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Archive for July, 2013

Thank you for your wonderful birthday wishes, I am so blessed to belong to such a giving community. XOXO to you all!

The same weekend of my birthday, we were invited to another benchmark birthday party at one of our wonderful neighbours; it was a special “Studio 54” theme! What fun is that? And everyone came dressed like the 70’s — it was glam and it was fun. Thank you Iona (and Tom), and I hope you had an amazing birthday.

JT 1970s_0496

JT looking cool and hip; his pants usually don’t match my dress, though

Eva 1970s_0493

Those are curtain grommets decorating my dress!

Can you believe July is almost over? What ever happened to the summer? We’re still in high humidity and high temperatures so our meals tend to reflect lighter fare and foods that don’t need to be cooked or baked to limit the additional heat. This tuna Waldorf is a lovely adaption of the original Waldorf Salad made by Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hôtel of the Astoria (the predecessor of the Waldorf Astoria) in New York City sometime between 1893 and 1896*. The original recipe is basically apples, walnuts and celery dressed in mayonnaise, but you know me, I try to healthy up the dish so I’ve made some alterations. I also like to serve it on a bed of greens but you can serve it on toasts or a wrap. We enjoyed this fast and easy dish at the cottage during our renos in early July.

Tuna Waldorf Salad

Serves 2 as a main coarse or 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin albacore chunk tuna in water or stock (to make this vegetarian, you can omit this or used firm cubed tofu in its place)
  • 1 cup diced celery (dice all items similar size)
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (you could give them a toast, if you’d like)
  • 1 diced apple
  • squirt of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chopped lemon thyme
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
  • 1 tbsp mayo (I used full strength)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (I added more lemon juice to imitate the tart flavour of the mayo, so I didn’t need to add more mayo)

Directions:

  1. Drain the tuna and set aside.
  2. Add the apple to a small bowl and squirt a bit of lemon juice on it to prevent it from oxidizing.
  3. Add the celery, green onion, walnuts and apple to a bowl and combine well.
  4. Combine the Greek yogurt, mayo and 1 tbsp lemon juice and stir well. Add it to the vegetable fruit mix and coat evenly.
  5. Add the chunk tuna and stir until equally distributed.
  6. Serve on a bed of greens or toast.
Waldorf Celery_0454

I have no idea why I shot the celery and nothing else, but since I had it, here it is!

Tuna Waldorf_0458

It was nice enough to sit outside even though it was a very overcast weekend.

I know many of the lovely readers of this blog have cottages or summer homes, so I thought I would pass along a little something I invented to help keep the mice off the cutlery in the drawers. Even though the mice don’t tend to enter the cottage during the warmer months, I cannot be 100% sure they are not having a hay-day dancing or whatever all over my cutlery, so I tend to wash them before use (as well as after use). I created this little invention to keep the buggers away from the cutlery, and I specifically chose plexy-glass so it would infuriate them as much as they infuriate me! So there, bugger mice, dance away because you can’t get there from here!

MouseProofDrawer_0459

The plexy-glass is cut to fit the parimetre and is glued with a bonding agent to the drawer without interfering with the roller mechanics. It is hinged about 1/3 the way out so that you can easily lift the other two thirds and balance it on the counter for easy access the cutlery.

*from Wikipedia

I’m taking a little time off over the next few days so if I am absent from your blog, I do apologize, but I need a bit of a break. See you soon.

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Today I celebrate another benchmark birthday. All I could think of is, I can’t really be THAT age! But what the heck, like wine, we only get better with age, right? — that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

JT organized a beautiful little cocktail party of our closest friends and family yesterday and it was lovely. Of course, I prepared a lot of the food and I’ll be posting about a few new things soon. In the meantime, here are a few great recipes from the Canada Day long weekend. Cheers!

An early morning paddle shows the sparkly lake.

An early morning paddle shows off the sparkly lake.

The old boathouse built by JTs grandfather in the late 1800's

The old boathouse built by JTs grandfather in the late 1800’s

I’ve mentioned before that our cottage is rather remote and we don’t have very good grocery stores close by, in fact the closest is about 45 minutes away and it takes about 20 minutes just to get out to the main highway to get there so planning is essential. Recently we had our lovely friends Rae and Monica up for the weekend and so I put together a great menu plan that allowed for reinventing left overs. One such left over was a combination of several of the meals that resulted in 4 fantastic flat breads that we used as hors d’œuvres on Sunday night. Each of these flatbreads are fantastic on their own, but the variety is also quite lovely. Plus, all of the ingredients are available ready made if you aren’t as fortunate to have left overs.

Quick and Easy Flat Bread Hors D’œuvres

Italian Delight: Gorgonzola, Parmesan and Parsley with Walnuts

The sharp Gorgonzola was a lovely contrast to the candied walnuts

The sharp Gorgonzola was a lovely contrast to the candied walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 naan
  • 1 oz gorgonzola
  • 1 oz grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts candied with balsamic
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf Italian Parsley
  • 1 clove garlic

Directions:

  1. Peel the garlic and cut it in half. Rub one side of the naan with the cut side until it leaves the naan fragrant.
  2. Add cumbled gorgonzola and grated parmesan. Sprinkle with the candied walnuts. (To candy the walnuts, simply add the walnuts to a saucepan with about 2-4 tbsp of balsamic and boil until the balsamic has thickened, cool on parchment and break apart to use)
  3. BBQ until cheese has melted and then add the parsley. Cut into portions.
  4. Serve warm.

Mediterranean: Caramelized Onion, Roasted Red Peppers and Goats Cheese with Pine Nuts

Sweet and tangy Onion against the creamy goats cheese was a lovely foil for the sweet red peppers

Sweet and tangy Onion against the creamy goats cheese was a lovely foil for the sweet red peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 naan
  • 1/2 a large caramelized onion
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper, skin off, sliced reasonably thinly
  • 3 tbsp crumbled goats cheese
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Directions:

  1. Evenly distribute the roasted red peppers on the top of the naan.
  2. Add the crumbled goats cheese and sprinkle with the pine nuts.
  3. BBQ until cheese has melted. Cut into portions.
  4. Serve warm.

Mexican: Salsa and Cilantro

The sassy flavours of Mexican  saturated the Naan well

The sassy flavours of Mexican saturated the Naan well

Ingredients:

  • 1 naan
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 2-4 tbsp chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Evenly distribute the salsa on the Naan.
  2. BBQ until warmed through. Cut into portions.
  3. Serve warm.

Greek: Red and Yellow Peppers, Green and Yellow Zuchinni, Kalamata olives and feta

Tangy flavours and lots of texture

Tangy flavours and lots of texture

Ingredients:

  • 1 naan
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt with 1 garlic chopped into it
  • 1/4 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 yellow pepper, sliced
  • Green and Yellow zucchini sliced
  • 2 tbsp Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3 tbsp crumbled feta
  • pinch of dry oregano

Directions:

  1. Spread the greek yogurt and garlic on the Naan.
  2. Lightly sauté the red, yellow peppers with the green and yellow zuchinni strips (not too soft)
  3. Evenly distribute the peppers and zuchinni on the top of the Naan, dot with the feta and Kalamata olives.
  4. Sprinkle the oregano evenly.
  5. BBQ until warmed through. Cut into portions.
  6. Serve warm.

I’ll leave you with two amazing shots of the sunset from two different nights. This is what makes the drive worth it!

Sunset1

The sunset on Friday night; red sky at night, sailors delight!

SunSet

Sunset on Sunday night, very surreal

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Thank you all for your lovely words and kind wishes to JT for his recent birthday in June. It was fairly low key because it landed on a Tuesday, but we still went out for a very nice dinner (review to come). The Monday before JTs birthday, he’d made plans with a friend to go out for dinner, which left me with some private time in the kitchen and I knew exactly what I wanted to do: Bake a cake as a surprise for his birthday! But I only had a small window of opportunity to bake, cool and ice it.

JT had walked up to a local place to meet this friend, so he was gone by the time I got home. Good, but I was home a little later than expected having to finish off a few things at work and ride my bike the 8 km home. As soon as I got in, I was immediately racing around in record time to bake this cake. But first I had to find a recipe! Without much time (I was expecting JT back around 8-9) I found this recipe which was called fastest fudge cake (just what I needed) and I was able to easily half the recipe so that I can bake it in a small spring form pan. Just as I was cleaning up and waiting for the cake and ganache to cool, I get a text from JT at 7:30 that he’s one his way home. That means I’ve got 10 minutes tops. Even with this easy recipe, I just barely squeaked by, dumping the barely cooled ganache onto the barely cooled cake and hiding it in the living room credenza! It was a very nice surprise.

ChocFugdeCake_0363

A very special little cake. Night pictures suck.

Fast and Easy Fudge Cake

Makes one 13 cm or 5″ cake plus a muffin-sized cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch table salt
  • 1/4 cup  unsalted butter, melted and warm
  • 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 cup orange liquor
  • 1/2 cup Ganache

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F  (177°C). Grease the bottom of an 13 cm spring form cake pan and line it with parchment.
  2. In a small bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cayenne and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until well blended.
  4. Add the flour mixture all at once and stir just until all the flour is moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes for a 13 cm (5″) spring form pan. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 min. Run a thin knife around the edge and invert the cake (peel off the parchment). Pour the orange liquor over the cake and allow to saturate. Allow to cool completely (or mostly as in my case!).
  6. Once cool, set the rack over a baking sheet or foil. Pour the warm ganache over the cake and use an icing spatula to spread it over the top of the cake and down the sides. Let set for about an hour before serving.

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 4 oz of dark semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of 18% cream

Ganache Directions:

  1. Warm the cream just before boiling point. Pour the hot cream over the finely chopped chocolate and stir until it’s all melted.
  2. Allow to thicken (or not) and pour over cooled (or not) cake (place cake on a piece of parchment). Even out. Allow to cool in a cool dark place (like a credenza!).
  3. Serve with a sprig of mint over a small puddle of orange liquor.
ChocFugdeCake_0366

Would you like a little cake with your mint?

Notes:

  • The batter was a bit too much for the pan, it did bubble over a bit, so I was glad I put a cookie sheet under the spring form.
  • The cake has a rich, chewy texture with a nice crunchy crust (like brownies).
  • The ganache would have been better if it had been allowed to thicken a bit more, but it was still super tasty.
  • Recipe updated (May 2016) to reflect correct pan size. To make a slightly larger cake (22 cm or 8″), double the recipe.
  • The original recipe in the link makes 600 mL of batter (using only 1/4 cup hot water), the perfect size for an 22 cm or 8″ spring form pan (updated December 2016).

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We’ve been craving delicious thin crust wood oven pizza since our return from DC. I don’t eat pizza often so when I do, I really want it to be AWESOME! Terroni is a small, family owned Italian Trattoria ‘chain’ with three restaurants in Toronto and one in LA. Their claim to fame is their overbearing motto that allows for no substitutions, so if you want anchovies with that and it’s not on the menu, they’ll refuse to serve it to you. Period. Now you have to admire the guts to do that. Not withstanding, they are enormously successful; one of their places(Queen Street West) in Toronto won’t even take reservations, so if you want to dine there, go stand in line at 5pm and you’ll get a table at 6!

Terroni Grilled Calamari_0211

Perfectly grilled and tastefully seasoned

The location JT and I recently dined at is central, right down town in old Toronto’s Courthouse, a beautifully renovated old brick building. The washrooms are in the basement located in the old holding cells. I would have taken a photo but it was disgustingly filthy (yes, I mentioned it to them, apparently a number of women had just stormed through).

We arrived a few minutes late due to traffic and we had to wait a minute or two for our table; we were seated in an outdoor space converted to an interior covered courtyard. I’m glad we were seated in this smaller room (~50 people) because it was noisy enough, the main areas it would have been brutal. They don’t rush you per-say, but it’s not a lingering meal (just as well, as I found it to noisy to talk).

We decided to share a pizza but have our own appetizers; I had the Grilled Calamari and JT had the Salad Nizzarda. The Calamari alla Griglia ($15.95) was a generous serving of grilled calamari, mixed greens, fresh tomatoes with a very nice balsamic dressing — the tomatoes had a lovely tomato flavour. By contrast, the Nizzarda ($12.50) which is like a salad Niçoisse, was a scant serving of Italian tuna, on a bed of arugula, potatoes, eggs, red onion, tomatoes, olives with pits, green beans and anchovies (JT gave me his anchovies, I hope we weren’t caught!).

Terroni Puzza Pizza_0215

The lighting was very dark by the time we ordered the pizza, so I photographed the leftovers at home the next day. Boy was it tasty!

We shared the Puzza Pizza ($17.95) which was a white pizza with mozzarella, italian mascarpone, gorgonzola, mushrooms, Italian ham, not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination but it was well worth it. The creamy white base, slightly salty Italian ham with the tangy gorgonzola was a perfect combination. Even the next day it was outstanding. The pizza measured about 11-12″ in diametre.

Overall rating of Terroni, Adelaide (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 2.5/5, food 4/5, Value 3.5/5, Noise: 2/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

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

Terroni Adelaide

57 Adelaide St E

416 203 3093

Mon–Wed 09:00–22:00

Thu–Sat 09:00–23:00

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We’ve been up north for a few days finishing off the mini reno; it sure doesn’t get easier as one gets older! A quick synopsis: wood panelling painted white, ceilings and gaping holes were caulked. Laminate floors installed and waiting for one more box (how did that happen? We are 6 pieces short, damn it! We both did the math, TWICE!) Baseboards have been cut but not fully installed (need to finish the floors under the couch first). New kitchen shelving installed with task lighting. New porch blinds installed with bottom hooks! Garbage packaged and stored for handy man removal. A few more décor items and we’re done! Just in time for closing ;)!
With all that standing up, sitting down it feels like I’ve completed a marathon, but not really, I’m just a spectator of sports. And we all know what a crazy sports fiend I am, I just can’t get enough of it ;-). In fact, I have every single tuner in the house tuned into different sports channels or talk radio channels just to keep on top of it; then there are the push notifications every time a player does something worthy — like fart, for instance! OK, I may be BS’ing a little but I do get a little drawn in particularly when the sport is baseball and we’re talkin’ about our beloved Jays! Blue Jays that is!

My good friend Jed from Sports Glutton asked me to do a guest post as part of his MLB Series (except that I kept calling it the MBL whenever I talked about it, drove poor JT nuts!) and I couldn’t resist. Thank you Jed, I’m not only honoured to do this guest post, but I am flattered beyond belief and I hope to have done your lovely gluttonous blog worthy with this post.

Our beloved Jays are due for a world series win; no — really, I’m serious. I’m told (and god knows I’m no authority) that this year the Jays have the most expensive players and one would think that with that kind of ‘quality’ we would get some wins…except it’s taking a bit of time — you see, those poor Jays had a bit of a rough start, but we’re back on track and as of writing this post, we’ve worked ourselves back within striking distance of first place in the division! Woohoo!
Even with the Jays resurgence the Jays should be hungry for more, I am 100% sure they would want a highly gluttonous meal like Canadian Whiskey BBQ Sauce Pulled Pork Benny and Homerun-fries, don’t you? I developed this recipe for Jed and there are a few things I would have done differently if it was for kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com, but because Jed was a little concerned; that I would make it too healthy, I really stepped it up a notch, within reason, of course! Thanks again Jed, I am truly honoured.
Please head on over to Jed’s blog to check it out, you will be surprised and delighted with what you see.

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The Dijon Béchamel was just the perfect gluttonous addition.

MLB Series Guest Post — Canadian Whiskey BBQ Sauce Pulled Pork Benny and Home-run-fries

Makes enough for 10-12 Bennies if you want to use it all on that, but the pulled pork is wonderful as leftovers in sandwiches, pizza and wraps.

Ingredients for the Pork and the Rub:

  • 1lb or ~500 g Pork Tenderloin
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic (not garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the slow cooker on high.
  2. Combine the spices and mix well, set aside.
  3. In a very hot skillet, heat about 1 tbsp canola oil and sear the pork well. Set the pan aside — DO NOT WASH.
  4. Carefully rub the spice mix on all sides of the pork and set into the slow cooker.
Searing_0306

Searing the tenderloin; it’s so loud, I can’t hear the talk radio!

Seared_0307

The beast has been seared, you can tell because the talk radio is fully audible.

Ingredients for the Canadian Whiskey BBQ Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of Canadian Whiskey
  • Scant 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup strong black coffee (I used espresso)
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

Directions for the BBQ Sauce:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the same pan you seared the pork in and bring to a boil, scraping off any of the bits left behind by searing the pork.
  2. Pour the sauce over the pork in the slow cooker, cover and set the heat to Low and the timer to 4-5 hours.
  3. Turn pork in the BBQ sauce occasionally.
  4. The pork is done when you can take two forks and start pulling it apart.
WhiskeyBBQ

Giving the BBQ sauce a good boil

SlowCooking_0309

The pork and the sauce are all cozy and ready for their 4-5 hour rest in the slow cooker

Ingredients for the Homerun-fries:

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes.
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp canola oil

Directions for the Homerun-fries:

  1. Boil or roast the sweet potato cubes until very soft.
  2. Heat canola oil in a pan, pan-fry the sweet potato cubes, smashing them with a fork. You want a slight crispy texture on the exterior of the smashed cubes.
  3. Stir in the chopped green onion.
  4. Serve warm.

Ingredients for the Dijon Béchamel:

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp white flour
  • 2-3 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup of milk
  • salt to taste

Directions for the Dijon Béchamel:

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook but don’t brown it.
  2. Slowly stir in the milk, whisking to incorporate the flour butter mixture so it’s not lumpy. Keep whisking until you reach your desired thickness (it will thicken more as you cook it).
  3. Add the Dijon and blend well.
  4. Keep warm.

Assembly and serving for one:

  • 1-2 perfectly poached eggs.
  • 1-2 Whole wheat English Muffins per person, torn in half and toasted.
  • 2-4 tbsp braised red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup sweet potato
  • Dijon Béchamel
The pork after it has been pulled

The pork after it has been pulled

Notes:

  • I seared the pork in my favourite cast iron pan and therefore could not use it for the BBQ sauce as the acidity of the sauce strips off the seasoning from the pan. Had I done it in my enamel cast iron pan, I would not have had an issue.
  • We added the braised purple cabbage for more gluttony with the benefit of texture, colour and flavour, feel free to omit.
  • To perfectly poach an egg, heat 10cm or 3.5 inches of water to a gentle boil. Add 1 tbsp vinegar (this helps to set the egg white so it doesn’t get all stringy) salt. Break eggs into individual cups or small bowls. Gently turn the egg into the hot water allowing the water to flow into the small cup or bowl, once the egg is setting, gently turn it fully out and giving it a summer-salt. Repeat with all eggs and set the timer for 2 minutes. The water should be gently boiling not roughly bubbling. When the timer goes off, remove each egg onto a paper towel to dry. Serve immediately.

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Summer is finally here. There I said it. It’s hot, humid, did I mention humid? But don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to complain because the summer just took too damn long to arrive, so BRING IT. What I will complain about unbashedly is our transit system. I had the misfortune to ride the 504 King the other day in the heat of rush hour and it was B-R-U-T-A-L. Although it is the twenty-first century and we don’t live in a third world country, for some reason our street cars still don’t have A/C. Oh yes, the windows do open, but there is not a lot of air coming in when you are sitting in traffic or moving slower than the pedestrians on the side walks. So I got out and walked to the Metro (Subway) because I had somewhere really important to go, yes I was meeting someone ;-)!

About a month or so ago, I had extended the Blogger Girls Night Out invitation to Norma (From Garden to Wok) a very dear blogger friend, but unfortunately she was unable to make it up from Upstate New York. We were both rather disappointed so when she decided to make the trip to visit her sister in early July, she emailed me to see if we could meet. Of course, I was all over it, but work was busy and I wasn’t able to confirm until a day or two before but she was patient and waited as I finally finished what needed to be done and made the commitment. We had tried to include my old friend Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) but sadly she had a commitment and was not able to join us but rest assured, she was missed.

I met Norma a few years ago and to be honest, I can’t recall how I came across her blog or whether she left her lovely words on my blog first, but the point is that we’ve known each other in the blogging circles for a couple of years. Norma writes a beautiful blog documenting her escapades in her garden in which she grows a number of beautiful flowering plants and vegetables for the wild life in her area (well, she doesn’t really grow them specifically for the wild life, they just help themselves). Every Monday Norma posts her harvest from that week and it’s really cool to see the variety of vegetables she is able to grow, but then again she is a Master Gardener! Norma also blogs about recipes she makes with her home grown vegetables, giving us handy tricks and tips along the way. Norma is an accomplished food writer, having published two cookbooks as well as running cooking classes in her home town. I’ve made several (this and this) of Norma’s lovely recipes and would encourage you to visit her blog and write some lovely words for her.

Because we were both at opposite ends of Toronto, we picked a central location right at Bay and Bloor at La Societé a trendy French Bistro in the hoity toity area of Yorkville. We talked and talked and talked, honestly — the waiter was so sweet, he came over a number of times and finally said, very politely that he would stand over there and when we wanted something we should give him a nod. We talked for 3 hours straight — we ate too, but completely forgot to take photos! The conversation was lovely and we truly enjoyed each other’s company, just like old friends. Thank you Norma for a wonderful evening and we will see you again, perhaps even in Upstate New York.

We had a lovely three hour dinner, with lots of conversation!

We had a lovely three hour dinner, with lots of conversation!

Speaking of old friends, on a recent Sunday we had an old collegue friend and his wife over for brunch;  I’ve known Gordon for 27 years. We met standing at a window in one of the sky scrapers downtown where we both worked, watching as the snow fell upwards! How could you not chat about that? Gordon and I became fast friends and had lunches from time to time catching up on life, then a handful of years ago we started seeing each other as couples and it’s been lovely — I knew that his wife Angela and I would become fast friends and that JT would get on with the similarly tempered Gordon and I was right, of course.

When I planned this brunch I had hoped that we would have summer weather, so I made this delightful and surprising Chilled Caramelized Vidalia Onion Soup, but on that Sunday, as the morning progressed with rain and cold winds I decided to serve it hot instead. We did a little taste test and yes, it was just as tasty; so if the weather isn’t cooperating and you need to do a quick change, this soup is perfect.

And then shortly after they arrived, the sun started coming out, the clouds disappeared and we opened up windows! I made a quick decision to chill the bowls while we chatted sipping on orange juice and sparkling water and I changed the soup back to a refreshing cold starter!

ChilledVidaliaOnionSoup_0315

The first time I made this soup, I was able to slowly lower the gruyère crisp so it didn’t drown in the soup looking like a brûlé.

Chilled Caramelized Vidalia Onion Soup with Gruyère Brûlé

Makes about 450 mL  but it depends on how thick you want your soup to be

Ingredients:

  • 600 g Vidalia Onions, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • pinch of fresh thyme
  • Short spray of non-stick coating
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 400-500 mL chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 4-5 tbsp finely grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt

Directions:

  1. Spray a heavy bottom pan with the non-stick spray and begin cooking the onions with the balsamic and white wine. Cook slowly and steadily until you achieve a lovely golden colour. You may wish to add a bit of water in this process (or you can use EVOO, but I’m trying to keep it lower in fat). Or you can use this technique.
  2. Add the thyme and stir well.
  3. Remove from heat and begin adding the stock a little at a time, whilst blending smoothly with an immersion blender. Keep adding stock until your desired thickness is achieved. Press through a fine sieve and refrigerate.
  4. Preheat the oven’s broiler to high. Place a piece of parchment onto a flat baking sheet and place about 1 tbsp of the Gruyère into rounds being careful to keep them well separated. Watch as they broil because they can burn very easily. The oils from the cheese will render and you will see this beautiful lace pattern appear.
  5. Remove the parchment from the cookie sheet to allow them to cool a bit, then carefully lift each one onto a bit of paper towel to soak up the extra oils. Store flat, uncovered until needed — these may be made in advance!

Plating:

  1. With the immersion blender, give the chilled soup one more blend adding in the Greek Yogurt and blend until very very smooth. Return to the fridge.
  2. Chill the bowls for about one hour. Ladle the chilled soup carefully into each bowl, garnish with the gruyère crisp and some chopped chives.
  3. Serve immediately.
ChilledVidaliaOnionSoup_0319

The second time I made this soup, the first gruyère crisp slipped from my fingers into this exact position, and I really liked it, so they were all plated this way!

Notes:

  • Some bloggers have commented that the amount of vinegar is too acidic for their taste in the onion confit or caramelized onion, so you may cut it down, or alternatively add a tbsp of brown sugar to the caramelization process to balance. We did not find it too acidic.
  • For the gruyère brûlé, you can use a small brûlé torch to brown it up a bit more if it’s not crispy enough coming out of the oven.
  • For my first attempt with the brûlé on top of the soup, in addition to broiling the cheese in the oven, I actually used the torch while it was one the soup, it was an interesting combo of cold and hot.

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Happy Independence Day! Since it’s Thursday, do you take Friday off and make it an extra long holiday? How do you celebrate? Last year we were in Wisconsin at our friend’s lake house (Paul & Ts) and at around 9pm we boated out to the middle of the lake and watched the most amazing fireworks–it was awesome!
Speaking of awesome, if you want your guests to see fireworks in their heads, THIS is the dessert to serve. It’s a perfect summer dessert combining popular tropical flavours: pineapple, rum and coconut. You can’t go wrong, and it’s very impressive making it the perfect dessert to serve on such an important holiday.

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July!

The first time I saw this recipe was at Jed, the Sports Glutton’s blog and I knew I would make it, I just didn’t realize how soon! We were entertaining my uni BFF and her hubby a while back and I needed a gluten free desert (she is gluten intolerant) and I wanted something that wasn’t too bad for you…so I chose fruit but even better it was sweet, caramelized Pineapple. I loved the grilled pineapple salsa we made for the grilled shrimp so I knew this dessert would be a hit; it turned out so well, JT suggested that I make it for our next progressive dinner, so I did! What was super cool about the latest progressive dinner was that each course had to be made on the BBQ! This is the perfect summertime dessert, not having to heat the house up by turning on the oven — there are better ways to heat things up ;)!

This is the version I served to my BFF for brunch, no cake!

This is the version I served to my BFF for brunch, sadly there was no cake!

So, I present to you, an inspired version of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Since we sliced the pineapple thinner, they didn't hold their shape, I suggest skewering them as well.

Since we sliced the pineapple thinner, they didn’t hold their shape, I suggest skewering them as well.

Deconstructed Piña Colada: Grilled Buttered Rum Pineapple with Grilled Coconut Pound Cake

Serves 8 (1 cm or 1/2″ slices of cake, with lots left over)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • the rind of one lemon

I

  • 1 /4 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 pineapples, peeled and cored and cut into 8 spears each
  • 24 smallish strawberries
  • 1 Coconut pound cake (recipe can be found here).
  • pineapple sage finely julienned (or mint)

Directions:

  1. Combine the Greek yogurt, vanilla, powdered sugar and lemon rind and stir well. Refrigerate.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and then add the rum, brown sugar and salt and give it a good boil (to burn off the alcohol).
  3. Using the buttered rum sauce, baste the pineapple spears and grill until you have achieved grill marks, you can baste throughout the grilling process but make sure you reserve some sauce for drizzling. Keep the grilled pineapple spears warm.
  4. Slice the coconut pound cake into 1-2 cm (1/2″-3/4″) slices, brush lightly with the buttered rum sauce and grill until you have achieved grill marks.

Assembly:

  1. Place the slice of grilled coconut pound cake on the plate, arrange the spears so that they overlap the pound cake and each other.
  2. Add three washed strawberries clustered together.
  3. Add a dollop of the Greek Yogurt sauce and finally drizzle with the remaining buttered rum.
  4. Garnish with the pineapple sage julienne. Serve immediately.

*Clip art from Microsoft Clip Art.

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Happy Canada Day! Today is Canada’s birthday and she’s a whopping 146 (now my birthday won’t seem half bad!). How are you celebrating this auspicious holiday?

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!*

We’re at the cottage, spending a long overdue weekend with good friends. The redecorating has taken a bit of a back seat due to being crazy busy at work and not being able to take a little extra time up north, so it’ll just get done later. Being at the cottage means everything slows down and it forces you to enjoy the quiet. I usually bring a craft to do or read, which I don’t often get to do in the city. It also forces you to reflect and in reflection I remember some really good times; one in particular is this:

A couple of months ago I received an email from my friend Kristy (Eat, Play, Love, Our family food adventures) that she was coming up to Toronto and did I want to meet her? WHAT? Of course I want to meet her, who wouldn’t? Kristy and Mike have an incredible blog where they actively involve their two beautiful children, Mr. N and Miss. A; I particularly love that they do that because it’s how I became interested in cooking.

At first I was going to keep Kristy all to myself and not share the adventure, but then I felt that would be selfish so I emailed Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) and that got me thinking…what about Kelly (Inspired Edibles), she’s not far from Toronto and she might also be interested, and that’s where it all started. You already know that I’ve known Barb for many years and we’re very good friends with she and her husband — Barb’s blog is a lovely presentation of easy, family friendly recipes. Kelly is a fellow Ontarian, up in Ottawa (only a four hour drive away) and she runs a fantastic blog focusing on health and nutrition. Kelly and I have emailed once or twice before so I didn’t feel awkward in presenting the invitation. Without hesitation both ladies jumped (and I mean JUMPED) at the offer and boy am I glad because it was an incredible night of camaraderie, friendship, good conversation and few very hearty laughs! Thank you ladies for making the evening.

We started at a the classy Roof Lounge at the top of the Park Hyatt in Yorkville; it was as if we’d known one another a lifetime, the conversation just flowed and it was so easy to talk to everyone. We then made our way to Bar Mercurio our favourite Italian restaurant. JT and I have been dining at Bar Mercurio for quite some time and they know us by name so I knew were would get the royal treatment, and we weren’t disappointed. We had a complimentary dessert platter of biscotti and complimentary Lemoncello. Of course, I forgot to take photos early in the evening when there was still daylight, but fortunately Barb and Kristy both brought their iPhone 5s and the very lovely Omar obliged us with a photo. Thank you ladies again for a wonderful evening, I hope we can do it again soon.

It's a shame you can't see our lovely shoes!

It’s a shame you can’t see our lovely shoes!

Complimentary Biscotti always hits the spot.

Complimentary Biscotti always hits the spot.

Of course, one very popular topic of conversation was food and I happened to mention that we’re doing another progressive dinner on our street and that this time our theme is the BBQ, which means that every part of this meal must be grilled. I volunteered for dessert, because I love the challenge. This Coconut Pound Cake is one component to this very delicious dessert, but I won’t spoil the surprise!
I did alter this recipe to make it slightly healthier, by cutting the butter in half and replacing it with puréed apple (or you can use store bought unsweetened apple sauce). It worked out very well indeed!

PoundCakePan_0263

Preparing the cast iron pan for the BBQ

PoundCakeBatter_0264

I photographed the batter so you could see that the apple purée did not affect the texture

PoundCakeBBQ_0268

Baking on the BBQ

PoundCake_0272

Cooling the pound cake. Or do I call it the kilo cake?

Coconut Pound Cake

Serves 10-12

Original recipe from Epicurious, I made some adjustments to make it a bit healthier (original recipe had 1 cup butter in it)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup of apple purée – see note below
  • 1 cup sugar (reduced from 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut (6 oz) (original used sweetened)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the BBQ to 325°F. Turn off 1 burner completely.
  2. Prepare1.4L pâte terrine enamelled cast iron pan with non-stick cooking spray (or you can use a 9″ by 5″ by 3″ loaf pan) and line it with parchment leaving ‘handles’ on the long sides.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, set aside.
  4. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes with a stand mixer or 8 to 10 minutes with a handheld. In small increments, add the apple purée and beat an additional minute it two until full incorporated (don’t worry if it looks separated, just beat a little longer on a higher speed and it will smooth out).
  5. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in extracts. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in coconut gently but thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
  6. Spoon batter evenly into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing top. Bake in a BBQ on a warming rack in the back with the burner directly below turned off until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2hours.
  7. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of cake, then invert onto rack and cool completely.

Notes:

  • In order to reduce the butter, I used baked and puréed apples. Peel and core two apples, cut into small cubes, microwave in a heat proof glass bowl with 2-3 tbsp of water until very soft. Purée with an immersion blender until smooth. Push through a fine sieve. Cool and use as directed in recipe above.
  • Cake may be made in advance and stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator until required.
  • Cut slices may be frozen for future use (this is what I did)

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