Annual Thanksgiving Potluck, 2011 Edition

Every year my sister M throws a Thanksgiving potluck.  She’s been doing it for quite some time now; she and Antony started the tradition back when they were in university.  M does the turkey, and Antony does the stuffing (and both are very good at their jobs.)  The party is always great fun, and this year was no exception.  M made a 16 pound turkey (!) with herb butter, and Antony made a beef and lamb meat stuffing.  The spread at the party was very impressive and very tasty-there were vegetables, potatoes, bread, and desserts.  The drink of the night was Kir Royale: champagne with blackcurrant liquor.  It was tasty and pretty!  M also made a plum torte for dessert, and I’m sharing the recipe she used from The New York Times.


Turkey-before & after.

Drink of the night-Kir Royale.

The beautiful turkey-carved and plated by Ian.


Cookies and plum torte (and a caramel apple torte in the background.)

Plum Torte

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 halves pitted purple plums
  • sugar and cinnamon for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream sugar and butter.  Add flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs.  Beat well.  Spoon batter into a springform pan (use an 8, 9, or 10 inch round pan.)  Place the plum halves skin side up on the top.  Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top.  Bake for 40-50 minutes.  Best served warm; serve with plain yogurt or ice cream.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!



Vietnamese Lunch

Every time I visit my sister M, we have to go for Vietnamese food in Chinatown.  We are in love with the restaurant Anh Dao.  They have THE best pho, a traditional Vietnamese soup noodle dish served with beef.  We ordered a bowl of pho and also this AMAZING rice wrapper dish.  You make your own wraps with noodles, veggies, and grilled beef-covered shrimp.  It comes with a sweet peanut dipping sauce.


Platter of noodles, veggies and beef-wrapped shrimp to make rice wraps.

Assembling the rice wrap.

Dipping sauce.

It was delicious and a lot of fun!


Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend as much as I am.  And for those of you still in school (as I am, unfortunately), I hope you take some time off and have a good meal (or 2…or maybe even 3!)  My friend Monica posted this link on my Facebook wall yesterday and I thought I’d share it.  It’s a bunch of unusual turkey recipes.  The suntanned turkey made me laugh.  I would like to try the beer can turkey one day.  I love beer can chicken, so I bet beer can turkey would taste pretty good!


Happy Thanksgiving!


Zucchini Fritters

Wow, it’s already Thanksgiving weekend!  I will be blogging less for several reasons:

1.  School is getting heavy and I have a bunch of papers to write.  Boo on writing.

2.  I’m making an effort to have some semblance of a social life, so I actually have fun things to do in October, including attending the symphony and going to a fancy breakfast (and I will be blogging about that.)

3.  I’m currently testing a video game for a friend, and I’m currently addicted to it.

In spite of all that, I will still try to blog now and then.  Mostly during class time…multi-tasking, you know…

Anyway, I mentioned in my past post that I bought a giant zucchini at the market.  It was great, it only cost me a dollar!  The problem was, even after I used about half of it for veggie packets for a dinner party, I still had some left.    I needed to use it up and my sister M suggested that I use it to make zucchini fritters.  Great idea: anything battered and fried is bound to taste good.

I Googled a recipe and modified it, and ended up with something like this:

Zucchini Fritters

  • 1 lb zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • grated parmesan cheese

After you grate the zucchini, toss it with a bit of salt (a teaspoon should suffice) and let it sit in a bowl.  Squeeze out as much water as you can (I recommend using a cloth for this.)  You’d be surprised how much water there is.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients to form a batter-the cheese, salt and pepper are to your taste.  I suggest using less salt because the cheese is salty.  You can always add more at the end once you’re done frying them if you find that there is not enough flavour.

Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan and, working in batches, fry up your fritters!  I used medium high heat and fried each side for maybe 3 minutes each.  Drain them on paper towels.  I think next time I would add some green onion or chives to it.  Also, I would use more zucchini-I didn’t have one pound, so my fritters were more pancake like.  Tasted fine though!  I had my fritters with a bit of plain yogurt.  You could also dip them in sour cream.



Byward Market

I love going for walks.  It’s my way of pretending I do SOME exercise during the school year (and a way for me to avoid writing memos and papers.)  I highly enjoy browsing food markets and the local farmer’s market.  Lately I’ve been walking to Byward Market.  I figure I better enjoy the last few weeks of local fresh produce before the long, cold, barren winter sets in.  The only thing is, every time I go, I want to buy everything I see.  There are so many good deals at the market, I have to exercise a lot of self-control in order not to overspend.  After all, the produce will go bad if I don’t use it up in time.  I did snag some good deals on carrots, spinach, and a GIANT zucchini (which will be featured in a future post.)  Yummy!



I love the vibrant colours of fresh produce!


Staycation with Abby, Part 3

Abby and I went for a lovely lunch at the Le Cordon Bleu Signature Bistro.  I can’t believe I’ve never gone before!  The lunch is a great deal.  It’s a prixe fix menu, and you choose an appetizer (from a choice of 2 dishes) and an entrée (from a choice of 2 dishes).  The dessert is set.  The menu changes weekly, so it’s a great way to try different dishes that the Bistro has to offer.  Because I went with Abby, we got to try everything on the menu.  Quite honestly, I don’t remember what we ate, except the dessert.  It was a baked apple with green apple sorbet and my favourite course (hence the feature of this post.)  Yummy!









Staycation with Abby, Part 2

I took Abby to a couple of my favourite places when she came to visit.  We went to Ahora’s, a lovely little Mexican restaurant in the market.  It’s where I usually go for dinner when I don’t want to cook.  The food is great quality, portions are filling, and it’s pretty quick service.  Plus, they have this fun salsa bar where you can try a bunch of different salsas.

We also went to Benny’s Bistro for lunch one day.  It’s located in the back of The French Baker in the market.  While I’ve never actually bought anything from the bakery (just haven’t done it yet, but everything looks really good), I’ve eaten at the Bistro many times.  My mentor introduced me to the restaurant, and it’s where we usually go for lunch.  I love it because the menu changes every so often, and there’s always a special.  They get quite busy sometimes, so reservations are a good idea.   I ended up getting tuna, and Abby got some potato thing.  Both dishes were so delicious!


(All photos courtesy of Abby)


Staycation with Abby, Part 1

I can’t believe we are already into fall.  Thankfully, we still have some nice weather.  A couple of weeks ago, my friend Abby came to visit me and we had a great few days enjoying museums, shopping, and some great eating (both at restaurants and cooking at home).  We had a fun time at Sunday Brunch at The National Arts Center, at Le Cafe.  I have to say, I’ve been to a bunch of different fancy brunch places, and Le Cafe is definitely one of the best places I’ve been to.  The selection is not as extensive as some other restaurants, but everything they make is done very well.  There wasn’t a mediocre dish.  I was most impressed with the desserts.  I find that a lot of the time that a wide variety of pretty desserts means that taste is sacrificed.   However, at Le Cafe, the desserts were AMAZING!  The mango pudding was Abby’s favourite, but I loved the chocolate mousse-it wasn’t too sweet and had a very light consistency (I ate three of them!)  It was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it.




(Le Cafe photo courtesy of Abby)


Auntie Jane’s Homemade Salsa

I know I’ve been MIA, so here’s a quick post.  When I went home for a visit, I was at Gretchen’s Aunt’s Jane’s house.  She fed me brunch (separate post on that later) and then gave us a tour of her garden.  Her garden is awesome!  She grows a bunch of things: herbs, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, among other things.  When I left, she gifted me a jar of sun-dried tomatoes and a jar of homemade salsa.  She grew all the peppers and tomatoes in the salsa herself!

I can assure you it tasted delicious-it was very spicy.  Loved it.  Loved it so much that I decided it merited its own blog post!


Pasta Fun

I am so lucky.  I have great friends and the vast majority enjoy eating and cooking and baking as much as I do.  This leads to some pretty fun cooking dates.  So the other day I got together with Stephanie, and she taught me how to make pasta-from scratch!  She’s always a big hit at parties because she makes homemade perogies and homemade pasta, and I was dead set on learning her secrets.

Well, one of the things I learned is to get a pasta maker.  You can roll out pasta by hand but it would take you FOREVER to do.  Luckily, Steph has one (and they are darn fun to use too!)

Pasta is actually really simple.  It’s just egg and flour, and if necessary, water.  You can make poor man’s pasta by using just water and flour too.  The ratio of egg to flour is 1 egg to 3/4 to 1 cup of flour.  We each made some pasta and used 2 eggs and 2 cups of flour.

Make sure you have a clean surface to do this on-and be prepared for a bit of a mess.  Pile up the flour and make a well in the center.

Add your egg or eggs in the middle of the well.  Work the flour in slowly, either using a fork or by hand.  You want to work it so that eventually it comes together as a ball of dough and it’s a bit elastic.  Work in more flour or water as necessary to get the desired consistency.

Once you get it into a nice elastic dough, wrap it and chill at least 15 minutes.  Then you break out the pasta machine and roll out your pasta nice and thin.  We cut out squares and filled them with two fillings: one was a spinach and ricotta cheese filling and the other was a beef filling.  They were so delicious!  Thanks Steph!