Thursday, April 29, 2010


Today is my sister's birthday so I took her out for lunch and her pick was Hope Street Cafe - in the Forest Hill Village in Toronto. This is one of our favourite spots for a quick bite as it is only five minutes from home. The Forest Hill Village is a great place for dinner - with ice cream shops for dessert! Hope Street Cafe is a great restaurant, for both lunch and dinner. They have an outdoor patio which is perfect for relaxed outdoor lunches, and the inside is small but comfy, with tablecloths - a great plus! The food is delicious, there is really nothing on the menu that I haven't liked. The appetizers are large - so I would recommend sharing them, and you can get their feature salads are large enough to be an entree.

Here are some favourites which you should be sure to order!

Avocado Bruschetta: topped with goat cheese (on the dinner menu)
Greek Salad: Crisp Romaine Hearts, Cucumber
Grape Tomatoes Bermuda onion, bell peppers, olives, feta cheese with balsamic a vinaigrette
Chicken & Avocado Salad: baby greens, grilled chicken, avocado, cucumber, roasted red peppers
grape tomatoes, Bermuda onions with a balsamic vinaigrette
Steak Fajitas: served in a sizzling skillet with flour tortillas, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, grated cheese, tomato, lettuce (on the dinner menu)
Baked Penne: chicken, mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, and asiago in a garlic cream sauce (on the dinner menu)
Tuna Melt: albacore tuna, cheddar, lettuce, tomato served on ciabatta (on the lunch menu)

Hope Street Cafe
324 Lonsdale Road
Toronto, ON

photo credit: google images


A Swissmar Raclette is the perfect kitchen tool for a great family night or even with friends for a dinner party. Family friends introduced this tool to our family, and the other night was the first time I tried it out - for a make your own pizza night with the family. There are about 8 raclette dishes which each person uses to make their customized pizza, the grill atop the raclette is needed for slightly cooking the dough first. I had never been at home for these kind of family pizza nights but Sunday was my first. I cannot express to you how fun it truly was! It is great to make your own, and put whatever you like on it! My little siblings loved it because they chose what they wanted to eat - for once!

The individual raclette dishes are hot once they are finished, but there are little stands to rest them on so not to burn the table, and the raclette scraper makes it easy to slip your pizza out from the dish.

It is up to you to decide what toppings you want for your pizza! We went with pepperoni, mozzarella, fresh tomato, basil, sun dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, pesto, tomato sauce and a vegetable antipasto.

I love oils on my pizza, this quintessence pizza oil is delicious, but I also love a chili oil, a great accompaniment to any pizza. Puff pastry is a perfect pastry to use for the dough of the pizza, it is light and quick to cook. To organize a pizza night, slice the pastry into squares that will fit into the raclette dish. Give the pastry and quick flash of heat on the top part of the grill before piling it high with pizza toppings.

This Swissmar Raclette is fantastic, and can clearly be used for anything - not just pizza. It is great to roast vegetables on and you could even make a mini veggie bake on each raclette dish depending on what you like. It is a great kitchen tool as it lets everyone be creative and eat what they want and the flavours they like!

Here is a picture of the Swissmar Raclette. You can buy them online at Kitchen Niche.

Give this Swissmar Raclette a try! It is a perfect kitchen tool to invest in and I guarantee you a lot of family fun and creativity!

photo credit: my images & kitchen niche

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Beets, another seasonal veggie that I adore. Their deep red/purple hue is a great colour and gives life to any dish! For those of you not eating beets, you are missing out! They are fresh and served hot or cold a delicious appetizer, side dish or accompaniment to any principal meal. Beets are available all year round but their peak season is from June - October. Beets can be boiled, roasted, pureed... the works!

 copyright The NewYork Times

Cooking beets in their skin helps in maintaining their nutrients, beets are extremely healthy!
Here are some tips:
- Boil, bake or steam without peeling first this way the skin will easily rub off under cold running water after they are cooked
- To avoid staining your fingers, it is good to wear rubber gloves
- No salt is necessary in cooking water
- Grated raw beets is delicious in salad

To roast beets:
- Toss beets in a baking dish with olive oil salt and pepper
- Cover and roast at 425 degrees F until tender, about 40 minutes
- Let cool and rub off skins'

Enjoy cooking with beets!

photo credit: google images & the new york times

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Popcorn is such a delicious snack - perfect during movies or a great snack after school! Here are some great popcorn recipes that jazz up the usual butter and salt and will leave anyone wanting more!

These delicious recipes are also from FOOD&WINE...I really suggest starting to pick one up each season from the LCBO, they are great!


- 8 cups warm popcorn 
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp dried chives (optional)
- 1/2 tsp finely grated lime or lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp each salt and black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
- Spread out popcorn evenly on a rimed baking sheet; reserve
- Combine the butter, chives, lime zest, cumin and chili powder in a bowl
- Microwave on medium until the butter is melted, about 40 seconds
- Stir well
- Drizzle this mixture evenly over the popcorn and toss well
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir well
- Spread out in an even layer
- Sprinkle cheese evenly over the popcorn
- Place pan in the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is evenly melted


- 8 cups warm popcorn
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp honey
- 3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt

- Place the popcorn in a large bowl
- Combine the butter and honey and microwave them on medium until both ingredients are melted, about 40 seconds
- Stir well
- Drizzle over popcorn and toss well
- Sprinkle the popcorn with pepper and salt and stir well
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary


photo credit: food&wine magazine


A great meatless springtime/summertime meal! Tacos are so easy to make - half the time the ingredients are already in your fridge! This recipe is from FOOD&WINE magazine (from the LCBO), one of my favourite places for recipe ideas and inspiration!

- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 large plum tomato, chopped
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp oregano leaves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (hot sauce)
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 8 to 10 taco shells, warmed
- Toppings: shredded lettuce, green onions, diced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro

- Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat
- Add onion, red pepper, and garlic, stir until onion is soft, 3-5 min.
- Add chickpeas, tomato and seasonings
- Cook stirring frequently just until tomato begins to soften, about 2 minutes
- Then stir in corn
- Continue to stir until corn is hot, 3-5 min.
- Taste, and add more hot sauce if needed
- Partially fill taco shells with chickpea mixture, then layer with favourite toppings
- Shred lettuce, dice avocado, chop green onion
- Layer, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese
- Top with a few cilantro leaves


photo credit: food&wine magazine

Saturday, April 24, 2010


GOOP is Gwyneth Paltrow's website. One of her sections is called MAKE and focuses on culinary delights, her website is one of my favourites and in my inspiration list. This weeks email had a delicious recipe featuring spring favourites - asparagus. Here is their recipe for asparagus soup - a delicious spring soup, light and refreshing! It can be served cold or warm, it is a wonderfully versatile soup.

Asparagus Soup: 

- 1.2 lbs. bunch Asparagus (reserve the tip)
- 1 small onion peeled
- 1 clove
- 1 carrot peeled
- 8 oz. crème fraiche
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste

- Rinse the asparagus, cut and discard the end of the spear
- Remove the asparagus tip and reserve
- Cut the stalk of each asparagus stalk into irregular pieces
- Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a soup pot add the asparagus, the onion studded with a clove, and the peeled carrot, simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until asparagus are really tender
- Bring a separate small pot to boil, add the asparagus tips and cook for approximately 4 minutes (Don’t overcook, watch the color, they should be bright green, and crunchy)
- When the tips are ready, rinse immediately under cold running water and reserve
- Separate onion and carrot from broth and discard. Put the broth and cooked asparagus stalks in a blender and process until smooth
- Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, then put it back in the soup pot and simmer
- In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the processed stalks and slowly add the heavy cream
- Add the mixture to the soup and stir with a wooden spoon until the soup takes on the consistency of heavy cream
- Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste
- Put the soup in a bowl or plate and garnish with two or three asparagus tips
- Soup is good hot or cold depending of the weather

photo credit: & google images

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Last April I was one lucky duck, my grandma took me and my mom to the spa at Inn on the Twenty. Inn on the Twenty is a little compound in the town of Jordan, Ontario. There is a fabulous restaurant, spa, inn and winery. It is "Niagara's first wine country destination." The restaurant On the Twenty was founded by Anna and Michael Olsen. Anna Olsen is a fabulous celebrity chef, specializing in pastry. She has had numerous shows on the Food Network, her current one being "Fresh : With Anna Olsen."
The restaurant is just amazing and the dishes contextualize Niagara wines with a regional cuisine. Their goal: to make innovative dishes that complement our wines and leave guests wanting "more Niagara." The dining room overlooks the Twenty Valley and a beautiful perennial garden. Ontario art contrasts the vibrant golden walls. The food is paired with the wines from the winery - Cave Springs.

On top of experiencing lovely spa treatments, the whole atmosphere of being at a little compound dedicated to health, happiness, food and wine was amazing. Inn on the Twenty is a great weekend getaway, for couples, mother/daughters, even with your friends. You will be well rested and EXTREMELY well fed. The wines are truly delicious as is the food. The staff really puts their heart into creating a delectable menu.

Here are a few dishes on their menu right now, that I think sound great! :

Black Truffle Pierogi: comfort cream cheese, sunchoke and scallion stuffing, grilled broccolini, citrus scented double cream and lamb bacon

Grilled Lobster Cobb Salad: smoked turkey, Benedictine Blue cheese, Boston lettuce, heirloom tomato, poached quail egg, avocado marble

Vitner's Lunch: house prepared terrines, cured meats, sausage and pickles with Canadian artisanal cheeses

Check out Inn on the Twenty, a fantastic getaway in Ontario's beautiful wine region, just an hour from Toronto!

photo credit: inn on the twenty website

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

glowbal grill: steaks&satay

Located in the always happening Yaletown (Vancouver BC), glowbal grill: steaks&satay is a great spot not to be missed. Their sophisticated style is evident from the outside; gold snakeskin suede banquettes, brass-branded gold chandeliers and round mirrors hung around the room. The back lounge of the restaurant is called AFTERglow and features an onyx bar and slinky sofas. The patio is equally impressive and comfy - a great place for outdoor lunches or even summer nights drinks.

There menu is "globally inspired," a mix between exotic and regional ingredients and flavours. Their steaks and satay's take center stage but their ahi tuna nicoise is not to be missed.

Some examples of their satay's:

Tiger Prawn - fresh herbs and garlic butter
Kobe Meatball - tomato fondue
Lobster - curry butter poached
King Mushroom - herbs, olive oil
Coconut Chicken - spice tropical glaze

Here is a great sideshow of pictures of the restaurant:

glowbal grill: steaks&satay
1079 Mainland Street
Vancouver, BC 
photo credit: google images

SPAIN: On the Road Again

Spain On the Road Again is a television series staring Mario Batali (US Chef Extraordinaire), Gwyneth Paltrow (Hollywood legend), Mark Bittmen (US Food Writer) and Claudia Bassols (Spanish actress). The show follows the Fabulous Four on a culinary road trip all through Spain. The show is fascinating, fun and informative highlighting Spain's cuisine, culture and art! I adore Spanish food and the country itself is beautiful. The show is a fabulous tour encompassing it all. The DVD of the show is now out in stores, or you can buy episodes on ITUNES if you wanted to only watch a few!

The reason I first heard about the show was because my mother gave me the cookbook based off of the recipes from the show. It is awesome - truly showcasing Spain's culinary delights! A perfect gift for anyone - a great coffee table read as well!

Here is the teaser trailer for episode one of the culinary ride! Watch it and I guarantee you will want to see more!

The website for the show also gives a few of their favourite recipes, here is one of my ultimate favourites, TORTILLA ESPANOLA - their way.

Tortilla Española is essentially the national dish of Spain. You can eat it as a tapa, for breakfast, in a bocadillo (sandwich), or for dinner with salad and a bit of jamón (ham). Basically anytime, anywhere. We had a great one at Valdubón and I think it’s because they weren’t afraid to use A LOT of olive oil. No fear!

Serves 4 to 6 as a tapa (little nibble) or appetizer

- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 extra-large eggs

- Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high until very hot but not smoking
- Add the potatoes and onion, season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat if necessary so that the vegetables do not brown, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes
- Beat the eggs with salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl
- Combine the potatoes with the eggs in the bowl; add to the skillet, spreading the potatoes evenly in the pan, and cook for about 1 minute, just to set the bottom of the egg mixture
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, or until quite set
- Carefully flip the tortilla over (invert it onto a plate if you must, then slide it back into the pan, bottom side up) and cook for 5 minutes longer, until set
- Flip out onto a clean plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes
- Serve warm or at room temperature.

photo credit: on the road again website & google images

Monday, April 19, 2010


I love the ALL YOU NEED IS CHEESE campaign! I think the commercials are cute and funny, they are doing a great job in promoting Canadian cheese! The aim of the campaign is to get children involved in their meals so that they can develop healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Making cooking for kids fun, healthy and tasty! Such a great idea, and so necessary today in our world filled with fast, cheap, unhealthy food.

They are offering up great ideas for family meals - one's you can include your children in. Check out their website, they have some great recipe ideas and they highlight all of their cheeses - giving you a mini-lesson in what each one is! A CHEESE GLOSSARY!


Sunday, April 18, 2010


I think I am getting a little ahead of myself with all my summer talk - we still have spring to finish! has a great page right now featuring Spring Dinner Party Recipe ideas! I would recommend checking it out - not only are the recipes great for a party, but they focus on spring flavours like peas, asparagus and lemon!

Mmmmm, I can't wait to try out the Grilled Asparagus with Parsley Pesto!

Check out all the recipes here: 


In need of a new cookbook? Well here is one you can't miss - Ina Garten's "Back to Basics." Ina Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa is one of my favourite chefs! She has a multitude of cookbooks and a show that airs on Food Network. Here food is fresh and fabulous, she is a delight to watch, and her recipes are simple to make. This cookbook really highlights fresh ingredients and how easy it is to make a great dish. Ina knows how to entertain and her cookbooks always give some inspiration into organizing a type of party around food.

Pick up a copy of Ina Garten's Back to Basics - you will love it!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


OPA! Part of my family is Albanian and traditional Albanian food is very similar to that of the Greeks, so naturally I adore Greek food. MEZES is my favourite Greek restaurant in Toronto. I can't even remember when we started going there, but it was years ago...we used to go every Sunday either for lunch after church or dinner. It is located right in the heart of Greektown on the Danforth and an hot spot during "Taste of the Danforth" in the summer months. Their outdoor patio provides for a great summer eatery. Inside is equally as quaint and decorated in a traditional Greek style. The food is amazing, I am all about ordering a multitude of plates to share with family or friends, such a fun way to eat and the way you are "supposed" to at restaurants like this.

Here are my favourites that you must order if you go:

- Tzatziki and Homous with pita
- Assorted olives
- Saganaki (Flavorful Kefalograviera cheese, pan-browned and then flambeed with brandy at your table, OPA!)
- Spanokopita (Flaky, savory spinach pie; filo-wrapped with feta cheese)
- Chicken Souvlaki on a stick (not the whole souvlaki meal for those of you just wanting the delicious chicken)
- Kalamari two ways, either fried or grilled (dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and topped with fresh onions)
- Eliniki Salad (lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, green peppers, cucumbers, olives and feta cheese in a traditional dressing)
- Horiatiki Salad (Quintessential Greek salad. Tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, olives and Feta Dodonis, tossed simply with oregano and extra virgin olive oil)

These are my favourite dishes, but I'm sure anything you order will be delicious. These dishes are perfect for sharing, so I love being able to order 5 different things and taste them all! Their feta is fresh and to die for!

I hope you check it out, and if you are waiting for a fun time, summertime is the best as the atmosphere on the Danforth is hip, fun and exciting!

Mezes Restaurant
465 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, Ontario

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Ok so for those of you fortunate to live in Wolfville, you obviously love The Library Pub. For those of you who don't, I did a previous BLOG about the great restaurant. They have just added some additions to their menu so I thought I would let you know what some of them are - which will probably urge some of you to go check them out!

My favourite thing they just added is an appetizer of shrimp done three ways, your choice: Moroccan spiced, Thai seasoning or lime&sea salt. I have had the Moroccan and lime&sea salt and they are both fantastic, and tomorrow I am off to try the Thai shrimps. You get about 6 shrimp as an appetizer, perfect for sharing with friends or a great accompaniment to their salads (my personal favourite is the crunchy cabbage and feta salad)

Spices are a large part of Moroccan cooking and I absolutely love the flavouring. Here is a list of commonly used spices so you know what to expect flavour-wise when ordering this dish: cumin, turmeric, ginger, pepper, paprika, anise seed, coriander seeds, parsley, saffron, mint and cinnamon. A wonderful selection!

Some of the other hot new items include, pork souvlaki skewers with a harissa Greek yogurt, lamb crisps, Sheppard's pie and a vegetable pasta! They look good!

Note: Harissa is a North African hot chilli sauce commonly eaten in Morocco whose main ingredients are Piri piri chili peppers, tomatoes and paprika.


More Italian! Apparently Italian seems to be my restaurant of choice in Toronto! CAPOCACCIA, a fantastic, trendy local (to me!) Italian restaurant. Sal Mele the owner and his family run the restaurant, and their goal? "Providing patrons with a unique yet authentic Tuscan dining experience in the highest level of quality, service and value." He is spot on, CAPOCACCIA is a great place for a bite. Romantic enough for a date, trendy enough to be out with girlfriends and yummy enough to head to with parents. The tables are built from old barn doors, old Italian posters and pictures frequent the walls, and the romantic lighting gives a lovely ambiance to this gem.

My favourites? Always pasta! I never make it at home because I just think Italian's do it too well, and mine never compares. So when I hit up my favourite Italian joints, pasta is what I seek! These are my two favs:

Angolotti Milanese: angolotti filled with with butternut squash in a spinach, sage and brown butter sauce

Ravioli di Funghi: wild mushroom ravioli in a porcini, cream truffled sauce

In terms of starters, the Mista salad is a great little starter salad, any Caprese di Bufala salad just makes me swoon, and the Carpaccio is equally delicious with red peppers and truffle oil atop it.

Cap has a great Italian wine list, delectable food and a perfect ambiance.

Check it out! You will be very very pleased! Here is a map for its location.

1366 Yonge St.
Toronto, Ontario
M4T 3A7