Ever since Gaby started to crawl, her favourite place to be was in our kitchen. She was quite taken by any sort of plastic container, pots, pans and wooden spoons. When she started to walk, I would find her playing with mixing bowls (filled with Cheerios) and measuring spoons. As soon as she turned four, she became my little kitchen helper and every time I would bake or make our Sunday waffles she would don her tiny pink apron, climb on a chair, start to carefully measure flour into her own set of measuring cups, ask me to let her add the vanilla, and stir the batter. To this day, Gaby loves to bake. Especially with chocolate (like mother like daughter) and often I hear her in the kitchen after we've had dinner, getting cake pans and developing her own recipes. So with Halloween around the corner, I invited two of Gaby's closest friends, Rachel and Jules, to spend a Sunday afternoon baking Halloween chocolate cupcakes.
As much as I love summer, there are so many reasons about fall weather that I look forward to. Wearing a beanie all day long, wrapping myself in the I biggest scarf I can find, drinking tons of tea and reading more, but if I had to choose my favourite thing about fall, it would definitely be baking.
Baking and fall just go hand in hand. From pies to muffins and galettes, as soon as the leaves start turning all shades of orange, you can find me whipping something up in my kitchen with some of the local fruit we have around our home. I feel fortunate to live within minutes from some of the best farmer markets and fruit stands I've been to, and on any given weekend I stop by to pick up apples, pears and buttercup squash.
Sometimes, the best recipes happen when you gather ingredients that you already have on hand. When I made dinner Saturday night, little did I know that this farro bowl would be the kind of dish I will be for sure making over and over again.
It all started with wanting to use some of the last tomatoes from the garden and pair them with farro that I had brought recently from Florence (where farro is king), asparagus, roasted butternut squash, and from a trip to the farmers market, basil and mini eggplants. Craving a bit of seafood too, I decided to add roasted shrimp and also avocados that were perfectly ready (I don't think I can have a meal without them).
Last week I had the pleasure of teaching a class for Loblaws as part of their Chef at Home series. The class was such a great experience! Interactive, fun and a great way to learn about meals made for entertaining that are not intimidating. With Fall holidays fast approaching and tons of entertaining for friends and family happening in a few weeks, I created a menu that was simple, delicious and with a bit of prep done in advance. Let's be honest, who wants to spend hours in the kitchen when you could make a great meal in under 30 minutes AND spend time with your friends?
Every summer my mum comes to visit for a few weeks. We start our morning by brewing delicious Dominican coffee and having café con leche, while we make breakfast and talk about our plans for the day and tidy up. By tidying up, I mean she goes into full cleaning mode ( honestly, I've never know of someone to love cleaning as much as my mom does)
We have also been walking around the city quiete a bit, and showing my stepdad, on his first visit to Canada, a few of the places that make me love Toronto so much. I had been looking forward to taking him to the St. Lawrence Market because of our shared love of cooking. We got pasteis de nata at carrousel bakery that reminded me of the ones in Belem, and spent a few hours in food heaven. From seeing squid ink pasta being made, to trying fresh watermelon juice, St. Lawrence Market is my idea of paradise.
I'll admit it. I'm the biggest chocoholic. I think it started when I was a kid and after my Friday piano lessons, my mom used to take me to this little bakery near by where they had the best chocolate cake I've had in my life. Isn't it something how we can recall memories like these? Those evenings were magic.
Back when I spent a few years at Le Cordon Bleu, one of the things I loved to bake the most was Mille- Feuille - or Napoleons. Cedric, our teacher and pastry chef was a perfectionist and when teaching us how to make puff pastry, guess what he expected? Perfection. That was also the case when it came to macarons, but that's another story.
Eating out while traveling is definitely one of the things I love the most when I'm visiting a new city. After all, I've often said that you get to know a city trough its food, trough its markets, and little hole in the wall places serving authentic dishes.
But as much as I enjoy discovering new and exciting restaurants all over the world and trying new dishes, nothing beats making a simple meal at home. A meal made with those ingredients that are always present in your kitchen, the ones you can't live without (hello avocados and halloumi!)
I had my first real crab cake while visiting family in Baltimore. I say "real" because nothing I had before compared to how good these ones were. After all, this city takes its crab cakes seriously and eating them in the summer is like a pastime (one that I would gladly like to adopt).