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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I am back and ready for summer!

I'm back! My readers may have noticed that I have been MIA for the past few months but it has been for a great reason. Jordan and I were busy taking care of the greatest thing to happen to us....our new baby boy. I am now totally into the swing of motherhood and ready to start cooking and blogging again.

To start off, I want to share a delicious summer recipe. Nothing says summer more than barbecue and nothing says barbecue more than ribs! These ribs are the perfect combination of smoky, spicy and sweet and because they are slow cooked in the oven before hitting the grill they are perfectly, fall off the bone tender. Serve them up with some grilled corn and vegetables and you have a delicious dinner.

Smoky, Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Ribs
Serves 4

  • 2 racks of pork back ribs, about 3 lbs.
  • 2 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup smoky barbecue sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  1.   In a small bowl, combine the paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, chipotle powder and 2 Tbsp. of the brown sugar.
  2. Rub the racks of ribs on both sides liberally with the spice rub, leave to marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  3. While the ribs are marinating, prepare the sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce, remaining brown sugar, honey, Dijon, Worcestershire and vinegar. Set aside.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees F.
  5. Brush, each side of the racks with some of the prepared sauce. Place each rack on a piece of aluminum foil and wrap tightly making sure no steam can escape. Place the racks onto a baking sheet, seam side up and place in the oven.
  6. Bake the ribs for 2 hours until cooked through and tender.
  7. Preheat your barbecue to medium-high heat.
  8. Remove the ribs from the foil and place onto the preheated grill. Baste with the remaining sauce and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes a side.
  9. Slice and serve with the remaining sauce for dipping.
**if you don't have a barbecue the ribs can be finished in your oven under the broiler for 8 minutes

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Moroccan Themed "Sip n' See"

This past weekend I had the honour of working with one of my best friends to help throw her sister a "Sip n' See". A "Sip n' See" is pretty much a baby shower that happens after the baby is born so the guests actually get to see the baby while they "sip" and in this case "eat" as well.

I worked with Mandy's sister, Seri of Little Miss Party Planner back in May to help put together Mandy's bridal shower so it was nice to have the roles reversed this time.

Mandy collabarated with our friend Ashley of Ashley Lindzon Events to put together all the fine details and I was left in charge of the food. I had free reign which I LOVE, all I had to do was keep the food a Moroccan theme.

Here is what I put together for the savoury food table:
  • Morocccan Antipasto Bar: assorted breads and flat bread, roasted eggplant dip, spicy feta dip, chickpea spread, baked za'ataar goat's cheese, marniated roasted red pepper salad, citrus and spiced olives and mini falafel balls
  • Moroccan Cigars: crispy pastry filled with spiced ground beef served with a tahina dipping sauce
  • Spiced Tomato Soup Sips: shooters of warm tomato soup spiced with ginger, garlic, cumin and smoked paprika topped with a flat bread triangle
  • Chickpea Salad: spiced chickpeas tossed with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, onion and cilantro topped with a mint-yogurt drizzle and served in white wonton spoons
  • Moroccan Chicken Skewers: grilled Moroccan spiced chicken served with harissa aioli for dipping

 I kept dessert pretty simple:
  • Mini Cupcakes: mini vanilla bean cupcakes topped with an orange blossom and vanilla bean frosting garnished with candied orange peel
  • Floral Bundt Cake: a gorgeous rose shaped bundt cake studded with preserved lemons, orange and lemon zest and topped with a tangerine glaze and icing sugar sprinkle
  • Chai Creme Brulee: small portions of Chai scented creme brulee served in mini white ramekins

For beverages Mandy and Ashley put together a fabulous display of options including a Do-It Yourself Caesar bar which was a huge hit. I whipped up some Moroccan mint iced-tea which I sweetened with the leftover orange sugar from the cupcakes which added a wonderful flavour to the already delicious tea.

The event was a great success and I can't wait to work with all of these lovely ladies again soon, but maybe next time not when I am 8 and half months preggo :)

One last thing, a big shout out to the amazing photographer Robyn Harrison who took all of the amazing pictures seen on here. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Eat to the Beat 2012

This past Tuesday was my fourth time participating in Eat to the Beat. You can read about my experience last year here.

This year I offered Wild Mushroom Soup Shooters topped with Chives and Truffle Oil. This year, for the first time, Eat to the Beat offered guests the chance to vote on their favourite dish of the evening and guess what? My dish won!!! I am always so honoured to participate in this event with such amazing and talented female chefs so wining is something I am very proud of.

Here is the winning recipe:

Wild Mushroom Soup
Serves 4-6
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked of the stems
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound shitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound oyster mushrooms
  • 1 small package (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated in 1 cup of boiling water, water reserved
  • 1 small package (1 oz) dried chanterelle mushrooms, re-hydrated in 1 cup of boiling water, water reserved
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 Litre vegetable stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • truffle oil
  • chopped chives
  1. Heat a stock pot or large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and butter. Once the butter has melted add in the shallots, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring occaisionally until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the cremini, shitake and oyster mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are softened and starting to brown.
  2. Pour in the white wine, using a wooden spoon scrape off any brown bits that have collected on the bottom of the pan. Bring the wine to a boil and let reduce by half.
  3. Add in the porcini and chanterelle mushroom, along with the re-hydrating liquid as well as the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes for the flavours to come together.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat, and using a hand blender puree until smooth.
  5. Place back on low heat and stir in the cream. Allow to come to a gentle simmer then remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Place into serving bowls and top with a drizzle of truffle oil and a sprinkling of chives.
  7. ENJOY!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Seared Scallops with Sweet Corn Risotto

Clearly you can tell by my lack of posting that it has been awhile since I have cooked. Well last night, I actually had the energy to prepare some dinner so I decided to go all out with something a little fancier than a regular weeknight meal.

Jordan and I love scallops but we usually have them with a light sauce as an appetizer. Since I wanted to prepare them as a main I needed an accompaniment that would round out the meal. Scallops and corn make a perfect couple so I decided to pair the simply seared scallops with a delicious sweet corn risotto. It was a perfect, indulgent weeknight meal and I am glad I mustered up the energy to prepare it.

Sweet Corn Risotto
Serves 4
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, heated
  • 1 cup of corn, fresh or frozen, pureed until almost smooth
  • 1 cup of corn niblets, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • handful of chopped chives
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, once hot add the oil, shallot and garlic. Cook until softned and translucnet, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for one minute.
  2. Pour in the wine, and using a wooden spoon scrape off any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, and reduce by one half. Lower the heat to a simmer
  3. Pour one ladle of stock into the rice mixture, and continually stir, once the liquid is absorbed add another ladle of stock. Repeat this process until all the stock is used and the rice is cooked to al dente, adding in both the pureed and whole corn with the last stock addition.
  4. Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chives and cover with aluminum foil to keep in the heat while you sear the scallops.
Simple Seared Scallops
This recipe can be used for any amount of scallops
  • fresh, sea scallops
  • paper towel
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • butter
  • squeeze of lemon
  1. Place the sea scallops onto a peice of paper towl and blot out any excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over high heat, once hot add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the scallops, making sure not to over crowd the pan and sear until golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. Once finished, add a small amount of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice to the pan and let melt and coat the scallops.
  4. Remove and serve. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heading South

Years ago, my closest girlfriends and I started the tradition of hosting girls night dinner parties as often as we could. These dinners started off as a monthly event but as we get older and our lives started to change with houses, weddings, children, etc the dinners have become more and more sparse.  I think the last girls dinner I hosted my friend Ainsley was pregnant and her son is now 1! When I was able to gather my friends for one of the only quiet weekends of the summer I jumped at the opportunity to  host a dinner party. Inspired by a recent visit to Yardbird Southern Table in South Beach I developed a southern style menu and served everything family style for a casual feel.

On the Menu:
  • Blackberry-Ginger Lemonade
  • Creole Crab Dip with Crackers and Endive for Dipping
  • Southern Fried Chicken
  • Old Bay Blackened Shrimp
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Green Beans with Crispy Andouille Sausage
  • Sauteed Kale with Garlic
  • Biscuits with Honey Butter

The night was a success and hopefully we wont have to wait quite as long for another girls night dinner!

Here are a couple of the recipes from the evening as well as some pictures:

Creole Crab Dip
Serves 4-6
  • 1 can (120 g) lump crab meat, picked through for shells and cartilage
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup mayonaisse
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the crab, shallot, mayo, cream cheese, Old Bay, Worcestershire and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Transfer the mixture to an oven proof dish and place in the oven.
  4. Bake until the top is golden and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Serve with your favourite crudite and crackers.
The Best Mac and Cheese
Serves 4 as a main
  • 1 lb. of elbow macaroni, or any other similar sized pasta (I used shells)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
  • 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard 
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, toss with the olive oil and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cream and continue to whisk until no clumps are present. Cook until the mixture begins to boil and is thickened then whisk in the cheeses.
  4. Once the cheese is melted, stir in the paprika, dry mustard and hot sauce then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.
  6. Empty the pasta into a greased oven-proof casserole dish then sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs.
  7. Place in the oven and bake until bubbly and the crust is golden, about 20 minutes.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tales from our Garden: Zucchini Fries with Herb Mayo

Year, after year zucchini seems to take over our garden. Before we even discover the zucchini growing it grows into ginormous sizes. 

I have began to run out of zucchini ideas so last week I decided to go with a classic.Whenever I think of zucchini I think of the breaded and crispy zucchini sticks that I used to order on my days off as staff at Camp Timberlane at the local Haliburton restaurant McKecks. This time, I went a little healthier than the deep fried ones from back in the day and decided to oven  bake them instead and instead of the creamy ranch dressing that used to come on the side I whipped up a herb mayo for dipping. These went great with a side salad and some barbequed sausages.

Zucchini Fries
Serves 4 as a side
  • 2 green zucchini, or 1 large one cut into strips
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 cups of italian bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for drizzling
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place the egg, flour and bread crumbs into separate bowls. Season each with some salt and pepper. Mix the garlic powder and paprika with the bread crumbs.
  3. Dredge a strip of zucchini into the flour mixture, followed by the egg and then finally the breadcrumbs, place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining zucchini.
  4. Drizzle the zucchini with some olive oil and place in the oven to bake. 
  5. After 10 minutes, flip the zucchini over and place back in the oven for another 10-12 minutes or until the breading is golden and crispy and the zucchini is tender. 
  6. Serve with some herb may for dipping. 
  7. ENJOY!
Herb Mayo
Makes 1 cup
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. chives, chopped
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and serve. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tales from our Garden: Kale and Carrot Slaw

Wow! It has been quite awhile since I posted. The past couple months have been crazy including renovations on our house which has kept me out of the kitchen. Things are back to normal now so regular posts should resume.

We now have some catching up to do.

Over the May long weekend we planted our garden for this year, this year it includes:
- four types of tomatoes (beefsteak, cherry, heirloom and san marzano)
- kale
- carrots
- green onions
- peas
- corn
- zucchini
- cucumber
- herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano)
- berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and red currants)

The past few weeks have brought us many delicious raspberries which I have been enjoying by the bowl full daily,

This past weekend, I attended a pot luck picnic and decided to pick my first bunch of kale and a carrot from the garden to make up a delicious and easy kale slaw. This salad is perfect for a BBQ or potluck as the kale is hearty enough to remain crisp and not get soggy after a few hours.

This recipe is the first of many of this season's Tales from our Garden, so enjoy!

Kale and Carrot Slaw
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, honey and a pinch each of salt and pepper until combined. Slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking until the mixture is thick and emulsified. 
  2. Toss the dressing with the kale, carrots and sunflower seeds. Season with some more salt and pepper and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. 

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