Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy New Year

Today is the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  I just wanted to take a quick moment to wish all of my Jewish Tomato Snobs a Shana Tova! May this year be sweet and delicious for you and your families. Tonight we start off our celebrations at my in- laws for dinner. I'm trying out a new recipe for an honey apple fennel crisp. I'll keep you posted on how it's received. 
Chow for now!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Peanut butter and date poppers

What a day... I know people say Mondays suck but this week Tuesday is just the pits. I've been running around all day and I feel like I'm on empty from no sleep last night and a lack of proper meals today while being on the go. In the middle of my day I got stuck for an hour and 45 mins on the phone with ROGERS trying to speak to someone about my internet and cable not working. I started to make a crumble mid day to get my multitask on since I was stuck on hold any way. Then a giant wrench was thrown into my plan as soon as my crumble was ready for the oven. My go-to baking dish was missing.  I realized it was probably still in my husbands car from when we took a cobbler up to the cottage in August. $%#$#@*^ or FML as they say. I had to leave the filling (roasted apples and fennel) until I could get my hands on the proper baking dish this eve. I got home from after work errands and party planning with Jill (who I could tell wanted to kill me the entire time) and I'm totally starving. I forgot to pack some snacks to get me through the day and I'm cranky and ravenous. If only I had a few of these amazing Peanut butter date poppers In my purse I would have been in way better spirits. These treats are amazing! They take about five minutes to make and will last a few weeks in the fridge. 
Just note they definitely taste better at room temp. 
1/4 cup oats - ground
12 dates - pitted
2 tbs pumpkin seeds (optional)
4 tbs chunky peanut butter
small handful of raisins
PREP: In a mini chop or using an immersion blender toss in oats and pulse a few times. Add dates and seeds then continue to pulse until finely chopped. Add peanut butter and pulse until smooth - add raisins at the end so they remain mostly intact to give the poppers more texture. 
FORM: divide and roll mixture into 12 bite size balls and they are ready to eat! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chopped salad with Dill vinaigrette and an 11 hour road trip

If any of you have ever been on a long car ride  you how annoying it can be to get a decent meal. Options are limited if you're trying to save time and keep close to the highway. I usually like to pack carrot sticks, fruits and rice cakes or baked chips to snack on since I know when we finally stop the options will be mostly fried and packed  with saturated fats.  I figure If I can at least have a healthy snack before the saturated fatty meal. My rationale is that I'll eat less of it, and won't be as guilty for consuming gross junk food.  On our last road trip to Philly I had some time before we left so I decided to whip up a chopped salad. I brought a few plastic cups and spoons thinking it would be easy access in the car. This salad was delicious and a much needed dose of veggies before arriving in the US, where cheese steaks would be on the menu along with a trip to the Sugar Philly truck and lord knows what else. 
Chick peas
sugar snap peas
yellow pepper
corn (cooked and cut off the cob)
carrots (purple & orange)
hearts of palm 
artichoke hearts 
PREP: Use whatever veg you like - this combination was quite tasty and I pretty much just used up whatever I had left in my fridge. Chop everything add vinaigrette and presto done! The salad is even better the next day 

1 tbs dijon mustard
chopped dill - handful 
1 garlic clove - minced 
1/2 tbs honey 
2 tbs red wine or white wine vinegar 
3-4 tbs olive oil 
s&p to taste 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The perfect corned beef sandwich - Mo Pancers

Mo Pancer's Deli better known simply as Pancer's is definitely one of the best places to get corned beef and smoked meet in Toronto. It's a Jewish deli on Bathurst st. that will not disappoint. They serve all the Jewish classics including kishkaknish  and obviously matzo ball soup. Most of the waitresses have worked there since they first opened in 1957 - I tease. If you're dining in make sure to get the french fries - they are top notch and the sour dills are legendary. I like to enjoy my sandwich with a black cherry soda classic deli beverage. For dinner in a pinch I like to pick up some lean corned beef a cole slaw and a fresh rye bread. Their cole slaw is just the way I like it garlicky and sour. Hot and regular mustard are a sandwich must in my books. As you see from my photo, I go half and half on the beef, vs slaw proportion instead of the piled high variety. Too much meat just leads to a beef coma, and inability to breathe or move, and can lead too uncontrollable sweating, referred to as "the meat sweats". 
Chow for now. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

'cause I eats me Spinach!

You've heard your mother say it before "eat your spinach" and sometimes it is true... mother knows best! Spinach is one of those miracle foods. High in everything good for you. Calcium, vitamin A, B, C, D, E, F... you name it. Spinach not only fiber rich it also has folic acid, magnesium and even posses cancer controlling nutrients. It can also protect against heart disease. Fresh or frozen everyone can benefit from eating spinach. Believe it or not slightly cooked spinach has the most nutrients and best of all it takes seconds to cook this wonder veg. One of my favorite ways to get spinach into my diet is to simply add it to any tomato sauce, chili or soup since it so easily melts in. Even back in my university days where everything I cooked came out of a microwave, spinach was a part my routine. A great lunch idea if you do have a microwave at work/ school is bring a micro-proof tupperware filled with your favorite soup then toss in  few nuggets of frozen spinach. Everything will heat together and become instantly healthier. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

I know everyone loves chewy granola bars. It takes you back to your childhood and reminds you that your favorite snack was always one of those Quaker chewy bars. Ok maybe not your favorite but I was seriously deprived of anything sweet and snacky when I was a child and any time I went to friends houses and we got granola bars I was a ridiculously happy camper.  These granola bars are dead simple and you can add or take away any nuts, dried fruits, butters you like. I used what I had and it worked out deliciously well.  

INGREDIENTS: 10" baking pan
1 egg white - beaten until fluffy 
1/2 cup natural chunky peanut butter 
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs honey
1/3 cup grape seed oil or melted unsalted butter 
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raisins or any dried fruit
1/4 cup chocolate chips 
1/2 tsp almond extract
pinch salt
parchment paper

PREP: Pre heat your oven at 350. Beat egg white until soft peeks form then fold in peanut butter, sugar, honey, almond extract, and oil and add pinch of salt. Then add in all dry ingredients and continue folding until everything is combined.
BAKE: Place parchment paper lining the bottom of the baking pan and cover with cooking spray. Then spread the mixture in an even layer tightly packed. Bake at 350 for 15 mins or until golden on top and around the edges. Let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Warm Basil Potatoes

This potato salad style dish is made with roasted potatoes  and can be served hot or room temp. If you  want to serve the dish cold I would recommend boiling the potatoes instead of roasting. A few weeks ago I bought a huge bunch of fresh local basil and this was a great way to enjoy a heaping handful of one of my favorite herbs. This recipe utilizes my recipe for Lebanese Garlic Sauce. Basically add a ton of chopped basil to a few tbs of the Labanese garlic sauce then smother all over warm roasted potatoes and presto perfect side dish for dinner. If you are going to serve this as a potato salad add super finely sliced celery, radishes and some green onion. Simple is always delicious!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Soft boil egg over crispy polenta and roasted red pepper sauce

So sorry snobletts. I tried my hardest to post last night. Yesterday was a super busy day for me. I'm the Creative Director at Canada Rugby League and we've ben buzzing to getting everything done for the last two games of the season. I wanted to post this photo last night, but my photoshop kept crashing. I think my computer was tired - maybe it should have been a cue to just go to bed. Any way this a.m. we are back in business. I do not have a recipe for this yummy dish I whipped up a while back but I figured sharing was definitely in order. 
I don't remember anything being so difficult, but as far as i'm concern yummy food shouldn't be difficult to make as long as there is a little love added. The steps in this go something like this...
1- soft poached egg s&p
2 - crispy polenta (pre-made from grocery store - cut into thin rounds and fry in a little evoo on a non stick pan for a few mins on each side, then transfer to the oven on broil for another 5 on each side)
3- blanched green peas  (20-30 second blanch)
4- roasted red pepper sauce (roast peppers in the oven until chard with black. Then place in a bowl covered until cooled. Remove skin, place in blender and puree. Add puree to sauce pan and heat add touch of tomato sauce, or stock and touch of cream s&p)

I'll post again this eve to make up for yesterday. 

Any requests?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tofu steak with soba noodles and stir fried summer veg

Isn't this just one of the most appetizing pieces of tofu you've ever seen? Well believe it or not it taste great as well. I know you're out there. You think tofu is a gnarly ingredient only used by vegans and meatless freaks who live off of compressed soy based products. You think it's completely tasteless and has the ability to turn you into a granola hippie, tree hugging, flatulent maniac. Well it wont and it's not tasteless at all. It's like the blank canvas for the health conscious culinarian. Some of the health benefits include
* can help lower LDL bad cholesterol
*  raise HDL good cholesterol 
* for women with menopause can lessen symptoms 
* most tofu's are calcium enriched 
* rich in energizing minerals 
* contains selenium which has antioxidant qualities, can help prevent cancer 
* good source of iron
and so on... 
1 tsp chinese 5 spice 
block of firm tofu - cut in two .5 inch steaks (you can use semi firm if you prefer, but not silken it will not fry the same way)
1 small cooking onion - sliced .5 inch thick and halved
1 zucchini - sliced into .5 inch rounds 
1 summer squash - sliced into .5 inch rounds 
1 red pepper - cut into .5 inch slices and halved
bunch of Japanese soba noodles - boiled and rinsed in cold water (prevents sticking)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame - blanched in water 
2 cloves garlic - minced 
1 tbs ginger - minced
soya sauce - a few tbs (to your taste) 
rice wine vinegar - splash
1 tbs sesame oil - for finishing 
canola oil - drizzle for stir frying 
szechuan peppercorn - pinch of ground (optional)

This dish can be eaten hot or room temp. 

PREP: Chop all veg. Bring water to boil and cook the edamame for 2-3 mins. Remove from water and transfer into ice cold water to stop the cooking. Dry with paper towel and place off to the side. Then reuse the boiling water for the soba  noodles. Cook about 8 mins (do not salt the water like for pasta). Remove from boiling water and place them in a cool water bath, then into a colander and let the noodles drain. Cut the tofu into steaks then press between a sheet of paper towel to remove any extra liquid. Dust the tofu with 5 spice before frying. 
COOK: Heat a non stick pan  with a drizzle of canola oil for the tofu. You want the oil very hot to create a crispy skin on the tofu. In  wok or a deeper fry pan heat another drizzle of canola oil to a medium high heat. Add onions to the hot oil, cook for a few mins (until translucent) then add garlic and ginger. When you can smell the ginger and garlic add the zucchini and summer squash and cook for 2-3 mins add peppers, soy sauce and sesame oil then continue cooking another 2-3 mins. I prefer my veg just slightly cooked, you can cook the stir fry longer if preferred. Before serving toss noodles in a small drizzle of sesame oil splash of rice wine vinegar and drop of soy. 
SERVE: Just use my photo as a guideline for plating, then wait for the ooohhh's and ahhh's. You can also top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Orchard Crumble

The end of summer means the most amazing peaches, nectarines, pears and plums. One of my favorite ways to enjoy these delicious pitted fruits are in a crumble. It's a super simple dessert and will never disappoint! You can use any combination of nuts, brown sugar, oats maple syrup butter/ oil you want for the topping. This dessert is extremely forgiving! There is very little measuring involved so all of you fellow Tomato Snobs should be able to do your own experimenting when trying out the recipe. Oh yes you must not forget vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt when serving, it's an absolute must.  The crumble is best served warm.  
INGREDIENTS: For the filling
4 peaches - de-pitted & chopped
4 nectarines - de-pitted & chopped 
6 red plums - de-pitted & chopped
6 yellow plums - de-pitted & chopped
4 black plums - de-pitted & chopped
1/2 tsp cardamom 
1/2 lemon zested
2 tbs graham flour (or any flour) 
2 tbs or more - cane sugar or brown sugar or whatever sweetener you like
For the Topping 
2 1/2 - 3 cups or old fashioned oats 
1/2 cup chopped pistachios 
1/2 cup cold butter (chopped) or grape seed oil 
1/2 cup honey 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
pinch of salt
PREP: Pre heat your oven to 350. You may leave the skins on the fruit or if you wish to remove it cut an x in the bottom of each fruit. Bring a big pot of water to boil, drop the fruit in the boiling water for 30 seconds or so, then transfer them into a bath of ice cold water - the skin should easily peel off. Mix all of the filling ingredients together. The topping can be made by pulsating in a cuisinart, or just mash it up between your fingers. 
BAKE: In a buttered baking dish transfer all the filling, then pour the topping in an evenly distributed layer. Bake at 350 for 45 mins or so. 
SERVE: warm with ice cream or fro yo. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not so nicoise salad

Salad nicoise is a tradition all over France and Italy as well where it's called insalata nizzarda. The salad that gets it's name sake from Nice where it originally consisted of raw red peppers, shallots, artichoke, tuna and topped with anchovies. Some French traditionalists believe potatoes should never be included in this delicious salad made famous by one of the most beloved chefs Julia Child. In fact some believe no cooked vegetable should ever be included in the salad. I say sacrebleu! use whatever you like in your not so nicoise salad. The one rule I will give you however is to serve on a family style plate so that everyone can take what ever toppings they desire. Also it looks so pretty all laid out like that. 
boiled potatoes - flash fried after w/ seasoning salt (optional)
Cherry tomatoes - halved
arugula and spinach 
roasted red peppers
cooked beets
hearts of palm - big chunks
cucumber - sliced
black kalamata or nicoise olives
hard boiled egg
tuna packed in olive oil

dijon mustard
balsamic vinegar 
olive oil 
s & p
1 part vinegar and mustard to 2 parts oil ~ whisk mustard and vinegar together then 
continue to whisk while slowly adding oil. 

There are no real directions or amounts for this salad as it can be for as many people as you like. Feel free to substitute any of the things you like or don't like. The green jar in the photo is some homemade 
parsley pesto that I slathered on toast to serve alongside the salad. I'll post the recipe for that another time. 

Chow for now. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mega Mint Mojito

Since it's gorgeous out today and probably one of the last days of summer we have left.  I decided to send you off into the weekend with an iconic Cuban cocktail.  My mega mint mojito is the perfect way to enjoy a sunny Friday afternoon. If you don't have a muddler a mortar and pestle or molcajete will do. If you don't know what those things are then you're totally screwed and will not be abel to make this drink... Just kidding. Simply rough chop the mint place it in a bowl. Then pour the liquor over it and beat it with a wooden spoon. If you do not have a wooden spoon use a mettle spoon. If you do not have a spoon chew up the mint with your teeth, spit it into your glass and proceed! 
limes - juice and slices for garnish
mint - the more the merrier 
sugar, stevia agave whatever floats your boat - to your taste
white rum - 2-3 oz per cocktail 
club soda 
* soda can be replaces with sprite or seven up but if you use flavored soda please discount the sugar in the recipe. 
DIRECTIONS: Muddle mint (bruise the mint so it releases it's oils and flavor) in a glass with 1 tbs of less  of sugar, and lime / lime juice (i use 1/2 lime per drink or more) add ice to the glass and pour desired amount of liquor over the ice. Fill the remainder with soda. If you prefer a less icy drink chill your rum before hand, and use less ice. There's really no rules for making this drink. Just enjoy life while you sip, if you are so inclined light up a fat Cohiba cigar, put your feet up and blare some Buena Vista Social Club. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mushroom tart with arugula and parmesan

Pre made puff pastry is really a god sent. It's one of my favorite party catering tricks since it really transforms any bite into something elegant and delicious in record time. This mushroom tart with arugula and parmesan is so yummy, a huge hit every time I serve it. 
Frozen puff pastry - thawed 
flour - handful for rolling out pastry
1 pound of mixed mushrooms - button, crimini, oyster, portabello etc...
4 cloves of garlic - minced 
6 sprigs of thyme
1/2 lemon - zested 
handful of arugula 
parmesan - grated over the top
splash of red or white wine
evoo - drizzle
PREP: Thinly slice the mushrooms, mince garlic and zest lemon. 
COOK:  For the mushrooms (can be prepared ahead of time): Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat add mushrooms and cook for a minute or two then add the garlic, thyme (full sprig) and s&p. Continue cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, and then the liquid evaporates (about 10 mins). De glaze the pan with a splash of wine let cook for another 2 mins then remove the stems from the thyme and leave the mixture to the side to cool. 
For the tart: Pre heat the oven to 350. Follow instructions on the box. Sprinkle some flower on your work surface and rolling pin. Place puff pastry down and roll out until desired shape and thickness. * If you want to cut into squares or triangles you may want to do so before baking as it's easier to cut raw. To ensure crispyness bake half way then add even layer of mushrooms sprinkle with lemon zest and parmesan then continue baking. Remove from oven and add arugula before serving. 
SERVE: You can get really fancy and shave truffles before serving or if you're on a dime a drizzle of truffle oil

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes

Sorry loves no time to write today. Instead I leave you with a photo of something I whipped up. Herb stuffed chicken with roasted fennel & tomatoes on cauliflower puree. 

Roasting veg is the ultimate way to enjoy their flavor all you need is a drizzle of evoo pinch of s&p and poof deliciousness. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Black bean and corn soup

The end of the summer is definitely upon us judging by the fact that it's bloody freezing out side. While I just love big wool sweaters and knee high boots I'm sad to see the cold weather come in. This is our last  the next few weeks will be our last chance to use up the last of the late summer harvest including sweet corn. This soup is a perfect way to say so long summer, and hello to autumn. 

1 cooking onion - chopped 
2 cloves of garlic - chopped
3 ears of corn - cut off the cob 
1 can of black beans - do not rinse
4 cups of veg stock or water 
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika (sweet or smoked) 
2 tsp ancho chili powder - 
green onion - garnish diced
red pepper - garnish diced
salt - pinch (to taste)
pepper - """
PREP: Chop ingredients. 
COOK: sautee onions in a small drizzle of evoo until translucent then add garlic - cook one more minute then add spices, and corn. Cook until kernels are bright yellow then add your water/ stock and beans. Bring to a boil then lower temp. and let simmer for 30 mins to an hour uncovered (if you have the time). Puree or blend until mostly smooth (you will still want some texture). Taste and re season with s&p if you like. 
SERVE: thinly slice green onion on the bias and peppers into small dice and top the soup before serving. A drizzle of chili oil if you are so inclined is 
also nice. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day weekend

Hope everyone has a very happy loooong weekend. Don't forget to take advantage of all the end of summer bbq'ing and amazing fruits and veg! See ya Tuesday tomato snobs!

Friday, September 2, 2011

You don't say

Someone recently said to me "you don't really have 
a lot of comments on your blog". Oh thank you soooo much, I hadn't fucking noticed until you so rudely pointed it out. Obviously I realize this. I'm not freaking blind. I mean it would be nice if I pose a question in a blog post that someone would be so gracious to responds with something... anything really. I certainly wouldn't hold it against you if you wrote something witty or interesting or even disagree with what I said. In fact I love disagreement!  The truth is I don't blog for the comments. I think most bloggers would agree with me. We blog for fun, for clarity, for confirmation. Maybe even because we can't get people to listen to us in the real world, or we're afraid to express ourselves in our daily lives so we try our words out in the blogosphere. Gross I can't believe I used the term blogosphere - shoot me. Comments on blogs are simply an added bonus. I don't think every post warrants a comment, nor do I think every comment says anything about the actual blog anyway. Of course I am grateful for any of the comments I do receive. Truth be told I wish people would comment more. But I do respect that if you don't have something interesting or intriguing to impart that you just enjoy your visit and be on your way. I read that only 1 in every 100 visitors to a blog actually comments. I can imagine that this is somewhat true since I have analytics on my blog and I know how many page view I get a day.  For myself I know that when I read blogs I'm not always so inclined to write something after I read it. Sometimes I do but certainly not the majority of the time. When I read blogs that are dripping with ass kissing comments and superficial praise it makes me want to stab my eyes out with pointy chopsticks and then toss my eyeballs into a scorching hot wok with some ginger and chinese 5 spice. Then I would eat them projectile vomit everything up all over my kitchen table. After, I'd take an instagram photo of the eyeball vomit with my husband's iphone with one of those cool retro filters so I can pretend it was taken 10 years ago using a lomography camera with expired film.  Simultaneously I would take a video of the entire situation then I would post it to youtube and embed a video file onto my blog. That would obviously be followed by a very interesting and mind blowing post about the whole ordeal complete with a list of ingredients and instructions to re-create my barfy masterpiece for others bloggers and followers to recreate for themselves. Perhaps this would even spawn a bunch of comments and maybe I'd end up on the Foodbuzz top 9 for the day since they love buzzing about weird stuff. Then that would encourage even more comments and congratulations and friend requests I wouldn't know what to do with my self. I would forever be trying to top that blog post and the pressure would be so overwhelming and difficult, would I even be able to? I couldn't bare the thought of letting down my ever growing audience and letting their comments go without response because by then I would be to cool to respond to them anyway. Then all the comments would take a negative turn for then worse and I would only have haters who would talk about my glory days when I would set my toenails on fire and use the ashes to make toe pudding casseroles deep fried in cat piss. They would say oh Jaime - that washed up Tomato Snob she's soooo last season!  But at least I'd still have comments!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tablescaping - step one "china"

Sorry for no post yesterday my dear snob and snobettes but I pulled my back out, or a muscle or something and have been in pretty bad shape. Yes it's always something with me. First the automic cold, then caught in the middle of a hurricane. Never a dull moment in my life. Today I'm feeling slightly better, still waiting to hear back from a chiropractor I was referred to by a friend. Anyhoo back to the topic of today... Tablescaping. Tablescaping is the art of beautifying your dining area. Just like landscaping but inside. The first step in setting up your table is picking your China. White dishes are always beautiful and classic. They present a blank canvas your your beautiful food but try something different like colour or pattern for your fine china. I love the mix and match look here in the Green and gold with the splash of coral. When choosing your patterns try and find pieces with similar details or colours. You'll need one design element to tie everything together. 

An easy way to dress up your table or your white tableware would be to have some great glasses. These gold rimmed
glasses are stunning. My aunt has such great taste and always finds interesting things. These are obviously vintage. I also love the Moroccan inspired green glasses. They look amazing dining al fresco. An interesting idea here is using the brandy snifter  as a little vase. 

I guess you've already guessed it green and gold are one of my favorite colour pairings. I'm also crazy about orange and green together. What colours drive you wild? 

Here are some pics from my Pinterest board for dinnerware that I adore. 

Villeroy and Boch - French country                                             Go contemporary if going white.