Archive for February, 2012

I invited my brother and his family over for brunch on Sunday because it would have been our Mom’s 76th birthday on Friday (we try to get together each year for this occassion). I decided on making an old favourite: Pineapple upside down cake with home made Caramel Sauce because I remembered it to be one of my brother’s favourites (as it turned out, he said he didn’t even remember the dessert, sigh!) The caramel sauce was one I spotted in a blog some time ago, and it’s made entirely in the microwave…so easy. I won’t bother replicating the recipe because Tracey has some wonderful, fool proof, step by step photos. Note that the age of your microwave will have an enormous effect on timing (mine is at least 20 years old, but it still works and I can’t be bothered to change it — it hides in my microwave cabinet in my newish kitchen, seldom used). The sauce is down right amazing. Make it. I’m not kidding. Even if you have nothing to drizzle it on, just make it. The only thing I changed was that instead of using heavy cream, I used fat free Carnation Evaporated Milk to help reduce some of the calories. The kids didn’t even notice! They took leftovers home. You may use this recipe or any old white cake recipe you can find. I didn’t want 20 cakes, so I actually halved the original recipe.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Home Made Caramel Sauce

Makes 10 cupcake-sized cakes

Recipe adapted from A Guide to Good Cooking, Five Roses Flour, twenty fifth edition, 1983

sticky, gooey, sweet caramel...you old smoothie


  • 212 g (3/4 cups) all purpose floour
  • 7.5 mL (1/2 tbsp) baking powder
  • 1 mL (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 67.5 mL (1/4 cup) butter
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) vanilla
  • 87.5 m (5/16 cup milk, just a bit more than 1/4!)
  • 67.5 mL (1/4 cup) butter
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 6-7 slices of pineapple (I used fresh, but you can certainly use canned, if you do, you may want to use the syrup instead of milk in the batter)


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.
  3. Cream the butter with sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 6 minutes).
  4. Blend in dry ingredients alternating with the milk beginning and ending with dry.
  5. Prepare 10 muffin tins by generously spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Melt the second butter with the brown sugar in a microwave proof bowl. Stir well. Distribute into 10 prepared muffin tins evenly.
  7. Slice the pineapple into smallish bits that will fit into each tin. Place one slice in each tin, pressing down into the brown sugar mixture.
  8. Evenly distribute the cake batter into the 10 tins. Give is a bit of a shake to remove bubbles. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool for about 5-6 minutes (not too long, though) and invert so that the gooey caramel created by the brown sugar still comes out clean. Drizzle what ever brown sugar mixture remains in the pan over each cake.
  10. Serve with home made Caramel Sauce, bits of pineapple and whipped cream. Hide the rest because your guests will want doggy bags.

Can you just taste it?

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JT and I dined at Blu Ristorante on Saturday night. We had been there with Barb and Kevin (from Profiteroles and Ponytails) a few weeks ago and enjoyed it so much we decided to go back. Blu is in an old Victorian house in Yorkville (a very trendy part of Toronto, and expensive). Some of the restaurants in Yorkville are pretentious and expensive but we were quite pleased to find this one none of the above! Chef Massimo Callovini serves traditional Italian cuisine in a contemporary setting.

The restaurant is nicely lit, with many hard and soft surfaces; the tables are grouped into twos and fours and sectioned by silver billowing fabric screens, which is a very nice sense of privacy. Although when we were there both times, the place was packed but not noisy. What made us choose to go back was that the restaurant has live music from Wednesday to Saturday; with Barb and Kevin there was a piano player with a voice similar to Seal, last Saturday it was classical guitarist with a sound similar to James Blunt. Both were equally as good and made our dinner very enjoyable. Although I must say I enjoyed our first waiter, Margo, better than the one we had last weekend; nothing bad, just personal preference.

The music entertained us throughout most of our dinner. JT and I ordered the same starter (what Kevin ordered before) Pear, Gorgonzola, Belgian Endive, Radicchio, Walnuts, Walnut Vinaigrette; it was tasty, but I felt, as did JT that there was not enough Gorgonzola on it. Sticking to my appetizer only rule, I ordered the Grilled Calamari with Roasted Red Pepper, Olives, Capers, Chili Olio — it was delicious, the Calamari was cooked perfectly! JT had to order Kevin’s dinner of Fettuccini Carbonara with Pork Loin, Sun Dried Tomato, Cashews and Olives; wonderful, creamy and the tang and sweetness of the sun dried tomato complimented the richness of the sauce. He polished it off. Incidentally, Kevin enjoyed his so much, correct me if I am wrong, but he didn’t even want to give Barb a taste! 🙂

We didn’t order dessert or coffee but lingered with our wine and listened to the music. Although the dinner did not last quite as long as with Barb and Kevin (you know who talks a lot), it was nicely paced and we never felt rushed.

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

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

I recently came across a little bit of info one of the photographers I am “friends” with on Facebook posted. Jim Norton is a food photographer in Toronto and does a lot of work for many magazines (LCBO is one of my favourites). Check out his portfolio on line, his photography is only something I can wishfully aspire to, sadly it won’t happen in my lifetime. Jim is a great source of useful information on Facebook. Recently he posted about the shady terms of service for Pinterest (I know many of you subscribe to this repository of photography. I urge you to read this article; basically saying that once you post your photo on Pinterest, they can sell it whenever they want, in perpetuity. That means FOREVER. Anyway, I thought you should know.

By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.

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My friend Angela is having a Titanic Anniversary Party (April 14 is the 100 year Anniversary of its sinking) and she is going all out. We will all come in period clothing (hopefully I will have photos!) and I will provide some of my heirloom silverware and serving dishes and some crystal (I inherited many lovely things of that time period from my MIL, fortunately for me, my SIL is not much into cooking or entertaining!). It sounds like it’s going to be a real blast.
I wanted in on the fun, so I asked Angela if I could help out and she kindly offered an hors d’œuvres and a dessert, both of which sound really fun to make. Of course, I needed to practice and test our the recipe so I will blog about my contribution to this momentous affair!

Canapés à l’Amiral are little toasts covered in a “shrimp butter” with a butter sautéed shrimp on top (oops, I forgot the roe as finishing, I shan’t do that for your evening, Angela!). The “shrimp butter” was delicious, and JT bought a beautiful whole wheat baguette with sesame seeds from Cobs near our home – the seeds just added the right amount of texture to the toasts! And the sweet shrimp on top was a wonderful bite with the creamy “shrimp butter”. The roe would have been a nice little burst of texture and saltiness…darn, I wish I had remembered because I do have some in the fridge!

Please help yourself to an hors d'œuvres.

Canapés à l’Amiral

Makes 20 canapés


  • 1/2 thin baguette
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 10 small shrimp, halved lengthwise and sautéed in butter
  • Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp flying fish roe

Ingredients Shrimp Butter:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz shrimp in shells
  • 1/4 cup brand
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1″ vanilla bean pod, cut lengthwise (dash of vanilla)

That martini is MINE! Hands off.

Directions Shrimp Butter:

  1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add shallots and garlic; cook stirring often for about 5 minutes or until softened.
  2. Increase heat to high and add shrimp in shells and sauté, stirring 3 to 4 minutes or until shells are opaque.
  3. Transfer this mixture to a food processor. Return pan to stove and pour in the brandy, add the vanilla bean pod; cook stirring for about 30 seconds or until brandy is reduced to a glaze. Remove the vanilla bean pod and scrape into shrimp mixture in the processor.
  4. Process the shrimp mixture until finely chopped. (YES, the shells are still in there! It’s about the flavour). Add the softened cream cheese, butter, tomato paste, salt and pepper and process until smooth. Press through a fine sieve and set aside.
  5. Slice baguette into 20 thin slices (about 6mm or 1/4″) and toast under broiler for about 1 minute per side or until lightly golden. Set aside.
  6. Melt butter in previously used skillet and cook shrimp halves until opaque. Drizzle lime juice over shrimp halves and reserve.
  7. Place shrimp butter in a piping bag (or just slather on like I did) and pipe onto toasts equally. Top each one with a cooked shrimp half, a parsley leaf (or cut parsley, like I did) and top each canapé with an equal amount of fish roe (which I forgot to do).

Are you doing anything special for April 14th?

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Every so often we like a meal without meat. Indian flavours are always so welcome particularly on these bitterly cold winter nights. I saw one of our celebrity chefs, Chef Michael Smith, made this recipe on his show Chef at Home, and I’ll be darned if I can find it. It’s a really easy recipe and comes together quite quickly. It also serves up lunch very well the next day. And if you tire of it, just add bit of vegetable stock and purée into a lovely creamed soup.


Curried Cauliflower and Chickpeas


  • 450 g cauliflower cut into small florets
  • 300 g rehyrdated chick peas (if using canned, drain and rinse)
  • 160 g onion roughly chopped
  • 75 g raisins
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp corriander
  • 2 tsp curry
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk powder*
  • splash of EVOO


  1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and sauté the onions until translucent.
  2. Add the cauliflower and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chick peas.
  3. Sprinkle the spices over the hot cauliflower and stir until you can smell their wonderful aroma. Add the raisins.
  4. Add water and mix in the coconut milk powder. Cover and allow to simmer until the cauliflower is tender.
  5. Serve over a bed of mixed greens.

* In Toronto, they sell coconut milk in cans in our grocery stores, but I usually find I need only about 1/2 of a can. It doesn’t freeze well so I end up keeping in the fridge until it grows something weird and then it gets tossed. I found the coconut milk powder in the ethnic section in our large grocery retailer and thought it’s the perfect solution for me. You can do a search on line, I’m sure you will be able to find it in your local ethnic store.

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We love cheese; any kind; all kinds; every kind of cheese. Gorgonzola is one of our favourites but we seldom ‘treat’ ourselves because it’s just too expensive calorie wise. Last week as a very special treat, I noticed a very tiny amount in the refrigerator…hmmm, was JT even going to tell me about it? The piece was about 40g, and my first thought was to slice an apple and pop the two into my mouth…destroy the evidence, as it were. But then, I came across Manu’s recipe for Gorgonzola Soufflé and I saw the writing on the wall…my friends, it HAD to be done! Because I had about 1/2 the cheese required for Manu’s recipe, I cut everything in half and used smaller ramekins. Click on the link here to see her original recipe, she has amazing step by step photography. I’m not that detailed.

Just out of the oven. Don't blink!

Gorgonzola Soufflé


(makes 2 ramekins of 125 mL (1/2 cup) capacity):

  • 10 g (3/4 tbsp) butter, softened – plus a little extra, melted
  • 8.5 g (0.3 oz.) flour
  • 62.5 mL  (1/4 cup) milk
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 62.5 mL  (1/4 cup)  white wine
  • 40 g (1.25 oz.) Gorgonzola
  • Salt
  • 25 g (~2 tbsp) Grated Parmesan


  1. Preheat oven to 205° C (400° F).  Brush 2 (125 mL 1/2 cup capacity) ramekins or oven proof bowls with melted butter.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Slowly add the milk,  stirring continuously for 2-3 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in the Gorgonzola.
  3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolk and sea salt. Now I found this mixture a little too thick (much thicker than Manu’s photos) so I added about a 1/4 cup dry white wine to loosen it up, it worked out great — plus it gave me an excuse to open a bottle, and perhaps to share a taste of it!!
  4. Beat egg whites with electric mixer until firm peaks form.  Gently fold through the cheese mixture.  Fill the ramekins two-thirds full and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden.
  6. Photograph immediately.  Eat.

Oh, you blinked!

I must say that this recipe is a keeper, thank you Manu, we adore Gorgonzola and the lightness of the souffle really allowed the cheese to sing. I know my friend Barb and Kevin would love this, I will keep it in my back pocket for the next time we have them over!

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Each time we come down to the Niagara region we always pop by one of our flavourite little villages, Jordan. Because we decided to see Jordan on the way home on Monday most of the quaint little shops were closed due to the statutory holiday, sadly. But fortunately an old flavourite restaurant was open for business, On the Twenty. On the Twenty was likely the first winery restaurant in this region; originally boasting a couple of our celebrity chefs Anna Olson and Michael Olson. Since then there have been several award winning winery restaurants in this region which makes it difficult to go back to somewhere you’ve already been, we always want to try new places. The spot we picked out for our brunch on the way home was not to be – closed on Mondays, so we decided to try On the Twenty again, after all, it has been about 10 years!
On the Twenty is nestled into an old row of historical buildings on the edge of vineyards; the tables have a lovely view even if it is winter. We are seated and I face the window, it was a gorgeous, sunny day! We settle in with a glass of wine (now that would be sacrilege to be at a winery restaurant and not order wine!). The menu is lovely and we are tempted by two interesting selections: I choose the Vintner’s Lunch which includes sausage, pâté en croute, house preserves and pickles, house-smoked salmon, Pingue prosciutto, chorizo and Ontario artisanal cheese. It is a beautifully presented platter with a small selection of everything; my only complaint would have been that it lacked a little sweetness such as a chutney or compote, but it was divine! JT decided on the WillowGrove Pork Chop with rosemary forked Yukon mash, honey-glazed carrot, apple jus. The pork was juicy and tender with just the right amount of vegetables. A truly wonderful brunch, On the Twenty did not disappoint! We shan’t wait another ten years before we return next time!

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

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

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We went to see the Band from TV on Sunday Night. It was fantastic. The performance was wonderful and the actor/musicians were friendly and approachable. Jessie Spencer (House) and James Denton (Despirate Housewives) were even cuter in person than on TV. Teri Hatcher was gorgeous and so incredibly thin (much thinner than on TV). I would whole-heartedly recommend seeing them if they are in your area. Jesse Spencer is an incredibly talented violinist (check out this little duo of the Devil went down to Georgia) Jessie and James performed it on Sunday night. The ‘lead’ singer was Bachelor Bob Guiney; he had a great voice and really belted out the songs. Teri Hatcher sang about 5-6 songs and she also did great. The guys came down into the audience several times. JT caught one of the T-shirts they threw into the crowd. It’s an Xtra Large so I’ve got a little idea I’m playing with. Since they got together six years ago, they have been able to donate three million dollars to charities around the world. It’s such a lovely thing.

They performed without a break from 7 (and they DID start on time) to about 8:45, with a little encore at the end. Our 9pm reservations at AG was perfectly timed!

AG Restaurant is within Sterling Inn on the Canadian side of the falls. It’s a little off the beaten path but JT and I have stayed there a couple of times and know that the restaurant is one of the best in Niagara Falls. It was not busy at all (this is relatively low season for this area). Niagara is in the midst of one of our Wine growing areas and AG features many local wines on their wine list (as do most of the higher end restaurants in the area).

Flat Ruthie was feeling invigorated after seeing Jessie Spencer and James Denton and decided she had to come with us (so much for our romantic get-away!). She just wouldn’t shut up about it.

Ruthie was talking up a storm all the way through dinner.

Because we were eating so late, we decided we would only have appetizer portions; I was happy I did, they were very satisfying without being too filling. I started with the Gingered Carrot Velouté and lime and soy shrimp salad, chantilly – it was a little salad in the midst of a rather large bowl, the waiter poured the velouté around the salad. It was delicious.  JT began his journey with the “Bonnie and Floyd” Fifth Town Cheese Baked in Phyllo with a shallot marmalade, chestnuts, “Pingue” Abruzzi and yellow beet salad. It too was quite tasty and beautifully presented. My next course was Beet Cured Atlantic Salmon with apple fennel waldorf, caper and yellow beet salsa, caraway cracker (I think they forgot the caraway cracker, but it didn’t matter to me, I likely would not have eaten it since I am not a fan of the caraway seed!). The beet cured Salmon was such a gorgeous red colour. I wish I had taken a photo of it. JT had the Steak and Mushroom Pie which was a marinated flank steak, bacon sautéed mushrooms, Waterloo dark, classic flaky pie crust, thyme creamed onions. Very tasty. And all very small portions, but the flavours were so wonderful that you felt quite satisfied.

The service was wonderful and the waiter was quite chatty which we enjoyed. We closed down the joint around 11pm and headed back to our hotel. A very fun evening indeed.

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

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

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I know what you’re thinking, “WTF?” It’s weird, it’s bizarre but the food’s good (for breakfast) and the service is also good. And it makes for an interesting post for my blog. The Flying Saucer Restaurant has been around since 1972 and has been pleasing crowds from all over, ever since. It’s not fine dining, by any stretch of the imagination but we ARE, after all, in Niagara Falls. Their slogan is FLYING SAUCER RESTAURANT is known throughout the galaxy for OUT OF THE WORLD food at DOWN TO EARTH PRICES – served at the speed of light! It was served very quickly, that’s for sure.

Ruthie is much more photogenic than either JT or I, so we acquiesced each time she asked us, "take my picture, take my picture!"

We’d been here before, last year, we knew the portions were enormous, so we decided to share the E.T. Special. It was plenty of food, believe me. With a couple of cups of coffee, we were all set until lunch! If you’re ever in the Niagara Area and feel like a plain old fashioned greasy spoon breakfast, then The Flying Saucer restaurant is the place for you! But get there before 10am, because that’s when all the weirdos come out for breakfast and the crazy line-ups begin.

It's a lot of food. I couldn't finish the homefries!

Ruthie was feeling a little under the weather from the night before (too much partying!) so she was taking it easy and had only coffee that morning.

Overall rating of The Flying Saucer Restaurant: Decor 4/5 (yes, it even looks flying saucery inside!), service 5/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 3/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

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

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Did you miss me? We were away and we did not have free wifi. I figured at $200 a night, they could have thrown it in…it was a matter of principal.

Of course, it has to snow on our driving day.


Snow, snow, GO AWAY.

We like to get away from time to time, even if it’s just a couple of hours away. This weekend is our relatively new Family Day holiday in Ontario; it was an election promise by our current Premier Dalton McGuinty (one that he actually kept!) creating a statutory holiday to help bridge the gap from Christmas to Easter, and to beef up tourism in Ontario. We took a little trip to Niagara Falls Ontario.

Niagara is a wonderful combination of culture, food, natural wonder and of course, shopping, and it’s only an hour and a half from our home! We’ve stayed in several different places over the years but this time we’re staying at the Gateway Fallsview Marriott which is reasonably close to Casino Niagara where on Sunday night we will see Band from TV. Here is an adorable little clip of Teri Hatcher singing Kerry Underwood’s Before he Cheats. (Kerry is married to Canadian Mike Fisher, who comes from Peterborough, my nephew (Brian) and niece (Laura) went to school with his siblings…cool eh? 6 degrees of separation!)

Now you are well aware that I bumped into Flat Ruthie the other day at the Toronto Courthouse (not sure what she was doing down there, and perhaps I don’t want to know). Anyway, she finagled her way into coming with us this weekend…I think we’re in trouble…

Oh my, Ruthie, we're ONLY gone 2 nights!

We dropped our luggage at the hotel and then took the Whirlpool Bridge across which is ONLY for Nexus users — we breezed through (the Rainbow Bridge had at least an hour long lineup! Yay Nexus). We went to Walden Galleria to shop where I only got a few things…we declared everything and didn’t have to pay anything! We’re lucky that way. That’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to jinx it! In Canada anything less than 24 hours away and you’re really not supposed to buy anything and bring it back, or you should pay 13% taxes and then about 10-15% duties; but it’s really up to the crossing agent – they determine if you pay. After 48 hours I believe you are allowed $300 plus a litre of booze each. But it’s not worth staying in Niagara Falls New York, believe me, it’s such a dump.

We ate lunch at Gordon Biersch; it was a very nice, pub like establishment, but what really drew us to it was that they make everything from scratch right there. And they brew their own beer. A lot of the menu had beer ingredients, which is always quite cool. I ordered the Ahi tuna salad which was quite tasty (Ahi Tuna, blackened and seared rare, with Märzen Balsamic, Vinaigrette and Cajun remoulade) but as usual they really over dressed the greens…enough already! JT had half roast turkey and swiss sandwich and a beer and cheddar soup – the soup was so rich he couldn’t/wouldn’t finish it. For Buffalo, it exceeded my expectations (I was just hoping we wouldn’t have to dine at burger king).


JT had the beer, I had a glass of wine. I usually find beer too filling.

This is the view from our room:


This is a panoramic view from our room using Photosynth - a photo stitch ap on the iPhone

I told her I wouldn't be able to get a good shot, but she insisted.

We stayed at the Fallsview Gateway Marriott which is apparently a different hotel than the Fallsview Marriott. We thought we were in the other one. It wasn’t bad, it was just unexpected. We had a very nice view of the falls. There were no bedbugs. Thank goodness. It’s also a little ironic that we had free wifi in Morrocco, yet, in Niagara Falls Ontario, it’s about $12.75 plus taxes a day. I didn’t get it. Hence my absence this weekend.

King-size bed. There, I said it.

The bathroom had a glass wall facing the bed…I’ll leave that to your imagination.

The fancy tub (can you imagine the bacteria-fest in the pipes? YUCK!)

I’ll review the restaurants and the entertainment in the coming days.

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I’m always on the look out for new weeknight recipes,  not that I don’t love our repertoire, I just like to spice things up every now and then. When I read Kristy and Mike’s recipe for Spicy Spaghetti Squash and Shrimp, I knew I couldn’t resist. What is even MORE WONDERFUL about this recipe is that it makes itself! Now, you’re probably thinking, OK, she’s finally lost her mind…but wait…

It was Tuesday and I emailed this recipe to JT who kindly picked up the fixin’s on his way home. We were swamped at work that day, I was a little tired and got home later than expected; when I opened the front door the waft of something wonderful filled my soul…WHAT? Who is cooking? You might recall that JT cooks most of our meals during the weekdays, but if it’s something new, he respectfully waits for me and we make it together! But not this time. Dinner was well underway by the time I got home, so I grabbed a glass of vino and pulled up a stool to watch my man cook — it’s such a satisfying site. Believe me, I know how fortunate I am. I am so glad he made this dish, it will become another one of his signature dishes!

No that's not spaghetti, it's spaghetti squash! I didn't realize how 'hot' that photo was...night-time photography really sucks. I apologize for the poor quality.

Now I am told we didn’t stray from Kristy’s recipe, so I won’t bother recounting but I do highly recommend you make it. We used low sodium tomatoes and we did not add the Parmesan, but see nothing wrong with doing so, we just didn’t feel like it. We both had to for lunch the next day and the flavours were incredible. A real winner we will add to the repertoire! Thanks Kristy and Mike, it’s a great tasting dish.

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Day one of JD went much better than expected!

As I mentioned I had to be downtown at 8:30am, and I’m fortunate, my entire trip was about 20 minutes; it would have been 30 if I had to walk to the subway, but JT kindly gave me a lift to the subway.
We all had to walk through security much like the air port, except we didn’t have to take off our shoes. Then we were registered, and told to sit in a room. The chairs are all lined up, facing a small TV placed precariously too low for anyone but the front row to see. Oh, will we see movies? Not quite; they ran a lame movie about actors pretending to be sucked into the process and how proud they all are. Bleh!
Now we wait. Just because you are summoned for JD, doesn’t necessarily mean you will serve on a jury. For each trial (there are several courts in this building) they draw names from the people in the room and if your name is drawn (lucky you) you are called into the courtroom. The other time I was here, my name wasn’t drawn. In the court room, the trial lawyers ask each potential juror a pertinent question to determine if they want them on the jury. Correct me if I’m wrong (Kelly), they don’t have a limit on how many they can decline. When JT was here, he was called but was rejected (now that’s a rejection I can handle).

In Canada you do not get remunerated for JD unless it is a trial more than 10 days. Then they pay you a whopping $40 per day! Seriously?

As luck would have it at around 10am some big wig came and further pontificated on the value of our presence and then in a long drawn out speech he released us for the week — just like that! Sweet. sweet words: “your service will not be required today, nor for the remainder of the week.” Is it appropriate to cheer in the courthouse? Now I’m done for three years (yup they changed it!)! Yay.

On my way out, you’ll never guess who I bumped into…non-other than Flat Ruthie…she’ll be accompanying JT and I on a short vaycay to Niagara Falls, Ontario where we’ll see the Band from TV as well as do some eating, drinking and shopping (perhaps even in the US where our dollar is ever so strong these days!).

This is the Panna Cotta that I made for our Vegetarian Valentine Dinner last Saturday. I served it with sliced strawberries and a 100 year old balsamic that I lightly drizzled over the plate. Asmita at the Compulsive Foodie inspired this recipe, but I made it lighter and used non-fat ingredients. It worked out very well. I’ll keep this recipe for the summer months.

Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar

Serves 4 in 3.5oz ramekins


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/4 cup plain fat free Greek Yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups carnation fat free condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod
  • pinch of cardamon
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • Drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar


  1. Spray ramekins with non-stick spray.
  2. Sprinke the gelatin over 2 tbsp water
  3. Heat the milk with the sugar and vanilla bean until almost boiling. Add the softened gelatin and mix until it has entirely melted.
  4. Remove from heat. Remove the vanilla bean pod and scrap the seeds into the milk mixture and mix well. Add the cardamon.
  5. Stir in the Greek Yogurt until well blended. Pour into the prepared ramekins and allow to cool. Once cooled, place in refrigerator overnight to set.
  6. Run a little hot water on the bottom of each ramekin to loosen. Lightly loosen the edges of the ramekins with a sharp knife and turn onto the middle of a large plate. Drizzle with balsamic and decorate with strawberries. Enjoy.

Panna Cotta - a nice light dessert


If you have left over berries, dip them in melted chocolate for a valentine’s day treat.

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Today is Wednesday and it is my first day at the courthouse for jury duty. We don’t live far from the core, so taking the subway is the most efficient way to go, plus parking would set me back about $20 per day (pretty cheap considering it could be as high as $60 per day in the financial district)! Our transit system is called TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), and the subway is often called The Rocket! I’m taking The Rocket downtown. Yes, it is as lame as it sounds! I have to be there at 8:30am. I am not looking forward to it. I hope there is wifi, but then again I do have the 3G network, so I can be in touch. I will take a book, perhaps a title that will make me undesirable to be a juror. Any suggestions?

I have made this paella before, calling it cottage paella, but I thought I would reiterate the recipe, it turned out very well on the weekend.

Seafood Paella

The smoked paprika really adds a nice flavour to this dish


  • 1 cup brown rice (because it is gluten free)
  • 400g halibut cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 12-16 Black tiger shrimp (25-30/lb is the best size so you can just pop them in your mouth) (I like to peel and remove tails so you are not having to dive into the food with hands and feet to eat!)
  • 400g bay scallops
  • 12-16 mussels, cleaned
  • 1 tsp saffron, in about 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt
  • 3 finely minced cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow pepper (into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (low sodium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 1 can mini corn cobs
  • 2-3 tbsp EV olive oil
  • 1-2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • Lemon and lime slices for garnish
  • hot pepper flakes if you dare!


Steps 1-4 may be done 2-4 hours in advance.

  1. Soak saffron in in the white wine for about 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the smoked paprika on the halibut and return to refrigerator.
  3. Cook rice in saffron soaked wine and water until almost done – you will finish cooking during the assembly stage.
  4. Assembly Stage:
    Just before you wish to serve, preheat oven to 400°F.
  5. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté onions until translucent. Add  garlic and stir just until you can smell its aroma. Add all the vegetables but the parsley and the green onions and lemons and limes.  Stir well, if too dry, add a bit of the about 1 cup vegetable stock until a desired wetness is achieved.
  6. Add halibut and shrimp and put into the hot oven for about 8-10 minutes. After about 10 minutes, add the mussels and scallops and stir well. Return to oven for an additional 5-10 minutes. Stir a couple of times.
  7. Stir in chopped parsley and serve with lemon and lime wedges. Serve hot.
  8. Enjoy!

Brown rice is very nice

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I love a multi-course dinner, it just feels so extravagant, but sadly, most multi-courses do not take into consideration the volume of food to be consumed, so I only do it at home and never at a restaurant. I try to keep in mind how much food, a variety of textures and mixing up courses with hot, warm and cold dishes. I also like to space out the dinner party so that dinner lasts a couple of hours and not wham bam thank you mam!

This is the intermisso, or palate cleaner for our Vegetarian Valentine Dinner.

I was over at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide the other day and they offered a lovely looking and refreshing granita made with grapefruit. Hmmm, I thought, I rather like that, so I picked up a gorgeous red grapefruit and made this lovely intermisso. I only wanted four smallish portions, so I didn’t make the amount in Greg’s recipe. I adjusted it as below.

Grapefruit Granita


  • 1 large ruby red grapefruit
  • 1/2 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 small drop orange extract (I didn’t have orange flower water)
  • 2 tbsp simple syrup or to taste (it really depends how sweet your grapefruit is)


  1. Wash grapefruit and lime well.
  2. Cut the fruit out of the skin and pith over a bowl so that all the juices can be captured.
  3. Stir in simple syrup, orange extract, lime juice and zest. Pour into a glass container (about the size of a brownie pan), cover and freeze.
  4. To serve, scrape with a strong fork into bowls.
  5. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.

Greg’s recipe: To make a simple syrup, heat equal parts sugar and water over medium heat until dissolved. Remove from heat, cool and store in the refrigerator.

A nice tart palate cleanser before we dig into the Paella

The chunks of grapefruit mix in with the ice crystals. It’s really quite tasty.

These dainty little glasses come from my MIL. Aren't they sweet?

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This is a relatively easy and lite recipe I came up with for my mushroom-loving friends. When I say mushroom-loving, it means that it is indeed very mushroomie and you really have to love them to like this soup. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The was the soup course from the Vegetarian Valentine’s Dinner. Of course, I eyeballed this recipe, so the measurements are vague. By using dehydrated mushrooms you will get a mushroom stock from the hydrating liquid that compares to none. Costco sells a giant tub of dehydrated field shrooms for a reasonable cost, or you can buy them from the grocery store for a small fortune. I like the mix Costco has. Some Asian markets also sell interesting dried shrooms, but you have to be a little daring.

Mushroom Consommé with Mushroom Onion Dumpling

Serve 4 smallish soup bowls (1 1/2 cups each).

Just a light broth with some Valentine dumplings. Who are you calling dumpling?


  • about 1 cup of dyhydrated field mushrooms soaked overnight in about 5 cups of water. You will want to put a cover on this otherwise your entire house will smell of the shroom!
  • about 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp of cognac per serving
  • 4 sheets of wonton paper
  • Egg white as glue


  1. Through a fine sieve or coffee filter, strain the mushroom water to capture any loose sand. Wash the mushrooms well under cold water.
  2. Melt butter in a sauce pan, add onions and sauté until translucent. Add mushrooms and the garlic and sauté a bit more.
  3. Add the mushroom water and the soy sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Strain the mushrooms, garlic and onion from the liquid and return to the pan.
  5. With a small food processor, process the mushrooms, onion and garlic with the Parmesan cheese. Taste and salt as needed.
  6. Taking a heart-shaped cookie cutter about 6 cm in diametre, cut out 8 heart shapes. Place a small teaspoon of the puréed mushroom mix into the centre of each heart. Brush egg white along the edges and seal with a second heart directly over top. Seal well with the tines of a fork. Repeat until you have finished 8 of these little dumplings.
  7. Boil about 4 cups of water with a sprinkling of salt. Drop each dumpling into the water and cook until they float to the surface. Remove from the water and add two into each bowl of mushroom consommé. Enjoy while hot


    Note: for the photo I actually had to prop up the dumplings because they sank to the bottom like lead. You’ll have to tell your guests they have heart-shaped dumplings in the soup…

Thanks to Charles who pointed out (very subtly) my typo on the word consommé. I have corrected it now.

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Thank you Charlie

Charlie-Louie was gracious enough to give me this award. I am flattered that she has selected me (and four others) as blogs she finds educational and for that I am quite grateful. The only requirement of this award I was able to discover is that I have to call out to five of my most supportive and meaningful commenters. I don’t wish to leave anyone out, because I truly find everyone’s comments meaningful and I am so thankful for them. Because of your comments, my blogging has become more purposeful. Please don’t feel obligated to participate, I am just happy to share your wonderful blogs with others.

OK, so here we go,

Charles at Five Euro Foods, his support and his witty comments makes me want to review the comments on my blog at all hours of the morning (sometimes even at 4am!) ;-).

Kristy at Our Family Food Adventures my first Give Away Winner. It seems that Kristy and I share the joy of inappropriate footwear during inclimate weather!

Maria at Live Journal because she reminds me so often of my wonderful Hungarian heritage through food.

Chicago John at From the Bartolini kitchens because he consistently brings me back to my childhood with my own food memories.

and last but not least my good friend Barb from Profiteroles and Ponytails who recently started commenting; her comments are meaningful because we actually do know one another in real life.

Well, there it is. I think I am also supposed to tell you something new about myself, but I have nothing more to tell you. 😉

Charlie Louie who generously honored me with this award kindly brought to my attention that our good friends John and Charles may not be as smitten with the stiletto (however gorgeous it may be), so I have created a slightly more masculine version of this wonderful award.  I hope that I haven’t offended anyone, it was unintentional.

This is the masculine version of the same lovely award

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As I’ve previously mentioned, our friends Rae and Monica are coming over for a Valentine’s themed dinner. Rae recently became a vegetarian so in order to save myself some time, I am planning to serve only vegetarian food for everyone (he eats seafood); plus it will not alienate him from the rest of the dinner party. I find this type of cooking a challenge and really enjoy doing it! Much of the menu is inspired by the blogs I read, so I thank you for the inspiration. I have linked where appropriate.


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To finalize Super Bowl Food Frenzy, I deliver to you the piece de resistance: New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake with a Cherry Pie Topping.

Would you like extra cherry sauce with your slice?

I made a cheese cake which was supposed to be representative of the NY Giants, New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake with a Cherry Pie Topping. The recipe originated from my very old and battered Fanny Farmer Cookbook which was given to me as a wedding gift by one of the wives of a guy that worked in John’s Father’s factory. I used to make it all the time, but now it’s reserved for very special occasions (mainly because it is quite rich and fattening). I’ve lightened it up quite a bit from the original, but you can use the full fat versions should you please. This is a baked cheesecake and therefore not as creamy as an unbaked cheesecake, but that’s exactly what I love about it.

New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake with a Cherry Pie Topping

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (or any type of cookie, your choice)
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa, sifted

Crust Directions:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients above well and press into a 7″ spring form pan. Set aside.

Cheese Cake Ingredients:

  1. 2 small eggs separated
  2. 200 g low fat cream cheese
  3. 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  4. 1/4 cup sugar
  5. 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  6. 1 tbsp flour
  7. 1/4 tsp salt
  8. 1 tsp vanilla

Cheese Cake Directions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 325°F / 165°C.
  2. Beat the egg yolks until thick and pale.
  3. Add the yogurt, sugar, sifted cocoa, flour, salt, sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  4. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, add 1 tbsp sugar gradually, until it is stiff and shiny (as if you were making a meringue).
  6. Fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture until fully incorporated being careful not to deflate.
  7. Bake for about 1 hour until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Top with sour cherry pie filling topping (recipe below).

Sour Cherry Pie Filling


  1. 540 mL / 19 oz Pitted Sour Cherries in a jar, strained, liquid reserved
  2. 2 tbsp cornstarch
  3. 1/4 cup sugar


  1. Dissolve the cornstarch in a little bit of cold water.
  2. Bring the reserved liquid to a boil, add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Gently pour in the cornstarch and stir until the liquid has thickened.
  4. Return cherries to the liquid and stir gently.
  5. Allow to cool a bit. Gently pour over cheese cake. Save any left over sauce for extra sauce for the cheese cake.

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I made two dipping sauces, one for the veggie sticks (which I didn’t bother listing on my menu, boring old veggie sticks) and one for the wings. Although both cheeses are full fat, I did reduce the fat by using non-fat Greek yogurt; President’s Choice makes a wonderful product that is quite reasonably priced.

Feta Dip

Feta Dip. Now where did I put those veggie sticks?


  • 100 g and 50 crumbled Greek Feta
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • salt to taste


  1. Place 100 g of the Feta, yogurt and garlic into the container of your immersion blender. Blend until smooth, taste to see if it’s salty enough (you may wish to leave overnight and taste again when the flavours have had a chance to really come together).
  2. Fold in the remaining crumbled Feta for a chunky dip.
  3. Serve with vegetable sticks.

Blue Cheese Dip

Blue cheese dip. Grab a wing and start dipping!


  • 100 g and 50 crumbled Blue (I used Rosenborg Danish blue because I can buy it very inexpensively at Costco. I cut it into 100g portions and freeze in small zip lock bags).
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • salt to taste


  1. Place 100 g of the blue cheese and yogurt into the container of your immersion blender. Blend until smooth, taste to see if it’s salty enough (you may wish to leave overnight and taste again when the flavours have had a chance to really come together).
  2. Fold in the remaining crumbled blue for a chunky dip.
  3. Serve with maple garlic wings!

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Continuing the week with the Super Bowl food, I’ve decided to do a dry rub on the ribs mainly because I am not a hug fan of sloppy BBQ sauce dripping all over. I was originally going to do a Chai inspired rub, but then changed my mind to a Tex-Mex rub because it was such a success the last time. Again the photos did not turn out well, so I apologize for the absence!

I’ll assume you have your favourite cooking method for the ribs, whether it’s boiling them first, or just grilling them or even baking them and then grilling them. So prepare those babies as you would but finish them off with this rub instead. You can use this rub effectively for salmon and chicken.

You’ll thank me. You will.

Tex-Mex Dry Rub


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated garlic or dehydrated garlic (not garlic powder)
  • 2 tbsp dehydrated onion flakes
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika (you can use hot, I used sweet but add a pinch of cayenne)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Add all of the above to a spice grinder* and grind until fine.
  2. Dry off the ribs and sprinkle the ground spice mix onto it, both sides.
  3. Grill but be ever so careful, the sugar can catch flame very easily.

*I purchased an inexpensive electric coffee grinder which I have labelled as my “spice grinder” after all, who wants coffee that tastes like garlic?

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I know, my super bowl menu listed Honey Garlic Chicken Wings, but while I was grazing my reading list of blogs, I saw that Kay over at Pure Complex recently made Grilled Maple Mustard Chicken Wings and I just knew I had to revise my Honey Garlic CW to Maple Garlic Chicken Wings – yet another tip of the hat to the New England Patriots! Unfortunately, my photos just did not turn out well, so I trashed them. You’ll have to use your imagination on how yummy they were.

Maple Garlic Chicken Wings


  • whole mess of wings (I like them separated so they bake more evenly)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • non-fat cooking spray


  1. Dry off the wings and add to a zip lock bag.
  2. Mix all of the remaining ingredients and pour into the bag and close. Rub this mixture into the wings — you can leave in the fridge over night, if you wish.
  3. Pre heat oven to 200° C / 400° F
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment (will save a lot of time cleaning up). Spray a bit with the non-stick spray.
  5. Pour wings onto the sheet and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning once when the fist side has a nice golden colour to it.
  6. Enjoy with Blue Cheese dipping sauce.

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Well, it’s past Super Bowl and we all know how that turned out…. Of course, I have such little interest in it (sorry Jed) that I can’t even be bothered to insert the winning team name in a blog I set up on the weekend. Sigh.
Although Super Bowl Sunday was our feeding frenzy theme my excitement wasn’t exactly for the New England Patriots or even the New York Giants, it WAS ABSOLUTELY about the feast we prepared. We started with the New England Bacon Wrapped Scallops and Bacon Wrapped Dates; now honestly, what isn’t better wrapped in bacon? It’s a mind numbing easy recipe, so hold on tight.

Can you smell the sweet scallops and the salty bacon?

New England Bacon Wrapped Scallops


  • 12 Nova Scotia New England Scallops (I like this size because they are small enough to pop into your mouth – about 1″ in diametre)
  • 6 strips smoked bacon (nothing fancy) sliced in half cross-wise to give you 12 slices
  • 12 toothpicks


  1. Par cook the bacon between a few sheets of paper towel in the microwave (2 minutes on high should do it). This is to get some of the water of out it and start the fat to render. Set aside and allow to cool.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 375°F / 190°C
  3. Take a slice of bacon and wrap tightly around a scallop and secure with the toothpick. Repeat until done.
  4. Bake until scallop is no longer translucent and bacon is crispy.
  5. Serve warm.

Better claim one now, before it’s too late!

Bacon Wrapped Dates


  • 12 Majule dates
  • 6 strips smoked bacon (nothing fancy) sliced in half cross-wise to give you 12 slices
  • 12 toothpicks


  1. Par cook the bacon between a few sheets of paper towel in the microwave (2 minutes on high should do it). This is to get some of the water of out it and start the fat to render. Set aside and allow to cool.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F / 190°C
  3. Take a slice of bacon and wrap tightly around a date and secure with the toothpick. Repeat until done.
  4. Bake until the bacon is crispy and the dates have heated through, usually no longer than 8-10 minutes.
  5. Serve warm

    The dates get all creamy and sweet when baked. Watch-it, that one has MY name on it!

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Hi there, I’ve updated with a couple of new photos, hope you don’t mind.

Well, tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. This meant nothing to me in the past other than an annoyance because 60 minutes was cancelled; we would go on about our usual weekend, JT would watch a little bit of the game here and there or keep track of it on his iPhone. We would tune into the half-time show from time to time.

A couple of years ago I suggested we watch the game and make Super Bowl Food; JT loved the idea, and we’ve been doing it ever since. Tomorrow we’re having my friend Kim, her kid CoCo, and my nephew Brian for a big Super Bowl Feast. It really just gives me an excuse to cook, you know how I love to feed people! I was trying to tip my menu toward food served in the cities of the two competing teams (I bet you’re a bit surprised I even know who they are!) New England Patriots and the New York Giants (and no, I did not google it! :-P), so I just renamed the recipe titles. I can do that, you know.

The menu:

New England Bacon-wrapped scallops and bacon wrapped dates

Bacon, bacon, bacon....

Cheer’s Healthy Nachos with a cheddar cheese sauce and salsa

A home-made tomato salsa with a cheddar cheese sauce. Can you say YUM?

Manhattan Honey Garlic Wings and Boston Rubbed Ribs (I’m doing a chai-inspired dry rub)

New York Lees 19 Ingredient Slaw (actually, the first time we had this slaw was in Manhattan; sadly his restaurant failed and he’s back in TO)

It's crunchy, sweet, sour and salty. What more could you ask for?

New York Style Chocolate Cheesecake with a Cherry Pie Topping

You have to finish your dinner first....OH!

I’ll be posting the recipes as I make them in the next day or so. I know, I’m a bit behind the band wagon, but perhaps you’ll book mark it for next year.

Jed, over at Sports Glutton and Greg at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide have an amazing selection of recipes to peruse for your Super Bowl Extravaganza! Have a great weekend.

Hope the good guys win!

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My friend Charles from Five Euro Food tagged me in a recent post. Thank you Charles, I am so flattered.

  1. Describe yourself in seven words

    Perfectionist, Project Manager, Aspiring Chef, Dependable, Logical, Artistic, did I mention perfectionist?

  2. What keeps you up at night?

    I’m a pretty good sleeper.

  3. Who would you like to be?

    I am reasonably happy with the way I am, except maybe I’d like to be 10lb lighter!

  4. What are you wearing right now?

    Brown top with a bright pink camisole, Brown suede skirt, Brown and black tights and my cowboy boots that I bought in Calgary.

  5. What scares you?

    Identity theft.

  6. What are the best and worst things about blogging?

    Best: As so many others have said, it’s my new age pen pals. Worst: the overwhelming, all consuming time it requires.

  7. What was the last website you visited?

    Trip Advisor; we are planning a trip to New York or Chicago in the spring and Europe in the fall.

  8. What is the one thing you would like to change about yourself?

    Lose 10lbs, maybe 15!

  9. Slankets – yes or no?

    From the many other blogs I’ve had the pleasure of reading, I sadly now know what this aborition of synthetic nature is, and my answer is definitely, decidedly NO!

  10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you.

    Charles was one of my first blogging commentors last year; he lives with his lovely Swedish wife just outside of Paris, is likely some kind of programmer (just a guess), has a cat named Sammy and he has a wonderful blog about his recipes and the occasional day trip that is creative, informative and mostly quite affordable.

…And 5 tags of your choice…

Oh my, it’s a little difficult to tag someone, since I’ve only just met most of you and have no idea whether you have been tagged before, but here goes, participate as you wish…

  1. Flavour Fiesta – Divya is a fellow Torontian who has a wonderful blog and on line magazine!
  2. Bunny, Eats, Design is a designer from Australia who has the most adorable bunny name Tofu.
  3. Back Road Journal belongs to Karen who has moved out to the country and is experiencing a slower way of life.
  4. A bloke who can cook, posts recipes infrequently and they are usually comforting and tasty looking.
  5. Oops! That’s only four…

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img_1544_retOn Saturday, February 11 we’re hosting a Valentine’s dinner for dear friends; the husband who recently turned vegetarian (he eats fish, but not meat) so when I saw Manu’s recipe for Falafel I was excited. I thought this relatively simple middle eastern dish could easily be turned into an upscale appetizer (I was thinking Falafel Sliders!). But the Falafel, foiled me and the first batch turned out to be hard as hockey pucks (the squirrels love them!) but I emailed Manu and she was kind enough to offer me some advice. I originally used dry chickpeas and they were old, so quite likely, they never reconstituted well enough. My second and very tasty batch was made from canned chickpeas and I am happy to report that they had enough moisture in them to make this a very tasty treat! I’m serving them as sliders in mini pita pockets with an avocado paste and the lemon yogurt sauce.

You’ll have to excuse the photos, I’m working sans daylight (believe it or not, it’s pitch dark outside!), having to keep the lens open for a really long time (even with the tripod, it’s still not that focused!).

I made a few alterations to the recipe because I wanted them gluten free so I could serve them to my GF friends.

Gluten Free Falafel (adapted from Manu’s Menu)


  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained (Manu suggests you dry them well, but I found the mix a little too dry)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp minced or crushed garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup almond flour + some for rolling the falafel in


  1. Pre heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Put everything into a food processor and process until you get a fine paste.
  3. Take about a golf-ball sized patty and roll lightly in the almond flour until coated, flatten to about 1.5 cm high.
  4. On a parchment lined cookie sheet, spray generously with non-stick spray.
  5. Place each falafel about 2 cm from eachother.
  6. Spray the falafel tops generously with EVOO.
  7. Bake until the tops are nice and golden — about 18-20 minutes

YUM, is there any more?

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To accompany the navy bean ‘risotto’ on our ski day, I was inspired by Sawsan’s Scone post and decided a scone would be the perfect foil for the beans. I was also inspired by Kristy’s Maple Bacon Biscuits to change up Sawsan’s recipe and add some good old fashioned maple syrup! I am happy to report they were AMAZING. The maple really complimented the saltiness of the crispy fried prosciutto very nicely, the only thing I would change is not add the cheese, it had no impact on the flavour what-so -ever. What’s really interesting about this recipe is that has so little fat in it…most biscuit or scones have at least a half a cup of butter or shortening! I followed Sawsan’s recommendations with some exceptions as indicated in blue below. My one regret is that I didn’t double the recipe! Thanks for a winner, Sawsan, I shall certainly make these again and again!

Basic Scones (from Sawsan at Chef in Disguise)

Servings: about 6 7½ cm scones that are 2.5 cm high

Recipe can be doubled


  • 1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
  • 1 tablespoons (15 gm/0.5 oz) frozen grated butter
  • 1 tablespoons (15 gm/0.5 oz) frozen grated shortening
  • approximately ¼ cup (120 ml) cold milk
  • approximately ¼ cup (120 ml) cold maple syrup
  • 2 pieces of crispy prosciutto (I baked mine on hi broil for 3-4 minutes and then blotted the rendered fat out of them. Break them into smaller pieces).
  • ½ cup grated frozen cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones


  1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C
  2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
  3. Rub the frozen grated fats including the cheese into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones. I used my pastry cutter to do this. Add the crispy prosciutto bits.
  4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth (make sure your hands are not warm as it will melt the fat). To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.) I also used the folding technique that Sawsan recommended
  6. • pat the dough into a rectangle and fold 1/3 of the dough over itself (similar to croissant making)
    • fold the other third over the first
    • turn 90 degrees and repeat patting and folding
  7. Roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about 1 inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2.5 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
  8. Place the rounds not touching on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Glaze the tops with milk.
  9. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
  10. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm with sweet butter.

I made them large on purpose, you don't have a problem with that, do you?

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