Reading & Recipes

Taste the Wild: Recipes and Stories from Canada

Tracy Turlin
Written by Tracy Turlin

Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup are the co-owners of a multi-award-winning communication and design agency in Münster, Germany. He also illustrates, designs and paints very cool retro travel posters. She writes cookbooks, blogs about food, and creates beautiful culinary photography. 

Sascha is a personal trainer based in Münster. He also happens to be an avid photographer who posts much of his art on Instagram. He and his wife Ninja traveled to Canada, documenting the natural beauty along the way. The photos and stories they collected were the inspiration for Taste the Wild: Recipes and Stories from Canada (Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup; Murdoch Books; 2019). 

I enjoy reading cookbooks about Canada, especially when they try to expand the perception of Canadian food. I’ve been known to complain about books that make it look as if we spend our days eating blueberries and salmon drenched in maple syrup, as if these were the only foods our country has to offer. My first instinct upon picking up Taste the Wild was to dismiss it as one of these. 

Actually, my first thought was that the pictures were gorgeous and that the photographer is a genius. Upon further reading, I found that the food shots and the ambiance photos were done by different people. Okay, two geniuses. Still, the overdose of maple leaves. And a Caesar with tomato juice instead of Clamato? Isn’t there a law against that?

When I stopped being huffy long enough to go back to Taste the Wild, it was these imperfections that allowed me to see the book in a different light. Maybe it’s good to see ourselves through a stranger’s eyes once in a while. The authors weren’t treating our food and customs as quaint habits of  ‘the Canucks’, I was. They were embracing them, reveling in the simplicity of a few ingredients, blended well, in a relaxed and casual way to make great tasting food. That could only be more Canadian if the food apologized for something.

I can argue against stereotypes all I like but we really do have great salmon here. And it does taste fantastic when grilled on a cedar plank. And this picture of it is stunning and makes me wish it was summer, and I was sitting at a campfire by a Canadian river eating this dish with some potato salad and a piece of fresh, crusty bread. And, yes, there are recipes for both of those too.

At a count of 50 recipes, Taste the Wild is a light cookbook. It feels more like the most beautiful travel scrapbook I’ve ever seen. Inspirational quotes and descriptions of Canadian adventures that read like a brochure for a camping resort. Many of the recipes are what you’d expect to find. Hearty, rustic fare, comfort food to eat while curled up by a fire. That said, I found a recipe for Wild Rice Frittata with Mushrooms and Bacon that looks light and delicate yet is filling enough for a mid-day meal. Prepare the wild rice ahead of time and this could easily become a Sunday brunch staple.

If you prefer something sweeter with brunch, try the Waffles with Salted Butterscotch Sauce. Whisking and adding the egg whites separately makes these ridiculously fluffy on the inside. The sauce is gorgeous enough to convert a die-hard maple syrup fan. I haven’t found anything it doesn’t taste great on, and I’ve poured butterscotch sauce on half the food in my fridge. You know, for science.

Taste the Wild offers a fantasy about running away to summer in the backwoods of Canada. It may not be the most accurate portrayal of our country, but it is a lot of fun. Seriously, though, someone should tell them about the Clamato juice.    

Images and text from Taste the Wild by Lisa Neischlag and Lars Wentrup. Murdoch Books RRP $37.99

Waffles with salted butterscotch sauce

Serves: 4

Whether with afternoon tea or as an indulgently sweet breakfast, waffles make a delightful treat at any time of the day. This recipe makes particularly fluffy waffles, which are served drizzled with a home-made butterscotch sauce. Canadians love their butterscotch as much as Australians love their mango.

1 vanilla bean
450 ml (16 fl oz) milk
1 tbsp sugar
200 g (7 oz) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
8 eggs, separated
1⅔ cups (250 g) plain flour
1 pinch salt
For the butterscotch sauce:
400 g (14 oz) brown sugar
1.2 litres (42 fl oz) single (pure) cream
1 tsp salt

Also: 
Raspberries, for serving

For the butterscotch sauce, caramelise the brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, without stirring. Deglaze with the cream (be careful, the caramel will be very hot!) and simmer for about 5 minutes until you have a creamy caramel sauce (it will thicken further as it cools). Stir in the salt. 

Preheat the waffle iron for the waffles. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla seeds and melted butter. Whisk in the egg yolks. Sift the flour over the mixture and whisk until all lumps have dissolved. Beat the egg whites and salt in a large bowl until stiff. Gently fold into the batter. 

Grease the waffle iron. Add one ladleful of batter at a time and cook the waffles until golden brown. Serve the waffles with the warm butterscotch sauce and fresh raspberries. 

Wild rice frittata with mushrooms and bacon

Serves: 4

With its delicate long grains and a nutty taste, wild rice is very different from plain rice in both appearance and taste. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as wild rice is actually the seeds of a wild reed grass that is not related to rice at all. It imparts a wonderful flavour to this frittata and makes it a satisfying meal.

⅔ cup (125 g) wild rice 
1 tsp salt 
5 eggs 
2 egg whites 
3 sprigs parsley 
½ tsp salt 
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper 
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg 
1 red onion 
2 tsp olive oil 
1 sprig rosemary 
200 g (7 oz) mixed mushrooms (chanterelles, button mushrooms) 
3 small slices bacon 
½ cup (45 g) grated parmesan

Place the wild rice in a sieve and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Transfer the rice and salt to a saucepan together with 230 ml (7.34 fl oz) water. Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer the rice over low heat for 40–50 minutes. Drain and set aside. 

Whisk the eggs and egg whites in a bowl. Rinse the parsley and shake off excess water. Pick off the leaves and chop finely. Stir the parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg into the egg mixture. Peel and finely dice the onion. Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan. Add the onion and sweat until translucent. Rinse the rosemary and shake off excess water. Pick off the leaves and add to the onion. Wipe the mushrooms with a clean tea towel and halve. Transfer to the pan, increase the heat to high and sear. Reduce the heat and add the wild rice. 

Preheat the oven using the grill function. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and allow to set over low heat. Top with the bacon and parmesan. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake the frittata under the grill for about 5 minutes.

 

About the author

Tracy Turlin

Tracy Turlin

Tracy Turlin is a freelance writer and dog groomer in London.
Reach her at tracyturlin@gmail.com.