Tasting the Past: Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie on a blue platter.

Brutalism meets baking: Boston Cream Pie

I’ll be honest, it has taken some time to get into gear and actually start cooking for the blog again. However, as soon as I stumbled upon the Boston cream pie recipe in larger notebook, I knew, that’s this was the recipe I wanted to try to get the ball rolling. I’ve tasted some from the bakery or restaurant and had the odd doughnut by the same name, but I’ve never baked a Boston Cream Pie. I was quite excited. continue reading

Tasting the Past: Ann’s Sour Cream Date Dreams Cookies

Ann's Sour Cream Date Dreams Cookies

Ann’s Sour Cream Date Dreams Cookies

So far, Tasting the Past has made me indulge in my sweet tooth quite a bit. Even Elda’s Rye Bread, was rather on the sweet side. This latest recipe out of the wooden box makes no exception to the rule. Behold Anns’s Sour Cream Date Dreams Cookies!

Ann clearly knew what she was doing. Her recipe had a star ingredient with which dreams are made of – at least of the baking kind: sour cream. I had forgotten how it could enhance so many recipes. The sour cream creates a certain moisture and tanginess. A recent blog post from The Kitchn sings the praises of this ingredient and reminds us of how this dairy product can make a difference in numerous recipes. continue reading

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

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?

Tarnished Spoon Travels : New York City – Day 3

Journey to Brooklyn

Brooklyn beckoned, and we responded! Time for us to cross the East River and take in the sights East of Manhattan.

First, a quick stop at Spoonbill and Sugartown Books to pick up an elusive copy of Lucky Peach magazine. For a reason or another, the Summer 2012 edition of this journal dedicated to food and writing isn’t available back in Toronto nor was it possible to stumble upon it in Manhattan. Without hesitation, we brought it home!

Lunch
Juliette Williamsburg
135 North 5th St Brooklyn

Juliette’s decor is straight out of a parisian bistro.

Juliette Williamsburg proved to be an ideal urban oasis. It was like having a little bit of Paris, in Brooklyn. Everything, from the signage, the tables, chair and floors were the same you’d find in a French bistro. The courtyard dining room with numerous hanging plants was another great element about the place the large roof top potion with bar and numerous yellow and red tables and chairs is where we decided to enjoy our lunch.

Onto the food and drink. My partner ordered the vegetarian sandwich on a warm ciabatta, which was filled with Japanese eggplant, avocado, cucumber, daikon sprouts and tapenade. I ordered a comforting croque-monsieur served with a homemade brioche.

We then both enjoyed wonderful lemonades that were mixed with strawberry and pear purée; a refreshing touch to our meal as we were pondering our next move.

Shop
Mast Brothers Chocolate
105 A North Third Street 

All Mast Brothers Chocolates are elegantly wrapped. Photo: Eric Rados.

Per the description in Rather New York City, Mast brothers promised to be a delicious stop. It sure didn’t disappoint! When entering the North Third Street shop, between the bags of cocoa grains, you first see chocolatiers at work, crafting chocolates with great pride.

Along the wall with a large black board, you then get a glimpse at several varieties of chocolate. Every single Mast Brothers chocolate bar is packaged in elegant colored wrapping paper, making these chocolates also a feast for the eyes!

Brothers Rick and Michael Mast partnered with farms and organizations such as Anderson Almonds, Stumptown Coffee and Maine Sea Salt to offer chocolate enthusiasts some delicious choices. My personal faves were the Stumptown Coffee and Main Sea Salt chocolates.

While at the shop, make sure you bring back a couple of truffles. The salted caramel, coffee, sea salt and almond truffles were great. Unfortunately, they were all eaten too fast by yours truly to take a photo…

Dinner
The Fat Radish
17, Orchard Street

We were welcomed with a plate of radishes topped with tappenade.

For our last night in the Big Apple, we turned yet again to the Rather New York City guide to channel our inspiration. Co-author Julia Oh states, “My bet is a smile will appear on your face also when you step inside.” She was right. While walking into the restaurant you couldn’t help but be charmed the warm décor, friendly staff and let’s not forget the food on the menu.

The Fat Radish serves up a British inspired menu. We were welcomed with plate of radishes, topped with tapenade. The day’s specials were all marked on large mirror.

My partner started his meal with baby beet salad that included thinly sliced beets and pickled ones as well. I ordered the endive, prosciutto, grilled peach, ricotta and lemon oil salad. Both appetizers were flavourful.

We were both inspired by the seafood on the menu. We ordered the olive oil poached cod served with warm German potato salad and the Montauk diver scallops fresh corn “polenta” (it was like a cream corn which was incredibly delicious), bacon jam and. Both dishes were a hit! I was intrigued by the bacon jam, but was quickly a convert. The saltiness of the jam blended particularly well with the scallops and corn polenta.

Dessert was an easy decision. Caroline, our server, discretely returned to our table simply stating that the Banofee pie was excellent. We took her word for it and never looked back.  We were blown away! This English inspired dessert made from bananas, cream, and toffee all served on top of butter biscuit crust and topped with Mast Brothers cocoa nibs (full circle moment. Ha!) was a delight, and a perfect way to end our meal. Caroline later came back to explain how much she missed Banofee pie upon her return from the UK. She was overjoyed when she found out her employer added this dessert to the menu.

Dinner at the Fat Radish proved to be the most pleasant way to end our three-day escapade in New York. And per our Rather Guide’s description, we did indeed leave with a smile on our faces.

Where to next for our next trip

?

Moments in TUM

Ladies and gents, please grab your bibs and let the tasting begin!

A monthly tradition for some, the latest edition of the Toronto Underground Market (TUM) proved yet again to quite the culinary adventure. Some 30 vendors set up shop at Evergreen Brickworks for one evening, all showcasing their creativity and passion for food.

Last Saturday’s TUM took place under a blue sky (My first two visits were under rainy and cool climes). Let’s just say that having Mother Nature on TUM’s side added to success of the event. It was great to see some of the action roll out of the building. The scene was perfect: visitors savouring their snacks outdoors, vendors teasing everyone with the aroma of grilled meats and other treats, folks grabbing a quick drink before plunging back into the TUM core.

This was my third time at TUM. Needless to say some lessons have been learned during my previous visits in order to make the most of this flavourful rendez-vous.

Some TUM video hijinks.

  • Arriving early ensures that you spend less time queuing and more time tasting.
  • Pace and teamwork: once you arrive it’s easy to excited by all the delicious possibilities. Think about one kiosk at a time. Also when going with friends, it’s easier to sample a vendor’s full menu by swapping dishes.
  • Water is a wonderful thing. Bring your own bottles to take advantage of the Water on Wheels refill stations.

With that in mind, I ventured into TUM. Here’s my take on some noteworthy dishes sampled.

Savoury finds

Lobster tacos from Rock Lobster Food Co.

Located in what was usually La Carnita’s spot, Rock Lobster Food Co. definitely delivered. People quickly lined up to get a taste of some of their lobster rolls, lobster poutine and lobster tacos. The tacos were delicious. The flaky lobster pieces combined with fresh cilantro, lime and guacamole made for a refreshing snack.

Oyster trio from Neptuno

More gifts from the sea, this time from New Brunswick in the form of oysters –  French Kiss oysters to be more precise. These delicate oysters were served with a variety of dressings. I opted for cucumber, red wine vinegar and banana pepper dressings. Omnomnom.

Fidel Gastro’s Sgt Slather

The Rebel without a kitchen serves up the most excellent sandwiches. I indulged in a Sgt Slather, a bun filled with pulled pork with tortilla with a sweet and smoky sauce. I also had a chance to taste El Capitan Belly, a sandwich with tomato juice braised pork belly with a tomato cabbage slaw. I want more!

Perkedel Jagung from Babi & Co.

Babi & Co.’s take on Indonesian street food packs loads of flavour in every bite! The perkedel jagung, a.k.a. corn and shrimp fritters with garlic and chilli sauce were warm and fluffy with just a bit of heat from the sauce. Simply delish. My friend tried the Indonesian popcorn that surprised with its spiciness. The grilled pork skewers and noodle salad were also attracting the masses.

Samyoza trio from Nomad Food Creations

It must be said, I have a soft spot for dumplings either steamed or fried. Needless to say Nomad Food Creations caught my attention. The samyoza trio including tofu and chai yogurt, scallops with coriander and mint chutney and finally duck and orange chutney were wonderful. The tofu and duck ones were especially packed with flavour.

Sweet surprises

Delicious doughnuts from Dough by Rachelle

Pastry chef Rachelle Cadwell impresses with her take on the doughnut. On display this time at TUM: maple bacon, apple fritter, double chocolate and my personal fave: the fluffernutter, a doughnut filled with peanut butter and topped with a roasted marshmallow, a perfect mix of sweet and savoury.

Fried serves up Divine diples

My stop at Fried was a completely impulsive one. I was drawn in by their logo and especially the cheery demeanour of Tracey Dye and then discovered the joys of the diples. These thin pieces of fried dough dipped in a honey citrus syrup were a sure hit. This simple dessert was one of my pleasant TUM surprises.

 Chocolate dipped bacon from Leonard Pig Candy

I probably anticipated this one the most. Bacon and dark chocolate… What is there not to love? But I must admit that, it fell a little short. It tasted great, it really did, but the chocolate covered bacon would have benefited from being chilled preventing a mess. With that being said, I was glad to also taste the candied bacon, which I thoroughly enjoyed and would indulge in much more.

 Cannelé from SnackeryTO

The Cannelé (also spelled canelé), is a specialty from the Bordeaux region. It is small pastry with a tender center and a dark, thick crust. SnackeryTO served them up in Earl Grey and Vanilla. Heavenly. The rediscovery of this pastry will perhaps soon prompt a baking session with one of my French friends. To be continued…

Who else was at TUM? What were your favourite dishes?


Top 5 dishes from the Toronto Underground Market

One of some 30 kiosks at TUM at Evergreen Brick Wokrs

Good things were simmering over at Evergreen Brick Works last Sunday. People followed their noses to take part in the most recent edition of the Toronto Underground Market (TUM), where culinary discoveries were sure to ensue.

TUM is a social food market where one can savour some food that you won’t necessarily find in Toronto’s restaurants. This venue showcases both the talent and passion for food of some of the city’s up-and-coming culinary entrepreneurs.

Evergreen Brick Works is the perfect setting. Amidst the brick walls and high ceilings, people lined up in front of some 30 kiosks to treat their taste buds to some scrumptious dishes. My friends Marie-Lyne, Marie and I were quite excited to ramble through the grounds of Evergreen Brick Works in search of our favourite finds.

All kiosks were quite busy. Some people waited in line for over an hour to get a chance to taste some tacos from renowned pop-up taco stand La Carnita. Comida del Pueblo was another kiosk that attracted large crowds to taste their appetizing Corn bread grilled cheese sandwiches and empanadas.

Despite the potential of those kiosks, I voluntarily decided to forgo the line-ups, braving the cold and growing hunger (for discovery and good food) and made my way through to savour all the yum that TUM had to offer. In no particular order, here are my top 5 picks.

Waffles and Butter Chicken from The Royal Tree Beaver

Waffles and Butter Chicken from The Royal Tree Beaver

In the brisk Sunday cold, the waffles and butter chicken were a welcome source of solace. Tasty shredded chicken in a creamy spicy sauce poured over crisp square waffles pieces provided great flavour and warmth – An excellent way to star off our TUM tour.

5 Layer Peanut Butter & Jelly Pie from Cashew & Coco

5 – Layer Peanut Butter & Jelly Pie from Cashew & Coco

Needless to say, this wonderful dessert by Aly Friedman, Cashew and Coco’s mom, takes the cake. This pie consists of a graham cracker base, peanut butter cheesecake, blueberry jelly, peanut butter shortbread topped with candied pecans was simply divine. Eaten either warm or cold, one wasn’t enough.

Dumpling trio from FeasTO (pork and kimchi, pork and bok-choy, and duck and foie gras).

Dumpling trio from FeasTO

Three beautiful bites from FeastTO. The first: pork and kimchi with kimchi salad. The second: pork and bok choy dumpling in broth. The third: duck and foie gras dumpling with cherry jus. Would have gladly sunk my teeth in many more of these savoury treats.

Chili popover topped with guacamole from Popover Girl.

Chili popover fromPopover Girl

Popover Girl put a creative twist to these light and fluffy rolls made from an egg batter similar to Yorkshire pudding. TUM enthusiasts had a choice three kinds of popovers: peperonata, chili con carne or Nutella and ricotta. The chili con carne topped with guacamole served in a magazine cone was both delicious and visually appealing.

Marie enjoys a Torta Ahogada aka the drowned sandwich from ESÉ.

Torta Ahogada aka the drowned sandwich from ESÉ

This honey chipotle glazed Mexican pulled pork sandwich was delish! Add some curtito, a spicy, tangy Latin slaw do the tender pulled pork and voilà, you’ve got an excellent sandwich.

What were your TUM favourites?