Braised Beef Short Ribs

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I am finally going to acknowledge that winter is here!

I have been overly optimistic in thinking that maybe it will not be a cold winter, and maybe it will go by quickly. I even bought a light weight winter coat thinking I would be the stylish one on the subway filled with a sea of down coats and Canada Goose jackets. Well, last night I bit the bullet and bought a warmer coat.

Today I am walking around in my new toasty down filled jacket with a big smile on my face. There are giant snowflakes fluttering in the evening sky and I am smiling. The wind chill factor is well below freezing, but I am still smiling.

Since I am admitting that it is winter, I might as well feature a hearty winter recipe. These braised short ribs take a while to slowly cook but they are well worth the wait. The meat is so tender it falls off of the bones and the flavours are rich and satisfying.

I found the recipe on the FoodNetwork.ca website which was created by Chuck Hughes, a great Canadian chef from Montreal. It has a little different style from most braised short rib recipes with the addition of cocoa and cinnamon. The result is darker and richer in flavour so I served the ribs with a full-bodied red Valpolicella wine from the Verona region of Italy.

It was a match made in heaven!

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Braised Beef Short Ribs

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
2 large onions, roughly chopped
3 – 4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
4 large carrots, peeled, trimmed and chopped in 2 inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp. canola oil
6 beef short ribs (about 3 inches long)
1 cup flour
1 750 mL bottles full-bodied red wine
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar
Handful peppercorns
A generous pinch coarse salt
Black pepper, freshly ground

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (177 C)
Prepare all vegetables and place in large bowl. Add herbs and spices, set aside.
Cut ribs between the bones, and trim all excess outer fat.
Season ribs well with coarse salt. Dredge in flour till well coated.
In a large Dutch oven or wide soup pot, pour in oil to coat bottom of pan. On high heat, sear the ribs so they are browned well on all sides (about 3 min per side). Set aside.

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In same pan, transfer all vegetables from the bowl, and stir to caramelize and pick up all the brown bits.
Add meat back into pot. Pour wine over. Ensure all is covered and if not, top up with water.
Sprinkle on cocoa powder and brown sugar, bring to a boil, cover with a lid or foil, and place in oven till meat is fork tender. (About 3 hours)
Remove ribs to a platter and strain out the solids to use for something else.
Boil the cooking liquid in a wide shallow pan till it is reduced by half. It will be richer, more flavourful and thicker. Add a nub of butter at the end for sheen and flavour.

Recipe adapted from Foodnetwork.ca-Chuck Hughes

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For the Love of Tea

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What is your relationship with tea?

Most of us have learned to appreciate tea as part of our family traditions and ceremonies. The British are famous for afternoon tea, the Chinese for the tea ceremony as part of the wedding celebration, the Japanese and Koreans for their own formal ceremonies.

In my Scottish family we drank tea every day. Even now my mother offers a cup of tea and some cookies whenever someone visits. I remember when I was a child my grandmother would make me children’s tea made with a few drops of tea in a cup of milk with a little sugar. It was such a treat that I would look forward to having it every time I visited. Mostly, we brewed Orange Pekoe tea steeped in pots of boiled water.

Sometimes I like to go out Afternoon Tea in one of our upscale hotels. There is something so elegant and celebratory about trays of little sandwiches and cakes served with clotted cream and jams. Teas are gently poured into china cups through delicate silver strainers. Even thinking about it makes me smile.

Recently, I have been discovering some wonderful loose leaf teas. In an effort to learn more about the endless varieties of tea and their origins we went to the Toronto Tea Festival. The festival, held at the local reference library, offered a variety of tea tastings by a several tea companies, some local baked goods to share with your tea, teapots, tea sets and books about tea.

We enjoyed a demonstration of the Korean tea ceremony performed by specially trained women and a young girl who is trained in presenting the children’s tea ceremony. The formal ceremony is steeped with tradition and special meaning. It was very interesting to watch.

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I was very excited to find a book titled Tea (History, Terroirs, Varieties) published by the owners of the Camellia Sinesis Tea House in Montreal. The book is an excellent reference on the teas of the world. I understand that it has been published in multiple languages and is used as a textbook in the Tea Sommellier program taught in Toronto’s George Brown College and in Korea.

I am really looking forward to reading about the various types of tea, how to brew each, and how best to enjoy them.

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If exotic teas are not your thing, you may enjoy a hot cup of tea with traditional sweets or cakes. Whether a formal afternoon tea or a traditional ceremonial tea is what you enjoy, you will remember what tea brings to your life with each cup.

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Let’s get healthy with Hoisin Beef & Cashew Lettuce Wraps!

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“It is never too late to be what you might have been”– George Eliot

Everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes it sounds like we only list things that we want to stop doing, rather than creating a list of things we should start doing.

The beginning of the year is a good time to take stock of your life and update your goals. I prefer to make goals that can be adjusted or updated as time goes on.. Afterall; life is an ongoing journey where goals help us to navigate toward where or what we want to be.

When you close your eyes and envision yourself as the person that you want to be, what do you see?

Do you see someone who is healthier, more successful, more artistic, more compassionate or someone else? Do you see a musician, a scholar, an athlete, a caring mother or a scientist? If you constantly envision yourself as that person you will start to see the path to get there.

Some of my own goals include being fit, eating healthy foods, being the best person I can be for my family, and being the best photographer for my clients and for my own work.

It all sounds simple, right? It can be, if you break it down into smaller goals within each of the broader goals. These are the goals that you revise or adjust as you move down the path. For example; if I want to eat healthy foods I need to focus on making recipes that will get me there. I need to make it a habit, rather than a sacrifice. No diets, not gimmicks, just delicious, healthy food.

One of the benefits of eating healthy food this time of year is that it counteracts my desire to fill up on heavy comfort foods. I feel better and have no guilt about pairing it with a glass of wine, once in a while.

If I were to call this a diet, it would only last a day or two. Instead, I tell myself this is a lifestyle choice that will keep me healthy. Eating well does not have to be bland and tasteless. This recipe is so rich in flavour from the Hoisin sauce and the cashews and it is simple to make.

Hoisin Beef & Cashew Lettuce Wraps

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 lb. beef tenderloin or top sirloin grilling medallions about 1 inch thick
1/3 cup hoisin sauce plus extra for dipping
1 head boston or green leaf lettuce, washed and leaves left whole
1 red pepper, finely julienned
½ cup green onion, finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 cup salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
2 cups cooked jasmine rice (cook according to package instructions)

Directions:

Add the oil to a grill pan and heat on high. Sear beef on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn over and baste with hoisin sauce. Continue to baste on both sides and cook to medium rare. Remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Fill a whole lettuce leaf with a scoop of rice. Top with the red pepper, carrots, green onions, and cashews.

Slice the beef very thinly and add to the lettuce wraps.

Serve with some extra sauce on the side for dipping.

Recipe from Food and Drink Magazine-Early Summer 2014 edition

15 Cookbooks That Will Inspire You In 2015

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15 Cookbooks That Will Inspire You in 2015

I am not a person who likes to look back on the past and summarize the top items for a particular year. Life does not happen in 12 month segments, it flows like a river from year to year.

When it comes to cookbooks I believe that they are a source of great inspiration that has no time limit. That is why I chose to write about 15 cookbooks that will inspire you throughout 2015 and beyond. Treat yourself to some special time to sit down and read a good cookbook. You will be inspired.

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A Kitchen in France
I write this as I am watching the movie The 100 Foot Journey. Seeing the glorious scenery of France’s rich countryside makes you understand why Mimi Thorisson wrote this beautiful book about her life in Medoc. Her photos and her style remind me of time that I have spent in Provence.

Mimi’s stories and recipes will take you to the French Countryside in your mind and in your palate. The book is filled with French farmhouse recipes organized by season and accompanied by glorious photos of life in the region. Mimi is also known for her award-winning blog Manger.

 

 

 

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Prune
The minute I started leafing through Prune at my local bookstore I was taken by the hand written comments throughout the book. Pages show signs of food spillage and wear that would don a beloved family cookbook. The style of the book is warm and comforting.
The book is from Prune Bistro in the East Village of New York City by Chef Gabrielle Hamilton. Hamilton presents the recipes in a straight forward fashion that assumes that you know your way around a kitchen. I look forward to trying this one for its unusual flavour combinations and unique dishes.

 

 

 

 

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The Vibrant Table
The Vibrant Table: Recipes from My Always Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan & Sometimes Raw Kitchen is one of those beautiful cookbooks that inspire healthy eating and local cooking. The book is written by Anya Kassoff who also writes the blog Golubka about whole food eating. The beautiful photos and healthy recipes provide healthy inspiration for the Vegetarian cook.

 

 

 

 

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Baking Chez Moi
Dorie Greenspan`s latest book on French baking has once again confirmed her place as one of the best delicious works of art.

I met Dorie Greenspan at a food blogger`s convention in 2012 and was delighted by her sweet and generous personality. If you are already a fan, you must add this book to your collection. If you have not yet discovered this charming baker`s work and wish to add her to your collection, this book would be a good place to start.

 

 

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Flour + Water Pasta
Named after the San Francisco restaurant of the same name Flour + Water offers a wealth of knowledge on pasta making. Chef Thomas McNaughton shares his passion for making the perfect pasta through recipes like Black Pepper Tagliatelle with Mussels, Lardo and Corn or Corzetti with Sausage, Clams and Fennel. This book makes heavenly recipes for the pasta lover in everyone.

 

 

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Ripe
Nobody can talk about great food writers without including Nigel Slater on the list. He is an imaginative cook, prolific writer and avid gardener who shares his passion for good food through his books, TV series and newspaper column in The Observer.
Ripe: A cook in the orchard is the companion book to Nigel’s other book Tender: A cook and his vegetable patch. He uses his inspiring prose to bring you into his garden and woo you into savouring the fruits of his labour. The book is divided into chapters, each about a specific fruit. His books are always good reads and truly inspirational.

 

 

Pastry

Pastry
In my constant quest for the perfect pastry crust, I came across this book at my local bookstore. The book promises: “A Master Class for Everyone in 150 photos and 50 Recipes”. French trained Richard Bertinet has authored notable books like Dough, Cook and now Pastry. The book offers a compilation of simplified sweet and savoury pastry recipes that are written to teach the reader to prepare crusts worthy of a pastry chef.

 

 

 

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French Comfort Food
This book is written by journalist, Hilary Davis, who has lived in France for the past thirteen years. Davis shares her love of French food with dishes that are part of daily life in France. I get hungry just thinking about recipes like Grandmother’s Chicken , Chilled Lyonaisse Potato and Sausage Salad and Perfect Crème Caramel.

 

 

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Bountiful
If you have ever had the pleasure of reading the blog White on Rice Couple you will already know about this wonderful cookbook. Todd Porter and Diane Cru are professional food photographers and stylists in California who love to share their love of cooking and growing delicious food. This is a lovely book for a cook who loves to enjoy the fruits of a garden.

 

 

The Last 5 of my choices come from Canadian Chefs, Restaurants, and Authors. We have a wonderfully eclectic food industry in Canada with many great chefs and wonderful restaurants. This is a small sampling that will give you a taste of what wonderful food you can find in Canada.

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The Jamie Kennedy Cookbook
Jamie Kennedy has long been an important chef in Toronto`s food scene owning and running kitchens in some of our finest restaurants. This book is a compilation of excellent recipes for any food lover sorted into seasons and featuring fresh ingredients from local growers.

 

 

 

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Bunner’s
This cookbook offers delightful baked goods that are gluten-free and vegan. I first purchased it to make treats for my grandchildren who have serious food allergies. I was very surprised to find that everything not only tasted like traditional baked goods, but often, they tasted better.

The bake shop owners Ashley Wittig and Kevin MacAllister have taken time to find the perfect mix of ingredients to create wonderful baked goods.

I have featured a recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes here: https://savouryimage.com/2014/07/27/celebrating-a-2-year-old-milestone-with-gluten-free-vegan-vanilla-cupcakes/

 

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The Sobo Cookbook
The highly acclaimed Sobo Restaurant is located in Tofino, British Columbia that sits at the most westerly end of Canada on Vancouver Island. This relaxed, natural area is famous for surfing and storm watching and interesting cuisine. The book features some of the best west coast cuisine by Chef Lisa Ahier accompanied by fabulous photos of the area by Jeremy Koreski.

A recipe for Grilled Watermelon and Shrimp Salad from this book is featured here: https://savouryimage.com/2014/08/11/grilled-watermelon-and-shrimp-salad-tofino-style/

 

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Toronto Cooks
This beautiful book by Amy Rosen features 100 recipes from Toronto`s best restaurants. From Maple Bacon doughnuts to Beef Bourguignon this diverse collection of signature dishes will inspire and delight.

Local fans of fine dining have used it as a passport to local establishments by taking it to their favourite places and asking the chefs to autograph their contributions.

 

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The Dirty Apron Cookbook
The Dirty Apron Cookbook features recipes from the Dirty Apron Cooking School and Delicatessen in Vancouver, British Columbia. The founder of the school and author David Robertson shares his passion for cooking and teaching through this beautiful book. The book offers a collection of wonderful recipes that have been prepared in the school, the delicatessen and for catering. Beautifully photographed and well written, this book offers inspiration for those wanting to broaden their repertoire.

 

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The Oh She Glows Cookbook
Self-trained chef and food photographer, Angela Liddon, writes a popular blog called Oh She Glows that teaches healthy vegan cooking to millions of followers. Her first cookbook has readers learning to live a healthy lifestyle with recipes from healthy smoothies to grilled Portobello burgers to cookies and desserts.

 

 

Recipes featured from this book can be found here:
https://savouryimage.com/2014/05/17/cherry-blossoms-and-green-smoothies-it-must-be-spring/
and
https://savouryimage.com/2014/05/06/grilled-portobello-mushroom-burgers-with-sun-dried-tomato-pesto/

 

I hope that I have inspired you to try something new this year.

Happy Cooking in 2015!

Roasted Heirloom Carrot and Parsnips Salad- a Great Holiday Side Dish

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Oh the holidays!

How do you like to spend your time during the holiday season?

I love to spend a couple of hours curled up on the sofa with a hot drink watching holiday movies.

This afternoon I watched one of my all time favourite movies, Serendipity. I love this heartwarming love story of how John Cusak and Kate Bekinsale try to find each other to see if their love was meant to be. Did you know that this movie was filmed in New York City and Toronto? Those are my 2 favourite cities.

Another movie that I love to watch is The Holiday starring Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet , Jack Black and Eli Wallach, another love story that takes place over the holidays.

What other movies do you like to watch over the holidays?

While growing up we would always watch White Christmas. My sister and I would sing along with Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellan while they did their sister act. I would always get choked up at the end when it started to snow and the whole cast sang White Christmas.

Another less known classic holiday movie is the Bishop’s Wife, starring Loretta Young and Cary Grant who plays an angel who was sent to help her find her way.

Whether you enjoy Home Alone and Christmas Vacation or you are moved by old classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, it is a great way to spend quality time with family.

I have been planning menus for the holiday dinners and found this interesting take on roasted carrots and parsnips. It will make a delicious side dish with some braised short ribs for one of our family dinners.

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Roasted Heirloom Carrot and Parsnip Salad
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
3 heirloom carrots, peeled and quartered
3 parsnips, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp. oil
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. honey
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
½ cup bocconcini cheese, sliced into ¼ inch slices
½ cup roasted hazelnuts, halved

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the carrots and parsnips in a baking dish. In a small bowl combine the oil, cumin and honey and pour half of the mixture over the carrots and parsnips.
Cover and cook for 15 minutes, then uncover and cook until the vegetable are tender, 10-15 minutes.
Place the vegetables on serving plates or on a serving platter. Sprinkle with cilantro and hazelnuts and bocconcini cheese. Drizzle the remaining honey mixture over the plate and serve.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay’s Fast, Fresh and Simple Cookbook

Putting on the dog with Lemon-Glazed Candied-Ginger Cookies

My life lately, has been going to the dogs….. and cats…and bunnies!

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I spent much of the fall launching my new pet photography business Pawsome Pix. www.pawsomepix.com

The interesting thing about shooting pet portraits is having fun with the pets and owners while you shoot. Sometime is feels like chaos while you are getting great shots in the field. In the studio it is much more controlled and calm.

My plan is to run the food and lifestyle photography and the pet photography as separate businesses. That way I can really focus on each and market each in a different way.

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No matter what I am shooting, it is a great way to spend a day. They say you should work at something you love so it never feels like work. I am so fortunate that I feel that way about photographing food, people and now, pets.

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I love getting to know each animal so I can help them to relax. This allows me to capture their unique personalities. That is the great thing about photographing pets and children; they all are so interesting and fun to hang out with.

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Now that my website and Facebook pages are launched I can get back to preparing for the coming holiday season.

I know the holidays are coming soon when I start to get that itch to bake holiday cookies. Each year, I pour over my cookbooks to find something new and interesting to bake for my family. I found this recipe in a Martha Stewart Cookies magazine that I bought in 2011.

The cookies have a nice blend of flavours with the sweetness of the honey and the freshness of the lemon. They are definitely worth trying.

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Lemon-Glazed Candied-Ginger Cookies

Makes 6 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Salt
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger
1 large egg
2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. honey
1/3 cup water

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Directions:

Sift flour, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add ginger, and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. Add flour mixture, and then beat on medium-low speed until dough just comes together.

Shape dough into two 1-inch-thick disks. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out 1 disk on a lightly floured surface to inch thickness, and cut out 2-inch circles. Place the rounds 1/2 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roll out and cut scraps. Refrigerate rounds for 10 minutes.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are set and edges are light gold, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer parchment with cookies to wire racks. Let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. (Cookies can be stored for up to 3 days.)

Whisk confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and juice, honey, water, and a pinch of salt in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cookies. Let stand until glaze is set, at least 20 minutes. (Glazed cookies can be stored overnight.)

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Recipe from Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies- 2011

 

Asparagus Vichyssoise Soup to Warm Your Heart

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For those of you who live in warm climates, I am envious. Canada and the Northeast U.S. has been pummeled with snow for the past few days. Our poor neighbours south of the border in Buffalo, NY had 4 feet of snow fall on them. Yes, you read that correctly, that was 4 feet not 4 inches. It is only November and I am already dreaming of flying to warmer climates. I often wish I could live in Canada during our warm season and New Zealand during theirs. It would be fun to switch hemispheres every 6 months.

Even with the cold, I am starting to get excited about the holidays! My grandson is in kindergarten and has his first school concert next month. The holidays are so much more fun when you see them through the eyes of a child. They still believe in the magic of the season. They believe that if they wish for something, it will come true.

In the spirit of the season I have 3 wishes:

I wish that we could truly have peace on earth.
I wish that those who are less fortunate are able to find warmth and food this winter.
I wish that we could each take time out from our day to do something good for someone else.

If you could have 3 wishes what would they be? If you could help someone this holiday season, what would you do?

To warm up from the weather outside, I made a wonderful version of my favourite soup, Vichyssoise. This is Yotam Ottolenghi’s version from his cookbook called Plenty which adds asparagus for even more dimension. Once you taste this version you may not go back to the original.

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Asparagus Vichyssoise Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 leeks
1 pound asparagus
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 ½ tbsp. butter
2 ½ cups organic vegetable stock
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp. heavy cream
6 tbsp. Greek yogurt
Grated zest of ½ lemon

Directions:
Peel the potato and dice, roughly. Chop off and discard the green of the leeks, cut them in half lengthways, wash and slice. Cut off and discard the woody base of the asparagus, then cut into ¾ inch pieces; keep the tips separate. Reserve a few whole spears.
In a big pan, sauté all the vegetables, other than the asparagus tips in butter for four minutes, taking care they don’t colour. Add stock, sugar and a little seasoning, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, lid on, for 40 minutes. Add the asparagus tips and cook for and additional 10 minutes.
Once done puree the soup in a blender until smooth, fold in the cream and half the yogurt, leave to cool to room temperature, then chill. While it’s cooling, bring a pot of water to the boil, blanch the reserved asparagus spears for 30 seconds, drain.
To serve, pour the chilled soup into bowls, add a dollop of yogurt and swirl with the tip of a skewer. Place some blanched asparagus pieces in the centre of the soup and garnish with lemon zest.

Recipe from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Cookin up Some Slow Cooker Love and Beef Stew

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What a great week this has been! I was published in Resource Magazine’s Fall 2014 edition in an article that my friend, Skip Cohen, wrote about me. If you get a chance to read that edition you might enjoy it. The theme for the Fall 2014 edition is food photography. In addition to working on that article, I have been building up my lifestyle portfolio and shooting regularly. I am really grateful that I get to spend time doing something that I love; photography.

I don’t know about you, but another thing that makes me happy is cooking up some comfort food on a cold day. Sometimes I am like a big old bear. As soon as the weather turns cold, I a find myself craving old favourites like stew, chili, or homemade pasta. You would think I am preparing for a long winter of hibernation. With the skating season just beginning I will not be hibernating, but out getting my exercise doing something else that I love. Life is good!

While you are out and about preparing for the holidays, take some time to stop and enjoy a meal with your loved ones. We all get so busy that we lose sight of those around us but those simple times together are the moments that they will remember for years to come.

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

3lb.stewing beef
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 yellow waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
2 parsnips, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

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Directions:

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker. Add the Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onion, garlic, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf.

Whisk together the beef broth, wine, tomato paste and Worchestershire sauce. Stir the wet mixture into the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours, until beef is tender and vegetables are cooked through. Skim off fat.

Whisk flour in 1/4 cup water until smooth, stir into the slow cooker. Turn the heat to high, cover and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove Bay leaf and thyme sprigs and serve.

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Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Icing

 

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“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”-George Eliot

It’s that time of year again; time for pumpkin patches, enjoying the rich fall colours, planning for Halloween and celebrating Thanksgiving.

Autumn is my favourite time of year! I love the rich hues that paint the trees across the city and parks. I love the crisp breeze that rushes through my hair as a walk about the city. I love the beautiful sweaters and scarves that grace the shop windows. I love the excitement of children as they play among the fallen leaves.

Most of all I love the warm feeling of snuggling up with some warm apple cider and a good book.

Fall Colours-Algonquin Park

We celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving over 2 weekends so that more people were able to come. It is difficult to get everyone together at one time since many of our friends and family members live out of town.

When preparing a Thanksgiving meal, I tend to break with the usual tradition of roasting a turkey with all of the trimmings by tasting new recipes with my family. This year we enjoyed pork tenderloins with a white wine tarragon sauce for the first celebration and a leg of lamb roasted with rosemary and garlic for the second. Everyone pitched in a brought something toward the meal so it was a true group effort. I love spending time with family over the holidays.

Instead of baking the traditional pumpkin or sweet potato pie I baked a pumpkin cake with brown butter icing sprinkled with candied pecans. The cake is packed with flavour and the icing is rich and buttery; a perfect match to the sweetness of the candied pecans.

It could be baked for any occasion, but I thought pumpkin was an nice autumn treat for us to enjoy.

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“When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people.”
Jens Stoltenberg

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Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Makes 12 to 16 servings

Pumpkin Pecan Cake

Ingredients:

½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups (310 mL) packed, light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) fresh or canned pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
1½ cups (375 mL) unbleached cake and pastry flour
½ cup (125 mL) ground toasted pecans
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
¼ tsp (1 mL) baking powder
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) each ground ginger, cinnamon and allspice
1 tsp (5 mL) orange zest
½ cup (125 mL) buttermilk
2 cups (500 mL) chopped candied pecans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Grease sides of two 9-inch (1.5-L) round metal cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk fl our, ground pecans, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and orange zest. Stir into butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of wet. Scrape into pans; smooth.

Bake in the centre of oven until a cake tester comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks; peel off paper. Invert; let cool.

To assemble the cake, brush any crumbs from cake layers. Cut each in half horizontally. Place 1 layer, cut-side up on cake plate. Spread with about ¾ cup (175 mL) of the icing. Sprinkle evenly with ½ cup (125 mL) of the candied pecans. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining layer, cut-side down. Spread entire cake with a scant cup of the icing to mask. Refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes. Spread cake with remaining icing and decorate with remaining pecans.

Brown Butter Icing

Ingredients:

½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
8 oz (250 g) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup (60 mL) brown sugar
1¼ cup (310 mL) confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

For icing, in a large heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let stand until the little bits sink to the bottom, about 5 minutes. Transfer to freezer and chill until firm, about 15 minutes. Scrape the top of the butter from the bits at the bottom; discard bits.

Transfer brown butter to bowl with the cream cheese and brown sugar. With an electric mixer beat until the brown sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until incorporated and fluff y, 1 to 2 minutes.

Recipe from Food and Drink Magazine-Autumn 2011 by Nicole Youngpumpkin-6332