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So far Laura Rosen Cohen has created 230 blog entries.

September 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

September 25th, 2017|

Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations take place on the second Monday of October each year, well before the November Thanksgiving holiday celebrated by our American neighbours to the south.

The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America actually took place in Canada when British explorer Martin Frobisher arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. It’s not well known, but that means that Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts!

Canadian Thanksgiving used to be celebrated in late October or early November. The first official Canadian day of thanks actually started in – of all months – April of 1872, as a grateful nation celebrated the recovery of King Edward VII from an illness. It was declared a national holiday in 1879 and November 6 was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. On January 31, 1957 the Canadian Parliament announced that the second Monday of October would be recognized nationally as Thanksgiving, “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”. Festivities were moved to the second Monday in October because after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week.

Thanksgiving in Canada has always been associated with religion and culture. Aboriginal people would hold fall feasts thanking the Great Spirit for the bounty of nature. The first European Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada were primarily religious services. In later years, provincial legislatures would proclaim “Blessings of an abundant harvest”.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us here at Food Services!


Kidzworld: Canadian Thanksgiving

Canada Channel: Today In Canadian History

Why Do Canadians and Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving on Different Days?



Say Cheese, U of T! It’s the annual Mac & Cheese Smackdown!

September 19th, 2017|

Hey UTSG, it’s that time of year once again!

Strike a pose and say cheese, because it’s time for our annual Mac & Cheese Smackdown!

Yes, you heard correctly, the Mac is back, so put this amazing event in your calendar and bring your appetite with you on Thursday, September 28 at Willcocks Commons from 11:30 AM -1:30 PM and it’s just $5 for your ballot (one ballot entitles you to four samples and a vote on the champion).

Four of our incredibly talented campus Chefs will once again compete against each other, each with their own unique version of Mac & Cheese, in pursuit of the title of Mac & Cheese Champion 2017. All Chefs have come up with their own, original recipes that are required to have a local food component.

We sat down recently with all the competitors in order to give you the inside scoop on what to expect at the big competition.

Chef James Piggot, Executive Chef, Executive Chef, Residential Dinning, New College, will be working on a dish a little more evolved from just regular Mac & Cheese.  He’s making a “Baked Mac & Chesagana”.

“My dish is unique because it’s a play on Baked Mac & Cheese and Lasagne (kind of paying homage to the old style hamburger helper dishes). We’re using local Ontario ground beef from VG Meats and local vegetables for the bolognaise sauce,” he says.

Chef James says that Chef Jaco is his biggest competition because of the sheer number of times he has won the competition.

Chef Suman Roy, Executive Chef, Retail Operations, says that his Mac & Cheese blends the very best of two unique cuisines.

“I will be blending the flavours of Butter Chicken, from Indian cuisine-my own cultural heritage, with cheese curds-a signature element of Canadian cuisine which is my new love,” he says.

The cheese curds are from Black River Farms and the milk is from Harmony Dairy. Chef Suman says that that he sees Chef Eddie as his toughest competition.

“I’m going to keep my eyes on Chef Eddie, but in reality, all the Chefs are strong and creative so it’s anyone’s game,” he adds.

Chef Eddie Low, Executive Chef, Chestnut Residence, says that he is doing a creative twist on a classic dish. His will be a rich, creamy tribute to traditional Mac & Cheese.

“My dish will be highlighting fresh, local dairy products such as butter, cheese and cream,” he says.

“I’m looking toward Chef Suman as my biggest competition because his dish combines innovation and deep fried Kraft Dinner,” he adds.

For his part, Chef Jaco Lokker, Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Operations for UTSG, says that his Mac & Cheese will be featuring cheeses that have very unique and strong flavours. Part of his challenge will be blending the cheese flavours so that no one cheese overpowers the other.

The local components of Chef Jaco’s dish are the dairy products from Harmony Dairy.

“My cheeses are Dutch in origin (paying tribute to my cultural heritage), but are all made in Canada,” says Chef Jaco, adding that he sees all of the Chefs as tough competitors.

“We are lucky to have an extremely talented culinary team here at U of T, so we’ll just have to wait and see who comes out on top,” he says.


August 2017

Happy Creamsicle Day!

August 14th, 2017|

So, it’s International Creamsicle Day!

But what exactly is a Creamsicle?

Well, it’s actually a registered brand name treat, but one that is generally thought of as a generic name for any ice cream treat that has vanilla ice cream on a stick, covered by a fruit-flavoured ice outer layer.

According to the Nibble blog, the invention of the creamsicle and indeed, the popsicle, was the lucky result of a culinary ‘accident’. They explain:

“In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson mixed together a fruit drink (believed to be orange-flavored) from powder and water and inadvertently left it on the porch. It was an unseasonably cold night in the San Francisco suburbs, and when Frank found his drink the next morning, it was frozen. He eased it out of the glass and, holding it by the stirrer, ate it. While Frank may have enjoyed his frozen fruit drink over the years, the public story doesn’t continue until 1923. A 29-year-old husband and father working in the real estate industry, Frank made what he called Epsicles for a fireman’s ball. They were a sensation, and Frank obtained a patent for “a handled, frozen confection or ice lollipop.’” His kids called the treat a Popsicle, after their Pop. So Frank created Popsicle Corporation and collaborated with the Loew Movie Company for the nationwide marketing and sales of the product in movie theaters. By 1928, Epperson had earned royalties on more than 60 million Popsicles.* But his happy days ended with the Great Depression. In 1929, flat broke, Frank had to liquidate his assets and sold the patent to, and his rights in, the Popsicle Corporation.”


The Nibble: National Creamsicle Day

Foodimentary: August 14 is national creamsicle day 

July 2017

Happy World Chocolate Day!

July 7th, 2017|

Chocolate is one of those foods that just goes with everything!

It’s for holidays, for date nights and celebrations. It goes with dessert, on top of dessert, inside of it and is equally delicious in hot and cold drinks and ice cream.  There are so many ways you can enjoy your chocolate whether you like milk, white or dark.

Although chocolate is generally considered a sweet and ‘happy’ treat that was not always the case. It actually has a long and complicated history, as well as some underlying ethical issues relating to its production that persist to this day.

Until relatively recently, chocolate was consumed as a bitter beverage rather than a sweet treat. The ancient Aztec, Mayan and Olmec civilizations saw chocolate as a mood enhancer and aphrodisiac. Many other cultures including these ones felt that chocolate had mystical powers, and thus chocolate was considered a treat exclusively for the elite.

The ancient Aztecs could not actually grow cacao beans in their own territory in the dry highlands of central Mexico. They traded with the Aztecs, using cacao beans as currency! The legendary Aztec emperor Montezuma is reported to have consumed three gallons of chocolate a day to increase his libido.

Chocolate travelled to Europe with the European explorers and quickly became a hit in royal circles and then within aristocratic circles. A chocolate revolution happened in 1828 when Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented the cocoa press. The van Houten press could squeeze the fatty cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a dry cake that could be pulverized into a fine powder that could be mixed with liquids and other ingredients, poured into moulds and solidified into edible, easily digestible chocolate. All of the sudden, chocolate became an affordable treat for the masses.

Other European companies like William Cadbury and Joseph Fry were quick to jump on the bandwagon The Frys became the sole suppliers of chocolate to the navy, making them the largest chocolate manufacturer in the world, and not to be outdone, the rival Cadbury family gained the title of purveyors of chocolate to Queen Victoria. She was so obsessed with its life-enhancing qualities that she sent 500,000 lbs. to her army.

The rest, as they say, is history, and chocolate remains one of the world’s favourite treats.

Exit questions: Is white chocolate really chocolate?

According to Bon Appetite magazine: no.

“White chocolate is made with a blend of sugar, cocoa butter, milk products, vanilla, and a fatty substance called lecithin. Technically, white chocolate is not a chocolate—and it doesn’t really taste like one—because it doesn’t contain chocolate solids. When cocoa beans are removed from their pods, fermented, dried, roasted, cracked open, and their shells discarded, what results is a nib. Chocolate nibs are ground into a paste called chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor can be separated into cocoa solids, which provide the flavor, and cocoa butter, which is the fat. Though white chocolate contains extracted cocoa butter, it lacks the component that defines real chocolate.”

What about ‘dark chocolate’? What’s the difference?

As per Baking Bites:

“Dark chocolate is chocolate that is made primarily with sugar, cocoa and cocoa butter, and does not contain milk or milk solids. The amount of sugar, cocoa and cocoa butter can vary dramatically from brand to brand, but it is the lack of milk that really distinguishes dark chocolate from milk chocolate. Dark chocolates also often include vanilla and an emulsifier, to keep the chocolate as smooth as possible. In the US, there is not specific minimum cacao percentage for dark chocolate. Cacao percentage refers to the amount of cocoa solids in a product. Cocoa solids are all of the ingredients from a cocoa bean, including cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and chocolate liquor. In Europe, the definition of dark chocolate specifies 35% cocoa solids. Premium dark chocolates have a higher cacao percentage and a higher price tag than less expensive dark chocolates.

“Semisweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and extra dark chocolate are all names that have been created to describe different types of dark chocolate, but all three are dark chocolate. There are no strict definitions that divide these sub-types of dark chocolate. They are primarily inventions of chocolate manufacturers to make it easier for consumers to differentiate between dark chocolates with more intense flavour.”


The Sweet History of Chocolate

Food and Drink

A Brief History of Cocoa

Ten Reasons Why You Should Eat Chocolate

About White Chocolate

What Is Dark Chocolate?

The History of Chocolate (video)

A Brief History of Chocolate (Just In Time For Valentine’s Day)







U of T’s Chef Suman Dishes on Indian Food on Campus

July 5th, 2017|

The latest food concept at UTSG is streetside Indian and so far, it’s a great success.  It’s called CUMIN, and we spent some time recently with Chef Suman Roy the launch and how the idea originated.

“The key factor for us was authenticity,” explains Chef Suman.

“We wanted to make sure that we offer a completely authentic Indian food experience, and to make our foods flavourful but not to heavy-to keep it light,” he adds, explaining that they will be staying away from heavy cream in the CUMIN recipes.

Toronto is an incredibly multicultural city, he notes, and its diners have a very diverse, accepting and adventurous palate. Chef Suman says that in addition to a high demand for Indian food in the city, there has also been a great appetite for Indian food right here on campus.

“Indian food is really popular in general, so last year, we started introducing some Indian dishes in our residences and they were really well received. We started off with a Tandoori Chicken and that went amazingly well. Students really responded to the flavours and also liked that it was a substantial portion of food, but not fried and it was also full of vegetables,” he says.

Having vegetarian options is also a key component of the CUMIN concept. Chef Suman says that there will always be a vegetarian option available for those abstaining from meat, and even “snacky” items like vegetarian pakoras. All of the recipes have gone through a rigorous testing and tasting period and now the culinary team has them down pat and ready to go.

“CUMIN provides UTSG students, faculty and staff with an authentic Indian food experience, just like they would eat in Delhi,” says Chef Suman. He adds that they are serving top of the line basmati rice, and foods that are layered with home-ground spices, including saffron and many others.

Be sure to check out CUMIN at the Robarts Library food court. It’s absolutely currylicious!