Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekly Roundup - Making My TUM Happy

Danielle's Ravioli Making Day - I have known Danielle from Baked Soap Co. and Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop for years now, but it wasn't until we got together for a macaron making day that we realized just how much we have in common. I love finding interesting new people to share my love of cooking with, and it seemed Danielle shared that same love. Before hugging each other goodbye after she had taught me to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons in her home, we promised that we would get together again soon for a pasta making day. While Danielle is a natural when it comes to baking and had many things to teach me, I seem to be the more comfortable 'Danielle' when it comes to cooking! I invited Danielle into my home for a lesson on how to make fresh pasta.

Wanting to make things a little more interesting, we decided to make ravioli. Because I had made ravioli in the past, I wanted to take things a step further and experiment with making a type of pasta that I was not yet familiar with, beet pasta! Danielle and I had such a great time making Martha Stewart's recipe for Beet Pasta (even though we rarely trust Martha recipes, and we both believe that Martha secretly leaves out one ingredient in each recipe to make sure no one can live up to her success) and created a fantastic recipe of our own for a sweet potato filling and simple topping for our ravioli. Our ravioli turned out so delicious and stunning (I mean look at that photo, those little babies are a thing of beauty!) I would be crazy not to post the recipe! I promise to have it up soon!

Carrot Tzimmes - Even though we weren't able to get the whole family together this year for a traditional Passover dinner, my dad and I wanted to do something special for my Zhada to draw attention to the special Jewish holiday. My dad picked up a bunch of tasty dishes from Good Bye Gluten for my Zhada (he has been Celiac for years), leaving me with the job of making carrot tzimmes and a gluten free, kosher for Passover dessert. I turned to the recipe for Carrot Tzimmes that my family has been using for years, and tried to make it a little more interesting by picking up purple and white carrots, as well as the more common orange, to add a little colour to the sweet carrot side dish. The carrots turned out great! I was pleasantly surprised by the crunchy texture that the purple and white carrots added to the dish.

Chocolate Cheesecake Strawberries - Left with the challenge of coming up with a gluten free and kosher for Passover dessert for my Zhada, my dad, and myself, I eventually decided upon making Chocolate Cheesecake Strawberries. Fresh strawberries are dipped in semi-sweet chocolate and chopped pecans. Take a bite and you'll find a surprise...Cheesecake! Or at least a filling that will trick you into believing it's cheesecake. Sweet mascarpone cheese with a hint of vanilla and lemon zest is the creamy surprise filling piped inside each strawberry. The best part about this dessert? Seeing my Zhada's excited and delighted reaction as he took his first bite. He loved it, and devoured two in no time at all. Recipe will be posted soon!

Happy Easter From Laura Secord - A great big thank you to Laura Secord for being so kind and sending me a box of Easter chocolates and a big Laura Secord Cream Egg as an Easter gift! What a sweet way to ring in one of the biggest chocolate-eating holidays of the year!
Summer Rolls - The Easter bunny knows me so well! I don't know how that fuzzy creature knew that I had been wanting a julienne peeler. He/she must be psychic...or spying on me. Either way, I am so very thankful to have received the peeler I had been itching for for months now as apart of my Easter morning gift! One of the main reasons I had wanted the peeler was so that I could begin making my very own rice paper rolls, filled with perfect, crisp, julienned vegetables. For my first attempt at rice paper rolls, I decided to make fresh, healthy, and herbaceous Vegetable & Shrimp Summer Rolls! Although my first summer roll was a bit of a disaster, with the rice paper roll barely making it around the filling, and the filling spilling out all down my chin and onto my shirt, I quickly got the hang of it and ended up with ten perfect summer rolls! I was very happy with the end result, sending some off to my mom, my sister, and my boyfriend, wanting to show off my summer roll making skills! Yet another recipe that I was really proud of creating. You can count on this one being up on the blog soon!

Seafood Night: Mussels - With my boyfriend Chris living in a swanky new condo right by St. Lawrence Market, we have been going a little wild taking advantage of all the fresh and abundant produce, meats, and fish that he now has access to almost right outside his door. After having so much success (not to mention a great time) making arctic char together, we decided to have a seafood night this past Wednesday. Both tired and grumpy, it would have been really easy for us to have failed our seafood mission, but I'm happy to report that both of our dishes turned out fantastic!

My contribution to seafood night was Mussels in White Wine, a recipe by my future best friend (yes, in my dreams) Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Having never made mussels before, I was a little nervous about how the shellfish would turn out. I was petrified of us getting sick and took extra care to check every single mussel a total of three times (maybe excessive, maybe brilliant?) to make sure every mussel was alive before steaming. Even though I may have suffered an injury thanks to an old can opener and a cruel aluminum tin that wanted to murder my thumb, I was really happy with how the mussels turned out, with only a few minor modifications for next time. I would recommend trying out Ina's recipe, but maybe add a little extra chopped tomatoes when you make it so that sauce is extra delicious when sopping up with fresh baguette.

Seafood Night: Bacon Wrapped Monkfish in a Red Wine Reduction - Without a doubt, the star of seafood night was Chris' Bacon Wrapped Monkfish in a Red Wine Reduction. With a name like that, how could it not? I had never tried monkfish before, but Chris had told me to expect something similar to the texture and flavour of lobster, but without the labour of dealing with a shell. First off the dish looked so appealing on the plate, with the beautiful piece of market-fresh fish in the centre, expertly wrapped in medium-cut bacon, held together by a rosemary sprig, and drizzled with a deep red wine sauce. The look of the dish alone had me all hot and bothered knowing that my boyfriend had created such a striking meal, you can imagine how I felt after taking a damn good. Chris was right, monkfish really does remind me of lobster, with its buttery flavour and texture. The crispy and salty bacon contrasted wonderfully with the subtle monkfish, with the buttery red wine reduction tying the whole dish together. Good luck to Chris in the future after building up my expectations with such incredible meals so early on in our relationship. HAH! Pressure's on! 

Toronto Underground Market - As you've probably noticed by now, mine and Chris' best date nights seem to revolve around food...come to think of it, we have rarely had a date night that doesn't involve food. I'm not complaining. After a crazy week of Chris getting settled into his new condo and entertaining friends, it was really nice to spend some quality time, just the two of us, tasting through the many offerings available at the Toronto Underground Market this past weekend. I had been hearing so many wonderful things about TUM for the past year, so expectations were definitely high.

Although the event certainly hit our wallets quickly with ticket prices just over $20, and each dish costing around $5 once inside, it was great to be able to try out so many different interesting tastes all in one place. Pictured here was one of our favourite tastes of the festival, Hot Bunzz Brazilian Pulled BBQ Beef Bun and Wild Boar Bun with black truffles. Even though we only stayed for a couple hours (we were freezing out bunzz off!) I was surprised at how many tastes we were able to try in that short time. Although I had heard about the long lines you encounter at TUM, we were lucky and didn't have to wait in many. Any lines we did wait in (even the intimidating Fidel Gastro line) moved quite quickly and was well worth the wait! My only criticism? I think the curators of the event should take more care to choose more of a variation of dishes. There seemed to be an excess of pork at the event, with almost every single vendor featuring pulled pork or pork belly, and even a vendor dedicated solely to bacon. If you have yet to check out TUM, make sure to stay updated on their next event by following their twitter account! 

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Listening To:
Beatrice Eli - Violent Silence 

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