The Friday Five – October 8th, 2010

8 10 2010

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1. I once saw a $50 watermelon (yes, really) at an upscale grocer in Toronto.  It was square.  It was the most expensive piece of produce I’ve ever seen.  Slate goes shopping at Whole Foods (a.k.a. ‘Whole Paycheck’) to shop for the most expensive dinner they can. (Toronto Star,

2. Some very bold criminals stole an entire year’s worth of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from a grower in France.  The grapes were worth about $20,000 USD. (

3. Artist Mike Lahue has made a bust of actor Kevin Bacon out of bacon.  Now I’d like to see what he can do for Jon Hamm… (Gizmodo)

4. For those celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, the National Post provides some tips for carving the turkey.  It could help you avoid a situation like this: When Father Carves the Duck. (National Post, courtingdisaster)

5. Apparently Spaghetti Tacos have become popular with kids after a character on the popular children’s show iCarly made them. Could this be the new direction of fusion food? (New York Times)

Have a great weekend (and Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!)

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Thanksgiving Desserts

7 10 2010


Maple-Caramel Custards are a delicious alternative to pumpkin pie at the Thanksgiving table


Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend so it’s time to start thinking about the dinner menu.  Turkey will be on most tables and I’ve given a number of suggestions for excellent side dishes (Thanksgiving Side Dishes).  However, for many people, the highlight of the holiday meal is dessert.

Pumpkin and apple pies are popular choices, however, I sometimes enjoy serving desserts that are a bit different yet still seasonally appropriate.  Pears, apples, pumpkin, nuts and cranberries are abundant at markets right now so it’s the perfect time to incorporate them into your menu.

Here are a few suggestions for a delicious finish to the Thanksgiving feast:

Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline – This impressive looking dessert is easy to make.  If you don’t feel like fussing with the praline, the filling makes a delicious basic pumpkin pie.

Apple Pie – A classic.  Be sure to serve it warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple-Caramel Tart – An elegant alternative to apple pie.  It’s made with frozen puff pastry, making the preparation quick and easy.

Harvest Strudel – Pears, apples, cranberries, nuts and warming spices make this dessert a nice change from basic pie.

Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce – A rich caramel sauce poured over a decadent pear and nut-studded pudding takes this comfort food dish to new levels.

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Tartlets – Raspberry season is over in most areas, however, this recipe works just as well with frozen berries.

Maple-Caramel Custards with Sea Salt – This rich custard showcases the flavour of maple beautifully.  If you can find some colourful maple leaves that have fallen, they make a fun presentation.

Bon Appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Autumn Cocktail: La Poire

2 10 2010

La Poire: A pear based cocktail with subtle notes of rosemary and pepper.

I love to incorporate seasonal fruit into cocktails. It’s a fun and easy way to enjoy the flavours of the season (check out the Drink Archives for other ideas including Peach Sangria and Strawberry Mojitos).  With a little creativity, autumn drinks can involve more than just apple cider (although I do love a good cider as well!). For those who don’t speak much French, ‘la poire’ means ‘pear’.

This recipe calls for pear-flavoured vodka.  Both Grey Goose and Absolut make pear vodkas, however, if you’d rather make your own version, you can try this recipe from How to Make Pear Infused Vodka.  The rosemary-black pepper syrup sounds a bit odd but it’s subtle and adds an interesting note to the drink.

La Poire

Makes 2 drinks

  • 4 oz. pear flavoured vodka
  • 2 oz. Rosemary-Black Pepper Simple Syrup (see below)
  • 4 oz. pear juice (Ceres brand pear juice is readily available at many supermarkets)
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 pear slices, for garnish (optional)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, for garnish (optional)
  • Black pepper, for garnish (optional)
  • Ice cubes

Rosemary-Black Pepper Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary, about 4″ long
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

To make the syrup:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, rosemary and black pepper.  Heat the mixture on medium-high and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.  Remove the rosemary sprig once cool and use the syrup as desired.  Extra syrup will keep in the fridge for a few days.

To make the cocktail:

  1. In a martini shaker, add a few ice cubes, vodka, simple syrup, pear juice and lemon juice.  Shake well and strain the drinks into martini or low-ball glasses.
  2. Garnish drinks with a pear slice, a rosemary sprig and a light sprinkling of fresh pepper if desired.


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The Friday Five – October 1st, 2010

1 10 2010

Starting today, each Friday I will be featuring links to five food and drink related articles from the past week which may be of interest to you. Enjoy!

1. For fans of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show, apparently he will be filming an upcoming episode in Toronto.  Some discussion has ensued about where people think he should go. (Toronto Life, Chowhound)

2. A year after they ceased publication, Gourmet magazine is back!  Sort of… (

3. How clean is your kitchen?  According to the New York Times, it’s probably not as clean as you’d think. (New York Times)

4. Interested in going back to school but can’t decide what to study?  Italy’s Gelato University sounds like it would be fun (although the dreaded ‘Freshman Fifteen’ might be a problem). (Los Angeles Times)

5. A brewer in Belgium has started producing a line of beer brewed by the light of a full moon.  Apparently it speeds up the fermentation process.  Who knew? (The Montreal Gazette)

Bon Appétit and Have a Great Weekend!


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