Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Upon entering, there were many canvases of Nuno's artwork mounted on the walls. It was very beautiful to see a setting where his Leonardo DiVinci sketching style illustrations blended beautifully with the decor.
The winery is already presenting in a huge and beautiful classic Italian style. It reminds me a lot of some of California's Sonoma County wineries because there is gorgeous wrought iron embellishments, burnt umber hues and, once complete, the building will be stucco. There is some foundation for beautiful stone landscaping in what is shaping up to be a breathtaking view upon arrival. Then there is the fantastic view of their vineyard in a huge open view across the back of the building. Apparently it is proposed to be either a restaurant, but more than likely a banquet facility. There really is no expense spared on this operation.
Each of the wines are inspired and named after a member of the Colaneri family. The illustrations tell a story of the family's legacy, which is the whole idea behind the winery. Some of the wines you will find in their boutique right now include Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah, Guvertsteminer, Cabernet Sauvingon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir - all the usual suspects that Niagara is well known for. They do not offer blended types and all their wines are barrel-aged (which I tend to prefer). I haven't sampled any of their wines yet - I almost don't know where to even begin. Hopefully we will start our tasting tonight when we attend a wine and cheese party and bring along the Riesling.
Nuno's pretty humble about his work, but I'm super proud of him. This illustration job was quite a workload for him, but in the end it helped us in a big way. It helped in replacing our fridge (to a huge silver monolith which is too big to be photographed) re-aligning cabinetry and our soon-to-be-installed wall oven. Essentially, I'd like to thank Colaneri for helping this blog!
Friday, September 24, 2010
I really enjoy a good fried rice for dinner. I've always made chicken fried rice and have been making it for so long that the original recipe that I began working from is only a shadow of how altered my current recipe is. So I thought it would be nice to press reset on the whole fried rice idea and make Everyday Food's version.
I feel like fried rice is like making a stir-fry in that you need to have everything prepped first before you begin. Some people believe it's a quick meal, but I can vouch that it is not. Trimming snow peas is a very tedious job that I might just pay if the grocery store sold them chopped with strings removed. Or maybe I just need a sous chef. Once complete, this recipe was good. The seasoning is great but I still prefer mine. Probably the best part of chicken fried rice is how the chicken and the egg taste together. That's pretty much the highlight of mine, so to part with that kinda took the magic away.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I recently decided to pull out the first Everyday Food book, Great Food Fast and give it a look through. There were quite a few recipes that caught my eye. One of which I decided to make last night, Curried-Zucchini Soup.
Zucchini seems to be the vegetable of choice from this book. I never thought I liked it much because my only experience with it before Everyday Food was one of those wonderful over-cooked vegetable medleys that crop up at holiday dinners. The boiled zucchini falls over limp and lifeless and tastes like a waterlogged slice of cardboard. Then, through Everyday Food, I discovered that raw and grilled, zucchini is an underrated vegetable. Although the zucchini is essentially boiled to create this soup, there is a great curry flavour infused. As the recipe indicated, I used 2 teaspoons of madras curry powder which gave Nuno the sweats, but was just the right amount of heat for me. Next time we make it I'll hold back on the spice.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
This is an Artichoke and Salami Sandwich. I'm sure the title of this dinner would send shivers down the spine of any kid... and maybe a few adults. But for us this was one amazingly delicious flavour combination. Seriously, so good! Nice in the same way Ham and Swiss or Turkey and Ranch are together.
So a bit about what goes into this sandwich, other than the obvious. Slices of fontina cheese, baby spinach and thinly sliced Hungarian Salami from Country Corner. The dressing is a combination of artichoke hearts, mayo, fresh basil and lemon. All served on, what the recipe calls for a French country loaf, but I had to substitute for Italian loaf. The bread and cheese are from Antipasto's Di Roma and their accompanying bakery Con Gusto.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Months ago I made the side of Swiss Chard, Raisins & Pine Nuts and to my total surprise I discovered this is an amazing flavour combination. Then and there I decided to spread out the love and hold back on making this pasta recipe (as much as I wanted to jump into instant gratification!). Well, yesterday was the day to go ahead and enjoy!
I purchased the Italian sausage at Country Corner Market (located at Quaker Rd. & Clare Ave. in Welland/Fonthill). They are my favourite place to pick up fresh sausage and purchased just one because they are 9oz per single portion! This is a very creative take on a pasta and I can see us making this very often in the fall & winter months.
Monday, September 20, 2010
We had it with a Sunday night family dinner which also included rack of lamb. This looks like a lot of work but was a very simple recipe to prepare. All dead simple due to my mother's amazing mandolin slicer. She has the Bentley of mandolins which is now on my Christmas wish list. I realize that my Starfrit finger hacker must go.
The potatoes are from Tina's Farm Stand and this dish tastes like chips - straight up homemade potato chips.
For dessert we ate my first try at Owen's birthday cake. Thank goodness for testers because this one is not even close to what I want for his birthday. Delicious cake, and although the recipe is touted as a wedding cake, it's somewhere between a pudding and cake. Layering is just not an option. I pretty much had a suspicion this wasn't our winner when there wasn't any leavening ingredients in the recipe. Time to get serious and turn to the Cake Bible for a fool-proof chocolate birthday cake.
We also taste tested Pumpkin Pie Bars. This recipe was in my grandmother's collection and I decided that if Howell's Pumpkin Farm is open, then it's not too early to make this fall treat. These are to-die-for delicious! My mother said she never remembers my grandmother making these, so I'm thinking this might have been a recipe shared from a friend. In that case I won't be spreading any 'secret family recipe' if I share it on this blog.
Pumpkin Pie Bars
1 1/3 c flour
½ c packed brown sugar
¾ c white sugar, divided
¾ c butter
1 c quick-cooking oats
½ c chopped pecans
1 pkg (250g) cream cheese softened
1 can (19oz, 540mL) pureed pumpkin
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13" pan, line with parchment.
Mix brown sugar & ¼ c white sugar & flour in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture is course crumbs. Stir in oats & pecans. Reserve 1 c of oat mixture, press remaining into bottom of pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
Beat cream cheese, remaining ½ c white sugar, eggs, pumpkin & spice with electric mixer medium speed until blended. Pour over crust, sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 25 minutes. Cut into 24 bars.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Making this meal was like running a three ring circus. It might have just been one of those days, but picture this: At a critical dinner making moment the dog is extra loopy, Owen is finding every little bit of trouble to lurk into, I'm trying to bread pork and my fingers are gummy and breaded, butter is starting to overheat on the stove, spinach is wilting fast and Owen's dinner is on my mind. Because of this mayhem I don't think I enjoyed this meal simply because I just wanted to get out of the kitchen! Did I not mention how many pots, pans and dishes this meal used? But since that was now a few days ago I can say that this dinner was good and average. I think the flavoured butter was what gave this lack-luster dinner a needed boost.
I don't understand what the big deal with panko bread crumbs are. It's kind of a fake way to make something crispy, but I find they are really sharp and mouth piercing making me feel like I'm eating shards of glass. What's wrong with just regular toasty breading?
Between the Moo Shu Pork and this dinner I have single-handedly put Fresh Co. out of shiitake mushrooms. I even had a Shiitake Fried Rice dinner planned which I had to scrap because of the mushroom depletion. Blessing in disguise I guess because it gave me a much needed break.
Friday, September 17, 2010
This is an old standby recipe for us. We've been making it since it was first published in January 2008. We loved it first try and I was pleased to see it compiled in the Everyday Food Fresh Flavour Fast book. It tastes completely different than anything else we make. I'm not sure how 'authentic' the flavour is because I don't have a lot of experience with Chinese take-out, but we love it just the same. Hoisin sauce is a key garnish on this, so don't make this recipe without it.
The one thing that I somehow never took note of before was how time consuming this recipe is. I think it is probably because you must clean and trim the pork loin, which, if you're very particular like me, can take quite a bit of time. The same goes for the shiitake mushrooms. I have a bit of a beef with these mushrooms because I don't think they should be sold with stems. I've never seen a recipe that uses them and since portobellos are typically sold without stems, shiitakes should be as well since they are just wasted weight and packaging. Anyways, when it's indicated to expect to have this dinner ready in 45 minutes, I'd say it's way closer to an hour. If we ever make this on a weeknight again Nuno and I will both have to work together to tie this one up quicker.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I'm not one for barley, but love risotto, so I just kept in mind that this was a healthier whole grain option. It is prepared the exact same way as risotto - which is a real pain in the butt. In the past I haven't left the stove for half an hour to an hour when making it. If you've ever made risotto before you know that you must stand by adding cupful by cupful of stock, frequently stirring the grains while they slowly absorb all liquid until fully cooked. Not a good recipe for a mom watching over a baby. That is to say I stepped away for 10 minutes after each liquid addition and came back and added another. My lack of attention and commitment made no difference whatsoever because this recipe turned out to al dante perfection!
What a comforting joy this recipe is. The corn (fresh from the cob from Tina's) had the same bite as the barley with added sweetness. The basil (also fresh from Tina's) added a nice herbal and fragrant flavour that made everything a little lighter. Owen ate an adult size portion of this! He just kept gobbling it up. It was an incredible dinner we wish we were eating it again tonight.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I've never had any sort of dinner similar to this. Beans and rice have never been much a staple for us, but after trying this I will definitely keep this as a great future dinner option. Along with the beans and rice are diced beets and garnished with cheddar and lime. It's hard to explain but all these flavours go really well together.
What I loved most about this recipe is how suitable it is for babies. Owen had a portion of beets & seasoned black beans and just loved it.
It's very simple, healthy and inexpensive, similar to the Quick Navy Bean Stew recipe. Yeah, this one is a keeper for sure!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Reading the recipe I knew this was going to be delicious but I didn't realize how easy this was until I blinked and it was done. It was most likely this quick because I used a store bought crust. I chose to do this because I wasn't sure if this recipe would even work out with the way our oven's been lately. I decided to alter the baking instructions because of this oven issue. I used my pizza stone to help crisp the bottom and baked the tart on the top third portion of the oven. These two revisions made the recipe work out great, but it would have been quicker, easier and nicer if we could just replace our wall oven.
This recipe is so very good and very decadent. It tastes similar to a quiche, but without the eggs, which suits me. We had a mixed green salad with heirloom tomatoes, shaved cucumber and radishes. Ooh la la, c'est bon!
Monday, September 13, 2010
That left tons of room to play! I used up some of the blueberries we froze in July along with slices of banana and chocolate chips. Very customize-able and perfect for make-your-own-pancake parties. Plus this batter seemed to be very fool-proof and made beautiful cakes!
Now, since there was a relatively small amount of sugar in this recipe, I was comfortable having Owen eat pancakes with us. And he went nuts! As the pancake eating went down, the messier and blue-er Owen became.
He munched on without a care in the world and then enjoyed a leisurely Sunday morning soak in the bath followed by a morning nap. I don't think he could have had a better Sunday morning.
El Gastro has been getting a lot of press recently in the Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen not only because of their outstanding menu, but for a battle to roam and cook free! There is currently legislation limiting what is sold on mobile carts in Ontario. Mostly allowing all those pre-packaged horribly over-processed foods to be sold and nothing even remotely fresh and inspired the way El Gastro does it up. So they are on a mission to change that and if you are reading this I'd like to ask you to consider signing an online petition for municipal street food vendor permits for businesses offering healthy mobile food options. Please read the two newspaper articles linked at the beginning of this paragraph or visit them online for more information about this situation.
The food industry is changing rapidly and in many ways for the better. Ever want to feel like your helping this revolution, sign on and feel empowered!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
steamed cod with ginger and scallions, shaved carrot salad with scallions and sesame seeds and heirloom tomato salad
Beautiful isn't it?! Tastes fantastic but nothing as great as the real thing at the El Gastronomo Vagabundo cart. I could live on these salads, I'm thinking my personal challenge next year should be to start an heirloom tomato garden. Too bad I absolutely no facility for outdoor gardening.
This salad filled out the rest of our Everyday Food dinner of Steamed Cod with Ginger and Scallions and Shaved Carrot Salad with Scallions and Sesame Seeds.
The Shaved Carrot Salad was quite good, but you really feel as though your eating 'healthy' while eating it. That can be a good or bad thing depending on your mood. I say Friday night isn't the night to enjoy light food.
Then there was the cod. I was willing to give this one a fair shot and expected something great like the Red Snapper recipe from last week. Boy, was I wrong. This was bacala-yuck!!! I think if I ever feel the need to interject cod fish into my life in the future I'll be making either Nuno's mom's or El Gastro's Codfish Croquettes (recipe for the later can also be found here).
Seemed to go over well and I'd like to point out that this salad is 'waist-line friendly' which new moms appreciate. I love Israeli Couscous and Orzo because they seem so 'different' but are really just pasta. And they work well for babies learning to chew, that's why I'm always using them. Just a baby friendly pasta salad.
Oh, and to clarify - I'm of no religious affiliation and have a family background of "31 flavours".
Saturday, September 11, 2010
No way around it, I had to use the oven for this soup. It took a couple hours for all these vegetables to soften, but once they were roasted the soup came together super quick. Simply adding stock and water to the veggies, bring to a boil then puree. I guess it is not recommended for babies to eat soup, so I just pureed a few roasted vegetables for Owen's dinner.
I've never liked tomato soup, but this is probably the closest thing to a tomato soup I'll enjoy. It really is lovely and when I'm back to work I think I'll make this on the weekends and bring to work for lunch. We paired this with a simple arugula salad and a French bread with herbed goat cheese to complete the meal.
Friday, September 10, 2010
I've always wanted to make Red Velvet Cake. I don't have any history with this type of cake other than having tried a cupcake at Kickass Cupcakes in Boston, MA. I figured this was a perfect excuse to try out a recipe.
I think Red Velvet Cake is a great science experiment. Not that I know anything about chemistry but it seems as though this batter is example of a perfect execution and control of acid and base. You have baking soda, baking powder and then buttermilk and vinegar all working in harmony. The batter even changed its properties right before my eyes. It went from glossy, wet and pink as it came together, then by the time I spooned it into the cupcake wrappers it was light brown, airy and matte. My oven read VERY low at 250 so the baking time was drastically extended. But when I took these babies out of the oven they had baked up perfectly! 10 minutes out of the oven these cupcakes tasted so wonderful I only wish I could have shared them at this point! I'd say I've hardly ever had a cake so soft and moist. I was really thrilled with the result. The flavour is slightly cocoa-y but definitely its own thing that is a bit difficult to describe but you'd just have to try.
The cream cheese icing recipe was a perfect match and execution. However, I didn't have my icing tips ready in time and decided to chill the most perfect cream cheese icing until the next morning. I then took out the icing the next day and gave it a good beat to mix. It deflated and separated. Lesson learned there. Luckily the taste was still delicious, so I iced the once beautiful icing onto the cupcakes and brought to a picnic anyways. No one complained and most people loved them, so I'm thinking this recipe is a total winner. I'm really looking forward to making this again with the light icing the way Anna recommended. Kudos Anna!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
When I was expecting Owen nothing could satisfy my cravings for sandwiches. I had to be very careful with lunch meat, but BLT’s were full-tilt. And yes this salad does channel a good BLT sandwich. So this salad is a real flash-back to those wonderful cravings that made pregnancy fun.The recipe calls for bacon and croutons to be prepped in the oven, I opted for the pan fry method again. Still a total success and maybe a little nicer only because it was quicker and didn’t heat the house (felt like 86 degrees on Tuesday!) The homemade croutons were quite nice because of a seasoned toasted bread flavour. A nice departure from the break-apart-into-a-million-pieces store bought croutons.
The buttermilk dressing is very creamy but I do enjoy ranch quite a bit more. I also found this salad needed lots of pepper, probably because of the tomatoes. Speaking of which, the recipe called for cherry tomatoes but we used fresh field tomatoes which were so great in this.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
This dinner was super delicious. It's been months since we've had the boring old chicken breast for dinner, so they are a bit of a novelty after this length of time. The recipe requires the oven, but it was easy enough to make these stove top. The breading on the chicken seemed really basic and as I was making this I wondered if it was even a recipe. But this is the best breaded chicken I've ever made! It reminds me a lot of schnitzel because it has a light coating that didn't seem to require heavy seasoning. Paired with the arugula salad - Wow! I'll be making this dinner again indefinitely. I love this salad and if there were any left over I'd be having it for lunch. It's the quickest and simplest salad I can think of and probably my favourite as a side.
We decided to have the creamy polenta on the side to help round out Owen's dinner portion. The recipe is not from the Everyday Food Book but from Everyday Food Magazine's April 2009 issue. For Owen's portion I gave him a breaded and fried piece of chicken and polenta (w/o spicy chilie oil) blitzed in the food processor. He kept saying, "num, num, num". Yep, babies somehow naturally make that sound when the eatin' is good.
Monday, September 6, 2010
These are super-hearty to help everyone hopefully stay full till the lunch bell rings. These muffins are quite dense and heavy. Not the type of muffins I tend to like which are light, rich, cakey and fresh fruit filled. But there is definitely a place for a good bran muffin. I love the idea of making these for the week of back to school because they freeze very well. If you remember to take one out in the evening, it will be defrosted by 7am for breakfast so you'll have one less thing to worry about when attempting to get into a new routine.
Another reason these are great is because they are so simple. I think this would be a great recipe for kids to help make. All the ingredients are familiar and it requires nothing more than measuring, mixing and baking.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
This one is unlike the previous three. It tastes like the sort of smoothie you'd buy at a high end coffee shop. The flavour is all its own without one single element overpowering the others. I loved it but may not make it again only because - well, has anyone bought Pom drink before? Five bucks for this tiny bottle? Geez. It was through this drink that I discovered Owen loves tofu! Silken tofu mixes great with peaches and adds a little extra protein to Owen's fruit servings.
The other recipe I knocked down this week was the Walnut and Dried-Fruit Granola. What can I say but this really is delicious. I'm not a big granola eater, I'm not sure why, but I think it's because I have a love affair with cereal. This granola took quite a bit of time to prepare because it's all done in steps in the oven. For the dried fruit selection I used what was in my baking stash which includes dates, raisins and my personal favourite, dried cherries!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
For years I've been making these lemon squares since this recipe was first published in Everyday Food's June 2008 issue. Oh, it's a good one - a real crowd pleaser. I actually blogged about it a few years ago here. Then several years ago my sister-in-law was holding a Christmas Cookie Exchange and sent out a mass email inviting a whole bunch of girls over to participate. I already had alternate plans, but I didn't RSVP. The day before I got a call from my mother-in-law and she seemed pretty hyped up that I wasn't able to attend. I remember hanging up the phone and feeling SO insanely guilty that I obviously wasn't thinking straight and baked a quick batch of these (because I had all the ingredients in the house). I typed up the recipe and sent them in with my mother-in-law to try and make amends.
I learned some major lessons through this recipe. First, take the time to consider how appropriate your food contribution is to an event. These are not a cookie exchange type of bar. They are soft and sticky and I'm sure anyone who took one of these had lemon custard smudged on all the cookies that piled near it. Second, always RSVP even if it's an online invite. Thirdly, don't let someone make you feel a certain way - yeah, easier said than done. Lastly, when sharing a recipe always credit the source. Here's the card I sent through with the squares - I didn't credit Everyday Food *gasp* Check it out:
Maybe a more accurate title for these squares should be Social Faux Pax Squares.
But onto brighter days, I now have a wonderful association with these squares! I baked them for dessert on a farewell and good luck dinner for my sister last night who's moving to Toronto for a teaching job. These lemon squares were paired with Inniskillin Sparkling Ice Wine and it was an incredible combination. I've never had a dessert wine paired so nicely with a sweet, it really was wonderful.
We wish you the best of luck Katie. We'll miss you being close but look forward to having you with us for Sunday dinners.
Friday, September 3, 2010
This dish is found under the appetizer section of the book and is suggested to be served many ways including on crostini, on an antipasti plate or over pasta. I opted to go with pasta and make a meal of this. After doing so, it's definitely a better choice to go with the two former. The flavour works so much better, ideally, on bread. Not to say that it wasn't good on pasta, but I don't know if you can imagine eating relish on a pasta, but that is what it was like. It has a strong vinegar flavour with a contrast of sweet and spicy. It is a really nice flavour and if I make an antipasti plate in the future I'll be sure to make this again. It was very quick since it was just a matter of spooning several pantry ingredients and chopping an onion and eggplant. A quick sautee and it's done!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
This is your average fresh and healthy mid-week dinner. The Orange-Dijon Shrimp is from Everyday Food magazine June issue and is hardly a 'recipe' just a simple glaze of orange marmalade and dijon. The Zucchini and Red Onion Salad was nice although every time I use the mandolin slicer I manage to nick my thumb. But it's worth the effort because this is my favourite way of eating raw zucchini. The Sesame-Lime Rice is a different and nice way to enjoy rice as a side, although the Cilantro-Lime Rice we had for Cinco De Mayo was a better flavoured rice. The recipe called for two tablespoons of sesame seeds, which in proportion to a cup of rice is a lot. So it seemed to overwhelm the rice quite a bit to the point that it made it very rich and almost peanut butter-y in flavour.
Speaking of peanut butter, I just tried Kraft's new Whipped Peanut Butter this week. Never said I'm above marketing gimmicks. I'm trying to decide if Kraft has found a way of selling less product with this, but I really like the lightness and consistency. It's quite a bit more spreadable which works well for snacks like eating on rice cakes.
I found these Suzie's brand puffed cakes at Bulk Barn and I think they are great! They are sweetened with agave nectar and I give them to Owen as snacks (without peanut butter, for now). So far I've tried Kamut and Spelt and they are both great for everyone, including babies. If you couldn't tell, I'm not much into buying 'baby' food for Owen. There is only one product I buy that is specifically made for babies, Heinz Nutrios cereal. I'll have to devote a blog entry to feeding Owen soon because I have so many people asking me about it.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I've never tasted red snapper before and I was a little unsure about this entire recipe. It just didn't seem too appealing. Believe it or not, red snapper is difficult to find because it's very popular right now. I kept having to call the seafood departments of all the grocery stores to make sure it was in. Luckily I grabbed our B.C. snapper fillets just as the shipment came in meaning that it was super fresh. It did smell a little fishy, but I'm thinking it may always be that way because it's not a mild tasting fish like tilapia. This Red Snapper Veracruzano recipe is amazing. It is the best fish dish I've ever made because the fish has a very rich and buttery flavour. It's almost a special occasion dinner because it really tastes like eating out. But from start to finish it's super quick and easy that it can be a weeknight dinner. I love being pleasantly surprised and am so glad I discovered this recipe. This rates as one of the best recipes in the book and we will definitely be making this regularly from now on. Especially because Owen really enjoyed the red snapper as well. He had an unseasoned portion of snapper with half an avocado, greek yogurt and a little Old Bay seasoning.
I doubt we will be making the Roasted Tomatillos and Tomatoes quite as much in the future. This was a long process of over an hour of roasting in the oven. Not the sort of dinner you'd be able to pull off after work. I also have to bring up the tomatillo situation. Like yesterday's post about hard to find ingredients, tomatillos aren't easy to find at all. I picked up a pound at El Milagro where the owner husks, cleans and freezes them. They seemed to work out OK, although they were quite soft once defrosted. Didn't matter so much for this dish because you want the tomatoes to render juices as they roast. I really enjoyed the roasted plum tomato flavour. This is now my favourite way to eat a roma tomato. Between Monday & Tuesdays dinners we've managed to polish off an entire basket of roma tomatoes.