Tag Archives: Globe and Mail

Curds and Eh, Episode 5: THUNDER OAK GOUDA breaking new ground

This post is part of a guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons.   See the recent Globe and Mail piece about his travels.

Thunder Oak Cheese is famous for their Gouda. The Schep family produces aged and flavoured Goudas on their family farm in Thunder Bay, Ontario and are the only Canadian cheesemakers within a 650km radius!

It wasn’t until more than 30 years after Jacob Schep’s first trip to Thunder Bay that he began commercially producing cheese. Jacob Schep arrived in Thunder Bay from Holland as an exchange student in 1968. His dream was to work on dairy farm but unfortunately he was placed on a potato farm instead.

The following year Jacob returned with his partner Margaret to show her the land that he loved but after a 3 day train ride from Montreal to Thunder Bay, Margaret decided it was too remote and too far from her family. Back in Holland, Jacob and Margaret ran a dairy farm for 10 years but they found there wasn’t land available to expand so in 1981 they immigrated to Ontario and the following year they set up a dairy farm in Thunder Bay.

Thunder Oak Company

Their cheese factory opened in November 1995 and in 2007 their son Walter and has wife Joanne took over the cheese production. As Margaret recalls the past 30 years she laughs and says she never wanted to marry a farmer, move to Canada or end up making cheese but she ended up doing all of the above and seems incredibly happy.

Forms filled with Gouda Curds

Walter Schep is a 6th generation cheesemaker and his family still makes cheese in Holland and Belgium. His mother, Margaret, explains that their Gouda recipe has been passed down through her family for generations but making cheese is a lot like making cake – everyone in her family uses the same recipe but there are small differences in the final product.

Thunder Oak Gouda flavours (from the Thunder Oak website)

The cheeses at Thunder Oak are a rainbow of colours and cover a huge range of flavours. In total they produce 12 varieties of flavoured Gouda including sun-dried tomato, nettle, smoked, classic cumin spice, and jalapeno, their most popular. They also make regular Gouda at 4 ages (mild, medium, old, and extra old) and Maasdammer which is the size and shape of Gouda but has holes and a flavour similar to Swiss. Due to the demand for fresh curds Thunder Oak began selling Gouda curds, which are less salty than their cheddar curd cousins but equally as delicious.

Gouda Pressing at Thunder Oak

For anyone traveling across Canada or visiting Thunder Bay, Thunder Oak Cheese is a must stop destination. Visitors have a chance to watch Walter produce cheese every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and of course there are plenty of samples too. Thunder Oak’s cheeses are so popular locally that they can often be hard to find across the country.

It’s worth looking for at your local fine cheese retailer. Not to worry though, Thunder Oak is about to break ground on a new facility down the road that will double their size and allow them to keep up with the demand of their highly sought after cheeses.  Now that’s gouda news!*

*A Gouda joke is obligatory in any article about the classic Dutch cheese.  Read more about the city of Gouda itself.

For Curds and Eh 1 (the itinerary), click hereCurds and Eh 2 (Quebec), Click Here, Curds and Eh 3 (Quebec) , click here and Curds and Eh 4 (St.John’s).

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Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Curds and Eh, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Joanne Kate’s First Column for The Globe- April 22, 1974

Monday, April 22, 1974

If you read the Globe this Saturday you’ll know that Joanne Kates will be retiring from her position and the restaurant critic.  Her final column will run next Saturday May 26.

If you were following the buzz on Twitter you heard the rumours days before.

I thought that if you hadn’t seen the update in Toronto Life you might enjoy reading this scan of her very first piece (or you can download it from the Toronto Life page).

And if you hadn’t heard the news (being sheltered from food critics over the long weekend)  you’d want to look for her last column next Saturday, May 26.

Joanne is passing the critical eating gig to Chris Nuttall-Smith, they will be part of a live on-line chat this coming Monday.

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Filed under Restaurants and Products, Uncategorized

Weekend Fluff: Make Marshmallows

Just when you think, “what could be more fun than doing nothing on the weekend” along comes some food blogger to tell you to make marshmallows.  Yes, I know, you can buy  marshmallows at WalMart or the gas station but there is nothing like the satisfaction (and an odd comfort) of making these at home and realizing  you can replicate the texture and and lightness of the industrially manufactured confection from your childhood—but they taste way better.  (You can even delight in squashing these between your fingers and making “ghost gum” –anyone know what I’m talking about?)

These were rolled in coconut.

Homemade marshmallows are more beautiful and delicate than the packaged masses.  They also have real flavour since you can add fragrant vanilla beans (or puréed fruit) and drop in a subtle hint of food colouring to help match any baby shower, bridal shower, man-cave christening or home campfire you’re planning on hosting.

And making them successfully in your own kitchen provides the same kind of fun and slight MAGIC as  when you pop your own popcorn in a pot on the stove.

Plain vanilla bean batch.

I made these from a recipe in Chris Nuttall-Smith’s Man Vs Marshmallow piece in the Globe and Mail recently (which tells you about the origins of mallows and has a great tip about calibrating your candy thermometre).  Just imagine the thrill of  making sea-salt caramel marshmallows or a butter-rum version.  Which I have not yet done but plan on using to kick   bake sale ass at Felix’s school (rum makes the pre-schoolers feel like pirates, fun!!)

This stuff feels pretty cool. Opposite end of the spectrum of homemade playdough.

Yes, I am going to keep showing you pictures until I wear you down.  Believe me, I can keep going, this is the age of endless digital photography.

Finally then, here’s the recipe as adapted from  Marshmallow Madness! by Shauna Sever.   The book includes a tonne of amazing variations on the species–including the buttered rum variety mentioned above.  And BTW, this looks lengthy, but it’s not complicated, just detailed to make sure yours turn out perfect. Just dive in, you’ll be fine.  YOU MUST HAVE A STAND-MIXER FOR THIS RECIPE.

If you want some coaching, here’s the video version of How to Make Marshmallows.

I can fit 14 in my mouth at once, you?

Classic Vanilla Marshmallows

One important tip—don’t trust the measurements on the package of your powdered gelatin.  Measure the powder yourself with a teaspoon.

Have everything ready before you start as once the syrup reaches the right temperature you have to be ready with all the other ingredients in the mixer.

Ingredients

COATING

1 cup icing sugar

2/3 cup cornstarch

BLOOM

4 ½ teaspoons unflavoured powdered gelatin

½ cup cold water

MALLOW

¾ cup sugar

½ cup light corn syrup (divided)

¼ cup water

1/8 tsp salt

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Make the coating first.  You’ll have enough to use for a couple batches. Sift the icing sugar and cornstarch into a bowl and whisk together.  You want to eliminate any lumps. Set aside.
  2. Spray an 8” X 8” inch pan with no-stick spray. Set aside.
  3. Now bloom your gelatin.  Measure a 1/2 cup cold water into a small bowl and sprinkle the powdered gelatin on top.  Whisk it well and let sit for at least 5 minutes to soften.
  4. Meanwhile for the mallow mixture, measure the sugar, ¼ cup corn syrup, water and salt into a small saucepan.  Set over high heat and bring to a boil until it reaches 240 °F on a candy thermometer.  Stir occasionally.
  5. While the syrup is heating, pour the remaining ¼ cup corn syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Microwave the gelatin for 30 seconds to ensure it’s fully melted and add that to the mixer bowl.  With the whisk attachment on set the mixer to low and keep it running.

TIP: Don’t forget to keep checking your syrup—make sure your thermometer doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan when testing the temperature.   And remember that boiling syrup is extremely hot so take care to keep it from splattering. 

  1. Once the temperature hits 240 °F slowly pour the sugar mixture into the mixing bowl.  Increase the speed to medium and beat 5 minutes.  Then increase speed to medium-high and beat another 5 minutes.  Finally, pause to add the vanilla and beat for 1-2 minutes on the highest speed until white and thickening.
  2. The marshmallow mixture will be very fluffy-about triple the volume and will now start to set very quickly.  Pour into the greased 8 x 8 dish and smooth with an offset or spatula.
  3. Sprinkle the top generously with the marshmallow coating and let the marshmallow set in a cool, dry place for 6 hours before cutting.
  4. Once set, run a knife around the edge of the dish and flip the mellow slab onto a surface dusted with the marshmallow coating.

10. Now just slice the marshmallows into cubes (or cut using scissors or cookie cutters sprayed with non-stick spray).

11. Toss them in the coating to cover all the sticky sides and serve.

12. Store in a dry cool place and just redust the marshmallows if they get a little moist.

VARIATION: You can also coat your marshmallows with finely ground nuts like pistachio, shredded coconut or graham crumbs.

COLOUR:  Drop in a bit of food colouring just before you beat the marshmallow for the final 2 minutes.

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Filed under All Recipes, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Uncategorized

Toast Post: Manhattan Cheese Trail

American Farmstead Cheese on Lower East Side window- by Tad Seaborn

Rather than repeat myself less eloquently in regards to my cheese-a-thon in NYC, I thought I would post  a link to today’s Travel Section in the Globe and Mail where I write about chasing the cheese (thanks Julie!) in New York.  If you would like some ideas on where to go, or just want to get your mouth watering please take a look.

If you have the paper, then you will see the above picture (which truly sums it all up) and some other beauties, plus a map of Manhattan showing all the cheese stops I made. Enjoy!  I certainly did.

Purchasing snacks at Saxelby Cheese, Essex Street market.

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Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Restaurants and Products, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Toast Post: Fromage Fort

Today I wrote a piece in the Globe about a spread called Fromage Fort.  Without repeating myself (as you can simply read the actual piece), I thought I would expand a little on the recipe that is in the Globe and tell you the specific cheeses that I blended to make two versions of the spread as I was testing it.

This makes such a fabulous grilled cheese or quick meal just broiled on baguette that I almost had to stop myself from eating it twice a day (I didn’t stop myself though, that would be wrong).

And my cheese drawer is suddenly SO spacious.  I feel some cheese shopping coming on….

Yep, 5 or 6 of these and contentment is yours.

TRIAL 1:

The first trial was made of actual leftover cheese in my fridge.  I used:

2 oz Stilton (blue)

3 oz Pierre Robert (soft, triple creme)

2 oz Garottxa (hard)

2 oz asiago (firm)

handful parsley

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup white wine

lots of fresh ground pepper

So, just about an even ratio of everything though I threw is some extra Pierre Robert that was leftover on the cutting board.  (Why  did I not just eat it?  Oh the willpower I possess.)

Then I just buzzed it for 30-60 seconds in the food processor til completely combined and it was done.

TRIAL 2

Same wine, pepper, herbs and garlic, I went out and bought specific bits of cheese for this one:

2 oz Abondance (firm)

2 oz old cheddar (firm)

2 oz Munster (soft, washed rind)

3 oz Brie (soft)

This version was quite strong (though the blue in the first batch really spoke out) but it was a little more pungent due to the Munster.

But again–I find when melted the flavours mellow out a bit (not if you ask my husband about the Munster version though!)

TA-DAAAAA!!!!!!

I know I am going on about this, but it is truly some of the easiest and most rewarding “cooking” I have done.   And it all has to do with cleaning out the fridge.  Two birds…lots of cheese bits.

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Filed under All Recipes, Cheese/Cheese Related, Toast Posts