Thursday, September 30, 2010


Mmmm an Asian inspired meal and the first time I have really cooked fish on my own! I have never been a huge fish lover, but black cod does happen to be one of my favourites! I am quite proud of my fish dish! It tasted buttery and flaky and perfect - almost as perfect as Ki's black miso cod!

To start the meal - what could be a better nibbly then edamame dipped in soya sauce. Edamame are delicious, nutritious and can be cooked in just three minutes! Perfect for a quick and easy appy.

Now to the main meal - the miso cod.


- 2-3 black cod fillets
- 1/4 cup sake
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 4 tablespoons white miso pate
- 3 tablespoons sugar (I use brown, very good for carmalizing)

Mix the marinate ingredients thoroughly in a plastic container (with lid) and set aside. Save some for plating purposes.
- Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels and put them into the plastic container with the marinate. Cover the lid and leave to steep in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but 1-2 will work as well.
- Preheat oven to 400 degree F.
- Preheat an indoor grill at the same time.
- Lightly wipe off (with fingers) any excess miso marinate clinging to the fish fillets but don’t rinse it off. Place the fish on the grill and lightly grill on both sides until the surface turns brown.
- Transfer the fish fillets to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.
- Add a few extra drops of the marinate on the plate and serve hot.

For a good side dish, toss some green beans in soya sauce, and some toasted sesame seeds. Serve with a scoop of sticky rice and voila - a perfect Asian infused meal!

photos: my pictures

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Mmmmm with the fall and winter months approaching, what better comfort/soul food could there be than a homemade Shepherd’s Pie. This dish is truly the epitome of the world “comfort food.” Cottage Pie or as we know it – Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional English “meat pie.” The term cottage pie started around the 1800’s when potatoes were introduced as an edible crop affordable for those less fortunate. With the ability to cook with potatoes, cottage pie was a means of using leftover meats and incorporating this cheap produce.

After Labour Day I spent about another week at the lake, but it was no hot and sunny week. Cold and rainy - the perfect weather for a delicious, homemade Shepherd’s Pie. A delicious meal, and one that I didn’t even have to make!

Brennan’s Shepherd’s Pie

- 2 cans of creamed corn
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 10 peeled mashing potatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tbsp cream cheese

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Peel potatoes and boil in hot water until fork tender.
- Once tender mash with butter, salt, pepper, milk and cream cheese until smooth (add more butter, milk or cheese to get desired consistency)
- In a pan on the stove, over medium high heat cook meat (season with salt and pepper) until brown.
- Drain grease before using.
- In a deep dish begin layering ingredients.
- First layer in the cooked meat.
- Second layer the two cans of creamed corn.
- Third layer the creamy mashed potatoes.
- Bake for 45-1 hr or until the top is golden brown and the pie is heated throughout.
- Serve warm with a little bit of butter on top of the potatoes!

photo credit: my own

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


A quintessential fall vegetable – the pumpkin: a gourd-like squash.

Pumpkin originates from the word pepon which is Greek for “large melon.” The French adapted the word to pompon and the British then changed it to pumpion before American colonists changed it to what we call it – pumpkin.

Funnily enough, the eldest pumpkin seeds are said to have been found in Mexico! Pumpkins are now grown worldwide for agricultural and commercial purposes. The U.S. produces 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins each year!! I’m sure the majority of these are sold throughout October and November! Not only are pumpkins versatile in their uses for cooking – but they are the decoration of Choice from Thanksgiving through to Halloween. A pumpkin is an important part of autumn and a sign that Halloween is right around the corner. A traditional staple of Canadian and American Thanksgivings, pumpkin pie! I love pumpkins for so many reasons – it means fall is here, they are perfect door or table decorations and they are delicious to eat! I especially love roasting pumpkin seeds !

by Canadian Chef Michael Smith

- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Sprinkled sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds

- Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Whisk the egg white, honey, spices and seasonings in a medium bowl until foamy.
- Add pumpkin seeds and toss well to coat evenly.
- Pour a single layer onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden and crispy.

photo credit: google images


Last night – while home sick I was lucky enough to have one of my friends bring over some homemade soul-food type chowder. And not a rich creamy calorie filled soup, but a health alternative to the classically fat chowders.
Corn and Shrimp Chowder by Jennifer Iserloh “Source-Secrets of a Skinny Chef.”

A healthy way to make chowder. Shrimp and corn go naturally together as they both have sweet mild flavours. Corn is necessary in any type of chowder and the shrimp provides the “meat” to the soup – making it into more of a dinner dish.


- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 slices turkey bacon, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne powder
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 32 ounce carton or can reduced sodium, fat free chicken broth
- 3 ears of corn kernels removed, or 2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
- ¼ cup half-and-half
- 1 found frozen shrimp, defrosted and peeled
- 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (if you would like a bit more creamier of a soup)

- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
- Add the bacon, onions, celery, carrots, garlic powder, cayenne and black pepper. Cook 5-6 minutes, until the onions and celery begin to soften.
- Add the potatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
- Cook 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
- Add the corn kernels, half and half, cream cheese and shrimp.
- Simmer an additional 5 minuets until the corn is tender and the shrimp is cooked through.
- Serve immediately

Serve 8

Thank you Lauren!!
photo credit:

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I don’t think a single dish in Greece came with out some olive oil somewhere. Olive oil is an essential ingredient in Greek cooking as well as many other Mediterranean countries. There are over 750 million olive trees worldwide, 95% of those being in the Mediterranean region. Spain is the top producer of olive oil, but Greece holds 3rd with over 130 million olive trees which equal 350,000 tons of olive oil each year! Greece devotes 60% of their cultivated land to olive growing.

Olive oil is used in so many ways for cooking and has great health benefits – like favourbale effects on cholesterol, good omega-6 acids, vitamin E and antioxidants!
Get this – there is an International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) which is based out of Madrid. The council promotes olive oil worldwide by tracking production, defining quality standards and monitoring authenticity.

There are different retail grades of olive oil:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: come from virgin oil production only (oil was produced by use of physical means, with no chemical treatment)
Virgin Olive Oil: virgin production only
Pure Olive Oil: Usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil
Olive Oil: Lacks a strong flavour and is a blend of refined and virgin production
Olive Pomace Oil: refined pomace olive oil that is blended with some virgin oil. Very neutral flavour
Lampante Oil: Not suitable for food. Used for oil burning lamps
Refined Olive Oil: l has been chemically treated to neutralize strong tastes (characterized as defects) and neutralize the acid content (free fatty acids). Refined oil is commonly regarded as lower quality than virgin oil.

Well-made olive oil is delicious as is. As a dip for bread, drizzled over pasta or a pizza, over any type of salad, with mozzarella or feta cheese or on top an appetizer of tzatziki. Olive oil is such a multi-purpose cooking ingredient!

photo credit: google images

Friday, September 17, 2010

TIFF Teanie

Mixed drinks in teacups?? These new drinks of choice inspired by Prohibition and 1920’s parties of drunken debauchery are popping up all across the city! The newest way to drink a cocktail!

The Library Bar at the Fairmont Royal York (Toronto) launched a new “teacup cocktail” last week for the opening of the Toronto International Film Festival. Named the “TIFF Teanie” this is the hottest new teacup cocktail. Featuring chilled organic jasmine tea, pear vodka, Galliano, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a dash on simple syrup served on the rocks in fine china with lemon zest and a scone. High tea move over!


- 2 ounces chilled Fairmont organic jasmine tea
- 1 ounce pear vodka
- ½ ounce Galliano
- Dash freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Dash simple syrup

- Garnish with fresh lemon zest and a fresh mint sprig
- Gently stir and serve on the rocks in fine china

photo credit: the globe & mail

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The second part of our fabulous LCBO Food&Drink meal was gnocchi with rapini, pancetta and grape tomatoes. This pasta was equally as good as any gnocchi you would find at the Italian restaurants. It's such an impressive dish - perfect for entertaining or a date!


- 1 bunch rapini (you can pretty much find this in any supermarket now!)
- 2 oz thinly sliced pancetta (mild or spicy Italian bacon would work as well)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (maybe 5 tbsp if you would like it to be a bit more saucy)
- 1/4 tsp hot chili flakes
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic gloves, minced
- generous pinch of salt
- 1 pkg store-bought potato gnocchi
- grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Trim and discard tough ends from rapini. Add rapini to boiling water and cook until tender - about 5 minutes -- Don't drain water.
- Remove rapini using tongs and place in a sieve. Press the rapini with the back of a large spoon to remove as much water as possible. Cut into thirds.
- Thinly slice pancetta into matchstick-size pieces.
- In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat.
- Add pancetta and chili flakes.
- Cook just until pancetta starts to crisp, about 3 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium high and add tomatoes, green onions, garlic and salt.
- Cook stirring, until the tomatoes begin to blister and burst - about 3 minutes.
- Add rapini to pan and stir.
- Keep warm while cooking gnocchi.
- If no longer boiling, bring rapini water to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook according to package directions.
- Remove about 1/4 cup rapini/gnocchi water before draining and set aside. Then drain gnocchi.
- Add gnocchi to rapini mixture in the pan, stirring all ingredients together.
- If it sticks, stir in some of the reserved rapini/gnocchi water.
- Serve with grated cheese.

Serve 3-4.


photo credit: my own

Monday, September 13, 2010


The LCBO Magazine has done it again! Last night my mom and I whipped up two fantastic recipes from their Fall 2010 edition. The first is the fall pumpkin-corn soup and the second, gnocchi with rapini, pancetta & tomatoes.

Coming off a summer veggies high, I am not quite ready to give up my favourites - like corn. Local Ontario corn is where it's at, and this recipe allows for even more cooking with the delicious sweet corn but with a fall twist. This soup is so warm and comforting, perfect for an autumn night. It has a nice bit of heat to it with the cumin and chili!


- 8 ears of corn, shucked or 4 cups frozen corn kernels
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp seeded and minced fresh hot chili (chili flakes will work as well)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 4 cups diced, peeled, seeded pumpkin
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tsp finely rated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

- With a sturdy serrated knife, cut kernels from ears of corn. Set corn kernels aside.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.
- Add onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes or until onion is softened but not brown.
- Add garlic, ginger, chili and cumin; cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add pumpkin to pot, stirring to coat with onion mixture.
- Add stock and half of corn kernels. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes until pumpkin is very tender.
- In a blender, or hand held mixer, blend soup in batches until smooth
- Stir in remained corn kernels.
- Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or so until corn kernels are tender.
- Stir in lemon zest, juice and cilantro.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a sprig of cilantro and a few corn kernels.

Serves 6 - 8


photo credits: my own

Sunday, September 12, 2010


One of the things I love most about being Europe are the fresh street markets. They are EVERYWHERE! In neighbourhoods, in city centers, everywhere you go you are bound to find some sort of fresh food market or stand. Fresh and good produce can't be beat. I don't think we could have ate any more peaches on our Greece trip than we did. Morning noon and night we ate peaches, because wherever we were during the day - we always found fresh fruit!

Here are some of my favourite food shots from the markets:

photo credit: my own


Is there any better dip than tzatziki?? Pronounced: tat-zik-y, a Greek specialty and delight! After two weeks in Greece, I'd have to say that it is the best!

Tzatziki is a traditional Greek sauce made from strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, pepper, and lemon juice (some variations use dills, parsley or mint). Tzatziki is always served cold and usually is served with pita, souvlaki, or gyros.

Tzatziki is creamy and refreshing. It is perfect as a dip with pita, but I would truly put it on anything! It's delicious with pork/chicken/lamb souvlaki, fried calamari, and even better on a bite of saganaki. Being in Greece was wonderful as we had fresh tzatziki at each restaurant. I could just eat this stuff by the spoonful it's so good! Ask the girls I was traveling with, I was obsessed! It was great to see how each restaurant put their own twist on the delicious dip! It is served best drizzled with a bit of olive oil on top! You can pretty much buy tzatziki in any grocery store, but there is something so fresh making it yourself - try it out!

TZATZIKI by Ina Garten

- 1 pound (1 pint) plain yogurt (whole milk or low fat)
- 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper

- Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth or paper towel-lined sieve and set it over a bowl.
- Grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt; place it in another sieve, and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain.
- Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl.
- Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt.
- Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.
- Garnish with an olive and a slice of cucumber

photo credit: google images

Friday, September 10, 2010


I don't think I could go to Greece and not blog about SAGANAKI. I am truly obsessed with this Greek dish - ask anyone I travelled with! I was always on the hunt for a good Saganaki, and luckily on our last night we had the best one!

Saganaki is the name for the popular pan-seared cheese appetizer found all over Greece. The cheese is usually kefalograviera, kasseri, kefalotryi or sheep's milk feta. The cheese is melted in a hot frying-pan until it bubbles. It is then brought to the table in the hot pan (sometimes on fire!) and then doused with a fresh lemon. In more westernized Greek cuisine, Saganaki is flambeed at the table with brandy (usually with a shout of OPA!) and then put out with the traditional lemon. I cannot describe to you how delicious saganaki truly is. The cheese is perfectly warm and oozing. Saganaki is served with bread, but I loved to eat mine with some tzatziki!

Mussels saganaki is a variation of the saganaki dish and one of the best dishes I ate in Greece! The mussels are mixed into a saganaki based spicy tomato sauce! Just delicious!

photo credit: kb & google images

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


My wonderful vacation started off in London, England. Home to bangers&mash, mushy peas and PIMMS. However, luckily this trip had some excellent food finds!

On our first night in London, we were quite jet lagged but famished none the less. We had a recommendation for this really cool restaurant that had tables not only only on the ground when you walk in, but also up above - tree fort styles. We checked the location and it was RIGHT at the end of the street - serendipitous I'd say! BUONA SERA is the restaurant on the King's Road in Chelsea, London. Not only was the atmosphere extremely cool and unlike any other restaurant I'd been too (as I felt like I was up above in a cool tree top table) but the food ended up being delicious! Great bruschetta and delicious risotto's!

On our next day in London after shopping about Oxford St. we were looking for something on-the-go for lunch. Wandering is usually the best tactic for that, so as suspected we came across a great little outdoor market and to-go type places. The sandwhich place we stopped was incredible and I could not believe they were selling it on the street! They needed their own bakery. They had dozens of sandwhiches, fresh baguettes, delicious mini desserts and soup. We had a taster of the "Wild Mushroom Soup" (made with real field mushrooms) and we had to have it! My sandwhich was top notch - a Vietnamese sub with pork, cilantro, pickled cucumber, onions and a light dressing on a delicious piece of baguette! Just what anyone on the go would love to enjoy.

That wraps up my best food finds for London, now on to the main attraction -- GREECE!