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avocado and shrimp wonton baskets

When entertaining, I like to make appetisers that err on the side of healthy.  I also make sure there’s a mix of food while being cognizant of the dietary restrictions our guests might have.  Last month I made wonton noodle soup but only used half the wonton wrappers; the rest I froze.  There’s always a bag or two of shrimp in the freezer and I usually have an avocado on hand.  This recipe is easy to make and in roughly 10 minutes you can have the filling completed by the time the wonton baskets are cooked and cooled.   Continue Reading →

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holiday party food – part 2

At this point, the rush of the holiday season is in full swing.  On my previous post, I suggested three, easy-to-make party food treats and the three I have chosen today are just as easy.  Chocolate is a crowd-pleaser and lovely to have on hand when your friends and family pop over.  Making your own is easier than you may think.  Continue Reading →

holiday party food

holiday-party-food-collageTwelve days to Christmas! Yikes! Why is it with the best-laid plans things slip? I finally got around to making my first ever Christmas cracker snaps even though I had the materials 2-weeks ago.  They were a cinch to make and took half an hour to assemble.  I think the same goes with party food.  We create lists of what we plan to make and yet as the date draws closer, it’s as if we never had a plan and we’re scrambling to pull it off.  Continue Reading →

bruschetta with white anchovies

bruschetta with white anchoviesBruschetta (pronounced bru-sketta) is a classic Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread slices topped with fresh ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil.  There are oodles of variations and I’ve named a few here for you to consider: smashed avocado with chopped tomatoes; zucchini goat cheese bruschetta; smoked salmon with mascarpone cheese. Continue Reading →

grilled radicchio with bagna càuda

grilled radicchio with bagna caudo sauceSometimes less is more and in cooking terms it’s spot on.  Simple ingredients can make any dish shine. Bagna càuda is an Italian sauce made with butter, olive oil, garlic and anchovies.  The Italians eat it with fennel, peppers, carrots, cauliflower.  Fresh bread dipped in this sauce is simply scrumptious!  Or, give your taste buds a real treat by grilling radicchio wedges and slather with bagna càuda.  I’ve grilled radicchio before as well as romaine but never served it with bagna càuda.  The oil and butter help to round out the garlic while softening the salty flavour of anchovies.  It’s a sauce that is super easy to make, has minimal ingredients and loaded with flavour. Continue Reading →

grilled zucchini roll-ups – a summer snack

grilled zucchini roll-upsThe farmers’ markets these days are showing off the bounty of the harvest.  It’s a favourite time of the year for me and for all who enjoy eating locally produced food.  The market is a perfect way to re-engage with the farmers, to ask questions about their produce, meat or fish and leave with a sense of being part of the community.  These farmers love to talk about the food they help put on your table.   Continue Reading →

garlic scapes hummus

garlic scapes hummusGarlic scapes are the flower bud of the garlic plant and are cut to force the garlic bulbs to grow bigger. Some gardeners throw these away! The flavour is less pungent than a garlic clove and has a subtle scallion flavour. How to use? Think of how you would cook a green vegetable (stir-fry, sauté, steam, grill) and go from there.  Hummus is a favourite go-to dip when I want something in a pinch. Continue Reading →

roasted peppers and gorgonzola crostini

crostini with roasted peppers & gorgonzolaCrostini (little crusts in Italian) are the easiest appetizers one can make.  There are oodles and oodles of variations and limited only by one’s imagination.  Creative ones such as smashed avocado topped with thinly sliced cucumber seasoned with chili flakes and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil or mashed fresh peas with sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Consider white bean hummus slathered on a toasted slice that’s been perfumed with garlic – doesn’t that sound delish?  Continue Reading →

orange jelly slices

orange jelly slicesAccording to What’s Cooking America, gelatin was once considered a sign of wealth, before the commercial version appeared, only members of the elite classes could afford it. It took hours to render gelatin, clarify it, and turn it into fancy aspics, molded salads, desserts. etc. The use of gelatin was a sign that the host or hostess had the means to support a kitchen staff with the skill and time to create such a dish. When gelatin became available commercially it still was a symbol of culinary sophistication.  Continue Reading →

artichoke pesto

artichoke pestoMaking use of what’s in your cupboard before expiration date always feels good.  I am guilty, at times, of having to throw food out.  According to Second Harvest, Canadians waste $31 billion of food every year of which 47% is wasted in the home.  Over 30% of fruits and vegetables are rejected by supermarkets because they aren’t attractive enough for consumers. The primary contributor to consumer food waste is high expectations—demand for high-quality, aesthetically-pleasing food is a key factor behind the volume of food waste among consumers. I reject ugly-looking fruit or veggies when there are visible signs of spoilage.  I don’t know why I expect my food to last longer.  The refrigerator is meant to prolong the life of fruits and vegetables and perhaps psychologically I have time on my side and, regrettably, that isn’t always the case – mea culpaContinue Reading →