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Archive for August, 2014

Thank you all for your generous and kind comments, I may just take you up on your lovely offers to be my assistant!

Last week we went out for dinner in our hood to Bloom, a really great restaurant serving what they call “Nuevo Latino Cuisine”.  Every second Thursday they feature live jazz musicians and as luck would have it, we usually choose the off Thursday, as was the case last week. There is nothing I enjoy more than live music during dinner, particularly in a venue whose patrons appreciate the talent and don’t make noise over the performance, so to say I was disappointed would have been an understatement. But our evening ended up being even more exciting than I expected because as soon as we walked in I noticed a gentleman with an uncanny resemblance to Tiggy from the remarkably successful HBO series called Sons of Anarchy (I bin-watched all six seasons in a very short month)! As soon as we were seated we googled the show and it turns out that it WAS Kim Coates from the famous show! Imagine my excitement. I’m fairly conservative about approaching famous people so I was not about to intrude on his dinner. We had a lovely meal (which I will review next time we go when I don’t forget to take photos) as did Kim Coates and I persevered not to disturb him. Unfortunately the table next to our’s heard me ask the waiter if he was indeed Kim Coates and they approached him for photos. He was extremely generous and kind and took several photos and chatted with them. JT decided it was our turn (he doesn’t watch the show but knows how much I enjoy it) and Kim very kindly came over to our table for photos and a chat. He is Canadian (born in Saskatoon) and is an actual rider (coincidentally one of the few of the cast who didn’t need to be taught how to ride a hog!) It was very exciting and I was instantly taken back at his generosity with his precious personal time. I do, however regret not apologizing to his dinner partner for usurping his guest. So that’s my brush with fame in Bloor West Village.

For those of you in "The Know" that's a photo of Tiggy and I!

For those of you in “The Know” that’s a photo of Tiggy and I!

Mmmm. Peaches.

Mmmm. Peaches.

 

Onto the recipe. Today I’m sharing not so much a recipe but more of a serving suggestion for Ontario Peaches (of course, you may use any old peaches, but we’re pretty pumped here in Ontario because Peaches are in season right now)! We’ve grilled them for a little contrast in hot and cold and of course, texture. Plus it looks and sounds cool! The Ricotta is delicately flavoured with some lemon zest, a little icing sugar and a pinch of pure vanilla extract (though, not enough to discolour it). I made it for my GF BFF and she said it reminded her of German Cheese Cake! I left the peach skin on and it softened up beautifully with the grilling. The dish was sweet enough, but I wanted a little pizzaz for plating so I made a simple caramel sauce and I toasted a few walnuts and coated them with some Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar that my dear friend Kristy (from Eat, Play, Love, Our Family Food Adventures) gave me last year when we met in Toronto. All in all, the dish is a winner and will be served again this summer before the peaches are out of season.

This is not a well styled photo. I took it rushed just before I served it.

This is not a well styled photo. I took it rushed just before I served it.

Grilled Ontario Peaches with Lightly Sweetened, Lemon-zest Scented Ricotta

An original Kitcheninspirations recipe

Serves 4-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 250 mL ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Caramel Sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 tbsp chocolate balsamic vinegar
  • finely sliced mint

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to 450°F. Cut peaches in half and remove the stones. Lay face up on a baking sheet and sprinkle gently with cinnamon (you may also bake the peaches at 450°F for about 10-15 minutes or try broiling them, but I have not experimented with this). Grill cut side first for about 2-4 minutes and flip for another minute or so. Set aside.
  2. Combine ricotta cheese with the icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix well. Taste and adjust as required.
  3. Serve 1-2 peach halves per plate. Cut peaches into thin-ish slices and lay in a semi-circle on the plate. Add a quenelle or scoop of the ricotta in the centre of the plate. Drizzle with caramel sauce, finely sliced mint and walnuts. Serve immediately.
Grilled Peach_3585

Can you just taste them?

GrilledPeaches_3591

A wonderful combination of flavours.

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Hello everyone, I trust you are all well. Personally, I am absolutely in shock that it’s the second week of August! Where did this summer go?

A little house keeping: I hope you don’t mind, due to time constraints, I haven’t been replying to all of the comments you so generously leave on my blog but rest assured, I read every single one of them — sometimes more than once!

I’m finally taking part in a series put on by a blogger I’ve known about for quite some time…Celi from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial . I’ve followed this series “In my kitchen” with intrigue on many of my fellow blogs but I’ve never had much to talk about until now…you see, as I mentioned last week, I recently had my first real styling gig for an entire week! So there were many things “In my kitchen“. For this project, I had to venture into the centre aisles to make meal combos even easier for the busy "Mom". I also had to do a little shopping so that I have all the right tools (you really had to twist my arm for that one!). Indeed, the car was packed! Generally, photo studios provide only the basics, some spatulas, wooden spoons, some cookware, but if you need anything specific, you’d best bring it yourself! Needless to say, there is A LOT of shlepping.

I had to buy a lot of new tools...honestly, it was like Christmas morning for me!

I had to buy a lot of new tools, bowls are always very handy to store items, to mix in, etc, I bought about 10 in various sizes, two of each size.. It was like Christmas morning for me!

These are the tools for grilling.

These are the tools for grilling. I had to buy the electric BBQ lighter (the other items are from my personal kitchen), it makes really good grill marks if the cast iron pan doesn’t do the trick.

Even though "Mom" might use frozen vegetables to make the meal prep quicker, we use fresh but make it look similar to the frozen cut.

Even though “Mom” might use frozen vegetables to make the meal prep quicker, we always use fresh and we make it look similar to the frozen cut. Fresh always has better colour than frozen.

We had to clear out two shelves for the photo shoot groceries and I even had stuff in the freezer!

We had to clear out two shelves for the photo shoot groceries and I even had stuff in the freezer! Fresh herbs are best stored in a plastic bag with air in them.

This is my work space at the studio.

This is my work space at the studio. The cup of coffee is the most important thing on this work bench!

This is the other workspace at the studio.

This is the other workspace at the studio. I wash up between product shots to keep the kitchen clutter-free. Boy do I wish I had an assistant.

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Baked Onion_3

It’s like a globe of caramelized deliciousness.

I’ve been having so much fun and yes, it’s work and it’s wonderful. I even have a real styling gig booked and I’m super excited about it…5-6 solid days. It’ll be grueling  because we’re shooting around 50 shots in a week! I’ve already practiced some of the dishes to make sure the day goes smoothly. It’s for a line-up of proteins for home meal replacements using 9  fully cooked products in 4-5 applications each. I had to come up with the usage suggestions based on the client’s parameters (I actually had to come up with 10 each – 90 in total and from the 10, they selected 4-5 that I’m making during that week). It was fun but challenging in coming up with the ideas because I didn’t want just ordinary options. They all had to be relatively easy to put together, few ingredients that “Mom” would have easy access to and meals that come together in less than 30 minutes because “Mom” is super busy.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a couple of photos that although I was assisting, the wonderful stylist allowed me to style entirely on my own. They were published this past spring by Viva Magazine Online.

Foodfeature_viva_spring2014-2

Rustic Breakfast Pizza

Foodfeature_viva_spring2014-7

These were incredibly delicious.

This is a pdf of the Foodfeature_viva_spring2014, we did all the food in this issue. I cooked most of it and the food stylist plated it, the only one I had next to nothing to do with was the duck confit. The photographer is Arash Moallemi, please click here to see his work.

I don’t often get the pleasure of watching specialty cable channels like Food Network Canada because we cancelled our cable service 2 years ago and now use a digital antenna. I could go on line to watch, but many of these channels now put advertising into the shows and you are unable to fast forward like the old VCRs and I no longer have the patience to watch it through. About 2 weeks ago, I was at someone’s house with cable TV and we watched Laura Calder’s French Food at Home. She made a few recipes that I would consider ‘keepers’ but this one really stood out for me so I made it at the cottage as a light lunch and rest assured I will be making this beautiful dish again and again. Next time, it’ll be an appetizer for a dinner party. I hope you enjoy it, it infuses the house with a gorgeous fragrance as it bakes and because it bakes on such a low setting, it won’t warm up your house in the middle of the summer. I hope you enjoy it too. Please click here for the original recipe because I made some alterations.

Baked Onions with Dijon Tarragon Vinaigrette

Makes 4 whole onions, serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ordinary cooking onions
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil from roasting the onions
  • 1 tsp finely chopped tarragon
  • Good grind each of pepper and sea salt

Directions:

  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Add 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil to a small Dutch oven.
  3. Remove only the exterior skin of each onion and cut the stem side flat. You want some skin left on the onion for presentation. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Nestle the onions into the olive oil and bake uncovered  for 15 minutes at 425 F.
  5. Lower the oven temperature to 250F and cover the dutch oven with a lid or foil. Continue to bake for 2-3 hours or until the onion is extremely soft.
  6. Combine the white wine vinegar, mayo, Dijon mustard and olive oil and whisk well. Stir in the chopped tarragon and a good grinding of salt and pepper.
  7. Spoon a little bit of the baked olive oil in the centre of a plate. Put each onion on top of the baked olive oil.
  8. Cut the onion skins in about 4 places and peel back to reveal the creamy goodness. Drizzle the tarragon dressing over each serving.
  9. Serve warm with Crostini or just as is and wait for the accolades!
Baked Onion_1

The onion breaks down and becomes wonderfully soft and sweet.

 

Baked Onion_2

We were at the lake when I made them.

Notes:

  • Laura cautioned against using olive oil because she didn’t want the flavour to over power the delicate sweetness of the onion, I did not find that it did.
  • Laura placed her onions on little piles of sea salt, I didn’t have any so I did not employ that method.
  • Laura used a raw egg in her dressing, I used a tablespoon of mayo instead.
  • The baked olive oil is packed with flavour so save the left overs to make a very yummy salad dressing.
  • An additional serving suggestion is to serve it with a Gruyère crisp but I didn’t have Gruyère  at the lake.

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Happy Holiday Monday! Today is a Civic holiday in Ontario and we’re enjoying ourselves at the cottage. Do you get a holiday today?

BostonBrownBread_2

This molasses rich bread goes very well with a strong blue cheese like English Stilton.

Many years ago, when JT and I were first dating we had a party at his apartment; it was the first party we threw together as a couple. By now, you all know how much JT loves themes and that party, so early on in our relationship was no different…we had to have a theme. We rambled on a number of different options like a Pajama Party, a Western Party, a Halloween dress up party and even a formal party but all were nixed because the party was being held at JTs apartment and he had final say. He wanted fun, informal and something we could tie music and food into (yes, we were heavily into food in those days too). You must be thinking, “Get on with it woman”. OK, so the theme we landed on was “Let’s Get Physical” (remember this?). So we had the theme, the music and we based our foods on the healthier side of things. I even designed an invitation for that party and it was all hand lettered because there were no graphic computers in households in those days, each invitation created from scratch. We invited about 15 friends and some brought dates while others didn’t but we all dressed up in our workout costumes (think 20-minute workout for me, big hair too!). It was great fun and I knew we would have more like them in the future.

As I mentioned, the food was on the healthier side with veggies and yogurt dip, some cheeses, some crackers and this unusual Boston Brown Bread. The recipe is originally from Jean Paré’s Muffins and More, published by Company’s Coming Publishing Ltd, 1983 but as you would expect, I have altered it. The unique thing about this no-yeast bread is that it is steamed and not baked and while you can steam it in cleaned out soup tins, I steamed mine is my long narrow Le Creuset terrine pan.

Boston Brown Bread

Makes 1 large loaf 4″ x 12-2/3″ or 3 smallish tins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Molasses
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

Directions:

  1. In a large pot that can hold your tins or baking pan, add enough water to come up about 2″ high on the tin or pans and heat to a gentle boil. Add a rack to the bottom so that the tins or pan isn’t sitting directly on the flame.
  2. Grease your baking tins or baking pans well. Grease a piece of foil large enough to fit over the top and sides of the tins or baking pan.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre.
  4. Whisk to combine the wet ingredients and pour into the centre of the well in the flour mixture. Stir until moistened, batter will be lumpy.
  5. Pour into the baking pan or tins and cover with foil, greased side down. Secure sides of foil so that the bread steams within. Add hot water to the large pan as needed to keep it at the same level.
  6. Steam for 2-3 hours or until a cake tester comes out clean. (my long narrow terrine pan took about 3 hours and I baked it an additional 15 minutes on 325°F).
Yum.

Yum.

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