It’s a big week for food lovers in Vancouver. Some of Canada’s best chefs are in town for the 13th annual EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival, which kicked off April 26 and runs until Sunday (May 3).
Ontario chefs Anna Olson, Susur Lee, and Mark McEwan are all participating in this year’s expanded festival, which includes culinary workshops and collaborative dinners with chefs at Vancouver restaurants. It culminates with a three-day exhibition at B.C. Place this Friday to Sunday (May 1 to 3), where these chefs and others—such as local personalities Vikram Vij, Ned Bell, and Rob Feenie—will be appearing on the Celebrity Chef Stage.
In addition to cooking demos and food-and-beverage exhibitors, there will be some new features under the dome this year, including a Craft Beer Alley all three days and the Speed Rack Canada National Finals on Saturday (May 2). The latter is a competition among female Canadian bartenders that will raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The $25 admission to that event, which runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., includes cocktail sampling and general admission to the festival. (See eat-vancouver.com/ for tickets; a regular adult B.C. Place entry goes for $15 plus tax online or $17 at the door.)
Some of the participating chefs will go head-to-head in a friendly showdown on Friday night (May 1 at 8 p.m.). The Celebrity Chef Throwdown pits Olson against Beaucoup Bakery pastry chef and owner Jackie Kai Ellis and Café Medina’s executive chef, Jonathan Chovancek. Feenie, who is a two-time champion of past Throwdowns, is the head judge for the black-box cooking event, along with media judges including yours truly.
Olson is a regular on the EAT! Vancouver stage. The host of Food Network Canada’s Bake With Anna Olson has written seven best-selling cookbooks, including her most recent, Back to Baking: 200 Timeless Recipes to Bake, Share, and Enjoy. She’ll be demonstrating some of her recipes on the Celebrity Chef Stage on Friday (May 1) at 3 p.m. and Saturday (May 2) at 12:15 p.m. (She’s also doing a VIP meet-and-greet both days for an extra charge; see the Eat! Vancouver website.)
Olson shares her Tarte au Chocolat recipe with the Georgia Straight below, describing it as “an elegant dessert for a special dinner”. Made with a ganache-style filling, it can be topped with fresh raspberries for a colourful finish.
Mother’s Day treat, anyone?
Anna Olson’s tarte au chocolat
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (125 mL) icing sugar, sifted
3 large egg yolks
1 cup (250 mL) cake and pastry flour
¼ cup (60 mL) Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 Tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) whipping cream
¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 oz (227 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup (60 mL) sugar
½ cup (125 mL) hot, strong coffee
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
- For the pastry, beat the butter and icing sugar until smooth, then add the egg yolks all at once and beat until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt together. Add this to the butter mixture and stir until evenly combined. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap, and chill until ready to use.
- Knead the dough once or twice on a lightly floured work surface to soften, then roll out to a circle just less than ¼-inch thick. Lift the dough carefully to line a 9-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and trim away any excess. Dock the pastry with a fork. Chill the tart shell for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 ° F (180 ° C). Place the chilled tart shell on a baking tray and bake it for about 18 minutes, until you see that the pastry has an even, dull finish. Allow it to cool while you prepare the filling.
- For the filling, bring the cream and butter up to a simmer and pour this over the chocolate in a large bowl, letting it sit for just a few seconds. Gently stir the mixture with a spatula until the chocolate melts, then whisk in the sugar and coffee. Lightly beat the eggs in a small dish and add to the chocolate mixture, along with the vanilla, whisking gently until incorporated. Pour this into the cooled tart shell and bake (still at 350 ° F [180 ° C]) for 12 minutes.
- Allow the tart to cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours before serving. The tart can be stored, refrigerated, for up to 2 days.
Yield: one 9-inch tart. Serves 8 to 10 people. Recipe has not been tested by the Georgia Straight.