Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A new kind of grocery store

I had been watching the evolution of Maple Leaf Gardens as it transitioned for a hockey arena to the new, much anticipated Loblaws. Yes there has been much controversy around this, but as far as I am concerned, why not? At least the building is being used and maintained. Good for Loblaws and Ryerson University for coming together.

I hope you understand that I could not be one of the first to attend the opening of the Loblaws, no I am not going to line up for the opening of a grocery store, so after a few weeks I decided to venture over and check out the famous 18 foot wall of cheese that I kept hearing about. It does not let you down. The wall of cheese or the store. It really is beautiful. The space, big, open, airy, clean and simple. The selection is great and the quality is right up there. The meat is stunning and the fish also looks fabulous. I love that they actually properly display the fish, each in their own metal tray on the ice so as not to contaminate the ice and potentially the other fish.

Then I make my way to the wall of cheese, and it truly is an 18 foot wall of cheese. Now, for those of you who don't know, I recently began studying to become a fromager so this was of particular interest to me. The selection was impressive, such as Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, a Canadian artisanal cheese from Prince Edward Island, Mimolette from France and even French Morbier and the Canadian equivalent, Douanier. Definitely a place to visit when looking to put together a cheese board.

Doesn't that look beautiful? Now imagine pairing those cheeses with the beautiful Parma Ham show below!

This is definitely a new kind of grocery store. It sets the bar high. It is fun just to visit. Enjoy it...let it inspire you to prepare beautiful dishes in your home!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Back to my roots Schnitzel

I did grow up eating the stuff and to this day, I love it. But more importantly, whenever I serve it, everybody loves it, adults and children alike. The beauty of this entree is in its simpicity. One thing I always do in my household is make extras. No matter how much I make, there is always barely enough for the kids to grab a piece to save for their school lunch the next day, 'cause in case you don't know, these make for a killer sandwich! I also use this recipe as the base for many other meals, chicken parmigiana being one of them. I use different meats depending on what is available and what I am in the mood for, chicken, turkey, pork, veal and beef in a pinch. Traditionally, "Weiner Schnitzel" is made from veal, hence its buttery soft texture, but I generally make it with chicken, turkey or pork.

Weiner Schnitzel

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk (if you don't like milk, you can use water)
4 cups bread crumbs, fine ground
1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, sweet Hungarian Paprika
salt & pepper, to taste
6-8 slices of pork scallopini (or whatever meat you choose)
2 cups vegetable or sunflower oil (or a light frying oil)
2 lemons, cut into wedges

To start your schnitzel, you need to set up a small assembly line which will include 3 dishes (2 large plates and 1 bowl) and then your large fry pan. You may also want to preheat your oven to 200F and put in a baking sheet with a rack so you can keep you schnitzel warm until you are ready to serve. Now, let's get started!
  1. Your first plate will hold your flour, then you will have your bowl which will include your eggs and milk whisked together and then your last plate will include your bread crumbs along with your spices mixed in.
  2. Using a meat tenderizer, hammer you meat on both sides so that it is nice and thin, be careful not to tear the meat.
  3. Pour your oil into your pan so that you have approx. 1/4" in the pan and heat it on medium until it reaches 350F.
  4. First dip your meat, 1 piece at a time, into the flour and lightly coat it, followed by your egg wash and then the bread crumbs ensuring that your meat is completely coated in the breadcrumbs. Then lay it onto your platter and continue this process until your oil is heated to 350F.
  5. When your oil is ready immerse your meat and cook it until it is lightly browned on each side (3-5 mins/side depending on size and thickness of the meat). Be sure not to overcrowd the meat in the pan when you are cooking it.
  6. When it is ready, place them on your warming tray in the oven until you are ready serve.

The traditional way of serving schnitzel is with a wedge a lemon and each individual squeezes it on themselves.

As I mentioned previously, this is a great start for many other meals, for example, with Chicken Parmigiana, use my tomato sauce recipe from the fall and you are ready to go! Simply place your chicken into an oven friendly dish, pour on the tomato sauce and grate some mozzeralla cheese and parmigiana and bake at 350F for approx. 20 mins and you are done! This also makes an awesome sandwich!

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cuban Chicken

I love chicken and am not afraid to admit it either. I love it because it is versatile and you really can't mess it up! What I love about this recipe is that like chicken, it too is versatile You can control the heat by adding or subtracting the chile peppers and it is so full of flavour! Plus you can use either a butterflied chicken, a whole chicken or pieces, it is so delicious and definitely a favourite in my household, hope it will be one in yours as well!

Cuban Chicken

6 limes, juiced
1 pkg achiote paste (available at South American food shops)
3 spring onions, chopped diagonally into 1" pieces
3/4 cup olive oil
7 cloves garlic, smashed and roughy chopped
125 ml of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
2 fresh chile peppers, chopped

  1. In a medium sized bowl, break the achiote paste into small pieces and soak it in the lime juice until the paste begins to "melt"
  2. Add in the onions, garlic cloves, chipotle peppers and the olive oil and mix it all together
  3. Pour the sauce onto the chicken and marinate it overnight
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinate and roast at 350 degrees until ready


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chicken with Piri Piri Sauce

I was recently given a copy of the Chatelaine Magazines cookbook, Modern Classics. I could not wait to dig into it. I loved the overall aesthetic, the pale blue cover, the beautiful photos, etc. But I was also really looking forward to looking at the recipes. Over the last few years, I have noticed that Chatelaine has really stepped up their game in the food section. The photos are not only beautiful, but the recipes are quick and easy and definitely family friendly. So when I received the cookbook, I anticipated more of the same, and I was not disappointed.

One thing I also really liked about it, was that the recipes include great tips, and are also easily adjusted to suit your own needs. For example, I made the Piri Piri Chicken on page 120. It was crazy how easy it was. But with the leftover sauce, David made an oven-roasted chicken with rice, tomatoes onions and you guessed it, Piri Piri sauce.

This version is not too spicy so ok if you have older kids who can handle a little heat, but if you like more, you can definitely add more heat. I really enjoy the flavour in their recipe as is though since you get heat, but you can also taste the red pepper.


5 garlic cloves
1 sweet red pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white, cider or red wine vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
1 tsp salt
1/3 tsp hot chili flakes
4 boni-in chicken breasts or thighs (I used thighs
  1.  Cut garlic cloves in half. Coarsely chop red pepper. Coarsely chop jalapeno, including seeds. Place all in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add oil, vinegar, salt and chili flakes. Stir often until peppers sizzle and soften, about 4 minutes. Pour in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to cool. Pour into a food processor or blender and pulse until pureed.
  2. When ready to barbecue, oil grill and heat barbecue to medium. Place chicken in a large bowl. Pour in 1/3 cup sauce and turn to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate remaining sauce for up to 1 week. Place chicken on the grill. Barbecue, lid closed, 6 minutes, then brush on any sauce left in the bowl. Turn chicken and continue to barbecue, lid closed, until chicken feels springy when pressed and is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pies...made to order

Peach Crumble
I love to make pie. This is evident by the number of blog entries that I have on the various pies that I make. To be perfectly honest, I am holding back too since I am sure you don't all just want to read about my pies. So when I am not writing about what I am eating or cooking, I am talking about it. And as my partner David always reminds me, not everybody is as interested in food as I am. But in my circle, they are and this (Canadian) Thanksgiving, it paid off. A friend of mine at work casually asked me if I was willing to bake her a pumpkin pie if she paid me. Why not? I was already baking 2 for my family, what was one more? Well, one pie, turned into two, which in 3 days turned into 8, yes 8 pies! I couldn't believe it. Of course David thought I was mad, but nothing gave me more pleasure then spending the weekend baking pumkin and apple pies for people. I love seeing how each one turns out, it still amazes me that I am making this little things. Below are a few pics of my Thanksgiving, made-to-order pies. Who knows, this could be a little business! If you are in the Greater Toronto Area, and are interested in a pie, pls let me know!
Apple Pie in the making

Pumpkin and Apple Pie

Peach Blueberry Pie

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tomato Season

Well the tomato season is over, but I sure reaped the benefits of my tomato plants this year! I have never planted them before and truly had no idea how many tomatoes each plant would yield, so now I know better for next year. But, I am not complaining, I went through 3 harvests with my plants and passed baskets to my neighbors, family, friends and anyone else who would take them. I make tomato tart (which you already have the recipe for), tomato sauce, tomato salad. oven-roasted tomatos and more. Below is my basic basic tomato sauce. Great as a base. The trick to this one, is slow cooking it, long and low heat to allow it to thicken and for all the flavours to come out.

My Tomato Sauce

4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp smoked paprika
3 quarts fresh roma tomatoes, skinned
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil and the garlic on low heat until you can smell the garlic.
  2. Add in paprika and the oregano and saute for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add in the tomatoes, and using an emulsifying hand blend, mix it until it is smooth
  4. Allow it to simmer for approx. 1 hour with the lid off
  5. Add in the fresh oregano and let it simmer again for another hour
  6. Check it regularly to ensure it doesn't get too thick. Add in your salt & pepper to taste
Over all, I usually let it simmer for about 3-4 hours. Then I let it cool and jar it up! You can add in fresh basil as well near the end if you like.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Simple but impressive tomato tart

Everyone has a few things in their fridge or freezer, that with a few key ingredients, they can whip something together that is sure to impress. For me, it is a tomato tart made with puff pastry. And no I don't make my own or I wouldn't be able to whip this together. But it is beautiful, flaky and definitely something that everyone loves. The beautiful buttery flavour is one that few can resist.

It takes about 10 mins to assemble, and then 30 mins to cook, and it is fabulous!! As an appetizer, or a side with salad or steak. Hope you enjoy!!

150 g puff pastry, thawed
4 ripe tomato, sliced into rounds
3/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup nicoise olives (optional)
1/4 cup fresh roughly chopped basil
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
  1. Roll the puff pastry out into your desired shape, square, rectangle or circle. Fold the edge over once to create a small lip
  2. Lay out tomato slices around on the puff pastry side by side filling the the tart
  3. Sprinkle the feta cheese over the entire tart, followed by the olives and then the basil.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil over top of the tart and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 mins or until the crust is a nice golden brown
The beauty of this recipe, is also that it can handle so many variations. Change your vegetable based on season and pair with a different cheese that compliments your vegetable and you have a whole new dish.
For example, pear & blue cheese, asparagus and brie cheese, caramelized onions with...just about anything. Have fun with it, sweet or savoury. Enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The pleasure of gluttony

Sometimes it is not about what I make, but about what I eat. I would never dare to prepare this at home but it was oh so delicious! I will preface this by saying that despite the fact that I shared this with my girlfriend, I still couldn't finish my half!

I found myself at The Counter at The Thompson Hotel this week where my AWESOME waiter recommended the double grilled cheese burger. Yes you heard it, that is 2 grilled cheese sandwiches as the bun, plus the burger, bacon and all the toppings.

Look at that cheese oozing out of that burger and the generous strips of bacon! So delicious. I would have preferred my burger to not have been so well done, I am a medium-rare girl myself but I understand that restaurants can't serve their burgers that way, but it was still fantastic. I loved that the grilled cheese was a combination of cheeses as well and that they were not at all chintzy.  However, if you choose to order this crazy burger, you have to ask for it. While it is a regular part of the menu, you won't see it printed on the menu.

Ok, so I know your arteries are beginning to clog, but it didn't stop there. That's right, if a double grilled cheese burger wasn't enough, we also ordered the rings & fries combo with chipotle mayo. Ok, so I am a sucker for a good onion ring. French fries I can do without, and these onion rings are fantastic! Not your traditional batter, super crispy, not greasy at all and with a sprinkle of salt...perfection! As for the fries, not bad. I like my fries crispy but not too crunchy. I was worried when the basket appeared that they would be too "potatoey" but no. They had substance and were definitely crispy.
All in all, it was hilarious lunch. Here were 2 girls sharing this enormous lunch, laughing at the fact that we even ordered it, but enjoying every bite. Should you choose to try it, definitely share it, maybe even 3 ways. I still couldn't finish my half, and then couldn't eat for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Harvest

Well, it is not because I have not been busy in the kitchen that I haven't posted lately. It is harvest time with the tomatoes and peppers that I have been growing in my garden. So in fact, I have been very busy making enough tomato sauce to keep me eating homemade sauce through the entire winter, PLUS, I have enough red pepper jelly to ensure that not a cheese plate will go without until next year. Oh yeah, and I still have enough to give to friends and family. I have always wanted to do that, pretty little jars with my own homemade concoctions. Truth is though, I have always felt a little bit intimidated by canning. What with the boiling and pectins and the sterilizing and the tongs and the potential to accidentally poison the people that I love. Well this year, I conquered that fear with a fabulous little book given to me by my good friend Chris, Jellies, Jams & Chutneys, by Thane Prince and published by DK Books.

So with the detail and far from overwhelming instructions from this beautiful little book, I felt ready to tackle my first 'official' jelly. So following the recipe on page 182, I made a most lovely Red Pepper Jelly that is now the talk of my girlfriends and family. Not only is good on cheese, but I quite like on toast with butter and eggs too! So here it is my friends, the Jellies, Jams & Chutneys recipe for Red Pepper Jelly.

My personal notes before you start:

  1. This Jelly has great flavour and a very pleasant amount of heat. But if you like a little more kick to your jelly, throw in a couple more fresh peppers, or include the seeds.
  2. I prefer to have a few flakes of the peppers floating in the jelly, so once you drain the peppers, take a couple of tbsp of the peppers and put it back into the mixture. 
  3. This is a 2 day process, so you don't have to prep you jars until Day 2.

Red Pepper Jelly

Takes 30 mins over 2 days
Makes about 3 1/2 lbs or 16 little jars
Keeps for about 6 mos. refridgerated

6 large red bell peppers, stems remove, halved and seeded
12 red chiles, halved (I used a combo the Bird's Eye or Red Thai, Westland and Scotch Bonnet Chiles)
2-1/2 cups red wine vinegar
2-1/4 lb granulated sugar
9 oz. liquid pectin

  1. Put the peppers and chiles into a blender or food processor, and chop finely, pulsing the machine on and off. Alternatively, chop by hand.
  2. Transfer the chopped peppers and chiles to a deep, heavy nonreactive saucepan. Add the vinegar, and bring to a boil Boil for 5 minutes, then let drip through a cheesecloth or other jelly bag overnight.
  3. Pour the resulting liquid into the cleaned saucepan and add the sugar. Bring the mixture slowly to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Add the pectin, increase the heat, and cook at a full rolling boil for 2 minutes, then test for a set.
  5. When the jelly has reached the setting point, ladle into small sterilized jars and cover with vinegar-proof seals.
    Hope you enjoy this beautiful jelly as much as I do.  I will let you know what else I make from this great little book.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Fish Tacos

    Many years ago, my partner David and I went to Venice Beach in L.A. where I had the opportunity to try fish tacos for the first time. They were delicious and since that time, I  haven't found anything like them. And these are not like them either, sorry! But, I still think they are pretty good. Plus, the fish is so full of flavour that you could use the same fish recipe and serve with the salsa and rice and have a whole other meal. ln fact, you could pretty well dissect almost the entire meal and use each of the recipes in other meals.

    This one though is fresh, simple, quick and easy to make! Obviously you could use use a store-bought salsa and guacamole, but, given how quick and truly easy they are to make, I prefer to make my own (plus it is a great way to impress guests!) In this case, I not only made my own, but I used fresh ingredients from my garden. My tomatoes and hot peppers are ready to go!

    Hope you enjoy it as much as my family did! (This recipe served 3 adults)

    Fish Tacos

    3 Tilapia filets
    1 lime, juiced
    1 tbsp ancho chili powder
    1 tsp salt
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1. Sprinkle the fish, both sides, with the chili powder and salt. Gently rub it into the fish.
    2. Squeeze lime juice on the fish, then drizzle with olive oil. 
    3. Allow it marinade for approx. 1 hour.
    1/4 red or white onion, chopped fine
    4-5 medium tomatoes, diced
    1/2 lime, juiced
    1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
    1/2 thai red chili, chopped fine (remove the seeds to make it less spicy)
    1/4 cup olive oil
    salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

    • Mix all of the above ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Stir and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

    2 avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
    1 clove garlic, chopped fine
    1-1/2 limes, juiced
    1/4 tsp cumin
    1/4 cup cilantro chopped
    2 dashes chipotle sauce
    1/2 thai chili chopped fine
    sea salt to taste

    1. Place avocados in a medium sized bowl. Add garlic, lime juice, cumin, salt, cilantro and chipotle sauce.
    2. Mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are well combined and the avocado has achieved your desired texture. (I like mine a little lumpy).
    1/4 head butter lettuce, chopped
    1/2 cup sour cream or plain yoghurt
    1/2 cup Feta cheese
    6-8 small wraps
    1/4 cup refried beans or black beans (optional)

    Once all of that is ready, and your table is set, it is time to cook the fish!


    1. To cook the fish, heat a cast iron pan over med-high heat until it is almost smoking hot. 
    2. Add fish and all of the juices from the marinade and cook for approx. 3-5 mins per side (depending on thickness of the fish) or until the fish is cooked through.

    Place on a platter, and serve while hot! This is a great serve yourself dinner. Everyone can mix and match their ingredients according to their tastes. I usually keep an extra bottle of hot sauce on the table for those who need that extra kick!