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Once again, Atlantic Canadian home cooks share their favourites with us

by Alain Bossé

food photography by Steve Smith/VisionFire

One of the most exciting times of the magazine production year for me is to be able to introduce to you the winners of the annual Comfort Food Recipe Contest. This year’s categories were poutine and your favourite comfort food and as always, you did not disappoint. After reviewing many entries we selected the top five in each category, and with our judges and host chef Guy LeClair of Northumberland Ferries and Seaside Experiences, we set sail on a beautiful Sunday afternoon on board the MV Confederation between Caribou, NS and Woods Island, PEI. Over four crossings, with the help of the team on board under the guidance of chef Guy, we prepared all the recipes for the judges to sample. First round of judging was for the comfort food top five; then the poutine finalists. For the first time ever, we had a tie for third place in both categories; having to pick the final placings was a tough job that our judges took very seriously

After a productive  and successful day the Saltscapes team took the time to explore the Island and all it has to offer. Naturally, it did not disappoint, giving us a chance to explore possibilities for future stories in our magazine.

We hope you will enjoy the winning recipes, and by the way, we would love to see you enter this year! Stay tuned for details on the categories for 2020.

This year’s Grand Prize winner is a blueberry poutine submitted by Rivi Mandelzys. This recipe has East Coast connections but in a very roundabout way. Rivi was born in Toronto but has lived in Ottawa for 20 years, where she has worked as a government employee. Six years ago she met her husband, who was from Halifax, with roots in Tatamagouche, NS. That relationship brought Rivi to the East Coast where she fell in love with many of our food offerings, with wild blueberries being her favourite.

Rivi is no stranger to poutine—because Ottawa shares a border with Quebec, poutine is fairly common in that city. Having seen recipes for dessert poutines, she knew that she could combine her love of wild blueberries with her love of baking and come up with a recipe that would catch our attention. She was absolutely right.

Rivi’s use of pie dough in place of French fries gives the dish a sweet but subtle flavour, and the wild blueberries kept it tasty and bright.

Blueberry Dessert Poutine

Serves 4

1 pie dough (store bought or homemade)

frying oil

1 cup (250 mL) caramel (store bought or homemade)

1 cup (250 mL) wild blueberries

½ cup (125 mL) roasted almonds, chopped

1 lemon

Roll the pie dough to ¼ inch and slice into ½ inch strips, 4 to 5 inches long.

Fry the dough in batches in 350°F (180°C) oil until dough strips are browned slightly and crisp (4 to 5 minutes). Drain fried dough. Divide dough into 4 dishes. Top each dish with ¼ cup (50 mL) caramel (drizzled), ¼ cup (50 mL) wild blueberries, and 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped almonds. Serve while dough is still hot with a wedge of lemon on the side.

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