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Archive for February, 2008

Spring Break 2008

Unfortunately, this trip was postponed until March 28…but we’re still really really really looking forward to it…we’ll have to have a few martini’s in anticipation!!!!

Countdown Clock.

Paul and T are coming to Toronto!!! We’ve had to scramble (well, not really scramble, but we were putting off buying the bed and mattress for a sale, and Ikea had one, so we bit the bullet! AND what better reason than our great friends coming up for Spring Break?). We completed “The Guest Suite” and and it looks fabulous, if I do say so myself!!!! I still have a bit more art to add.

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Flowers from Tina and Todd.

We had very good friends, the Evans’s and Todd and Tina (lead carpenter from reno) over for dinner this Saturday (Todd is working with Rob on HGTV).

Here is the menu:

Round 1: Champagne and Hors D’oeuvres (3 tiers hors d’oeuvres)

  • Smoked salmon, crème fraiche on chive biscuits with caper
  • Bacon wrapped dates
  • Vegetable platter (for those of us watching our girlish figures)

Round 2:

  • Roasted Red Pepper, Boconcinni & Arugula Salad with balsamic reduction dressing

Round 3:

  • Caesar Shrimp shots (home roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic, puréed with a dash of vodka, tobasco and horse radish) in a cute little shot glass

Round 4:

  • Medallions of Beef Tenderloin with a balsamic glaze, and hors radish dots
  • Puréed roasted celery root and cauliflower
  • Asparagus spears

Round 5:

  • Chocolate Panna Cotta with balsamic reduction, dallop of cream and strawberries
    Coffee / Tea

The smoked salmon on chive biscuits can be found on the Valentine’s Day menu.

Bacon wrapped dates (these are too yummy, and so easy, you have to try them!):

  • 1 package regular plain ordinary bacon (chose less fat if at all possible)
  • 1 package honey dates (dried and pitted)
  • toothpicks
  1. Cut bacon slices in half width-wise.
  2. In a standard microwave, par cook these half slices for 2-3 minutes (you want to render a lot of the fat out). The bacon will shrink and curl somewhat. You don’t want crispy bacon because it’s impossible to roll around the dates!
  3. Remove bacon and wipe with paper towel to remove more fat. Allow to cool.
  4. Wrap 1 bacon slice around 1 date and skewer with toothpick. You may freeze at this point.
  5. When you want a quick hors d’oeuvres, take the quantity of frozen dates out of the freezer and follow step 6.
  6. Bake in a hot 425°F oven for about 8-10 minutes (bacon should render completely and turn a bit crispy).
  7. Serve. Careful, these are extremely hot.

Puréed Celery Root and Cauliflower (These are going to be a replacement for mashed potatoes, a little better for carb watchers)

  • 1 large head of celery root, cleaned, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • bowl of water with 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large garlic bulb (roasted to soft and squishy)
  1. Pre heat oven to 400°F
  2. Put cleaned and cut up celery root and cauliflower into the bowl of water with olive oil, remove and drain (this process will coat the veg with a little olive oil in a healthier way than drizzling all over. Pour veg into a roasting pan and roast for about 45 minutes.
  3. You may want to roast veg separately since they may cook at different rates. Roast until they are mushy soft.
  4. Pour all veg into a food processor, including roasted garlic (remove cloves from skin).
  5. Purée until very smooth (could take 10 minutes), adding a little bit of water to loosen (not to make soup!)
  6. Remove from processor and strain through a fine sive (this is very important, it will make the purée silky smooth).
  7. Keep warm over a bain marie, and serve like mashed potatoes (use leftovers as soup – just add stock!).

Chocolate Panna Cotta (italian milk jello) adapted from May 2005 Page 108 delicious magazine. Serves 6 (here is a how to video, using a slightly different recipe)

  • 3/4 cup light cream (this is important so jello does not separate)
  • 1 cup milk (whole is best, skim has too much water)
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar (or to taste)
  • 200 g good quality dark semi sweet chocolate (I like it a bit denser, so I add more chocolate!)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (you don’t want to taste it, just enhance the chocolate flavour)
  • 2 packages gelatin
  • 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, reduced to 1/4 cup
  • 24 strawberries, hulled and cut into halves
  1. Place cream, sugar and chocolate in a sauce pan on medium heat. Stir until everything is dissolved and melted (about 4-5 minutes)
  2. Then bring mixture to just about to boil and remove from heat.
  3. Use gelatin packs according to directions and whisk into chocolate mixture.
  4. Pour through a fine sieve into 100mL ramekins (I used silicon as they are easy to remove) and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
  5. To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen and dip each ramekin into boiling water (careful not to let water come into contact with jello) for a couple of seconds. Turn out onto a plate.
  6. On each plate, decorate the equivalent of 4 berries and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Enjoy!

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I made a guacamole as a starter the other day but didn’t have chips or crackers around, so I used fajita shells (these were whole whole grain with flax seed, so extra good for you!). Cut them into smallish triangles and coat with either Pam or olive oil on both sides. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 400F on both sides until lightly browned and crispy.

Enjoy! These are a fraction of the calories or regular chips and they are tasty!!!!

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Huff Estate Weekend!

We went down to Prince Edward County and stayed at Huff Estate for one night over the long weekend. The restaurant I had booked a month ago canceled our reservation 6 days ahead (Valentine’s weekend, no less), due to the snow (oh, poor babies, too much snow in Canada in the winter?????) Not much of a good start for the PEC! Take a look at the photos.

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Huff was lovely. The room was very nicely appointed and the bathroom was great (huge tub and glass shower with 6 heads!) We checked in around noon on Saturday and then set out for Lunch! We tried Portabella in Picton. The food was lovely, although a bit expensive for Picton, but I guess it’s up and coming! We checked out all of the antique stores and the Inn that JT booked for our dinner Claramont Inn and Spa. We were quite disappointed that the menu was a fixed menu and the two mains were Duck Confit and Venison (two very meaty dinners and neither of my taste!) So we canceled our reservations and went to No Frills and bought a variety of cheeses, cold cuts, fruits and crackers for a lovely and tasty meal in the room. Maybe a couple of bottles of vino too! Actually, it couldn’t have been nicer. In summer, each room has a lovely patio where they put a table and chairs…would have been great for cocktails (but not at -8°C and a metre of snow!!!).

The next morning I work with the worst case of Pink Eye…off to a drug store to get some Polysporin and I’m good to go! Huff provided a nice little breakfast (although the room was small and flow was difficult). We set out to see some more sites, unfortunately, I was feeling really badly from the Pinkeye and we decided to head home, with a minor stop at the Big Apple for some tasty pie! This is a great spot for kids in the summer, as they have wild bunnies running freely on their land (they are quite friendly!).

Our weekend continued in Toronto JT went to visit his dad at the retirement home and I went shopping. I dropped by Linens and Things and picked up a couple of cordless pleated shades for the kitchen…I had to customize the size (which was a bit of a challenge, with my tin snips) but they turned out fantastic, and I couldn’t be happier for the slim spend of $25 each! What a deal!

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//parenting.leehansen.com/downloads/webgraphics/Animations/hearts-afire.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Happy Valentine’s Day!

JT and I don’t really like going out for dinner on this occassion, our experience has been poor service and expensive menus, so we splurge at home!

Last night we started with little Mini Chive biscuits (From Food Network.com Barefoot Contessa) with Crème Fraiche (I’ve been having a difficult time finding it in the grocery stores, so I’ve made my own, see recipe below from Epicurious.com), Smoked Salmon and Capers (these are larger than normal capers and have a much milder, delicate flavour, and they are gorgeous because they have the stems on – you’ll likely need to go to a specialty gourmet store to get them, and make sure you wear padding because you WILL faint at the cost!). They are yummy in a martini too (but then again, what ISN’T?!?

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Crème Fraiche (from Epicurious.com) kind of like a really decadent sour cream!:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Preparation

  1. Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container.
  2. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick.
  3. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days (note from me, the longer you leave it in the fridge, the milder the buttermilk taste…this is really worth the splurge).

We also had King Crab Legs, a real treat. And in light of my trying to be good, I did a variation on Garlic Drawn Butter that was fantastic (if I do say so myself!!!!).

Heathy Drawn Garlic Butter Dipping Sauce (I’m going to try it on garlic bread and post the results soon!)

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp yellow miso paste (miso acts as an emulsifier with the butter and water)
  • 1 tsp butter (I used sweet butter because the miso has a lot of salt)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife.
  1. Heat water, add miso and stir until miso is melted.
  2. Add butter and garlic cloves and return to heat for 2-3 minutes so garlic releases flavour into liquid and butter melts.
  3. Stir well (this will thicken) and run through a strainer to remove garlic bits (the sauce should be creamy, about the consistency of buttermilk).
  4. Dip what ever your heart desires into this yummy, healthier sauce!

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We had cousin Lucy, Larry their two kids, Ilona and Vaz, and Gus, Wendy, Jack and Annie for a lovely brunch on Sunday Feb 10. lucawendy.jpg
The kids horsing around in the new basement:

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We had a honey clove baked ham with potatoes gratin (scalloped potatoes with creme fraiche and gruyrere cheese – very very bad for you, but delicious!) and braised red cabbage. For dessert, I made a black forest triffle. They left an hour after the scheduled departure time, so I guess they must have had a good time!

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We were out last night at 9:30pm shoveling…for the third time that day! As you can well imagine we are quite sick of it. Good thing we did a workout too, otherwise, I’d fear that we’d plummet into unfitedness (is that a word?)

Anyway, as troublesome the snow is, it is extremely beautiful. Here are a few photos of our back yard (I can hardly believe that this is the middle of Toronto!)

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And we’re expecting MORE today. Anyone want to help shovel snow?

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