Monday, July 31, 2006

Prosecco: The drink of hot hazy days

I've been working on this post for a short while now and have finally gotten round to writing - and on the hottest day of the year (in Toronto, at least)! Since reading a few weeks ago on Kitchen - Apartment Therapy about Zardetto prosecco, I became incredibly intrigued. What was this prosecco of which I read? I was also re-reading Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayles where she and her husband Ed consume seemingly vast quantities of the fun little bubbly. Coincidentally, the New York Times also ran a piece by Eric Asimov on the fun times testing proseccos (prosecci?) [membership required to read piece]. Talk about a strong portent to have some fun with bubbly!

Now, I have to admit that I approached this little investigation with some trepidation. While it would be easy to just pick up the recommended versions from both the Kitchen and the NYT, but it appears that the brands there just don't seem to be found in my local wine shop. So, I was a bit on my own. I picked up two bottles for sampling and then picked a third - and I can easily declare one the winner. Which one? ALL OF THEM. They're all great little wines, a lot of fun to drink without the sometimes overly dry character of proper champagne - not to mention that I find them a LOT tastier than the typical cava and a far cry less expensive than my tipple of choice, Veuve Cliquot. Out of the lot of them, I have to say that the Martini was my favourite for a few reasons:

  1. It was FUN to drink! It made me smile on more than one occasion. I don't care that its a mass made drink - the fact that it was CA$12 makes me think that this is the kind of fun bubbly that I could bring along to pretty much any event and that most people are likely to enjoy.
  2. The bottle packaging makes one think of bright summer days, with casual dining and a relaxing being top of mind.
  3. Its soft, fruity, mildly sweet character (I don't think it has any actual sugar left in it, I'd call it nearly a .5. I'd say I got lemons and a hint of grass in tasting - and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned!
So, there you have it - my new summer drink of choice. Pick up a nice bottle, chill till icy cold, pop the cork and have a toast with me! To the hottest days of summer!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

RCE Book Club Updates & Sept/Oct Selections!

Well, I finally managed to snag myself a copy of our book of the month, Garlic and Sapphires, and finished it this morning while the boyfriend was off flying around Canada for work. Drinking my coffee, listening to Dave Brubeck and contemplating what to eat for breakfast (I ended up at 11 having leftover orrecchiette with Mario Batali's Bolognese sauce from last night's dinner) put me in just the right New York state of mind to finish the story.

For those who haven't yet gotten down to reading it, I urge you to dive right on in. Its a fast read and can be easily digested in commuting time hits. I'm going to save my review for a later time but let's just say that I enjoyed it.

Okay, so I've got my first submission of a recipe review from Connie (thanks!) and I'm going to start posting them on August 1st - first come, first served. Remember we all wanna hear about the recipe AND how we liked the book. There's a few things that came up for me in reading it that I'd love to hear how other people felt...

  1. One can imagine why she became food obsessed (I've not read her other books so don't spoil it for me if she actually writes about it outside of this book, ok?) and ultimately a food critic - but what were YOUR foodie moments? What brought you to seek out other like-minded food people?
  2. If you could pick one restaurant in your experience that deserves four stars what would it be and why?
  3. What would the restaurant of your dreams look like? Sound like? Feel like? Smell like? Where would it be located and what kind of food would it serve?

Okay, now that that's done - we have our September and October books to announce. I've decided to announce these WAY early so that we can all either a) save up to purchase them or b) order them from the library or c) borrow them from friends wherever we can. Please don't feel as though one needs to be rich and able to buy these books on a whim - cookbooks (particularly hardcover ones) can be expensive - and I'd hate for anyone to not be able to participate because of it. So, here we go!

This is an interesting month, because I'm going to surprise you and make it a DOUBLE PLUS GOOD month! We're going to read TWO books! There's just too much out there that we all want to read (based on your comments and emails) so we're going to do another memoir month - but this time, I want a recipe that you're inspired to make or create based on either one (or both) of these books. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to READ both - pick one or the other and go with it! So, we're going to read Heat by Bill Buford (an interesting review can be found on Amazon's page by our second author of the month) AND The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain. I'm really looking forward to both - and can't wait to see what we come up with for recipes!
Heat @
Heat @
Heat @ Indigo

The Nasty Bits @
The Nasty Bits @
The Nasty Bits @ Indigo

This month is going to be all about seasonality of Autumn. When I was thinking about what I'd like to be reading in October I wanted something big and comforting and ORANGE. So, we're going to be reading Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin. Its all about the season, but considering that the recipes in this amazing book (it won a James Beard Cookbook award for pete's sake!) are a bit more challenging, a bit complicated at times and a bit time consuming - just the thing for the colder weekends some of us will be starting to experience in October. So, pick a recipe from the Autumnal section of the book and let me know what you're into making!
Sunday Suppers at Lucques @
Sunday Suppers at Lucques @

Again, don't feel too much pressure about getting the feedback to me straight away, I won't be publishing anything more on the September and October selections until the end of August so you have plenty of time to go check them all out. Looking forward to it already!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Australian Food Magazines

When I was living in Australia (I lived in Melbourne for a year in 2003), I got really quite addicted to a few of the food magazines there - mainly because the quality of the produce, the meats, the seafood; they were outstandingly good, regardless of where you were. Not to mention the seasonality of produce. Grapes, for instance, were only available for a certain amount of time before they just were no longer there. Pumpkin (squash, basically) was available all year round and eaten just as much. The Queen Vic market in Melbourne was a favourite destination, but even better was my roommate Kat who would bring me home huge bunches of fresh basil and parmesan to be pounded into the freshest pesto I could ever imagine being made outside of Italy. Not to mention the little green grocer tucked up between Ikea and Kmart and a HUGE grocery store - but sold the most variety of fresh produce I'd ever seen in one little store. Melbourne, and Australia, really are a foodies dream destination - and hopefully through these magazines you'll come to understand why I simply must put it in your head that you have to experience it at least once in your life.

The four magazines that I fell in love with were Donna Hay, Australian Table, Gourmet Traveller and delicious. I also have been reading the North American version of delicious. now called "dazzling delightful delicious." (stupid title, but I'm sure it has something to do with copyright or some such thing).

dazzling delightful delicious. is a pretty little magazine and although its a smaller format and more appropriately compared to Everyday Food than the larger magazines on the market, its target demographic is clearly the Gourmet set. Having a roster of celebrity chefs (only some of whom will be known to anyone outside of the UK/Australia food circuit) with both stories and recipes is surely going to target the Batali/Bourdain crowd with a few fresh faces. While Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver are readily recognized from their shows on The Food Network, Jill Dupleix and Bill Granger come to mind as two celebrities who have yet to truly crack the celebrity/household name in the States. Which is not to say that they are not worthy of it (they are) but they really will need a bit more support to get there. Stay tuned to see how this lil' wonder of a magazine (you've simply GOT to see the photography to see why I stay in this industry even when I'm frustrated beyond belief with the politics - its THAT good) turns out over the next few issues.

By way of contrast, the actual full-size delicious. magazine published by the ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation) has an established pedigree that seems to work well in its target market. It has been voted the world's best food magazine (by whom, I'm not entirely sure) and I can actually see why. Its not just the recipes. Its not just the restaurant reviews, the travel information, the wide availability around the globe of the ingredients, the exotic made everyday and the everyday made extraordinary. This is a magazine that is truly more than the sum of its parts. Its clearly the stylistic inspiration for the new edition both for photography and content (it does rankle me a little bit that the little guy is a recycled version for which I'm paying, not really original content - but I could be wrong and stand to be corrected). This magazine targets the Bon Appetit crowd but with upper-middle class aspirations. A delightful read, to be sure.

I used to love getting Australian Table magazine for a few reasons. One, they would nearly always pack in some kind of foodie freebie with the magazine (and for a $3.95 price, it was a HUGE bargain). I remember getting a miniature rolling pin and tart case once; another time it was a cloth shopping bag and yet another was a set of plastic cookie cutters. Very cool. Even cooler was the cross marketing promotions that one would see between the magazine, the advertisers and the market that actual sponsored and published the magazine, Coles. Being a large grocer, they had the money to back it up, naturally - but it was still very intruiging from a marketing standpoint. It was so cleverly done that it actually took me about 3 months to realize the connection, so smooth was the execution. If you ever come across this magazine, I defy you to NOT like its simplicity of design, boldness of inspiration to home cooks across the country and its clever charm and seasonal suggestions.

Donna Hay. turn simple into special. And that they do - very well. This magazine has become the inspiration for countless packages I've worked on - both the photography and set design. This is clearly one of the best designed magazines in the world, as far as I'm concerned, food related or otherwise. This is Martha Stewart Living for real people. Real people who don't have the funds to buy a Range Rover or Jaguar - but DO have the funds to buy a few old pieces of china from the flea market on the weekend to make thier chicken pie (from the issue pictured). The inspirational is truly made aspirational at Donna Hay and no one is left behind. This magazine truly demonstrates the Aussie ideal of the fair go - that everyone should have the same opportunity to succeed without bias or judgement - but dammit we're gonna eat some pretty lookin' and tasty food while we're at it. Oh, and the recipes really work.

Okay, I admit it. This was NOT one of the magazines that I fell in love with in Australia. I've fallen in love with it since my return. The recent Italy issue was one that particularly made me fall head over heels. The photographic standard is high end, the recipes suitably fall in line. The travel destinations are certainly not for the budget traveller - but this is about fantasy. This magazine is for those of us without six figure incomes to remind us of that one perfect four star meal we experienced years ago but wish we could recreate at will. Gourmet Traveller goes to the resorts and the spas and the destinations we'd all love to pack our Louis Vuitton cases and call the car service to get us to the airport on time so our first class ticket doesn't go to waste. This truly is a gilded truffle of a magazine, meant first to be sensed and then devoured with a restrained gusto.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Foodie Intel

I just realized as I received about three food related emails and newsletters in a row that perhaps I've got a bit overboard with my foodie intelligence gathering. I tend to be the kind of person who requires vast amounts of intel flowing my way at all times - and this means subscriptions to the online flyers for all my local grocers (Dominion, Loblaws, Whole Foods, Longos and Grocery Gateway), monthly or weekly newsletters from foodie magazines (Fine Cooking, Cook's Illustrated, Gourmet Magazine, Bon Appetit Magazine) and finally some from various foodie outlets (Golda's Kitchen, NapaStyle, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel).

Good thing I'm used to handling all this data... :-)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cooking for New Cooks (or How I Learned to Stop Being Afraid of the Kitchen)

Inspired by my friend Lucas and his love of kitchen gadgets, cookbooks and yes, Rachel Ray, I'm going to go out on a limb here and talk to those of you who are not so comfy in the kitchen.

Yes, there are some of us out there who aren't sure of our ability to make great tasting, healthy (or not), fabulous dishes and meals. I have always been pretty comfortable in front of the range; baking and cooking being strong suits of mine from a very young age when I would mimic Julia Child making pancakes for my parents. Then again, I grew up watching the PBS morning cooking show lineup for years (between This Old House and The Victory Garden); The Frugal Gourmet, Madeleine Cooks, Julia Child - they were all my childhood heroes.

I think that the best way to overcome this lack of kitchen confidence is to just start small and build up to the grander dishes. Not everyone is going to be able to make a demi-glace or puff pastry or Black Forest Truffle Bundt Cake with Mascerated Rasberries and Creme Brulee Crust on their first time out (I've actually made this, SO freakin' good) but you can get there. I've been known to mess things up pretty badly myself (like forgetting to bring a prime rib roast up to room temperature from the freezer before roasting so that its still raw in the middle after 4 hours of roasting). To help you out I offer the following Top 10 Items You Must Accept To Learn How To Cook:

  1. You will make mistakes. Get over them.
  2. Sometimes things work out for the best when you make those mistakes.
  3. You never know until you try.
  4. Peanut butter and chocolate are NOT good together (sorry, just had to sneak that one in).
  5. Burnt things are not to be called "Blackened", they are BURNT. Throw it out and try again.
  6. Roasting is super easy, poaching even easier - if you can't do one, do the other.
  7. Try making the things you know you already like and perfect them - don't waste your time (for now) on things you don't like.
  8. Don't try and become a chef overnight. It takes time and lots of practice to flip ingredients in a pan.
  9. Read the recipe ALL the way through and make sure you have everything before you start cooking.
  10. Enjoy yourself! What's the worst that can happen? If its crap, throw it out and call for pizza. You'll try again another day.

So, where does one start? With Rachel Ray? (Sorry, Lucas, NO.) You start with the basics. How to make a really nice vinaigrette is a good one. Learn to chop garlic, whisk together lemon juice or vinegar with olive oil, and if its crap - no big loss. See Item # 10.

Another good one to start with is an omelette. Its basically an egg pancake with something folded up inside. Just keep the heat on medium, stir it round with something flat until it gets hard to stir and eventually it will all cook. Plonk some stuff (like cheese, roasted red peppers from a jar, baby spinach, sliced ham or whatever). Fold one side over the filling and there you go. If it turns out that its too stiff to fold, just call it a fritatta when you slide it on the plate.

Why not try a bunch of roasted veggies? Cut them up however you like (keep them on the bigger side), put in a pan with a few glugs of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 400 degrees for a while until they're brown (check them after 20 minutes or so - but let them get BROWN. Seriously. BROWN.) Stir a few times and there you go. Peppers are good this way with onions, carrots and potatoes.

And finally, for my friend Lucas, fish is one of the easiest things to make - even if you don't know how. Don't worry about breading and frying, baking or roasting. Poach it. Bring up some water with a few slices of carrots, onions, celery and parsley (whole, don't chop it) to a boil (big bubbles) and then turn the heat down to a simmer (little bubbles, no big ones) in a large frying pan. Slide in your fish fillets and cook for about 5 minutes (or a little longer if its a REALLY thick piece of fish). Turn off the heat and leave in there while you make your vinaigrette, toss the salad, open a nice bottle of wine and slice some bread. Then take the fish out and put on your plate. Plop some salad on the plate, put the fish over top and drizzle with your vinaigrette. The fish will be nice and cooked - add some butter on top if you like, a bit of salt and pepper and eat. Very quick, easy and tasty (and looks damn impressive too!).

But now you want more? More you shall have. Get thee to (or .ca, whichever) and start searching for beginner cookbooks. Most of the books seem to be a bit patronizing but they are generally pretty good. The Dummies series has never let me down yet when I wanted to learn something - I can't see this being any different. If you need to see them online, go to the actual bookstore and look at them. Sit down and read them a bit and see if they make sense to you. And if Rachel Ray is the best you can do, well, then do it. If she gets you cooking then I guess she can't be all bad. Just don't you dare stop there. I hereby give a 6 month pass for newbie cooks to read and watch Ms. Ray - then NO MORE. Don't make me come over there and break a spatula over your hand!

Finally, think of cooking as learning to ride a bike. You had a hard time doing it at first, you may even have fallen off and hurt yourself. But once you figured it out and learned to steer, pedal AND have fun - you never forgot how to do it. Its the same with cooking. Once you learn that ingredients are just like wheels, the heat of the stove like pedalling and riding really is like cooking - you WILL have fun doing it.

RCE Book Club Updates!

Well, we're nearly there and we're not even quite at August yet! There's not much time left to make your picks! (Of course, if someone would like to make something that has already been selected, we're not going to complain...)
Here's where we stand right now (names in bold have not yet been claimed!)

* Aushak (Christine)
* Roasted brussel sprouts (kt)
* Last-minute chocolate cake (kt)
* Nicky's vanilla cake (Nikol)
* Roast chicken with potatoes, onions, and garlic (Arilyne)
* Gougeres (Christine)
* Hash browns (Melanie)
* Roast leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary (Nikol)
* Matzo brei
* Moules marinieres (Connie)
* New York cheesecake (Susan)
* Sort-of Thai noodles (Eric)
* Scalloped potatoes (Arilyne)
* Roasted rhubarb (Eric)
* Risotto Primavera (Lucas)
* Spaghetti Carbonara (Susan)
* Pureed watercress

Since we're so far ahead of the game here, I'm going to suggest that we start picking our next book - both to give us enough time to buy it and read it, but also so that we can all chime in on our preferences. I'm going to suggest the following, please pick one and either email me or comment and let me know why you chose that one:

Heat - Bill Buford
My Life in France - Julia Child
The Nasty Bits - Anthony Bourdain
Sunday Suppers at Lucques - Suzanne Goin (Winner of the 2006 James Beard Foundation Cookbook Award for Cooking from a Professional Point of View)
The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine - Rudolph Chelminski
The Cook's Book - Jill Norman

Looking forward to our next adventures already!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Loving the linkage!

Each morning whilst I sip my coffee and pretend to be working, I review my daily bloglines and come across some pretty interesting links that I'd love to share with you all.

First, I got my Whole Foods online sales flyer to go through, but more imporantly the newsletter included a few links to Cook's Illustrated Paella recipes, including a recommendation that Arborio rice is acceptable but Valencia rice is the preferred rice by their testers. They even include a link to their review of paella pans (I'm not sure how long these links are going to be good, get in whilst you can!) Now, I'm not entirely sure that cooking something in my oven is a good idea these days, what with the heat and humidity and all, but still its something I'd love to eat right now.

Epicurious now has a Most Popular Recipe section which can be found here. Take a look at what ranks #7! Its good for a giggle!

The Complete Keller

And now, the unveiling of the Holy Grail of cookbooks: The Complete Keller.

BOTH volumes, The French Laundry Cookbook and Bouchon, in one slipcovered case. Packed for easy consumption. Pre-orders are available at HUGE discounts from the retail price (links follow) Guess what I'm asking my very understanding boyfriend for my birthday? ;-) (US Pre-orders) (Canadian Pre-orders) (Canadian Pre-orders)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

LA Times - From East to West

Just to be fair, I'd like to also let you know that I also really love the LA Times Food Section. Its nearly impossible to find the LA Times here in Toronto (if you know where I can find it, please let me know!) compared to the NYTimes, so I tend to just read the articles online. Yes, like almost ALL newspapers these days, they will require you to register to read the content. I used to have a major problem with this, but what the heck - just make sure you sign the "do not contact me" bit and you'll never recieve a bit of spam.

Anyway, I've found a few nifty little links there that I'd thought I'd share...

Quick Fix Video Gallery
If you're not feeling the "Read.Cook.Eat." love and would rather feel some "Watch.Cook.Eat." love, check out these video recipes. Complete with enticing descriptions, pretty good photography, full recipes with shopping list and game plan - never mind your choice of video in Quicktime or Real, you really can't go wrong. And its great for people like me who don't have FoodTV on cable (but only until Autumn when we get digital cable, right honey? :-) and need a foodie fix.

A fresh dip into the life of the party
Talk about great timing! I've been getting into dips lately - making Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean, Hummus and a Pesto Hummus in the last week - and I'm looking for some new, kinda-no-cook recipes to help beat the heat. Lo and behold, I find that the LA Times has published this article about the history of and updating dips. Enjoy!!

Perhaps most appropriately for a blog based on reading, cooking and eating; the Times also publishes a list of the hottest food/cooking/chef related books. This week we have Heat, The Nasty Bits, My Life in France, Garlic and Sapphires (our Read.Cook.Eat. bookclub selection for August) and Barefoot Contessa Family style rounding out the top 5.

Hope you get a kick out of the reading as much as I do!

NY Times - Food Section Roundup

I LOVE the New York Times Style Section - particularly the Dining and Wine section. They have great sections on food, dining out, entertaining, wines, design and decorating. I subscribe to the RSS feeds but for those who don't I've found three articles today that are particularly interesting (membership may be required to read these posts depending on time accessed).

Korea’s Taste of Summer Is a Long, Cool Slurp
This is a really interesting look at the cool noodles from Korea. Christine, I'm sure, would have far more to say on this topic, but I would LOVE to have some of these tonight to help break this heat.

Too Sweet to Be Invited to Dinner
Eric Asimov, the Times Wine scribe, relates why he no longer tries to pair Pinot Noir from California with food. Personally, I LOVE Pinot Noir but agree with his assessment that American made PN's are becoming too sweet. I'll stick to French PN's - even Canadian versions are becoming too sweet for my taste. If I want sweet I'll drink a Reisling.

Ringmaster’s Back, Stroking the Lions
A not very flattering review of the "new" Le Cirque. I grew up reading about Le Cirque in Gourmet Magazine, seeing it mentioned on television programs - basically being held up as THE uber NYC dining experience. Sadly, it appears that it only holds true if you have some kind of pedigree or patina that can readily be determined by the front of house. Don't have what it takes? Expect poor (actually, it sounds like downright rude) service, mediocre food and no value for the overpriced menu. I don't mind paying a fortune for a memorable meal but darn it, I want a smile with my dinner - they're even free at McDonald's for heaven's sake.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gourmet Covers Under the Microscope

Thanks to my new e-friend, Lucas, I had a great little read of this article on Slate on the state of food styling and photography of Gourmet magazine. Now, Gourmet is one of my favourite foodie magazines, both for the articles and the recipes. It has not always been the case, in fact there was a period where I refused to buy it - primarily because the food stopped looking nice, the recipes were far too "out there" for me, and frankly I thought that the quality of the magazine was just not up to par.

Times (and styles) change. In the past few months I've taken to reading it again and have become a huge fan of this magazine (but the fact the Ruth Reichl is the Editor-in-chief of Gourmet didn't have any bearing, really, on our selection of her book for the ReadEatCook bookclub) once more. As someone who works in the food/styling/photography/packaging industry, I have had the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented photographers, stylists and designers and whilst I'm not a designer myself, one cannot help but start to develop a bit of a design sensiblity.

Sara Dickerman, the author of the Slate piece, I think has a pretty good eye for design and a great method for demonstrating the current state of the foodstyling world through the microcosm of the Gourmet cover tablescape. While I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment of the style progression of the covers, I differ from her in that I really quite like the darker, moodier, more somber appeal of the style. I guess I've gotten a bit over the shallow focus, light washed low angle shots of the late 90's and early 00's and I'm ready for something a little more dramatic; something more sophisticated. This isn't to say that it isn't hard to get those shots just right - I guess I'm just looking for something a bit more, well, realistic. Not everyone lives in a lightdrenched house in East Hampton. Some of us live in little apartments and condos and are rapidly wanting to see something that more reflects our lives. Aspirational design is one thing, but realistic portrayals can also move product.

For a more interesting view of what's happening, I'd rather turn to Australian Gourmet Traveller and Sainsbury's Magazine. They're both taking that light drenched look and gussying it up a bit so it looks a little less like Bauhaus food and more like something that we could all really be living with. There's variety and visual interest in each story and sometimes in each shot. This is food the way I make it - sometimes I'm at home, sometimes at a friend's place, often at my parents - and you use what you have. That's the reality of today's entertaining, isn't it?

Anyway, the worst part about this little tale is that the highly acclaimed March 2006 issue featuring Montreal is actually sold out from the Gourmet back issues department (I checked this afternoon). Its selling at over $41 currently on eBay and I don't have a copy. Stilted and overly propped the cover may be, but I still want a copy. :-(

ReadEatCook Book Club August Selection: Garlic and Sapphires

Welcome to the inaugural meeting of the ReadEatCook Book Club - and the introduction of our August selection! (Yes, yes - I'm aware we're still in July, but this way we have plenty of time to read, cook and eat!) As I'm sure the photo gives away, this month we will be focussing on Ruth Reichl's latest memoir of restaurant reviewing in Garlic and Sapphires ( US Link -- Canada Link). I'm not going to give much more in the way of introduction to the book itself as I'd love for each of us to approach the book in our own way and be able to read it without any preconceived notions.

Having said that, I think some explanation as to how the club works is in order. First, go buy or borrow the book. Its been out long enough that most bookshops should carry it and your local libraries will probably have it. Then, read the book (laughing out loud as necessary!). Pick one recipe from the list below and comment or email me on which one you'd like to prepare (I'll update the list with whomever is making each dish so that we don't have too many duplications). Make the dish, photograph it (if possible - if not, that's fine just write your comments) and email it to me. Once we get all the submissions for the recipes made we'll get the conversation rolling with our impressions, both good and bad, and most importantly - how the food turned out!

Here's the list of recipes (thanks Christine!) :

* Aushak (Christine)
* Roasted brussel sprouts (kt)
* Last-minute chocolate cake (kt)
* Nicky's vanilla cake (Nikol)
* Roast chicken with potatoes, onions, and garlic (Arilyne)
* Gougeres (Christine)
* Hash browns (Melanie)
* Roast leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary (Nikol)
* Matzo brei
* Moules marinieres (Connie)
* New York cheesecake (Susan)
* Sort-of Thai noodles (Eric)
* Scalloped potatoes (Arilyne)
* Roasted rhubarb (Eric)
* Risotto Primavera (Lucas)
* Spaghetti Carbonara (Susan)
* Pureed watercress

Have fun and let's get the cooking started!!!

Heat related blog outage!

Hi everyone! Sorry about the lack of posts the past few days - the heat has been absolutely ridiculous here in Toronto and I haven't felt like doing a whole lot of writing. On top of the crazy heat and humidity, the aircon in our building (yes, the entire building) chose this weekend to collapse under the strain. Just this morning around 8:30 did it manage to go back up; after horrible sleeping conditions, sweating doing nothing and barely able to cook - finally its back. Just as the heat is breaking, naturally.

I've got a few posts lined up for you - the very first selection of the ReadEatCook Book Club for August, a pesto making post, a review of my dinner at Centro as part of Summerlicious, a Gazpacho soup recipe to help beat the heat and finally, a post on making Christine's Galbi Jim (with pictures, but lacking one of the final product - I ate it too quickly to photograph. Its THAT kind of good. Damn good.)

So, enjoy the posts, comment away and keep cool in this nasty heatwave!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The ReadCookEat Cookbook Book Club and Testing Academy

Okay, I've been giving this a bit of a think and I'd really like to test this out with my readers of this and my other food blogs - I'm starting The ReadCookEat Cookbook Book Club and Testing Academy. The premise is this - we select one cookbook a month, each choose a different (or the same, doesnt' really matter) recipe to make from it, photograph the results, discuss whether or not we thought it was worth the time/effort/expense and then share our results.

I'm not going to limit this to cookbooks but if there is any special equipment that helps prepare the dishes in question that can be part of our discussion. I'm hoping that over time we'll come up with a compendium of reviewed books so that readers will know what's worth buying, what's not worth the hype and what to completely avoid at all costs. I'd be completely open to suggestions for the month of August to start so either comment away or email me with what you think!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Meta-Food Blogging

Its an interesting phenomenon when one food blogger can inspire another to create a dish discovered on yet another website. I call it Meta-Food-Blogging.

The boyfriend and I were doing some shopping one evening at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto when I saw a few kumquats (for only $9.99 a pound) and simply had to buy some. I rememebered reading in Grant's blog that he'd recently been given his first kumquat and my curiousity was piqued. He'd used it them in this kumquat relish recipe from Epicurious and I just knew I had to try it (seeing as I have yet to receive an invitation to dine at Chez Grant ;-) for myself.

Found the recipe, cooked up the relish, grilled the port loin chops and zucchini, made some cilantro lime rice and plated it up. What I didn't know or realize at the time was how much the boyfriend hates pork. HATES it. To the point where I was not only peeved with him for not being more direct in his previously tellling me, "I don't really like pork" - but annoyed with myself that I didn't make a backup chicken breast or something else to serve this delicious relish with. Its a great combination of sweet, sour, bitter, salty, piquant and savoury - my only modification being that instead of using dried apricots I used fresh.

I still have a bit left in the fridge and while I won't make pork to serve it with, I'll find something. Perhaps a fish taco? Oh wait, the boyfriend doesn't eat fish either...