Saturday, May 27, 2017

Food Revolution Potluck Healthy Brunch


One of my fellow Food Revolution Ambassadors organized a Healthy Potluck Brunch at the Centre of Social Innovation in the Annex where she is a member.  It's a great meeting space and pretty easy to get to when the TTC is cooperating.

l to r.  Susan, me, Ilona, Jessica & Hema - photo by Susan
There was a small group of 5 of us and 3 out of the 5 of us were Food Revolution Ambassadors.  Since 2 of us don't have any kids it's hard to work with schools to do Food Revolution activities so it was great to just have a Potluck for anyone that wanted to join.  We were joined by 2 other food bloggers.  Although we are all Food Bloggers we hadn't all met before so it was a great way to meet and share food under the Food Revolution umbrella.


We enjoyed a nice variety of dishes from Susan's Healthy Devilled Eggs to a Roasted almond vinaigrette dressing salad with Fennel and Avocado.  Hema made a healthy bread and Ilona made Sweet Potato muffins that tasted like pumpkin pie.  Jessica made Crepes from scratch with Chia strawberry Jam.  I made an Asparagus Tart and an Asparagus simple salad with the rest of the Asparagus.


I know Hema (NomadicNutritionist)  will do a follow up blog post on her blog but I wanted to do a post to put the recipe up for the Asparagus Tart that I made as my Potluck dish.

When it comes to Potluck recipes I usually decide kind of at the last minute to see how much time and ingredients I have.   This recipe came from the fact that I had a bunch of Asparagus that I knew I couldn't eat all by myself unless I ate it everyday for  a few days and because it's a fresh spring vegetable that you think of when you think Healthy Spring Brunch Dishes.

I turned my fresh Asparagus into an Asparagus Spring Tart.



INGREDIENTS:

1/2 bunch of Fresh Asparagus
2 eggs
1/2 cup of grated Gruyere Cheese
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp Mayonnaise or you can use Greek Yoghurt
1/2 Tbsp milk, cream or half and half.  I used milk because that's what I had.
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
Freezer Puff Pastry - I used Presidents Choice because it's in a roll easy to use.


DIRECTIONS:

Blanch the Asparagus in boiling salted water for about a minute or until it turns bright green and then remove the asparagus and shock it to stop the cooking by placing it in a iced water.  Remove and drain and set aside

Make sure the Puff Pastry has thawed over night in the fridge or at least a few hours as per package instructions.  I used Presidents Choice Puff Pastry with you just un roll in one piece.  It's so much easier than rolling out one solid block of puff pastry which is what I used to do.

Place the puff pastry on a cookie sheet lined with Parchment paper and poke holes into the pastry using a fork  so that it doesn't puff up all the way when you bake it.   Place the puff pastry dough in a 450 degree oven and bake for about 10 minutes.  If it puffs up you can poke holes in it.

Remove it from the oven and let it cook while making the custard mix.

In a small bowl mix the 2 eggs and add the milk, mayonnaise, mustard and seasonings and add 3/4 of the Grated Gruyere cheese.  You can use any size grated but I used the larger holes when I did it.
I spread the custard mix over the puff pastry in a thin layer and left a but uncovered at the edge.
Place the asparagus spears over the custard mix in a row filling up all of the puff pastry surface.

Sprinkle the rest of the Gruyere cheese on top and bake in the same 450 degree oven for another 15 to 20 minutes until the egg custard mix has set and the pastry is golden brown.

It may be soft because of the cheese but will set up when the cheese cools.   Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 4-6 people as an appetizer or side dish.  Goes great with a salad or even a Steak.





Monday, May 22, 2017

Spring Tex Mex Corn Fritters

SPRING TEX MEX CORN FRITTERS


Today is Victoria Day and it's been a crazy weather washout of a weekend.  Very hard to plan outdoor activities because of the unpredictable weather.  Even though it's Spring the weather has tiptoed in and out of it so far.  Because I was off work today because of the Victoria Day Holiday I had time to do a little fridge/freezer clean Spring recipe.  I have been really trying to find different ways to use or preserve my fruits and vegetables a lot more to save money and food waste which has become one of my missions to get better at.  In the photo below is the corn mixture for the beginning of my fritter recipe and using the onions and cilantro and soft tomatoes I also made a Pico De Gallo salsa and chopped garlic in oil and added the ends of green onions to water to regrow.  I have extra chopped tomatoes and onions ready for quick prep of other recipes in the next couple of days.


This week I had a chance to attend a Taste Canada event at the Hudson's Bay and one of the Chefs doing a demo was Joel McCharles the author of the cookbook Batch and Blog Well Preserved.  I didn't pick up a copy but hope to get a copy soon.  He had a few tips for preserving and other ways of maximizing your produce but admitted that even he is trying to figure out the challenge of not wasting food.    We waste more than 40% of our food from farm to table.  Each step has produce that is wasted from the not so perfect produce to the stuff that spoils in your fridge. This recipe was an idea that I thought up while taking inventory of my freezer.  Joel talked about different tips to preserving some fruits and vegetables but if you have a chance pick up a copy of his cookbook. I am sure it will save your food from the garbage bin.


I made some Tex Mex Corn Fritters.  Even though the corn season is coming soon I decided to use some frozen corn that I had in the back of my freezer knowing that I will be able to pick up fresh corn really soon.  You can also used drained canned corn or fresh corn if you have it.

As usual I didn't follow a recipe and only really follow measurements strictly when I am baking and even then I try and wing it with twists if I can.

I decided to write it up right away so that it's fresh in my mind in case anyone asks or I want to make it sometime again in the winter months when I am craving spring flavours.


TEX MEX CORN FRITTER RECIPE

1 small bag of frozen corn
2 tbsp chopped red onion
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 lime juiced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 whole medium eggs
1/2 cup of milk or cream

1 cup of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder

1 cup of Canola Oil

Directions:

Rinse and drain frozen corn until it is fairly dry.   Mix in chopped red onion, chopped cilantro, salt, cumin and chipotle pepper and mix well to distribute.
In a separate small bowl mix 2 eggs and add 1/2 milk or cream.
In a large bowl add 1 cup of flour, salt and baking powder and whisk to distribute evenly.
Add the milk and eggs to the flour mixture and mix until smooth batter like consistency.  Add more milk if needed.  Almost like a pancake batter consistency.  Add the corn mixture and mix until combined evenly.

Heat Canola oil in a Cast iron Skillet or a non stick frying pan or a heavy bottom deep pan.   Heat on medium high heat and test with a wooden spoon if bubbles form around the end of the spoon it's hot enough.

Using a medium ice cream scoop to scoop up the corn mixture and gently place in the heated oil.  Cook for about 2 minutes and when it starts to cook up the sides flip it using a slotted spoon or fish spatula.   Cook for another couple of minutes on the other side and once they are golden brown remove them to a plate and if you wish line it with paper towel to absorb excess oil but if cooking at the proper temperature they shouldn't be excessively oily.  

You can cook them all lightly and then warm them all in a low oven until ready to serve.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Food Revolution Events


As I am writing this post today is May 19, 2017 and it should have been FOOD REVOLUTION DAY around the world but Jamie Oliver's UK team decided to cancel the Global Day in light of the political events regarding school lunch programs in the UK as put forth by UK's Theresa May.

Jamie had plans to launch a campaign against junk food marketing to kids but put everything on hold because it didn't align with what was going on politically in the past couple of weeks.  I would imagine Jamie is hopping mad and has told the UK press that "Axing free school meals is a disgrace". You can read more about it in this BBC article.

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-39969155

More here on the Food Revolution
Website:  http://www.jamiesfoodrevolution.org/news/all-eyes-on-the-small-print-for-our-kids-health/

Some Food Revolution Ambassadors have carried on with their planned events around the world and have just removed the Global Day in favour of just a Food Revolution Event.


I didn't plan a public event this year but I organized a Healthy Workplace Lunch event at my office on May 12th.  We were going to do a Cinco De Mayo event but the timing wasn't good so we just changed it to Fiesta Friday.  This event was a no brainer for me because I had a Public Food Revolution Mexican Fiesta event in 2013.  You can look into the archives to read about that event.  I knew I had some things in storage but didn't even know what I had until I dug it out of my storage locker on the morning of the event.  I was happy to find 2 Sombreros that I forgot about and some plastic Maracas and a sign and some other decorations.


With our Boardroom decked out in Festive decorations and set up with the Taco Shells and all the fixings everyone was ready to dig in.  I wish I had video that I could post with the look on everyone's faces as they entered the Boardroom.   I set up a Photo Booth wall on the whiteboard and had fun props and the Sombrero hats and my camera for those wanting to have a little fun.
The lunch event pretty much mostly fell in my lap to organize even though it started from a Taco Tuesday idea from one of the Managers.  I was happy to take it on and approached it as I would a Food Revolution Event.

It was a bit of a mix of a Potluck and our team provided a lot of the things needed to round it out.

I set up a Potluck Sign Up Sheet and listed all of the ingredients or items needed to build a Taco Bar and anything Mexican that would fit the theme.  One of my co workers wasn't even able to attend and she made Mexican Wedding cookies for the first time and brought them in the day before after she asked me what she could make.  I found a pretty simple recipe and she was so happy with the result of it and everyone enjoyed it.


What's a Taco Bar without the proteins to put into the Tacos?  To make this work we lined up a bunch of crockpots in our hallway and had different proteins in each.   I made Chicken in a Mole sauce and other team member made Ground Beef,  another made Pulled Pork and another went outside the box with a Chicken and mixed vegetables dish.

Mexican Wedding Cookies
I also made a layered Taco Dip and a Non Alcoholic Margarita drink which was so simple but everyone went nuts over it.  It's just lime and lemon concentrate and some 7-UP and I added some lemonade later.  I also made Flour Tortillas from scratch and those were the 1st thing to go.  I also had the hard tacos and Corn Tortillas that I picked up from St. Lawrence Market for those people who are Gluten sensitive.  The thing about Mexican Food is individuals have control over the elements and can load up on things that accommodate most diets and because it's interactive it really brings people together.

I should explain that the Healthy Workplace Committee is a team of about 8 people who organize lunch time events in many of the Government Ministries in Ontario.  It's a way of team building and relieving the stress of everyday work life.  It can be a lunch, a walk or anything that will encourage positive work life experience.  Our office seems to love food even though many of my coworkers aren't cooks I tried to encourage them to either bring an ingredient or we asked for a financial contribution to try and encourage participation of more people.

It worked.  Everyone was so happy and days later people were still thanking me.  The director even submitted my name plus 2 other team members for an all day Ministry Wide Healthy Workplace event.  It's so nice to be recognized for your hard work sometimes.

Churros

The Mexican Fiesta was my way of encouraging people to contribute to a Potluck in anyway they could to bring people together and hopefully encourage some to try and cook a new dish.
We even had Churros Uber'ed to our office.  Also a big hit.  Who knew you could Uber Churros and it turns out there were a lot of people that didn't know what they were and had them for the first time.


 I was so busy organizing that I didn't even have time to take a photo of our Crockpots or the Drink table but it I did an Instagram Story of it on the day of but unfortunately I didn't save it.

But I did take a photo of my assembled Tacos as seen above and can honestly say that everyone really enjoyed the whole thing and I would encourage you to host a Potluck Fiesta, Brunch, Lunch, dinner, drinks or whatever you like to get friends, family and coworkers together and share a meal whether it's big or small.

The Food Revolution Team also wants to get you in the kitchen and to encourage you to engage with our community we have Monthly Challenges which are pretty simple but you can Win a Jamie Oliver Cookbook for participating on social media.

This is the Challenge for May! 
This month's #CookwithFoodRevTO challenge is all about healthy #breakfast! How do you like to start off your day right? Each week we'll be showcasing a healthy breakfast idea from Jamie Oliver right here to give you some inspiration - this week it's Mexican-style omelette wrap.
And hey, just by showing us your healthy breakfast ideas, you could win a Jamie Oliver cookbook thanks to HarperCollins Canada
How to enter:
Show us your breakfast! Snap a photo of your healthy breakfast and tell us a little bit about it (how you made it, what makes it healthy).
You MUST use the hashtag #CookwithFoodRevTO AND tag us either here on FB, or at @FoodRevToronto on Twitter or Instagram. That's it! Then you'll be entered to win a cookbook!
Eligibility and contest rules:
– Contest begins on May 1st 2017 at 6am EST on and closes May 31st 2017 at 6pm EST.
– Prize consists of one (1) Jamie Oliver cookbook
– Open to readers of the age of majority with a Canadian mailing address.
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winner will be chosen randomly (using random.org) from all qualified entries on May 31st 2017 after 6pm EST.
– Winner will be notified via email June 1st 2017 and will have 48 hours to respond to the email.
– Winner will be required to answer a skill testing question.








Thursday, May 18, 2017

FREE POLAR PIZZA Ice Cream from Basking & Robbins




FREE Polar Pizza for the People!

One of the most eagerly awaited weekends on the annual calendar just got cooler.
Baskin-Robbins Canada's first pop-up food truck is set to hit the streets of the GTA from May 19-21.  
The pop-up truck will be serving free slices of the brand's famous
Polar Pizza to celebrate National Pizza Party Day (May 19) and the Victoria Day long weekend.



WHAT:                          The Baskin-Robbins food truck takes to the streets to serve free Polar Pizza slices! 

WHO:                             Coney, the Baskin-Robbins Mascot, along with a team of Baskin-Robbins Canada

WHEN/WHERE:            The Baskin-Robbins Polar Pizza Truck will be making stops in the following areas: 

                                 Friday May 19, 2017 (National Pizza Party Day) 
                                                Downtown Toronto   YONGE DUNDAS SQUARE

                                                Saturday May 20, 2017
                                                Hamilton
                                                Burlington Waterfront 
                                                Mississauga
                                                Brampton

                                 Sunday May 21, 2017
                                The Beaches
  

Follow the truck’s exact whereabouts on FacebookTwitter or Instagram, and through the hashtag #PolarPizzaTruck.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cook 4 New Lives Gala and Culinary Battle



Today is Mother's Day and it's a fitting time to talk about a Charity Gala that I attended this week that supports the Massey Centre an organization that helps young mother's in need with different programs that allow them to continue their education and get the support they need to take care of themselves and their baby.  The #COOK4NEWLIVES Gala is also an opportunity for student chefs to pair with Professional Chefs in a competition that is voted on by well known food industry judges.  
Chef John Higgins | Director George Brown Chef School
Sara Lynn Cauchon | Creator, The Domestic Geek
Sebastian Centner | Eatertainment

Hosted by Big Brother Host Arisa Cox


Entertainment provided by AMBER


Akua Asabea Blair welcomed the guest to the Gala and introduced everyone to the work of the Massey Centre and one of the former members Jalisa Orr took the stage to tell everyone her story of getting pregnant at 16 and how it impacted her life and how the Massey Centre was able to help her change direction in her life.

The While the Students and their mentors were busy preparing the food in George Brown College's kitchens the Gala guests were sampling pizza from Pizza Nova, Shrimp Banh Mi Toasts by Hello Fresh, mini cupcakes from Don't call me a cupcake and tortilla chips and salsa from the Neal Brothers and beverages from Social Lite and Muskoka Brewery and Coca Cola Ltd.



They also had a really fun Photo Booth by Picture Photo Booth, set up with the most fun props I have seen in a while.

Then it was time for the Competition.  The teams brought out their dishes and everyone rushed to sample each of the 4 dishes.

The WINNING TEAM was:

Jessica Martineau | Oliver & Bonacini, Canteen with Andrea Cosalan GBC student
with their Steamed Puto, Pork Sausage with Ramp Puree




Suzanne Barr | Saturday Dinette  with Nao Akutagawa GBC student prepared:
Jerk Chicken, Buckwheat Ramen, Roasted Tomatoes


Amber Farrell | The Flock & formerly of Ceili Cottage with Saili Naiowade GBC student
Veggie Sliders

Tara Lee | Eastbound Brewing Company with Eungi Moon GBC student
Smoked Chicken Soup


This event wasn't just a cooking competition but it was also a Fundraising Gala to not only raise funds but awareness of the great work that the Massey Centre does.
There was a silent auction set up with some many amazing baskets and items like Hockey Jerseys and all kinds of great things.

Congratulations to everyone for the hard work putting this event together and all the hard work in helping young mothers achieve their dreams.

For more information about the Massey Centre and to Sponsor, donate, volunteer or whatever else you may be able to assist with contact them through their website:  http://www.massey.ca/contact-us/


Disclaimer:  The gala ticket was complimentary but the opinions and photos are my own.















Sial Canada 2017 New Products galore


The 14th International Food Exhibition, SIAL Canada, and Equipment and Technology, SET Canada, took place at the Enercare Centre in Toronto from May 2 to 4, 2017.

As the country celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, this edition of the show highlighted Canadian know-how, multiculturalism and innovation.

• 1,005 exhibitors and brands from 50 different countries;
• 240,000 square feet of exhibition space;
• 16,578 trade visitors from some 60 countries;
• 32% visitor growth compared to 2015 (last edition of Toronto).

The Sial Canada show is a huge show with so many products as you can see from these stats.  There are so many products that you can't possibly sample all of them in 1 day.  I tried my best to sample as much as I could and focused on all of the new things to me.  I had to skip all of the fantastic cheese in the cheese aisle and the olive oils and some of the meats to have enough room to try everything else.  I skipped the cheese because all of those vendors will be at the Cheese Festival so I will catch them there.  I made the mistake of filling up on cheese the first time I went to Sial and couldn't even try more half way into the booths.  This time I didn't have as much time so I pretty much did speed browsing through the aisles scoping out interesting products.

The Winner of the Sial Innovation award chosen from 10 Innovative products was the Flavoured Sugar cubes pictured above.  Also notable was the Maple Syrup in a tree can with a spout.  With 4 different grades of Maple Syrup they all had slightly different characteristics.  The quality of them is excellent.

There were a few things that I tried that really stood out for me.  The Spokes product of puffed potatoes spoke shaped chips were an addictive substitute for chips.  I wish I could have taken a bag home with me.

Italian Sodas from Bike from Italy in many different flavours,  not exactly new as they are similar to canned products produced by Perrier but the flavours were great and it's nice to have them in bottles. They are super refreshing for those hot summer days.
   
 

I thought these mustards by Smak Dab were delicious.  I really liked the horseradish mustard.

One of a few amazing products were these Vegan Ice Creams from Lacreme in Quebec, and they also had fantastic cheesecakes and savoury dips.  They aren't in Toronto but hope to be here soon.


There was lot's of ham, cheese and olive oil for sampling and I only dabbled in a couple of these because I just didn't have the time or the space in my stomach.  


As you can see there were a lot of products on display.  This isn't even all of them but I snapped as many as I could and sampled most of these things. 


Some other notable products were the Fresh is Best Mexican products booth with the freshest guacamole and salsas and multi colored taco shells and chips.  Thank you to the rep for giving me some sample to share with my coworkers at our Mexican Fiesta lunch event.

I tried an interesting dried fruit tea, chocolates, yogurt from Quebec, smoked salmon, mustards, spicy juices, chocolate, coconut milk and packaged meats.   I packed all this in only a couple of hours but I hope to have more time to explore at next years show.

It's taken me a while to write this post because I took so many photos as you can see and I am sorry that I wasn't able to include everyone.

Look for some of these products on your grocery shelves soon.  I know I will be.

Thank you to SIAL CANADA for giving me the opportunity to attend and for organizing such a great show.

I wasn't able to attend the panel discussions but there were some interesting topics including food waste and where things are going in the food industry.

Until next year Sial..  thank you.





Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Brewers Plate - RockthePlate Food, Beer, Fun


Me and my foodie girls had the opportunity to attend the The Brewers Plate Rock the Plate last week.  It is a celebration of locally curated food and locally brewed beer. It's an indulgent evening featuring unlimited sampling of collaborations between renowned Toronto restaurants and Ontario brewers. Now in its 10th year, this charitable event is a one-of-a-kind tasting experience wrapped in a rock and roll theme! They raised over $8000 at this event that will be donated to War Child Canada.


The Participating Restaurants included:

· Trattoria Nervosa
· Le Dolci Toronto
· Heirloom Toronto
· Ted’s World Famous BBQ
· Tundra Restaurant & Bar
· Globe Bistro
· Cheese Boutique
· Mangia & Bevi
· Beaus All Natural Brewing
· ChocoSol


Brewers
· Old Tomorrow Beer
· The Collingwood Brewery
· All or Nothing Brewhouse
· Station Cold Brew Coffee Co.
· Henderson Brewing Co.
· Walter Craft Caesar
· Beaus All Natural Brewing
· Sawdust City Brewing Co.
· Great Lakes Brewery
· Muskoka Brewery
· MacKinnon Brothers Brewing
· Steam Whistle Brewing

I am not into Beer festivals but this event was a lot of fun.  It was held at the magnificent Corus Quay.  A beautifully designed space with a slide that goes from the 1st to 2nd floor.  It's set right in front of the Lake and has an amazing view, although it was rainy and foggy on the night we attended.
It's nicely laid out with the Beer paired with the food.  
They had special guest DJ Ian D'Sa from Billy Talent spinning lot's of Rock Tunes from the 70's to current tunes.  I had a flashback to my 80's life with all the Rock n' Roll T-Shirts for the Rock Themed event.  I saw many Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones T-Shirts and some Nirvana and Bowie and many others.  In the 80's I wasn't a T-Shirt girl so I had to pick up a shirt just for the event so I went classic with Led Zeppelin and I wasn't alone.  My friend Denise went with the Rolling Stones and my friend Natalie went with Michael Bolton and got a good chuckle from some people.

BBQ pitmaster Ted Reader was there with one huge BBQ set up outside of the building cooking up some tender porkloin.  Most of the food was meat, from Pork to Bison sliders and veal meatballs.  There was also lots of goat cheese desserts and cheese from the Cheese Boutique.  Not the best for vegetarian lactose intolerant and gluten free people though.  But I enjoyed it especially the Cheesecake in a Can from Heirloom.

Their was a silent auction of great music industry stuff and hockey jerseys etc.  The other thing that I really loved was the artist live painting a guitar that was sold at the live auction at the end of the night.  It was fantastic.

It was a fun night and the best part was hanging out with lots of friends and it was all for a good cause and will help lots of kids dealing with the effects of War.  I wish there was no need for this charity but it's nice to have a bit of fun and help kids that deserve to have fun and not live through war.

For more information:

Twitter @BrewersPlateTO
WarChild Canada :   http://warchild.ca/
Corus Quay - 25 Dockside Dr.


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