Our life as newlyweds began in Toronto. There I was, 21 years old, living in a strange city in a foreign country. I had no idea how to cook, but coming from a family with some very good cooks and bakers, I was determined to learn. I remember exploring various neighborhoods around the city, my way of getting comfortable, and discovering shops that were more intimate and personal than the local supermarket. Slowly I developed my list of “favorites.” I fell in love with Kensington Market and regularly went there to buy cheese, and sweet butter, cut from an enormous block on top of the counter and wrapped in wax paper, on Sunday mornings I went to Gryfe’s for bagels, very different from the kind I grew up with but perfect when toasted, and Daiter’s for herring in cream sauce or smoked fish. On occasion we would go to Markys for a deli sandwich (sadly no longer in business) and sometimes we would make a quick stop at United Bakers for Norm’s favorite local dessert, butter tarts, a small, individual tart filled with a brown sugar and butter mixture that I prefer runny.
Last week Norm and I traveled to Toronto where we were joined by our sons. We were there to celebrate my father-in- law Pinnie’s 93rd birthday and during our visit we managed to include a few short trips to our favorite haunts. We went back to Kensington Market and saw the old cheese shops nestled among the new vegan hot spots and coffee bars, we went to Daiters and bought silky smooth Atlantic smoked salmon to put on our freshly purchased bagels from Gryfe’s. Of course no trip to Toronto would be complete without at least one butter tart. We spent time with my mother-in-law Lil, cooking and shopping. She made stuffed cabbage and chremslech ( similar to a latke but made with leftover mashed potatoes) Norm baked Challot, which really do come out better on the East coast (is it really the water?) and I made Cholent for Shabbat lunch.
Each day we spent time visiting my father-in-law who was in good spirits. My sons were very entertaining and their grandfather roared with laughter on more than one occasion. Of course one of the first questions I asked Pinnie was about the food he was served, and he responded by saying “everything is delicious.” At the end of each visit we would say, “see you tomorrow” and Pinnie always responded by saying “I hope so.” Just in time for Thanksgiving, we are so grateful that we were able to celebrate your 93rd birthday together and “hope” to come again next year for your 94th!
One more thing. In those early days, no matter what I made, as long as it had fried onions, Norm thought it was delicious. He still feels that way. Like father, like son.
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms and Fried Onions
1 pound Brussels Sprouts, tip cut off.
2 large brown onions, chopped
16 oz. assorted mushrooms, sliced (I used a combination of shiitake and portobello)
1/3 cup olive oil
Using double blade, place Brussels Sprouts in food processor and pulse till shredded. Set aside. Chop onions in processor and place in frying pan with olive oil. Allow onions to slowly cook over a low flame till golden brown. Add sliced mushrooms to pan and sauté for about 10 minutes. Next add shredded sprouts and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes. Do not overcook. You want that beautiful green color and a little crunch. Salt and pepper to taste. I put a generous amount of pepper in. Serves 4-6