29 July 2007

the St. Lawrence Bounty.

Yesterday was such a great market day that I have to confess, while eating my very favorite "Breakfast on a Bun", holding our piles and piles of farm veggies, and listening to the aging folky singing "That's what you get for loving me", my life felt so near perfect that I got a little teary.

Where to start...

With a soccer game at noon, we knew we had to get up and out of the house in order to make it to the farmer's market part of the St. Lawrence Market before all the good veg was gone. We needn't had worried. The stalls were overflowing with veg. So many things are in season, we were trying vegetables, buying new things, and just generally enjoying supporting our local farmers, who seemed genuinely chuffed at the interest in local foods.

First up... purple green beans. Which I guess makes them purple beans. But they are really purple green beans...Then on to the beautiful peppers... Look at this selection!

Look at those purple peppers. (Somehow, purple veg had a particular gasp inducing quality yesterday.) For $2, how can you not go nuts with those babies? So peppers were put in our shopping bags, and on to the next excitement...

Squash... lots of pattypan, zuke, and heretofore unknown types... what a thing of beauty those squashes were... so of course, in the bag they went!


And the veg just kept coming. From here, we went inside and started walking the aisles of the farmstall regulars. I think the produce is cheaper at the St. Lawrence is because it isn't all organic, which, as I've said before, I love the local produce.

Those carrots came home with us...

I love the sign, 'Farmers Feed Cities'. And they sure were feeding the folks of Toronto yesterday! Lots of walking around, trying delicacies, then off to the main market for our meat purchases...AND... my favourite Breakfast on a Bun!!!

Ketchup. Peameal bacon. Fried egg. Cheese. Portuguese roll. It's heaven on a bun, not just breakfast on a bun. It's so amazing. I really can't express how satisfying this sandwich is.

G, on the other hand, can't get behind it. So Veal Parm with sweet and hot peppers rocked her clock...

I know that pic came out dark... sorry.

And then the bounty... we couldn't resist getting home and dumping it all on the table for a grand photo...

Look at it all!!! The mushrooms are for tonight's attempt at making Jamie Oliver's gnocchi with wild mushroom. I am a wee bit nervous... but excited. Wish me luck!!!!

27 July 2007

Cook with Jamie.

I decided to make the Pappardelle with a ragu of tiny meatballs last weekend. I was in the mood to embark on a recipe, and am always drawn to delicious spag and meatball recipes. Biggest issue with this dinner was the meatballs. The sauce was amazing. You slowly cook the plum tomatoes with a pierced whole chili. It caused a really spicy kick to the sauce that really went into high gear with the next day...

And you might notice that there is penne rigate and not papardelle. But, you use what ya got.

So the problem with the meatballs...they called for the zest of one lemon. And MAN, they were SO lemony. Maybe I just had some crazy over the top lemon, but it was really a bit too much...

For those of you who love Jamie, you MUST get Cook with Jamie. Even if you don't like Jamie, you must get it. It has some amazing everyday recipes, and some great information on how to prepare different types of food, etc. It's really very amazing. I got my copy at the Cookbook Store. And I love the cookbook store...it's got everything. I try very diligently to buy all my food magazines from there, in an effort to support my local businesses. It is a great store with a wide selection of hard to find cookbooks. I love it!

I love to cook and find that it can be really relaxing when I am stressed out and need a break. I was listening to the 'The Golden Compass' while cooking away, letting the sauce bubble, rolling meatballs, tuned out to the world. It was a great day.

Which led into a very stressful week. Which led to late nights. Which led to...

Yes. It led to pizza. In fact, G phoned me and when I picked up in the office she said, "J, one word. Pizza." And it was ordered while riding the subway home.

Now the pizza was lovely. But the box had a big old advertisement for Tag cologne or whatever it is. Which seemed too much. Is it that difficult to be slightly away from advertising while trying to chill out, watch the Prisoner of Azkaban, and not have stinky cologne ads on my cardboard box of highly processed pepperoni and sausage cheesy pizza. Sheesh.

So it's Friday, and G made some zuke salad and albondigas for dinner. The old standard, and back to the food in the bowl.

And for the steamy diggers...

Two meals in one week in a bowl! SCORE!

So I am pouring through Cook with Jamie and my new More Recipes from the French Market for something fun to cook on Sunday. We are going to the market in the morning, so I want to get the fixings at the farmer's market in the morning. I just have to decide what to make.... I am torn between Lamb and White Bean Stew or Stew with Potato and Rocket Cushions. OR Gnocchi with mushrooms. Hmmmmmm. I will have to see how it goes in the morning.

21 July 2007

Harry Potter 7.


I just finished reading the final Harry Potter book. It was good and simple and sweet and sad and tragic and I cried what felt like a million tears. It blew me away with how well it ended the series (which almost never happens) and how really simple it was while still tying the entire series together. Really brilliant by just telling the story. I am trying not to say anything that will give anything away to anyone I've spoken to about theories...

Well, since I began reading this book at midnight, stopped at 2am to go to bed, woke up at 6:30 and have read fairly conistently since about 8:00am, I think it's time to shake the book off and have a proper day. I am sad it's over.

18 July 2007

Stratford meet Oklahoma!

G and I took last Sunday off. We just took the day completely off from our lives, and drove to Stratford and went to see Oklahoma! at the Stratford Festival.

We started the day busy planning our fall vacation (and if you read this blog and have any tips for places to go in Wales and Ireland, please let me know)...then G made us a fantastic breakfast of fried eggs, beans and toast.

That G. She wants us to start the day feeling full and happy. And so we did.

On the way to Stratford, we stopped at a farm stall in Shakespeare who had a sign indicating that they had fresh corn. Being a little too early in the season for corn in Ontario, we had to stop.

Turns out they had tons of corn!

So we asked the farmer why he had corn so early. He said that he used this growing plastic from France that basically sets over the corn as it grows outside and grows with it so that the corn grows naturally, but faster (which isn't really natural, but you get the drift).

We also bought some beautiful dirt covered potatoes that had been picked the night before. Here's G chatting it up with the farmers.

It was a really nice stand, and we've since had the food and it was all amazing...

From there we went into Stratford and stopped at this most amazing chocolate store where I had an absolutely AMAZING dark chocolate covered caramel. The store was amazing, you could see the people in the back making chocolates and the whole store smelled like delicious peppermint and chocolate.

It's on the main drag in Stratford and has a beautiful selection of chocolates. It's really good.

Then to the play. I have never been to the Stratford Festival before, and I had such an amazing time. They have cheaper tickets if you are between 30-35, so we were able to get a good deal and great seats. It was fantastic!

Following the play, we went to dinner and met some friends. Our friends are vegetarians, so we wanted to find a place where there would be lots of good stuff to choose from. Based on G's internet research, we chose Pazzo. Good choice! It's a pizzeria with amazing thin crust pizza.

G and I were starving having had almost nothing save for our beautiful eggs hours ago...we were starving. We started with caesar salad ($7.50, which seems a bit steep, but it was delish).

From there, I ordered the Quattro Formaggia pizza ($12.50). The crust was incredibly thin, the sauce was fresh and slightly spicy, and the cheese was just beautifully melted and savoury. They served the pizza with chili oil to drizzle on top... OH MY!

G ordered a calzone, and said that it was the absolute best one she'd ever had. It sure looked tasty! (Okay, she let me try it, and it was really tasty!)

The calzone was $14.00 AND it included its salad. Really nice, and a hum-dinger of a good deal.

We all really enjoyed the restaurant, and it was nice to catch up with our friends. D and I spent the entire meal discussing our Harry Potter theories, Dr. Who and Torchwood, and all that jazz. It was good times.

And speaking of which. Harry Potter is this weekend and I am so excited I can't hardly stand it. !!!!!!! I have ordered it for Saturday delivery, but there is still a part of me who really wants to go at midnight and buy a copy and start reading right away! I can't wait!!!

From there, we were all full and just jumped in the car and drove home, satisfied with a terrific day. It was really a great day and totally rejuvenated us for the week ahead. (Of which it is now Wednesday, and I can safely say is speeding by while waiting for the HP7.)

The Great (Garlic) Scape!

While purusing my local grocery store, I stumbled across something I have never seen before... garlic scape. So, like any adventurous young woman, I bought a few and came home and hit google.

So a quick search gave me some information. The garlic scape is cooked like green beans, or used like green onions, chopped up and sauteed or put in stir frys, and it the flowering part of the hardneck garlic variety.

From Mariquita's Farms, I discovered a recipe for chicken, capers and scape. I hope they don't mind that I am printing it below:

Chicken With Garlic Scapes & Capers

2 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts, halved
2 Tbsp. Unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 Tbsp. dry white wine
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 chopped garlic scapes
1 Tbsp. drained capers

Between sheets of plastic wrap slightly flatten chicken. In a large heavy skillet heat 1Tbsp. of butter and the oil over medium high heat. Saute until cooked through. Season with salt & pepper. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm. Pour off fat from skillet and add the remaining butter, the wine, lemon juice, scapes and bring mixture to a boil. Stir in capers and salt & pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over chicken. Serves 4.

So of course, we had to have it with my favorite of peas and potatoes. Oh yeah.

The garlic scapes were tougher than I expected, with a slight garlic taste, and a crunchy fresh taste. It was really delicious and I greatly enjoyed the flavour and the thrill of trying something new. I recommend the chicken dish, it's a quick week night dinner and the fresh taste was fantastic.

15 July 2007

Indian Food!

My friend Rickie came to meet us the other morning for coffee, and showed up with a delightful bag of goodies that she had made the night before! It was an assortment of pork curry, goat curry with potato, Indian donuts and a huge bowl of rice! The food was amazing. The pork curry was dry (not saucy) pieces of pork that were so delicately spiced as to just quietly explode in your mouth...the goat curry (of which I am not a fan, but I had the potatoes and veg) was absolutely delicious, far better than Indian takeaway. G made some raita to accompany the curry's, and lunch was enjoyed by all...

You can see the little bits of everything. The pork, though, was just amazing. We don't have *any* pork in our house due to G's religious beliefs, and I must say that I do miss it. The pork nuggets really hit the spot... Here's a closer look...

Thanks Rickie!!!

10 July 2007


Birthday's are a cause for celebration. And Summerlicious is a cause for celebration. Put those two together, and you have...um... two causes for celebration!

Yesterday was G's birthday, and I have to confess that she did receive the very foodie-ish gift from me of Peugeot salt and pepper grinders. She's been wanting them since we saw them for the first time in France last year. For dinner, we made Summerlicious reservations at Mistura. This has to be one of my favorite restaurants in Toronto. The food is consistent, the wait staff (though a few hiccups last night) is generally rock solid, and the food is really excellent. It's the place that started us on our quest of making beet risotto. Oh yeah, it's that good!

So for those of you not in Toronto, Summerlicious is basically this: nice restaurants offer a set three course menu for $25 or $35. Most of the restaurants do require reservations, and you can get some really great deals. Last night's dinner was one of the $35 ones, and it was well worth every single dime and bite. We started off with a nice prosecco, and the food started coming.

For starters, I had the risi e bisi and G had the pappa al pomodoro.

OOH... pea-y.

The bowls really got the white-out from the flash. I must have taken twenty pictures with and without the flash, trying to make it not so bright. Didn't work. One of the things I am learning as I go. The good thing was we had this crazy corner half table so no one could see me taking pictures so there was no embarrassment for my dining companion.

Anyway... main course. G ordered the arrosto di agnello which looked absolutely delicious. She does love lamb, and I am not so fond, so we don't have it very often at home. I was not in the mood for meat, so I had the maccheroni e peperoni, which was delicious and very unusual tasting. The pasta was very al dente, and the sauce was heavy but really full of interesting.

Really nice, really brave, as Jamie Oliver would say. G's was on rapini with chickpeas, and mine had whole cherry tomatoes, peppers and ricotta salata on top. Yum.

Dessert. There were sweets. BUT, there was also a cheese plate. G and I both took advantage of the cheese...

The little brown bits were very thin toasts... amazing. The cheeses were a manchego, always good, a blue in the back that I didn't like and don't remember the name of, and an amazing cheese in the middle which I also don't remember the name of. It was soft, almost ricotta like in texture, fluffy but slightly nutty and sweet. Really crisp. And the little pot in the middle. IT WAS HEAVEN! It was a chutney made with peaches, plums, ginger and wasabi! It has such an amazing kick, and it coupled with the soft cheese was truly inspired. Kudos for the amazing combo!

So if you are ever in Toronto and want to have a good dinner, give it a try. The food is amazing, it's always fresh, they having amazing wine (I had a fantastic Riesling last night!) and a really really nice atmosphere. :)

08 July 2007

fresh cassoulet.

I have a crazy fondness for British food magazines. I can't explain it. I read as many as I can get my hands on... or at least, as many as my bank account will allow. I just bought the July issues of Olive, fresh, and BBC Goodfood, having gotten Waitrose Food Illustrated when it arrived at the magazine store a week ago... I love reading these magazines, and when we are planning our weeks meals, I often grab a few and flip through them for ideas.

This month's issues have some amazing recipes that will get tried in the next few days... but for today, we went with "Allegra McEvedy's Free-Range Chicken, Fairtrade Lemon & Courgette Cassoulet" from the July issues of 'fresh'. This was fantastic! It's not thick like a traditional cassoulet, but it's really light and fresh tasting for summer.

The main ingredients, as the name suggests, are lemons, chicken and zucchini. There are beans, there is a sprinkling of parmesano reggiano, and there is the singing of our hearts as we are this delicious lemony bowl of goodness.

The recipe is really easy. You basically marinate the chicken for some time. The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but I really don't like them, so we went for chicken breast instead. The marinade is lemon juice, garlic and thyme. You then fry the meat, add some white wine, let it reduce, then add cooked or canned beans, lemon juice, thyme, zucchini and chicken broth. You then bang it in the oven for 35 minutes. It was really such a lovely meal, I wish we had gotten a nice bread at the market this morning, but that's okay, we enjoyed it all the same.

The recipe:

450g Chicken thighs, cut into 2.5cm dice
2-3 lemons, zested and juiced
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
60ml Olive Oil
10g chopped thyme
300g cooked cannellini beans
500ml good chicken stock
1/2 glass of white wine
2-3 courgettes depending on size, sliced lengthways and then into half-moons
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
parmesan, to serve

1. Marinate the chicken pieces in the juice of one of the lemons, the garlic and 3/4 of the olive oil and half the thyme. Leave for a few hours or overnight.
2. When the beans are cooked and drained, and the stock is ready, pre-heat the oven t0 200 degrees C.
3. In a heavy based oven proof pan, heat the oil and fry the chicken. After about 5 minutes, pour in wine, reduce by half.
4. Stir in lemon zest, remaining juice, thyme, beans and courgette slices.
5. Pour on heated stock (I didn't heat mine) and bay leaves, until covered and season.
6. Put on the lid and bake for 35 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving and add parmesan to top.


Here's a pic of it straight from the oven...

Really fulfilling and summery. It's rewarding to make something new and delicious. It's rustic, as all cassoulet should be, but it's well worth the minimal effort!

Yan can cook and so can G!

G is a whiz when it comes to dinner. Me? I am tired after work and will almost always suggest quickly grabbing some thai food and being done with dinner. But not G. She hates spending money on eating out when there are things to be made at home, so I often just stop whining about not wanting to do dishes and let her cook. The result? With rare exception, delicious food.

I mentioned the leek risotto a few posts back. My brother liked it so much, he is planning on making one of Jamie Oliver's risotto recipes for my mom! G, she changes lives, I tell ya! So here it is...

It was really tasty. And I didn't even whine when I did the dishes. I soldiered on like the big girl I am.

G and I have different food tastes. I love pasta and she is lukewarm to it. I love alfredo, she could never have it ever in her entire life and be fine. But, as a treat, she made me a low-fat alfredo with garlicky mushrooms. Oh yeah. I don't know what was in it, I think she got the recipe from the internet (you should really look into that internet thing, it's gonna catch on!) and tweaked it a bit. She used this crazily wheat-y whole wheat spag, so it's all a bit of a weird colour, but the taste was out of this world...

And it is true, I do like food served in bowls. I don't know why, I don't think we ate many meals out of bowls when I was a junior, but for some reason, sitting down with a big bowl of something tasty just makes me happy.

For part three of the 'G rocks and she's all mine' posting... yesterday, I was plagued by a terrible migraine, and G made my favourite... albondigas with rice. Albondigas are a Sephardi recipe that G's family brought with them from Rhodes (via Africa) and I absolutely love them. Again, food in a bowl... I don't know...

Yummmmmmmmmmmmy. The meatballs are simmered in a tomato sauce with wine and love. G makes 'red' rice, meaning she puts a little spoonful of tomato paste in the water before putting in the rice. It gives the rice a little different flavour.

Anyway, yeah. That G. Tomorrow is G's birthday, so give it up for her! I am taking her out to Mistura, so if you are in the area, stop by and say HI!

The Simpsons...

Brunch at Cora's.

Last weekend, G and I went with some friends to Cora's for brunch. Cora's is a Montreal institution, and the one in downtown Toronto is pretty new. Our friend suggested it, and as they are wildly known for their crepes, G and I eagerly agreed!

The restaurant is in the part of downtown that is dead on the weekend, but there was still a line to get in. However, the line moved really quickly, and we managed to get a good table that comfortably fit all four of us. Now aside from the fact that they had two different breakfast selections that featured frankfurter, the menu was really tempting. Their placemat was cute, too, so of course, I took a picture...

I could not make it not glare-y, but I think you get the idea.

Anyway, breakfast was pretty darn good. I had the Bobby Button, which is a crepe 'sandwich' filled with egg, bacon, cheese and tomato, served with home fries and fruit.

It bothers me, because this doesn't look appetizing at all. And really, it could have been presented better. Like Pat's breakfast.... I mean, it was beautiful!

The breakfast doesn't look so good either, actually. But it was. It was french toast brioche (brioche french toasted?) with bacon and one poached egg and a massive amount of fruit. Lovely. He seemed to enjoy it, and how could you not!

G had a spinach, cheese and tomato crepe, which looked alot like the 'sandwich' but had no potato and a triangular slice of cheese on top...

Also, doesn't look good. Now my photography ain't all that, but I think Cora's new motto should be, 'tastes good, looks blah'.


05 July 2007


As fun foodies, G and I flocked opening weekend to see Ratatouille. Oh my goodness. What a bunch of cuteness. It's the story of a young rat who experiences food and loves it, gets the opportunity to live in Paris and start a new life in the food world as a sort of sous chef for a formerly great 5 star restaurant. He makes a friend, Linguine, who helps him out...

The movie was great. The animation is amazing, and crystal clear, with beautiful city shots of Paris. And the message is good, although I can honestly say that I don't want a meal cooked by rats, even though the may be genius rats. But the best thing was that the voices were totally not familiar. It was not like watching Shrek or Aladdin, where you are constantly aware of Eddie Murphy or Robin Williams, or whoever.

I highly recommend it. Even when it's boring, it's beautiful, and it's not ever so boring that you wish you weren't there. Everybody wins.

Fast Food.

I may have mentioned, I have been on Weight Watchers for about two months now. I've lost about ten pounds, slow and steady, and it's been really good. Lunch is a hard one for me, so I have had to really become diligent about bringing my lunch to work. On the days that I forget, I tend to go to Subway.

And let me start by saying that I really hate Subway. As G says, how do they make freshly baked bread smell gross?! But, it's really low points, and I found a sandwich that I don't hate. It's the Steak and Cheese, toasted, and it comes in at 7 points. Not too bad, especially since I rarely seem to eat breakfast! Here are the innards,

Now, you may notice that there is no lettuce on this sandwich. While I kind of like salad, I really hate lettuce on sandwiches or anything else that gets the lettuce hot. I can't stand the smell of hot lettuce! When I used to go to Sonic (a drive-in hamburger place in the South), I could smell the hot lettuce if they got my order wrong without even opening the packaging! So no lettuce. But otherwise, while it's not cheap, it's a thoroughly satisfying lunch.

My other fast food meal of champions... McD's breakfast. I used to love McDonald's, but have sort of given it the boot in my life. In fact, I have only had McD's lunch once this year! That's a record for me! But the other morning, while G and I were going to pick out tiles for our new kitchen (we're reno-ing!!!!), we stopped at McD's for breakfast.

On order? The egg, bacon and cheese bagel sandwich. (Don't even get me started on the points involved!) It was okay. When you don't eat McD's all the time, it really loses it's appeal. But I still remember my first McD's breakfast ever. My brother was in the All-City Spelling Bee. I was little, maybe 5 or 6. D spelled the word 'carrying' wrong, and was eliminated from the Bee. Dad took us to McD's right after. I had my first Egg McMuffin. It was like heaven had opened up and smiled upon me. It was absolutely delicious and started a love affair.

Anyway, the McD's bagel sandwich.

One thing I love about living in Canada is the bilingualism. Even McD's gets in on that action...

Gosh, I just realized... I AM loving it! Ba da ba ba baaaaa.....

World Cup U-20, Baby!

G and I went to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Monday. We saw the Mexico v. Gambia game, and it was amazing!!! We have been playing soccer for the past two summers (and I am crapola, but that's okay, it's fun!) and getting tickets to the World Cup was quite the coup! (Of course, as I type this, there is the Canada v. Austria game on live and there is almost no one in the stands... I thought this baby was sold out.)

ANYWAY! We took a pic, thought I would post it...

Good times. :)

04 July 2007

Visitors from Afar.

My brother has been visiting, and has now returned to the grand ol' USofA. He's not a huge food adventurer, and as such, there's always an element of stress trying to figure out what to eat. But this visit, whoa ho! My bro was feeling adventuresome. And it was a good thing to see.

First, there was orange marmalade. He went to breakfast and there was no grape jelly. What to do?! He tried the orange marmalade and LOVED it! From there, oh my, on to the pico de gallo. Oh yeah, my brother who hates tomato LOVED it. YUM! From there, brace yourself, LEEK RISOTTO! Oh baby! Pics of this delicious meal prepared by G to follow. It didn't stop there, because the bro ate souvlaki on the Danforth and he loved it!!!

And all in all, it was all good. The great thing about Toronto is that there is every kind of food within a stone's throw, and it was great to see my brother try some different things. Between that and his going to see the Bernini exhibit at the AGO, I think he had a good little vacation in the T-Dot.

(This is all meant with the greatest amount of love and affection for my super cool bro.)


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