Recipe to Riches reviewed: Episode 4, Bannock Hazelnut Pie
This week’s episode of Recipe to Riches featured a show first that also happens to be a show last: a Toronto contestant. It also featured a little sparring between marketing judge Tony Chapman on the one side and Laura Calder and product developer Dana McCauley on the other over the appropriate brow-level for the products: the latter two wanted to see food they might serve at a dinner party, leading Chapman to declare, “Neither one of you is the mass market!” As with any reality show, it’s always more fun when things get heated between the judges. After the jump, our recap of the savoury pies episode and the results from our tasting panel.
Burnaby’s Melaney Gleeson-Lyall took the win this week for her hazelnut bannock pie, a part of our heritage that has zeitgeist written all over it at the moment (Oliver and Bonacini recently opened a restaurant named after the Scottish-cum–First Nations flatbread). But the climb to the top for this mild-mannered charity administrator wasn’t easy. First she had to vanquish Toronto’s Tikka Smiley, a bubbly kiddie entertainer (she arrived at the tryouts wearing balloons) who brought her recipe for a vegan pot pie. Sadly, she was eliminated in the batch-up challenge after she replaced her biscuit crust with a dry-as-a-bone whole wheat version “for the esthetic value.” Gleeson-Lyall’s other opponent, Brampton’s Wayne Reid, seemed like he was invented for TV. The good-natured reggae singer bounced around the screen dropping phrases like “I a rub-a-dub it in” to explain the cooking process for his moon-shaped salt fish and ackee pie. After the marketing challenge (whose relevance to the eventual outcome is starting to feel questionable), the judges found themselves faced with a choice between two visions of Canadiana: Aboriginal and multi-culti. Galen Weston Jr. noted in his trademark adorably stiff way that the native heritage of the bannock pie had “an enormous amount of romantic appeal,” but Chapman was clearly in love with the grab-and-go potential of Reid’s pie for the 99 per cent who eat most of their meals on the go. In the end, the win went to the dinner party set (who, in McCauley’s words, “might not be confident enough to make a First Nations recipe” from scratch).
This week’s winning recipe took a lot more effort to put together than any of the previous winners on the show, necessitating an off-site, out-of-office tasting. First, the frozen bannock-less pie filling spends half an hour in the oven during which time you combine a pouch of dry ingredients with water to create the bannock dough. Then you place a flattened ball of dough on top of the half-cooked stew-like filling and put it back in the oven for another half hour. The results of all that labour and time were mixed. Most of the panel found the bannock component much more interesting than the filling. One taster compared it favourably to a “slightly sweet scone,” while another pointed out that it was the only component to elevate the dish beyond so many frozen veggie pot pies (sadly, it doesn’t get cooked in a pan like real bannock). Everyone agreed that the root vegetables and squash filling, while better than the usual pot pie goop, needed a lot more salt. The verdict? Worth a try if the novelty appeals to you. See how we put the dish together in our box-to-plate gallery »
Next week on Recipe to Riches: sweet and savoury snacks, with Whistler’s Sonya Walos, Natasha Langevin of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, and Calgary transplant Donna Feir.
(Images: Melaney Gleeson-Lyall and homemade pie, Food Network Canada; tasting photos, Andrew D’Cruz)