Tag: cooking class

Foodie Swellness: From Italy with Amore at Loblaws

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Can’t we all use #moreamore in our lives? More specifically, more Italian cuisine made with authentic Italian ingredients?

I say sì! And I recently had the chance to learn to learn how to make some dishes from Chef Massimo Bruno at Loblaws. Bruno is from Puglia, and has lived in Toronto for about 16 years, and he said that when he first moved to Canada, it was hard for him to find the Italian ingredients he needed to make his dishes. This is not the case anymore because Loblaws carries more than 350 authentically Italian — they’re certified by the Italian Trade Commission — including many of Bruno’s favourites such as Lupa cheese.

Chef Massimo Bruno at More Amore

It was such a treat to get to learn from Bruno; I’ve been keen to go to one of his monthly supper clubs for ages but now I was getting to learn to cook alongside him. We made a few dishes: fettuccini with tuna and lemon, and a fresh pasta with tomatoes and garlic.

I learned a lot from Bruno over the course of the evening about Italian cooking:

  • When cooking with pecorino romano, be careful with how much salt you add to your dish as the cheese itself is quite salty, so add salt sparingly (if at all).
  • Don’t cheap out; spend the extra $5 on authentic pecorino romano (he likes the romano lupa) as it’ll really make your dish sing. When you buy a bottle of olive oil, go for a quality one, such as the President’s Choice Extra Virgin Olive Oil From Tuscany.
  • When making a sauce using ingredients like fresh tomatoes and garlic like the one we made, prepare it and let it sit so that the flavours come together.
  • There are two types of gorgonzola, dolce and piccante. Dolce is sweeter. Bruno recommends using Dolce if you’re cooking since many people find gorgonzola to be quite strong, so Dolce is a safer choice given it is more subtle.
  • There is no such thing as too much parmigiano reggiano.
  • There is also no such thing as too much fresh basil. Pile it on, says Bruno. He says you’ll never get a complaint, “Oh there’s too much basil in this.”
  • When using tomato purée to make your pasta sauce, add a little bit of water. If you don’t, your passata will cook off and become too thick and paste-like.
  • A quality dried pasta will have a slightly rough texture to it before you throw it into the pot of salted boiling water. (And don’t be shy when salting the water, Bruno threw handfuls into the water; he says it’s essential to cooking the noodles that the water be well salted).
  • You can trust in the imported Italian food products with the DOP label. This label is the product’s certification, which means you can be confident the product has been locally grown and packaged in Italy using traditional methods. DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, which translates to Protected Designation of Origin.

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Besides all of these foodie lessons, we ate so well (above is a beef dish Massimo prepared for us) and that fettucine we all helped prepare? It’s so simple to make and you can be eating in about 10 minutes, which is exactly the kind of recipe we all need when we get home and it’s late and we’re too tired to cook, right? Here’s the recipe:

Fettucine with tuna, lemon and basil

Fettuccini with tuna, lemon and basil

In a large bowl, add one can of Rio Mare tuna, drizzle with olive oil. Add the zest and then the juice of one lemon. Add some fresh basil (you can just tear the leaves with your fingers) and season with pepper. In the meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted boiling water as per the package. Take about a half cup of the starchy water the pasta has been cooked in and add to your tuna mixture (this will make the sauce easier to mix with your noodles). Drain the pasta and add the noodles to the tuna sauce and mix to combine.

And you’re done! Dinner is on the table. So simple yet so good.

Here’s to more amoré in your life! Buon appetito!

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Leave a Comment November 3, 2017

Travel Swellness: Exploring the hills of Headwaters, Ontario

Alton, Ontario

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a little road trip up north to the region of Headwaters. Never heard of it? Neither had I, but I learned on the trip (as I was invited and host by the tourism board) that it’s named after being the source of Ontario’s biggest rivers and encompasses the communities of Erin, Caledon, Dufferin County, Mono and Shelburne (most of which I had heard of, but had never had the chance to visit). It was great to get out of the city for a couple of days, and it’s incredible how it feels like a different world there, even though it’s just about an hour away by car from Toronto.

Headwaters, Ontario

Loads more people are going to discover the Headwaters region, though, soon, as it is hosting the jumping and dressage equestrian events for the Pan Am games. We got a chance to take a tour of the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park and although I haven’t watched many equestrian events, I think it’d be incredible to attend some of these events and witness in person the skills of the athletes and the power and beauty of the horses. While there, we also saw the Headwaters Parade of Horses in the works: more than 25 life-size fibreglass horse sculptures will be transformed by artisans and then displayed around the Headwaters region during the months of June, July and August. Hello, Instagram opportunities! Haha

Caledon Equestrian Park

Tied into the Pan Am games is the Pan Am Taste Trail from June 13 until August 15th. The 20 participating restaurants and producers will be offering signature food or drink items. You can find the list of participants here.

There’s delicious food all the time here, of course, not just tied into the Pan Am games. We had dinner at Cabin at Hockley Valley and I’m pretty sure my new friend beside me at dinner was tired of hearing me exclaim with every bite how delicious the meal was. Everything was just right, the only thing I would’ve changed would be doubling the number of ravioli on my plate (not because the portion was small by any means, but because the dish was that good). It was lobster ravioli with fiddleheads (local, of course), asparagus, ramps and peas (and there was some ramp crema on the plate). So seasonal and fresh, I was in heaven…only to then be served a  perfectly tender, juicy beef filet that I devoured with glee. I would make the trip to Headwaters just for dinner here.

lobster ravioli

While Cabin is quite upscale and chic in ambiance, for something casual but just as yummy, we enjoyed a lovely buffet lunch at Landman Gardens and Bakery. Charcuterie, salads, sandwiches, fresh veggies and fruit and cheese (including a phenomenal goat cheese Rebecca, our lovely host, had made) and with a dessert of raspberry crumble. All made even more delightful by enjoying it inside their charming blackhouse, where they host meals and events from May to October. I felt like I was in a fairytale.

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It’s hard to say, though, if the meal was the best part of this visit to Landman, however, because I have two words for you: baby goats.

baby goats

Yes, Landman Gardens and Bakery operates a goat farm and we got to get up close and personal with them, including some beyond adorable two-week-old goats. I had no idea baby goats were so affectionate but they were all vying for our attention and when I would pick one up, I could feel their heart beating so fast, but they’d soon calm down and just rest calmly in my arms, happy to be cuddled.

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I wanted to bring a baby goat home, but left instead with six of the Landman meat pies. Which I’ve since dug into and they are as fantastic as the lunch (I picked up a variety, from shepherd’s pie to steak and farmer’s pie and the crust is flaky and the fillings are savoury hearty deliciousness).

Over at The Friendly Chef Adventures, though, it was our turn to have a hand at cooking the food we were to eat. Our class was a quick one given our time constraints, so Chef Pam taught us how to make cold spring rolls and we prepped ingredients for a Thai stir-fry. Most useful tip I gleaned from class? How to quickly and easily seed a pepper. I’ve got a video Chef Pam’s technique on my Instagram feed if you want to learn (sorry, you’ll have to scroll back to early May!).

Last but not least, a visit to Glen Williams Glass is a must when you’re in the region so you can try your hand at glassblowing (register online for a class). Even with our very quick stop here, I had time to be carefully lead through the process of making my own cup, from initially turning the hot glass, to blowing to make the glass shape, and finally opening it up to make the top of the glass. I can’t wait to see the finished product (we had to leave our masterpieces there to be baked in the oven)!

glassblowing

It was a whirlwind two days and there’s so much I feel I didn’t get to explore in the Headwaters region that I think I should plan another road trip soon. Although even just revisiting the sweet goats would make it worth it…

into the woods at Plant Paradise

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment May 21, 2015

Foodie Swellness: Making Great Sausages class at The Healthy Butcher

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So we all look pretty giddy here, don’t we? That’s how much fun we had at the Making Great Sausages seminar at The Healthy Butcher.

I was invited to try out the 2.5-hour class a couple of weeks ago, and let me tell you, I made sure to clear my calendar for the evening. Learning how to make a favourite food from some of the best sausage makers in the city? Yes!

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In the class, we learned all about what ratio is ideal of fat to meat, about the different types of casings, what ingredients work well in sausage, and we saw how to use the stuffer and then how to twist the casings into links. Then we were divided up into small teams of two to three people and kicked up a little friendly “sausage war.” Armed with $100 of play money, our teams bid on a number of ingredients, ranging from roasted garlic to white wine. Our team (we dubbed our team Miss Piggy, since we chose to make an all-pork sausage — I was teamed up with Brea and Savannah from Abbey’s Kitchen, btw) pulled what I like to call our Boston Rob move (love him!) and used the last of our money to grab up the last ingredient just so the other teams wouldn’t get to use it. (Okaaaay, maybe not the most good sportsman-like conduct…)

Miss Piggy sausage ingredients

In our Miss Piggy pork sausage, we had roasted garlic, white wine, maple syrup, lemon juice, parsley and onion. In terms of dried herbs, we added thyme and sage.

links on the grill

After all the sausages were made, a few links from each team were fired up on the grill and we tasted each one. Yum! Alas, no winner was selected in Sausage Wars — every team’s sausage turned out delicious. I went home with several pounds of sausage, which I used in a pasta dish (and I froze the remainder — there’s only so much sausage a girl can eat in a week!).

With the holiday season coming up, I think a cooking class is great gift idea for the food lover in your life. I know I’ve added it to my list of potential gifts. And the Healthy Butcher offers a range of seminars, from butchering and fish basics to the art of the roast and knife skills.

Making Great Sausage seminar, $70. For more information on the seminars available at The Healthy Butcher, check out their website.

 

2 Comments November 14, 2014

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