October 11, 2014.

After 7 and a half years of dating, GC and I tied the knot on October 11th, 2014. The weather was gorgeous: it was sunny, clear and crisp. It was the perfect fall day. Our ceremony took place in the gardens at the Columbus Center, an Italian community center close to our house that GC took various lessons and classes at as a child.

audrey&giancarlo0217I walked down the aisle with both of my parents to “We’re Going to Be Friends” by the White Stripes, a song that encapsulates our relationship as more than just boyfriend and girlfriend but as best friends and falling in love as kids in university.

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Soup Round Up IV

I haven’t been cooking much lately. It’s been too beautiful outside to not use the BBQ and my go to meals have been burgers and steak. These are my summer staples but unfortunately, they are not too exciting for blogging purposes. I have however, returned to making soups for lunch. I had an epiphany the other day where I thought “I eat other warm foods throughout the summer – why not continue eating soup?” Duh. Below are 6 soup recipes I have tried in the past few weeks and what I thought of them.

1. Chilled Potato Leek

I am still trying to figure out my thoughts about chilled soup. This was the first one I made and it was a good introduction to chilled soups. It is silky and smooth and has a subtle flavour, not jarring enough to confuse your palate with contrasting flavours and temperatures.

4 leeks, white parts only, chopped
4 large green onions, white part only, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
½ Tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and ground white pepper
2 Tbsp minced chives

In a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, combine the leeks, the green onion, and 1/2 cup of the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables have wilted and begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the ptoatoes and remaining 2 ½ cups broth, cover, and cook until the vegetables are very soft, 25-30 minutes. Let for for 15 minutes. Stir in the butter.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Return to the pot. Stir in 1/4 tsp salt and season with pepper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, 3-4 hours or up to overnight. The soup wil thicken and become very creamy., Serve, garnished with the chives.

2. Curried Carrot Purée

I loved, loved, loved this soup! It is one of my favourites from my trusty Williams-Sononma cookbook. It can be served chilled or warm, making it the perfect soup for the early summer when randomly cool days surprise us. The flavours are reminiscent of autumn in a way that makes you savour and appreciate our seemingly fleeting summers. I plan to make this soup all through the summer into the long hot days of September and October and you should too!

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large shallot
½ lbs carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
6 cups of chicken broth
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, warm the 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, curry powder, and broth. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the orange juice. Let cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper. This soup can be served warm or chilled. To serve warm, return to the pot and gently warm over medium heat. To serve chilled, let cool, transfer to a covered container, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Serve, drizzled with oil.

3. Spinach and Leek Soup

This is one of the most intensely green things I have ever eaten. If you want to feel like Popeye, eat this soup. It is rich with garden freshness and sweet onion flavours. It doesn’t make a huge batch of soup so this is the perfect soup to make when you need lunches for only a day or two.

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, white and pale green parts, chopped
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ cups vegetable broth
2 large brunches spinach, tough stems removed
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter with the oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and the nutmeg and sauté until the leeks are softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Return to the pot, add the cream, and bring just to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

4. Simple Asparagus Soup

I did not like this soup at all. Asaparagus is one of my favourite vegetables and unfortunately, I live with someone who does not like it which means I rarely get to eat it. I thought a soup that masked the taste and texture of asparagus would be the perfect thing to eat. Maybe it was a little too perfect because GC loved this soup and I hated it. The problem lay in how much zest and lemon juice I used. I followed the recipe but that is too much lemon flavour. It results in a bitter tart soup that only tastes of lemon and not much else.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves glaric, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 lbs asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1é2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp heavy cream
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Return to the pot, add the cream, and bring just to a boil. Turn the heat off and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

5. Cucumer-Dill Soup

Another chilled soup to ease my mouth into this way of eating soup. The texture of cucumber is slightly mealy and when blended, this is the texture that shines through. It was completely impossible to get this soup silky smooth and it was lumpy. I didn’t leave the chunks of cucumber in the soup because this was not a texture I was looking for. Texture and consistency aside, this soup had great flavour. It was cool and refreshing, with a hint of bite like a perfectly mixed gin and tonic. This mixture would make a good chilled salad and cucumber added to a gin and tonic is just delicious.

3 English cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
1 cup Greek-style or thick, whole-milk plain yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 green onions, white and tender green parts, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped dill
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed
Salt and ground white pepper
1 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Coarsely chop 5 of the cucumber halves and transfer to a large bowl. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, green onions, dill, garlic, caraway seed, 1 tsp salt, and 1é4 tsp white pepper. Stir to combine, cover, and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to blend the flavours. Dice the remaining cucumer half and set aside.

Working in batches, purée the cucumber-yogurt mixture in a blender. With the machine running, slowly add the broth and purée until fully incorporated. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Just before serving, stir in the diced cucumer and oil. Pour the soup into wide-mouthed glasses and serve.

6. Roasted Red Pepper Purée with Spicy Corn Salsa

I made this soup on Thursday night and haven’t yet tasted it! GC took some to work and said it was yummy but that the salsa was too hot for his tastes. This soup is incredibly easy to make because the main source of flavour is already done for you: it uses jarred roasted red peppers. You can obviously make your own but who wants to turn on the oven in the summer? Turning on the stove is bad enough.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar (24 oz/750 g) roased red bell peppers
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp mined jalapeño chile
1 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion, white and tender green parts
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and ptoato, stir to coat, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Return to the pot, stir in the sour cream, and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, to make the salsa, melt the butter in a small frying pan over high heat. Add the jalapeño and green onion and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the corn kernels, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup, topped with the corn salsa.

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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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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Soup, soup, soup and more soup

We all know that the weather is getting colder, icier and snowier and therefore, you need more soup recipes. Below are four more soup recipes to help you get through winter (of course, all from Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day).

The Roasted Squash soup is a different way to make your traditional butternut squash soup: instead of browning the vegetables in the pot you roast them first. This brings out a stronger squash flavour and retains the natural fibrous texture of the squash.

The Vegetable Barley soup is a great way to use up vegetables in your fridge and is hearty. I officially love barley and would like to make more soups with barley.

photo 1The Broccoli soup with Parmesan-Lemon Frico. Broccoli and cheese, does it get much better than that? I didn’t make the parmesan-lemon frico (not included in the recipe below) so I can’t speak to that but next time I will and it will add a lemony, cheesy deliciousness to this soup. This soup has texture and thickness from the broccoli and has that grainy, foliage quality that the florets of broccoli have.

The Weeknight Hungarian Beef Stew is a simple, less time consuming goulash and what could be better than that?

Recipes are below the cut – happy munching!

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Meals in Minutes – Summer Veg Lasagna

Meals in Minutes - Summer Veg Lasagna

Jamie Oliver’s Summer Veg Lasagna.

1. As a rule, I don’t trust vegetarian lasagna. Lasagna is supposed to have meat in it and anything without is a waste of time. But in order to be true and say I cooked my way through this cookbook (without sides and somewhat in order) I had to make this lasagna. And thank goodness I did – it was delicious! This veggie lasagna will change your mind about veggies lasagna.

2. I loved the combination of veggies – peas, asparagus and edamame. Make sure your edamame is shelled – he claims that you can put them in whole but that’s a blatant lie. The vegetables are so sweet, fresh, crisp and green – a total bite of summer. Lasagna is one of those heavy meals you often associate with a cold winter’s day, but this is a fun, summer spin on a classic.

3. The cottage cheese and cream make this lasagna ridiculously creamy and luscious. It adds the fatty content that is missing from the meat. Next time I would add mozzarella to the top of the lasagna, well, because, why not?

4. I used dry lasagna noodles, cooked them first and them assembled my casserole. The dry noodles worked just as well (I can imagine) as fresh pasta would and it’s slightly cheaper!

A lighter, fresher lasagna that is worth checking out. The recipe is below the cut and happy munching!

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Chicken Quinoa Awful

On Monday I made Campbell’s Low Sodium Lemon, Rosemary and Chicken Quinoa or as I like to call it, Chicken Quinoa Awful.

This looked amazing and sounded amazing but was not amazing. I think there was too much going on with this dish. There was quinoa, chicken, zucchini, carrots, and two types of mushrooms.

And I don’t think I like quinoa…

I wouldn’t recommend this and unfortunately there is a whole skillet of this in my fridge. Frack.


Dijon Cod & Veggie Bundle

On Monday night I made Dijon Cod and  veggie bundles from Campbell’s. Mine did not look like this and I didn’t like the recipe so I didn’t bother to photograph it. These are the issues that occur in my kitchen – hissy fits about how I have plated dishes.

1. Big surprise, the vegetables didn’t cook. Sweet potatoes take a long time to cook – longer than the 20 minutes the recipe called for. The green beans barely softened so the entire dish was crunchy and raw. I think this ruined the whole meal for me.

2. Brown rice fail.

3. The mustard flavour wasn’t as strong as I would have liked it to be. And I didn’t use Dijon mustard, I used hot house deli mustard because that was what was in my fridge. There is a mustard shop in St. Lawrence market that I would like to check out soon and get some different types of mustard.

4. The fish was really nicely cooked though – it was juicy and flaky. I don’t cook enough fish and I really should because it’s easy and delicious. I like to cook food that if I under cook it I won’t die – beef and fish are pretty much the only foods that fill this category.

5. I think I would like this meal more if I had cooked all the components separately and then just plated the dish accordingly.

Overall I wasn’t delighted or blown away by this recipe so I will not be making it again.

Fettuccine Primavera

I made this last weekend for dinner on Sunday night and it was so good that I made it again for my Dad and Liz for dinner yesterday,

This recipe is from the Kraft What’s Cooking magazine (the recipe can be found here) and it super easy.

Just some notes on this recipe:

1. I love that this is one pot cooking (plus cooking your pasta). Less dishes means I can enjoy my food that much more because I am not dreading the mountain of dishes waiting for me.

2. I think I would blanch the asperagus before grilling it. It has a great crunch but I think it is too crunchy. The zucchini becomes so tender and absorbs all the garlic taste. I think that’s why the asperagus seems particularly crunchy because zucchini can quickly turn mushy.

3. The dill cream cheese doesn’t really melt well. Both times I have made this recipe I have gotten impatient and just mixed it in. Maybe next time I will try and wait. Or continue doing what I have been doing because it seems to be working.

4. This recipe is very inexpensive to make – when I bought all the ingredients yesterday it only cost me $13.54 and I had bought my ingredients from Loblaws which is notoriously expensive.

Light, summery and fresh. I will be making this recipe about once a week all summer. It can only get better with fresh, Ontario produce.