Edible Canada Market Dinner with Anna Olsen & Fiddlehead Salad Recipe

Edible Canada Market Dinner with Anna Olsen

Edible Canada at the Market seems to be the happening restaurant on Granville Island and this is partially due to their successful BC Guest Chef Market Dinners. The last time I visited the restaurant was for brunch (see my post here) and I’ve been meaning to check it out for dinner. Since this was a ticketed event, featuring a guest chef, it still wasn’t representable of their regular night or menu. Therefore the food and my experience only applies to this particular dinner.

Last Saturday I was invited to attend Edible Canada’s Guest Chef Market Dinner with Food Network Canada’s Anna Olsen. Being that it was a celebrity chef, this was one of their bigger Market Dinners, otherwise they are normally intended for 24 guests and take place at the back of the restaurant. I actually would have preferred a smaller and more intimate event and I would suggest going early and getting seats closest to the ‘stage’ for a more personal experience. That is if there are future events of this size and nature.

The last time I attended a Market Dinner was back when Edible Canada was still inside the Granville Island Public Market and called Edible BC. I attended the Bacchus Market Dinner featuring Chef Lee Parsons and it took place just outside their store. Now that the store has grown into a full on restaurant serving brunch, lunch and dinner, with an attached retail store, open kitchen, professional demonstration kitchen and patio, my experience was quite different, but the concept was still the same.

The Market Dinners take place a few times each month and they are ticketed events open to the public ($85-125/per person). Each dinner will feature a well known National or local Canadian Chef who will demonstrate each course in the Edible Canada demonstration kitchen. The multicourse menus are seasonally inspired and paired with Canadian wines. I actually wish they offered tickets without wine pairings too though because you don’t get the full value if you happen to be driving and unable to plan for a ride home or taxi. Guests are also offered 10% off the retail store and future event bookings made that evening.

I guess you could say I grew up watching Anna Olsen’s baking show Sugar on Food Network Canada. Being that baking takes much time and patience I would always get so jealous that she could fit 3 recipes in one half hour episode. That’s partially why I also watched 30 Minute Meals, it wasn’t because the recipes were particularly inspiring, but it was because it was in real time (in theory at least). Nonetheless it was a pleasure to watch Anna Olsen in action and it was like watching a live episode of Fresh. She even made an effort to do her rounds and greet each table which I’m sure everyone appreciated.

I remember being caught off guard when Fresh was introduced. What? Anna Olsen makes savoury food? I was so attached to her association with baking and Sugar that I didn’t know what to expect. Her style, food, and even persona is honest and simple and I felt the same way about the recipes she showcased at this dinner. It was seasonally inspired recipes made for the everyday home cook and easy entertaining.

She demonstrated each course with recipes from her cook books Fresh with Anna Olsen and her newest cook book Back to Baking. Given the nature and size of the event, the kitchen team at Edible Canada had to take on the menu and recreate her recipes, which is as scary as it sounds. I do commend them for taking on the challenge since recipes are not easily mass produced (I say that from experience… *ahem* Recipe to Riches), but I do think a smaller event would have left a more satisfying experience with more control on execution. With that being said I’m not going to go into the food due the circumstances of it being a one time cook book focused dinner.

On the table:

Kir Royale

Fiddlehead Salad with Pickled Red Onion & Maple Toasted Pecans

Wine pairing: Okanagan Crush Pad Rose NV

Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Pepper Coulis

Wine pairing: Tawse Winery Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2009

Roasted Halibut with Asparagus & Rhubarb Hollandaise served with Fingerling Potatoes, Chives & Spring Radishes

Wine pairing: Close Du Soleil Capella 2010

Earl Grey Chiffon Cake with Maple Meringue Frosting, Rhubarb Compote & Chantilly Cream

Wine pairing: Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanc 2010

Cookie Plate: Apricot Walnut Thumbprint Cookies, Raspberry Lemon & White Chocolate Rugelach Pecan Lace Cookie

Wine pairing: Elephant Island Framboise 2010

Fiddlehead Salad with Pickled Red Onions & Maple Toasted Pecans Recipe

This was actually my favourite course of the evening. Not only do I love fiddleheads which taste like a love child of asparagus and artichokes, but I enjoy all the ingredients in this salad individually or together. The salty, sweet, and tang were also well played. The vinaigrette and pickled onions just stripped the bitterness in the ridicchio and the sweet crunch of pecans balanced out the acidity. The salad had good texture, crunch and colour, and with some added goat cheese and grilled BC Spot Prawns it could have been a main.

Being that fiddleheads are a limited time ingredient in the Spring, this is a seasonal recipe. However the salad could easily be enjoyed with artichoke hearts and snap peas as an alternative to fiddleheads (as suggested by Anna Olsen).

Fiddlehead Salad with Pickled Red Onions & Maple Toasted Pecans Recipe

This recipe is compliments of Anna Olsen’s recipe book Fresh with Anna Olson.

Serves 6

Pickled Red Onions
Makes about 4 cups (1 l)

  • 4 cups sliced red onions 1 L
  • 1/3 cup sugar 80 mL
  • 1/3 cup honey 80 mL
  • 1 cup dry white wine 250 mL
  • ¼ cup lemon juice 60 mL
  • 1 tsp salt 5 mL

1. Simmer all the ingredients, uncovered, over medium heat until the onions are tender and the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. These can be refrigerated for up to 6 weeks.

Maple Toasted Pecans
Makes 2 cups (500 ml)

  • 2 cups pecan halves 500 mL
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup 45 mL
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper 5 mL

1. Preheat the oven to 350°f (180°c). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Toss the pecans with the maple syrup and black pepper to coat. Spread the pecans on the prepared tray and bake them for 10 to 12 minutes, without stirring, until toasted. Let cool in the pan. As the maple syrup cools it will caramelize onto the pecans. The pecans can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Fiddlehead Salad Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice 45 mL
  • 1 Tbsp finely minced shallot 15 mL
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard 2 mL
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed or canola oil 80 mL
  • 2 Tbsp tepid water 30 mL
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped chives 15 mL

Fiddleheads

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen fiddleheads 750 mL
  • 3 cups radicchio leaves (Treviso radicchio, 750 mL if available)
  • 1 cup pickled red onions 250 mL
  • 2/3 cup maple toasted pecans 160 mL

1. For the vinaigrette, whisk the lemon juice, shallot, and Dijon to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil until it’s incorporated, then whisk in the water. Season to taste and stir in the chives.

2. If using fresh fiddleheads, trim off the stem ends and soak them in water for 10 minutes. Wash thoroughly, rubbing gently between your fingers. Drain well.

3. Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Blanch the fiddleheads until tender, about 5 minutes for fresh and 3 minutes for frozen (tasting is the best way to judge).

4. Drain the fiddleheads and shock them in ice water to halt the cooking process. Drain and chill until ready to serve.

5. To assemble the salad, arrange the radicchio on a platter. Toss the fiddleheads with the vinaigrette and arrange on the platter. Spoon the pickled red onions overtop and sprinkle with the maple toasted pecans. Serve immediately.

Fresh Take

  • A fiddlehead embodies all that is spring. Small and delicate, these curly fern shoots are mild and have an almost creamy taste similar to artichoke hearts. It’s worth noting that fiddleheads should only be eaten once cooked—blanching removes something called shikimic acid (long story short, an acid that is transformed and used in flu medications, but not meant to be consumed in its raw form).
  • If you can’t find fiddleheads, don’t panic. You can use freshly cooked artichoke hearts or even blanched snap peas instead.
  • Fiddleheads grow in damp forest beds and they take a bit of the forest with them when picked. If using fresh, take the time to soak and gently clean them. Frozen fiddleheads are already cleaned.
  • The pickled red onions make a great condiment for burgers, grilled fish, or chicken, while the maple toasted pecans are a nice diversion on a cheese plate or even sprinkled on an apple tart or ice cream.

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