Saturday, February 27, 2010

Baking Shakespeare

Hello all! First things first, so sorry about the major lackage of posting since my arrival home! This has been one of the most hectic weeks, school-wise, EVER! After a nice sleepless night, some major cramming and extremely rushed power-point makin' has come time for me to do a school project that I've actually been looking forward to. That's right, a project I have to do for my Shakespeare class includes food.

It all started with a series of reports my class was assigned to do about Elizabethan England. I was sleepily sitting there listening to the deal about this up-coming project: get into group, remember your citations, yadda, yadda, yadda...UNTIL I had to ask myself: did I really just hear what I think I heard?!? Yes, I did. One of the groups, and therefore topics of these "reports" we had to group up for was food! I got into that puppy A.S.A.P.!

I got even more excited when I was informed that our group had the task of cookin' up samples of Elizabethan recipes for the entire class - this is right up my alley! Maybe I'll even get an outstanding mark for once, too...

The tricky part came when I had to actually decide on what to make for the see...Elizabethan folk didn't really have the greatest tastes in the culinary department...can you say eel pie, stuffed dormice and sparrow brains?

After browsing through this little gem, "Eating Shakespeare" by Betty and Sonia Zyvatkauskas, I finally found something that the class may actually consider consuming.

What I decided on baking up was "a tart to provoke courage". Sounds like a pretty epic little tart, right? Well, upon further research I realized that "courage" also meant "lust" back in the day, and therefore this really should be named "aphrodisiac pie".

I know I'm getting all nerdy on you now, but this is kind of interesting! Elizabethan English believed that not only people, but also food fell under astrological influences. Parsnips fall under Venus' influence - therefore provoking this discussed "courage", apparently!

Anyways, the original recipe is obviously a little bizarre (there is no crust used - it's just a mess of pumpkin-pie-like filling - there are sparrow brains in the recipe, and it requires the strainage of root vegetables, which is something I imagine is messy and unnessesarry), so I went from the modern version in "Eating Shakespeare", and then did a couple more mod's of my own!

I started off by making the pie dough with the recipe that my Mom has used forever. This recipe never fails!

Mom's 7up Pie Dough

5 cups pastry flour
1 lb lard
1 can 7up

Cut the lard into the flour.
When the mixture becomes an oatmeal consistency, pour in the can of 7up and bring the dough together.
Pop in the fridge for an hour before rolling out!

When the dough was in the fridge, I started peelin' and choppin' up a storm, and cubing up the yams (I opted for these instead of sweet potatoes), parsnips, apples and dates. My variation on the original recipe is I used way more yams than parsnips , in an attempt to make this recipe a little less bizarre. 

I have such a weakness for dates...

After all the prep work, I piled all the chopped up bits into a giant pot and let it simmer away with apple juice (we didn't have any white wine laying around).

Then I got to work at rolling out the pie dough and cutting it into nice little circles to pop into the little tart shells.


After the yam/parsnip/apple/date/egg/spices mixture had all come together, I spooned it (about 1 tablespoon per tart shell) into my little army of tart shells!


Once the spices and sugar were in the mix it actually started to shape up into something that didn't look all that bad! The house smelled like pumpkin pie, and to the eye, these little puppies looked like pumpkin pie, too! Too bad they weren't little pumpkin pies...

After 30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F, these tarts came out perfectly cooked! Much like pumpkin pie, I slid a metal knife into the filling to see if it came out clean. 

So, how were these Shakespearian tarts??? Not too bad! They were a little strange (the taste of parsnips that was unavoidable), however asides from that aspect, these were much like healthier little pumpkin pies! Not too bad, Shakespearians...

So my crazy week is finally over. Prepare for more regular posting in the future (and more regular eating on my part, let's hope)!



Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pizzeria Libretto

Probably the best dinner out I had while in Toronto was at Pizzeria Libretto, in Ossington. Chloaye, Tatomme and I decided to go to this incredible spot on a whim, and I am so happy that we did! I had one of the most unique, incredible and memorable meals at Pizzeria Libretto than I'd had in a while.

The spot itself was gorgeous; packed, loud, beautifully decorated and warm. The restaurant was super long and narrow, which was kind of fun, and made the place really cozy.

The service was incredible, too! We had the most lovely waitress... That always helps so much!

When we finally settled into our table after a decently short wait (apparently there is always a line, and they don't take reservations, either), deciding what to order was an exciting experience! This spot is famous for their authentic neapolitan pizzas, however I'm sure the different "flavours" of pizza were not authentic (in a good way), all the different pizzas they had were so innovative and mouthwatering! 

Another thing that was really great about this spot is that everything they serve is made from local, organic, natural ingredients! 

Some delicious fresh bread and olive oil and balsamic was quickly delivered at the table, which us girls ate up pretty quickly (we were starving this night, however that is not the only reason the food tasted so good)!

Then I finally decided on what to order. I really wanted to try a bit of everything the menu had to offer, so I went for the "prezzo fisso" menu. It was really reasonable too! A four course meal for $25 dollars. This was especially good because the meal included: an appetizer (you weren't sure what it would be), a salad to start, a whole pizza (which were about $14-20 dollars on their own anyways) and dessert! The dessert addition really drew me in...

My appetizer came out very quickly, which is understandable...

I have to say, when I laid eyes on this scarce little plate I was a little worried about my menu choice. Don't get me wrong here, these little morsels of flavour were delicious...but...just look at it!

It was fun really coaxing myself to savor each bit of food though. All the cured meats are either house-made or locally made, which was nice, too.

Then, I was quickly redeemed by the restaurant when my "salad" made it's way to the table. It was so simple, fresh and delicious. I chose the fingerling potato and celery salad on a bed of Ontario mozzarella di buffala dressed beautifully with extra virgin olive oil and Italian parsley.

Then it was time for the pizza! Tate's came first, and was gorgeous. Tatomme ordered the rapini pizza, which had goat's cheese, black olives and Ontario fiore di latte mozzarella sprinkled on top.

And then it was time for Chloaye and I's pizzas! We ordered the same thing...the duck confit pizza. I am in love with anything duck, so it was an easy choice for me. This beautiful pie was topped with bosc pear and Ontario fiore di latte mozzarella. It was the best pizza I've had in my life.

The crust was impeccable. It was so paper thin, yet somehow felt like it had so much substance to it! I ate the whole pizza and was absolutely stuffed afterwards.

Pizzeria Libretto also provided a delicious "chili oil" which I was obsessed with and doused every slice of my pizza with. Mmm.

Then came the perfect way to finish off the evening, an impeccable bit of tiramisu for dessert. This lovely dessert was not very big, but it made up for it's size in flavour. I have no idea what they did to make their tiramisu so incredible, but it was definitely unique and tasted unlike any other tiramisu (and trust me, I've consumed many) I've ever tasted!

Just when I thought the meal couldn't possibly get any better, our adorable little waitress came over and let us girls know that the manager (I think that's what she said) would like to buy all us girls a little after dinner drink! Thank you for the flirtatious eyes with him all night, Tate! We all got a substantial glass of a delicious red dessert wine, which "went great with chocolate". I cannot remember what it was called though! But that was really fun, and definitely added to my love for the place!

So if you are ever in Toronto, you need to go to Pizzeria Libretto! It was so much fun, and there was such a variety of people there. Couples on dates, girls nights (like our table), tables full of man friends having a good meal together... I loved it! It really would be the perfect date spot, though.

Anyways, I'm off to pack up my things to head back home to Edmonton. This week went by so quickly I can't believe it!



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Drake's Corner Cafe

Hello from Toronto (still) everyone! I know, I've been slacking on my posts a bit, but Chloaye, Tatomme and I have just been doing so much every single day...the blog has been the last thing on my mind! I thought I'd update you a bit though with what noms are going down in Ontario (there have been quite a few). 

Here's one place that is definitely worth mentioning from this trip: Drake's Corner Cafe, which is part of the Drake Hotel on Queen Street West.

To start things off, I have to say that the Drake is one of the most unique and beautiful hotels I've ever seen. We browsed around the lobby and lounge a bit, and Tate informed us that each major section of the hotel is designed by a different artist. It was gorgeous. Since it was the middle of the day, we opted for the hotel's cafe instead of their bar (which was stunning).

The cafe portion was a cute little spot with an inspiring and eclectic food menu, impressive fresh juice list and unique and delicious drinks.

The cafe itself was impressive also, you could definitely feel the emphasis the hotel has on arts and culture in this little spot!

The ceiling was covered with a tangle of old bike pieces, it was beautiful!

To start things off and wake myself up a bit, I had a big cup of coffee that kept on gettin' refilled (often). 

After Tatomme's explanation of how she's heard from numerous people that the mac and cheese was incredible at this spot, I had to go for it.

I'm so happy I did! This huge bowl of mac and cheese was made with a perfect homemade 4 cheese sauce, yummy fresh peas, and topped with deliciously flavored bread crumbs (which I love on pasta).

Tatomme and Chloaye both ordered the same thing, Matzo ball soup (I told you it was eclectic), which I tried...and it was incredible. 

Drake's Corner Cafe was such a lovely little spot for a nice coffee and bite to eat before heading back out to peruse the numerous vintage shops in the West Queen West neighborhood. And I'm glad I got to snoop around the Drake hotel that I'd heard all about from many people!

I hope you're all enjoying your reading weeks as much as I'm enjoying mine!



Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day in Toronto

Hello lovelies! Get ready to read aaall about my wonderful Valentine's Day spent in Toronto with two lovely women! It was such a good first day in Toronto, from start to finish! Us girls started off our day fairly early, and went out for a nice little Valentine's breakky! 

Tatomme took us to the cutest, and busiest little breakfast/brunch spot/hole in the wall I'd ever seen, Aunties and Uncles. We got there at the perfect time as we just missed a HUGE line that formed, practically curving down the street.

See what I mean? This place does NOT look like it would serve incredible breakfast...but looks are deceiving! The line was way past the little white golf you see there at one point!

After a not-too-long wait, we got to enter this adorable little spot! As we fought our way through the crowds of major hipster/scenesters to crawl up the most dangerous set of stairs I've ever climbed, we walked past the tiniest little kitchen I have ever seen! They were whippin' out the food (gigantic servings and all) in this place too! I was impressed.

The interior was a perfectly eclectic blend of bizarre art, 50's/60's diner and just...knick knacks really!

We got a table on the 2nd floor of this two level little restaurant. It was so cozy, you actually felt like you were at your aunty and uncles!

Tucked away in the corner of the upstairs was a cute little sink/counter area where the waitress served up our coffee from. So homey.

Pretty quickly, our food arrived! It looked incredible! All three of us ordered the same thing...because it just sounded too good not to order (I know, we must have looked SO boring).

What we picked was: the omelette of the day which was roasted vegetables and goat cheese, which came with incredible, sweet challah toast, amazing home-made hash browns and "greens"(a yummy little breakfast salad). We ordered some fruit too, which was stewed pears.

I can honestly not get over this toast! It was so, so, melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

To make things even more incredible, they make their own home-made ketchup at Aunties and Uncles. Mmm.

After breakky we went for a brisk stroll down to the Kensington Market area, which I fell in love with.

There were so many adorable vintage shops, unique restaurants and great little health food stores and bakeries!

We wandered into Wanda's Pie in the Sky, which Tatomme told us we "had to see".

This packed little pie shop reminded us of what day it was with adorable little conversation heart sugar cookies!

Loved them.

The pies were so pretty!

Then on our little adventure, we came across the most incredible little kitchen store ever, Good Egg. Stores like this are really detrimental to my wallet...

They even have all sorts of classes going on all the time! This one looks so tempting and right up my alley! I wish I was here for this! 

Also, here's a little fact for you! Apparently Rachel McAdams took some knife sharpening/cutting classes at this spot! I liked her even more than I already did after hearing that!

Before I knew it, we were in what I'm sure was "little mexico"...which was filled with dried fruit stores and graffiti-ed alleyways. Don't I have such gorgeous cousins??

After our slightly chilly walk through Kensington, we headed to a grocery store to pick up a good load of groceries for the week!

We got home and were all majorly cravin' some we whipped up a large batch. 

We made yummy guac with the avocados that Chloaye did end up bringing, and a black bean dip. The salsa we bought...

After we filled up on chips we headed out to a little pub not too far from Tate's place, which had 35 beers on tap. It was difficult to choose!

I finally ended up deciding on a chocolate cherry stout, because it was Valentine's day after all, and I hadn't had any chocolate all day (which is so wrong)! It was a good choice...

It was Sunday evening though, so we packed 'er in fairly early and headed back to Tatomme's place on the trolley. 

Such a great, noms-packed day though! I absolutely loved spending Valentine's with my two wonderful cousins! I am really loving my first taste of Toronto. Look forward to many, many more food adventures from over here!



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mariel's Noms X 1hundo

Hello everyone! So here is that good Noms X 1hundo collaboration post that I promised to make up for the lacking past couple of posts! Friday night Patrick and I whipped up a little dinner, and he of course took the pictures! Here's the results:

We ended up making a beautiful, simple pasta bursting with fresh flavour. It turned out soo yummy.

We started off by making our own meat balls, we kind of just threw the ingredients all together, but I'll give you the approximate amounts of everything we used.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix all the ingredients together (yes, use your hands)
Form into whatever sized balls you'd like!
Bake until brown and cut with a fork to check the insides!
Super easy.

They turned out pretty tasty, too!

After the meatballs were all formed up and in the oven we started on the sauce and boiling up the water for the pasta. We started with the basics, cuttin' up half an onion and chopping up two cloves of garlic.

Patrick practically deep fried the garlic in olive oil before caramelizing the onions, which was bizarre, but absolutely delish...

Then we tossed a whole can of whole San Marzano tomatoes and their juice into the mix and broke those puppies down with a wooden spoon, and let em' stew for a bit.

Later on, Patrick added a bit of tomato paste to thicken up the sauce, and a hefty dose of salt and pep.

Then towards the end of this sauce's stay in the saucepan, we threw in a good handful chopped fresh basil, frozen peas (we tried to do the whole fresh pea thing, but upon opening up the sugar snap peas we realized there really weren't any peas inside...) and the meatballs.

We used a bizarre little pasta. I'm not quite sure what it was called...but it cooked up super quick and was done in about five minutes!

When the pasta was cooked, we loaded up our bowls and spooned the sauce and meatballs over top, finishing them off with a bit more peppery, delicious basil.

So there you go! A tasty, quick little pasta recipe that is great when you are starving, AND great on the wallet too...

I found myself staring at the cutest little thing (Molly) all dinner! She wanted some pasta too...

Love her!

Such gorgeous pictures of a gorgeous little meal! I am thinking that you should be able to look forward to more collaboration posts in the future! I sure hope that there are more...I love these pictures!