Wednesday, February 28, 2018

YUM! It's time for Sustainable Dim Sum

Sustainable Dim Sum Festival
Tuesday March 6th, 2018
Rotunda - City Hall
Includes all dim sum items and all beverage


Overfishing is the biggest issue our oceans face today. 
At this event, you can fill up and feel good doing it! 

Making this event possible are: Live Green Toronto, Yorkshire Valley Farms, Greenbelt Microgreens, Export Packers, C-fu Foods, Biosposables, Terus, Bullfrog Power, and Ocean Wise Conservation Association   

Restaurants are serving Ocean Wise recommended seafood at this event.

Guests will receive a passport to try each item from one of the restaurants!

Pair your Dim Sum items with local and independent wines, beers and ciders, all in support of Environmental Defence; defending clean water, a safe climate, and healthy communities. 

Vendors include:
Bar Reyna
Beau's All Natural Brewing
Bindia Indian Bistro
Brickworks Ciderhouse
Centennial College
Daniel et Daniel Catering & Events
Earls Court BBQ
Foodoes Fish & Chips 
Foreign Affair Winery
Globe Meats Fresh Market & Grill
Just Craft Soda
Kanpai Snack Bar
Kinsip House of Fine Spirits
Matty's Seafood
Mill St Brewing
Muskoka Brewery
Nickel 9 Distillery
Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill
The Combine Norfolk
Tung Hing Bakery
Walter Caesar
and more....

Don't miss the live art being created by Artist Mark Grice. 
Bid on the piece and you could go home with a one of a kind painting created that night! 

BRING YOUR OWN PLATE or use our compostable options! 
Each guest will receive a pair of reusable bamboo chopsticks as a take home.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Restaurants Canada Show 2018

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Restaurants Canada Show - RC Show
Enercare Centre Toronto
Feb 25-27, 2018

The Restaurants Canada Show has been rebranded to the RC Show since 2017 and I have been attending it for the past few years.  I was excited to attend again this year and wonder around the huge Enercare Centre with my fellow blogger friends and try and check out as many of the booths as we could.  It's a huge trade show that brings over 16,000 Food Industry professionals together under one roof.  It's pretty spectacular how many different moving parts there are to owning and running a business and this show speaks to and shows them all.  From the uniforms to the big industrial machines to the time saving food products, there is a lot to see and learn about at this show.

There are demos, panels, and all kinds of interactive and educational things at the show. And then there are the food samples.  Personally that's my favourite part.  It is a 3 day show and I wish I had time to go everyday and pace myself to be able to try it all but I have found a way to strategically do as much as I can.  Because I have gone to a lot of food related shows I am always looking for new things that I haven't tried before.  The first year I went I got hung up on the first aisle of massive quantities of cheese and was too full to try anything else.  Now I just choose cheeses I haven't seen before to try and only eat things that call my name.  Drool worthy foods that you know are going to make you happy.   

Here are 3 of the things I tried and absolutely loved.  This soft goat cheese, these amazing salami's, and the authentic pizza oven freshly made literally right out of the oven Margherita Pizza.


There were also panels of interesting speakers and topics.  I sat in on 2 at the speakers stage.  The morning one was from Kitchen to Print about cookbook publishing.  The moderator was from Figure 1 Publishing and on the panel was Greta Podleski from Looney Spoons, a fellow blogger Isabelle Boucher who is also a recipe developer, Joel McCharles who is ablogger turned cookbook author of the cookbook Batch and there was also a cookbook photographer named Ryan Szulic.  This was a very informative panel from independent publishing to blogging to dealing with a large publisher and what it takes to get a cookbook off the ground.

The last panel of the day had Branding and Buzzing PR's head honcho Sean Beckingham as the moderator.  The topic was Social Media and Sean is very knowledgeable in this area as he speaks about this subject a lot and knows many of the top restaurants owners in Toronto.  On the panel was Overbudget Inc's Meg McNabb, Executive Chef Sean MacDonald and Lisa Richler the editor of Canada's Best 100 restaurants.  An interesting of mixed perspectives from Chef to community manager to publication and all the different needs and practices of each one.

There were plenty of well known Chefs wondering around the show and my friend Jenny (IceCream and Knishes) loves to chat with them and had a great chat with both Chef Brad Long of Cafe Belong on the left and Former Dragon Vikram Vij of Vij's in Vancouver and he is also an entrepreneur and Chopped Canada judge.  He recently went to India with Justin Trudeau to showcase Canadian Food with his Indian heritage but it wasn't seen as a good thing by the Canadian press unfortunately.


In the middle of the show literally were all the industry machines and tools like this huge Hobart mixer. Can you imagine how much bread and cakes this thing can mix.  Another cool professional machine was this spinning grill.  It smelled so good with the grilled chicken on it.  Outdoor food indoors, yum.

Some of the trends in the foods we tried included loads of Pizza.  This pizza that dissapeared in about 5 seconds was a General Tao pizza. It was a meal on a pizza and was surprisingly good.  There were so many pizza ovens around the show but we chose probably the 2 best pizzas to taste.

There was spices, mixes, toppings, snacks and sprinkles and all sorts of condiments to try.

We really liked this natural peanut butter,  I really liked the hazelnut one and want to see it in stores soon.
Oh the desserts were everywhere but I was good,  I gravitated towards the gelato and tried 2 of them. I really loved the Smores Gelato that I tasted.  Once of the more interesting gelato's was the Unicorn flavour as you can see below.  I didn't try it but I bet kids would flock to that one.

This year it didn't seem like there were any mind blowing new things but more of things that are popular done well or with slight twists. 

My favourite thing about this show besides the delicious samples and the amazing talks is running into all the food writers, chefs and industry people that I have come to know over the past few years as a food blogger.  It's really a great place for the Industry to connect with different services and just great ways to learn and collaborate.  If you are looking to start up a restaurant business this is the best place to start at to learn what you will be getting yourself into and be prepared before you start.

I will be back as they say because it's a whole lot of fun and delicious too.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Dixonlicious 2018 - feeds you and so many others

Dixonlicious  event returns for it's 4th year.  They work with community members at every life stage to achieve their vision of a city where everyone thrives, their mission is to create lasting solutions to end poverty, social injustices and isolation in Toronto – and their goal is to provide 25,000 meals to those in need.  This year Dixonlicious will be hosted by Farah Nasser, from Global News Toronto.  
Dixonlicious is an event that raises funds for Dixon Hall a non-profit agency.

All proceeds from the event benefit their food programs in the downtown east and Regent Park which are just as diverse as the community members they serve.  

Services provided include Meals on Wheels, snacks for after school initiatives for Regent Park youth, meals for our March Break and summer camps, meals for our two homeless shelters, and Community Meal programs for community members facing food security issues, including people living with HIV/AIDs
Tickets are available here - use offer code GIVEBACK at check out for a 15% discount

You can also look on the event page of our website to get a list of the restaurant and beverage partner:

 Silent auction items are available here:

I have attended Dixonlicious a couple of times and these are some of the photos of some of the dishes from last years event.  It's a fun event in a great location at the Daniels Spectrum an easy to get to location with underground parking even.  It's always great to attend an event with great food and at the end of the night you will have helped so many people just by attending and having fun and eating great food and maybe bidding on some fantastic items.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Casting Call for Great Bakers in Canada

Are you a serious Bakeaholic?  

Do you dream about baked goods and spend all of your free time in the kitchen whipping up mouth watering treats to share with friends and family?

Are you obsessed with the Baking Competitions on TV?
Are you looking for a big break in your life and a challenge?

Well the good news is there is an opportunity for you in Canada.
The Great Canadian Baking Show which originated in the UK is now casting for Season 2 and you can apply now by clicking the link below.

Click Here to apply:  Great Canadian Baking Show Casting  

I wish I had the talent the time and the energy to apply but I hope that you do and if you do and you get on the show please let me know so that I can watch and cheer you on.

Good Luck and even if you don't apply I would recommend watching the show because it's a lot of fun and you learn a lot about different baking techniques that you can use in your kitchen to impress your friends and family.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Easy Valentine's Day food and tips.

Today I am wearing my shirt with hearts on it because it's Valentine's Day.  Even though I am not celebrating this day with my soul mate I will be celebrating with my colleagues and will be having lunch with friends.  But for those that are stressed out about trying to find the perfect gift and to pick the best overpriced fancy restaurant or to cook a fancy meal at home I will give you a few tips.  I am far from the Love expert but I do know that food is love and it makes people happy so that's a start.

Since I am on the Healthy Workplace Committee at work, yes it's a real thing.  We try and engage and build community at the office for a happier, healthier staff.  I thought it might be nice instead of doing a big event that might not be comfortable and we already did a documentary screening this week so I thought it might be nice to just leave a chocolate heart and a card on everyone's desks from the committee, one of my committee teammates helped me stick the chocolates onto the little cards and we wondered around the office seeing who was here.  Our office is sort of split on 2 sides so we never seem to venture over to the other sides so I thought this was a good idea and I got a Lindt chocolate from a coworker in return so bonus.

I will be meeting up with 2 friends for lunch today and will be bringing them a surprise that is somewhere on this post.   

I really wanted to try and do a complete meal on the weekend but spent so much time cleaning up that I ran out of energy so hence the blog post is about trying to do some things that are easy and can be done in advance and saving your energy to spend time with the ones you love.

1.  Make things that are simple but have a big impact flavour wise and presentation wise.

Artichokes are one of those things that most people don't think about eating but I grew up eating them.  My friends thought it was very different.  They seem intimidating but they aren't.  All you have to do is trim the stem, you can be fancy and trim the outside bits of the stem and then cut the tops off because they have sharp points.   Steam them for about 15-20 minutes.  You will know if they are cooked if the leaves are easy to pull out from the middle.  

I make a simple vinaigrette dipping sauce but you can use all kinds of dipping sauces,  store bought or your own sauce.   
Mine usually has: Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar or other vinegars, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and a couple of drops of hot sauce.  Sometimes it varies but this is the gist of it.  You can also add a pinch of sugar if you want to balance it out a bit.

Serve it on a nice plate and you just pull the leaves one at a time and dip the ends into the sauce.  When you get down to most of the leaves gone you separate the bottom from the leaves and remove the choke, the fuzzy stuff inside and you can dip the ends of the leaves and the heart of the artichoke.  See there is a love connection.  Artichokes have a heart.

My next suggestion is Oysters.  I wasn't an oyster lover before but once you have had some great oysters you become hooked.  My favourites are usually east coast oysters.  They are a bit sweeter.
You can get Oysters shucked and packaged on ice at your local Whole foods even.  That's what I did here.   You can set up a whole bunch of toppings or you can make a custom Minionette sauce,  a vinegar and shallot sauce and have cut up lemons and things like horseradish and hot sauce to top it.
There isn't anything to do except to make sure they are kept on ice and have your condiments so it's easy and impressive and I have heard it's good for men too.


Since I didn't have time to cook a meal for this post I will give you my go to easy dish that is always my favourite thing.  That is Gnocchi.  It's the fastest thing to cook.  You can either make some from scratch before hand or you can easily get a package of frozen gnocchi that you just boil and as soon as they float to the top they are done.  My favourite way to have it is with a simple tomato sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese but you can also saute them in a sage and butter sauce that would also be quick to make.  It's fast and really satisfying and good for vegetarians and even vegans if you leave out the cheese but that's the best part for me.


2.  Think outside the box and make it special.

My mom used to fry wonton wrappers and add confectioners' sugar on them and bring them to friends.  I took a bit of a spin and used a cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes from the wonton dough and after frying them I added a mixture of the powdered sugar and cinnamon and then using a strainer I sprinkled it on the freshly made heart shaped wontons.  They are super simple and addictive.  Think of sweet chips and you get the idea.  You can make them the day before and store them in an airtight container.  They will last for a few days easily.

3.  Step it up a notch.
Take a simple recipe but try and put it together in a different way.   I made my usual brownie recipe and baked it in dollar store heart shaped tin individual containers.  On a nice plate add the brownie and then you can use one of your heart shaped wontons and I added my current addiction of some Cherry Garcia Ben and Jerry's Ice cream and then I did a brush of melted chocolate on the plate and then added powdered sugar on top and I had the little gummy lips that I put on top for color.  I didn't have any cherries or strawberries but they would have been a nice touch of color.  I am still working on my plating skills but if I can do it so can you.

Some other things you can do that will make all the difference in making someone's day.

  • Take someone out to the restaurant they have been wanting to go to and then make this dessert at home.
  • Think of thoughtful gifts like hiring a personal chef or a cleaning service so that your loved one can be pampered.
  • Don't give someone a spa gift unless they love to go to the spa.  Some people don't like it so check first.
  • Chocolates and flowers are predictable but they are nice but some people don't really care about that so see how they feel about those types of things.
  • Jewellery is becoming less of a thing because of the cost of living going up so people are trying to do experiences instead of stuff these days.
  • Experiences are great.  Think about a cooking class, or going to a VIP night of dinner and a movie.  Go to a special event or do something different.
  • You can make a big impression even with little things.  If the person needs something pick it up for them.  Get them a box of their favourite teas or bring them their favourite coffee.
Whatever you do put some thought into it and consider the person and try and keep it simple so that you have the time and energy to spend time with them instead of running around and getting stressed out.  Share your time and your love.  The stuff is nice but it's not about the stuff it's about the thought.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Superbowl Party Food Tips - Save time have fun

Superbowl Party Food Tips even if you aren't a football fan you will love them.

I am not a football fan but there are so many people that will be glued to their TV's watching the Superbowl so I thought I might provide a few tips to make your party a bit easier and you can either watch the game or enjoy the food.

Typical foods eaten at Superbowl parties include:  Pizza, wings, burgers, nachos and chili.  I have a few tips for you to make things easier so you can prep ahead and spend more time with your friends and family.

1.  Prep as much as you can a day or couple of days beforehand or even a week ahead and freeze some things.  

Example 1.
I made Pita dough last week and portioned out the dough and put them in small freezer bags and stored them flat in the freezer.  You can pull them out the day before and either cook them up then and just warm them up before your party or just serve them cold as they will still be pretty fresh if you store them properly.

Example 2.

Chicken Wings are a staple at Superbowl parties because they are handheld and easy to eat but can be a bit messy so make sure you have lots of napkins scattered around.  You want to make chicken wings but you don't want to spend the whole time watching the wings while everyone else is watching the game so you can start this process a week in advance too.  Start by taking a large pack of pre cut wings and pat them dry and then add seasonings,  I added salt, pepper and chipotle powder.  Bake them in an oven at about 375 degrees for at least 25-30 minutes depending on your oven.  My oven is slow so it always takes longer but what you are looking for is for the wings to be just cooked and lightly browned.  You will cook them again when you are ready for the party.  I had a pack of 24 wings and baked them all and then as you can see I split them into 2 freezer bags below.  In one bag I left them just with the seasonings and they will cool in the fridge and then I will place them in the freezer for another time.  You can do this with the whole batch of wings and then defrost the day before and bake until they are warmed either just with your favourite seasonings or you can add a sauce. In the second bag I added some bottled Chipotle BBQ sauce and I also added some Maple Syrup to sweeten it up a bit more.  I will bake these off again later to get them all hot and sticky in the oven.  You can also freeze them this way but I would suggest freezing them plain and then adding the sauce when they are defrosted or warmed up again. This will save you a lot of time the day of your party and baking the wings cuts the frying calories you would normally get with pub style wings or processed wings.
2.  You don't have to make everything yourself.

Example 3. 

There are some things you can buy that will save you a lot of time and you will still be a hero at your party.  You can buy the wings, you can buy the pita and you can pretty much buy it all these days but pick a few things that you want to do your own way and a few that just take up your time and taste the same to buy.

In the case of the photo above I bought the Hummus and Tzatziki from the grocery store because I can make them but the Hummus requires a food processor and the Tzatziki requires a lot of grating and straining to do it properly.  If I had lots of time I would make them myself for sure since I can control the flavour that way if I want more garlic and less salt I can do that.  For this it cost me $3.49 for each of these containers and saved me a whole lot of cleanup time.  

I also picked up this cute Taco Dip and chip container.  Since I am not having a party but wanted to have a taste of the foods eaten at this kind of party this caught my eye.  It would be costly to buy a whole bag of Tortilla chips and the individual ingredients to make the taco dip and hard to do for 1 or 2 servings so for about $4 I got this ready to go so I don't have to spend time chopping, cleaning and there is less wasted food.  And yes I would probably make it if I was having my friends over and it's one of my friends special items to bring to parties.  Costco also has a great layered dip in a large container.  We had that at one of our last potlucks at work and it was a favourite dish.

I made the Baba Ganoush because it doesn't require any machines except your own muscle power and a chefs knife and chopping board.  
Baba Ganoush recipe:
After I roasted the Wings I cranked up the oven to Broil and added a whole eggplant and broiled it until it was charred on all sides.  It steams the inside and it's really easy to make it this way.  
Cut the eggplant open and scoop out the soft eggplant centre and transfer to a cutting board that has about a tablespoon of diced white onion and a smashed garlic clove.  Chop it all up together and if you do it while it's still warm it will soften up the onion and garlic and make the whole thing smooth.   Add salt and pepper to taste and I added a pinch of smoked paprika and a squeeze of a bit of lemon juice.  You can add either a tablespoon of tahini (sesame seed paste) or mayo.  The sesame seed is healthier and you don't have to worry about it staying out as much as mayo.   If you have fresh parsley add some and drizzle the top with olive oil for flavour and creaminess.  No food processors to clean up.  Just the roasting pan, knife and cutting board.  That's not too bad.

Example 4.

You can pick up some great heat and eat appetizers at your local grocery store these days.  I really like these Presidents Choice Chicken Empanadas because they are little bites full of flavour and you don't need to do anything except heat them up in the oven.  Let your oven do the work for you.
3. Make it easy for people to serve themselves.

Invest in a Crockpot or if you like to cook but don't have the time then pick up an Instant Pot if you can find one on sale.  Or you can pick up chafing dishes from party supply stores.
An Instant Pot or Crockpot are amazing for dishes like Chili because you can cook and serve in them and keep the food warm.  Your guests can serve themselves if you set up a Chili Station.  At my work last week we had 3 different chilis and we had a bowl and spoon in front of them to rest so they wouldn't leave a mess on the table and beside the crockpots were the bowls, napkins, cutlery and the fixings for the top like cilantro, cheese and sour cream and bags of chips as you can see in the photo.  My beef chili was so popular there wasn't any left and I even had another container in the fridge that was eaten.  It was a good chili but Chili is a great thing for a party because you can keep it cooking for a long time and it's still good.
4.  Set it up pretty and keep it simple

Set up your dishes in nice containers and place everything needed nearby.  If you are worried about things like double dipping dips you can serve them in shot glasses or have everything in one container like the dip and veggies in a glass or other type of container or add little spoons to every dip so people know to serve it up with the spoons.  What I have learned is that people don't think they just eat so you have to make it easy for them.

5. The dollar store and party supply store is your friend and will kick up your party if you think outside the box.

Everyone at the office knows that I spend a lot of money at my dollar store where I live.  That's because you can really get so many of your celebration items there. 

For a Superbowl party see if your dollar store has some fake grass pieces and you can set that up on your table and place the food on it.  Or maybe they have football mats for kids or mini footballs that you can place around the room.  Sometimes you can find football containers for things like chips and dips and all kinds of sports related items.  If you have the cash go nuts.  I don't have anywhere to store a lot of these things so I try and find things I can repurpose for different events.  I should get some fake grass because that can also be used for Easter or summer time events.  

What ever you decide to do whether it's catering the whole thing or a Potluck or making it all from scratch remember to organize it all around leaving time to spend with your friends and less time in the kitchen.  I keep trying to do this more and more but sometimes I end up in the kitchen anyway.  

Make it fun and spread the tasks out.  If you have some help that's great.  I usually have to do it all myself and sometimes my friends help clean up at the end.  

What I have learned from watching Ina Garten, Martha Stewart and Giada De Laurentis over the years is you don't have to do it all and the point of having people over for parties is to have fun with them.  So find a happy balance and enjoy the game as they say.