2:23 pm - Tue, Jul 29, 2014

Cory Vitiello The Harbord Room Chilled Tomato Soup

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Chilled Tomato Soup, The Harbord Room at Taste of Toronto

The title “Chillled Tomato Soup” fails to convey the complex sophistication of this dish.

It was everything I was hoping to find at The Taste of Toronto Food Festival.  

I love chilled tomato soup, and was thrilled at the treatment one of Toronto’s finest chefs, Cory Vitiello, The Harbord Room, gives it.

The soup is described as: “crushed heirloom tomato chilled soup, wild watercress, buffalo mozzarella, charred sourdough crumbs, tomato and white balsamic sorbet.”

imageChef Cory Vitiello and Chef Anthony Rose

This soup has a beautiful flavor base extracted from fresh seasonal local tomatoes.  All the complex additions to it play with our senses of taste, texture and temperature, turning this soup into an extraordinary dish.  

Fortunately I was able to attend Chef Cory’s cooking demonstration at The Taste of Toronto (which he gave with Chef Anthony Rose of Rose & Sons.)   He talked a bit about the Chilled Tomato Soup.

Chef Cory explained that he has been making this soup for years.  But he only makes it for one month of the year when tomatoes are at their ripest. 

He bases the recipe on Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse recipe for chilled tomato soup and then adds in all the extra goodies.  

The Taste of Toronto is over now, so what you can do is go to The Harbord Room to try Chef Cory’s other local and seasonal dishes. 

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8:21 pm - Fri, Jul 25, 2014
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Taste of Toronto

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Today I went to the Taste of Toronto, an international food festival that originated in London, and it is having its first North American appearance here.

I was in foodie heaven.

The top restaurants of Toronto are invited to participate, guest chefs give demonstrations, there are Master cooking classes, and booths to try many different foods and beverages.

Set in historic Fort York, one of the last remaining vestiges of the original Toronto, it echoed the classic setting of Regents Park where the Taste of takes place in London.

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Fort York Soldier walking to his Post

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Richmond Station Sundae

With a blog having Ice Cream in the title I can assure you that this was one of the most pleasing sundaes I have eaten.

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Fever -Tree

You can get a gin and tonic (G&T as they say) from the Fever-Tree booth. Since the Taste of originated in London what is more British than having a gin and tonic from the Fever-Tree booth?Fever-tree is an upscale British made tonic water than contains quinine in it, like the original tonic water did.  Tonic water was invented in India, during the Raj, to fight malaria. 

You have two more days to go to the Taste if you can. See what food discoveries you can make.

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5:48 pm - Tue, Jul 22, 2014
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Taste of Toronto

On Thursday evening July 24, Taste of Toronto opens in Toronto. This is the first time the prestigious weekend event is being held in North America.

The Taste of Festivals started in London and now occur in many cities internationally.

It is a showcase for the cities’ top restaurants, and an opportunity for the public to see demonstrations and participate in cooking lessons from the top chefs.

The headline chef for Taste of Toronto, is David Chang of Momofuko fame.  No stranger to Toronto, David Chang opened Momofuko in 2012, then the Milk Bar in the elegant ShangriLa Hotel in Toronto.

On Thursday night David Chang along with Peter Meehan of Lucky Peach magazine will give a cooking demonstration.

Other chefs giving demonstrations will be Shereen Arazm of long time beloved Toronto chain, Terroni, Top Chef winner Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station, and Top Chef Judge Mark McEwan of the McEwan Group.  And many more.

Plus there are hands on master classes with chefs ranging from the hip and trendy Anthony Rose from Rose & Sons, to Chef Victor Barry of the sophisticated long time star of the Toronto restaurant food scene, Splendido Restaurant.

Then there are the delicious foods to be served by Toronto’s best restaurants.  Here is your chance to get a sample of the best they have to offer, all in one location. And there are wines, beer and drinks to be had.

The Taste of London is held at Regents Park, in Toronto it is being held at historic Fort York.

This a great opportunity to support and explore the growing Toronto food culture. Nothing beats the opportunity to see these chefs live, to learn from them.

So get your appetite ready and carefully plan your visit to The Taste of Toronto.

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4:15 pm - Fri, Jul 18, 2014

Ice Wine Martini

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Ice Wine Martini

My daughter recently went on a tour of Niagara wineries coming back with an excellent bottle of ice wine. Ice wine is a great accompaniment to any fine meal, as I wrote in a previous post.

The ice wine we used comes from Reif Estate Winery, one of the Niagara regions oldest wineries. Founded in 1977, Reif Estate started making ice wine in 1984. Their award winning ice wine is top notch.

On Reif Estate’s website they have a recipe for an Ice Wine Martini which we tried out.

The Reif recipe calls for frozen grapes, but we went further and soaked some grapes in a bit of ice wine for about an hour, removed them from the wine (reserving the wine) and then froze them.

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Grapes Soaking in Ice Wine

After freezing them for an hour we were ready to make the martinis.

Following the recipe we mixed the vodka and ice wine and garnished the glasses with the frozen grapes.

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Ice Wine Martini

Surprisingly we both were not too impressed with the martini. The vodka overpowers the ice wine.

The frozen ice wine soaked grapes on the other hand were fantastic.

Ice wine is best savored on its own, without being turned into a cocktail.  If  you want to add something to it, make those fantastic ice wine soaked frozen grapes as a garnish.  Combine them with a top quality ice wine such as Reif Estate Vidal; and you will be in ice wine heaven.

 

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12:32 pm - Wed, Jul 16, 2014
6 notes

lookitcookit:

This is Jewish food?

In the City of London you’ll find, tucked away behind a courtyard, the oldest synagogue in the UK, founded in 1701. Overlooking it is a modern restaurant, taking their name from this date. ‘1701’ is serving Jewish food with style. They still recognise the popularity of old favourites like chopped liver, but here it’s served on triangles of gingerbread with a mango salsa. (3rd picture).

At their summer party they offered some of the tempting dishes from their 8-course tasting menu which they call A Journey around the Jewish World. There was beetroot borscht, served in a glass and topped with horseradish foam - many miles away from the traditional soup, which had a large boiled potato sitting in the centre of the bowl. Then there were perspex spoons containing a cube of calves’ foot jelly; an intense beef flavoured bite that would also surprise anyone who remembered the original version called P’tcha or Fisnoge.

A sweet offering came in the form of a Persian dessert Sholeh Zard, a dairy-free rice pudding. The 1701 version is made with coconut milk and saffron - refreshing and fragrant. In the restaurant you would also be offered Sachertorte with a twist: adorned with chocolate crystals and salted caramel gel.

If you’re looking for innovative Jewish cuisine, head to 1701. Have a look inside the synagogue with it’s impressive chandeliers before you sit down. Click here to find out more: http://www.restaurant1701.co.uk/menu/lunch-and-dinner/hors-doeuvres/

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3:32 pm - Fri, Jul 11, 2014
3 notes

Lavender

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Lavender

Lavender has been used for thousands of years for its herbal qualities.  The name itself comes from the Latin lavare, which means to wash.  It has been used since Roman times in their famous baths.  It’s scent is calming, some people sleep on pillows filled with lavender to help them fall asleep.  It can be used as a tea for calming, and also aid indigestion.  

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Lavender in a Vintage Bud Vase

Chefs are using lavender in non-traditional ways in cooking.  Lavender shortbread cookies are now very popular.  You can make your own lavender salt or sugar by adding cleaned and dried food grade lavender flowers to the sugar or salt.  The lavender sugar can be used to make shortbreads.

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Lavender Sugar

This is the time to visit a lavender farm near you.  If you are Niagara-on-the-Lake this weekend you can visit the Lavender Festival.  You can grow your own, or buy some dried lavender and make it part of your life. Put a few drops of lavender essential oils in your bath.  Or get some lavender soap. You will be so calm and smell so good.

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4:51 pm - Sun, Jul 6, 2014

Summer Salads - Farmer’s Market Style

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This beautiful salad with pea shoots and edible flowers looks like something from an expensive restaurant.  It isn’t, I made it myself.  But I used high end products from The Brick Works Farmer’s Market in Toronto;  a bag of baby salad greens with flowers, with pea shoots from Kind Organics, and the raw peas were from Sosnicki Organics. I dressed it with a vinaigrette. 

This ingredients for these next salads come from a country Farmer’s Market, Reesors Farm Market in Markham near Stoufville.

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It contains zucchini, carrots, green peas and red onions, which are easy to find ingredients. To make it look special, I sliced the zucchini and carrots lengthwise using a vegetable peeler. I put some Boursin cheese on top and made a Balsamic Vinaigrette. It makes a beautiful starter or main course.

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The other version just omits the carrots. The ingredients can easily be changed to whatever you like.

A humble salad turns special by making it pretty. Whether you use high end unusual ingredients or not, now is the time to make your salads when the produce is at its peak of taste and freshness.  Find your inspiration at a local farmer’s market nearest you.

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2:29 pm - Tue, Jul 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day

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Strawberry Drink, Wild Rice With Blueberries

Happy 147th Birthday Canada!  

I’m celebrating this year with Aboriginal inspired food.

June 21 was National Aboriginal Day in Canada and there was a special celebration held at my favorite farmer’s market, The Brick Works Farmer’s Market.

Chef Johl Ringuette of NishDish Marketeria & Catering was there with Native foods he prepared for this event. He explained that Aborigines recognize the healing power of food.  Each part of the dish has a healing element to it.

Chef Ringuette was serving elk meat on buns, strawberries mixed with spring water and mint, and wild rice cooked with blueberries and maple syrup. His presentation was so beautiful, I’m sorry I didn’t take any photos.

He inspired me to try some of the dishes and for Canada Day I made the wild rice with blueberries and maple syrup, pureed some strawberries with water, strained them into a glass.  I didn’t have any mint.

I cooked the rice in water, with blueberries and one tablespoon of maple syrup for a hint of sweetness.

The strawberry drink is very refreshing.  The wild rice has an earthy flavor and would go well with duck or lamb.  You could add walnuts, dried cranberries, and sweeten it up with maple syrup and you would have a truly Canadian healthy rice pudding.

Have a Happy Canada Day and let’s get going and learn more about our Native cuisine.

 

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1:07 pm - Mon, Jun 30, 2014

Pectin Free Strawberry Jam

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Pectin Free Jam

With fresh local strawberries available this is the time to preserve the goodness of the strawberries and make jam.  Nothing beats the taste of homemade jam.  As a self-taught jam maker I have always used a simple recipe using pectin with great success.

Pectin occurs naturally in some plants and causes jelling or thickening when cooked.  Strawberries contain some pectin. Commercial pectin is derived from plants, although the liquid pectin does have preservatives added.

Pectin makes your jam thick, and allows you to cook it quicker, but it does need extra sugar added.

I read many debates about whether jams are better with or without pectin and both sides have lots of supporters.

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Strawberries Covered With Sugar

When making pectin free jam you cover the strawberries with sugar and let them sit. This process draws out the liquid from the strawberries and helps intensify the flavor.

One of the people strongly in favor of natural jams without pectin is Joanna Sable who wrote an article about making pectin free jam.  Joanna is a Cordon Bleu trained chef, her mother owns Toronto’s Sable and Rosenfeld, makers of artisanal condiments decades before it was trendy.  Joanna has her own food company The Bumpercrop which makes small batch modern flavored preserves using produce from local farmers.  If anybody should know about making great jam, she should.

This year I decided to try making her recipe.

I made a batch of the jam and found the flavor to be amazing. Joanna emphasized that this jam isn’t thick like commercial ones, but is runny. 

I’m not sure if I cooked the strawberries long enough, the jam is quite runny.  The flavor is unsurpassed, with a fresh sweet strawberry essence.

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Strawberry Jam on Vanilla Ice Cream

This versatile jam can be used for other things besides spreading on toast.  You can use it on vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

I used it to make some thumbprint cookies. 

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Thumbprint Cookies

The strawberry jam would also be a great topping on pancakes and I’m sure there is a way to make a martini with it.

The strawberries are wonderful this year, it’s time to get jamming and try some pectin free strawberry jam.

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3:30 pm - Wed, Jun 25, 2014
3 notes

Granola Recipe

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Once considered to be a “health food” commercial granola was found to be high in fat and sugars and not so healthy.

You can easily make your own and control what goes in it.  It is fresher and tastes really good. 

3 cups old fashioned oatmeal

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup slivered almonds

2 tablespoons raw hemp seeds (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons oil

2 - 3 tablespoons maple syrup

dried cranberries, raisins, dried blueberries, toasted coconut flakes

Mix all the ingredients up to the dried cranberries together in a bowl making sure the oats are coated with the oil and maple syrup.  

Spread the mixture on a lined baking pan. Bake at 300 degrees for about 40 minutes until toasted and lightly brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool in a bowl and add in the dried ingredients.  The dried ingredients let you have a chance to make it your own personalized recipe, you can add in whatever you like.

Store in an airtight container.  

Serve with the milk of your choice.  Makes a great yogurt topping.

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