Recently we had some good friends for Brunch and my friend Angela told me how she makes the most delicious vegetable stock from vegetable trimmings. Of course, this isn’t the first time I’d heard of this frugal stock but to be honest, I was skeptical on how good it would be — stock from trimmings? That’s bunny food! I’ve been using roast chicken carcass for soups for a few years now but I’ve never jumped into the compost bin head first to make this vegetable stock before. Angela and her husband were quite convincing on how good this stock is, so I decided to give it a try.

My first attempt was a simple stock using vidalia onion skins, garlic skins, eggplant ends, zucchini ends, celery leaves, cilantro stems and green onion ends. I made sure to wash the skins very well and tossed them into a large stock pot with enough water to cover. I tossed in a tiny bit of salt and boiled, then I reduced to a simmer for about 4 hours. WOW! I can’t tell you how good this was! For a lunch, I simply sautéed more zucchini, eggplant, onions, garlic and celery and ladled the “Compost Stock” over it and drizzled it with parmesan cheese, boy was it GOOD!

When I saw how dark and rich the onion skins made the stock, I thought: why not make a French Onion Soup from it (we’ve made French Onion Soup here and here and here before)? And that is the way this recipe came about. It’s so easy and inexpensive that I urge you to try it. You can make it vegan by omitting the cheese or just use vegan cheese (not sure how good that could be!). And if you’re looking to save a few calories, omit the croutons and the cheese.

JT tried it and could not believe it was made with onion skins and caramelized onions, no stock at all — verdict, he loved it. For this version, we saved around $4 because I usually use an organic beef stock or sometimes I even roast some beef bones which would have saved us $6.00)!

Veg FrenchOnionSoup

Would you like a bowl?

A Vegetarian French Onion Soup

A Kitchen Inspirations Original Recipe.

Makes 1.5 L (6.25 cups) of soup


  • 3 large organic Vidalia onions, including skins
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 L (roughly 4 quarts) water
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) Gruyère cheese, grated (omit if vegan or vegetarian)
  • croutons, enough to fill 2 French Onion Soup bowls


  1. Pre-heat oven to 250°F (121° F).
  2. Wash outer skin of the onions well. Peel onions, add skins with the bay leaves and salt to a large stock pot with 4L (4 quarts) water in it. Stir and bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for 2-3 hours.
  3. Slice onions very thinly on a mandoline (any larger bits that can’t be sliced, just add to the onion skin stock pot).
  4. Heat olive oil to a large Dutch oven and once hot (but not smoking) add onions; sweat onions until translucent and just beginning to caramelize (about 20 minutes). Add the white balsamic vinegar and stir well. Cover with a piece of parchment (as illustrated below) and bake for 2-3 hours at 250° F (121° C) or until golden and fully caramelized.
  5. When stock is a rich, dark colour strain through a fine sieve to remove skins and bits and finally through a very fine sieve to remove any fine particles (I use a reusable coffee filter). Combine stock with caramelized onions and heat through. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper as required.
  6. Plate in French onion soup bowls with croutons and mounds of Gruyère cheese, broil so it’s all melty and bubbly and serve hot!
  7. For a vegetarian or vegan version, omit the cheese or use vegan cheese.

Parchment cover for the onions

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.45.35 PM

Based on 4 servings per batch without the Gruyère and croutons

Based on 4 serving per batch, without the Gruyère and crouton

Based on 4 serving per batch, without the Gruyère and crouton


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a restaurant review. It’s not that we haven’t been going out (not the case at all) but I’ve been relatively uninspired, not by the restaurants or meals, just kind of an overall humdrum feeling. Night falls far too early and the days seem to be full of grey, mostly. On the plus side, it hasn’t snowed…yet. Most of the leaves have plummeted to earth and the birds and squirrels are running around frantically looking for food. The bird feeder needs refilling almost every two days; those little sparrows eat quite a bit! Speaking of eating…

Last spring I purchased a couple of Groupons for Sushi Thai on Bloor, a restaurant in our hood so that my Hungarian relatives could experience Thai food. We’ve been to Sushi Thai several times but I wanted to get as many plates for them as possible to vary their experience, hence the Groupon. What I completely forgot was that you can only use ONE Groupon per table and we weren’t going to sit at separate tables, so I had an extra Groupon left over for a lunch JT and I had recently.

I’m always surprised that this little place isn’t busier, the décor is contemporary Asian with some tasteful Thai embellishments; it has flattering lighting and the service is good with authentic Japanese staff with a reasonable command of English. The Sushi is fresh, delicious and often creatively prepared (piped mayo, toasted sesame or rice puffs etc. and decoratively laid out on a white plate). Both Thai and Japanese foods are also very good. Complimentary tea is not offered.

A delicious bowl of soup and salad.

A delicious bowl of soup and salad.

We both ordered the lunch specials ($11 each) that came with a small bowl of miso soup and a typical Japanese-style salad made with iceberg lettuce, a few shavings of carrot and beet, thinly sliced cucumber and radish and a slice of tomato dressed with a thousand island-style vinaigrette (it has been my experience that almost all the Japanese restaurants in Toronto make a salad like this, some better than others). The miso was warm, with lots of dashi and small cubes of soft tofu garnished with green onion. Some misos can be salty but this one was not. We both commented that it could have been warmer, of course, the day was one of the first of the colder days so we were still stinging!


Just the perfect amount for lunch.

I ordered the Sushi plate which came with 11 pieces of tasty sushi. There were 3 salmon rolls, 3 tuna rolls, and 5 pieces of Nigiri: Tuna, Hamachi, Salmon, Shrimp and Surimi. I could do without the Surimi but it seems to be prevalent on the more budget conscious restaurants. The fish was fresh with a lovely soft texture and the wasabi was pungent!

A decent lunch portion.

A decent lunch portion.

JT ordered the Chicken Teriyaki which came with a good amount of thigh meat in a light teriyaki sauce and a reasonably large mound of rice and a few broccoli florets, all garnished with some white sesame seeds. The chicken was tender and all of the fat had been properly trimmed off (you’d be surprised at how much fat and grissel JT leaves in some places). All in all we both really enjoyed our choice. We did not have dessert.

Overall rating of Sushi and Thai (in my opinion): Decor 3.5/5, service 3.5/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meals for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

Sushi Thai on Bloor

2279 Bloor St W
Toronto, ON
M6S 1P1

Tel: 647-347-6826

Monday to Thursday 11:30 am-10:00 pm


Lunch in my new freelance reality is often something simple like cauliflower florets with a homemade bean dip but these last few weeks have made me crave soup like nothing else. Often I have something frozen that I can thaw on the range or in the microwave at a moment’s notice but because I had a head cold, I totally exhausted my stash. No canned soups here, homemade is way too easy!

We always have a pantry-full of dried beans and pulses, but as usual, I forgot to soak my beans so I used the next best thing and what I’d consider “instant” — the old standby, red lentil (they are Australian! Who knew?) The red lentil cooks up quickly and has a mild earthy flavour that takes to being flavoured with other vegetables and spices. I also noticed that I was very short in other ingredients so this soup was dictated by what was on hand, a few button mushrooms, onions, garlic and about 1 celery rib. JT loved it, as did I so I was very glad I had the forethought of jotting down the ingredients as I made up a batch. I netted about 600 mL which makes for a hearty meal for two but can be served as smaller portions for four as a starter. Definitely going to bookmark this one for the future, it’s a keeper!

Creamed Lentil Soup with Warm Goats Cheese & Mushroom Relish

A Kitchen Inspirations Original Recipe.


  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 4 cups water or vegetable stock


  1. Heat the EVOO in a small Dutch oven, add the celery, onion and garlic, sauté until soft and onions are transluscent.
  2. Add the lentils and sauté for a moment, add the water and stir well.
  3. Cook the lentils over medium heat until soft. Transfer to a glass bowl and purée until smooth and creamy with an immersion blender. Set aside while making the warm relish.
  4. Garnish with crumbled herbed goats cheese and warm csramelized mushrooms.

Ingredients for the Warm Relish:

  • Handful of button mushrooms, cubed very small
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp herbed goats cheese

Directions for the Warm Relish:

  1. Melt the butter in a small cast iron frying pan, add the mushrooms and sauté until caramelized. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Garnish soup as indicated above.
A comforting, smooth, filling soup with some great flavours.

A comforting, creamy, filling soup with some great flavours.


  • The herbed goats cheese was something I had on hand from another dish, it is simply softened goats cheese, finely chopped parsley, thyme and sun dried tomatoes, sea salt combined.
  • Feel free to substitute plain goats cheese, crème fraîche, sour cream or Greek yogurt.
  • I usually press a soup like this through a fine sieve but did not feel it necessary this time, it was super creamy and smooth.
  • I would have loved to garnish with some finely chopped fresh herbs but sadly my herb garden was put to rest a few weeks ago.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.51.27 PM

Based on 4 servings, without mushroom & goats cheese relish.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.52.48 PM

Based on 4 servings, without mushroom & goats cheese relish.


I was over the top when Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial offered to send me a piece of Priscilla her sourdough starter. I was worried too…what if Canada Customs opens the small envelope to discover some weird flaky powder? Would I be arrested? Would it be confiscated? Yes, I was wringing my hands with worry for the entire 12 days poor old Bob travelled to us. 12 days for almost 16,000 kilometres! That’s amazing, isn’t it? It often takes Canada Post 12 days to get mail to me from downtown Toronto, a mere 9 km away! But that’s a whole other rant. ;-)

This is Bob's chariot, carrying him 16,000 km.

This is Bob’s chariot, carrying him 16,000 km.

Yes, we named him Bob because we thought it was funny, Bob the starter! Good old Bob came back to life quite nicely and quickly, just as the lovely Celia’s instructions said he would. I chose a King Arthur Sourdough Bread Recipe because I was unable to find 00 bread flour so I needed an All Purpose Flour Recipe. Bob made a very nice first loaf and the remainder of Bob was dried and put into an airtight jar for safekeeping. I’m hoping Bob will provide many loaves for us in the future.


Meet Bob, he’s ALIVE!

Now I have to come clean, I wasn’t feeling the greatest when I made this recipe, in fact it was my first time out of bed over the last two days (weekend days, no less; nothing serious, just a silly head cold, but they always get me in my sinuses and therefore affects my train of thought). For some reason, I completely skipped over the instant yeast, didn’t even see it! Can you believe it? I usually forget the salt!!!! Don’t you just hate it when that happens? I wondered if something was amiss when the bread didn’t rise as much as I thought it should…but I persevered and son of Bob went into the oven in a dutch oven (hedging my bets) and baked as per directions. Not bad for the mistake and first try. Thank you Celia, I am so grateful you sent me the son of Priscilla!


Bob the starter makes a nice, chewy, slightly tangy bread. Bob’s definitely a keeper, thank you Celia

King Arthur Sourdough Bread with a special starter from Australia

Makes 1 very large boulle


  • 227 g “fed” sourdough starter
  • 340 g cups lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast (don’t forget this step, nudge nudge, wink wink)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 602 g Unbleached All-Purpose Flour


  1. Combine all of the ingredients (including the instant yeast) and knead until you get a relatively smooth but loose dough.
  2. Place in a lightly greased bowl and allow to rise several hours (or until double in size). I did a few risings for obvious reasons! Shape the dough into a smooth boule.
  3. Slightly warm a cast iron dutch oven (make sure the handle can take the heat) and dust with fine cornmeal. Allow the boule to rise in the dutch oven for one hour.
  4. Pre heat the oven to 425° F (218° C). Bake the boule with the lid on for approximately 30-35 minutes, remove the top and bake a further 5-8 minutes or until the boule is golden in colour (internal temperature should be about 190° F (88° C).


  • Sourdough bread dough is much looser than normal bread dough so expect a shaggy result after the first kneading.
  • We don’t eat that much bread (to keep the tonnage in check) so I didn’t think I would use Bob quickly, therefore I decided to dry Bob out in the oven with only the light on. He will wait for us whenever we need him in an air-tight container in a dark spot in my pantry.
  • I’ve read recipes on-line where they add butter to the dough but most implied it’s not for amateurs so I will try it next time (hopefully I don’t forget the yeast next time!).
  • Sadly, Bob came to an unfortunate end this morning when someone turned on the oven while Bob was drying out in it. RIP Bob.

Coconut Pumpkin Soup


Sorry guys, I’m a day late with this post…it’s been a little busy!

It’s definitely fall up here in the big smoke; the weather went from 25°-30° C (77°-86° F) to 5°-10° C (41°-50° F). That’s chilly. Mind you, it would help if I started wearing socks in my shoes, I just can’t bear that claustrophobic feeling my tootsies get all confined in socks/shoes/boots. How about you, do you dread confining your dogs in socks and shoes?

This soup came about because I bought a couple of smallish pie pumpkins for social media; I actually carved a client’s logo into one of the pumpkins! It turned out really well and I had an entire pie pumpkin left over. Then I got two more social media clients (bittersweet, story to come) who sells Caribbean food and sauces so I was dying to try their organic coconut milk! I checked my dear friend Lorraine’s blog for an easy pumpkin roasting technique and a delicious starter was born for thanksgiving dinner. This soup would be lovely with butternut squash if pumpkins aren’t in season. I suggest smallish portions (125 mL or 1/2 c) because it’s quite rich.

Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Makes about 875 mL (3.5 cups) depending on how thick you wish to have it.


  • 1 small pumpkin, oven roasted
  • 1/2 onion, oven roasted
  • 2 cloves garlic, oven roasted
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3/4 c coconut milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • Pinch of nutmeg


  1. Pre heat oven to 350° F (177° C). Prepare pumpkin as Lorraine does in this post. Lightly coat onions and garlic with the coconut oil. Roast until soft.
  2. When Pumpkin is cooked through, onions and garlic are soft, add pumpkin flesh, onions and garlic to a blender contain with the vegetable stock, coconut milk, banana, curry powder, ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. Pulse blender until completely smooth. Set aside.
  3. Minutes prior to serving, re heat soup and pulse in blender once more to ‘lighten’. Serve immediately.

The banana adds a very subtle flavour, try not to overdo it as it will overpower the soup.


  • Sadly cottage season is over and we’ve closed it down.
  • The banana is an interesting undertone, omit if you don’t care for bananas.
  • To have a lighter soup, don’t use full fat coconut milk or reduce the amount and replace the difference with skim milk.
  • A seared scallop would be a wonderful garnish in this decadent soup.

garbonzo flour twigs,

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers!

I am my Mother’s daughter; case in point, Mom was famous for bringing unusual food items into our home. Often we would stand around whatever ‘it’ was wondering what on earth we were expected to do with ‘it’, definitely not eat it! But yes, we were obliged to try it and sometimes it worked out very well (kiwi in the early 70’s (see notes) for example became a fast favourite and sometimes it did not. Lychee fruit for example, or what we sarcastically named “Eyeball Fruit” did not have a happy ending. Mom was pretty sure you could eat this raw, right out of the peel but we made her try it first anyway. She didn’t die immediately and wasn’t offended by it but my brother and I (under 10) were skeptical and hesitant to try it. We did eventually try it but it wasn’t a favourite — although we had some good giggles with the name, Eyeball Fruit.

JT and I were out grocery shopping and I came across Chickpea Flour Twigs and true to form, I grabbed a pack and tossed it into the cart. By now (almost 30 years) JT has learned not to question, just accept it — more often than not, it will become something tasty for him, anyway. Upon my return to the house I did a little investigating and discovered that this unusual treat is a snack food; to be honest, I wouldn’t know how to eat it…it’s so tiny and crumbly (if any of my readers know how to eat this, please let me know in the comments). But it reminded me of an elusive Greek dough called kataifi (shredded Phyllo dough which I haven’t been able to find) so I thought breading shrimp with it would work out well. Also I got a new social media client and they dropped off a bunch of their product so I decided to use coconut flour in the breading instead of all purpose flour. It worked out very well. It turns out that the Chickpea Flour Twigs are deep fried so they are quite rich and rolling the shrimp in them made a nice crunchy textured batter with a mild chickpea flavour.

Shrimp Bundled in Chickpea Flour Twigs

A Kitchen Inspirations Original Recipe.

Makes 8 shrimp bundles


  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 egg whisked with a splash of water
  • about 1/2 cup of chickpea flour twigs
  • 8 shrimp, tails off, cleaned
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pre heat an oven to 375°F and line a baking pan with a silicon mat.
  2. To three separate bowls, add the coconut flour, the egg whisked with water and the chickpea flour twigs.
  3. Lightly dredge the shrimp in the coconut flour and then soak in the egg wash, back to the coconut flour an again in the egg wash. Now roll lightly in the chickpea twigs. Lay onto the silicon mat. Repeat until the shrimp are all bundled nicely in the chickpea twigs.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the twigs are even more golden and the shrimp is cooked through.
  5. Serve with a tamarind dipping sauce (I combined store bought tamarind sauce with rice vinegar, green onions and chopped cilantro).
A tasty treat for cocktails.

A tasty treat for cocktails. Who drank my cocktail?



  • I usually repeat the flour dredging and the egg wash because it makes a nice crispy batter, particularly when baking in the oven instead of frying.
  • Toronto in the 70’s (I can only attest to this point forward) was fairly mungie-cake; exotic meant spaghetti and meatballs for most. Chinese takeout was pretty much the only asian food out there, fortunately, we have evolved and we can source any ethnic food on any day of the week and it’s likely to be quite authentic.
  • To be entirely honest, I don’t think I’ll make these again, the nutritional content of the chickpea twigs is not in my healthy realm but it was a fun treat.

Plum Butter


Small Italian plums would have been perfect for those delicious Plum Dumplings my cousin and I made in June, sadly they were not around then. When I spied them at my green grocer a week or so ago, I knew I couldn’t resist so I picked up a small container knowing full well they would be converted to something delicious. While Plum Dumplings are a great childhood memory, they are not the type of thing we eat on a regular basis so I decided on Plum Butter, another thick jam made without the use of pectin. Making jam or Lekvár is so easy, I’m astonished that I hadn’t done it more often in the past; perhaps it was the fear of making more than we could consume! Well, fear not my dear readers because this recipe makes a few small jars so we’ll be in great shape over the cold winter months.

plum butter, plum jam, szilvas lelvár

We enjoyed the delicious plum butter on homemade bread!

Plum Butter

Makes 370 mL thick jam


  • 630 g plums (a small container)
  • 255 g sugar
  • 60 mL water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Cut plums in half and remove stone. Put plums into a heavy bottom pan and add water and sugar. Set over medium heat and cook until softened.
  2. Add cinnamon and cook for 30-40 minutes until thickened, testing often with the freezer method.
  3. Once the butter has thickened, pour into sterilized mason jars and follow canning best practice instructions.


  • I left the peel in for texture, you may run the mixture through a fine sieve if you prefer no peel.
  • The plums cook down to a very creamy texture so there is no need to purée or press through a food mill, unless you wish to.
plum jam, plum butter, szilvás lekvár

It’s far too chilly to enjoy the plum butter outside now!


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