Holiday Traditions: Crawford’s Village Bakery

My first memory of Crawford’s Village Bakery is of the sweet fragrance of their still warm pies as we stocked them in the Cheeseboard Café’s cooler when I waitressed there back in the 80s. Alison made frequent trips to Crawford’s to keep up with the demand for their delicious, freshly baked fruit pies, like Strawberry Rhubarb and Cherry. I fondly recall the elderly lady who routinely struggled to get to the Cheeseboard just for a prized piece of Blueberry Pie.

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My favourite memories of Crawford’s are the trips my Mom, sisters, and I used to make there every holiday. At Thanksgiving we’d pick up our order of Pumpkin and Dutch Apple Pie (my favourite!).

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At Christmas we ordered Butter Pecan Pie and our Easter order often included Quiche.

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Mom and I loved to browse the shelves for gourmet goodies to embellish our feast,

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stuff in Christmas stockings, or hand out as charming hostess gifts.

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(Top photo) Suc’ Aromatisé flavoured sugars from France – can’t wait to try the Violet. (Middle photo) Martin Pouret French mustard, Safinter Smoked Spanish Paprika, and Terre Exotique Flower Salad from France. (Bottom photo) Guelph, Ontario’s Kitchen Connaisseur.

Our cookie trays included Aunt Maud’s Christmas Fruitcake. Lucy Maud Montgomery was related to the Crawfords. Elaine and Kelly Crawford published Aunt Maud’s Recipe Book from Lucy’s original recipes, which were passed down through the family. You can buy it at Crawford’s.

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Mom always placed a festively-shaped, handcrafted Chocolate Sucker on each grandchild’s plate.

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We often picked up little treats for ourselves to enjoy later like German Chocolate Brownies. In those days, we’d linger over a homemade lunch that Crawford’s used to serve in the adjoining room.

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(Photo) German Chocolate Squares, Butter Tart Squares, and Date Squares.

I still adore going to Crawford’s for pies and gourmet goodies, cherishing the traditions that Mom and I started. Crawford’s was founded in 1967 by Bob and Elaine Crawford who still run it today, with the help of their daughter, Kelly, and friendly staff.

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(Top photo) Some of the happy bakery staff: Angela, Katie, and Jennifer. (Middle photo) Andrea, the talented jam and jelly maker. (Bottom photo) Corry, one of the lovely chocolate ladies.

Throughout all of these years, the quality of Crawford’s products has remained consistently excellent. We have never been disappointed.

The classic fruit pies (Blueberry, Cherry, Dutch Apple, Strawberry Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb Cream Cheese, and Butter Pecan) are usually regularly available throughout the year. Summer seasonal pies (available on certain weekends) include such delights as Luscious Lime, Lemon Chiffon, Double Lemon, Lemon Sour Cream, and Blueberry Lemon Crumble.

Crawfords_Bakery

Luscious Lime Pie

Apple is available all year until summer’s celebration of Peach. Raisin Pie is available by special order. Butterscotch Pie is baked about six times a year, usually around a holiday or long weekend. Pumpkin and Crimsonberry are available weekly except during the summer.

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Crimsonberry Pie

Lemon Meringue is available on weekends only from fall to spring. Mince and Mincekin pies (pumpkin with a bottom layer of mince) are the joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Crawford’s usually features lighter pies at Easter to celebrate spring. Stay tuned to Crawford’s Facebook page for pie schedule announcements. All pies are lovingly made from scratch with a perfect crust and delectable fillings. Crawford’s pies remain the gold standard for pies in our region and are worth every calorie!

The shelves are brimming with artisanal treats and fine imported products like olives, oils, vinegars, pastas, and sauces.

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Local products include The Garlic Box, Credit Valley Gold Honey, and Temple’s Sugar Bush Maple Syrup.

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And of course, Crawford’s homemade Jams, Jellies, and Sauces. Oh, I think I’ll make my Dad’s day and pick him up a jar of Crawford’s Chili Sauce and a Meat Pie.

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I bought my son an old-fashioned Chocolate Cake from Crawford’s for his birthday this year and it was really good. Crawford’s handmade and dipped Chocolate Truffles are far too tempting to resist!

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Leave enough time to hunt for a vintage treasure to buy amongst the antiques that have replaced the little café. Check out the Lucy Maud Montgomery Museum in the same space.

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Businesses like this, run by families like the Crawfords, are an absolute pleasure to write about. Thank you to the Crawford family for years of continued excellent service.

Call ahead to reserve your favourite pie or to place a chocolate order.

Open 7 days a week:
Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and Sundays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Open Thanksgiving Day, Easter Day, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
 
Crawford’s Village Bakery & Distinctive Foods
2809 Bovaird Drive West
Brampton, ON (Norval)
 
Telephone: 905-451-0347
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Crawfords-Village-Bakery
 
 

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Celebration Tips: Desserts by Michelle & Soft Touch Video

Oh, does Olive have a couple of great tips for you to make your next milestone celebration extra special without breaking the budget! My father didn’t want a fuss over his birthday, so we gathered family around him and ordered Chinese take outs. But how can you pay tribute to 85 years of a life well-lived without doing something extraordinary?

Tip #1: Streetsville’s Desserts by Michelle, a personalized catering and dessert service for the GTA West area, is a great source for well-priced, delicious cakes. With over 20 varieties of cakes, tortes, tarts, and individual desserts to choose from, you will find something to suit every occasion.

My friends have been raving about Michelle’s wonderful desserts for years. The Éclairs, they tell me, are amazing, and so is the Pavlova – crunchy and sweet with gorgeous berries all over it. Madeleine cookies are a staple.  Another favourite is the English Toffee Cake. Michelle wowed the guests at a friend’s birthday party when she served chocolate spoons with bacon as an hors d’oeuvre; they were really good! Click here to check out Michelle’s website and photo gallery.

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I ordered a Black Forest Cake, my Dad’s favourite. Over the years, we have served him a variety of Black Forest cakes from other suppliers – all of which were, in my humble opinion, quite ho hum. Michelle’s version was absolutely lovely. Luxurious but light and fresh, using real ingredients; not overly sweet. Dark chocolate cake – so moist it was almost fudgy – was layered with a tasty red cherry filling and plenty of freshly whipped real cream. It was garnished with dark chocolate and the most divinely juicy, fresh, local dark cherries.

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Oops, got a bit of dripping candle wax in the photo and had to hurry while holding the hungry troops at bay.

It was the best Black Forest Cake I have ever tasted this side of the Black Forest (I did eat one in Germany once). Everyone loved it. It was delivered right to our door in a white box tied with a pretty orange ribbon. For a very reasonable price, we each enjoyed a generous piece and had plenty of leftovers. Michelle is my go-to-girl for celebration cakes (especially Black Forest!) from this point on.

What do you give the person who has everything? Consider a beautiful DVD slideshow featuring photos and video of life’s most memorable moments. Let your pictures and video tell his, her, or their unique story and it will last forever. And here comes Tip #2: Mississauga’s Mike Cederberg, owner and founder of Soft Touch Video, does a fabulous job of converting your photos, film, and video memories to DVD to preserve them, while bringing them to life in a moving and professional presentation – and his prices are fantastic!

Mike has created two DVDs for our family and a number for friends and all turned out great. They are the perfect way to mark a milestone celebration (birthday, anniversary, Bar Mitzvah, graduation), journal a special vacation, or create a lasting memorial tribute of a loved one.

I asked our family to record personal messages for my Dad on video (what he means to us, how he inspired us, or a favourite memory of time spent together, etc.). Mike compiled them, interspersed video with family photos, added creative visual effects and music, and burned a DVD copy for each of us. We played the DVD at the party. The surprise messages from family residing across the continent and overseas who we don’t get to see often were particularly moving. It touched us all and left my Dad, though emotional, beaming from ear to ear. I am so glad we did this for my Dad.

Be sure to click on this link and watch the beautiful slideshow Mike did as a loving tribute to his Mom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNOFQx5ZRlc

And here is a link to the slideshow Mike created of a trip he and his wife, Mona, took in 1989. http://vimeo.com/47627333

So, keep these two tips tucked away for the next time your family celebrates a milestone.

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Work Week Treat: Pane E Vino Ristorante

Looking for a great spot for a quick but healthy bite during a busy work week? Tucked in the commercial district of Mississauga’s Brunel Road is a hidden gem: Pane E Vino Ristorante. Slip away from the office into a cool Italian vibe: a clean and bright cafe that serves made-from-scratch, delicious Italian-inspired food. It is a favourite work week spot and office caterer for my friend, Jackie, and her public health nurse colleagues (these nutrition savvy girls know how to eat well). Thanks for the great tip Jackie!

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Pane E Vino Ristorante serves wholesome food that they make fresh daily using all natural ingredients.  Order at the counter. The chalkboard menu includes over ten different gourmet paninis on your choice of Ace Bakery artisan bread, organic soups, and plenty of nutritious salads with optional protein add-ons. Or create your own custom panini.

I ordered the Grilled Turkey Gourmet Panini:  Grilled turkey, roasted sweet peppers, grilled zucchini, and artichoke spread served on artisan bread. I customized it by adding jalapeno peppers and switching the Havarti for chèvre. I forgot to order the lime avocado spread that Jackie loves but savoured the artichoke spread. Delicious, feel good, real food.

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My colleague enjoyed a flavourful custom panini of salty prosciutto, creamy chèvre, peppery baby arugula, and thinly sliced tomato on multigrain bread.

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We couldn’t resist sharing a Chicken Caesar Salad: grilled chicken, buttery Prosciutto di Parma, crisp romaine hearts, house-made garlic croutons, shaved parmesan, and roasted garlic, dressed in classic, homemade Caesar vinaigrette that was wonderfully creamy and garlicky. We both chimed “Mamma mia, this is good.”

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Eat in Pane E Vino’s spacious, licensed cafe or visit their website for a click- and- order on-line catering menu. 

Pane E Vino Ristorante
151 Brunel RD Mississauga
Ontario. L4Z 2H6
 
Telephone: (905) 502.5656
Website: http://pane-vino.ca/index2.html
 
Open:
Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 3:00pm
 

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Summer Steakhouse Dinner Casa Charky: Grilled Steak and Caesar Salad

We try to eat red meat less often. So when we do, we make it worthwhile by buying the best beef we can afford.  Recently we splurged on two huge, well-marbled, boneless rib eye steaks from Black Angus Fine Meats & Game and shared them. They were tender and juicy with rich, full-on beef flavour. Black Angus has a beautiful selection of fine meats such as beef (Kobe, dry-aged, and Angus), local lamb, and free-range chicken. If you are hunting for game meat, this is your spot: bison, elk, kangaroo, game birds, crocodile, etc.  Shop on-line or in-store.

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How We Prepare Our Steaks:

  1. Rub a cut garlic clove over the surface of the steak. Season generously with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add your favourite steak spices if you like (if they contain salt, cut back on the coarse salt).
  2. Bring to room temperature on the counter for half an hour before grilling.
  3. Grill to your liking according to the temperament of your grill (ours is on its last legs).
  4. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing across the grain.

We serve our steaks with nothing else but copious quantities of homemade Caesar Salad (who has room for anything else?). I like to set the warm steak right on the salad; the flavours of the juicy steak and garlicky dressing cuddle up so nicely together. It wilts the salad a bit so serve the salad on the side if you prefer.

It’s a meal fit for someone about to embark on their journey through high school, from a lovin’ mom with a secret agenda (I’m hoping the garlic will ward off the girls).

Classic Caesar Salad

I was thrilled when my friend Liz shared her delicious recipe (she is a fabulous cook). It brings me right back to my Mom’s kitchen counter, watching Mom lovingly prepare this classic dressing in her well-worn wooden salad bowl while I waited in eager, lip-smacking anticipation.

Coddling cooks the egg very slightly, just enough to warm the yoke and thicken the dressing.  Please read Eat Right Ontario’s warnings about consuming raw or slightly cooked eggs; most importantly, avoid serving to the very young, elderly, immune-compromised, or pregnant women. Serve the salad immediately after you make the dressing.

Ingredients:

1 head of romaine, halved and sliced into bite-sized pieces, washed and dried thoroughly
1 head of curly green leaf lettuce or a 2nd head of romaine, halved and sliced into bite-sized pieces, washed and dried thoroughly

Optional:
Cooked and chopped bacon
Croutons

Dressing:
1 very fresh egg
2 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3-4 drops Tabasco sauce
4-6 drops Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon
1 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided (the real stuff)
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Coddling the egg:

  1. Fill a small but deep saucepan with enough water to cover the egg; bring to a boil while you leave your egg to sit at room temperature.
  2. Carefully lower the egg into the boiling water using a spoon. Immediately cover the pan and remove from heat. Let the egg sit covered in the boiled water for 2 minutes. Drain immediately and run the egg under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  3. Place the container you will make your dressing in and a small bowl on the counter. Crack the shell and separate the yolk into the dressing container and the white into the small bowl; discard the white and only use the yolk for the dressing.

Preparing the dressing:

  1. Crush, mince, and purée garlic in salt; set aside.
  2. Add the mustard, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and the juice of only half of the lemon to the bowl containing the egg yolk; whisk to combine.
  3. Slowly whisk in oil.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in garlic and 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (the garlic will get caught in a whisk). Add freshly ground black pepper to taste and more lemon juice, if desired.

Dressing the salad:

  1. Pour about two thirds of the dressing in the bottom of a large salad bowl.
  2. Add the lettuce. Toss gently, scooping under the leaves and into the dressing, gently rolling the dressing onto the leaves to avoid bruising the lettuce. Taste and add more dressing as desired.
  3. Add bacon and croutons if desired. Sprinkle with remaining Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately.

 

Black Angus Fine Meats & Game

Website: http://www.blackangusmeat.com/

Port Credit location:
Unit #10 360 Revus Avenue
Mississauga, ON L5G 4S4
Telephone: (905) 271-2333

Georgian Bay location:
207484 Highway 26
Thornbury, ON N0H 2P0
Telephone: (519) 599-2334
 

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My Favourite Guacamole and Pico de Gallo

Sometimes I wonder who I love more – my guacamole or my husband? I raise one pondering eyebrow and make him a bowl. It’s a labour of love as I chop the fragrant cilantro, juice the sweet, tangy lime, and mellow as I mash the creamy avocado. As soon as it’s ready I feed my husband a scoop and watch him swoon…and then I know it’s him I love the most, of course! Hey, does he love my guacamole more than he loves me?

Guacamole

I used to mix my pico de gallo in with my guacamole but then I tasted the most delicious guacamole at La Cantina Mexicana in Streetsville. Since then, I’ve spent the rest of my guacamole-making days trying to replicate that smooth and luxurious, pure avocado dip that has a hit of garlic and is served with homemade tortilla chips and salsa on the side. Now I focus on the avocado and don’t get watered down by the tomatoes. Use firm but ripe Haas avocados; make sure the stem end yields to the gentle pressure of your thumb.

I prefer to serve my pico de gallo on the side; it’s easy to whip up since it uses some of the same ingredients. To have enough cilantro for both recipes, buy one large or two small bunches. I don’t use fresh jalapeno because I find the raw, crunchy bite of heat too jarring in a guacamole or pico de gallo. Green Jalapeño Pepper Tabasco Sauce gives me the flavour and heat I am looking for (and I ain’t ashamed to admit it) but switch out for the classic, fresh jalapeno if you like.

Guacamole

Makes 2 cups

This recipe is as close as I’ve come to the one we love at Cantina Mexicana. The guacamole can be made a few hours ahead, covered with plastic wrapped pressed on to the surface of the guacamole, and refrigerated.

Because the limes vary in size and taste buds vary in acidity tolerance, only add about two thirds of the lime juice initially; then taste the guacamole and add more juice as desired (I like to use it all). To get the most juice out of your limes, place your hand over the whole lime and lean down while rolling it around to soften it before you cut it open.

Ingredients:

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 clove of garlic
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Few dashes of hot sauce (preferably Green Jalapeño Pepper Tabasco Sauce)
Juice of 1 ½ limes
3 Haas avocados, firm but ripe

Accompaniment:

Tortilla chips

Directions:

  1. Mince and mash garlic in the salt to achieve a purée; add to medium bowl.
  2. Add the cilantro leaves and a few dashes of hot sauce. Add about two thirds of the lime juice.
  3. Slice avocados in half; remove pit and discard. Empty pulp into bowl.
  4. For chunky guacamole, mash the avocado with a potato masher until you achieve desired consistency. For smooth guacamole, purée with an immersion blender.
  5. Taste and add more lime juice or hot sauce if desired.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping.

 

Pico_de_Gallo

Pico de Gallo

Makes 1 cup

My Spanish sister-in-law, Marie, converted me from jarred salsa to fresh pico de gallo with the spicy and refreshing pico de gallo she lovingly prepares for our clan when we gather at her pool in the summer. It’s a real treat; your guests will feel the love. Pico de gallo can be made up to a few hours before serving; any longer and the tomatoes breakdown and release too much of their juices.

To prevent my pico de gallo from becoming too watery, I’ve tried seeding my tomatoes first but the tomatoes lost some of their flavour and broke down too much. I also tried a technique I read about on the internet: chopping the tomatoes whole (including the seeds), placing them in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, sprinkling them with salt, and leaving them to drain for about 30 minutes. But the results lacked a fresh tomato flavour, tasted bitter, and had a weird texture. So I just dice up the whole tomato, seeds and all, and love my pico de gallo for what it is: juicy and flavourful.

Use the ripest, locally-grown or homegrown tomatoes you can get your hands on – it doesn’t matter what size, along as you end up with 1 cup of diced tomato. If it is not tomato season, use roma tomatoes.

Ingredients:

1 cup diced ripe tomatoes (locally-grown or roma tomatoes)
½ cup minced white onion
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Several dashes of Green Jalapeño Pepper Tabasco Sauce
Juice of ½ lime
½ teaspoon coarse salt

Directions:

  1. Add tomatoes to a medium, non-reactive bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and toss gently.
  3. Let rest for 15 minutes and then serve with tortilla chips for scooping or cover in an airtight container and refrigerate up to a few hours.
 
 
Cantina Mexicana
277 Queen St. South
Mississauga, Ontario L5M 1L9
 
Telephone: 905-813-1992
Website: www.cantinamexicana.com
 

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