Nanaimo Bars

These three-layer sweet squares, ubiquitous in coffee shops throughout B.C., are named for Nanaimo, a town on Vancouver Island. Legend has it a housewife created the recipe, sent it into a magazine, and won a prize. Later, the mayor held a contest for the best Nanaimo Bar. This is the winning recipe created by Joyce Hardcastle.


Bottom Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter (European-style cultured)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut


Melt first three ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased eight-by-eight-inch pan.


Second Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar


Cream together butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.


Third Layer
4 squares semisweet chocolate (1 ounce each)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator. Cut into squares when cooled.

Servings: Serves 12 to 16 (one square per person)

Cedar Plank Salmon

Mingle tastes from the forest and the sea by grilling fresh salmon on a cedar plank. Use this simple recipe when entertaining, grilling in summer, or even camping.


1 salmon fillet, about 1 to 2 pounds
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper


Get a piece of untreated cedar plank, just a little bigger than the fish. Soak the board for several hours in room-temperature water.

Combine all ingredients except the salmon. Marinate the salmon for several hours. Remove the fish from the marinade and place it on the plank. Place plank on a medium-heat grill for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness (be careful not to overheat the wood, or it will catch fire). Tip: you can purchase cedar planks from specialty food stores, but a less expensive option is to buy a slab of untreated wood at the hardware store.

Servings: Serves four

Panko and Coconut Spot Prawns

Spot prawns are named for the distinctive white spots that adorn their shells. Highly regarded for their size and firm, sweet flesh, spot prawns are the largest of the seven shrimp species caught commercially in B.C.’s coastal waters. Spot prawns are usually sold fresh for just over 11 weeks beginning in May, mostly in B.C., but they are available frozen year-round. This classic recipe comes from The British Columbia Seasonal Cookbook (


1 cup flour
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1⁄2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
24 spot prawns, shelled, deveined, tail on
4 cups peanut oil, for frying
1⁄2 cup Thai chili dipping sauce


Place flour in a bowl or shallow baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Combine panko and coconut in another shallow dish. Dredge prawns first in flour, then in beaten eggs, and finally coat in panko mixture. Carefully lay prawns out in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Pour oil into a heavy-bottomed skillet and heat to 360°F (182°C). If you do not have a thermometer, test oil with a cube of bread—it should turn golden in under two minutes.

Cook prawns in small batches until golden, about two minutes, then transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Serve hot with dipping sauce.

Servings: Serves four to six


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