Lasagna Grilled Cheese

As March comes to a close we can finally look forward to April: warmer weather, Easter, and of course, National Grilled Cheese Month. I plan to fully embrace this month-long celebration of one of my favourite foods. In preparation of April I have to look back to a sandwich I made a few weeks ago: the Lasagna Grilled Cheese.

IMG_5541 IMG_5544Recipe: Joy the Baker

I think this sandwich, while delicious, is misnamed. There is no tomato sauce, and more importantly, there is no meat and real lasagna has to have meat. Sorry vegetarians, I love you but real lasagna needs and should have meat. A more appropriate name would be a cannelloni grilled cheese. But really, what’s in a name? The important thing is delicious, simple and amazing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe combination of cheese is a perfect blend of creamy, salty and sweet. The ricotta is creamy and smooth but at the same time has a coarse, saltiness to it. The mozzarella is milky, thick and rich. The use of two cheeses in this sandwich brings it to the next level – from snack to full-on meal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cheeses are both mellowed out and complimented by the basil and the tomatoes. Both are sweet but salty and taste like an Italian backyard in July. This recipe was fresh, simple and makes me yearn for summer. I will be making this grilled cheese again and again this summer using fresh ingredients from the garden.

Check out the recipe on Joy the Baker’s site and maybe check out this recipe too – it’s what I will be making next.

Happy munching!

Leek & Potato Soup with Blue Cheese

Another recipe from my favourite book, recipe Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day. This time it is the Potato and Leek Soup with Blue Cheese from January 28.

This is a great recipe that takes your standard potato-leek soup to the next level. The soup is thick from the starchy potatoes and creamy from the little bit of blue cheese. The leeks give the soup that subtle onion flavour that adds a bit of heat and freshness to the soup. The soup will look absolutely revolting once it is done, discount resembling a Dickensian sludge. But unlike that sludge, treat it is absolutely delicious and worth making again.

Recipe is below the cut – happy munching!

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Broccoli Leek Soup

Today you get something special: a peek into what Taste Buddies would be like if GC wrote this blog. Last week GC made a delicious broccoli leek soup (Williams-Sonoma – March 5) because I didn’t have time to during the week. As you will see, GC is much more deligent about his cooking and blogging – he photographed every step of the process.

IMG_5601This soup was delicious. The soup retains the texture of the broccoli florets and has subtle undertones of leek. Leeks are a great alternative to onion as they have the same onion flavour, but are sweeter and fresher, a nice mix between green onion and yellow onion.

The garlic croutons add a nice crunch but quickly dissolve into the soup. The sour cream and chives taste fresh and cool, tasting and reminding you of spring. This is the perfect soup to usher in the start of spring and I want to thank GC for doing such an amazing and delicious job!

Recipe and photos are below the cut – happy munching!

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Spring 2014

We are officially into spring and I am embracing it. It has been a long, thumb cold and all over the place winter. My head is about to explode after so many rises and falls in temperature and pressure. Although it looks like we have some more cold days ahead of us here are my inspirations for spring:

Spring InspirationTulips – Photo Credit: Set Fashion – Tulips are the quintessential spring flower. They are one of the first flowers to break through the remaining snow and give proof that spring is around the corner. I plan to fill my kitchen with tulips this spring to make it a more inviting and brighter space, illness to inspire delicious cooking and flavours.

Brunch – Photo Credit: The Huffington Post –  I know that seems very broad and not specific to spring but the center of any brunch plate is an egg and the center to all spring things is eggs. This spring I want to explore and wander through more neighbours and cap off every wandering with a delicious brunch.

Nautical things – Photo Credit: Oh So Lovely Vintage Blog – nautical design is just what you need after a long winter. Simple patterns, bold colours, and iconic imagery reminds one of the warm days ahead. I want to wear striped sweaters, cropped pants and boat shoes. I want to spend more days down by the water. I want to eat more seafood.

Three simple things to kick off the warm weather of 2014. Enjoy and spring forward!

St. Patrick’s Day 2014

St. Patrick’s Day is not my favourite holiday but it is one I seem to celebrate every year. I wear green, I paint my nails green and gold and of course, I bake and cook.

This year, I busted out Brown Eyed Baker’s Irish Car Bomb recipe again because it is perfect and totally lovely. Between juggling my purse, lunch and a massive container of cupcakes, trying to hold on to the subway pole and not making eye contact with people so they don’t ask for treats, I narrowly made it to work without a smushed or dented cupcake. Phew. I think it was worth it as all the cupcakes were munched and not a trace remained.

For lunch I made Irish Lamb Stew (from Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day – March 17). Giancarlo and I made this stew together and it was the first thing we truly made together – cue your awwwws.

IMG_5587This stew was amazing. It has a huge depth of flavour and texture. Because the ingredients are layered, the bottom layer of potatoes and onion complete dissolve and create a thick, flavourful base for the stew. The top layer of potatoes and onion maintain their shape and texture creating distinguishable chunks of deliciousness. The lamb is chewy, moist and tender.The thyme permeates the entire soup and gives it this rich, intense flavour. Yummmm.

This stew will become a staple for St. Patrick’s Day in our house. It is a few days late but you should make it anyway!

Recipe is below the cut and happy munching!

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Fanny Chadwick’s

Another weekend, another brunch. We went to Fanny Chadwick’s (another restaurant on the BlogTO list – #19) for brunch with our friends Nick and Rachel. FC’s is located in the Annex on the main floor of an old Victorian house. It has a very cozy, farmhouse feel to it – white wooden chairs, hardwood floors, and booths with bright, vibrant fabric.
The brunch menu is simple and highlights quality ingredients that are farmed ethically. They only serve naturally raised meats and poultry from local, ethical farmers sourced through Close to the Bone. The farm fresh eggs are from small flock pastured hens from Green Meadow Eggs. All of fish and seafood are Ocean Wise certified and sourced through De La Mer. The artisanal cheeses are from Mennonite farms and sourced through Art of Cheese.
The highlight of the brunch menu would have to be the Build Your Own Benny where you can literally top your Benny with anything and everything. Despite the fact that egg’s Benedict is my favourite breakfast food I opted for something a little different. I ordered the Stuffed Finnish Pancakes.
IMG_5575Stuffed Finnish Pancakes -crepe like pancakes stuffed with goat cheese and pears roasted in olive oil, basil and maple syrup, topped with sea salt and honey served with peameal.
 This was a ridiculous amount of food. I don’t think I needed a side of peameal with it, salad would have been lighter and more fitting with the crepes. But the crepes! The crepes were thin and cooked all the way through. The filling was thick and luscious. I wish the cheese had been mascarpone instead of goat cheese, it would have been sweeter and worked in better compliment with the pears. The pears were sweet, soft and delicious. The pears were flavoured strongly by the maple syrup, but the basil and olive oil could not be tasted. My favourite part was the sea salt. It added the perfect amount of salty contrast that brought out the richness and depth of the cheese and pears. Yum, yum, yum.
GC, Nick and Rachel ordered the special of the day, the PLT.
IMG_5574The PLT – a buttermilk scone with lettuce, tomatillo, guacamole, peameal, a fried egg and lime-basil aioli with potato hash or salad.
I was jealous of their breakfasts – how could you not? They all loved this. And of course, another ridiculous amount of food. We all loved our brunch experience here and all want to go back to enjoy the rest of their menu.  I think you should check it out too.
Happy munching!
 

Dumpling Queen

Earlier this year a new dumpling place opened near my work called Dumpling Queen. On Valentine’s Day I went for dumplings with my dumpling at lunch time!

You are drawn in to the restaurant by the women working away in the front window, furiously making dumplings: rolling out dough, mixing filling and stuffing and forming each perfect little pillow of yums. The interior of the restaurant itself is nothing special: red walls, simple tables and chairs and a random assortment of art on the walls. Not much attention has been paid to the interior of the restaurant which made me skeptical of the quality of the food. I know, I know, the most unassuming places are usually hidden gems that make the most amazing food and this is one of them.

We kept it simple and ordered two types of dumplings: boiled shrimp and vegetable dumplings and fried pork and celery dumplings.

IMG_5466I loved how the pork dumplings came:  in a fried connected web of deliciousness.This is the traditional way to serve fried dumplings: upside down, fried veins connecting all the dumplings. The dumplings were crispy on the top and soft on the bottom. The pork and celery are a natural pairing, the rich fattiness of the pork with the fresh subtly of the celery.

IMG_5467The shrimp and vegetable dumplings were okay. I didn’t like the consistency of the vegetables. They were minced to the point that they were unrecognizable. There were large pieces of garlic that threw off the consistency of the filling. There was only one piece of shrimp per dumpling, causing the shrimp to be overwhelmed by the vegetable filling. Stick with the pork dumplings, they are delicious.

This place is comparable to Mother’s Dumplings and it’s in my neighbourhood at work making it a win, win for me. I will be making frequent appearances here on my lunch hour.

Happy munching!

 

CAMP Restaurant

Spring is just around the corner – the days are getting longer, brighter and warmer and you can actually hear birds chirping. The sidewalks are getting drier which means I am more willing to trek to the far reaches (more accurately what I consider far reaches) of Toronto.

Last weekend I found myself at Bloor and Jane with Cynthia and Al and we enjoyed brunch at CAMP Restaurant.

We arrived at the restaurant at 12:30 and didn’t have to wait and there were still tables available for larger groups. We didn’t feel rushed or crowded and were really able  to sit and actually enjoy brunch. It was a nice change of pace for the Toronto brunch scene.

This is one of the more adorable and thematically-perfect restaurants I have been to in a long time. The restaurant is decorated with kitschy knick-knacks that look like they are out of a 1970s summer camp: bunting, small toys, rustic art pieces of wildlife, preserves and two Winnabago models. One is displayed on a shelf, the other has been appropriated as part of the bar as a cover for the beer taps. You will feel as if you are brunching on the set of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

Cynthia and I were tempted by one of the specials of the day, the Sweet Italian sausage, and Al ordered the scrambled eggs with toasted baguette.

photo 3Sweet Italian sausage with scalloped potatoes and scrambled eggs.

I liked this, but I didn’t love it. I make the best scrambled eggs so I have a difficult time enjoying scrambled eggs made by other people. These scrambled eggs were dry and too densely packed; they were not fluffy, airy or moist as good scrambled eggs should be. I wish I had had the option to choose how I would have liked my eggs, this should always be a choice at brunch.

The sausage was good – moist, tightly packed and the perfect balance of sweet and salty. The sausage was served with a peppery, hot mustard that complimented the sausage without overwhelming it.

The scalloped potatoes were… interesting. I was expecting creamy, thick, cheesy potatoes and instead I was given Italian-style potatoes. Which I was totally ok with just disappointed on principle. The potatoes were cooked through, creamy and had a rich, tomato flavour. It was definitely an interesting spin on your classic breakfast of bacon, eggs and potato.

This is a cute and comfy spot to enjoy brunch. I am intrigued to go back and see what they offer for dinner AND they offer oysters, pretty much solidifying my need to go back.

Happy munching!

Raspberry Cream Sandwich Cookies

0206_msl_raspcream_hdMore cookies! I made these cookies the same weekend I made the snickerdoodles and they were equally as delicious. These cookies are slightly time consumming because you have to make the cookies and then the filling, salve but trust, shop it is worth it.

The cookies have a very subtle but rich vanilla flavour owed to the real vanilla beans that are used. The cookies are soft and chewy. The filling is a combination of raspberry and white chocolate – creamy, rich and decadent. These cookies are the perfect cookie for spring – they are fruity, light and fresh. The perfect thing after a long, cold winter.

Recipe is below the cut – happy munching!

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Snickerdoodles

Names of food can be misleading: sweetbreads are not actually a loaf of sweet, delicious bread that can be topped with butter but rather various glands of a calf. Head cheese is not actually a cheese but rather a terrine made of the meat from the head of an animal. And snickerdoodles are not actually cookies filled with chunks of a Snickers bar but rather a buttery, cinnamon-sugar cookie.

3113075933_3c50948e13_oThe confusion that can come from the name snickerdoodles is not nearly as confusing as sweetbreads or head cheese but it is confusion nonetheless. I was first corrected about snickerdoodles when a coworker brought in these delicious treats a few months ago.

I made my own version a few weeks ago for a Family Day brunch my parents hosted (yes, we are one of those families who actually get together on Family Day). I used Martha Stewart’s recipe and of course, they turned out brilliantly. They are buttery, soft, and moist and dusted with the perfect combination of cinnamon and sugar. They are also super easy to make!  The only thing you have to be aware of when making these is to not crowd your baking tray. You need to get over the fact that you want to make 12 cookies/tray and quickly be done. I spaced my cookies out 8 per tray and they turned out beautifully.

Recipe is below the cut. Happy munching!

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