red pepper jelly

With all that preserving I did over the summer, I totally forgot to replenish my red pepper jelly stock. Luckily, peppers are readily available all year long.
This jelly is sweet, slightly spicy and the perfect addition to any cheese board.

makes 5 half pints 
1 red pepper
5-6 red chili peppers, seeds removed from 2-3 (depending on how spicy you want it)
2 cloves garlic, grated
6 C sugar
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 1/2 C vinegar
1 package Certo liquid pectin

1. Mince all of the peppers using a food processor.

2. Add everything except the Certo in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil for 5-6 minutes.

3. Take off the heat and stir in Certo. Pour into sterilized mason jars and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.


kim vietnamese restaurant

What? The Vietnamese have another soup other than pho? That's what I found out during lunch at Kim Restaurant. There they call it Fu Kien noodle soup, but after much online research, I learned that it's also called Hu Tieu. On a Saturday afternoon, almost every table at Kim was filled with patrons chowing down on this tasty pho alternative. 
The Fu Kien special noodle soup came with two types of noodles, beef, seafood and an awesome crispy crepe-like cracker topped with a single dried shrimp. 
The spring roll and grilled pork on vermicelli was totally satisfying with springy thick noodles and lots of roasted peanuts.

Kim Restaurant
546 Dundas St.W 


chocolate cherry toffee cookies

After what feels like a long baking hiatus (it's been a busy couple of months!), I busted out my mixing bowls and measuring cups and got down to business making these cookies filled with plump dried cherries, rich Valrhona dark chocolate and toffee bits.
3/4 C flour
1/4 C + 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 C + 2 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 C quick-cook oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 C dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 C toffee bits
3/4 C dried cherries, chopped
1/2 C butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt

1. Mix flour, baking soda and salt.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream both sugars and butter for 2-3 minutes. Add in egg and vanilla and mix until combined.

3. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Mix in chocolate, cherries, toffee and oats.

4. Form the dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for an hour. 

5. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice dough into 1/2-inch rounds and bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes or until edges are barely golden. Let sit on cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring to cooling rack.


food manga

I've always been a bit of a graphic novel nerd, and lately I've been reading a lot of Japanese food manga. It started with my favourite food manga so far, the Oishinbo series, which I read a couple of years back. Each volume focuses on a category of Japanese food (like rice, sake or sushi). The lead character has a condescending and sarcastic sense of humour which I particularly enjoyed.
I started reading Yakitate!! Ja-pan a couple of months ago. It's about a boy on a mission to create a national bread for Japan. I love how his "gift" is his exceptionally warm "solar hands" that allow the yeast in his bread to ferment faster and rise better when baking. 
Toriko is the most recent addition to my manga collection. It centres around a "gourmet hunter" who specializes in acquiring rare and extravagant ingredients. I've only read one volume, but so far it's action-packed (in a hilarious way).


xmas crafting

This year I am actually going to decorate my apartment for the holidays—tree and all. Problem is that I have absolutely nothing. My mom is kindly giving me a bunch of lights and ornaments, but I also want to add a bit of a personal touch, so Adam and I spent an afternoon crafting.  
I love this pom pom garland! So much so that it'll be hanging in our hallway until we get our Christmas tree.
I rushed through making these pine cone elves (I am not a patient hand-sewer), but I still think they're cute. I'll probably turn these into ornaments and make nicer ones to sit on my shelf.
Adam on the other hand, is a perfectionist. His put mine to shame.
Of course, I made snacks: a retro cheeseball, pigs in a blanket, crispy wontons and onion/herb dip.


palm springs

Here are some of my favourite shots from my trip to Palm Springs. 
The lobby of the Jonathan Adler designed Parker Palm Springs. My home for the week. The whole hotel was a step back in time. 
A series of secluded pathways connected the various buildings on the hotel property. The grounds were stunning. 
The views during my hike through the Indian Canyons were amazing. 
The Palm Springs Art Museum features contemporary and Native American art. This was one of my favourite stops.
When it came down to the food, I had lots of favourites including, breakfast at Norma's at the Parker, poolside cocktails and apps at the Viceroy hotel, chilaquiles (pictured above) at Cheeky's (I also had their "bacon flight", a sampling of four different kinds of bacon!), and the most perfect three-course breakfast at the historic Willows (above is just the main course, prior to this plate of cinnamon and fruit-studded warm bread pudding, custardy scrambled eggs and homemade chicken sausage, there was a warm pear and vanilla muffin, a parfait of sweet berries and freshly-squeezed orange juice). 
Not gonna lie, saying bye to my poolside view was tough. I didn't know much about the Palm Springs prior to arriving, but by the end of my trip, I was crushing hard on the city. From the mid-century modern architecture that blew my mind, to the laid-back vibe that I appreciated so much, I feel like Palm Springs is a bit of a gem. I'm currently trying to convince Joe that we should go back for modernism week!


on a jet plane

I'm off once again. This time to Palm Springs for a press trip. I'll be gone all week and have a jam-packed itinerary, but I'm hoping to sneak away for a bit to explore the city on my own. I'm not looking forward to my 7 a.m. flight tomorrow morning, but I am looking forward to my hotel, The Parker Palm Springs. Check it out:
*all images from The Parker Palm Springs


east side

Over the weekend, Adam and I ventured out to Queen East. My very first apartment when I moved to Toronto with Joe over 10 years ago (whoa!) was actually on Queen East near Pape. Back then, the area was, lets just say, quite a bit seedier and undesirable. Now, there are tons of great vintage and modern housewares stores, specialty shops and cute cafes. 
Joe and I actually moved back to the east end again about six years ago, this time to the Beaches area. We absolutely hated it (relying on the Queen streetcar to get anywhere made us crazy) even though we had a way larger apartment that cost way less than what we pay now.
I guess I'm a west-end girl at heart, but visiting the east side was still a nice way to pass an afternoon.


sunday sweets

Starting Sunday off right with a few treats from Nadège
Sorry, I can't remember what these were called. The teardrop-shaped one had a crisp, chocolate shell filled with caramel mousse and a chocolate centre; the cylindrical one had three different layers of chocolate varying from milk to dark; and the tart had a vanilla custard filling and was topped with raspberries filled with raspberry coulis (this one was my favourite of the three).
* Nadège Patisserie
780 Queen Street W.


more from the county

Apparently Lancaster County gets pretty touristy in the summer months due to the two outlet malls in the area, an amusement park called Dutch Wonderland and people intrigued by the Amish communities. One of the main reasons I was drawn to the area is the extensive antique shopping. Independent stores, roadside stands and huge antique markets were everywhere. I'll admit that it was a bit overwhelming.
I was really into the quilts. 
Some of my finds included a full 8-piece set of pyrex refrigerator dishes to add to my collection (the price was ridiculously good) and a vintage Mello-Rich pie tin.
One last slice of Shoofly pie from Dutch Haven before we hit the road. Not sure how authentic the pie here was, since traditionally it should contain molasses and the ingredients listed on this one (we bought an entire pie for friends back home) did not. It still tasted mighty fine. I picked up an Amish cookbook so I'll attempt to make my own one day soon. I also tried an Amish root beer. It tasted stronger and more herbaceous than regular root beer and was not as sweet. I saw quite a few signs at the end of farm driveways advertising homemade root beer for sale.


lancaster county

Other than the freak snow storm that brought about 6 inches of slushy, wet snow to Lancaster County, our little road trip was awesome. We stayed in Lancaster, but visited Bird-in-Hand, Straburg, Intercourse, Paradise, Ephrata and Lititz. These charming small towns were all within a 20-minute drive. Check out the view from our hotel right before the snow really started falling.
The market in Lancaster was one of my favourite stops. So many locals seemed to actually come here to do their weekly groceries. The Amish butchers had some amazing looking meat and there were preserves, pickles and produce galore. 
At the Bird-in-Hand market, we ate at the lunch counter. The Amish who ran the place were very kind, and the fried chicken and chicken pot pie (more like chicken and dumplings) really hit the spot.
Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is pretty heavy. Lots of meat and potatoes, casseroles and sugary sweets for dessert. Most restaurants in the area were Smorgasbord style (another word for buffet). The results of a typical breakfast Smorgasbord:
Clockwise from top left: scrapple (a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty made from various porky bits); butter-fried sticky bun (yes, fried in butter); bacon and sausage; biscuits w/ whipped butter. Lets just say that one Smorgasbord experience was enough for us.
I didn't buy the Amish butter cheese pictured above even though I was very curious, but found out it's a creamy cheese similar to Havarti.

More pics tomorrow!