Tuesday, December 29, 2009

going on hiatus

I thought I would be cooking a lot over the holidays but I'm not. In fact, I'm going on a little hiatus. Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

bloggers, cupcakes and chevrolet

Yesterday was National Cupcake Day in the U.S. Who knew? Well, these folks did. (Video from When Tara Met Blog)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

chili con carne and cheesy garlic bread

Have I told you that I go to school on the weekends? I'm in an MBA program at the University of Windsor that supplements my time away from work. Yah! Busy. Last Saturday while intently listening to my fascinating accounting prof discuss the new IFRS accounting standards, I glanced out the window and noticed the snowflakes. In my brain (or stomach) the first sign of snow, means the first chili should be made. And, what better to way to complement chili than with gooey-cheesy garlic bread (and I mean stupid-gooey-cheesy garlic bread)?

Pioneer Woman's Garlic Cheese Bread
~I substituted Mozzarella for Monterrey Jack cheese~
Jamie Oliver's Chili Con Carne
~I used a cinnamon stick instead of ground cinnamon and added a small can of tomato paste~
The evening ended with us playing Taboo by the fire. Almost as cheesy as the garlic bread...I know.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

gnocchi gone wild, making it for my first time

Picture this: I'm flipping through Cook With Jamie, trying to find the perfect meal to impress our friends George & Kara. They were driving in from Toronto so I wanted to make something special. I noticed a recipe for Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms & Sage. Yum, right? Best of all, it appeared I could make the gnocchi a day ahead and then cook them for a fabulous Saturday night dinner.

The first step in the process was finding a potato ricer. That only took three stores...I should have hit Little Italy first! Next, I baked the potatoes...easy peasy.

Once I turned the potatoes into dough, I placed the gnocchi on a semolina flour lined cookie sheet and left them in the fridge overnight. Pretty.
The following day, I made crispy sage and sauteed wild mushrooms for the sauce.
When the sauce was almost ready, I placed the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water. And, here is our "gnocchi" with wild mushrooms and sage.
Wondering what happened to my beautiful homemade (filled with love) gnocchi? Well, something went terribly wrong and I had a total gnocchi fail -- they disintegrated. My hard work disintegrated in front of my very eyes...and my guests' eyes. So I did what any good hostess would do, I pretended that I wasn't absolutely heartbroken and I threw a bag of brown rice pasta in another pot of boiling water. And, then proceeded to talk about how F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S brown rice pasta is for your health...it's lot easier to digest and much better for you than regular pasta or gnocchi, ya know!

Monday, November 30, 2009

help me with chicken and leek pot pie

Some people say I'm relentless. Of course, I always take this to mean driven, ambitious, dedicated, committed, etc. So, I guess it's not surprising that I tried to make Jamie Oliver's Chicken and Leek Pot Pie again. The last time I made it was for my good friend Mishka and I forgot to take the puff pastry out of the freezer. This time I made it for George & Kara and it was too runny. I used flour (maybe not enough), simmered for much longer than recommended by Jamie (maybe not long enough) and chilled the stew in the fridge for a few hours before reheating (maybe not for long enough). Any suggestions on how I could have thickened the stew?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

simple thai menu

While my American friends were celebrating Thanksgiving, I was having an impromptu dinner with two friends and their new baby boy. Craving some kind of Asian fare, I decided on a simple Thai menu. I don't have recipes for the spring rolls but I've included links to the chicken and pineapple rice (just omit the shrimp in the recipe) both from Nancie McDermott's Quick & Easy Thai.

Pineapple fried rice

I encourage you to give Thai home cooking a try, and let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lil' Baci in Toronto (guest post by Amy)

I decided this week, after my husband suggested I pick the restaurant for our Friday date night , that we needed to start utilizing the Leslieville area after living close to the east end Toronto neighbourhood for over two years, and only ever trying one or two restaurants.

I’d made a list of six places and we decided Lil’ Baci – a small (approx 25 seats), casual, Italian restaurant - would be the first we'd check off our list. After my husband found out they didn't serve traditional liquors, he was pleasantly surprised by the wine I ordered as he doesn’t love it (at least not as much as I do). We ordered the 2006 Montepulicano d’Abruzzo, Masciarelli Doc (Marche) which went fabulously with our meal. We shared the Lil’ Baci salad which consisted of bibb lettuce, radicchio, arugula, smoked provolone, salami, chick peas, sun dried tomato, and red onion. This was followed by a pasta dish – the gnoochi alla spinachi e limone, and the beef ravoli with pomodoro sauce.

Good things about this place? It was a warm atmosphere for a chilly November night, they offer take-out, and great pasta dishes that although good for the waistlines were quite small in portion size. This could have been overcome (b/c we were warned by all the small dishes we saw being served to others) by a larger appy, but the salads and small list of antipasta they had on their menu didn’t quite cut it for our big Friday night appetites.

That being said, I enjoyed the vibe at Lil’ Baci. I’d consider going back to try their pizzas – they had a ton on the menu that all looked like the yummy traditional Italian style versions I had in Rome just a few months ago.

Next stop: Celi Cottage

I’m a small town girl who now resides in Toronto and can’t get enough of it…especially the restaurants! What can I say? I love to eat! Sometimes I wonder if I’m addicted to food. As one of Menu Maniac's roomies from university, I watched her whip up a roast leg of lamb while others ate Kraft Dinner. Her adventurous cooking has inspired me to attempt to cook, and although I try, living in Toronto is so hard when there are many tempting places to eat out. I’m an east-ender hoping to bring you some good options next time you visit Toronto.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

editor's pick on food52

Happy to report that my Roasted Pumpkin, Manchego Cheese, Serrano Ham Autumn Salad was chosen as an editor's pick on Food52. You can get the recipe here.
Thanks Amanda & Merrill!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

the key to the good life...

The key to the good life is having a friend who bakes. A friend who is an extraordinary bake. A friend who happily brings over a fresh challah. A friend who graciously offers to contribute pumpkin chocolate chip loaf to Thanksgiving dinner. A friend who is not offended when you send her a recipe at 2:30 p.m. on a Friday and suggest that she bring it over for dinner that same night.

Last-Minute Menu
Guacamole & Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
Paprika and Worcestershire Marinated & Grilled Top Sirloin
Roasted Fennel
Roasted Potatoes with Grainy Mustard & Shallots
The [gooiest-yummiest] Maple Pear Upside-Down Cake
*Recipes from Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinners except dessert which hailed from the Bitten Blog in the New York Times...and Julie's kitchen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

food52 entry: roasted pumpkin, serrano ham, manchego cheese salad

Every week Food52 summons home cooks around the globe to enter their contests. This week the themes revolve around your best Autumn salad recipe and best sweet potato recipe. Want to know how I created my salad? Click here. Better yet, I encourage you to sign up on Food52 so that you can comment, vote and participate. It's fun and it's food -- how could you go wrong?!?!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

awesome pita chips, autumn salad, roast chicken

Have you checked out Food52? I'm addicted to the videos, the Piglet and their weekly recipe contests. This week, Amanda and Merrill are asking home cooks to submit recipes for their best autumn salads and best sweet potatoes. I thought about the salad, and what flavours/foods I'd like to include, then I built a Sunday night dinner around it.

Fall Sunday Night Dinner

Rosemary thyme pita chips (awesome recipe from Food52)
Roasted garlic & sage cannellini bean dip
Autumn salad (I'll post on Food 52 later this week)
Roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary potatoes

Let me know what you think about Food52. Could it become one of your go-to recipe sources?

Friday, November 6, 2009

cauliflower, broccoli, and chedder cheese soup

Cauliflower, broccoli and cheddar cheese soup

Between the flu pandemic and colder weather, we're craving warm bowls of goodness. Recently, I modified Jamie Oliver's Cauliflower and Cheese Soup to use a relatively old broccoli in my veggie drawer. Plus, I decided to increase the soup's fiber and protein by adding chickpeas, which help to thicken it (full disclosure: got the bean idea from my friend Maria at Fresh Eats who included beans her mushroom soup).


2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 onions, chopped
Head of broccoli, chopped (discard stem)
Head of cauliflower, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 litres of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
28 oz can of organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups of old white cheddar, grated
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs dried thyme
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Cook all of the chopped veggies and garlic in a large pot over medium heat until soft (about 10 minutes). Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the chickpeas. Turn down the heat and cover with a lid. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Then, cool for a few minutes.

Add the grated cheese, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Return to the stove to simmer until warm.
Serve with fresh Russian rye bread (recommended by my mother!) for a warm lunch.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday dinner: braised short ribs

A few years ago Sharon and I went to a cooking class at the local LCBO (government-owned liquor store, for my American friends). The class was taught by Erik Peacock, from Niagara's Wellington Court Cafe. He showed us how to make Asian-inspired beef short ribs. We left the class and Sharon's been making those sweet, gingery short ribs ever since. It's taken me almost five years to attempt short ribs and I decided to try a more traditional recipe.

Braised in red wine and Port, short ribs can be started in the afternoon and left to cook over the next several hours. What wonderful comfort food for a cold Sunday night!

My Sunday Night Menu from Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinners

Hummus with cilantro pesto

Braised beef short ribs on red-skinned smashed potatoes
~I added roasted garlic and a couple of spoonfuls of caramelized onions for fun~

When I mentioned on Twitter that I was making comfort food for dinner, Meg from Maker's Table sent links to two of her favourite recipes: Beef Stew with Zinfandel and Mama Lorette's Rice Pudding. I will be sure to try both of these recipes soon!

Do you have a recipe that you'd like to share? What's your favourite, go-to, homemade comfort food?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

pizza party menu

Gudrin's smoked salmon, roasted red pepper, roasted artichoke & goat's cheese pizza
One night this week, Erin and Gudrin came over for a pizza party. What was on our menu? Take a wild guess! Pizza and wine. That's it. BTW, kudos to Erin for making the pizza dough between clients. :)
Erin's pizza: Extra virgin olive oil with a hint of garlic salt, sliced Bosc pear, crumbled blue cheese, a smattering of mozzarella and Parmesan

Gudrin's pizza: Smoked salmon, roasted red peppers, roasted artichokes, Mrs. Porter's homemade roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella, and goat's cheese

Jordana's pizza (which got stuck to the pan...so we couldn't really eat it): Sliced tomato, ricotta and Mrs. Porter's homemade roasted tomato sauce with a touch of pesto

I think we'll have another pizza party. My plan is to recreate my favourite pizza from Terra Cotta in Windsor. I like olive tapenade, spinach, eggplant, roasted red peppers, feta cheese and rosemary. Girls, will you come over again soon?

P.S. Lulu B Pinot Noir was also on the menu. It's a perfect pizza wine. Thanks to Gudrin for bring it along!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jamie Oliver's Sweet Potato & Chorizo Soup

It's really starting to feel like fall; the days are short and crisp. Not surprisingly, the cooler weather makes a hearty soup that much more enticing.

Jamie Oliver's Sweet Potato and Chorizo soup was an absolute standing-ovation hit in my house (hubby and I were both standing and clapping!). It was easy to make and got better after a couple of days in the refrigerator like any good soup. Try it.

*Click on this link to see the recipe on Facebook.
*Check out Suzie the Foodie's blog to read and see someone else's attempt.
*Go to epicurious.com for a completely different sweet potato and chorizo soup.

Monday, October 19, 2009

la creuset...finally

During one of our recent visits to HomeSense, I put a La Creuset French Oven in our shopping cart. Hubby was stunned by the price tag. I was stunned too, because I knew we were saving a whack of money by purchasing a "second" (I think we saved about $100!).Well, this little French oven did not disappoint. Yesterday, I made a Bolegnese sauce and was thrilled to see how evenly everything was cooking. Nothing burned. Nothing got stuck to the bottom of the pot. Best of all, it made me happy to see the little red French Oven sitting on top of our stove!

yellow vegetables

When was the last time you went to the tomato capital of the world?

We were there for a wedding last Saturday. With two hours to kill between the ceremony and the reception, we took advantage of the opportunity to stop at a few farm stands. We bought some lovely yellow and orange tomatoes (likely the very last of the season), butternut squash, sugar pumpkins, and red peppers.

Two ideas for yellow-ish vegetables:

Yellow tomato bruschetta

Sweet potato fries

I was planning to make a carrot salad tonight but got distracted. Instead, I added some yellow tomatoes to our rockin' Indian open-faced sandwich. I was feeling a bit lazy, what can I say?

Send your ideas my way...I still need to use up the peppers and the sugar pumpkins.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

roasted chicken breasts with lemony bombay potatoes

How much do you love roast chicken? Interested in trying something Indian-inspired? Trust me, it's not too "weird" and it's weeknight simple.

Jamie Oliver's roasted chicken breast with lemony bombay potatoes only calls for ingredients that can be purchased at your local, small-town supermarket. I often quadruple the recipe and add extra veggies like sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and/or cherry tomatoes.

Buy everything you need this weekend and plan to make this next week. Let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
P.S. We were lucky tonight to have some leftover Tomato, Coriander & Ginger soup from Terry the Firefighter's visit. It was the perfect appetizer. Thanks T!
P.P.S. This chicken recipe is from Jamie Oliver's Cook With Jamie. I blogged about it on WindsorEats.com last year. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

canadian thanksgiving menu

Thank you Bonnie Stern. You are my favourite Canadian cookbook author and if you ever talked to me, you'd be my friend. (Even if you just talked to me on Twitter, we don't actually have to meet or anything.)

Hubby and I just moved into our new house (house is old, but it's new to us) and invited two couples over for Canadian Thanksgiving. Bonnie, you posted a Thanksgiving menu on the National Post website but I relied on your Essentials of Homecooking and Friday Night Dinner books to make most of our meal.

Marinated Goat Cheese

Mixed Greens with Walnut Dressing

Roast Turkey
~served with wild mushroom & leek stuffing and country mash~

Spiced Cranberry Port Sauce
Julie's Homemade Whipped Cream
~served with Julie's (read: Windsor's best bake) Homemade Pecan Pie and Pumpkin Loaf~
Now, if you're wondering what to do with the leftover turkey...I highly recommend making a turkey, brie, cranberry sauce sandwich. Get to it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

pre-thanksgiving indian dinner menu

Terry the Firefighter and the MenuManiac
You may remember Terry the Firefighter from his guest post. Last night, we were lucky enough to have his expertise in our new professional kitchen. Luckily Terry the Firefighter, is a professional in more ways than one. Inspired by a recent trip to Vij's in Vancouver, this firefighter came up with the perfect Indian menu. He gives total and complete credit to Vikram Vij.
Ginger-Lemon Drink
Tomato, Coriander and Ginger Soup
Garam Masala-Sauteed Portobello Mushrooms in a Porcini Cream Curry
Marinated Lamb Popsicles with Fenugreek Cream Curry
Terry's tips when cooking from Elegant & Inspired Vij's Indian Cuisine:
  • Even if the recipe instructions go against your instincts, follow Vij's direction. It will not disappoint
  • Take advantage of the wine pairings that are included with each recipe

How groovy we got after this fantastic meal:

Friday, October 9, 2009

New York: ed's lobster bar

Ed's lobster roll

Imagine shopping in SoHo with one of your closest friends. Then imagine stopping for lunch, to eat the most delectable sandwich on the face of the planet. Oooohhhh, and then imagine eating crispy french fries drenched in malted vinegar. Even if you're not in SoHo, run to Ed's Lobster Bar for lunch or dinner. Just make sure you keep shopping, I mean walking, to burn off the calories!

New York: craftbar

Marinated Olives, Marcona Almond
White Anchovy Bruschetta, Soft-Cooked Egg, Braised Leek

My mother-in-law introduced me to craftbar. The restaurant is about simple food with fresh ingredients and is located very close to Union Square. My friend Lauren and I ate at craftbar our first night in the city. We were exhausted, starving and completely indecisive...ended up sharing a number of vegetarian appetizers.