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Food Network…Trivia Queens?

So, Food Network Canada posted a casting call in August. Vague, no more than a paragraph, calling for food lovers for their ‘zany new Food Network game show’. J came across it & threatened to have me committed if I didn’t enter. Laughed in her face – paused – entertained for a few min, shook head and chalked up as a crazy, silly idea.

Fast forward a few weeks later: in bed at midnight, spitting out “why you should choose me!” reasons… #6: will stand in line in -15C weather for brunch at Bonjour Brioche.  True story.

Also decided to submit lovely E (unbeknownst to her) as my partner. So sneaky, right? This would be my SURPRISE to her, for her 30th birthday.

Managed to keep quiet for all of 45min. Then promptly spilled the beans & both squealed like little school girls while our developers covered their ears in pain.

And guess what……….

WE GOT PICKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our "we're gonna be on the Food Network... AHHHH! faces.

For serious. Me & E! Together. Competing against other food-crazed folks. “No eating, cooking, judging. Just trivia questions & cash. The more you can answer, the more money you win.”

Pretty sure I may have just ordered every food trivia game I could find on Amazon.ca.

Walnut-Stuffed Eggplants

Next up: Walnut-stuffed eggplants!

L & I made this recipe a few days ago… and swooned. It’s seriously that good.

Again, adapted from the Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Best of Summer (Vegetarian Times Special), but we had some fun with it. So, rations are slightly off – ahem – more eggplant filling than eggplant shells to fill…but who actually considers that a bad thing? We certainly didn’t as we stuffed our faces in anticipation for the real thing.

Without a doubt, the best dish we’ve EVER made together. This is what keeps our friendship alive.

Keep in mind, original recipe serves 6. We are, but of two hungry bellies.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium eggplants – 3 lb. (why go medium when you can go large? 1 large beautiful eggplant, hefty lb.)
  • 2 Tbs. plus 4 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium onions, diced – 3 cups (3/4 large white onion)
  • 1 1/2 pt. grape tomatoes, halved – 3 cups (1 pt was enough for us)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnut pieces
  • 2 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (none in our cupboards excuse)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano (none in our cupboards excuse)
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese – 3 oz. (one thing i don’t do… reduced-fat cheese. ok, we tried one with feta & one with goat cheese. the goat won. hands down.)
  • Lemon wedges, optional, for garnish (not optional. must include!)

Instructions:

1. Halve eggplants lengthwise, and scoop out flesh and seeds, leaving 1/2-inch-thick edges on eggplants’ shells. Cut scooped-out flesh into 1/2-inch pieces, and set in colander. Sprinkle eggplant pieces and inside of eggplant shells with salt. Let stand 25 to 30 minutes, or until beaded with moisture. (note: apparently it reduces potential bitterness, but may skip next time. time = money. worth it, but a bloody long time.) Rinse eggplant shells and pieces in cold water, and pat dry.

2. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop eggplant shells in water, and simmer 5 to 8 minutes, or until barely tender when pierced with fork. Drain in colander, cool, and pat dry.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add eggplant pieces, tomatoes, walnuts, cinnamon, oregano, and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper, if desired (yes, do). Cook 8 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and browned, stirring occasionally.

4. Preheat oven to broil. Toss breadcrumbs with 4 tsp. olive oil in bowl. Brush each eggplant shell with 1/2 tsp. oil, and place cut-side up on baking sheet. Broil 5 minutes, or until tender and starting to brown. Reduce oven heat to 375°F.

5. Divide filling among eggplant shells. Sprinkle each stuffed eggplant with breadcrumb mixture, and top with feta cheese (or in our case, 1 with feta, 1 with goat cheese). Bake 35 minutes, or until heated through and browned on top. Serve with lemon wedges, if using.

6. While waiting, enjoy extra eggplant filling with a glass of vino.

J&S, if you guys try this wknd – can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

walnut-stuffed eggplant

 

 

 

Asahi Salmon Maki

And sometimes, you just crave this… may have met salmon quota for the week.

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Ricotta-Basil Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed tomatoes… shall we stuff crevices with fresh ingredients, sprinkle generously with cheese and bake? Sounds fab to me.

First up: Ricotta-Basil Stuffed Tomatoes

L & I made this recipe a few months ago and loved it. Corn & zucchini remind me of summer, fresh basil is a hit of happy, and red onion & garlic are old friends.

Ingredients from St. Lawrence market. Recipe adapted from the Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Best of Summer (Vegetarian Times Special). Serves 4. Or for hungry bellies, serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes (beefsteak? picked largest tomatoes I could find)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese (cheese man turned his nose up at me, ‘forced’ to get full-fat ricotta. yep.)
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh basil (be generous)
  • 1 tbs. plus 2 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese, divided (we grated to our heart’s content)
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced (pretty sure I snuck in other 1/2 when L wasn’t looking)
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup diced zucchini plus 12 very thin zucchini slices

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice tops off tomatoes, and scoop pulp out of centers to make stuffable tomato shells; set aside. Discard half of tomato pulp; remove seeds from and finely chop remaining half of pulp.

2. Whisk together eggs and ricotta in medium bowl until smooth. Stir in red onion, basil, 2 Tbs. Parmesan, and garlic. Add corn, diced zucchini, and chopped tomato pulp; stir until combined.

3. Fill tomatoes just to top with 1/2 cup ricotta mixture. Sprinkle each tomato with 1/2 tsp. Parmesan, and top each with 3 zucchini slices and tomato top. Place in large baking dish.

4. Bake 45 minutes, or until filling is puffed up and tops are browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Delicious!

To freeze and enjoy later: Cool stuffed tomatoes completely, then place in foil-lined baking pan. Wrap tightly in foil, then in plastic wrap, and freeze. When ready to eat, thaw tomatoes completely. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake, uncovered, 20 to 30 minutes, or until filling is hot.

Ricotta-Basil Stuffed Tomatoes

The Slaw

Is this not the most beautiful dish you’ve ever laid eyes on?

Reinstating slight obsession for Susur’s singaporean slaw. 19 elusive ingredients… from daikon sprouts, fennel, julienned jicama, cucumber, carrots to taro root, edible flower petals, toasted sesame seeds… it’s visually spectacular & indescribable. Yes, even carrots become exotic. If you’ve had it, please chime in with wildly descriptive love notes. If you haven’t, will incoherently rave for a few min & then force you to be next dinner date.

One ambitious day, L & I will attempt. For fun. Can you imagine?! Will need hours, a mandolin (or two) and lots of good humour.

Until that day, if I suggest Lee or Lee Lounge for dinner… say yes to the slaw.

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Enoteca Sociale

A certain someone will laugh if they see this post…  far too long, it’s (almost) inexcusable.

Let’s not state the obvious, hmm? Let us focus on what matters. Re-familiarized myself with the menu. Delectable dishes are still present. Which means, still relevant. And still delicious.

First impression of Enoteca was one of utter delight. An intimately warm, yet vibrant space. A space perfect for a catch up with dear friends, a first date, a special anniversary, a birthday celebration, a Sunday family dinner… lit by candlelight, it lures you in and invites you (and your guests) to order a glass of vino and peruse a menu inspired by local seasonal ingredients. A menu filled with mouth-watering antipasti, secondi, house made pastas… and of course, the cheese cave. 

The cheese cave alone demands you peek in the cellar, to ask for recommendations – sample a little moliterno from Sicily, pasteurized sheep’s milk from Calabria, chèvre noir from Quebec – and then plan for next visit. We missed the vento d’estate our first time… “pasteurized cow’s milk, veneto, aged in grass from the farm it is produced, buttery with a hint of lavender”  Sounds positively lovely, doesn’t it?

What I can attest to: Enoteca = best grilled octopus in the city. Absolutely rave-worthy. And those who have tried will resolutely back me up. Fresh pappardelle with hearty rabbit ragu was satisfying, but out-of-this-world-pasta continues to lie with Tutti Matti. Regardless, keen to re-experience and by finally posting, brings this lovely Italian restaurant to mind again. Who wants to join?

ontario buffalo mozzarella in carrozza, anchovies, pickled shallots, parsley

grilled octopus, fava beans, new potato & chili pepper (seriously phenomenal)

house made pappardelle w. ontario rabbit ragu

cheese cave! parmigiano reggiano dop, brillo pecorino divino etc. (aka i cannot remember).

 http://www.sociale.ca/
1288 Dundas St. West
416.534.1200

Sunday Pleasures

What better way to spend your Sunday? Enjoyed a few weeks ago with girlfriends; it was an afternoon filled with the loveliest company,  life musings, piano playing, and far too much gossip.

A simple spread: parmigiano reggiano, cantenaar, grapes, fig jam, grainy mustard, cornichons, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, olives, cherries, peppers, garlic hummus, roasted tomatoes w. buffala mozza & basil on a fresh baguette.