Spring Thyme Recipe

Once again Executive Chef Martin Buehner shares one of his favourite recipes with us. Hoisin Rack of Lamb with Five Spiced Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Sesame Ginger Garlic Baby Bok Choy, Snow Peas and Candy Cane beets. Chef Martin also shares his secret on the best Plate Presentation to serve this Spring Thyme Recipe to your guests.


1 rack of Ontario spring lamb
1 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp finely chopped fresh garlic
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
½ tsp crushed coriander seeds
1 tsp sambal olek sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground Szechwan pepper corns to taste.


Season lamb with kosher salt and ground Szechwan pepper corns. Sear the rack of lamb in vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a pan until browned. Roast in a pre-heated 425-degree oven for approximately 15 minutes. In the meantime, to prepare the glaze blend all remaining ingredients together thoroughly. Set aside.

Pull lamb from the oven after 15 minutes and allow cooling briefly so that the glaze does not run off the rack. Brush the semi-cooled lamb rack with the hoisin glaze and return to the oven for another 5 to 7 minutes or until desired internal temperature has been achieved. Pull the lamb rack from the oven and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before slicing to give the juices a chance to re-absorb into the meat.

Whipped Five Spice Sweet Potatoes 

¾ pound peeled sweet potatoes
1½ Chinese Five Spice blend (found in most grocery stores)
½ tsp ground fresh ginger
2 tbsp salted butter
1 ounce whipping cream
Kosher salt to taste.
1 tbsp table salt for boiling.


Cut peeled sweet potatoes into 1½ inch squares and boil in salted water until just tender (will slide off of a fork easily if pierced). Stain away water, add butter, and mash using a hand mixer on low speed. Add Chinese five-spice blend and all other ingredients and whip on medium speed until light and fluffy. Season to taste with kosher salt.

Steamed Sesame Ginger Garlic Baby Bok Choy (and Snow Pea) 

2 medium sized baby bok choy
¾ tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
¾ tsp finely chopped fresh garlic
½ tbsp sesame oil
Kosher salt to taste


Cut baby bok choy in half lengthwise. Wash very thoroughly in a bowl under cold running water making sure you get all of the sand out. Be careful not to damage the leaves. Allow to dry thoroughly. Toss with ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Place cut side down in a bamboo (or whatever is handy in your kitchen) steamer and steam over boiling water for about 7 minutes covered with the steamer lid. At the 5-minute mark add 2 ounces weight of tipped and tailed snow peas to the steamer. This can be done over the boiling sweet potatoes if timed correctly. Pull from the steamer and season lightly with kosher salt.

Candy Cane Beets  

1 medium sized candy cane beet (not peeled)
1 tsp vegetable oil
Kosher salt to taste


Toss beet in vegetable oil and place in an oven-safe ceramic dish and place in the 400-degree oven at the same time as the lamb. Pull from the oven after 25 minutes. Let cool for a minute or two. Peel the beet scraping with a paring knife and cut into approximately 6 wedges. 

Plate Presentation

Building on two 12-inch dinner plate first place a portion of the whipped five-spice potatoes just off centre. Lean a piece of baby bok choy on either side of the potatoes, leaves pointing upwards. Fan out equal pieces of snow peas in front of the potatoes. Decorate the top of the potatoes with candy cane beet wedges. Cut the hoisin glazed lamb rack into four pieces with two bones in each piece. For one portion take two pieces and interlock the bones together and place directly over the snow peas just in front of the potatoes meat side of rack facing outward and bones pointing straight up. Drizzle plate with chilli oil, extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, or anything to your preference. Enjoy with a nice glass of Beaujolais or for the white wine lover an oaky Chardonnay would also be lovely.


Portrait of a Canadian Jazz Artist


Join the celebration with Joe Sealy on Wednesday May 6th @ 7:30 p.m. as we unveil the International Award Winning Portrait of a Canadian Jazz Artist in The Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill Toronto.

After reading about our city’s program Community Hotspots, featuring Etobicoke 2015, and Mayor John Tory’s objective to create a destination for live music in Toronto, Photographer Marie Byers was inspired to create a Community Event on Wednesday May 6th, 2015 at the historical Old Mill Toronto, a community hotspot for live entertainment.

Marie Byers was honoured this year to receive a Bronze Metal for Canada from the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP) for her portrait of Jazz artist, Joe Sealy, 1997 Juno award winner for CD “Africville Suite” and 2010 Member of the Order of Canada for his contribution to Canadian Music. This portrait competed against 58 countries.

Joe Sealy’s creative and peaceful approach to bringing awareness to Canadian black history, and his lifetime dedication to music are what inspired Marie to enter this particular portrait titled “ Living Jazz” (aka Contemplation) into the 121st Toronto International Salon of Photography Competition.

Marie how did you originally get started in photography?

It started over 25 years ago, 1988 when my late husband handed me a catologue that had various gift items.  The magazine featured elegant crystal, china, silverware but also a Nikon 401 camera. He said choose whatever you like. Instinctually without hesitation or thought,  I chose the camera and although considered an antique today compared to Nikon FULL FRAME digital camera which I use … I still have it. Becoming a photographer and developing an eye, took many years of shooting as I travelled the world as a flight attendant. I’m basically self taught.

 What is your connection with the Old Mill Toronto?

My photo work caught the attention of Michael Kalmar, the owner of the Old Mill Toronto, and he asked me if I would be interested in hanging my travel works of art  in the hotel reception area. Subsequently I hung 4 pieces. After a period of time I recognized that a big part of the Old Mill Toronto was the Jazz entertainment in the Home Smith Bar — so I approached Mr. Kalmar, saying that an important part of  Old Mill Hotel was not about travel, but about the jazz community. I said ” You need to get their portraits up on your walls.” He responded ” OK, will  you do it. “  That then grew from hanging 4 travel photos to 18 jazz instrumentalists.

Up to this day I have gratuitously done the  portraits of 55 jazz instrumentalists which are rotated in the Home Smith Bar. Each musician also receives a complimentary copy of the hanging image for their website to help promote their music.

What do you like to shoot?

Besides jazz artists because they’re such s joyful and passionate group of people , I like to shoot just about anybody. Often I see very interesting people on the streets of Toronto that I would love to bring into my studio. Of coarse I dare not ask. However, if I do a street shoot involving people –  I’ll ask, and always send them a copy.

I do not usually shoot live jazz performances because I can’t keep the camera still and tap my foot at the same time.

What can you tell us about the Joe Sealy Portrait?

Joe Sealy was one of my earliest instrumentalists to sit for me. I was totally excited, for this man was not only a great jazz pianist but also was honoured with the Order of Canada for his album Africville. I admired how he brought so much light on the injustice  in the black community outside Halifax in a small town named Africville.

 After shooting for a while I noticed Joe getting tired. He was finally letting his guard down and slowly his head started to nod , relaxed, calm, his lips parted, his eye lids lowered. Excited with the naturalness of the image and hoping not to disturb him, I quickly started to shoot, realizing that ” THIS”  moment is intimate, personal and very real. Perhaps it’s when the subject let’s go of the self image they wish to project and trusts the photographer, it’s when something sincere and real emerges to touch our hearts.

The reason I really like the image is because I recognize that same relaxed state when he plays a beautiful love ballad –  eyes down, lips softly parted. Perhaps as he’s playing, he’s contemplating the jazz conversation?  Hence it was titled ” Contemplation” Some may ask why I didn’t title it ” Joe Sealy” or ” Living Jazz” for the competition. Reason being is that I didn’t want my  portrait work to influence the judges decision based on who the person was or what he stood for. However, after the competition it felt right for me to title it “Living Jazz” because that’s what Joe Sealy does. It says much more.

What the story behind FIAP International Federation of Photographic Art ?

I entered my first International competition in 2013 and received “acceptance”. I was told by fellow photographers to receive ACCEPTANCE is not so easy so I was pleased.   In  2014 I entered a second time and received a Bronze for Canada in the category of Free Digital from over 4000 photo entries from 58 countries.

How did you find out that you won?

I found out sometime around 2 AM on Dec 12 last year. I was watching the news about social unrest in the American black communities  when my thoughts wandered to Joe Sealy thinking “…whatever ever happened to that photo competition I entered.” Since I hadn’t heard anything I assumed I didn’t even get accepted to compete. But I decided to check the results on line in case there were any names I might recognize. I DID recognize a name– MY name– but it didn’t say ACCEPTED– it said BRONZE for Canada. What an honour! India got the Gold, Singapore got Silver and I got Bronze!  

The next morning when I woke up and checked my emails,  I received a general email addressed to All Participants, listing the results of the  Toronto camera club 121st international salon competition. Then, I called my family and closest friends.

What drives you as an artist?

I’m not totally sure what drives me as an artist. I do know that I can get lost in the creative process forgetting that I need to sleep and eat. But when I’m finished a portrait I feel a great sense of satisfaction that I have captured something that is real and genuine about my subject. I love being told by those who know the subject well “That’s WHO they are” .

When I do a portrait I seek transparency, an honesty, a truth that we share as human beings. Photographic art is meant to move us emotionally, connecting us as human beings, — making us think  – helping us to understand ourselves, our world– whether it’s positive or negative, making us laugh or cry — THAT’s what actually makes us FEEL  alive. We NEED to feel connected in that way. It’s exactly what you do in an interview, except the dominate sense is hearing, not seeing.


Power to treat each individual physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually

The art and science using plant oils for their therapeutic properties, treating medical and non-medical conditions or alignments in a truly holistic form either through massage, baths and inhalations. Oils are derived from natural sources such a seeds, flowers, fruit, peel, leaves, grass, roots, wood, bark and resins.

These natural plant oils are readily absorbed into the skin, our largest organ, providing a gentle physiological effect.  As a holistic practice, it is especially effective for stress release as well as an active method to employ during acute and chronic stages of illness or disease.

The popularity of Aromatherapy may have enjoyed recent boom, but the property of these essential oils have been appreciated for centuries to balance the body, mind and soul. The sensual, relaxing aroma of these fragrant oils will transport the person being massaged into the realm of bliss. Before commencing treatment, a complete assessment of lifestyle, eating habits and personal habits are taken into account. From that assessment, the blend is then prepared specific to treat their concerns/alignment therefore each blend is unique only for that individual.  It is very important that the scent also appeals to the olfactory tract, in order for the treatment to be fully appreciated. The two ways that oils safely penetrate the body is by smell/inhalation (through the nose) and absorption (through the skin). Smell by far, is the fastest way for essential oils to penetrate into the body.  Common examples include inhaling eucalyptus essential oil when you have a cough or inhaling peppermint essential oil to reduce fatigue or nausea. 

Essential oils are extremely potent/concentrated and should never be used directly onto the skin always blend them with a base oil such as Grapeseed, Coconut, Sesame, Jojoba, Almond, Olive or Sunflower.

The blend is worked into the body using a variety of techniques (can invigorate, stimulate, strengthen, tone, condition, relax, relieve, soothe, regulate, cleanse/detoxify).  While the aromas stimulate the emotional level, the gentle form of massage affects the lymphatic system.     

Aromatherapy is one of many alternative therapies which is increasingly finding acceptance as a complementary treatment that can go hand-in-hand with conventional medicine.  It cleanses negative energies both physically and mentally, may also work effectively in conjunction with other alternative therapies.

Easter Brioche Recipe



400 g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
5 g powdered dried yeast
10 g fine sea salt (I’ve put 8 gr)
90ml warm milk
2 Tbsp caster sugar 100 g butter, softened
4 medium free range eggs, beaten
zest of 2 lemons

To Glaze

1 medium free range egg
2 Tbsp milk
sugar for finishing

To knead by hand: mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, and bring it all together to form a dough. Knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and shiny.

Or, to use a food mixer: fit the dough hook and add all the dough ingredients to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until combined, and leave to knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and shiny.

Shape the dough into a round ball, place in a bowl and cover tightly. Leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day, divide the dough in two and form into the shape of your choice. Lightly flour the loaves, lay them on a wooden board or linen cloth and cover with a plastic bag. Leave them somewhere nice and warm to prove until almost doubled in size; this could take 3 or 4 hours, as the dough is cold.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. For the glaze, beat the egg and milk together. Transfer the risen loaves to a baking tray and brush all over with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar on top. Bake for about 10 mins, then lower the oven setting to 180C/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 20 mins or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Brioche is best enjoyed the day they are baked, but will keep for a day in an airtight container, or can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Indian Head Massage


The Power of Touch

Champissage (the Hindi term for the practice, and massagealso known as an Indian Head Massage is a trademarked term for an alternative medicine massage therapy.

In Champissage, the neck, shoulders, head and face are massaged with the purpose of manipulating important energy channels. The goal is to clear blocks in these significant energy channels that cause a build-up of negative energy that are purported to cause ailments. The belief is when the energy does not flow properly negative energy builds up, causing common ailments, including stress, pain, inception (sensation of pains), aches, and/or even baldness or hair loss. Massaging the hair & head is soothing and deeply relaxing.  It improves circulation, helping to nourish the hair and drain away accumulated toxins. Indian Head Massage can also relieve eyestrains, headaches, sinusitis, congestion and insomnia and, by manipulating the blood circulation to the head and neck you improve your respiratory system, lymphatic drainage, muscle tone and mobility in the head, neck and shoulder area.  Base oils can be incorporated into the head massage to assist with particular concerns/disorders such as dry or oily scalp, promote hair growth or slow down hair loss. Mustard Oil is the most popular and traditional one used.  Other good base oils to use are Sesame, Olive, Almond, Avocado, Jojoba, and Coconut.  Essential oils may also be added to treat certain conditions, and its effect is not just physical but works on an emotional level by calming the spirit, promoting relaxation and stress relieving. You & your Practitioner can discuss and decide on an appropriate blend.

Champissage is practiced all over Europe but was first brought to the west by Narendra Mehta in the 1970s. Mehta, a physical and manual therapist, took the Indian tradition of family head grooming and massage and added massage of the neck, face, and shoulders, as well as energetic aspects including shiatsu. Utilizing the knowledge of mind, body, and spirit is what makes Indian head massage so effective. 

Chef Marty’s German Caramelized Apple Pancakes


6 eggs
½ cup 2% milk
½ cup A.P. flour
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ lb. melted whole unsalted butter 

Caramelized Apples

3 pcs Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ¼ inch thick
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon

Whipped Cream

1 cup 35% cream
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
½ tsp lemon juice 


For the Caramelized Apples

Peel and core the apples and slice ¼ inch thick. In a medium sized pan (non-stick preferably) melt the butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the apples and toss to coat with the melted butter. Sauté the apples until nicely browned on all sides turning only often enough to avoid burning. Once a nice browned colour has been reached add the sugar and ground cinnamon. Continue to cook until the sugar become a caramelized syrupy consistency. Remove the apples from the heat and keep in a warm place until needed for service.

For the Whipped Cream

In a cold stainless steel or glass bowl pour in the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Whip using a hand blender on medium speed (medium speed will create smaller bubbles in the cream and therefore create a denser creamier whipped cream). Once the cream is half-way whipped add the icing sugar and continue to whip but on low speed at first while incorporating the sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Store wrapped in the fridge until needed to serve.

For the Pancakes

In a medium sized bowl whisk all of the dry ingredients together thoroughly. Whisk the eggs together until well blended. Add the milk and vanilla to the eggs. Make a hollow indentation into the center of the flour and slowly whisk in the eggs mixture until a smooth batter is formed.

Heat a large non-stick or very well-seasoned stainless steel pan over medium heat. For each pancake first pour 1 to 2 tables spoons of melted unsalted butter into the pan coating thoroughly (you can use whole cold butter is you so desire but this takes slightly longer and cools the pan each time). Once the pan has been well coated, pour in approximately 3 ounces of batter and lift the pan and tilt in a circular motion until the entire bottom is coated with batter. This needs to be done quickly to ensure the batter is of even thickness throughout. Fry until the top begins to dry slightly. Flip the pancake and fry for another minute or so. Slide the pancake onto the plate and fill with a good portion of caramelized apples and drizzle with a tablespoon of maple syrup before rolling up into a long tub. Repeat the process and serve two rolled stuffed pancakes topped with another drizzle of maple syrup and two nice dollops of whipped cream.