Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lomography Analogue Style Skippers Salad and Wraps from the Wharf

Happy long weekend! With a jam packed long weekend ahead of me (and already a little bit behind me with a triple-booked evening last night!) I don't have much time to tell you guys all about how great the Lomography cooking demo turned out on Thursday just yet (I will post the entry very soon!). But I did promise many of you that I would have the recipes up for the weekend. So here you are. My recipe for the Skippers Salad and Wraps from the Wharf. Enjoy! More to come soon!

The Skippers Salad
AKA Corn and Bean Salad
3 fresh cobs of corn, husks and silks removed
1/2 can black beans, strained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
4-5 large basil leaves, chopped into small pieces
the juice of 1 1/2 limes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Using a serrated knife (I found that easier) cut the corn kernels off of the cob trying to cut as close to the cob as possible. Place in a medium mixing bowl.

2. Stir in the black beans, red pepper, red onion, and basil.

3. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper. Drizzle over corn mixture and stir to combine. Let chill in fridge until ready to serve. May make day ahead.

Wraps from the Wharf
AKA Chicken Wraps
guacamole (recipe here and below)
shredded cheddar cheese
sautéed onion sliced with jalapenos (if you want to keep this no cook add chopped green onions instead)
pre-cooked chicken slices
greener selection lettuce blend (pre-washed and chopped bag of lettuce, look for fresh crisp greens)
different coloured tortillas

1. Lay out tortillas and spread a layer of guacamole over one side, keeping a bit of a border around the edges. Top with some cheddar cheese, onions, chicken, lettuce, and salsa and carefully wrap. Skewer with toothpicks to keep in place and cut each wrap in half.

2 ripe avocados, seeded and cut into chunks
juice from 1/2 a lime
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped (or less depending on your preference)
1 tsp garlic
1 tbsp jalapeno peppers, chopped (I use jarred jalapeno peppers in brine)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place chunks of avocado in a medium bowl and mash with a fork until guacamole has reached desired consistency. Immediately pour lime juice over avocado.

2. Add cilantro, garlic, and jalapenos and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Listening To:
Beach House - Silver Soul

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lomography Cooking Demo Analogue Style

Tomorrow is the big day! Join me tomorrow (Thursday July 28th) as I embark on my first ever live cooking demo at at the Lomography gallery store on Queen Street West in Toronto. Last month I was lucky enough to be asked by Lomography to take part in their LomoAmigo program, and of course I jumped at the chance to be involved! For the past month I've been rocking their super cool La Sardina El Capitan camera taking pics of myself, my friends, and of course my food all over Ontario! Tomorrow I will be taking part in their Blue Hour, hosting a live cooking demo at the store showcasing some fun and tasty no-cook (AKA analogue style) recipes that are perfect for Summer entertaining and this crazy heat Toronto has been hit with. Check out the Facebook event for it here! I hope to see you there!

Thursday July 28th
3 - 5 PM

Lomography Toronto Gallery Store
536 Queen Street West

Learn how to make 3 simple and tasty no cook dishes
Sip and savour free refreshments and samples of each dish
Meet me! I'd love to get the chance to meet some of my readers in person...FINALLY!

Listening To:
The Weeknd - Wicked Games

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bordeaux After Work at Marben

Last Tuesday was the second Bordeaux After Work party presented by the Bordeaux Wine Council in partnership with the iYellow Wine Club, and let me tell you, after having such an incredible time at the first party celebrating Bordeaux wines, my expectations were sky high. With such high expectations it would have been really easy for Bordeaux After Work at Marben to pail in comparison, but to my delight the second party was just as lovely as the first!

(Some friends (new and old) and myself, Danielle Rose)
Unlike at the first party where I attended alone, I brought some back up with me this time, two friends who, like me, did not know much about Bordeaux wine prior to the event. I always get a little nervous bringing new friends to the events that I get invited to, scared that I may be dragging them out to a dud event. So after keeping my friends waiting for me for 15 minutes in the blistering Toronto heat, I started to feel that pressure. After no more than a minute from arriving at Marben, I knew that this event was far from a dud! No more than 20 minutes after the event had begun, the patio was already packed with a smiling, well dressed crowd, happily sipping on the different wines that were being showcased that evening. We promptly grabbed some glasses and filled them up with a light and refreshing Bordeaux white. We then began doing the rounds, saying hello to the wonderful new friends I had met at the previous Bordeaux After Work Party at Origin, and checked out the venue, looking for a prime place to plant ourselves so that we would be able to try all three of the appetizers that Marben was pairing with the wines. We found the best spot the whole patio had to offer, right smack in the middle between a wine station and a food station! Bingo! Although my friends and I all loved the Crab Cakes (almost like little soft shell crab nuggets!) and Pulled Beef on Crostini that were being paired with the wines, I think we can all admit that Rodney's Oysters were definitely the highlight for us in terms of food. But the real highlight of the whole night was undoubtedly the fantastic Bordeaux wine.

With four wines being poured it was easy to take the time with each wine and follow iYellows 5 steps to wine tasting:

These five steps help to breakdown exactly what you should be looking for when tasting each wine. This time around I was lucky enough to get my hands on the list of Bordeaux wines served that evening, and better yet, the list was accompanied by tasting notes, essential for a newbie wine drinker! The 4 wines being served were as follows:

Mouton Cadet 2008 AOC Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc
Château Fayau Blanc 2009 AOC Bordeaux Sauvignon and Semillon
Calvet Reserve 2008 AOC Bordeaux Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon
Chateau de Courteillac 2009 AOC Bordeaux Merlot/Cabernet

I enjoyed every single wine, but of course, we all have our favourites. The two standout wines for both myself, my friends, and many of the guests that we spoke to (you can't go to a wine tasting without making new friends) were:

First Place:
Château Fayau Blanc
This wine was awarded a Gold Medal at the esteemed 2010 Concours Général Agricole in Paris. A refreshing, floral nose welcomes you to lovely notes of melon, grapefruit, gooseberry and citrus with a bit of grassiness. Lots of ripe fruit in this nicely balanced, crisp white. Perfect for poached salmon in a lemongrass/citrus sauce, or pesto pasta with asparagus and artichokes.

Second Place:
Chateau de Courteillac
Mostly made of merlot with a bit of cabernet, this medium-bodied, easy-going red is fresh and fruity, with hints of raspberries and tart cherries. Also rustic, robust red with a touch of vanilla and spice. Dry, light body, well balanced with a smokey-oak finish.

(Me, Danielle Rose and Project Manager at Premier Productions, Rita Choi)
All in all, I'd say the second Bordeaux After Work party was a wild success. I had a wonderful time, the wine and food were both fantastic, and I truly feel like I am building on my knowledge of not only Bordeaux/French wine, but wine in general. I can't tell you how wonderful that is to say after feeling so shy about my lack of knowledge in the past. I can't stress it enough how helpful these Bordeaux After Work parties really are for those who may be new to wine tasting or just don't know much about French wine. I don't want this Summer to end, but at least I have two awesome parties to look forward to this Fall for parts 3 and 4 of Bordeaux After Work! I hope to see you there!

Listening To:
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gazpacho Soup

With the heat flying off the charts in Toronto this past week, it's easy to neglect any type of cooking altogether and rely solely on restaurants, takeout, fast food, and even excessive snacking for your meals. Before you decide to break your summer diet and budget (let's face it, with the AC jacked up to make your home livable, your budget is likely already broken) consider the many delicious cook-free meal options that you can quickly and easily make in the comfort of your own air conditioned home.

Last week when it was just too excruciatingly hot to have a heavy meal and heat up the kitchen, my mom and I decided to collaborate on a gazpacho soup recipe. Jam packed with fresh and vibrant vegetables and bright and flavourful fresh herbs right from our garden, our gazpacho soup was the most perfect option for a scorching summer day. I've always been one to turn my nose up at the raw food movement, but with a no-cook soup as delicious as this, perhaps I've become a new convert!

Tip: Have any other veggies on hand that you'd like to use up? Toss those babies in as well!
Tip: This soup would be perfect for your next party when served in glass shooters for your guests to walk around and sip on.

1 green pepper, cubed
1 yellow pepper, cubed
1 large cucumber, peeled and cubed
1 small onion
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or to taste)
about 2 tbsp fresh parsley
about 1 tbsp fresh dill
about 1/2 tbsp fresh chives
19 ounces tomato juice
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to season

1. In the bowl of a food processor or a blender, process the peppers until finely chopped (I like to leave the peppers a slightly chunkier than the other veggies to add a bit of texture), transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the cucumber, onion, and canned diced tomatoes, adding each in turn to the large mixing bowl.

2. Add the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, parsley, dill, and chives to the bowl of the food processor and pulse until smooth (you may add some tomato juice if the blade is unable to catch the ingredients in the bowl). Add to the large mixing bowl.

3. Add the tomato juice and chili powder to the large mixing bowl and stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper and, if needed, any additional red wine vinegar. Chill for several hours. Serve with fresh chopped dill as a garnish.

Listening To: Wash - Bon Iver

Looking for more no-cook recipes? Come on down to Lomography this Thursday July 28th from 3-5 for a live summer entertaining cooking demo analogue style from yours truly! Click here for more details!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bordeaux After Work at Marben is Just Around the Corner...

Bordeaux After Work Party #2
Presented by the Bordeaux Wine Council in partnership with the iYellow Wine Club

July 19th

488 Wellington Street West

Fantastic Bordeaux Wines, great food, killer music, and always a lively hip crowd! With free entry and a free drink ticket for the first 75 guests ($9 a glass after that) why wouldn't you check out this spectacular event?

Tickets are free! Just become a member of the iYellow Wine Club for free, then RSVP to the event on Facebook.

Alright folks, the second of four Bordeaux After Work Parties is coming up this Tuesday July 19th at Marben, so this means it's time to brush up on some of your Bordeaux wine knowledge! If you remember from my entry on the first Bordeaux After Work Party, I walked into my first experience with Bordeaux wine having done some research on the basics of Bordeaux wine (I call this my homework), a step that I am now learning is crucial when attending a wine tasting. With that basic knowledge I was able to walk into the first Bordeaux After Work party confident and extraordinarily excited to actually get to taste some wines from this world renowned wine region. I had originally planned on taking notes all throughout the party, expanding on what I already knew, but with the music pumping, wine sipping, hands shaking, and lots of new friend to meet, my note taking got side tracked. I realized that taking notes isn't what a wine tasting should be about. The actual event should be about tasting the wine, enjoying each and every sip, and using the wine as an opportunity to socialize and meet new people, which inevitably leads to discussing the wine. And truly, from experience I can tell you that as long as you have done your "homework", the only "work" that needs to be done at a wine tasting is simply:
  1. Reading the labels. Know what wines you are drinking.
  2. Jotting down no more than a few words on the wines you have tasted to trigger your memory after the event. Include what you liked/disliked, the price, and perhaps some flavours that you picked up.
  3. Putting yourself out there and introducing yourself to strangers. No this isn't exactly work, but it is a valuable step that many feel uncomfortable taking, but is crucial if you want to make the most of the event.
  4. Discussing the wine with others in as much detail as you like or see fit. What do other people think of the wine you are tasting? What do they like/dislike about it?
Because you have done your homework, the event will allow you to subtly apply what you have learned, and act as a test for yourself to see what areas you are still unfamiliar with. I've been out of school for just over a year now, but I haven't forgotten just how awful homework can really be. So I decided to take on the role of tutor for you guys, giving you a little cheat sheet on what you should know about Bordeaux before attending Bordeaux After Work at're welcome!

First learn some basic points on Bordeaux here in the "What I Learned" section of the post. Below I will be expanding on some of those basic points.

"Terroir refers to the vineyard-specific environmental differences (such as soil types, drainage, local micro-climates, and sun exposure). Terroir is the biggest difference as to why the same varietals all taste differently from around the world and even from back to back vineyards." (
So how do I know do I know if a vineyard has a particularly good terroir?
The French term Cru, which is often mentioned on Bordeaux wine labels (Cru bourgeois, Cru classé), is an indication of the quality of the particular estates terroirs and grape varietals, and of the producers talent and know how.

Bordeaux is very fortunate be in a prime location which has a climate and various different soil types within both the left bank and right bank, which encourage vine growth and has resulted in making Bordeaux the worlds major wine industry capital.

Bordeaux wine is known for blending various different types of grapes and amounts of each grape to create their unique and distinct wines. Because of the complexity of the process of blending the varietals, the blended wine is of a distinctly better quality than the individual qualities of the original single variety wines.
What varietals are commonly found in Bordeaux wine?
Merlot - the most widely grown variety
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc
Sémillon - one of the most popular and well established out of the white varietals
Sauvignon Blanc

(and their percentage of surface areain Bordeaux vineyards as of 2008)
Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur 47.2%
Médoc and Graves 17.2%
BoldSaint Emilion / Pomeral / Fronsac 10.5%
Red Côtes 14.1%
Dry White 7.9%
Sweet White 3.1%

What years were particularly spectacular for Bordeaux wine?
2009 - magnificent vintage
2008 - high quality vintage
2007 - good quality vintage
2006 - high quality vintage
2005 - exceptional vintage
2004 - high to very high quality vintage

What should you be pairing with your Bordeaux wine?
Bordeaux Dry Whites
Chicken, fish, seafood, and salad.
Red Bordeaux
Red meat (beef, lamb), grilled veal, game, poultry such as grilled turk pastas, and cheeses such as Camembert, Brie, and Roquefort.
Sweet Wines
Dessert, foie gras, and blue cheese.

Listening To: Wash - Bon Iver

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nutella and Apricot Panini

We all deserve a little something extra special once and again. Something to lift our spirits just a bit, to put a smile on our face, and let us forget about the days worries for just a few moments. I'm sure it comes as no surprise when I say that when I feel like I need a touch of something out of the ordinary to perk up my day, I always treat myself in the form of food...and well, oftentimes a drink as well!

This week when both my mom and I needed a pick me up after a stressful week I offered to make us sandwiches, but not just any type of sandwiches, I'm talking about Nutella and Apricot Paninis (insert applause here). My mom sounded a little skeptical of the combination at first, but when I brought out a plate full of warm and toasty sandwiches, oozing with melted chocolate hazelnut spread, and the smell of chocolate, apricots, and toasted bread wafting off of the plate, she knew, just as I had, that this one was a winner. Give this one a try, I promise you'll be thanking me after.

Tip: I don't have a panini press so I use a grill pan weighed down with a heavy pan on top. I'll toast one side of the sandwich with the pan weighing the bread down on top (and pressing with my hands to help), then flip and do the same with the other side.

2 slices Challah bread (or other bread of your choice)
about 2 tbsp Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
1 fresh apricot, quartered
a few toasted hazelnuts, chopped
about 1-2 tbsp butter

1. Spread Nutella on one side of both slices of bread. Top one slice evenly with apricot slices. Sprinkle evenly with hazelnuts. Top with other slice of bread and butter both sides. Toast in a panini press until bread is toasted and slightly crunchy and chocolate has melted. If you don't have a panini press see tip above.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Barbecued Garlic Shrimp

There are two types of people in this world, those that have the strength to deny cravings and those that give into them with abandon. I, my friends am the latter. No matter if it's bad for my health, expensive, or I have no easy way of accessing what I want, I will do everything within my power to satisfy that craving. So when that crazy brain of mine started chanting "Garlic shrimp! Garlic shrimp! Garlic shrimp" over and over again, I knew I had no choice but to submit to my craving. Luckily this time around I had my mind set on something that was not only healthy, but quick, easy, and ohhh sooo good!
Within only a matter of minutes after telling my dad last Tuesday that all I wanted in the whole wide world at that very moment was some delicious garlic shrimp, he had the grill fired up, and I was whisking away at my garlic marinade. In no time at all we had delicious garlic shrimp, hot off the grill, and ready to devour al fresco on our back porch. My barbecued garlic shrimp was so delicious, I made them again only three days later for our big family Canada Day barbecue! What a hit!

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced or pureed
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 tbsp parsley, chopped

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

2. Skewer the shrimp onto shish kabob skewers that have been soaked in water for about 1 hour. I like to place a skewer on each end of the shrimp for the most control when grilling.

3. In a shallow dish, lay out the shrimp on skewers and pour over the marinade. Let stand in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Do not marinade shrimp any longer or else the marinade will begin to cook the shrimp.

4. Lay out shrimp onto grill set at medium-high heat. Grill shrimp for about 2-3 minutes on one side, then another 1-2 minutes on the other, or until shrimp are opaque. Do not overcook! Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon slices.

Listening To:
Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Fresh Recipe: Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Hummus

I'm always looking for new, quick, and easy recipes and tips for entertaining, so when Summer Fresh Salads (one of my favourite prepared salad and dip brands!) asked me to create an affordable and easy recipe for entertaining using their Summer Fresh Hummus, my foodie wheels began turning at a remarkable speed. I started filling up my notebook pages with all sorts of wild ideas using Summer Fresh's delicious hummus. Despite how many ideas I had come up with, none of them seemed right to me. Although I've never thrown a party on my own, I've helped out at numerous parties thrown by my friends and family, so I know just how hectic preparing a party menu can be. Luckily I've picked up a few tips after helping out with all those parties. One of the most beneficial tips being to come up with a party menu that you can prepare in advance, allowing you to have fun with your friends and not be trapped in the kitchen all night long. It was this crucial tip that led me to come up with my Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Hummus.
I wanted to create a recipe that was big on flavour, could be served at any temperature, and could be snacked on all party long. My Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Hummus fit the criteria perfectly. With the prep as simple as a quick chop and toss, this recipe is crazy easy to prepare, and because it can be served at any temperature, you can easily make this dip a day or two before, and simply scoop it into a serving dish and garnish when it's time to serve. Another tip that I've picked up for entertaining, is to take advantage of store bought food. No this doesn't mean your whole menu should come right out of the prepared foods section, it just means you should look to prepared foods as your aids, and build your own dishes from there. Using Summer Fresh Original Hummus as my one prepared food aid and my inspiration, I brainstormed which flavours make hummus sing. I thought of a falafel and all the delicious toppings they serve along with it, roasted eggplant being one of my favourites! As soon as eggplant entered the equation, I immediately knew what I wanted to prepare. The slightly chunky, herbaceous, roasted vegetable mixture complete with smokey eggplant, sweet bell peppers, and zesty red onion is the perfect contrast against the smooth, creamy, and garlicky hummus. Serve with fresh or toasted pita chips to scoop both dips into every bite for the ultimate summer dip! Check out my recipe, along with 9 other Canadian Food Bloggers recipes, on the Summer Fresh Facebook page and "like" your favourite recipe (ahem...perhaps a certain Mediterranean dip...hint hint, nudge nudge) to receive a Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon from Summer Fresh and a chance to win a party for 20! What are you waiting for? Check out all the recipes here!

Listening To:
The Smiths - Unloveable

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

What's Up?

You know those times when life picks up all of a sudden and makes you feel like your running around like a chicken without a head at 100 miles/hour? I am right smack in the middle of one of those times, and as overwhelming as it may be, I'm loving every minute of it! The past few weeks have felt like one big foodie roller coaster for me, with so many incredible events taking place in Toronto, exciting opportunities coming my way, and love coming at me and my blog from every direction! I can't tell you how grateful I am to each and every person that has reached out to me over the past month or so. I feel the love and I'm sending it right back at all of you!

I can feel your curiosity at what I've been up to and let me tell you, I've got a ton of updates for you all, but far too much for one day in the blogosphere. So for now I'll fill you in on what's on my mind today:
I am so incredibly honored to be featured on in their Top 10 Canadian Food Blog Round-up! I can't even put into words how much it means to me to know that I have an audience out there who enjoy reading my blog just as much as I enjoy creating it. BIG thanks to for taking an interest in me!
In The Kitchen with Stefano Faita is a live studio cooking show that will air on CBC this Fall, hosted by Stefano Faita, one of Quebec's most popular food personalities (move over Ricardo...Chuck, I love you, you can stay!). The show, which is taped in front of a live studio audience will feature two or more simple recipes that viewers can use as a guide to expand on and experiment with in their own kitchens. This show sounds like a real hit, not to mention a great show to be apart of as an audience member with the charming Stefano encouraging audience interaction. In The Kitchen with Stefano Faita is being filmed right now! So what are you waiting for? Go reserve your free audience tickets today! Click here to get started!
Did you know I used to be a theatre kid? Support my fellow talented Yorkie theatre grads and go check out Bordeaux presented by the Pathos Theatre Company and part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. The play, which takes place in, you guessed it, Bordeaux will run from July 7th - July 17th, with tickets a steal at only $10 at the door ($11 in advance). There are some seriously talented men and women involved in this show, so I highly recommend you come check it out! Get all the info you need here!
Working on a little side project with Lomography Canada, taking part in their LomoAmigo Program. For the next month I'll be rocking their La Sardina El Capitan camera, which is equipped with a wide-angle lens (perfect for capturing every dish on the table!), multiple exposures (a trick I still need to play around with), a rewind dial, and a Fritz the Blitz Flash, Lomography's most powerful flash ever. It's only been a few days and I'm already loving this cute and compact analogue camera! Can't wait to share all my photos with you when they're up on the Lomography site!

Listening To:
The Black Keys - The Go Getter

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