Monthly Archives: November 2012

2012 Chef’s Challenge-the ultimate foodie fundraiser (I’m going! I’m tweeting!!)

2012 Chef’s Challenge

I am totally pumped to have been invited to be a Chef’s Challenge social media reporter for this Saturday’s event. 

If you haven’t heard about it, the Chef’s Challenge is an amazing fundraiser for Mt. Sinai Hospital focusing on women’s health and raising money for breast and ovarian cancer research.

He’ll totally be meaner than this on Saturday.

Picture a kitchen stadium where celebrity chefs Lynn Crawford, Chuck Hughes, Mark McEwan, David Rocco and Michael Smith work with foodie fundraisers to battle it out during a three-course meal service under the eagle eye of  Guy Fieri who will be commenting through the event (hopefully there will be some yelling and mockery even).  Each course must be delivered to a set of celebrity judges that will score the plates on taste, presentation and the crew’s work style and skill.   There will be cameras, there will be commotion.

To attend the event you have to qualify by raising a minimum $2500 each.  The Top 50 fundraisers get to test their kitchen skills on stage with one of the above Chef’s as team leaders.

Personally this sounds beyond stressful and I’ve worked in a kitchen, so I am eager to see how everyone fares under pressure.  It was a love/hate deal for me.  Maybe more hate.

Chef McEwan with Chef’s Challenge co-chair Simmie Antflick (photo courtesy of  Nick Lee)

There were several pre-events leading up to this Saturday, one was hosted by reigning champion Chef McEwan.  Click here for more deets.

The hour of judgement for Chuck Hughes (photo courtesy of Nick Lee)

Then there was the cookie battle judged by Chuck Hughes (cookies! Chuck Hughes! can this be a monthly thing? Or even daily?)

It’s a kitchen party… (photo courtesy of Nick Lee)

And the very first event was at Chef John Cirillo’s Culinary Academy where some aspiring chefs got a few lessons in the kitchen.

Hopefully I have peaked your interest and you can follow my tweets  Saturday night (@sueriedl) and also sign up to follow @chefschallenge for daily updates.  The radiant Ivy Knight (  I was torn between radiant and luminescent)  is part of the team organizing this event and you can follow her @ivyknight or at @Swallow_Food

For more information on the event please go to:

chefschallengeforacure.com

facebook.com/ChefsChallengeCanada

twitter.com/ChefsChallenge

Huge thanks to Nick Lee for letting me use his photos of the events.

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Sustenance and Sustainable for Brunch….Think Red Fish.

Havin’ a Fish Fry at Red Fish

Last Sunday night a bunch of friends and I popped by Red Fish for a fish fry.  You can see Chef David Friedman back there (in the photo)  bringing out platters of lightly battered, crispy fish;  yellow perch, catfish and spelt all wild, all from Lake Erie.  Sides were creamy coleslaw, herb seasoned fries and a great green salad in a tasty vinaigrette (and if you think you can get a well-seasoned vinaigrette just anywhere –you’d think, right?– you’d be wrong).

Inside!

Red Fish is at 890 College, west of the lovely La Fromagerie (in case you need to pick up some 14 Arpents cheese) and they also serve brunch.  All the seafood at Red Fish is seasonal and sustainable, they are a partner with Ocean Wise.

While there I perused the dinner and brunch menus which looked pretty delish.  So thought I’d throw it out there on a SNOWY (snowy!) Sunday morning.

Brunch Menu Red FIsh

Steelhead Trout rillettes, comforting fish cakes and a steamy BC Albacore Tuna Melt all sound pretty good to me.  And don’t worry, you can still get house made scones and double smoked bacon.

And here’s part of the dinner menu while I’m at it…

So now, you really only have to make yourself breakfast.  A few spoons of peanut butter straight from the jar?  Yep, that counts.

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Happy Thanksgiving (Sandwich) USA!

The toasted marshmallow-sweet potato sandwich.

What?  It’s a sweet/savoury/sweet sandwich made just in time for American Thanksgiving.  You can totally pack this when you line up at midnight to bust into Wal-Mart to buy a big screen TV for $49.99.

Just making American tradition portable.   This was my weekly sandwich for Globe Life on Monday.

Instructions:

Slice a small sweet potato in half and bake on a cookie sheet at 350°F for 1 hr or until tender.  Scoop out the potato and mash with a teaspoon of brown sugar and salt and pepper (to taste).

Bring the sweet potato mash to work with 2 pieces of Texas Toast  and 2 marshmallows.  At  lunch, toast the bread in the toaster oven.  Spread one side with a thick layer of sweet potato.  Slice the marshmallows into three thin slices and layer on top.  Put the marshmallow side back into the toaster oven to brown and melt the marshmallows.  Top with second toast.   Shock and amaze coworkers.

And yes, of course I ate one…..  ( It was not so bad my ketchup-on-French Toast eating friends…….blech.)

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Curds and Eh 9: On Writing (a Book about Cheese)

Kelsie’s notebooks of cheese facts….(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

To see video from Kelsie’s travels check his Pied de Vent post and to follow his other adventures just search “Curds and Eh” on the Cheese and Toast home page.

On Writing

I find that the hardest part of writing a book is… writing. This summer I spent 3.5 months traveling across Canada. I visited 120 cheese makers to research content for my upcoming book about Canadian cheese. Planning the trip was easy. Getting time off work was no problem and the actual research and traveling was a blast (and delicious!). But one thing that I find difficult is writing. At times it’s even painful and depressing. It’s frustrating because I know what I want to say but how do I express my thoughts in a way that others would find interesting? I’d love to sit down with every potential reader of my book and have a conversation about Canadian cheese. I’d explain the intricacies that excite me and the stories that fascinate me but alas that approach isn’t very realistic.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m enjoying writing. I’ve never written a book before and I love stepping out of my comfort zone to do something new and learn. As a bonus, I get to relive my summer adventure all over again.

On the road….

After 3.5 months on the road I returned home and sat down at my computer with notebooks full of facts. Unfortunately most readers probably don’t want to read a book consisting of bullet-point cheese facts. If that were the case I would have finished writing long ago!

About a month ago I returned to my job as a cheesemonger at Sobeys. I claimed that I’d write the book in the evenings and on my lunch breaks. Easier said than done! Weeks went by and I barely lifted my pen. It turns out when working full time I need a bit of down-time to relax and not write a book.

When writing at home my day tends to stick to the following pattern: Check Facebook, do household chores, check Facebook, have a snack, exercise, check Facebook, play the guitar, and then check to see if words magically appeared on the page I was working on. I get distracted easily.

Revel Caffe

To write I need a day free of commitments and I need to be out of the house. I’ve taken this week off work just to focus on writing. Lately I’ve been spending lots of time at Revel Caffe drinking coffee and writing away. I bring along a pen and paper and set up my computer on the wooden bar that used to be a bowling lane. I face an old brick wall and zone out in the buzz of conversations. It’s one space where I can free myself of distractions and just write. The library is my second favourite place to work but I find the quietness turns every sound into a distraction.

Humming Under Pressure yet? Just a shout-out to Queen and Bowie.

I love working under pressure. No pressure means no work gets done. Tight deadlines mean I’ll focus, stay up late writing and get it done.

Recently I hired on a graphic designer, David Kopulos. Perhaps the best thing (so far) that has come out of hiring David is that I now have deadlines. I need to have the final edited text to him by the end of April. That sounds like a long way away but I’m looking at it as 3.5 months to finish writing and 2 months to complete the editing. I’m sure I’ll be writing and editing my Canadian cheese book up until the minute that it’s due.

Another obstacle is that I keep revisiting the same chapter over and over again. I’ll rearrange it, change a few words and spend hours tweaking it. When is it ok to accept the writing the way it is and move on?

George Orwell

Sue sent me this quote by George Orwell:

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

Does that mean cheese is my demon? I’m ok with that. ;)

I never claimed to be a writer. I’m just a guy that loves cheese.

My question to you bloggers, students and writers of all forms is what helps you write? How do you transform your ideas and thoughts into a form that others hopefully would want to read? Any tips or thoughts would be much appreciated!

(Sue says she thinks Kelsie is a great writer.  And sounds like he’s got the procrastination skill down pat…..)

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Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Curds and Eh, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Toast Post: Vicky’s FlatBread and 14 Arpents Cheese

14 Arpents cheese from Fromagerie Médard in Quebec

***NOTE:  I am retweeting this as the 14 Arpent article was not yet out when first posted.  Enjoy.  La Fromagerie on College also now carries the cheese.

The creamy and luxurious 14 Arpents cheese from Fromagerie Médard  is the subject of The Wedge today (with recent changes to the Globe Arts and Life section, The Spread is now The Wedge). Other than promoting this lovely cheese all over the place the blog allows me to give a shout-out to a great new artisinal product I recently tried,Vicky’s Flatbreads.

Made in Toronto, the flat breads are named after the wife of creator Richard Bedford.  They come in two flavours: Original and Rosemary.

Quite addictive, you first experience the crisp CRUNCH followed by great flavour– I can taste the sesame seeds, poppy seeds and olive oil that go into them.

Yet, the flavour is not so pronounced that they wouldn’t make an excellent showcase for cheese, dips, or pates.

And considering they’re healthy (low in salt, no sugar, no preservatives or trans fats AND Kosher) you can eat as many as you want!  Or so I tell myself.

Look for them at small retailers in Toronto such as Alex Farm Products on Bayview Ave., Culinarium, Harvest Wagon, Summerhill Market and Pusateri’s, Olympic Cheese and Scheffler’s Delicatessen in St. Lawrence Market.  You’ll also find them at The Village Grocer in Markham and Vincenzo’s in Waterloo.

Here is a link to a short piece with a little more background on Richard and Vicky’s Flatbreads.

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My Ottolenghi Obsession, Jerusalem and The Boss

On October 21 I saw Bruce Springsteen….. (Because the Night  video from that show)

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi  (picture from the Ottolenghi site)

..and also attended The Cookbook Store’s event featuring Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi who were introducing their latest book, Jerusalem. The recipes all come from their shard home city, where they were born in the same year, Sami on the Arab east side and Yotam in the Jewish west.

I honestly don’t know which I was more excited about.  (I did not wear plaid to the cookbook event but I did wear plaid to the concert.  No bandana, I swear.)

If you read Cheese and Toast occasionally you may know that I am obsessed with their vegetarian cookbook Plenty.  Why?  Because the recipes look amazing, taste amazing and they always work.  Really.  I do have a bit of a track record of experimenting with new dishes for dinners I’m hosting.  Like clockwork, 45 minutes before guests arrive, unwashed hair and pajama pants on, I’m panicking in the kitchen with dramatic wails of “just call Pizza Pizza, it’s going to be a disaster!”

But to be honest, that was years ago before I figured out the folly of my ways.  So much better to make a simple roast chicken and caesar salad, be mellow and enjoy a glass of wine rather than clutching the Chianti bottle, face pressed against oven door hoping the souffle will rise.  This does not tend to set a relaxed tone for guests.

All of this to say, that I would make any recipe from the Ottolenghi series of cookbooks for the first time even for The Boss himself.  They’re foolproof in my experience.

For this reason, I was really interested to hear Yotam and Sami talk about their testing and recipe writing process surrounding their third book, Jerusalem.

Did I mention they were warm and charming?  Utterly even. I do not think anyone there would have disagreed.

ON TESTING RECIPES:

Sami and Yotam explained that their goal when writing the recipes was to “not think like chefs”.  They put a lot of effort into testing and their testers were home cooks.  The Jerusalem cookbook uses quite a few ingredients that might be tricky to find in a pinch  (But as they joked, “once you Ottolenghize your cupboard, you’re OK”) so they list substitutions 90 percent of the time for more difficult to find items.  And though they obviously take great care with combining ingredients and flavours it was a bit of a relief to hear “if you miss one ingredient, you’re OK”.

(this was an interesting contrast to the Thomas Keller event (for the Bouchon Bakery cookbook) where though all the recipes are carefully tested til perfect, Chef Keller said he doesn’t really aim for the “home cook” because he can’t define the term.  He knows home cooks that can barely boil water and some that are as good as himself…and then I am sure he winked right at ME in the 18th row. Oh stop.)

(from top) Cannelini Bean and Lamb soup, Hot Yogurt and Barley soup and Chickpea Soup with rosewater and ras el hanout (from Jerusalem)

ON FLAVOUR

They’re definitely not shy on flavour, referring to themselves as strong and gutsy with the belief that the food should taste as vibrant as it looks.

FAVOURITE DISHES

Sami confessed to eating store-bought tortelleni with Parmesan and pepper when lazy (what a relief!), Yotam said his most comforting food was lentils and rice with some yogurt and caramelized onion.

One of the beautiful market images from the book.

HOW THEY CHOSE THE RECIPES

They both agreed that though they tested and made many more recipes that were included in the final version of Jerusalem, they only put in anything they truly, truly loved and dropped anything else.   They also talked about the photo shoot for the book (as you can see from the soup pic the photos are stunning) explaining that they did not use a food stylist, preferring to have the food presented “as it fell on the plate” without too much intervention.   So they actually shot about 8-10 photos a day (which is apparently unheard of).

Spice Trader

WHERE TO GET INGREDIENTS

In Toronto helpful audience members recommended Spice Trader (877 Queen Street West) and Arz Fine Foods (1909 Lawrence Avenue East).  Both are worth a trip whether you need anything or not, so it will be a fun and delicious mission.

You can also order online at the Ottolenghi website to buy ingredients such as Palestinian za’atar.

As if I wouldn’t show off the signed book!

If you want to try a couple of recipes before purchasing this book, I’ve blogged about a few from PLENTY such as the vibrant Sweet Winter Slaw, Socca with Roasted tomato and onion and the Celeriac and Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts and Mint.

The Lentil Celeriac Salad..

Or just get the damn books.  Best excuse to visit The Cookbook Store three times in a row.

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