A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days in Prince Edward County to have a peek into what Countylicious had to offer. Twice a year, the county celebrates the best of food by featuring prix fixe menus from local restaurants. Chefs had created unique three-course dinner menus showcasing an appetizer, entrée, and dessert valued at $40 per person (taxes and gratuities extra). The menus are creative and bold, giving us a true taste of the County. The participating restaurants all have one thing in common, to craft menus inspired by the ingredients found in their own backyard, and to celebrate the best of the season by working with the local farmers, winemakers, beekeepers, fishers, brewers, bakers and producers who work year - round, prioritizing farm to table cuisine not only as a movement, but as a way of life.
I'm so happy to I'm so happy to finally write this post and share with you some BIG news. But first, let's start from the beginning.
When I moved to Canada, twenty something years ago, I had no idea how to cook. My recipe repertoire consisted of lasagna and spaghetti. That was pretty much it. Montreal, the city that I called home for almost six years, was where my passion for food began and where my eyes and heart opened to the wonderful world of cooking.
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?