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?