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About Sickkids
About SickKids

October 18, 2012

From farm to patients – Ontario foods celebrated at SickKids

By Sylvia Dick

Chef Joshna Maharaj is joined at the chef’s table by Min. Deb Matthews, Min. Ted McMeekin, Mary Jo Haddad and Burkhard Mausberg to prepare a fresh Ontario beet salad.
Chef Joshna Maharaj is joined at the chef’s table by Min. Deb Matthews, Min. Ted McMeekin, Mary Jo Haddad and Burkhard Mausberg to prepare a fresh Ontario beet salad.

It’s harvest season in Ontario and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) served up local fare in celebration of a grant, totalling just over $50,000, awarded today by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. The Broader Public Sector Investment Fund grant will help the hospital with an initiative to source more of its fresh food products from Ontario farmers. This will benefit patients, families and staff, as well as farmers and producers in the area.

Attendees included the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health & Long-Term Care, and the Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who officially announced the results of the grants for this round. The two joined together at the podium to acknowledge the importance of nutritious food for good health and healing.

To showcase the robust selection of fruits and vegetables available in the area, Chef Joshna Maharaj, who has been hired thanks to the funding from this grant, and Executive Chef Shawn Studholme created a mouth-watering menu for the event. Pumpkin soup, colourful beet salad and squash bread pudding drizzled with warm maple butterscotch sauce were served up after an interactive cooking demonstration.

Joining the ministers in the food preparation fun were SickKids President and CEO, Mary Jo Haddad, and Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Squash Bread Pudding with Maple Butterscotch Sauce
Serves 6


½ butternut squash, cut lengthwise
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½  tsp vanilla extract
1-1lb  day-old loaf challah, or other egg bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp coarse sugar

Maple Butterscotch:
1 cup butter
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup whipping cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lay squash half, cut side down on sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until squash is completely tender and starting to caramelize. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, gently scrape out seeds, then scrape squash into a bowl, squeezing out any excess liquid with your hands. Set aside.
  2. Whisk half-and-half cream, cooled cooked squash, dark brown sugar, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Fold in bread cubes. Transfer mixture to a greased 11x7-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar and let stand 15 minutes. Bake bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
  3. Make sauce: In a small saucepan on medium, heat butter and maple syrup until the butter is melted. Take pan off of heat and whisk in whipping cream until homogenous. Serve warm or room temperature over cooled bread pudding.

Pumpkin, Squash & Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 8


1-2lb pie pumpkin
1 butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into a 1-inch dice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup half & half cream
1-2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp fresh sage, very finely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.  Slice pumpkin and squash in half lengthwise.  Leaving the seeds in, place pumpkin  and squash cut side down on lined baking sheet and roast until vegetables are tender and a knife slides through the thickest part easily, about 40 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  2. 2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large soup pot on medium high heat.  Add onions and sauté until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.  Add cinnamon & nutmeg, stir and cook for another minute.
    3. Add diced sweet potatoes and toss well to coat potatoes in onion mixture.  Add enough water to cover sweet potatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
    4. When pumpkin and squash are cool enough to handle, scrape out seeds, then scrape out the flesh of the vegetables and transfer to soup pot.  Add enough water to cover vegetables and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all vegetables are very tender.
    5. Using an immersion blender, puree soup well, going a bit further than you think you need to in order to get a smooth, velvety finish.  Season soup with salt, pepper & heavy cream.  Start with 1 tsp of cider vinegar and taste, adding the remaining tsp as necessary for brightness.  Garnish soup with fresh sage and serve.

Rosalina’s Beet Salad
Serves 6


3 medium beets, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
2-inch piece daikon, peeled
½ yellow pepper, seeded & julienned
½ green pepper, seeded & julienned
2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
½ cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp black pepper


  1. Using a mandolin with the julienne blade attached, slice beets, carrots and daikon, keeping them in separate bowls.  
  2. Pour 6 tbsp of the rice vinegar over the beets, and the remaining 2 tbsp over the daikon, then add ½ tsp of sugar and ¼ tsp salt to each bowl and toss well to coat.  Allow to sit for at least an hour.
    When ready to serve, combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss well to combine.