Autumn 2015

Autumn is my favourite season. There is so much to love about this season. The changing colour of the leaves and how the trees look when it rains and the bark turns a deep brown against the fiery leaves. The damp, thumb fresh and cold smell that comes with leaves. The soft, pills crunch with each step while walking through a park littered with fallen leaves. Taking hikes in cool weather with knitted scarves and toques. Walking through orchards, medicine wandering through rows and rows of trees, picking apples and other fresh fruits. Long crispy days spent outside followed by long evenings warming up by crackling fires.

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With cooler weather comes hearty meals indoors. Meals indoors around harvest tables and surrounded by friends. Meals that start with beautiful charcuterie boards laden with cheese, olives and figs. Your belly warms up with fall soups full of roasted vegetables and then puréed into silky goodness. The prominent flavours of the season are pumpkin, roasted vegetables, flaky pie crusts, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise. Heavy, rich meals that are followed by hot drinks and cocktails. It is the perfect season to enjoy the outdoors and to enjoy all the bounty of the harvest.

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Saving Grace

A few weeks ago GC and I went for a weekday brunch at Saving Grace.

Photo Credit: BlogTO

Saving Grace is a little restaurant on Dundas West that can easily be missed from the street. The day we went the windows were completely steamed up and the name was hard to read on the glass. When we got inside, it was busy with a low buzz of conversation. The restaurant has a very minimalist feel to it: white walls, wooden booths, a few pieces of art on the wall and that’s about it. The colour palate reminded me of being in an airy kitchen by the water. It is the atmosphere that allows the food to be the focus of the entire experience.

I ordered the Savoury French Toast.

photo 4The Savoury French Toast stuffed with gruyere, caramelized apples and roasted red onions with greens.

Do not claim something is stuffed when it is actually just a sandwich. This technicality  bothered me so much that it got in the way of my enjoyment of my meal. That sounds crazy and irrational but it illustrates how restaurants often times dress up simple menu items to entice people to ordering them when maybe they shouldn’t.

I was expecting more of a pseudo-Monte Cristo and was disappointed. There was not enough cheese, I could not taste the red onions and the caramelized apples were not caramelized or soft. I wanted the eggs to completely encase the sandwich and create a juicy, eggy seal around the whole thing. Unfortunately, I got this instead. ALSO! WHERE WAS MY MAPLE SYRUP?! Regardless of what is in, on, underneath or around French toast, it needs to be accompanied by maple syrup.

GC ordered Pan Fried Eggs on a Roll.

photo 2Pan Fried eggs on a roll with chipotle butter, gruyere, bacon, avocado, tomato and shredded lettuce.  GC was satisfied with this. His only complaint was that the baguette-esque bun made it difficult to sink your teeth into. When his plate came out, I immediately regretted my decision.

Overall, we didn’t LOVE it. Sorry. If we had to wait the typical weekend-brunch wait this meal would have been a complete let down. The fact that we were seated and served right away made this meal ok, not great. It was a little too hipster not enough substance for me. Maybe I ordered the wrong menu item but I am not willing to risk it again to find out – there are too many other great brunch restaurants in the city.

Happy munching!

Apple Pie

It isn’t Thanksgiving or autumn until you have had apple pie. Apple pie is so much more than just apples enrobed by crust, it is the whole experience. An apple pie encompasses the entire season – going to the orchard and harvesting the fresh apples, using the comforting flavours of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and heating up the house with toasty and aromatic scents while baking your pie. We went to the Applewood Farm Winery a couple of weeks ago and this weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity the bake an apple pie.

The above picture is the apple pie I baked this past Thanksgiving weekend and the remaining apples we picked from the orchard in the background.

My favourite apple pie is my mother’s and it is her apple pie that made me afraid to attempt making a pie. Typically, when I eat an apple pie that is not my mother’s, I smoother it with cheese but this is more American than delicious. It was time to conquer this fear.

My first attempt at an apple pie was a few weeks back during a couples’ weekend retreat at a cottage. it would have seemed that it went fairly well as it looked nice and the people who tried it did say that it was good. I did not try it not for a lack of faith in my abilities but rather because we had left the cottage before the pie was ready to be sliced into.

My second attempt went extremely well. For my crust I used the recipe from the Crisco website. It is a rule by my mother that when making a pie crust use lard and I agree with this rule. The result is a much flakier and lighter crust. If you are unwilling to use lard/shortening because it is terrible for you, then don’t make a pie. It will just be a waste of your time.The crust was light, flaky and nicely browned. I may have left the pie in for 5 minutes too long which resulted in more browning then desired but it was still a delicious and beautiful looking pie.

For the filling I used the recipe below the cut. The assortment of apples I used was incredibly random and unknown which gave the filling a slightly less firm texture. I prefer a filling that is held together rather than a filling that resembles applesauce. The cinnamon and nutmeg worked in tandem with one another to create a blend of spicy comfort. The brown sugar and sugar were combined in the right proportions to give the filling a molasses sweetness that was not overwhelming.

If I can get over my fear of pie failing, so can you! Happy Thanksgiving and munching!

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