5:23 pm - Sat, Oct 18, 2014
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Delicious Food Show 2014

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Montreal Chef Chuck Hughes 

Yesterday was an action packed day, at The Delicious Food Show held in Toronto.  The day started at 8:00 am with a tour of the show, a media conference and breakfast.

One of the events of the very busy show is an opportunity to have an exclusive cooking class and meal with top celebrity chefs.  Chef Chuck Hughes was there to greet us, show us the kitchen and talk about what he was going to teach in the class. He has two highly regarded restaurants in Montreal, Le Bremner and Garde Manger.  He is the absolutely nicest and most vibrant person.  He is always ready to talk to fans, pose for photos and has an unbelievable amount of energy and charisma.  

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Chef Chuck Hughes talking to the media

Chuck was enjoying talking to us so much that we started to run late and had to be pulled away from him to continue our tour of the show.

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Chef Ted Reader Canada’s Barbecue King

Next Chef Ted Reader was there to greet us and started pouring some beer for us.  

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Morning Tipple

We met with some of the vendors and then had our breakfast.  Breakfast was catered by Chef Rob Gentile, whose latest restaurant, Buca Yorkville, just opened in the Four Seasons Hotel.

His Italian restaurants are highly acclaimed.  When Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel tweeted that he was coming to Toronto and asked for recommendations, most of them were for Buca.

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Breakfast Buffet

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The Best Cannolis

In true Italian breakfast style, there were lots of pastries, served with top notch cappuccinos and coffee.

More exciting news for Rob Gentile is that Jamie Oliver is collaborating with him and opening Jamie Oliver’s first restaurant in Canada, Jamie’s Italian. It will be in Toronto, at the Yorkdale Mall, and with such a top notch chef as Gentile as the on-site person, good things should be happening.

Then came the media conference.

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Rob Gentile, Mario Batali, Tyler Florence, Chuck Hughes

It was announced that Food & Wine Magazine will be partnering with the Delicious Food Show in 2015, recognizing Toronto as a prime destination for travel.  

Chuck Hughes also spoke about how in the past five years Toronto has further developed as a restaurant city.  He said that multiculturalism is coming out more and being celebrated. 

Both Tyler Florence and Chuck Hughes ate at Parts and Labour the night before the show and highly recommended it. Mario Battali carrying a gift of several pounds of white truffles, ate at Buca with Rob Gentile.

More to follow on Mario Batali and Tyler Florence.

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5:08 pm - Wed, Oct 15, 2014
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Chef Vikram Vij - Culinary Showdown

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Chef Vikram Vij

Last night I was very lucky to be invited to one of the events leading up to the Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown, a major fundraiser held by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation was founded in 1986 to encourage awareness of the disease, find treatments, and help people with the cancer.  In the 28 years since the founding of the Foundation, breast cancer deaths have dropped by 40%.  The Foundation is dedicated to providing better treatments, better care post treatment, and of course looking for a cure.

One in nine women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer, 24,000 women a year in Canada. Breast cancer also strikes men.

The Fundraising Event

The Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown will be held on November 29, 2014.  

Five chefs, Lynn Crawford, Corbin Tomaszeski, Mark McEwan, Susur Lee, and Vikram Vij will lead their teams in a cooking showdown.

The top 50 fundraisers will get to participate in the showdown cooking for their team, attend the gala, and participate in the day long cooking school held by the chefs.

Several promotional events have been held for this event.  The National Post is one of the sponsors of this event, and I was invited because of my Gastropost activities.

It was a magical evening.

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Cocktail Snacks, Corks Restaurant, Longos

Held at the Corks Restaurant on top of the beautiful Longos, we were provided with endless amounts of food, top notch Canadian wines, beer and sparkling beverages.

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Longos Laird Avenue

Getting generous sponsors is one of the key elements to any successful fundraiser and the Culinary Showdown keeps getting new committed sponsors, such as Longos.   Kitchen Aid is a major sponsor and gave out some great prizes last night.  

The Culinary Showdown creates a positive experience for participants to interact with some of Canada’s top chefs, and as explained to us, the rock stars of the world are now chefs.

Our rock star for the evening was Chef Vikram Vij, whose boundless charisma lit up the room for us.  He gave us one of the best cooking lessons I have ever received. 

I will write about his cooking lesson in an upcoming post.

 

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1:48 pm - Tue, Oct 14, 2014
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Chef Victor Barry: Scones

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Chef Victor Barry

I’ve been busy covering the internationally famous chefs coming to the Delicious Food Show (DFS14) and now it is time to highlight one of Toronto’s best who will be there. Chef Victor Barry is the chef at Splendido Restaurant in Toronto. Splendido has been rated as one of Toronto’s top restaurants for years.

Last year Chef Barry opened up Fika Cafe, a Swedish inspired cafe located in Kensington Market, where many young chefs are now moving in and bringing in their own modern food businesses.

Fika is one such place, with its beautiful modern Scandinavian design, and simple yet high quality food.

You can go there for a coffee, a snack, or light dinner. Sandwiches, baked goodies and freshly made soups are available. The coffee is locally sourced.

I went with my husband this past summer, on a beautiful day, and we were able to have lunch on the deck in the backyard.  It was an oasis, in the heart of the bustling downtown core of the city.

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Avocado and Pickled Onion Sandwich With Asparagus Soup

The Asparagus Soup was chilled, it was one of the best I’ve ever had. 

Chef Barry is participating at the Delicious Food Show this weekend, as part of the onstage culinary showdown at Abbey’s Kitchen Stadium, hosted by Registered Dietitian and food media personality, Abbey Sharp.  

There are 8 top Toronto chefs participating in this event. Attendees at the DFS14 can taste dishes ($5) prepared by these chefs and vote for their favorites. The top four chefs will then compete on Sunday in front of a panel of celebrity judges in a Culinary Showdown.

This is Chef Victor Barry’s recipe for Raisin Scones from Fika Cafe.  I left out the raisins because some people I was serving them to don’t like raisins, even without them the scones received rave reviews.  The Swedish sugar sprinkled on top of the scones adds an interesting layer to the scones.

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Scones

Who do you want to see at the Delicious Food Show?

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11:33 am - Sun, Oct 12, 2014

Chef Dominique Ansel

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Chef Dominque Ansel Photo Courtesy Butter PR

Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel may not yet be a household name, his most famous pastry creation, the Cronut is.

His bakery Dominque Ansel Bakery opened in New York in 2011.  Since then, in a short period of time he has established himself as a major pastry trend setter with such treats as Milk and Cookie Shots, Magic Souffle, Frozen S’more, and of course the Cronut.

This young chef has already had an illustrious career, with a seven year stint at Paris’ venerable food emporium Fauchon, and then he moved to New York and worked for six years at Daniel Boulud’s Michelin starred restaurant Daniel.

The Cronut is a complex pastry which is a hybrid of a doughnut and a croissant.  People line up for hours, early in the morning to be able to purchase this delicacy.  Even last week Dominque Ansel posted on Twitter a photo of a line up of about 90 people stretching around the corner from his bakery.

Ansel has refused to commercially market the Cronut, keeping production down to a few hundred a day, made only in his bakery under his control.

He has a new cookbook “Dominque Ansel: The Secret Recipes”.  He released the recipe for homemade Cronuts on ABC, on Good Morning America. The recipe is rated as extremely difficult , and that is not an understatement.  It takes three days to make.  

Dominque Ansel will be at the Delicious Food Show on Sunday, October 19, where he will give a demonstration and will be signing his new book. 

By the way, if you do happen make some homemade Cronuts, let me know!

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10:00 am - Sat, Oct 11, 2014
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Mixed Mashed Vegetables

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Mixed Mashed Vegetables

The Thanksgiving holiday is on Monday in Canada.  

Most Canadians eat the traditional North American meal with turkey as the star, lots of vegetable side dishes and pumpkin pie for dessert.

Try mixing together your favorite boiled vegetables for something different.

I boiled a large pot of water and added to it: potato, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, and boiled them until soft.  I added the green peas at the end for two minutes.  I drained the vegetables, put them in a large bowl,  mashed them all up, added butter, a tablespoon or so of honey, a handful of chopped parsley; seasoned it with salt and pepper, and gently stirred it together.

Who says boiled vegetables are boring?

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10:17 am - Wed, Oct 8, 2014

Spinach and Cheese Bourekas

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Spinach and Cheese Bourekas

Tonight the holiday of Sukkot begins, one of the major holidays of the Jewish calendar.

This is a harvest festival, one of the most important ancient holidays of the Jewish year, when the Israelites would go to Jerusalem bringing their offerings to the Temple.  Jerusalem couldn’t accommodate the large influx of people, so each family made their own temporary huts that they lived in outside the city walls during the holiday.

Sukkot, although still an important holiday today does not have the same type of significance that it did in ancient times, because Jews can no longer bring offerings to the Temple and sacrifice animals.  Today observant Jews still construct huts and will eat in them, and sleep in them if the weather cooperates.

This holiday connects people with nature, showing the importance of the harvest.  At harvest time, you would know if the crops were good enough to provide enough food for the rest of the year, or if you would have problems.

The modern day version of the holiday is celebrated in North America as Thanksgiving.

There are no specific foods made for Sukkot, but many people like to make Bourekas. They are a hand held food, easy to eat sitting in a Sukkah (hut).

These Bourekas are made with spinach and cheese.  The recipe comes  from Leah Koenig at My Jewish Learning

Don’t worry if you can’t fold the Bourekas into a perfect triangle.  I certainly didn’t, here’s a good example of one that has absolutely no resemblance to a triangle but still tastes good:

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This labor intensive food tastes better than any commercial product you could buy.  If you have too many to eat at once, they freeze well.  

Try it, you’ll like it!

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3:25 pm - Tue, Oct 7, 2014

Lucinda Scala Quinn - Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

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Lucinda Scala Quinn

Lucinda Scala Quinn is a cookbook author and Senior Vice President, Executive Editorial Director, Food, of Martha Stewart Living.  Lucinda has also appeared on many of Martha Stewarts’ television shows.  She will be coming to Toronto in less than two weeks to appear at The Delicious Food Show.

Last year I had the pleasure of seeing  Martha Stewart at the Delicious Food Show (DFS).  Martha really is perfection personified, she knows exactly how she wants something to be, and at the show did not hesitate to let her assistant know if he was straying from that vision (in a kind manner).  In other words to be a SVP of Martha Stewart Living you have to be pretty knowledgeable and perfect yourself.

I have decided to get to know the chefs coming to DFS by cooking their recipes.  I’m having the best time doing it, trying new things.  

Lucinda’s recipe is for Eggplant Parmesan Stacks, which are a lot lighter than the traditional fried eggplant Parmesan. It comes from her cookbook, Mad Hungry Cravings.  By making a fresh tomato sauce you get that delicious fresh flavor. Stacking them makes them very attractive, looking like something that comes from a high end restaurant.

This would be a great dish for Thanksgiving, as a starter or as a main for a vegetarian Thanksgiving. 

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Eggplant Parmesan Stacks Photo Courtesy Delicious Food Show

Some of the stacks slid over a bit during baking, I easily put them back together and they held up.

The above photo is the professional shot, here is how mine looked:

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Eggplant Parmesean Stacks

They came out looking pretty good and tasting even better.  Try these out, and if you don’t want to make your own tomato sauce, use store bought.  No excuses.

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3:23 pm

Eggplant Parm Stacks: Excerpted From Mad Hungry Cravings, by Lucinda Scala Quinn, Artisan Books 2013, photos by Jonathan Lovekin 

Courtesy Butter Public Relations Inc.

Serves 8

This fabulous take on the traditional “eggplant Parm”—a staple of red-sauce Italian joints—will be a revelation. Forget about the heavy, greasy eggplant lost in deep-fried breading. Here it is grilled to a soft-charred beauty and layered with melted cheese, seasoned bread crumbs, and a delicate tomato sauce. This recipe began as an attempt to convert my husband, who was scarred as a youth when forced to eat eggplant at its slimy-viscous-undercooked worst. As a result, he refers to eggplant as the organ meat of vegetables. Not fair. Whenever he’s out, I cook eggplant 

2 eggplants (2½ pounds total),
sliced ¹⁄3 inch thick (24 slices total)

¹⁄3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup fine bread crumbs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

3 cups Italian Tomato Sauce (recipe follows) or other tomato sauce

A 1-pound ball fresh mozzarella, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise ¼ inch thick (24 slices total) 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center position. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.

 
2. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with ¹⁄3 cup of the olive oil and season with the salt. Working in batches, add to the grill pan and cook, flipping once, until charred and soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter or baking sheet.

3. Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, pepper, herbs, and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium bowl.

4. Place 8 slices of the grilled eggplant on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Top each with 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of the bread crumb mixture, and a slice of mozzarella. Repeat to make 2 more layers.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes, until soft, golden, and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Italian Tomato Sauce

Makes 3 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta

This is my basic red sauce for pasta.

1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

¹⁄8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, pulsed in a blender to a semichunky consistency

½ teaspoon coarse salt

1 basil sprig (optional)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)  

1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Swirl in the olive oil to coat the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and pepper flakes and stir constantly for 30 seconds, just long enough to release the garlic’s fragrance; don’t cook it to golden.

2. Stir in the tomatoes and salt, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced and a deep tomato color. Add the basil sprig in the last 5 minutes of cooking, if using. Remove the basil before serving and swirl in the butter, if desired.

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3:03 pm - Fri, Oct 3, 2014
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Cauliflower Salad

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Cauliflower Salad

My mother used to make this salad, decades before cauliflower became a trendy vegetable. She liked it because it was crunchy, a break from the bland mushy foods of the sixties.  The salad dressing used is a Coleslaw Dressing.

Cauliflower Salad

Serves 6-8

Vegetables

½ of a cauliflower, thinly sliced

2 celery sticks finely sliced

2-3 green onions finely sliced

1/2 red pepper finely diced

2 carrots, diced 

Coleslaw Dressing

4 tablespoons vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (optional)

Prepare your vegetables and put them in a large bowl. Then make the dressing.

Put all the dressing ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and combine the ingredients.  As soon as the dressing has boiled and the sugar and salt are dissolved (stir it a bit) pour it hot over the vegetables in the bowl.  Stir to mix everything together.  If you like a creamy salad then add the mayonnaise to the dressed vegetables.

Cover and refrigerate. Stays good for up to 5 days refrigerated.

Add some healthy crunch to your life!

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4:12 pm - Tue, Sep 30, 2014
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Tyler Florence - Lemon Pudding Cake

Tyler Florence

Tyler Florence is a 16 year veteran of the Food Network. He currently has numerous television shows, cookbooks, restaurants; and even a winery.  We are lucky he is coming to The Delicious Food Show in Toronto on Friday October 17. The Food Network alone posts 1,063 of his recipes online! 

I’ve learnt a lot from him, enjoying his quiet, gentle southern charm.  He received a solid culinary training from the prestigious Johnson and Wales University and started working at top restaurants in New York following graduation.

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Cakes Fresh Out of the Oven

I decided to make his Lemon Pudding Cake With Fresh Mixed Berries.  What came out was one of the best, lightest, most ethereal dishes I have ever baked.   

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Lemon Pudding Cake With Mixed Fresh Berries

Dessert heaven appeared in my household.  You bake the cake in a ramekin, and when you turn it out, you have a sponge cake bottom and a lemony pudding on top. The berries perfectly complement the cake.  

I used frozen strawberries instead of fresh ones, cooked them for a few minutes in a teaspoon of water, some lemon juice, and a touch of sugar.

Just follow his recipe instructions and you will make a dessert that you and your guests will never forget. 

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