Thursday, September 1, 2011


I can't BELIEVE I forgot to blog about this incredible salad! I made this dish as an appetizer for two of my friends Kate and Kelly earlier this summer and they loved it! I just adore peaches, especially in the summer as they are at their sweetest and juiciest point! I have had this recipe on the backburner for a while waiting for the perfect night to bring it out!

This salad is but of course a Jamie Oliver recipe and truly a crowd pleaser! Very Italian as during his time there Jamie found that fruit in Italy is often grilled, hence the inspiration behind this dish!

The peaches are served with bresaola, which is a very thinly sliced, cured, dried beef that you can find at Italian delis or more specialty high end supermarkets. It's very salt and savoury and holds up quite nicely with peaches, arugula and cheese! The recipe says to serve the salad with goat cheese but I decided to stick more with the Italian theme and opted to use ricotta instead. Ricotta is a very creamy Italian cheese made from sheep's milk. And for me the silky texture was perfect for a juicy peach!


Serves 4
- 4 just-ripe peaches
- a few fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper optional
- some woody herb stalks or branches (such as rosemary or thyme)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon natural yoghurt or crème fraîche
- 16 slices of bresaola or Parma ham ***(I actually only bought 8, I think 2slices per person is plenty, size depending)!!
- a few sprigs of fresh tarragon, leaves picked
- 2 handfuls of rocket, washed and spun dry
- 100g goat’s cheese, crumbled

- Preheat a barbecue or griddle pan until hot. Cut the peaches in half, then twist them to remove the stones – don’t worry if they break up when you do this. Toss them in a bowl with the chopped rosemary, a splash of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. If you’re cooking on a barbecue, throw some herb branches on to the coals if you like – this will give the peaches a herby, smoky flavour. Grill the peaches for a couple of minutes on each side until nicely charred, but not burnt!
- Pour the vinegar into a bowl or a Flavour Shaker and add three times as much extra virgin olive oil. Add the yoghurt or crème fraîche and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk or shake until mixed together well.
- Drape the bresaola over four plates, pinching it up here and there so it’s not lying flat. Place the peaches over the bresaola. Toss the tarragon leaves and rocket in the creamy dressing and pile the salad on top of the peaches. Drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil, scatter with the crumbled goat’s cheese and tuck in!

Monday, August 29, 2011


The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE or also known to Torontonian's as the "Ex") has been an August staple in Toronto for years. Fried food has been typical at these types of carnival fairs for years, and with food becoming ever so popular and fun, of course carnival food too has upped its game! Here are some of the craziest treats this year at the Ex, don't think any of them would be too good for the waistline!

The one that everyone in Toronto is talking about - The Krispy Kreme Doughnut Burger! 
Two Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a very generous 6 oz. beef patty, cheese, lettuce and tomato and for only $1 more you can treat yourself to the extra toppings of an egg, bacon or cheese!

Deep fried fudge!
A block of chocolate, vanilla or maple syrup fudge deep-fried for one glorious minute and 50 blessed seconds in doughnut batter.

Deep-fried mac-and-cheese; deep-fried mac-and-curds
Crispy fried balls, two ways: macaroni and cheese, and macaroni and cheese curds

Deep-fried cola
Coca-Cola batter squirted into a deep fryer and served with whipped cream

Has anyone tried these creations yet! Personally I think I'd like to try the fudge!! Happy eating at the EX!

photo credit: toronto life

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage... all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ....into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films.....

Obviously the clip that captured my attention was EAT, hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

EAT from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.


Monday, August 15, 2011


Last week was our final exam for our Culinary Skills 2 class. We had to make an appetizer and a main course, and the appetizer was a delicious Roasted Tomato soup with a BLT crouton. We have quite a bit of artistic liscense in our class, as we are always encouraged to find our own way to garnish the dish! I decided to make a mini bite sized BLT!

The tomato soup is really delicious, a great soup for the summer, and especially heading into the fall if you are still dying for that taste of summer. The soup is light, but rich at the same time. Finishing it off with a touch of cream and basil just makes it that more luxurious.

Serves 4
8 plum tomatoes
50g tomato paste
1 onion
1 celery stalk
1 carrot 
4 slices of bacon
60g of butter
60ml olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs of basil
For the mini BLT ( 20g of iceberg lettuce, 2 slices white bread + some bacon and slice of tomato)
1 L chicken stock
1/4 cream (optional)
Salt and pepper

1.    Roast tomatoes in a 400 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes
2.    In a pan, add butter and oil and sauté bacon, mirepoix (celery, onion, carrot) and garlic puree until lightly browned
3.    Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and cover with chicken stock and let simmer for 45-1 hour
4.    Blend the soup, and strain
5.    Return to stove and keep warm
6.    Chiffonade basil
7.    Add basil and cream into soup
8.    Adjust seasoning and serve warm
9.    Shape crouton and fry in butter until golden brown
10.   Assemble mini BLT on skewer


Today was our last lab of baking ! So sad, but we made bread! I have never made bread before, but it acutally was quite easy. And I must say, there is nothing like slathering a hot fresh bun with some cold butter!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Last weekend at the cottage we were having guests for dinner and I was in charge of dessert! A bit nerve racking as I feel like dessert skills have taken a backseat since school started but I was eager to try something new, light and fresh. I opted for banana cream pie, as it is a favourite of my dads and in my mind a bit simpler to make compared to a complex cake!

I searched around for a good recipe, and settled for one by Martha Stewart. I can't begin to describe how great this pie really was. Making it the day you eat it just screams freshness, from a ripe banana to whipped cream, this pie could not be more decadent for the summer. Enjoy!!

Banana Cream Pie

- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 9 inch pie shell (or homemade pie dough)
- 1 large whole egg, lightly beaten, plus 4 large egg yolks
- 6ish medium-ripe bananas
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy cream (plus a bit of vanilla for whipping, that's my little addition)
- 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Line chilled pie shell with a round of parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans (This is called blind baking, so that your bottom crust doesn't puff up when you pre bake it). Bake until edges of crust just turn golden, 10ish minutes if you are using a pre made shell, probably 20-25 if you are using dough you made yourself. 
- In a bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks; set aside. 
- In a saucepan, whisk together milk, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Bring to a simmer (do not boil), and cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Whisk a quarter of hot-milk mixture into egg yolks; whisk in remaining milk mixture. Strain into a clean saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until custard is thick and bubbles appear in center, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in fridge. (Filling can be kept in refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day.)
- Cut 5 bananas into rounds. Beginning at the edge of the piecrust, arrange the slices in slightly overlapping rows or circles. Cover with custard, using an offset spatula to smooth it into an even layer.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine cream, vanilla and confectioners' sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Using a small offset spatula, spread the whipped cream on top of the custard. Refrigerate pie, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
photo credit: sammy's ipad!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


A couple of weeks go marked the first "Cookbook Club" dinner with about six of my friends from chef school. Once a month we decided get together and cook. The host chooses a cookbook and each person is responsible for preparing one of the parts of the meal! 

The first cookbook chose was French Taste by Laura Calder. I made the appetizers, which I will later share, but one of the dishes that really stuck with me was my friend Kyle's orange & fennel salad. Two fabulously fresh and interesting ingredients. The purple flowers that garnish the photo below (of Kyle's dish) are chive flowers, and I think an absolutely gorgeous touch to a summer fresh dish.

Fennel & Orange Salad

- 1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved (this is just the fennel hairs on the top of the bulb)
- olive oil for frying
- sea salt, and ground pepper
- 1 orange
- 1/2 small red onion
- handful small black olives
- handful toasted pinenuts
- zest and juice of 1 lemon

- Trim the fennel, reserving a handful of green fronds. Cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan, and, working in batches and seasoning with salt and pepper as you go, fry the fennel on both sides until golden and tender. As the fennel is done, arrange it on a serving platter.
- Zest the orange and set the zest aside. Remove the skin with a sharp knife, taking care to remove all the white pith from the fruit. Discard the peel. Cut out the orange sections, arranging over the fennel, and squeeze the orange juice over the whole salad.
- Slice the onion into paper thin rings and arrange over the salad. Scatter over the olives and pine nuts. Squeeze over lemon juice, to taste.
- Drizzle over a little more olive oil. Finally, scatter over the reserved fennel fronds. Serve.
photo credit: moi!


Summer is finally here, and one of my loves of summer is the BBQ! Last week I decided to make some delicious BBQ chicken kebabs, courtesy of Jamie Oliver! I love the barbecue for so many reasons, I think the flavour you get out of a bbq is second to none. A bbq, summer weather and eating outdoors... it's pretty hard to beat.

The chicken ones are the top left!

These kebabs were so easy to make but just jammed packed with flavour. I find that I don't always have time to let things marinate, but this is one of those times that I was so thankful I did! The flavours of the herbs really penetrated the chicken and after the bbq they were extremely moist and tender.

Jamie O's Chicken kebabs
Makes 6-8 kebabs

- 4 or 5 free-range boneless chicken breasts
- 3 or 4 zucchini, sliced very thinly lengthways
-  6–8 skewers or sticks of fresh rosemary, lower leaves removed, tips kept on

for the marinade
- 1 handful of fresh coriander
- 1 handful of fresh mint
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 6 spring onions
- 1 red chilli
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil

- Cut the chicken into 2.5cm/1 inch cubes and place in a bowl.
- Blanch the courgette strips in salted boiling water for 30 seconds then drain and allow to cool.
- Blitz all the marinade ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor, then loosen to a paste with a little olive oil.
- Add the marinade to the chicken pieces and mix well. Allow to sit for up to an hour.
- Then weave the courgette strips in between the chicken pieces on the rosemary sticks or skewers.
- Grill for around 5 minutes, turning regularly, until cooked.
- Feel free to cut a piece open to check if they're done.

photo credits: jamie o & me!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Arctic Char is a saltwater and freshwater round fish that is an ever popular choice on today's fish menu! It is a fish that is very similar to slamon and trout, as it is related to them! The flesh is pinky, like salmon but with less fat.

Last week in our culinary skills classe we made potato crusted arctic char with a beurre rouge (a red wine butter reduction!). I will share with you, as this is one of those recipes that would be sure to impress anyone! And cooking fish is so great, because it literally takes only five minutes, so the prep time is so much less!

Potato Crusted Arctic Char (Serves 4)
- 4 filets of Arctic Char
- 1 yukon gold potato thinly sliced into rounds (best done on a Mandolin)
- Vegetable oil
- Splash of lemon juice
- Salt and pepper

- Cut the potatoes into thin thin rounds (you want them paper thin)
- Season the filets with the lemon juice, salt and pepper and then arrange your thin potato rounds on top of the char forming a sort of "crust"
- Heat a splash of oil in a saute pan until reaching the smoking point
- Remove the pan from the heat, and turn to low
- Add the char to the pan (presentation side down) and return to the heat
- Pan dry gently to ensure the potato crust is cooked and golden brown
- Once potatoes are cooked through carefully flip the char to finish cooking it all the way through
- Serve immediately with the beurre rouge

Beurre Rouge (Red Wine Butter Sauce)
- 100ml red wine
- 30g shallots (chopped)
- 150g butter
- 1/2 lemon (juice)
- salt and pepper

- Reduce the wine, shallots and half of the lemon juice by 2/3rds (on medium high heat)
- Cut the butter into small cubes
- Swirl in the butter cubes into the read wine and let melt, while continually swirling or stiring with a wooden spoon
- Add salt and pepper and adjust seasoning if necessary
- Strain and serve with char

photo credit: carl of course!


In our Banquet & Production class at school, each week we are given a certain protein. For example pork. And with this protein we use our butchery skills to butcher the piece of meat into workable sizes to produce about four different dishes. Last weeks lab was pork. The best part about this class is our chef challenges us to make one more dish using any of the extra ingredients we have or any of the spice supplies in the lab. I took on this challenge and was inspired by last weeks Top Chef Canada where Connie showed supermarket goers how to make sausage at home! I settled on making a pork sausage, seeing as we had leftover ground pork, apples, onion and sage.

A classic pairing combo with pork is apples (pork & applesauce), so I cut up some apples and onions into small cubes, brunoise as its called and sauteed them off so they were a bit soft. I then mixed in chopped sage, some white pepper, garlic powder and a pinch of nutmeg and salt. Before making them though, I fried off a piece to make sure they tasted alright, and I must say, they really were delicious! As Connie showed us on Top Chef, you can easily make your own sausages by rolling out a long tube in a piece of plastic wrap and then poaching in simmering water on the stove! It was incredibly easy, and you really could do this at home!

Here is a picture of my dish! The sausage shape is not the finest, but at least it tasted great!

photo credit: carl & the iphone

Monday, June 6, 2011


If you know Toronto's food scene, you know that The Black Hoof if now one of the best spots in town, loved and adored by the critics. I have been itching to go for months now, but was always nervous to try it on a Friday or Saturday since they don't take reservations! I finally went! With my three classmates from George Brown on a Monday night, at 6pm. By 6:25, the place was almost full - on a MONDAY!

The Black Hoof is cozy on the inside fitting about 25 including bar seats, decorated with dim lighting, rustic wood and tin. The kitchen is open and the smallest I have ever seen. Four of them squeezed into a tiny cube with an old-school electric oven that one would expect to see at a cottage. As someone learning to be a chef, the respect I felt for that team after seeing that was insane!

As the Monday I went was a gorgeous night we decided to sit on the patio that had recently just opened. The patio is constructed of beautiful wood with a large image on a pig on one wall and two chalkboard menus, one for the drinks and one for the wine. We started with the Hoofs creative cocktails, a basil fawlty (gin, orange blossom water, lime, simple syrup and basil), a tequila Maria and two lemon meringue-inspired cocktails sweetened with a lavender simple syrup called lillypies.

We instantly devoured the menu and settled on ten different sharing plates. The Black Hoof is really a place where you go to share food. The dishes are meant for that, as the mains are smaller then one might expect a typical main to be. We started off with house-pickled vegetables, warm marinated olives, a cheese board and of course the famous meat platter. On the meat platter we had a wild selection! Genoa salami, duck proscuitto, fennel salami, sopressata, spicy sausage and horse mortdaella. The meats were arranged carefully on a beautiful wooden plank and served with grainy mustard and lavendar lard. A crazy duo but one that worked very well! The thing I loved most about The Black Hoof was the time they took to make their food pairings perfect. For example on the cheese board, the cheese were paired accordingly with a red current and rosemary jelly, a nutmeg and blueberry jam and a hazelnut and vanilla sauce with a bourbon glaze on the apples. Each component on their own was as lovely as when they were paired with the specific item. The originality behind the flavours at The Black Hoof is sheer culinary genius, as we all agreed at the end of the meal.

 Marinated Olives
 The Cheese Board
The Charcuterie Board

The complexity yet simplicity is apparent in each dish, and with every dish presented on a different type of plate, there was just such excitement when each dish was brought to the table! The real winner of the meal was the fried sweetbreads finished with fiddleheads (in season right now!), sautéed ramps, fingerling potatoes finished with a velvety butter sauce. My other favourite was the  N'Duja and brussel crostini with a parsley pesto, fried parsley and fresh Parmesan (N'Duja is sort of like chorizo in my mind, a bit spicy!) You can tell that the quality of the ingredients used is there, and when we talked with one of the owners, Jen she told us that they are constantly changing the accompaniments of each dish according to the season.

 N'Duja Crostini
 Tongue on Brioche
The concept behind The Black Hoof is meat, taking on the philosophy of snout-to-tail (aka using the whole animal, not just one piece.), where they use different sorts of meat and make the off cuts available to the general public. For example on their menu is horse, beef heart, sweetbreads, cod collar, fois gras, duck liver, tongue and pig belly. What a crazy selection! But they know what they are doing, and their execution is perfect. Never have I tried horse or sweetbreads, but both were extremely pleasurable to eat, something I would have never imagined!

The mood in The Black Hoof was calm but you could just feel all of the love and passion from everyone working there to those eating. The general manager and part owner Jen just finished off our meal perfectly by talking with four star struck chef school students on our way out. I will most definitely be heading back to the Hoof as soon as possible. 

And as my classmate, friend and fellow blogger Carl put it, The Black Hoof - "Where capicollo, chorizo and prosciutto happily clog the menu and your arteries."

photo credit: carl and his cool iphone

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I found this image while on StumbleUpon and I just thought I would share it! What a great idea for a grater! I want it!!

Friday, May 13, 2011


A newly opened hole in the wall in Toronto's Kensington Market, Agave & Aguacate has become my newest Mexican obsession! Run by Chef Francisco Alejandri, a former Stratford Chef School grad, this Mexican stall you could almost call it (as it is in a store with about four other vendors selling their own specialties) focuses on "Fresh Mexican take-out with quality in mind." Featuring the "tostada", Agave & Aguacate is quickly making a name for themselves, being named a daily lunch pick by the Toronto Life. A tostada is a dish where the base is a toasted form to hold the meal. In this case Alejandri's tostada is a fried tortilla so that it puffs up and is light crispy and airy.

He has two different options, the ting tostada and the green tostada. The ting tostada which was written about in the Toronto Life (which both friends I went with had!) was topped with chipotle chicken, creamy avocado, some Mexican crema fresca and slivered red onions lightly marinated in lime juice and salt.

Of course I had to go for the one that included guacamole, hence the green tostada. Expecting the guacamole to already be made, I was over the moon when Alejandri began to make it fresh by hand with ripe green avocados, lime juice, salt and some jalepeno. Super simple, incredibly flavourful. It was then topped with a large slice of queso fresco (a Mexican cheese, quite mild), some cream (much like sour cream) and a whole plum tomato that was sliced so perfectly and delicatley you would think his hands were that of a surgeon! The tomato was seasoned with just a little bit of salt and then the whole tostada was topped with guajillo - a type of dried chili pepper.

The day I went was also miserably cold and rainy and the pinto bean soup option just jumped off the blackboard at me! I love pinto beans, and with some toasted tortilla strips and a little queso fresco in the bottom, this soup could not have been more warming or delicious. A great start as I stood watching Alejandri make our tostada's! And finally for dessert - (this meal seriously came to a total of 15$ for the three items!) Lime Charlotte, a decadent lime cake that when served is drizzled with fresh lime juice, lime zest and a splash of good quality olive oil. The cake was extremley moist and the cream held so well with the lime flavouring. Needless to say, the three of us were extremley impressed. Alejnadri's skills are sensational, my eyes were glued to the precision, speed and perfectness of the food he prepared! I one day hope to have skills like that!

For an amazing Mexican fresh lunch or light dinner I urge you to try Agave & Agucate!

Agave y Aguacate, 214 Augusta Ave. (look for El Gordo Fine Foods), 647-208-3091.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


So the other night with my banoffee pie for dessert, one of my side dishes was a roasted beet salad! This past weekend we went out for dinner to Scaramouche and one of the starter's was a roasted beet salad with goat cheese, so from this delicious appetizer, I was inspired! This salad is so simple and a great alternative to a classic green salad. Beets have a really sweet natural flavour to them, making it a tasty treat for those kids who don't like leafy greens! The basis of the dressing, red wine vinegar, dijon and tarragon are a natural combination, and a perfect light dressing for the beets.

Roasted Beet Salad with Tarragon

- Large red beets (depends on how many people you are having, at least 1 medium size beet per person)
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 3 sprigs of tarragon

- Wash beets. Set oven to 400degrees F
- Place on a layer on aluminum foil and mix olive oil salt and pepper around with the beets to cover them. Then take foil and mold it into a tent shape (in order to both steam and bake the beets at the same time)
- Place beets in oven for 45minutes to an hour, or until for tender.
- Remove from oven and peel (you may want to wear gloves when doing this as beets do stain a bit!)
- Slice into rounds.
- Whisk dijon, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper together until emuslified. Mix in the tarragon leaves (you may chop them if you wish but I like the look at the leaf in tact)
- Toss beets in the vinaigrette and let rest until serving.
- This salad may be served warm or cold. ENJOY!

photo credit: my sister, nora b.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I have been dying to try out Chuck Hughes' Banoffee Pie and tonight I finally made it. The bottom layer of the pie is ground up Oreo's and melted butter, followed by caramel, bananas and whipping cream. Could it sound more heavenly?! I however stray a bit from Chuck's recipe, as instead of using boiled evaporated milk as the caramel, I made my own caramel. (Which for those of you who don't know, is SUPER easy and takes legitimately 10 minuets max!) This dessert was so great, fun to make, and a total hit with my family tonight! Give it a try!

Banoffee Pie
Serves 4


- 20
Oreo cookies
- 1/4
cup butter, melted (60 ml)
- 1
can of condensed milk (300 ml)
** ( Instead of this I made my own caramel. To do that: dissolve one cup of sugar into 1/3 cup of water. Bring to a boil on med-high heat stirring occasionally (5-7 minutes max). Once you reach a medium brown colour add in 1/3 cup of cream and thicken on low heat for about 2 minutes. Finish with a splash of vanilla and cool.)
- 2
ripe bananas, sliced

- Juice of 1 lemon

- 2
cups 35 % cream (500 ml)
(I used whipping cream instead)
- 1/4
cup icing sugar (60 ml)

- 2
tablespoons strong coffee (30 ml) 


- Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

- In a food processor, add the cookies and process until it becomes a crumb like mixture. Add butter and process again. Set aside.

- Meanwhile, take the condensed milk can and place it in an oven-proof stockpot filled with water. DO NOT OPEN THE CAN. Make sure the can is constantly covered in water. Bake in the oven for 3 ½ hours. Remove, let cool, open and set aside.

- In a bowl, mix the bananas with lemon juice. Set aside.

- Whip the cream with icing sugar and coffee in another bowl until soft peaks form.

To serve: Using a round 4 inch mold directly on the serving plate, put a layer of the cookie mixture, then the slices of bananas, cover with the condensed milk (now toffee) and repeat the layers. Remove the mold and garnish with a dollop of cream. (I just used a regular circle cake mold as my cake was for a family of 8!) 


photo credit: my sissy


My mom was having a dinner party this weekend so I offered up my help, and one of the dishes I though to make were tomato/basil/bocconcini skewers. These hors d'oeurves are beyond cute and extremely tasty! So easy to make, with basically no prep time involved, these are perfect for the stressed dinner party host!

Tomato Basil Bocconcini Skewers
To serve 8 people
- 16-20 bocconcini balls
- 16-20 baby tomatoes
- 1 basil leave per skewer
- salt and pepper
- olive oil to drizzle over top
- 16-20 mini wooden skewers

- Season bocconcini balls with salt and pepper
- To assemble place half of the basil leave then tomato on the skewer, then the rest of the basil leave and finish with the bocconcini ball (refer to image)
- Drizzle the skewers with olive oil and let rest before serving in order for the flavours to marry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Today in our Banquet & Production class, one of the foods we made was Fennel Gratin. I truly love fennel, and I find it so underused! Today just reaffirmed my need to get fennel back into my cooking program! As my classmate Kyle put it, fennel is like "licorice celery." Fennel is known for its licorice-y flavour, but fennel is also a bit of a tougher vegetable that needs to be braised or cooked slowly and for longer times in order to soften it right up.

Today’s recipe could not have been more simple - only 5 ingredients! A perfect side dish and one that is sure to wow anyone you have over for dinner.

Fennel Gratin
Total time: 1:20 minutes

- Fennel bulbs (1 will serve two people, or you can serve one per person depending on how large the bulbs are)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup vegetable stock (chicken will be fine too)
- softened butter

- Heat oven to 350 degrees F
- Remove the leaf part of the fennel bulbs and split in half. Cut fennel into strips but maintain the shape of the fennel (this is a bit tricky to explain, but look at the picture for clarification. When putting the “half fennel bulb” in the baking tray, it maintains it shape and does not look like it has even been cut up)
- In a roasting pan with high sides, smear the butter all along the bottom so that it covers the pan.
- Add in the fennel bulbs with each half laying flat on the bottom of the pan side by side.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover midway up the fennel with the stock.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 45-60 minutes.
- Remove the aluminum foil, and sprinkle the cheese so that it covers the fennel.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve warm

photo credit: my own

Friday, April 8, 2011


Back in the winter I talked about my top five winter ingredients and ways in which to use them. So here are my favourites for Spring, and what I am looking forward to stocking up on! Knowing 5 ingredients like this is great as sometimes just being able to focus in on a few key items helps can really help in meal planning and recipe searching!

1) Peas
I love peas! They are just to me the epitome of springtime, with their fresh taste, vibrant green colour and sweet flavour. They are a great ingredient for many different dishes; soups, pastas, side dishes. Quite versatile and extremely inexpensive, peas are a great go-to for the spring.
- Sweet pea risotto
- Crostini with mushed sweet peas and lemon ricotta
- Pea soup

2) Asparagus
I don't think there is one vegetable I truly couldn't live without other than asparagus. Such a great flavour, and to me a good looking vegetable. It always looks good on a plate and can really make a dish look pretty and rustic. Great on their own, with natural flavours of olive oil, salt and pepper or one of my favourite ways, with eggs in a frittata. They also could accompany any meat dish you serve!
- Roasted asparagus
- Asparagus frittata

3) Lemon
I am obsessed with lemons these days. Their tart flavour, versatility and bright colour just draw me in! A great springtime flavour, you will be sure to love this ingredient. It can be in salad dressings, in desserts, freshly squeezed
- Meyer Lemon tart
- Lemon ricotta for a crostini (basically this is a light and fluffy spread that can go on a crostini, delicious on its own or with crushed peas on top, this is a great springtime dish. To assemble just mix 1/2 ricotta with 2 tbsp lemon juice, some lemon zest, salt and pepper. For a deeper lemon flavour continue adding lemon juice to the mix)

4) Mint
I keep repeating how "fresh" flavour all of these ingredients are, and I guess the word fresh is just what I think of as necessary for Springtime. Mint is another one of those ingredients. After using it in my lab at school this week I rediscovered my love for mint! Beautiful as a garnish!
- Mint sauce for lamb chops
- Mojito (Cuban drink with fresh mint crushed into it)
- Two ingredient combo: pea soup with mint (also mint as a garnish for this)

5) Honeydew melon 
Honeydew for me just brings back the memories. In high school, everyday after school my mom would have a fruit platter waiting for us, and springtime meant copious amounts of honeydew, that is definitely part of the reason I adore honeydew. A great fruit, with a smooth texture and extremely sweet flavour, kids will gobble this one off their plates!
- Cold melon soup
- Melon wrapped with prosciutto
- Cut up on a fruit tray

Happy Spring!!

photo credit: google images

Monday, April 4, 2011


My newest post for the other place I write, Food Trotter, is up!

Check it out, on my adventures at my beloved Eataly in NYC!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Toronto is such a food filled city, with new places and trend popping up all over the place!

Read more on the Toronto's great food trends this year from the top critics at Toronto Life!

This is a great article for those of you looking to find the best drinks, and product-focused meals, or Italian flare, popular ingredients and hot spots around town!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


You must think that all I do is post about Jamie Oliver, and I apologize for that, but it's his kind of cooking that really generally does inspire me; rustic, family, simple, beautiful! So I have another one to add to the books this week. When I was watching Jamie at Home during our silly spring snowstorm yesterday he was making French Onion Soup. I have never been more inspired to get off the couch, to the grocery store and then to start cooking. It's all I wanted, perfect comfort food for a blizzardy day.

A word to the wise about this soup, it is necessary to caramelize your onions, which means it will take over an HOUR at a low temperature! So for you speedy cookers, this is not the recipe for you. Luckily I wasn't going anywhere and I had plenty of time to spare. Since I made such a big batch, mine actually took about two hours! The wonders of food...

Jamie's description of the dish is quite cute and funny so I thought I would add it in too!

Jamie's English Onion Soup
Total time: about 2:30 (or less depending on your onions!)
Servings: 8 generous portions

"There's something so incredibly humble about onion soup. It's absolutely one of my favorites but unfortunately I only ever get to make it in the restaurant or for myself as the missus thinks she's allergic to onions. (She's not, because I whiz them up into loads of dishes without her knowing!)
If you have the opportunity, get hold of as many different types of onion for this soup as you can - you need about 2 pounds in total. Sweat them gently and you'll be amazed at all the flavors going on"

- Good knob of butter
- Olive oil
- Handful fresh sage leaves, 8 leaves reserved for garnish ( I also added about 4 sprigs of thyme in as well, because I love the flavour and its perfect with this soup!)
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 3 large red onions (or 5 small red onions), peeled and sliced
- 3 large white onions, peeled and sliced
- 3  shallots, peeled and sliced
- 11 ounces leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced (I just did one bunch)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups good-quality hot beef, chicken or vegetable stock
- 8 slices good-quality stale bread, 3/4-inch thick (I just used a white French baguette and toasted it for the stale effect)
- 7 ounces freshly grated Cheddar
- Worcestershire sauce

- Put the butter, 2 glugs of olive oil, the sage and garlic into a heavy bottomed, nonstick pan. Stir everything round and add the onions, shallots and leeks. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a lid on the pan, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook slowly for 50 minutes, without coloring the vegetables too much. Remove the lid for the last 20 minutes, the onions will become soft and golden. Stir occasionally so that nothing catches on the bottom. Having the patience to cook the onions slowly, slowly, gives you an incredible sweetness and an awesome flavor, so don't be tempted to speed this up.
- When your onions and leeks are lovely and silky, add the stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You can skim any fat off the surface if you like, but I prefer to leave it because it adds good flavor.

- Preheat the oven or broiler to maximum. Toast your bread on both sides. Correct the seasoning of the soup. When it's perfect, ladle it into individual heatproof serving bowls and place them on a baking sheet. Tear toasted bread over each bowl to t like a lid. Feel free to push and dunk the bread into the soup a bit. Sprinkle with some grated Cheddar and drizzle over a little Worcestershire sauce.
Dress your reserved sage leaves with some olive oil and place 1 on top of each slice of bread. Put the baking sheet into the preheated oven or under the broiler to melt the cheese until bubbling and golden. Keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't burn! When the cheese is bubbling, very carefully lift out the baking sheet and carry it to the table. Enjoy.

photo credit: my own

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Last week in lab our chef made garlic spinach and since then I have been craving more of it! Last night, I didn't know what to do for dinner, but I wanted to try and use spinach and a combination of ingredients in my fridge. I found pine nuts, mascarpone (which was about to go bad so I had to use it up!), spinach, garlic and spaghetti. A perfect combo for a delicious pasta! The nutmeg works really well with the spinach and garlic giving it an earthly flavour. If you happen to have ricotta on hand not mascarpone you could easily substitute one for the other.

This pasta was so simple, but with so many different flavours and textures in the dish, it made for a really exciting meal! Quick to prepare, and without having to buy really any of the ingredients as most are staples in my fridge, I think this pasta is going to become a regular! The other plus about this dish, its a one pan dinner.

Garlic Spinach Spaghetti
Serves One
Total Time: 25 minutes

- 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped, or use a microplane to turn it into more of a paste)
- 1 heaping spoonful mascarpone cheese
- 60mL of milk (or cream, but I was trying to be somewhat healthy)
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- toasted pine nuts (as many as you would like)
- salt and pepper
- nutmeg
- spaghetti (enough for one serving)
- 1 tbsp olive oil

- Boil the pasta water, salt and cook pasta for about 12 minutes or until al dente.
- In a large saute pan toast the pine nuts of medium heat until they are golden brown. Remove and set aside.
- Place olive oil and turn to medium high heat. Add the spinach and wilt. Once wilted add in one clove of garlic and toss. Remove from pan and set aside.
- To the pan add the milk, mascarpone, another clove of garlic, salt, pepper and a touch of nutmeg. Let the sauce mix together and warm throughout.
- Once pasta is cooked move immediately to the sauce pan. Add in the spinach and pine nuts and mix thoroughly.
- Season with a bit more salt and pepper if necessary, plate and grate some fresh parmesan on top before serving.


Saturday, March 19, 2011


Looking to support Japan somehow - well look no further then a dinner hosted at Boehmer by oh just a few of the city's best chefs! In response to the awful earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, Toronto chefs and Ontario wine produces are joining forces for a fundraiser in the best way they know how, cooking!

The fundraiser will be held on Sunday March 27th at Bohmer Restaurant.

"The evening begins with cocktails and hors d’oeuvre, followed by a five-course sit-down meal catered by Paul Boehmer (Böhmer), Adam Colquhoun (Oyster Boy), John Higgins (George Brown Chef School), Daisuke Izutsu (Kaiseki Sakura), Jamie Kennedy (Gilead), Chris McDonald (Cava), Anthony Rose (The Drake Hotel), Michael Stadtländer (Eigensinn Farm and Haisai), Anthony Walsh (Canoe) and Hiro Yoshida (Hiro Sushi)." (Toronto Life)

Tawse, Southbrook and 13th Street are some of the wineries donating and Creemore and Sapporo will be two of the supporting breweries. In addition to the dinner there will be prizes at the silent auction.

Support for Japan. Date: March 27th. Time: Cocktails at 5pm Dinner at 6:30pm. Price: $250. Location: Bohmer Restaurant, 93 Ossington Ave. Reservations? call Milana at 416-531-3800