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Posts Tagged ‘comfort food’

Today is Victoria Day of the long weekend, which happens to be very important for Canadians because it is the May Two-Four Weekend: Queen Victoria’s birthday, cottage opening, garden planting, and the first outdoor BBQs and patios!! It is also the weekend that JT and I tied the knot! Yes indeed, we hitched up on the holiday Monday of a long weekend. Now, now, don’t get your knickers in a knot, the wedding ceremony started at 3pm on the holiday Monday, so people realistically could still get up to the cottage, open and get back in time for the wedding. Not everyone was happy about our decision, but it wasn’t really our fault, you see it was our first time and we had no idea how far in advance you had to book your venue for the reception (we found one venue that was taking bookings 3 years from the date), so when we found one available on the holiday Monday only 5 months after we got engaged, we went for it.

The weeks leading up to our wedding were lovely; gorgeous, warm, spring weather, three beautiful bridal showers, and the shear excitement every time a parcel arrived at the door! I had everything planned out, it would be a glorious day and everything would be perfect. I should have known things don’t always go as planned.

The night before the wedding, I tried on my dress and Mom and I decided we really didn’t love the neckline, it was far too high; fortunately, the dress was lace and I was able to trim away the bits we didn’t care for, using manicure scissors, and it worked out perfectly. I went to bed that night with my hair in rollers and I said a little prayer for my Dad who had passed in 1981 and crossed my fingers and toes that it would be a beautiful, sunny, spring day.

I awoke Monday, May 19 to a cold, dark and dreary, rainy day. I honestly thought I would be devastated but I wasn’t, I was absolutely fine. Things would go on with slight modifications. No big deal. And because the rain persisted ALL DAY, people were not that upset about having to leave the cottage early (we had a lot of cottager guests). After the ceremony, we were going to take photos in my In-Laws’ garden but since we couldn’t, we moved it inside (they had a lovely mansion), everything was just fine. The strange thing about that day was that it rained constantly, without stopping ALL DAY with the exception of the few times I stepped outside — to get into the limo from my Mom’s home, to get out of the limo at the Church, and to and from my In-Law’s home and finally to and from our reception! It stopped EVERY SINGLE TIME! I didn’t use an umbrella and I did not get wet! Thanks, Dad! We had a typical dinner for a wedding of that time (caesar salad, roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, and steamed veg) but considering the cool day, we sure could have used some soup and this soup would have been perfect. (click on the photo below for a short slide show). Please forgive me, the eighties were unforgiving style-wise!

To celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary (I was a child bride ;-)), we took a little road trip to Stratford, Ontario to see Guys and Dolls and stay overnight. Stratford is aptly named for the city in England and its primary mandate is to present Shakespearean plays but also includes a variety of Greek tragedies and Broadway-style musicals (wiki) to broaden its reach. It was a great weekend, although the weather went from 30° C (86° F) to 10° C (50° F) with high cold winds, we enjoyed walking around this pedestrian-friendly town with an excellent food scene. Here is a little slideshow of our trip.

As I mentioned, the weather turned on the morning of our trip (and our actual wedding day) and we were basically back in November! I had a huge soup craving and this one would have certainly hit the spot. I have made these grilled cheese croutons, again and again, they are excellent in a caesar salad too (use Parmesan instead of cheddar)!

Creamed Broccoli Pesto Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 1 L or 4 cups soup

Ingredients:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 100 g (1 medium size) sweet onions, chopped
  • 300 g (2 stems) broccoli, including the stems, chopped
  • 20 g (3-4 cloves) garlic, roughly chopped
  • 45 ML (3 tbsp) basil pesto (I used this recipe but used ground almonds instead of pine nuts)
  • vegetable or chicken stock

Directions:

  1. Using a splash of olive oil, caramelize the onions, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the broccoli and garlic and cover with stock and cook until softened (about 30 minutes).
  3. Add the basil pesto and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until very smooth, adding more stock to achieve desired thickness (I did not need to). Press through a fine sieve.
  5. Serve with Grilled Cheese croutons (recipe below).

These are crisp, cheesy croutons.

Grilled Cheese Croutons

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of seeded bread (we like this one)
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) Mycryo
  • 50 g (1/2 cup) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C).
  2. Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes and coat with the Mycryo. Bake, stirring often until bread has become dried croutons. Toss with the shredded cheddar and return to the oven and bake until cheese melts and caramelizes.
  3. To serve the soup, ladel soup into warm bowls and toss the grilled cheese croutons on top and serve piping hot.

If you love crispy cheese, you will love these croutons.

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A new Italian resto moved into the outskirts of the village (Bloor West Village) and we have hesitated to try it because it’s a small chain (currently 2 in the GTA) but we were on one of our long walks and it was lupper-time and we were a bit peckish so we decided to go for it.

It’s a well-designed Italian-like interior with stonework and wood finishes in a contemporary rustic feel. The food was very good as was the service

JT ordered Tagliolini alla Carbonara ($16.00 Canadian) which is described on the menu as “Long pasta, pancetta (Italian bacon), organic eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil“. We prefer a slightly drier carbonara but I must say, it was delicious. The over the top crispy-fried pancetta really made the dish.

TAGLIOLINI ALLA CARBONARA $16.00

I ordered the appetizer portion of the Carpaccio di Vitello ($17.00 Canadian, currently removed from the menu due to lack of sales) which was described on the menu as “Thinly sliced veal drizzled with fresh lemon juice, baby arugula, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and shaved Parmigiano – Reggiano cheese”. It was wonderful. It wasn’t quite as bountiful as the Carpaccio I had in Arizona, but the perfect size for lupper (that’s Lunch and Supper combined)!

CARPACCIO DI VITELLO $17.00

Compared to the one I had in Arizona, which was SO MUCH FOOD! To give you an idea for size, the plate at Goodfellas was about the size of a dinner plate whereas the plate in Arizona was the size of a serving platter (you can see the size difference of the salad plate at the back, it was HUGE!)

Go big or GO HOME!

Overall rating of Goodfellas Bloor West Village (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 4/5, food 4.5/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

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

Goodfellas “Wood Oven” Pizza

1 Old Mill Drive,
(Bloor & S.Kingsway), Toronto

Telephone: (855) 433-5527
Email: info@goodfellaspizza.ca
Hours, Every day: 11AM–11PM

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Warning: there is nothing healthy about this.

Ok, sometimes it happens: I make a totally unhealthy recipe. We had a friend stay overnight because he and JT were heading down to Buffalo first thing in the morning, to see a hockey game so I made cinnamon buns. We had some for tasters and one each for breakfast, then I froze the rest. Now these damn things will be calling my name every time I open the freezer!

I was down in Florida last week for a bit of girl-time with one of my dearest friends. It was a wonderful break and the weather was amazing! Might have done a bit of shopping too!!! Sorry I was MIA on comments, will catch up this week. XOXO

Cinnamon Buns

Please click here for the original recipe

Makes 12 buns

Ingredients for dough:

  • 250 mL (1 cup) warm milk
  • 8 g 1(2tbsp) quick yeast
  • 590 g (about 4 1/4 cups) all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 3 g (1 tsp) cinnamon
  • 6 g (1 tsp) salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 76 g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions for dough:

  1. Combine yeast and warm milk and stir to dissolve yeast.
  2. In the large bowl of your KitchenAid mixer fitted with the scraping cookie dough hook, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, eggs and butter, blend until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the milky yeast and switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until it comes away from the sides and is soft and silky.
  4. In a greased bowl, in a warm place, allow to rise until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
  5. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) thick, about 60 x 35.5 cm (24 x 14 inches).
  6. Spread the filling evenly over the rectangle to all side but one long side.
  7. Roll from the long side with filling to the edge into a tight roll, pinching the final side closed. Cut into 5 cm (2 inch) slices and place into a lightly greased pan 26.5 cm (10.5 inch) springform pan.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 175° C (350° F). Let rest 15 minutes.
  9. Bake for 40-50 minutes until light golden brown and it has baked through (an internal temperature of 88–93°C (190–200° F ).
  10. Ice only right before serving.

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 245 g (1 cup) packed brown sugar
  • 18 g (2 1⁄2 tbsp) cinnamon
  • 76 g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions for Filling:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients to make a smooth paste, set aside.

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 20 g (1/4 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 70 g (1/4 cup) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 200 g (1 1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 3 mL (1/2 tsp) clear vanilla
  • 2-4 tbsp cold water
  • Pinch of salt

Directions for Icing:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients to make a smooth paste, set aside.

Notes:

  • I reduced the sugar by half in the dough from the original recipe as I find these things usually super sweet. I increased the flour to make up for the sugar.
  • I also added cinnamon to the dough.
  • I added water to the icing as I prefer it to be drizzled instead of dipped or smeared.

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Last month we hosted dessert for our fifteenth(?) progressive dinner. Our neighbour, John selected Georgia State as the theme because of the Golf that was going on (what golf?) at that time so food had to be a Georgia favourite or something connected to the PGA. Of course, I went straight to the expert, my dear friend Betsy of Bits and Breadcrumbs for her advice and she really came through for me, Thank you, Betsy. I made three mini desserts, one of which, the Chocolate Pecan Pie is traditionally served at the Open, the other two were Southern favourites, Peach Crumble (recipe below) and Chess Pie, that I really just wanted to make. All of the desserts are miniatures because we always tend to over do it at these progressive dinners and I served them all in the living room at the coffee table, take as many or as few as you wish. I followed some tried and true recipes for the Chocolate Pecan Pie and the Chess Pie (see links above) and I loosely followed Betsy’s recipe for the crumble. Hope you don’t mind, Betsy, I combined a few ingredients from various southern recipes on your blog and I think I scored a hole in one! And that concludes my golfing puns!

So, let me tell you about our dinner! For the first course, Tom and Iona (read Iona) did a bunch of things, we began with an Arnold Palmer (with vodka)! I’d never heard of this concoction before this past February when we were in Arizona visiting friends, it was very tasty! Then, the food: Iona made Pimento Cheese sandwiches (OMG, so GOOD!), jalopeño Poppers (baked) and a wonderful bean and rice dish served in a glass. Then we had the main course, it was Mike Weir’s (Canadian) signature Master’s Dinner (I had no idea the winner can choose the dinner menu!) It was Elk and Arctic char (that’s a fish), with Canadian beer (I had some of his wine!). And, of course, there was dessert! We also set up a little putting green for fun!

 

Mini Chocolate Pecan Pies and Mini Chess Pies. How many would you have?

The putting green was quite successful!

Bourbon Peach Crumble: Progressive Dinner #15(?)

Makes 4 60 mL (2 oz) ramekins and 4 30 mL (1 oz) ramekins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roughly chopped peaches (I used frozen because it is not peach season)
  • Bourbon, to cover peaches for soaking
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (reduce if your peaches are sweet, mine were not)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp soaking bourbon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients for the crumble:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp toasted pecan pieces
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp Skor® bits
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Chop the peaches into wedges and then into thirds so they fit better in the ramekins.
  2. Add the peaches to bowl with a cover, and pour the bourbon over it so it covers all of the peaches, Soak peaches overnight in the fridge.
  3. The next day, strain the liquid from the peaches reserving 30 mL (2 tbsp), reserve the remainder for another use.
  4. Preheat the oven to 175° C (350° F).
  5. Spray the ramekins with non-stick baking spray.
  6. Combine the flour, cinnamon, reserved bourbon from soaking liquid, vanilla and salt and mix well. Sprinkle over the strained peaches and stir well to coat.
  7. Add roughly 15-30 mL (1-2 tbsp) of the coated peaches to each prepared ramekin.
  8. Combine the brown sugar, toasted pecans, oats, flour and cinnamon and mix well, cut in the butter until the butter is well mixed. Top each ramekin with about 15 mL (1 tbsp) of the crumble and then sprinkle about 1.5 mL (1/4 tsp) Skor bits over the top.
  9. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly to serve or reheat when ready to serve. Serve with stabilized Bourbon Whipped Cream (to stabilize whipping cream, please click here).

Oozy, boozy goodness. I intended for the sauce to drip and bake down the sides. No, really, I did!

Notes:

  • For the mini tarts, I used Martha Stewarts cream cheese pastry recipe, but I doubled it. You can freeze left over pastry dough.
  • I made 1/2 of this chess pie recipe and I netted about 20 tarts various sizes (although I only show the tear-drop shape in the photo. If I make this again, I’ll make half of the recipe.
  • I made 1/4 of this pecan pie recipe (I melted 10 g of semi-sweet chocolate, allow to cool, into the recipe) and netted about 14 small tarts (muffin tin-sized).

We added a few tee’s and golf balls but it was too dark for a pic.

MiniMeringueTarts_Rev

This shot is part of a creative collaboration I recently did with a professional photographer and prop stylist for our portfolios. I also served the little bite-sized lemon curd meringues for the progressive dinner just because you can’t have too much dessert! Photograph by Paula Wilson and Props by OK Props, Oksana Slavutych.

 

 

 

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glutenfreecheezitz_first

There are recipes that convert well into gluten free and this happens to be one of them and they freeze incredibly well too, but be warned, it will be unlikely that you’ll have leftovers to freeze! I rolled this recipe thinner than the glutinated recipe and the result was a crispier, cheese bite. I’ll probably do the same for the glutinated version, as I preferred the crisp texture. Plus, a thinner roll gives you more crackers and who doesn’t love more cheese crackers?

Gluten-free Cheez-itz

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 227 g (about 2 cups) sharp cheddar, grated
  • 45 g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 14 g (1 tbsp) vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 67 g (1/2 cup) brown rice flour and 67 g (1/2 cup)  white corn flour (not corn starch) or 134 g (1 cup) gluten-free flour
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) ice water

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the ice water in a bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 2 minutes to cream the mixture together.
  2. Slowly add the ice-water while pulsing. At first, it looks like you might need more water, patience grasshopper, patience, the dough will come together in a moment, continue pulsing until it does.
  3. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  4. Using plastic wrap, roll the dough into two logs about 1.5 inches or 4 cm in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or freeze for 15.
  5. Cut log into 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch thick slices and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet leaving about 2.5 cm or 1 inch between each cracker.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy! Be careful – there’s a fine line with these between golden brown and overdone – and it only takes seconds to burn!

Alternative instructions:

  1. Cut dough in half and pat the dough down into a disk, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Place disk on parchment paper and put the plastic wrap on top and roll each disc to 2mm or 1/8 inch thickness (this is the perfect thickness).
  3. Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut into shapes. I found that my 2.5cm square cut the perfect size.
  4. Transfer to a baking sheet (I line mine with parchment).
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy! Be careful – there’s a fine line with these between golden brown and over done – and it only takes seconds to burn!
  6. Remove to cooling rack to cool.

Notes:

  • If the crackers become a bit soggy after you defrost them, toss them in the oven in a single layer on a baking sheet on low heat for 5-10 minutes to crisp them up.

glutenfreecheezitz

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vegetarianbutternutsquashchili_first

We had a bunch of dear friends for Superbowl a few weeks ago and I made this vegetarian chili. I know I’m a little late, but I wanted to capture the recipe for next year. It was delicious and it makes a huge amount (1 L or 8 cups). It has a lot of great flavours and textures, I’ll definitely add it to my repertoire for future Superbowl parties.

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 1 L (8 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 180 g (1 cup) dried red kidney beans (soaked for 12 hours)
  • 1 small onion, diced (100 g)
  • 1 small carrot, diced (100 g)
  • 1/2 butternut squash, diced (150 g)
  • 2 celery ribs, diced (100 g)
  • 250 mL puréed tomatoes (200 g)
  • vegetable stock or water, to cover
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin, toasted
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup Pearl Barley, cooked
  • 1 avocado, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Put the beans in a pot, cover with 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for ten minutes. Drain.
  2. Combine beans with everything but the frozen corn, cooked barley and the garnishes in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add enough water to cover. Cook for 8 hours on low or until beans are tender. Add frozen corn and cooked barley about 30 minutes before serving to allow to heat through.
  3. Serve with garnishes or plain.

vegetarianbutternutsquashchili

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bananacreampie_first

We’ve been doing enormously well on our path to better health so when we had friends over for dinner recently I asked JT what dessert he wanted and he said banana cream pieBanana cream pie is definitely NOT diet food, but you need a treat every once in a while.

There are many recipes out there and JT was specific that he didn’t want chunks of banana so I had to improvise by adding puréed bananas and increasing the thickening agent to make up for the added liquid ratio. I used Martha’s recipe as a starting point. This pie is not overly sweet and it packs a lot of banana flavour. It’s best to make this dessert the day before to allow it to set.

Banana Cream Pie

Makes one rectangular pie about 12 cm x 36 cm (14 inch x 4.5 inch)

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 3/4 cup cookie crumbs (I save mine from broken cookies in a freezer bag)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp Skor® bits

Directions for the crust:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine everything but the butter and Skor bits in the small bowl of a food processor. Slowly drizzle in the butter. Fold in the Skor bits.
  3. Press into a 12 cm x 36 cm (14 inch x 4.5 inch) rectangular tart pan (preferably one that has a removable bottom to make it easier to release).
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas (about 1 cup puréed)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups half & half
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • Whipping cream

Filling Directions:

  1. In a heavy-bottom saucepan or double boiler, combine cornstarch, sugar, egg yolks, half & half, and salt and mix well. Set over simmering water or medium to low heat and whisk until thoroughly thickened.
  2. Cool over an ice bath and when cooled, whisk in the vanilla and puréed bananas. Set plastic film over the top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until set.
  3. Whip the butter until light and slowly add the cooled filling to incorporate butter evenly.
  4. Combine bananas and lemon juice and purée until smooth. Whip into the prepared pudding.
  5. Spoon into the prepared pastry crust and set another plastic film over the top. Refrigerate.
  6. Serve slices of the pie garnished with stabilized whipped cream and sprinkled with Skor® bits.

Notes:

  • Cookie crumbs are usually trimmings I save from bars, broken cookies and such. I save them in a zip-lock baggy in the freezer and blitz them in the food processor for pie crusts. I got the idea from Momofuko’s Momofuko’s Crack Pie Recipe, plus it gives us a good reason not to eat the trimmings! (Method in my madness!)
  • The Skor® bits add a lovely crunch and flavour to the crust, omit without repercussions if you wish.
  • The bananas do oxidized a bit, so I modified the instructions to include the puréed bananas just prior to adding to the crust.

bananacreampie

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