Monthly Archives: October 2012

Rude Veg!

I had the great luck somehow to win front row centre tickets to see Jamie Oliver at Massey Hall in Toronto last Friday. I have never sat in the front row before, so this was extra exciting. We did have to look up from our seats, but we didn’t have to crane our necks at all.

Jamie was very charming, and talked about a mix of strange childhood and parenting anecdotes, as well as some serious points about food and our communities. For example, grocery stores divert vegetables such as carrots or potatoes that look like “rude” things or body parts, ahem… Jame called these “rude veg.” Ha ha! Not selling rude veg wastes a lot of food though, so it is also an important issue. Of course, the whole talk was in Jamie’s lovely British accent. Matt Galloway from the CBC interviewed Jamie.

My own experiments in the kitchen have been a little non-existent, but here are some highlights.

Simple, yet comforting: tortilla wrap with peanut butter and banana. What a grade school lunch 😉

Oatmeal with banana and Mutsu apples from the St. Lawrence Market, using up the last of the peanut butter in the jar.

I made pork chops recently by frying them on both sides. I deglazed the pan with orange juice and marmalade to make a tangy sauce. This dish was from a recipe in Michael Smith’s Fast Flavours. I am really cooking through a lot of the recipes in this book.

Finally, my sister was super swell, and made us roast beef last night – a perfect Sunday roast. She didn’t use a recipe from Jamie’s new cookbook, Jamie’s Great Britain, which came with the ticket to the talk, but I thought it was appropriate to show it in this photo. I hope I can try some recipes from Jamie’s book soon. I’ve certainly been admiring all the wonderful pictures inside.

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Filed under Baking & Cooking, City

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Fortunately it is not looking a lot like Christmas just yet — I will take my rainy fall days as they come. But it is beginning to smell a lot like Christmas, because for some reason over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend last week, I decided to bake a Christmas cake. Talk about a lesson in delayed gratification: I can’t believe I have to wait two and a half months before trying this cake, but I am hoping all the booze will settle nicely into the cake by then.

After browsing a few recipes online, I chose Nigella Lawson’s Christmas cake recipe from her book How to Be a Domestic Goddess. While I could not say what makes a good Christmas cake, this recipe did not require nuts or processing them, so it seemed like a good start. It also provided a list of ingredients to scale your cake to the size of your liking.

Ingredients for a 25 cm round tin (makes a large cake!) from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

– 1kg sultanas
–  350g raisins
– 175g currants
–  175g glace cherries
–  175g mixed peel
–  180 ml sherry or brandy + 2 tbsp for brushing onto the finished cake

– 350g butter
– 300g brown sugar
– 1.5 tsp lemon zest
– 1.5 tsp orange zest
– 6 large eggs
– 3 tbsp marmalade
– 1 tsp almond essence
– 525g plain flour
– 1.5 tsp mixed spice (allspice)
– 1.25 tsp cinnamon
– 1.25 tsp ground nutmeg
– 0.25 tsp salt

The night before, in a large bowl, soak all your dried fruit in your choice of alcohol. I went with sherry. Yes, this was a lot of fruit and I was worried I read the recipe incorrectly, but the cake batter came together in the end. Give the fruit a good stir and cover overnight. Pour yourself a nightcap, if you wish.

Boozy dried fruit in the morning

When you are ready to bake the next day, preheat your oven to 150 C.

Line your cake pan with two layers of brown paper and a layer of parchment paper to 10cm above the top of your tin. This is, as I have read, important to prevent your cake from burning on the outside because the cake is in the oven for a long time. I used a spring-form pan, which helped in removing the cake later on.

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the zest. Add the eggs one at a time to prevent curdling. However, if it does curdle, and I suspect mine did, it doesn’t seem to matter since it is all mixed into the batter anyway.

Stir in the marmalade and the almond essence until well distributed.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, spices and salt) in a separate bowl. Alternate mixing in the dry ingredients and the fruit into the wet mixture. The batter is heavy and sticky, so just work through it!

Glorious…

Pour the batter into the tin.

Bake for 4 to 4.5 hours.After the first hour, turn down the heat to 140 C for the remaining time. I covered the cake after the three hour mark with tin foil to prevent it from browning too much. Keep an eye on your cake. You can test with a skewer to see if the cake is done.

Take the cake out of the oven and brush another two tablespoons of sherry or brandy on top of the cake. Wrap the cake and cake pan in foil so that the steam keeps the top of the cake moist.

When the cake is cool, unwrap the tinfoil and remove the cake from the tin. I actually waited until the next day before the cake was completely cool. Re-wrap the cake and put it in in an airtight container.

For many homemade Christmas cakes, you “feed” your cake every other week or so with sherry or brandy. Nigella didn’t put this in her recipe, so I am not sure if there is already enough booze in this cake. Then again, it seems so appealing to visit my Christmas cake every so often. I plan on feeding it at least once or twice, and perhaps I’ll give an update. Of course, I’ll provide an update in a couple months on how it tastes!

Until December, to see the whole cake unwrapped again.

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Filed under Baking & Cooking, Food

Toronto Eats: Stuft Gourmet Sausages

One thing I love about food trucks and the burgeoning Toronto street food scene is the spontaneity; that’s really good for someone like me who likes to read reviews of everything before I try it. On one hand I hate that the food trucks are never in the same place, because it’s hard to find them, and yet this makes it so wonderful when I discover  that a food truck is right where I am at that time. Most of the time I find out through social media, but it’s even better, when I stumble upon it while I’m, what, walking? Yeah.

The University of Toronto has a relatively a new Food Trucks Friday event which is awesome (but awful for my wallet). As I was walking to school, I passed by Stuft food truck which specializes in gourmet sausages. I really wanted to get to school, but I looked menu and all the different sausages sounded amazing. I chose the apricot minted lamb with “Ontario spring lamb, dried apricots, fresh mint, [and] fresh garlic.” I was also eyeing the Thai chicken sausage, portabello horseradish beef and Creole turducken.

To put it simply, this “sandwich” blew my mind. The lamb was moist and not dry at all. The mint perfectly complimented the, well, lambiness, which while present, was not overwhelming. I even found a good chunk of a garlic clove in there. I could not really taste the dried apricots, but they were not missed.

In addition to the sausage, I was able to choose a sauce. I asked one of the people in the truck if he had any suggestions to go with the lamb and he recommended the wasabi honey Dijon mustard. I could not disagree with that: just the right spiciness.

Lastly, I have to mention the bread from Silverstein’s Bakery. It was crusty and the perfect thickness to go with the sausage.  I was able to get a bit of bread and sausage in every bite. It was also well constructed (i.e. no drippage!). Essentially, it was a bun with the centre hollowed out to put in the sausage, but the bottom was intact.

For $9, it is a bit of a luxury for lunch. However, their website states that they use only “grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, free-raised lamb, all-natural pork, or organic turkey” which I think is really awesome for “street food.” If you catch Stuft on the road and feel like sausage, try it out!

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Filed under Food, Reviews

countdowns

Two hours of class until Thanksgiving! Ever since starting university, Thanksgiving has become one of my favourite holidays, because it’s a time for family and fall.  This year I haven’t been home since starting school, so I am looking forward to Thanksgiving even more. Weirdly enough, I am looking forward to the cold leftover turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce. Yum.

Here are a few things from my kitchen:

Oatmeal with banana, cottage cheese and a tablespoon of cocoa.

I am aware this does not look appetizing, but it was chocolatey and delicious. The added bonus was the iron in the cocoa. You see, at the end of summer, I went to my doctor for my annual physical and got my blood work done. My doctor called me a week later and told me I was low in iron. I realized that over the last year, I ate less red meat, although not intentionally, which might have explained my iron levels. I am now taking iron supplements, but I will also take my iron wherever I can get it, including kale and chocolate 😉 In all seriousness though, if you have ideas on getting more iron in a diet, let me know.

Over the weekend I made some cottage cheese pancakes from Shutterbean. Oh my gosh, these were so good, fluffy and just slightly sweet. I have a bunch of pancakes in my freezer now, ready to be eaten on a busy morning: never let solo living stop you from making pancakes. I had the pancakes with of gala apples, which I have been digging lately. Usually I get Macintosh because they are usually less expensive, but it is fun to change it up. Galas are so sweet and crispy.

Finally, I broiled salmon fillet with molasses and grainy mustard glaze for about 15-20 minutes — hello, smoky, sweet and slightly spicy flavours. The recipe was from Michael Smith’s Fast Flavours. It was yet another successful and simple recipe.

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