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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The St. Lawrence Market Cookbook & an Asparagus and Tomato Bake

As part of a new feature on That Lefty Food Blog, we will be looking at vintage cookbooks, long out-of-print, that are worth seeking out for their quirky or community sensibility. Putting together cookbooks was done by union locals, community groups, church groups and the like, and many of these are well worth remembering. Sometimes, as is the case with the first one we will be looking at, cookbooks would try to capture a certain place or bring new types of cooking to the people. We will feature one recipe from each cookbook we look at.

Vintage Cookbook: The St. Lawrence Market Cookbook, Anita Stewart
Publication Details: Stoddart 1988

Published in 1988 when Toronto was truly starting to come into its multicultural own, The St. Lawrence Market Cookbook is delightful small volume of recipes that the author, Anita Stewart, had culled from amongst the many vendors who operate in the famous, historic Toronto indoor food market.

The book sought to incorporate the different types of cuisine to be found there, as well as the many cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fine meats into its recipes. It begins with a short history of St. Lawrence Market and a tour of it (as it was in 1988), and is then divided into recipe sections according to the type of dish (vegetable, meat, poultry, etc.). It also features a section looking at the cheeses and fruits/vegetables to be found there. These are still remarkably current!

Some notable highlights among the recipes include Greek Fish Soup with Garlic Almond Mayonnaise, Chevre and Leek Tart, Swordfish Szechuan and Applesauce Honey Muffins. 

Today we are featuring a recipe from the Vegetable Dishes section that fits our blog's theme of inexpensive and easy, an Asparagus and Tomato Bake.
It was, according to the cookbook, submitted by Alice Boychyn, who was a fruit and vegetable vendor in the market at the time.

Featured Recipe:

Asparagus and Tomato Bake 

The word "Great" is scrawled across the notes I made after testing this recipe.


4 Tbsps/60 mL. butter
1 1/2 lbs./675 g. fresh asparagus spears
5 medium sized tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsps/45 mL minced onion
3 Tbsps/45 mL chopped celery

2 Tbsps/25 mL fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tbsps/25 mL grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 Tbsps/20 mL fresh sweet basil minced
1 1/2 Tbsps/20 mL granulated sugar*
1/2 tsp/2 mL salt
1/4 tsp/1 mL freshly ground pepper
*The amount of sugar could vary, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 Celsius). In a 9 by 13 in. (3.5 L) baking pan, melt the butter. Line the bottom of the pan with fresh asparagus and sprinkle with the diced tomatoes, onion, celery, breadcrumbs and cheese. Season with the basil and sugar. (If the tomatoes are quite sweet, reduce the amount of sugar used.) Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender.

Makes 4-6 servings.

If you can track a copy down, this one is well worth it. The recipes center around the kinds of ingredients that you find at a big city, multicultural food market, and vary from the simple to the gloriously rich and complex.

In addition it is centered around a market that National Geographic deemed to be the best in the world! Watch for a post visiting St. Lawrence Market in the near future.

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