If you love savoury grilled food, but don’t have the time to make your own marinades and rubs, take a shortcut and use something that’s pre-mixed. You can get good results even just by adding red wine or soy sauce to consumer brands of BBQ sauce. Or you can treat yourself to one of Williams-Sonoma’s line of sauces. Sure, they’re a bit pricey ($19 for a 17-ounce bottle) but they are delish — flavours include red chilli/peanut, roasted tomatillo and Jalapeño/Peach. Tomorrow, look for another delicious recipe in this spot. In the meantime, don't forget to enter the contest to win one of four Portable Charcoal Grills by clicking here. More contest details can be seen in the last entry.
Why is Cory Vitiello, chef of the Harbord Room, joyously tossing peppers in the air? My guess is that he’s so happy with the induction range he’s cooking on. Even a humble home chef like me can appreciate the benefits of induction – it’s super responsive, keeps the kitchen cool, is easy to clean and allows for very precise temperature control. Vitiello recently showed me around a Thermador induction range at the Summerhill LCBO kitchen. (True, freelance writing doesn’t have a huge number of benefits, but there are occasional treats, such as having a handsome young man make lunch for me, without expecting me to do the dishes afterwards.) We had a great chat, discovering that we share very lukewarm feelings toward Chardonnay and both love to cook with cheap cuts of meat! Vitiello will be teaching classes at the site on May 19 and 27, incorporating ingredients thought to be aphrodisiacs (it could get REALLY hot in there, induction notwithstanding,) and innovative spice pairings. You have to win a seat in a Thermador-sponsored contest to attend. Click here to go to the site to enter. If you don’t win, you can still make one of his fabulous recipes, which I’ve included below.
BTW, when Chef Cory and I were chatting (such a nice young man), he happened to mention his pal Anton Potvin, whom he described as having a “ridiculously good palate”. That was enough to send me to the site of the Niagara Street Cafe, where Potvin reigns. The menu looks terrific, and I was seriously tempted by the notion of wild mushrooms on toast, smoked cheddar, pickled honey mushrooms, and mustard horseradish cream. Mushrooms are one of may fave foods. As long as they don’t suggest a glass of Chardonnay to go with it.
Vitiello’s Spice Crusted Sashimi Grade Tuna with Mussels, Saffron, Kaffir lime leaf, Thai Basil, Bird's Eye Chili, Cilantro and Smoked Sea Salt
4.5 oz pieces of center cut sashimi grade tuna
2 tablespoons toasted and freshly ground fennel seed, cumin and coriander seed
Lightly toast the spices until they give off their scent. Grind in a coffee grinder or blender. Roll tuna in the mixture until it is lightly coated. In a hot pan sear the tuna on all sides for 2 minutes total, leaving the centre very rare.
1 lb fresh mussels
1 cup white wine
1 finely diced bird’s eye chili, seeds removed
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch of saffron
Juice of 2 limes
1 carrot, julienned
1 small leek, julienned
2 pieces baby bok choy, finely sliced
2 tablespoons cold butter
2 kafir lime leaves, bruised
1 piece lemon grass, bruised and cut into two-inch pieces
Small handful of torn fresh cilantro
Small handful of torn basil leaves
2 teaspoons salt
Method: In a large shallow pan cook the garlic, shallot, ginger, chili, saffron, leek, carrot, lemongrass, lime leaf,and salt in a small amount of canola oil until just tender. Add mussels and bok choy, bring to a boil and cover for 2 minutes or until mussels fully open. Add lime juice, butter, cilantro and basil; stir constantly until butter is incorporated.
Assembly: In large shallow bowl spoon equal amounts of the mussel/sauce/vegetable mixture. Slice the tuna down the center and present it cut side up. Lightly season the cut side of the tuna.
In between appearances at the National Home Show yesterday, I dropped into the Eurodale Dream Home (sponsored by the Toronto Star). What a great space. Designers Karen Sealy, Sharon Grech, and Ramsin Khachi did fabulous work — I especially loved the crushed glass counter-top in Ramsin’s kitchen and the delicate branches festooned with crocheted flowers Karen hung over the master bed to create an enchanted forest look, while Sharon created a bedroom and play area any self-respecting kid would be crazy about. But it was Janette’s whimsical entranceway and dining room that really made me smile. It’s not a look you’re likely to see often at a consumer home show – which is precisely why I loved it. It’s a cleverly cluttered, elegantly down-at-the-heel look that reminds us the most interesting spaces are rarely magazine-shoot perfect. You can check out these two shots for a feel, but — better by far — to run down to the show and take a look. Don't forget to ask about the forward-thinking modular design.
I’ll be back at the show on Thursday, co-hosting a Girl’s Night Out event with Janette, where I’ll be showing how to make great spring-inspired tablescapes with fun and affordable linens and the ridiculously versatile Bistro line of dinnerware by PC Home that I’ve recently discovered and made my new best friend.
As I mentioned in my Hot Home Products column this week, I am loving the glass water bottles sent to me by Raquel Youtzy. Since there was no room in the paper for a pic, I've included one above. I also came across a couple of other new water products too late to get them into the column. One is clever new counter-top water cooler/filter from PC Home. While I normally drink water straight from the tap, I’d be inclined to try this one at my cottage. There, we fill up jugs of drinking water from a municipal tap in town. The water is perfectly safe, but it does have a slightly tinny taste, and I’m loathe to buy bottled water. So this well-designed new cooler might be just the solution. It would also be great in an office setting, I think. PC Home also has a reusable personal water bottle that comes with a built in filter for about $10. And here’s another cool new product — the Vapur Anti-Bottle, a flexible bottle that, when empty, can be rolled, folded or flattened to fit into a purse or pocket (see pic below). It’s made from polymer and contains no BPA (Bisphenol A),and can be placed in the freezer, microwave, or dishwasher. For more information on water safety in Toronto, click here. and for info on federal guidelines, click here.
Yes, my darlings, it's true, I have started writing a quarterly kitchen trend column for Homefront magazine. You can see it online but do get your hands on a copy if you can. The sexy, high-end images on lovely thick paper (ahh, yes, the heady fragrance of glossy paper perfumed with ink) are, my dears, too too divine.
Okay, I can’t go to the Olympics. I can live with that. But why can’t I at least have a gold-medal worthy kitchen, like this one from Italian design company Poliform? Just asking. Even the snow looks better than the greying carbuncles of frozen muck seen from my windows.
At the beginning of February does anyone really think we have anything less than six weeks of winter to expect? Yeah sure, and the Leafs are going to take the Cup this year. So silly. With more cold to come, I wanted to tell you about a new heating product I just learned about. Redwood infrared heaters are thin, lightweight, rectangular units that can be covered with images, mirror — even chalkboard, as in the pic above. They plug into a standard electrical unit. Using infrared rays (like the sun), they warm surfaces, which then radiate heat. According to Marcus Plowright, manager of London, Ontario’s Anden Building Products, Redwell’s exclusive dealer in North America, they’re also very energy-efficient, easy to mount and transportable from room to room. He adds that the technology has been big in Europe for many years now. More on this clever product soon (well, within the next six weeks) in an upcoming Hot Home Products column. In the meantime, you can get more information from the Redwell site.
For the last few weeks, for various reasons, I’ve been reading up on cleaning techniques (yes, that’s right, I do lead a high-powered and exciting life). While my colleagues are at glam events, and worrying over wall colours, I’ve had my nose buried in How to Clean just about Anything (Readers Digest - Canada 2005). It’s no Catcher in the Rye (In fact, tonight I’ll put it down to reread De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period from Nine Stories for the 754th time), but I think it’s still a darn good how-to book. Full of simple, common-sense info and tips that the generation who never took Home Economics missed out on. Such as – always work from the top of the room down, so that dust and dirt falls onto the last surface to be cleaned, and work from dry to wet cleaning techniques; i.e., always sweep or vacuum a floor before mopping it. (Choose your weapon - I'm a bit old school and like the Vileda mop shown above) You can also get some good ideas on the websites for various cleaning products, although they do (quelle surprise) tend to focus on their own products. But it’s worth scooting over to the Arm & Hammer site to learn that you can remove crayon marks on wall with damp sponge and a sprinkle of baking soda. Clorox has good information on when and where to use bleach. For laundry advice, pay a visit to Clorox’s Dr Laundry. (Full disclosure – I think I have a crush on Dr. Laundry) If you want a heads up on a very neat new product that’s coming down the pipe, go to the Planet People website. Very cool indeed.
Sparkle, shimmer and shine are making their way back into décor, even — or maybe especially – in the kitchen and bath. So it’s good timing for Corian to come out with 10 new colors, including eight metallics that are infused with gold or silver. There’s also a new Designer White, and a caramel-toned Cottage Lane. I’ll be looking more closely at the new colours, and at the properties of Corian in general for an upcoming column on counter-top options. One of the questions I’ve been asking is how hygienic various materials are. Press material for Corian states that, with proper cleaning, it does not promote the growth of mold, mildew or bacteria and is non-toxic and non-allergenic to humans. More on all that later — for now feast your eyes on these pretty, jewel-like shades. Have you redone a kitchen counter-top lately? If so, what did you go for?
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