If you live anywhere near Toronto, or Vancouver, or Calgary, or anywhere else in Canada for that matter, you’re probably familiar with Mairlyn Smith. She is a Second City alumni, professional home economist, TV personality, and cookbook author, not to mention mom, wife, and friend to many. She’s funny, that’s a given, but she’s also kind and warmhearted, with a passion for wholesome and healthy eating. The self-proclaimed “queen of fibre” recently released her latest book, one that’s destined to become a classic in many Canadian kitchens, I’m sure.
Homegrown, an all-Canadian ingredient book with 160 recipes from coast to coast, is not just a recipe collection. Including a wealth of nutritional information and a carb counter with every recipe, Mairlyn has set out to prove that eating an all-Canadian diet isn’t just delicious, but healthy, as well.
I’ve been lucky enough to test drive several of the recipes in the book, and I agree - they’re worth knowing about. I had dinner at Mairlyn’s house last fall and was served a four-course spread of a few of her favourite recipes from the book, and then Homegrown was also the featured book at our cookbook book club last month. I’ve made the red lentil waffles for Matthew, and one of the soups for my weekday lunches. The back cover of my copy is creased with wear, and many of the pages are already marked with splatters. This is a cookbook I've been using.
My favourite recipe of all the ones I’ve tried is the Apple Maple Cheese Spread. It’s the perfect bridge between those heavier dips we usually consume in the winter, and the lighter ones that belong on a spring crudité plate. The addition of maple doesn’t hurt, either. It adds a seasonal taste, but also a touch of unexpected sweetness, too. I served the dip with celery sticks and crackers, as per the recipe instructions, and while I initially thought the call for celery (and not a variety of veggies) was a little odd, in the end it made perfect sense. Celery sticks stuffed with cream cheese is a popular snack and this dip is really just a variation of that. To celebrate this publication, I've joined a few of my food blogging friends in a blog hop (see below for links to the recipes they've made), and Mairlyn was nice enough to participate in my new “21 questions” feature.
21 Questions for Mairlyn Smith
My life in three bullet points: Never boring; Always an adventure; Hilarious
My favourite vegetable is: Asparagus
The kitchen I grew up eating in was... A small eat-in that had red chairs! I loved those red chairs. There was a tall red stool that I would stand on to help my mom at the counter and I still have it in my own kitchen.
Morning person or night owl? Before I was a mom I was a night owl – when I was in Second City it was normal to be going to bed around 4 am – then motherhood – and although I love the nights my body still wakes up at 7:00 am…..I guess I’m a converted morning person.
When I was a child I wanted to be: An actor, a TV cook, a school teacher, a writer, a wife and a mom – yup I got them all!
If I was stuck on a desert island, the food I’d make sure to have with me is: Well from a treat standpoint I'd have to have ice cream – but one can not live on ice cream alone – I'd need fabulous bread, veggies, berries, fish, nuts, beans…..oh, wait, I couldn’t just pick one, so I guess I’d die on that island!
My favourite kitchen tool is: Too many to choose from, but I love my knife and my rasp and my Vitamix... and steel and my….
The last great book I read was: Currently I’m reading Us by David Nicholls, but before that I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My ideal breakfast is: Steel cut oats, flaxseed, walnuts, berries
My ideal dinner is: Perfectly cooked wild salmon, asparagus and a barley pilaf
I stay healthy by: Walking everyday, making sure I eat 7-10 servings of vegetables and fruit everyday, laughing, spending time with the people I love, making time for me, reading before I go to sleep, and trying to stay positive no matter what.
The app I use the most is: The weather app!
Buffet or sit-down dinner? Sit-down hands down!
A cookbook that changed me is: Back in the ‘80’s I discovered Martha Stewart’s Entertaining book – it blew my mind!
Tea or Coffee? I’m a tea drinker, but only in good cups and saucers. I encourage everyone to use their good stuff. I drink coffee occasionally
Best restaurant meal you’ve had in past 12 months is: We don’t eat out that often, but Terroni is always a hit. Colette is great as well.
Soup or salad? Depends on the season – soup season is coming to an end and then we head into salad season.
A person I want to have coffee with is: Adele or Tina Fey
Twitter or Instagram? Love both for different reasons, but I’m loving Instagram right now. I was never great at being concise so Twitter is harder to write, which has been great for me – to work under those type of parameters, but on Instagram, I can go on and on... and I do.
What do you love on your pizza? I’m a purist, give me tomato sauce, olives, something spicy, great cheese, and basil.
If I was to make only one recipe in Homegrown, which should it be: You are asking me which of my kids do I like the best! But as a seafood lover, I say try the Crab Cakes with Garlic Aioli!
Apple Maple Cheese Spread
Makes 1 cup
- 1 red apple, scrubbed and cored
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup light (5%) cream
- 1/2 cup shredded white Canadian extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. minced chives
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Crackers, flatbreads and celery sticks, for serving
1. Using the large holes of a box cheese grater, grate the apple and squeeze out any excess juice. Set the grated apple aside.
2. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and cream until smooth. Stir in the grated apple, cheese, maple syrup, chives, Dijon, and garlic until combined.
3. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour and up to 2 days (the spread will thicken upon chilling).
4. Transfer to a serving container and serve with crackers, flatbreads and celery sticks.
Here are the other recipes shared in our blog hop:
- Mardi from Eat. Live. Travel. Write made Spicy Red Lentil Soup
- Renee from Sweet Sugarbean made Kale Tossed Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing
- Amy from Family Feedbag made Quebec Style Pea Soup
- Charmian from the Messy Baker made Zucchini and Carrot Breakfast Muffins
- Julie from Dinner with Julie made Maple Brussels Sprout Slaw