That time we were on the cover of Covet Garden magazine

Cover page of Covet Garden magazine

Covet Garden cover boys. Photo: Naomi Finlay

Welcome to our home!

My partner and have been featured in the February edition of Covet Garden, a Toronto-based online publication. Each month, the magazine explores a home and gives of glimpse into the lives of the people living in it.

It is Australian-born and Toronto based photographer Naomi Finlay’s lens captured the essence and warmth of our home. We enjoyed opening up our home to publishers Lynda Felton, Jessica Reid and Rhonda Riche

It was quite a treat to share anecdotes of our thrifting road trips throughout southern Ontario, and elsewhere across Canada. Our issue shared our love for Canadiana and all things vintage.

There was an obvious stop into our kitchen that featured our fondness for Fiestaware. We were also able to share our undying love of coffee!

Check it out! Let me know what you think!

A Tarnished Spoon for The Tarnished Spoon

Tarnished-Spoon-Shoot

Sometimes, a little personal touch goes a long way. That’s exactly what happened when my partner offered me the most thoughtful gift: an actual tarnished spoon… engraved with the name of the blog.

Eric, my partner is the proud owner of Lucky Patina, an Etsy shop specialised in vintage wares. While browsing the interwebs, he stumbled upon Wooden Hive, a fellow Etsy store. Kerrie Hunziker-Balma’s creations breathe a second life to vintage silverware. She does so by personalising flatware and repurposing old spoons into wedding favour or neat garden markers with great patina.

A simple gift that has added a spoonful of personality to this blog.Tarnished-Spoon-Spoon-Solo

Product Review: Cooking with Gusto

Putting the Texas rub to the test with beef brisket.

Putting the Texas rub to the test with beef brisket.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word  “gusto” as “vitality marked by an abundance of vigor and enthusiasm”. That’s essentially how I go about things in the kitchen. It’s that very blend of excitement and a touch of suspense that makes cooking so much fun.

Recently, I was able to bring a little extra gusto in the kitchen… quite literally! My partner offered me an assortment of chillies and barbeque rubs from Gusto Spice over the holidays. continue reading

Tourtière time!

A labour of love: five tourtières ready for a family feast!

A labour of love: five tourtières ready for a family feast!

Having family over for Christmas has prompted me to tackle this classic québécois and French Canadian dish.

When the word “tourtière” comes up in conversations, a debate is sure to ensue. Everyone will argue that they have the real deal and that others are simply “pâtés à la viande” (meat pies). The discussion will more than likely turn into a very territorial one. The ingredients, their texture, and the size of the pie are the elements at the heart of the debate. For instance, some say that for a tourtière to be legit, it must contain game meat while others debate on whether or not the meat should be in cubes or ground and if the pie should contain potatoes. In other words, the combinations and regional variants are endless.

If you’re curious about the history and debates surrounding the tourtière, check out this article from Le Devoir (it’s in French, but it’s worth using Google Translate). It provides a bit insight on this dish that has survived the tests of time.

For this dish, I followed two recipes: my paternal grandmother’s for the filling and my friend Véronique’s for the dough.

All my previous attempts at making pie dough have been a struggle. It was sometimes too dry, other times too soft. No way would I buy frozen pie shells (well not for this project, at least). My friend Véronique had recently spoken to me about a foolproof recipe that had worked wonders. I thought I’d give it a try.

Dough! Ready to roll out some pie shells.

Dough! Ready to roll out some pie shells.

Pie dough
(variants of this recipes seen also on Recettes du Québec and Canadian Living)

Makes 5 large pie shells and covers

Ingredients

  • 5 ½ cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 pound (454 g) of cold lard or butter (I respected my friend’s recipe and used lard)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 1 can (355 mL) of cold 7Up or any clear fizzy pop (yes, you’ve read correctly)

Method

  • In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg with the vinegar. Add in 7-Up, and place in the fridge.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder.
  • Cut the lard in small chunks (about pea sized). And combine into the flour mix with a fork.
  • Create a well in the middle of the flour and pour the egg, vinegar and 7-Up blend into the bowl. Mix together until dough holds together.
  • Place dough in to a large ball at the centre of the bowl, make sure it is covered and refrigerate it for at least an hour.
  • The dough can be rolled out for pie shells, make sure you generously flour your rolling surface to make sure the dough doesn’t stick.
The tourtière's filling: ground veal, pork and beef seasoned with savory, cloves, allspice and onions and celery.

The tourtière’s filling: ground veal, pork and beef seasoned with savory, cloves, allspice and onions and celery.

The filling and a bit of intergenerational banter

Even if all the ingredients and quantities were carefully listed on a recipe card, I still needed to defer directly from grand-maman for some additional insight. Our phone conversation went something like this.

Me: “I’ve got your tourtière recipe. Other than what is written, do you have any additional advice?”
Grand-maman: “Well you can add a bit of garlic. Your grand father didn’t like garlic so I never put some, but you can if you like.”
Me: “Anything else?”
Grand-maman: “Just make sure the meat doesn’t dry up.”
Me: “One last thing… You know how everyone debates the issue of tourtières versus meat pies… Are these tourtières or meat pies?”
Grand-maman: “They’re tourtières! Don’t be mistaken. I learned how to make them in my culinary arts class when I was young. The nuns were teaching us how to cook back then. They taught us how to cook tourtières!”

With that being said… I got to work.

Ingredients

  • A total of 5 pounds of ground pork, veal and beef
  • 4 medium sized onions finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 large branches of celery
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Savory, cloves, allspice, salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 to three cups of water
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs

Method

  • In large skillet, melt a bit of butter and brown the onions and celery.
  • Add in the ground veal, pork and beef making sure to break up any chunks. Season to taste with savoury, cloves, allspice, salt and pepper. Cook well at medium heat.
  • Add in a bit of water. Mix in a bit of breadcrumbs. (I didn’t really follow the exact recipe when it came to the breadcrumbs and water. The meat mixture wasn’t too dry from the get go. I added less than half a cup of breadcrumbs. Again, the texture seemed appropriate.)

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Quite possibly the most challenging part of the process: making decent looking pie shells.

Quite possibly the most challenging part of the process: making decent looking pie shells.

Then comes the fun part: the making of the tourtières.

The rolling of the dough to make the pie shells proved to be a bit of a challenge for me. There were flour and excess pieces of dough a little everywhere in the kitchen. I flattened the dough with a rolling pin and cussed like a sailor, but was able to roll out five pie shells that were filled with the meat mixture and covered with more pie crust. As seen per the photos, the pies are somewhat unequal in appearance, but hopefully on Christmas Eve, everyone will agree that despite their appearance, they taste great!

To serve: preheat oven at 375 ° F and cook tourtière for about 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is golden.

Got any holiday cooking anecdotes and tips? Feel free to share them!

Holiday planning

Taking a caffeinated moment to plan the week ahead.

Taking a caffeinated moment to plan the week ahead.

I posted this photo Sunday on Instagram. With only about a week to go, it was the first time that I actually sat down and took a moment to plan more formally the menu for Christmas eve dinner for my family. This marks the first time that we’d officially welcome our folks into our home for a short stay.

Flashback to earlier this year… After lots of back and forth, my sister and I finally convinced our parents to take our Christmas celebrations to Ontario. This first is proving to be quite exciting: it represents the creation of a new family tradition. It’s also an opportunity for our parents to sit back, relax (or at least try) and enjoy the holidays without the stress of entertaining.

While things were coming together quite effectively décor wise thanks to my partner, the same thing couldn’t be said about the menu. My sister and I had been juggling with various ideas for weeks. Only recently have we confirmed some our plans.  It was decided that my sister and her fiancé would prepare the turkey. I’ll be serving up the side dishes to go with the bird as well as hors d’oeuvres, a soup and other elements.

I had already given the kick-off to holiday cooking last week by preparing bacon mushroom roll-ups. Time to get a move on. The next item on my list: tourtière – aka meat pies!

 

Bacon mushroom roll-ups: a taste of the holidays

The bacon mushroom roll-ups are ready.

The bacon mushroom roll-ups are ready.

I only recently found out how this hors d’oeuvre had become part of my family’s holiday culinary traditions.

Flashback to 1979. At the time my mother, then a newlywed had a habit of exchanging recipes found in books and magazines with her sister. Apparently, her now famous roll-ups recipe originally came from Canadian Living. This homegrown magazine has been a rich source of recipes, crafts and fashion advice to Canadians since 1975. And ever since, the publication has accumulated an impressive amount of recipes, including this one.

Without further ado here’s the recipe.

Bacon mushroom roll-ups

Ingredients

  • 375 grams of chopped bacon
  • 1 pound of chopped mushrooms
  • 2 medium sized onions finely chopped
  • Half a pound of cream cheese (1 ½ cup)
  • A couple of sprigs of thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 35 slices of white sandwich bread (yes you have read correctly)
Fill each slice of bread with a generous heaping of the bacon mushroom mixture and roll each slice,

Fill each slice of bread with a generous heaping of the bacon mushroom mixture and roll each slice,

Method

The filling

  • Start off by finely chopping your onions, mushrooms and bacon.In a large skillet, melt a bit of butter and start browning the onions. Add in the bacon and mushrooms. Cook for about 10 minutes, mixing the blend regularly to ensue that the bacon is cooked.
  • Mix in the cream cheese, add salt pepper and thyme, and mix well. Let cool.

The bread

While your filling cools down, it’s time to tackle the bread. Usually, I wouldn’t ever prone the use of sliced bread, but in this case, there is nothing that can be said against it! It’s simply the perfect vessel for the creamy bacon and mushroom blend. Prepping the bread is actually the most time consuming part of the recipe.

  • Start off by cutting off the crust of all slices.
  • Flatten each slice with a rolling pin.
  • Scoop up generous heaping (an overflowing tablespoon) of the bacon and mushroom mixture.
  • Roll up each slice of bread making sure it is securely closed. Cut each roll in half.

Yields about 60 to 70 roll-ups.

To serve

  • Preheat oven at 350 ° F (177 ° C)
  • Place roll-ups on a baking sheet.
  • Brush a little melted butter on top of the roll-ups
  • Cook for about 15 minutes or until golden

Serve and enjoy!

The holidays are a great time to share some culinary traditions. What are your seasonal classics?

Small joys in the kitchen: pork roast

A first in The Tarnished Spoon kitchen: pork roast.

I have a confession to make: I have never, ever cooked a roast before tonight. I’ve never been completely comfortable cooking large cuts of meat. The fear of wasting a perfectly good roast beef, veal, pork or lamb due to undercooking or overcooking would simply make me steer away from trying. But this changed on Sunday Night.

Both my mother and father have mastered the art of cooking the perfect roast. Either one can provide excellent insight. I called up my father.  After wishing him a happy birthday (he just turned 55), I asked for some advice on how to prepare a pork loin roast. He told me to use basic ingredients such as Dijon mustard, garlic cloves and chicken stock. In other words… nothing too complicated regarding preparation. According to my father, the most important thing is the cooking.

For a small to medium sized roast, he recommended cooking it at 350 °F for about an hour. My father also specified to keep the meat covered for ¾ of the cooking time and to uncover it for the final 15 minutes, this crisps up the top ever so slightly. The important thing when cooking a pork loin roast is to make sure the meat isn’t pink nor overcooked and dry.

With this in mind, it was time to take the advice to kitchen. I filled my Creuset Dutch oven with potatoes and carrots mixed with a bit of onion and leek. I then laid the pork loin roast stuffed with a couple of garlic cloves and covered with Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and sprigs of rosemary. I then added a bit of chicken stock and white wine.

It could be that the oven didn’t heat enough or the roast may have been a little larger than I thought, but after an hour, it wasn’t quite ready… Too pink. The roast returned in the oven about an extra half hour (maybe it wasn’t a small cut of meat after all). My bad!

I then strained the drippings and broth mixture and added a touch of corn starch to thicken it to make the sauce and then served with the roasted spuds and carrots and some sautéed rainbow chard.

And voilà: a first in the Tarnished Spoon kitchen: a pork roast for dinner. The ice was finally broken! Hurrah.

Sunday dinner: pork roast.