Friday party trick: Pasta in a bag

November 27, 2009

Last week’s party trick was so much fun, that I think I’ll offer another!

I wish I could take full credit for this idea but truthfully, this picture appeared in Donna Hay magazine originally. When it was featured in her magazine, Donna’s team recommended popping cooked, lightly sauced pasta in a parchment pouch with raw seafood and then heating it gently to cook the shellfish and reheat the pasta.

I love this idea for entertaining since serving pasta to a crowd can be a rather steamy, messy affair that leaves the hostess’s hair either limp or frizzy. So, if you’re a pasta lover but don’t have perfectly bouncing and behaving locks but like to look good form company, this idea is for you!

Do you often serve pasta for company? If so, do you go for baked dishes like lasagna or brave the humidity and cook noodles in a vat of salted water?


Weekend Party Trick: 60-second appetizer

November 20, 2009

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The challenge: make a great looking appetizer that tastes fantastic in less time than it takes to wiggle into your party clothes.

The solution: Fruit and Nut topped Camembert

1 wheel Camembert or Brie cheese
Liquid honey
1 handful Back to Nature Raisins, Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Pecans and Apricots blend

Place the cheese on a platter and drizzle with some honey. Mound some of the trail mix on top. Drizzle with a bit more honey and serve with grapes, apple slices and crackers.

Need a wine match? Try an off-dry Riesling for white drinkers or a light, fruity pinot noir for a red choice. Can’t decide between red or white? Prosecco is a great match, too!

Now that you’ve seen my favourite party trick, tell me about yours!


Quiche me if you dare

November 12, 2009

quicheIt’s that time of year again. Time to pull out your cocktail party clothes and brush up on current affairs because the holiday season party invitations are going to start rolling in!

Or, maybe you’re thinking of hosting a holiday shindig. If so, chances are mini-quiches are on your list. They’re a party time stand-by but unfortunately, so many of the bought frozen quiches are just awful! Yet, people keep tossing their good money away by buying them. Such a shame when they are so very easy to make ahead, freeze and then heat in the oven when you need them.

All you need to do is whisk together
8 eggs
4 cups (1 litre ) 35% cream

Seriously, that’s it. Then, toss some yummy stuff like cheese, ham, salt, pepper, mustard, green onions and such together and divide them evenly between blind baked tart shells. Fill with the egg mixture and bake at 350ºF (180ºC) until the filling is jiggly and just barely set. Cool to room temp, place in zip top bags and freeze until needed. To serve, bake from frozen on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 350ºF (180ºC) until the crust smells toasty.


Happy Halloween – have you ever worn a food-related costume?

October 30, 2009

coolest-california-roll-sushi-boy-costume-37615Photo credit: www.coolest-homemade-costumes.com

I’ve just today realized that I’ve never had a food-related Halloween costume. I once dressed my infant son as a pumpkin but I’ve always had scary costumes myself.

One year my brother was a marshmallow but it was a costume of convenience: he was five and just out of the hospital from having pneumonia so my mom dressed him in a fuzzy white ‘fun’ fur coat of hers and threw a white hat on him so that he could go out trick or treating without catching a chill. Most people thought he was a Russian czar but he didn’t mind; he was just glad to be allowed out of bed!

Some of the best food inspired costumes I’ve ever seen are here on thee Serious Eats blog.

How about you? Any good food inspired Halloween costumes in your past or present?


Irony at the table

October 16, 2009

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Last summer I got a new bike for my birthday. Besides being a gift that I really wanted,  going to the store to be fitted for my bike was a bit of a present, too. Martin chose a Dutch bike for me that’s only sold at a handful of places including a store on Toronto’s Bloor Street near the University of Toronto campus.

The staff, besides being knowledgeable about bikes, is also young and painfully fashionable in a nerdy way. In fact, the sales person I dealt with directly was a walking iteration of Ned Flanders’ younger brother: over-sized, brown framed specs,  70’s moustache – his style was so ironically hip, it hurt!

Just like those crazy moustaches hipsters are wearing these days, ironic foods have a place in our current food landscape, too. From doughnuts on fine dining dessert menus, mac and cheese with truffle oil, fancy meatloaf concoctions and the fried chicken I mentioned earlier this week on these pages, elevating retro, originally homey or down market favs has never been more popular.

What about at home?  When you entertain do you find yourself glamming up retro favs or do you try to pull off four star restaurant panache?  I’ve definitely  been enjoying making ‘ultimate’ versions of old favs such as pizza and tacos at my parties. In fact, just recently, I had a very fun dinner party where I made three kinds of gourmet burgers (chicken, beef and lamb) and home made hamburger buns to match. Dessert was brownies and butter tarts. I think we all enjoyed it as much as any more formal, three course meal I could have made.

PS: I borrowed this montage of 70’s moustaches as sported by actors both old and new from the blog Alice Q. Foodie where you can find lots of posts about food and a few about moustaches.

Off Topic Announcement:  I’m thrilled to have been chosen as one of Makefive.com’s best Canadian bloggers. It’s doubly exciting since I’m the only food blog featured. Please drop by their site and make a comment or vote for your favs.


Mmm! Potatoes

September 17, 2009

cookstownpotatoes

Photo credit: James Tse

Last night I made a dinner that I was really proud to serve. My son liked it, too. In fact, we were just tucking in, enjoying our beet salads and talking about how great the beets have been this year when in walked Kayne West. He swept the salad bowl off the table and as it crashed to the floor in a million pieces he declared that while the beets had been good this year, the potatoes were the very best they’ve ever been! He said we could finish the beets that were on our plates but we just didn’t have the heart to continue. Truthfully, the moment was gone.

Now of course, this didn’t happen, but I do feel like I’ve been swooning over the very deserving beet crop an awful lot lately. Maybe it’s time that I shine the spot light on another root vegetable? So, without further ado, here goes….

Did you notice how great the potatoes are? Although we didn’t have the great summer weather that makes vacationing in Ontario a treat, somehow the potato crops have been fantastic this year! The corn has been great, too. In fact, I combined these two starchy veggies in a potato salad for a party weekend before last and it was a tremendous hit!

How do you like to prepare farm fresh new potatoes? Do you leave the skins on or peel ‘em first? And, almost more importantly, how do you think Kayne would like his potatoes prepared?


Easiest appetizer ever

July 15, 2009

watermelonfetaappetizer

I admit it. I’m hooked again. This time it isn’t a tangy Asian-inspired slaw or a wanton lasagna that I’m enticed to make over and over. No, my new passion is so very, very simple that it’s almost not a recipe at all. And, it’s that very fact that makes me love it so! I’ve made this new favourite twice in the last week — that’s how easy and how delicious this concoction is!

I’m talking about the easiest. Summertime. Appetizer. Ever. Specifically, a watermelon and feta cheese plate.

All you need to do is cube equal amounts of watermelon and real Greek (i.e. sheep’s milk) feta. Arrange them on a plate and drizzle the cheese with some great extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkle over lots of cracked black pepper. That’s it. That’s all.

Feeling fancy? Cut the melon into wedges and crumble the cheese over top and continue with the oil and pepper as directed. See, even the fancy version is easy.

Do you have a super easy appetizer that makes you look and feel like a gourmet rockstar?