Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ufficio - Coastal Italian Inspired

UFFICIO Toronto - Inspired by Coastal Italy

What:  Dinner with Natalie (Cooking Quidnunc)
When:  December 30, 2016
Where: Ufficio Restaurant
Location: 1214 Dundas St. West
Toronto, ON
Tel. 416.535.8888
Social: @ufficiotoronto

I joined my blogger friend Natalie (Cooking Quidnunc) for a tasting dinner at Ufficio Restaurant translated in Italian to "office",  on Dundas West in Toronto's Little Portugal.  Ufficio has been open for about a year.  With a new Chef in the kitchen,  Francesco Venditti, formerly of Jamie's Italian Kitchen and Bar Buca,  has developed a new menu for Ufficio.

We got there just as they were getting ready to open, we usually like to go early for dinner before crowds of people.  We were greeted by John who directed us to a lovely blue booth next to the bar.

Ufficio is a really beautiful neighbourhood space that is very warm and cozy.  While the lighting isn't as food flattering in the evening it was very people flattering.   Ufficio is a Pescatarian sustainably sourced seafood inspired by the Italian coastal towns.  The recipes are Italian inspired and made with Canadian ingredients it's like an Italian transplanted in Canada missing home.

The first dish we tried was the Tuna Crudo with hazelnuts and celery leaves.  It was the Crudo del Giorno.  It was very light and fresh.

The blow your mind dish was the Gamberi Fritti ($16) a squid ink battered striped prawn over a spicy aioli with a dusting of sweet smoked paprika.  The smell of this dish and the look was incredible.  Hard to photograph because of the squid ink but hopefully you can get the picture.  Crunchy outside but tender shrimp outside with loads of smokey flavour.

The interesting dish of the night was the Arugula fettuccini ($33) with BC striped prawns and crab in a crab reduction.  Nice fresh pasta with a lighter touch than most pastas.

The dish we really wanted to finish but didn't have any more room for were these Brussel Sprouts.
This is one of their seasonal vegetables.  It was oven roasted and caramelized and drizzled with honey and parmesan cheese and hazelnuts.  A really interesting combination.  The honey takes away any bitterness in the Brussel sprouts.

The freshest tasting dish was the Zuppa Di Pesce Allabruzzese ($29)  In a sweet fresh tomato brodo laced with Mussels, Clams, Rainbow Trout and BC striped prawns.  The broth was amazing and light.

 John explained to us that they like to showcase their Digestif (Bitters) for after dinner along with or in place of dessert.  He gave us a sample of one of them.  They have an assortment and have a special deal to sample a selection of them.  This one had cinnamon and a few other things.  Natalie had never tried it before and I tried to explain what they were like but I think you have to try it to see for yourself.  It's not for everyone.  It's a bit like an alcoholic strong cough syrup.  It's very concentrated and you feel the warming through your digestive track after you take a swig.  It's meant to aid in digestion.

And to top if all off even though we were thoroughly stuffed we wanted to try one of the desserts to complete the meal and see what they have on their dessert selection.   We chose the Panna Cotta which was like a take on a Tiramisu.  With an espresso panna cotta topped with cocoa and a Marscapone quenel and biscuits on the side.  It was kind of like a jiggly creamy creme caramel, tiramisu, jello combination.   Close your eyes and taste it and it tastes exactly like Tiramisu.  A really great after dinner dessert if you want to skip the coffees.

Ufficio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The water you drink

Finding the Filter For You

In many homes, there is an unsung hero lurking in your fridge or on your faucet: the mighty water filter. We all assume these filters are doing their jobs and keeping our water clean, but are they? The team at recently spent six weeks analyzing 38 pitcher and faucet water filters to find which are most successful at removing contaminants and enhancing flavor. According to /, the best water filters are certified by a third party to remove most common pollutants, and are designed to make water safe — and satisfying — to drink.

They focused only on carbon pitcher and faucet-mounted filters since they are effective, have low up-front costs, and require little to no installation. In addition, each recommended filter is certified by third-party organizations to ensure that they really do what they claim on the packaging. Most brands have different models of their pitchers and faucet filters. With some brands, like Brita, the filters are exactly the same, but the pitcher is a different size, shape, or color. With other brands, like PUR, fancier products have fancier filters: an extra layer of minerals to add an even crisper taste. The evaluating team picked each brand’s flagship filter so they could compare the best against the best.

Ideally, a great water filter is one with long-lasting parts, that doesn’t leak from its top reservoir, and doesn’t feel flimsy or fragile. For faucet filters, sturdiness and signs of leakage are important, but they also took into account how easy they were to install and if they’d get in the way when washing a stack of dishes.

It’s also important to note that the up-front costs of a pitcher or faucet filter pale in comparison to the long-term costs of replacing those filters over and over and over: While faucet filters can remain effective for 100 to 200 gallons of water, most pitcher filters only last 40 gallons before they need to be replaced — and that’s only if you believe the marketing. If the owner of a typical water pitcher filter drank the recommended 12 cups of water per day and diligently replaced their pitcher filter every 40 gallons, they’d be buying about seven replacement filters per year. That number goes up the more people you have in your household, and up even more if you replace the filters more often than recommended.

Ultimately, the team at chose the Mavea Elemaris as their top pick for pitcher filter. It stood out for its thoughtful design, as well as Mavea’s filter recycling program. This pitcher has a plastic resin filter that works in conjunction with carbon, so it’s effective (without pre-soaking!) but not as eco-friendly. To compensate, you can drop your used filters off at a store, or stock up a sack of six, request a pre-paid shipping label, and mail them off to their second life.

For faucet filters, the PUR Ultimate Horizonal Water Filter was their top design. It has “one-click” installation technology — all you have to do is hold down a couple buttons on the side of the unit, press it up to your faucet, let go, and the faucet mounts nice and tight. It’s definitely bulky, but they offer a metal adapter attachment for customers who have any issues. As well as a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. It’s easy to install and filters out pretty much everything you’d want gone, so it’s worth a shot.

Here’s a fun fact for you: your carbon filter might very well be burnt coconut shells. The carbon material in your filter is oftentimes the burnt charcoal remains of a natural substance, like coconut shells. Carbon under a microscope looks like a big sponge, and that’s exactly how it functions during water filtration: It absorbs organic materials. When water passes through this carbon material — either by gravity (pitcher filters) or through water pressure (faucet filters) — pollutants are bound to the carbon, thereby keeping them away from your water.

At the end of the day, it’s easy to take water for granted — but it’s just as easy to use a filter and make sure your H2O is clean and tasty. Learn what contaminants are in your drinking water, and then find a filter with certifications to make sure it will do the job it claims to do.

***Article provided by

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The year in review and the future


I thought it might be a good idea to review the past year and look to the future in this post.

I am looking to these Rostii/Latkes as a recipe that can be used for Hannukah, Brunch or for a New Year's appetizer.

The recipe following the post.

As for the review of the year.  It's currently post Christmas but still in the week of Hanukkah when people usually use this time to reflect on the year and look to the coming year.

Since I don't have family to share the Holidays with I had a lot of time to reflect on the past year and think about how I want my future to look.

This past year has been very challenging.  I have struggled with my health a bit to do all the things I wanted to do.  I have had to let things and people go and adjust to what my reality is now.   At the end of November I fell at a subway station and as a result I couldn't lift my arm for about 2 weeks and had neck and hip pains along with it.  It was super busy for cooking demands with potlucks and other blogging opportunities.  I had to pass up one of the opportunities because I just didn't have the physical ability to do it.  I really wanted to do some baking and struggled to do what I could.  I managed to get a bunch of things done and had help with one of my baking assignments.  Now I am feeling a bit better and thinking about what I want 2017 to look like.  I have been so busy working a temp job that is ending in a couple of weeks and trying to keep up with events and now I have to focus on building my blog to generate income and look for more work in 2017.  I want to find work that gives me enough income and still have flexibility to work on my blog.   Going forward I thought it was time for tiny makeover of my blog. I worked on a logo/header redesign and cleaned up a few things.  Hope you like it.   My intention this coming year is to work with more brands and to be more creative in the kitchen and try and experiment a bit more.  I want to have more balance with events and work in the kitchen this year.

I want to spend more time in my kitchen and control what I am eating.  Eating out proves to be difficult for me sometimes with the heavy amount of sodium and processed foods that are presented.

I hope to eat simpler food like these quick rostii/latkes.  They are more rostii than latke but it works.

I hope you join me and try some of the recipes I will now include in the new page I created.   I am also hoping to do some contests this year, something I have only done a few times.

So here's to a bigger and better year with lot's of great food and opportunities.

As for the RECIPE here it is:

NEW YEAR'S EVE Rostii/ Latkes


1 large Russet potato
Canola oil
Salt Pepper

Smoked Salmon
Fresh Dill or chives
Sour Cream


Peel at least 1 russet potato and grate on a box grater on the large grate side.  Do it quickly.
You can pat it dry with a paper towel but you don't have to add anything else.  Just work quickly before the potatoes turn brown.
In a medium frying pan heat up a tablespoon of oil and add a small amount of butter about a teaspoon for flavour.  When the butter is melted add a spoonful of the grated potato and pat down to a small rounded mound of potatoes.  It's easier to make them small to flip them.

Flip them using a spatula when you see the sides start to get brown.  Continue to cook until both sides are brown and crispy.  Before you flip them you can add salt and pepper.  Remove and place on a paper towel lined tray until they are all done.

If you want to make a lot for a party I would suggest just grating a potato at a time so they don't get brown.  You can only cook them in small batches anyway.  This method skips the straining and adding flour or eggs that you would normally add but you still get nice crispy potatoes.

You can make ahead and keep heated in a low oven.   At the last minute garnish with smoked salmon and a make the sauce using a small container of sour cream and a tablespoon of grated horseradish and add a tsp. of dill or chives.  
Place the smoked salmon on top of the latke and then add a tsp of the sour cream sauce on top and then top with fresh dill or chives.

That's pretty much it.  It just take a bit of time to cook the potatoes but it's pretty easy and few ingredients.

One large russet potato is about 2 servings.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you ALL and may all your food wishes and dreams come true in 2017.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Starving Foodie's Favourite Things List

I thought it might be fun to do an Oprah style list of my favourite things in Toronto and more.

You can use it as a guide to your Christmas shopping or something new to try or you can even use it if you want to get me a gift I will love.   I hope that some of these things become your favourite things too.

Top 10 List of Starving Foodie Favourite Things:

1.  Teas
  • Kusmi Tea - Detox
  • Numi Tea - Gunpowder Green
  • Teavana - Oprah Chai

2.  Coffee Shops

  • Starbucks - Love Peppermint Mochas and Cool Lime Refreshers
  • Aroma Espresso Bar - Ice Lemon Mint Aromas and great Hot Chocolate

3.  Sweet Treats
  • Squish Candy - Grapefruit and Blood Orange flavour and Strawberry Rhubarb
  • Hong Kong Waffles - I love snapping off bubbles of waffles
  • Portland Variety Chocolate Chip cookies.  They are they best cookies I have ever had in Toronto

4.  Housewares stores - I love looking for things at Homesense and stores like that where I can find interesting gadgets and tableware and things I can use to style my photos at home and for entertaining.
  • Winners
  • Homesense
  • Kitchen Stuff Plus
  • The Bay
5.  Restaurants
  • Hawthorne Food and Drink - Because they use local vendors and train people that need help to get jobs in the industry while trying to produce as little waste as possible.

  • Pearl Diver - Great seafood and awesome desserts too and they have a special private room for Chef special nights to help George Brown College chefs mentor with established chefs.

6.  Things - Movies
I love going to see movies so a Cineplex Gift Card or tickets for a TIFF film would be great.
I love documentaries so a pass to Hot Docs Film Festival even better.

7.  Gelato
I like the Gelato from Gelato in Yorkville and I like La Paloma but it's far for me now without wheels.

8.   Cheese

If I lived near the Cheese Boutique I would probably be there all the time.  I love cheese.  I like triple cream cheeses like this and smoked cheddar for mac and cheese and goat cheese for pastas and appetizers and Cheddar cheese for so many things.

9.    Poke
I love the classic Tuna Poke - Favourite places include:

  • Big Tuna Poke on Bloor Street.
  • Cali Love on King St. West.
  • North Poke on Baldwin

10.   Places

The Drake Devonshire Inn - For it's amazing view and relaxing vibes and it's eclectic decor.

** This is not a sponsored post.  All of the choices are my own.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Food Revolution December Challenge - BBQ Sauce

 Food Revolution Ambassador December Challenge

Make your own Condiment

Starving Foodie Smokey Sweet BBQ Sauce

As a Food Revolution Ambassador we receive monthly newsletters from the Jamie Oliver organization with monthly challenges and things they would like us to do as Ambassadors.  For December one of the Super Ambassadors Alex had a suggestion for us to make our own condiment.  I suppose it could be a dressing, a cranberry sauce, ketchup or whatever.   I decided to make a BBQ sauce because I had loads of hardened brown sugar I needed to do something with.  I have a pretty full pantry of things so I just used whatever I actually had on hand.  I would have liked to add cumin but I just sorted out old spices and have to do an inventory of what's missing now.

I like smokey BBQ sauces and one of my favourite spices are chipotle and smoked paprika so that's what I used to give it a BBQ smoke flavour.  You can control what you like and don't like and the amount of sugars, salts and preservatives and chemicals that would go into making these sauces.  I like to reduce the salts but like it full of flavour and slightly sweeter.  I added a few other things to the sauce besides the ones in the photo above.   Recipe below.


1 tbsp canola oil or other vegetable oil
½ chopped medium onion
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp honey
5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 oz. Jack Daniels whisky or similar
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp ground chipotle pepper
3 tsp dry mustard or regular mustard
1 tbsp smoked paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground black pepper

In a saucepan on medium heat add the Canola oil and when it’s hot add the diced onions.  Cook until translucent.  Add the salt and spices and mix until you smell the spices.   Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on medium low for about 20 to 30 minutes until it thickens up and flavours are released.
Let cool and store in a Mason Jar or squeeze bottle in the fridge.  If you leave the onions out you can store for a longer time.

I used it on cubes of chicken that I sautéed.  Cut up chicken breast in cubes and add salt and pepper.  Saute in a frying pan until there is a golden brown color.  Lower the heat and add a tablespoon or 2 of the BBQ sauce and then just heat until it coats the chicken and is thoroughly cooked through and hot.
Super easy and quick.  I had it with a quick boiled peas and some coleslaw but you can get more creative with rice, mashed potatoes, polenta or other vegetables.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My food Hero is....

I was asked to participate in sharing MY FOOD HERO by the Community Food Centres  along with my fellow Food Revolution Ambassadors, in a blog post and the only person I could think of was my mother Jeannette.  My mother was born with the name Esther but for some reason she didn't like that name and changed it to Jeannette.  My mother was born in Poland and moved to Belgium and during the war she was take to a concentration camp.  Luckily my mom was a very strong person and even though she was only a teenager she survived.  My mother never had proper formal education and worked from home as a seamstress.  She would work all day and then at 4 o'clock she would start dinner and try and have a full meal on the table around 5pm.
It wasn't always perfect because some things she learned from her mother and some things she learned from friends and other things she just winged it.  My parents have a world of ethnic influences, my dad was born in Greece and had Spanish decent and they met in Belgium but were married in Jerusalem.  

My mom picked up food influences from all over,  French, she made great french fries,  Jewish, she made the real deal Chicken soup, and other things that I just thought were normal until my friend pointed out that we ate things they didn't know about like Artichokes which my mother cooked in a pressure cooker and then made a vinaigrette sauce that my brother and I added our touch to, they were a favourite of my whole family.  
I was the one in the kitchen stirring the pot, getting the ingredients, measuring things and peeling things.  Little did I know in helping out that I was actually learning something and even though my mother didn't have a formal chef education little alone a proper education since she missed a lot of schooling and had to work after the war.  But she somehow learned some proper cooking techniques.  She taught me how to whip egg whites and to fold them into chocolate to make a chocolate mousse.  She taught me how to char eggplant and red peppers to make baba ganoush and a roasted red pepper salad.  She taught me how to bake cookies and cakes and to cook without a recipe.  She didn't know  how to cook everything,  her vegetables were over cooked but I didn't mind it when it was cauliflower in a cheesy bechamel sauce that was baked in the oven with a bread crumb topping.  She never mastered spaghetti and meatballs, the meatballs were ok but cooked in the sauce it made the sauce greasy and then it would slip off the pasta.  Sometimes her steaks were like shoe leather.   But the things she got right are almost ingrained in my brain.  The only thing I can't remember how to make exactly are her sugar cookies.  They were thicker and lighter than regular ones and she used the dough to make apple pie which I also tweaked once I learned some techniques from watching chefs on TV.

I learned how to cook from taste and how to balance seasonings and what works with what.  I am grateful that I don't have to struggle on how to cook in the kitchen and my only struggle is the time and energy to cook now.

My mom did another thing that has stuck with me for life that has probably had the biggest influence on my Food Blogger life and that is introducing me to different ethnic cultures through food and entertainment.  She took me to a cultural event every year that had different ethnic community groups showcase their culture in all kinds of churches and centres around town.  I sampled Filipino food, my first Falafel, Spanokopita, and all things related to different cultures.  That gave me a great appreciation and curiosity for different foods and flavours of the world.  I just wish I could travel to some of the places I would love to explore.

My parents were working class people that came to Canada with no money and worked hard to feed us and always made sure we had a full refrigerator full of food.  Most of it was fresh meat and vegetables with hardly any processed foods.

This holiday season, I'm celebrating #myfoodhero, my mom, Jeannette, and you can celebrate your food hero with a donation to Community Food Centres Canada to support the work bringing the power of food to low-income communities. I hope you'll consider making a donation in honour of your food hero, too. and #myfoodhero in your posts. 
And tag us so we can re-share! We're on Facebook | Twitter | Instaram | YouTube | LinkedIn

Friday, December 9, 2016

Toronto Holiday Pop Up Markets 2016

Business is booming for Toronto's Holiday Pop Up Markets in DECEMBER.

There are even more this year with the introduction of the HOLIDAY FAIR at Nathan Phillips Square.

Here is the run down on some of the Markets in Toronto.

The Holiday Fair is the newest one modelled after the markets in Europe.
There are rides for the kids, a hollywood photo booth for everyone and food trucks to fill your bellies.  This market is easily accessible by TTC with underground parking and it's family friendly.  Although it will be chilly come prepared and grab your skates because the skating rink is ready for you too.

When: December, 2016
Event Time(s):  
Where:  Nathan Phillips Square
Cost: Free
Phone: (416)  

The Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery is rated one of the best in North America and because of that designation it is also one of the most packed markets.  It outgrew itself very quickly and lost the enjoyment of strolling through the Distillery looking at all the vendors wares.  In an effort to redistribute the crowds they introduced a weekend entrance fee which helped a bit.
Chef Antonio Park has created some Campbells Soup for the Campbells Soup booth at the market.  You can get mulled wine and hot chocolate and Belgian waffles too.

When: Until December 21, 2016
Event Time(s):  
Where:  Distillery District
55 Mill Street, Toronto
Cost: Free during the week and  $6 on the weekends

Back for the third year is the Union Station Holiday Market which has moved inside the building this year close to the York street entrance.  Better for people running through the station who don't want to freeze their butts off outside.  It seems a bit smaller this year but maybe because it's in a bigger space now without tents.
This is more of just a gift market than a family event destination.
Some of the interesting things I saw at the market were this cute Grinch tree, some fantastic chocolates by Moroco and another vendor and some nice Jewellery from Foxy Originals.

When: Until December 20, 2016
Event Time(s): 7:30 am - 7:00 pm  M-F
10-6pm Sat & Sun.
Where:  Union Station
65 Front St. W. 
@torontounion @torontomarketco

I haven't had a chance to visit this market yet but I can tell you that the Brickworks is open year round for all sorts of family friendly events.  Although it's a little tough to get there and parking is limited and gets a bit pricey.  They say to curb people from driving for the environment.  You can TTC there from Broadview Station and Davisville.
This market is about food vendors and artisans and exploring the various sites around the Brickworks.
When: December  , 2016
Event Time(s): 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Where:  Evergreen Brickworks
550 Bayview Avenue
Cost: Free

The Shops at Don Mills create a really cute outdoor space in the middle of the different stores.  It's very pretty and geared to families. Kids can play in the snow while their parents shop the stores.

When: December, 2016
Event Time(s): 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Where: CF Shops at Don Mills
1090 Don Mills Road
Cost: Free
Phone: (416) 447-6087

Bunz is a popular facebook group where people share services and post jobs and trade items.  It would be a great place to pick up something different as a holiday gift, maybe a service or a traded item.

When: December 20, 2016
Event Time(s): 7:00 PM – 1:00 AM
Where: Gladstone Hotel
Cost: Free
Website: Website

I don't know much about this market but it promises to have lot's of crafty vendors.

When: Until December 24, 2016
Event Time(s): 7:00 PM – 1:00 AM
Where:  990 Queen St. W.
Cost: Free  

Foodie Pages is a box delivery service that has many new Canadian products and they will be hosting this one day event with lots of the vendors that provide goods for their boxes.  It's a great way to pick and choose items that would come in a surprise box.

This is not a sponsored post.. All of the opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December Food Revolution Toronto Challenge - Oaty Fruity Cookies

I am one of a group of many Food Revolution Ambassadors in Toronto and around the World a group of people that believe in Jamie Oliver's mission to educate people to eat better food and currently on a mission to fight childhood obesity.

Each month we get Challenges that are sent to us by the team in the U.K. that manage the Ambassadors around the world.  I try and participate in the ones I am able to do.  I wasn't able to do November's because it was a pasta dish although somewhat simple I had a bit of a fall and haven't been able to lift my right arm to make it on my own.  I even purchased the ingredients before I got hurt and hope to make the recipe at some point.

The Toronto Team have decided to select monthly recipes for us to make and to share with out social streams for a chance for people to win a cookbook each month.

December's recipe is Jools' Oaty Fruity Cookies but I wasn't sure if I would be able to make this recipe because of my injured shoulder,  but my friend came over to visit me and bring me a few things and I told him about the challenge and asked if he would help me do it and he provided the reaching, mixing and all the physical things that it took to complete this recipe.  He did most of the work but we did it in my very tiny kitchen as you can see there isn't much prep space.

The reason I wouldn't have been able to do it myself was because of the ingredients and tools were either stored very high and out of my reach or too heavy for me to access.  This recipe requires a lot of ingredients that you may or may not use everyday.  Luckily I got help and together we worked our way through this recipe.

The link to the recipe is below.  For my cookies I used Pumpkin seeds, flax and sesame seeds.  I used coconut sugar and white sugar and I used raisins, golden berries and some dried cherries.  That's what I had. You can adjust for what you might have.  For the spices I used cinnamon, ginger and cloves for that winter spice flavour.  It's not difficult once you have organized all of the ingredients.  They bake very quickly too.

If you would like to try this recipe and get a chance to Win a Jamie Oliver cookbook you can see the link and the details below this photo.

This recipe might be great to make with kids that can gather the ingredients and dump and stir and form the cookies because you just need an ice cream scoop to measure equal portions.  Give it a try and let me know what you added to yours.

Hey #Canada - we want to get you BAKING! Starting today, December 1st 2016 until December 31st 2016, bake up a batch of Jools Oliver's Easy Oaty Fruity Cookies for your chance to win one of four Jamie Oliver cookbooks thanks to HarperCollins Canada!
How to enter:
Bake Jools' Easy Oaty Fruity Cookies with your family, snap a picture and share it on social media using the hashtag #CookwithFoodRevTOand tag us here on FB, or at @FoodRevToronto on Twitter or Instagram and you'll be entered to win a cookbook!
Eligibility and contest rules:
– Contest begins on December 1st 2016 at10am EST on and closes December 31st 2016 at 6pm EST.
– Prize consists of one (1) Jamie Oliver cookbook (various titles)
– There are four (4) prizes in total.
– Open to readers or the age of majority with a Canadian mailing address.
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winners will be chosen randomly (using from all qualified entries on December 31st 2016 after 6pm EST.
– Winners will be notified via email January 1st 2017 and will have 48 hours to respond to the email.
– Winners will be required to answer a skill testing question.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Baking with Canola Oil is easy

My friend Vicky (momwhoruns) asked me to join her for a fun Baking with Canola event at the Luxe Appliance Studio on King St. in downtown Toronto recently.  Although the event happened on a thursday and I had a bit of a nasty fall on the monday and had a hard time lifting my arm, I since found out I have a rotator cuff injury, but anyway I really wanted to go so I just did as much as I could at the event an relied on my baking partner Heather (thetastygardner) to do the heavy lifting part.
The event was sponsored by Canola Oil and hosted by Joey Salmingo and special guest Emily Richards who is a home economist, was there to show us some of her favourite family recipes from her new cookbook Per La Famiglia.  

Upon arrival we sampled some of the tasty appetizers that Emily prepared for us.  I really enjoyed the panzerotti stuffed with charcuterie. 

We listened to Jeannette (@farminginpearls) who is a Canola farmer from Winnipeg speak about the Canola farmers and how little space they have to grow Canola and how challenging it is to grow and the benefits of using Canola Oil.

Ellen Pruden explained how Canola is graded with a little Canola crushing demo.  They allow only 2 uncrushed Canola seeds for their top grade.  The portion that is unused is used as animal feed.

Emily started the demo with a Bomb.  Actually she made some Nutella stuffed Bomboloni which means bomb in Italian.  I didn't actually have time to try one but it looked delicious.

We were split into pairs of 2 and we were given one of Emily's recipes from her cookbook to make.  I was paired with Heather who has a blog called The Tasty Gardener.  Heather had to do any heavy lifting with my arm in bad shape I was a bit limited but I did what I could.  Our recipe was Potato donuts, we made them sweet with a coating of cinnamon sugar and savoury with an anchovy surprise in the middle.  We gathered the ingredients and heather did all the kneading to get the dough together.  We both rolled out the donuts from a batch Emily had prepared in advance.  It's a yeast dough so it needed time to proof.  We actually went back to our batch later once it had proofed.

Both of us were set up to fry the donuts.  it was a bit of a slow process because we could only do about 5 at a time.  We made a lot and I was the last person to finish frying them up.  I used my left arm to flip them in the pot.  I'm learning to be a lefty for now.

Heather topped her sweet ones with Cinnamon Sugar and I decided to use Icing Sugar so there would be more variety.  They were very rustic looking but looked great.

I have been using Canola oil for frying for a while now and my mom's Chiffon cake calls for oil in it.  But it was great to see all of Emily's recipes.  Some reminded me of my childhood because one was a peach cookie that my neighbour used to make during the holidays.  She also has a recipe for Struffoli that my other neighbour used to have only at Christmas time.  Most of my neighbours were Italian growing up and I developed my love of Italian food from them.  There was also Crostoli which I think a few of my friends had because I guess it was readily available at our local Italian Bakery.

Emily's cookbook has some fantastic recipes that are Classic Italian generational recipes that you should try and make if you haven't had the experience of having an Italian Nonna around.

If you haven't baked or fried with Canola I would suggest you try it and see how your recipes turn out.  You can even substitute for lard or butter I am told for some recipes.  Canola has Omega 3's so it's a really great product and also Canadian so it's great to support our local Canadian farmers.

Twitter/Instagram: @CanolaEatWell   #BakingwithCanola

Twitter/Instagram @ERiscooking

Monday, November 28, 2016

Grey Cup at Casa Di Mama

I won an invite to go to a special party to watch the Grey Cup from Do the Daniel's instagram contest, but since I am not a football fan and don't know anything about football I asked my friend who is into sports to go in my place.  He is always looking for cool places to watch sporting events and free pizza was a bonus for sure. Thanks to Daniel I was able to send my friend Brian Moran to the special Casa di Mama house to watch the game with a few other chosen people.  Brian said he really enjoyed watching it there and he has taken a few pics and written a few words about his experience. 

Mama and Brian
Grey Cup - by Brian Moran

You can’t predict the result however, you also know it will be competitive game. And that’s exactly what happened while we watched the game and celebrated at Casa di mama and her famous Dr. Oetker pizza in Toronto.

We entered the Casa and were warmly greeted by Mama. She reminded me of a neighbour’s Nonna. She was so sweet.

The game began with Alessia Cara who seriously rocked out during the pre-game show. Great voice and style – she is awesome.

Then we checked out all the tats Dr. Oetker pizzas while waiting for the game to start. My favourite was the hot & spicy Infernal version. Let’s just say I like it spicy!

During half-time we were  treated to  the cool vibes of Brass Tracks in their basement. Think New Orleans horns meeting some very cool hip-hop beats. Perfect mash-up – the sound was vibrant and energetic.

We then settled down to watch the game and in the last few minutes the Calgary Stampeders tied it at 33-33.  Talk about exciting!

In the OT, the Ottawa Redblacks sealed the deal with a 39-33 win ! Incredibly exciting right down to the overtime!

Thanks to Dr. Oetker and Casa di Mama for inviting me to their Grey Cup bash! Great pizza, awesome people to watch with and a beautiful casa to take it all in.