Tuesday, September 29, 2009

what chefs cook at home

we often wonder what busy professional chefs cook on their downtime for friends and family.
well, last night we got a little insight! after a brief summer hiatus, we welcomed back chef steve vardy of black cat bistro into the urban element kitchen. we peered into his mind to find out what he likes to eat and serve his guests and so and this is what we got...

we started off with a comforting bowl of roasted squash soup topped with a seared scallop & fresh sage - the soup was dotted with flavours of cardamom, star anise and cinnamon...mmm!

next, perfect roast chicken (fabulous fall sides: roasted Bryson Farm heirloom carrots, Christophe's mushrooms, farmstand parsnips & baby red potatoes, roasted garlic and onions)

...and ended the night off on the right note - decadent dark chocolate tart - so simple but oh so rich and wickedly delicious

thanks chef vardy -we'll come over for dinner any time!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

cherry pie event

cherry pie is an all-women networking event - imagine the giggles, and the chatting and the "'oh, i need this!!!"

lots of great booths... i was hoping to have more time to stop by Hush, Workshop (a lovely clothing and jewelry boutique for women by women that i need to go to more often!) and discovered cork flooring by The Healthiest Home that was to die for.

this was our second time being invited. this year, we thought it would be fun to have the ladies work for their loot, and i think they all got a kick out of it! instead of just handing out food, we had a 'pipe your own cupcake' station - some were really intimidated, some were experts, one thing for sure, we all made them smile.

Carley was kind enough to pile on the icing for me. i am very "gourmande". i love eating. no rules. never hold back.

here we go.

one bite of pure buttery-fudgey heaven.

oh i hope no one saw that.

thanks Candice, that was delicious!!!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mexican Fiesta!

last night's class was Celebrate Mexican with Chef Maria Amalia Garza.
i love Maria's classes.
she is so calm, attentive... and so full of knowledge.

the class was one of the quietest that i had seen in ages, Maria definitely has a calming vibe, reassuring. Everyone looked so confident in the kitchen as Maria was floating around.

i decided to take pictures of raw ingredients that were explained to the class as it started.
there is a definite depth of flavour in Mexican food - everything is roasted, toasted and let to ripen to its fullest potential. mole sauces cook for hours, and that doesn't even take into account the pampering that goes into smoking and drying the chilies...

here is the cascabel chile

the name means "rattle" and refers to the shape of the chile as well as the sound the seeds make when a dried chile is shaken. it is usually deep red to brownish in color and is grown in Mexico. you can purchase them through Chilly Chiles.

the platanos, or plantain

Maria was saying that it is always best to buy these at the desired stage of ripeness as the ripening process is quite long... if you buy a green plantain and need it for dessert, you might need to wait a month! don't be scared to buy the black plantain, that is how they should be for sweets, as long as the skin is still intact, you are good to go!

and last but not least: tomatillos

i was surprised at how many people had never cooked with these. they have always been so attractive to me in their protective little husks... if you are curious about cooking with them, now is the time to try: they are in abundance in the markets.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

prince edward county wines and... deliciousness.

last night we hosted a private wine tasting for 38 lovely women.
again, chef Candice Butler amazed us all.

they had:

roasted tomato and basil strata with creamy C'est Bon goat cheese topped with roasted Bryson Farms heirloom tomatoes and arugula.

so so very tasty pear, Bénédictine and caramelized onion tarts.

these were served with more Bleu Bénédictine and some candied/spiced nuts.
they are addictive.

a beautiful mix of frisée, Hall's apples and celeriac slaw & La Boucanerie's smoked trout.
That trout was so perfect, not too smokey, a delightful texture.

They finished the evening with some crispy polenta topped with a mushroom stew (of course from Le Coprin!). Sorry, no picture, I was listening to the sommelier and taking notes!

Mesdames, ce fut un plaisir!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

things we love...

do you remember the opening segment in 'Amélie' when you get to know the characters, their likes and dislikes?

i totally related to that (especially the raspberry fingers!!!)

we like:

opening a box of Christophe's mushrooms.

sage. velvety, soft, fragrant.

hope your weekend is filled with food moments.


Friday, September 11, 2009

rustic italian class

it started out with one class.
then two.
and now three.

for the first time, we have sold three classes of the same.
that is a total of 48 people being intrigued by the menu, the subject, the techniques being thought.

last night was the first of the rustic italian classes.
i just had to be there and see for myself, well, smell... in less that 10 minutes of cooking it smelled so heavenly.

the group worked hard as there were about 12 stations. so much to do!!!
i really loved watching the people take turns at the pasta station

they were preparing butternut squash stuffed ravioli to be served with a brown butter and sage sauce. (i am very much hoping that there are leftovers waiting for me this morning...)

they started their meal with a fun trio of crostini, my favorite was the chunky tapenade:
cooked black and green olives, roasted pines nuts, garlic, rosemary...

the creamy tuscan white bean spread

bryson farms heirloom tomatoes went into the bruschetta, such color.

our worker bees then went on to have some minestrone soup, very rich and comforting... can you feel the love? the last minute addition of watercress was genius.

after the pasta, they enjoyed a venison stew. that. looked. incredible.

chef candice started a stew in the afternoon so that the group could see and taste the difference between melt-in-your-mouth-ready and a hurried stew... it needs time.

they got the most of all worlds, preparing the stew from scratch, and tasting the result of hours of slow cooking. We put in delicate mushrooms from Le Coprin, i forgot to picture them!!!

the evening ended on a sweet note with some chocolate almond cake, not to make you jealous, but that will most probably be my breakfast!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

feast of fields

yesterday, we had the pleasure of hosting the press conference for feast of fields.
the press who showed up really didn't regret it... the food was unbelievable!

it's a really simple principle: if you have top quality ingredients to start with, the end result will be fantastic.

it was fabulous to have some farmers onsite to talk about their produce. the sense of community was tremendous and heartwarming. you can't help but smile when you hear about lambs that eat Beau's Beer's grains and Pascale's ice cream with pickles (yes, pickles, and it will be called Preggers!!! She is paired with The Pickle Patch.)

two teams were invited to cook: last year's winning team, The Red Apron (sadly their farmer was not there!) and our own resident chef Candice Butler and Greta, from Greta's organic seeds.

the red apron served up some local corn polenta, with slow braised lamb, a white bean ragoût, heirloom tomatoes...simply heaven. melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

see the beautiful garlic they had to work with?!! It smelled like fresh earth, the colors so inspiring.

Candice served a very modest-looking quesadilla... but the first bite had everyone talking about how tasty is was and wondering about the special ingredients! there was an ancho chili sauce with it as well as some red pepper jam.

oh, the dramatic picture!!!

you still have a bit of time to purchase your tickets for feast of fields, do it quickly before they sell out!