October 29, 2006

Cooking Club - Black and Orange

Wednesday was our first Cooking Club meeting without our original five members. Dana was the host and the theme was "Black and Orange" food in honour of Hallowe'en.

Amazingly enough we were all able to come up with food that followed the guidelines but was edible and nobody used black licorice!

The menu included:

Dana - Ghoulish Crisps with Vampire Black Bean Dip and Lots of Garlic
Crostini with Black Olive Tapenade and Orange Peppers

Jillian - Blackened Shrimp with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Andouille Cream

Danielle - Pasta with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Poppy Seeds

Melanie - Graveyard Pumpkin Mousse

We're Doug and Wendy Wine-er!!!!!

Last week, I began my "Wines of the New World" Course at my local LCBO. Our first class consisted of a tasting of 8 different wines from the Australia/New Zealand area.

I love wine but I never realised all the subtle differences in smell, colour and taste until I was able to compare them side by side. I have done tastings before, but never quite like this. It is helping me to realise exactly what I really look for in a wine.

So far I seem to like wine that has high to medium acid but is smooth, dry and full bodied flavour.

The wines I enjoyed most included:

Stoneleigh 2005 - Sauvignon Blanc $14.95 (293043)

D'Arenburg 2005 - Olive Grove Chardonnay $15.95 (702845)

Nick Faldo 2001 - Cabernet Sauvignon $22.95 (1685)

All of these are available through the LCBO, but if you live somewhere other than Ontario they are worth looking into buying.

** A tip from our instructor - Aussie wines are cheaper in Canada than the US, but Californian wines are a rip off in Ontario. He suggested buying them at Costco in the States and then bringing them back with you. Even after paying the duty it is still a better price than at the LCBO.

October 22, 2006


So I am feeling less than active today. Therefore there will be no "real" post this weekend. This week looks like a promising food week though.

Monday - "Wines of the New World" Class at the LCBO

Wednesday - Cooking Club at Dana's place (Theme: Black and Orange)

Friday - Team Party at my place

Recipes and reviews will be posted ASAP.

October 14, 2006

The next day...

For some unknown reason, my husband hates leftovers. I just cannot fathom this. I love opening the fridge in the morning and finding half a steak with a few rods of asparagus. A slice of turkey with stuffing? Fab! I'll use them to make lunch, breaky or a nice dinner for one.

Last week I was one of the many lucky people that was able to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers, but I was also able to sue leftovers to make part of the Thanksgiving meal. I was fortunate enough to have some duck fat leftover from a meal last week and I was able to make some fantastic duck fat roasted potatoes. They were garlicky and crispy - everything I've ever wanted in a potato.

October 10, 2006

To Set a Table.

I adore decorating and setting tables almost as much as I enjoy cooking. I think that each table helps to create the mood of the meal. I don't have a tonne of stuff, but I do think that I have been fairly successful at using what we do have. I find it pretty easy, and inexpensive, to collect different vases, platters, serving implements, napkins and placemats. Varying sets of dishes, tablecloths and cutlery will come with time.

Above, are some examples of my favourite table settings - compliments go to my mother in law who has been my "food photographer" for the past few years.

October 9, 2006

Best Meal of My Life

The best meal of my life was part of one of the most enjoyable vacations I have ever been on. In March of 2006 I went to San Francisco to visit my friend Christine. It was a relaxing break, yet a fun place to visit.

On my last day there, we ventured to Napa and Sonoma Valleys and had lunch at The French Laundry in Yountville. Thank you Thomas Keller and crew for a fabulous afternoon of food! Some people go there for bragging rights, I went to experience some of the best food in the world. From where I was sitting I could here some of the things going on in the kitchen - it literally gave me goosebumps.

Christine and I decided to order different tasting menus so that we'd be able to enjoy 18 courses instead of nine. In the middle of lunch we were on a bit of a "high" and there was no wine or illegal substances involved. The meal was expensive, but worth every penny. I am really glad I got to share it with Chris though - another foodie and great friend.

Christine's Menu

cauliflower "Panna Cotta" with Beau Soliel Oyster Glaze and Russian Sevruga Caviar

Salad of Big Island Hearts of Peach Palm Haas Avocado, Cara Cara Orange "Confit", Bitter Orange "Coulis" and Young Cilantro

Sauteed Fillet of Pacific Kahala, French Laundry Garden Broccolini, "Piperade"
and Sweet Garlic Gastrique
"Saffron Vanilla" Main Lobster Tail "Cuite Sous Vide" with Wilted Arrowleaf Spinach and Saffron Vanilla Emulsion
Devil's Gulch Ranch "Jambonette de Lapin" with a "Cassoulet" of Spring Beans and a Whole Grain Mustard Sauce
Snake River Farm "Calotte de Beouf Grillee", Hen of the Woods Mushroom, Cipollini Onions, Fingerling Potato "Puree" with Watercress Leaves and "Mignonette Bourdelaise"
"Ossau Vielle" Glode Artichoke "Tapenade", Crispy "Panisse" and English Thyme "Vinaigrette"
White "Verjus Granite" with Nicoise olive "Nougatine"
"Feuillantine au Caramel" Butterscotch "Boite", Caramel Mousse and
Milk Chocolate-Praline "Feuillentine"

Danielle's Menu

"Puree" of Sweet Parsnip Soup, Granny Smith Apples and Madras Curry Mousse.

Salad of Melted Cipollini Onions, Grilled Baby Fennel, Wild Watercress Leaves and Saffron "Syrup"

Jidori Hen Egg "Omelette", Creamed Stinging Nettles and Forest Mushroom "Salpicon"

Yukon Gold Potato "Rissolee", Caramelized Spring Garlic, Marinated Sweet Peppers, Field Arugala and Nicoise Olive Oil

"Choufleur Servi En Deux Facons" , Celery Branch "Coulis", Cutting Celery Greens and Black Winter Truffle

"Carnaroli Risotto Biologico", with Preserved Myer Lemon, Shaved Marcona Almonds and Sacramento Delta Green Asparagus

"Valencay", Slow Baked Heirloom Beets, "Tardivo Radicchio" and Red Beet Essence

"Hot Chocolate", Jivara Milk Chocolate Sorbet, "Chocolat a la Venicoise", Tahitian Vanilla-Infused Marshmallows and "Creme Chantilly"

"Delice au Chocolat et Menthe", White and Dark Chocolate "Ganache", Garden Mint-Infused "Jaconde" and "Guanaja" Chocolate Sauce


S&M Baking

October 7, 2006

Sweet, sweet potato pie.

The problem with having a coworker who is also a foodie? Ummmm, nothing!

Last night Dana and I got together to create some Sweet Potato Pies for Thanksgiving weekend. We went grocery shopping, opened a bottle of wine and got to cooking. Once again, those delicious fall spice smells filled up the kitchen.

We made too much of the filling - oops - so we made a pie sans crust just for a taste test. Yummers!

Our recipe is a combo of recipes from the Food Network, Epicurious, and Martha Stewart.

Dana & Danielle's Sweet Potato Pie

25 gingersnap cookies
4 T butter, melted + 3T melted & cooled
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut in chunks and boiled until soft
2.5 T flour
0.5 t salt
1 t ground ginger
1 t cinnamon
0.5 t nutmeg
0.5 t allspice
1/4 c brown sugar
1 T vanilla
3 large eggs + 1 egg
1 c condensed milk
1/4 c corn syrup
1 c pecans

1. Heat oven to 325. Place cookies in food processor and pulse until fairly fine - should make about 1 c of crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add 4 T of melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a deep pie dish. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until set. Do not overbake.

2. Turn up oven to 375. In a bowl, combine flour, salt and spices. Set aside.

3. Mash sweet potatoes. Add sugar, vanilla, eggs and condensed milk. Stir. Mix in remaining 3 T of melted butter. Add flour/spice mixture and stir. Pour filling into cooled crust.

4. Whisk together remaining egg and corn syrup in a bowl. Add pecans and stir to coat. Place pecans on top of pie. Drizzle pie with remaining egg/syrup mixture. Bake pie until filling is set and pecan topping is golden - 30-35 minutes.

P.S. A sweet potato is NOT A YAM!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't get me started, don't even get me started.
Some grocery stores need to get their act together.

October 1, 2006

What the hell?????

It is for this reason that I do not buy frozen prepared foods. Nasty!!!!!