Monthly Archives: November 2011

Caramels: The Cure for What Ails Ya

Some might recommend antibiotics for pneumonia (those would be the doctors) but us food bloggers like something that is more indulgent.  Like caramels.  If you’re craving caramels, no matter how sick, you know you’re generally OK.  And is it not a bucolic  ideal to be eating bons bons while lounging in bed?  Realistically, no one has time for that –except when taken ill with only enough strength to strip the crinkly, bright wrappers off the naked chocolates .

The caramels look much less 1970s than in this photo.

I recently had the opportunity to curl up with a box of the above. Fortune smiled upon me and said, “hey, get yourself some pneumonia and some bons bons”. The pneumonia arrived courtesy of the devil (I can’t be sure of that,  just a guess) and the chocolates came courtesy of President’s Choice.

It’s actually a chocolate and toffee “collection” (I’m giving up stamps immediatly -what was I thinking?) and the first thing I noticed is that all the 11  flavours on the chocolate map (see below for some blurry details) were tempting.  Not a chocolate brandy cherry in site.  I think I would eat the orange fondant last but my dad would head straight for it.

The chocolates are imported from England and you do feel like you just nipped into Marks and Spencers for a fix.

You can go ahead and buy them for as a hostess gift, but they’ll never make it, particularly if you’re too weak to get out of bed.

See, there’s an upside to congested lungs.  No, actually there’s not.  But eating these caramels will make you forget your woes for a bit.  (Take note Daytime TV).


Filed under Restaurants and Products, Ruminations on the Edible

Tis the Season for Pomegranate Ice Cream

Pomegranates are here.  And so is my reluctance to buy them and take the time to extract the delicious seeds (arils).  Lazy, yes.

But then I was inspired to take the healthy pomegranate and fatten it up into a simple and delicious, no-churn ice cream.  (Using a recipe from Nigella Lawson‘s cookbook Nigella Express.)  Who other than Nigella could completely kill the heart-healthy attributes of a pomegranate with 2 cups of whole cream?   Screw sprinkling the arils on a salad, I latched onto her bandwagon fast.

And really, de-seeding the pomegranate is not that tough.  Lots of people/websites suggest cutting the fruit in half and then simply tapping it until the arils easily plop out into the awaiting bowl.  I have tapped pomegranates, I have spanked them with a wooden spoon and for me, about maybe 1/4 of the arils ever fall out, no matter how ripe.  So I prefer the underwater method (not you, just the pom.)

I demonstrate this in a Chef Basics Video-so just click on the link for a demo.  Basically, it’s like this:

Take the pomegranate and halve, then quarter. (cut off the crown and score the outer skin with your knife and pull apart).

Now take the pieces and in a bowl of cold water, submerge one at a time and gently pop out the seeds with your hands.  No squirting juice to deal with and the heavier seeds will sink to the bottom while the pith floats on top.

(Bit of a blood bath, isn’t it.)  Now you can scoop of the pith and drain the seeds. Next, to juice, into the food processor they go.

For the recipe, you need to de-seed 2 pomegranates and just buzz them for a few seconds –then drain through a fine sieve. You need 3/4 cups juice for the ice cream but I got about 1 cup. (You will never buy a POM drink again after you taste this).

Next,  juice a lime.  (or have your kid do it)

Total unneccessary picture but how cute are Felix’s little hands!  Add the lime juice to the pom juice and put it into a medium size bowl.  Add 1 1/2 cups icing sugar.  (I was a little leery of the amount of sugar but the balance of flavour was good in the end.) Then add in the 2 cups whipping cream.  And well, whip it, whip it good!  It will be light and fluffy and a very very pretty.

Beware of how much you “taste” at this point. It’s crazy delicious. Sweet, rich and yet a little tart from the fruit.  Spread it into a Tupperware and put on lid, then straight into the freezer.

Ultimately, I left it overnight before serving, Nigella says four hours in minimum.  Was still a bit soft at four hours in my freezer.

Really depends on your freezer and where you put it in the freezer I imagine.  (While making room in my freezer I discovered I had a whole duck in there that I completely forgot about. Plus some half-used puff pastry and a frozen wedge of birthday cake.)

The results:

So good I ate it for breakfast. (Never skip breakfast, bad for your health) .

This whipped ice cream softens fairly quickly so does not have the denser texture of a typical custard based, churned ice cream, but I think it would make a gorgeous finish to a meal if you were entertaining.  It’s really light and creamy, and so easy to do in advance.  For myself, I know how I’ll be getting my daily servings of dairy this week.


Filed under All Recipes, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Ruminations on the Edible

Toast Post: Black Label 8-Year Old Cheddar

Yes, I’m on a bit of a President’s Choice kick this week, I’m trying out some of the new Black Label line.  Today for breakfast I cracked open the 8-year old cheddar.

The PC cheddars are made for Loblaw by Mapledale and I’ve been a fan for a while.  Their 1 and 2-year-old cheddars are a staple in my cheese drawer.  Mellow but flavourful and I love the creamy finish.

This 8 yr old packs a wallop of flavour from first bite. It has the expected “sharpness” of an aged cheddar though I hesitate to use the word as I sometimes associate that with a higher acidity or hints of  bitterness in some older cheeses. This guy is very smooth and rounded.  Not so crumbly that it won’t hold its shape when sliced and it melts in the mouth to a creamy, delicate finish. I think this is perfect for pairing whether on a cheese board with a chutney or made into a sandwich with some Branston pickle.

The label says this cheddar is made from unpasteurized milk which I take to mean thermalized (still heat-treated but a gentler process).

Price?  Probably around $12-$13.  And in the case of this elderly gent, a little goes a long way.

(The cheese is reading over my shoulder and is offended by being called elderly.  I’m more freaked out that it can read.  Well, what else are you going to do sitting around in an ageing room for eight years, responds the cheese.  He recommends “The Sisters Brothers” for the 2011 Giller Prize by the way.)

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Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Restaurants and Products, Toast Posts

It’s a chocolate chip miracle!

It’s not everyday I gasp aloud in delight (aside from everytime I use my nutmeg grater) but I did squeal a little when I saw these Mini Butterscotch Melts from Presidents Choice.

I mean, I think the delight is self-explanatory, if you haven’t almost peed your pants in excitement as this point, I don’t know how to explain the new heights this will take your cookie baking.

Instead let me show you more pictures—

See, they are smaller than a peanut (though I acknowledge that this peanut appears monstrous).  So the beauty here is, you don’t have to add less chips or call your cookie “chocolate chunk”, it’s still chocolate chip but SUPERCHARGED.  (I also saw a suggestion to add them to banana bread which peaked my interest-or how about throwing them into a trail mix).

I caution you to not open a package before eating breakfast.  You may have a light bulb moment prompting you to put these into a bowl and cover them with milk.   This is a delusion.  Please toast some whole grain bread and melt the chips on top!  It’s just like Nutella but more nutritious.

Here’s what the pack looks like.  I got these in as part of a gift bag when I was invited into the President’s Choice Test Kitchen to try some new holiday products.  It was a bit of Willy Wonka experience (though not the trippy Gene Wilder version of the 70s) and I was fascinated to hear about the product development process.   I’ve always been curious.  More on that coming up.

For now– crave the chips.


Filed under Restaurants and Products, Ruminations on the Edible

Alsace Riesling is my new Wingman

Lee Restaurant, King St (I stole this picture form their site, yes I did)

Inside Lee: not rainy

Last Tuesday, on a rainy, miserable night in Toronto I pulled my damp trench tight around me and made a dash for Lee on King Street.

Off with the trench and out with my hand to grab a glass of Alsatian Riesling as it passed by.  I was attending a dinner to celebrate the two winning chefs of the Vanguard Culinary Fusion and Wine Pairing Competition (let’s just call it Van-Fu Wi-Pa).  The Van-Fu Wi-Pa was a competition between 9 Toronto chefs to pair dishes with specific wines hailing from the Alsace and Rhone regions of France.  Head judge and host of the evening was Susur Lee in whose kitchen the two winners (Chef Shane Straiko from the Pantages Hotel and Misha Nesterenko from Marben) were preparing their food) while I sipped Riesling wondering why I drove to a wine event.

Before dinner they came out front to accept their accolades.  Both were extremely gratious but looked a little uncomfortable to have to leave the kitchen and speak to a room full of flashing iPhones and chants of “where’s the grub?”. (ok, there was not chanting…. just a disquieting murmur).

Susur's reaction when I told him I write a column just about cheese.

I was fortunate to have some great company at my table- Renée Suen from Toronto Life and David Ort and Suresh Doss from Spotlight Toronto.  We were also joined for part of the meal by Chef Lee and had a fun discussion about good pho (“that place on Ossington that’s not Golden Turtle”), food in general, travel and even a bit of cheese talk.

Misha Nesterenko plating during competition

My fave dish was Misha Nesterenko’s braised short ribs with  horseradish pomme puree, curly kale and butter glazed veggies.  It was paired with a Cotes du Rhone Village Rasteau (M. Chapoutier, 2009).   I took a bite, I took a sip of wine, I ate, I sipped…it was fluid.  A fairly classic dish as Misha had acknowledged at the beginning of the night but it worked.

No need for me to to post my dimly lit iPhone photos, you can taste similar pairings until November 11 at all the participating restaurants (the other 7 were Ultra Supper Club, The Bowery, Le Canard Mort, Veritas, Langdon Hall, TOCA and Ancaster Mill).

As for the my new wingman? Well, his name is actually Pierre Sparr.  We received a gift bag on the way out and in it were two bottles of wine (the above Riesling and a Gigondas). So far the Riesling had me looking like the best hostess ever at a small drop-in dinner I organized.   I reached for it to serve with the cheese board.   Suddenly people were looking me in the eye, telling me I was beautiful, laughing at my jokes…essentially distracting me any way they knew how while reaching into the fridge to get at this wine which I practically had to ration. The wine lover friend came back for more as did my friend who usually only drinks half a glass,  and even people who usually just buy “white” asked for label info. If it’s like the other Pierre Sparr wines at the LCBO it’s probably under $20.

God only knows what will happen when I open the Gigondas.  I’m hoping Genie.

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Filed under Restaurants and Products, Ruminations on the Edible