Archive for October, 2013

Seasonal Eats : Chef Andrée Riffou’s Local Apple Pie

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Apple pie from Chef Andrée Riffou of C’est Bon Cooking


Apples rank among the most popular fruits consumed in Canada. It’s not hard to see why. They’re good eaten raw, cooked or baked, and the many common and heritage varieties of the fruit offer different colours, textures and flavours. Apples are also packed with antioxidants that protect the heart, help regulate blood sugar and provide anti-cancer benefits. And they’re good sources of vitamin C and dietary fibre.

Apples are at their best in the fall. Chef Andrée Riffou of C’est Bon Cooking uses apples from the Hall’s Apple Market at the Ottawa Farmers Market in Brewer Park for this elegant, easy-to-make, single-crust pie.

About Andrée Riffou

Chef Andrée studied cuisine and pastry with Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and Paris, attaining the school’s highest qualification: Le Grand Diplôme de cuisine et de pâtisserie. She launched C’est Bon Cooking in 2008,  offering classes, team-building activities, and food tours that allow participants to explore neighbourhood food markets, discover local produce and dishes, and meet area chefs and food artisans.

Featured regularly on local television and radio, Chef Andrée is a staunch advocate of simplicity and homegrown cuisine. She believes in eating locally, sustainably and seasonally,  and in getting to know the people who grow and sell foods. She also believes that cooking and eating are activities to be shared and enjoyed with family and friends.

Local Apple Pie

Prep time – 15 minutes

Cooking time – 20 minutes


1 pie dough recipe (below)

500 g apples, Golden Delicious work well

50 g sugar

50 g butter

apples for garnish, sliced

sugar for garnish

Roll your dough to the desired thickness. Place over pie plate, pinching the edges and making sure there are no holes.

Peel and core the apples. Cut them into cubes.

Melt butter and sugar over medium heat. Add apples and cook until apples are a caramelized colour and al dente (i.e., tender but still firm).

Pour the filling into the pie dough, and arrange sliced apples on top.

Bake in 350° oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sugar.

Pie Dough

Makes 2 shells

Prep time – 20 minutes

Time in fridge – 1 hour

1/3 cup (70 ml) cold water

2 cups (220 g) flour

1 tsp (5 g) salt

1 cup (225 g) butter

Mix flour, salt and butter together until completely combined.

Add water. Mix well, stirring and folding, until there are no dry patches.

Chill at least 4 hours or overnight until firm (you could probably justchill for 1 hour and be fine), or freeze. Just be sure to defrost for a few hours before baking.

What apple varieties do you prefer and how do you like to prepare them?

Late season highlights: Cooking and gardening workshops, locavore fêtes and the Just Food Farm

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Winter may not be far away, but there’s still plenty to whet the appetite of Ottawa locavores.
Photo by Fleuret (via Flickr)













Ottawa’s growing season may be drawing to a close but there are still lots of events to whet locavore appetites.

  1. Cooking, eating and growing

Savour Ottawa presents: Local Cooking Workshop with The Red Apron

Join The Red Apron’s chef/owner Jo-Ann Laverty and sous-chef Maria Henao at the Urban Element demonstration kitchen and learn how to create a simple holiday menu using only local and seasonal ingredients. Menu will include winter greens with roasted garlic; carmelized onion and apple galette with chèvre; stuffed turkey breast with barley, sweet potato and cranberry pilaf; shredded Brussels sprouts with bacon and maple; and more.

When: November 18, 6-9 p.m.

Where: The Urban Element, 474 Parkdale

Price: $125 per person; space limited to 12 seats

Register: Online or call 613-722-3332


Growing a Modern Day Victory Garden

A victory gardenis a vegetable, fruit and/or herb garden in a private yard and public space that’s intended to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Popular during World Wars I and II, they’re in vogue again as more people become interested in self-sufficiency and homesteading.

Put on by the Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton, this workshop on victory gardens – i.e., small-space, sustainable gardens — is intended for experienced food gardeners, and will cover permaculture (an ecological design system), pest management and pesticide regulation, and other topics.

When: Saturday, October 26, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: St James Church, 225 Edmund St, Carleton Place

Cost: Non-Master Gardener members $35.00

For more information:

  1. Farmers’ market highlights

Many are closed for the season but not all! The Ottawa Organic Farmers’ Market operates every Saturday year-round, and the Ottawa Farmers’ Market Brewer Park location is open Sundays (8 a.m.-3 p.m.) until November 17.

And don’t forget the Christmas markets. The Carp Christmas Market (December 6-7), and the Ottawa Farmers’ Market (December 14-15 and 21-22) are great places for holiday shopping.

  1. Activities at the Just Food Farm 

Sign up for Start-Up Farm Program until October 31

People in the region who want to start their own successful farm business have until 4 p.m. on October 31 to apply to Just Food’s Start-Up Farm Program for 2014. Offering access to land, shared equipment, and training, new farmers benefit from a low-risk way to test their business ideas and develop new skills, experience, markets and networks before committing to a larger, longer term farm.

Visit Just Food for more information or contact Leela at (613-699-6850 x15).

Pitch your beekeeping project to the Just Food Farm

Just Food wants to add a new beekeeping partnership project at the Just Food Farm site in 2014. Apply online by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

Have questions about your project idea? Contact Leela Ramachandran, Manager of Farm Programs, or 613-699-6850 x 15

Bring your pre-schooler to Apple Blossom Mornings 

Enjoy nature walks, storytelling, puppetry and crafts with your pre-schooler (ages 3 to 6) at Just Food’s 100-acre wooded farm.

When: Winter term begins January 6, Mondays

Where: Just Food Farm, 2389 Pepin Court, Blackburn Hamlet

For more information: or

  1. Book launch

No-Nonsense Guide to World Food

The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food by Canada’s Wayne Roberts is winning rave reviews. The book receives its Ottawa launch November 1, with Roberts on-hand to present it.

When: Friday, November 1, Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Free snacks and cash bar until 8:30 p.m.

Where: Mercury Lounge, 56 Byward Market Square


Marché d’Aligre: Traditional food culture on display in Paris market

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Marché d’Aligre, Paris

All photos by V. Ward


In this post, I’m taking a break from covering the Ottawa food scene to share with you a tour* I took a few weeks ago to Marché d’Aligre, a daily food market in the heart of Paris.

Colourful and boisterous, the open-air and covered spaces of Marché d’Aligre are packed with people (especially on weekends) and with a multitude of fresh produce and artisan foods. Vendors encourage you to taste before you buy so I had the opportunity to nibble on fresh figs and melon, and sample charcuterie and richly flavoured cheeses. I also had room for a couple of buttery madeleines from pâtissier Blé Sucré, as well as milk chocolate from Les Chocolats d’Aligre seasoned with five types of pepper, and scalding espresso from Café Aouba.  (Yes, I’m on a diet now.)

France’s traditional food culture is under stress these days, but the variety and quality of what’s available at Marché d’Aligre shows that fresh, carefully produced food remains at the heart of French life.

How does the market work?

Parisians don’t rely on them as they once did, but fresh food markets still abound in the city. Marché d’Aligre is the only market that’s open six days a week (Tuesday through Sunday mornings) and also one of the cheapest.

What can you buy?

Anything and everything: fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, game, fish, poultry, charcuterie, cheeses, herbs and spices, breads and pastries, dry goods, chocolate, jams, coffee, tea, and wine. There’s also an open-air flea market whose quirky offerings range from knick-knacks to vintage china and rare books.

Where does the food come from?

The food at Marché d’Aligre comes from the Rungis International Market just outside Paris. The world’s largest wholesale food market, Rungis is part of a network of 19 food hubs across the country that organize the supply of all fresh produce –local and imported, traditional and industrial — to France’s urban areas. You can tour Rungis, but to buy food there, you must be an accredited food professional such as a chef or retail food business.

Is market food sold by the producers?

At Marché d’Aligre and other French markets, stallholders rather than the producers do the sales, calling out to shoppers and singing (sometimes literally) the merits of their food. This may be their own produce, but more often it comes from a variety of local and non-local suppliers.

Do the vendors know what they’re selling If they don’t produce it themselves?

Vendors are extremely knowledgeable so it pays to cultivate them. For example, tell a vendor that you want to buy a handful of plums or a head of cauliflower and he (I didn’t see any female vendors at Marché d’Aligre so I’ll use “he”) will tell you exactly when to eat them – e.g., by 4 p.m. tomorrow – for maximum flavour and freshness.  He’s also the person to ask for tips on storing and cooking what you’ve bought.

 How local is the  food  at these markets?

In the case of Rungis which supplies the Paris street markets, food is imported from all over the world. However, according to its website, Rungis promotes regional food and niche products that don’t make it to big retail outlets. For example, 82 farmers from Ile-de-France (the region where Paris is located) sell their fruit and vegetables in a dedicated 2200-square-metre building at Rungis.

How is a place like Marché d’Aligre different from a Canadian farmers market?

For me, one of the most striking differences is in the way fresh meat, poultry and game are displayed.  For example, fowl such as chicken, duck, pheasant, quail and geese appear with their tail feathers, head and feet still on. Some say that leaving more of the animal intact demonstrates its freshness, others that it shows pride in the quality of the product and respect for tradition.

How is traditional French food culture surviving in the face of industrial production?

It’s under pressure: the number of family farms is declining, and supermarkets and fast food chains have become accepted parts of the landscape.

That said, the French concept of terroir — the idea that a region’s soil, climate and culinary heritage results in food with specific, unique characteristics — continues to hold sway. Many producers remain committed to traditional, artisan methods; there is widespread public mistrust of GMOs, and; CSA farms (or AMAPs, as they’re called in France) are thriving.

The French have also pioneered certification programs that encourage farmers to produce high-quality foods in traditional ways. Back in the 1960s, France launched the Label Rouge program for poultry which has since become an international gold standard. For example, Label Rouge chickens must be: traditional breeds that mature slowly and produce top-quality meat; suited to pastured, small-flock production; fed only natural grains and other vegetable proteins; slaughtered when they’re older to ensure better flavour and texture, and; raised and processed according to strict hygiene standards. Today, the Label Rouge program extends to a variety of other French products.

*My tour of Marché d’Aligre was organized by Context Travel.

Have you visited food markets in other countries?  Share your experiences.