Mom and Pop recipes

Recipes from Mom and Pop

This was the question: Is there a dish that your mom or dad (or grandparent) made that you like to make? Or, is there a dish you make that reminds you of them? The response was practically instant. Every chef I asked had a story, a recipe, a memory.

Happy Mom and Dad’s Day. Here’s to all the parents who like to cook and all those kids who grew up to be cooks. We thank you!

Cheddar Biscuits

“We used to bake these biscuits when I would come home from primary school. They never lasted very long! My mum and I often cooked together, specially on weekends and school holidays. It will always be a very happy memory for me. Both my sister and I learned to cook because our mother encouraged us to prepare meals together—the kitchen was the center of our little cottage home.”
–Christopher Hyde, Uccellino

4 T room temperature butter
1 c good quality vintage cheddar cheese (grated)
⅓ c plain flour
⅛ t sea salt
⅛-¼ t chili powder (or smoked sweet paprika for a less spicy taste)

Cream butter until soft. Add flour, chili and salt. Blend well, add cheese, then form into a dough. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Shape into a cylinder about 30 cm diameter. Wrap in wax paper, then refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease 1-2 baking sheets with butter. Slice the dough into ¼-inch thick discs and place on baking sheets. Bake until golden for 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. May be stored in a covered container for 2 days—but they will be gone in 2 days!
Makes 30 biscuits.

Caldo Tlalpeno (Tlalpan Chicken Broth)

“This is well-balanced dish; the aromas and flavours are still in my mind. It was one of my mom’s favourites and she used to make it every two weeks or so. Her kitchen was full of energy when she came back from the market. Every spoon of this broth was a gift from her heart.
–Israel Alvarez, Comal Pop-up

1 skinless chicken breast
1 chicken carcass
1 or 2 bone-in chicken thighs (or equivalent)
½ T fresh epazote leaves*
1 lg carrot, roughly diced
1 l potato, roughly diced
1 or 2 med green zucchini, roughly diced
1 handful green beans, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ white onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 med tomatoes, dry-roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
½ c cooked chickpeas
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 serrano or jalapeno, finely chopped
1 can chipotle chilies in adobo, seeded and chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 avocado, diced

Put the chicken carcass, breast and thighs in a medium saucepan. Add 5 cups water, enough to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the epazote leaves with stems and let it infuse for a few minutes (the broth should have a herbal taste like anis). Discard the epazote and add the potatoes, carrots, zucchini and green beans. Season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic, onion and tomatoes. Cook over low heat, stirring once in while, for about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to the pan of chicken, stir well and add the chickpeas. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Remove the chicken pieces from the saucepan and coarsely shred the meat. Discard the bones. Add chicken back to the saucepan. Add salt and pepper and adjust seasoning and remove the saucepan from the heat.

Divide the soup into four bowls. Garnish with avocado, cilantro and chiles. Squeeze a lemon wedge to finish it.

Serves 4

* La Tienda 9844 63 Avenue carries both dry and fresh epazote.

Risi e Bisi (Rice & Peas)

“Every spring I always think of one special dish my late nonna would make. Both nonna Rosina and nonno Giovanni took great pride in their gardens. As soon as the spring peas were ready, nonna Rosina would make risi e bisi, a classic dish of the Veneto region. This is my spinoff of what nonna made.”
–Rosario Caputo, Cibo Bistro

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
150 g guanciale (cured pork jowl) cubed
1 c arborio rice
1 c dry white wine
6 c vegetable or chicken stock
1 c fresh garden peas
¼ c fresh mint (optional, I love the mint with the peas)
½ c grated Parmigiano Reggiano

In a large pot heat your stock. Heat oil in a medium pot on medium heat. Once oil is hot, add jowl and cook until just crisp. Remove jowl from the pot and reserve. Add onion and garlic and cook until garlic is light brown in colour. Add rice and start stirring; sauté for about 3 minutes. Add white wine and stir until it’s almost dry. At this point, slowly start adding your warm stock. Constantly stirring, as your risotto starts absorbing more of the liquid, add another ladle. Do not rush this process. Always keep the rice moving in the pot. When you get to the last cup of stock add your peas, jowl, and cheese. Stir everything in and taste your rice for seasoning. Adjust seasoning if necessary with salt. Also check the doneness of the rice. It should be al dente, not crunchy and not mushy. Add your mint and the dish is complete. It should be silky and have some slow movement to it but not soupy.

Serves 4.

Salmon Gravlax

“Growing up in a Scandinavian community, salmon gravlax made an appearance at every social get together from the Lucia Pageant to Midsommar. Everyone has their own take on this dish whether it contains herbs, spirits, what type of sugar and how much salt to use, but over the years and through many, many tastings, I have found my favourite.”
–Kelsey Johnson, Café Linnea

1 side salmon
1 handful fresh dill
1 grated beet
2 T akavit
½ c sugar
1 c salt (I prefer Diamond sea salt)

Gently rinse the salmon on both sides and lay, skin side down, on a long sheet of saran wrap. Using a pastry brush, coat the flesh side with the akavit and top with the springs of dill and grated beet. Mix the sugar and salt together and cover the fish with the entire mixture. Wrap tightly with the saran and, with a sharp knife, pierce the package about 6 times or so, so that as the fish cures, the excess moisture can escape. Place the package in a rimmed container where it can lay flat and refrigerate for about 24 hours. You can cure the fish longer for a more candied texture, up to 3 days maximum, or less for a fresher taste. Slice as thinly as possible and serve with hardtack, steamed potatoes, or any good bread.

Serves 6 -8 depending on the size of salmon.

Spaghetti with Anchovy and Pangrattato

“Actually, this dish is more about my father and I. It is one of the first dishes that my father taught me to make. I grew up on an acreage. We had a lot of vegetables and work to do around the garden. I remember eating this for lunch outside in the peak heat of the summer. I would pick the parsley, garlic and fresh pepperoncini from the garden and watch him prepare it. I remember eating this every summer with him as far back as I can remember. I would always get a cold glass of my father’s homemade white wine with a little 7up in it. As I grew up I started making this simple pasta as a late night bite. Sometimes my father would smell the garlic frying and we would have a plate of pasta together at 2am. Different variations of this dish are made throughout Italy.”
–Daniel Costa, corso 32


2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
1½ c day-old bread ripped into small pieces
1 clove garlic
kosher salt

Gently fry the clove of garlic over medium heat with the olive oil until golden. Add the bread and a pinch of salt. Continue to cook until breadcrumbs are golden, stir occasionally. Remove the garlic clove.


500 g spaghetti
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and soaked in water for 10 minutes
1 handful flat leaf Italian parsley, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
1 t chili flakes (add more if desired)
¼ c pecorino cheese, finely grated
extra virgin olive oil
1 glass white wine

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a handful of salt. Cook the spaghetti until al dente (about 1-2 minutes per package instructions). Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water.

While preparing the pasta; heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large deep frying pan (large enough to comfortably hold all of the pasta). Add garlic and anchovies, stir frequently and fry until garlic is golden. Add white wine and chili flakes continue to cook for 4 minutes.
Increase the heat of the pan to high, add the spaghetti, the reserved pasta cooking water and the parsley. Cook for 1 minute in the pan, stir frequently. Once the sauce is just coating the pasta remove from the heat and toss in the pecorino. Divide the pasta between 4 bowls and sprinkle the pangrattato on top. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Tamale Pie

“Family dinner was always very important to my parents. My dad managed most of the cooking at home. Cheap, simple and delicious was how he rolled. This one was very much enjoyed by everyone, with three kids I suspect you kept popular recipes close. I made it last year for a staff meal at Boars and it was a smash hit. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s the furthest thing from what you would expect from a tamale, but it’s filling and very delicious.”
–Brayden Kozak, Three Boars, Wishbone

1 lb ground beef
¾ c small dice onion
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ c ketchup
¾ t salt
¾ c cornmeal
1 c flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
⅓ c white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1¼ c milk
¼ c melted shortening
½ c cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350º F.

In a large pan cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is browned. Drain off the fat. Stir in ketchup and salt. Set aside.
In two separate bowls, mix together the dry ingredients in one and the wet into another. Mix your liquid ingredients into your dry ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Grease an 8×8” pan. Spread half of the cornmeal mixture into the bottom of the pan. Layer all of the ground beef into the pan, followed by the shredded cheese and finally the remainder of the cornmeal mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

To serve: Garnish squares with cilantro and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Serves 6-8.

Chicken and Carrots

“My adopted mother, God bless her, used to make this for me with love. What amazes me is that she had her way of knowing when to add spices and for how long she reduces a sauce, all without any measurements, it was all in her hands. This dish is close to my heart. Rest in peace moy-zohra.”
–Medi Tabtoub, Vivo Ristorante Downtown

3 T olive oil
2 sm red onions, thinly sliced lengthways
3 cloves garlic
2 t ground ginger
½ t saffron, in a little warm water
1 t cinnamon
juice of ½ lemon
2 sm preserved lemons
2 T chopped parsley
1 sm bunch fresh coriander
6 chicken thighs
3 T green or violet olives
carrots peeled and cut lengthways into 4-inch long pieces (en bâtonnet)

Heat a Creuset pan or heavy-bottomed, shallow-lidded pan on low heat. Add the oil, followed by a layer of onion. Mash the garlic with ½ t salt and add to the pan.
Sprinkle over the ginger, saffron water and cinnamon, followed by the lemon juice, and coarsely chopped pulp of one preserved lemon and the rind of both, cut into slivers. Add the parsley and 2 T of the chopped coriander and toss it all together well.

Arrange the chicken on top and scatter over the olives. Pour 175 ml water into the pan, cover tightly and simmer very gently for 30 minutes until the chicken is almost cooked through, add the carrots and cook for another 10 minutes.

Season to taste and top with the remaining coriander, chopped.

Generally this dish is served with either plain couscous or French bread to dip in the sauce.

Serves 4-6.

Chocolate Chip Slab Cookies (Louise Sandford, adapted from the Best of Bridge Cookbook)

“This is a recipe that is truly simple and so tasty! When I was a little girl, my mom used to make these chocolate chip cookies; my sister and I would go nuts over them. They were the perfect balance of crispy and chewy, and that’s really what food is all about to me, balance. I can’t remember a road trip where my mom didn’t bring these cookies. (I can remember cross-country skiing out at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre and thinking, maybe if I ski a little faster we can get back to the chalet for those cookies.) Honestly, there is nothing I would change or make more cheffy about these cookies. Sometimes a good thing is just a good thing! I will say that the recipe did make it to my little black book just in case I need to whip up a batch for staff dinner; chefs go nuts for these.”
–Christine Sandford, Biera Restaurant

1 c salted butter, room temperature
1 c brown sugar (demerara works nicely)
2 c good quality unbleached white flour
1 c chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (you can use any type of chocolate you like here)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line a 9½ x13” sheet pan with parchment paper, or just grease well with butter.

Whip butter and brown sugar in a mixer for 5 minutes until really light and fluffy. This step is essential as you are basically making shortbread. Stir in flour, then chocolate. When smooth, pat dough onto cookie sheet. If your sheet is quite large, just pat dough over half the surface. Not too thick, not too thin.

Bake for 22 minutes, or until golden. Cool a little then cut into squares. Makes 18-24 squares depending on size.

We think these would make outstanding ice cream sandwiches too. –ed.