Shopping Report: April 2012 – Cool Tools for Making Ravioli, The New Look of Potato Mashers, and More

Our shopping report April 2012 revolves around comfort foods: pasta, potatoes, pizza, and so on. But, maybe that corn on the cob is giving you a hassle, too? Read more about this month’s trends in kitchen gadgetry.
Ravioli at Home
Considering the sheer volume of ravioli molds, stamps, and makers out there right now, you’d think everyone was making their own pasta at home. Wait, are you making your own pasta at home? I know I’m definitely not. But, if you are taking the time to make it yourself, it seems that ravioli is the pasta du jour and the tools of the trade are hot!


 Shopping Report - Ravioli Makers

From top: square ravioli maker with rolling pin from Sur La Table, KitchenAid ravioli maker, and spring-loaded ravioli stamps from Williams-Sonoma

Potato Mashers Get a Facelift
If you’re piling your plates with mashed potatoes this spring, perhaps your old masher needs an update. Mashed potatoes are in regular rotation at my place, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up my old-school masher yet. Although, this Joseph Joseph Mash & Serve is pretty sleek looking, and it’ll mean one less utensil to wash…

 Shopping Report - Potato Mashers


Out with Pizza Wheels
It can be a real pain to clean up after one of those old-school wheel-style pizza cutters, especially if you’ve let it dry before tackling clean-up. One of these rocking pizza cutters may be a better alternative. They’ll take up a bit more room in your drawer, but if you make a lot of pizza, that might not be an issue for you. I tend to gravitate towards using a big chef’s knife to cut my ‘za instead.

 Shopping Report - Pizza Cutters

   From left to right: Pizzacraft stainless steel rocking pizza cutter with hardwood handle, and Epicurean pizza cutters from Sur La Table   

Easy-Pour Measuring
Flexible and easy-to-pour measuring cups would really come in handy in my kitchen. Making muffins or pancakes or anything that leads to messy drips can be irritating because you have to deal with burnt bits of batter. Imagine a world where you don’t have to scrape off hardened bits of batter from your muffin tins!

Shopping Report - Measuring Cups

A Spatula City Populated with Your Favourite Characters
This is a trend I just cannot get behind. I have a very particular need when it comes to spatulas, and this is really messing with it. Sometimes flipping a pancake can be a very delicate task, and these oddly-shaped spatulas are sure to make that an even bigger challenge.

 Shopping Report - Spatulas

Clockwise from the left: Stars Wars spatula set, Snow White spatula, and Marvel spatulas from Williams-Sonoma

Because a Knife Just Won’t Cut It (the Corn, That Is)

Corn season is still a few months away, but there are quite a few of these little gadgets populating your favourite kitchen supply stores right now. However, a sharp knife is probably your best bet, instead of holding on to a gadget you’ll use a handful of times a year, if you’re lucky.


Shopping Report - Corn Strippers


From left to right: OXO corn peeler, and OXO corn stripper.

Written by Jessica McLaughlin. Jessica is a foodie in Toronto who spends her days as a web manager and evenings as a freelance writer. You can find her on Tumblr where she blogs about kitchen and dinnerware.

Food on Film: Laura Calder on Julie and Julia and the Love of French Cooking

Fresh off the set of Recipe to Riches, Laura Calder joined an audience of food and film enthusiasts last Tuesday for TIFF Bell Lightbox‘s presentation of Julie and Julia. Much like Julia Child herself, Laura wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, musing on everything from haute cuisine to cookbook publishing in her trademark clever and charming way.


Laura Calder Food on Film 1

Julie and Julia follows part of Child’s life in France as she works on her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is coupled with a taste of Julie Powell’s life in Queen’s, New York, the blogger who inspired the film. The story contrasts the lives of Julia (played by Meryl Streep) and Julie (played by Amy Adams), two women passionate about food from different times and backgrounds.

Laura not only lived and completed culinary training in France, but also started her career in the food industry as a cookbook writer. And, while the movie chronicles Child’s difficulties in getting her classic published, Laura said her first book was published quite easily, and that it was “the writing that sold [it].”

Her enthusiasm for the cuisine made French Food at Home (Harper Collins, 2003) an easy read. She went on to write for a variety of magazines, ranging from Gourmet to Gastronomica. However, she noted that the climate has changed since then and that despite her own television show, and a roster of published books, it’s still not easy getting published today.

 Laura Calder Food on Film 3

And, like Julie Powell, Laura said she she found her food-related career later in life after earning a degree in linguistics and starting out as a journalist, and later pursuing public relations.

“I think we crave the tactile,” she said explaining why she thinks so many people are drawn to cooking. “That’s how I felt when I was in that cubicle.” For Laura, French cooking is all about the slow process of gently simmering ingredients together. She cooks for the love of it, not for fame or to compete.

“I’m very feminine in how I cook,” she said. “I cook to feed people. I don’t cook to dazzle,” said the James Beard-award winner, adding that there is a “nurturing” element to her cooking.

“Like Julia Child, our guest, Laura Calder makes French cooking accessible for everyone,” said the evening’s MC, Executive Chef Jason Bangerter.

Laura went on to talk about her own experiences in France and training under a strict French chef at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne, in Burgundy. She said she imminently prefers home-style cooking to what is served at most high-end restaurants these days, calling the new trend of charcuterie plates a dish of “sliced sausage.”

“A plate of tomatoes and cheese with basil on top, that’s ingredients, it’s not cooking. It’s a shopping trip.”

Laura Calder Food on Film 2

Chef Bangerter showed his sense of humour as he told the audience, “I just fed her a plate of vegetables with a piece of fish on top,” with a laugh.

That evening at Luma, Chef Bangerter served up portions of Boeuf Bourguignon to guests who wanted to partake in some home-style French cooking–without the work!


Written and photographed by Carrie Duncan

Star Grazing with Jessie Farrell

What do celebrities, musicians, artists and people in the limelight all have in common? Well, FOOD of course! They all have to eat at some point right? Some stars are known for their refined palates and some of our favourite actors are restaurateurs when they’re not in front of the camera. I always find it fascinating to learn about which foods our favourite stars are fans of and I’m always up for some “grazing with the stars,” so to speak–Womp, Womp! 😉


I recently caught up with Canadian Country Music Award winner, Jessie Farrell, to find out which foods she enjoys in her daily life. After chatting with her, I was delighted to hear that she’s a health food enthusiast and that she loves learning about and working with super foods. Also, it turns out she’s a huge smoothie and blended juice fan, and when she realized there wasn’t a juice bar in her hometown–she opened up Jessie’s Juice Company to help nutritiously quench the thirsts of the citizens of Sidney, BC.

I’m a smoothie and blended juice drinker myself and part of this lifestyle involves seeking out new ways to pack your drink with nutritious goodness. I got Jessie to share an exclusive recipe (see below) to her favourite juice, The Golden Delicious, so we can get a taste of her healthy and luscious drinks ourselves. Check out my video below to see what Jessie had to say about her quick and easy go-to meal, her juice bar and more!


The Golden Delicious  (makes 2 servings)


  • 6 small pieces of kale
  • 2 cups frozen mango
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1 chunk of ginger
  • 1 lemon juiced

Directions: combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy!




Pic of the Week: Apricot Pistachio Oatmeal Cookies

Don’t these sound absolutely delicious, I mean wowza! Sweet Meg herself mentioned that “these are the best [apricot pistachiooatmeal cookies I have ever made.” If that doesn’t inspire you to try them I don’t know what will. You can find her amazing recipe on her blog.

Apricot Pistachio Oatmeal Cookies


Homemade Smoked Salmon from Derek’s Kitchen

Making your own smoked salmon at home is easier than you might imagine. The transformation of raw salmon into delicate strips of melting smoked salmon might seen magical, but it basically only involves two steps: curing and smoking. The curing part is easy. Just cover the salmon in a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices and leave it in the fridge overnight. The smoking part can be a bit trickier. You don’t have to own a fancy smoker to make smoked salmon at home, almost any barbecue will do the trick. The key to making perfect smoked salmon is controlling both the amount of smoke and the amount of heat. This is easy to do with an electric smoker, but can be a bit more challenging if you’re working with regular charcoal grill.


Homemade Smoked Salmon Dereks Kitchen Main


At home I use a simple kettle charcoal barbecue to do my smoking. It has a chamber underneath where I can set the coals and wood chips, which is very useful for smoking. You can also find specialized smokers that have a separate chamber for the wood off to the side. These are even better, because there is less risk of the meat or fish getting too hot. When using charcoal, you have to keep a good eye on the coals to make sure that they are hot enough to keep the wood chips smoldering, but not so hot as to ignite them. Keeping the chips at just the right temperature can be a bit challenging, but that’s what makes the job fun. I find it really satisfying building up a good smoke and then watching it go.


If you plan on doing a lot of smoking and are looking for the simplest solution, you can invest in an electric smoker. Small electric smokers, such as the Little Chief, can be found at Walmart or hardware stores for just over $100. The benefit of using an electric smoker is that you can set it and forget it. A small element provides just enough heat to keep the wood chips smoldering.


You can also use a propane grill as a smoker, but they’re not ideal. With a charcoal grill you can put your wood chips directly on the coals, but if you’re using a gas grill, you’ll have to wrap the wood chips in an aluminum pouch and then place the pouch as close to the element as possible, without touching the open flame. For more tips on smoking at home, see my recipe for smoked mackerel.

This recipe makes 1lb of smoked salmon, but can be easily scaled to a whole side of salmon. Simply double the amount of cure and follow the same steps.


Start to finish 14 hours.



1 lb (454g) fresh salmon
1 cup coarse salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs black peppercorns
1 tbs juniper berries, crushed
wood chips for smoking, ideally a blend of 80% maple and 20% hickory.


1. Mix the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and juniper berries together and place half of the mix in a non-reactive (plastic, glass or ceramic) container big enough to fit the salmon. Spread the cure out and then lay down the salmon. Spread the remaining cure over top of the salmon and then cover with plastic wrap. Leave the salmon to cure in the fridge for 12 hours.


Homemade Smoked Salmon Dereks Kitchen 1


2. Rinse the salmon thoroughly and then pat dry. Soak the wood chips in water for 10 minutes and then strain. Light a small amount of coals in your barbecue and allow to burn for 10 minutes. Lay the wood chips down on the coals. Fill an aluminum tray with ice cubes and set it on the lowest rack. Set the salmon on the highest rack and then close the lid with the vent open. The tray of ice will cool the smoke before if hits the salmon, preventing it from cooking. If you own a dedicated smoker that has a chamber for the wood that is off to the side of the grill, you wont need the ice.


Homemade Smoked Salmon Dereks Kitchen 2


3. If the wood gets too hot and ignites, put out the flames with a little bit of water. It the wood cools down too much and stops smoking, add some dry wood chips, allow them to catch fire and then put them out with a bit of water. Let the salmon smoke for two hours. Let rest in the fridge overnight and then slice thinly. Smoked salmon will keep for one week in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer.


Homemade Smoked Salmon Dereks Kitchen 3


DerekBockingDerek Bocking is a professional chef with over 15 years culinary experience. On his blog Derek’s Kitchen, he shares restaurant-style recipes for amateur gourmets to try at home, from quick and easy meals to more elaborate showstoppers.


Live Blog: Top Chef Canada Season 2, Episode 4

TCCLiveBlogTop Chef Canada episode four (watch the preview) premieres Monday at 10pm ET/PT! In this episode, the chefs are asked to create a tasting menu that reflects “nose-to-tail” cooking for the master of that food movement, Chef Chris Cosentino. Join us here Monday night and share your thoughts on the competition during the broadcast of the show via the live blog widget below.


We’ll also be pulling in Top Chef Canada related tweets from the Twitterverse, so make sure you include the hashtag #topchefcanada in any tweets you send about the show. Finally, make sure to check-in to the Top Chef Canada GetGlue page to collect exclusive stickers of all of this season’s chefs and more. Looking forward to chatting with you as we watch the Top Chef Canada competition unfold–speak to you soon!


The Village Feast: Michael Smith’s One-Hour Special Features Mega Dinner for Charity

Around these parts, Chef
Michael Smith
is known to be a culinary adventurer (Chef Abroad) and an
always affable home-cooking guide (Chef at Home). But, at the centre of
his 6’7 frame lies an even bigger heart; one that recently took on a
great cooking challenge for a charity known as, The Village Feast (the
culmination of which you can watch in a one-hour special airing
Saturday, March 31st at 7pm ET—hey, we’re the Food Network, this is what
we do!).

Michael Smith The Village Feast 1

The event went down on Michael’s beloved
Prince Edward Island (where he’s practically royalty) and involved
organizing and preparing an impressive 1,000-person gourmet dinner to
raise money for Farmers Helping Farmers–an organization that is helping
to rebuild a cookhouse in Kenya (a building where school-aged children
go to have their lunches prepared and served).The old cookhouse was in
rough shape, feeding 200 kids a day using an open fire. The new building
includes two smoke-free, wood-efficient burners as well as running


The traditional farming and fishing
village of Souris, P.E.I. has faced its own hardships with two major
fish plants recently shutting down. But, in true East Coast-fashion, the
residents of this close-knit community rallied together for a common

The local producers and a small army of volunteers were joined by
Michael’s chef friends from across the country who each answered the
call to action without compensation or travel expenditures. Together
they prepared 500 pounds of potatoes, 500 pounds of mussels, and 100
pounds of bacon!
Using a food event to help build a
cookery building is a beautiful idea, but it’s also a massive
undertaking. How did it all come together and what hurdles did they face
along the way? You know the drill: tune-in to find out 🙂



Chocolate Flood Cake from Duhlicious

One of my friends was complaining that she lacks any skill to make a cake look anything more than a hot mess. Here is the fastest way to make your cake look less amateur.



No, this cake isn’t perfect. The idea was to strip away any culinary skill and show you that amateur chefs can still make gorgeous cakes. Once you have your cake, ganache, and butter cream good to go, this project shouldn’t take you long to complete. Remember, the whole idea is to have a decent looking cake with very little skill:)



Old Fashioned Vanilla Cake (makes 2 x 8? cakes) (adapted from Martha Stewart’s ‘Versatile Yellow Cake’)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for dusting pans
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Basic Vanilla Butter Cream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache (makes enough ganache to cover an 8? cake)
225g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (approx. 1 cup, or 8 oz)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp liquid glucose (optional)


1. Prepare your cake and butter cream icing. Once baked and cooled, trim cake layers to make sure they are level. Assemble by using once cake layer as the base, spread a butter cream layer on top, and place the second cake on top. Once this is done, you’ll want to use an off-set spatula to spread a thin crumb coat layer of butter cream. Pop your cake in the fridge for the butter cream to set (approx. 10 min).



2. Remove your cake from the fridge, and generously apply a ‘final coat’ on your cake. Using a clean off-set spatula, smooth off the top of your cake. In the cake above, I lifted the spatula in an upwards motion to create straight edges. This is much easier than attempting to create a smooth edge. Once you are happy with your cake, refrigerate for 10 more minutes to set.




3. While your cake is cooling, prepare your ganache. Pour ganache over cake, using an offset spatula to spread the ganache over the edges. Top with fresh berries and serve.





Old Fashioned Vanilla Cake:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Line the bottoms of two 8-by-2-inch buttered cake pans with buttered parchment paper. Dust the bottoms and sides of pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter at medium speed until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, and continue until lightened, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides once or twice. Gradually add eggs, beating after each addition until batter is no longer slick, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides, about 5 minutes.
3. Slowly add the flour mixture on low speed, alternating with sour cream, a little of each at a time. Beat in vanilla.
4. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake for 25 minutes; rotate the pans in the oven if needed for even browning. Continue baking until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, 10 to 20 minutes more. Transfer to wire racks to cool, 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans; set cakes, top side down, on wire racks, and allow to cool completely, about 1 hour.

Basic Vanilla Butter Cream:

1. Beat butter and 3 cups sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to medium-low, and continue to beat, gradually adding remaining 6 cups sugar, 1 cup at a time. Raise speed to medium-high; add vanilla. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes more.

Chocolate Ganache:
*Only prepare after you have finished icing your cake
1. Finely chop chocolate. Put chocolate into a large heatproof bowl.
2. Bring 1 cup of cream just to a boil over medium-high heat; add glucose if you opt to use it.
3. Once the cream comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Carefully stir the mixture until the chocolate and cream come together. It will look split at first, and slowly turn glossy.
MadalinePaulMadalina Paul is the blogger behind Duhlicious, a food blog dedicated to creating and sharing unique and original recipes for great tasting food and featuring tutorials, food news, and culinary adventures.


Top Chef Canada: Season 2, Episode 3 – Which Dish Should Dan Recreate?

We’ve challenged Calgary-based blogger, Dan Clapson, to recreate a dish from each episode of this season’s Top Chef Canada. This week Dan will be recreating a dish from episode thre, but which one… Vote Now!



Taking the Challenge Home Week 3 A

Top row: (left) Maple Bacon Mini Potato Donuts; (right) Maple Double-Smoked Bacon Donut with Fresh Chocolate and Icing Sugar “Softball”
Middle row: (left) Beef Tenderloin, Potato Confit and Black Peppercorn Jam; (right) Pink Peppercorn Macaroon with Meyer Lemon and Lemongrass
Bottom row: (left) White Chocolate and Lemon Thyme Corn Bread with Peach and Cherry Salsa; (right) Scallop Sausage Wrapped in Spec Bacon with Preserved Lemon and Tarragon Gremolata



Main Page – About info

Do chefs actually have chefy kitchens at home? What would we find in their fridge? What kitchen gadgets can they not live without? Consider this an open house on the home kitchens of your favourite food influencers! Chefs and foodie personalities invite you take a closer look at how they cook and eat at home — some of their kitchens may surprise you!

Top Chef Canada Season 2: Catching Up With Thea Andrews Video

Did you catch this week’s episode of Top Chef Canada (watch it here)? The chefs were challenged to create dishes for a baby shower and season one host, Thea Andrews, returned to the Judges’ Table to help pick this week’s winning dish (get the recipe here). It was all about ingredient pairings that expecting mothers crave and all of the dishes looked delightfully delicious (see the all the dishes here)!


We caught up with Thea Andrews to find out how it felt to be back on Top Chef Canada, her favourite dish from the episode and more. Check out the video below to see what she had to say!


Bob Blumer Brings Toilet Humour and Monkey Business to the Drake

“You can have a full refund if this isn’t
the best meal you’ve ever eaten out of a toilet,” promises Bob Blumer
as he his dips his ladle into a commode full of fenugreek curry. He’s
presenting the third and most outrageous course at a dinner event
devoted to celebrating culinary oddity.


Bob Blumer Drake Event 4


The pop-up dinner, held Monday night at
Toronto’s Drake Hotel, features four courses inspired by Bob’s latest
television project, World’s Weirdest Restaurants. Premiering April 4 at 9pm and 9:30pm ET on Food Network Canada, World’s Weirdest Restaurants takes viewers around the globe and inside establishments that stretch conventional ideas of dining.
The Toronto evening is the first chance
for the public to screen clips from the show, granting unique bragging
rights to its lucky guests. After all, how many people can claim they’ve
been served a meal fresh from a toilet by a Food Network host?


 Bob Blumer Drake Event 1



Admittedly the dish, an homage to
Taipei’s Modern Toilet restaurant, is the best meal I’ve ever eaten out
of a toilet. In fact, the subtle curry, developed by Drake Hotel chef, Anthony Rose, and inspired by Vancouver’s Vikram Vij,
is one of the best curries I have eaten, period. But when Rose wheels
out the steaming commode of coconut broth dotted with brown chunks of
tender braised beef and fingerling potato floaters, the mood change
among guests is palpable. Overheard during the curry’s presentation:


“What is that?”


“Oh my god, it’s steaming!”


“That had better be a brand new toilet!”


It’s a big transition from the giddy
second course, a blindfolded sampling that denies diners one sense while
heightening others. Taste, aroma and sound are amplified as guests
grope for their meals, giggling as they poke fingers into warm soup and
gasping at the cool shock of lemon aioli. Of course, none of us know
that’s what we’re eating, but Blumer invites us to sample the dishes in
unison and offer our best guesses.


Bob Blumer Drake Event 2

The cheese crisps are easy, and most
guests correctly guess the soup contains broccoli, although none
identify the arugula. I’m convinced it has a cream and wine base, which
is close, but not quite right: it’s cream and beer. As for the lemony
aioli, it rests atop a deep-fried Dungeness crab ball which elicits
comments like, “It’s crab cake!” and “No, no, I think it’s cod.” Also
pleasantly startling: bob and WWR series producer Vera Lubimova add a
tactile element by offering light-touch shoulder massages.

Bob Blumer Drake Event 6


These two courses are the highlights of
the evening, and Bob’s closest replications of the weirdness exhibited
on his show, but we can’t blame him if our dinner isn’t as odd as the
ones he experienced abroad. After all, it’s okay for monkeys to wait
tables in rural Japan, but Toronto health regulations won’t allow it,
and Bob serves a starter course of crisp-fried chicken karaage and beer
while dressed in a monkey suit instead.

 Bob Blumer Drake Event 3

Soon after, he presents a segment from a
nude dining event in New York City. Interestingly enough, none of the
Toronto guests accept his offer to redefine pop-up dining by getting
Instead we watch a clip from Voodoo
Doughnut in Portland, USA, where doughnut lovers can enjoy their
favourite dessert and get married at the same time.
Finally we complete the meal with a
trio of fluffy donuts from Toronto’s soon-to-be-opened Glory Hole. Is
there voodoo magic in these treats? I don’t know, but the maple-bacon
doughnut is especially delicious, and frankly I’m just happy I get to
keep my clothes on over my well-fed belly.

Books for Food Lovers: Masala Farm: Stories

The Stats
Title: Masala Farm- Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country
Author: Suvir Saran with Raquel

Pelzel and Charlie Burd
Chronicle Books
Price: $29.95
Availability: Major book retailers
The Book
Suvir Saran is a renown NYC restaurateur/Executive Chef (Dévi in Manhattan), a three-time cookbook author, a bon

vivant with a penchant for the good life and a self-professed “city boy who knows more about Prada than

pitchforks.” So exactly what prompts him and partner Charlie Burd to move upstate on a six-seven acre, working

farm is as much about Saran’s love of the country as it is about masala. This Hindi word meaning “spice” is his

life’s mantra, and the name of their new home. As he puts it, “In its simplest translation, masala is used to

define a singular spice- like cinnamon or ground ginger- or a spice blend like garam masala…Much like life,

masala invites a combination of ups and downs, bitterness, spice and sweetness that bring joy and interest to

the every day.” With this in mind, the urbanites with a soft spot for farm fresh eggs, goslings, baby goats and

stream caught fish, dig deep and learn what it takes to run a farm, support nearby growers and in their words,

eat better than they ever did when they lived in Manhattan.
Masala Farm is a celebration of the seasons- the book is divided accordingly with recipes to match, along with

an extra chapter called “Farmhouse Basics” which includes recipes for making your own crème fraîche, garam

masala (of course!) and tamarind chutney, for starters. Peppered throughout are personal essays about life on

the farm the writers call “Farm Yarn.” Drop-Ins Welcomed tells the tale of the man who catches fresh stream

trout from the couples’ property. He leaves six scaled and gutted beauties on the porch as thanks for the

privilege. I might have to drop in sometime too- although unlike the fisherman or the guy who asks for some

heritage bird egg “samples” and offers a joint in return, maybe I’ll just stop by with a coconut cake. I’m

inspired to make the spring-fresh Asparagus and Green Pea Risotto with Fresh Herb Tarka (a seasoned oil stirred

into food to brighten flavours), Grandma Mae’s biscuits in summer (the best you’ll ever have according to

Saran), and in fall, Chaat Fries with a savoury chaat masala spice blend. There are 80 lip-smacking recipes from

which to choose in the hopes that life in your home is as vibrant and abundant as the masala country kitchen.

Save me a seat at the table boys!
Food Porn
4 spoons out of 5
Farmhouse fresh never looked so good as the dishes and the scenery outside of Masala

Farm’s windows! Piping hot buttery biscuits in their iron skillet, country chic slices of almost-flourless

caramel-lacquered chocolate-peanut torte sit pretty on sturdy white plates and a warming tureen of New Years

black eyed pea curry welcomes with a country smile. Food that looks good, and looks like it tastes even better!
Final Analysis
You may like it if…

– You enjoy cooking seasonally, locally and in tune with nature’s bounty.
– Are willing to

try new spice blends, some time-honoured grandma tested recipes or add some “masala” in your culinary creations.
You may not like if…

– Your idea of deliciously exotic remains entrenched in salt and white pepper.

Written by Mary-Luz Mejia


Top Chef Canada: Season 2, Episode 3 Recap

Lately, your faithful scribe just can’t escape babies. I see them at friends’ house parties and on Facebook pages, they appear spontaneously at my workplace; last week a mysterious crying one seemed to follow my wife around town. And now they’ve even taken over my Monday night television viewing. Yes, this week’s Top Chef Canada was largely centred on a baby shower for season one host (and this episode’s guest judge) Thea Andrews and current judge Shereen Arazm, both of whom were, at the time of filming, soon to welcome their second little tykes into the world.

Mark McEwan Kitchen

But first the 14 remaining cheftestants tried their hands at some culinary alchemy in the Quickfire. I’m going to continue with the baby analogy here—just as a child is composed of his or her parents’ diverse sets of DNA, the dishes in this challenge had to combine two very different ingredients. There were mushrooms and peaches, cocoa and cauliflower, smelly durian with white chocolate, and more. This was definitely one of those unique-to-Top Chef tests. I don’t think many of the competitors would’ve chosen those ingredient pairs in their own kitchens. Personally, I’ve never cooked anything that called for such strange flavour matches. Have you?

I think Jimmy went about combining the ingredients smartly (or, at least, he had a rational explanation): he thought of secondary elements that combined well with both of his primary ingredients. In his case, apple and fried chicken helped to bind his original elements, wasabi and oatmeal. And you know what? His little thought experiment got him the win! Huzzah for intellectualism!

Ep3 Contestants Studio Line Up

For the elimination, the chefs paired up for the aforementioned baby shower bonanza, with each duo asked to prepare a “boy” dish and a “girl” dish.

Good on Carl for remembering all the awesome stuff that pregnant ladies aren’t able to eat—raw fish, raw eggs, and the like. On the flip side, bad on Curtis for dropping food on the kitchen floor and leaving Trevor to clean it up. It was observed that few people would be would be walking in the area of the spill, but still, poor form!

Oh, look! The baby shower’s being hosted at George restaurant, a superb restaurant that just happens to be in the building I work at during the week. On a journalist’s salary, I’ve only been able to eat there once, but it was a divine meal. If you’re ever in Toronto, do yourself a favour and book a table. If it’s a nice, warm day, ask for the patio.

Sorry. I got a little off track. Back to the challenge, which was not without its wrinkles. For one, both Elizabeth and Jonathan endeavoured to make maple-bacon donuts, which were indeed unbelievably trendy for a while. Luckily both versions were fairly well received, though Jonathan’s slightly more highfalutin effort (the donut was topped with chocolate and a boy’s icing sugar “softball”) was the clear champ in this mini battle.

Ep3 Sergio and Guests

A far worse showing was Xavier’s ball of goat cheese and prosciutto with figs and balsamic jam. To quote Mark, “If I stayed up late and tried to figure something more nasty to prepare, I don’t think I could do it.” But then Xavier’s partner Sarah offered her arancine (also ball-shaped) with spicy prosciutto-infused chocolate sauce. This also ended up being spat out by all the judges. Ouch! Not a good day for either Xavier or Sarah. Or prosciutto, apparently.

With that debacle out of the way, it must’ve seemed like relatively smooth sailing for all involved. Trevor and Curtis, for example, put bygones behind them to impress with beef tenderloin, potato confit and black peppercorn jam (Trevor) and a pink peppercorn macaroon with meyer lemon and lemongrass (Curtis). The latter even won over curmudgeonly old Mark to take the elimination challenge victory.

On the bottom end of things, textural problems hampered Joel and David’s offerings (slimy scallops and heavy, crumbly cornbread respectively), but it was pretty clear that one of Xavier or Sarah would be sent home. In the end, the diminutive Asian chef was asked to pack up her knives. In this case, it appeared that inexperience let Sarah down. She had her pick of any ingredients, yet chose to work with rice, prosciutto and chocolate sauce. She ought to have realized it was a gamble and pulled back well before getting into the kitchen. It’s one thing to be bold; it’s another thing entirely when you don’t know your limits and end up overreaching.

Heat Meter
Who was hot (and who was not) in episode three?

Hot: Curtis. Winning an elimination challenge with a little pink confection of whipped egg whites is always going to raise one’s stock.

Hot: Jimmy. Though he was in the middle of the pack for the elimination round, his Quickfire victory showed that he was another chef willing to take a chance or two.

Not: David. Once again the elder statesman of this season found himself on the mean side of judges table. By his own admission he seems to be overthinking things. At the same time, he should be old enough to know not to do that.

Not: Sarah and Xavier. It’s pretty obvious that both of them dropped the ball. Pun most certainly intended.
Written by Craig Moy. Craig is an editor at a Toronto-based city magazine. He also writes about all manner of cultural topics, including food culture.



Books for Food Lovers: Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals From My Home to Yours(3)

The Stats
Title: Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals From My Home to Yours
Price: $32.99
Harper Collins Books
Availability: Major book retailers


The Book
The orange clog wearing, pony-tailed bad boy of Italian cooking is back with his latest cookbook, Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals From My Home to Yours. Batali’s latest effort is dedicated to his wife and two sons, whom you could imagine gathering around the family’s dinner table to watch Papa dish out the perfect bowl of “wine stained gemelli with ‘sausage’ meatballs and eggplant” or pici with ceci (hand-rolled pasta with chickpeas and red pepper flakes). The philanthropist in you might also be glad to know that this book endorses the Mario Batali Foundation to help fund the work of the Food Bank for New York and hunger relief groups across the U.S., especially for children. Batali states, “To learn more about the foundation’s mission and how you can help us help children, visit I will match the first $100,000 in donations made to the foundation after November 1, 2011.”


Apart from putting his money where his mouth is, Batali has taken the time to map out a seasonal cooking menu, month by month. Along the way, you’ll find seasonal recipes for every occasion, which always include a hearty main, three pastas, four veggie sides, a soup, and a decadent dessert. The idea here is to mix and match the recipes so that one night, you can choose lighter fare for everyday dining versus a more complete menu for a weekend dinner party. And the best part is that most of the ingredients are likely already in your pantry or fridge. I’m particularly eyeing the spring onion fritelle from May, March’s linguine with cabbage and smoked prosciutto, and February’s grapefruit and honey cake. These are the kinds of recipes you can pull out when guests arrive or serve simply with a side of greens or a warming cup of soup. Molto Mario does it again!


Photos and Art Direction
Tempting, brimming bowls of pasta with snowy peaks of Parmigiano Reggiano, full tables laden with meals fit for that other irrepressible red-head, Henry the Eighth, and desserts good enough to perk up any coffee break, the photos are clean, simple, and deliciously shot.


You might like it if…

  • You’re a fan of Mario Batali’s Molto Gusto or Molto Italiano, only this is for the whole famiglia!
  • You relish the idea of cooking within the seasons and taking advantage of whatever Mother Nature offers up in our northern climes à la Italiano.

You might not like it if…

  • You’re hell-bent on eating strawberries in February, for example, and don’t particularly enjoy cooking in season.
  • Want a cookbook beyond Italianate recipes.

Written by Mary-Luz Mejia


Books for Food Lovers: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals

The Stats
Title: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals- Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries, & More
Author: Maria Speck
Ten Speed Press
Price: $34.00
Availability: Major book retailers

The Book
Before you turn up your nose at the thought of another unbearably precious ode to “healthy” whole grains, take a minute to check your prejudices and consider that in Ancient Grains for Modern Meals author and cook Maria Speck does for whole grains what Apple did for the pc; she makes them sexy. Yes, downright sensual in their tenderness, chewy, nutty nuances and flavourful forkfuls. And this is a superb fact given that most North Americans still don’t know what millet is, they’re not too sure how to pronounce much less make quinoa, and wheat berries sound absolutely foreign.
Speck, who is half Greek, half German, is a master at demystifying whole, delicious grains. From Amaranth to Wild Rice, Speck describes what they are, discusses how they are most often eaten or prepared and then offers a spate of mouthwatering recipes to indulge the senses (she’s not afraid of using butter, cream or lard in her recipes either- amen!). And she should know, she’s been eating them her whole life. I am particularly partial to her eating philosophy: “Cook as often as you can, eat everything, with pleasure and not in a rush, buy whole ingredients, close to home and strive for imperfection; no need to be a four star chef.” With this in mind, she gently prods and encourages home cooks to try making a toothsome pumpernickel loaf for brunch, or an elegant barley with crisped prosciutto and truffle oil side dish for dinner. But it’s the wheat berry fools with Grand Marnier figs that have me intrigued- soft wheat berries, clouds of whipped cream and Greek yoghurt and boozy, luxurious figs throughout and on top- I can’t think of a more satisfying end to a perfect meal.

Food Porn
3.4 spoons out of 5
Rustic, beautiful and flavourful-looking bowls of spelt pasta linguine, a rich casserole dish of lamb stew with wheat berries in red wine sauce and sugar-top crusted white whole wheat fig muffins with creamy goat cheese filling beckon with abandon. Now I’m hungry!

Final Analysis

You may like it if…

  • You yearn to move beyond instant rice and oats.
  • Are curious to incorporate new textures, flavours and fabulous dishes in your everyday and special occasion repertoires.

You may not like if…

  • Your idea of exciting is a loaf of wonder bread with cheese whiz.

Written by Mary-Luz Mejia

“Baroness” potatoes from eat live travel write

When I saw that Jen had challenged us to work with potatoes this month for Kitchen Bootcamp, I knew immediately what I wanted to make. Lately, I have been craving little golden baked puffs of potato-ey perfection. I was reading a vintage cookbook and came across a picture and it brought me back to the 1970s dinner parties my mum and dad used to throw with all sorts of fancy eats like Duchess Potatoes. Chapter 26 of The Professional Chef does, indeed, include instructions for these but I felt I might modernize them a little by making flattened discs of potato rather than fancy schmancy piped out ones. They didn’t exactly come out as elegant as I had hoped so I dubbed them “Baroness” potatoes—a Baroness being the lowest rank of nobility at the opposite end of the scale from the Duchess.



“Baroness” potatoes (aka the poor cousin of the Duchess)

Recipe type: Side dish or snack
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 3-4 as a side, 2 as a snack!


A rustic version of the classic Duchess potato.

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into even sized cubes
3 tablespoons whipping (heavy) cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oven to 400°F.
2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
3. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and just cover with cold water.
4. Over a high heat, bring to a boil and then lower temperature and simmer the potatoes until they are fork-tender (20-30 minutes)
5. Drain the potatoes then either using a food mill, a ricer or a not-too-fine sieve, push the hot potatoes through so they are fluffy.
6. Add in the cream, the room temperature butter and egg yolk and mix until just combined and smooth.
7. Place the potato mixture in a piping bag and pipe small balls of the mix onto the baking tray.
8. Flatten the balls into small discs (they should be about 3cm across) using either your thumb or the back of a fork.
9. Brush discs with the melted butter, making sure to coat both sides.
10. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the discs over and return tray to oven for a further 15 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
11.Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately, either as a side dish or simply with ketchup.




Yeah, okay, these were pretty rustic looking but I actually really liked the taste. Hot out of the oven they were crispy on the outside and light fluffy on the inside. The only thing is, they didn’t re-heat so well so if you make them, plan on eating them all. I’ll definitely make these again because I loved their clumsy elegance. Sometimes, you know, there’s no place for a Duchess at the dinner table.


Mardi_MichelsMardi Michels is a full-time French teacher and part-time food blogger based in Toronto. Her blog, focuses on culinary adventures both near and far because she travels as often as she can!

“Baroness” potatoes (aka the poor cousin of the Duchess) from eat live travel write


When I saw that Jen had challenged us to work with potatoes this month for Kitchen Bootcamp, I knew immediately what I wanted to make. Lately, I have been craving little golden baked puffs of potato-ey perfection – I was reading a vintage cookbook and came across a picture and it brought me back to the 1970s dinner parties my mum and dad used to throw with all sorts of fancy eats like Duchess Potatoes.  Chapter 26 of The Professional Chef does, indeed include instructions for these but I felt I might modernise them a little by making flattened discs of potato rather than fancy schmancy piped out ones. They didn’t exactly come out as elegant as I had hoped so I dubbed them “Baroness” potatoes – a Baroness being the lowest rank of nobility at the opposite end of the scale from the Duchess.

“Baroness” potatoes (aka the poor cousin of the Duchess)

Recipe type: Side dish or snack
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 3-4 as a side, 2 as a snack!

A rustic version of the classic Duchess potato.

?1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into even sized cubes
?3 tablespoons whipping (heavy) cream
?2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
?1 egg yolk
?2 tablespoons butter, melted
?salt and freshly ground pepper

1.Heat oven to 400°F.
2.Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
3.Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and just cover with cold water.
4.Over a high heat, bring to a boil and then lower temperature and simmer the potatoes until they are fork-tender (20-30 minutes)
5.Drain the potatoes then either using a food mill, a ricer or a not-too-fine sieve, push the hot potatoes through so they are fluffy.
6.Add in the cream, the room temperature butter and egg yolk and mix until just combined and smooth.
7.Place the potato mixture in a piping bag and pipe small balls of the mix onto the baking tray.
8.Flatten the balls into small discs (they should be about 3cm across) using either your thumb or the back of a fork.
9.Brush discs with the melted butter, making sure to coat both sides.
10.Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the discs over and return tray to oven for a further 15 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
11.Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately, either as a side dish or simply with ketchup.


Yeah ok – these were pretty rustic looking but I actually really liked the taste. Hot out of the oven they were crispy on the outside and light fluffy on the inside. The only thing is, they didn’t re-heat so well so if you make them, plan on eating them all   I’ll definitely make these again because I loved their clumsy elegance. Sometimes, you know, there’s no place for a Duchess at the dinner table.

Top Chef Canada: Lisa’s Episode 3 Blog

Lisa_TCCHere Comes the Stork! Pregnancy and bizarre food cravings- it’s a match made in culinary heaven (or hell) depending on whether you’re the culinary producer for Top Chef Canada or a hapless contestant. Mind you, seeing Shereen heavily pregnant should have been a massive (sorry Shereen) hint for the chefs about the challenge to come. With Thea also expecting, we have the perfect ingredients for a ‘crazy combo’ challenge which I expect is replicated in households across Canada in different ways- every day for nine months give or take.

‘Hanging with the Big, Pregnant Ladies’ as Thea puts it, provides me with two important experiences: first I get an insight into what its like to be pregnant (exhilarating and scary) and secondly, I get to eat in the shadow of the ‘Big Girls’. I’m a big eater (you may be noticing by now) but today I have an excuse to indulge even more. I just hope the chefs come up with dishes that appeal to us ‘non-pregnant’ people as well.

‘Make a Refined Dish using an Unusual Flavour Combination’ is the Quickfire challenge and after drawing knives for their crazy combo the chefs are off and running. There are some surprisingly scrumptious results- as well as some, which are not. Jimmy’s chicken wings with oatmeal and wasabi paste should be on menus everywhere- though you’d have to come up with a more palatable name for it. It sounds horrifying. Oatmeal! Wasabi peas! Apples! Thea and I shot each other a worried look before tucking in. In the mouth, the random ingredients combined to create a rapturous taste. Awesome Jimmy. That’s the true test of a Top Chef- to make it not just edible but delicious. To me, it’s old fashioned alchemy. Like in the days of yore, using ordinary ‘metals’ to create ‘gold’.

Another clear winner was Ryan’s appealing black cod with tomato and licorice chutney in anise broth. The liquid-spiced with fennel, star anise and tarragon added a strong and peppery flavour which enhanced the licorice and tied the dish together beautifully. Bravo! Sergio’s seared pork tenderloin with dark chocolate foie gras sauce, hollandaise and fried sage had Thea barely concealing her delight with the plate.

Most disappointing was Xavier’s crepes. While he had cilantro and blueberries as his ingredients, he chose to line his crepes with raw spinach, which just tasted terrible. I can’t understand why Xavier keeps coming out on the bottom. He’s obviously a talented chef but it seems- like David- that his experience is proving to be ‘the fly in the sauce’. He’s in his head too much for this competition.

Honourable mention is Trevor for his demented tempura pickles and peanut butter mousse. By far the strangest thing I’ve ever tasted- and it kinda worked. Not sure you can categorize it as food- it’s sort of in a category of its own. Thea enjoyed it, made a mention of it, but sometimes an alchemist can be too inventive and create something that, well, belongs in some sort of alternative universe.

For the Elimination Challenge the chefs pair up to prepare hors d’oeuvres for a Baby Shower for Shereen and Thea at George restaurant. The spin is one dish is for a girl and the other for a boy. This is open to interpretation but the chefs have to explain their offerings. A personal note here: I’ve been to countless events where hors d’oeurves have been served, but never got down to the exact definition. We generally know that it’s a small portion of tasty food served as an appetizer or at a cocktail party, but did you know the literal meaning from French is ‘outside of work’ and that they should be consumed in one to three bites?

Elizabeth and Jonathan’s donut war excites the palate. It’s absolutely wild they chose to prepare exactly the same dish. While Elizabeth’s potato donuts with bacon are fabulously satisfying and full of flavour, Jonathan knocks it out of the park with his sweet and savoury and fluffy maple double smoked bacon donut with a ‘soft ball’. Crisp and soft inside, I have to take a moment to close my eyes and commune with the donut. While I’ve never come across the bacon-sweet combo, I know what I’ll be ordering when I’m pregnant!

Other standouts are Karl and Trista playing on the pink and blue theme. I wasn’t impressed when I saw the dishes- on a potato chip?!- but the flavours exploded in my mouth. A very satisfying two bites. Curtis takes a massive chance on preparing his largely self-taught pink peppercorn macaroons. Outstanding! I lived in Paris for a few years where I developed an affinity for Macaroons- which were invented at the iconic Laduree pastry shop and tea house close to the Madeleine in Paris. Anxious for any excuse to visit the shop, my favourite memories are of sauntering down the street to attend a party with a box of macaroons tucked under my arm. Thanks for the new memories Curtis!

In contrast I am positively insulted by Xavier and Sarah’s dishes. That’s right- my mouth is insulted! I’m not sure which ball is worse. After trying Xavier’s my tongue kind of goes numb but Sarah’s is the last straw. I couldn’t spit it up fast enough. What the hell happened? You’re cooking for unborn children, guys! Child abuse!

Our chefs today have the dubious distinction of having the worst flavours yet on the show. Any of them could be eliminated. Joel’s scallop sausage was so unpleasant to eat I can’t shake off the rubbery, fishy texture. It’s too bad Sarah has to go, but let this be a lesson to the chefs: may the combination of chocolate and prosciutto oil never cross our paths again.