A 3.5 hour drive north east of Toronto, the Opinicon has sat proudly on a rise above the banks of Opinicon Lake and the Rideau Canal’s Chaffey’s Lockstation for more than 120 years.
Today visitors come to The Opinicon by car, by boat, and sometimes by floatplane for excellent meals and hospitality in the pub and the restaurant dining room. And in the heat of summer many will make the trip for a scoop or two of delicious ice cream in the iconic ice cream shop.
“Growing up on a cattle farm in rural Ontario food was always in the forefront of everything,” The Opinicon executive chef Angela Baldwin said, reminiscing about her father’s freshly baked bread.
“At 14, I took my first kitchen job as a dishwasher in a small resort located in the 1000 Islands region of Eastern Ontario. I remember falling behind in my dishwashing duties because I was watching everything the cooks were doing.”
“I worked in kitchens every summer when I was in high school, getting my first full time position at Chez Piggy in Kingston, Ontario. After my first taste of duck confit (and acquiring the skills to make it!), I was hooked.
“Since then I have worked my way through a string of increasingly higher positions at some great restaurants in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
“Coming back to my roots as the Executive Chef at the Opinicon has been a wonderful experience. I get the chance to foster young chefs on their culinary journey or even a young adult putting themselves through school. I have the opportunity to teach them skills that they will use for the remainder of their lives. I feel it has come full circle for me.
“Doing what you love is freedom, loving what you do is happiness.”
“This recipe is adapted and elevated from the first dessert I made for the restaurant. There was a giant patch of rhubarb on the property, our favorite dessert was a rhubarb bread pudding. This a new spin on it for this seasons menu.”
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder pinch of salt
4 cups chopped rhubarb
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp dark rum
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 ½ cups Mascarpone
3 tbsp icing sugar
2 Tbsp Buckwheat honey
Ginger + Cardamom Crème Anglaise:
½ cup + 1 tbsp heavy cream
3 tbsp whole milk
4 pods of Cardamom
1/2 " fresh ginger grated
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Buckwheat honey
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
½ cup raw, sliced almonds
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water
¼ tsp salt
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and adjust the oven rack to the center of the Prepare a 9” springform pan with parchment. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Clean rhubarb, then dice them into 1-inch (3cm) pieces. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then whisk in the sugar, then rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter. Fold in the rhubarb until well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula. Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice cake as desired.
For the Mascarpone:
Place cheese, and icing sugar and honey in a mixing bowl and beat with a wire whisk until fluffy. Fold in vanilla paste, and chill until ready to use.
For the Crème Anglaise:
Place the cream and milk in a saucepan, and add the cardamom + ginger. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Let the cardamom steep for about 15 minutes or until the milk is flavored. For a stronger taste, steep longer. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and honey until smooth. Temper by slowly drizzling the hot cream mixture into the cool yolks and whisking constantly. This method slowly raises the temperature of the eggs without the risk of curdling or scrambling. Strain into a new saucepan and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon or reaches 180F. Strain into a large bowl, or container, stirring to cool down. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
For the Cinnamon Tuile:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine flour, ginger, and cinnamon with a whisk. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and corn syrup; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; stir in flour mixture. Using a small silver scoop, drop level scoops of batter onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until flat and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool just slightly until firm, about 1 minute. Using an offset spatula, place each cookie over top of an inverted muffin tin to cool. Repeat process with remaining batter.
For the Candied Almonds:
Mix together the sugar, water, and salt. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. When oven is heated, stir sugar mixture well then add the almonds. Stir to coat all the nuts very well. Spread almonds evenly on the baking sheet, spooning them onto the tray.
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