Earth to Table Every Day: Cooking with Good Ingredients Through the Seasons

Written by Tracy Turlin

We talk a lot these days about farm-to-table, slow food, local and seasonal eating. It’s easy to forget, as we zip through our days, 140 characters at a time, that this is just the way the world used to work. People grew fruits and vegetables, raised livestock, produced small batches of cheese or beer or sausages. They invested their time, their labour and, ultimately, their reputations. They made the best they could because they took pride in knowing that people — real people with names and faces they recognized — would be buying it. You, as the consumer, bought the best, when it was available, and enjoyed it while it lasted. You didn’t fuss too much with it because, why would you mess with the best?

This is the philosophy behind Earth to Table Every Day: Cooking with Good Ingredients Through the Seasons (Jeff Crump & Bettina Schormann; Penguin; 2018). 

Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann

UWO alum Jeff Crump went on to attend Stratford Chefs School, and trained at some of the world’s best restaurants before returning to Ontario. He worked as executive chef at Ancaster Mill, along with good friend and award-winning pastry chef Bettina Schormann. Over nearly two decades of working together, they’ve developed a holistic approach to food. This has guided them through the creation and evolution of the Earth to Table: Bread Bar restaurants, in Hamilton and Guelph. Based on the idea that “good ingredients matter,” the Bread Bar menu is changed four times a year to match the seasons. 

At Bread Bar they are not just making and selling great food; they’ve become a vital link in the ecosystem of their community. Many consider it a gathering place and 20 lucky customers were chosen to test recipes for Earth to Table Every Day.

Their community-centric approach means supporting local businesses, craft breweries, and other producers as much as possible. Having learned that lack of access to land is a problem for aspiring farmers, they and their partners at Pearle Hospitality purchased farmland in 2010 and set aside 50 acres to serve as an incubator farm. Another six acres is used to produce exclusively for Bread Bar, giving them access to the freshest ingredients they choose to grow.

Flipping through this book I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fire up the oven or make reservations, but I’m confident you would find either to be a delight. The recipes selected for this book either come from the restaurant or are inspired by the people who inspire the chefs. 

Crab Cakes with Citrus Chutney are worth the effort of finding the best fresh crabmeat available. Poblano chilis add a mild, savoury heat that compliments the sweet seafood without overpowering it. The chutney brightens the dish and works well on just about everything.

Piri Piri Baby Back Ribs satisfy my recent obsession with apple cider and are perfect for the upcoming grill season. These ribs are the best of both worlds with a low, slow roast in the oven for moisture and a quick char on the grill for the smoky taste of summer. The Piri Piri Dry Rub mixture has found a place in our kitchen among our favourite spice mixes.

Sadly, I don’t have the room here to tell you about the desserts, the pizza and the bread. Oh, the bread. In short, whether you use this book to plan your next dinner party or your next trip to the restaurants that inspired it, you win either way. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go read the bread chapter again.    

Recipes excerpted from Earth to Table Every Day: Cooking with Good Ingredients Through the Seasons by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann. Copyright © 2018 Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Crab Cakes with Citrus
Makes 12 crab cakes • Serves 4

These beautiful crab cakes are an absolute splurge. Make them when you can get fresh crabmeat from a fishmonger. Go ahead and reward yourself and the ones you love. Be gentle when shaping the cakes — better to have very loose and tender crab cakes than well-formed but dense ones. You will have leftover citrus chutney, which can be used on buttered toast or served with roast chicken. 

Citrus Chutney (makes 2 cups/500 ml)

1 lemon, ends trimmed (or 2 Meyer lemons) 
1 orange, ends trimmed
2 limes, ends trimmed
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups (500 mL) lightly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon (2 mL) red chili flakes

Crab Cakes

1 large egg
1¼ lbs (565 g) fresh crabmeat, picked over
¼ cup (60 mL) minced poblano chili 2 tablespoons (30 mL) minced fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced Grated zest of 1 lime
1 cup (250 mL) Basic Mayonnaise (p. 246) or store-bought
¼ cup (60 mL) Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon (2 mL) Lawry’s Seasoned Salt or Old Bay seasoning
¼ teaspoon (1 mL) cayenne pepper
1 cup (250 mL) panko crumbs
½ cup (125 mL) canola oil, divided

1. To make the Citrus Chutney, wash the citrus well under warm running water. Cut the lemon, orange, and limes into ⅛-inch (3 mm) rounds. Pluck out any seeds. Place the citrus in a large saucepan. Add the red pepper, brown sugar, chili flakes, and just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the citrus peels are very soft, about 30 minutes. Add a little water if the mixture starts to dry out.

2. Cool to room temperature before serving. (The chutney keeps in the refrigerator, in a resealable container, for up to one month.)

3. To make the Crab Cakes, in a medium bowl, beat the egg. Add the crab, poblano chili, cilantro, garlic, lime zest, Basic Mayonnaise, mustard, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, and cayenne. Mix well to combine, but do not overwork the mixture—try to keep it airy.

4. Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions. Shape them into hamburger-like patties. Dredge them lightly in the panko crumbs.

5. Heat ¼ cup (60 mL) of the canola oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the Crab Cakes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown, using the remaining ¼ cup (60 mL) canola oil as needed. Drain the Crab Cakes on a plate lined with paper towel. Serve hot with the Citrus Chutney. 

Piri Piri Baby Back Ribs
Serves 6 • Requires time for prep

Summertime to us means outdoor cooking, barbecues, and good times. If we had to cook just one thing in the summer, it would be these simple, flavourful, and tender ribs. They are easy to cook and are the perfect outdoor dinner with friends. Apple cider brings both sweetness and the moisture needed for the long, slow cooking. 

PIRI PIRI DRY RUB (makes 1 cup/240 ml) 

¼ cup (60 mL) hot paprika
8 teaspoons (40 mL) kosher salt
4 teaspoons (20 mL) dried oregano
4 teaspoons (20 mL) ground ginger
4 teaspoons (20 mL) ground cardamom
4 teaspoons (20 mL) garlic powder
4 teaspoons (20 mL) onion powder
2 teaspoons (10 mL) cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sugar
Zest of 4 lemons, minced
Zest of 4 limes, minced

1. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, oregano, ginger, cardamom, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, sugar, lemon zest, and lime zest. Stir well. Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to one month.

4 racks baby back ribs (about 8 lbs/3.5 kg)
1 cup (250 mL) Piri Piri Dry Rub
1 cup (250 mL) dry apple cider

2. Place the ribs meat side down on a cutting board and remove the membrane from the back of the rack by inserting a small knife beneath it and pulling it up so you can grab it with a dish towel. Peel off the membrane and discard.

3. In a large bowl, combine the ribs and the Piri Piri Dry Rub. Using your hands, cover the meat entirely in the rub. Shake off excess. Wrap ribs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

4. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Place the ribs in a large Dutch oven — it’s okay if they overlap—and add the apple cider. Cover tightly and bake for 4 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender. Uncover and let cool. (At this point you can wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 month.)

5. To serve, preheat a grill to medium-high. Grill the ribs for 5 minutes per side, until slightly charred. You can serve these ribs dry, by sprinkling with a little more Piri Piri Dry Rub, or wet with your favourite barbecue sauce.

About the author

Tracy Turlin

Tracy Turlin is a freelance writer and dog groomer in London.
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