January Dinner Party

January Dinner Party Menu - A blend of hearty winter flavours with nutritious and refreshing ingredients, perfect for the new year!

Bob and I could both agree that we’re not too interested in resolutions. That being said, it’s a new year, and we decided to set a goal for 2017 – more dinner parties! Our goal is to have one dinner party a month, throughout the year. So far, so good! We just had our first dinner party, with friends that are new to me, Toran and Courtney. Thanks for coming!…

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Asian Winter Slaw

Asian Winter Slaw - Crispy, crunchy, and refreshing!

It’s been -30 C for a few weeks now this past month, and when I was planning our first dinner party of the year, I kept leaning towards savory, indulgent options. But on the other hand, I was mindful of the need for vegetables in my life. This slaw drew a perfect balance between the other dishes on a menu this past Sunday. It needed to be light, refreshing, and balanced. I think it achieved all these things! Bob and I both enjoyed tasting the dressing as we went along, noticing how the maple syrup hid under layers of Dijon flavor. I wondered how it would come together, but the result was a textured, nutty, dressing over a juicy, multilayered slaw – just right!…

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Farro with Spinach & Roasted Mushrooms

Farro with Spinach & Roasted Mushrooms - Great heart grain salad, love the roasted mushrooms and hint of lemon!

Along with resolving to have more dinner parties in the new year, Shan and I have been trying to incorporate more nutritious foods in our diet with grains like farro, making this dish a perfect fit for our first dinner party of the year. The bright green spinach, hearty farro, and savoury roasted mushrooms made a great segue from our bright, crispy Asian winter slaw, to the rich, warm roast chicken on parsnip puree. Although there are a few steps to get the final product, they can be be done well in advance and are totally worth the final product, not to mention, the leftovers made a great breakfast/brunch topped with a poached egg!

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Roast Chicken Thigh with Tomato & Olive Tapenade

Roast Chicken with Tomato & Olive Tapenade - A simple, yet impressive dinner entree.

Figuring out what entree to make for larger dinners is always a fun challenge. We wanted to go for something hearty, but still fresh, and I really wanted the rich aspects of dinner to be complemented by something “zesty”. After looking through recipes online, I came across this great Glazed Duck Confit with Olive Relish and Parsnip Puree from Bon Appetit, but it wasn’t exactly what I was after. I wasn’t necessarily in the mood for the richness of duck confit, and while I loved the idea of some sort of olive topping (especially with Castlevetrano olives which are hands down the best!!), I didn’t really want the sweetness of prunes, brandy, and sherry vinegar to accompany it. Followed by a little more browsing, I recalled a recipe I made during the summer with crispy chicken cutlets and a wonderfully fresh panzanella, and I wondered if I could fuse aspects of each recipe together….

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Cardamom & Saffron Poached Pears

Cardamon & Saffron Poached Pears - These poached pears topped with tea infused whipped cream make a fantastic light dessert.

If I’ve learned anything over the course of running a blog with Bob, it’s that I love dessert. I love making it more than I love eating it, but that’s besides the point. Sometimes when I’m planning I’ll even plan backwards. As in, if we have Chocolate Hazelnut Tart, will we want a nice, light dinner so we can have more tart… So far, we’ve had good results! Our dinner guests didn’t have a speck left on their plates, and that must mean something!…

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Chimichurri, Artichoke, and Prosciutto Tuna Melt

Chimichurri, Artichoke, and Prosciutto Tuna Melt

As much as I love intricate recipes and fancy food, I’ll never get tired of simple pantry classics like a can of tuna. It’s one of those things I find myself gravitating to when there seems to be no food in the house. Of course I have a tendency to take things past a simple tuna sandwich, scrambling around for whatever leftovers I might be able to add in. In this case, it was stray pieces of prosciutto, leftover chimichurri sauce, and a can of artichokes. My little ol’ can of tuna was on it’s way to becoming a gourmet star!…

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Grapefruit Curd & Olive Oil Tart

Grapefruit Curd & Olive Oil Tart - Grapefruit adds a wonderful tartness to this dessert

We bought a tart pan. A nice, slender one that was just begging to be used. If I remember correctly, I spotted it at HomeSense, and that very evening this tart was pulled out of the oven. I couldn’t help myself. Instead of going with my weakness, and making a lemon tart, I decided to be a little more sane. God forbid I eat this all in one sitting. Grapefruits sounded so appealing. Light, citrus desserts are totally my thing. Actually, I just like dealing with pastry dough too! I don’t find it tedious, as I know some people do. Making pies was always something I did with my mom, and we always used grandma’s recipe, so that’s probably why I feel so fondly about it….

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Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Waffles

Roasted Tomato & Zucchini Waffles - These savoury waffles are a great way to use up those end of season garden vegetables.

Fate is a beautiful thing. I think it was fated that Bob and I had waffles today, because I have been b*tching about wanting a waffle maker for ages. The unexpected series of events that led to it were perfect though. First, this morning I commented again that we needed a waffle maker. I’ve said it time and time again, and its remarkable to me that a food photographer can have upwards of forty cutting boards, and a surprising number of linens for a straight man, but not a waffle maker. He was nevertheless, unconcerned….

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Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes - A super easy and great way to preserve all those garden tomatoes.

What’s a guy to do when faced with an abundance of garden tomatoes? Eat them all at once? Make a ton of tomato soup? Let them go bad while I decide? I wasn’t really feeling any of those options, so I decided roasting was the way to go. If you’ve never slowly roasted fresh tomatoes, you are in for a treat! Garden tomatoes are amazing as is, but when you slowly roast them their flavour intensifies in the most amazing way. They become slightly sweeter, with plenty of that acidic tomato-ey zip we all love, making a perfect addition to salads, baking, waffles, or just eating them like candy (because that’s pretty much how amazing they become!).

It’s one of the easier ways to deal with those end of season tomatoes, stretching their shelf life by several weeks, so chop those tomatoes, pop them in the oven, and try to stay busy for a while!

Bob

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