Thursday, December 29, 2011

Montreal Nostalgia - Tony Bourdain Layover Episode 6

A friend sent me this and I couldn't resist sharing. You all know how much I love Montreal, well Anthony "Tony" Bourdain depicts the city at it's best on his show Layover. Check it out.

Fairwell 2011. Hello 2012 - TFCo. preview
I just wanted to wish you all a happy and healthy new year. I also want to thank you for your continued support and love! Looking forward to exciting new culinary adventures to come in the new year. I have a few tricks up my sleeve - so stay tuned for some January surprises.

I'm heading up to a little town called Plantagenet to spent my new year with my husbands cousin and some friends. I've never been to this part of Ontario and I'm looking forward to fresh winter air, snow, bbqing and a fireplace. I'll be bringing a bunch of cozy comfy clothes, a cooler filled with delicious goods and a big bottle of champagne. I'm hoping to do all the cooking and let everyone else do the dishes! 

My weekend menu plan begins with burger & bbq chicken night for tomorrow. Saturday morning mini tortilla with chorizo, fruit salad with yogurt and granola. Broccoli mac and cheese for lunch with salad & pomegranate vinaigrette. Then beef bourguignon with haricot vert tumble and crispy shallots for NY dinner. Definitely going to do a cheese plate for dessert perfect for sipping champagne, wine and ring in a new year. For Sunday brunch I have a french toast loaf - also known as bread pudding with bacon and eggs and then we get back on the road back to Toronto and 2012. What are you all doing?

Enjoy your countdown. Chow for now.
- xo Jaime

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Not exactly a trip to China

Hope everyone had a magical holiday. I've been spending lots of time hanging out and catching up with family. Doing some boxing week shopping yesterday with my dad and step mom to close up my wedding registry. It was an adventure to say the least since pretty much everything  on my registry was discontinued, and I had to choose all new items. I was super sad to say goodbye to the  china I chose seen here. The green and gold Martha Stewart pattern I was just in love with couldn't be found anywhere in Canada or the US. I was determine to keep the coral appetizer/dessert plate and we were on a mission to find something that would be prefect with it. I'm a huge fan of the mix and match look so I didn't want to settle on one pattern. After five hours and way too much money that I care to admit I finally found  the perfect accompaniment to the Cristobal coral plates. The new pattern I chose is called Dynasty by Wedgewood and it nicely compliment the coral plates I originally fell in love with. Sorry no pictures of the two patterns together. I can't wait for my March delivery. Now all I need is a proper dining table, chairs, table cloth, and silverware. Oh ya and a house too! Bahahaha... it just never ends. Hopefullyone day in 2012. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mull some holiday spirit into your beverages

Mulled wine or cider is a classic for Christmas. It's warm and inviting and filled with beautiful spices and Christmas spirit. Here are some tips for concocting a delicious Holiday beverage.

Choose a semi sweet wine - if you aren't sure what the sweetness of a wine is check the label or sign next to the wine 0-4 is the scoring system 0 being the most dry and 4 being the most sweet. You can always add sweetness but you can't take it away! Honey is the perfect sweetener for this drink.
A delicious beverage filled with holiday flare

Use a vegetable peeler on your lemons and oranges to add to the simmering liquid.

Do not boil! Heat your beverage on a low simmer for 15-20 mins to infuse all the flavors.

Use whole spices... cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and cloves are lovely.

Bonus - your house will smell like the holidays for hours!

Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Pumpkin gingerbread

If you're like me you think fruitcake is an excellent way to ruin perfectly good fruit and sometimes nuts. This Pumpkin gingerbread is moist, delicious and would make a wonderful addition to your Christmas or Chanukah meal. I like to serve this bread at the beginning of dinner with a nice soup or salad and use 1/2 a cup of sugar, but you can definitely serve it for dessert and use 3/4 cup for a sweeter bread. The bread is very easy to make so do ahead and make a double batch. Give one as a gift or put it in the freezer for another time.  If you want to make this more like a fruit cake add golden raisins, or chopped apricots to the batter. Oh ya and the bread is pretty healthy too because you're using whole wheat instead of white flour. You'll never buy fruit cake again!


1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (pastry or stone ground)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 pieces of grated candied ginger (optional)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 – 3/4 cup cane or demerara sugar {depending on how sweet you like
2 tbs sunflower oil (or veg oil) {you can also use melted butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* crushed nuts or whole pumpkin seeds (optional) for the top of the bread - I used chopped almonds, but you can use anything!
BAKE: Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with PAM cooking spray. Whisk dry ingredients, and wet ingredients separately, then fold the wet into the dry – do not over “mix”. Bake for 50-55 mins. *Test batter with a tooth pick to make sure it comes out dry. Leave the bread in the loaf pan for 10 mins after removing from the oven, then let cool for another 10-15 mins before you dig in.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blueberry white chocolate drop biscuits with concord grape coulis and vanilla ice cream

This is one seriously delicious dessert! The last time I made it I took it to a friends house and it blew everyones socks off. Well not literally. The concord grape coulis is to die for. I used it for weeks on everything from peanut butter sandwiches, to yogurt even in salad dressing and it elevated each dish to entirely new heights. Next fall I'm going to make a freezer full of the stuff to last the entire winter. 
For the biscuits: 
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup chopped good quality cold white chocolate
4 oz chopped ice cold butter 
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp cardamom 
1 lemon zested
3/4 cup butter milk
1/3 cup cane sugar
1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, salt and sugar. Then incorporate the butter by rubbing between your fingers, until the mixture resemble large crumbs. You can also pulse gently in a Cuisinart. In another bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest and then add to the flour mixture. Fold the mixture just to incorporate, handle the dough as little as possible - to not melt the butter. Coat the blueberries and chocolate in flour before adding them to the batter, then pat everything into biscuit shape and drop on to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with buttermilk, egg wash or melted butter before placing in the oven. Bake for 15 - 20 mins  until slightly golden and firm to the touch. Serve biscuits warm. 

For the Concord grape coulis: 1 pint of washed concord grapes
drizzle olive oil
1-2 tbs cane sugar - depending on how sweet/ sour the grapes are
2 tbsp pectin
pinch of salt
pinch of clove 

Method: Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. 
On a parchment lined baking sheet place grapes with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt. Bake for 5-8 mins, until the grapes blister. Transfer grapes to a sieve over a sauce pan and  squish the liquid out of the grapes, discard the seeds and skin. Then bring the mixture to a boil with sugar, and whisk in pectin. Continue to boil for 2 mins then turn off the heat and let cool at room temp. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Serve cold for best flavor. 

Serve: Scoop of vanilla ice cream (would also work with almond or maple) in a small bowl then place the warm biscuit on top with a generous drizzle of the grape coulis. Bonne appetit! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who doesn't love Pierogi? Peeling back my Polish roots with this delicious dumpling

Potato pierogis  (perogies) are definitely one of those ubiquitous bites. They appear on menus from fine dining establishments with uber chic presentation and posh ingredients like white truffles, all the way down to the humble menu at Swiss Chalet. For me perogies are just a part of my cultural makeup. My grandmother is from Poland - yes she's the same grandmother who refuses to throw anything out  from the post "Taste this ______ I think it's gone bad". Ever since I was a little girl I can remember perogies being present at Friday night dinners at my grandparents house. My grandmother would always serve them along side rice and peas. Not a traditional Polish paring but my grandfather is Jamaican so we always had an interesting combination of dishes at our dinner table. For years my grandmother has had us all fooled. We thought every Thursday night she would make her perogies from scratch but she really just popped by Regina's a Jewish food emporium specializing in Eastern European delights. In all fairness those perogies are pretty damn flawless - and I'm positive Regina or who ever  else works in that kitchen isn't cutting any corners. For my perogies I used dumpling wrappers to save some time, but it"s easy to make your own dough. You must, must, must serve these with sour cream with chives, and caramelized onions. 
Yukon gold potatoes - peeled and boiled 
garlic (optional) - boil with the potatoes (1 clove for every 2 potatoes)
s & p 
milk - splash 
water - for assembly
onions - to be caramelized
chive - for garnish
sour cream - for serving
lemon zest - (optional) for sour cream 
dumpling or wanton wrappers - I used the round ones

For mash potato: 
COOK: In a pot with cold water, add potatoes and garlic. Bring to the boil and let simmer until potatoes are fork tender. Using a ricer or a hand masher mash your potatoes with a few spoonfuls of butter, splash of milk and s & p to taste. Let cool before assembling your dumplings. You can make this a day in advance.   

FILL: Set up an assembly line with water, mashed potato and wrappers. Use a demitasse spoon (small spoon)  for measuring how much filling. Place the filling on the wrapper - then seal them closed with water. Refrigerate, or freeze on a flat tray if you will be making the perogies later

COOK: You can boil the perogies in salted water until they float, then pan fry in butter, or you can double whammy them. This means keep a lid and a water squirt bottle close by. Start off by frying the perogie in a little oil/ butter then squirt a little water in the pan, and place a tight fitting lid on so its fry/ steams them at the same time. Cook until crisped on the edges, about a minute or two. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Fritatta Love Affair Continues With Basil, Sun-dried Tomatoes & Feta cheese

For years frittata has been one of my absolute favorite egg dishes. I love eggs! They are one of the most versatile ingredients that can completely transform any dish. They are also a staple in almost every cuisine world wide. I just don't get people who don't get eggs. This fritatta uses chewy sun dried tomatoes, creamy feta cheese, sweet caramelized onions and punchy fresh basil. A gorgeous way to start off your day. You can prep everything the night before if you don't have a lot of time in the am. 
eggs (4-5 for 2 people) - whisked
crumbled feta cheese
fresh basil - thinly sliced 
sun dried tomatoes - thinly sliced 
Spanish onion - thinly sliced & caramelized 
s & p

COOK:  Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Then start off by heating a tbs of olive oil and sautéed onion on medium - low heat until golden (about 20 mins). While onions are cooking thinly slice the rest of the ingredients. Whisk eggs and add everything together. Continue whisking while adding the onions. Add a pinch of s & p. Add some butter to your "onion pan" and heat again on medium high before adding egg mixture. Cook on the stove for 2 mins. Add some more crumbled feta on top before baking in the oven. Bake until slightly golden (about 10 mins). 
SERVE: with toast!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Neglectful Nancy and a fabulous French oven from Le Cruset

Hi Snoblettes. Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday I was feeling a bit under the weather. Today I'm super excited to finally be able to brag about my brand new Le Cruset 6.75 quart French oven. I bought the oval shape in ocean - seen here. I know I'm being a very spoiled and bratty Tomato Snob this evening by bragging, but I've been waiting for this day for quite some time. I traded in all my gifts from my bridal registry to save up for this beauty and have patiently waited for Williams Sonoma's 25% off sale. Today is the day I'll finally be able to enjoy cooking with French porcelain finished cast iron perfection for the rest of my life. Note to WS fans all over Canada and the US the 25% off sale is on until Sunday,* all cookware is included. Happy Holiday shopping to all! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Throwing a sexy stagette party with big boobie cupcakes

Today I'm going talking about the importance of "committing" to your theme when throwing a special party. Last week I mentioned the stagette party I catered for my girlfriend Haley. Since we weren't going to do the cheesy girls night out,  there had to be some kooky elements to our girls night in. I thought it would be fun to carry the naughty theme through the entire party. One of the party guests had emailed me to ask if she could bake something for dessert that night. I told her we were thinking of doing something risque like a penis cake or boobie cupcakes. She said she had never done anything like that before, but was definitely up for the challenge of  the cupcakes. As you can see, she did  an amazing job. These are red velvet cupcakes with marshmallow fondant boobies on top.  They were certainly a hilarious addition following the penis pasta mac and cheese or the hot & sweaty Moroccan meatballs. Wah wah wahhhhh...

Friday, December 9, 2011

The best chicken thighs ever with frijoles negros and watermelon salsa

All I can say is this is one delicious dish! I made extra of the watermelon salsa added some chopped heart of palm and ate it the next day with some Spanish spiced shrimps and It was equally as delicious. For those of you who do not like the fresh wonderful flavors from Mexico and the Caribbean please do not continue reading. 

chicken thighs (skinless boneless)
black beans (canned)
1/2 baby seedless watermelon - chopped
1 ripe avocados - chopped
4-6 celery sprigs - chopped
2 small cloves of garlic - separated and minced
2 limes - juiced
tajin spice & Miguelito Chamoy 
cayenne pepper
s & p

FOR THE CHICKEN: Rub both sides of the chicken with a generous amount of tajin, Miguelito and a pinch of cumin. Pre heat your oven to 300, as well heat a pan (preferably cast iron) with some oil to brown each side of the chicken, then place in the oven for. Total cooking time about 7-10 mins, until perfectly juicy and bursting with flavor. 

FOR THE BANS: Heat a small amount of oil on a medium heat, in a small pot, then add 1 clove of the minced garlic. After a minute or so add the whole can, liquid and all of black beans. Add 2 pinches of paprika, cumin and depending on how spicy you like it a pinch of cayenne pepper. Let simmer on medium low until dinner is ready - add a splash of water if mixture becomes too thick. Squeeze 1/2 lime juice right before serving and mix through. 

FOR THE SALSA: Chop all ingredients, add 1 small clove of minced garlic and the rest of the lime juice toss and serve. If I had mint or cilantro I would have chopped some up and added to the salsa. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blackened salmon sandwich with avocado and wilted spinach

Good evening all. This is a wonderfully healthy and filling sandwich perfect for a busy day or a quick and easy dinner. You can make the salmon ahead of time and serve cold or have it hot off the grill. I've used my Lebanese garlic sauce as one of the spreads on the sandwich instead of mayo, but you can use any spread you like. If you're not watching your calories I suggest adding a few crisp slices of bacon, which is the only thing that could possibly make this  sandwich any better then it already is. 

avocado  - sliced
baby spinach 
blackening seasoning *
dijon mustard

For seasoning: I used Chef Paul Prudhomme blackened red fish seasoning. If you are mixing your own try this blend:  
  • 2 tbs smoked paprika
  • 4 tbs dried thyme
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg 

For the Salmon: Sprinkle generously with seasoning as well as a pinch of salt and pre heat your oven to 350. Heat a cast iron skillet with tbs of olive or vegetable oil. When skillet is hot place the salmon skin side down (if you like crispy skin) let it cook as medium high until the edges have the light pink colour (cooked colour) then carefully flip and allow to cook for another minute - then transfer to the oven for another few minutes. When the fish releases a white fluid it's done. From start to finish this should only take about 15 minutes for medium done succulent fillet. 

For the spinach: Gently heat a pan with a small drizzle of olive oil. Place a bunch of spinach in and a splash of water and a pinch of s&p - the spinach will cook down in the blink of an eye. As soon as it wilts remove from the hot pan or you will destroy too many of the wonderful nutrients spinach contains. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday Foodie

Good morning, I thought I would wait until Tuesday to tell you all about this cool discount dining campaign hitting Toronto this January. It's called Tuesday Foodie and I've been asked to be involved as a Toronto food blogger, as well my new company The Fooding Co. has recently become a participant.  How it works: Tuesday are notoriously slow in the restaurant business, so the Tuesday Foodie allows restaurants to offer 30% off your meal every Tuesday at participating restaurants. There are 20 restaurants involved so you can pretty much try them all. There are some stipulations including only the card holder can get the discount, and the discount is only applicable on food ie. no alcohol. It seems like a pretty cool idea, and there are definitely some interesting sounding restaurants on the list. I'll be receiving my discount card in the mail this week and will keep you informed with my findings. If you are interested in purchasing the Tuesday Foodie card get it now 71% ($20) off on wagjag for the next two days. 

Are you a Fan?

Hi all.  I know some of you check updates through my facebook group, or blog loving or you just stop by and check me out here. Today I'm asking for a favor. I'm hoping those of you who enjoy reading this blog will come on board and "like" my new Tomato Snob fan page on facebook. Yes I know I already have a group - but I've decided to switch it over to a fan page to better help me branch out and grow my Tomato Snobbing vines. Please like me @ I'm a fan of The Tomato Snob or you can click the like button that has been added to my side bar - took me all bloody day to figure out how to install it for blogger. 
Thanks a bunch!
- Jaime

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dinner bread

Baking bread is my newest obsession! Recently I've become curious about the practice of kneading and proofing and all the steps associated with bread making. Practicing the virtue of patience is key in learning to become a great bread baker. Bread usually needs to rise twice before sending off into the oven. This bread is probably one of the easiest since I've seen recipes that can take up to 4 days - sour dough being one of them. I infused this bread with dried herbs to impart a nice aroma. I also used 1/2 whole wheat flour to add some fiber and nutrients. If you've never baked bread before you will feel enormously accomplished when these beautifully baked loaves come out of the oven. You can use any herbs you like for this recipe. The bread has a lovely focaccia like texture and works well with aromatic herbs. I reinforced the flavor by serving with herb infused olive oil and flaked salt - my husband went crazy for this recipe. 

6 cups all purpose flour (3 unbleached white/ 3 whole wheat)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp herb de provence
2 1/4 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
4 tsp sugar
3 tbs soft butter - divided into 1tbs each

In two separate bowls: Dry and Wet
Dry - mix flour, salt and herbs (use about 1/2 cup of this flour for the work surface)
Wet - whisk water yeast and sugar and let sit for 5-10 mins (let the yeast foam)

Slowly combine the wet ingredients in to the dry, add 1 tbs butter. When dough begins to come together empty on to floured surface. Kneed bread for 8 - 10 mins until smooth. Then place in a clean oiled bowl cover, set in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour.

Punch down the dough then kneed for another 5 minutes... divide into two and shape into loaves. Place on greased baking sheet and cover - allow to raise for another hour. Before you bake drag a knife down the center of the bread and drizzle with butter. Then bake for 40-45 mins at 350. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Farmers Market Basket of Fruit & Veg

I have the best sister in the entire world! Whenever her and her boyfriend go to the farmers markets up north they always bring me fresh fruit and veg. My SiSi as I call her is also a serious Tomato Snob, with the diploma from The Culinary Institute of Ontario to prove it. This photo is the last package I received from her. How thoughtful is this beautiful basket of carrots, parsnips, beets, shallots, pears and apples. Obviously I put all these goodies to excellent use. 
Heres a thought, next time you get invited to dinner at a foodies house bring them a basket of fresh local fruit and veg.  Everyone always brings a bottle of wine  as the host/ hostess gift - not that there's anything wrong with that, but a basket like this would really stand out.