Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Peter, of Kalofagas , my local go to guy for Greek specialties suggested that a must have at Christmas time is Galaktoboureko. When I saw the recipe my instinct told me this wasn't very figure friendly but then who am I to follow my own instincts? It looked fabulous and decided to give it a try.


7 large eggs, room temperature
10 cups of whole milk, room temperature (I used 2% lactaid and it was fine)
2 cups sugar
1 cup fine semolina flour
1 heaping Tbsp butter
zest of 1 lemon
1 package commercial phyllo
2 sticks melted butter (for brushing)
14x11 bakeware dish

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

1. Place a large pot over medium-high head and add eggs, sugar and semolina and mix constantly over medium heat until incorporated. (note: follow this - it burns really easily if you leave it)
2. Add milk, zest and butter and continue to mix using a potato masher until custard has thickened slightly. Place a tea towel between the pot of custard and the pot's lid, cover and reserve off the heat.
3. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Butter baking dish. Count how many sheets of phillo in your package and divide in half. One half will go on the bottom, the second half will go on the top.
4. In the bottom of the pan, layer your one half of phyllo, leaving the edges hanging over the sides of the pan. Brush each sheet generously with the melted butter. Pour the custard over the bottom of the phyllo layers.
5. Fold the excess phyllo over and into the pan and evenly distribute the remaining sheets of phyllo to entirely cover the custard. Again, ensure that each sheet is brushed generously with butter.
6. With a very sharp knife, score the phyllo (just penetrating the top layer of phyllo) to make the desired size and shapes of your Galaktoboureko pieces. (this makes it easier to cut later and will also allow the syrup to be distributed completely.
7. Bake in the middle rack for 35-40 minutes or until the top is nice and golden-brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
8. To make your syrup, add the sugar, water juice and zest and bring to a boil and count 10 minutes for your syrup to develop.
9. Using a ladle, pur the syrup over the Galaktoboureko (1 ladle at a time) until the syrup is absorbed.
10. Carefully complete the slicing of your pieces (tracing your initial cuts); allow to cool for approximately 1 hour. Refrigerate uncovered over night to set. Serve cold or room temperature.

Notes: I should have cut the Galaktoboureko in smaller pieces. This is a very sweet and rich dessert and smaller amounts are preferred.

Verdict: I don't think I could make this unless I had alot of people over - I'd eat the whole thing - it's really a wonderful dessert albeit off the glycemic scale.

Peter said that when working with phyllo as long as you follow some basic rules it should be easy enough to work with.

1. Make sure you defrost frozen phyllo in the fridge overnight.
2. When working with phyllo use one sheet at a time and cover the balance with a damp tea towel to ensure it doesn't dry out (it can dry out really quickly)
3. Handle the phyllo gently - it's very fragile.
4. Make sure you brush melted butter on each sheet


Monday, December 28, 2009

A Big Meal on December 25th

For some Jewish people, celebrating aspects of Christmas is a common occurance. Do a Google search on "Jews celebrating Christmas" and you'll find several debates on whether having a Christmas tree (or Hanukkah Bush) is acceptable. It's hard not to feel like you're missing out on something when everyone around you is preparing for Christmas.

Growing up, we celebrated Christmas because there have always been non-Jewish family members. Actually, we probably celebrated it more than a lot of Catholic families (we had all nine reindeer in our basement next to a manger scene, with so many presents that you couldn't even touch the tree) -- a slight glimpse into the insanity that is my family.

Nowadays, I go on a "we're Jewish and don't celebrate Christmas" soapbox starting about 1 month before Christmas. Inevitably, I still get "Hanukkah presents" on Christmas. It's a losing battle.

Never ones to miss out an opportunity to cook way too much food, here's the feast we had at Giz's place.

(the recipe toward the bottom of the post)

Yorkshire Pudding






Cabbage Rolls

Brussel Sprouts

Giz will tell you about the desserts -- there were just as many selections of desserts as mains and sides combined. It's a good thing there were 7 of us The seven of us combined hardly made a dent in the food. StumbleUpon

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New House

Now it's time for a real post. I'll try to get this one done before visiting Giz lest I hear about my lack of posting all weekend.

Let me tell you about the house. It'll be a ongoing story because we're still working on it and because I am having a hard time getting the more recent pictures off of my camera.

We took possession of the house on November 13th. I was initially excited about the move and having to deal with a difficult (read: insane) landlord helped to heightened the excitement of leaving the renters market. But the day we took possession and went into the empty house, I had some pretty strong buyers remorse. R and I sat in the living room and thought -- oh crap -- what did we do? I then spent the rest of my night wanting to "be by myself".

I guess there was nothing really wrong with the place, but walking into an empty house that is painting in a soft pink throughout and smelled of just didn't feel right.

We spent the week painting (after work and on the weekend). As more paint went on the wall, I started to feel somewhat better.

There's something satisfying in knowing that the former owners would probably be really pissed off to see their pink walls painted over. It's also pretty empowering to see such a change that stems from your own efforts -- instant gratification.

After 2 coats, I was really thrilled with the colour. I know it's not for everyone -- but I love it.

Don't worry - the space is split up -- dining room is burgundy and the connected living room is a sand-like colour.

The office and bedroom downstairs were both painted this colour -- but both rooms still need work to finish setting them up.

Saying goodbye to the old apartment was a bit sad -- we both really loved the place. Here's a final shot of the apartment:

Tomorrow we head off to Giz's for what promising too be way too much food. I'll keep you posted on progress made in the house.

Happy holidays to everyone!!!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Worst daughter & blogger EVER

I don't know what happened...I started a post saying, "Oh man -- has it been 2 weeks since I've last posted"...Next thing I know - this post was written for me by a not so mysterious author...I think there's a hint in there for me somewhere.

Oh man - has it been WELL over a month since I last posted? My mother is wondering if I even remember how to create an html or remember the address to this food blog. Moving has completely consumed life for the past forever and I think I'll continue using this excuse for as long as I can. Between packing, painting the new house (ourselves), moving (with the help of friends), unpacking and setting up the house -- I'm exhausted! I need a lifetime to recover and I don't see an immediate end to the work (depending on how laid back I choose to be). I have a backup excuse - somehow Zoombrowser got lost on my computer and I can't upload pictures. That's a great excuse since Giz bought it. I could be in trouble very soon though since Giz does have a disc with zoombrowser on it and by the end of the holidays I'll have to reinvent a new excuse.

Frankly, the truth is I'm feeling kind of meh and have no interest in blogging. I'd rather take a vacation somewhere warm and have people serve me and have drinks with umbrellas at the pool. I know you'll forgive me - it's Giz I have to worry about. When she tells me she posted I say - good. What I really mean is Whew!!! I'm off the hook for a few more days. StumbleUpon

Cocaine Cookies - Kourabiedes

If you've followed our blog for a while you may have heard me say that these cocaine cookies are my absolute without question very favourite cookie of all time. There's really no cocaine in them (but I guess you knew that). They're really a traditional Greek shortbread cookie called Kourabiedes (I'm sure you have to be Greek to be able to pronounce this properly).

Actor Boy's girlfriend is Greek so I wanted to make her feel at home by for the first time ever, making these cookies. And who did I turn to in my time of need - my fellow Toronto Greek blogger - Peter of Kalofagas . Not only did he point me in the right direction - he also gave me other options that could work - hmmmm, maybe I'm not so done as I thought.

Here's Peter's recipe:

(recipe is for 2 baking trays/80 cookies) Note: Absolutely dead on 80 cookies

1 lb. clarified butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups of roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1 shot of brandy (I used cognac)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 heaping Tbsp. of baking powder
5 cups all purpose flour
Extra icing sugar (for powdering)

1. Using a mixer and a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and continue to mix.
2. Slowly pour in the vegetable oil while still mixing
3. Add your brandy to a large glass and then add baking powder; stir until dissolved. Add this mixture and the vanilla and continue mixing until blended.
4. Start kneading the mixture with your hands (try not to say yuck too often)while slowly adding the flour until the flour has been absorbed. Add the almonds kneading them into the dough mixture.
5. Break off pieces the size of a walnut and form them into your shape of choice (I made crescents) Place each formed cookie on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Reapeat process until all the dough has been used.
6. Bake in preheated 350 F oven for 30 minutes*. When slightly cooled immerse cookie in 2 cups of icing sugar and coat completely.

This is the type of cookie you don't want to be indulging on regularly - it's very rich but man - oh so delicious.

*My oven may be fast but I found my cookies were done between 18 and 20 minutes.
They're a delicate cookie - throwing them around will cause them to break rendering them suitable only for the baker :) StumbleUpon

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bran Muffins

All I can say is that I think I've found the perfect bran muffin recipe. As I was looking through old boxes and papers with scribbled recipes on them, this one spoke to me because I had it rated VG. I've had the recipe forever and wasn't really sure if my standards had gone up or not so I decided that it was time for baba to get some more fiber. Packed with 3 cups of whole bran at 10mg per serving, bran muffins went to the top of my priority list for the day.

3 cups whole bran cereal
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup fancy molasses
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup raisins
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour

Pour boiling water over cereal in large bowl and stir. Cool. Add eggs, molasses, buttermilk, oil and raisins. Blend well.
Stir together soda, salt, sugar and flour and blend into bran mixture.

Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes

Batter will keep up to 5 weeks in a tightly covered container in the fridge. Ideal for when you want something fresh out of the oven in no time.

Note: I made these in oversize muffin baking container and got 15 muffins. In smaller muffin tins you would get 30-36. StumbleUpon

Sunday, December 13, 2009

St. Tropez Chicken and Latkes for Hanukkah

Traditionally my family gets together for a Hanukkah Celebration each year and each year the question is what to prepare that isn't exactly the same as last year's celebration. Thankfully, Ruth of Once Upon a Feast came to my rescue and shared her recipe for St. Tropez Chicken. A family favourite Ruth promised this dish would not disappoint and she was so right.

Apologies for the poor plating but by the time I got the camera out people were already fixing their own plates and within seconds half the dish had already disappeared. For a nicer plating, check out Ruth's site.

St. Tropez Chicken

Prep time: 10 minutes
Marinating time: 1-2 days
Roasting time: 45 minutes

Serves 4-6


1 roasting chicken, cleaned and cut into 8 pieces or, you can do as I did and just buy bone-in chicken breasts and thighs. I usually get 2 thighs per person (they’re so small) and 1 breast per person with a few extra pieces for the hardier eaters or left overs.
2 large heads of garlic, peeled and just whacked to crack them
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup honey
½ cup rose wine (or white in a pinch)
1 tbsp Herbes aux Provence (mixed dried herbs that have lavender flowers)

1. Combine everything into a zip lock baggie or shallow dish and marinate in the fridge for at least one day, maximum, 2 days.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C

3. Prepare a shallow baking dish that will hold all the chicken in one layer, skin side up. I actually lined a lipped large baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Place the chicken in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the chicken skin is golden and the juices run clear. The meat should not be pink.

4. It’s ready to serve, but if I need some time I just cover the chicken with foil to keep it warm without drying out.

Along with a main entry, you just can't have a Hanukkah dinner without including the famous potato latkes.

This recipe will feed about 10 hungry latka eaters.


10 lb white potatoes (my preference is russet, peeled and grated (we used the food processor to grate them)
2 large vidalia onions, grated
1/2 cup flour (we used quinoa flour)
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
canola oil for frying
sour cream and/or applesauce

1. Grate both the potatoes and onions
2. Put the grated potatoes and onions in cheesecloth and drain as much of the starchy liquid as you can - this makes for a crispier latka
3. Add eggs, flour, salt and pepper
4. Mix together well
5. With frypan on medium high and warmed add about 2 heaping tablespoons of mix to form patties and fry until brown, turn to finish frying. Serve warm with sour cream and/or applesauce.

Note: You'll need to keep adding oil to your frying pan. Remember that the latkes will absorb as much oil as you place in the frying pan so use sparingly. StumbleUpon

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Poppyseed Cookies

Sunita from Sunita's World has an event each month that encourages you to think about the spices in your kitchen and how you use them. For the month of December the decided spice is poppyseed and this month the guest host is RV of Food for 7 Stages of Life

This one was a no brainer for me since one of my warmest memories growing up was the smell of poppyseed cookies baking in my mother's kitchen. I knew I had a good recipe for them and also knew I was going to be making them this week for a gathering on the weekend. It's fun surprising my mother with treats that haven't been part of her daily life for many many years.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp poppyseeds
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in poppyseeds

In large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar for approximately 4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated (about 1 minute each). Add juice, vanilla and almond extract. Stir in flour mixture slowly just until blended. Divide dough in 3 discs. Warp each in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Line baking sheet with parchment.

On lightly floured surface or between sheets of plastic wrap, roll out a dough disc to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies with your cutter of choice leaving about 2 inches in between. Re-roll or refrigerate any remaining dough.

Bake in centre of preheated 350F oven until edges begin to brown - about 10-12 minutes. Mine were done at 11 minutes.

And look who are waiting for me to just drop one - please mom, just one - we promise to share.

This event is open until the end of the month and I know you're all in your kitchens getting ready for the holidays. Here are the guidelines:

1. Post any kind of recipe(s) cooked with White or Blue Poppy Seeds between now and Dec 31st 2009.
2. Provide a link back to Food for 7 Stages of Life" and Sunita from Sunita's World You can send archived entries as well. Update/Repost and provide a link to both posts. Please feel free to use the logo.

3. Mail your entries to foodfor7stagesoflife(at)gmail(dot)com with below details:

Mail Subject: Think Spice Think Poppy Seeds
Your Name:
Blog Name:
Recipe Name and URL:

4. Non bloggers can send their recipe(s) and picture to foodfor7stagesoflif(at)gmail(dot)com StumbleUpon

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mini Greek Meatballs

For some reason this is a bigger year for social gatherings than in past years. Are people feeling better about the economy? or is it just the time of year that brings out the best (and sometimes the worst) in us. I'm doing my fair share of entertaining since I've always celebrated this season as Hannamas which combines Hanukkah and Christmas. Just give me a reason to celebrate and I'm there.

One of the events is a potluck and I really wanted to simplify my life. I happened upon an interesting recipe over at Kalyn's Kitchen that adapted a South Beach Diet recipe. I loved the ingredients and decided to give it a trial run before I make it for the pot luck. It also doesn't hurt that it's figure friendly given that I'll probably have to have my jaws wired shut just to get through the holiday season.

Mini Greek Meatballs

1 lb lean ground beef (I used lamb)
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 cup very finely crumbled feta cheese (measure after crumbling finely with a fork)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg
1 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
1 T dried Greek oregano
4 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt (optional - I didn't use it since the Feta is salty)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp Greek seasoning (I omitted this since I didn't have any on hand)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Use a food processor to chop the onion very finely (or a box grater), then drain if it seems like there is a lot of liquid.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then use your hands to mix ingredients.

Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish (I foiled and sprayed). Shape meat into 1 Tbsp size meatballs and place on baking sheet.

Bake 20 minutes, after which time you will see liquid oozing out.

Turn meatballs and bake 10 more minutes. Turn again, and bake 5-10 more minutes, until meatballs are well-browned and cooked through.

Tzatziki Sauce is great with these meatballs.

Verdict: Using the lamb instead of beef gave it a distinctive and wonderful flavour. I found that I didn't need the full 20 minutes in my oven before the first turn and that the meatballs were done by the end of the first turn.

I would make these again and double or triple the recipe for a crowd. StumbleUpon

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday Bundt Cake

I feel like Jack Nicholson in the movie "The Shining" when he announced "I'm baaaack" The difference is that I don't have a hatchet in my hand and I really promise not to break your door down.

It feels like we've been through a whirlwind of events - travel, then some more travel, busy time of year in my real world and a flurry of unexpected social events. All very good stuff. I think I'm getting a handle on it now and can spend more energy in the blogging world.

Is everybody baking yet? Of course they are and I can't wait to see what's coming out of blogging kitchens. One of my absolute very favourite cakes is a bundt cake from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking from my Home to Yours. If you haven't visited Dorie's blog , head over. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned baker, I'm sure you learn something.

I have to apologize - during my two week hiatus from blogging, it seems I've forgotten which end of the camera to hold up so I'll apologize for my pictures (and then I'll just let it go)

Dorie's All-in-One Holiday Bundt Care is not overly sweet, great texture and beautiful flavours. I especially get excited when I can actually identify all the ingredients in a cake and this is one of those.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned unsweeted pumpkin puree
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped (I've made it with both fresh and dried cranberries and like them both)
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Confections' sugar, for dusting (I omitted this)

Center rack in the oven and preheat to 350 F. Butter a 9-10 inch (12 cup) Bundt pan (I used non stick spray and it was fine). Don't place the pan on a baking sheet - you want the oven's heat to circulate freely through the Bundt's inner tube.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and ground ginger, if you're using it (not the grated ginger)

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Ad the eggs one at a time and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pumpkin, chopped apple and grated ginger, if you're using it - don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. With a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries and pecans. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack.

Just before bringing the cake to the table, dust it with confectioner's sugar.

Note: What really takes this cake to the next level is the addition of the apple pieces. StumbleUpon

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chorizo Pesto Pasta

I can hardly believe that this is week #140 of Presto Pasta Nights . This week's host is Kait of Pots and Plots I'm amazed that the Grand Pubah, Ruth of Once Upon a Feast has been able to find the energy to keep this event going each and every week (even with help). You still have time - until Friday to submit your entry. One can never have too many pasta recipes.

Since I'm leaving to spend some time with Psychgrad and "R" and their new home, I've been working on not buying any groceries until I get back and using up everything in my fridge.
This pasta looked rather interesting so why not. OK, what's in the fridge - hmmm...some sausage, mushrooms - yup, we can do this.

Chorizo Pesto Pasta

Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pkg 375 g Pesto Rotini Pasta
2 links chorizo sausage (Italian would work too)
1/2 large or 1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
red wine to deglaze (optional)
1 tin (398 ml/14oz) tomato sauce
cherry tomatoes, as desired

Heat olive oil in fry pan and add onions just until they begin to be translucent. Add garlic and stir but don't burn.
Cut up 2 links of chorizo sausage; brown with onions and garlic, add mushrooms.
Deglaze with wine, add tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes

Optional: I added a mix of dried herbs and some chili peppers.

The one thing I most appreciate about pasta is its resiliency. You can throw together anything and always (well...nearly always) end up with something. StumbleUpon

Monday, November 16, 2009

Louisiana Banana Bread

This is the time of year that I go through the freezer and think about what I need to clear out to make room for the mass quantity of holiday baking that will need a spot for holiday giving. Oh look, only a gazillion bananas in zip lock freezer bags that need to get used. As I combed the internet looking for a fresh new (to me) recipe I happened upon this Louisiana Banana Bread that looked promising.

Louisiana Banana Bread

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice
4 eggs
2 cups bananas, mashed (about 4 medium)
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream the butter with the sugar, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, then add bananas. Sift all dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients, alternately with sour cream; fold in nuts.
Bake in two greased (or spray with nonstick coating) loaf pans at 350 F for 50-55 minutes.

Makes 2 loaves
I made 1 loaf and 8 mini loaves. The mini loaves were about 40 minutes bake time.

Verdict: No disappointments here. I'd never made a banana bread with sour cream before and the consistency that resulted was terrific. I think this is going to be my new "go to" recipe from here on in. It's light, nutty and very flavourful. StumbleUpon

Saturday, November 14, 2009


There are so many good things happening - lots of celebrations to share.

, the BloggerAid Cook Book is available for purchase on Create Space, an arm of If you go to, you won't find the book so follow the link below the picture of the cover to get there.

After nearly a year of very hard work by so many, this 224 page book that contains approximately 140 unique recipes from over 60 countries is finally completed. 100% of the royalties have been assigned to School Meals with the World Food Programme.

We're incredibly impressed with the international efforts of so many who made this happen. A world can indeed come together with purpose.


Psychgrad is on the move - I mean literally moving. She and "R" just got the keys to their new home. It's a celebration on two fronts. Firstly and most importantly, this is their first home. Visualize paint cans, ladders, moving trucks, boxes...more boxes, bread and salt on the kitchen counter (baba is superstitious about having this in a new home). I can hear lots of sighs as the paint rollers glide across the walls transforming the house into their own. Secondly and pretty exciting is that mom gets to go on a road trip - yipeeeee!!! With dogs in tow, we'll set out to help (read: supervise) the moving process and hope that I don't get clobbered within the first 24 hours of arrival. So, there's a very real chance that you may just get stuck with me until Psychgrad can find her way back to her computer.


Keeping with the theme of celebrations, last night we went out to celebrate!! My brother is one of the producers for the revival of the Broadway musical Ragtime

If you happen to be in the New York City area, Ragtime opens at the Neil Simon Theatre on Sunday, November 15th. We took baba out for dinner to share in the excitement. We went to our favourite local Italian restaurant; one we hadn't been to in a long while.

I loved the presentation on the appetizer so of course the camera had to come out. I asked about a source for these long handled spoons that come in two sizes - this is the small size. Apparently they're from Mexico.

I had shrimp diablo that was incredibly tasty with a pretty good kick.

followed by roast chicken

and tiramisu for dessert

They say things come in 3's - I'm pretty happy with these three good things :) StumbleUpon

Friday, November 13, 2009

President's Choice Kicking off the Holiday Season

The Halloween goodies are off the shelves in the supermarkets. Canadians usually see this as the switch in thinking directly to the Holiday Season and the countdown begins. Entertainment plans are being made and decadent cakes and cookies move to the front burner. I'm already seeing the glitz and glitter everywhere and soon the Santa Claus parade will be making its serpentine run to delight children and adults alike.

This week I was one of the invitees to the President's Choice kick off for the holidays. An Insider's Report is created and mass mailed to give families a look at what's new for the 2009 season.

The event was held in a well appointed home converted to a holiday theme to showcase both foods and decorating ideas. This year, we'll see 8 ft. PC Christmas Trees in the stores. For me, a tree is a tree so no great hype but what did impress me was that Loblaws has taken a responsible stand on tree sales. For every tree that's sold, another is planted. I'm liking this philosophy.

Many decorating ideas created from moderate cost items available in the stores.

Generally, I'm more inclined to "do it from scratch". But, I'm also aware that this coming time of year can be more than just stressful for many families who just don't have the time. In between school concerts, hockey tournaments, dance and gymnastics it just doesn't make sense to take sleep out of your daily repetoire.

Here's a look at some of the things that impressed me the most. They are not even closely indicative of everything available.

These shrimp wontons are a hit. I wouldn't hesitate to serve them in my home. They're delicious and each portion has a good sized shrimp on the inside.

I have such little experience cooking with Indian flavours. If you like appetizers with a kick, these are the ones (another one I'll be stocking)

At the risk of sounding like a commercial I'll just say that I'm pretty impressed with the gravlax salmon appetizers. For me it takes President's Choice to Progressive Culinary. Apart from my foodie friends, not many would even know what gravlax is.

For those who prefer not to embibe, a non alcoholic sparkling drink bottled to look like champagne.

A large series of mocktail mixes that include mojito, mulled sparkling cider and my favourite Sicilian lemon.

After sampling the lamb, which has not been one of my most successful dishes to prepare, I realized I can be a hero with this one that tastes pretty amazing and looks great to serve to the table.

and let's not forget about dessert. The plate is a cool thing - it's actually a shadow box and you can change the inside with whatever theme you like.

I don't think I can allow myself to keep the almonds or truffles in the house - yep, they're that good.

It was fun to see what's new. This is a small sampling but definitely falls into the category of some of my favourite things (hmmm...isn't that an Oprahism??) StumbleUpon
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