Archive for December, 2010

A friend told me about Bar Mercurio recently, and coincidentally JT came across it about the same time.


It’s a lovely little hole in the wall; if you eat with the silver-set you may get a table, but after 7, it’s reservations only – even sitting at the bar is hit and miss.

We’ve been several times and we almost always have the same waiter. The service is good, but could be better if they had more wait staff. They seem to ‘hide’ your bottle, which makes it difficult to serve yourself when the waiter is too busy to notice.

I almost always have the Caprece salad, which is one of the best in the city: oven roasted tomatoes on a bed of baby arugula and a giant dollop of fresh bufalo mozzarella drizzled with EVOO and balsamic. The sweetness of the tomatoes against the earthiness of the arugula and the creaminess of the cheese is phenomenal! My favorite, bar none.

We’ve also had their pizza a couple of times, which were excellent! Thin, crispy crust, fresh greens, prosciutto and hot, melted stringy cheese…YUM!

Bar Mercurio overall rating (in my opinion): decor 3.5/5, service 2.5/5, food 4/5, Value 3.5/5, Noise: 3/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being quiet). A note about the noise: it’s a lively place, but I’ve never had an issue about being heard (my voice blends into noise).

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Angela's Deeelish Gingerbread Cakes

The recipe below makes 1 dozen regular-sized muffins or one 20 cm (8 inch)* round cake. I have halved this recipe successfully.

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg (if halving the recipe, use a small egg)
  • 2/3 cup un-sulfured molasses
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 pieces crystallized ginger, thinly sliced lengthwise, for garnish
  • Chocolate Ganache
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a standard 12-cup muffin pan, tapping out excess flour; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and boiling water; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, and beat until combined. Add molasses, fresh ginger, and reserved baking soda mixture; beat until combined. (The batter will look curdled but will come together once the flour is added.) Add the flour mixture, and beat until well combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, filling each about halfway. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centre of a cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack to cool completely.
  4. Set rack over a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of Chocolate Ganache over each cake, letting some drip down the sides. Garnish with a couple of strips of crystallized ginger. Once glazed, cakes can refrigerated, in air-tight containers, for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

*updated September 2018

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My best friend and her hubby were to come down to the big smoke for our holiday brunch today, but sadly the weather in god’s country prevented this from happening. So JT and I enjoyed an elaborate Mexican brunch all to ourselves.

The menu:

  • Whole wheat pesto pin wheels (gluten light)
  • Southwestern corn chowder
  • Heuvos Rancheros
  • Lemon squares with vanilla ice cream and strawberry coulis

Southwestern Corn Chowder (an adaptation of Michael Smith’s Southwestern Corn Soup)

Southwestern Corn Chowder

Serves 4; 3/4 cup portions

  • 2 tablespoons of corn, vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced (I omitted onions as Michael doesn’t like them!)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cups of chicken broth, homemade or canned (I used sodium reduced)
  • 1 ancho pepper (I only had dried)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp pancetta, crispy fried
  • 4 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 2 tbsp cilantro oil
  1. Heat oil and sauté onions until soft. Add garlic and sauté just until you can smell it. Add cumin and smoked paprika and stir until combined. Add ancho pepper.
  2. Add 2 cups of corn and stock. Cook until corn is very soft. Add cilantro.
  3. With an immersion blender, blend until corn is creamed well. Press through a fine seive to get all the corn skin. Add lime juice and stir well.
  4. Garnish with 1 tbsp crème fraiche, pancetta and cilantro oil. Serve warm.
  5. Enjoy!

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I made up this recipe after having read a number of versions on line — I chose the ingredients I preferred. The measures are for taste, they are not set in stone so play it up to your preferences. Because this is a palette cleanser, the balance between the sweet and salty is imperative. Mint is refreshing but can be overwhelming very easily, so if you are unsure, add mint little by little to your taste. Makes 4-6 smallish servings as an intermissi in a multi-course meal.

  • 1 cup finely grated cucumber with skin on (this makes for a more colourful presentation)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2-4 fresh mint leaves chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup water
  • sea salt to taste


Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until well blended (leaving the cucumbers chunky). Freeze until ice crystals form (should have the texture of a freezy!). Fluff with a fork (you may need to take it out of the freezer a few hours before you serve so that it is not rock hard!

Note: Freeze for up to 1 month.

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Another Tapas Dinner Party

We haven’t done a tapas dinner in quite some time, so we thought we’d pull out all the stops for my FBBFFE and hubby Roland. Here is the menu:

Bacon Wrapped Dates (an old favourite; we’ll have these in the kitchen at the island).

We’ll move the living room and enjoy the other courses by the fire.

Shrimp three ways, served in individual small portions: Shrimp Cappuccino Bisque with Garlic Saffron Aioli, Shrimp Mousse with Crème Fraiche, Shrimp Ceviche with Avocado and Coconut. The shrimp worked out very well; good flavours.

Home baked bread and Chorizo sausage with tomato and balsamic reduction; Sizzling Mushroom with Sheep’s Milk Feta; Roasted Golden Beets with Goats Cheese
The three courses above were another home run! Particularly successful were the mushrooms (how can you go wrong with butter and mushrooms?)

Palette cleanser: Cucumber and Mint Granita

Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese – an absolute flop! What a waste of lobster and cheese! Sorry guys.

Chocolate dipped strawberries. Yum!

Molten Chocolate Cakes with Crème Anglais and Raspberries – this one is always a total winner!

I’ll try to link to recipes when I get to my computer, later.

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