Tomato Thai Hummous? Humus? Humous? Delicious!

>> Friday, 19 February 2010

Awwww snap. Hummous, humus, hummus, humous, no matter how you spell it (and there are tons of various ways), this chick pea mashup is delicious!

Perfect for afternoons spent contemplating calling that guy you've really wanted to ask out, or watching the olympics (that ski-cross sport looks insane!) or just doing some catching up on your reading. Okay, well that's what I found it perfect for...but I know you'll find lots of other times to enjoy it too!

You heard it right, today it's all about the tomato thai hummous.

The simple and beautiful thing about hummous is that as long as you have some chick peas, you can make a really fast spread for sandwiches or as a dip for veggies or toasted pita bread. The perfect snack at any point during the day!
Traditionally hummous has tahini (a sesame seed paste) in it, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic... but this is the beauty of this recipe as you can add or omit as you like.

No really, you can add anything you'd like...from plain yogurt to make it creamier to other spices, make it saltier or spicer. The only reallyy key ingredients are the chick peas and the garlic. (It's a good thing I'm calling this guy and not meeting face to face!)
No harm, no foul. This is truly a foolproof recipe, I promise you, but everything is to taste, so in regards to spices add a little if you are unsure and gradually add more until you are comfortable with the taste.

Now go forth and blend...and try not to breathe on anyone who isn't sharing with you. ;)

Tomato Thai Hummous
  • 1 can drained chick peas (save some of the water in case the mix is too thick for your taste)
  • 6-7 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (I substituted the chick pea water for this)
  • 1 tbsp Thai seasoning blend (I used McCormicks)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • generous pinch of salt
  • (You can also add one small red chopped and seeded chili for some extra spice)

  1. Toss is all in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth and creamy.
  2. Chill for a couple of hours to let all the flavours blend, but you can enjoy right away if you choose.
  3. Serve with cut up veggies or wedges of toasted pita bread.

Now go call that know you wanna.


Purple Carrots, Macarons & The St. Lawrence Market

>> Monday, 15 February 2010

Last weekend I hit the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto with my friend Heather. I was on a mission for a few items...namely macarons from
Lemon Tree Patisserie (which I had read about over at, some yummy bread and maybe keep an eye out for some fun coloured vegetables and some other random goodies that might find their way into my hungry hands!

It never disappoints and it's clearly a place I could spend a long time at! The next time I will certainly get some more goodies, but for now...we're talking about purple carrots and macarons!

According to
Carrot, multi-coloured carrots were actually the norm until Dutch growers cultivated only the orange variety. I really enjoyed the golden yellow ones, they were a little bit sweeter than the orange ones and definitely not as woody as the purple ones.

Because I'm generally not a fan of cooked carrots, I still have one purple carrot left. I think it's too woody to eat raw...does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do with one purple carrot??

Heather in the last year has been a vegan and we found a little cafe with lots of vegan/raw goodies, including a muffin which was 'interesting' according to both Heather and myself. Essentially it was eating a warm little ball of grain and grated carrots.

I could never be vegan.

I was all about the eggs and refined sugar as I tracked down Lemon Tree Patisserie for macarons.

Lots of food bloggers have been speaking about macarons lately (and over the past couple of years) and although I was won over by the elegant male servers in pinstripe suits and white gloves in Laduree while in Paris, I wasn't terribly impressed by the macarons (which I think was entirely my fault as I waited HOURS to eat them).

I think I had let my macarons get a little too warm and the centres actually soaked into the meringue part! Eeps. Not to mention that I did choose some of the more 'interesting' flavours (Muget ~ Lily of the Valley and Cassis Violet ~ Violet Blackcurrant) rather than go for the simple and more common flavours.

This past weekend, I had to purchase some macarons at the market and
Lemon Tree Patisserie's flavours were very interesting!

Mango, Chocolate Banana & Lavender.

Lavender was absolutely my favourite. The mango was pretty tasty too. However, I was a little disappointed at the lack of chocolate flavour of the chocolate banana. That said, Kelly uses all natural ingredients and that is impressive.

The meringues were crunchy on the outside and terrifically chewy on the inside and the fillings were deliciously thick and buttery. Mmmmmm..buttery. I know that Lemon Tree is at the market every Saturday morning, so be sure to check it out!

Read about making macarons and all the terrific flavours at these wonderful blogs!

Bakerella ~ Macarons!
Mad Baker ~
David Lebovitz ~
Making French Macarons: Instructions & Recipes
Ms. Adventures in Italy ~
Laduree Macarons & Finding the Perfect Macaron Recipe

Other yummy things I purchased at the market were some creamy red beet humus from Uncle George's Sprouts and some artisanal garlic bread from StoneMill.

Next time, I'll take more money..and more photos! :)



Restaurant Review:: Pizzeria Libretto (Toronto)

>> Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Pizzeria Libretto
221 Ossington Ave
Toronto, ON

Daily 12-11
Sundays 11-4

I was supposed to be there at 1:30pm to meet up with Toronto area bloggers Ginger & Asian Pear. My friend Heather and I arrived there at 2:10 pm. Pizzeria Libretto is one helluva walk/subway/streetcar ride away...from everything except Little Portugal.

Pizzeria Libretto's big draw is that they claim to the only Naples style pizza in Toronto. What this means is that it follows a strict set of guidelines set out by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association as set out by the Italian Government and the European Union. Yes, the EU is working hard at preserving culinary heritage and that is pretty cool. (How do I get a job in that department?)

Admittedly, I had checked out their website the night before, so I knew quite a bit about their pizza and their wood burning oven that it's cooked in (90 seconds at 900 degrees!) and their environmental policies..which I have to say are pretty impressive. I like the fact that they try to use local ingredients (albeit a tougher thing to do in Canadian winters) whenever possible.

Immediately being greeted by a gorgeous man at the entrance was definitely a bonus, if not a little awkward as I was rather flustered at being so late and thrown off by his attentiveness and the fact that I was still adjusting to the darker interior. (Okay, it was his good looks...did I mention he was gorgeous?) He invited me to head into the restaurant and search for the rest of my party. I have never met the other girls face to face, but I knew them when I entered the small, but cozy seating area. It was pretty busy and I would have loved to head closer to the back to catch a view of the oven itself, I get a little intimidated by a. good looking men and b. looking lost to said handsome men. Everyone seemed to be busy chatting,watching tv, running in and out of the kitchen.

Being a bit of an amateur food photographer, I knew some things were going to be tough. I had on the wrong lens for the distance at which we were sitting and the lighting left a lot to be desired (although absolutely perfect for dates!)..but let's be honest, that's not a problem for most people..just for my camera :)

Heather and I ordered just after Ginger and Asian Pear, I felt a bit rushed looking over the menu, but that was entirely our fault for being I just randomly picked something as the waiter hovered about saying if we ordered quickly, our food should come at the same time. Heather over the past year has switched it up from being vegetarian to vegan (So sorry Heather!!) so her order was a bit tougher, only garlic and tomatoes. I ordered the salami pizza ($16) which came with salami, mozzarella & tomato topping as well as roasted red peppers and very sparse basil leaves (ie. 3). Our pizzas came would assume so as they only spend 90 seconds in the oven!

I was a little surprised at the VERY hard time I had cutting the pizza! So much so, that I abandonned the entire crust and only ate the inside. Even that was pretty rough and seemed to take me forever. It made the dining experience kind of frustrating actually, like I had been given the dullest knife in the place. The taste of the pizza was so-so and the ingredients were fresh although very sparse. I had forgotten there were roasted red peppers even on my pizza until I saw maybe 4 thinly sliced pieces at the direct centre of the pie.

To be brutally honest, the pizza I made the other week had more taste and flavour than Pizzeria Libretto's Salami pizza.

I really wanted to love this place, I did. Hot waiters, good looking foodie people chatting and eating fast pizza, environmentally friendly business operations and fresh ingredients. Seriously. What was not to love? While I appreciate that this is a different 'style and technique' of creating pizza in Toronto, I can't help but feel that they are missing something. Hey, at least the company was good! :)

I think maybe if I went back a second time (I probably won't), I'd have to check out their other menu offerings (Or at least convince one of the waiters to peruse the menu with me a bit longer!) as I've heard the bruschetta is pretty good.

Feel free to check out other diner's photos of Pizzeria Libretto on Flickr here.


The Post Where I Talk About Chocolate & Mitch Hedberg

>> Friday, 5 February 2010

I saw this wino, he was eating grapes. I was like, "Dude, you have to wait."
~ Mitch Hedberg (1968-2005)

Remember that post where I told you that I truly believed that coffee and wine made everything better? Well, I clearly had a momentary lapse of insanity, because chocolate should have most definitely made it to the same list!

I think if I was to throw a dinner party, I would play Iron Chef (against myself and with more than an hour to spare) and select one item on which I'd base my entire menu. Regardless of the 'mystery item', I would most definitely include coffee, chocolate and wine in the event. That is just a given...and a heads up if I ever do host a dinner party in the near future.

Grapes were on sale this week at the local grocers....and I was curious as to how many grape 'recipes' exist out there. There were quite a few, but as soon as I saw Michel Richard's White Chocolate Grapes, I was hooked. Chocolate AND grapes. I'm in!

The first time I made these, I scoured the house for a bag of white Chippits. Ummm..yeah, have you ever seen a bloom on white chocolate before? They were SO far gone, that I improvised.

My Definition of Improvise:: A subtle and acceptable form of cheating

I pulled the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips from the cupboard and used those instead.
Who would ever know that they were 'supposed' to be covered in white chocolate according to the recipe? To tell you the truth, I liked both the white chocolate and the semi-sweet I say, make them both and see which you prefer. (Consensus in the house was that the white chocolate was better.)

There are a few ways to enjoy these, but the most entertaining way to be honest was listening to comedian Mitch Hedberg on my iPod and lounging on the couch. Mitch Hedberg just had this way of delivering a joke (generally all one-liners) that was dry, witty and made you think. He was certainly not on this earth long enough. Check him out on YouTube and have a giggle.

Now onto the recipe....

Michel Richard's White Chocolate Grapes

  • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped (2 large Lindt white chocolate bars)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound red or green grapes, cleaned & off the stem (dry well)
  • 2 tbsp of icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
  1. Wash and dry the grapes and remove from the stem and put them in a bowl
  2. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, add the oil and the chopped up chocolate (in the image above I only used 1 bar of Lindt white chocolate, but I should have used 2 or even 3 for a more even coverage.
  3. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment.
  4. Put the bowl in the microwave and check on it every 20-30 seconds until the chocolate is melted.
  5. Stir until smooth and let cool briefly.
  6. Pour the chocolate over the grapes in the first bowl and fold (a spatula works best) so that every grape is coated.
  7. You can sift the icing sugar over the grapes until they are separated (I skipped this altogether, but would have done so if it was a for a fancy party)
  8. Spread the grapes out on the baking sheet and refrigerate.

(If you click on the link under the recipe title, it will take you directly to this recipe on the Food & Wine website, which will also provide you with an orange curd meant for dipping your grapes into. I was all about chocolate and sugar and how quick I could enjoy them rather than thinking about curd on this day...but maybe one of these days I'll try it!)


Pizza Love

>> Monday, 1 February 2010

Did you have pizza this weekend?
Come on...'fess up! You come home, you are tired, you are hungry, there's a great movie you've been waiting to watch (or an entire season of Dexter to catch up on) and all you want to do is climb into some jammies, dive under a blanket and order in some pizza.

I don't blame you at all. In fact, I'm going to join you..move over and share that blanket please!
I think though, that if I am convincing enough (or charming enough at least), I can sway you to make pizza with me instead!

I know what you are thinking...why should I make pizza when I can buy a perfectly great one from the local delivery place and not have to touch anything in the kitchen? But I'll tell you what, this pizza is not only saving your hard earned cash (although, you are more than welcome to go nuts with fantastic toppings), but is healthier and can be made even faster than restaurant pizza. It's true I tell you!

The key thing to do is to stop and pick up some fresh dough (not frozen) from your local grocer (Yeah, I know. This will be the hardest part, so make a note of it earlier in the day...besides, you can have it sit in your fridge for a few days if you change your mind!). Most grocery stores these days have pizza dough at the ready. Just ask one of the employees and they'll be able to help out! Once you get to the premade dough, you have more choices to make..white, wholewheat, multigrain and sometimes even other savoury 'artisan' doughs! (For example, our local grocery store makes garlic & rosemary dough as well as roasted red pepper & basil dough. Yum!)

(I'm a bit partial to the garlic one, so I tend to purchase this I'm in the mood to make pizza...and hello, it's only $2.29 CDN!)

Come, let me show you how we're going to do this.
We're gonna make a white pizza. White pizza simply means without tomato sauce.
Without tomato sauce, you really need to use ingredients that will shine and be very flavourful.

The combinations really are endless at this point, but I will tell you that tomato and feta pizza is perhaps one of the most delicious combos you can get...and simple!

  1. Cut up all the ingredients you are going to use on your pizza and tidy up as you go (I promise, it'll only be a knife and a cutting board! Pretty simple!)
  2. Once that is done, spread your dough out on a well oiled pan..or use a pizza stone (these really are a timesaver and if you have pizza on a regular basis, you need one) You can either spread out the pizza to fit the pan or you can create little mini heart pizzas like I did here which are great if you are prepping for a romantic evening, sending them off to school with your little ones, or are a bit of a hopeless romantic like I am. :)
  3. Once the dough is spread out, put a decent lug of olive oil on top of the dough and rub in with your fingers. (This will help keep the dough moist) Then let it rise for about half an hour.
  4. After the dough has risen, flatten it again and layer your ingredients. I used ripe tomatoes, cubes of feta, a sprinkling of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper on top.
  5. Set your oven to about 500F (generally premade dough has directions on the'll want to follow these for the best result) and place your pizza on the medium rack. Generally you are going to have this in the oven for about 15 minutes. (Again, if there are directions on the bag, be sure to follow them)
  6. Remove from the oven and serve with your own dipping sauce! I like a zesty Italian or Greek salad dressing with this.

Simple, affordable and kinda romantic for those nights in! :)


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