Thursday, April 30, 2009

Meryl Streep + Julia Child = MY DREAM MOVIE!

OH.......MY.........GOD!!!!!! Does it get much better than Meryl Street playing Julia Child?!?! For a theatre student with aspirations of having a show on the Food Network, let me tell you it does NOT! Julie and Julia is the story about a young woman looking for a new direction in her life, and trying to find something she can feel proud of. She turns to famed chef Julia Child for inspiration, writing a book on Child's cookbook about the trial and tribulations of cooking 365 of Child's recipes, so a recipe a day for one year. Both Meryl Streep and Julia Child have been incredible inspirations for me so you can can bet your boots I'm going to be courting down the days for this film to come out!

Zucchini and Asparagus Frittata

3 more weeks left of school!! So as you have noticed, I haven't had a lot of time to add new entries to my blog. But this frittata recipe is so super simple, fast, and versatile you can make it for any meal of the day, any day of the week. Frittatas are a great source of protein to get you energized for the rest of your day, and when you pack it full of fresh vegetables, you will feel great about what you ate and won't regret eating that say that...Big Mac meal...not that I ate that for dinner yesterday....with a side of honey to dip my of course not! Frittatas are a delicious breakfast on it's own, and with the addition of a side salad, can make a satisfying lunch or supper. They are also great because you can mix and match with whatever vegetables and flavors you have on hand. If your herb garden is already in bloom, add some fresh chopped parsley or basil to brighten the dish up. Experiment with different vegetable combinations and various cheeses.
Note: To trim asparagus, simply bend a piece of asparagus with your hands until the stalk naturally snaps. Discard the bottom end. Continue with the rest of the stalks.
Note: If you do not have an oven safe pan, you can use a regular pan and simply flip the frittata (carefully), or cover the wood or plastic handle completely with aluminum foil.

2 eggs
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup chopped zucchini
3 stalks asparagus (trimmed and chopped)
3-4 grape or cherry tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 tbsp fresh chives or scallions (chopped)
1 tbsp goat cheese
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper to season

1. Heat oil and garlic in a pan. Add zucchini and asparagus and saute until zucchini is lightly browned.

2. In a bowl, whisk eggs. Add sauteed vegetables, tomatoes, chives, salt and pepper and stir or whisk to combine.

3. Add egg mixture back into pan and cook on medium heat (there should still be oil in the pan). Add dollops of goat cheese on top of the egg mixture. If you are using an oven safe pan, transfer pan to oven when bottom of frittata has cooked, and broil until the top has cooked. If you do not have oven safe pan, either carefully flip your frittata when bottom has cooked, or cover the handle of the pan completely with aluminum foil and broil in oven. When frittata is cooked through, serve.


Ever wonder what natural food dyes are made out of? I was watching Food Detectives with Ted Allen a few days ago and I (unfortunately) found out.  Most of the colours in the natural food dyes that they investigated were not very threatening, although still not very appetizing, such as algae to produce the colour green.  But the way in which food companies naturally produce the colour red was what caught my attention.  This natural red food dye is often found in red velvet cake, pre-stirred strawberry yogurt, red candy, the list goes on, and it is created from...wait for it....CRUSHED BEETLE CARCASSES! That's right! Beetle carcusses have a vibrant red juice inside of them that can be released when crushed.  I know you're probably thinking that you have never read "beetle juice" on the list of ingredients on the side of your yogurt cup, that is because the FDA states that the ingredient must be listed as caochineal or carmine because people may be allergic to it.  So if you're ever stuck in the woods with no food, why not try a delicious beetle carcass, becuase hey, you've already eaten plenty of that!

Image courtesy of'm not saying that they use caochineal or carmine, I have no idea, but they had a great picture of a red velvet cake! Mmmm pretty sure I'd still eat a piece even if there were beetle carcasses in it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Good Food Festival

Yesterday I attended the Good Food Festival at the International Centre in Mississauga.  I was really eager to check out new and interesting products and food ideas, but, I gotta say, I was a pretty disappointed when I arrived there.  Everyone in attendance seemed to be more interested in grocery shopping for free stuff than actually interacting with the people working at the booths.  They didn't care to learn anything new, they just wanted to push through to the front of each line to get their free item.  I even saw one person with a whole wagon overflowing with their free goodies! I'm aware that I am generalizing here. I know that there were some people who were there for the right reasons as well, but there certainly didn't seem to be many. 

Despite the mayhem of weaving through a fierce crowd, I was able to check out each booth.  The highlights of the show are shown in the pictures above:  

Picture 1,2,3:  The Tetra Pak booth was by far the best looking.  It was designed beautifully, and captured the attendees attention from the moment they entered the building. 

Picture 4,5:  Unfortunately I can't recall the name of this product, but I found it very interesting. It was a textured plate designed to puree almost anything! Lemon zest, garlic, nuts, onions, the list goes on! You simple rub the food item on the plate, and voila! Perfectly pureed!

Picture 6,7:  I have seen this product on the Food Network before and was fascinated by it!  It is called blooming tea.  You take, what looks like, a simple dried flower bud and drop it into boiling water in a glass teapot.  In a matter of minutes, the dried flower bud begins to bloom, resulting in an absolutely stunning presentation! It tastes delicious too! I bought two buds, so I'll post them on here soon!!  Check out this demonstration to see how beautifully it blooms!

Picture 8:  This product stood out to me because of the name, Redhead Pantry.  Their brand features a line of condiments that all taste devilishly good! 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Strawberry Crumble Muffins

Roll up the Rim is over kids, so there's no excuse to go out to buy your coffee and muffin this morning!  Nows the time to start saving your money and making things at home so that your bank account will be nice and stocked when it comes time for summer when you're going to want to be out and about every night and day...which we all know means spending lots of money! Your best bet for making coffee at home is by buying whole beans and grinding them yourself.  Trust me, after a week you'll forget all about your large double double!  Pair your morning coffee with these muffins, which are sure to become your new favourite! These muffins are incredibly moist, so don't even think about adding extra butter, because these babies are spectacular on their own.  The little bits of strawberry in every bite add bursts of flavour and sweetness, and the crumb topping will have you thinking about your favourite coffee cake.  This muffin is a variation on a cake recipe, so these would make also a delicious dessert.
Tip: Mothers Day is coming up! How great would these look on the table for your Mother's Day brunch?

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 butter, cut in chunks
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberriess, cut into small pieces

1.  In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, combine flour, sugar, and butter until small crumbs are formed.  Take out 1 cup of the crumb mixture and set aside.

2.  In a separate bowl, add baking soda to sour cream or yogurt and stir to dissolve.  The mixture will begin to froth up, so do not be alarmed.  Add baking powder and eggs to the mixer or processor bowl, along with the sour cream mixture.  

3.  stir these together JUST until combined.  Carefully stir in the strawberries, always making sure not to over mix.  Fill muffin tin with batter, and top each one with the reserved crumb mixture.

4.  Bake in a 375º oven for 20-25 minutes, or until crumb topping is slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brie and Apple Sandwich

Mmmm I woke up this morning to the smell of croissants baking in the oven! Does it get much better than that?...well, I guess it would have been better if they were homemade croissants, but these ones were frozen. They ain't the real thing, but these frozen croissants came pretty close. If you can find ones that taste close to the real thing (and not like they just burst out of a tube!) they are great to keep on hand in the freezer. These particular ones are from The Grande Cheese Store....great store, but be sure to wear a clothes pin on your's stinky! Williams Sonoma also sells ones that are supposed to taste very good.

So, how do you make a buttery croissant even more decadent? Why add creamy brie of course! One of my favourite toppings for brie is red pepper jelly. You can find it jarred in most grocery stores. The brand of red pepper jelly I use is from Something Special Deli Foods Ltd. and it is one of the best one's I have tried. The red pepper jelly adds a sweet and spicy flavour to the sandwich. To add a little crunch, I used a mandoline to thinly slice an apple to layer on top. Green apples work best in this sandwich but if you only have red apples on hand (as I did), that works fine as well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

How Will You Show Your Commitment to the Earth?

Earth Day is tomorrow, and although it may seem like just another silly holiday with no significance, I think together we can change that! This Earth Day why not make a resolution to make at least one change to your lifestyle to help save our Earth! There are so many simple things that you can do to help. My household is extremely Earth friendly. To just name a few of the ways that we contribute to helping the earth, we always turn off the lights, never waste water, we do not have any plastic water bottles, we hang up all of our laundry, never have excessive heating or air conditioning, we recycle, use our compost religiously, and the list goes on! These are all easy things that you can do that will not have any negative effect on your life, but if we all work together, they can have a positive influence on the future of our planet.

There are many corporations that are taking part in Earth Day. Starbucks is one of many. This Earth Day, if you bring in a travel mug to any Starbucks location, you will receive a complimentary freshly brewed Pike Place Roast.

Baked Goat Cheese and Maple Balsamic Salad

I'm pretty sure you could put goat cheese on anything and I would eat it, so this warm goat cheese salad with maple balsamic dressing is perfect for me! What a delicious way to get your intake of dark leafy greens! The goat cheese adds a touch of warmth to the salad and the maple syrup in the dressing compliments to goat cheese wonderfully. I used regular bread crumbs this time around, but next time I would use panko bread crumbs (japanese bread crumbs). Panko is great for breading as it adds a great light and crispy texture. Panko bread crumbs are a great investment, as they are great for breading all kinds. They work particularly well for chicken strips! This salad also has a naturally beautiful presentation and would be great to serve as an appetizer for guests at a dinner party. This recipe is a variation on one from the cookbook Simply Soups, Salads, and Sweets a wonderful cookbook filled with lots of everyday recipes with simple ingredients.
Tip: For precision and a clean cut, use dental floss to cut the goat cheese.
Tip: For extra flavour, try a garlic and herb goat cheese.
Tip: Next time you reach for a bottle of salad dressing at the grocery store, ask yourself if you could make it at home. Most dressings are very simple and quick to make. If you make it yourself, you also know that there are no extra fat and preservatives hiding in it. And lets face it, do you really need another dressing bottle taking up space in your fridge?

Baked Breaded Goat Cheese
4 round slices of goat cheese (1 inch thick)
dry bread crumbs (enough to coat the 4 slices of cheese)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
mixed salad greens

Maple Balsamic Dressing
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp grainy mustard
pepper to season

1. Place the vegetable oil in a dish that will hold the four cheese slices in one layer. Place the cheese in the oil and let sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, turning once.

2. Coat the cheese evenly in breadcrumbs and refrigerate for 10 minutes or until ready to bake.

3. Preheat oven at 400ºF, with a cookie sheet already in the oven while heating. When the cookie sheet is very hot, place the coated cheese slices on it. Brown the cheese on one side and then turn it over to brown the other side.

4. While cheese is browning prepare the dressing. Whisk dressing ingredients together and toss with salad. Arrange on 4 individual plates and place a hot round of goat cheese in the centre of each plate. Season with pepper.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Whoa Baby! I am SO making these again" Onion Rings and Dipping Sauce

I could think of no better name to title these onion rigs with spicy dip because "Whoa baby! I am SO making these again!" was the first thing that I uttered after taking my first bite. I can confidently say that they were the best onion rings I have ever tasted in my 21 years of life! The batter was light yet still stuck well to the onion rings, there was a hint of spiciness, and a perfect crunch. The spicy dip that accompanied the rings added that extra flavour shot that just took this side dish over the top! I got the recipe from, which a resource that I turn to a lot when trying out a new recipe. I encourage you to explore their site because it is insane how many great recipes they have. I got the dip recipe from here.
Note: It is important that you use sweet Vidalia onions as they have a much sweeter flavour, they produce larger rings, and when you bite into the rings, the onion will not slide out from the batter.
Note: Keep close watch when you fry these suckers up, because although they appear to cook slow at first, they can brown up really fast.
Tip: This recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser so why not make them for your next backyard barbeque?
Tip: While you are frying each small batch of rings, keep the already cooked rings warm in the oven.
Tip: Leftover dipping sauce tastes great with fresh vegetables.

Beer Battered Onion Rings
1 large Vidalia onion
1/2 cup beer (light or amber coloured beer works best)
1/2 cup seltzer water or club soda
1 tbsp oil
1 egg white
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1/2 - 1 cup milk (just enough to soak onion rings)
oil for frying

1. Pour beer and seltzer water or soda in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Add cayenne pepper, mustard powder, salt, and oil. Pulse until combined.

2. Add in sifted flour, and process just until combined. Batter may be slightly lumpy.

3. In another bowl, whisk egg white until frothy. Gently fold egg white into the contents of the food processor until just combined.

4. Slice onion into rings and separate. Soak in a small amount of milk for 10 minutes. Drain and lightly sprinkle with flour.

5. Carefully dip onion rings in batter, making sure the batter covers each ring evenly. Fry rings in small batches in hot oil (365ºF), turning once. Make sure to only fry a few at a time because when your crowd them, the temperature of the oil drops, resulting in extremely oily and eventually soggy rings. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before serving.

Onion Ring Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp ketchup
1 1/2 tbsp prepared horseradish
1/3 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1 pinch pepper
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve alongside onion rings.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fruity Oatmeal

I haven't been posting enough healthy choices, and that is largely due to the fact that I haven't been making many healthy choices myself, something that NEEDS to change! It's so easy to just pop a bagel into the toaster for a quick breakfast, but why not take the healthy route and opt for oatmeal next time. Oatmeal is given a bad rep for being dull and tasteless, but there are some very easy ways to add a ton of flavour to your oatmeal without adding extra fat. Although I prefer to make oatmeal over the stove, I usually make instant microwavable oatmeal because it takes under two minutes, and when I'm rushing out the door to head to class, every minute counts! So after I have emptied the instant oatmeal into the microwavable bowl and added water, I chop up some fresh fruit to drop in. Fresh fruit adds a ton of flavour to your originally bland outmeal. I chose to add the fruit before microwaving because the heat of the microwave cooks the fruit a bit and releases the natural sweetness. I simple add a teaspoon or two of cinnamon to season after. The above image is oatmeal with fresh strawberries cut in. It's quick, tasty, and healthy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cheddar Bacon and Chive Biscuits

Who else gets biscuit cutters for Easter?  I did! My family knows me all too well. What do you do with new biscuit cutters? Make cheddar bacon and chive biscuits of course!  I've been running around like a crazy person for the last little while, insanely busy with mid-terms! There is so much to do that it's getting really hard to just fit in a quick breakfast, and for me, that is a big deal! These cheddar bacon and chive biscuits are perfect for a busy week.  Take some time to make them, and you're set for breakfast for almost a whole week! Because they are packed with so many strong and comforting flavours, having just one with a side of sour cream is a great quick breakfast when you're in a rush.  This recipe is from Williams Sonoma
Note: This is a great item to make when having company over for brunch

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
6 bacon slices, finely chopped and fried until crisp
1 1/2 cups milk

1.  Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400ºF.  Lightly spray a pan with nonstick cooking spray (or use a silpat mat, a great investment!).

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal.  

3.  Add the cheese, chives, and bacon.  Using a fork, stir until just combined.  Divide the dough among the wells of the prepared pan.

4.  Bake until the biscuits are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a biscuit comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Makes 7 biscuits.

Photography by Ruzan Orkestar.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How do you celebrate?

Hello Everyone! I hope everyone had a lovely long weekend.  Mine was bittersweet (unfortunately not the chocolate kind) but I did have a really great family gathering on Sunday for our Easter linner (lunch/dinner).  This celebration wasn't at my house, and the incredible meal was mostly made by my aunt and uncle (but of course with our family everyone brings in their own special dish to contribute.  We show our love with food!) so I don't have recipes to share.  I do have photos though!  These photos give you a feel for how my family celebrates Easter.  How does your family celebrate? 
On The Menu:
Cheese platter
Lamb (with mint sauce)
Ham (with my grandmothers INCREDIBLE ham sauce)
Salad (with avocado, mango, toasted almonds, and poppyseed dressing)
Green beens with caramelized onions
Creamy beet salad
Scalloped potatoes
Sweet Potato and red pepper mash
Chocolate mouse cake
Vanilla cupcakes
Lemon squares

Great big shout out to my aunt Darlene and uncle Eddie for putting so much time and work into a delicious meal! 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Before I start baking cupcakes and head out to my Easter linner (lunch/dinner) I just wanted to wish everyone a very happy Easter!!!! The Easter Bunny came to my house and brought me lots of goodies!! What did you get?

Photography by Ruzan Orkestar

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Passover Feast: P6 Chocolate Caramel Matzo

As much as I love the entire Passover meal and enjoy spending time with my family for the occasion, I have to admit that my absolute favourite part of Passover is Chocolate Caramel Matzo!!!! I could eat this dessert all year round it's so good! It is also very simple, and the perfect light dessert after that humongous meal!

4 sheets of matzo
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2-2 cups chocolate chips

1.  Place sheet of foil wrap on a large cookie sheet.

2.  Place 4 whole pieces of matzo on foil.

3.  In a pot, melt butter and brown sugar whisk until the texture of caramel.

4.  Pour caramel mixture over all the matzo.

5.  Bake at 350º for 8 minutes.

6.  Drop chocolate chips over matzo immediately after removing from oven and spread it evenly over the carmel with a knife or spatula.

7.  Chill in fridge for at least 1 hour. Break into pieces and serve! 

Photography by Ruzan Orkestar

Passover Feast: P5 The Seder Plate

The Seder plate is an essential item for the Passover table. The seder plate includes:
Charoset - chopped apple and nut mixture
Maror - bitter herb
Chazeret - another bitter herb
Z'roa - roasted shank bone (note that the bone we used was not the shank bone....I'm half Jewish so I figure I can get away with it...I'm jew-ish)
Karpas - green vegetable or herb
Beitzah - egg
Note: a bowl of salt water should be served on the side for dipping

Charoset is my favourite part of the seder plate and is intended to be served during the Seder on pieces of matzo. It is very light in colour when it is first made, but after a day in the fridge the colour intensifies.
Note: This is a part of the meal that can easily be made ahead.

6 peeled apples, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
grated rind of 1 lemon
4 tbsp sweet red wine

1. Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until you achieve the desired texture. I prefer mine with texture.

Photography by Ruzan Orkestar

Passover Feast: P4 Green Salad

This salad is not specific to Passover, it's just a tasty, simple salad to make any night of the week. I won't write the amounts of the vegetables because it is really to your taste and depends on how many people you are serving.

Mixed Greens
fresh Dill
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
5-6 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl add vinegar, garlic, mustard and whisk well. Slowly add olive oil while continuing to whisk. Add salt salt and pepper to taste.

2. Mix vinaigrette with vegetables and dill.

Photography by Ruzan Orkestar

Passover Feast: P3 Carrot Tzimmes

Carrot Tzimmes is a traditional Passover side dish and trust me you'll want to make this recipe part of your traditional Passover meal as well! I have never tasted carrots so sweet and flavourful...that might have a little something to do with the generous amounts of sugar and honey, but your guests don't have to know that shhhh! This recipe is from The Pleasures of Your Food Processor.

2 Ib carrots, scraped and trimmed (you may use regular or mini)
2 cups boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp potato starch
1 tbsp cold water or orange juice

1. If using regular carrots, cut carrots into small slices.

2. Transfer to a large saucepan and add boiling water and salt. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until fairly tender.

3. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Add honey, sugar, and oil and mix well.

4. Dissolve potato starch in cold water or juice and stir into carrots. Adjust seasonings to taste.

5. Bake uncovered at 375ºF for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Photography by Ruzan Orkestar