Monday, August 26, 2013

green peas and bacon

For this month's Missing Ingredient Challenge, the new foodiepages blog editor, Devon, asked me to come up with something using fresh green peas. Hmm...green peas. My total experience with green peas has generally been reserved for two options: tinned or frozen. But, since it's summertime, this is the best time of the year to experiment with fresh ingredients, so off I went in search of green peas.


The Missing Ingredient Challenge: green peas

Green peas are currently in season here in Ontario and we recently bought some “just picked” peas from a roadside farm stand (seriously, I actually had a lot of trouble trying to find fresh green peas at the grocery store!).

Monday, August 19, 2013

birthday cupcakes: lemon curd cupcakes

My mother-in-law chose "lemon pudding" as her birthday cupcake flavour, which really put my mind into a tailspin. Lemon pudding? In a cupcake? How the heck was I supposed to achieve that?



And then, inspiration just dropped into my lap. Actually, it was delivered to my front door in the form of Mackays. You see, the lovely folks from Mackays over in Scotland have put out a #bakingwithmackays challenge to food bloggers and I was lucky enough to be sent a package of their goodies to experiment with. One of the lovely jars I received was their Lemon Curd.

So, confession time - I've never had lemon curd before. I may have had it in a dessert at some point, but if so, I don't remember. So I wasn't sure what it would taste like when I opened up the jar, but I was hoping it would be a suitable lemon flavour to base a cupcake around. Oh. My. God. This stuff is AWESOME! I ate about 3 huge spoonfuls before I had to remind myself that I needed some to bake with. But seriously, where has lemon curd been all my life?

Obviously, you can substitute any lemon curd into this cupcake (or even a different flavoured curd), but for me, it's pretty much always going to be Mackays Lemon Curd (unless of course, it's their Lime Curd...oooohhhh).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

summerlicious anniversary lunch - Fabbrica

Location: 49 Karl Fraser Road, Toronto

Description on Summerlicious site:
Authentic Italian cuisine, uniformly rustic and intended for casual enjoyment. Fabbrica houses a contemporary dining room anchored at the front with a long bar and at the rear, our wood-burn brick pizza oven from Naples. The atmosphere is casual and convival!

Price: $20


Appetizers:

   

Paul had Buffalo Mozzarella (fresh tomato, balsamic, basil and extra virgin olive oil) and I had the Beef Carpaccio (mustard sauce, capers, onions, grano padano). Paul's appetizer was really colourful and fresh and all the flavours of the ingredients stood out. As for me? This is now my favourite carpaccio dish ever. Everything just melted together into a delicious, light, fresh taste. I normally don't like capers (I find them too salty) but these blended in nicely and I barely noticed them. The only thing I didn't care for on the plate were the radishes, but I loved the rest of the dish so much I barely noticed them.


Monday, August 12, 2013

paul + stephanie = homeowners!

I just wanted to write a quick note to let you all know about an exciting new happening in our lives - Paul and I bought a house!

It's our first home-buying experience, so we're pretty excited. There's quite a bit of work to be done in the place, so you'll probably see lots of tweets, and maybe even a few blog posts, as we slowly turn our house into a home.

Right now, I think I'm most excited about about choosing the appliances for our new kitchen! Eep! There are so many choices out there that it's all a little overwhelming, and as someone who loves spending time in the kitchen, I really want to make sure that these appliances are not only nice to look at, but also very practical (and within budget!)

So...dear readers, if you have any tips, links, advice, etc for someone who's pretty much decorating a whole house from the ground up - please, please share! Even if it's just to let me know which brand of oven you like, or your favourite fabric for a couch or your best painting tip - I want to hear them all!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

summerlicious anniversary lunch - Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill

Location: 2901 Bayview Avenue, Toronto

Description on Summerlicious site:
Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill, Bayview Village is the first of O&B's casual dining restaurants. This large urban space feels very downtown despite its North Toronto location. A gleaming open kitchen extends into the airy dining room, featuring washed tin ceilings, leather banquettes and dramatic and distinctive light fixtures. The menu offers something for everyone, including fresh, made-from-scratch soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas and fire-roasted pizzas.

Price: $15

Appetizers: 

   

Paul had the Organic Lollo Rossa Green Salad (Niagara Stone fruit preserve, Parmesan and Riesling dressing). He really enjoyed the dressing and the preserved fruit in the salad. Meanwhile, I had the Watermelon & Tomato Gazpacho (basil, olive and brioche), which was refreshing on a hot summer day. The gazpacho had a nice twang to it and there was very generous great portion for an appetizer.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

summerlicious anniversary lunch - Bier Markt Don Mills

Location: 7 O'Neill Road, Toronto

Description on Summerlicious site:
Inspired by Belgium's passion and unparalleled reputation for the finer things in life, the Bier Markt brings you the ultimate dining experience; knowledgeable staff guiding you through the art of pairing beer to complement your meal in an atmosphere that balances sociability with sophistication. The dining menu is Belgian-inspired and boasts over 100 beers from over 24 countries.

Price: $20


Appetizers:

   

Paul had the Pork & Fennel Wurst (Kosher pickle, Gouda cheese, mustard, Backerhaus bretzel) while I opted for the Wild Mushroom Soup (wild & tame mushrooms, shallots, fresh herbs, mushroom broth). I loved my soup (really, I love anything with mushrooms) even though it was odd to order a soup on a sweltering hot day. The broth was light, with lots of subtle mushroom flavours and was loaded with a variety of mushrooms. Over on Paul's side, the pretzel was perfectly made and we both really liked the mustard that came with it (sweet, but tangy) and Paul really enjoyed the sausage - it was the perfect amount for an appetizer.