Monthly Archives: March 2013

Easter eating and Terroir Symposium 2013

Felix colouring eggs-just before a "pink" spill

Welcome to Easter weekend.  As I was taking pics of my mom and Felix making our traditional Good Friday lunch of Czech “jidaski” (a sweet yeast bread that my mom “ties” into little buns that we eat up with a lot of butter and a lot, a lot of honey.) I realized that the eating part (though delicious and hightly anticipated) is not even as important as the “making of” the jidaski.

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 9.47.31 AM

Even in English I can’t read this handwriting (my moms) and my grandmothers never looked like anything more than wavy, snaking squiggles to me.

Because the “making of” makes me happy. It reminds me of being a kid, of our traditions and of the fact that every year my mom seems honestly mystified with something in the age-old recipe that she doesn’t ever remember doing before.  It usually has to do with the yeast and every year we wait anxiously to see if the jidaski will rise to their expected glory.

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 9.44.25 AM

We also always have a discussion that goes along the lines of “yeast, it’s not what it used to be”.   And always  looks are passed between Tad and my dad, “please let there be some meat with this lunch”.  Which there is, though yah, the point of the whole jidaski thing is “no meat on Good Friday”.   (But what can God have against thinly shaved, Italian rosemary ham?)

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 9.41.15 AM

So the making begins.  Felix starts to add and mix–with assistance from the master.

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 9.40.19 AM

There is always a spill–flour or sugar scattering–and my mom makes everyone stand back, as if we are on the edge of a dangerous sinkhole–and cleans up thoroughly,  extending the fault line at least a foot outside the contaminated area. Since my efforts at wiping are haphazard at best, there is always a point where I step beyond the invisible DO NOT CROSS tape and get reprimanded.

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 9.39.40 AM

Somehow by the end of the whole baking ritual my mom is ultimately left to finish which probably is a relief.  Or so I tell myself as by this point I have reverted to disinterested teen daughter, flipping through whatever old magazines are around the cottage.  (Did you know Kate Middleton is pregnant?)

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 9.38.30 AM

But we’re all back for the reveal.  Golden, aromatic and tender jidaski.  Ready for lunch.  Guaranteed I will eat one or five too many.

What a festive whip!

What a festive whip!

And here is an Easter transition that only my mom and dad adhere to (kidding!), Shades of Shades of Grey…

“In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a tradition of spanking or whipping is carried out on Easter Monday. In the morning, men spank women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka (in Czech) or korbáč (in Slovak), or, in eastern Moravia and Slovakia, throw cold water on them.”  (WIKIPEDIA)

Which brings me to the Terroir Symposium this year  (aside from the whipping as far as I know) whose themes are surely rooted in family food traditions including hashing out the same disagreements each year as you sit around the table eating far too much of a good thing.  Which is a good thing in itself.

For the Love of Food: Stories, Memories & Culture

Everything we eat has a story. Food is the basis of our existence, but we can also craft narratives around it: stories of hunger and sharing, of bounty and blessing. The dishes we prepare embody the traditions and heritage of our cultures; the memories we create through the food we eat, help define us. Food reminds us where we come from and encourages us to go somewhere new.

For this edition of Terroir, our presenters will share stories of their most compelling food experiences, memories and inspirations.

05 Pictures of mushrooms

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Local and Community Toronto, Ruminations on the Edible, Uncategorized

Making Saag Paneer with guest hostess Johanne Durocher

Saag Paneer for dinner-YUM!

I am absolutely thrilled to have my friend Johanne do a guest blog for me!  She has so much going on and yet made time for Cheese and Toast.  Her bio and pic (including a pic of donuts) is here and her blog Fashion in Motion is a fave–not only because of the fabulous content but I love Johanne’s witty and fun writing style.  You shall see as you read from this point on…..  ENJOY, SR.

As a gal who likes to improvise in the dressing room and in the kitchen, following a recipe to the letter is an exercise in restraint. I can’t resist substitutions, additions, modifications. I’ll use a silicone spatula instead of a wooden spoon. I’m such a rebel. Cue the music: I did it my way.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve always enjoyed cooking Indian food: it’s so flexible to adding more of this, less of that, turn up the heat or throw in an extra veg. But every now and again and I take on a new recipe and force-feed myself a little discipline. I do my best to follow it to the letter and not dispute salting the water or measuring only one teaspoon of vanilla.

And so it was with this in mind that I rolled up my sleeves and made Saag Paneer. Most people look shocked and a little scared when I tell them I made Saag Paneer. It is fitting that we reveal the mystery of the saag right here right now.

I followed the recipe here at Active For Life and it boasts a healthy take on the Indian classic. Having made Indian dishes before, I thought, piece of cake. It is very easy- but not necessarily a project I recommend undertaking on a weeknight unless you’re up to eating at 9pm. It will be an event: so pour yourself a drink and start washing your spinach.

I set a very large pot of salted water to boil and while that was heating up, I washed and dried just over two pounds of fresh spinach. That in itself took a long time and when I make this recipe again, I may just buy it pre-washed.

Fresh Spinach

I prepared just over two pounds of fresh spinach that I chopped into 3-inch long segments

Before blanching the spinach, I coarsely chopped it in half or thirds depending on the length of the leaves. I figured that this way when I would blend them there wouldn’t be a chance of having long strings of spinach filaments- imagined or real, the anticipation caused a coarse chop (see- I just can’t help myself throw in extra steps.)

Okay, when the water is at a full boil you drop your spinach in it, stir to get it all wet and then you wait and watch with the lid off (helps tremendously).

Spinach in Water

Blanching spinach is easy- just let the water come back to a boil and you’re done

When the water begins to boil again, strain the spinach and discard the water. In my case, I was hesitating about blanching it all at once because I had so much spinach and perhaps had not chosen a large enough pot, so I blanched in batches. To do this, just delicately scoop out the blanched spinach from the water and let the water come back to a roaring boil before throwing in the next batch. Worked really well for me.

Blanched spinach

The goal of blanching is to soften the spinach, not kill it to mush

After that bring in the high-powered machine: blend the spinach in a food processor at high speed. It won’t be super smooth so you’ll want to add water at the rate of one tablespoon at a time, then blend again, then add water until it’s looking smooth to you. It won’t be like a creamy-smooth, but it should be well-blended and the spinach particles quite small. No chunks, no filaments.

Food Processor

I was using my mini-food processor and had to blend my spinach in batches. See? Anything is possible

After that comes the fun stuff: on medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large pan with high sides. Add ¾ tsp of cumin seeds and cook until slightly browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Careful not to let these babies burn. Add 1 diced cooking onion and sauté until golden, roughly 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cloves of grated garlic and 2 tea spoons of grated ginger root. Cook for one minute.

Onion and Cumin

By this time it will smell so good in your house you’ll be thinking you can do this

When the onions are nice and golden, stir in ¼ cup of cilantro finely chopped, ½ tsp each of salt, ground coriander and turmeric. Stir in ¼ tsp of cinnamon and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add ½ cup of fresh chopped tomatoes and cook until they reduce and break down, roughly 5 minutes.

Paneer in Pan

I made the execute chef decision to pan-fry the paneer cubes at this step in the game

Set aside the tomato mixture in a bowl and return the frying pan to the stove, adding one teaspoon of oil and set that to medium heat. Dice 1 package of paneer into bite-sized cubes and add that to your hot pan. I added two cloves of grated garlic to them and flipped the cubes until golden crispy on two or more sides and then pulled those aside. This paneer-frying is a deviation that is perfectly acceptable (weeks later I discussed this with chef Vikram Vij who said it’s okay, but you can also just add your paneer later as the recipe instructs and that way it will be more melt-y, less-cube-y in texture. Your choice.).

Golden Paneer

Mmm paneer- a pressed cheese much like cottage cheese brick and commonly used in Indian cooking. I didn’t make the paneer and you don’t have to, either; it’s found at most large supermarkets.

I returned my pan to the heat and picked up where I left off: in it went the tomato mixture which I brought back to medium heat while stirring, and then added the reserved spinach. Cook for 3 minutes.

Spinach and Tomato

See me using a wooden spoon! I’m not breaking all the recipe rules

After that you should be looking at it and asking yourself if the mixture is saucy. If too thick, add water a few tablespoons at a time and stir. Stir in 1/3 cup of plain yogurt (I used fat-free Greek yogurt and threw in a little extra), the paneer cubes, and 2 tsp of lemon juice.

Yogurt Paneer

Watching this coming together is like waiting for the finale to a figure skating routine and you will get a quad

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, cut the heat, stir and admire your work.

FInal Saag Paneer

Ta-da! It will be magic and even the international judges will give you full points

Serve with rice or naan bread, or in my case, eat it straight up with a side of Panch Churan chutney (see top photo).

Thoughts on leftovers….

For me it was the best on the night-of, the leftovers were delicious but the creaminess never matched the same bliss as when the sauce came out of the pan. Chef Vikram Vij told me that flavours will intensify over time, too.

Come over here to see the full instructions to make this Saag Paneer and feel like an Indian figure-skating sensation.

6 Comments

Filed under All Recipes, Blogs with cooking tips, Cheese/Cheese Related, Uncategorized

Cheese Appreciation 1 Starting April 29 at Culinarium Toronto

Food-slice off the wheel-Tad Seaborn

photo by Tad Seaborn

Cheese Education Guild is the first cheese school dedicated to cheese appreciation in Canada. It
is patterned after international wine education programs and is a registered Canadian
education institution.

Cheese Appreciation 1
Results: certificate of achievement
Prerequiste: none
This thorough introduction on the topic of cheese provides the base for future study, discussion
and tasting in Cheese Appreciation 2 & 3.

Through the study program you will learn to:
 Taste, compare, discover, and explore the world of cheese.
 Gain understanding and deepened appreciation for cheeses from every category,
country and type of milk.
 Obtain knowledge to speak confidently about cheese with customers, patrons, and
associates.
 Build a network with other experts in cheese.
 Achieve a certificate of achievement for each level you complete from your
participation, research, reading and final testing during the course.

Venue and time for Cheese Appreciation 1
Venue: Culinarium, 705 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Toronto, Ontario (east side of Mt. Pleasant Rd,
south of Eglinton Ave.)
Next class starts: Monday April 29, 2013 and runs every Monday to June 24, 2013. ( no class
on Monday May 20, 2013)
Time: 6-9pm.
Cost: $575 +HST (Includes: cheese, course material, testing & certificate.)
CA1 is a total of 24 hours, 3 hours per week for 8 weeks.
Visit us for more information and registration
www.artisancheesemarketing.com
www.cheeseeducationguild.com

2 Comments

Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Local and Community Toronto, Uncategorized

Baby Potatoes with Normandy Butter and Roquefort …at midnight?

Roquefort and Fingerling Potatoes

It midnight–past midnight.  And I was checking email when I found this picture on my desk top.  It’s from a Lazy Gourmet piece I did a few weeks ago for the Globe.  OK, I may not make at 1 am in the morning but I am seriously thinking I might make it tomorrow night for some girlfriends coming over.   YUM.

Ingredients

Red fingerling potatoes (four to five per person)

Normandy butter (about a teaspoon, melted, per serving)

Fleur de Sel

Roquefort (about 100 g, crumbled)

Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 12.47.44 AM

Method

Try to find red-skinned fingerling potatoes – they add a burst of colour to the plate. Allow for four to five whole fingerlings per person and drop them into a pot of salted cold water, then bring to a simmer. Cook until fork tender and drain. Cut in half lengthwise and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with enough melted Normandy butter to flavour each wedge (about a teaspoon per serving) and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel. Crumble room temperature Roquefort over the dish (about 100g for four people, adjust to your own cheesy taste). Serve immediately.

2 Comments

Filed under All Recipes, Blogs with cooking tips, Cheese/Cheese Related, Uncategorized

Finally I respond to my 11 Liebster Award questions

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 12.02.05 PM

Thank You WEDGE IN THE ROUND for nominating me for the Liebster Award.  What could be nicer than having a fellow writer with a great cheese blog think of you for something like this.  I don’t even know exactly what happens after this (I think the spirit of the award is to spread the Blog Love)  but I love random questions and random questions coming up below….  SO THANKS WITR.

By the terms of the award:

  • When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (make sure you tell them you nominated them!) and ask them 11 questions.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated you!

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 12.09.45 PM

I have been slacking and just cruising California, but finally here are my answers.

11 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT SUE:

1. I used to work in Visual FX.

2. I really cannot stay up much past 11pm.  I do but I don’t like it.

3. I am a morning person (see above).

4. I love tap dancing.

5. I never really cooked anything til 2006.

6. I am watching Smash and Nashville.  How did this happen?

7. I am dying for Breaking Bad to return and I miss Eric from True Blood. (I say that as if we’re together)

8.  Can’t wait for the last Sookie Stackhouse novel in May though I feel it will suck.

9.  Just read The Sisters Brothers and hope that someone is making it into a film right now.  NOW.

10.  I have a weakness for Fleuvogs.

11. Chez Panisse was shut down by a major fire  a week before I was supposed to eat there.  I know it’s not all about me–but really?

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 8.02.46 AM

LA from the Palisades-time lapse by Tad

And now to answer the questions from Wedge in the Round:

  1. What is the number one reason you started your blog?  To write how and about what I felt like.
  2. And what is the number one reason you continue it?  FUN.  Except when it’s after 11pm.
  3. What have you learned from the blog? How to take decent food photos.  And less is more.
  4. How much time do you spend per week on your blog? Not enough.
  5. What has surprised you about the blog?  That I kept it up!
  6. If you could start over, what would you change?  The design.  Blah. Someone help me, pleeze.
  7. When not blogging, what do you do for fun?  Go to the movies.  Read.
  8. Your favorite place to eat out?  Chantecler.
  9. Favorite PRINT magazine? Saveur.
  10. Your next big thing?  Hopefully a burrito.
  11. Guilty pleasure?  Smash and Nashville.  I think Smash is better, but Nashville-I can’t quit you.  Though Scarlett’s hair is taking on a life of its own.  And I love Connie Britton.
Brain on vacation

Brain on vacation

BLOGS I NOMINATE:  (I am supposed to have 11 but my vacation brain has stunted and here are 3 from my witty friends)  Mostly because I want to see their answers to my questions!

Food Anthology

paulatiberius.com

strollingthecityinheels

My questions:

1. What is a food you hate but secretly pretend to like to be cool?

2. What vegetable do you like raw but never cooked?

3. What is a name you hate based on a bad grade school experience with someone?

4. Where do you think you slack on your blog?  (if at all)

5. What advice would you give new bloggers about sticking it out?

6.  Do you upsize your popcorn and drink at the movies?

7.  What is your favourite romantic comedy?

8.  What is your favourite commercial about food?

9. Are you punctual or tardy?  Be honest.

10.  What is your idea of heaven?

11.  What meal or dish do you make that kicks ass?

1 Comment

Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Uncategorized

Zuni Cafe, Hope and Anchor and boy is it hard to park in San Francisco

The beginning of San Francisco

The beginning of San Francisco

We drove to the Zuni Cafe straight from the airport with loads of time to get there.  Or so we thought since we allowed not too much thought for finding parking (you’d think coming from Toronto…) but I suppose we were in vacation mode.

Anyway, 40 minutes later, many one way streets and devastating parking spot “sightings” that were not parking spots because the street cleaner has priority wed between 12-2pm we found a place.  And headed down to the Zuni Cafe

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 9.25.44 AM

The famous made-to-order Caesar salad and house cured anchovies.

Here’s a little excerpt of history from the website–read the whole thing it’s quite a great story….

“Billy West opened Zuni Café in 1979, with a huge heart and exactly ten thousand dollars. In the early years, the restaurant consisted of a narrow storefront with a creaky mezzanine, roughly one quarter of its current size. To capitalize on the neighboring and highly visible corner cactus shop, (where Billy had been a partner, until it became clear cactus sales wouldn’t support three partners), he hand-plastered the walls and banquettes of his new space to give it a southwestern adobe-look. He chose the name Zuni, after the native American tribe, and decided to offer mostly simple and authentic Mexican food, drawing inspiration from Diana Kennedy’s cookbooks. A Weber grill was an important early investment, and was rolled on to the back sidewalk for each day’s service. Next came an espresso machine, which doubled as a stove since you could scramble eggs with the milk steamer.”

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 9.26.01 AM

Tad’s lunch: roasted quail…

I started with a glass of white wine (my actual request was local and not excessively oaky) and ended up with a lovely glass of minerally Zuni Chardonnay which hails from a vinyard in Santa Cruz.  Felix has the best apple juice he’s ever sipped-organic, fresh pressed.  Tad had an Anchor Steam beer.  His main was the Wolfe Ranch quail with quail egg, pan-fried sweet potatoes, kale salad and harissa.

It looked a lot less phallic when it was on the table in front of me I promise you.

I really was torn about posting my lunch photo which was described as house-made  Llano Seco Ranch fennel sausage (so juicy and delicately flavoured it was heavenly) with escarole, roasted Yellow Finn potatoes, cracklings, watermelon radish and caper-shallot vinaigrette— but somehow my photo has turned it into something phallic.  Avert your eyes if you have to.

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 9.27.24 AM

So while Felix used the best manners at his disposal to finish his pasta and tomato sauce (with a side of fennel sausage) Tad and I decided we made the wrong decision by skipping the fresh oysters and remedied the situation.

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 9.27.43 AM

We shared a pair of Pacific Hog Island Oysters (bottom, from Tomales Bay just north of San Fran) and Marin Miyagi’s (top, also from Tomales Bay).  Here is a great blog piece about the Tomales Bay oysters and area.  We liked the Hog Island the best, lighter and a little sweeter but both were lovely–the ocean in your hand.

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 2.12.45 PM

And then dessert.  Meringue crisps, coffee and chocolate whipped cream with chocolate sauce and toasted almonds.  With a coffee.  And Felix only ate a bit–too full.  Spoils for me.

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 9.26.20 AM

Moe proof we were in San Francisco–Felix watching the cable car being turned.

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 2.13.13 PM

Anchor and Hope on Minna Street

Our second day we went for lunch at the Anchor and Hope (thanks Janice!)  Here is their lunch menu-there was definitely a business lunch scene happening but the overall atmosphere is casual, open and funky space with huge nautical ropes strung around the ceiling beams.

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 2.13.33 PM

Kettle Chips and garlicky aioli arrive when seated.

And would have been nice had we all been there at the same time–again not knowing the parking secrets, it took Tad about 35 minutes to park and finally Felix and I had to order without him.  I had the Cubano, roasted pork, jamon de paris, swiss cheese, pickles, Dijon, taro chips and Tad had their extremely juicy burger.  Felix had their fries, aioli and ketchup. (yes, I just gave in to maintaining calm child while people negotiated business around us.)

The beer menu was impressive and long and a satisfying read in itself if you like beer.

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 2.35.02 PM

S’long San Francisco…..may we only ever take the amazing vintage style trolley next time we visit.

4 Comments

Filed under Restaurants and Products, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

I am flying 6 hours to get to lunch on Wednesday.

Zuni Cafe Lunch Menu

CLICK ON THE MENU TO SEE FULL SIZE AND BE JEALOUS

HMM, I guess the above menu could have used an outline or something.  Well, let’s just call it free form blogging.

So I am off to San Francisco tomorrow and still have to pack, wash hair, pay some bills, charge iPad, iPhone and laptop, remember to pack passports, panic that I forgot to pack passports, panic that my name does not match my passport on my ticket and figure out how to wake at 4-year-old gently at 4am knowing we have 15 minutes to be out of the house.

And snacks.  Must pack snacks.

But otherwise–check out the deliciousness that will greet me at 1pm California Time.  Will report back from the ZUNI Cafe.

And did I mention my reservation at Chez Panisse?    Oh boy oh boy.

7 Comments

Filed under Travel and Food, Uncategorized