Wednesday, September 26, 2012


The weather is finally cooling off, and the leaves are changing which can only mean one thing - FALL!  Fall is by far my favourite season, and after a summer filled with fresh produce, I am looking forward to getting down to business with my oven and roasting off some great root vegetables.

Here are my top 5 flavours for cooking this fall:

1. PUMPKIN: such a classic I know, but it never gets old. There are so many ways to reinvent the use of pumpkins (not just for pumpkin pie). A for a quick tip, save the seeds - they make the best snack. Season them up with a little salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon and olive oil. Roast at 400 for 5-7 minutes and you will be in heaven!

2. NUTMEG: when I went to culinary school at George Brown, I used more nutmeg than I could have imagined. We used it in SO many dishes - and because of that, I definitely have a new found appreciation for nutmeg. Put a dash in your pies, in your cream sauce or a cheese sauce. It will just brighten up any dish with its earthy nutty flavour.

3. CAULIFLOWER: a versatile veg that I love raw or cooked, cauliflower is one of my favourite side dishes. Roasted, au gratin, pureed into a soup - this is one of my all-time favourite vegetables. Looking forward to try this recipe by Martha Stewart for thanksgiving dinner!

4. CHESTNUTS: This is definitely not an ingredient you see often, but Jamie Oliver has sparked my love affair with chestnuts. Use them in a salad chopped up (you can buy them already ready to go), on top of a beef carpaccio for a winter dinner, chestnut soup - and one of my personal favourites crumbled up with some sage for a savoury scone!

5. TURNIPS: One of our favourite family side dishes at Thanksgiving is a turnip, sweet potato, parsnip & carrot puree. I also love turnips, because when I worked at BUCA, I was in charge of pickling vegetables to go with our charcuterie board. Turnips are great, pickled, roasted, in a soup or in a hash with some sweet potatoes and carrots. The opportunities are endless!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Finishing off with my seafood themed posts is one all about scallops. It took me a long time to learn to love scallops, and I don't quite know why. I think I always thought they would taste super fishy,but after lots of taste testing off the plates of others, I have come to the conclusion that they are just delectable.

When cooked well, scallops have a seared crisp and golden brown exterior with a butter soft texture on the inside. I always cook mine so that they more on the "medium rare" side instead of hard and firm. They taste much nicer this way! My grandfather always complains, because he says that no one ever asks you how you like your fish cooked, but they always ask about the meat! And it is true, over cooked fish or seafood is just unpleasant. So next time you are at a restaurant and ordering a beautiful piece of fish make sure to specify how you like it! A little pink on the centre is always the best (and completley safe)!

Last weekend for a dinner party that I catered, one of the menu appetizer options I was offereing was a seared scallop with a mango, peach & jalapeno salsa. Garnished with some cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, this appetizer was a perfect light and refreshing bite that said goodbye to summer with a bang!

Monday, September 24, 2012


I spent a good decade of my life roaming the halls at my junior and high school, Branksome Hall!

I am now officially an alumnae and this Thursday I have the pleasure of catering one of the alumnae events called "Dress for Success."

The event features Christina McDowell, an image consultant and National spokesperson for Holt Renfrew...and not only that, there will be a $1,000 shopping spree at Holt Renfrew to be won!

EMMA'S EATERY will be catering the event and will feature:

Fresh salad rolls: mango, red pepper, basil, mint & cucumber
Mini sandwiches: brie, homemade cranberry chutney & turkey
Mini beef sandwich: beef tenderloin, homemade bernaise sauce & caramelized onions
A mixed crudite platter: curried sour cream dip & green goddess dip
Roasted shrimp: jalapeƱo & cilantro mayo or homemade cocktail sauce dip

Hope to see many of you Branksome alum there! Going to be a great (and delicious) night!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Having just spent the past few days on the sea in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I am on a bit of a seafood kick!

Yesterday was mussels and today is lobster. Lobsters have a beautifully creamy and luxurious meat and are obviously so popular when you live on an ocean. You really do see it everywhere, and coming from Ontario, it made me wish that we had such fresh lobster readily available all the time in Toronto! On the menus this week I saw lobster in a variety of forms, not just the traditional whole lobster with butter. One of the best lobster dishes I discovered as it is my sister's favourite is a lobster stuffed ravioli, in a parmesan fonduta with a lobster cream throughout, so decadent and so rich.

The other favourite dish of the trip which is so popular along the eastern seaboard was the famous lobster roll. I had one for lunch at it was truly spectacular! I have never had a true lobster roll before, so I knew that this trip was the chance to try it. A traditional lobster roll is done on a white hot dog type bun, grilled and sometimes seasoned with a garlic butter. It is stuffed with a soft and rich lobster salad, generally complete with scallions and celery. This roll also had a lemony mayo as the mayo base which I really enjoyed, a nice twist on a classic simple mayo dressing.

Lobster out east are known as the "King of Seafood." They are a great source of protein and are found all across the Canadian Atlantic. Lobster are harvested in cold icy salt water, in traps, attached to lines and hauled in by hand. The lobster industry ensures that harvesting and processing methods are conducted in an ecologically responsible manner, which is great for those of us concerned with sustainability! A quite note, for those of you nervous or who feel off put by putting a live lobster into a boiling hot water - do not worry - they do not feel pain as they have a decentralized nervous system!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Mussels are one of the things I miss the most about living on the east coast. Out east, they serve the freshest mussels EVERYWHERE! Each restaurant has their own twist on the broth or sauce, and one of my favourite broths of all time was a curry & cilantro combo that I had in the town where I went to university. I really miss fresh mussels, living on a coast means one is definitely spoiled when it comes to the quality of fresh seafood!

Mussels are a classic French dish. Moules Mariniere, are mussels that are seasoned and cooked with white white, garlic, shallots, thyme and butter. Does it get any better? I am going to share with you a great recipe for making these mussels. These are great on their own as a main course with a warm crusty piece of French bread, or mixed in to some pasta for dinner.

Mussels are a great dish to eat as they are cheap and quick - perfect for someone in a hurry! One thing about mussels - when you cook them, they should open up and create a V with their shells. If they remain closed do not eat them!

Moules Mariniere 
Serves 2 as an appetizer, 1 for dinner, or 2 with pasta

1 lb mussels (de-bear if necessary and keep refrigerated until use)
5 shallots, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced or grated
1 handful of fresh thyme on the stem
1 1/2 cup white wine
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cream (optional)

- In a saucepan that has a lid that will close and be able to fit over all of the mussels, add the butter and olive oil and sweat the garlic, shallots and thyme over medium heat until translucent.
- Add in the white wine, salt and pepper
- Place the mussels on top
- Close the lid and let cook for around 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened
- If you are adding the cream, do so once the mussels have cooked, stir in the cream and serve

Monday, September 17, 2012


The finished product, cinnamon & sugar bagels

This weekend I made bagels! I read another blog called Cupcakes & Cashmere, and last week the writer shared a recipe to make bagels. The pictures of the bagel process looked so neat, and I knew I just had to try them out! The recipe seemed easy enough, not too many ingredients and the steps seemed straightforward.

on the left: forming the bagel dough balls, on the right: the formed bagels with the holes

I forgot to buy sesame or poppy seeds to dust the top with, so instead I just mixed up some cinnamon and sugar and sprinkled that on the top of the bagels. (Toppings for the bagel could be whatever you like, garlic, onions, cheese etc. The possibilities are endless) I think next time I would boil them a bit longer to really get that chewy bagel inside. Otherwise, they were a total hit! My ten year old sister just loved them, warm, not even toasted with a bit of lovely butter.

Find the recipe HERE

Happy baking! This is a great Saturday or Sunday morning treat for the family or a friend!

on the left: the bagels once out of the water, on the right: boiling the bagels

Monday, September 10, 2012


After a great day in Niagara at the Food Festival, watching Trish Magwood present three dishes to a crowd, I thought I would share another of the three recipes.

This dish is great as we approach fall and winter for those still lusting after the beautiful summer fruits. By baking the fruit, you are able to get away with having products that are not 100% ripe or seasonal. This dish is also great if you have a bunch of fruits left over with knicks or bruises that you don't necessarily want to eat raw, bake them up and all the impurities will vanish. Serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream and you will be sure to impress you family or friends!

I find its best to bake this in a shallow baking dish, oval ones are also really pretty.

Note: if your peaches, plums etc are quite hard, don't add in the blueberries or raspberries until the last ten minutes of baking

Baked Fruit with Raspberry Wine courtesy of Trish Magwood

1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 lb (1 kg) mixed fresh fruits, (figs, peaches nectarines, apricots, plums)
1 qt blueberries
1 qt raspberries
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup raspberry dessert wine (try Ontario's Southbrook Farms or Henry of Pellam's late harvest ice wine)
2 tbsp lavender honey (or honey of your choice)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F
Generously butter a 10 inch oval baking dish
Quater figs, cut peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums into wedges
Loosely arrange fruit, cut side up, in a baking dish, slight overlapping, scatter mixed berries on top
Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds on fruits
Drizzle with raspberry dessert wine and honey; sprinkle with cinnamon
Bake until fruits are plum and tender (about 20 min)

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Tomorrow I am heading to Niagara to help out Trish Magwood as she opens the Niagara Food Festival! One of the recipes she will be cooking is from her book, In My Mother's Kitchen and is called "Elena's Succotash."

Today I decided to give it a try and make the dish that she calls an ode to the end of summer. Using up the fresh summer vegetables in one last dish, like the corn and colourful tomatoes.

This recipe is really simple, fresh, highlighting the best that Ontario summer produce has to offer. The lime zest and juice really brightens the dish up. Serve it as a side dish for dinner, or make it a meal by topping it with some jumbo grilled shrimp!

Enjoy and thanks Trish for the recipe!

Elena's Succotash

Serves 6-8

Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tsp (10mL) butter, melted
1 tsp (5mL) cayenne pepper
4 ears corn, husked
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1⁄4 red onion, diced
1⁄2 green onions, thinly slices
1⁄2 cups (375mL) halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup (250mL) shelled edamame, blanched and cooled 1/3 cup (75mL) olive oil
1 tsp (5mL) salt
1 avocado, cubed (optional)

Preheat grill to medium.
Stir together lime zest, butter and cayenne. 
Brush on corn. Grill, turning every 3 or 4 minutes, until soft and lightly charred, about 10 minutes.
Remove from grill and let cool. 
Working over a large bowl, cut corn off the cob.
Add red pepper, red onion, green onions, tomatoes, edamame, olive oil, salt and lime juice. Stir Well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 
Add avocado, if using, just before serving.

Kitchen Notes: I always buy edamame still in their shell for a quick snack, but for this dish, buy the shelled edamame to save time.
Variation: Substitute frozen fava beans for edamame 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Tuesday night, my twitter was blowing up with tweets about Michelle Obama's 2012 National Democratic Convention Speech. The press raved about her poise and presence in the speech, so I thought what a perfect opportunity to talk about Michelle and her contribution to food, culture and the fight against obesity in the United States.

The beautiful book

The First Lady is well known for her massive White House Garden. The garden boasts sustainable local agriculture, national farm policy, school gardens and mostly an opportunity to learn about childhood nutrition and health which is all found in the common ground of a garden. 

Building the garden

The book is jammed packed with photos and descriptions of the seasonal benefits and delight of growing and producing fruit and vegetables. The garden has become a symbol for the First Lady's anti-obesity campaign, which in the book highlights her advice for parents, schools, cities and states on how at each level they can help to combat the obesity crisis. It starts which the "how to" in starting a garden, getting children to eat these healthy fruit of the loom from the garden and finding more opportunity for exercise. 

Working with children and schools in the garden

I think that what Michelle Obama has done at the White House with her garden is truly incredible, and it is really nice to see someone in such a powerful position promoting food, and food culture. Congrats to the First Lady for her great preservation in teaching those about the love of fresh food.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012



It's back to school, and with a busy long weekend I am sure back to school lunches were the last thing on your mind. Getting ready for a week's worth of kids lunches takes some thought and effort, so I thought I would share so fun and kid friendly ideas for the lunchbox this year.

1. TUNA POCKETS: Make the classic tuna salad a little more fun. When I was younger one of my mom's favourite things to pack was what I call tuna pockets. Instead of buying the large "pita" bread, my mom would buy the mini pita pockets. She would cut the pocket half open, give a little container of tuna and a spoon and I would be able to make as many pockets as I liked. This was definitely a fun lunch for me!

2. FRUIT KEBABS: Fruit is not always a kid favourite, so try to make it more fun by creating a fruit kebab. You could also do this at the start of the week so you have a bunch ready to just throw in a lunch box each day. This way you can incorporate different fruits so that it is not all one type. It's not only delicious but also visually appealing for kids!

3. HOMEMADE DIPS: Nothing tastes better with your cucumbers and carrots then a homemade dip. Homemade dips are not only more nutritious for your kids but I think they taste way better. Like the kebabs, this is something you could make on the weekend or at the start of the week and keep for the week to use each day. Get your kids involved, let them choose what kind of dip they would like to make and change it up each week! Serve with their favourite veggies.

The Quickest Curry Dip Ever:
- Combine 5 tbsp of curry powder (if you have time toast the powder for a bit more of a rich curry flavour) and mix with 1 cup sour cream, salt and pepper. This is a great dip with an array of veggies and different lettuces such as endive!

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip:
- In a food processor, blend together 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese, 2 roasted red peppers, salt & pepper, 1 clove of garlic and 2 tbsp of olive oil
** Note: you can either use jarred roasted red peppers, or char the peppers over an element flame or on broil until blackened on all sides. Peel before using.

photo credit: google images & pinterest