Monday, September 27, 2010

Savour Stratford: Part I

A couple of years ago, for our birthdays (which are 3 days apart), Giz and I went to Prince Edward County for their festival.

This year, we decided to go to Stratford, to partake in some of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Savour Stratford.

We arrived in time to try out the "VQA Wine and Chocolate Tasting". Chris Guilliani from Chateau des Charmes Vineyard in Niagara and Kristene Steed of Rheo Thompson Candies in Stratford walked us through the chocolate and wine pairings.

Both Giz and I were really impressed with the tasting. For only $15, you get 5 pieces of chocolate and 6 glasses of wine. Not to mention the educational information about how to properly sample chocolate (letting it melt in your mouth) along with the wine. In the video below, Chris is making a compelling case for buying VQA wines:

Here is some more information about VQA wine..

Every VQA wine meets the following standard:

Wine must be made from 100% fresh Ontario grown grapes — no concentrates are permitted - Grapes used must meet a quality standard for each variety (measured by natural sugar content in the ripe grapes)
No water can be added in the winemaking process
Labels must be truthful and accurately represent the wine in the bottle
All wines except for sparkling wines must be vintage dated and meet vintage requirements
All wines must be packaged in glass bottles with cork, synthetic or approved screwcap closures
All finished wines are evaluated by an expert taste panel and a laboratory analysis and must meet minimum quality standards before release.

Since I convinced Giz that she shouldn't drink too much of her wine (she was first) and let me drink the rest....I was feeling pretty good by the end of the tasting. It worked out perfectly too because I'm about as chatty and ready to talk to strangers after drinking about a bottle of wine as Giz is sober. So, off we went to the farmer's market set up as part of the festival.

The market had a nice variety of produce, preserves, etc...

We saw these neat fruits at Sea Buckthorn Orchard's stand. Apparently, "Sea Buckthorn is rich in many essential nutrients. It contains high concentrations of Vitamin C, carotenoids, fatty acids as well as phytochemicals that are known to have strong antioxidant activity".

What's with all of the Golden Retrievers in Stratford?

Nice to see the Farmers Feed Cities folks there:

Farmer's Feed Cities, an organization with a vision of being a driver in ensuring a thriving and sustainable farming industry in Ontario. They promote a greater understanding of the significant contributions made by farmers to the wellbeing of Ontario.

We still have another post coming, to talk about one of the main events of the festival...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wellington Gastropub

It took 3 attempts to finally get a table at Wellington Gastropub. With each reservation rejection, my determination grew stronger.

I recently learned that a gastropub is essentially a pub that takes its food up a notch. There is no doubt that the Gastropub's food would not be confused with typical pub fare.

For starters, we ordered a tomato appetizer. It included heirloom tomatoes, over a bed of lettuce (I think baby spinach and arugula), with small cubes of feta, home made croutons and a oil-based vinaigrette.

The clear and intended star of this dish is the tomato. I hope I get to eat more delicious heirlooms before the season is over.

For the main, I had a chicken breast, with the drumette of the wing attached. It was served with a corn relish. The "relish" was primarily corn, but also included leaks, mushrooms and peppers. It tasted good, but overall, was a lot of corn.

I fell in love with one corner of the restaurant where a large shelf of preserves is housed. I now want to replicate it at home...on every wall. This picture, is just part of the shelf:

Overall, we enjoyed our meal. The fresh, local ingredients certainly were the stars. The food was nicely prepared -- it's clear that quality product and service is important to the Gastropub.

I must admit, I was surprised by the atmosphere. I didn't really find it to be a very pub-like atmosphere. I had the image of a traditional pub (dark wood, subdued lighting, etc.), with better than typical pub food, in my mind before going. But, the Gastropub seemed more like a restaurant than a pub. Also, I would have liked to see some wine options that are not quite so expensive (bottles of red wine start at $38 and increased quickly and steadily from there).

Wellington GastroPub on Urbanspoon StumbleUpon

Monday, September 20, 2010

Capital Cupcake Camp 2.0

I may be biased by sugar, but I think one of the most exciting food events in Ottawa is Capital Cupcake Camp.

Last year was the first year for this event and I had a lot of fun volunteering for it. More than 600 cupcake enthusiasts attended, almost 3400 cupcakes were donated, and over $2000 was raised for Ottawa-based non-profit organization Woman Alive/Femme Active Program. Check out the Flickr pool from the event.
Now it's time for the second year of this event: Capital CupcakeCamp 2.0

The massive sugar rush returns Sunday, September 26, 2010. This time, with a larger venue, more cupcakes, and more people.

This year, proceeds will be shared between Woman Alive/Femme Active Program and the Youth Services Bureau.

Here's how it works:

Event-wise, bakers bring 24 cupcakes of any one flavour to Ottawa City Hall (110 Laurier Avenue W.) at 11:30 am. There, they will be put on display for tasters who will arrive at 1:00 pm. Tasters will roam around the City Atrium and trade in tickets for cupcakes. Bakers will have the opportunity to address the crowd. Competitive bakers can enter cupcakes in a contest that will be judged by celebrity Ottawa judges.

For the contest, there is a PRO Category. If you make money from your food creations (cupcakes or otherwise), organizers ask you register as a PRO. PRO winners have the right to use the "2010 Winner" logo.

Contest Categories:
  • Most Amazingly Decorated
  • Best Filling in a Cupcake
  • Best Vegan
  • Tastiest Twist on a Traditional
  • Best Savoury Cupcake
PRO Contest Categories:
  • Best Overall
  • Best Decorated
  • Most Original
This year's judges:
The event will be hosted by China Doll of Shanghai Restaurant (651 Somerset Street W.).

Registration has already opened for bakers and tasters, via eventbrite.

Amateur baker tickets are $5/each and come with 4 complementary tasting tickets. PRO baker tickets are $20/each and also come with 4 complementary tasting tickets. Tasting tickets are $10.

Tasters will exchange their eventbrite ticket for 4 cupcake tickets, which entitles them to a minimum of 4 cupcakes. That is, with one caveat. Should you prefer not to gorge yourself with cupcakes in one sitting, bring a box or Tupperware that fits 4 cupcakes for takeaway.

Milk and coffee will be served. Milk was graciously donated by Cochrane's Dairy and the Flour Shoppe (617 Bank Street). Coffee was graciously donated by Ten Thousand Villages.

  • To register as a baker or a taster, click here for the eventbrite site.
  • For the media release, click here.
  • To get the latest on Capital CupcakeCamp follow @capitalcupcake on Twitter or join the Capital CupcakeCamp Facebook Group.

Credit for this post goes to Don from foodiePrints. StumbleUpon

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We Can CAN: Peach Jam & Peach Butter

Psychgrad and I were both fortunate enough to participate in the Loblaw Company Grown Close to Home campaign.

Since we're totally on board with fresh and local, I couldn't wait to get into the whole process. Psychgrad went into more detail on the products HERE .

We have a fabulous crop of peaches this year and for less than $5.00/basket and a little bit of effort, extending the enjoyment of these peaches was a no brainer.

Today's recipe are submitted to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop (formerly known as Two for Tuesdays)


The mission of Hearth n'Soul simply is:

Food from your hearth, to feed your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

When you submit an entry to HnS, you're linking to a number of blogs and sharing your interpretation of REAL FOOD!!!! Check it out HERE

Lifelong fun starts with some very basic tools. Once you have them, you're good to go save for some inexpensive part replacements.

I found some starter information at All Recipes or you can go to the Loblaw website for more information on safe canning procedures.

Group Recipes peach butter shares the flavour of the peach without having to use too much sugar.

8 cups peach pulp (need about 18 medium-sized peaches
2 cups of honey
2 cups sugar

Prepare the peach pulp:

Wash, scald, peel, pit and chop the peaches

  • Place the peaches in an 8-quart stock pot or dutch oven, with just enough water to prevent them from sticking, about 1/2 to 1 cup of water.
  • Put the lid on the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the peaches are soft.
  • Press the cooked peaches through a sieve or food mill. Measure the pulp.
  • Prepare the Peach Butter:
  • Stir in the sugar and honey.
  • Cook until the mixture thickens, about 30 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
  • When it's almost done, it will start to spit and sputter so be careful that none of the peach butter splashes out onto your skin.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch of head space.
  • Adjust caps. Process pints and quarts for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Makes about 6 pints.

    Here's Psychgrad to tell you about her peach jam:


    I recently heard the saying: The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people fail more.

    I like that. Now, I just have to remember to consider failures part of the path to success.

    Certainly, in this case is true. My initial canning fail turned into peach jam success.

    Peach Jam

    Makes about six(8 ounce)jars. (less for me)

    4 cups - finely chopped peaches (pitted and pealed)

    2 tbsp - lemon juice

    1 - package (1.75 oz) of regular powdered fruit pectin

    5 cups - granulated sugar

    Check out this link for the rest of the instructions

    The jam tastes great and has nice chunky fruit bits throughout. I want to make one more type of jam before the winter.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Scape Pesto

Every summer, I make a point of making pesto and freezing it. I usually stick with basil pesto, but this year, I added scape pesto to the mix.

The pesto still only used up part of the bag full of scapes that I got from Herbfest.

This recipe comes Glengyle Garlic, regulars at local farmers' markets.

Scape Pesto

Using a food processor, blend the following items in sequence:

1. Two cups of raw scapes that have been previously chopped into two inch pieces,

2. One cup of slivered almonds,
3. One cup of olive oil,
4. One cup of parmesan cheese

I then freeze the pesto in ice cube trays overnight before putting the cubes in a freezer bag.

Here are some Scape Tips that Glengyle Garlic provide:

1. Always remove the green top above the seed pod
2. Saueted garlic scapes are similar to a garlicky green bean and are an excellent accompaniment for meat or chicken. Saute them in olive oil until crisp tender. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice
3. Finely chopped scapes with bread crumbs, cheese and parsley as a stuffing for tomatoes and mushrooms
4. Saute scapes in olive oil with sun-dried tomatoes and olives as a pasta sauce
5. For the best garlic mashed potatoes you have ever tasted, chop scapes finely and saute them in butter. Add this to mashed potatoes with a little cream
6. Try grilled scapes as an accompaniment to a meat dish. Place scapes in foil, liberally sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bundle up and grill for 10 minutes or until soft and golden
7. Steam as you would green beans, add butter and salt.
8. When using scapes for stirfrys, freezing or picking, always blanch scapes for two to three minutes in boiling water. Drain and immerse in cold water. Cool and drain well

Here's what I had left over after making a batch of scape pesto (Giz -- you better take at least half of this bag!)


Monday, September 6, 2010

Sweet Noodle Kugel

Sweet Kugel for a sweet year. Although I don't want to cut the kugel (noodle casserole) until Thursday afternoon and it's going straight to the freezer, I did want to share this recipe with you. If I could translate the smell that's wafting through my place right now - trust me - you'd be in the kitchen looking for ingredients. Yup, it's that good.

Last year we did a Three Cheese Kugel . Since I had two requests from visiting relatives for the sweeter version, who am I to argue.

13 oz. broad egg noodles
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
4 eggs, well beaten
6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp salt
2 cups cottage cheese (I used ricotta)
1/2 cup milk (not skim)
2 tsp vanilla


1 cup crushed corn flakes (I used corn flake crumbs in the box)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325F/160C. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Add butter and mix. After cooling slightly, combine noodles with all remaining ingredients except topping.

Grease a 9x11 glass baking pan and heat in the oven for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and pour noodle mixture into hot pan and spread evenly. Mix together topping ingredients and spoon over kugel. Pat down gently.

Bake for 1 hour or until firm to the touch. StumbleUpon

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lattice Apple Blueberry Cake

I love it when I can take out my food processor and put together a cake in no time. I'm just not sure how my own mother survived without one. This one is fun to make and the outcome made me do a happy dance.


1 medium seedless orange (peel and all)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder


4 apples, peeled, cored and halved
3/4 cup white or brown sugar
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, well drained
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cut orange* in four, but do not peel. Insert steel knife in processor. Process orange until fine, about 20-25 seconds. Add remaining ingredients for dough and process until mixed, about 12-15 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary. Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom and 1" up the sides of a greased 10" springform pan. Reserve remaining dough for topping, flouring it lightly.

Slice apples (either on slicer attachment or by hand). You want thin slices. Transfer to a bowl and mix with remaining ingredients for filling. Spread evenly over dough in pan.

Flour your hands to facilitate handling of dough for lattice topping. Roll pieces of dough between your palms into thin ropes and arrange in a criss-cross design to form lattice work over filling.

Bake at 350 F for about 1 hour, until golden brown. Check with a sharp knife to make sure the apples are softened. Cool completely. Sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.

This cake is a great make ahead - freezes well.

Note: You could also make this in a greased 9x13 baking pan.

This is another one of those easy to prepare and really tasty Norene Gilletz recipes. Norene is my go to queen for uncomplicated and tastes good.

* As Norene said to me - the oranges lately are on steroids so make sure you use only a medium sized orange. I had a larger orange and had to make adjustments so that it all held together. StumbleUpon

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Matzo Balls

Grandmothers, whether you call them baba, bubee, grandma, nonna, yaya, or abuela are the greatest sources of traditional recipes to pass down to their children and grandchildren. In our family, we've made a point of documenting all of baba's recipes - many of which are posted here on the blog. Carrying on traditions has always been something I find links me to my own heritage and seeing Psychgrad following some of these traditions makes it all more meaningful.

If you've mastered matzo balls, also called knaidech (knay-dlech) either you had a good teacher or you figured it out through trial and error. If you've never made them and always wondered about them, here's a recipe that won't fail you. You never have to make matzo balls that are as hard as golf balls again.

To my friend Val from More Than Burnt Toast - you won't have to be afraid to try them ever again.

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten, or 1 egg and 2 whites
1/2 cup matzo meal
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp chicken stock or water

If you've never heard of matzo meal or never used it, this is what it looks like:

In a bowl, mix oil and eggs together. Add matzo meal, salt and blend together. Add stock or water and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.(do not miss this step)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. You need a good sized dutch oven.

Moisten hands with oil or water to prevent sticking. Form mixture into walnut-size balls and drop into the boiling water.

Reduce heat to a light boil, cover tightly (no peeking) and cook for 40 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve in chicken soup.

You can also cook matzo balls directly in chicken soup.
Matzo balls can be flash frozen on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, bagged in a freezer friendly bag and used later.

I made a double recipe and got 24 matzo balls. To serve, count on about 2 per person.

These are cooked and ready for the freezer.

Here's the best tip you'll get on matzo balls - if you want them bigger and fluffier, double the oil called for in the recipe.

When you taste them and think "what's all the fuss about", you'll likely find them relatively bland and boring. The trick is to put them into a flavourful chicken soup. The combination is pretty darned good. Psychgrad has a wonderful tutorial on making Matzo Ball Soup here on the blog.

Your matzo balls should look like this

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