Mother’s Day 2015

What day is today? Today is Mother’s Day! For Mother’s Day this year I hosted GC’s parents and Ninni for an afternoon tea in the backyard.

IMG_3754 IMG_3758I made five different sandwiches and savoury scones:

1. Cucumber & Chive Butter
2. Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Basil
3. Tomato Pesto Tea Sandwiches
4. Radish-Chive Tea Sandwiches
5. Nordic Open Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwiches
6. Cream Biscuits with Prosciutto and Parmesan Cheese

Dessert was leftover cake from Amelia’s birthday. To celebrate my amazing sister I had made a Chocolate Raspberry Cake.

IMG_3749Don’t worry – my Mama didn’t get left out. My mom, in all her typical intensity and amazingness, brought over a barbeque feast with all the fixings: steak, pasta salad, potato salad, greek salad and fruit salad. All I had to do in return was provide another cake, a Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake with a light cream cheese frosting.

IMG_3769I got it from my Mama – and by “it” I mean my baking and cooking skills. My mom has cooked and baked for our family for over 30 years and has always done it with grace, elegance and skill. It is never a big deal for my mom to host a family dinner or bring food to a potluck. She created the home that I hope to create for my family: I always want people to come over to our house and know that there will be food and drink, that it is not an imposition and that everything will be cooked with skill and love.

Happy munching!

Ital Board

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe above is a snack I mae for a date-night with GC. It is an antipasto snack platter inspired by the Ital board at 416 Snack Bar: arancini, recipe antipasto skewers, prosciutto, two types of Italian cheese, olives, crostini and Italian greyhounds with rosemary sugar.

The recipe for the Italian greyhound is below the cut. Happy munching!

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Father’s Day

This year we celebrated Father’s Day with two barbeques: Saturday was spent with GC’s parents and Ninni in our backyard  and Sunday was spent with my family.

Saturday’s menu featured my classic burgers, potato salad and of course, a strawberry rhubarb pie. My burger recipe is simple but delicious. I use ground beef (lean), breadcrumbs, garlic powder, dried onion, oregano, and parsley. My latest change to my recipe is barbeque sauce. The barbeque sauce keeps the burgers moist without making them puff up like an egg will do but still binds the meat together so that they do not fall apart on the grill.

Prior to Father’s Day weekend, I didn’t have a go to potato salad recipe, but now I do. I tried this Yogurt and Dill Potato Salad from The Yummy Life and it is ah-mazing. The combination of mayo and yogurt is light and sweet, making you feel slightly less terrible for eating potato salad. The combination of dill, parsley (fresh from our back garden!), green onion and celery is fresh, summery and light. Make it the night before a big barbeque and enjoy!

GC’s dad’s favourite pie is rhubarb. I am lucky enough that his birthday falls in May and Father’s Day falls in June, prime rhubarb season. Every year I try a new rhubarb recipe and every year his dad loves it. This year, I tried Martha Stewart’s Rhubarb Crumble Pie. IMG_0706 IMG_0716

My crust turned out wonderfully! It was light, flaky and super buttery. The rhubarb was sweet and tart, tender and oozy. The crumble topping was delicious and could have been eaten on its own. Does it get much better then brown sugar, butter and flour? Obviously not. There was a piece left for my mom the next day and it passed her pie taste test so I think my skills as a pie maker are improving!

Sunday we had my sisters and my parents over for Barbeque Part II in the backyard to celebrate JDL. There was bocce, croquet and of course, food. I made Carolina Pulled Pork sandwiches, Yogurt and Dill Potato Salad, Southwestern Black Bean Salad, Pineapple Pink Lemonade Punch and Chocolate Cream Pie.

The Carolina Pulled Pork is one of the easiest things you will ever make! You quickly sear the pork roast on the stove and then pop it in the slow cooker for hours and then impress everyone with your Southern barbeque abilities. It is topped with a creamy, tart coleslaw that is also easy to make. You could be insane and shred all your cabbage yourself or you could just buy your bag of coleslaw mix. The cabbage is topped with a simple dressing. It is not too drenched in mayo, just the right amount. Theresa liked this sandwich so much that she said this sandwich has ruined restaurant pulled pork for her. Sorry!

The Southwestern Black Bean salad is great! It is easy because it is essentially chopping, can opening and stirring. There are so many great textures, colours and flavours to this salad. The avocado is the best part and because of the citrus dressing it doesn’t turn brown and rotten looking. This bean salad was a hit at my barbeque.

Having a large group of people over is a great opportunity to try out a new cocktail or punch. For Father’s Day I made Pineapple Pink Lemonade Party Punch. Literally pour all the ingredients into the pitcher, stir and serve over ice. Oh, and maybe add some rum. I will be keeping my fridge stocked off all these ingredients all summer long.

For dessert we had my favourite s’mores cookie bars and Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Cream Pie. I wasn’t thrilled with how the pie turned out. I omitted the gelatin because it should have firmed up on its own but it didn’t. The slices didn’t come out of the pie dish nicely and it was very messy. It was delicious because it was chocolate custard topped with whipped cream but the presentation wasn’t the greatest. I would not make this recipe again.

Overall, our Father’s Days were a hit! All the above recipes are perfect for any barbeque so you have all summer to try them out! Happy munching!

 

Summer 2014

We are officially into summer 2014. The days are longer, hotter and spent outside. With the intense humidity, warm air and stickiness I try to keep it simple and basic. Here are my top three inspirations for summer 2014.

Summer Inspiration1. Picnics – Photo Credit: Your Intrinstic Beauty – when in doubt, eat outside. This is going to be my mantra this summer. I will be taking to parks, backyards and curbs munching on foods thoughtfully prepared at home. A picnic doesn’t require a basket or a gingham blanket, just some good food shared with even better company. Hiking, beaching, and parking (meaning to sit in a park not to sit in a stationary car) are just some of the places you will find me this summer with good food. What picnics am I most looking forward to? I still owe a friend a birthday picnic and I plan to indulge in some appetizers and cocktails at one of Toronto’s many outdoor films this summer.

2. Barbeques – Photo Credit: Abu Dhabi Confidential – Why turn on your stove, let alone your oven to cook in the summer? Whether it is propane, charcoal or gas, food just tastes better from the barbeque. Hot dogs, burgers and steaks are the favourites of my grill but this year, I have more ambitious plans. I want to use my barbeque as a smoker, an oven to bake something sweet, a grill for sweet pineapple and peaches and of course, the way to cook epic amounts of August sweet corn. Yummms.

3. Popsicles and Iced Treats – Photo Credit: Endless Simmer – There is no better way to cool down on a hot, sticky summer day than enjoying a cold, iced treat. Ok, maybe a beer is the best way to cool down but I don’t plan to get in brewing. Yet. I plan to keep my freezer stocked with homemade popsicles and to venture into the land of sinful booze pops. If that wasn’t enough to cool me off, I want to FINALLY (yes, I’ve said that before) use my ice cream maker and this might just be the recipe to try. And if I have homemade ice cream in the house why not making my own cookies and have ice cream sandwiches?

What are you inspirations for summer 2014? Happy munching!

Chickpea and Roasted Tomato Soup with Fried Rosemary

Finally! The soup from the cover of my favourite cookbook!!

I absolutely love this soup! The combination of spices evoke dreams of Morroco – cinnamon, troche cumin, cialis and paprika. The chick peas and tomatoes reinforce the Middle Eastern vibe of the soup and give the soup substance and depth. I puréed the soup a little too much because I used the blender rather than the immersion blender. This makes it a little more difficult to gage how much you have puréed but the soup is still good!

It is perfect on a cold, stormy day but also great on a warm, sunny day. I plan to enjoy this soup all summer longer, enjoying the flavours of the Mediterranean before we head there in the fall for the honeymoon!

Recipe is below the cut – happy munching!

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Chili Con Carne with Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

Every great cook has their own chili recipe. Growing up chili was a staple in our house. Everyone loves chili. Except for me. I don’t like kidney beans. I don’t like their fleshy, grainy textures, their hard exterior or their slightly woody flavour. Because of this, I rarely eat chili. But, unfortunately, I live with someone who loves with chili.

In flipping through the pages of my trusty Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day I discovered a recipe for Chili Con Carne which, to my delight, does not have kidney beans!!! I know this is something I should have probably known as I claim to love food but I didn’t.

photo 2This is the best chili ever! Huge chunks of tender, juicy meat, spicy and sweet peppers and a mix of amazing spices: chili powder, cumin, coriander and cilantro. It has a great Tex-Mex flavour to it. This chili has a rich, deep flavour and gives off an amazing aroma. It had such an intense smell that a vegetarian coworker admitted how good it smelt! I think if a meat-based meal can make a vegetarian admit that it smells and looks good, then you have a classic, make-again recipe.

And of course, what is chili without biscuits?

photo 1(2)photo 5(1)I made these biscuits as a Sunday morning, stay-in brunch, served with my fluffy scrambled eggs and prosciutto. They are best eaten day of, warm and flaky from the oven. The combination of cheddar, butter and green onion cannot be matched. This is another classic, make-again recipe.

I stumbled across two recipes that are easy and work perfectly together. Both are below the cut – happy munching!

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Curried Cream of Celery Soup

The weather is randomly cold again which means I am making soup constantly. I am still making the slow transition into chilled soup and wrapping my head around them. Until I am completely comfortable with this idea, pharmacy warm soups will make an appearance on this blog. A few weeks ago I made curried cream of celery soup.

photo 1(1)This is a combination of flavours and spices that I never would have thought of. The soup is thick and completely infused with rich, rx curry flavour. It is the perfect soup to have on a cold, stormy day.

Recipe is below the cut – happy munching!

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

IMG_5558Pancake Tuesday has come and gone and but we never talked about it. On Pancake Tuesday we did your typical big breakfast: chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice and breakfast. As I can’t have proper breakfast most days, I usually have either cereal or oatmeal, this was the perfect way to satisfy all my breakfast cravings. This has sparked our trend of having breakfast for dinner. It is simple, fast and filling.

On the following Sunday we took regular pancakes up a notch and I made lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote. I had high hopes for these pancakes and was unfortunately disappointed. The ricotta is moist and heavy and therefore the pancakes aren’t your typical light and fluffy pancakes. I will admit that I used icing sugar instead of baking soda. Yes, that’s right. I made that kind of mistake. A few weeks ago we had issues with mice and now everything is in unmarked plastic containers. I have since tasted everything and written clear labels to avoid more flat pancakes.

The lemon and ricotta work nicely together and would taste delicious together in something else. And it goes without saying, blueberries and lemon are best friends and should always be together.

Recipe is below the cut – happy munching!

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Soup: Round Up III

As we enter April the weather is slowly warming up which means that our soup days are numbered. This summer I vow to try chilled soups but until then, here is a few warm soups I made in March.

IMG_55611. Steak and Potato Soup – January 26 – this soup is a thick, luscious stew. The vegetables are roasted and sweet, coated in caramelization. It takes your typical beef stew to another level with sophsticated and different vegetables: sweet potatoes and parsnips. The steak is moist and falls apart in the stew. This will definitely make a regular appearance in our house next winter.

2. Cream of Asparagus Soup – March 2 – this soup tastes like pure spring. Asparagus is one of my favourite vegetables and I wait all year for it. It is so fresh, tender and moist. The soup is creamy, light and fresh. It needs to be puréed a lot to remove all the natural stringiness that asparagus has. Add a dollop of sour cream and fresh chives to add even more freshness and you are kicking off spring!

3. Moroccan Lamb Meatball and Couscous Soup – March 22 – I was so excited for this soup. The picture in the cookbook was so appealing: spicy meatballs, a red broth, pearls of couscous dotting the soup and pieces of mint floating on the surface. However, mine did not turn out like this. It turned into a congealed blob of couscous with meatballs stuck in it. I used Moroccan couscous because I couldn’t find Israeli and this made a huge difference. Moroccan couscous is smaller and is sucked up so much broth. i couldn’t find ground lamb so I used ground chicken. This recipe was a mismatch of substitution. GC didn’t mind it though and I guess if at least one person enjoyed and ate all the soup then it couldn’t have been that bad.

Recipes are below the cut – happy munching!

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Monterey Chicken Grilled Cheese

April is officially here and although I don’t have a huge attachment to this month there are some highlights:

  1. It is Le Faz’s birthday. Easily one of my favourite people and her birthday is always one of my favourite days of the year.  Give her some love on April 5th.
  2. Easter is later this year which maybe means I will actually bake, physician cook and craft Easter-themed things
  3. I will be making Matzo Ball soup for Passover. It is a combination of being constantly mistaken as Jewish and living in a very Jewish neighbourhood with a very Jewish grocery store that has inspired me to make Matzo Ball soup for Passover. More on that later.
  4.  NATIONAL GRILLED CHEESE MONTH. I don’t know which nation we are referring to but I also don’t care. It involves cheese therefore I am in.

Another grilled cheese recipe to get you psyched for National Grilled Cheese Month in April – the Monterey Chicken Grilled Cheese by Iowa Girl Eats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlease go out and buy these ingredients right now and make this grilled cheese. It is easily one of the best grilled cheeses I have ever eaten. It is sweet, thumb salty, crunchy, chewy and saucy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALet’s start from the beginning: The suggested instructions on how to cook the chicken are perfect. This is the simplest and moistest chicken breast I have ever eaten. Literally put your chicken breast on a baking sheet, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 20ish minutes at 400°F. Does it get any easier than that? I plan to incorporate more chicken into things now that it is this easy and I don’t have to worry about salmonella.

The bacon adds a perfect crispy quality that works with the fleshiness of the tomato. And to top it all off: barbeque sauce. The BBQ sauce ties the entire sandwich together. It adds more sweetness to highlight the tomato, saltiness to compliment the bacon and sauciness to add even more moisture to the chicken. And the perfect topper of this sandwich: instead of butter, the bread was lathered with olive oil. It was easier to spread and added such a different flavour to the sandwich. It was a very adult grilled cheese.

Make this now. Please. And thank you. Happy munching!