Plank Diet

I have a joke that everything tastes better on a plank and that the only diet I believe in is a plank diet.

Last weekend GC and I ventured down to Cheese Boutique. If you have not been to this store, you must go. Now. It has the most magical assortment of cheeses, spreads, meats, crackers, breads, olives and everything that makes a perfect charcuterie board. There is also a cheese vault (which you can look at and tour in a google-map style on their website). Literally a vault that houses and ferments some of the greatest cheese in the world. When you walk in to this walk-in closet sized room you are hit with the most intense, pungent and amazing smell. I could spend hours in this room.

We spent too much money and picked up four types of cheese, three types of crackers, a bruschetta mix and chili okazu (a sesame, miso pasta that omigosh is so delicious on EVERYTHING).

Cheese Boutique provides brief descriptions of each cheese on the packaging. These are the four types of cheese we had:

Cantal: a raw cow’s milk cheese from around the French Alps. AOC controlled and aged in-house 18 months.

Super Manchego: the only sheep’s raw milk producer of Manchego. Aged in mountain caves in La Mancha. Brought in at 18 months and aged another 6 months to produce a drier, more crystalline texture.

Ontario Goat Cheddar: produced in Lindsay, Ontario with 100% local goat’s milk.

Blackout: Made in Holland exclusively for Cheese Boutique and aged 3 years in-house. This cheese has been released from our vault in honour of the blackout in the summer of 2013. Big, nutty flavour.

My favourite was the Blackout. It was deep in flavour, and had a caramelized, nutty flavour to it; it was a richer gouda.

I am making it a personal rule that I am not allowed to return until after my trip to Paris. Because after all, if you are going to the cheese capital of the world, you should maybe just wait.

Happy munching!

Me & Mine

In the early days of Fall 2014, we visited Me & Mine for brunch. Me & Mine is a cute, small restaurant on College Street West. The interior is very simple and modern, with touches of mid-century modern art. There is plenty of natural light and the light wood of the tables and floors creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. We were seated at a small table at the back of the restaurant near the bar. Coffees and food were served on vintage camping dishes – another rustic, comfortable touch.

I ordered the Brussels Sprouts & Vintage Cheddar Pie.

IMG_1586The Brussels Sprouts & Vintage Cheddar Pie with pickled beet and sage salad.

The pie was fantastic. I love when brunch is actually a combination of breakfast and lunch foods. The crust was flaky, buttery and light. The filling was creamy and cheesy. The Brussels sprouts were roasted nicely – caramelized and slightly crispy on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside. This pie tasted like a Thanksgiving side dish at breakfast time.

As it was brunch it was necessary to order a poached egg on the side. Although the egg was poached nicely it was an awkward side to have ordered – I regretted this decision even though it only cost $2. The whole purpose of eating a poached egg is to have it explode over toast or eggs Benedict and sop up all the delicious lusciousness into your mouth. Not to have your yolk spill into your salad.

I have said it before and I will say it again: salad is not a side for brunch. This time it at least was a logical side, as having home fries accompany a pie would be a ridiculous carb-indulgence.

GC ordered The Breakfast.The Breakfast with house cured pork belly, pork sausage link two poached eggs, toast and compound butter, roasted potatoes and salad.

This is your standard big-breakfast on another level. All bacon should be house cured pork belly and all breakfast sausages should be this thick, meaty and juicy. If you are looking for something a little different in your brunch, but not too different or unconventional, check out Me & Mine.

My only criticism: while we were settling up our bill they asked if we wanted to take dessert to go. Of course we were tempted. The desserts available were peanut butter cookies (obviously not) and butter tarts. I asked if the butter tarts had nuts and I was told no so we ordered 2 to go. We get home and GC goes for the first bite and of course, there was walnuts in my butter tarts. This is incredibly irresponsible. Obviously, if you have a severe allergy, you should never take any chances and probably never even risk eating out but I also operate under the impression that restaurants are responsible and employee somewhat competent employees. WRONG. That’s ok. I’ll stick with the pies and breakfasts, GC said they were better anyway.

Happy munching!

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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Soup Round Up II

Another cold day, tadalafil another round up of the soups I have made in the past few weeks. 4 recipes are from the Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day cookbook, pilule the other is from Chef Michael Smith.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup – January 23 – why eat broccoli soup when you can eat soup with cheese in it? Exactly. This soup still had a strong garden flavour from the broccoli but had tons of creaminess from the cheese. This will likely not become a staple in our house but when I am craving broccoli I will turn to this recipe.

photo 1(2)

Cauliflower Roasted Garlic Soup – January 3- this soup was delicious but looked like something out of a Charles Dickens novel, which is why I did not bother to take a picture of it. Coworkers thought I was eating oatmeal. It was gray and sludgy but you need to look past this and enjoy! The strong cauliflower flavour is accented by the rich roasted garlic flavour. The garlic is slightly caramelized and sweet. By roasting the garlic for 45 minutes in the oven, all of the deep-rooted flavours ooze out. My kitchen smelt amazing after this  and could ward off vampires for days to come.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup – January 10 – why ever use canned chicken noodle soup again when this is so easy? I baked the chicken in the oven for about 20 minutes until it was juicy and cooked through. Then slightly brown the vegetables, toss in the chicken, broth and noodles and wait. It is that easy. The noodles will continue to absorb the broth so you will need to add more the longer the soup sits.photo 4(2)

photo 5French Onion Soup – January 2 – I finally used my 25th birthday gift from GC: French onion soup bowls from Crate & Barrel. This recipe also made me realize something I desperately need for my kitchen: a scale. This recipe calls for 2 ½ lbs of onion but I had to guess and use all the remaining onions I had. A scale would also be good for all the cookbooks I have bought over the years that turn out to be British and use weights as opposed to measurements.

photo 3(2)The most time consuming part of this soup is caramelizing the onions but it is worth it. The onions are sweet and tender delicately floating beneath a sturdy bed of crusty bed and mounds of stringy, Swiss cheese. This soup is my idea of comfort food: warm, flavourful and cheese.

Michael Smith’s Old Fashioned Beef Stew – I like this recipe better than any of the beef stews I have made from my trusty Williams-Sonoma cookbook. The stew is thicker and has a huge range of flavours from the combinations of vegetables (parsnips, carrots, celery, potatoes, onions and peas) seasonings (rosemary, and bay leaf) and of course, red wine. This stew is substantial and filling, the perfect lunch on a cold, February day.

Recipes for the first 4 soups are below the cut. Happy munching and slurping!

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