Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Decadent rapini

I went grocery shopping yesterday, but I'm going back to the cottage for a few more days, so I just went in for Kleenex, tea, Diet Coke, and of course, rapini
I got everything on my list, and also left the store with one additional item: A lovely cooked lobster. And there's a reason for that. It was just $7! 
That's because lobster prices are currently at an historic 25-year low
But this being rapini week and all, I had to figure out a way to make the lobster (which was sweet and salty and perfectly cooked, by the by) work with my emerald greens. 
Now, I don't mean to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I've created another winner. 
(Toot toot!) 
(serves 4-6)
a few dried morel or porcini mushrooms (I got my fat morels at a farmer's market in BC's Cowichan Valley and they're awesome)
about 1/2 cup hot water
3/4 of a bunch rapini, blanched (see how-to on earlier posting at The National Nosh), cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp butter
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 large cooking onion, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 cups vegetable, chicken or shellfish stock, kept hot on the stove or in a large measuring cup you can microwave
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1 lb cooked lobster, shelled, meat roughly chopped (tip: when cracking open lobster, let the juice fall into your stock)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1. Re-hydrate mushrooms by placing them in a ramekin or small dish, and cover with hot tap water until soft; about 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze out liquid, then chop mushrooms and set aside.
2. If your rapini isn't already blanched, do that now.
3. Heat butter in a large pot until melted and foamy. Add in garlic and onion and stir until onion becomes translucent; about 5 minutes in. Stir in rice, coat with butter, then add the first cup of hot stock. Keep stirring over moderate heat until stock is absorbed, and add another cup. Continue stirring and adding stock until stock is finished and risotto is almost cooked (about 16-18 minutes from your start time.) With 2 minutes to go, stir in rapini, wine, Parmesan, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Give it a good old stir, taste it, adjust seasoning, remove from heat, add the chopped lobster and stir. 
Serve hot, and take a bow.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blanching rapini

If you don't think your gang is up to eating a whole bunch of rapini at one sitting, just blanch the lot (the rapini, not your family) and it'll be ready for you when you want more without the hassle of prepping it again.
Simply put a large pot of water on to boil, cut off the rough ends of the rapini, rinse it clean, then add the jolly greens to the boiling water, along with a couple of teaspoons of salt, for 2-3 minutes. 
When time's up, dump into a colander and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain, squeeze out extra water, towel dry, then store in the refrigerator until ready to use in a recipe. (If you plan on eating it plain, blanch for 4-5 minutes.) 
One of the most common preparations of rapini is doing it up Italian-style: To a large skillet add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, heat it up and add a couple of thinly sliced garlic cloves to the oil. Let them crisp up (but not burn). Throw in a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes, then a blanched bunch of rapini cut into bite sized pieces. Add salt and pepper, toss it around for a minute. Done.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It's rapini week!

In honour of those of us who have plans to eat a little healthier in 2009, this recipe officially launches RAPINI WEEK at the National Nosh.
Rapini (aka Broccoli Rabe) is one of my favourite wintertime vegetables.
Packed with vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium to boot; though its inherent bitterness may be off-putting to some (its kissing cousins to the cabbage and turnip), this leafy green is versatile enough to play well with others.
Here's a tasty pasta recipe to ease you in.
(serves 2)
1/2 lb (about 2 cups) dried penne
2 links hot Italian turkey sausage
1/2 bunch rapini; tough stems discarded, rapini washed, dried and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp pesto (tip: I keep a small Tupperware of the stuff in the freezer and scoop as needed)
1/4 cup dry white wine (or a splash of Vermouth if you don't want to open a bottle)
pinch of sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp course salt
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
fresh cracked pepper
1. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. While pasta is cooking, squeeze sausage from casings into a large heavy skillet and saute over moderate heat, stirring to break up the chunks, until no longer pink and slightly caramelized (about 5 minutes.) Add rapini, saute with sausage for a few minutes more, then add frozen peas, pesto, wine and pinch of sugar. Cook for a couple minutes more.
2. In a small frying pan heat the olive oil. Add garlic through a garlic press, or rasped, or finely minced. Add salt and breadcrumbs. Cook together with garlic oil until toasty brown.
3. Drain pasta and return it to the pot. Add rapini and sausage mixture, heat through and dish it out. Sprinkle each serving with a generous amount of the toasted breadcrumbs and a few grinds of black pepper.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My daily snack

Like my young nieces and nephew, I enjoy any snack that's mini, crunchy, and cheddar-based, or, as is the case with my beloved Ritz Bits, cheddar-esque based.  
Eat them Oreo-style: Pry them apart, scrape off the cheese centre with your front teeth -- and don't let the shortening-like feel of the filling put you off.
 It's like that for a reason.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The five-minute cinnamon bun

I'm a genius. Well, maybe not a genius, but I'm officially not just a pretty face anymore. 
Because last weekend I figured out how to make homemade fresh-baked cinnamon buns in about five minutes flat (plus baking time.)
Here's how it happened: I had bought some fresh pizza dough from the supermarket and it was sitting all puffed and proud on the counter, ready to be used. 
But I had gone to dinner at Pizzeria Libretto on Saturday night, and while the evening was a delight, I wanted something different for Sunday's final feed. 
As the wind howled outside, the snow gathering ever more, and my stomach growling for breakfast, I suddenly thought back to summertime: To a whitewater canoe trip I took down Manitoba's Bloodvein River. It was a memorable week to be sure, but what I was thinking about as I stared down at my ball of pizza dough, were the cinnamon buns I had made along the river on a Manitoba morning that was very different from this one.
From what I remembered of my wilderness dough recipe, it was a kind of pizza dough; pizza dough and bread dough often being one in the same. 
So, why no make dinner's pizza into breakfast's cinnamon buns instead?
I set to work, first preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then I rolled out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it was a long rectangle. I spread the dough with a thickish layer of softened butter, lots of brown sugar, chopped pecans and cinnamon -- making sure to leave a half-inch of clean space on the dough's perimeter. Then I rolled it into a log and sealed the edges. 
I set the log into a buttered baking pan, spread it with more butter and sprinkled on more brown sugar. Finally, I sliced the log into two-inch rounds, turning them upright and fitting them snugly into the greased baking pan.
And I guess it was about a half-hour later that I labelled myself a genius.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sure it's about the Miracle of Lights...

But for most people, Chanukah, which is currently well underway, is also about latkes; sinfully fried potato pancakes that celebrate a miracle that happened oh so many centuries ago.
I grew up in a multicultural area of Toronto where my brothers and I were one of few Jewish families enrolled in our primary school. I think it was soon after hearing my stirring solo of "Jesus Christ our Saviour" in the kindergarten Christmas pageant that my mother took it upon herself to peel 50 pounds of potatoes and onions and lug her oversized electric frying pan to Lillian Public School. 
Each Chanukah thereafter (until my brothers and I had all graduated) she went from class to class, cooking up fresh, hot latkes whilst retelling the tale of the Miracle of Lights. 
A few years ago I went on a latke-tasting mission through Toronto in search of the very best example of these prized potato pucks. I searched high (Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar) and low (Yitz's Deli) and in the end I settled upon the most perfect latkes I had ever tasted (sorry, mom.)
The latkes at the Free Times Cafe, a College Street institution serving Middle Eastern, traditional Jewish and Canadian food (along with live Klezmer music during Sunday Brunch), are like the Victor/Victoria of the latke world, both handsome and lacy -- like palm-sized amber jewels flecked with darker caramelized bits. They've achieved the near impossible union of shattering crust and delicate interior. 
Which, I guess, makes them yet another Chanukah miracle. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ginger-lime poppyseed drop cookies

I really don't bake that often. In fact, almost never.
But there's something about December that has me routinely showing up at dinner parties with warm, buttery cookies in hand. It's something about the season (or perhaps my overwhelming desire to celebrate Christmas?)
Mostly, it just strikes me as the right thing to do.
And while I'm not normally a citrus-minded cookie kind of gal either, I was sent these Gourmet Garden refrigerated tubes of everything from fresh garlic to basil, cilantro to chili (I think, all told, there are 10 varieties) along with recipes suggesting how one might use them.
A lemongrass ginger cookie caught my eye, especially since I had to make cookies for a Chanukah party that was being attended by a relative with a nut allergy. 
I've got to admit that I found these herbaceous tubes a bit suspect at first. But then I tried them. And you know what? They're the next best thing to being there. Besides, why rasp when you can squirt?
I tinkered with their cookie recipe because I have an annoying habit of tinkering with other people's recipes. I doubled the fresh ginger, and added some ground ginger too. I ditched the lemongrass but added lime zest, plus vanilla and a big scoop of poppyseeds. 
My cookies turned out to be what I think are a good compromise of everyday exotic coupled with a soupcon of Jewish. 
In other words, Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas!
(Makes about 2 dozen cookies)
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
4 tsp Gourmet Garden Ginger (or fresh rasped ginger)
1 tsp ground (dry) ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp fresh lime zest (about the zest from 1 small lime)
1/4 cup poppyseeds
1- 1/3 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
confectioner's (icing) sugar for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in egg, gingers, vanilla, zest and poppyseeds until well combined.
Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until a dough forms.
Scoop cookie dough by the teaspoon and drop onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly golden.
Cool and dust with confectioner's sugar.

Friday, December 19, 2008

My daily snack

The newly launched "chocolat" shop and cafe called Moroco in Yorkville is like a brooding dark bonbon modelled after the great chocolate cafes of Paris -- with a cherry on top. 
The gleaming display cases boast house-made truffles, pastel-coloured macaroons, jellies and meringues, while the drinking chocolate will blow your head off (in a good way.)
But my favourite treat of all was the Valrhona-covered toffee crunch with bits of toasted almonds. And at just $11 a bag, can you say "chic but cheap hostess gift?" 
I'll bet you can.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Office holiday parties

There are all sorts of office holiday parties. Some are big and splashy and end in lawsuits, while others amount to a deli tray from the Pickle Barrel and some Vernor's ginger ale. 
And then there's the "office party" for the Gold Medal Plates that I attended last night in the Penthouse Suite of the SOHO Metropolitan hotel (la dee da). 
James Chatto, the Toronto writer who helms the foodie side of this Olympic fundraising event, had kindly invited me, with promises of Olympic athletes, Jim Cuddy, a Champagne tasting with David Lawrason and food by Patrick Lin, the chef at Senses in the SOHO and this year's Toronto winner of the Gold Medal Plates. He will go on to compete at the Grand Finale in Banff in February, against the five other chef finalists from Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver. I've long thought that Chef Lin serves up some of the best and fantastically underrated food in the city. And this small gathering of 30 or so, proved it. 
One-bite wonders included charred Wagyu beef, rare salmon hit with truffle butter, cubes of foie with candied nuts, juicy scallops and micro mocha creme brulees. The wine was flowing, the mood was generous, and Olympian Adam van Koeverden regaled the crowd with one of the filthiest jokes I've ever heard (a bottle of Barolo was up for grabs.)
Meanwhile, my office party is tonight. But as a freelance writer who works from her home office, that would mean just me. So each year I invite my friend Tamara, who gamely plays along, and tonight our friend Joanna is also joining in on the annual 'do (our numbers are waaay up!) Each December we choose a new restaurant to try (this year it's Loire) and then we go out and celebrate the year that was. 
I hope I don't embarrass myself in front of the boss again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This just in: Jews love bagels

It's not just a stereotype, it's true. Or maybe it's true because it's a stereotype (I can never remember how that works.) Either way, through recessions, depressions, and even through Atkins (but not Passover), the Jewish people have persevered by eating bagels with a shmear almost everyday -- and twice on Sundays. 
Sure, there are debates; arguments even, over which city can lay claim to the best bagels around. While New Yorkers swear by their sturdy spheres, Torontonians say the fluffier the better. Meanwhile, don't go counting out Vancouver so soon.
As for my personal preference, I enjoy the dense sweetness of a sesame seed Montreal bagel.
When I was a student at McGill and local Jewish boys would take me out on dates, if the evening was going well it was a sure sign that the Montreal Jew would be taking me for a hot bag of midnight bagels from St. Viateur. 
I came to think of it as a Semitic parting gift. 
The world's love affair with the humble bagel continues, with new books, new flavours, and I'd like to think a new appreciation for one of the greatest baked goods of all time (eat your heart out, matzoh.) 
Here's a helpful roundup of the bagels I have eaten across Canada. Feel free to weigh in if I've missed any of your favourites. I'm sure I have. And I'm sure you will. 
Especially if you're Jewish.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to make eggnog

This how-to video on making that most sinister of holiday drinks has a soundtrack so soothing it will likely put you to sleep. Long before you've had the chance to drink your nog. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

The perfect baked potato

This recipe is for my perfect baked potato. 
Or jacket potato, for all of our UK friends out there. 
Or baked potatoe, if you're Dan Quayle (ah, simpler times).
I'm calling this recipe my perfect baked potato because it's baked to a crackling finish on the outside while becoming fluffy and soft within. 
Then, not one to leave well enough alone, I go and get all Wendy's on its ass, anointing it with a whisper of butter, a sprinkling of salt, some steamed broccoli spears and a sharp cheddar sauce that I make by starting with a basic bechamel base. This is straight-up feel-good food.
Chocolate Frostie not included. 
(serves 2)
2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed, poked several times with fork tines, rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt
1 cup cooked broccoli florets (time-saver = buy frozen, defrost, steam, drain)
Cheese sauce:
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup hot milk
1 tsp Coleman's prepared mustard
dash Worcestershire
couple of shakes cayenne pepper
1/2 cup grated sharp (old) white cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
couple of pats of butter (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put prepped taters in oven, right on the rack, and bake for 50-60 minutes or until done.
2. To make the zippy cheese sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in flour and cook together on medium heat until they bubble but don't brown. Stir in hot milk (microwave it in a mug for a minute), mustard, Worcestershire, cayenne, and let it boil for a couple of minutes, until sauce thickens. Keep stirring. Add grated cheese, salt and pepper, and cook for a minute more, until you have a smooth, glossy sauce. Taste for seasoning.
3. Make sure broccoli is hot. Take potatoes out of oven, lop off the top, lengthways, (hey, so that's how they make potato skins), eat that bit as a snack, break up the insides of the potato with a knife or fork, add some salt, a bit of butter, then pour on the sauce and top with broccoli and a bit more salt.
And now it's time to eat your veggies.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A note from Sinclair

In the fall, I visited Sooke, B.C., a glorious place for woodsy walks and oceanside adventure. I was with my friend Natasha and we were staying at the seaside luxury resort called Sooke Harbour House, which has got to be one of my favourite places on earth. Not only did co-owner and host extraordinaire, Sinclair Philip, treat us like queens by making sure we were well fed and lubricated -- he dined with us nightly -- but he also went hiking with us and hooked us up with local mushrooming legend, Michel Jansen Reyno. Michel, a dashing figure in silver hair, purple neckerchief and woolen pants,  also wore a talisman for safety when he hunted mushrooms in the steep, mossy woods. 
On his signal, somewhere between Sooke and Port Renfrew, we got out of the car, darted across the highway and dive-rolled into the forest. (We weren't trying to be dramatic; our mushrooming spot was top secret.) It was a great outing, and we emerged with a pail's worth of chanterelles, and even more mushrooming knowledge. 
I recall this outing because I received an email from Sinclair Philip this week. The subject heading said: Russula fragrantissima, and I almost deleted it because I thought it was one of those Russian spams selling porn. 
But it was, in fact, from Sinclair. He had sent out a little group email to tell all about the impressive large mushroom he had just found at Blueberry Flats. Sinclair knows as much about mushrooms as I know the days of the week (read: almost all of them). 
He goes on to say that "the button looked a lot like a new potato. The distinct smell, first of almond extract and shortly after the strong fragrance of maraschino cherries is amazing! The Russula fragrantissima, or Fragrant Russula, doesn't look like the other Russulas I have seen around here. It's too bad it's poisonous." 
Here's a photo of one of the mushrooms we bagged in Sooke, where it was chanterelles as far as the eye could see.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A quick lunch, part II

If you're a Bay Street business type who wants to close the big deal over a swish meal but are also trying to beat the recession blues, here's the first of what I'm certain will be many creative marketing tactics to get those expense account dollars in the front door.
Red's new lunch express menu, which began this week, promises lunchers will be well fed and on their way back to work in 30 minutes (there's no mention of what happens if they're not.)
The caveat? They have to be in the restaurant with orders placed before noon (the resto opens at 11:30 a.m.) and everyone at the table must participate.
At just $25 a head, you get a choice of two appetizers or sides, an entree and cappuccino or espresso with house-made biscotti to finish; nice touch. 
Menu items run from a classic French onion soup to Reds prime burger, hand cut fries with aioli and Shetland Farm's Scottish Atlantic salmon. 
I love chef Michael Steh's food, so this is a bargain at half the price. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A quick lunch

I didn't have much food in the house, which was a shame because it was lunchtime, I was hungry, and I didn't feel like heading out and battling the cold
Instead, I surveyed the fridge: A few crimini mushrooms, a couple of Omega-3 eggs, the heel of the challah and the dregs of the butter. 
Looked like lunch to me. 
So, I sauteed the mushrooms in butter, seasoning them well, cut a hole out of the slice of bread and buttered it -- including the circle from the hole, my favourite part. I added the bread to the hot pan, cracked the egg into the hole, cooked till done and topped with the 'shrooms.
A sprinkling of Maldon salt and Herbs de Provence -- and mustn't forget the hot sauce; that's key. 
It was like making lunch out of nothing at all.

Sedaris and Caramel Corn

I have sore cheeks today. I woke up with sore cheeks because I was smiling so hard and laughing so much last night.
Because I went to the David Sedaris reading at Massey Hall. 
If you've never read him before, you should. He writes short stories, mostly about his fun but dysfunctional family, and his longtime boyfriend Hugh. Start by reading the "SantaLand Diaries", move on to "Naked" and "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and a few others, before making your way to his most recent release, "When You Are Engulfed in Flames". (It starts out slow but quickly picks up steam.)
Now, this is a food blog so I would be remiss if I didn't mention the delightful snack we were eating while enjoying David Sedaris. 
Earlier that day I had a great lunch at Four restaurant -- my recent successful lunching streak continues unabated. Petit Four is at Bay and Wellington, in the food court of the Commerce Court South, Concourse Level. It shares the space with the subterranean restaurant Four. 
Four is incredibly unique in that chef Gord Mackie's menu is a commitment to healthy but classy eats in the Financial District. All of the dishes are packed with colour, flavour and nutrients and are less than 650 calories -- with many far below that. Petit Four, meanwhile, is all about satisfying take-out -- sandwiches, soups and the like, including on-site baked goodies and sweets.
Knowing how my friend Joanna loves her caramel corn, I grabbed her a bag of their homespun, nutty, crunchy, sticky caramel-coated popcorn as a wee thank-you for the awesome Sedaris ticket. And it was good.
But not as good as David Sedaris

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How often does that happen?

The clock radio was telling me it was time to get up, but my body was saying, "give it a minute." So I grab the book on my nightstand and decide to do a bit of morning reading (luxurious, no?) I had finally gotten around to picking up The United States of Arugula by David Kemp, and even though I was only a chapter in, I was already enjoying it very much. The research involved is mind-blowing. 
Twenty minutes later I get out of bed, put on the kettle and shuffle into my home office to check my email. Something was screwy with my server yesterday so it was an email pile-on this morning. 
But one stood out.
It was from David Kemp, the author of the book I had just dog-eared. I pinched myself to make sure I was really awake. (I was.)
He wanted advice on where he should send his friends to eat in Toronto. So I gave him my advice. 
Now I'm going to go check my horoscope.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My daily snack

Over the past two weeks I've been to a luncheon, cocktail, dinner or house party almost every day; sometimes twice a day, which is weird because I'm usually not very popular
It's nice to see everyone getting into the holiday spirit, but I do have a couple of complaints, the first being that I'm not getting any work done. The second is that I've eaten my weight in double cream soft cheeses, chocolate, and mini springrolls. And the calendar tells me that this is only the beginning. 
In other words, I need an apple.
A McIntosh, to be more specific. Small, pert, sweet, a little tart and as juicy as all get-out, they're at their peak right now.
Why not give old Mac another try?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Toblerone Chunk Shortbread Cookies

You know how some people are known for a certain recipe? Well, I'm known for these. They're from my first cookbook, Generation Eats
It was the late 1990s. I had been double-testing dozens of recipes for the cookbook and realized too late that I was plum out of granulated sugar. So I used brown sugar instead. My plan was to make milk chocolate chip shortbreads, but it turned out I was also out of chocolate chips. (What can I tell you? I was young and fool-hearted.)
So, what to do when the chips are down?
I had a photo shoot for these dishes the following day, the stores were already closed, but the cookies had to get made. So I grabbed a couple of Toblerone bars (this is where a nascent chocolate addiction comes in handy), chopped them up, put the chunks on top of the shortbreads and baked them off. 
A star was born.
(makes about 3 dozen)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 regular sized (100g) Toblerone bars, chopped into large chunks
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and gradually add flour until dough comes together into a ball. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Roll out dough on floured workspace, cut into squares or rectangles (or both) and use a spatula to lift cookies onto an ungreased baking sheet, spaced a bit apart. Place a chunk or two of chocolate on top of each cookie. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until cookies just start to turn lightly browned. 

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's a good day to be me

I just got home and there was a pile of delivery boxes stacked five-high at my front door (not to worry -- I have one of those Fedex stickers that says it's okay to leave stuff there and my neighbours are trustworthy, for the most part.) 
There was a beautiful, unsolicited package from Ace Bakery (homespun granola, artisan crisps, merry berry jam), bottles of red from Penfolds and Beringer, extra virgin olive oil and Chianti Classico from Castello di Gabbiano (the bottle says they were established in 1124 in the heart of Tuscany.) 
There was also a fancy squat bottle finished off with a red wax seal, that looks like it could be balsamic, but all the writing is in Italian and it's got a kind of frothy, golden finish to it, so I'm really not quite sure. The label says Castello di Gabbiano Delizia del Castello, 'Condimento alimentare di mosto d'uva invecchiato in piccoli barili di legni pregiati'. So, this is my guess at the translation: It's 'barrel aged vinegar and oil, made by a short pregnant woman with a mustache who has a beautiful singing voice'. We won't know for sure until I've tasted it. Or until one of my Italian-speaking friends weighs in.
I also want to mention that I was just getting in from another fabulous lunch (I've been really lunch-lucky this week.) I met my friend Ann at One and she insisted we start with the butter-braised lobster spoons. We ate them so fast that our waitress yelled at the kitchen to put in another order because she thought we hadn't received them. "We kind of inhaled them," admitted Ann. It was hard not to. After that first mouthful I was all like, "Hell, ya!" They were hot, buttery, perfectly salty and perked up with vermouth and a single coriander leaf. I'm ready to go on record as saying that this is currently the best appetizer you can have in Toronto. What's more, where Mark McEwan's restaurant struggled a bit at first, earning One the cheeky nickname Once, I for one, will now be calling on it once and again. 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My daily snack

It lifts my spirits. It knows just what I need. It's my best friend with benefits. 
One to two squares a day and I'm good to go. It must be Lindt though, 70% extra dark. Trust me, I've done extensive research on this. 
Nothing else will do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Eat here

Yesterday I lunched at the new incarnation of Toronto's beloved and lamented Mildred Pierce restaurant, totally re-imagined and now called Mildred's Temple Kitchen
Donna Dooher is still the brains and smile behind the operation, but the kitchen is being led by chef Tyler Cunningham. And stunningly so. That's all I'll say for now because I want you to discover it for yourself and then let me know how it goes. 
But I will say this: I'm excited. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Onion Marmalade

I may not always have a fridge full of food, but I do maintain a consistent supply of my onion marmalade. I tasted something like it in Wales last year, made several changes and am now claiming it as my own. Because that's how I roll. 
I'm seriously addicted to the stuff. A hunk of cheese, sliced apple, some baguette and a great spoonful of onion marmalade makes me happier than this.
And I don't need to be the one telling you that it's the perfect accompaniment to any cheese platter. Probably the only fat-free holiday recipe you'll come by, too.
2 medium cooking onions 
4 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Thinly slice onions and put them in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and stir, making sure the sugar is dissolved and onions break into rings. Taste the liquid: Is it sweet enough? If not, add more sugar or syrup. Is it too sweet? Add more water or vinegar. Is it perfect? You rule.
Simmer over low heat for an hour and a half, stirring now and again until onions are translucent and liquid is syrupy. Will keep in the fridge for a solid two weeks.