.
– Close barbeque lid and cook for 2 hours or 10-12 minutes per pound. Baste occasionally with the drippings in the drip pan.
– Check the roast by inserting an instant read thermometer in the centre of the roast. For medium rare, the thermometer should read 125°F (51°C).
– Remove roast and let rest, covered loosely with foil for 20 minutes.
– Remove the drip pan using barbeque gloves. Strain the liquid into a small saucepan.
– Place the saucepan over low heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Skim any excess fat or impurities off of the sauce as it simmers and discard.
– Slice beef in thin slices across the grain. Serve on crusty bread with a small bowl of the warm jus for dipping.

British Columbia: foraged mushrooms
Courtesy of
Robin Kort, Chef, sommelier, forager and owner of Swallow Tail Canada

Chef Note: this wild mushroom pate recipe can be made with any types of mushrooms that you like. A good store bought combo is dried porcinis, shitaakes and oyster mushrooms.  

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken)
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (wild admirable or king boletes are nice)*
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup minced leeks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Amontillado sherry (dry)
3/4 pound wild chanterelles (shitake, if you don’t have chanterelles), slice thin
3/4 pound wild lobster mushrooms or oyster mushrooms thinly sliced (3.75 cups approx.)
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/4 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted, cooled and finely ground in a food processor
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

-Butter a loaf pan, then line bottom and sides with parchment paper.  Bring stock to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove pan from heat, add dried porcini and let soak in hot stock until softened (about 30 minutes).
-With a slotted spoon, transfer porcini to a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Press on porcini with back of a spoon to remove excess liquid then add this to soaking liquid and reserve. Rinse porcini to remove any grit. Pat dry, chop and put in a large bowl.
-Bring soaking liquid to a brisk simmer over moderate heat and simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Add back into porcini.
-Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring until softened (about 6 minutes). Add sherry and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a blender.
-Heat 2 more tablespoons butter in skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add one third of chanterelles and oyster mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes while stirring. Transfer to a bowl and cook remaining mushrooms in 2 batches, adding 2 more tablespoons butter to skillet for each batch. Add 2 cups sautéed mushrooms to shallot mixture in blender, and add remaining mushrooms to porcini mixture.
– Add cream, then eggs and hazelnuts to blender and purée until mixture is very smooth, about 1 minute. Add purée to porcini mixture and stir in parsley, thyme, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour mixture into loaf pan and cover with foil.
-Put loaf pan in a larger baking pan and add enough boiling water to reach halfway up sides of loaf pan. Bake until set 1/2 inch from edges, about 50 minutes (pâté will not be completely set in center). Remove loaf pan from baking pan and let cool to room temperature on a rack.
– Refrigerate pâté in loaf pan covered for at least 6 hours. Bring pâté to room temperature before serving.  
– To unmold pâté, run a thin knife between paper and edges of loaf pan. Invert a large plate over loaf pan and invert pâté onto plate (peel off paper). Spread on toasts and/or crackers.

Chef’s note: The pâté can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

* Foraging note: BC forests are full of boletes, which are the family that porcini (king boletes) come from. I find that the admirable boletes (boletus mirabilis) are a great one to use in this recipe as well (more of a lemony flavour). Just note that you must dry boletes before using them in the recipe. You can also find lovely lobster mushrooms and chanterelles, both in the store (whole foods) and in our BC forests.   

Canadian Geographic Travel: Exploring the Great Bear Rainforest

This story is from the Canadian Geographic Travel: Fall 2015 Issue

Related Content


Trans Canada Trail celebrates 30 years of connecting Canadians

The trail started with a vision to link Canada coast to coast to coast. Now fully connected, it’s charting an ambitious course for the future.

  • 1730 words
  • 7 minutes
The pumpjack is an iconic symbol of oil in the West.

Science & Tech

13+ things you didn’t know about energy

Massive oilfields, huge offshore rigs, high-tech refineries, colossal dams, sprawling wind farms — how much do you really know about BIG power in Canada?

  • 2842 words
  • 12 minutes


Corona Canada’s epic “Officer of Natural Wonder” road trip champions the nation’s natural beauty

Brewed with water and natural ingredients, Corona wants to encourage Canadians to responsibly experience the country’s natural wonders

  • 1682 words
  • 7 minutes
Andy McKinnon


Canada’s first national urban park

It’s an ambitious plan: take the traditional Parks Canada wilderness concept and plunk it in the country’s largest city. But can Toronto’s Rouge National Urban Park help balance city life with wildlife?

  • 3601 words
  • 15 minutes