Thursday, July 29, 2010


What better way to enjoy a variety of different cheeses then hosting a wine & cheese party. This type of party is great for some many reasons. It is a great party to have with girlfriends, as a cocktail party with neighbours or work colleagues. Cheese tastings are fun for everyone – because it allows people to try out new types of cheese, which they might not normally go out of their way to try for fear of not enjoying it. Some cool crisp white wine, or a nice red accompanies any cheese perfectly along with a few grapes or nuts of course. A light, interesting and fun party to enjoy!

Pottery Barn has a whole site dedicated to hosting the perfect wine & cheese party. The part I love the most on the site is the paper print-outs for cheese labels. They are too perfect for words. A picture of a goat with space to write the cheese! How cute – and you can print them on any type of paper you like! Check out ideas for this party HERE!

photo credit:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Locavore: one of the latest food trends describing people who commit to eating as many local grown and harvested foods as possible.

Eating local has become a popular and smart food choice. Choosing local foods over non local or imported items allows one to get the freshest products with maximum nutrients, along with boosting local economies and reducing energy/enviornmental impacts of transporting food to the table. Some might think that eating local is an all-or-nothing type of idea - but there are so many small steps you can take in trying to eat local. Most people start by trying local foods produced within a 100-mile radius from home. Even just a few peppers from a farmer's market is taking a step in the right direction. As convenient as going to the grocery store can be - there is just something so much more satisfying when buying local, fresh and even more delicious produce. I mean seriously, what is better then local sweet corn, strawbs and raspberries all summer long?! If that doesn't get you thinking local then I don't know what will!

Here are 8 tips from CIBC's Medical Director Dr. David Brown on the "easy ways to become a locavore."

1. Visit a farmer’s market. Vegetables and fruits that you buy at your local farmer's market have often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase. This freshness not only makes the food taste better, but the nutritional value is higher too. Farmer’s markets also keep small farms in business through direct sales. Rather than going through a middleman, the farmer takes home nearly all of the money for those delectable apples or tasty bunch of grapes. To find a farmer’s market in your area browse your community newspaper or search the Internet for your local markets.

2. Learn what foods are in season in your area and try to build your diet around them. By researching local farms and farmer’s markets, you can take advantage of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other locally produced food items. For example, choose locally grown asparagus in the spring and summer, and enjoy root vegetables in the fall.

3. Start with a few foods you can buy locally. Rather than trying to source everything locally all at once, aim for just a few foods. In many areas local fruits and vegetables are readily available in the summer months, and it's also possible to find meat, poultry, eggs, milk, or cheese—all grown, harvested and produced close to your home.

4. Preserve local foods. There are lots of preservable fruits and vegetables which can be frozen, canned, jarred, pickled, made into jams or otherwise preserved for use at a later date. Local food that is preserved quickly keeps its nutrition and makes your meal preparation easier. For example, prepare a lasagna with local tomatoes, cook some homemade jams, or make a soup packed with fresh veggies and freeze it. For tips on how to safely preserve foods, visit your local bookstore, or food preparation websites.

5. Plant your own garden. Whether you have a small balcony, a rooftop garden, or a large backyard, with just a bit of a green thumb you can plant your favourite herb(s) or vegetable(s) and harvest them over the summer and fall. If you have never planted food before, there are lots of resources available at local home and garden centres and on the Internet to help get you started.

6. Ask about food origins. Ask your supermarket manager where your meat, produce and dairy products are coming from. Call the manufacturer of your favourite foods to see where their ingredients are from. By asking questions you send a message to food companies and distributors that consumers care about the origin of ingredients, and you can influence their purchasing/producing practices.

7. Visit restaurants that support local farmers. You can find out which restaurants in your area support local farmers by asking the restaurants about their ingredients directly, or by asking your favourite farmers what restaurant accounts they have.

8. Buy from local vendors. Can't find locally grown products? Try locally produced foods.  Many areas have locally produced jams, jellies, breads, roasted coffees or locally created confections or desserts. While these businesses may not always use strictly local ingredients in their products, by purchasing them you are supporting the local economy.

photo credit: google images

Monday, July 26, 2010


The Hot & Spicy Food Festival is coming to Toronto Aug 13-15, 2010. This hot, spicy, sultry and sweet festival is here to explore the origins of species and foods and their migrations through time and globally. Such as: cocoa drinks by the Mayans which transformed to spicy chocolate moles in Mexico or jalapeño chocolate in Texas. Wasabi and sushi or wasabi and ice cream? Local and international chefs as well as farmers show their part in this global scene.

The festival weekend is jam packed with lots of exciting events. Here are some of the great things this spicy festival has to offer:

- Harbourfront’s “Best Spicy Dessert in Toronto” contest.
- Red Hot Marketplace (sample and buy sauces, marinades, dips)
- 10 Tastes to Try Before You Die – India meets Mexico
- Redpath Kids Crafts
- Salon del Gusto – The Greenbelt Tasting Hall: farmers about the work they do and wide range of foods available in Ontario
- Longo’s International Iron Chef Competition
- Small Scale Vegetable Growing and Composting Workshop
- Create Your Own Soda Pop – teaches kids how to create Soda Pop!

This festival looks to be extremely promising, with local flare and plenty to satisfy the kids!

Participating Vendors:
Betty K Foods
Bistro Blends Inc.
Brooks Pepperfine Foods
Chetty's Hot Sauce
Eadrey Food Company
Edna's Pickles
Erica’s Country Style
Hot Mamas Food Inc.
Island Spiced
Jake Albert’s Specialty Food
Jan’s Catering Service
The Joy of Harvest
Mad Mexican Foods
Mengrai Gourmet Thai
Organics and Gold Inc.
Pepper Brew
Shashi’s Indian Cooking Classes
Sun Sweet Catering
Susie’s Hot Sauce

photo credit: hot & spicy food festival

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Who knew aprons had become so fancy, flirty and fun! ANTHROPOLOGIE - a clothing store with a "home" section has quite the collection of aprons. These kitchen staples appear to be dresses when on the rack in stores - but upon pulling them out to inspect, the backless "dress" actually is an apron!

These aprons are great and fun for the fashionista chef at home. They provide some real pzazz in the kitchen - spicing up a plain and boring white apron - and letting you show your true fashionable self!

Check these out online HERE or in stores!

photo credit: & google images

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Pottery Barn - this is what I am talking about!! I am always look for cool wall art, as I'm getting my own place soon my decorating thinking has begun! I really want something that shows my love for food though, and I felt like I just hadn't found anything until today.

Pottery Barn has created two bold pieces featuring two pieces of antique silver flatware and "dramatically sized for showcasing on a wall." The images are silk-screened by hand on cream coloured stretched canvas. Buy online HERE! I can't wait to get these!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Drink of the week: SANGRIA.

A Spanish classic perfect for patio drinks and cooling off in the summer heat. A great drink to serve at parties, at the lake or backyard BBQs.

Sangria is kind of like a punch. It consists of red wine (generally from the region of La Rioja, Spain), chopped fresh fruit, a sweetener (honey, sugar, simple syrup), brandy or triple sec, soda and ice. It can also be made with white whine for those of you who aren't big red drinkers...and generally I am not, but Sangria just works!

Vineyards in La Rioja, Spain

When I was living in Spain, I took a cooking course with a famous Spanish chef. On one of our cooking nights we whipped up some Sangria to accompany our meal. It is so simple and so Spanish! Later in the year when I was in Seville my friend Lindsay and I cooled off from the southern heat by relaxing on a patio drinking fresh Sangria.

Give this drink a whirl this summer! It will not disappoint!

Bobby Flay's Red Wine Sangria

- 2 bottles red Spanish table wine (from La Rioja if possible)
- 1 cup brandy
- 1/2 cup triple sec
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/2 simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves, cooled)
- orange slices
- apple slices
- blackberries
- pomegranate seeds

- Mix all ingredients together and let stand in a tightly sealed container or pitcher preferably for 24 hours before serving.
- Served chilled with a cup of ice

photo credits: my images

Monday, July 19, 2010


Only one week left Torontonians! Summerlicious ends on Sunday! Get out to the restaurants and support our culinary world!

Choose from an array of restaurants at

Get eating and have fun!


Pasta, pasta, pasta!

Pasta is a dish that has become a worldwide sensation - different shapes, different sauces, different methods of preparation. This book, THE GEOMETRY OF PASTA teaches you to match pasta with sauce. It explains how pasta "teams up" with sauce to "maximize taste and texture and to turn you from an average into a great pasta cook." (book)

There are said to be over 300 different shapes of pasta - each with their own history and story to tell. This multitude of shapes have evolved alongside flavours of local ingredients and with the proper pairing can make any dish exquisite. Each shape of pasta is accompanied by a fabulously elegant and crisp black and white drawing.

The book pairs together over 100 authentic recipes by chef Jacob Kenedy and designs by Caz Hildebrand. The pair reveal the secret to the science, history and philosophy from Italy's best known product - fresh and delicious pasta.

'The Geometry of Pasta is exactly what I would expect it to be: stylish, greed-inducing, knowledgeable and witty; an instant classic.' Nigella Lawson

 `The Geometry of Pasta is the most stylish, and delicious, foodie publication of the year.'  GQ Magazine

Buy online here at AMAZON

Saturday, July 17, 2010


The ultimate French Bistro sandwich is none other than a croque monsieur. I am feeling quite inspired these day by the French and their cooking - probably comes from re-watching Julie&Julia (a new classic!).

A croque monsieur is a deliciously simple French sandwich that first appeared in Paris in 1910. It is a warm sandwich filled with ham, Dijon mustard and either gruyere or emmetal cheese. This sandwich, commonly labeled croque has become a staple to-go food in France, but is still a classic bistro sandwich, often served with side micro greens. I first fell in love with croque monsieur's at my favourite French bistro/patisserie called Patachou in Toronto. It is just delicious, and the best part about the sandwich is the gooey cheese accompanied by some tart Dijon and crusty French baguette.  This sandwich will automatically make you feel like you are on the streets of Paris, in a cute and quaint cafe!

Since the croque has become such a popular item, many variations of the sandwhich have now been established.

Croque Madame: croque monsieur with a poached or fried egg on top
Croque Provençal: with tomato
 Croque Auvergnant : with bleu d'Auvergne cheese
Croque Norvegien: with smoked salmon instead of ham
Croque Tartiflette: with sliced potatoes and Reblochon cheese
Croque Bolognese: with Bolognese (meat) sauce
Croque Senor: with tomato salsa
Croque Hawaiian: with a slice of pineapple

Croque Madame

Naturally I have decided to share with you the recipe, from none other than Laura Calder - from Food Network's French Food at Home. Who else could give a more authentic recipe than her. Try this out - so simple, so easy, so delicious. 

Croque Monsieur : Serves 1 
- 2 Slices baguette, brioche or any other type of "white" bread 
- 1 spoonful crème fraiche
- 1 spoonful Dijon mustard
- grated gruyere cheese or comté
- Ground black Pepper
- Paprika
- 1 Slice very thin ham baked or boiled
- Butter for frying  

- Cut the bread so that the two slices are still attached at the bottom, like a man’s wallet.
- Mix the crème fraîche and mustard together with paprika, and spread it generously on both insides of the "wallet". Season with pepper.
- Make a sandwich within a sandwich: scatter in a layer of grated cheese, lay the ham on top of it, and scatter more grated cheese on top of the ham. (Alternatively, stir the cheese into the cream and mustard mixture, spread on both sides of the bread with the ham in the middle.)
- Press the sandwich together with your hand. Fry in butter in a frying pan, a few minutes per side until it’s golden on the outside, and melting in the middle. Serve hot with a bit of salad.

photo credit: google images & laura calder

Friday, July 16, 2010


The lovely and fragrant Herbs de Provence (or Provencal herbs in English) is a traditional blend of aromatic herbs that flourish in the hills of Southern Frnace during those hout summer month. Herbs de Provence are used abundantly when fresh in France but is just as lovely dried. Some of the herbs typically used in this mixture include bay leaf, thyme, fennel, rosemary, chervil, oregano, summer savory, tarragon, mint and marjoram. Depending on who is making the concontion people often choose to add orange zest or lavender – even though they are less traditional.
This herb blend is a perfect addition for any dish from the Mediterranean region – especially when mixed with olive oil. The mix of olive oil and Herbs de Provence can be used for a slew of foods; chicken, fish, tomatoes, potatoes, pizza sauce, kabobs, salad seasonings, sauces, cheeses and soups. Throw some on some tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes. SCRUMPTIOUS!

Herbs de Provence is often sold dry, in traditional terracotta jars, which makes it even more charming! A perfect gift and a very effective storage container.

Test out this lovely mix of herbs. Anything you roast from now on will be magical!

Herbs de Provence
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon chervil
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 1 tablespoon summer savory
- 1 teaspoon lavender
- 1 teaspoon tarragon
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon mint
- 2 powdered or chopped bay leaves

-Mix together all of the ingredients and store in a tightly sealed container.
- Makes about 1/3 cup herb mix

Herbs de Provence Chicken
-2 pounds boneless chicken, trimmed of any fat
-1/4 cup flour
-1/2 tsp. paprika
-3 tbsp. olive oil
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 cups wine
-1 tbsp. Herbes de Provence
-fresh rosemary, basil, parsley (optional)
-black pepper and salt

- Mix the flour and paprika.
- Roll the chicken breasts in the flour mixture.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot, browning it in small enough batches so that the meat browns nicely.
- Remove meat, and saute the garlic.
- Add the wine and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot, stir, and cook on high until a sauce forms.
- Turn down heat to a low simmer, add the chicken back to the pot. Sprinkle with the herbes de Provence, salt, pepper and minced fresh herbs if desired.
- Bake at 300F. for 2 1/2 hours, or until the chicken is quite tender. Serve with a rice or potato dish.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Eruc sativa or as we know rocket/arugula/rugula/rucola is an edible plant used in daily in cooking around the world today! Arugula is a lovely leafy vegetable mainly used for making salads. Arugula has been grown in the Mediterranean area since Roman times and is actually considered an aphrodisiac (oh la la!). It grown across the world especially in Veneto, Italy. Arugula is a delicious leaf with a rich and peppery taste. Quite strong flavouring for a leafy green. Arugula is mainly used in salads but can be cooked as a vegetable, used in pasta, pizza or meat dishes and turned into a yummy pesto. Arugula is low in calories (woohoo!) and high in vitamin A and C.

Let me share a few recipes with you highlighting all that arugula has too offer! Try mixing up your typical salad greens and throw a handful of arugula in for some contrast and flavour!

My personal favourite way to enjoy arugula - is a simple "rocket" (as the brits say) salad! I first fell in love with this salad years ago while in London, England visiting family. This was the salad at the local pub. I had never tried arugula before, but after tasting the peppery arugula I was hooked. This is truly the best way to eat arugula. Simple, fresh, delicious.

Rocket Salad
Ingredients: For Two
- 2 large handfuls arugula
- Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil

Simply toss arugula in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Season with some salt and pepper and top with shaved Parmesan!

Chuck Hughes' Arugula Pesto
- 1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 big handfuls of packed arugula leaves
- a drizzle of olive oil
- salt and pepper

- Grate your cheese.
- Pop all ingredients in a food processor or blender and while it’s running drizzle in about ½ cup good olive oil. This will be used to garnish your Chorizo pieces. Season to taste with S&P. If too thick you can thin out with a bit of water.

Chuck's arugula pesto tops off a piece of fried chorizo sausage!

photo credit: google images &


You actually will not even believe this when I tell you. And how fitting that I just found this considering I just blogged about Gelato.

There is legitimately a place called GELATO UNIVERSITY in Bologna, Italy. A true place for gelato aficionados to come and study the art of making it. Luciano Ferrari is the brains behind this operation, and the institute is founded by Carpigiani gelato equipment. The institute was founded in 2001, and offers more than 300 courses from September to July including an eight week English beginner session. Its $1000 for the courses, but over 3,000 students have attended this year.

At Gelato University you make about 20 different flavours during the week, at one of their 18 gelato making stations. In lectures you learn about the importance of butter-fat-to-sugar ration in order to make a velvety texture. The curriculum consists of six courses, three days each. Ferrari is a gelatiere or a “frozen dessert technologist,” and has even insisted his students taste his creative Parmesan cheese gelato. Not his best however! What an interesting concept for a school. But in this health conscious world, people are interested in learning about healthier options, which gelato definitely is (with less air and less butter-fat). How many students can say that their professor is wearing a navy blue apron and white gloves, and whose core subjects are “lemon-cream, pistachio and chocolate.”

photo credit: & gelato university

Friday, July 9, 2010


Watch this video and see how Jamie's Revolution is spreading. People believe in the revolution and in Jamie, you can too! Come on America, join in and sign the petition!


Congrats to Jamie Oliver and his amazing team! His ABC show FOOD REVOLUTION has been nominated for an EMMY! Wow! So great, finally people are tuning in and listening to what Jamie-O has to say! I am so happy people are finally catching on to his great ideas and his need to help make the world eat well. It is so great as someone who loves food, and wants people to enjoy food and eat well to see someone like Jamie Oliver do this. He is dedicating so much time and money into "it." It's so impressive that one man has such a goal to better millions of people. It's truly amazing.

This is just the beginning - The Food Revolution is Real! Keep up the great work!

Sign the petition and help Jamie Oliver revolutionize food and the way we eat:

photo credit: google images

Thursday, July 8, 2010


For years I have been going to Stratford to see the plays performed at the Festival Theatre. We usually stay at our favourite place Aubergine (unless it's fully booked, because it IS the best place in town). Aubergine is a wonderful bed&breakfast and Kathy, the proprietor is one of the best chefs I know. Breakfast at Kathy's b&b is always something, whether it be freshly baked croissants or wonderfully poached eggs.

I was at Aubergine about 3 weeks ago, and breakfast that morning was one that I have never had, but it was probably the best yet! Poached eggs with roasted cherry tomatoes and red pimento peppers. Just scrumptious! I love eggs for breakfast, but this just took normal scrambled or poached eggs to a whole new level. The tomatoes are roasted in salt, pepper and herbes de provence. The peppers are lovingly sauteed and flavourful. And the eggs were poached perfectly, runny and all! Let me share this amazing recipe with you - because this is a breakfast dish not to miss. Perfect for Sunday morning brunch, or when you really want to dazzle some guests!

Ingredients: Serves 4
- 1/2 red pepper (pimento peppers are great - but harder to find)
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- salt
- pepper
- a few hot pepper flakes
- one pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 tbsp herbes de provence
- eggs (1 or 2 per person)

- Cut the red pepper into this strips. Pan fry low in 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter.
- Season with salt, pepper and a few hot pepper flakes.
- Fry until slightly limp (not brown though) - keep warm
- Toss pint of tomatoes in remaining olive oil - transfer to an oven proof dish.
- Season with salt, pepper and herbes de provence.
- Bake at 300 for 30-40 minutes (or they are even better at 250 for one hour)
- Poach the eggs. Bring a generous amount of water to a boil in a large sauce pan with high sides and a tight fitting lid.
- Add a tablespoon of white vinegar. Turn off the heat.
- Break each egg into a small bowl or saucer and gently slide the egg into the water, just below the surface.
- Cover and let the eggs stand for a minute or so, then bring back to a gentle boil, turn the heat off again and let the eggs stand for 3 minutes (for runny yolks) and 5 minutes (for set yolks).
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain carefully on paper towels before serving.
- Arrange poached eggs, surround with tomatoes, and decorate with pepper strips

67 Brunswick Street
Stratford, Ontario
N5A 3L9

photo credit: & kathy