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

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Well watching the Food Network yesterday, I was inspired by Michael Smith's Chef at Home "Breakfast for Dinner" episode. I adore breakfast for dinner, and one of the side dishes he made for his breakfast was a sweet potato hash. I decided to give it a whirl as it would be a great side dish for many different meals as sweet potatoes are very versatile. With the flavour and taste of bacon and some crisp chives, you can't beat this side dish. In the episode he served it alongside some crispy pork belly and a three-egg omelet with chives, thyme and sharp cheddar cheese. For a great meal idea try all three together! Otherwise just serve on the side of something like chicken!

Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 4
Total time: 35 minutes

- 2 sweet potatoes (diced)
- 6 pieces of bacon
- a handful of chopped chives
- salt and pepper
- sour cream (optional)

- In a pan on medium-high heat cook the bacon until crispy. One done, remove from pan and leave bacon fat in the pan.
- Dice sweet potatoes (I left the skin on, way more flavour and nutrients) and add them to the pan with the bacon fat. Mix around so that the grease covers the potatoes and cook until tender on medium heat. About 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the dice.

- Once fork tender, remove from place and place in serving dish.
- Top with crisp bacon (just break the bacon apart with your hands) and the chopped chives.
- Serve immediatley. (sour cream on the side is optional, but a great little dip)


photo credit: my own images

Monday, March 14, 2011


I love tartare, beef or tuna, both work for me. When I see it on a menu I just know I will end up ordering it! But luckily for me I didn't need to be in any restaurant this weekend in order to indulge in some delicious tuna tartare. My friend Kate came over Saturday night with a little treat from her dad's birthday party - tuna tartare! I was so excited to try it, and let me tell you - it was a hit! When committing to making such a delicious dish, it is important that you do get really good quality tuna steak because that is the star of the dish and really needs to be top notch. The flavouring of the dish was quite asian but with diced avocado in there as well you couldn't go wrong. Creamy in a sense yet the diced tuna still holds its own. This tartare was an appetizer to their main dinner and was hoovered! I'm lucky I got some before it was all gone. So if you are looking for a great entertaining recipe that is sure to WOW your guests, this my friends is it!

Recipe by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) and one of my personal favs!
** Note do not save leftovers for more than 24 hours

Total time: 30 minutes
- 3 3/4 pounds very fresh tuna steak
- 1 1/4 cups olive oil
 - 5 limes, zest grated
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 1/2 teaspoons wasabi powder
- 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce
- 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cups minced scallions, white and green parts (12 scallions)
- 3 1/4 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
- 5 ripe Hass avocados
- 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, optional

-Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch dice and place it in a very large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, soy sauce, hot red pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour over the tuna, add the scallions and jalapeno, and mix well.
- Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. Cut the avocados into 1/4-inch dice. Carefully mix the avocado into the tuna mixture.
- Add the toasted sesame seeds, if using, and season to taste.
- Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Serve on crackers

photo credit: food network

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Toronto this week has been non-stop rain, and with such bone chilling coldness I wanted to make something last night that would warm me right up, some real good homestyle comfort food. Of course for this I turned to Jamie's Italian cookbook (by Jamie Oliver). My friend Kate was coming for dinner and we wanted something, easy, warming and delicious, and Jamie O is our fav!

The dish I ended up creating was more so inspired by this recipe than Jamie than followed word for word. The dish is called spaghetti tetrazzini (a chicken and mushroom pasta bake). I'm not really a fan of chicken in pasta, so I took that right out and instead of using basil like Jamie does I substituted in rosemary as I think it is a perfect marriage with woody mushrooms. I also for the first time bought porcini mushrooms and they were so great! Porcini's come dry so you need to rehydrate them, but the flavour that the water takes on after the re-hydration is so strong and perfect for making a sauce!

Here is my recipe of the dish, based off of Jamie's original recipe! In this recipe you will see that I infuse my cream with garlic and rosemary. Since starting chef school I find we are always infusing our liquids and it really makes such a difference in the end result. More flavour developments, but not necessarily as harsh!

Mushroom & Rosemary Pasta Bake
Serves 4
Total time: 1 hour

- 1 handful of dried porcini mushrooms
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic (2 cloves should be pureed)
- 2 handfuls of mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 of a small white onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 box dried spaghetti
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
- Boil water for pasta on high heat and cook pasta in salted water once water is boiled.
- In a kettle boil about a cup of water for the porcini mushrooms. Once water is boiled place mushrooms in a bowl, pour water over, cover and let sit for about 20 minutes. Do not throw out the water! Reserve for later!!
- In a sauce pot put in cream with a peeled garlic clove cut in half and a sprig of rosemary. Keep on low temperature until ready to use.

- Slice mushrooms, and dice onion.
- In a large enough pan to fit all the liquid and vegetables soften onion in a little bit of butter and olive oil.
- Once translucent add in the mushrooms and porcini mushrooms.
- Add in the pureed garlic (for this I usually just use a microplane, works really well to get that pureed consistency)
- Cook the mushrooms, onions and garlic until softened. Then add in about one sprig of chopped rosemary and let cook for a few more minutes. 
- Add in the white wine and cook for about 5 minutes until the alcohol has burned off. Then add about half of the reserved porcini water and cook for 3 more minutes. Finally add all of the cream to the saucepan and let the flavours blend together.

- When the pasta is cooked add the pasta to the sauce with half of the grated parmesan and mix. Dont' forget to season with salt and pepper!

- Transfer the spaghetti into an ovenproof baking dish (I buttered mine so that it wouldn't stick). Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan on top of the pasta and bake until crispy and golden brown. About 30-40 minutes, but keep an eye on it!

Before baking
After baking


photo credit: my own

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


One of my sole missions to complete in New York was to check out the Italian super store/restaurant complex that takes up a whole city block called Eataly. This place is what I consider to be Italian heaven. Fresh ingredients every, dedicated to the best product, hand made foods and everything Italian. This place is a mecca for anyone looking to cook, learn or eat Italian. It took me forever to wander through here, aisle after aisle and restaurant after restaurant. I could not leave the cheese & meats aisles, they were to die for ! Whole walls of just parmesan and fresh charcuterie! Amazing! And the coolest part I found about Eataly, was that it was not just for tourists. People actually shopped there (I would only shop there if I lived in New York)! We went on a Saturday, and the place was packed! The meat&cheese restaurant bar was already full at 11am, people were eating pasta and pizza and it wasn't even noon! We sampled an Italian sandwich of crusty baguette and house cure proscuitto, simple and perfect, classic European.

For more info on Eataly and its greatness visit -

Outside the entrance!
Incredible variety of meats
Canadian Lobster!

Insane mushroom selection 

                 Onion selections                                           I love Parmesan!

photo credit: my own

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Sorry for my lack of blogging, but now for some posts on my New York City adventures!

The first spot I want to talk about is called - The Breslin Bar & Dining Room, located beside/in New York's ACE Hotel. I first heard about the spot through one of the chefs at Part&Labour who had tweeted a picture from the hotel, from there I checked it out and decided it was a must go! The restaurant is sister to New York's also popular "Spotted Pig." Both restaurants are "nose-to-tail" restaurants, meaning that thy use everything from the nose to tail of animal products, preventing waste and teaching eaters about different parts of the animal and how they can be enjoyed. A trend that is seriously hitting Toronto these days! The chef and co-owner of both The Breslin & Spotted Pig, April Bloomfield is a NYC legend. She received a Michelin Star for the Spotted Pig.

The Breslin is a great spot, wooden decor with a casual yet seriously hip feel and little pictures and figurines of pigs and other animals adorn the walls. The place was packed, and we walked in for lunch at 230! But you can clearly see why, with an open concept kitchen, the restaurant is producing fabulous product. With a smaller menu, The Breslin is able to focus more on each dish, making sure it is perfect. I loved the feel of this place, and with a great snacks menu it would the perfect spot for after work beers as well. New Yorkers, and NYC visitors this is a definite must see!

Some of their great snacks include:
Boiled peanuts cooked in pork fat
Chicken liver parfait with madeira jelly
Spiced Almonds
Caramel Popcorn

For lunch I had hear the burger was a must! So we ordered the Chargrilled lamb burger with feta, cumin mayo and thrice cooked chips and the Oven Baked 3 cheese sandwich with onion marmalade and mustard. The BEST grilled cheese, the onion marmalade was out of this world!!

For more on their menus check out:

So for a great casual, but delicious bar-like dining experience, check out The Breslin!

photo credit: my own & the breslin