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Chef Michael Smith on Iron Chef Tonight

Tune into Food Network Canada at 9 PM tonight to see Chef Michael Smith battle the Iron Chef.

Chef Smith holds a special place in my heart because he resides in PEI, willingly year-round. He's real, curious, and whip-smart about food and he likes to explore and reinterpret flavours. I think he'll be a stiff competitor.

If you get a chance to watch tonight, be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think. of the results

Food Network Canada
9PM ET/ 10PM PT

Broccoli Ad - For those who haven't seen it

Thanks to a wonderful registered dietitian in Montreal named Sybil, here is the link for that broccoli ad I mentioned a few posts ago. Unfortunately, I can't embed it as they have disabled that fine feature, but please enjoy this image of these tiny little trees instead

Simple things, useful things




Sometimes the simplest little tool can be the most welcome. My dad sent me this link for a really cool clock (displayed above) the other day and today I found a little site called Eggwatchers.com




It lets you select the size of your egg, whether it came straight from the fridge or not, and (naturally) how you like it. Set your timer and never have to remember a bit of useful information ever again :)

A Gift




The fine folks at Cottage Industrialist have designed a calendar that includes images and mentions of seasonal produce. How's that for an easy way to remember what's in season?

The gorgeous, gorgeous calendars can be downloaded here for free. Please enjoy!

Broccoli Song!

Here is a reader question that we need your help with, smart readers:

Jess,

The song that is playing on the broccoli commercial for the Miracle Food Commercial- I know the song, but can't remember the title or the lyrics. It's definitely from the 60's. Help me, it's driving me nuts.

Rick
Does anyone know? It's that gospel tune that plays at the end of the cynical broccoli man commercials.

UPDATE: Since this is a tricky question, let's offer some incentive. The first person not affiliated with broccoli that answers Rick's question will receive a free Libre glass’n glass portable loose leaf tea glass.

It has a thermal, double wall construction of 2 layers of health-conscious glass and a removeable stainless steel filter makes for easy cleaning. ($25 CAD value)


Rosolje, Great Grandma Huva Style




Rosolje is a Baltic-Scandinavian beet salad that glows a more lovely shade of fuchsia than any other food. It's a hearty recipe and an uplifting colour for mid-winter meals. My mother always makes rosolje at Christmas time. What results is my family putting it back like crack cocaine. I love it so.

Other Scandinavian types eat this salad year-round as a staple. Don't be afraid of the herring! You can't even tell it's in there.

You can adapt this recipe a number of ways. If you're afraid of sour cream, you could some yogurt to substitute. Lemon juice can add zest. People in Sweden might make a slightly different version than in Estonia. I'm sure every Nordic country around those parts has a version.

This is my great grandmother's recipe.

Rosolje

8 medium beets, cooked
6 medium potatoes, cooked, finely diced
4 eggs, hard boiled, finely diced
4 pickles, finely diced
2 salted herring, desalted, gutted, skinned, finely diced
2 carrots, cooked, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 apple, finely diced
3/4 lb. roast beef or other cold cut meat, finely diced
1 large container sour cream
1 small container sour cream
½ cup vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon mustard
salt
pepper


Allow diced components to cool. Mix together adding herring last.

Mix remaining wet ingredients separately to make dressing, adding vinegar last. Add dressing to salad and mix. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Like all recipes that are a mixture of many flavours, rosolje gets better with a day or two in the fridge.


The Miracle Food




Have you seen the new ad campaign for broccoli?

It’s a quirky, cynical angle on everyone’s favourite bitter green veggie. The reoccurring broccoli fan finds himself in various situations where something extraordinary has happened. In one situation, a skydiver’s parachute failed to open, yet he survives unscathed. In another commercial, a man’s house burned down around him while he and his pet dog miraculously survived. In each of these cases, the broccoli fan scolds these people for using the word ‘miracle’ when broccoli is the real miracle.

Although I admire the fresh perspective, I don’t like these ads and I don’t think they suit the social climate for right now. Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but I think people in a post-recession mentality are a little more sentimental and these ads are too cynical.

My boyfriend disagreed though. He likes the ads and says he’s been thinking about broccoli a lot more now.

What do you think?

Childish Crush

It's immature, but I still want this new I Can Be TV Chef Playset Barbie ($44.90). We could play Cooking Show! Look at all the stuff in her fridge!


Beety Juice

This recipe has been making my January feel true to form.


Ingredients:

1 beet
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
1 apple of your choice
quarter-sized piece of ginger
1/4 of a bulb of anise
1/4 of a pomegranate

Now juice them!


Guest post: Heather Morrison's Family Recipe for Black Rum Cake

Today's blog post comes courtesy of the lovely and talented Heather Morrison of Toronto Uncovered, who shares a secret family recipe - uncovered!


Christmas is a time for many things: friends, family, parties, gifts, wine, food and of course fruitcake.

My aunt’s Black Rum Fruitcake has been a holiday staple at every Morrison Christmas for as long as I can remember. The Black Rum Cake is popular in the islands and Caribbean, especially Jamaica, Bahamas and Bermuda – where they really know and appreciate their dark rums. My aunt learned to make it years ago from close family friends and invited me into her kitchen this year to learn her secrets.

The first secret is the fruit. The whole flavour and essence of this cake comes down to the fruit preparation. The earlier the fruit is run through the food processor and left to soak up all the flavours of sweet wine and rum the better. My aunt actually starts this process as early as January or February. To properly prep, she gathers all of the fruit listed in the recipe below and blends them in a processor before adding it into a big jar, along with the sweet wine, rum, brandy, sherry and whatever other sweet, sugary alcohol she has in her cabinet. And then she waits… and waits.. and waits..




Once December hits, the baking begins. The recipe is fairly simple to follow, and calls for mixing the different ingredients together in a large processor to further eliminate any large chunks of fruit. The difficult part is preparing the baking tins so that the cake doesn’t burn in the oven. This is where secret number two comes in. My aunt lines the bottom and sides of the baking tins with greased/buttered packing paper. This prevents any burning or sticking.

After baking for about 2 hours (or a successful clean fork test) let the cakes cool and employ the third (and in my humble opinion, most important) secret: make incisions in the top of the cake and pour on the booze. It’s important to let the cakes soak up sweet rum or liquor right away to preserve the moistness in the cake. Feel free to add more liquor every couple of days until you are ready to eat it. This will keep the cake moist and delicious and keep you feeling warm and fuzzy!

As it is now January, no better time than to start on your fruit prep!



 Ingredients

1 lb Raisins
1 lb Prunes
1 lb Cherries
1 lb Mixed Peel
1 lb Currants
Rum/Wine

1 lb Brown Sugar
1 lb Butter
1 lb Flour
1 doz Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Essence
2 tbsp Browning




Preparation 

Cream the butter and sugar until you get a good consistency, then add the eggs to this mixture gradually. When the eggs are well mixed, add the fruit mixture and essence. When all of the above ingredients are well mixed add in the flour and browning until desirable colour is reached.

Pour completed mixture into a greased and floured pan (papered). Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 hours. Cake will keep indefinitely in the fridge, wrapped in foil.

J-E-L-L-O

When my mom was five years old, her family left Sweden for Canada. She once described that trip for me. She had never been on a plane and didn’t yet speak English. She was accustomed to picking wild mushrooms in the forest with her grandmother and eating wholesome, real foods.

On the plane they served Jell-o and soda pop. I can only imagine how surreal that would have been.

When was the last time you were surprised by food’s flavour or texture? The most recent winner of Top Chef, Michael Voltaggio, made a practice of surprising the judges with a trompe l’oeil. Some thought it was gimmicky; I found to be it mostly very charming.

In an effort that we might collectively recall an early childhood experience with food, here is an entertaining video of monkeys at the Bronx Zoo eating Jell-o (via Malene Arpe at the Toronto Star.)

The Aughts: A Decade in Very Brief Review

Remember stacked, vertical food? What about Green tea? Bacon in everything? The Aughts were the decade where we decided that everyone ought to make gourmet food and gourmet food ought to be everything - including pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers.

Partygoers drank Cosmos, Crantinis and Sex on the Beach. Bartenders become mixologists.

The Food network emerged and so did food porn. Celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver, Michael Smith and Rachel Ray encouraged aspiring home cooks to be empowered in their kitchens and try new things. The infamous F word was cultivated.

Stores like Williams Sonoma opened in Toronto in 2001 and added status appeal to fancy cookware. Just think of Ina Garten whizzing about marketplaces in her convertible Mercedes in Martha's Vineyard or Paris.

People like Nigella Lawson also helped to add sex appeal to home cooking.


Photo Credit: The Projects/flickr

Oxford American Dictionary named locavore word of the year in 2007. By this time, Wal-Mart was already distributing organic produce. This is the realm in which the food industry continues to see growth.

We watched Anthony Bordain eat disgusting things on No Reservations just as we read Michael Pollan's transparent food industry account, The Omnivore's Dilemma, as if it were a horror novel.

And food became sport. The popularization competitive cooking shows has been on the rise. From Iron Chef to Top Chef, Chopped, or Food Network Challenges, you can bet there's always some kind of food sport on.

The blogosphere has contributed a number of hideous food-centred memes, including, most notably, the Bacon Explosion. The movie Super Size Me shocked a lot of people, but not me.

I miss Krispy Kreme. It's been on my mind lately. Say what you will.

The Aughts brought a lot of sushi, cupcakes and sliders. We drizzled everything in fancy oils. We ate smoothies with superfruits like A├žai and Goji and drank a lot of coffee. A lot of coffee.

Molecular gastronomy gained popularity. And someone came up with foam. And a bunch of other gastronomists decided it was a really good idea. I don't miss foam (A.K.A. my least favourite cooking method.) I'm glad the Aughts have taken that one with them.

Finally, what kind of a blogger would I be if I didn't acknowledge the impact the internet has had on food?

Restaurants and food suppliers have become more accountable and attuned to citizen journalists and the impact of tools like Facebook and Twitter. Yelp, Chowhound and other user-generated review sites emerged.We also saw the creation of Open Table, which has made making reservations easier for customers and allowed restaurants to organize and track their customers.

What will the next decade bring?

Check back on Friday when I finally reveal my intensely-researched list of food predictions for 2010.

Sift, Dust & Toss: Most Popular Posts of 2009




In the spirit of ‘Best of’ lists and decades in review, here is a roundup of the top five most popular posts (according to my analytics) on Sift, Dust & Toss from the past year (with some bonus editorial musing about how/why/what made them so popular.)

5. Highlights from the Gourmet Food &Wine Expo

An early overview of a great event.

4. How do you like dem apples you Chowhound critics?

This post drew a lot of attention from skeptics who didn't believe the Kobe beef served at Charlie's Burgers was authentic.

3. Charlie's Burgers: Part II

This rumour mill-churning post drew speculation about the identity of Charlie.

2. Alternative uses for food

It's nice when kind friends Stumble posts for you. This one actually resulted in me being interviewed by a journalism student for a class project!

1. The Charlie's Burgers Series
      A. The End of the World
      B. I thought this was a food blog
      C. More nightmare candy
      D. One more for good measure

Maybe I’m cheating a little bit, but these posts could not be considered in isolation. This series summarizes my experiences at the underground dinner club after the trend took over our fine city about a year ago. While others attended CB dinners at other splendid locations, I don’t think any were more spectacular than our venue. Take a look at the pics!


Exploding Ketchup!

Welcome back! I hope you had a lovely vacation with lots of quality family time, rest and relaxation.

I heard some news about a disturbing new food trend: exploding ketchup bottles!

Apparently, some punk teenagers in Murfreesboro, Tenn. have been adding baking soda to a half-emptied bottles of ketchup, resulting in violent explosions all over unsuspecting patrons’ faces, hands and clothing.

Did you ever go to Mad Hatter's for a birthday party? This is bringing me back to the food fight room.




I hope this doesn’t become a real trend in 2010.

Please stay tuned for some 2010 food predictions to come later on this week. (I promise!) I’ve been scouring magazines, blogs, newspapers and restaurant menus to decide what will be the big new trends for the coming year.