Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 – A Canada Day Celebration

Jun 28th, 2009 | By | Category: Appetizer, BBQ, Beef, Canada Day, Canadiana, Festive, Greek, Greek Food, Greek Grill, Liqueur, Main, Meat, Meze

IMG_6335-1This upcoming week will kick off the holiday season what with children out of school and parents are gearing up for family vacations. Next week also marks the arrival of July and a very important date for Canadians is July 1st – Canada Day.

Us Canadians celebrate with pride our very young but thriving, prosperous and peaceful country’s birthday. Canada as we know it (as a nation) will turn a mere 142 years old. The number of years celebrated each year has always been easy for me to remember. I was born in 1967, I was a Centennial Baby. Back in 1967, Canada celebrated it’s 100 years in existence as a country. We’re a young nation but one with much promise.IMG_6418

Canada is a nation made up of the Native peoples, early Viking settlements have been discovered on Newfoundland and early French and English settlers laid foundations for what is today modern Canada.

The social fabric of today’s Canada is a richer tapestry – one that includes a significant immigrant population. Both my parents came from Greece and many of my other friends in Canada share a similar fate in being born in Canada to immigrant parents.

High atop of the corner of Yonge & Dundas, downtown Toronto

High atop of the corner of Yonge & Dundas, downtown Toronto

Today, immigration numbers are still high and Canada still embraces people from all over the world: to escape persecution or war, to seek out a better life and contribute to the development of this young, budding nation.

Canadians are very proud of their country and we wear the Canadian flag with much pride. Canada Day often gets shadowed by the July 4th festivites just South of the border and that’s why I chose to throw a BBQ to celebrate Canada Day.

You still have a few days to plan your backyard BBQ for friends and family and you’re about to get an eye-full of delicious ideas for a summer BBQ. The slant of my feast is obviously towards Greek food. Gone are the days when non-Greeks would look oddly at Greek dishes. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love Greek food.

This BBQ presented a little bit of a challenge. In the mix I had invited some folks who often serve me at the pub I frequent in downtown Toronto. Not one of them Greek, not one having visited Greece and all them associate Greek food with what they have been served on the Danforth (Toronto’s Greektown).

When I first started this blog, my intentions were to show Greek food the way I know it as a Greek, my vast experience in trying varying Greek dishes from all regions of Greece and sharing my experiences with you, the reader.

My friends relished each and every plate, they have a new concept of what Greek food is all about and after all the dishes cleared and loaded into the dishwasher, I’m delighted they all now love  Greek food.

After today, you too going to love Greek food!

First plates to arrive on the table were the dips. I chose to offer this delicious roasted red pepper dip.

Red ppppers charred on the grill, sweated and skins peeled and blended with grilled scallions, Feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil.

Red peppers charred on the grill, sweated and skins peeled and blended with grilled scallions, Feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil.

The other dip to arrive at the backyard banquet is a summer standard when I’m entertaining, Melitzanosalata or, eggplant salad.

Eggplants are charred on the grill then the meat is spooned out and mashed with a martar and pestle with garlic and olive oil and finished off with chopped fresh parsley and chopped walnuts.

Eggplants are charred on the grill then the meat is spooned out and mashed with a mortar and pestle with garlic and olive oil and finished off with chopped fresh parsley and chopped walnuts.

Next to arrive in front of our hungry eyes was a little taste of Canada, some salmon cakes.IMG_6214

The salmon cakes came to the table alongside an Avocado Tzatziki. Chunks of avocado were stirred into strained Greek yogurt and chopped fresh tarragon added alot of flavour to a wonderful pairing for salmon.IMG_6216-1

Inorder to buy myself some time and get the grill going for the upcoming dishes, I served a plate of my homemade Pastourma. Pastourma is the original pastrami and it’s cured and seasoned with fenugreek and other exotic Byzantine spices.IMG_6220-1

At this point, the grill still wasn’t ready, so I quickly jumped back in the kitchen and whipped up a quick saute of shrimp with a garlic, olive oil, a Greek dessert wine made of the Moscato grape and finished off with lime juice, Boukovo (chilli flakes) and parsley.IMG_6222-1

Finally! The grill is ready and this as good of a moment as ever to introduce my friends to grilled octopus. The night before I braised the octopus in it’s own juices, threw in the wine cork for extra-tender action and then marinated the tentacles in wine and spices. Those at the table who’ve eaten octopus never had it so tender and those trying it for the first time became converts.

Grilled octopus on skewers and dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and dried Greek oregano.

Grilled octopus on skewers and dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and dried Greek oregano.

In keeping with the cephalopod theme, the next item on the menu were grilled baby calamari stuffed with Kasseri cheese, scallions and red peppers and then topped with a parsley sauce. This is new dish in my roster and it will be a delight to make over and over again!IMG_6240-1

Using my grill basket, I tossed some peppers, zucchini, mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled them quickly over high heat. Another drizzle of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste were all that was needed to complement the veggies’ natural flavours.IMG_6244-1

It’s now time for some meat. A summertime favourite in Greece and on my grill is pork belly. Greeks love grilled meats and Pantsetes are often found alongside souvlaki and keftdes at most grill houses and tavernas.IMG_6248-1

Us Greeks like to feed our guests…I mean REALLY feed them. The next meat course comes from the island of Cyprus. This dish is called Seftalia. Ground beef and pork and seasoned with spices (including a pinch of cinnamon) and wrapped in lamb’s caul fat and grilled. Moist, juicy and aromatic are my recollection of this popular dish from Cyprus.IMG_6254-1

Last of the meat courses was some spare ribs. My own dry-rub combo coated these ribs over night and then during the day of my BBQ, I baked them off in the oven and finished them on the grill and finally slathered them with a zesty BBQ sauce.IMG_6258-1

Served alongside the ribs are a Canadian favourite…Yukon Gold potatoes sliced into coins, tossed in olive oil and Montreal Steak Spice, wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in the BBQ on indirect heat. These spuds are one of the easiest and tastiest offerings for a BBQ!IMG_6260-1

At this point, we were all full. Some went for smoke breaks, I loaded the dishwasher with plates, cutlery, etc and then I served up a small plate of watermelon salad with thinly sliced red onions, chopped fresh mint, cubes of Feta and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.IMG_6379-1

One of the most important rules about attending a feast is to always leave room for dessert. I chose a Greek classic, Creme Caramel with the only “twist” being the use of some grated Tonka bean to infuse the milk. This was my first time using Tonka beans and I’m hooked! The flavour, the aromas are intoxicating.IMG_6262-1

There you have it folks…my Canada Day BBQ celebration. I do hope you enjoyed the virtual hospitality and I hope I’ve captured your imaginations and piqued your interest in trying some dishes.

Recipes and links will follow in the days ahead. Tell me what recipes you would like to see first and I’ll try and post the more popular recipes first.

Finally, don’t forget to wish Canada ad Happy Birthday this Wednesday July 1st…Happy 142nd Canada!!!

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

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© 2009, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

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61 Comments to “Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 – A Canada Day Celebration”

  1. Judy says:

    Awesome post Peter. I am too a Centennial baby. Do you have the commemorative coins from that year? My Dad saved them all and gave them to me so I still have them. Cool huh? I love this Greek Canada Day celebration and it has made me even more homesick than I was!

  2. Elle says:

    Peter, your guests at this party are the luckiest people on the planet! Everything looks fabulous. And now I’m starving. hehe.

  3. Peter G says:

    Wow! You should do professional catering! This looks phenomenal…look forward to the recipes in the coming days.

  4. maria v says:

    everything looks fantastic – i havent tried salmon cakes, and its been a long time since i had some creme caramel, so i’m looking forward to getting those recipes

  5. An amazing feast to celebrate the birth of our nation Peter. The dish from Cyprus, Seftalia has intrigued me.

  6. megan says:

    Everything looks fantastic. Oh how I would love to dine at this table!

  7. I knew I shouldn’t have looked at your site at 5:30 P.M. Now I’m really hungry and the new rib recipe I’m trying isn’t ready till 7 P.M. I will be making ribs again for Canada Day and would love to see your rub recipe and cooking method.

  8. Natashya says:

    Such a beautiful spread! You have convinced me Peter, I have to try octopus someday soon.
    Such a wonderful treat for your friends, they are lucky to have a great guy like you to feed them!

  9. I can’t believe all that food you prepared. I’ll have one of everything. You must be pooped out from all the work.

  10. Haley J. says:

    You’ve outdone yourself. I have been drooling over your pantsetes for a while, but now that octopus! It looks amazing. Wow.

  11. Dragon says:

    An amazing feast, Peter. The creme caramel dessert reminds me of Portuguese dessert. ;)

  12. farida says:

    Everything looks so delicious! I loved you mentioning that the Greeks like to feed their guests:))) Sounds very similar to what we do in Azerbaijan:) First time visitors in Azerbaijan find it a little too much in the beginning but then they realize that’s it’s part of culture. Guests are very important, just like in Greece. So much in common, right?

  13. Happy Canada day. I really want that octopus, it looks delicious. Your post makes me want to get up to Toronto, our regular trips has been halted over the last three years as I have been either pregnant or with a little baby. Hopefully next year.

  14. What a fabulous feast and a wonderful way to celebrate! Happy Canada day!

  15. Jan says:

    Hello you – HAD to pop on here before leaving for camping (yes again lol) I’m up at the crack of dawn and reading this has made me hungry!
    You made me smile when (after the potatoes) you said ‘At this point, we were all full’…..I should think you were! LOL
    Fantastic dishes Peter and as always – your blog is the best!

    Ps: Happy 142nd Canada!!

  16. Janet says:

    Oh. My. God. Total food porn, Peter!! My mouth was open in admiration at the first few photos, then dropped in awe at the rest~ WHOA! Ok, I’m game- I’d love to tackle the grilled baby calamari first. I think it’ll totally impress my hubby!

  17. Janet says:

    Oh, and Happy Canada Day!! Bravo, Peter!

  18. Rosa says:

    What awesome food! Everything looks so tempting and delicious! A great post…



  19. Foodycat says:

    I am fascinated by the wine cork in with the octopus. Does it really help make it tender? This is such a perfect celebration of both being Greek and being Canadian. And if I start saving now, I’ll be able to come to next year’s party!

  20. WOW!! Amazing food…… how do I get an invite to one of these feasts?? I’m salivitating just looking at all those wonderful photos! YUM!


  22. I had no idea Canada was only 142 years old!! That’s really interesting to know. I think historically there are also quite a lot of Dutch people in Canada. I’ve only been there once during the winter and totally loved it, so going back during the summer and touring around is still high on our calendar of places to visit!
    Your backyard picknick sounds delicious!

  23. Dee says:

    As one of the five newbies on the site I thought I’d say “Happy Canada Day.”

    My Mom was and family were from Montreal, now some are in Toronto.

    Since Mom died a few months ago, I think I’d rather celebrate Canada Day than July 4th, our Independence Day. She had a Green Card so never gave up her country in over fifty years.

    Do me a favor and have some smoked meat, lean on rye with just a bit of hot mustard. And a Molsen. OK, two. Thanks.

    Yeah, I’m finally a newbie after WordPress allowed it – Check it out!

    Happy Canada Day!

  24. pam says:

    Oh, Peter, that was a true feast! I love the avocado Tzatziki. I know, all the gorgeous food and I zero in on that. What can I say, I’m a big fan of condiments.

  25. Peter, i’m loving all of it except…. the watermelon!. Supposedly New Zealanders love watermelon but I really don’t like the taste.

    However the rest of the feast….you’ve even convinced me that octopus* cooked this way would be delicious. I hope your guests had a winderful time, and that you got to eat some of it too.

    * I’m a wuss that doesn’t like the thought of eating such an intelligent being, yet I eat pork and pigs are brainy too.

    Greek food = great food. Can almost smell the lovely aromas from Winter here.

    Have a happy Summer of cooking and eating,

    Michelle in Wellington

  26. grace says:

    that is some undeniably colorful and flavorful food, peter. frankly, i think it’s unfair that i haven’t even tasted half the stuff while some people get to eat it on a daily basis. sigh–it’s a hard-knock life. :)

  27. Marta says:

    I left a comment on your taztziki recipe, but the page went spastic on me. So I repeat it :)
    I’m catering a wedding in a month. The groom asked me to set out a mid-night buffet containing “mainly dips and spreads”. so there I am, offering hummus, babaganoush, roasted red pepper dip, pesto dips (going with my Italian and Lebanese roots) and he stops me and says “just make sure we has tzatziki!” Hahahaha I’ve never made it before, but I immidiately though of you! “Peter will have a good recipe and I will use that” I comforted myself!
    So there you have it, your tzatziki will make an appearance in a certain Calgary wedding very soon!
    And with regards to this post: Canada is amazing, I love this country! And I thik this menu offers delicious nods to both Canada and Greece. The octopus looks amazing!

  28. Katerina says:

    Amazing as usual. Both your dips are so amazingly photographed and plated. I am dying to make the eggplant one. Looks mouth watering!

    (Happy Early Canada Day!)

  29. Gaby says:

    oh my goodness… everything looks so amazing and fabulous… I wish I was there!

  30. Christina says:

    The food looks incredible! I like how the watermelon salad near the end would help cleanse the palate, so to speak, but more than that it’s refreshing.

  31. Jamie says:

    I don’t even know what to say it is so amazing! Fabulous food and I am so impressed that you “whipped it up” all yourself for this one meal! That is something! And Happy Canada Day! I’ll take this barbecue over an all-American 4th of July bbq any day!

  32. Sarah says:

    Happy Canada Day, I was born in Montreal and wish I was there to celebrate, especially with food like that. Thanks for the information. I did not realize that Greeks use fenugreek which is a spice usually attributed to India, Yemen and Iraq. Cheers

  33. This was a feast indeed, Peter! I love Canada. D and I are still thinking of moving there if we can find a way to work it out.

    Happy (early) Canada Day!

  34. Oh my gosh Peter ~ what a FEAST!!!

    Everything looks so beautiful and delicious. I know your friends will never forget this celebration, how lucky they are!

    Marvelous post, I love coming to your blog ~ I always learn so much. You are a wonderful teacher. Your photos are gorgeous too (as always!)

    Bravo! Very, very nicely done. :) ~m.

  35. What perfect timing. Your 24 submission was right on time. We’d love to try that red pepper dip.

  36. Anna says:

    As always a true feast! I have to haul my butt to TO one of these days!

  37. I love tastes says:

    What a great feast! Everything looks so perfect and mouth watering… wondeful!

  38. I started drooling right around the Pastourma, it only got worse as I read further down the post. It all looks amazing Peter. What do I have to do to get an invite to one of your shindigs?

  39. Luana says:

    All the food for this spread looks just fantastic. I especially like the watermelon offered at the end; it’s looks so refreshing.

  40. Sophie says:

    Happy Canada day!! Your food looks excellent as always!!! I really like to try & taste it all!!

    Beautiful pictures !!

  41. FoodJunkie says:

    Those spare ribs look “kolasmena”! Great combinations Peter and I am soo happy you made people love REAL Greek food!

  42. Alta says:

    Wow, that seems like a mountain of food! The Pastourma looks delicious, as does the octopus! I wish I could have joined you! Job well done.

  43. Happy Canada Day to you!

    I love your mix of traditions here. Go Canada! Go Greece!

    That red pepper dip looks awesome. I’m in love with your pastourma. I could eat every single one of those ribs. The Seftalia and pork bellies are making my mouth water 10 times over. This is quite a feast in every respect. Beautiful job!

  44. [...] Food and Beyond « Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 – A Canada Day Celebration [...]

  45. courtney says:

    I really love the look of that Octopus. Great entry for 24-24-24.

  46. Marie says:

    Amazing food that graces your table Peter! Lucky guests!!
    Happy Canada Day to you and yours!

  47. Maria says:

    Great BBQ celebration Peter! It all looks completely delicious–even the super simple watermelon salad! I don’t know what I’d pick as my favorite … but the salmon cakes with avocado tzatziki are really calling out to me!

    Happy Canada Day!

  48. lo says:

    Avocado tzatziki! You’ve totally inspired me :) And yes, it’s really that simple. I’ll take some of that gorgeous octopus and calimari too… while I’m here.

    Happy Canada Day, Peter!

  49. Nicole says:

    Congrats on the 24-24-24 post! I am dying for the salmon cakes there! Wow. Actually I wouldn’t say no to any of that. Looks absolutely delish. What a feast.

  50. Wowww! I should come over to your party. Happy Canada Day, eh!!!

    Love the seafood parts.

  51. Cynthia says:

    One of the most delicious 24-24-24! Outstanding as always, Peter.

  52. dhanggit says:

    You are indeed a magician in the kitchen Peter!! Those ribs are fantastic and sexy!! Not as sexy as you though LOL Happy Canada Day!!

  53. Joan Nova says:

    Belated Happy Canada Day! You always show your pride in being Greek but this time you also showed your Canadian pride. And I’m sure the gang at the pub has a newfound admiration for the guy on the barstool! That was quite a feast you prepared.

  54. Kevin says:

    What a feast indeed! Those ice cream like scoops of roasted red pepper dip look great! Watermelon and feta is a really nice combination of sweet and salty.

  55. noobcook says:

    congrats on another fantastic 24 feature. The food looks so droolicious especially the salmon cakes, and my fave, all the grilled stuff hehe

  56. What an incredible party! Can I attend next time? This is a generous and delicious-looking spread. I want those stuffed squid and seasoned potatoes right now. And, I’m planning to make a watermelon-feta salad tomorrow. And, dessert. I’ve never used tonka beans, but I’m curious.

  57. Bren says:

    is your caramel dessert similar to our flan? it sure looks like it. and, i now regret now using my tonka bean i brought back from Barbados last summer. I brought back an entire bag, put them in the fridge, and never used them. ugh. i hope you had a great Canada Day! I meant to send you this nice article in the NYT about Canada Day! So here it is and enjoy!

  58. [...] served grilled octopus to my friends last week in honour of Canada Day as I wanted to showcase some Greek standards…things one would eat in Greece. Octopus is [...]

  59. Jeanne says:

    Can I be invited next year? Pretty please??

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