Tag: recipe review

The Great Shellfish Cookbook Review + Game Day Fried Mussels Recipe

The Great Shellfish Cookbook Review + Game Day Fried Mussels Recipe

Don’t be shellfish, cook seafood for your friends! My review of The Great Shellfish Cookbook by Matt Dean Pettit talks about spreading the crustacean love, plus a recipe for Game Day mussels that will make you forget about nachos forever.

Vegetarian Vietnam Review + Cucumber Pineapple Rolls Recipe

Vegetarian Vietnam Review + Cucumber Pineapple Rolls Recipe

Chef Cameron Stauch is a world traveller. As the partner of a Canadian diplomat he has lived all over the world, documenting his travel and his cooking on his blog A Global Kitchen. Dive into my review of his new cookbook Vegetarian Vietnam.

Around the World in 12 Plates: Ethiopia

Around the World in 12 Plates: Ethiopia

For the third recipe challenge in Around the World in 12 Plates, we headed to Ethiopia! The cuisine of this country was the one I was least familiar with so far. In fact, I’ve never even eaten in an Ethiopian restaurant (bows head in shame). I was eager to understand a new culture and I learned so much! The most important thing we learned for Around the World in 12 Plates: Ethiopia — they put berbere in everything!

Seriously, of the five recipes we cooked, three of them contained large amounts of this spice blend. Berbere is a key element in the cuisine of both Ethiopia and Eritrea. We were able to pick up some of the blend at Desta Market on the Danforth where we found several ingredients. If you don’t have an Ethiopian market nearby, check out this recipe for Berbere by Chef Marcus Samuelson. It requires a lot of spices, but most are easy to get.

ATW12p Ethiopia11.web.name

The recipes we used

Through my research, I learned all meals are eaten on shared platters; some meat and some vegetarian. So for Around the World in 12 Plates: Ethiopia we used four recipes from a variety of sources to make up our platter. The main dish and centre of our platter was key wat, a simple beef stew. I used this recipe from A Duck’s Oven, a travel and food blog. The two other wats, or stews, came from the same blog, The Gourmet Gourmand. The misir wat is a red lentil stew, and the shiro wat is a stew-sauce type dish made with chickpea flour. We also made two salads — a traditional green salad and a tomato salad — using the recipes from this 2014 Toronto Star article.

Snack time

I also discovered popcorn is a popular snack in Ethiopia, so naturally we had some! Guess what the popcorn is tossed in? You guessed it: berbere! It was a delicious twist and added a great punch to the freshly popped corn. We used this Ethiopian Style Spicy Popcorn recipe from the Wander Cooks blog.

Bowl of Ethiopian popcorn

Eating Ethiopian-style popcorn

Ethiopian eating etiquette

Rule number one when eating from a sharing platter: don’t lick your fingers! This sounds like a no brainer but when you’re all up in that plate, it’s harder than you think to not lick the delicious sauce off your fingers. Injera is a key element in Ethiopian cuisine as the plate and as a utensil, using small pieces to scoop up the food and put it in your mouth. This spongy bread is made from teff flour and takes several days to make. I made the executive decision not to make my own injera because I was able to track some down at Desta Market. It’s sour tasting — Adam said it smelled like salt and vinegar chips — and has an almost jelly-like consistency. We used one piece as the base of the platter and then rolled the rest of the pieces to break off and enjoy our meal.

Rolling injera

Bowl of rolled injera

Digging in to Around the World in 12 Plates: Ethiopia

While many of the dishes we cooked throughout the day had many of the same ingredients, the flavours of each component were very different.  The meat in the key wat was melt-in-your-mouth and the flavours were strong but not overpowering. The green salad was a fresh addition to the plate with a hit of spice from the jalapeno and ginger, while the tomato salad added some acidity to the richness of the other ingredients.

What I loved about eating from the communal platter is that every bite was different. A bite of the shiro wat with the tomato salad was different than a mouthful of key wat and misir wat. It was so flavourful and fun to share a meal in a whole new way! Ethiopian food is definitely going into the regular repertoire — I’m definitely going try the key wat with couscous sometime soon!

Ethiopian platter

The other challengers up to the task of cooking Ethiopian food also made some delicious dishes! Be sure to check them out!

Cristina from I Say Nomato’s Tumeric Split Peas

Bernice from Dish n’ the Kitchen

Sugar Loves Spices’ Gomen Wot   

Around the world in 12 plates: the 2017 recipe challenge

Around the world in 12 plates: the 2017 recipe challenge

You may recall I completed a year-long recipe challenge a couple years back. I started the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge in 2013 with a few other bloggers, but I was the only one to complete it, something I am super proud of. But I have 

Mission Accomplished! Best of the Cover Recipe Challenge

Mission Accomplished! Best of the Cover Recipe Challenge

I DID IT!! After 12 months, 12 cover recipe challenges, 34 recipes, and 25 wines, I finally completed the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge! What a delicious roller coaster of a year! To my pantry, I have added 6 types of vinegar, 4 types of 

Prime Rib Windup: December Cover Recipe Challenge

Prime Rib Windup: December Cover Recipe Challenge

C’est la fin! Finito! Dunzo!

The Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge IS COMPLETE! 

Twelve delicious months ago, I challenge myself to cook every cover recipe of Food & Wine Magazine for the whole year of 2013, and last month I completed the challenge! I cannot believe it’s done: After 12 months, 34 recipes, and a shit ton of wine, I am proud say that I successfully completed the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge.


December’s F&W was focused on ‘the best holiday recipes,’ so for good reason, the cover recipe was a show stopper: Prime Rib! The menu I put together was classically festive and reflected all the fun that is had around the holidays.

For December’s Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge:

Winter Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Almonds

Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream

Tuscan Kale alla Parmigiana

We ended the challenge like we started it: with good friends and lots of wine. Adam, Erin, Matt, and I got together at our place for one last evening of cooking on a chilly December night. The food actually took very little time to prepare despite the amount of alcohol we consumed (per usual), and with all my little elves in the kitchen, the dinner was on the table in record time!

Prep time

For the first course: Winter Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Almonds. The salad was a great success, it was delicious! It was a really easy recipe to follow and I was surprised at the freshness of the combination of ingredients.

Winter Salad

The dressing, a whisked delight of champagne vinegar, shallot, preserved lemon and dijon mustard, was a light and fresh covering for the salad. The citrus of the preserved lemon balanced really well with the creaminess of the avocado, and the pomegranate seeds added a real punch.

This was the first time that I worked with preserved lemon (pickled whole lemons), and I was blown away with how potent those shrivelled babies can be. They are very acidic, so when prepping them, watch those paper cuts. This was also the first time using Maldon sea salt, which is very flaky sea salt. It was such an interesting texture that it almost felt like it wasn’t food, but it was so delicious and brought the salad up a notch. Maldon sea salt adds great complexity to salads and I am already trying to find new ways to use it in my kitchen.

For the main course, I prepared the cover recipe: Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream, which I served with Tuscan Kale alla Parmigiana, mashed potatoes, and a corn and mushroom sautee.

The preparation of the meat was pretty easy and it was obvious from reading the directions that it was going to taste delicious because the prime rib is basted in butter. Hello juicyness!

Prime Rib

The meat reached the suggested temperature long before the allotted time, and it was so juicy and tender even after letting it rest for over half an hour. The horseradish cream was a surprising success as well. During the preparation of the sauce, the smell of the fresh grated horseradish was grossing everyone out, but mixed with the creme fraiche, shallots, champagne vinegar and chives, the sauce was a delicious partner to the buttery prime rib.


Though the photo of the main course may not do the meal justice, everything was just delicious! The Tuscan Kale, though a little runny, was super flavourful, with the Parmigiano-Reggiano taking a starring role in the dish. The nutmeg also added another level of flavour that really made this side dish a winner. The mashed potato and corn made the perfect compliments to the meal and it was great for a chilly December evening.

The whole meal was a great finale and a great end to a year of food adventuring. The past year has been a great learning experience for me: It has challenged me to use ingredients that I have never even seen in the grocery store before, to create menus based around a main dish,  and to cook for bigger numbers of people. Though there have been ups and down throughout the past year, I wouldn’t have substituted one ingredient.

The monthly dinners will not be stopping, as the four of us have decided to continue into 2014 with a whole new set of recipes to Explore. Eat. Repeat. Stay tuned for a recipe round-up of the best and worst recipes of the Food and Wine Recipe Challenge! Cheers.

Turkey Lurkey: November Cover Recipe Challenge

Turkey Lurkey: November Cover Recipe Challenge

Happy uber belated Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas everyone! Yes, this is a post about my Thanksgiving meal, and this is another late posting for my Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge. For November’s issue there was a major focus on Thanksgiving meals because of the 

Grown Up Peanut Butter and Jelly: October Cover Recipe Challenge

Grown Up Peanut Butter and Jelly: October Cover Recipe Challenge

With all the guests I hosted and cooking I did in October, the month just flew by, and somehow the Cover Recipe Challenge got pushed to the back burner. However, in true Food Girl in Town fashion, I finished the challenge and posted late, so 

Chicken Fried Chicken Livers: September Cover Recipe Challenge

Chicken Fried Chicken Livers: September Cover Recipe Challenge

9 Months. That is how long I have been doing the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge, and it feels like an eternity. I seriously cannot imagine how women are pregnant for this long because this labour of foodie love is getting old. I can’t lie: Though I thoroughly enjoy making and eating these delicious meals every month, drinking lots of wine, and having a laugh with good friends, I was getting kind of bored. I needed some excitement, some new fangled kitchen gadget or cooking technique to try. And so, with the change of the season, I had high hopes for the September issue of Food & Wine Magazine, that it would inspire me to Explore. Eat. Repeat. through the next four months of recipe challenges, that I would be more adventurous in the kitchen than ever before…

…And then September’s issue appeared in my mailbox, all about chicken.

Chicken? I thought. Are you kidding me? How boring, how ordinary.

Don’t get me wrong, I like chicken. It is a versatile protein, and I really love me some McNuggets, but I could not get excited about September’s cover recipe which looked like plain old chicken.

But thankfully, I found a couple of awesome recipes inside the issue that I wanted to try, including Chicken Fried Chicken Livers. I was pumped! I had never cooked chicken livers before, and come on, who doesn’t love anything that is chicken fried?

With many bottles of wine on hand, so began the September Cover Recipe Challenge.

September Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge:

Fillipino Grilled Chicken


Chicken Fried Chicken Livers

For the last few challenges I have been underestimating the length of time in which it takes to make the meals, so in hopes of eating before 11pm, I started the challenge in the early afternoon long before Adam came home from school, and Erin and Matt came over after work.

To start with, I made dessert because it had the longest prep time. I chose to make Goat Cheese Cakes with Rosemary and Lavender Honey, and was pretty excited about the idea of goat cheese for dessert.

I was even more excited about them being made with a ginger snap crust. I love ginger snaps and I used Purity Ginger Snaps made in Newfoundland after finding them in my local Halifax Sobeys, yay!

Ginger Snaps

I am going to tell you up front so that you don’t get too excited about the outcome of the cheesecakes. They were a disaster. Though my knife came out clean on every single one when I checked them in the oven, those darned things did not cook all the way through. Normally I don’t talk about dessert in my posts until after the meal, but I didn’t want to disappoint you all; they were pretty gross. I have to say, my little guinea pigs sampled the cooked bits valiantly (Matt in particular made a strong effort) and though they tasted good, overall, they did not make par… This is the only one that was photographable.

Crappy Cheesecake

For the appetizer, I went with a soup: Zucchini Soup with Creme Fraiche and Cilantro. I was pretty excited to make a creamy soup like this for the first time, but also nervous about using my cheap (but pretty and turquoise) Wal-Mart blender to combine the ingredients. But luckily my trusty bought-only-for-looks blender didn’t let me down and the soup turned out awesomely!

It was really easy to make, with a very readable recipe, and though it took me a couple of stores to track down the creme fraiche, I was really happy with the outcome and so were my dinner guests. They slurped that soup down pretty fast! The creamy texture paired with the bold flavours of the cilantro and poblano peppers made for an elegant and spicy appetizer, yum!

Zucchini Soup

Next up, the second appetizer (that’s right, after 9 months we are getting fancy like that) the Chicken Fried Chicken Livers! These required a significant amount of preparation, but boy, was it worth it!

To start off, I marinated the chicken livers in buttermilk, soy sauce, and hot sauce overnight. I cannot lie to you, when I took them out of the fridge to cook them they smelled pretty weird, but in the name of foodie science, I trudged one. I dredged the marinated livers in flour and an egg mixture containing buttermilk, cayenne, black pepper, salt, and cumin.

Once those things hit the frying pan did they ever start to smell good! They turned the perfect crispy brown and everyone’s mouths were watering by the time the livers made it to the table. The batter was crispy, spicy, and the perfect shell for the creamy liver. None of us had had liver like this before, and I think it is my new favourite way…what’s not to like? Try this recipe ASAP!

Chicken Fried Chicken Livers

The main course for the evening was the actual cover recipe for the Sepetmber issue: Filipino Grilled Chicken. It also required marinating overnight and a whole lot of random ingredients which included (but was not limited to): lemon juice, coconut vinegar, fish sauce, and star of anise…there was a lot going on in that marinade.

We popped the chicken on the grill after indulging in the Chicken Fried Chicken Livers, and soon the skin turned a golden brown. I was a little worried about the chicken not being cooked because it was pink in some areas, however, after checking the temp, I realized it was just the marinade, whew!

Filipino Chicken

I served the chicken with some fresh corn on the cob and mashed potatoes, and I am sad to say that my favourite part of the dish was the corn: It was super fresh from the market and was buttery and yummy. That aside, the flavour of the chicken was weird to me, I didn’t really like the combination of spices with the star of anise, and I wasn’t overly impressed. It was just chicken, after all.

Overall I think the meal was a success mainly because of the deliciousness of the Chicken Fried Chicken Livers. The main event was underwhelming and the dessert was undercooked, but it was still a great evening with friends and lots of wine. I highly recommend those who haven’t tried liver before to try them chicken fried, you will not be disappointed. Soon you will Explore. Eat. Repeat your way through those vital organs, Bon Appetit!

Spaghetti and Plantballs: August Cover Recipe Challenge

Spaghetti and Plantballs: August Cover Recipe Challenge

So this post is exactly one month late. The post for my exciting meal for August’s Food and Wine Cover Recipe Challenge is late simply because it was summer and I was off galavanting, sorry folks, I have no excuses. But here it is at 

27 and Cobless: July Cover Recipe Challenge

27 and Cobless: July Cover Recipe Challenge

I hated July’s Cover Recipe Challenge. Why? There are so many reasons. First of all, it has to be said that I actually create the monthly challenge, choosing recipes from the issue of Food & Wine and centring the meal around the cover recipe. Therefore, 

We’re Halfway There: June Cover Recipe Challenge

We’re Halfway There: June Cover Recipe Challenge

I have been so busy enjoying the summer in the past few weeks that I cannot believe I have yet to post June’s Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge recap! Despite the fact that this is a ridiculously late posting, it has to be said that it was a great success. For June’s challenge we were lucky enough to have a few extra hands in the kitchen: Franzi and Evan are great friends, followers of my blog, and have been dying to join in on a challenge and, of course, eat a delicious meal! Similar to last month’s issue, June’s recipes centered around barbecuing, al fresco meal options, and lots of fresh produce and meat. The cover recipe itself was three types of ribs and everyone was excited to get into the kitchen (and onto the patio) to start cooking!

To celebrate the sixth month in a row for the recipe challenges (YAY) I wanted to make sangria. While living in Toronto during grad school, I discovered a place on Bloor Street that makes the most amazing, delicious sangria in the world. I know, a bold statement to make, but seriously, Future Bakery & Cafe makes the best sangria; it is so good, and see for yourself, it looks magnificent!!!

Future Bakery and Cafe Sangria

So to start off the evening with a great drink, I tried to recreate this delicious imbibe, meticulously studying the volumes of the different spirits that make up the layered sangria as described to me by the Future bartenders many drunken times over.

It was a disaster. None of the liquors stayed separated and it ended up looking rather brown in colour, kind of like mouldy wine. Thankfully it tasted great, which is the most important thing, and we got the cooking started after a few libations.


Erin with her Sangria!


Ribs with Hot-Pepper-Jelly-Glaze

Rating: 3 out of 5

The menu for the evening (like always) revolved around the cover recipe which was three types of Ribs with Hot-Pepper-Jelly-Glaze. To start off, we prepared the Honey-Buttered Grilled Corn and the dirty mashed potatoes (my own concoction) that would accompany the ribs.

The corn was actually very easy to prepare although it had a lot of steps involved. First of all, we had to shuck the ears of corn without pulling the husks off all together which is trickier than it sounds. I left this task up to the boys as they were eager to help. See how proud they look after completing their task.

The Boys

After shucking the corn, the next step was to spread a mixture of honey and butter on the ears and sprinkle with cayenne pepper and kosher salt, which Erin and I did. Then we pressed a sprig of oregano onto the corn, wrapped the ears back up in the husks and tied with a kitchen string. We didn’t have kitchen string (something I always seem to need to but never have), but some random elastic bands that I had around the house did the trick. Then I passed the buck to Adam and put him in charge of grilling the corn along with the ribs on the BBQ.

Buttering the Corn

The ribs themselves were also fairly easy to prepare. I marinated them over night in the most delicious spicy marinade that consisted of crushed coriander seeds, orange peel, brown sugar, and a trio of chili, garlic, and onion powders. The day of the challenge I made a sauce with red pepper jelly, white miso, Sriracha, and lemon juice that was used to baste the ribs on the grill and to be served at the table for extra dipping. It smelled freaking amazing. Adam and I did have some trouble getting the three types of ribs that were required for the recipe (short, spare, and baby) and in the end only used short and baby back ribs, although I don’t think the recipe suffered at all because of this. I want those babyback, babyback, babyback ribs!

Ribs on BBQ

The corn was also barbecued, and just as a note to grillers everywhere, corn husks are extremely flammable and need to be monitored at all times. Watch those flames people. Adam also wasn’t very happy with me about the use of hair elastics to tie up the husks, I really need to invest the 5 cents it costs for kitchen string…

Corn on BBQ

For the appetizer this month, I chose to go off book with a fresh watermelon salad that wasn’t in the magazine simply because I freaking love watermelon. I chose Chef Michael Smith’s Watermelon Basil Feta Salad (find the recipe here) and prepared it right before the meal was ready so the ingredients didn’t get soggy. Franzi was an awesome sous-chef in the kitchen as she diced the feta and Adam used his manly arms to slice the watermelon.

Watermelon Prep

And finally, we were ready to eat. The watermelon salad was a HUGE success. Everyone loved the fresh and summery flavour and it disappeared off people’s plates in minutes. The best part of this salad beside the taste was how easy it was to make. Anyone can make this salad and it looks super impressive once it’s plated. The kosher salt really gives it a punch and the watermelon was so juicy, YUM!


The ribs, corn, and dirty mashed potatoes followed and were also enjoyed by all. The corn was super flavourful and the cayenne pepper added a great kick to the otherwise dull vegetable. We had extra honey-butter on the table too, which no one could get enough of!


June’s cover recipe got a rating of 3 out of 5 not because the recipes were hard to follow, but because the ribes tasted just okay. The sauce on the ribs made them very moist and the red-pepper-jelly gave it a great kick making the flavour striking, but definitely not cover worthy in my opinion. The corn on the other hand was great! It was fun to prepare and fun to eat.

Franzi and Evan were gracious enough to bring not one, but two growlers of local beer from Granite Brewery to pair with the main course. They chose Keefe’s Irish Stout to pair with the ribs and its robust flavour went well with the spicy ribs and corn. The second beer was Greenman Organic, a pale ale that was super refreshing on that hot evening because it got hot in our little kitchen!


For dessert, Adam made his patisserie debut with Caramel Brownies. He prepared them the morning before the recipe challenge as they required multiple visits to the oven and he wanted to make sure that he got the layering of the brownie and caramel right.

Adam Baking

The brownies were delicious! Adam’s first attempt at baking was a success: they were super oooey gooey and with the crispy brownie dough made the perfect dessert on a warm evening. You can find the recipe for the brownies here on allrecipes.com. It is a simple and easy recipe, great for a novice baker like Adam.


Overall the dinner was a huge success. It was a little more hectic cooking with six people who were all eager to help, but it was lots more fun too! I had a great evening trying out the new recipes and it was a great way to celebrate the halfway point of the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge! I cannot wait to Explore.Eat.Repeat the next six months, Bon Appetit!

Group Shot