D is for Dinner strikes a musical chord with Juno challenge

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D is for Dinner strikes a musical chord with Juno challenge

What with Juno Week here in Ottawa, it only seemed natural for All in a Day's monthly D is for Dinner challenge to be focused on music.

Our two chefs were asked to create a dish that features elements from each of these five songs nominated for Single of the Year.

"Treat You Better" by Shawn Mendes

"One Dance" by Drake (ft Wizkid and Kyla)​

"Wild Things" by Alessia Cara

"Starboy" by The Weeknd (ft Daft Punk)

"Spirits" by The Strumbellas 

All right, now that you've heard the tunes, here are the ways our challengers took their inspiration.

Something ground, something wild

Chef Paula Roy, food editor of Ottawa At Home Magazine, created Chinese pearl barley-stuffed peppers which include king eryngii mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, ground walnuts, caviar, parmesan and Ungava gin.


The Weeknd's Starboy makes reference to shade (peppers are in the nightshade recipe), and to a king (hence the king eryngi mushrooms). Shawn Mendes's Treat You Better refers to crying and Chinese pearl barley is also known as 'Tears of Job.'

The Strumbellas' Spirits refers to sun (hence the sun-dried tomatoes) and the gin is of course a spirit. Drake's One Dance refers to wine, time and grinding. So Roy used wine, thyme and ground walnuts in her dish.

And from Alessia Cara's Wild Things, the Ungava gin is made from wild Canadian botanicals.

Salty tears, 'wake up' tea

The folks from Carben restaurant — Caroline Ngo and Kevin Benes — instead went to work on slow poached albacore tuna with squid ink coconut sauce, green tea pickled carrots, coconut powder, marinated oranges and puffed amaranth.

Well, in honour of Wild Things, they used wild albacore tuna. They too used the tears from Treat You Better as inspiration for using the salty tuna brine and used green tea to honour Mendes' "wake up" line.

For StarBoy, the coconut squid ink was inspired by the ebony lyrics, and the coconut powder was inspired by the ivory lyric. They also worked in the sun element from the Strumbellas' song by choosing to represent it with orange segments. And once again, Drake's grinding lyrics inspired the use of an ingredient: ground pink peppercorn.

Here are the recipes for your very own Juno inspired soirée.

Paula Roy's stuffed peppers


- 2 tbs. canola oil.

- 1 shallot, finely minced.

- 1 king eryngii (or king oyster) mushroom, diced fine.

- 2 tbs. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine.

- 3/4 cup Chinese pearl barley (or regular pearl barley), rinsed and drained.

- 1/4 cup white wine.

- Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.

- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves.

- 2 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock.

- 1/4 cup coarsely ground walnuts.

- 3 – 4 medium-large bell peppers, colours of your choice.


- 2 tbs freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

- 1 tsp. caviar (optional but delicious).

- 3 tsp. Ungava gin.


1. Heat the canola oil in a medium sized, heavy duty saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and mushrooms and sauté for three-to-four minutes, until softened. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for one minute more.

2. Add the rinsed barley and stir to coat with the moisture in the pan. Add the white wine and let simmer for a minute, then add the salt, pepper, thyme and stock.

3. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook about 30 minutes, until barley is just tender and liquid has not completely evaporated. Add a few tablespoons of water if you find the mixture drying out before barley is tender.

4. While barley cooks, cut the tops off the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds inside. Preheat oven to 350 F.

5. When barley is cooked, stir in walnuts and scoop the mixture into the prepared peppers. Fill them to the top but try not to compact the mixture.

6. Place the filled peppers in an oven-safe dish and bake for up to 25 minutes, until peppers are just tender.

7. Remove from heat and garnish each pepper with a drizzle of Ungava gin, a sprinkle of Parmigiano and a small amount of caviar, if using.

8. Serve hot.

Makes three-to-four stuffed peppers (depending upon the size of the peppers).

Carben Food and Drink's Slow Poached Albacore Tuna 


- 1L water.

- 4 tbsp. salt.

- 2 tbs. sugar.

- Albacore tuna.

- Olive oil.

- Peel from one lemon.


1. Dissolve salt and sugar in the water.

2. Brine tuna in the salt water for 30 minutes.

3. Take tuna out of brine and pat dry with paper towel.

4. Place in a vacuum seal bag with olive oil and lemon peel with a little bit of salt.

5. Place in water bath at 45 C for 20 minutes.

6. Transfer tuna into an ice cold water bath until chilled.

7. Cut into half inch cubes.

Squid ink coconut sauce

- Small onion, half, fine diced.

- 2 tbsp. ginger, chopped.

- 2 cloves garlic, chopped.

- 1 Thai chili, de-seeded, chopped.

- 2 lime leaves.

- 1 can coconut milk.

- 1 tbsp. squid ink.

- 2 g xanthan gum.

- Salt, pinch.

1. Saute onions, garlic, ginger, and Thai chili until translucent.

2. Add coconut milk and lime leaf.

3. Let simmer on medium heat for five minutes.

4. Add squid ink.

5. Remove lime leaf.

6. Transfer to blender.

7. Blend on high and add xanthan gum until smooth.

8. Pass mixture through a fine mesh chinois or strainer.

Green tea pickled carrots

- 1 cup white wine vinegar.

- 1 cup water.

- 1 tbsp. sugar.

- 1 tbsp. salt.

- 1 green tea bag.

- 1 carrot, julienned.

1. Make pickling liquid by dissolving sugar with white wine vinegar and water over medium heat.

2. Steep green tea in hot pickling liquid.

3. Pour hot pickling liquid over carrots.

4. Keep carrots in pickling liquid.

Coconut powder

- 100 g coconut oil.

- 31 g tapioca maltodextrin.

1. Mix coconut oil and tapioca maltodextrin in a bowl until a fine powder is created.

Marinated oranges

- 1 orange, segmented.

- 1 cup vodka.

- 1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped.

- 1 tsp. pink peppercorn, ground.

1. Pour vodka over orange segments and let sit for an hour.

2. Take oranges out of vodka and toss with ground pink peppercorns and cilantro.

Puffed amaranth

- 1 cup amaranth.

- 2 cups oil.

- Salt.

1. Heat oil, just below smoking point.

2. Place amaranth in the hot oil with a hand held strainer.

3. Remove once amaranth has puffed.

4. Toss with salt. 

5. Drizzle the squid ink coconut sauce on a plate. Arrange the amaranth, carrots, tuna and oranges on the plate and sprinkle on the coconut powder.