Monday, April 30, 2012


I love potato salad and always have! But I find it is something I never end up making - and only sort of indulge in when I am at a BBQ joint!

It used to be such a popular side dish for the sandwich time lunches but recently that seems not to be the case. One of my favourite restaurants The Gabardine (Bay & Richmond) serves some potato salad and a green salad with all their lunch sandwich options - and this was my inspiration for creating a crisp and crunchy potato salad.

It was my brother's birthday lunch yesterday and he wanted something simple - a BBQ. Burgers & dogs with caesar salad and another salad of my choice - what a perfect opportunity to test out the potato salad! Creamy - but lighter (as the mayo I use in the olive oil mayo), this salad was refreshing and packed full of crunchy vegetables and grainy mustard! I love the refreshing almost peppery bite you get from the radish and the pickle juice helps to round out the dressing! You could even add some chopped dill pickle in if you felt like it!

My Potato Salad
Serves 12 as a a side

- 1 bag (about 25) baby new red potatoes
- 3/4 cup Hellman's mayo with olive oil
- 1/4 cup grainy mustard
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup pickle juice
- salt & pepper
- 1 tbsp honey
- 6 small radishes, diced
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 3 stalks of celery, diced
- 1/4 bunch of dill (reserve a few pieces for garnish)

- Boil the potatoes until they slide off of the knife with ease when you test them
- Cut the potatoes into quarters and set aside
- In a bowl mix mayo, both mustards, lemon juice, honey, pickle juice and salt and pepper. Whisk until blended, taste and check seasoning
- Dice radish and celery
- Cut green onion
- Tear up dill
- Assemble the salad. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with the dressing and coat evenly
- Rest in fridge to chill

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Martin Picard, owner of Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal has just recently published his cookbook, AU PIED DE COCHON SUGAR SHACK. I had the pleasure of recently purchasing the cookbook and just spent the past hour soaking up all it has to offer!

The book is a beautiful homage to Maple Syrup and the "Sugar Shack." Picard purchased a real sugar shack or cabane a sucre, just outside of Montreal and it is here that he produces the maple syrup. On the property he now has revamped the previous restaurant, calling it the Sugar Shack - which has become now nearly impossible to get into! They are booked solid for I think four years, and this season (Feb 24 - May 6), reservations were gone within 10 hours of accepting them!

The food in the book is so Canadian, so nose-to-tail and so incredible. One of the chapter pictures is of a girl in a bath of maple syrup and that is basically how you feel after reading this book, soaked in maple syrup! The recipes are wonderfully written, they make sense and have great pictures to show you step by step for the harder ones.

The brioche recipe and cinnamon buns are just calling my name and I hope to test them out next week!

The book celebrates Picard's cooking and it is evident of his commitment, love and appreciation of food. He has taken a Quebec tradition of maple syrup and reinvented the experience of dining and celebrating a true Quebec specialty. But to call Picard's book just a cookbook is a bit misleading. There are not only over 100 recipes which are seriously just fascinating to read (such as squirrel sushi or Confederation Beaver) but there is a collection of outrageous photos, thought provoking illustrations, a sugar shack diary and an extensive story on the process of making maple syrup!

I hope you enjoy the "read" as much as I did!!

photo credit: google images

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I was first introduced to Vietnamese Subs (or as Toronto calls them, Banh Mi) when I was visited a friend in Calgary a few years ago! I absolutely adored the sandwich but never knew of any great ones in Toronto!

That has certainly changed since I found Banh Mi Boys (at Queen & Spadina). Specializing in banh mi's, steamed buns and tacos, this little joint has it all going on!

The sandwiches are served on a crusty baguette type bread. A perfect outer crust with a seriously soft interior - a perfect sandwich in my mind definitely starts with the bread, so this was important! Each sandwich is served with house mayo, pickled cucumbers, carrots and cilantro and you can bump up the spice level by adding thai chilis! I love pickled vegetables and with the fresh cilantro the flavours really pop and are super fresh. I ordered the Kalbi Beef which are beef short ribs finished with kimchi and Asian BBQ sauce. So tender and the sweet&spicy flavour combo just rocked!

Another popular item on the menu is the kimchi fries! Finished with their pulled pork, house made kimchi, spicy mayo and scallions, this dish is not to be missed!

For a great Vietnamese sub, tacos or buns try Banh Mi Boys!

329 Queen St West
Toronto ON 

photo credit: my own

Friday, April 20, 2012


I am a huge tea drinker, never really loved coffee but I adore tea!

My favourites include peppermint tea (great for digestion!), orange pekoe and of course, Earl Gray.

While visiting the St Anne's Spa in Coburg I found the best Earl Gray tea I have ever had! And to my happiness, the spa sold it! Their Earl Gray tea is a smooth aromatic blend with a creamy-fruity flavour. The blend is a typical Earl Gray, but there is a hint of vanilla & cream which gives the tea a rich and comforting flavour. It is truly wonderful!

The best way to enjoy tea, with an oatmeal cookie to dunk in!

This tea is loose leaf, and I think loose leaf teas are great. The problem is, not everyone has a tea pot that can accommodate loose leaf teas. One day at Ikea I stumbled upon this great pot for only $13. With a built in area for the tea leaves, it doubles not only as a tea pot that can hold the tea leaves but as a visually appealing pot as well!

Happy tea drinking!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Chef School at George Brown is finally coming to a close! This week marks the end of my 18 month Culinary Management program and it's been quite the year and a half!

I have learned so much, from knife skills to butchering an animal to plate presentation those first few months brought new information daily! I've benefited from incredible teachers (such as Chef Walker, Chef Hoyer, Chef Yolles & Chef Alvares) who really kick started my passion during the first two semesters through their high expectations and countless stories on the world of food. I don't think I'd have the same respect for the kitchen and for what we do if it wasn't for Chef Walker's 8am lockouts! And finally, I have truly met some great and long lasting friends - thanks to my best pals, without them walking into Labs wouldn't nearly be as fun or easy, Sam, Vanessa, Carl, & Kyle.

Thanks to everyone who made my time at GBC such a great success! Here's to the next stage!

Monday, April 16, 2012


I love Thai food! However this was not always the case, I used to shy away from the food thinking it was too spicy - but that all changed when I went to Cosmic Charlie's in Peterborough.

I used to spend my summers on a lake near there and two of my best girlfriends at the lake introduced me to Cosmic's (as we call it) during of our dinners in the city! I fell in love and frequent the place whenever I am in the area!

It's a small joint, probably seating about twenty five. The atmosphere is inviting and has quite a hip and comfy vibe. But the real star of Cosmics is the food! Wonderfully crafted Thai dishes that leave me wishing I was on the next plane to Bangkok.

My personal favourite is the Shanghai noodles, which are rice noodles in a yellow curry coconut broth, with crisp veggies, tons of cilantro, your choice of protein and a little cold plain yoghurt to cool the heat.

Another favourite is the pad thai, the butter chicken is great but a real star is the green chicken curry. I have never had such a luxurious curry, I could have just bathed in it!

I also love Cosmics salads. The typical mango salad is a fresh julienne vegetable & mango heaven, refreshing, crisp and finished off perfectly with a squeeze of lime. If you feel like a simple green salad, get the garden greens (pictured below) finished with a salad dressing I can honestly say I have never tried before: feta & garlic! Creamy, rich but perfectly balanced, this dressing is going to become a staple at home!

Cosmic Charlie's Cafe
170 Charlotte Street
Peterborough ON

Friday, April 13, 2012


After spending an incredible week in the sunny south on the stunning and remote island Barbuda, I have come back with a few food favourites that I would like to share with you!!


1. Fresh Lobster: caught right off the resort dock, I have never had such melt in your mouth lobster in my life. Not like your typical rubbery tail, this lobster was insanely soft, juicy and perfect for dipping in their lemon butter!

2. Escargot: like my previous post said, I love snails! No better way than with loads of butter and a ton of fresh garlic!

3. Coconut Cake: Coconut is a totally underused ingredient in baking here, but not down south! My personal favourite dessert at the resort was the coconut cake. Moist layers of vanilla cake lined with coconut frosting, and coated completely in grated coconut!

4. Wahoo: Wahoo is a fish found worldwide in tropical areas. The fish is white and extremely flaky, making it quite popular at Coco Point Lodge. Fished daily, this fish also comes right off the fishing boat, is filleted at the dock and sent straight over to the kitchen. Can't beat that freshness that's for sure. The fish was enjoyed with black beans and fried plantains!

Filleted Wahoo right at the dock

5. Ting Ripple: Ting is a grapefruit carbonated beverage originating out of the Caribbean. This drink is so refreshing, but one of the drink specialties of the resort is their "Ting Ripple." A favourite in our family for the kids under ten! I dub it the "Barbuda's Shirley Temple." A Ting Ripple is ting mixed with grenadine giving it a bubblegum pink colour!


Snails!! Does anyone out there eat snails anymore?!

Well this week I certainly had my fair share. A staple on the dinner menu at the resort, the classic French garlic & butter escargot was a popular dish night after night! Especially for me!

Snails I find are so underused in the western world! At the restaurant I work at, BUCA, we use snails in a pasta dish and they are truly the best part of the dish, I absolutely love them!  In Barbuda, the snails I ate were massive! Extremely flavourful, not gummy and very succulent to eat!

The snails were prepared the traditional French way, with garlic, butter and white wine. It is truly sinful, and the best part, is using some crusty baguette to soak up the leftover garlic butter, mm!

Do you like snails?!

photo credit: my own


After spending the past week on the beautiful island of Barbuda (Just off the coast of Antigua) in the West Indies, I thought I would share with you the family favourite drink of the week: TING! It is a popular carbonated caribbean beverage made from Jamaican grapefruit that is both tart and sweet!

Ting is extremely refreshing, and can quickly be transformed into an alcoholic beverage with the addition of a little vodka! A favourite for the week whether you were three or twenty-three, ting is great!

I think you can buy it in Loblaw, but for those of you living on the East Coast I know for a fact Ting can be found at the Atlantic Superstore!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I love Easter! So many great foods on an Easter Sunday Table such as ham and one of my favourites, scalloped potatoes. I used to love decorating eggs, but now I find myself addicted to finding fun Easter treats to try and bake!

Unfortunately I will be away down south this year for Easter, so it will definitely not be a traditional Easter but I thought I would share a few fun Easter treats I found on the internet this week!

Try some out! Happy Easter and Happy Eating!

Easter Bunny Blueberry Scones
Here is a link to my easy blueberry scones recipe: 

Bunny Cake Pops

Easter Egg Cookies

Egg Nest Cupcakes 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


A few weeks ago I went out for dinner with my dad and the restaurant choice was up to me. I knew I wanted to try somewhere new and fun and I knew Bestellen had just opened so it was an easy choice!

"Bestellen," which means "to order" in German was opened by Top Chef Runner Up Rob Rossi and co-owner Ryan Sarfred. The restaurant is totally cool, exposed brick, reclaimed wood and a glass encased meat room give Bestellen a very rustic, cozy and intimate vibe. Near the dining room is a wall which is just dedicated to meat, painted with different cuts of meat and a whole suckling pig! The meat room is also really cool, giving people at the bar and those walking into the dining room a chance to check out their aging meats!

The meal was truly amazing! Sometimes I am nervous when I take my dad or other friends & family to a new restaurants, because I am such a foodie and love trying things, but not everyone is like me. And I am happy to say that he adored it, and was back two weeks later!

To start we had the "Devils on Horseback," deep-fried bacon wrapped dates. So salty and so sweet at the same time, a really great starter for sharing! I had the chorizo stuffed squid with braised white beans, smoked tomato and cilantro. What a great appetizer, the best of both worlds, a spicy sausage and perfectly cooked squid! I also love smoked tomato these days and the cilantro just pulled it all together! For my main I had the seared trout with fingerling potatoes, watercress, caper-anchovy vinaigrette and creme fraiche. This dish was really lovely. The fish was flaky and cooked to perfection, a bit rarer on the inside which I definitely appreciated. My dad had the "dry-aged wellington country prime beef, aged and cut in house." Can it sound any more mouth-watering than that? The meat was pure perfection, juicy, flavourful and beautifully cooked. The side it came with were carrots with honey and thyme, and they were so good we ordered more halfway through dinner!

Bestellen also offers something called "The Family," which is a whole roasted suckling pig served with all of the fixings. They require a minimum of 8 people and 72 hours notice, but for $59/person I think this would be such a fun thing to do with a bunch of friends! So easy and so fun, just leave the night in the chef's hands!

Hurry up and check out Bestellen, because I gaurantee in a month reservations will not be easy to get!!

972 College St West

photo credit: toronto life &


What I'm loving right now.....BRUSSELS SPROUTS!

I have a serious addiction to brussels sprouts, I truly love them! But, I find that every time I mention the veg people wrinkle up their nose and frown at the idea of them. They are such a versatile vegetable, that can be cooked in multiple ways and showered with different flavour combinations! I have been cooking them a lot recently, trying to convert family and friends into brussels sprouts lovers...and I think for a few it has actually worked! (Although it may just be the butter they are loving...)

Boiled and steamed brussel sprouts are fine, but the best way to eat and enjoy them is roasting them - or a combo cooking method, such as boiling and then a quick roast at the end. Last week I cooked dinner for my family as it was two of my cousin's birthday's, and I quickly put brussels sprouts on the menu! For this dish I roasted them, roasting gives a really nice caramelization to the veg making it incredibly candy like in my mind! A little butter, olive oil, salt and pepper can really take you where you need to be when roasting vegetables.

My Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4

- 15-20 brussel sprouts, halved
- a few knobs of butter
- salt and pepper
- 1 shallot finely diced
- a few sprigs of time, (florets off the stem)
- olive oil

- Preheat the oven to 350
- Peel the outer dirty or discoloured layers off the brussels sprouts and trim the bottoms to remove the stem like part. Cut in half
- Chop shallot
- Pull thyme off of the stem
- In a roasting pan, cover with a good swig of olive oil, add in the shallots, thyme, brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. Toss so that the brussels sprouts are coated
- Place knobs of butter randomly throughout the dish and place the roasting pan in the oven
- Roast for 30-45 minutes, once they have a nice charred golden colour they are ready to go! (see picture)

** For a variation on this, finish the dish with grated parmesan and toasted almond slivers, it gives the dish a nice crunch and a bit of a salty punch from the parm!!


photo credit: my own

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Toronto Life has come out with a great article called "Where to Eat Now 2012."

The article features, Best New Restaurants of 2012, Flavours of the Year and Trends We Love & Hate.

This is a great read for any food lover out there! Firstly it will introduce you to a ton of fabulous new restaurants for Toronto's food scene. The Flavours of the Year will show you different food trends that are similar and where they are happening across the city! You will also see some of the "food" or "dining" pet peeves!

Check it all out here:


photo credit: toronto life


Each week, I am going to do my top three things of the week, they may be just a photo or idea but something great none the less!

1. Tea Infuser: tea infusers are great when you have loose leaf teas! I love this take on a tea infuser, so whimsical, so fun!

2. Wine Well Picnic Table: I saw this picture on Facebook and couldn't resist posting it. Too perfect for words, a must at any cottage!

3. Prairie Girl Bakery Cupcakes: I was at a great event last night and near the end of the night the dessert portion came out, these cupcakes! They are truly some of Toronto's best, perfect for a function or have a mini one for a little indulgence for yourself!

photo credit: blogTO, Facebook, google images