Tuesday, June 29, 2010


So as many of you probably know, FOOD&DRINK (Ontario LCBO's magazine) is one of my all-time favourite food magazines. The recipes, wine, writing, pictures - it's all top notch. But one of my favourite things about the magazine is that they are always on the lookout for cool products that you can actually use around your kitchen or in everday life. I was reading the sprind 2010 issue this morning and came across some great finds which I thought I would share with you.


This kitchen gadget may look strange - but it is such a great tool. It is a little basket that is submersible and made of flexible food-safe silicone. The "foodpod" takes away all of your anxieties when boiling food. You can now boil eggs without cranking them, easily blanch broccoli and then shock them right away in cold water, steam a pound of mussels, coo potatoes and then lift to drain, or even submerge whole spices and herbs into soup stock. This foodpod is available at www.dansecoinc.com or call 1-877-DANESCO to find where this product is sold near you! (price: $22.99)


What a genius invention! These bottle enclosures (for $3.50) are the perfect leak-proof solution for any traveler with a bottle that because of travel restrictions are prohibited from putting the liquid into their carry-on. Instead of rolling your breakable bottles in your clothes and risking the chance of it breaking and then spilling all of your stuff, wineskins provide you with the ability to prevent the bottle from breaking. Reinforced bubble wrap and the shape is designed to prevent all liquid travel problems. Perfect for wine, spirits, olive oil or even shampoos! Call 1-877-AGE-WINE to find a retailer nearest you! HAPPY TRAVELS!

photo credit: google images & my own pictures

Monday, June 28, 2010


Cutting a cake means there is always one bad slice at the beginning. There is rarely a "perfect" slice cut right off the bat, unfortunately. But with this new product called the "Main Squeeze," Magisso's "clasp-and-lift cake slicer oops-proofs the serving process." (Toronto Life) Cake cutting made easy! And with this cool design you can probably imagine why! This interesting kitchen tool is available at Studio Brillantine in Toronto. 

Studio Brillantine specializes in presenting new designs that are exciting and different. According to Studio Brillantine, "the designers, architects and artists have enriched our culture showing us a new way to experience the everyday creating products for us to enjoy and experience in our lives connecting us to their world. " The Studio Brillantine collection are objects that are chosen because of their historical significance, quality, function, emotional and visual impact, innovation, humour and vision! Check out the arry of interesting and crazy products Studio Brillantine has to offer - including the main squeeze cake cutter! This product definitely fits Studio Brillantine's collection to a tee!

Studio Brillantine
1518 Queen St. W.
Toronto, Ontario
photo credit: torontolife.com & google images

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Ok this is just too weird! Graphic designer Neil Caldwell has created multi-coloured bacon that retains its colouring once it is cooked! Red, green, blue and even purple bacon was made, creating a full fledged rainbow of bacon. Caldwell won't share his secret on how he did it, but unfortunatley the bacon cannot be eaten, only admired.

The dying process beings

The dyed, uncooked bacon

The bacon cooked and dyed

Coloured bacon ready to serve!

Owner and editor Rocco Loosbrock of BaconToday (an entire site dedicated to bacon!!)says, "it was just kind of a joke that's gotten a lot of attention. Neil submitted this to us, and we put out his photos on our website. It's gotten a lot of attention, and a milion page views. It's unique and fun."

So wild! What do you think of this crazy new coloured bacon?!

photo credit: bacontoday.com


There is rarely a day that goes by where I don't eat something with garlic in it or use garlic in my cooking. I am obsessed with it and use it every possible way.

Garlic is a part of the onion family has been used through history for culinary and medicinal purposes. Garlic originated in the wild of Central Asia and has more than 5000 years of history as an important crop. There are many different types of garlic, and three major varieties available in North America. First off there is the white-skinned strongly flavoured American garlic, Mexican and Italian garlic (mauve skin and milder flavour) and the white-skinned, mild flavoured elephant garlic (relative of the leek). Green garlic is young garlic before it forms its cloves, which looks like a baby leek with a long green top and a white bulb.

Garlic is available all year round - lucky for me! When choosing garlic make sure the bulbs are firm with dry skin. Make sure to avoid bulbs that are soft or shriveled. Store garlic in an open container in a cool, dark place. Unbroken bulbs usually have about an 8 week shell life, but once broken the cloves stay fresh for about 3-10 days. Raw garlic has a much stronger flavour than garlic that has been cooked. So if the strong garlic taste is too much for you, try roasting it for a milder or sweeter flavour. Roasted garlic is delicious spread onto some nice crusty Italian bread - dipped into a little extra virgin olive oil

Here are a few recipes showcasing the main ingredient - GARLIC!

Garlic Vinaigrette (by GarlicFarm.com)

Perfect for salads or even on top of vegetables.

- 1/4 cup pure apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil or sunflower seed oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- one or more cloves of garlic, crushed, chopped or sliced

- Shake the first four ingredients together and taste. There should be a nice balance with no one ingredient dominating. Adjust if necessary, and then add the garlic.
- Choose a garlic that you like the taste of raw. Spanish Roja is one of my favourites; it is milder and more subtle than many of the others. For some people the hotter the better. For them I might choose Leningrad, which is very pungent. When I have time to let the dressing sit for an hour or so I slice the garlic thinly and let it marinate. The flavour of this dressing changes over time and so I prefer to make it up fresh every day.
- When I was testing the recipe for exact quantities I used extra virgin olive oil. I used my garlic press for instant flavour and squished in one large clove of Puslinch. The vinaigrette was so delicious that my husband and I sat down and demolished a plain bowl of iceberg lettuce with this dressing.
Garlic Sauteed Spinach (by Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa)

- 1 1/2 pounds baby spinach leaves
- 2 tbsp good olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped garlic (6 cloves)
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- Lemon
- Sea Salt (optional)

- Rinse the spinach well in cold water to make sure it's very clean. Spin it dry in a salad spinner, leaving just a little water clinging to the leaves.
- In a very large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute, but not until it's browned.
- Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pot, toss it with the garlic and oil, cover the pot, and cook it for 2 minutes.
- Uncover the pot, turn the heat on high, and cook the spinach for another minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the spinach is wilted.
- Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach to a serving bowl and top with the butter, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of sea or kosher salt.
- Serve hot.

Roasted Garlic (what I do to roast garlic)

- 2 bulbs of garlic
- extra virgin olive oil

- Place bulbs on a cooking sheet
- Cut off the tops of the bulb to expose part of the individual bulbs
- Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil
- Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Like I said earlier this recipe is great with bread, but is equally delicious mixed with some roasted potatoes as a side to chicken or meat.

Garlic is such a great ingredient and so easy to use! Mix extra virgin olive oil with some pressed garlic for a delicious garlic oil for pastas or for shrimps. Get creative and enjoy all the garlic has to offer!

photo credit: google images

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Many of you living in Toronto probably know of this steakhouse hot-spot, but for those of you who don't let me introduce you to Bardi's Steak House. Run by the dad of one of my good friends, Bardi's is located in the heart of Toronto's financial district, across the street from The Royal York. Bardi's is known internationally for their excellent service, food and wines. They serve only "Certified Angus Beef" and since 1994 have been the recipients of Wine Spectator Magazine's "Award of Excellence." This steak house is a huge step up from any Keg type steak place. Pricier, but well worth the extra money and is reflected in their delicious approach to all of their meals.

I am quite lucky as I have been to Bardi's many times! For those of you working downtown, this is a perfect spot for a business lunch or dinner. The steaks are excellent, perfectly cooked and blackened very nicely. The mushrooms that accompany most of the steaks are top notch, they are famous for their "cheesy bread" and the peasant salad is a perfect start to any meal.

Menu highlights:

Peasant Salad: Hothouse tomato topped with sliced onion, olives, oregano, feta cheese and extra virgin olive oil
Cheese and garlic bread for two
Shrimp Cocktail: "the largest Shrimps in the city" 
"Shrimp Bardi's:" in herb garlic butter 
Fresh Ontario Mushrooms
"BARDI'S SPECIAL": Bone in rib steak   
Filet Mignon: 6oz, 8oz, 12oz 
STEAK "DIANNE": Pan fried with mushrooms and green onion, demi glace and flamed with Remy Martin. Cooked entirely at table side.

Check out Bardi's if you are looking for a great steak and a cozy and welcoming atmosphere!

Bardi's Steak House
56 York St.
Toronto, Ontario

photo credit: bardis.com

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Two similar words, two completely different things! Macaron is not the wrong spelling for the word macaroon, as many people so often think! They are in fact are two different desserts. How silly two things with only a one letter difference for the name. Anyways let me enlighten you into the world of these delicious bakery treats.

They both are based from egg whites and sugar (forming meringue). However for macaroons shredded coconut is added into the mix. This batter is then spooned onto a cookie sheet in little stacks and baked until crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. They are often dipped in chocolate and just delightful!

Macarons are a bit trickier and require some baking finesse. One the egg whites and sugar for the meringue, powdered sugar and ground almonds are folded in. The mixture is the piped (using a piping bag) into exact rounds and baked. The cookies are then paired with a flavoured filling to make a little elegant sandwich. (Almonds are not the only flavouring used for macarons) They are crunchy, chewy and creamy all at the same time. These little delights originated in France but now have become a Canadian phenomenon. Every bakery and patisserie seems to be creating these little morsels, with many new and exciting flavours. If you are in Toronto - check out Patachou for some yummy macarons!

Learn more about macarons and the "elegance of Paris" with the cookbook "I Love Macarons" by renowed Japanese pastry-maker Hisako Ogita. This cookbook is excellent as it gives you idiot-proof illustrated step-by-step instructions. The benefit to this cookbook - all of these colourful and delectable little pastries will soon be filling your kitchen (and belly)!!

photo credit: google images

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Making popsicles was one of the best things about summer when I was younger. We would always make our own popsicles using different juices or yogurt and a mold. They were always so fun, and waiting for them to freeze always felt too long!

We used to just use molds with popsicle sticks - which worked great, but now they are so many more options out there, making it even more fun for kids!

LAKELAND (creative kitchenware) has a great line of popsicle (lollipop as this British company says) molds. Check them out!

The strawberry molds are my favourite! But the twist holders and the rubber ones that you squeeze make it very easy for kids to get their popsicles!

Buy LAKELAND products online HERE !! Have fun with your kids this summer and spice up your popsicle making!

photo credit: lakeland.co.uk


Celebrating Dad's everywhere today! What are you doing for your dad on this special day? But more importantly, what are you cooking?!

Breakfast is big in our house on any special day. So this morning's feast was delicious scrambled or fried eggs, toasted bagels, perfectly crispy bacon and banana chocolate chip freshly made muffins. With some orange juice and coffee to wash it all down!

What's on the dinner menu? I'm sure steak will be a popular dinner tonight!

Here is a really great recipe for steak...STEAK DIANE, always delicious!

Ingredients: Serves Two
- 2 sirlion or rib eye steaks
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- sea salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp butter
- 2 tbsp brandy or Cognac
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp snipped chives
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp lemon juice

- Place a sheet of cling film over the steaks and pound with a rolling pin until quite flat (about 5mm/¼in). Season with pepper, but do not salt.
- Prepare the ingredients for the sauce now, as you won't have time later.
- Heat the oil and butter in a non stick frying pan, and cook the steaks briskly for 1 minute on each side. Draw the pan off the heat, transfer the steaks to two warm dinner plates and season with sea salt.
- Now, add the brandy or Cognac to the still-hot pan and return it to the heat, where - whoosh - it will flame.
- When the flame dies, reduce the heat and quickly add the butter, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sea salt and pepper, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon for 1 minute, allowing the mixture to bubble and thicken.
- Add the chives, parsley, lemon juice and any juices that have gathered from the resting steaks, stir well and pour the bubbling sauce over the steaks.
- Serve immediately, with potatoes, asparagus, or a green salad. 
By BBC Food's Saturday Kitchen 
photo credit: theglobeandmail.com 

Saturday, June 19, 2010


It was my birthday on Tuesday, so for dessert I wanted something really fun but pretty. I love baking, but I never feel like my cake or cupcake decorations are up to snuff. They don't have that professional feel to them....yet. So I decided to order The Cupcake Shoppe's mini cupcakes with pink and purple flowers.

The Cupcake Shoppe in Toronto offers 17 nut-free flavour cupcakes, with nine of those available in store everday. They are Toronto's own Magnolia Bakery (of New York).  The Cupcake Shoppe reminds people how fun cupcakes can be - and how they really do make a difference at any party. The cupcakes themselves are always moist and fresh. The icing is creamy and rich, but they don't overdo the icing to cupcake ratio, which is always nice. The decoration ideas they offer are fabulous, and my cupcakes (in my opinion) made my party! Everyone always gather's around desserts, especially if they are pretty and fun!

Here are the cupcake flavours they offer:


PRETTY N' PINK: vanilla or chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream

JAMES BROWN: chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream

SLEEPLESS IN TORONTO: vanilla or chocolate cake with coffee buttercream

CREAMSICLE: vanilla or chocolate cake with vanilla and orange swirled buttercream

AFTER ATE: chocolate cake with mint buttercream

CURIOUS GEORGE: vanilla or chocolate cake with banana buttercream

STRAWBERRIES N ' CREAM: vanilla cake with vanilla and strawberry swirled buttercream

MANGO MADNESS: vanilla or chocolate cake with mango buttercream

CRUMMIE: chocolate cake with cookies n' cream buttercream

LOV' N LEMON: vanilla or chocolate cake with lemon buttercream

FROST ME: vanilla frosting on marble cake

STICKY N' SWEET: vanilla cake dipped in caramel

OPPOSITES ATTRACT: chocolate frosting on vanilla butter cake

EH?: vanilla cake with maple buttercream


LEMON DROP: lemon frosting on vanilla cake

NAUGHTY N' SPICE: spice cake with vanilla buttercream

So for my birthday I got the Charlie Brown and Yonge & Eligible cupcakes with pink and purple flowers. Here is how pretty they were....

But The Cupcake Shoppe does so many great decorations. Along with regular flowers they do hydrangeas and roses, as well as the specialty cakes and decorations (as seen below).

Check out The Cupcake Shoppe for all your baking needs!! It's delicious and beautiful!

The Cupcake Shoppe

2417 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M4P 2E7, Canada
(416) 322-6648
photo credit: my pictures & thecupcakeshoppe.ca


Ok so I don't usually like chain restaurants. I mean, they are fine for a meal with a bunch of people but I often find the food pre-made and not very fresh or original. However, the one spot that I really enjoy is Earls. February was the first time I went to Earls as it is a seriously popular restaurant in Vancouver - and I was there for the Olympics. It was tough finding good food that fit a crowd of 10 so we ended up at Earls numerous times. Generally at chain restaurants there may be only one or two things I like but at Earls there were plenty.

I'd describe Earls as a step down from The Keg. The decor is chic and modern - and just the overall atmosphere has a really great feel. The one's that have patios, have very relaxing and cool patios. Anyone would be happy sipping on a mojito at one of their patios. I live in Toronto and there is only one Earls near me - but it's still half an hour away. For all of you west coasters, (Alberta & B.C) I highly recommend Earls. They are super accommodating and the food truly is delicious!

Here are some menu highlights:

Santa Fe Chicken Salad avocado, black beans, corn, dates and mixed lettuces in a peanut lime vinaigrette, crispy tortillas, half breast cajun spiced chicken

Baby Calamari tender, crunchy breaded squid with sweet red onions and our own house-made tzatziki

One Pound Wings choose hot, searing hot or thai style, with perfect parmesan dip and celery sticks (the THAI flavour is so good!!)

Hunan Kung Pao spicy ginger soy sauce with wok fried noodles and seared vegetables, topped with peanuts, customize spice by adding 1-6 hunan peppers

photo credit: google images

Friday, June 18, 2010


Elvis Presley's Fried Peanut Butter and Banana is a classic. The King loved his peanut butter and banana sandwiches but with a twist - they were fried! This sandwich is so delicious, such comfort food and one of my first creations as a blooming chef when I was 12 years old! They were all I could make one sumemr! The sandwich is so simple to make, and a perfect rainy day activity for the kids. This sandwich is fried in a pan just like making a grilled cheese - except it is sweet!

Here is the recipe - try it out! It will probably bring most of you back to your youth!

Ingredients: Serves 1
- 1 small ripe banana (or half of a large banana) 
- 2 slices white bread
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (don’t use extra-smooth)
- 2 tablespoons butter

- Slice the banana into thin rounds
- Spread the peanut butter onto to one piece of the bread and the layer on the banana 
- Butter each outer layer of bread 
- Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat (you are really looking for a quick golden brown toasted bread as the peanut butter will melt much faster then say cheese in a grilled cheese) 
- Place one side down in the pan and flip once the bottom side is golden-brown
- Serve and enjoy!

photo credit: google images

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Delica Kitchen -  (a place I have previously blogged about, see MARCH) the fantastic little to-go eatery at Toronto's Yonge and St. Clair sells homemade condiments and salad dressings as well as their take home meals. They also have introduced what they deem the "BBQ Survival Pack." This package is perfect for any cottage or bbq this summer - and would make a great host/hostess gift.

It includes: herbed feta spread, tomato and sweet onion relish, walnut parsley pesto and lemon basil vinaigrette. The package sells for $30 and is available in store at Delica. The vinaigrettes they sell are a caeser vinaigrette, fresh ginger and sesame vinaigrette and lemon basil vinaigrette. The packaging is so nice and simple and I just love it! Pick up any of these great (and different) condiments - they will enhance any meal you add them too!

photo credit: Delica Kitchen Facebook Page


What are you eating and celebrating with during this world cup!?


Ontario strawberry season is upon us - and from the ones I have eaten, they are juicy, deep red and delicious! Our local Ontario strawberry's are finally available in stores and are popping up in many a dessert at restaurants around the city! Ontario strawberry season is at its peak in June and July - so for the next month and a half I suggest picking some up, or even going to pick your own. My cottage is near Peterborough and just before we get to the lake is a place called O'Mara's Berry Farm. All summer long we are just ten minutes from freshly picked strawberries and raspberries. But the best part is - you can pick your own! It is such a fun activity, great for kids, and rewarding at the end when you have cartons filled with fresh produce.

Here are a few historical facts you probably didn't know about strawberries. Strawberries were originally cultivated in Ancient Rome and aside from Canada and the US, are grown Russia and Chile. In 13th century France strawberries were actually used as a medical herb.

When picking berries choose ones that are plump, firm and deep-coloured that have bright green caps and no sign of soft spots or mold. A 12oz. basket of strawberries will give you about 3 1/2 cups of whole strawberries or 2 1/4 cups of sliced ones.

There are so many berry farms around the city that you probably don't even know exist. So here is a link for PICK YOUR OWN places in the GTA (it also includes other cities like London, Hamilton etc.) Check it out and go pick some fresh Ontario berries!

Here is a great summer recipe highlighting strawberries - great for dinner parties as you make individual ones!

Strawberry Shortcake - my way

I have made this dessert since I was in about grade 8. I loved cooking at the cottage and helping out in any way I could. Whenever we would have our best family friends over for dinner - I always did the desserts. One of my (and their) fav's was my strawberry shortcake. My mom found individual angle food cake cups at the grocery store (usually in the baked goods area).

They would be about the same size as the cupcake one's in this picture.

- Individual angle food cake cups (available at grocery stores) or angle food cake made into muffin sizes (usually about 6 in the package)
- 1 small container of whipping cream
- 1 - 2 containers of fresh Ontario strawberries
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar (1 tbsp then 2 tbsp)
- Mint leaves

So what you do is slice the cupcakes or the store bought cups in half. You put a layer of freshly whipped cream (1 small container whipping cream mixed with 1 tbsp of vanilla and 1 tbsp granulated sugar, whip until stiff) and then a layer of sliced Ontario strawberries. (Note: it is better to slice the strawberries ahead of the party and let rest with about 2 tbsp of granulated sugar. This allows the berries to masurate and draws out some of the liquids making a nice sort of sauce with the berries).

Place the other part of the cake on top and layer more whipped cream and strawberries. Use some of the juices to drizzle around the plate with a few extra berries. Garnish with a mint leaf for colour and decoration. The store bought cakes are not flat across the top but have a bit of a well, so they hold the cream and berries very well!

The individual servings of this dessert make it great for any sort of entertaining! 

photo credit: google images