Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Today I stumbled across a really great new website (LEIF) - which definitely brought out my Christmas spirit. I love finding new kitchen-y things for Christmas to help brighten up the holiday and also to change it up from my boring old year long utensils.

This website has some really great kitchen utensils (all under $25) which would be a perfect host/hostess gift, a gift to a foodie friend, or a gift to yourself!

Blinged out tart server

Blinged out spoons - really fun for a Christmas coffee morning

Tree branch teaspoons

Tree branch mini knives - these would be great on a cheese board, or as a hostess gift with some cocktail napkins!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Last week for a client, one of their courses was a cheese platter. I felt this was a great opportunity to try out some new cheese. I went down to the St Lawrence Market - to one of my favourite cheese shop Olympic Cheese Mart. I asked the owner George for some good recommendations of a few new delicious cheeses to taste. Here were my top three picks:

1. Pecorino Affinato: Is a small cheese made from sheep's milk with a white and crumbly texture. This was one of my favourite cheeses to snack on when I worked at BUCA. I loved having this one on the cheese board. The cheese is aged for 2-3 months in terracotta jars under layers of scented hay and honey. The two flavours lend a unique flavour to the cheese - and also is visually stunning on a cheese platter.

2. New Glarus Raspberry Ale Washed: This one of Glarus the best cheeses I have tried in a while. Made in Wisconsin, the cheese is soaked in Wisconsin-brewed New Raspberry Tart Ale, a fruit, pungent ale that is brewed with fresh raspberries which lends a slight sweetness to the final product. A combination of aged cheddar & parmesan - a perfect combination of crumbly but smooth. The flavours are strong and complex. The first bite the cheddar hits you, but then the saltiness and nuttiness of the parmesan cuts through that. Perfect to enjoy with onion jam, roasted hazelnuts and a nice glass of Guinness stout or a dry Riesling. This cheese won "Best New Cheese" & "Best AMerican Cheese" during the 2008 World Cheese Awards in Ireland.

3. Applewood Smoked Cheddar: This is a cheddar that is naturally smoked with applewood embers and then finished with a light dusting of paprika - hence the reddy orange outer layer to the cheese. The cheese is a semi-hard cheese that has a wonderful smoky flavour due to the natural smoking. This is a favourite in the UK and goes extremely well with sweeter apples, raisins and also a pork chop. This smoked cheddar also could lend a really nice smoky flavour to a homemade quesadilla!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


BBQ and true southern smoked meat is a  love of mine. I think it all started watching so many Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives episodes, but further heightened the more I tried different barbecue restaurants and the more I practiced. A new part of barbecue that I have recently started to learn more about it smoking!

I just moved into a new place that has a large backyard and patio - so one of the first things on my list to get is a smoker. I can't wait to start testing out different types of wood and styles. Watch out Toronto, there is going to be a new BBQ master in town!

I found this great list of wood tips, tastes and ideas online, and have used it for my own cooking, so I thought I would share these great tips with you. You don't need a smoker to enjoy that smokey flavour, there are plenty of ways to DIY smoke at home! (SEE ABOVE)

Apple Wood
- Fruity sweet smoke
- Good for poultry or pork
- Can be mixed with Cherry Wood

Cherry Wood
- Sweet fruity taste
- Works well with poultry, game hens, pork, jerked meats

Hickory Chips
- The classic of smoking woods
- Strong old-fashioned flavour, but too much can overpower!
- Great on a smoker grill with most meats, but best with Beef
- Also gives a bacony flavour when you smoke cheese

Maple Wood
- Subtle sweet smoke flavour
- Good with pork

- Familiar Tex-Mex smoke odor and flavour
- Great with beef or chicken on a smoker grill

Oak Wood
- Balanced smokey flavour, blends well with Cherry or Apple
- Great for any type of meat

Pecan Chips
- Sweet flavour with a hint of nuttiness
- Good for asian inspired recipes

Monday, November 19, 2012


Calling all you oyster lovers out there.

Rodney's by Bay (now known as John & Sons) is an oyster house that has been packed with businessman since day one, known for their wide variety of oysters, high quality fish dishes and of course some amazing fish & chips. Located on Temperance just at Bay St, Rodney's has been serving up some of the best oysters for years - complete with many different sauce options of your choice!

John & Sons has now just opened a new location at Yonge & Summerhill (more specifically on the corner of Balmoral in the old Terroni space). I live right near there, and the place is always packed. After a trip down to the original John & Sons this weekend, it made me very excited to try out the Summerhill location.

The "raw bar" at John & Sons will feature at least seven to nine different types of oysters each night. The rest of the menu is dedicated to sustainable fish product, boasting menu items such as a breadless tuna BLT or a Louisiana whitetail jumbo shrimp and a seafood ravioli.

So for those of you looking for a great oyster uptown in the city, I fully recommend heading over to John & Sons! Enjoy and happy oyster eating!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Ever since I found Jamie's Britain - the newest in Jamie Oliver shows, I have been obsessed with making this pie. I had three friends come for dinner last week, it was a bit chilly, I had just moved into my new place and I knew this would be the perfect meal to make. Cozy & easy to make in just one pot.

The ingredient list may seem a bit daunting, but I guarantee many of these ingredients you will have in your pantry! 

The pie is just delightful, warm, rich, meaty - you can't go wrong. Perfect for a winter day. This pastry was also one of the easiest pastries I have ever made. It came together perfectly, rolled out without a crack and baked out beautifully. I highly recommend using it for a pie!

ENJOY! The decorations are as follows thanks to Jamie, RAF wings for Wills, and a heart for Kate!

Before baking

After baking

Kate & Wills Wedding Pie by Jamie Oliver

2 tbsp olive oil
1 knob of butter
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
3 fresh bay leaves
3 small red onions, peeled and chopped
1 kg (2-2.5 lbs) of beef shin (I just used stew meat, because I couldn't find the shin!) (also can use the bones when stewing to have the marrow thicken and flavour the sauce)
sea salt and ground pepper
2 tbsp tomato puree
400ml good local smooth stout (I used an Oatmeal Stout from England)
2 heaping tbsp plain flour
1.5 liters (I used only about 1L) of organic beef or chicken stoic
140g pearl barley
3 tsp English Mustard (in most grocery stores in the dry section in a tube)
2-3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
100g good white cheddar cheese

For the pastry:
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g shredded suet (or lard), easy to shred when frozen!
100g shredded butter
sea salt
1 large free range egg, beaten

1. Put the olive oil, butter and herbs in a large casserole type pan on high heat. Add the onions and the diced meat and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
2. Add the tomato puree, then stout. Once it has cooked for 2 minutes, add in the flour and stir until everything comes together to a simmer. Turn down the heat very low, pop the lid on and let cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
3. When the hour is up, stir in the pearl barley. Put the lid back on and simmer for another hour, then remove the lid and simmer for a further 30 minutes or until the meat shreds easily and the gravy has thickened.
4. Spoon away any of the oil from the top, then stir in the mustard, Worcestershire and grated cheese. Season to taste.
5. While the stew is ticking away, put the flour, suet, butter into a bowl with a good pinch of salt. Either in a mixer or with your hands, mix together until the flour and butter mixture resembles small peas in size. Lightly stir in 125mL cold water, then for the dough into a ball. Do not overwork it. Wrap the dough and refrigerate until needed.
6. Preheat the oven to 350. Discard the shin bone and ladle the hot stew into the pie dish. Use some of the beaten egg to egg wash the edges of the pie dish, then dust a clean surface and a rolling in with flour and roll out the pastry until about 1 cm thick. Carefully place on top of the pie, then trim off the overhanging pastry. Pinch and squash the edges of the pastry to the dish. Eggwash the top and cook the pie for around 45-50 minutes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012



Thursday, November 8, 2012


I just moved into a new place, and let me say - my cupboard space is limited! I am trying to pack all my cooking gadgets in where I can, but the things that I find tend to take up precious space are all my spices and cooking powders.

I decided I needed to find an easier way to store all these spices and found these great magnetic spice jars at Canadian Tire. They are easy to fill, and snap right on to the fridge.

For those of you in need of space - check out these great little jar for only $1.99!

Monday, November 5, 2012


Thanks to a blog I love (Smitten Kitchen), I found some great inspiration for dijon braised brussels sprouts.

On Friday night I was out for dinner, and had the must luscious and buttery braised brussels sprouts I have ever tasted. This obviously re ignited my love for the sprouts, and last night I decided to make my own version of braised brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are a great winter side dish, they are often underused but a really great veg! They go as well as a side to many proteins and can be cooked in a variety of ways (blanched, fried, braised, roasted).

Smitten Kitchen Brussels Sprouts

Dijon Braised Brussels Sprouts (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3 handfuls (or about 1 lb) brussels sprouts
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup of chicken or veg broth
1 shallot, finely chopped
A splash of heavy cream
1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

1. Cut the end off the brussels sprouts and halve lengthwise.
2. In a large skillet or pan, heat the butter and oil over med high heat. Arrange the sprouts in the pan, with the cut side down in one layer. (If you have more sprouts than what will fit in your pan, do them in batches). Sear until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes
3. Add the shallots, salt and pepper.
4. Next add the wine and allow it to reduce off a bit. Then add in the stock.
5. Bring to a simmer, and reduce to medium-low heat. Cover the pan or pot with a lid (or tin foil) and allow them to braise for about 15-20 minutes or until they are fork tender.
6. Remove the sprouts from the pan, leaving the sauce behind.
7. Add the cream and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add in the mustard and adjust seasoning. Pour sauce over the sprouts and sprinkle with parsley if using.
8. Serve immediately and Enjoy!