This morning, a simple question from a food blogger friend, Shareba Abdul (In Search of Yummy-ness), got me to thinking. ‘What do you do to prevent blogger burnout?’ It’s not as strange a question as you may think. Ask any blogger this question and they can tell you that what you see on their website is not always ‘true to life’. When all you see on the blog is great recipes and photos of perfect meatloaves and cinnamon buns, you (the reader) get a skewed idea of what blogging is really like. Blogging takes a lot of time and pre planning; it’s about forging a bond with readers and other bloggers and that means a lot of time spent sharing the love on social media. I wish I would have known this when I began this blog, back then my intentions were so pure… I just wanted to make food and share it! Since then, I’ve realized that blogging is often a lonely job and connecting with others in person and through networking is important to have a successful blog, but also for my own sanity as well.
Regular readers may have noticed a bit of a lull in purely Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen food related posts recently. Truth be told I’m in a bit of a crazy time right now. I’ve had my head down and bum up for the majority of September, busily attending local events and doing a little food writing on the side. There’s football and regular visits to the Children’s Hospital in my family life. I love being involved, but as someone who doesn’t really manage her time that well…this ‘busyness’ has left little time for quiet moments of pure inspiration.
Inspiration. It’s another key to any happy blog ecosystem (in addition to connecting with others), for without it blogs can run the risk of becoming another site of recipe regurgitation, or the means to a different purpose other than what they were created for in the first place. I don’t mind developing recipe content for a product (and I actually loved the challenge of the recent Reese’s post I did), or talking about upcoming events (like Oktoberfest and Christmas in November) but when I haven’t been cooking and sharing in a while…I get itchy fingers! I get ants-y because I just want to cook.
So today I dropped all the projects on my ‘to do’ list and made doughnuts. They were basically the first recipe I saw on Twitter after I spoke with Shareba and I just decided then and there that today was the day I would give making doughnuts a try. The recipe promised to be quick and delicious…just what I was looking for.
FOR THE CINNAMON SUGAR
Of course, sometimes first time recipes do not always work out perfectly. There are a number of reasons why these doughnuts were not really something I would usually put on the blog but I like the idea of them so much that I will revisit the idea of an Apple Cider Doughnut at a later date. I guess it’s also kind of funny when you think about what I mentioned earlier..these doughnuts look fabulous but they really aren’t. I think it’s important to be truthful to my readers rather than just offer pretty pictures of recipes that are crap!
Do you have a ‘no fail’ doughnut recipe that you can share?
The FRESH dinner at MARKET Restaurant in support of GROW Calgary was, for the second year in a row, a resounding success. The well crafted vegetable dishes using ‘just picked’ veggies from the GROW Calgary gardens were a sure fire way to draw hungry crowds for the compassionate food organization’s only fundraiser of the year. Each simple home grown ingredient was plated with respect and integrity…a reflection of the pride and care with which it was grown by the GROW Calgary volunteers. Just as the passion of the chefs shone through with every plate, so too did the passions of each patron and volunteer; from each garden volunteer to the garden managers and sponsors.
Paul Hughes (GROW Calgary founder and driving force) began the evening by thanking the volunteers, introducing the farm managers, sponsors, and the people without whom, the organization wouldn’t be able to provide quality fresh organic veggies to the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank. While the chefs were busy plating, diners listened intently to the man whose every action has a purpose, keenly ensuring that the quality of life and comfort of those around him are put before his own needs. Always.
We began the dinner with an amuse bouche of lightly stuffed and delicately deep fried zucchini blossom. While I have never had the opportunity to try a stuffed zucchini blossom, I was a bit nervous to try one as I am allergic to zucchini. I’m very happy that I threw caution to the wind and gave it a taste as it was quite delicious, mostly because it was filled with cheese and was deep fried.
Our first course was a corny delight. I’m sorry, what I meant was that the primary ingredient for this dish was sweet fresh corn and it was utilized in several ways. First, the corn was roasted and then used to flavour a panna cotta, then it was dried, ground, and used as a corn chip. Lastly, we had slices of fresh baby corn and corn pollen to complete the dish. All of the sweet corn was contrasted with the slightly sour radish pods and gel.
Peas and carrots are often the first vegetables and solid foods we are fed as humans. The simplicity of this dish matched our innermost memories of that first meal, however, its flavour inspired a new appreciation of these two elementary vegetables. The salt roasted carrots became quite sweet during the preparation and the pea crema was smoother than any purée beyond memory. The dish was texturally completed with a carrot loaf crumb and complemented with pickled carrot tops.
The Potato and Onion course was a crowd favourite. On a single plate lay cloud-like soft gnocchi with a sweet onion soubise, tiny little fried potato cubes, braised small red onions, and tiny onion flowers that accented the dish in beauty and with their ‘larger than life’ onion-y punch. As I sat back and pondered the work that went into such a simple dish I could hear the gasps and excitement that buzzed throughout the room. Indeed, before I had even dug into my plate, I had already seen several social media images posted online. I guess word travels fast when a dish ticks all the right boxes: Warm and comforting, tasty and memorable. How is it that two such seemingly ‘lowly’ vegetables can be raised to such high standards?
Speaking of ‘low’ vegetables, there is none more lowly and controversial than the beet. There are some that can’t stand the ‘earthy’ flavour or colouration but there are others for whom the beet is the equivalent of earth candy. Kevin Yang, the pastry chef at MARKET clearly falls into the latter category as evidenced by his use of beets in the final dish of the FRESH dinner. The cheesecake contained beets that had been slow roasted to accentuate their sweetness, then blended and passed through a fine mesh sieve before being added to the mascarpone cheese. The sweetness of the beets became foiled with the bitterness of the liquid brandy chocolate paint and sunflower ganache, complementing each other perfectly. The sunflower croquant and dried beet chips added a thoughtful textural component that really completed the dessert.
The chefs and staff at MARKET worked tirelessly through the day and evening; creating, plating, and serving these memorable dishes and their time, as well as the use of the restaurant, was entirely donated by owner Vanessa Salopek. I would like to thank co executive chefs Alex Edmonson and Sean MacDonald, as well as pastry chef Kevin Yang for their efforts. With very little overhead, the proceeds from this year’s FRESH Dinner will greatly benefit the users of the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank and keep GROW Calgary ‘growing on’ with their mission.
YYCPizzaWeek was so successful last year that they are back in 2015 and ready for a ten day feast fuelled by crust and cheese! This year promises to be the biggest ever and with over 40 restaurants taking part they are hoping to top last year’s grand total of just over $9000 in donations to Calgary Meals on Wheels. I was just perusing the various pizzas on the website and I just can’t decide which pizzas to try first…should I go for the Banh Mi pie from Beer Revolution or the mouth watering Braised Bison Lengua Pizza from Cilantro. How about the ‘Tragically Hipster’ pizza featuring kale, sweet potato, and goat cheese from Spot On Kitchen and Bar? I think I’m going to be eating a lot of pizza beginning on Friday, September 25th.
I’m also pleased to announce that the pizza week crew has decided to hold another Food Blogger’s Pizza Competition featuring ingredients provided by the Scarpone’s, the Italian Store. Last year we chose one of three ingredients (anchovies, fire roasted tomatoes, or chestnut purée) and I won using the chestnut purée in my Sweet 16 pizza. This year they are making things a little more interesting because we have to use two of the four ingredients (ricotta fresca, house made pesto, fig preserve, sliced mixed olives) in our pizza creation. It was so much fun to think of all the creative possibilities for pizzas using those ingredients but in the end I settled on using the ricotta and fig preserve combination.
My pizza is again inspired by my daughter. It’s been a bit of a year dealing with her eating disorder and on top of that trying to feed both her and my family meals that satisfy all of us. One dish that I found that was nutritious and delicous AND could be easily converted to her vegan requirements was the Chickpeas in Star Anise and Date Masala dish that I made a couple of months back. Recently I’ve been wanting to make it again and when I heard about the pizza challenge I thought I could easily convert the flavours in to a pizza form.
So, I give to you…the PSP or Pumpkin Spice Pizza. It has a buckwheat base slathered with sugar pumpkin masala purée. There are tangy rounds of red onion, crunchy roasted masala chickpeas, and for the meat lovers in the group…spicy turkey ricotta meatballs. If you think that sounds good…please vote for my pizza! Starting on Friday September 25th every vote counts and I would love to defend my championship title. *****VOTE HERE*****
For the buckwheat pizza base:
Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes.
For the roasted chickpeas:
For the pumpkin sauce:
Cut pumpkin in large chunks and steam until soft. Purée with a bit of olive oil until smooth. Add seasonings.
For the onions:
Carefully slice a red onion into rounds and fry gently in an oiled pan until soft. Carefully remove and set aside.
For the sauce:
Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a slight boil, taking care not to scorch the bottom. Set aside some of the sauce if you are making the vegan version of this pizza.
For the meatballs:
Mix all ingredients together and form into tiny meatballs. Place on a wire rack over a cookie sheet and bake at 350 F until done. Mine were about 15 minutes but it depends on how large you make the meatballs. when they are cooked, add the meatballs to the saucepan with the fig sauce and simmer gently for about 8 minutes so that the meatballs become coated with the sauce.
Assemble the pizza, scatter some cilantro leaves over the top and you have a delicious autumn themed pizza to sink your teeth into for both meat eaters and vegans!
As Grow Calgary’s only fundraising event for the entire year, the FRESH dinner event at Market Calgary is an important day for all involved. Funds raised during the unique dinner keep the Grow Calgary farm operational, which in turn helps them provide farm fresh vegetables to those who would otherwise go without. I was pleased to attend the event last year, and I was so very amazed at how the vegetables were prepared and elevated by the chefs (who donate their time to the dinner) at Market.
The present economy here in the province has led to an increase of 67% of users at the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank. Just sit back for a moment and let that sink in. So many people have been severely affected by the flailing economy in a province where virtually every business is tied to oil. There is an ever growing need for compassionate food here in Calgary and Paul Hughes and his volunteers at Grow Calgary have pledged to do their best so that all Calgarians can have access to fresh, local food.
Why is this dinner so FRESH? Market’s chefs will race against the clock to harvest & prepare a 4-course meal made exclusively from Grow Calgary’s produce. The ingredients will have been harvested only mere hours before its plated and presented to the guest to enjoy.
Tickets are still available for this timely dinner. To attend, follow this link and help get Calgary growing!
In just under a month, the magical season of Christmas begins. Sure, sure I may be getting ahead of myself (apologies to all you grinches out there!) but this year I will be celebrating early along with many other festively inclined guests at Christmas in November, held November 6-15 at the gorgeous historic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. This year, with the 100th anniversary of JPL, Christmas In November proves to be one of the most festive yet with every last detail planned right down to the snowflakes. I’m not kidding, they’ve made their lists and checked them…twice!
There’s no shortage of Christmas cheer here, check out all the goodies the Christmas In November elves have in store.
2015 Christmas In November presenters:
There are so many great seminars and social events, I’m not sure where I’m going to start!
There are multiple packages available and tickets are selling fast. Hurry….Christmas is Coming! Visit www.ChristmasinNovember
for more information.
I served mine with a dab of kewpie mayonnaise and a dash of furikake which is usually used to season rice.Mushrooms Canada announced the appetizer contest winner today and my Vegan Barley Arancini with Shiitake Mushrooms & Seaweed didn’t win but that’s okay because I’m really looking forward to trying the winning appetizer by The Busy Baker at the conference. Her Mushroom Crostini with Herbs and Garlic looks fabulous! If you want to see some of the other entries or get some ideas for cooking with mushrooms, the Mushrooms Canada website is a great place to start.
Ladies and gentlemen; get out your dirndl and lederhosen, it’s time for Alberta Beer Festival’s annual Oktoberfest September 25th and 26th at the Upper Big Four Building, Stampede Park. Yeah, I know that’s September (not October) but think of it this way…you get to sample wobbly pops from many of our local and Canadian craft and authentic Bavarian breweries a bit early! Here are just a few of the participating breweries:
Both beer and food samples are sampled using sample tickets only (these are in addition to your ticket to the event). Sample tickets are $1 and sold in sheets of ten. The minimum amount of tickets per 4 oz. beer sample is 2 and the food generally requires a few more.
Alberta Beer Festival will be supporting two charities this year; Kids Up Front ( gives donated event tickets to children and youth identified by a broad network of partner agencies that provide child and family services) and Autism Aspergers Friendship Society of Calgary (AAFS). Way to be charitable Alberta Beer Festivals!!!
NOTE: I wasn’t kidding about the dirndl and lederhosen…there are prizes to be won for those who come dressed in traditional Bavarian garb.
Friday, September 25th: 4pm to 10pm Saturday, September 26th: 2pm to 9pm
Online Advance Tickets $19 Weekend Passes $30 Tickets at the door are $25 and entrance is subject to capacity. ID required.
It’s been four years and four months since we left Australia and moved back to Alberta. There’s not a day that goes by when something doesn’t remind me of the life that we had there; the sessions with friends and their barbecues; the good times. When temperatures begin to cool here in Canada I know that things are just starting to heat up on the opposite side of the world. Sometimes, when our Canadian winters begin to feel like they will last forever, I wonder why we ever left our Perth home. I cook special treats like Aussie meat pies and chiko rolls that remind us of warmer days when we would bring dinner and a bottle of Aussie red to the beach and stay to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.
When I was asked to promote Mallee Rock Wines recent launch in Canada with some recipes created by Aussie-born Chef Todd Bright I jumped at the chance. Though I’ve made some great Aussie pies in the past, I’ve never attempted chiko rolls at home. It turned out that this Aussie feast, complete with Mallee Rock Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon was the perfect after footy (grid iron, not Aussie rules) dinner that we enjoyed out on our deck in the dying sun. It wasn’t the beach, but it was close enough.
Interesting Mallee Rock Wine Tidbits
The days are getting shorter and evenings have a bit of a chill to them. There’s no denying it, the last days of summer are passing by quickly and fall will soon be upon us. I don’t really mind because summer hasn’t been too kind to our family and I really am ready for a change. This time of year I’m busy keeping the boy fed in between football practices and using as much fresh produce as I can before carrots, beets, and kale are the only local vegetables I can find at the Farmer’s Markets.
This year I’m doing quite a bit more preserving, not just the usual jams and jellies but I’m making my own passata, canning peach pie filling, and putting up some pickled beets and beans for the teens. The whole family pitched to make creamed corn when I temporarily lost my mind and bought a whole bag of corn at the Farmer’s Market.
We spent some time at my parent’s farm where my youngest son had the chance to be a farmhand for a while. I know it’s not really ‘In My Kitchen’ but here he is with his uncle learning how to break down a chicken. I’m also throwing in this photo of Hazel, the orphaned Bison calf that my cousin is bottle feeding. She’s so darn cute!
It’s been so long since I’ve posted for In My Kitchen I thought I would include these Spicy Meat Bombs made with jalapenos, cream cheese, spicy chorizo, and bacon. After I cooked them on the barbecue I slathered them with a sweet barbecue sauce.
There were some products that I enjoyed working with as well. I made a Reese Peanut Butter Chocolate Spread Frozen Dessert and enjoyed a bottle of La Marca Prosecco with hubby for our 19th wedding anniversary.
I braved the insanity at IKEA because I saw that they have a gorgeous new tableware line called Sittning and I always have my eye open for cheap, stylish props. I was told that each year IKEA has a theme and this year the theme is… FOOD. Here is most of my haul: I have to get going now because football practice is almost over and dinner is still not ready! Tonight is fried rice, Spanish style because I have left over saffron rice in the fridge and I’m going to mix it with some fried chorizo and fresh green beans.
Much thanks to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting In My Kitchen every month. Do take a look at her lovely blog to see what’s going on in her Australian kitchen..
I’ve had this bottle of La Marca Prosecco sitting in my refrigerator since the day it appeared on my doorstep. Since then, I’ve been waiting for the ‘right time’ to pop it open…for any type of ‘little celebration’ in our lives. It’s been a tough August, with many extra added trials and tribulations so there never seemed to be a right time to open it. It stood there in the back of the fridge kind of like a symbol of hope; a promise that our luck would turn eventually.
Summer is almost over and today is our wedding anniversary. 19 years. They weren’t all wedded bliss (they had their own trials and tribulations) but today I am more in love with my hubby than I ever have been and that is definitely something to celebrate. We spent the last evening before school out on the deck enjoying each other’s company, reflecting on the past while at the same time looking forward to our future. I made some snacks for him and he poured the prosecco. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At first I paired the La Marca Prosecco with a splash of St. Germain elderflower cocktail but we both agreed that it was a bit too sweet. How I really enjoyed it was with a slice of fresh, juicy nectarine and a tiny splash of St. Germain. It was perfection. We didn’t enjoy our La Marca Prosecco during brunch but I think it would be perfect as an aperitif with Crème de Cassis or as the base for a sparkling Sangria.
Here is a great weekend brunch recipe by Kevin Pendergrast, Executive Chef at Hilton, Toronto. In it he has reduced La Marca Prosecco, added it to ricotta, and used it to glaze figs.
La Marca Prosecco Reduction
Combine both ingredients together in sauce pan over medium heat (275 F) and reduce until light golden syrupy consistency (about 1/4 cup). Cool to room temperature.
Gently toss the fresh or dried figs into the La Marca Prosecco reduction and set aside to marinate.
La Marca Prosecco Spiked Ricotta with Fresh Herbs
Combine ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix well, season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside in the fridge.
To assemble: With a small spatula, spread 50 grams of La Marca infused ricotta on a plate. Artfully place prosciutto, toasted walnuts, wild flower honeycomb, and edible flower garnish on top of the ricotta. Enjoy with a crusty baguette. Serves 2 as a shared plate.
Interesting La Marca Prosecco tidbits:
***I was sent a bottle of La Marca Prosecco for review but I really enjoyed it and wanted to share it with everyone…unfortunately I drank it all!***