Longo's 'The Loft' Cooking Demonstrations

>> Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Have you ever had the experience of signing up for a class/lessons/demonstration of anything and being slightly anxious albeit excited about going?

What to wear, what to bring, who will be there?
I think that's a pretty normal occurance for most people and I definitely get a bit nervous walking into a room full of people that I have never met before..which is certainly what was about to transpire as I climbed the stair's to 'The Loft'.

The Loft, based in Longo's grocery store is a self-contained kitchen set above the shop floor complete with a fully functioning demonstration kitchen (video screens for you to see what is happening on the counters and a giant mirror above the stovetop) and large seating area.

I opened the doors and entered the area and was welcomed by host (Nicol Mentis) for the evening, the chef (Chef Robert) and two other 'students'. So far, everyone was pleasantly chatting and I got myself settled to join in.

~Chef Robert & the view of the stove from the mirror above the table~

I was fortunate to sit next to Mac, who talked to me about the other Loft classes her & her husband had taken. She also mentioned that they were the host's inlaws! It definitely says something about your relationship with your inlaws when they come to support your classes...they clearly know a good thing when they taste it!

I enjoyed chatting with them immensely and they definitely made me feel more relaxed and welcome. I was very ready to enjoy the evening and some other people came in who also knew Nicol. It made for a very cozy and relaxed first time.

You may recall that I made
Canadian Maple Mousse a little while ago, well this recipe was featured in the same Longo's Experience magazine as the recipes that we enjoyed in the demonstration. (And with MUCH less ease than me cooking it up myself!)

Timing has always been my problem with preparing a meal, and Chef Robert made everything look so much easier and pretty freeform, which is always great! He spoke about timing and proper techniques of cooking and when to add certain ingredients, all the while, the kitchen filled up with delicious aromas that seriously made me wish I had remembered to eat lunch!

~Scallops & Shrimp in Pernod Cream Sauce~

Soon we were eating, and all the questions fell by the wayside as we devoured everything...it was all so delicious and fresh and so very unlike anything I would even attempt at home, but it was great to see how easy it would be to do!

~Rack of Lamb with Curry Sauce on a bed of Saffron Rice and Cumin Scented Chickpeas~

I have to say that my experience at the Longo's Loft was both fun and educational.I learned a lot of little tips and tricks and ate a fantastically gourmet meal that would cost you an arm and a leg in a fancy restaurant.

The host, Nicol was incredibly helpful and threw out questions and brought around the spices being used for everyone to smell and examine, helped tidy up and in general pull everything together so it was easy for both the Chef and us to gel. Chef Robert was great with answering any questions and spoke about everything from the restaurant industry in general to the best way to wash herbs, cook rice and french your rack of lamb..lots and lots of useful tips!
It seems to me that the Loft classes would be a terrific date night or get together with your foodie friends or a great gift to give!

~Dessert: Bread Pudding with dried cranberries in a Jack Daniel's sauce~

I am definitely signing up for a couple more in April, so if anyone wants to come along, please let me know!


Raw Food Movement :: Desserts

>> Sunday, 21 March 2010

It's funny, but as I'm writing this, I'm partially watching a zombie movie called Dead Snow about Norwegian medical students that stumble upon Nazi zombies while on a ski vacation. I cannot make this stuff up! Also, definitely one of the goriest movies I've possibly ever seen. Now would be a good time to tell you about the raw vegan nanaimo bar I tried.

I'm doing this for you Heather.*LOL*
I made a joke about becoming a 'rawist' (a person who avoids any foods that have been cooked, heated or processed, preferring to consume only raw organic fruit, nuts and vegetables and grain.) after Heather told me she switched from vegetarian to vegan during our excursion at the St. Lawrence Market.

I'm impressed by the commitment this takes because I don't think there is ANY way I could do it personally. Especially because I love dairy, eggs, honey! I can imagine that it's equally hard to eat anything but a salad anywhere you go (but that is my limited exposure I'm sure) but I'll bug Heather about it to find more information.
Soooo...in order to try something out from the raw food movement, I decided to try a raw vegan nanaimo bar from our local health food grocery store.

Although I don't have the recipe for this exact, I do believe it is VERY similar to this recipe.
Definitely more expensive than making the regular version *ingredients would be crazy expensive* and 3" x 5" bar cost me $6.99 CDN.

Tastewise, it wasn't as sweet as I was expecting, nor was it as 'faux' as I thought it might be.
The texture though (in the middle layer) was definitely not as firm as I would have liked, but I did like the texture and consistency of the bottom layer which although was a little too moist and crumbly, did taste like the real deal.

All in all, I guess if you couldn't/wouldn't have the real thing, then this would be a great treat for your rawist, vegan friends and in terms of more conscious eating, then this is something to consider.

Not to worry, the next posting will be filled with fat and sugar and salt and much less zombie. *teasing grins*


Eating More Naturally

>> Saturday, 13 March 2010

I've been trying to eat more 'naturally' lately. Using less processed foods and more 'whole foods'. Originally it was my goal to bake something for this blog using sprouted grains....and it still is, but I don't know when. Soooooo, instead I will tell you everything I've learned about sprouted grains.

It all started when I read the Essential Eating:
Sprouted Baking Cookbook by Janie Quinn.

I was intrigued because the tag line read: with whole grain flours that digest as vegetables.


How is that even possible I thought to myself (immediately set out on
finding answers on the internet) and OMG, what on earth would it taste like?? *remembering mine & Heather's experience at the St. Lawrence Market*

Flipping through the book, I saw a recipe for a cherry tart which looked right up my alley! Well, once into the book, I realised it was more or less a promo tool into buying THEIR flour. Which is fine...I can adapt and use other flour..well, it was due back to the library and I never wrote the recipe down. *doh* Which means, I need to take it out from the library again because I think I will attempt it this summer.

But I digress, we were talking about healthy eating you and I. Now I am not talking about special occassion eating (or "Hurray, it's Tuesday!" eating..of which I am quite susceptible) but about general choices throughout the week for overall better health.

I am making the start with swapping out my white bread (I detest whole wheat bread. No reason why except that I hate the taste and yet I ADORE anything with lots of seeds/nuts in it as long as there is more 'grain' than whole wheat) for sprouted grain bread.

So a little bit about sprouted grain bread..
here is what StoneMill Bakery has to say about sprouted grains.

I am in the process of trying out a bunch of different brands of sprouted grain breads. Last week I tried StoneMill's Sprouted Grains: 3 Grains & Oatmeal and it was delicious! However, when I looked for it at the store again, it wasn't available. So I headed to the freezer section for something made ONLY with sprouted grains and no flour and found Silver Hills brand.

Both companies are Canadian and are very 'green' thinking and use best environmental practices and are interested in sustainability.
StoneMill is Ontario-based and Silver Hills is located in British Columbia.

So this week I've been enjoying Silver Hill's 'The Big 16'..which is made up of 16 (!!) types of sprouted grains! In fact, here's the complete ingredient list:

Organic whole sprouted wheat*
organic evaporated cane juice*
vital wheat gluten
organic oat flake topping*
organic flax seeds*
sea salt
organic sunflower seeds*
organic millet*
organic whole sprouted triticale*
organic whole sprouted rye*
organic whole sprouted barley*
organic buckwheat*
organic whole corn*
citric acid
organic whole brown rice*
organic whole sprouted spelt*
organic whole sprouted kamut® khorasan wheat*
organic sesame seeds*
organic whole amaranth*
organic whole quinoa*

*Certified Organic
Pretty impressive...and pretty tasty! So far, this healthy living thing doesn't seem so dire.

Besides, I'll definitely still enjoy making sweet treats, I'll just have to give more of them away.


Canadian Maple Mousse

>> Monday, 8 March 2010

Can you believe I am unable to convince anyone to join me on a trip to the Sugar Bush for the annual 'sugaring off'?

It's true. My friends are weird.

Okay, it could be that this is something that reeks of elementary school trips, but I am still romanced with the idea of loving winter while it is still here, and maple syrup festivals are definitely one way to get out there and enjoy the season.

I'm going with the notion that my friends are weird. ;)

Regardless, I may just have to go by myself. I'm cool with that and in order to feel better about going by myself, I made this Canadian Maple Mousse before the Olympic gold medal men's hockey game. Yep...everything tastes a little sweeter with maple, even 14 gold medals! ;)

But whew, talk about exhausting!

But, I am back in the swing of things...trying new products (new to me anyway) that I hope to introduce on this blog and gathering up a variety of recipes that I hope to feed you all with!

Speaking of recipes, I scoured my local Value Village this past weekend and picked up the River Cafe Cookbook for only $2.99. I was pretty impressed with myself as the recipes in it look really seasonal for summer and very fresh..not to mention that the authors Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers were in fact one of Jamie Oliver's first employers!!!
Total score!

I digress...back to the sweet stuff.

Normally in our house, we would not even fathom the idea of using the maple syrup in cans (preferring a MUCH darker version that we buy from our 'syrup supplier' who bootlegs us syrup in old whiskey bottles), but this can was sooo pretty and we are on the verge of a syrup delivery..so I picked up this can.

Please note that this recipe is not to be made with faux maple syrup or maple flavoured syrups..only the real deal will do.

candied almonds

hot maple syrup & egg yolks

Canadian Maple Mousse
(adapted from Longo's Experience Magazine : spring 2010)

  • 1/2 cup nuts (pecan is recommended, but I used almonds and loved them!)
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup (IMPORTANT: No maple flavoured syrup)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 pkg (7g) of unflavoured gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  1. Bring maple syrup & almonds to a boil.
  2. Strain nuts from the syrup and place on parchment lined baking sheet
  3. Put the baking sheet into the oven set at 350F for approx 8-10 minutes.
  4. When time is up, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  5. While the nuts are in the oven, in a larger bowl whisk egg yolks and pour in the hot maple syrup until well mixed.
  6. Remove 1/4 cup of whipping cream and sprinkle it with gelatin. Heat this in a microwave for 45 seconds and stir to dissolve gelatin completely.
  7. Whisk this gelatin/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
  8. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour until the mixture resembles consistency of egg whites.
  9. Whip the remaining cream and stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture.
  10. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  11. Remove from the fridge when ready to serve and put into parfait glasses and top with the mapled nuts.

Now get out there and enjoy the rest of whatever weather you may be having! :)



>> Wednesday, 3 March 2010

I'm the type of gal that marketing people love...because packaging jumps off the shelf at me.
So, it's no surprise that while I was out shopping, I came across this package in the fruit section.

Okay, so honestly, my first thought was 'Holy crap, what a waste of packaging material for APPLES! Ridiculous.'

Then I took a closer look...

It wasn't an Apple...it was a Grapple. (pronounced Grape -L)

Oh yeah...an apple that tastes like a grape! Sooooooo bizarre!
Anyway, they priced out at 4 for $4.99, but for something as unusual as this (not to mention the joke potential) it was worth it.

The texture is like an apple, but you can read the process here as to how they get that concord grape flavour in these Fuji or Washington Extra Fancy Gala apples.

I just wonder how much foods like this will confuse kids...I mean, they already have no recollections as to what vinyl records are!


Daydreaming About Housewares & Sushi

>> Monday, 1 March 2010

Besides watching the Olympics this weekend, I spent a lot of substantial time daydreaming about owning the cutest, most fabulous house or cottage. I spent far too much time thinking about home bars and accent pillows, beautiful kitchen appliances, chandeliers and natural lighting.

The ironic thing is that I don't feel guilty about it at all!
I feel inspired, fresh and motivated!
Soooooo motivated that I've signed up for a cooking demonstration on how to make sushi!

Okay, so I've made sushi before...and trust me, it wasn't pretty.
It tasted pretty good, but the california rolls turned out to be almost as big as cookies and were trying very hard to break away from the nori wrappers and scatter themselves over the plate.
Not very pretty at all.

This time when I make sushi, things will be very different. Not only will my sushi taste great *fingers crossed*, but it's also going to look great on a plate!

CSN has graciously offered me a couple of items from their wide ranging variety of products & brands in their 200+ stores to review and due to my upcoming sushi class, I've decided that reviewing sushi items is definitely the most appropriate! CSN is quite the setup...they have literally everything from bar stools to chandeliers to awesome modern home accents. Pretty much everything I was daydreaming about all weekend!

Alongside all the info I'll be giving you about making sushi, the demonstration and the photos (of which there will be lots), I'll also be reviewing these two items in the upcoming month and letting you know what I thought about them and CSN.

Alessi LilyBird Soy Sauce Container by Stefano Giovannoni

The Alessi Lily Bird Soy Sauce container..how cute is this? (And will hopefully stop me from dripping soy sauce all over the counter) This container is actually part of a collaboration between the National Museum of Taiwan and Alessi designer & architect Giovannoni.

Totally Bamboo Sushi Plate

I'll also be reviewing the Totally Bamboo Sushi Plate which is totally awesome, ecologically responsible, fair trade friendly and both lightweight AND durable.

No doubt that CSN will be making my sushi making a lot prettier...at least on a plate!


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