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The Week In Yum - The Food and Wine Show and My Upcoming Cooking Class

First things first:
On October 3 I am going to host my first in a series of cooking classes called "Not Your Grandmother's Rutabaga" at The Kingston Social in the east end of the city. I have spent years listening to friends complain that they don't know what to do with half of the produce they find in their CSA boxes come late fall and they end up throwing half of it out. Look, I get it. I grew up eating turnip twice a year, boiled and mashed with butter and brown sugar as part of our turkey dinner and hated it. It never occurred to me that what I was eating was actually a rutabaga and that there is so much life beyond boiling and mashing.
Let me help you. I will continue this series over the winter and strive to wow and delight and turn you into a root vegetable lover by the end of it all.
Click here to register and come learn how to teach some old dogs some new tricks

The highlight of my week was the first ever Food and Wine Show right here in Toronto. Food and Wine magazine has partnered up with the former Delicious Food Show to bring their travelling culinary foodgasm extravaganza to Canada, at last. For as long as I can remember, I would get my Food and Wine magazine every month and dream about attending one of their shows. Maybe I could swing San Francisco or, at least Miami if I planned far enough in ahead. I would look at all of the photos of celebrity chefs serving up all manner of delicacies, beautiful people dressed in beautiful clothing, sipping wine and chomping on canapes while Wolfgang Puck chuckled in the background.
Le sigh.

Well, this year, Toronto was added to the roster of stops and the show did not disappoint. Holding it at the Brickworks gave the show an air of urban sophistication and despite one day of rain, the weather made it feel more like a high end farmer's market than a Ginsu Knife demo at the CNE and I, for one, was thrilled.

The weekend was chock full of celebrity chef demos, talks and interactive workshops as well as a huge array of local chefs, caterers, wineries and other producers of delicious things offering samples of their wares for a buck or two. You filled your card 

Popular Toronto chefs like Matt Basile, Mark McEwan and Rob Gentile rubbed shoulders with International stars like Curtis Stone and Tyler Florence. Montreal's Antonio Park and Connie De Sousa from Calgary (and Top Chef Canada) joined a great collection of Canadian talent to round out the weekend. There was so much going on that the thought of writing it all is making me need a nap so go and read for yourself: Just read the schedule for the weekend

Tori's Bakeshop pumping out the smoked beet magic

You could have easily spent the entire weekend there and still had a hard time tasting everything that there was to taste. Cider seemed to be the "it" beverage this year and pork still reigns supreme although there was no shortage of vegetarian/vegan/gluten free options, so there was truly something for everyone .

I was thrilled to see my neighbourhood of The Beach represented by Tori's Bakeshop with her delicious crostini with smoked beets on cashew "chevre". The Beach is not really known for it's culinary delights and Tori's is certainly a bright spot in a dark corner of the east end. It seems I am the last to know that she runs an After Hours evening thing with wine, cocktails beer and a full dinner service with sharing plates so delicious you won't even notice that it's vegan. Okay, the vegans will now line up to throw rocks at me but I don't generally get all that excited about all vegan menus but I can get really excited about this one if that smoked beet crostini is any indication.

If you missed out on this show this year, don't despair because there is always next year.

Spicy Cardamom Peach Jam

The minute I saw this recipe for Rock 'N' Rye Peach Jam, I knew I would make either this recipe or a variation of it as soon as we hit peach season. Once we brought back our delicious Niagara peaches, I kept thinking that the cardamom was screaming ARAK to me and not rye. Only a Canadian will remember using the purple, velvet Crown Royal bag as a pencil case in grade school, but suffice it to say, Rye is as Canadian as it gets. Cardamom, on the other hand, reminds me of the flavours of the Middle East while rye bellows East Coast Canada at 2am on a Saturday after gorging on smores made with a stale Aero bar and the marshmallows that I found in the back of a cupboard in my aunt's trailer.

Then I thought that cardamom required an alcohol that comes from the same part of the world and I just happen to have a bottle of Arak that I brought back from Jordan. This Levantine booze is an anise flavoured, colourless alcohol similar to Greece's Ouzo, France's Pastis and Turkish Raki but it's not nearly as syrupy and thick as some of these other beverages.

My arak is called Arak Al Zumot from the Zumot Distilleries - yes, they do make wine and spirits in the Middle East. You can't buy this outside of Jordan but you can find other brands, usually from Lebanon so do try to seek it out.

By the way, if you buy it and you want to drink arak, you mix about 1/3 arak to 2/3 water in a glass which causes the drink to become milky and opaque and at that point, you pour it over some ice in another glass. Don't just pour it over ice or it develop a greasy film on it - mix with water first. In Jordan, it is made from distilled grape juice mixed with anise seeds although other countries make it by fermenting dates, figs, plums or grains. Because this is a very potent bit of booze, it is served in tiny glasses and sipped in small quantities with mezzes and would make a terrible drink of choice for an evening out, so keep that in mind if you buy some.

Because I plan to use this spicy jam as a condiment on charcuterie and cheese plates as opposed to a sweet spread as well as cooking with it, most likely with some pork at some point over the winter, I threw in a little hot chili pepper from my garden.

Spicy Cardamom Peach Jam

adapted from Rock 'N' Rye Peach Jam

3 lbs (1.4kg)  peaches, *peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
3 cups sugar
3 tbls lime juice
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
1 small, hot chili, seeded and minced
2 tbls arak (or any other anis flavoured alcohol like ouzo or pastis)
1 tsp butter

*To peel peaches, make an x on the bottom with a knife and plunge the peaches into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and put in a bowl of ice water and then remove the peels.

You must prepare 4 250ml (1 cup) glass canning jars - put the clean jars in your canning pot, sitting on the rack and boil them for ten minutes and leave them in there until you need them. You must put hot jam into a hot glass mason jar and cold products into a cold jar or you will risk an exploding jar. You must use brand new lids (not the part you screw on, just the round lid) but Ball says you no longer need to boil them. If you want to be safe, throw your lids in with your jars for the last minute. When it's time to fill them, remove the jars with canning tongs, pour out all of the water and sit them on a clean tea towel on the counter, wiping the rims and the lids with a clean towel as well.

Mix the peaches, sugar, lime juice, chili and cardamom seeds in a big bowl, cover with a tea towel and let sit out on the counter for two hours.

Put a fine strainer over a heavy 6 quart pot and fill it with the peaches. Let this strain for about 10 minutes so that the juices drain off into the pot. Give it a couple of stirs (don't mash it) to get out a bit more juice before removing the strainer to the bowl you had the peaches in and put aside.

Bring the strained juices to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring constantly until this syrup reaches 220F - it took me about 12 minutes but start checking the temperature after about 7 minutes.

At that point, add the peaches and any juices in the bowl into the pot and cook for another 10 minutes. Mix in the butter, remove from the heat and stir in the arak.

To fill the jars, use a canning funnel if you want to keep your sanity. Fill each jar, leaving 1/2" head room, wipe the rim clean if you didn't use a funnel, slap on a clean lid, tighten the screw on ring and lower into your pot of boiling water and process for ten minutes. Make sure the jars are covered by at least 2" of water in the pot.

Remove the jars from the water bath and sit in a cool, dark place with the jars not touching, and let them sit, undisturbed for 24 hours. Today's lids have a little bit in the centre that you can depress with your finger that should disappear if a proper seal is achieved so if you press on the centre of the lid the next day and it still pushes in a bit, keep that jar in the fridge because it didn't seal.

The Week in Yum Sept 11-18 TIFF, Zomato at Parts and Labour and the Toronto Food and Wine Show

Seeds of Persephone featuring Dillon's White Rye and their Absinthe created by Chantelle Gabino at Parts and Labour

The week was almost entirely about TIFF for me. The Toronto Film Festival is always a busy time for me and it usually means that I don't eat much since dinner usually means a couple of glasses of wine when I finally get home before I crash following a steady diet of coffee and candy during the day. Thank god I don't smoke or else I would need to be put on a respirator at the end of the festival instead of just needing to dry out and sleep for a week.
my week in shoes

So, this week was actually a treat since, apart from a couple of quick little jobs on my down days, I spent the entire week taking care of one actor. When that one actor happens to be a charming and handsome man who is surrounded by lovely people, that means that I am having a great time. Add to that, getting photos like this out of the gig - makes me ALMOST want to hashtag #blessed (don't worry, that will never happen):

photo of Jeremy Irons: Austin Hargrave

salmon crudo topped my list of faves
Thankfully, Zomato, the restaurant search site that is quickly taking over the universe, hosted a meetup for some of their active contributors at Parkdale's Parts and Labour. I discovered Zomato when I was in Portugal, looking for restaurants while we were travelling around the country. Zomato helped me find that best grilled sardines in tiny, seaside towns and I shared my reviews of the places that we enjoyed on our trip so when Zomato landed here in Canada, I was already familiar with their service. I have never been a Yelper but I have always depended on Urban Spoon in North America, contributing my blog reviews to their data base. Zomato has since purchased Urban Spoon, making them THE go to app when you are looking for a place to eat. You just hit the "nearby" button and all of the restaurants that are closest to you will pop up with ratings, user reviews, menu info etc. 

So, Zomato and Parts & Labour partnered up with my favourite distillery, Dillon's to treat a group of us to dinner and far too many delicious cocktails. I dragged my date along with me to eat and drink our faces off and meet some of the other bloggers and food lovers who contribute their reviews to Zomato. We shared a bunch of tasty menu items while we sipped on an array of cocktails featuring different Dillon's products prepared by the lovely and talented Chantelle Gabino, the director of wines and spirits at Parts and Labour. We got there at 7pm and the food just kept coming so by 10pm, we had to cry uncle and roll our bloated bellies out the door before the Flintone's style Braised Veal Shank even came out. 

Normally, my go to gin has been Dillon's Unfiltered Gin 22 since the first sip so this was a great chance to try their new Vermouth and Absinthe and the limited run of Strawberry Gin that will go on sale (and promptly sell out) any minute. Gabino's Strawberry Negroni alone is reason enough for me to preorder both the vermouth and the strawberry gin the second that they go live online.
I also managed to squeeze in some dim sum at Luckee with Shack since he spent the week driving me to work and picking me up because he is a gem.

Straight from TIFF into the Food and Wine Show fire for me!
Today marks the start of the three day food orgy that is taking place at The Brickworks, here in Toronto. Over 200 exhibitors, more celebrity chefs than you can shake a stick at and so much delicious food and drink to taste and discover that you will truly experience culinary nirvana. The show opens today and runs until 6pm on Sunday.

The Week in Yum Sept 4-11 Southbrook Farmer's Table, Farm Boy and My Hot and Spicy Long Weekend

Chef Shawn Murphy and Quiet Acres
Okay, things have gotten off to a a late start this year, what with the wonky long weekend dates, but here we are. The Kid is back in school (GRADE 11 FOR THE LOVE OF PEARL AND SPORTING VIABLE FACIAL HAIR) and TIFF started last night. These two events have been intertwined since the kid started going to school. Every year I felt like I was the only mom who missed the welcome picnic, who didn't get to walk her kid to school or even say hello to her child until the film festival finally ended. Now, he doesn't need me for much more than making his lunch and I no longer work the entire festival and life has settled down. Okay, enough of that.

I had a great week in Yum, starting with my food demo at The Hot and Spicy Festival as part of the "Ten for the Next Gen" program. Ten chefs shared something that they would like to pass on to the next generation, something that was passed on to them. For my presentation, I chose to make my beef/lamb/mushroom kofta and talked about the Blend and Extend and spread the mushroom gospel.

As someone who has spent her life being told that she talks to much (my brothers nicknamed me motor mouth - reason #45 that my kid is an only child) doing these demos and teaching has finally tapped into my two biggest talents in life - cooking and talking. It takes some of us longer than others to find our calling.

Malivoire makes for a great winery too too

I woke up Monday craving Niagara peaches so we set off, top down, and went for a long, meandering drive which took us first to Malivoire Winery where we bought a couple of bottles of Musque Spritz. It tastes a lot like vihno verde except instead of $10 it's closer to $20 but it is the perfect summer, sitting on the porch wine. Effervescent , a bit sweet and only 9% alcohol so you can drink more of it without getting so tipsy. I love it.

Feeling peckish, I suggested that we swing by Southbrook Winery for a bit of lunch. I had brought Shack along with me to the media lunch I attended at the beginning of the summer and we both absolutely loved our meal so returning for more was a very appealing idea.

It's such a pretty spot at Southbrook. We grabbed a table on the patio and had just ordered a charcuterie platter and two glasses of rose when Chef Shawn murphy strode through the doors. From that moment on, food just kept coming to the table as he laughed and cracked "I hope you two are hungry" from his outdoor kitchen counter.
"It's waaaaaafer thin"

We loved our charcuterie - all made in house and delicious - the pork rillette was my favourite. Calling the tomato salad a tomato salad belies the wonder of the array of freshly picked, warm tomatoes, fresh from his garden. I think there were at least five variaties on the plate, including the most amazing green tomatoes that I have ever had. Delicious.

The lamb burger, the pickerel sitting on top of a naturally sweet and creamy corn puree - it was all just delicious. When he finished us off with the daily pizza (braised lamb and more green tomato) I had to throw up my hands and beg him to stop - we were like two little goldfish who lack the ability to know that we are full and, at any minute, we could just blow up where we sit. To walk the food off, he took us for a tour of his garden, grown on an empty planting row between grapes and then sent us on our way to buy Peaches at Quiet Acres.

We paid for the things that we had ordered and the rest of the food was comped by the chef who was clearly trying to murder us with delicious food. All opinions are still my own and I am still alive so he might be a great chef, but he is a terrible hit man.

If you live near Whitby and you haven't stopped by Farm Boy yet, it is absolutely worth a visit. We took a drive from the city to see what all the fuss is about. Farm Boy is all about service and good quality so don't go looking for bargains but I would say the prices are in line with Loblaws so it's not all that bad. All soups and fresh, prepared foods are made on site and the store is spotless. With lots of stores in Ottawa and London Ontario, this is as close to Toronto as they have come so you will have to brave the drive if you want to shop here for now.

I have heard that they are kind of going for a Trader Joe vibe and with their folksy graphics and high end private label products, they are certainly on the way but until they have a Farm Boy Spekulas Cookie Butter, I will still be driving to Buffalo for my Trader Joe fixes.


A batch of spicy peaches with a middle eastern flair was the first thing I did with my Quiet Acre peaches (recipe coming next week) and then I spent the rest of the week testing some Korean recipes for an upcoming "open mic" dinner that I will be doing at The Deppaneur  in October.

Don't forget that the Food and Wine Show is fast approaching - I am soooo excited to attend this shindig and you should be too.

Pinterest of the week: Bookmark this for Thanksgiving, you will thank me

Instagram of the week: This Berlin based food stylist and photographer's feed is stunning

Facebook share of the week:

#TOmoms - Check out "Plan it! Pack it! Eat it! Hands-on class to teach kids how to help plan and..." via @Eventbrite
Posted by The Yum Yum Factor on Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tweet of the week:  

Mini Kofta with Beets, Hummus and Zhug at The Hot and Spicy Food Festival

As one of the ten chefs participating in the Ten for the Next Gen Series at Harbourfront's Hot and Spicy Food Festival  I was tasked with coming up with something that would fit the themes of sustainability and passing traditions on to the next generation. Since I can't really draw on my own family traditions, unless I wanted to pass along my mom's delicious Sherif's lemon meringue pie and, don't get me wrong, she made a mean Sherif's lemon meringue pie, I was going to think outside the box and come up with something of my very own.

Back To School With a Giant Batch of Chicken Salsa Verde Burritos

I have a cooking demo coming up this weekend at Harbourfront for the Hot and Spicy Festival where will talk about Blend and Extend while serving up my Mushroom Beef Kofta. To freshen your memory, Blend and Extend is a marriage between Mushrooms Canada and Ontario Beef where you replace a portion of ground beef with ground mushrooms in your recipes. This makes your meat go farther, cuts out lots of saturated fat, adds a portion of vegetable to the dish and really just lightens up whatever you are making. Because of this, my brain is on a full on blend and extend, mushroom trajectory.

Now, The Kid has been gainfully employed all summer long at Harbourfront as a nerd camp counsellor but because his bento doesn't fit in his Murse (ManPurse) that he takes to work, he has been taking a smaller lunch bag with only cold items. It has been the summer of sandwiches for the poor, young soul who has had to learn to love sandwiches in a hurry.

School starts next week and school means his big backpack returns and that means the bento reappears so we can pack hot lunches again. In the spirit of full disclosure, my freezer stash is now pretty empty and if I don't get a move on, he will have to eat fries and gravy for the next couple of weeks and I will lose my shiny, mom badge if i let that happen.

That is what finds us here, in need for lunches so I decided to make a huge batch of burritos for him.  I wasn't sure what kind of burritos I would make until I went to the market and when you find fresh poblano chilis AND fresh tomatillos there, you really have no other choice but to buy them, right? Instead of making my standard Chili Verde (usually the result of finding those two items at the same time) I decided to use up a big package of frozen chicken thighs so I could blend and extendasize them.

Because I am not a huge burrito lover, myself, I ate some of the filling on a bowl of rice with a bit of pico de gallo and queso fresco and it was equally delicious that way too so keep that in mind because this makes a big batch of chicken. I was quite happy to have a bit leftover to keep for myself.

Chicken Mushroom Salsa Verde Burritos

I got about 10 large burritos using 12" wraps

*Ground Chicken/Mushroom with Salsa Verde
I like to grind my own chicken using the attachment on my Kitchen Aid but you can also just buy ground chicken

1 kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs OR ground chicken
1/2 kg (500g) white button mushrooms
650 g fresh poblano chilis ( or a 480g can)
380g tomatillos  (or a 1lb/12oz can)
1/2 head garlic
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
pinch kosher salt
1 onion, chopped
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbls cumin

If you are using thighs, grind them in your meat grinder and put the ground chicken straight into the fridge to keep very cold.

Wipe your mushrooms clean and halve them. Pulse the mushrooms in the food processor until they are finely chopped and set aside.

If using fresh poblano chilis:
Preheat oven to 425F
put the whole chilis on a parchment lined baking pan and roast for about 35 minutes. After they are blistered and soft, put them in a bowl and cover tightly. Let them rest for at least ten minute before removing seeds and skin and chopping.
If using canned, drain and chop.

If using fresh tomatillos:
Preheat the broiler and put the tomatillos and unpeeled garlic cloves on a foil lined baking sheet and broil for about 5 minutes, until tomatillos are blistered and browned and then turn and do another 5 minutes on the other side. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.
If using canned, drain and set aside.

At that point, put the tomatillos in the blender with the peeled garlic, cilantro and 1/2 cup of water and pulse until you have a thick puree. Taste, add a pinch of kosher salt and taste again to make sure it is to your liking. Set this chili verde aside.

Heat a large, heavy pan over med-high heat and pour in a good glug of olive oil. Saute the onion until soft before adding in the ground mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they have released their water and they are starting to brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Add another glug of olive oil and add the ground chicken. Cook, stirring frequently, until there is no pink left. At that point, add the mushrooms back in as well as the poblanos, the chili verde, 3/4 cup chicken stock, more salt to taste, freshly ground pepper and 1 tbls cumin. Bring to a boil and then simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 30 to 45 minutes.

When most of the liquid has evaporated and the meat/mushroom mixture is thick, let cool and set aside until you are ready to assemble the burritos.

To assemble the burritos:
*Ground Chicken and Salsa Verde

Cooked and cooled rice ( I used basmati)

Can refried black beans

Pico de gallo or salsa ( made pico by mixing 2 1/2 cups finely diced tomato with a handful of chopped cilantro, juice from 1 lime, minced hot chili to taste, apinch kosher salt and a chopped scallion)

queso fresco , approx 300g (if you like them really cheesy please feel free to add or sub in grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar or any other cheese of your choosing)

10-12 large wraps

For each burrito:

Lay out a wrap
smear a bit of refried beans on the bottom
add about a cup of rice
Spread some chicken/mushroom - depends on the size of your wrap
sprinkle some crumbled queso fresco
scatter a bit of pico de gallo or salsa

For instructions and pictures on how to assemble and freeze them, click here

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