Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I was craving a quick, fruity dessert and happened to remember this post by Orangette. So I gave it a try and it was so easy I whipped up two of them- raspberry and blueberry. I kept the raspberry for myself and sent the blueberry home with C. I'd never had clafoutis before but it has a lovely creamy but firm texture and almost liken it to a dessert frittata. Not too sweet but just enough to satisfy the post-dinner sweet tooth. And pretty too!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Recession Reds

I've always liked wandering through the vintages section, picking through the $10-20 bottles. I figure if it warrants a spot in the vintage section: How bad can it be? Here's an excellent example – Crasto Douro 2006. $15 at your local Liquor Control Barn Outlet.

If you like a full-bodied red with lots of fruit and some heat, this is a great choice. Who wants to split a case?


Cheese & Broccoli Soup

I've got a fridge full of veggies from Herrle's, so tonight I made broccoli soup. This is a combo of two recipes (1) from epicurious (2), with a dash of improv. 

It turned out great, but in the end, the only thing I would have liked is an oven proof dish to broil the cheese a bit. That, and some crispy bacon to sprinkle on top. If you make this, don't forget the bacon.


Breakfast is Good for Your Brain

I'm trying to eat a great breakfast every day. In fact, I'd almost say I'm enjoying breakfast more than dinner lately. Lunch is a total write off when things get busy, so I'm going to focus on meals I can make at home – breakfast and dinner.

This is a great example of a 15-minute meal. It takes longer to brush your teeth than it does to scramble eggs, so no excuses. I think I've got this timed out perfectly. 

Fire up the Nespresso... cut the avo in half and arrange on the plate... add two strips of smoked salmon (sorry bacon)... start melting butter in the pan... drop a pod in the Nespresso and hit go!... crack eggs into the pan... next pod into the Nespresso... drop eggs onto plate... add cream to coffee... sit down and enjoy. That's not even 15 minutes.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cookie Friday: The double whammy birthday edition

You asked for it. The runner-up cookie from last week's poll was milk chocolate almond and that's what you're getting this Friday. However! In lieu of my cookie taster / guinea pig Broccoli's birthday, a special edition cookie will also be making an appearance. There will be no Cookie Friday for the next two weeks because I'll be in New York running that marathon!! Thanks everyone for your support. See you this Friday after 10am. Quantities limited.


Broccoli says:
There were very few votes for the espresso banana cookie in our recent poll. Shout out to Donna, who cast the single vote. I guess most people haven't tried a Banana Latte – my inspiration for this flavour combo. Since it's my b-day, Prosecco was kind enough to make them, along with milk chocolate almond cookies.

I have to say the end result was much more subtle than I would have thought. The oatmeal held it together and added a nice texture. Overall, it was chewy, soft and buttery. The banana became caramel and the espresso was a quiet undertone. Bravo!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Spicy Zoup

Fusilli made a delicious soup the other night. It had potato, sweet potato, leeks, carrots, squash, green beans, coconut milk and curry paste. Nice!

Tonight I added two pan-seared scallops and some toasted walnut bread.



Sunday, October 19, 2008

THE Sugar Cookies

I don't know if I love these cookies or the dough.  This is my FAVORITE sugar cookie recipe of all time.  And trust me if you make this recipe, you will lick the beaters, the spoons, the bowl and the spatula that you will use to scrape out the last bits of dough from the bowl.  I got the recipe in a gift box of the 4 jar Baker's Assortment (Sweet China Cassia Cinnamon, Cocoa Powder, Baking Spice and Double Strength Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract) from Penzey's Spices that my parents sent to me years ago.  It's the vanilla that really makes the recipe.  You need really good vanilla.  If you want the recipe, just email me.


Chilly Chili

It finally got cold enough in Chicago for me to start wanting soup.  So yesterday I went to the store and grabbed everything I needed to make my Mom's chili recipe.  She sent it to me over email a LONG time ago.  So the printed version I have has all kinds of spills and stains on it from me making the chili every fall and winter.  Why does chili always taste better with corn muffins? And for me it's not the swanky gourmet kind made from scratch, but the Jiffy corn muffin mix in a box for 35 cents from the store.  I love the design on the box and that it still costs under 50 cents! I made this on Saturday afternoon and made enough to last me through this next chilly week.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Double Chocolate Black Cherry: Review of the preview

{Review by Broccoli}

This cookie should be called chocolate cherry surprise! The surprise comes when you take a bite, expecting a crunch, and find it's much more brownie than the exterior suggests. The centre is soft and moist... I almost want to describe it as molten, but it's not oozy. Think of it as the best of both worlds – a brownie that you can pick-up, and eat like a cookie, without getting it all over your hands. The black cherry preserve adds a nice texture to each bite and its flavor permeates the soft interior. Rich, decadent and proper!

Serving Suggestion: Dip this into a glass of heavy cream if you're feeling adventurous.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cookie Friday October 17. The votes are in.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Butternut and Green Bean Salad

My favorite cookbook right now is Winter Food, by Jill Norman. It's full of simple, seasonal recipes, that explore a variety of ingredients and dishes from different cultures. I'm going to try as many of these recipes as I can over the next few weeks. 

Last week I bought green beans for the niçoise, but didn't end up using them. When I came across this recipe I knew I had to try it.

Roast the squash, blanche the beans, and toss the chopped endive in a lemon, mustard and olive oil dressing. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds. Simple and delicious.


Monday, October 13, 2008

I heart Terroni

When I first moved to Toronto four years ago, one of the first places Broccoli advised me to eat at was Terroni on Queen West. Now, all my out-of-town guests get taken there, dates have taken me there, I've randomly met up with friends I haven't seen in ages there… And the thing is, the wait staff are so apathetic and could really give a shit about you, but you can't help but go back because the food just tastes soooo good. This time, I had the usual Funghi Assoluti (breaded oyster mushrooms + arugula + balsamic reduction), which my roommate and I swear contains drugs, it's that addictive. Next up was the Don Corrado pizza, a white pizza with potato, rosemary, and hot italian sausage. Then the four of us shared the signature chocolate lava cake and the chocolate lemon ricotta cake. I think we achieved the goal we set for ourselves at the beginning of the night where we said we'd order something from each page of the menu.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Niçoise Salad

My plan was to make a spinach niçoise with salmon tartare, but the salmon was a bit tough, so I sautéed it instead. You can't really see it, but spinach is hiding under that pile of salmon, shrimp, potatoes, egg, cucumber and tomato. The spinach was tossed in a lemon, yogurt, dijon and dill dressing.

I also found a nice Pinot Grigio, at the local liquor barn, that went perfectly with this pile of goodness.


Going, going, gone…

A *huge* thanks and shout-out to everyone who stopped by for a cookie this morning! And a special thanks to Broccoli, my in-house photographer and official cookie guinea pig. It was so nice to get a chance to see the lovely peeps at 37 Front Street east who work on the other floors. Keep the votes coming in for next Friday's cookie! As it currently stands, Milk Chocolate Almond and Double Chocolate Black Cherry are tied. We need a tie-breaker!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

TGI[C]F - October 10 @ 10am

We've had two pseudo Cookie Fridays, but this is the first *official* one (I even branded it!). Here's how it works: Every Friday this month until I leave for New York on October 31, I'll be selling freshly baked cookies for $2 a piece. Proceeds to go toward funding my NY marathon trip (entry number 321783!). This week's flavour: oatmeal blueberry. Quantities limited, BYOM(ilk). Look forward to seeing you this Friday!

{UPDATE} Here's the first review of the preview:
Visually appealing. Nicely browned on the outside, fading to a luscious gold in the middle, with hits of royal blue from the blueberries. The first taste created a perfect bite shape – a testament to the cookie dough that baked to a crispy, yet yielding finish. The mouth feel is a nice combination of crunchy and soft, with the oatmeal and dough offering two distinct pleasures. Not an overwhelming blueberry flavour, much more oatmeal and caramel... but with a hint of satisfaction that the anti-oxidants are making me healthier with each bite. Solid!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Salad: Viva Las Vegas

It was salad night in Chicago too.  I've been making this salad for dinner over the past few weeks since Broccoli and Fusilli first introduced it to me in Las Vegas. My Whole Foods was out of Mache that I usually buy, so I tried a new salad mix, Earthbound Farm Organic's Fresh Herb Salad.  The dill in the salad mix and aroma of it added something great to this salad.  So, make a bed of greens, add sunflower seeds, queso fresco, Newman's Own Italian Family Recipe Dressing or Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette and Purdue's Perfect Portions Chicken.  


Beet & Carrot Salad

I looked in the fridge and found a few random ingredients to make this salad. Ingredients like carrots, beets, red-leaf lettuce, manchego and sunflower seeds.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

FarmStart Feast

M & J invited us to join them for a feast on the farm today. The event featured local harvest, prepared by some incredible chefs from around the city. Marben, C5, Torito, Perigee & Amuse-Bouche. It also featured some excellent Ontario wines, including an unoaked Chardonnay from Fielding Estate Winery

There were appetizers to start, and then a few hours of music, field tours, and milling around the field – all with drinks in hand.

Just as we stared to get hungry, we sensed a line forming near the outdoor kitchen and joined in. The meal was served buffet style in a long line, each dish served as you passed. It all looked so good, I only had the willpower to turn down the last dish – green beans. Everyone ate, standing or sitting in the grass, surrounded by the place most of the ingredients came from.


Friday, October 3, 2008

no-cook dinner

I know this isn't fancy, but it just tasted so good! I didn't feel like cooking when I came home from running, so this was dinner: heirloom tomato slices and bufala mozzarella (not quite as fresh as this) on whole wheat toast. Some spicy globe basil from the balcony + salt & pepper. Yum!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chicago Gourmet 2008

Chicago had it's first ever Chicago Gourmet, September 26 - September 28,  and it was delicious. Chicago Gourmet took place in Millennium Park, in the heart of the city; so of course the view was amazing. I was given free tickets and invited a few of my friends to enjoy the Saturday of the weekend event.  We all arrived around 11 am-ish and were happy that we did. On our way into the event we were given free tickets (again!) to one of the Wine Tasting Seminars being held at the Chicago Cultural Center (check out the restored Tiffany's dome above) right across the street. Of course the Wine Tasting Seminar we were given free tickets to was Takashi Yagahashi's  seminar, "Sake for Everyday."  I say of course because my friend Tyllie photographed Takashi's new cookbook at her studio this past summer.  Look for it from Ten Speed Press soon!  Anyway, most of us knew next to nothing about sake so we thought why not!

So after being able to walk into the event with our lovely lanyards/tickets.  We were given an environmentally friendly bag with some great goodies in it and we were then given a wine glass (yes, glass) for our tastings. Since we arrived at 11 am-ish we were able to be first in line at many of the tents (Fox & Obel, NoMI, The Bristol, the list goes on and on...) and wine tasting tables.  Terlato Family Vineyards had a larger tent on the Pritzker Pavilion lawn and we were able to do many laps in that tent and enjoy the lounge-like spot at the end of their tent (see above).  Mary Beth and I talked to the handsome Australian guy from Jacob's Creek.  We sampled the Reserve selection and it was delicious.  I've stayed away from the Reserve because I love the $5 varieties you can find here.  But for only $12 I might be trying the Jacob's Creek Reserve the next time I'm at Sam's or Binny's.  

We also were able to take advantage of the cooking demonstrations.  We were able to see Chef Dirk Flanigan from The Gage and Chef Rahman "Rock" Harper formerly of Terra Verde Green Valley Ranch Resort.  And most of the chefs that did demonstrations later in the day and had tastings available on the lawn.  I apologize that there are really no food shots above. We ate everything so fast there were no time for pictures! 

If you're a fan of Bravo's Top Chef series, Stephanie Izard had her Chef's Tasting that afternoon of Duck Confit salad...YUM!  It's been reported that she's still scouting space to open a new restaurant in Chicago.  And if you're a Chicago fan, Mayor Daley stopped and spoke with every exhibitor and thanked them for coming.  My friend Mary Beth, pictured above was able to sneak in a quick hello to Mayor Daley in front of one of the wine tasting spots.  Can't wait to do the whole thing again next year!


Chicken and Tomato Favalad

Okay, last post with fava beans for the year. It's just that I can't resist when I walk into the market and they have a big basket of these beauties.

This dish was created on the fly as I rushed to get ingredients before the market closed. Considering the ad hoc collection ingredients I brought home, this turned out really well. It's probably best I left the beets and bananas for another dish.

Final ingredients: Fava beans, garlic, tomato, mint and pecorino. Saute the garlic, add white wine, then add the blanched fava beans when the liquid has reduced. Heat through and then set aside. Once it's cooled a bit, add tomatoes, mint and pecorino. A splash of lemon and vinegar is all it needs before heading to the plate. Fan the sliced chicken if you're feeling fancy.

BTW - The recipe for feeling fancy is a gin & tonic, with a splash of campari.



No doubt about it, that headline is spelled for Cupcake, our favourite neighbour to the South.

Speaking of favourite, my mom had a colonoscopy today and she was quite hungry by dinnertime so I made her favourite shrimp risotto. Also starring fennel, carrot and tarragon. It's a normal risotto recipe except that I saute the shrimp in garlic first and add them back in at the end. Another secret is a high shrimp to rice ratio. 


The Toasted Assorted

Always a favourite after a few beverages. But it can even creep into your sober consciousness. And then it's only a matter of time before you find yourself driving downtown to Pepi's.