Country Greek from “The Last Schmaltz” is a Salad Comprised of
the Usual Ingredients Plus the Welcome Addition of Chickpeas
What is a nice Jewish boy from North York doing with a mini-empire of quirky restaurants in a gritty neighbourhood of downtown Toronto? Doing pretty well is the short answer.
Anthony Rose is a chef in his mid-40s with impressive credentials. He attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco before stints cooking in Boston and New York, the latter with stellar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. In Toronto, he has worked in the kitchens of notable chefs like Mark McEwan and Marc Thuet. He spent six years cooking at The Drake Hotel, a hip place on Queen West known for its good food.
When he opened his first restaurant, now a Jewish diner called Rose and Sons specializing in excellent pastrami, it was the beginning of an unorthodox, rapid-fire expansion. Anthony soon earned the moniker “the Don of Dupont” because of the cluster of eccentric, small and diverse eateries and food outlets on that street. Big Crow featuring Canadian-style barbecue; Fat Pasha sports Middle Eastern Ashkenazi cuisine; Schmaltz Appetizing sells things that go on or with bagels, Bar Begonia – a French-inspired, rustic bistro. Last, Madame Boeuf and Flea is only open in summer and features hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries.
Anthony has been called “the Judd Apatow of Toronto’s restaurant scene, always with multiple projects on the go, his empire built on a fine-tuned sense of what we want to consume at this very moment” to quote Toronto Life magazine.
He is a media darling because of his colourful antics and often tasty offerings. No wonder that his latest gig is a cookbook – a trademark nowadays of the celebrity chef. “The Last Schmaltz” is a visually lovely, often cheeky recipe collection with accompanying stories by Canadian food and travel writer Chris Johns.
The book is a compendium of hit recipes from his restaurants and are laid out scrapbook-style with handwritten notes. I’ve made several of them and here’s how it went.
The Fat Pasha Hummus is excellent is made from dried chickpeas, soaked and slow-cooked then mixed with lemon juice,olive oil, water and tahini. The latter ingredient spun me into the usual conundrum: I find most brands of tahini bitter. Anthony Rose to the rescue. He sells a non-bitter tahini called SOOM sold in the two shops Schmaltz Appetizing (one on Dupont, the other on Ossington near Dundas). I’ve used it in the hummus and the next dish.
Anthony credits Israeli chef Eyal Shani for the inspiration of Whole Roasted Cauliflower. Briefly steamed and then roasted, the stunning dish is crowned with tahini, shredded halloumi, toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds before bringing to the table. It is simply delicious. Special thanks to SOOM tahini recommended by Anthony and sold at his store Schmaltz Appetizing.
Before we get to another success story called Country Greek – a recipe that’s basically a Greek salad with chickpeas – I have to give a warning: Don’t make the Warm S’Mores Cake – at least until the recipe appears corrected in subsequent additions.
While making it, I worried about the 4 tablespoons of baking powder in that recipe but added them to the mixture of eggs, buttermilk, graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows and chocolate chips just the same. I shouldn’t have. The baking cake overflowed in the prescribed pan all over my oven. When I took it out, it continued to erupt like a slow-moving volcano onto my counter. Oy vey! The good news: The edges of my “cake” were salvaged and tasted pretty good. I didn’t have the heart to make it again – with probably the intended 4 teaspoons of baking powder.
Here’s the other good news – this recipe from “The Last Schmaltz”.
This salad is perfect. Because of the chickpeas’ added protein it can be a main course for lunch or a light supper. It has the right amount of seasoning, the right contrast of taste and texture and is plain delicious. No wonder, it’s a favourite of Anthony’s mother Linda. I’ve streamlined the method in this recipe. It’s okay to use canned chickpeas.
1 English cucumber, cut in chunks
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
½ red onion, peeled, halved and sliced
½ cup pitted black (kalamata) olives, halved
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup crumbled feta
In large bowl, combine cucumber, tomatoes, onion, olives and chickpeas. Whisk together salt, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil in small bowl. Add to vegetable mixture; toss together. Top with crumbled feta.
Makes about 4 servings