Easter 2016

It is Easter Monday and seemingly everyone else is off from work except me. The subway was empty this morning; I didn’t have to do my typical wait on the train for 10 minutes in the tunnel north of St. Clair West while empty trains are sent through for more important people. The offices at work are empty and it is a slow, rainy day.

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Easter weekend was relaxing, spent outside with beautiful weather and with amazing people. On Friday we made our traditional Italian pasta appetizers, calascioni. This is something that Ninni remembers making as a young girl in Italy, when these types of expensive meats and cheese could only be bought at Easter. This tradition has been passed on to me and Giancarlo and we now share this tradition with his best friend Nick and his wife, Rachel. The day is spent rolling out homemade pasta dough, cutting out perfect circles, filling each ravioli-like pocket with the meat and cheese mixture and baking in the oven until they are golden and oozing cheese. After a few hours of hard work, we enjoyed dinner, wine and Yahtzee.

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Dutch Dream

It only seems fitting on a freezing cold day to talk about a hot summer day eating ice cream. Back in the summer GC and I FINALLY went to Dutch Dreams. The reason I say finally is Dutch Dreams is about two feet from my sisters’ apartments and has intrigued me for about 7 years.

Dutch Dreams is everything an ice cream parlour should be: its colouful with checkered floors, check neon-lit signs and an assortment of chotskies that add a sense of whimsy and playfulness to the parlour. There are an epic amount of ice cream flavours, toppings, waffle cones and other candies for purchase. The highlight for me was the variety of Oreos that were available. Obviously someone had been to America and raided a grocery store because there was Lemon, Birthday Cake, Berry and a multitude of other delightful flavours you cannot find in Canada.

As I was completely overwhelmed by all the choice, I stuck with your standard double-scoop cone.

IMG_1296Bottom Scoop: Cookie Dough
Top Scoop: Cherry Cheesecake

There is obviously nothing standard about this. If I had realized my ice cream would be decked out in such a manor, I would have gotten one scoop.

Now I’m not super into ice cream. Blasphemy I know, but I am much more into frozen yogurt because it doesn’t make me thirsty. You are probably at this point questioning why I went to an ice cream parlour. It was August. It was hot and ice cream is a logical choice.

This ice cream was good but I think the appeal is more the toppings and the theatrical ridiculousness of the ice cream. I preferred the cherry cheesecake to the cookie dough, as there was not enough chunks of cookie dough to justify categorizing this as cookie dough ice cream. The fruit on top of my cone was frozen which on a hot summer night is okay but makes it difficult to chew.

If you are into ice cream, Dutch Dreams is obviously delicious. For your basic ice cream, I prefer Greg’s in the Annex so I think next time I would partake in something a little more ridiculous like the Super Royal Dutch Baked Alaska.

Happy munching!

Hey! Restaurant

At the end of July (oh.my.god) I went to Hey! Restaurant with Theresa and GC. Hey! is a cozy, rustic restaurant in Ronscevalles with a farmhouse kitchen vibe to it. It has that annoying trait that Hey! Meatball also has where you order at the counter and then you sit. I’m not into that. I am not at McDonald’s or a high school cafeteria, please take my order at my table. We sat at the back of the restaurant overlooking the kitchen which in the July heat was a terrible idea but I love watching other people cook.

I ordered the Peter Peameal with peameal, lettuce, tomato jam and a fried egg with balsamic mustard on bread.

GC ordered the Sammy Sausage.

IMG_1078The Sammy Sausage with scrambled eggs, sausage, onion and aioli on a bun.

The sandwiches were good but not my favourite. The buns were slightly too firm making it difficult to bite into and get a proper mouthful of sandwich. There was not enough inside the sandwich for how much bread there was. The condiments were good which is not surprising. When you walk into the restaurant there are shelves upon shelves of pickled things which make tasty sandwich toppings.

The sides were underwhelming and in limited quantity.

Theresa ordered the pancakes.

IMG_1081The pancakes with whipped cream, maple syrup and fruit compote.

Theresa said these pancakes were good. They did not fall victim to the misfortune that most big pancakes fall to of being undercooked in the middle. They were fluffy and cooked throughout. The fruit compote was the perfect balance of sweet and tart, the perfect pancake topping.

Hey! specializes in sandwiches and I was less than impressed with their offerings. As The Ace and Cafe Polonez are close to this restuarant I don’t think I will be eating there again any time soon.

Happy munching!

Baker and Scone

A few weeks ago, ampoule GC and I headed to Hamilton for a day hiking but first, see we needed sustenance. We headed down to St. Clair to check out a new bakery, stuff Baker and Scone.

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This is an adorable bakery. It is bright, airy and has a very French-vibe to it. The walls are a soft green, with accents of white and marble. The scones are displayed in whimsical containers, constantly being refilled with fresh baked goodness. The bakery is simple, but thought out, allowing you to focus on the pastries.

We ordered six different flavours: 1. Buttermilk Double Vanilla 2. Gruyere, Chive and Dill 3. Lemon Poppy Seed 4. Blueberry Vanilla 5. Lemon Currant and 6. Orange, Cardamon and Date.

The day we went, the scones were cooked a little too crispy. Scones should not have a hard, crusty exterior to them; a little firmness, yes, but not a dark, golden brown colour. This level of crispiness was perfect for the savoury Gruyere, Chive and Dill scone. It was cheesy, with fresh flavours from the herbs. The crunchy exterior gave the satisfying crunch with every bite.

The sweet scones were not helped with this level of crunchiness. However, once you broke through the crispiness, the insides of the scones were soft, delicate and full of fruity flavours. The flavours were intense and bright, using fresh ingredients. All the scones with lemon flavour had intense, natural, lemon zest flavour to them – they were delicious.

A simple and thoughtful touch is that all scones can be accompanied by a small container of real butter and you can purchase a small jar of Greaves jam too. These are the perfect toppings to create a perfect light breakfast or a snack for a road trip. As you can tell, my only complaint with the scones was that they were a little too-well done for my liking. I have talked to a few other people who have been and they said that their scones did not suffer this affliction. This is reassuring because I would love to have a close-to-home-scone option. I will be going back to see if this is the case and will keep you posted.

After we picked up our scones we headed to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton for a day of lilacs, hiking and chipmunks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHappy munching!

 

Cookie Roundup

January has come and gone and I am proud to say, my New Year’s resolutions have not fallen by the wayside. More accurately, most have not fallen by the wayside.  I am slowly working my way through Martha Stewart’s Cookies, satisfying two resolutions (using cookbooks and baking more). Below are three recipes from her book that I have made so far.

Cookies1. Oatmeal raisin cookies – these cookies were chewy, moist and the perfect snack for work. The batter takes a little work to get used to: my first dozen pancaked out and were not the desired texture. I rolled the batter into tighter balls and lightly pressed them flatter which resulted in soft, moist pillows of oat-filled yums. I am going use this recipe again and again using various dried fruits.
2. Dark chocolate cherry cookies – stop what you are doing and make these cookies now. They are slightly expensive to make as dried cherries are ridiculously priced (at Bulk Barn they are $16/lb!) but they are so worth it. They are super chocolatey, with chunks of soft chocolate embedded in the already chocolate cookie and hints of sweet, souriness from the cherries. I brought most of the cookies to work and they were gone instantly. I made the rookie mistake of bringing the container into the lunch room where I was then forced to share with random coworkers I don’t know. Everyone at work is now pushing for more homemade baked goods.
3. Truffle brownies – these were extremely rich, dense and chocolate filled. I would recommend making them for an extreme chocolate lover and cut them into smaller pieces. The recipe says serves 12 (I cut them into 8 because I have an inability to slice anything round into any amount other than 8) but I would say you could cut the slices even smaller.

Any of these cookies were make the perfect work day snack or a special treat of Valentine’s Day. Happy munching!

 

Blackberry Corn Pops

Another recipe from People’s Pops – Blackberry Corn pops.

I was incredibly interested in this recipe because it is such a unique combination. Unfortunately, it does nothing for me. The problem is that this pop is layered so you don’t get a successful melding and interacting of flavours. The blackberry layer is sweet, and tart and perfect. The corn layer on the other hand tastes like eating baby food, or what I would imagine eating baby food tastes like. It is terrible. GC has discovered the taking the pop off the stick and mushing it all together works out better.

Recipe below the cut! Happy munching.

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Peach Jalapeño Pops

Peach Jalapeño pops or paletas.

Paletas are Latin American ice pops made with fresh fruit. Apparently peaches and jalapeñoes are a very traditional Mexican combination but I thought it was very unique and interesting. This was the first recipe that, while browsing through the People’s Pop cookbook, I stopped turning the pages and knew this was one of the pops I had to make but unfortunately I hate to wait for peaches to be in season. Finally! August comes and Ontario peaches are overflowing in the grocery stores so I can make these delicious treats.

They are fleshy like a peach and flecked with orange and red from the gorgeous, soft peach skin. Because the skin is pureed you don’t get that terrible peach-sensation of eating a sweater. Through simmering the jalapeño with the simple syrup you really get the essence of the pepper rather than just the heat. By the end of the pop you definitely get some of that lip numbing  from eating something spicy sensation but this pop allows the actual sweetness of the pepper to shine through rather than just the spice.

These are delicious but I would suggest making them for a party rather than just for personal consumption. Every time you finish a pop you have had just enough of that flavour combination to be satisfied but after eating 4 or 5 over the course of a few days you are all popped out. These are definitely delicious but like all good things, should be enjoyed in moderation. I have included the recipe below the cut.

Happy munching!

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Summer Memory – National Post

The National Post is doing a series this summer called Gastropost. Each week, they create a mission and foodies can participate by completing the mission and doing a write up about their food adventure. I was told about this when the program first started but I didn’t really get into it until this week. I submitted my first write up to the National Post and I’m in today’s paper! They only use a line or two from each person’s submission but the full post can be found online and, more importantly, I now have a National Post cartoon.

Next week’s assignment is all around the patio. If you have a patio suggestion or you want to come over for a BBQ, let me know and you can be the inspiration for my writing!

In case you are feeling lazy, I have included my post below.

When I was about 4 or 5 and we would go up to my grandparents’ cottage. The drive seemed to take hours and hours and it was forbidden to ask for food or drink along the way. In reality the drive took less than 2 hours and the family minivan was loaded with enough treats and snacks to quiet 4 children. After endless “Are we there yet’s,” we would wind down the long driveway, entering further and further into the wilderness. Surrounding the driveway were dozens of raspberry bushes, growing wild and crowding the edges of the driveway. These raspberries replaced meals, being tiny morsels of refreshing sweetness. At the cottage, raspberries were enjoyed in their purest form, picked fresh off the bush and popped instantly into your mouth.

There is nothing comparable to raspberries picked off the bush while being eaten alive by black flies. This is an experience I long for all winter and results in me purchasing at least 4 bushels of raspberries every time I visit the grocery store. This begins to be a problem and I find myself forcing raspberries into every dish. My latest tribute to my favourite fruit of summer is Raspberry Basil Popsicles. The popsicles have three ingredients: raspberry, basil and simple syrup. Fresh, grown up pairings with a hint of nostalgia – the perfect summer treat.

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky… Again

On Monday I met up with Al for pie at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky.

The first time I had a pie from Wanda’s I really didn’t like it. It was a Sour Cherry pie and it was bitter, wet and the crust was not good. I think I need to get over the pie crust thing – I don’t think I will find a pie crust that is light and flaky and perfect. If I want that, I need to make my own pie…

The second time, we had savoury pies and they used phyllo pastry rather than pie crust which I think made it enjoable. It was savoury, and full of cheese and spinach and mushrooms. Mega yums.

My third attempt at Wanda’s was a success.

Al ordered the Raspberry Rhubarb pie.

I ordered the Blueberry Pie.

My pie was amazing. I want another slice. The slightly weird thing was they asked me if I wanted it served warm – do you eat blueberry pie warm? And warm without ice cream? It just made me think of that scene from When Harry Met Sally…

This is a good pie if you can’t go to my mom’s house. Mega yums…