Monthly Archives: November 2008

  • Molecular gastronomy for dummies Molecular gastronomy for dummies

    Molecular gastronomy for dummies

Molecular gastronomy for dummies

  The sous vide machine is to foodies what the iPhone was to techies. Sous vide, French for “under vacuum,” or “cryovacking” in some anglophone parts of the world, is a cooking technique that is poised to make its way from professional kitchens to amateur home cook’s counters. The innovative machine is a vacuum-sealing device that allows you to slow-cook your food at a very low temperature, sometimes for well over 24 hours, producing ultra-moist and flavourful meals. Check out a YouTube video demystifying the process here. There’s nothing new about this technique, invented by a French chef in the 1970s. But with a slew of sous vide equipment about to hit the store shelves in time for the holiday season, sous vide is about to become accessible. If not to the masses, then to the amateur foodie contingent. Celebrated chef Thomas Keller’s latest book “Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide” […]

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  • Update: What’s cooking for Christmas? Update: What’s cooking for Christmas?

    Update: What’s cooking for Christmas?

Update: What’s cooking for Christmas?

  I admit I am a control freak at the best of times, and menu-planning is no exception.Every week, I take out my recipe collection and favourite cookbooks and plan my meals for the week. I take into account which farm-fresh veggies and fruits my organic food distributor, Mama Earth, will be dropping in a basket at my front door. I also take into account how much time I’ll have on certain evenings during the week, and plan accordingly.As Christmas approaches, I begin early, maybe several weeks in advance. I start perusing my cookbooks for jaw-dropping, wow-factor recipes, ones that are easy to transport to Christmas parties, ones that I can throw in the oven and pull out as guests walk through the door; recipes for rich, aromatic desserts that include caramel, dates, dark chocolate, pumpkin, or brandy flavours. If you’re still stuck for ideas, recipes from top chefs for […]

  • Barefoot Contessa’s tomato and goat cheese tarts Barefoot Contessa’s tomato and goat cheese tarts

    Barefoot Contessa’s tomato and goat cheese tarts

Barefoot Contessa’s tomato and goat cheese tarts

  Ina Garten has never steered me wrong. Whether I’m making her strawberry cheesecake recipe, coq au vin, or French chocolate bark, her recipes always come out just right. As one of my friends once remarked, Garten’s husband seems to have the best life in the world as he seems to appear at the end of her cooking show just when she is pulling her food out of the oven. Sure, the Barefoot Contessa’s creations aren’t “good food fast” or “speedy supper” recipes — they take time. If you’re in a rush, this book isn’t for you. But isn’t that what getting “Back to Basics” all about? I made these tomato and goat cheese tarts for dinner, accompanied by Parmesan pork chops, and a cold beet salad with goat cheese, pecans, red wine vinegar and freshly chopped basil. Here’s a recipe adapted from the “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics” cookbook. […]

  • Is the French cafe on its way out? Is the French cafe on its way out?

    Is the French cafe on its way out?

Is the French cafe on its way out?

  “The bar of a cafe is the parliament of the people,” Honoré de Balzac once wrote. First it was the outdoor smoking ban, and now this: The New York Times is reporting that “Across France, Cafe Owners are Suffering.” According to the New Times, had 200,000 cafes in 1960 and now it has fewer than 41,500, with an average of two closing every day. The economic downturn – and changing attitudes, to be sure – are hurting traditional cafes. What is to become of the Paris I know?Since my first trip to Paris at the age of 12, then as a rebellious backpacker at 18, then as an optimistic university student in London at 21 then as a married woman years later, to me the iconic cafe has epitomized everything that is good about Paris — a refuge for artistic souls, a hangout for chain smokers, a clandestine rendezvous […]

  • What’s cooking for Christmas? Top chefs tell CTV.ca What’s cooking for Christmas? Top chefs tell CTV.ca

    What’s cooking for Christmas? Top chefs tell CTV.ca

What’s cooking for Christmas? Top chefs tell CTV.ca

  Starting today, CTV.ca is posting my interviews with top chefs such as Toronto’s David Lee, Didier Leroy and popular TV personalities such as Anna Olson and David Rocco. Find out, in the first instalment of 10, what Splendido’s Executive Chef David Lee will be cooking this Christmas.For the annual Christmas Eve banquet this year, I’m thinking I’ll contribute an asparagus tart and cherry-and-chocolate trifle. To accompany my mother’s traditional turkey and rice-and-pine-nuts stuffing on Christmas Day, I might make mini goat cheese and tomato tarts, wild mushroom risotto, and/or sticky toffee puddings. What’s on your holiday menu?

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  • Ham, spinach, and Gruyere croissant ring Ham, spinach, and Gruyere croissant ring

    Ham, spinach, and Gruyere croissant ring

Ham, spinach, and Gruyere croissant ring

  After my recent interview with Tana Ramsay, Gordon Ramsay’s wife, I told her I’d be trying the ham, spinach and Gruyere croissant ring from her new cookbook “Home Made.” She leaned in, as if she’d be letting me in on a family secret and said, sincerely, “It’s delicious.”And she was right. When I pulled the croissant ring out of the oven, after serving leek and potato soup, along with an arugula, cherry tomato salad with raspberry vinaigrette, pecans and Stilton cheese, my husband’s eyes widened. It looked like I’d slaved all night. Truth was, while it looks impressive, all it takes is chopping up a bunch of ingredients and laying the filling atop the croissant dough, folding the dough, then baking it. In this case, the ingredients include two packs of croissant dough; blanched spinach; 10 slices of honey-roasted ham, cut into strips; 10 halved cherry tomatoes; 5 chopped […]

  • Cookbook Review: Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Cooking for Friends’ Cookbook Review: Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Cooking for Friends’

    Cookbook Review: Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Cooking for Friends’

Cookbook Review: Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Cooking for Friends’

  I felt inexplicably nervous while trying out recipes from Gordon Ramsay’s latest cookbook. And then, it hit me as I carefully basted roasting Campari tomatoes with their pan juices. I was expecting Ramsay, the foul-mouthed celebrity chef who I both adore and fear, to point out I was doing something wrong. (This, despite the fact I have met and interviewed the multi-Michelin starred chef and he was nothing but gracious, and gentlemanly.)When I finally acknowledged my irrational fear, and stopped waiting for someone to call me “You donkeh!”, I set to work and the evening’s dinner unfolded as it should. I also have Ramsay’s “Fast Food” cookbook and while that one has been sitting on my shelf for several weeks now, this cookbook already has several post-it notes marking pages. Last night, I tried three recipes from “Cooking for Friends,” in which Ramsay shares the meals he loves to […]

  • I ask Gordon Ramsay’s wife: Are you moving to Dubai? I ask Gordon Ramsay’s wife: Are you moving to Dubai?

    I ask Gordon Ramsay’s wife: Are you moving to Dubai?

I ask Gordon Ramsay’s wife: Are you moving to Dubai?

  I interviewed Tana Ramsay today. She’s the wife of the potty-mouthed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay but also a popular cookbook author in her own right. She was at CTV’s Canada AM during a stop on a promotional tour for her new cookbook “Home Made” (HarperCollins). There have been media reports out of the U.K. and Australia that the Ramsays are packing up and moving to Dubai and I asked her point blank – are you leaving London? What did she tell me? Find out in my article for CTV.ca.Meanwhile, stay tuned for my review of her cookbook. I will be making a recipe from “Home Made” for dinner some time this week.

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  • Global goodies: My favourite street foods Global goodies: My favourite street foods

    Global goodies: My favourite street foods

Global goodies: My favourite street foods

There’s an Armenian saying, “achkeh dzag,” which I was often accused of growing up. Literally translated, it means “hole in the eye” but its figurative meaning is “insatiable.” When I saw food, I wanted it. No matter that I had just eaten, or I wasn’t hungry, I wanted to try everything. It’s still the same now, especially when I travel and discover something new. It’s beyond my control. When I smell crispy fried smelt by the Bulgarian seaside, being sold to sunbathers in cones made of newspaper; when I see a Neapolitan teenager hop on her boyfriend’s Vespa, dripping Baci gelato in one hand, I want what they have.And I have an irrational fear that if I don’t buy it at that moment, I will never get the chance to sample it again. The bad news is, I am prone to weight gain. The good news is, I never would […]

  • Even fine wines, white truffles dropping in price Even fine wines, white truffles dropping in price

    Even fine wines, white truffles dropping in price

Even fine wines, white truffles dropping in price

The global economic slowdown has far-reaching implications. Your pension fund is probably dropping in value. You’re likely worried about your job. Your mutual funds? Dropping like a ton of bricks.     And now – in a sign of the uncertain times – even the prices of white truffles and costly red wines are falling. At this year’s charity truffle auction in Tokyo, the highest price paid for a single white 1.05kg truffle was US$30,720, a pittance compared to last year’s record of $330,000 for a truffle that weighed 1.5kg, the Financial Times reported.It’s true, even the uber-rich are scaling back on luxuries. At the auction for this year’s haul of Alba white truffles from Italy’s Piedmont region, the usual high-rollers and investment bankers were conspicuously missing from the crowd of celebrities and magnates. According to the Times, this year’s three simultaneous auctions raised euro 118,000 ($151,048) compared to about […]

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