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Zomato Meetup at The Good Son

22 Feb

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I haven’t had a fabulous vegetarian meal at a Toronto restaurant in long time. Now, I know that Toronto has a number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants but I’m talking about great vegetarian dishes at “regular” restaurants, so I can enjoy a meal with my carnivore of a husband (I say that with love!). Just when I was about to give up hope, along came the amazing team at Zomato with an invitation to join them for a #ZomatoMeetup dinner at The Good Son. I quickly scanned the menu before heading downtown and I saw a few veggie dishes that sounded tasty, so I felt confident that there would be something for me to eat. Who knew that I was about to have a very exciting and memorable meal….

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I arrived to see that the Zomato group had reserved a large table near the Chef’s station…yippee! As soon as I saw that, I knew we were in for a treat. If you’ve never sat near the kitchen or at the “Chef’s Table” in a restaurant, make an effort to do so. You’ll be close to the action, you’ll get to hear all of those glorious kitchen sounds and you’ll often be surprised with off menu dishes and treats. To me, they are the best seats in the house. At the table were Zomato’s Toronto team, including Justin, Jimena and Pam and a group of fellow bloggers from a mix of food and lifestyle sites. Zomato is an online and mobile restaurant discovery platform and social food network, with presence in over 13 countries and 44 cities. They just upped their game and recently purchased Urbanspoon too!

I did some reading about Zomato before coming to the event and I found out that their team physically collects information from every single restaurant/cafe/bar in town (menus, photos, pricing, timings etc.) and they make sure this information is always up to date. Users of Zomato (which is free to join by the way!) have the unique opportunity to rate and review restaurants, follow other foodies and create a trusted network of people whose opinions they value, all based around one common love… food! They also have the opportunity to “wish list” restaurants, upload photos and tag their friends. It’s a really cool platform, so I do hope you’ll check it out. If you do join, please look me up under Sandy Avvari Nayani.

So why am I sharing this information? I wasn’t asked to share it, I want to share it, because the Zomato team is fiercely passionate about food and the work that they do and I don’t see people with that amount of passion very often. I’ve been using Zomato for a few weeks now and I can already see the benefits of it as I’m able to check out which restaurants my foodie friends have checked into and take a look at photos of the dishes they’ve had. It’s been a great resource so far.

So now onto the meal at The Good Son….oh and what a meal it was. There was a set menu for the evening and I was the only vegetarian at the table, so the restaurant made a special effort to provide me with dishes from their regular menu or vegetarian versions of dishes the rest of the group was having.

IMG_4469First course: Shishito peppers wrapped in potato. Crunchy, spicy goodness with a ton of flavour. I’ve never had anything like it. Oh yeah.

IMG_4464Second course: Watercress salad with poached pear, blue cheese and caramelized onion. It was my first watercress salad and it won’t be my last, the flavours were just incredible.

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Third course: Sweet potato soup with coconut milk. It was warm and comforting on a cold day. There was so much flavor in this soup, I could have eaten bowls of it.

IMG_4468Fourth course: Dupuy lentils with kale. It was so delicious I couldn’t even stand it. One of my favourite dishes of the evening. Where has this dish been all my life? Why haven’t I had Dupuy lentils before? So many questions….

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Fifth course: Spicy brussels sprouts. Another favourite of the evening. Sweet, spicy, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside…wow, wow, wow. Why haven’t I had them like this before? Mind blown.

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Sixth course: Rapini and roasted cauliflower with potato purée. A simple and delicious way to start winding down the meal.

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Seventh course: Poached pear with a Riesling sabayon, pear gelée and chocolate crunch. Lots of great textures, with a ton of flavour. A small but mighty dessert!

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Eighth course: We were all stuffed and happy and just when we thought the meal was over, out came this amazing dessert from Pastry Chef Sat Shastri – red velvet cake with chocolate mousse, cherries and meringue. It was huge and we easily could have shared the dessert and we all started to protest, but Chef Shastri insisted that we just dig in. It was not only beautiful to look at but also incredibly delicious to eat : ) Most of us managed to finish more than half of the dessert, myself included!

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While I was swooning over the creativity and care that went into my vegetarian meal, there were yelps and moans of foodie pleasure at the rest of the table, where my fellow food lovers were savoring their meat and seafood dishes. All in all, I felt that The Good Son did an amazing job at catering to everyone at the table, which to me is a huge feat. Huge thanks to Chef Vittorio Colacitti and the team at The Good Son for a fantastic vegetarian meal, the best I’ve had in a long time! Thank you Justin, Jimena and Pam from Zomato for creating an evening of great food and great people, I’m so thankful that I had a chance to enjoy a #ZomatoMeetup. If they are all this amazing, I would be happy to join again : ) See you again very soon Chef Colacitti! XO

Info:

Zomato – https://www.zomato.com

Zomato’s Toronto feed – https://www.zomato.com/toronto

The Good Son

1096 Queen Street West (at Dovercourt)

Toronto, ON M6J 1H9

Tel: 416-551-0589

Website: http://thegoodsontoronto.com

About Chef Vittorio Colacitti (from The Good Son’s website)

Born and raised in Toronto, Chef Colacitti, learned his culinary art from some of the best names in Toronto’s restaurant industry including: Lorenzo Loseto (George), Scot Woods (Lucien), and Didier Leroy who is a master Chef of France.  Chef Colacitti’s craft in the kitchen also draws from several years of international experience, having studied at the Thai & International Food Academy, staging in various regions across Italy and working as a stagiaire at Thomas Keller’s, Bouchon.

 

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Spaghettini with Roasted Beet and Poppy Seed + a CONTEST!

4 Feb

 

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Disclosure: Italpasta provided me with a gift card to purchase the ingredients for this recipe.

I love pasta and I could eat it every day of the week if I had to. I’m serious. There are so many pasta shapes and so many ways to eat it that I’m sure I wouldn’t run out of options.

I was excited when Italpasta asked me to try a vegetarian recipe for pasta lovers, perfect for Valentine’s Day, featuring Italpasta Total Pasta Spaghettini. It’s a white pasta with the goodness of 10 grams of fibre packed into each serving, a great option for hubby and I because as much as we enjoy whole wheat and other “healthy” pastas, sometimes we just want (at least what looks like) the regular stuff!

This recipe features butter, spaghettini, beets and goat cheese and they all combine together to form a simple and tasty dish with a beautiful, vibrant beet red finish, perfect for Valentine’s Day or if you’re having guests over and want to impress them. At first I wasn’t sure about adding poppy seeds to the dish but they ended up adding a nice crunch. The texture of the spaghettini was perfect, I never would have known that I was eating a high fibre pasta. We’re adding this dish to our pasta rotation, that’s how much we both liked it! #win

I’ve added some of my own notes in the recipe below. If you make it and have any tips to share, please leave a comment below this post. Happy cooking!

P.S. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter my delicious Valentine’s Day contest to win an Italpasta “For Pasta Lovers” prize pack.

Italpasta’s Spaghettini with Roasted Beet and Poppy Seed

Link: http://www.italpasta.com/recipes-spaghettini-with-roasted-beet.php

Serves 2

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

½ pound      Italpasta Total Pasta Spaghettini         225 g

2                     small roasted red beets, peeled and cut into wedges (Sandy’s notes: You can save time by roasting the beets a few days before making this recipe).

2 tbsps          unsalted butter            30mL

1 tbsp             Italpasta Extra Virgin Olive Oil 15mL

1                      small shallot, minced  (Sandy’s notes: I used half of a small onion)

1 tbsp             poppy seeds   15mL

2                      sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped

salt and pepper

¼ cup              crumbled soft ripened goats cheese, for serving      60mL

(Sandy’s notes: I quickly roasted the beets by peeling them and cutting them into cubes. Then I tossed them in a little olive oil, sea salt and pepper and I spread them out on a baking sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper. I roasted them at 425 F for 30 minutes. You may need longer depending on the size of the beets. While you have your beets in the oven, consider making some roasted potatoes or another dish to save on energy.)

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente or to your taste. Drain and reserve ½ cup pasta water.

In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, brown the butter. Reduce the heat slightly, add extra-virgin olive oil, and stir to combine. Add minced shallot, and cook for 2 minutes, until softened, stir in poppy seeds. Toast the seeds for 1-2 minutes.

To the shallots and poppy seeds, add the chopped beets and thyme, stir for 1-2 minutes. Add ½ cup of pasta water to the skillet. Simmer the sauce over medium heat for 2 minutes. (Sandy’s notes: At this point, I added a ½ teaspoon of chili flakes to add a little spice to the dish).

(Sandy’s notes: This next step is key…stir quickly and constantly to cover all of your pasta with that beautiful red sauce otherwise it will be unevenly coloured.)

Transfer pasta to the skillet and cook for 1 minute until combined, stirring constantly. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasoning. Serve in warm pasta bowls and top with crumbled goat’s cheese.

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If you loved the look of this pasta, Italpasta has a second Valentine’s Day inspired pasta recipe – Red Wine Spaghetti: http://www.italpasta.com/recipes-red-wine-spaghetti.php

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If you’re looking for more ways to impress your loved one on Valentine’s Day, visit Italpasta’s special Pinterest board with tips on how to set the perfect table, host Valentine’s Day on a budget and of course, cook up some awesome pasta recipes here: http://www.pinterest.com/forpastalovers/valentine-s-is-for-pasta-lovers/

Get more tips and recipes from Italpasta here:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ForPastaLovers

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ItalpastaLimited

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/forpastalovers

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/forpastalovers/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ForPastaLovers

CONTEST – Enter to Win a Valentine’s Day Italpasta “For Pasta Lovers” prize pack!

Enter to win a prize pack valued at over $50. It will include:

  • A supply of Italpasta Tradizionale Pasta
  • Apron
  • Cheese Grater

To enter:

1) Follow me on Twitter @savvari or www.twitter.com/savvari

2) Follow Italpasta on Twitter at @forpastalovers or www.twitter.com/forpastalovers

3) Retweet my contest tweet OR tweet this message:

I want to win a #ValentinesDay prize pack from @savvari and Italpasta @forpastalovers http://bit.ly/1vszYbL #forpastalovers

Get a second chance to win by leaving a comment below this post. Tell me what your favourite pasta shape is and what your favourite way to prepare it is – macaroni with cheese? Linguine with alfredo sauce? If you have a great recipe, let me know! If you don’t use Twitter, this would be your method of entry.

You can enter on both Twitter and on the blog post once per day each until the end of the contest. Contest runs until Sunday February 15 at 5 pm EST, so get your entries in!

Additional info:

  • There is one (1) Italpasta prize pack to be won.
  • The winner will be announced by Monday February 15 at 5 pm EST.
  • The contest is open only to residents of Canada.
  • Prize will be shipped directly to the winner. A Canadian shipping address must be provided.
  • Total value of the prize is $50

 

 

Persimon Pizza

17 Jan

Please enjoy this guest blog post from Kimberly Toureiro a.k.a @KitchenSprout. Have you ever had persimmons on pizza? After checking out this recipe that’s suitable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, I think you’ll want to give it a try!

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Behold! The rare jewels of Spain; precious Persimons! From Ribera del Xuquer their harvest commences in the fall, and are available in limited quantities and for a limited time, from October until January only. Persimon branded persimmons, like the tomato, are not properly considered to be “berries”, but in terms of botanical morphology, the fruit is in fact a berry. This fruit is of the “Diospyros” family, which is a genus of 700 species of evergreen trees, shrubs and small bushes. The word “Diospyros” comes from the ancient Greek words “dios” and “pyros” and when translated means “divine fruit” or “divine food” – on first bite I will attest to the accuracy of the description of this obscure gem!

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The characteristics of the “Persimon” from Ribera del Xuquer differ from other persimmon varieties. They are:

1) Bright orange and tend to be larger and longer

2) Are firm and ready to eat (unlike other persimmon varieties, which must be consumed when they are soft)

3) Are not astringent (bitter) thanks to a naturally occurring ripening process

4) Have a sweet, delicate flavour similar to a peach or a mango

Persimon del Xuquer were given the name, Persimon, intentionally spelled with one “m” and were given a registered trademark.  Persimon was also granted a “Denomination of Origin” designation by the Spanish government. This highly coveted quality seal is the only one existing in the world for a persimmon fruit variety and is recognized by the European Union.

I was requested to participate in a Persimon blogger program in late December, whereby I received a case of Persimons from Ribera del Xuquer. In the basket there were five simple and enticing recipes for me to choose from, varying from snacks, mains and dessert. I choose to have a Christmas gathering of six people and I decided to take my guests on a journey to “Espana Autentica” – this provided me with a platform to not only enlighten my guests about this “divine fruit” but to demonstrate the ease of creating any of these seductive dishes. The choice was Persimon and Chorizo Pizza; this particular recipe accommodates both meat eaters as well as vegetarians, as the chorizo can be replaced with soy-based pepperoni. Choosing the pizza ensured crowd involvement, so that each one them could modify their own pizza to their desired tastes. Needless to say everyone loves pizza! It has become an international staple for the young and old, and from culture to culture.

Admittedly the sumptuous persuasion to attempt this dish was predicated on the actual and exotic combination of flavors to be found therein. Trending with “social media” lingo for “foodies” it ranks high on the “foodporn” and “mouthgasm” scale. It possesses spicy, tangy, sweet and savory all in one sensual bite. Leonardo DaVinci was once quoted as saying “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Perhaps he had just indulged upon this very meal! Enough of the foreplay of this gastronomic adventure, let’s get to the ingredients and steps of creating this alluring pizza.

Ingredients:

500g        pizza dough

2              Persimons, thinly sliced crosswise

2 tbsp      lemon juice

1 cup       thinly sliced spicy chorizo or soy-based pepperoni

1/2 cup    shaved Manchego cheese

2 tsp        balsamic glaze

2 cups     baby arugula

1 tsp        olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425F

On a lightly oiled work surface divide dough in half.  Roll and stretch to form either rectangles or circles. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets.

Toss Persimon slices with lemon juice and arrange on dough, top with chorizo or soy-based pepperoni slices.

Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with shaved cheese and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Toss arugula with oil, salt and pepper and scatter on pizzas just before serving.

Serves 4

PER SERVING (1/4 recipe or 1/2 pizza)

573 calories, 23g fat, 9g saturated fat, 46mg cholesterol, 1053mg sodium, 76g carbohydrates, 3g fibre, 12g sugars, 21g protein, %RDI: 20% calcium, 45% iron, 4% vitamin A, 60% vitamin C

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In closing, I am honored to have been selected to participate in the Persimon blogger program; not only was it the perfect kick-start to the Christmas season, but made for a very informative and taste perceptive venture.  My guests and myself, admittedly rookies, indulged in our first time making homemade pizza…scratch that one off the bucket list. The peppery arugula, once blended with the sweet Persimon, was a symphony for the taste buds, and then the music continued to play in the form of the tart balsamic, delicate cheese and spicy chorizo and soy-based pepperoni. Being a culinary writer, I am often approached as to where certain items are best prepared. Coincidentally last Saturday, I was asked which were my top 3 pizzas for 2014.  Without reflection I immediately articulated “my house!” – the “divine fruit” Persimon, with its sweet suasion invigorated in all of us the joyful art of pizza making.

Be sure to visit the Persimon website to enter to win a trip to Spain! Click here for more info – http://persimonsays.com/contest/

Links: 

Website: http://www.persimonsays.com

Twitter: @persimonsays

Hashtag: #persimonsays

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About Kimberly Toureiro @KitchenSprout

Guest blogger Kimberly Toureiro is an accomplished and accredited food writer and food enthusiast, published locally and internationally, who is passionate about all things culinary and wine related.

Raised in Newmarket, Ontario, Kimberly – better known as the Kitchen Sprout – has lived most of her life in the bustling and multi-cultural city of Toronto, having broadened her taste buds with international fare from an early age. Never having met a meal she didn’t appreciate or a bottle of wine she didn’t enjoy, Kimberly continues to explore the ever-changing world of food trends.

When not attending menu tastings or food-related events, Kimberly can be found at a local farmer’s market, selecting fresh ingredients for her next great at-home meal.

Margherita Penne

27 Nov

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I love the Milk Calendar. I’ve been kind of obsessed with it since I was younger and I would read all of the recipes over and over again and ask my mom which ones we could try. Since we were vegetarian, there were only a few recipes we could try, so it was pretty easy to pick them out!

I was excited to get a copy of the 2015 Milk Calendar this year, even more so because I once again had the opportunity to try one of the recipes, with ingredients generously provided by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. The test recipe this time was Margherita Penne and I knew I would enjoy this dish as soon as I saw the ingredients list. Tomatoes, bocconcini, basil…..yum!

Margherita Penne

Link to the original recipe from the 2015 Milk Calendar recipe site (please note that I have not changed the original recipe, I’ve just included my own notes below) – http://www.dairygoodness.ca/recipes/margherita-penne

Course – Main Dishes

Prep. Time – 10 mins

Cooking Time – 13 mins

Yields – 4 to 6 Servings

This yummy pasta is based on the classic pizza margherita, which is topped with tomato sauce, cheese and fresh basil – sometimes the simplest things taste the best.

Sandy’s notes:

-The recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp of dried thyme but I’m not a huge fan of thyme in pasta dishes so I only added a 1/2 tsp. It was more than enough to flavor the dish nicely in my opinion. I think 1 tsp of dried oregano would be a great substitute as well.

-If you want to be able to see the bocconcini in the dish then add it in seconds before serving it, otherwise it will melt into the pasta.

-While I enjoyed this pasta hot, I enjoyed it even more after I reheated it the next day. I just needed to add a few tablespoons of water to get the sauce going again.

-See additional tips from the Dairy Farmers of Canada below the recipe.

Ingredients:

12       oz  (375 g) penne pasta

2          tbsp  (30 mL) butter

4          cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2  tsp       (7 mL) dried thyme

1/2     tsp       (2 mL) salt

1/4     tsp       (1 mL) hot pepper flakes

2          tbsp    (30 mL) all-purpose flour

2 1/2  cups    (625 mL) Milk

2          cups    (500 mL) cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/2     cup      (125 mL) grated Canadian Parmesan

12       1-inch (2.5 cm) mini Canadian Bocconcini

1/2     cup      (125 mL) fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Canadian Parmesan, for serving

Preparation:

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for about 11 min or until al dente, or according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, thyme, salt and hot pepper flakes. Cook 1 min. Sprinkle with flour; cook, whisking for 1 min. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Whisk for 3 to 5 min or until smooth and thickened. Stir in tomatoes and Parmesan.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour in sauce; toss, stirring 1 to 2 min over medium heat to coat pasta. Stir in Bocconcini, basil and salt to taste, if needed. Serve with grated Parmesan.

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Tips from the Dairy Farmers of Canada:

-Bocconcini come in different sizes, so if you need to cut the balls, the pieces should be about ¾-inch (2 cm) in size.

-Try cubes of Mozzarella instead of Bocconcini.

-Add some of your favourite pizza toppings to the sauce, such as pepperoni, olives or sun-dried tomatoes. Or use your favourite short pasta in place of penne.

To check out the rest of the recipes from the 2015 Milk Calendar, please visit – http://www.dairygoodness.ca/milk/my-milk-calendar/recipes/year/2015

 

The Delicious Food Show is back from October 17 to 19

16 Sep

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Disclosure: I’ve received a media pass for the Delicious Food Show.

One of my favourite food shows, the Delicious Food Show (DFS14), is back on in Toronto from October 17 to 19 at the Direct Energy Centre. My husband and I had a great time at the show a few years ago and a highlight for us was meeting Padma Lakshmi from Top Chef. We’re both huge fans and it was terrific to have a chance to speak with her at the show and get a signed copy of one of her cookbooks. The show featured a wide range of exhibitors and we were able to try new products, learn about new kitchen tools and watch demos/talks featuring some amazing chefs.

This year, I’m excited for another 3 days of food, cooking and information about entertaining from the creators of DFS14. Once again, hundreds of exhibitors will be there with live cooking demos, tastings and hands-on workshops.

This year’s lineup of chefs includes Mario Batali, Tyler Florence, Dominique Ansel, Chuck Hughes, Nadia G, Mark McEwan, Lucinda Scala Quinn, Roger Mooking and more over the course of one action packed weekend. If you love food, you’ll want to check out this show. See you there!

ABOUT THE SHOW:

For information and tickets, visit: http://www.deliciousfoodshow.com

LOCATION:

Direct Energy Centre, Hall A
100 Princes’ Blvd
Toronto, ON M6K3C3

DFS14 SHOW DATES & HOURS:

Friday, October 17th, 2014: 10AM – 9PM
(Note: Nadia G’s Bitchin’ After Party at Gladstone Hotel, Toronto: 9PM – 1AM)
Saturday, October 18th, 2014: 10AM – 8PM
Sunday, October 19th, 2014: 10AM – 6PM

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Hashtag: #DFS14
Twitter: @DeliciousShow
Facebook: /DeliciousFoodShow
Instagram: @deliciousfoodshow
Pinterest: /deliciousshow

Meals With My Munchkin: Il Fornello Richmond Hill

7 Sep

Note: This is not a sponsored post. We chose the restaurant and we paid for our meal.

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My baby son Ronin is now 3 months old and my husband and I have become a bit braver, so we’ve started to take him out to restaurants with us. Heading out with a baby comes with a few special challenges as every trip out requires a few extra steps of planning. Given this, my goal is to find restaurants that will easily welcome my husband, son and I when we want to have a meal out. Welcome to a new series, Meals with My Munchkin, where I’ll review my vegetarian meal at restaurants we’ve been to with our son and share my thoughts on how baby friendly the restaurant was. I’m hoping these posts will help other moms and dads feel brave enough to head out to restaurants with their babies.

We recently went to Montreal for our first road trip with the baby and it was there that he went to his first proper restaurant (blog post to come!). Since our outings there went so well, we decided to check out one of our local restaurants, Il Fornello Richmond Hill, for their weekly pizza special. Since we now dine with a baby, I called ahead to try and book a table for 3 people, so that we would have a decent amount of space for us and Ronin’s car seat. They were happy to take our reservation, which was terrific!

Our meal:

Il Fornello Richmond Hill had their Tuesday pizza special on, with all pizzas priced at $10 each (dine-in only). My husband ordered the Pizza Melanzane with tomato sauce, ricotta di bufala, sautéed spinach, eggplant, oven roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. It was delicious and I loved all of the toppings, especially the oven roasted tomatoes.

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I ordered the Salsicccia Italiana pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, caramelized onions and roasted red pepper (there was Italian sausage in the ingredients list but I asked to have it omitted). I enjoyed this pizza too, as the caramelized onions and roasted red peppers almost melted into the cheeses on the pizza, creating a sweet and salty flavour combination which I loved. We both wanted a bit of a kick on our pizzas so we asked for some of their chill oil on the side. It worked well with the pizza and we ended up dipping our slices into it while eating….yum : )
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Their Tuesday menu also has two versions of their gnocchi on special for $12, so we ordered the gnocchi with rosé sauce as well. Best decision of the night! The gnocchi was soft and pillowy and the sauce was nice and creamy, it was a perfect match. The serving size was perfect for sharing as we both found that it would have been too heavy for just one of us to have. Overall, the food was great, so great that we are going back with friends next week!
The checklist: 
Baby friendly? Yes! The staff member who answered the phone didn’t seem to mind at all when I said we would be bringing our baby son.
Car seat friendly? Yes. When I called I booked a table for 2 + a car seat and the staff were kind enough to give us a table for 4 so that we would have enough room for our son.
High chairs? Yes, high chairs are available.
Stroller friendly? Yes. The restaurant advised that strollers are accepted. The restaurant is at ground level and there are accessibility buttons on the doors.
Change table? No. The women’s washroom did not have a change table : ( However, they did have a decent amount of additional counter space, which I was able to use for a diaper change. In my mind that is better than nothing.
Would we come back here with our baby? Yes, definitely! Hopefully they will install a change table, if they did this restaurant would be a perfect option for moms and dads with babies.
Restaurant info: 
Il Fornello Richmond Hill
8851 Yonge Street
Richmond Hill, Ontario
L4C 6Z1
Tel: 905-530-1153
Do you have a restaurant recommendation for the Meals with My Munchkin series? Let me know!
 

“Waldorf” Berry Salad

11 Aug

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Disclosure: Dairy Farmers of Canada provided me with a basket of fresh ingredients so that I could try this recipe. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post.

I haven’t posted to Milk & Eggs in a long time and there’s a very good reason for it, I had a baby (my first) in May and time has just flown by! As a new mom, I’m on the hunt for quick and tasty vegetarian recipes – bonus points if I can make it and store it in the fridge to have it the following day or days later. So I was quite excited to be asked by Dairy Farmers of Canada to try a recipe which would combine fresh local berries and real cream made from 100% Canadian milk. Dairy Farmers of Canada joined forces with chefs from across Canada to create new recipes that combine berries and cream, seriously one of life’s greatest combinations.

The recipe I chose was Chef Michael Allemeier’s “Waldorf” Berry Salad, as the combination of berries and the crunch of celery and walnuts sounded unusual and very interesting. The recipes from all of the chefs are featured on www.AnyDayMagic.ca – I can’t wait to try more of them before berry season is over for another year…

“Waldorf” Berry Salad

An exciting twist on a classic summer salad. Celery, toasted walnuts, apples, mixed berries, all tossed in a creamy dressing – using half and half cream, sour cream and Greek yogurt.

Ingredients

1/4 cup (60 mL) 10% half-and-half cream

3 tbsp (45 mL) sour cream

3 tbsp (45 mL) Greek yogurt

1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced celery

1 cup (250 mL) toasted walnuts, lightly crushed, divided

1 red delicious apple, cored, quartered and diced (skin on)

1 2/3 cups (375 mL) assorted berries, (such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or quartered strawberries, if large)

Salt

Black pepper

8 – 10 whole butter lettuce leaves

10 – 12 celery leaves

Preparation

In a large bowl, stir together cream, sour cream, yogurt, and lemon juice. Stir in celery, ¾ cup (175 mL) of the walnuts and apples. Gently fold in berries. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a bowl or on a serving platter, arrange lettuce leaves and gently spoon salad on top. Garnish with remaining walnuts and celery leaves.

Tips

For tender and sweeter celery, peel the back part of the celery rib with a vegetable peeler; this really changes the flavour and nature of celery!

Celery leaves can be found in the heart of the celery.

My notes

I made this salad twice, the first time with the celery, celery leaves and walnuts and the second time without these ingredients. I enjoyed the salad more without the above ingredients in it as I wasn’t fan of the textures they added. That said, removing these items really just makes this a creamy fruit salad but you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that at all! It was refreshing and a great way to get good dose of dairy, antioxidants and fibre, all in one dish!

Let me know if you end up trying the recipe and if you have any tips to share!

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Waldorf Berry Salad final

Zucchini Soup and enter to win Shirley Plant’s cookbook Finally…Food I Can Eat!

25 Feb

Shirley Plant's Finally...Food I Can Eat!

Fifteen years ago, author Shirley Plant found that she had to make changes to her diet after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and multiple food and environmental allergies. She understands firsthand the difficulties of trying to plan creative, nutritious, and affordable menus while having to avoid such common foods as wheat, dairy, eggs, corn, gluten, and sugar, just to name a few. Through understanding, education, and a keen interest to help people find food alternatives to fit into their life schedules, she has developed an expertise and reputation in dietary design and customized recipes, as well as being a personal chef for clients with dietary sensitivities. Her recipe book, Finally…Food I Can Eat! provides those with multiple food allergies and sensitivities with a ton of great recipes. She’s also included advice on food combining, rotation diets, substitutions and more.

I’ve been experimenting with my diet since last year, to find out what I am sensitive to. Although my symptoms cannot be compared with those who have severe allergies, I know how difficult it was to enjoy food when I was constantly analyzing every ingredient. It was exhausting to figure out what I could and couldn’t eat and I certainly made mistakes along the way, as “forbidden” ingredients are everywhere.

Shirley’s book simplifies things by providing recipes that cover off most of the major allergies and intolerances, but the key is, the recipes actually sound tasty! There are so many recipes and options in this cookbook that the possibilities really are endless. What made me most proud was to find out that she’s Canadian!  Many thanks to Vicky @momwhoruns for connecting us : )

I had some zucchini in the house, so I immediately thought of Shirley’s recipe for Zucchini Soup. It was simple, satisfying and allowed the ingredients to shine. Don’t forget to scroll down after you check out the recipe, I’m giving away a copy of Finally…Food I Can Eat! You can purchase her book from Chapters/Indigo online here: http://bit.ly/13hGn9L

Zucchini Soup from Shirley Plant’s cookbook Finally…Food I Can Eat!

Zucchini Soup

Taken from Pg 112 of Finally…Food I Can Eat! by Shirley Plant

Note: This recipe is free of dairy products, wheat, yeast, corn, sugar, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades, and gluten.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

6 cups zucchini, diced (approx. 3 large zucchini) (1.5 L)

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 cups water or vegetable soup stock (750 ml-1 L)

1 tsp basil (5 mL)

1 tsp oregano (5 mL)

1 tsp sea salt (5 mL)

½ tsp pepper

1 can beans – navy, lima, or northern beans (14 fl oz. -398 ml) (Sandy’s notes: I drained, rinsed and drained the beans again).

Handful parsley or watercress to garnish (optional)

Directions:

Cut zucchini info small chunks. In a soup pot, heat oil and add onions and cook until soft, approximately 2 minutes. Add soup stock or water, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes until zucchini is soft.

Add canned beans and parsley and purée with hand-held blender.

You can serve this soup hot or cold.

Yields: 8 cups (2 L).

Sandy’s Notes:

  • I added 1/2 a teaspoon of chili flakes for a bit of a kick
  • I had a ¼ cup of canned corn on hand, so I added it to the soup for colour (Note: the original recipe is corn free, but (thankfully) I’m not allergic to corn!)
  • Before pureeing the soup, I removed 1 cup of the vegetables and set them aside. My hand blender wasn’t working very well, so I put the soup in the blender in small batches to puree it. I then stirred in the vegetables I had set aside, to add some texture to the soup.
  • I found that my soup was a bit thick, so I thinned it out with some water

CONTEST: Win a copy of Shirley Plant’s cookbook “Finally…Food I Can Eat!”

I’m giving away a copy of “Finally…Food I Can Eat!” by Shirley Plant! You must be a resident of Canada to win. If you win, the cookbook will be shipped directly to your home.

TO ENTER:

Option 1: Leave a comment on this blog post and tell me why you should win a copy of “Finally…Food I Can Eat!” P.S. Don’t forget to include your Twitter, Facebook or blog site address so I know how to reach you!

Option 2: Follow me on Twitter @savvari and tweet the following:

I want to win a copy of @sherrecipes cookbook “Finally…Food I Can Eat!” from @savvari #cookbook #contest

You can enter once a day using each option!

Hurry! Contest closes on Sunday March 3 at 5 pm EST. Good luck!

Holiday Party Planning: Tips for Festive Fun!

30 Dec

Holiday party season is coming to an end but there’s still one more big party to go and it’s the one most people go all out for…New Year’s Eve!

If you’re hosting, you’re either reading this and thinking:

a)      Holiday Party Planning Tips? I have this down pat.

b)      I better get cracking…yikes!

If you’re in the second group, I have a few holiday party planning tips to share from Metro (one of my “go to” grocery stores). Since my side of the family is vegetarian and my husband’s side eats everything, we try to have a little something for everyone at our parties. Some of our veggie-friendly favourites include the Irresistibles Vegetable Spring Rolls and Irresistibles Spanakopita. They are easy to store in the freezer and pop into the oven if you need a quick appetizer. If you have a sweet tooth, the Irresistibles Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels With Sea Salt and the Irresistibles Maple Butter are both faves of my bro-in-law (these are a surprise for him…shhh!).

Irresistibles Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels With Sea Salt and Irresistibles Maple Butter

Irresistibles Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels With Sea Salt and Irresistibles Maple Butter

As promised, here are some great tips for your next party : )

Holiday Party Planning: 10 Tips for Festive Fun!

Creative serving

Instead of communal bowls of nuts, try a more eye catching and hygienic presentation by putting snacks in clear glass, narrow-necked decanters. Guests can pour nut and trail mixes themselves, and it looks great, too!

Stagger serving times

If all food is served at the start of the night, guests are likely to gorge and go home early. Keep your party hopping by serving your tasty hors d’oeuvres all night long.

Impress with a signature cocktail

Channel your inner mixologist and offer guests a unique signature cocktail for your holiday party. Be sure to have other non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages to offer alongside this cocktail.

Prep in advance

The “day of’’ for the party planner is always hectic! Between set up, last minute errands, and wrangling the kids – stress is high. Try prepping what you can a few days before. Things like fruit trays, cheese and cracker platters and Swedish meatballs can all be put together a day or two in advance.

Presentation is everything

When preparing food trays and hors d’oeuvres platters, have fun! Use the Canadian winter landscape as inspiration by placing pinecones and frosted pine needles in your tray display.

Fast and fancy

Limited time? Solicit the help of the frozen food aisle! Metro’s private label line, Irresistibles, offers delicious appetizers (quite a few vegetarian options too!) which are perfect for party planners, with selection and creativity covered.

Tidy as you go

No one likes waking up to a mess, by tidying bit by bit during your party, the house will be kept clean for your guests, too!

Set the ambiance

A beautiful candle display can never go wrong at a holiday party.

Provide plenty of options

Be sure to provide an assortment of appetizer options at your holiday bash to keep all types of appetites full and happy!

Enjoy yourself

This is your party, too! You’ve worked hard and it’s important to enjoy the environment, interact with your guests and taste your delicious treats!

Do you have any special party tips to share?

Disclaimer: I received a holiday basket of Irresistibles products from Metro. All opinions expressed are my own.

Almond Fresh Noël Nog French Toast

26 Dec
Almond Fresh Noël Nog

Almond Fresh Noël Nog

I had some friends over recently for a pre-holiday gathering and given that some of them are lactose intolerant, I thought it would be fun to try Almond Fresh Noël Nog, a non-dairy “egg nog” that I learned about recently (check out my previous post about Almond Fresh here).

The verdict: We all enjoyed it and we were particularly impressed with how light it was in comparison to regular egg nog. My friend Lisa was particularly happy that she could have an egg nog style drink without the dairy, as she only found out that she was lactose intolerant a few months ago.

I had some Noël Nog leftover after the gathering, so I decided to make some French Toast, using a recipe from Almond Fresh. It was my first time trying out a non-dairy French Toast and I was really pleased with the results! I was able to get the same custardy, rich texture that I enjoyed when I made French Toast with regular milk.

I ended up making this on a morning when my husband wasn’t home, so I cut the recipe back to make French Toast for one (makes 2 pieces of French Toast). I’ve included measurements for one serving in brackets below.

Almond Fresh’s Noël Nog is only available for the holidays, so if you can’t find it, you could substitute Almond Fresh Vanilla and add a ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg to the recipe to get the same flavours.

1 Egg + Almond Fresh Noël Nog + Cinnamon makes some mighty fine French Toast goodness

1 Egg + Almond Fresh Noël Nog + Cinnamon = mighty fine French Toast goodness

Dip the bread into the egg/Almond Fresh Noël Nog mixture

Into the frying pan with a little butter or oil

Almond Fresh Noël Nog French Toast

Almond Fresh Noël Nog French Toast

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 eggs (for one serving, use 1 egg)

1 cup (250 mL) Almond Fresh Noël Nog (for one serving, use ¼ cup)

2 tsp (10 mL) cinnamon (for one serving, use a ½ teaspoon)

8 slices bread or brioche (for one serving, use 2 slices of bread or brioche)

Slivered almonds and maple syrup

Directions:

1. In a shallow dish, beat together the eggs, Almond Fresh Noël Nog and cinnamon.

2. Heat a large frying pan over low/medium heat.

3. Soak bread in the Almond Fresh Noël Nog/egg mixture, one slice at a time.

4. Lightly coat the pan with vegetable oil or butter. Cook each slice of French toast on both sides until nicely browned.

5. Serve with slivered almonds and maple syrup- enjoy!

Notes:

-You could easily make this with regular egg nog if you had some leftover from your festivities

-Again, Almond Fresh Noël Nog is only available for the holidays, so if you can’t find it, you could substitute Almond Fresh Vanilla and add a ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg to the recipe to get the same flavours.

-I chose to dust my French Toast with icing sugar, instead of using the slivered almonds and maple syrup.

For more info, check out their website at http://www.almond-fresh.com/

They are social media friendly! You can also “Like” them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/almondfresh or follow them on Twitter at @almond_fresh or http://twitter.com/almond_fresh

Disclaimer: I received coupons to try Almond Fresh products in the mail. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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