On Blue Goose Farm in Niagara, Ont., chef Matty Matheson and his business partner, a local farmer, grow rutabagas, peas, squash and other vegetables that they sell to some of Toronto’s best restaurants, including Skippa, Dandylion and Dreyfus.
His lifestyle is bucolic – almost sedate – particularly in contrast to his legendary past as the bad boy of Canadian cuisine, whose booze and drug-fuelled exploits and wizardry in the kitchen led to hosting duties on Vice TV’s Dead Set on Life, appearances on Jimmy Kimmel and parties with Leonardo DiCaprio and Game of Thrones star Kit Harington.
In 2013, Matheson got sober. In 2018, he wrote a New York Times best-selling cookbook, Matty Matheson: A Cookbook, which was essentially a biography of his tumultuous life creating magic and mayhem in the kitchen, with a few recipes thrown in.
Now the married father of three has published a new book, Matty Matheson: Home Style Cookery, which is brimming with comforting recipes that reflect his much more peaceful life.
“I think my first cookbook was oddly kind of selfish," the 38-year-old says. "It was about me and my journey, told through a culinary lens, but I didn’t include recipes that I felt people needed – or wanted – to cook,” Matheson says. “This one is full of dishes I think my fans will enjoy, learn from and be able to build on.”
There is a section on bread and one on homemade stocks. He has chapters on roasts, dips, curries, pasta, dumplings, smoked meats, grilled dishes and sandwiches (you’ll want to linger on that one). All of them are accessible and, most importantly, not intimidating.
“The biggest problem people have with cooking is coming up with the main idea,” says Matheson, who honed his culinary chops at Toronto’s Le Select, La Palette and Parts & Labour. "They buy a chicken and then go, now what?
“This book is all about building blocks and stepping stones. If you can’t get halibut, use a different white fish. If you can’t get a leg of lamb, cook a shoulder,” he says. “I want to inspire people to get creative. If you can build self-esteem and self-confidence through cooking, you can achieve a really happy meal and a really happy place.”
The Inedible Seven-Layer Dip
For cream cheese mixture
- 1 pound cream cheese, softened
- 1½ cups sour cream
- 1 tablespoon Mexican seasoning mix
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Kosher salt
For corn and black bean salsa
- 1 can (450 g) yellow corn, drained
- 1 can (450 g) black beans, drained
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1¼ cups finely chopped red onion
- 3 cups finely chopped cilantro
- ⅔ cup seeded and finely chopped jalapeno chilies
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 3½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Kosher salt
For cheese citrus refried beans
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup finely chopped white onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 1/3 cup chopped jalapeno chiles
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 2 tablespoons Mexican seasoning spice
- 1½ cups grapefruit juice
- 1 can (450 g) refried pinto beans
- 1 can (450 g) pinto beans, drained
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Mexican spice powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups Infamous Cheesy Citrus Refried Beans
- 1 pound plum tomatoes, cubed
- ½ pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
- 1 pound (450 g) cherry belle radishes, julienned
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapenos and cook for 12 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add all the spices and toast for 3 minutes. Deglaze with the grapefruit juice and bring to a simmer. Add the refried pinto beans, whole pinto beans, salt and cheese; turn down heat to low and stir to make it cheesy, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Make the cream cheese mixture: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, Mexican seasoning, cumin and coriander. Whip on high speed.
Make the corn and black bean salsa: In a medium bowl, combine the corn, black beans, lime juice, red onion, cilantro, jalapenos, grapeseed oil and vinegar. Stir the salsa and taste for salt.
Make the layers: In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef with the Mexican spice powder, garlic powder, chili powder and salt to taste. Set aside to cool.
On the bottom of a glass serving bowl, spread the cream cheese mixture in an even layer and smooth it out using a spatula. Layer the ground beef mixture on top of the cream cheese.
Layer the corn and black bean salsa.
Add cheesy citrus refried beans and smooth with spatula.
Pile the diced tomatoes on top of the refried beans but leave a space in the middle and fill with both cheeses.
Top with lots of julienned radish.
Published in 2020 by Abrams, an imprint of ABRAMS. Text copyright © 2020 Cassoulet Palace, Inc. Photographs copyright © 2020 Quentin Bacon