Monday, October 21, 2013

Kale & Apple Salad With Nuts & Goat Cheese

I know. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "enough with the damn kale Danielle!" You're probably reading this wondering how in the heck I'm not sick of kale yet. 'How the hell is this chick not sick of this leafy green that she seems to be using in the same way over and over again?! What a hoot this chick must be with her never-ending kale salads.' I have to be honest, after making so many different variations on kale salads this summer, I was just as sick of kale as you would imagine I would be. I was just about to throw in the towel (or the kale!) and whip out a box of KD or frozen hot and spicy chicken fingers, when I realized that if I didn't eat that last half bunch of kale that very day, it would go bad, a thought that would surely traumatize me for the rest of the week, meaning sleepless nights laying  in bed feeling guilty self-hatred about wasting good food. I knew that if I was going to make good use out of that kale, I would have to get creative and come up with a completely different type of kale salad from anything I have made before. With a big bowl full of fresh, hand-picked Ontario apples, that task wasn't too daunting. As soon as I got out my pad of foolscap to start jotting down kale salad ideas, scribbling down different flavour combinations that would shine with apples and kale, my stomach began to rumble and I started to get excited about kale once again. Who woulda thunk it? 

My apple and kale salad turned out to be just the combination I was looking for to drag me out of my kale rut. The crunchy, sweet, and slightly tart Ontario apples worked perfectly against the slightly bitter kale. I knew that I would have to play with textures to get me devouring this salad until the bottom of the bowl, so I first toasted up some slivered almonds for a crunch and warm, nutty flavour, as well as a handful of trail mix filled with an assortment of other whole nuts (including peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and raisins). To contrast all that crunch from the nuts and the apple, I crumbled in some tangy goat cheese to add a wonderful creaminess. A light sprinkle of some chia seeds for extra healthy points, and a drizzle of some store-bought vinaigrette dressing (yes, I cheated a little!) and this salad was ready for tasting! One taste said it all. This is was definitely my new favourite salad, not just kale salad, but salad in general! It had everything I was looking for in terms of health benefits and big flavours, and made me forget all about that box of KD and frozen chicken fingers! 

Don't choose a creamy vinaigrette as the goat cheese will already give the salad the creaminess to offset the crunch from the other toppings.

(serves one)
1/2 bunch kale, washed, dried, torn into smaller pieces
about 1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium eating apple (I used Cortland thanks to its sweet and juicy flavour with just a bit of tartness. Cortlands also take longer to brown, which makes them great for salads!), cut into 1-cm strips 
handful of slivered almonds, toasted
handful of trail mix
about 1/4 cup goat cheese
1 tbsp chia seeds
vinaigrette of your choice* (I used a pear and blue cheese vinaigrette that worked great!)
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. Add kale to a medium mixing bowl and drizzle with about 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt. Using clean fingertips, massage kale for about 1-minute, or until the kale has softened slightly and is not tough. 
  2. Add in the apple strips, slivered almonds, trail mix, goat cheese, and chia seeds and toss. Add the vinaigrette (a bit at a time so you don't overdress) and toss. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste once more and season again if needed. Serve immediately! 

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Weekly Roundup - Feeling Thankful for Beautiful Ontario & Nostalgia-Inducing Food

Andrews' Scenic Acres - When I was little one of my favourite activities to do in the Fall was visit Andrews' Scenic Acres with my family. The festive farm and market was always my favourite thanks to the endless amount of pumpkins that scattered their fields, their petting zoo, their little market with fresh pies, tarts, apple cider, and more, their haunted forest (even though it left me shrieking into my mothers arms at that young age), and, more than anything, I loved their fresh corn on the cob. There's nothing like fresh sweet Ontario corn, but what made me fall in love with Andrews' Acres corn, was the butter. Andrews' Acres knows how to do corn right by serving up their fresh, farm-picked corn on the cob next to a big stockpot full of melted butter, so you can dip your corn on the cob right into that baby, add some salt and pepper and you have the tastiest corn imaginable!

Nostalgic for those Fall memories as a child, my mom and I decided to spend our saturday up North at our ol' stompin' ground Andrews Scenic Acres. Although the farm and market looked the same, they were now filled with a loud crowd of families and lots of very misbehaved children (screaming children...lots and lots of screaming and crying children not appreciating the beauty of an Ontario farm in the Fall). Back when I was a kid, the farm used to be so peaceful and calm, but now it seems to be turning into Chudleigh's Farms younger and almost just as popular sister (by the way, the line for cars to just get into Chudleigh's was absolutely insane!). Despite the large mass of people taking over the once peaceful farm, I was ecstatic to see that that same old corn on the cob stand was still there, and still featured my beloved stockpot of melted butter! My mom and I couldn't wait another moment, we hit up that stand as soon as we got in, and dug into my favourite Fall treat as a child. I have to say, that corn was just as fantastic as I remember it to be. Even though it may be loud and filled with people, I think I have to make that butter-soaked corn at Andrews' Acres a Fall tradition! 

Thanksgiving - Thanksgiving has always been one of my favourite holidays, which may have something to do with the immense amount of delicious food. For years my family had hosted Thanksgiving at our family home, with our gorgeous backyard full of changing colour trees setting the perfect backdrop for the occasion. Having sold our beautiful home last year, and now living in a tiny apartment, we were unable to play host to our families Thanksgiving meal, and handed the reins over to my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Ron to host. It felt weird driving up to Brampton to meet up with the rest of the family for our meal, like it wasn't really Thanksgiving. It wasn't until the meal was served that those Thanksgiving feelings kicked in. That same meal, with dishes contributed by almost every family member (I had to work earlier and sadly couldn't make anything), brought back so many wonderful Thanksgiving memories and made me realize that all those familiar Thanksgiving dishes can evoke feelings of family, comfort, and tradition, better than any setting could. I felt very thankful this year to be surrounded by such a loving family, who also happen to be awesome cooks, and indulge in a delicious comforting meal with them to reflect on the things we have to be thankful for this year. 

Rose & Son's Brunch - After falling in love with Rose & Son's backyard smokehouse Big Crow last week, taking advantage of their newly launched brunch menu, I have been raving about it to just about everyone I know all week long. It had to be absolute torture living with me all week as the words "Big Crow" kept coming out of my mouth at every turn. It came as no surprise that on Monday when my mom and I wanted to head out for a Thanksgiving brunch, she wanted to go nowhere else by Big Crow. Without delay, we headed over to Dupont to let her experience their sinfully delicious brunch. Unfortunately upon arrival we found out that Big Crow was closed for the holiday, but to our delight Rose & Son's was open, with a short ten minute wait for a table for two. After a lovely stroll around the Annex while we waited for our table, we were seated in the small space, with our stomachs growling, and our eyes darting around to all neighboring tables for ordering inspiration (you could hear rumblings all over with diners proclaiming "these are the best eggs I've ever eaten").

With both my mom and I setting our sights on their Griddled Brie Cornbread with Brisket, Fried Egg, Maple Syrup, & Chili Sauce, we decided to share the outrageous sounding dish, as well as their Smoked Lox & Eggs with Toast, Horseradish, Capers, & Schmlatz so that we could taste more of the menu in one go. As much as I loved my Pork & Beans at Big Crow last week, they didn't hold a candle to that brisket and cornbread dish. Dear lord, was that ever incredible. It was the perfect brunch dish. Yes, I said perfect. Perfection. I wouldn't change a thing. In fact, I'm still dreaming about that dish today...and drooling. Never in my life have I eaten such an incredible brunch dish. Don't get me wrong, the lox and eggs were also off the charts, but nothing compares to that brisket and cornbread. It's the perfect slightly sweet, soft, crumbly, and crunchy outside cornbread that makes the dish so special. The sweet cornbread, doused in maple syrup is complimented by the savory, smokey brisket, with the brie adding a great creamy texture, and the chili sauce brightening the whole dish up. You must try this dish. I repeat, you MUST try this dish! 

Rose & Son's Brunch - Not quite as glamourous as the brisket and cornbread captured on camera, Rose & Son's Lox & Eggs with Toast, Horseradish, Capers, & Schmaltz was also a wonderful way to start Thanksgiving day. Salty smoked salmon pieces are found in every bite of the buttery scrambled eggs, dotted with briny capers and zesty thinly sliced red onions, with the schmaltz adding a hit of underlying savory flavour, and the toast acting as a base for every bite. What is schmaltz, you ask? Schmaltz is chicken or goose fat that has been rendered down to create the most delicious addition to heck, just about anything! Schmaltz is often found in Yiddish cooking, for example, one of my favourites, matzo balls. You don't see many dishes like this on very many brunch menus in the city, especially done this successfully. This was the perfect lighter accompaniment to the extraordinarily rich brisket and cornbread.
Evergreen Brickworks - After enjoying the best brunch ever at Rose & Son's with my mom, we headed over to the Evergreen Brickworks to enjoy the stunning weather. Even thought the Brickworks was filled with just as many families with young children as Andrew's Acres was, these kids were far more well behaved and quiet, enjoying all of the fun outdoor activities the centre has to offer. With the warn Fall sun beating down on us, we strolled through the paths, taking in the exquisite scenery, and snapping photos of the unbelievable Fall colours at every turn. It was so beautiful. What a lovely way to spend Thanksgiving day!

Evergreen Brickworks - This little lady here is my mom, totally in her element, enjoying the beautiful outdoors on our walk at the Evergreen Brickworks. She makes a great walking partner!

Kale & Apple Salad - You can't go up North this time of year in Ontario without taking advantage of the wonderful apples we are so lucky to have in season. With a big bowl full of personally picked apples from our little excursion up North a few days prior, I felt inspired to create a kale salad featuring crisp and slightly tart Ontario apples. Just when I was starting to feel sick of kale, this incredibly tasty salad renewed my love for the healthy green, featuring Ontario apples, toasted slivered almonds, trail mix, chia seeds, and goat cheese. I loved this salad so much, I will definitely be posting the recipe for you soon! This salad was also a great opportunity for me to practice my batonnet cut on the apples, which I will be tested on this week at my practical exam at George Brown chef school.

This Week At Chef School - This week at George Brown Chef School our focus was on rice and legumes with our menu covering:
Braised Navy Beans
Lentils & Celery Root
Saffron Tea
Saffron Pilaf
I was pretty nervous about this weeks class, with seemingly so much to get done, including the infamously tricky risotto on the menu. Risotto is so tricky because, for one thing, it requires constant attention, you must be at your stove throughout the entire cooking process, stirring your Arborio rice so that the starches don't stick to the bottom of your pan, adding ladles of hot chicken stock to allow the short and starchy short grain rice to slowly cook and soak up the liquid and flavour from the stock. More than just giving risotto constant attention, the Italian dish is also tricky because you must ensure to serve it at just the right moment. You want the rice to be tender, but still have a bit of a bite to it (think of al dente pasta), with the consistency wet so that when shaken it pools out around the dish, but not so wet that you get any puddling. Not only do you have to know when to stop cooking your risotto, you also have to know when to serve it, which is immediately! Risotto is meant to be served as soon as it comes off the stove, if not, the starches kick in and you get a gluey, sticky rice. 

Despite being super nervous about trying my hand at making risotto from scratch for the first time, I am so proud to say that my final dish came out near perfect! My only criticism from our chef was that I could have added a touch more pepper, and I could have cooked it about 30 seconds longer to get rid of a bit more of the liquid, but otherwise my texture was spot on! Yay! With a few small criticisms here and there from my other dishes (with my lentils and celery root declared "perfect" by our chef!), I'd say I did pretty darn good this week! Each week I find myself becoming more calm and confident in the kitchen, and more importantly, I have more and more fun in the kitchen with each new lesson! I can't say it enough how happy I am that I finally signed up for culinary school! This just feels so right!

What else did I learn this week?
On My Mind:
Banksy is playing with the idea of high vs. low art once again in this video of a pop up stand in New York selling his authentic prints. 

Why I try to drink warm lemon water throughout the day. 

Could it be? Was the final episode of Breaking Bad just a fantasy in Walter Whites mind? 

Dream come true!! 30,000 tonnes of European cheese could be coming to Canada!

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mott's Clamato Thanksgiving Day Caesar

Mott's Clamato has your Thanksgiving cocktail covered with their festive take on a Thanksgiving Bloody Caesar. The classic Caesar cocktail is given a Thanksgiving twist thanks to the addition of a thanksgiving favourite, cranberries. There's nothing like that combo of sweet and savory to get my mouth watering! Make Canada's Cocktail Thanksgiving Day Caesar apart of your family's holiday celebration! 

Glass: Highball
Rim: Fresh cracked salt & pepper
Garnish: Turkey, cheese, & cranberries on a skewer or rosemary sprig

1 oz. gin
2 dashes hot sauce
3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1 oz. cranberry juice
3 oz. Mott's Clamato Original

  1. Rim the glass.
  2. Fill the glass with ice.
  3. Add ingredients in order listed above.
  4. Stir.
  5. Garnish.

Listening To:

Weekly Roundup - A Big Week For Comfort Food

Big Crow Brunch - My new trick to getting into the most buzzed about restaurants in our growing foodie city is to be ahead of the game and go before the buzz has truly kicked in! This trick worked wonders for my boyfriend Chris and I when we checked out Hudson Kitchen on it's fourth night of service for cocktails (grabbing a seat at their bar in no time!), and once again we found success when we checked out Anthony Rose's (unfortunately no relation to myself) barbeque joint Big Crow merely hours after hearing that they had opened for weekend brunch service. After a nice and rare little sleep-in on Saturday morning, Chris and I hopped in the car and headed over to Dupont to see if we could manage to squeeze ourselves in at a table for two. After hearing about the insane long lines for brunch at Rose's main restaurant Rose & Son's, I made sure to call on our way to see if it was even worth trying to get into Big Crow for brunch. The incredibly friendly hostess on the phone (big bonus points for positive attitude!) gave us the go, and told us we wouldn't have trouble if we were on our way. As expected, Rose & Son's was buzzing, with the doorway filled up with a line of eager customers hungry for brunch. We walked right on past Rose & Son's (even though I need to go there for brunch as well!) and headed on back to the covered patio of Big Crow where we were lucky to find numerous tables empty and waiting for us! I guess most people didn't know that they had opened for brunch yet, and Chris and I were once again ahead of the game! 

What drew me to Big Crow for brunch other than the Rose name (not because I share the name, but because Chef Anthony Rose has made such a positive name for himself in Toronto) was the menu. Each and every dish sounded like it was out of my fantasy brunch list, with classic breakfast comfort foods given a unique twist. Warning, if you are looking for your basic eggs and toast, don't come here! This place is for people seeking big flavours and creative combinations. With Chris snapping up the Soft & Sexy Maple & Cheese Grits with Fried Egg & Mushrooms (we can't ever order the same thing!) I went for the equally enticing Pork & Beans with fried egg, cornbread, maple syrup, and chili pepper sauce. I was in comfort food heaven as I dug my spoon into the messy pile of goodness that was promptly served to us. A simple dish can take on a whole new life when made with care and with the right ingredients, and that is exactly how my pork and beans were treated. Of course I had to sneak a bite of Chris' grits, which were just as swoon-worthy as my dish. With great food, a fantastic atmosphere (I felt like I was relaxing at a cottage!), and spot on service, I will definitely be coming back to Big Crow soon to make it through their entire menu! Next on my list to try? Big Crow's Smoked Mozzarella & Brisket Roast with Garlic Bread, Fried Egg, Whiskey Onions, and Mustard. 

Kale Salad - After indulging in just about everything I could get my hands on during my birth-week, it was time to wave the white flag and give my tired and bloated body a rest with some healthy eating. It's no secret that I am a big fan of kale, the dark leafy green with big health appeal, so when it's time to start thinking healthy in the kitchen, I seem to always turn to kale to get me back on track. Because kale sits heavier in the stomach (it doesn't make you feel bloated and gross, just full and satisfied) I have been getting into the habit of eating kale before my evening classes and shifts at work so that I won't be keeling over with heartburn (as I did several days last week) or grumbling with hunger after eating an improper meal beforehand. Kale has the ability to deliver a delicious meal that will give me the energy to take on my class or a serving shift with gusto and last all night long! The salad that I found myself making numerous times this week was a kale salad with a hard boiled egg, multi-coloured cherry tomatoes, avocado, and sautéed onions, in a simple grainy mustard and honey vinaigrette. I love how beautiful and colourful this salad is, with big flavours in every bite. Mix it up real good to allow the avocado to break down and act as a sort of creamy dressing to go along with the homemade vinaigrette. Keep your eyes peeled for the recipe as I will be posting it soon!

Soy & Sesame Kale Chips - My favourite way to eat kale is raw in a salad, but the idea of 'kale chips' had always intrigued me. Make something crispy and salty, and suddenly it tricks your taste buds into thinking your being indulgent. As much as I had wanted to try kale chips, I never really bought the idea of them being all that flavourful. I knew that when I was to try my hand at the healthy chip I would have to add something to it to give it another hit of flavour. It wasn't until I came across a recipe on the lifestyle blog A Cup Of Jo for what she considers to be "the best kale chips" that I was finally convinced to make them. What got me excited about this recipe was the addition of soy sauce and sesame seeds, adding that extra hit of flavour that I was hoping for. These chips were incredibly fast to prepare and turned out to be just the snack I was looking for (you know, the kind of snack that you eat not because you're hungry, but because you're bored) with the soy sauce and sesame seeds keeping me coming back for more and more...but with zero guilt! Kale chips certainly won't be replacing any potato chip cravings that I may have, but they are a great healthy snack to munch on on the regular. 

This Week At Chef School - This week at chef school was hands down the tastiest week as of yet as we learned how to cook the comfort food staple potatoes in a variety of different ways. Although our chef warned us that this week was going to be a tricky one to organize our time and have everything hot, ready, and properly cooked for 'service', it seemed to be the smoothest one for our class...despite a small fire by one student and myself burning my hand on a scorching hot pot handle. On our menu this week was:

Boiled Mini Red Potatoes
The most basic in potato cookery. You must master a perfectly cooked boiled potato before you really know how to properly cook a potato.
French Fries
Perfectly cooked french fries are blanched once in oil at low-heat, drained, & then fried again at a higher heat to create perfect 'crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside' french fries.
Duchesse Potatoes
Boiled Yukon Gold potatoes are riced, seasoned, & piped into rosettes to bake in the oven for a crispy shell & creamy, fluffy filling.
Fondant Potatoes
Peeled & halved Yukon Gold potatoes are 'turned' (pared down to a classic barrel shape) & braised in the oven in a seasoned chicken stock.
Scalloped Potatoes
Thinly sliced potatoes are layered alternately with a seasoned cream sauce, gruyere, parmesan, & salt & pepper & baked in the oven to create a decadent potato casserole.

So after all that potato cooking goodness, what did I learn at school this week?
  • I am never using the salamander ever again! A salamander is a broiler that our chef warned us against, as it gets extremely hot and can quickly add too much 'artificial looking' colour to your product. At five minutes to service, myself and a few other students felt desperate to add some colour to the top of our dishes to present. Our Dushesse potatoes, Fondant Potatoes, and Scallop Potatoes were to be presented with a golden brown colour on top, a colour that my oven didn't seem to want to give to my product. I made a snap decision and (while burning my hand) moved my Fondant Potatoes out of the oven and under the salamander. In the one minute it took for me to run my burn under cold water, I had burnt the top of almost all of my little Fondant Potatoes. Luckily I had two presentable ones to be graded by our chef. Lesson learned, I will never use the salamander again!
  • The perfect french fries are fried twice, once in oil at low heat until about 60% cooked, then once again at high heat for the perfect 'crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside' french fries.
  • Don't place your sliced potatoes for Scallop Potatoes in water until ready to cook. You don't want to rise away the starch in the potato that will act like a glue to hold your casserole together.
  • When making Duchesse Potatoes, you must work fast! You want your potato mixture to be hot while you pipe it so that you get the most beautiful and sturdy rosettes. 
  • The kitchen is not always filled with unpleasant egos! I feel so lucky to be apart of a class filled with such supportive, encouraging, and positive people who seem to always have each others backs. It's a pleasure to share the kitchen with you all!
On My Mind:
This is so stunningly beautiful.

As one of my birthday gifts this year my good friend Rita was kind enough to treat me to see the Mirvish production of Les Misérables. Although I don't see too much theatre these days (bad theatre student!) this show absolutely blew me away thanks to the unbelievably talented cast! Never before have I seen a show with such a strong cast that were able to bring me to tears and chills throughout the entire performance. Thank you so much to Rita for treating me to such a memorable night! 

Interesting article on the racial implications of the hatred of Chris Brown. 

I was a Disney princess girl and I turned out aiiight, but when I have children I will take a cue from this mother who dressed her daughter as five empowering and inspirational women!

Being a server I can totally relate to this article on why everyone should work in "the industry" for at least two years of their life.

Check out this cute and quirky infographic on Beer vs. Wine. Which do you prefer? 

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Weekly Roundup - Birthday Eats & Other Treats

Momofuku - Birthdays are always a challenge for me to plan for myself. Each and every year I hope that someone will magically decide to do all the prep and planning work for me, so I can legitimately de-stress on my special day, which really, just may be the greatest birthday gift. No such luck this year. Thankfully this year I resolved early on that I was going to have to step up my game in the birthday planning department and planned myself a weekend full of fun evenings that would allow me to spend time with all of the special people in my life. For my actual birthday (September 30th!) I decided to spend my birthday dinner with the people closest to me in my life, my parents, sister, and my boyfriend...oh and my sisters boyfriend who is practically my brother. This arises yet another challenge: Where to go on a Monday (when many restaurants are closed) that takes reservations, will be something special, and will not cost a fortune for my parents who were treating us all to dinner. After much head scratching and research, I decided on a perfect option! 

I have been hearing about the now infamous Momofuku for months now, with many people debating what their favourite restaurant and dish are in the 4-story, 4-restaurant (plus Milk Bar) Toronto location next to the Shangri-La Hotel. The one dish that everyone seemed to agree on, and the dish I had been reading about long before Momofuku opened in up shop in Toronto, was their large format fried chicken dinner. Momofuku has a number of large format meals, which are designed to be shared "family-style" amongst a suggested group of people. The fried chicken large format dinner (found at Noodle Bar) is the most reasonable of the large formats offered ($125 for 4-6 people) and consists of two whole chickens, fried two different ways, one the classic Southern style, the other Korean style. The meal encourages experimentation as the chickens are served alongside ginger scallion pancakes and lettuce leaves to use as wraps, as well as a number of different sauces, a savory powder, and a bowl full of herbs and greens. I was initially concerned that, being six hungry and food-loving people, we would not have enough food for all of us, so as a preventative measure we began our meal with two orders of another Momofuku favourite, their Steamed Pork Buns. The buns were such a delicious way to start our indulgent meal with the flavourful and tender pork joined by hoisin, scallion, and cucumber and wrapped in the traditional steamed bao. Throw some of Momofuku's hot sauce on that baby and we're in business! I'm pretty sure I could eat one of those buns every day! 
Momofuku - After devouring our oh-so-delicious steamed pork buns we realize that we have been seated at the only table covered in brown craft paper...There's no question, it's about to get very messy! In next to no time our chickens have arrived. As the massive plate of piping hot fried chicken was brought to our table, we immediately knew there was no way we were leaving hungry. It was enough chicken for even more than our hungry six! Without delay, I tucked right into the most unique of the two fried chickens their Korean style chicken. The triple fried chicken is ridiculously good, with the sticky and spicy glaze adding a world of flavour to the dish. Beneath the crispy skin lies the most tender and juicy chicken I could imagine! Next I had to dig into the Southern style chicken, who's crunchy batter was calling my name. Before even biting into the traditional fried chicken, you can just see how thick and crisp the skin is, and that first bite and crunch into it says it all, it's perfect. I didn't know fried chicken like this existed! That crunch, that tenderness and juiciness inside, and the buttermilk and old bay batter make this chicken outrageously good! On it's own, wrapped in a pancake or lettuce wrap, and drizzled with the many different toppings, the chicken takes on a whole new flavour as you play around with what is provided.

Momofuku Milk Bar - It's impossible to go to Momofuku on your birthday and not pay a visit to their newly-opened Milk Bar, filled with inventive treats that will satisfy any sweet-tooth. Feeling just so incredibly indulgent and bad, my boyfriend, my sister, her boyfriend, and I pretty much raided the little self-serve shop, picking close to one of every item on the market! I had tried almost all of their cookies in the past and was totally and completely wowed by them, so of course we had to pick up more of those, but we also had to include their famous Crack Pie and B'day Truffles. You would think after a giant meal of fried chicken and pork buns that I would save my Milk Bar treats for another day...not so! Not more than a half hour after arriving back to my boyfriend Chris' condo, we were digging into our sinful bag of treats! After having a taste of them all, I can confidently say that my favourite Milk Bar treat is actually a new edition to the shop. Added only a couple of weeks ago as an exclusive addition to the Toronto shop (as a thank you for our support!) Momofuku's Maple-Coconut-Pecan Cookie is out of this world incredible! The super soft cookie hits all the right notes with its sweet and nutty flavours and...wait for it, because this is really the vegan and wheat free! The truth is that every item sold at Milk Bar is a favourite to someone, with the Crack Pie becoming a cult classic, my boyfriend losing his mind over the incredibly sweet B'day Truffles, and their Compost Cookie drawing a very close second as my favourite. Lookout Milk Bar, I will be coming for you again soon!

Hudson Kitchen & Campagnolo - This post would not be complete without taking a moment to say thank you to Campagnolo for consistently delivering a fantastic dining experience each and every time I visit you! My boyfriend Chris took me to Campagnolo for a romantic birthday dinner on Saturday night that left as both smiling ear to ear. The food, service, and atmosphere was all exceptional! I will be having sweet dreams of your pillowy burrata cheese dish for weeks!

Before our Campagnolo reservation, Chris and I had some time to kill and came across the very newly opened (it was only their fourth night open to the public!) Hudson Kitchen for a couple of cocktails. The cute, bright, and cozy space was surprisingly very welcoming for a newly opened, buzzed about (did you hear Brad and Jen ate here, at separate occasions, during TIFF?), and seemingly hipster restaurant, with their super friendly staff giving us their full attention as soon as we entered. We grabbed a seat at their bar and immediately began chatting up the charming bartender. There's no doubt about it, Hudson Kitchen knows what they're doing when it comes to cocktails. After asking me what flavours I like and what kind of mood I was in, the bartender/mixologist expertly whipped up the Corpse Reviver #2 to help kill the previous nights hangover and get me right back in that tipsy headspace I was in the previous night. Although we had only a few minutes before our reservation across the street, we couldn't resist trying Hudson Kitchens simplistic take on a margarita. Without the distraction of a salt rim or even ice in the glass, this margarita was simple, boozy, very well balanced, and likely one of the best margaritas I have had and may ever have! I definitely have to go back soon to try more of their delightful cocktails and sample their confidently small menu! 

This Week At Chef School - I'm so bummed that I absentmindedly forgot to take a photo of my final presentation in class this week, especially considering that it was the first week that we were actually displaying our final dishes on nice china as opposed to the steel trays we were given for previous weeks. This week our menu to prepare was the following: 
  • Par-Boiled Green Beans
  • Par-Boiled Green Asparagus
  • Sautéed Spinach
  • Glazed Carrots
  • Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Vegetable Stew Ratatouille Style
After looking over our recipes for the week as well as my extensive notes, I felt well prepared to step into the kitchen and take on our many tasks of the day. I walked in calm, cool, and collected, took a deep breath and began my work. I started off feeling so great, knowing exactly what I had to do and attacking it with a laid back confidence that I wish I always possessed. It wasn't until I started working on my roasted vegetables that everything seemed to go wrong. Before our vegetables went into the oven to roast, we were to quickly cook them over the stove to begin the light caramelization and take the chill out of the vegetables. My teacher and my notes had said that we should cook our vegetables at this stage at high heat, something that went against all my instincts. Despite what my gut was telling me, I cranked the heat and watched as I quickly scorched my root vegetables, going way past the slight caramelization and straight to 'burnt around the edges'. As soon as I felt that my vegetables were no good, I lost that calm, cool, and collected attitude that I was so pleased to have coveted. That anxious feeling that I had felt in previous weeks began to creep back into me, and I continued to make little mistakes at almost every step (or at least that's what it felt like to me). By the end of the class, once I had handed in my work, I felt I had let myself down for not handing in a product that I felt confident in.  Despite an OK mark, I wished that I could have a do-over and have another opportunity to wow my teacher. This brings me to what I learned in class this week: I learned that I know a lot more than I think I do, and before all else, I need to remember to trust my instincts, because you know what? They ain't half bad!

On My Mind:
As one of my birthday gifts I received the Jamie Oliver cookbook "Cook With Jamie". This cookbook, which is filled with lots of basic recipes, tips, tricks, and advice, is the best cookbook I have ever read! Definitely pick this one up and prepare to be wowed! 

Loving the new Tokyo-inspired October lookbook from Free People.

Check out this incredibly curious does this happen to a carrot?

I giggled my face off to this: Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos.

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Listening To:
The National - Don't Swallow The Cap