Multicultural Recipes and Culinary Ideas From Toronto Foodie Jennifer Emilson

Multicultural Recipes and Culinary Ideas From Toronto Foodie Jennifer Emilson
Multicultural Recipes and Culinary Ideas From Toronto Foodie Jennifer Emilson

An award-winning Toronto meals blogger attracts on her German heritage and cherished household recipes for her debut cookbook ‘The Lemon Apron’. Pictured above is Nuremburg Lebkuchen, a German honey cake. Picture: Johann Headley

Award-winning Toronto meals blogger Jennifer Emilson attracts on her German heritage and cherished household recipes for her debut cookbook, The Lemon Apron.

“All in my household are avid travellers, and connecting with new cultures and cuisines via the years has undoubtedly additionally performed a job,” she advised Zoomer. “And dwelling in such a multicultural metropolis as Toronto has impressed my cooking for over twenty years now.”

The guide is chock-full of scrumptious concepts. Considered one of my private faves is her tackle the Reuben sandwich, the place you mix all these scrumptious elements — smoked meat, sauerkraut, cheese, rye bread, Russian dressing — on a sheet pan, stacked open-face, as a substitute of cooking it grilled cheese-style on prime of the range. The result’s toasty, gooey perfection with out the messy flip. I will likely be making this once more.

Writing the guide through the pandemic meant Emilson confronted challenges from ongoing meals shortages, together with flour, yeast and different staples. “However my native impartial grocers and markets by no means let me down, and I really obtained to know all of them so significantly better via this journey,” she mentioned. “That is one thing I want for all my readers: get to know their native butchers, cheese mongers and small impartial grocers; everybody will profit from the bonds created.”

Considered one of her favorite dishes from the guide is Spiced Savoy Cabbage Rolls, which we share beneath, in addition to a number of different tasty recipes you could be tempted to serve up over the vacations. However first some insider culinary suggestions from Emilson.

Cooking on a Finances: With rising meals prices and inflation, many readers are searching for methods to stretch their {dollars} on the grocery retailer. Do you have got any suggestions for this and dishes you’d advocate?

Oh my, that is so true proper now. We actually have to return to the best way our dad and mom and grandparents shopped and handled meals.  Purchase in season and protect, freeze, and many others. Buy luxurious gadgets (even meat) when on sale and freeze: nowadays butchers are so good about vacuum packing no matter we need to put away for future use. A well-stocked pantry (see beneath) could be such a lifesaver. Recipes in my guide — like Niçoise Tuna Soften — all reap the benefits of these pantry and budget-conscious elements.

Insider Ideas: Are you able to share your favorite flavour boosters — and some other secret weapons?

To start with, lemon! It could actually brighten any dish, or lower via soups or stews, and many others., that may be on the heavy or wealthy facet. Whereas I take pleasure in discovering and utilizing uncommon or new-to-me spices, I actually do admire the fundamentals: contemporary parsley, paprika, garlic and citrus zests of all types. A secret weapon can be white pepper. I realized this one from my mum. It has a transparent, pepper flavour, no fruity or smokey undertones, and has a bit extra kick than black pepper. It actually brings one thing particular to a dish.

Straightforward Entertaining: What’s your go-to dish for cooking/entertaining with out the stress?

Spaghetti and meatballs! You’d assume it might be one thing fancy, however I’ve come to comprehend that the majority of us simply need to take pleasure in meals that make us smile. And who doesn’t like a very good meatball!? This can be a meal of little or no stress; the meatballs could be prepped and even frozen properly upfront (I all the time have a bag within the freezer for spontaneous dinners). The marinara sauce could be made upfront as properly.  Actually, the one issues it is advisable to make earlier than firm comes are a salad, and tacky garlic bread! And each of those could be prepped the morning of as properly. Straightforward-peasy, and everyone seems to be glad.

Should-haves: What gadgets or elements do you retain stocked in your pantry and fridge?

Pasta, all of the completely different beans, sardines, tuna, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, honey, sizzling sauces, olive oils and vinegars, crackers, chocolate, nuts and creme de marron are all the time in my pantry. There are at the least three kinds of mustard, olives, 4 or 5 cheeses, mortadella, turkey and dried cured sausage within the fridge always. And eggs! At any given time, any mixture of the above talked about gadgets could make an excellent impromptu Niçoise salad meal, charcuterie platter or antipasto pasta meal.

Discovering Consolation: What’s your go-to consolation meals dish?

It most probably entails cheese! Grilled cheese sammie (the Welsh Rarebit within the guide is a enjoyable model) or mac ‘n’ cheese (there’s a cool German model within the guide). Should you ask my husband will probably be meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

Snack Assault: What’s your favorite snack, wholesome and in any other case?

Eggs, in any form or type! And if it’s for snacking in entrance of the TV, then popcorn.

Multigenerational:  Favorite dishes to cook dinner with the children or grandkids

A enjoyable ‘baking’ recipe is my Forgotten cookies. Mainly chopped nuts and chocolate get folded into whipped egg whites. Then small mounds of this are put onto a baking sheet and put right into a warmed oven. Flip off the oven and let the children open the oven door the following morning to tug out the ‘baked’ cookies!

This Q&A has been edited and condensed


Cabbage Rolls

Lemon Apron Cookbook
Picture: Johann Headley


If there’s one dish that I most vividly bear in mind my mum making, it’s cabbage rolls. I can see clear as crystal her slender fingers wrapping the tender cabbage leaves round the filling of meat, rice, and seasonings. She folded them in probably the most elegant method, if making cabbage rolls can ever be elegant! After including these little bundles to the casserole, she ready her tomato broth (normally consisting of a big can of tomato juice!) and let all of it simmer for a number of hours. And whereas the cabbage rolls had been within the oven, she made the mashed potatoes. Then we ate. Nevertheless, I didn’t come to like cabbage rolls till I used to be older. Then I married Jim. If I made him cabbage rolls every month, his smile would be everlasting. I all the time flip to savoy cabbage (the “winter cabbage”) for its ruffly, lacy leaves, so filled with taste and straightforward to fold. To maintain issues flavorful, I boost the filling with coriander, Aleppo pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and white pepper. 

Serves: 6
Makes: About 12 rolls
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook dinner Time: 2 hours


1 head savoy cabbage


¾ cup long-grain white rice, rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil

1 massive yellow onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb (450 g) lean floor beef
½ lb (225 g) floor pork
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
¼ cup dill leaves, chopped 1 tsp salt
¾ tsp black pepper
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cracked coriander seeds
½ tsp Aleppo pepper
¼ tsp floor nutmeg
2 eggs


  1. Deliver a big pot of salted water (I take advantage of about 3 tablespoons of high quality sea salt) to a boil. Use your fingers to gently pull the outer leaves off the cabbage. As you get nearer to the core, the place the leaves are harder, use a sharp knife to lower proper alongside the core to launch them.
  2. Working in batches if want be, gently slide the leaves into the water and cook dinner till they’re tender and pliable, about 3 to 4 minutes (relying how thick the rib is within the center). Switch the leaves to a tea towel. Repeat. Reserve 3 cups of the cooking water and put aside.

For the Filling:

  1. Add the rice and 1½ cups of water to a saucepan and produce to a boil over medium-high warmth. Drop the warmth to low and simmer, coated, till the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Take away from the warmth and let sit for 10 minutes. Gently fluff the rice. Switch to a big bowl and let cool.
  2. In a skillet over medium warmth, heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic till simply softened, about 4 to five minutes. Switch the onions and garlic to the bowl of rice.

Mum’s Rooster and Rice

Lemon Apron Cookbook
Picture: Johann Headley


Every time my mum requested what I wished for dinner, I’d all the time say her hen and rice. It wasn’t a German basic, nevertheless it was probably the most soothing meal I knew. The chic manner the hen juices flavored the rice personified “house” for me. It took me without end to seize these flavors as soon as I moved out by myself. I lastly found the important thing ingredient—celery! My mum cherished cooking with it. The proper quantity provides this a light, earthy taste that brings the whole lot collectively.


2 tsp candy paprika
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
1 tsp lemon zest
1tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter, divided
6–8 hen thighs, bone in and pores and skin on
1 massive yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped into
½-inch chunks 1 cup basmati rice
cups hen inventory
Olive oil cooking spray (elective)
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, thyme, 1½ teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, the lemon zest, onion powder and garlic powder. Set this seasoning combine apart.
  3. In a big ovenproof skillet or braiser over medium-high warmth, warmth the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the hen thighs, in batches if essential, pores and skin facet down. Sear on all sides till simply golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per facet. Switch to a plate to chill barely. Take away all however 1 tablespoon of the fats from the skillet.
  4. Place the skillet over medium warmth. Add the onions and sauté till they only begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for an additional minute. Add the celery and 1 teaspoon every of salt and pepper. Cook dinner till simply softened, about 3 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, as soon as the hen thighs have cooled, pat away any remaining fats and rub the seasoning combine into all sides.
  6. Add the rice and remaining butter to the skillet and stir to coat. Place the hen evenly on prime of the rice. Pour the inventory and ½ cup of water round and between the hen thighs, however not over prime of them. Improve the warmth to medium-high and carry to a simmer. Let it bubble for 30 seconds. Cowl with a lid, or seal tightly with foil and bake in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes. Take away the lid or foil. If you need the skins to be crispy, spray the hen with a little olive oil cooking spray. Bake till the liquid is absorbed and the inner temperature reaches 165 F, about 10 minutes. Take away from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. If serving from the skillet, gently fluff up the rice round the hen. Garnish with parsley earlier than serving.

Be aware: Searing the meat with out seasonings ensures that the seasonings don’t burn onto the pores and skin or into the pan.


Bacon and Sausage Bread Pudding

Lemon Apron Cookbook
Picture: Johann Headley


We had been out for breakfast with associates one morning, and one of the guys freaked out when he noticed me drizzle maple syrup over my bacon and sausage. You’d assume I’d simply dedicated armed theft! This breakfast pudding is in direct retaliation to that incident. Consider it as the last word sweet-savory baked French toast. It’s the whole lot you might need on a snowy morning, all trapped in one pan and with a crunchy cinnamon-sugar topping. There’s only a trace of warmth, which works properly with the maple syrup. This serves a crowd, however a smaller group can benefit from the leftovers, as they reheat splendidly.

Serves: 8
Prep Time: 35 minutes + resting
Cook dinner Time: 50 minutes


1 (about 1 lb/450 g) loaf day-old bread
oz (190 g) bacon
13¼ oz (375 g) maple breakfast sausage, casings eliminated
5 eggs
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp butter, melted
 tbsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper or chili flakes


1tbsp sugar
1 tsp floor cinnamon
syrup, for serving


For the Bread Pudding

  1. Slice one piece of bread right into a 1-inch-thick slice. If it’s too delicate on the within, slice the remainder of the bread into 1-inch-thick slices and dry out the bread (see the Notes on web page 119). Minimize the bread into 1-inch cubes. Pack the cubes right into a measuring cup and add to a big bowl. Repeat till you have got 12 cups of bread cubes.
  2. Minimize the bacon into ½-inch items and sauté in a skillet over medium warmth till crispy and golden brown. Do not overcook; you don’t need it dried out. Take away with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel–lined plate. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the fats within the pan.
  3. Add the sausage to the skillet and sauté rigorously over medium to medium-high warmth till simply crispy and golden brown, breaking it into small items with the again of a picket spoon as you cook dinner.
  4. This may increasingly take so long as quarter-hour. Don’t rush it with too excessive a warmth, or the meat could scorch. Drain on a separate paper towel– lined plate, blotting with paper towel as wanted. Add to the bacon.
  5. In a bowl, whisk collectively the eggs, sugar, milk, cream, butter, vanilla, salt, chili powder and cayenne. Add three-quarters of the meat combination to the bread cubes and toss to mix. Pour the egg combination over the bread and toss gently to start out soaking the bread.
  6. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Spoon the bread combination into the pan and unfold out evenly. Press down gently to get the bread to absorb all of the liquid. Cowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.
  7. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 325 F.
  8. Take away the plastic from the baking dish and sprinkle the remaining meat over prime, gently pushing the items into the bread. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake on the center rack till a toothpick inserted within the middle comes out clear, about 50 minutes. Let cool for 10 to fifteen minutes.

For the Topping:

In a small bowl, combine collectively the sugar and cinnamon till evenly mixed. Sprinkle generously over the whole prime of the pudding. Serve with maple syrup!


I’ve used panettone and brioche on this recipe with fantastic outcomes. Irrespective of which bread you determine to make use of, be sure it’s thick-cut and appropriately stale!

You may put together the meat the day earlier than you intend to cook dinner the bread pudding. Retailer in an hermetic container within the fridge till wanted. Simply let it come to room temperature earlier than utilizing. Leftovers will preserve in an hermetic container within the fridge for as much as 3 days—however belief me, you’ll need to eat all of this up!

Nuremburg Lebkuchen

Lemon Apron Cookbook
Picture: Johann Headley


If you lower me open, you’ll in all probability discover that I am made of Lebkuchen! Lebkuchen (or honey cake) is a German cousin of North American gingerbread. In addition to being sweetened by honey—as a substitute of molasses— it accommodates a few completely different spices than gingerbread, most strikingly, white pepper and anise seed. Each assist to create a distinctive however heat spice mix. Some of you could have reservations about its licorice leanings, however I promise, this is a good factor. Every space of Germany appears to have its personal particular model, however one of the most beloved is the Nuremburg Lebkuchen, additionally recognized as Elisenlebkuchen. Not like most German baking, this is flour-free, relying completely on nuts, candied peel and eggs. There is one thing so spe- cial about the delicate and chewy texture, the spices, and the interplay of the bittersweet chocolate with the candy cookies. The aromas are downright heady when you open the container . . . even 3 weeks after you make them!

Makes: 32 to 36 cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook dinner Time: 22 minutes per batch


Lebkuchen Spice Mix:
2¼ tsp floor cinnamon
1¼ tsp floor ginger
½ tsp floor cardamom
½ tsp floor cloves
½ tsp floor allspice
½ tsp floor nutmeg
¼ tsp floor white pepper
¼ tsp floor anise seed


3 eggs
1 cup + 1 tbsp (235 g) sugar
4½ oz (125 g) marzipan
¼ tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup packed (85 g) candied orange or lemon peel
½ cup packed (85 g) blended candied peel (I like citrus)
1¼ cups (120 g) floor hazelnuts
cups (120 g) almond meal
½ cup (80 g) finely chopped blanched almonds
7 oz (200 g) darkish or bittersweet chocolate
Sliced almonds, for ornament (elective)


Preheat the oven to 300 F.

For the Lebkuchen Spice Mix:

In a small bowl, whisk collectively the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, white pepper and anise. Put aside.

For the Cookies:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or utilizing a hand- held mixer and a massive bowl, whisk collectively the eggs and sugar. Utilizing the massive facet of a field grater, grate the marzipan into the bowl. Whisk once more till properly blended and barely frothy. Add the Lebkuchen spice mix, the salt, lemon zest, candied peels, floor hazelnuts, almond meal and almonds. Change to the paddle attachment or use a picket spoon to mix properly.
  2. Measure a sheet of parchment paper that will match your baking sheet. Utilizing a marker or pencil, hint circles, 2½ inches in diameter (a spherical biscuit cutter will information you) and about ¾ inch aside. It’s best to be capable of draw about eight circles. Flip the parchment upside down and examine that the markings are nonetheless seen. Spoon 1½ tablespoons or so of cookie batter onto every circle. Utilizing a small offset spatula or your finger dampened with water, unfold the batter to simply fill the circle, leaving a bit extra mounded in the middle.
  3. Bake on the middle rack of the oven till golden brown and barely puffed, about 20 to 22 minutes. Switch the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies utterly cool on the sheet earlier than eradicating. An offset spatula could assist loosen them.
  4. Repeat the measuring and baking steps as many occasions as wanted with the remaining cookie batter, utilizing a new sheet of parchment for every batch.
  5. As soon as all of the batches are utterly cooled, coarsely chop the chocolate, place it in a metallic bowl over a pot of simmering water and soften, stirring, till clean and shiny. Let it cool for 1 minute. Use a silicone brush to unfold the chocolate over the tops of the cookies. Ensure to get into each nook and cranny. If desired, enhance the cookies with the sliced almonds, frivolously urgent them into the chocolate on prime. Let cool utterly.


Should you can’t discover floor anise seed, merely crush complete anise seeds utilizing a mortar and pestle, and use ¼ teaspoon as directed.

If you can’t discover floor hazelnuts, toast 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of complete hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium warmth, stirring often, till aromatic and frivolously browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Switch them to a tea towel, wrap properly and rub them vigorously to take away their skins. Grind the cleaned nuts to a medium-fine meal in a meals processor fitted with the metal blade. Cease as quickly as this texture has been achieved, as going additional will launch the oils and also you’ll end up with hazelnut butter!

The cookies can be saved in a sealed container at room temperature for as much as 3 weeks or within the freezer for as much as 4 months.


Excerpted from The Lemon Apron Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes for the Curious Residence Cook dinner by Jennifer Emilson. Copyright © 2022 Jeniffer Emilson. Cowl and inside design by Lisa Jager. Cowl and inside pictures by Johann Headley. Revealed by Urge for food by Random Home, a division of Penguin Random Home Canada Restricted. Reproduced by association with the Writer. All rights reserved.


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