Category Archives: food

Hosting Benefit = Tarte Tatin

One of the things I love about being a B&B host is that I get to learn a lot about the cultures of my guests (and by culture I primarily mean food).

A perfect example being the past 10 days. I’ve had 2 awesome women staying with me from France and we’ve become good friends :) They’ve been teaching me all kinds of phrases en Français that we don’t use here, and also made me some delicious tarte tatin!

I’ve never had it before (nor made it) so I took lots of photos :)

Priscilla, Me & Sandrine @ my housewarming party

What is it?

Tarte tatin is basically a caramel-apple pie. Simple ingredients and totally delicious you can eat it plain, add spices or change the pastry to your liking.

First you cook equal parts butter and sugar  (around 1/4 cup each) together to create the caramel. When it changes colour, remove it from the heat and start layering your apple slices like so:

Make sure not to touch the molten caramel!

For a skillet the size you see there, we used about 6 apples. They’ll cook down in the heat, so cram them in there!

 

Cramming

 

All 6 apples are in there!

Next, take some pre-made pastry and tuck it in around the apples. My friends didn’t know that phyllo was different from butter pastry and bought that by mistake. That’s why it looks a little weird.

 

Tuck the pastry blanket around the sleepy apples

Trim the dough if necessary. It’s actually going to be the bottom of the tarte so you don’t want too much hanging around.

Haircut

Pop it in the oven (we did it at 350*F) for about 20 minutes or so. You know it’s done when the caramel starts bubbling up the sides and the pastry is nice and golden.

Take it out of the oven, then immediately flip the tarte out onto a plate that is larger than the pan you cooked it in. Be careful! Molten caramel may fly everywhere so be vigilant! I didn’t really have a suitable plate so we just used a cheap tray from the dollar store. You can see why you need something with an edge… the juice from the apples pours out everywhere.

mmmmm juicy

 

And voila! You have just made traditional tarte tatin. Or in this case, my friend Sandrine made it for me :)

 

Some tips and tricks from Sandrine

  • There are 2 “hard” parts: making sure the caramel doesn’t burn, and flipping the lava-hot tarte onto the plate
  • If the caramel burns, you’re screwed. It gets bitter and nasty and you have to start over again. Unfortunately this happened to our tarte since neither of us had used my kitchen for baking before this and we didn’t know how the oven would perform!
  • You can slice your apples into quarters, or thinner. The thinner they are, the more caramel they will absorb
  • Use unsalted butter for a better taste
  • Traditional tarte tatin doesn’t have cinnamon or other spices because they can overpower the caramel flavour. But you can spice it up if you like!
  • Tarte tatin is best served warm. You can eat it with ice cream, sour cream or whipped cream
  • If you use a cast iron skillet like we did, reduce your cooking time so the caramel doesn’t get rank and burned
  • Have your apples pre-sliced and ready to go
  • Use butter or regular pastry. The phyllo was ok but…different

Even though the tarte wasn’t so good this time around, I can tell that this dessert would be amazeballs when properly executed. Overall I don’t think it’s too difficult (very similar to making a Spanish tortilla!) so I’ll probably whip this out to impress guests in the future.

I just really love that Sandrine made it for me :)

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…

Look what I got in the mail today!

Courtesy of KitchenAid Canada, I’ll be testing out the new 13-Cup Food Processor this holiday season, and I can’t wait!

I have been lusting after it ever since I got the email. I LOVE KitchenAid products because they’re so well-made and stylish. I invested in a professional grade stand mixer several years ago and also have their bake ware, cookware and other little gadgety things. Everything has stood up well against my kitchen experiments, and overall they make cooking much easier for me!

I have been considering the purchase of a food processor for some time now. As I grow more adventurous and throw more events in my home, having one would be very helpful. I think the Gods were listening to my prayers because not only do I get a free processor, but the Cadillac of food processors. I can’t wait to learn how to use this puppy and make some delicious noms!

Now to figure out how to set up the bazillion pieces of this…

My stand mixer won't be so lonely anymore

 

Om Nom Nom

I’m a little late to the game with this post, but for good reason! Considering the cold rainy weather we’ve been having, it didn’t seem appropriate to talk about summertime frozen treats like this Nestle Mini Drumstick I’m about to devour.

The classic - double chocolate with nuts!

But with that 2-day heatwave (in which I nearly perished) this week, the time seemed right.

A few weeks ago Nestle sent me a couple of boxes of these adorable little mini Drumsticks. They’re like the big ones we all know from our childhood, except itty bitty!

After finishing off 2 boxes of these things I think I can comment on a few of their features.

Things I like:

  • They are so cute and little and adorable! You just want to eat them up! (Which I suppose is the point!)
  • They are portion-controlled so you don’t have to feel guilty afterwards
  • They are small enough for little kids and aren’t as hard to eat as their larger brethren

Things I don’t like:

  • They are a little too cute and tiny. You may find yourself easily mowing down on 3 of them if you’re not careful
  • They tend to melt a lot faster than the normal ones
  • I feel guilty producing so much garbage from the packaging
  • The quality/taste is a little lacking compared to the big ones

Ultimately I think they’re a decent entry into the portable ice-cream section of the grocery store, and I think they’d be great for an event like a birthday party or something. Or ya know, just ‘cuz. I definitely enjoyed my boxes.

What summer treat are you most looking forward to?

Just say NO to MoRoCo

Just came back from a lovely night with fellow bloggers Krystal and The Asian Pear. We started in Yorkville with dinner at Ginza which had good service, followed by MoRoCo Chocolat which had terrible service.

Let me share my experience with you so you can decide where to spend your money next time you’re in Yorkville. Hopefully it won’t be at Moroco.

I’ve been to Moroco numerous times. It’s a little expensive, but I love the atmosphere and the chocolate is pretty good too. It’s a real fun experience for a date or girl’s night out. It’s also great for an office Christmas party. Oh yes. I got my office to have their party there this year and it was awesome! We had everything on the chocolate menu and unlimited champagne and lattes. Go big or go home, I say.

Every time the staff was attentive, the food delicious and presented nicely.

But not this time.

Tonight we stopped by for a few tasty treats including macarons, frozen hot chocolate and French sipping chocolate. Our bill was near $50 for the 3 of us.

We seated ourselves on the half-full patio and ordered our items. We had no problems getting our food, but afterwards, oh my! It was atrocious!

As we were finishing up, gabbing away and enjoying ourselves (it was a lounge, after all) the downward spiral began. Let me illustrate it via a list of strikes against Moroco.

 

Strike #1

Normally when I order the sipping chocolat, I swap out the truffle for a macaron. In the past this has never been an issue, but this time the waitress said it was not possible at all (not even if I paid more) and I was stuck with a truffle. I don’t really like them and was surprised that she was so brusque about it.

Strike #2

The waitress cleared our dishes away before asking if we were done or if we wanted anything else. Had she asked, I would have actually ordered some more macarons.

Strike #3

The bill was dumped on our table far too soon, and we felt like we were being pushed out. We ignored it for a while while we were enjoying our remaining drinks, but the waitress kept coming back and huffing every time she saw there was no money sitting with the bill. Finally she came back and told us that there was a 30 minute limit for sitting on the patio if you’re only ordering drinks. She said this was written on the menu and that there were other reservations coming in.

There are several problems with this.

  1. It’s a LOUNGE. People go there to LOUNGE while they eat and drink. Why is there such a short time limit for this? Why wasn’t this actually printed on the menu? Here’s a screenshot from their site:
    Notice how they refer to themselves as a lounge & tout the MoRoCo experience


    If we just wanted a cheap & quick coffee drink we would have gone to Tim Horton’s! Why would we pay $50 to be rushed out??

  2. The patio was nearly empty, and there were other patrons having nothing but drinks who were there far longer than we were. Why was our small party singled out? We weren’t being loud or unruly, and we were dressed well.
  3. I didn’t order a drink at all, but one of their specialties from the menu. Even if there was some kind of rule, I would have been exempt on that technicality. It also wasn’t nearly as good as last time.
  4. If they really did have a reservation, they could have politely asked us to move to another table. We would have obliged, but this was never brought up. We were rudely told to leave, instead.

Strike #4

The final strike was like salt in the wound. We looked at the bill to find that we were charged the group gratuity rate of 18.5% on our order. Outrageous! We weren’t even a group or large party, there were only 3 of us!

According to their own menu, there is a gratuity charge, but only for groups of 6 or more. When did 3 become 6??

From their own menu, only groups of 6 or more will be charged the gratuity

At that point we were livid. We went out for a good time and some luxurious treats and instead were treated like we were scum. I was SO embarrassed since I had recommended this place! What a great impression of Toronto/Yorkville to give Krystal on her first visit to the area.

We decided not to pay the stupid automatic gratuity (and why the hell was it so high!?!?) and just paid the bill plus a small tip since we’re not misers. I also left a note on the bill explaining that it was unacceptable to charge us the tip in advance AND kick us out after only 30 minutes. After that we high-tailed it out of there, afraid that the waitress would come chasing after us when she saw the small tip. (Did I mention that the money hadn’t been on the table for more than a minute before she swooped in like a vulture and scooped it up???)

 

I am really disappointed by this whole experience. I really want to like Moroco, I really do! But if this is the way they are treating their loyal customers these days, then I guess my romance with fancy chocolate is over.

I just can’t get over our treatment. Here we are being snubbed by a waitress at a fancy establishment. HELLO. OBVIOUSLY WE CAN AFFORD TO BE HERE since, ya know, we ARE here.

Think about it, dear readers. Is this a place that YOU would like to visit??

That’s a Wrap!

OMG! Food Network’s  Dinner Party Wars called me back! They’re doing a 3rd season after all and the new casting gal found our application in the files and called! (That means 2 people there liked it!)

Me and my bff have our interview with them next Thursday. They’re going to see how well we cook and get along and too see whether we are too crazy (or not crazy enough!).

Wish us luck!!

How to Clean your BBQ: A (Very Simple) Step-by-Step Guide

This is what I look like when I BBQ

 

Ahhh, smell that fresh air? See those flowers? Hear those birds outside?

It can only mean one thing… BBQ SEASON!

There is nothing more divine than a delicious meal cooked over the grill. It signifies the start of warmer weather and better food!

But after the long, harsh winter sometimes your grill needs a little TLC before you can start flipping those burgers and smoking those haunches of tasty meats.

Does your grill look less like a paragon of fiery grilling prowess and more like a pit of despair?

 

Example: Pit of Despair

Don’t worry. Here are a few simple steps you can take to give your grill a good once-over before you jump into the season. These instructions are for a run-of-the-mill propane BBQ but can easily be adjusted to a charcoal one as well. You can easily use cleaners and solvents and fancy tools, but then it’s just a lot of work just to see the grill mucked up again the next time you use it. Why fight it’s nature?

Step One

Find your BBQ. Sometimes they like to hide in strange places over the winter.

Step Two

Assemble a kit of rubber gloves, old clothes or apron, BBQ grill brush and small dust brush & pan. Optional: a bucket to catch the four years of charred crap that you will unearth.

Step Three

Use the stiff BBQ brush to rub the burnt on burger leavings and rust off the grill. Lift it out and do the backside, too. Be amazed at the amount of mystery crap adhered to the underside. Set grills aside. Complain about grease marks on your gloves.

Step Four

Using the same brush, spend an ungodly amount of time brushing the fire-hardened crap off of the briquettes below. Set them aside, pray that this step ends soon. Marvel at the amount of dust you are producing.

Step Five

Clean the grill underneath the briquettes the same way you did the top grills. Wonder why it’s so damn rusty and if it will disintegrate on contact. Sigh in relief when it doesn’t. Set aside.

Step Six

Using the BBQ brush of power, scrape the sides of the BBQ and lid so that a rain of charred animal flesh and singed veggies occurs. Notice that the inside of the BBQ was originally NOT BLACK. Woah. All the junk will accumulate in piles of ash and mystery chunks at the bottom.

Step Seven

Using your small dust brush and dustpan, clean out all the remains at the bottom. Depending on how long it was since your BBQ was last cleaned, this may take some time. Take a moment to imagine what some of those charred things are at the bottom. Is that really a bottle cap?

Work around the burners and scrape them if needed. Pray to the Gods of fire that the burners will work after this! Sigh copiously and spit churned up dust out of your mouth as you proceed. Wonder why you decided to do this on a windy day.

Step Eight

Replace all grills & briquettes and admire your almost-ready grill.

Step Nine

Carefully light up the barbie, with burners on high, lid closed and CREMATE THAT F*CKER! For about 10 minutes.

 

Enjoy!

Meat is murder. Tasty, tasty murder.

Gardening Help?

In an effort to eat a little fresher and healthier, I planted a small potted herb garden in my bathroom window.

Everything seems to be doing pretty well there, except for my basil plant. It’s either got some kind of illness or bugs, I’m not sure which.

Here are some photos of the leaves. They turn all brown and die off and I can’t figure out why! I have been using Bug-B-Gon from the garden centre to kill any bugs that might be there (I dislike using chemicals but I can’t get my basil healthy!)

Does anyone know what could be causing this, and how to fix it? I just want to eat my basil!