5 December 2011

Interview with Chef Tom from Presidents Choice

Recently I was contacted by Presidents Choice to interview Chef Tom. This has been an enlightening experience and a joy to learn not only about new Presidents Choice products available this holiday season , but to share tips with you from their kitchens. Meet Chef Tom...

I know I would enjoy sharing a table with him this holiday season with his Greek background and finger on what is up and coming at Presidents Choice.The holidays are a very busy time and it is not over yet!!!!! We cook, we bake, we clean all to make the holiday season perfect for our loved ones, so,  it is wonderful to have your cupboard or pantry filled with some holiday survival products from President's Choice. Products that will enhance the flavours of your party dishes or premade foods that make your entertaining a stress-free reality. What I love about President's Choice is that they keep on giving with their involvement in another charitable organization with their role as President's Choice® Children’s Charity . They have increased their support to Breakfast for Learning to $7.2 million. Breakfast for Learning provides nutrition programs to help children and youth across the country receive healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks to help fuel a better learning environment. Way to keep the holiday spirit going all year round!

1. What is one tip you have for our readers to enable us to spend less time in the kitchen this holiday season?

The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends, not spending all day in the kitchen stressing over making the perfect meal. Entertaining should be fun and easy! My number one tip is take shortcuts, that don’t sacrifice taste or presentation, where you can.

For appetizers, the PC® Shrimp Mini Hors d’Oeuvres Collection comes with a sweet chili dipping sauce, and is ready in 10 – 12 minutes. You can serve it with additional sauces from scratch that you can make quickly with just a few ingredients.

For dinner, the President’s Choice® Easy-Carve™ Rosemary and Garlic Semi-Boneless Leg of Lamb comes seasoned, butterflied, rolled, tied and partially deboned. For easy and beautiful presentation, serve it on a gorgeous platter with sprigs of fresh herbs and roasted veggies.

For desserts, retro is very popular right now and we are seeing the revival of classic treats like whoopie pies and red velvet cake. The President’s Choice® Red Velvet Cake Baking Mix allows you to whip up a moist cake with rich cocoa notes in minutes. The traditional cream cheese icing is easy to make from scratch, especially with a recommended chef’s recipe right on the mix box. For extra decadence and presentation, sprinkle cocoa on top of the cake and serve with the new President’s Choice® Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream. Chocolate and coffee pair so well together so serve guests a piping hot cup of full-bodied coffee, like the President’s Choice® Winter Blend Coffee.
2. Can you give us a few recipe ideas to recreate a fast and perhaps healthy meal for holiday entertaining?

For a quick, easy and healthy main course, get out your slow-cooker! Moroccan-inspired cuisine is very trendy. I love making the Moroccan Lamb Tagine with our new PC® Memories Of® Morocco Sweet and Spicy Tagine Sauce. I recommend browning the lamb in a frying pan first before you put it in the slow cooker to add even more flavor and dimension to the dish. Serve it with traditional couscous and mint tea. This is the ultimate delicious comfort food on a warm night, but it is festive enough to serve to guests. The recipe can be found at pc.ca. Offering a bowl of clementines or mandarin oranges for dessert will round out the healthy meal.

3. What would be the one ingredient you couldn't live without in your holiday recipes?

Cheese is versatile and can elevate any dish. My new favourite cheese is the PC® Blue Cheese made in small batches at a Canadian dairy established in 1879, from 100 per cent Canadian milk. It has a crumbly yet creamy texture, mellow flavor and wonderful aroma. The Blue Cheese Canapé with Walnut is a quick and easy way to enjoy this cheese:
**Blue Cheese Canapé with Walnut**

• 24 PC® Mini Crisp & Thin Six Garden Vegetable Crackers
• 2 tbsp (25 mL) PC® Memories Of® Tuscany Balsamic Vinegar & Fig Sauce
• 75 g (2 ½ oz) PC® Blue Cheese , cut in 24 bite-size pieces
• 8 large seedless red grapes, each cut in 6 thin slices
• 24 walnut pieces


Place crackers flat on work surface. Place a small dollop of Memories Of® sauce on each cracker. Top with a piece of blue cheese, two slices of grape and a piece of walnut. Transfer to serving platter.

If you aren’t a blue cheese enthusiast, you can substitute it with a nice, aged Cheddar.

4. Here at More Than Burnt Toast we reminisce about our childhood memories and their association with comfort food. Do you have a favourite "food memory" you like to recreate in your own kitchen from your childhood during the holiday season?

Absolutely I do! A very traditional Greek Christmas treat is a cookie called Melomakarona. It’s a delicious honey-dipped walnut cookie that my Mom makes every year, and that I now enjoy making with my kids. This cookie isn’t made with any butter, only olive oil. You bake them, leave them for a day to firm up and then you dip them in a honey-sugar solution and pat on crushed walnuts. It just isn’t Christmas until these are served!
5. What holiday traditions are carried on in your family from year to year?

We really like to blend the traditional North American and Greek dishes when sitting down at the holiday dinner table. So along with the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, we’ll also be eating kalamata olives, feta cheese and spanakopita!
6. Do you foresee any new food trends for the 2011 holiday season from President’s Choice?

For this year’s holiday season, President’s Choice is bringing back retro desserts, particularly red velvet, and also creating our own new trends by redesigning some of our classic products.

Now that red velvet cake has made a comeback, President’s Choice will help you wow your family and friends with our new PC® Red Velvet Cake Baking Mix. You can use the mix to bake a cake or cupcakes and the handy chef’s tip on the packaging will help you whip up the traditional cream cheese icing. President’s Choice has also introduced the PC® Ice Cream Shop Flavours Ice Cream in Red Velvet Cake! Our ice cream is swirled with chunks of red velvet cake and red cream-cheese icing ripple and is, of course, made with 100 per cent Canadian milk. And of course – don’t forget to try the PC® Red Velvet Cheesecake. It’s a no-fail option for your holiday meal grand finale!

Also available in a baking mix is the PC® Chocolate Whoopie Pie Baking Mix. Our simple mix makes it easy to create the two soft chocolate cakes and the airy, creamy, marshmallow fluff filling.

President’s Choice is always creating new and innovative products, and for this year’s holiday season we are excited to introduce the PC® The Decadent® Molten Chocolate Chip Cookie. We took our famous chocolate chip cookie and turned into a warm and wonderful winter treat. Our thick, soft and chewy President’s Choice® The Decadent® Molten Chocolate Chip Cookies are made with an all-butter recipe and have a rich chocolaty molten centre that melts when you pop it into the oven or microwave.

Disclaimer: I have not tried any of these products nor have I been reimbursed by the company to endorse their products. You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Interesting produces!



  2. Great job Val!!! Smart questions and very interesting answers :D. Thanks for all the new ideas... Christmas is just around the corner and I still need some inspiration.

  3. That balsamic vinegar and fig sauce sounds amazing! :-)

  4. Very interesting interview Val. I had no idea they made the range of products they did.

  5. Nice interview, Val. And President's Choice is very generous in their support to Breakfast for Learning.
    I've not heard of these products....will be watching for them.

  6. Fellow Eat, Write, Retreat attendee here! Great interview. I think it's interesting that so many big chefs are pairing couscous and tajine and calling in classic or traditional! So not the case! I recently wrote a post about this phenomenon on my Moroccan cooking blog and tried to clear up some of the confusion! http://marocmama.com/2011/11/culture-point-tajine-and-couscous.html

  7. What a great interview, Val! I feel so much more prepared to tackle the holidays now!

  8. Love the idea of breakfast for learning.


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