Friday, August 31, 2012


As the summer comes to a close, I thought I would share my top three foods that I loved eating and cooking this summer.

1. RIBS: I can't even count how many times I cooked ribs this summer, but with all that practice I have finally perfect my recipe. Rubbed with a blend of spices, then slow cooked with some dark beer, slathered with a homemade BBQ sauce and thrown on the grill, these truly were the perfect summer meal.

2. CORN "BUTTER": After reading an article in Gilt Taste about how to make this "corn butter," which is essentially blended corn which is strained and thickened naturally on the stove. This was a delicious accompaniment to steak, beef tenderloin etc.

3. WILD BLUEBERRIES: I have always loved blueberries, but this summer sparked my new appreciation. These tiny little things are packed with fresh Ontario flavour and this summer I just adored them. Whether they were raw on top of some creamy Kawartha Dairy ice cream, or cooked as a sauce or in a pie, these bluebs did not disappoint!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Next weekend I have the total pleasure of accompanying Trish Magwood (Food Network Host, cookbook author, James Beard Award Winner and caterer extraordinaire) to the Niagara Food Festival. The food festival has a mobile culinary theatre which will have demonstrations by three celebrity chefs over the weekend; Trish Magwood, Chuck Hughes and David Rocco.

This is the Niagara Food Festival's 19th season and draws in tens of thousands of visitors to downtown Welland each year. The event is three day long and features more than 30 food vendors from across southern Ontario, entertainment, a marketplace featuring local food producers, food themed contests and of course the chef talent at the mobile culinary theatre.

The festival runs in two weeks, September 7, 8 and 9.

Learn more at

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I love buy home items at Indigo. They have really established a great home sense type of section complete with kitchen products, cozy throws & pillows for a living space, great gift ideas, and a really good selection of entertaining items.

Here are a few of my favourite for the fall, which reflect the really popular farm to table type idea.

1. The Piggy Wooden Cutting Board: perfect for entertaining when serving cheese or charcuterie

2. Old Fashion Milk Bottle: whether you use it to store your bagged milk, or it just takes a prime display place in your home or cottage, I think this milk bottle is just perfect! 

3. Ceramic Egg Holder: I just bought this egg holder. An easy way to store eggs in your fridge, or perfect for your bedside table to store your jewellery!

4. Rooster Dish Towel: I love this farm fresh rooster dish towel. The colours are great, the pattern is fun and the printed roosters just make it that much better. A pair of these would look so great draped on a kitchen stove.


Monday, August 27, 2012


S'mores are such a classic summertime treat! This summer though has been so hot, that the idea of roasting marshmallows over a burning fire in 30+ weather does not really float my boat. The problem is, everyone loves the classic s'more taste. For one of my events this weekend, I wanted to take that taste and turn it into a treat somehow, preserving what a typical s'more is but skipping the heat.

I decided on making a s'more tart. Easy to grab with one hand (a necessity for the party) and a kid favourite. I baked off some individual sized tart shells, melted some chocolate, filled them, dusted with some ground graham crackers and finished with mini marshmallows that I then took a mini blow torch too.

They turned out perfect, and were a total hit with the kids at the party. Although, I think I should have just put out a bowl of mini marshmallows as well, I found a few tarts still chocolate filled but marshmallow-less.

Have you ever changed up how you eat a s'more? Here are some other fun ways to try making them in this last week of summer!

S'more treats: a great gift for a cottage host/hostess

S'more pops: a marshmallow dipped in chocolate covered in graham crackers. I love this idea!

S'more sundae: cool down your s'more with a scoop of ice cream (or maybe try it with a scoop of toasted marshmallow ice cream!)

Monday, August 20, 2012


Vanilla is one of those ingredients that seems to always be called for in the majority of baking recipes. Sometimes it called for different types of Vanilla, ones which you may have never heard of. This post will introduce you to the different types of vanilla and the best use for them!

NOTE: to use a vanilla bean properly, use a pairing knife to split the bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds.

If you are having trouble finding some of these varieties in a local grocery store, visit BEANILLA for all of your vanilla bean needs!

Madagascar: A good vanilla for a a recipe that needs to be flambeed. The vanilla is dark, full bodied with flavour notes of rum.

Bourbon: A great vanilla for cookies and cakes, as it adds dimension and complexity. Bourbon vanilla has a more fruity flavour.

Mexican: A very sweet, creamy and smooth vanilla. Perfect for infusing milk, pastry creams, whipped cream, and ice creams.

Tonga: A more delicate vanilla. Better for developing fruit sauces or to accompany meats, chicken or pork. This variety allows one to reminisce of cherries and autumn.

Papua New Guinea: This vanilla has subtle notes of chocolate and red wine. This vanilla's flavour tends to disappear into the background of other prominent flavours, so use it more for delicate cakes or cookies.

Tahitian: Floral with hints of liquorice and fig. A great vanilla to use when making james or preserves. This vanilla is often used in making a "chai" spice mix or spice rubs that include vanilla.

Indian: These vanilla beans are much larger than a typical vanilla ea, and are oily with a woodsy quality. This vanilla can stand up well to spices and compliments dishes that have other flavours such as cinnamon, rosemary, thyme or clove.

Indonesia: Like the Indian beans, they are thick and oily. This bean is the largest and has more of a fermented scent like a prune, which makes them best for stewing fruit, making pies or compotes.

Thanks to for parts the helpful vanilla bean information. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Yesterday marked Julia Child's 100th birthday!

So - to the old doll,  a very happy birthday and a boooooon apetit!

Julia Child is a culinary legend, cookbook writer and TV show host. She is best known for bringing French cuisine and cooking to the American people, making it accessible to make it her "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

For those of you who have seen Julie/Julia (the film), you will have gained a brief glimpse of the true culinary star that she was! Julia was FEARLESS in the kitchen, and just a delight to watch as she so effortless cooked her way through hundreds of recipes. Which in turn gave one complete adoration for the kitchen and cooking.

Happy Birthday Julia, 100 years later and you are still inspiring cooks everywhere!

I am going to share with you two videos I love of Julia Child.

The first, is her first episode of The French Chef, where she makes Boeuf Bourginon. A classic French beef stew, that Julia has been made famous for cooking!

The second is a quick clip of Julia introducing different types of chicken, in her comical & charming self.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Ever been to a restaurant in search of tuna, but not able to recognize it as it isn't labelled "tuna." This post will introduce you to all the different restaurant names the food industry calls tuna, and why! I will tell you a bit about the differences that you can enjoy tuna often!

My "bonito" dish from dinner: served with a tomato salsa, avocado mousse pearls and micro greens

A little bit about TUNA:
- It is a saltwater fish from the Scormbridae family
- Tuna are fast swimmers, some have speeds up to 70 km/hour!
- Tuna has pink-dark red flesh unlike most white fish

There are over 40 members of the Scormbridae family, which is often referred to as tuna, BUT this family does include types of mackerel and bonito (which is why tuna is sometimes labelled bonito on a menu).

Albacore: the only tuna to be marked as "white meat tuna"

Atlantic Bluefin: can reach up to 990lb in weight!

Bigeye, Yellowfin or Ahi: a well known type of tuna, also a prized recreational game fish

Bonito: often used for sushi and sashimi

Tuna Steaks

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I love a good tablecloth. Growing up, my mom would set the table every night for dinner no matter how busy we were, how many activities we had... The table was always complete with a beauty tablecloth, napkins and candles, making each dinner always feel special. And to this day, she still sets the table every time. Even if we are sitting outside at the cottage eating pancakes and bacon, the table is set with all the trimmings.

Because of this, I have found a certain comfort in always using (and purchasing) a good tablecloth. At my own apartment, my dining room table is always set, either with a tablecloth or a table runner, some flowers and a few candles. I think that it brightens up my small 600 sq foot space, and during any festive season I like to "set the table" according to what is going on: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter etc etc. It's a small hobby of mine, so I am always on the hunt for some great & versatile tablecloths.

I thought I would share a few ideas behind purchasing a good table cloth and what patterns to look for.

1. STRIPES: stripes and single lines are a classic that you can't go wrong with. Clean and fresh cut, they are perfect for breakfast, or a rustic type picnic meal.


2. FLORAL: Nothing says summer or spring like some bright coloured floral lining the table. Put some potted herbs in a vase as the table decor and you will be sure to wow your summer guests. This type of floral pattern would also look great with a table runner made out of burlap on top. Very summery, very fun.

 3. PRINTS: Have fun with prints. They are all about making a bold statement. Below is the same sort of print in two different colours, you can see how different each table would look depending on the colour you choose!

4. POLKA DOTS: Kid friendly, and perfect for a birthday party or a kids play date. A polka dot print is a staple for any kid filled house!

5. GIRLY: Who doesn't love a pretty pink or purple to brighten up the mood. Go with lighter tones on these ones, and watch your white plates and flower decor really stand out!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Dirt? What a weird name for a title, but let me tell you the explanation behind this title and why you will want to try out this crazy dessert! Years ago, one of our families favourite caterer's introduced to us the dessert called "dirt." Before I saw it, I was so skeptical as to what it could possibly be. It has become a family favourite and just recentley I made it for a client.

Dirt is a really fun dessert for the kids. Basically, you take the idea behind the earth/ground and apply it to a dessert. You have your "earthy" layer, which is either chocolate or vanilla pudding, then you have your layer of worms (I use gummy worms!) and then finally you have the soil layer, or in this case ground up oreos. Sprinkle a few more gummy worms on top and you are good to go. To make it a bit nicer for my client I bought edible flowers and topped the soil layer with both the flowers and the gummy worms. This gave the sense that it was a in bloom garden. I loved it! I used a long rectangular flower pot to serve the dirt tonight, but those tin or terra cotta pots are also a great vehicle to serve from. Just make sure if you are using a potting device that has been outdoors to line it with some saran wrap!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


This summer has been so hot - I honestly cannot believe how warm it has been. With predictions of rain and storms on the horizon for this coming cottage weekend, I thought I would share the perfect three cottage comfort foods for a rainy weekend. Cozy up with delicious treats and enjoy the summer rain.

1. HOMEMADE HOT CHOCOLATE: bring two cups of cream or 2% milk to a boil, add in 1/3 of a cup grated good quality chocolate - 70% is best.  Whisk together and allow the chocolate to melt and come together. Add a pinch of sugar and a pinch of cinnamon and serve.

2. GOOEY GRILLED CHEESE: grilled cheese is a perfect lunch for both kids and adults. For the less adventurous kids make a simple grilled cheese using Canadian cheddar on a white or brown loaf. For the adults, do something a little more upscale. Buy a great loaf of bread (such as cranberry walnut, or a pumpkin seed loaf), use two cheeses such as a sharp white cheddar and gruyere (a really great melting swiss cheese) and finish it off by sandwiching a few slices of green apple (or pear) in the middle. Grill and let all the cheeses melt. You cannot go wrong with this!

3. CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: nothing passes some time like an activity. A perfect one for a rainy day is a chocolate chip cookie. Not only is it a great activity but a delicious treat to indulge in afterwards. I recently tried a new chocolate chip recipe, and I have to say they were pretty great. Find the recipe HERE!

photo credit: cupcakes&cashmere, pinterest

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


In dining today, the cheese course has turned into quite a prominent course, one which lends to culinary creativity for choosing the perfect cheeses, pairing them nicely with condiments and crisping up some house-made bread for toasts. Most menus these day offer cheeses, which are, I'm happy to say also usually Canadian! Canada produces some really quality cheese.

When I worked at BUCA, I was on the SALUMI (meat) and FROMAGGI (cheese) station. Each day we had to pick five of each, so I became quite familiar with an array of cheeses, and of course tasting them often! I got to know those dropping off the cheese and I learned about ordering different types and what would work best with condiments, with the meats, with salads etc. One of my favourite suppliers, which is based out of Stratford Ontario is Monforte Dairy. They are so unique and delicious, it is no wonder they are featured in the article I am about to share with you.

For those of you looking to learn more about cheese, and cheese making, these 5 spots would be worth the trip!

The Globe and Mail last week published an article about Canada's top five cheese destinations and I thought I would share for all you cheese enthusiasts out there. The five exerts below are from the article.

1. Monforte Dairy, Stratford ON.

Monforte's innovative owner, Ruth Klahsen, raised about $400,000 to build her new cheese plant by starting a community-shared agriculture plan. Suscribers support the dear by prepaying for the cheese. Stop by to try some of the savoury complex Toscano or the butter Bliss, enriched with organic cream.

"There are windows around the whole facility so you can peek in and see cheese being made at different stages right up until its wrapped. It's also the only place you can see awesome cheese graffiti, which is painted on the side of the cheese plant and silo."

2. Fromagerie du Presbytere, Ste-Elizabeth-de-Warwick, QC

Its award-winning Louis D'Or and Bleu D'Elizabeth are made from the organic milk that comes from the family farm and produced in a covered old rectory that serves as the cheese factory and store.

“Nothing makes me happier than seeing communities come together over food. Every Friday in Ste-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, people gather in the front yard of Fromagerie du Presbytère for a picnic dinner and to enjoy fresh cheese served at three stages of the cheese-making process. You just show up with hundreds of other people, who bring folding tables, chairs and wine and buy fresh cheese made at different points in the evening. They even have a baker on site just for the event.”

3. Laiterie Charlevoix, Baie-St-Paul, QC

One of its most popular cheese, Le 1608, was launched in 2008 to coincide with Quebec City's 400th anniversary. Laiterie Charlevoix is located in the Laurentian Mountains, on the Charlevoix "flavour trail," a popular food route.

“1608 is only one of only two cheeses that I know that is made solely from the milk of the Vache Canadienne, a rare breed of cow (Pied-de-Vent is the other). The Labbé family also produces a line of ice cream and preserves, has a dairy museum and runs a campground near the dairy.”

4. Les Fromages de L'isle, d'Orleans, QC

Experience North America's oldest cheese on this island just northeast of Quebec City. Le Paillasson is made from a recipe that dates back to 1635 and is served by locals in period costume.

“Paillasson is a thin cheese similar to halloumi in that it can be pan-fried and when crisped tastes like buttered toast. Try it hot with fried apples and a drizzle of maple syrup.”

 5. The Dutchman's Farm, Upper Economy, NS

At the fair where the infamous Dragon's Breath blue cheese and authentic Goudas are made from traditional recipes, you can explore a myriad of trails and an on-site antique shop.

“That Dutchman’s Farm has a different feel than at other cheese makers. Mr. [Willem] van den Hoek has all these beautiful gardens on his property and one of the most beautiful views that overlooks the Bay of Fundy. When he acquired the property, he said the first thing he did was dig out space for six ponds. You just show up and for a few dollars can spend hours walking around. His Goudas are some of the best that I’ve tried.”

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Since Day 1, I tune it every day to catch up on the Olympics. Olympic fever seems to be everywhere, Twitter, Facebook, you name it!

I think being at the London Olympics would be so incredible, and from a food perspective it would be equally as cool. London is such a diverse and multicultural city and that is something that ANY hungry tourists will certainly benefit from! The options in London are endless, and with so many different cultures coming together, it also sparks a collaboration of cultural food and eating.

I found these images on Pinterest and thought I would share. People's Olympic fever being translated into food fun! Have you made anything fun to eat during these Olympics?

Monday, August 6, 2012


My catering decor & presentation style is best described as rustic & crafty. I love wooden boards, twine, kraft coloured paper and most importantly mason jars. I use them for everything. They are perfect to hold my salad dressings, cream cheese, jams, and individual desserts (such as cheesecakes or chocolate mousse).

Another really great use for mason jars are drinks. Whether it is lemonade for your kids, a Sunday caesar, or a batch of mixed up summer drinks for a party, mason jars are a great go to idea to hold your drinks.

Easy to seal, and with a lid one can write their name on, this takes the red solo cup to a whole new level. Try using a mason jar at your next party, and bring a little "craft" into your life!

NOTE: mason jars can be found at canadian tire, in all shapes and sizes and usually costs around $10-12 for a twelve pack.

photo credit: pinterest