Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Good afternoon all. Today is the day that candy starved cherry Tomato Snobs dress in crazy costumes and go wild for scary tricks and sweet treats. Happy Halloween! This past weekend my husband an I got together with our good friends Haley and Pablo to have our first ever pumpkin carving party. It was such a blast! I wish I had the photos to show you how well we all did on our pumpkins. I'd bug Haley to send them but she's getting married Saturday and I know how stressful wedding week can be, so I'll just wait to post those pics at a later date. Today I'll leave you with a real freaky photo. A few weeks back I was asked to pull the meat off two suckling pigs. Not really the most glamorous way to start my day but perfect for a freaky Halloween post. I'm a huge fan of pulled pork sandwiches, however after this experience I'm not sure i'll ever be able to look at pulled pork the same way again. 

I wish everyone a safe and fun Halloween tonight! Remember to check your candy and make sure nothing looks like it's been tampered with. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blue cheese love

Happy Friday fellow Tomato Snobs. I wanted to share something cute with you before saying goodbye for the weekend. Last week I was working alongside another chef who was making an appetizer with blue cheese, fresh figs and prosciutto. She asked if I was a fan of blue cheese and I replied with "I do not love moldy cheese" a few minutes later she came over to my work space and announced "you may not love blue cheese, but It sure loves you". I smiled politely since I had no idea what she was talking about, until I looked down and saw a little crumble of blue cheese in her hand. Within the crumble of stinky molded cheese appeared a little blue heart. How adorable! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

White bean and chicken chili

If yesterday you were thinking; Damn! I wish Jaime would have posted the recipe for that chicken chili she served the corn bread with, well your prayers have been answered. This was one of those thrown together, whatever's left in the fridge chili's and It honestly couldn't have turned out more delicious. 
2 small cooking onions - chopped
3 jumbo cloves of garlic - fine chopped
1 pound ground chicken
1 ear of fresh corn - cut of the cob
1 large zucchini - chopped
1 carrot - chopped
1 yellow pepper - chopped
1/2 can white kidney beans - thats all I had left, but use a whole can if you have it.
2 tbs whole wheat flour
1tbs butter
1tbs olive oil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1tsp fennel seed 
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
4 cups chicken or veg stock.
chopped cilantro - small handful - can be substituted for parsley
shredded partly skimmed mozzarella cheese
PREP: chop all veg. Grind spices in grinder or using a mortar and pestle - or buy pre ground. 
COOK: Sautee onions in butter and olive oil until they start to turn translucent then add in garlic. After 1 minute or so add in the chicken and spices. With a wooden spoon start to break up the chicken into smaller pieces, add flour and continue cooking until liquid is no longer visible. Add the chicken stock, chopped veg and then simmer for 1 hour or so. Before you serve add chopped cilantro or parsley.
SERVE: with shredded cheese and finely slices green onion, or along side my skillet corn bread.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Skillet corn bread with fresh corn and green onion

The best thing about making skillet corn bread is making skillet corn bread! It's one of the simplest breads to make and you can easily exchange one ingredient for another, with endless delicious possibilities. For example change the green onion for cilantro, or parsley or add jalapeno or grated cheese... endless I tell you! The one thing thats a must in this recipe is your cast iron skillet.
1 1/4 cup cornmeal (I prefer corse, but fine will work too)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (all purpose can be substituted)
1/4 cup white granulated sugar (I used cane sugar)
1 tsp kosher salt
1tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsp bp (baking powder)
1/2 tsp bs (baking soda)
1/3 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup butter milk
2 eggs
8 tbs melted unsalted butter
1 ear fresh corn - cut off the cob
2 green onions - chopped
salt - a pinch
PREP: Pre heat oven to 450 with your cast iron skillet inside.  Mix all dry ingredients add the corn kernels and onion to the dry, and wisk all the wet ingredients (reserve a small amount of the butter for the skillet). Then slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry until combined.
COOK: Remove skillet from over, and drizzle small amount of butter. Drop temp to 375. Add the cornbread mixture to the buttered skillet and bake for about 20 mins - test with a toothpick to make sure it comes out dry. Let cool for 10 mins before serving. * to make it extra buttery and luxurious you can brush some melted butter on top at the end.
SERVE: Along side your favorite chili, salad soup etc...  
* seen here with my white bean chicken chili - recipe will follow. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No time to write referral - Spoon Fork Bacon

Hi guys, sorry no post yesterday. I've been slammed with work for the past few days. It's been event after event. My body feel like a broken hot mess and today we are catering a 400 person event for Hilary Weston. For those of you who don't know who Hilary is she's a big f-ing deal in Toronto. So tension in the kitchen has been pretty high... well actually not too bad considering. Our Executive chef Paul has nerves of steal and nothing seems to phase the guy but there has been an enormous amount of cooking to do. 

Anyways, since I have no time for a proper post I leave you or rather refer you to a wonderful blog that satisfies the senses called Spoon Fork Bacon. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Farmers Pie - Like Shepherds pie with more vitamins!

Following in the theme of the National Post article I thought todays recipe would be a perfect follow up to creative comfort food. Cold weather always makes me feel like comfort food and Shepherds pie definitely one of those dishes. Shepherds or Cottage pie is a delicious stick to your ribs classic. It's usually made up of minced beef or lamb buttery mashed potatoes and can sometimes include chopped carrots, green peas or sweet corn.  I've created my own version using a carrot puree and tons of veggies topped with broccoli confetti. 
ground lamb - about 1-1 1/2 pounds
4 carrots - peeled and rough chopped 
small cooking onion - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves - minced
red pepper - finely chopped
green pepper - finely chopped 
1/2 cup corn - kernels 
broccoli tops - just the tips cut off
dijon mustard - 2 tsp
thyme - dry or fresh about 1 tbs
mint - dry or fresh about 1 tbs
pinch of cinnamon 
drizzle olive oil 
s &p to taste 
1/2 cup beef/ veg stock or water
PREP: chop all veggies. Pre heat oven to 350. 
For carrot puree: in a small pot simmer carrots in about 1/2 cup of liquid until the carrots are soft. You can use beef/ chicken or vegetable stock - water is fine as well. When carrots are soft puree with 1tsp of dijon mustard until smooth with immersion blender, or cuisinart. Add more liquid if mixture is to thick. A tsp of butter can also be added if you're not counting calories. 
* sweet potatocan be substituted for carrots if you prefer. 

For meat mixture: In a large pan heat olive oil and sautee onions until translucent, add garlic peppers and corn a pinch of s&p. Cook for about 5 mins until tender. Remove from heat, and place in a separate bowl. Heat the pan until medium high and  add ground lamb. With a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula begin chopping the meat so that it doesn't clump together when cooking. Add a pinch of s&p, then thyme and pinch of cinnamon (if using fresh mint ad at the very end of cooking, if using dry add now). continue to cook until all the pink is out of the meat. Remove (pour out) excess fat from the pan before adding cooked veggies to the mixture. 

To assemble: In a baking tray or individual ramekins place meat mixture on the bottom, then a layer of carrot puree and broccoli confetti on top. Bake for 20 mins until golden on top. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy Happy Joy Joy.

I'm on cloud nine today minus a slight cold. I woke up to a bunch of email from friends and family saying they saw my recipe in the news paper. I know it's the only thing I can talk about lately but i'm so :)
If you'd like to download a pdf copy of the special please click here.

It's also been a super busy week at work. Yesterday we catered a 500 person party for the reveal of the new Audi. I'm going to try and get some photos of my beautiful cheese tray from last nights party. It was a beauty. I haven't really said much about it but  I started working  at an awesome catering company called Catering With Style.  It's a small company with a great hard working team, and I also get to work with a friend of mine which makes it a really fun environment.  This Sunday i'll be acting as the Executive chef at my first event alone for them. Now all I have to do is shake my cold - not time for sneezing, and no sneezing on the food! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Keep your eyes peeled.

Good morning fellow Tomato Snobs. I just wanted to let you in on a bit of news. On Thursday, yes this Thursday October 20th, will mark the day of my first published recipe! Horay. I'm so excited! I didn't want to say anything until I knew for sure,  but I received confirmation yesterday. Please keep your eyes peeled if you live in Toronto my recipe for Pasta With Ricotta and a Fried Egg will grace the pages of The National Post. I hope this is the beginning of many of my recipes to be published somewhere other then my blog. 

I want to send out a big THANK YOU to all of my readers for inspiring me and pushing me to continue to follow my dreams! You are all awesome. A special thanks to Jesse for being my personal PR agent - you're the best!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Homemade potato chips with smoked salmon and creme fraiche

There are classic flavor pairings and classic canapés. This chic party pleaser satisfies both of these ideas. Canapés usually refer to  hors d'œuvres - delicious and decorative morsels otherwise know as finger food. Traditionally a canapé will be served on a dry pathetic round of stale bread, but not these puppies!  My classic combination of smoked salmon, potato and creme fraiche is refreshing and light - a far cry from brittle bread and fish scraps.  The key is to find great quality smoked salmon, and you can usually do so at your local fish monger. If you're in Toronto City Fish has excellent smoked salmon.  You get to decide exactly how much you'd like to buy and they'll even vaccuum seal it for ya. 
Smoked salmon
yukon golds - super thinly sliced (use mandoline if you have) 
creme fraiche - dollop 
cucumber - remove skin and brunoise
chive - 1 inch chop
dill - 1 leaf per 
olive oil 
parchment paper
Slice up your potatoes toss in olive oil, s&p then place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pre heat oven at 300. Serve the chip warm or at room temp - but the rest of the ingredients chilled. 
COOK: Bake until golden about 10 mins. (keep your eyes on them - they can burn easily) 
* you can use either the chive or dill - I like both
* creme fraiche can easily be swapped for sour creme

Friday, October 14, 2011

Greek Village style salad

Choriatiki or Horiatiki means village or country in Greek.When followed by the word salad it refers to a bowl of veggies consisting of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, feta cheese, and kalamata olives with lots of greek olive oil and oregano. In short it's a chopped salad! In some regions capers are also added to the salad, or vinegar.  This delicious mix is mostly eaten in the summer months when all of the ingredients are at their best. My version of this classic Greek salad uses the addition of fresh herbs and peppers. 
red peppers - chopped
yellow peppers - chopped 
green peppers - chopped
orange peppers - chopped
red onion - slices 
tomatoes - chopped
cucumbers - chopped
black olives (I used sun dried - not classic) 
handful fresh mint - chopped
handful fresh dill - chopped
handful fresh oregano - chopped
handful of feta - crumbled 
1 lemon - juiced 
a few tbs evoo 
splash of red wine vinegar 
s&p to taste 
PREP: Combine everything in a bowl toss and enjoy. This salad is good for 2-3 days. 

How To Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds

Hi fellow foodies. My grandmother - yes grandmother sent me this video and I just couldn't wait to share. This is simply one of the best kitchen tricks I have ever seen, and I can verify It totally works like a charm. I'm wondering how many of you knew about this amazing short cut? I'm also now wondering what your favorite kitchen tricks are? Please share...

Read more!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yes to Philly No to Cheesesteak

As my hubby gets ready for a business trip to Philadelphia, I'm left reminiscing about my first (and last) experience with the iconic Philly cheese steak sandwich. I was so excited to try this blue collar special,  it was basically all I could think about during our 11 hour drive in. We were told we just had to try the sammy at Geno's - a 24 hour legendary spot in south Philly. I couldn't believe the line on a random Friday in August. People just kept on coming, locals tourist you name it. I figured by the line this sandwich was going to be something special however I was sadly mistaken!  I will admit I some what enjoyed
bites 2-5 but beyond that I totally grossed 
out. The bread was fresh and chewy, but the gloopy cheesewiz and petrified beef left me feeling queasy and empty inside. Here's where the Snob in me really comes out. I give the sandwich a 4.5 out of 10 and I have to say it was totally overpriced at nine bucks. The only redeeming part of my meal was the delicious Birch Beer which tasted suspiciously like Dr. Pepper one of my all time indulgences. In short there are much better sandwich spots in Philly and you won't have to wait in a line for your meal. 

We found one of the absolute best chicken Parmesan sandwiches at a quirky little place called Criniti restaurant. Yes the photo looks like a hot mess but please trust me when I tell you it was amazing.  At $6.75 the sandwich is a steal! This colossal sammy is ooey gooey mozzarella dripping of the sides of the perfectly crispy Italian roll. The golden fried to perfection, plump juicy chicken breast was wonderful and the tomato sauce was zesty and drenched through the bread as it should be. One bite of this sandwich erased any ill feelings I had towards Geno's. All was right again in the world.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tales of Onions - Part Two

Hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving, I was deprived of my favorite turkey holiday this year, but with good reason. My dad got married to a super awesome lady, and it was a very beautiful night. Im pooped from a very long weekend of celebrations and house hunting. Today is the follow up to the Tale of Onions. 

Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don't know what to blame. Maybe it's the onions that are to blame. Onions absorb bacteria is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu's and is the very reason we shouldn't eat an onion that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open!


I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of Mayonnaise.. Mullins is huge, and is owned by 11 brothers and sisters in the Mullins family.  My friend, Jeanne, is the CEO. Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned 
from a chemist. The guy who gave us our tour is named Ed. He's one of the brothers Ed is a chemistry expert and is involved in developing most of the sauce formula.
He's even developed sauce formula for McDonald's. Keep in mind that Ed is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed's answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially- made Mayo is completely safe. "It doesn't even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it's not really necessary." He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a  point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the quaint essential picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on
the table and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.

Ed says that  when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials
look for is when the 'victim' last ate ONIONS and where those onions came
from (in the potato salad?).   Ed says it's not the mayonnaise (as long as
it's not homemade Mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It's probably the
Onions, and if not the onions, it's the POTATOES.

He explained, onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked
onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion.. He says
it's not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator. 

It's already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit,
that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you
put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!) Ed says if you take the leftover onion
and cook it like crazy you you'll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover
onion and put on your sandwich, you're asking for trouble. Both the onions
and the moist potato in a potato salad, will attract and grow bacteria faster than
any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.

Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.

Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook
the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and
creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of
excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

There you have it folks. Believe it all or not!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Brothers Bent-Lee... of Susur Lee

Judging by the lack of activity yesterday I see many of my readers are either A. are not a fan of cold cantaloup soup, or B. were too busy enjoying the stunning weather to read my post. Either way It's all good. Today I leave you with an article from The Dish  ( on some buzzing rumors around the restaurant scene.  Supposedly 777 Dundas Street West will be the home of a new restaurant by famed chef Susur Lee. The thing thats most interesting is that the face of this alleged resto will be Lee's two sons Levi, and Kai. Momma bear Brenda Bent confirms that the plans are in motion and says the boys hope to open before christmas. One thing is for certain if this unnamed restaurant does make it to opening it will be in good company as the Dundas west strip has been heating up over the last year.  I guess we will have to wait and see. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Indian Summer Cantaloup soup

I'm not sure what's going on with the weather this fall  but I sure am liking it. Torontonians are notorious for complaining about our weather, it's too cold, it's too hot, it's too rainy... you name it.  This Indian summer week we are having is sure to please even the most cranky residents.  I figure since it feels like summer outside it would only be right to write about another delicious chilled summer soup. If you love cold fruity things you love this simple recipe. 
Cantaloup - seeded and pureed
6 key limes - juiced and thinly sliced for garnish 
1/2 english cucumber - peeled and pureed plus more for garnish
1 tbs - evoo (olive oil)
mint or basil - julienned for garnish 
s&p - pinch of each
PREP: Puree cantaloup, cucumber, limes and evoo. 
*You can ball a few pieces of the melon for garnish in advance as well as thinly slice cucumber and lime - it's optional. 
SEVRVE: Chilled with a drizzle of mint or basil infused evoo, julienned mint or basil, melon balls, thin slices of lime 
and or cucumber. 
Enjoy the weather while it lasts all!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tales of Onions - Part One

This old wives tale was sent to me last week, and I couldn't wait to hare it all with you just in time for cold and flew season. 

In 1919, when the flu killed 40 million people, there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could help them combat the flu. Many of the farmers and their family had contracted it, and many died. The doctor came upon this one farmer, and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy.   When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different, the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn't believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

- I heard this story from my hairdresser in AZ. She said that several years ago many of her employees were coming down with the flu and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work....Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu. 

Now there is a P. S. to this.... I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:
 Thanks for the reminder. I don't know about the farmers story.... But, I do know that I contacted pneumonia and needless to say I was very ill... I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar.....placing the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs.... Sure enough it happened just like that.... The onion was a mess, and I began to feel better.

Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

Wow - pretty amazing tale. I'm a firm believer in the power of onions and garlic. I double dare all of you to try this old remedy out at some point this winter. Please share your finds. Stay posted for tomorrows follow up in Part Two of Tales of Onions. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Party/cook/feet hurt and some damn good shawarma from Bagel Nash

Sorry to keep you all waiting. The Jewish holidays left no time for blogging. I was super busy with catering a party Saturday night and today was my first day working at Catering with Style  where I've been hired on for a few large parties. Needless to say I have been a busy bee and I'm totally pooped. Since it is Monday and I've left you in the lurch for a few days I'm making a serious effort to write a short post today. I want to tell you all about an amazing little shawarma stand in Thornhill called Bagel Nash. For those of you who don't know what  Shawarma is  you are seriously missing out.  Shewarma is a Middle Eastern delight made by stacking either lamb, chicken or turkey in think slices on a mettle skewer that cooks for hours on rotisserie. The juices from the meat slowly drips down and creates crunchy little bits surrounded by moist juicy meaty goodness. The meat is shaved off the skewer and serves with pickled turnips, cucumbers, Israeli salad, cabbage salads, hummus, tahina and skhug. BN (Bagel Nash) is made up of a bakery counter with beautiful looking pastries and obviously bagels as well as a walk up window where you can order some of the city's best shawarma and falafel. I was running errands a few weeks back and I couldn't resist stopping in for some take out. If you love middle eastern food this place is a must try!