Category Archives: Nutrition

Look Who Turned 5! FoodShare’s – A Recipe For Change

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Look who turned 5!

A Recipe For Change Event

February 27th,2014

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Last year I was very fortunate to be invited to attend ‘Recipe for Change‘ and felt extremely honoured to be invited to return again this year. This annual event, held at the St. Lawrence Market north building , is a community filled celebration of food with a distinct purpose that supports Food Literacy education & FoodShare’s innovative and timely work in schools.

A staunch supporter of Food Literacy is Sang Kim of the newly opened Wind Up Bird Cafe who got a chance to promote his restaurant’s contribution to #RecipeforChange this year on Breakfast Television the morning of the event. See the interview here.(via @BTtoronto) Below is the dish and its creator Chef Yumiko Kobayashi.

Chef Yumiko

Chef Yumiko Kobayashi

Tofu-Avocado Gratin and Sweet Potatoe Mille-Feuille from Wind Up Bird Cafe (Vegetarian)

Tofu-Avocado Gratin and Sweet Potatoe Mille-Feuille from Wind Up Bird Cafe (Vegetarian)

The Recipe for Change Initiative

Foodshare believes the following:”How children eat when they’re young lays the foundation for life-long patterns, but integrated good food education is not the norm in Ontario schools. Students are not regularly provided the tools to make healthy decisions to sustain themselves, nor are they taught how to garden, cook a healthy meal, compost or understand where their food comes from on an ongoing basis.”

“Childhood obesity and diabetes are global pandemics and, in Ontario, major health risks. Barring electives, and a few sporadic science or health lessons, healthy eating, hands-on Food Literacy skills and physical activity are not as regularly integrated into the school day as they should be.” – taken from “Why Recipe for Change”

This year brought together some of Toronto’s all-star chefs for a night of culinary delights with complimenting beverage selections from local vendors:

The amazing Recipe for Change Chefs

The Recipe for Change VQA Wines, Breweries, Coffee,Tea and other Beverages

Crema Coffee Co

Crema Coffee in the making

Maple Bacon Crema

Maple Bacon Crema

Frida Restaurant and Bar, Chef Jose Hadad – Tacos de Pescado en Salsa Verde, pan fried and then finished in Salsa Verde Haddock and garnished with Sour Cream, Coriander and Onion

My Little Dumplings, Chef Bashir – Mushroom Bao
(Vegetarian)

Annona at the Park Hyatt, Chef Joan Monfaredi – Pulled Buschbeck Braised Lamb Slider with Spicy Mustard Glaze, Crunch Slaw Sesame Tooney

Lisa Marie/Fidel Gastro, Chef Matt Basile – Agrentinian Lamb Meatball

Urban Acorn/The Depanneur, Chef Daniel Holloway & Marie Fitrion – Haitian Goat Griot & Banana Peze

Accra and Banana Peze

Urban Acorn/The Depanneur, Chef Daniel Holloway & Marie Fitrion – Haitian Accra & Banana Peze (Vegetarian)

SOMA Hot Chocolate

SOMA Chocolate from Chocolatemakers , David Castellan & Cynthia Leung – Hot Chocolate Mix Spiced with Ginger, Madagascar Vanilla, Orange Peel, Chili and Soma Blend Spices

Reuben Caraway Rye Gnocchi

The Beverly Hotel, Chef Eric Wood – Reuben Caraway Rye Gnocchi, Pastrami Lambs Tongue, Dill Pickled Mushrooms with Red Cabbage and Apple Mostarda, Fresh Tarragon and Gruyere Snow

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Wild Boar Ragu

Le Select Bistro, Chef Albert Ponzo – Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Wild Boar Ragu

Foggy Sunburst Morning Earl Grey Mocktail

The Love of Tea, Carol Mark – Foggy Sunburst Morning Earl Grey Mocktail with infusions of Bergamot and Citrus

Citrus Financier with Chestnut Mousse and Coffee Nougatine

The Tempered Chef, Chef Bertrand Alepee – Citrus Financier with Chestnut Mousse and Coffee Nougatine

Whole Wheat Scones with Goat Cheese and The Chef's House Preserves

Whole Wheat Scones with Goat Cheese and The Chef’s House Preserves

Whole Wheat Scones with Goat Cheese and The Chef's House Preserves

Whole Wheat Scones with Goat Cheese and The Chef’s House Preserves

Whole Wheat Scones with Goat Cheese and The Chef's House Preserves

George Brown Chef School, Chef John Higgins – Whole Wheat Scones with Goat Cheese and The Chef’s House Preserves

Moroccan Inspired Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Chick Peas

Good Earth Food & Wine Co., Chef Therese De Grace – Moroccan Inspired Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Chick Peas, Pickled Vegetable Micro Salad and Tahini Drizzle (Vegan)

Ice Wine Jelly Appetizers

Bernadin, Chef Emerie Brine – Ice Wine Jelly Bite-Size Appetizers

Mini Raw Pumpkin Tarts on Pecan Salted Date Crust

Cruda Cafe, Chef Claudia Gaviria – Mini Raw Pumpkin Tarts on Pecan Salted Date Crust
(Raw Vegan)

Mini Raw Cashew French Herbed Fermented Cheese with Sweet Potato Crackers

Cruda Cafe, Chef Claudia Gaviria – Mini Raw Cashew French Herbed Fermented Cheese with Sweet Potato Crackers (Vegan)

Mixed Ceviche (Seafood)

T.O. Ceviche Bar, Chef Alvaro Valencia – Mixed Ceviche (Seafood)

Ham Hock Terrine with Home-Made Branston Pickle and Quail's Egg

Table 17/Ascari Enoteca, Chef John Sinopoli – Ham Hock Terrine with Home-Made Branston Pickle and Quail’s Egg

Atlantic Salt Cod Fritters with Cilantro and Watercress Pesto

Culinary Students of Bendale Business & Technical Institute/Eastdale Collegiate Institute – Atlantic Salt Cod Fritters with Cilantro and Watercress Pesto from Bendale Gardens

Apple Fruitcake with Caramel Yogurt

Culinary Students of Bendale Business & Technical Institute/Eastdale Collegiate Institute – Apple Fruitcake with Caramel Yogurt

Arroz Caldo

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen, Chef Rudy Boquila – Arroz Caldo (Meat and Vegetarian options)

Duck Tamales

Valdez, Chef Steve Gonzalez – Duck Tamales

Walter's Caesars with Tromba Tequila

Walter Caesar – Caesars and Virgin Caesars

Shucked Oysters

Hooked, Kristin & Dan Donovan – Fresh Shucked Oysters – Shan Daph, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Cooke’s Cove, Ellerslie, PEI

Gulab Jamun with Masala Chai

416 Snack Bar, Chef Mark Ota – Gulab Jamun with Masala Chai (Vegetarian)

The collection of Chefs will ensure that there is great, amazing food for all guests so that even vegetarians, vegans, and those with other food considerations are accommodated.

The tasty evening at #RecipeforChange is composed of small plates allowing each chef to present their own creative vision, surprising us with their combining of foods and flavours.

Having chefs were on hand to personally prepare, plate, and serve their food, be available to discuss their inspiration with us gave us the rare chance to get up close and personal as a guest with some of the city’s prominent culinary minds  – a rare treat for many and for me a chance to say hello to many of my culinary friends and personal chef inspirations.

Culinary Students of Bendale Business & Technical Institute/Eastdale Collegiate Institute

Culinary Students of Bendale Business & Technical Institute/Eastdale Collegiate Institute

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen, Chef Rudy Boquila

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen, Chef Rudy Boquila

Valdez, Chef Steve Gonzalez

Valdez, Chef Steve Gonzalez

My Little Dumplings, Chef Bashir Munye and Crew

My Little Dumplings, Chef Bashir Munye and Crew

Hooked, Kristin & Dan Donovan

Hooked, Kristin & Dan Donovan

Grilled Tofu and Edamame Salad

FRANK at the AGO, Chef Jeff Duek – Grilled Tofu and Edamame Salad, Pipian Sauce, Coriander Spouts in a Palm Leaf Boat (Vegan)

Crema Coffee Co

Two of my favourite guys! Crema Coffee Co. – Amazing Maple Bacon never tasted so good.

Chicken Chilaquiles Mexico City Style

Santo Pecado, Chef Paola Solorzano – Chicken Chilaquiles Mexico City Style

Frida’s Chef Jose Hadad

Chopped Canada Season 1 Episode 7 Winner Brianne Nash with Tania Daviduke of The Culinary Adventure Company

Everything that Foodshare Toronto does is centered on the power of food to connect, to inspire and to ultimately transform. Their work is so impactful because of this important and sometimes neglected act of sharing. The power of caring and sharing truly does work and their work clearly shows that every little bit counts.

The Recipe for Change Super-Supportive Sponsors

Supporting FoodShare is easy, and you can be part of its impacts and help it grow and grow. Easy ways to show your support can be found here.

I truly love the opportunity to mingle and chat with the chefs, the beverage partners and many of my writing colleagues, dear foodie friends and general public who are in awe of each culinary expedition from table to table. There are also all the amazing things that FoodShare has been able to do and will do for Food Literacy and creating a healthier future for our future generations.

The opportunity to taste bites from over 30 Chefs, 20 VQA wines, 6 local beers, and so much more, the event was an amazing value for attendees and a wonderful opportunity to support FoodShare’s work to create a healthy future.

My Love Affair with Walter – A F&B Romance

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My Love Affair with Walter – A F&B Romance

It started off with a teasing photo on someone’s Facebook page, which lead to some tasty shots on another’s Instagram feed and then he was staring me down on a friends counter top. Next I knew there was an introduction, the anticipation and well, the rest as they say, is history…Are your cheeks burning yet? This is no 50 Shades of Grey storyline…it’s a love affair with Walter – Walter All-Natural Craft Caesar Mix that is.

 

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Over the years I’ve always had a few go-to drinks that I use if ever in doubt traveling and a Caesar has usually been in the mix with a good Dirty Martini or Sidecar – the kind of drinks that usually one can make at any standard bar. But as I and my healthy minded community have realized over the years, the standard mix for Caesars is just kind of , well full of a lot of junk like MSG (gives me blinding headaches), artificial colours & flavours and usually a High-fructose Corn Syrup which really is wrong on so many levels for our bodies. This is why I was so excited to be able to try Walter Caesar Mix – so much better and so tasty!

Walter_WellSpiced

Walter_MildlySpiced

Let’s break down the “Walter Difference”

  • ·         100% All-Natural Ingredients
  • ·         NO MSG
  • ·         NO Artificial Colours or Flavours
  • ·         No High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • ·         Made in Small Batch Production
  • ·         Bottled in Premium Glass Bottles
  • ·         Comes in 2 Flavours – Well Spiced or Mildly Spiced
  • ·         It’s CANADIAN and launched by two fellow Vancouverites

All of these things honestly make an awesomely better tasting Caesar or straight up on its own if you like your tomato juice to have some zest and body!

I played around with the flavour and made up one heck of a tasty bevvie for myself on one of our now many snowy nights and this is what I came up with.

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A good amount of Walter Well Spiced, some lime juice, some premium vodka, some tasty garnishes (home-made Daikon pickles, bacon, and cucumber – my own snacky topper). The perfect blend of seasoning for me in the Well Spiced and on other days I most likely would add in even more heat.

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Currently you can find Walter at select BC and Ontario grocers, specialty food and gift shops, select restaurants and bars. For their complete, up-to-date list, visit their website at www.waltercaesar.com/find-us

I’m looking forward to my second hot date with Walter’s alter ego – Walter Mildly Spiced – just the right speed for a long week, snowed in on the proverbial “Hump” Day. Now just to sort out the tasty garnishes or perhaps think up some alternative recipes to use this amazing new all natural product in to further extend the tasty goodness of Walter.

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Go out and get some soon – it’s now a regular in my house for sure!

Much foodie love,

@TraveliciousDee

 

DISCLAIMER

This is a personal blog. All content is based on my opinions and experiences. I received Walter Products and Product Information from Walter All Natural Craft Caesar Mix  to review.

Deborah Peniuk  Freelance Writer. Dream Travel Maker. Health &Wellness Retreat Specialist and Master Planner of Culinary Adventures and Escapes. Enjoys Wine+Food+Travel+Music+Yoga+Good Humans

http://www.aya-life.com  www.lifeblissandallofthis.com

 

World Food Day 2013

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World Food Day Banner

“Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition” will be the focus of World Food Day in 2013.

The official World Food Day theme – announced at the start of every year by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – gives focus to World Food Day observances and helps increase understanding of problems and solutions in the drive to end hunger.

About World Food Day

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations marks World Food Day each year on the 16th of October, the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945.

The objectives of World Food Day are to:

  • encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;
  • encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries;
  • encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;
  • heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;
  • promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and
  • strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.

World Food Day 2013 video feature: Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security

A Vietnamese Recipe for a Food System that Works.
What is a sustainable food system? One Vietnamese model harnesses tradition and bolsters that with technology and the right policy mix: ‘V-A-C’ farming. It’s a no-waste system integrating fish farming, raising livestock and growing fruit and vegetables, all on the same farm. It has assured sufficient, healthy food to Viet Nam’s rural farmers — about half the population — while generating income and feeding the growing cities. In V-A-C, livestock can even power the lights.”

World Food Day focuses on better food systems, including reducing food waste. Here’s what YOU can do: http://bit.ly/WlciOY 

What are you doing today on World Food Day? Tell them about it in a tweet to @FAOWFD tagged .

World Food Day Canada

hungerto

“Do your part to Engage, Empower and Inspire everyone to make a difference in the world”

A Culinary Night of Celebration – Toronto’s Recipe For Change

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A busy schedule and lots of travel put my writing on standby for a while but I had to make sure I got this tasty article up and readable to share!

Back on February 28th, Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market looked like a stage set for a culinary celebration! The event – Toronto’s Annual Event – Recipe For Change

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I timed my arrival to the North Market Building for the 6pm door opening and before I could reach the inner sanctum of the market building, I experienced a taste-bud explosion by way of an amazing Smoked Duck Tostada by @FidelGastros – Matt Basile, star of “Rebel Without A Kitchen”.

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The evenings’ event was a market done in complete transformation! This building is generally left to those farmers and craftspeople selling their edible bounty to the public of fresh fruit, eggs, vegetables, cheeses and many other tasty little bits of flavour. That night the team at FoodShare designed a map through a garden of flavor overload put forth by those who rise to the top, sometimes are seldom seen by the general public, and have a deep love for their craft, for their annual Recipe for Change fundraising event.

Over the course of the next few hours, with fork, napkin and wineglass in pocket, the room filled to capacity with over 400 Toronto eager food fans supporting such a good cause and sampling  culinary delights from over 30 chefs and students, 8 wineries from Niagara and Prince Edward County, and a few breweries as well. I eagerly sipped, nibbled and photographed as many tasty tidbits as I could. This year’s FoodShare event was presented by GE Cafe Appliances and students from both the Bendale Business and Technical Institute and Eastdale Collegiate presented some tasty offerings that they cooked in their culinary programs that are in collaboration with FoodShare.

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Some of my most memorable bites were: Brisket Steamed Buns from Momofuku Toronto, Yakitori Bar/Seoul Food’s vegetarian Bibimbap, Torito Tapas & Monforte Dairy’s collab of Dates stuffed with Toscano Cheese, Orrechiette with White Pork Shoulder Ragu by Ascari Enoteca, Savoury Bread Puddings by the George Brown Chef School, and the Luscious Beet Root Chocolate Brownies from Pimenton.

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It was a joy to see that Toronto’s culinary community spotlights the collaborative efforts for such an amazingly good cause. It was fun night to be out and about as many enthusiastic chefs served their very best and  I had a chance to catch up with some of my favourite restauranteurs, chefs, bloggers and food writers. From the culinary schools to top chefs, breweries, wineries and to my love…the Detour Espresso Bar, Recipe for Change certainly gave those of us in attendance, an honest testimony to the talented and creative culinary industry in this city I now call home.

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Food Share empowers and enables Ontario children to identify what good food is, where it comes from, not only teaching them that healthy food also tastes great, but educating and helping them learn to choose it for themselves. The organization is leading the challenge to create a healthier future for our children by working with students from JK to Grade 12 ,parents and educators to ensure that good food education is an included part of the Ontario curriculum and make Food Literacy a requirement for graduation. Children across Ontario are being taught how to plant, tend, harvest, prep ,cook and compost – something I took for granted growing up when I was a child, having a family involved in food and backyard farming.

Foodshare Video

This year’s event also marked the launch of FoodShare’s first cookbook – “share:Delicious Dishes from Foodshare and Friends” which showcases affordable, healthy, and culturally-diverse cooking that is a joy for the palate and the eye.  Just $24.95 + HST at your favourite bookstore or available on www.foodshare.net

ShareCover

“A delight for the palate and for the eye, share showcases the joy of healthy, affordable culturally-diverse cooking and highlights the power of good food to bring people together. Celebrate home-cooked meals with Adrienne De Francesco and Marion Kane as they guide you through recipes that are thoughtfully selected, carefully tested and thoroughly delicious. Feast on contributions from FoodShare’s chefs, staff, volunteers and program participants, along with local celebrities who all share their favourite recipes in this beautiful full-colour cookbook.”

Take time to support the Foodshare community on any level ! I came with to Recipe for Change with an appetite on full tilt mody,  ready to be amazed and flavour – challenged by  the 30 chefs works in food and I left satiated with an even better appreciation of the chefs I know and new wonder from all the ones I met for the first time and what the Culinary Culture of Ontario truly has to offer. A delish food adventure  experience that I would highly recommend all of you look out for next year and make certain you have tickets as soon as you can.

Coconut Smochonut…This Water Had Me Jumping

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Wowsa – not surprising but Coconut water has become big business in North America. All of a sudden people are calling it “Mother Nature’s Gatorade” and talking up all of  it’s amazing restorative powers. Nutritionists have been endorsing the daily use of coconut water for decades and now cocktail blogs are posting recipes for coconut water newbies, talking about this delicious new chaser that’s actually good for you. Post-workout for those of us into fitness or heavy-duty travelers – this is a great, electrolyte-restoring thirst quencher and for cocktails at home, it’s perfect for a pair of scotch and coconut waters.

Ask anyone from the islands and they’ll tell you – we are all WAY behind! Coconut water has been a staple in cultures around the world FOREVER, for exactly these reasons!

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up drinking coconut water since a kid and having my sister family from the islands I understood what it was like to have cold coconut water, fresh from the nut. Over my many years of traveling I have had the pleasure of having coconut water and its flesh all over the world and it is DELICIOUS. If you ever visit a tropical local that has – it’s a must. Stop for coconut water, drink it, and then ask the vendor to cut it open so you can enjoy the coconut jelly inside. So good, and so good for you!

Recently I was asked to sample some great new coconut water on the market available here in Canada at our Shopper’s Drug Marts and it was a big hit at home. Coco The Natural Drink is convenient and tasty especially when ice-cold and is a great product to have stored to pack for those long car rides or hard workout days.

 

I’ve taken a local health guru’s recipe and adapted it to suit with this great product, Coco The Natural Drink and I hope you will enjoy!

Amazon Power Smoothie

1 cup coconut water

1/2 cup chopped strawberries

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup Acai puree

1/2 tsp Guarana powder

Agave Nectar to taste

2 cups ice

Blend and enjoy!

Country of origin:
Brazil (northern)

Ingredients:
– Coconut Water
– Vitamin C (ascorbic acid*)

More Details:
COCO the Natural Drink is a Brazilian coconut water that is harvested and bottled at 5 1/2 – 6 1/2 months; at it’s nutritional peak.

Available in:
– 330ml Tetra Pak
– 12 Units Per Case

So delicious, so refreshing – and if you’re new to coconut water, trying it with a light fruit flavor like Pineapple or Mango – this isn’t a bad way to go. My only complaint is that the single-serving size cartons are too small for me, I always want another one! My Godson and his sister love the single size for the road and the tetra paks are easier to store in the cupboard before making their way to the fridge.

Have a look at what is going on with this super fab company and the amazing people they support like Olympian Kyle Jones.

Website: http://www.cocothenaturaldrink.com

Give them a follow over at Twitter: http://twitter.com/COCOTheDrink

Coco The Natural Drink is now the proud sponsor of Canadian National Champion and 2012 Olympian, Kyle Jones from Oakville, ON, who is now living and training in Victoria, BC with his wife Kelly. Follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JonesKyle

Go out and give them a try and if you try the Smoothie recipe let me know how it turns out or if you make a new blend of your own!

Namaste

ALL THINGS SPA:Recipe: Apricot Oil Hand Moisturizer

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Apricot Oil Hand Moisturizer

Winter hasn’t quite escaped us yet so if you have prematurely aged, dry sensitive or inflamed skin – Apricot oil is particularly effective. Here is a fantastic recipe to assist especially during the winter season.

  • 2 cups/460ml. water, preferably distilled
  • 6 dried apricots
  • 1 oz./30 ml./30g. grated beeswax
  • 1 cup/230 ml. apricot oil
  • ½ cup/115ml. coconut oil
  • ½ cup/115ml. aloe vera gel
  • 5 vitamin E capsules, broken open

In a saucepan, bring water and dried apricots to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a double boiler set over low heat, combine the beeswax, apricot oil and coconut oil and cook, stirring constantly, for approx. 10 minutes. Pour into a glass container and set aside. Place water and apricots in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a cheesecloth, discard solids and put liquid back into blender. Add aloe vera gel and vitamin E oil. Blend at slow speed. With blender running slowly drizzle in beeswax mixture as if making a thick vinaigrette and has the consistency of frosting. Pour into jars and store in a cool place. Mark containers with date you made the batch. Apply to your hands after every washing.

Enjoy!

All Things Food: A Little Pimentón Anyone ?

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Pimentón – translation – Spanish Paprika

Getting an invite to joing a group of foodie bloggers for a short form visit to local resto shop Pimentón, brought the flavours to start this foodie traveller’s senses aflame. The décor of the lime green and hot tamale red walls entice you to feel a little caliente and ready to consume some Mediterranean and Spanish taste pleasures. One must give immediate thanks to Mary Luz Mejia and Sizzling Communications for the invitation to come and enjoy such an amazing experience on a blustery night in Toronto.

“Venezuelan-born Jose Arato started his professional career as an accountant. One bite (or two) of sumptuous pastries lead him to reconsider his career choice. Upon completely switching gears and diving head-first into the culinary world, Jose interned at the Fairmont Royal York, worked as a chef de partie the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto and created ethereal pastries at some of the best shops in Toronto including Rahier, All the Best Fine Foods and Dessert Trends. He later staged in a prestigious chocolate program with Chef Sander Koenen in Caracas, Venezuela allowing him to gain a wealth of experience in various pastry styles and techniques. Approximately one year ago, he took over the Pimenton business from friend and mentor Lola Csullog-Fernandez who left Jose with her coveted Spanish recipes that he makes today, proudly in her memory and with a lot of amor.” ~M.L. Mejia

Imagine the people gathered for the class were writers and bloggers – all who share a passion for food! Our teacher – Chef José Arato who actually became a chef by way of accounting, then the pastry route. Follow him at @PimentonTO or check out the website at www.pimenton.ca .

We started the class then with a demo of how to make our dessert, best things first but you don’t get to eat until last because of preparation time : Ice Cream Turrón. The base of the ice cream was a simple vanilla custard and Chef José, who has worked as a pastry chef, did something so obvious that it made most of us gasp at the simple brilliance of it. While he was scraping the vanilla pods, he did what you would normally do and then well here it comes – ahh the simplicity of it – to ensure all the little seeds were used, he agitated the pod with the same sugar that vanilla was going into. As part of the finale of the end of the night, the ice cream was served with a drizzle of Tuccioliva Olive Oil and Sal de Ibiza. Delicious beyond belief!

We all participated in some of the prep work for the Paella a la Valenciana. There was about eight of us were stationed at cutting boards with knives ready waiting on our instructions from Chef Jose. Some diced juicy red peppers while others chopped the tear-making onions. Inch by inch pieces chef instructed and I did so diligently but not everyone did exactly as chef asked throughout the prep time stuff but it all worked out in the end as we had 3 pans of Paella to be making and sorted sizes of peppers ,onions and chicken between them all.

Frequent dashes to the hand washing station to make sure we were food safe was a bit of a dance move in between sampling all of the yummy appetizers that had been made in anticipation of our arrival. When it came time to clean the squid it all had a bit of a sensual nature to it and perhaps reminded some of us of things better left until after a wonderful meal! Chef taught us to clean the squid tubes by turning it inside out  – a trick I need to ensure I tell my mother about for future reference when she gets a notion to try something new.

An unforgettable cooking tip from Chef: Soak the mussels in water with a little flour first while they are still fresh and alive. The mussels will eat the flour and excrete a lot of the sand they contain and this will prevent getting a lot of sand in your paella dish or anything else you are using mussels for.

When we moved into the kitchen and hovered around the range it became clear paella isn’t exact cooking science; you eyeball it and guesstimate when it comes to the Bomba rice. Watching with both the naked eye and behind the lens, we all followed Chef José showed us when to put liquid in the pan, how to agitate – not stir – and how to finish the dish with a slightly crispy bottom.

Bomba Rice: A Spanish short-grain rice that when cooked, expands in width, which differs from most rice varieties that expand in length. It is able to absorb three times its volume in liquid, so it is one of the best rice varieties for the preparation of popular Spanish paella recipes. When cooked, the grains remain separate and do not stick together. Bomba rice is expensive compared to other rice varieties due to the care required in cultivation and the length of time required for it to mature. It is most often available in specialty shops and through mail order and you can do either at Pimentón.

RECIPES:

Sofrito: A basic classic tomato sauce that is made all over Spain.

Ingredients:

Good quality Olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1x 28-oz tin crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Directions: In a saucepan, heat olive oil, onion and garlic. Sauté for 6 minutes until fragrant . Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until some of the liquid has evaporated. Purée with an immersion blender. This recipe freezes amazingly well.

Chicken and Seafood Paella (Paella a la Valenciana) by Chef José Arato (Serves: 6-8)

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped coarsely
Pinch saffron, infused
4 chicken breasts cut up
2 squid, cleaned, cut into rings
16 small clams, soaked to remove sand
16 shrimp, shelled and deveined
Spanish Oil as needed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
Sofrito * see recipe above
3 cups Bomba rice
6 1/2 cup Chicken or Fish broth, hot
1 tablespoon salt (or more as needed)
1/2 cup green beans
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 lemon
2 sweet roasted red peppers
2 dozen mussels, steamed
Lemon wedges for garnish

Directions:

1. Place 1/2 cup of stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, and add the saffron and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside. This step is only necessary if your saffron is not dried enough.

2. In a mortar and pestle or small food processor, mash the garlic, parsley and some course salt to a paste. Set aside

3. Heat 6 tablespoons of oil in a paella pan and add the shrimp. Cook briefly and then add the clams and squid. Remove from paella pan. Add more oil if necessary, as dry paella can result if there isn’t enough oil. Add the onions, pepper and when these are soft but not brown. It’s time to add the sofrito, and the garlic/parsley & saffron mixtures. Add enough stock to come up the rivets of the paella pan. Bring to a boil. Squeeze the lemon and season the paella at this point. Add the rice in one line and then stir to mix with the stock. Allow to boil hard for 8 minutes.

4. After 8 minutes, add the green beans, peas and nestle the shrimp on top. DO NOT STIR, as this releases the starch in the rice. Continue cooking at a high roll for another 2-3 minutes or until the rice is no longer soupy but enough liquid remains to continue to cook the rice. Now, turn the heat to low. Place the mussels on the top of the rice and arrange strips of roasted red peppers on top of paella. If your paella bottom does not fit properly on the stove burner, continue cooking in a pre-heated 350F oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven when the rice still looks a bit wet. Cover with foil and let the paella rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley and serve from paella pan.

When all was said and done and we were all salivating, we were allowed to dig into our hard work – the Paella was amazing and Chef Arato prepared an Escalivada (grilled eggplant and pepper salad)  in advance and paired it all with a nice fruity Sangria, a squeeze of fresh lemon and all was set for a wonderful meal with new friends sharing a common bond in the kitchen.We finished off the meal with our amazing Ice Cream Turrón with a drizzle of Tuccioliva Olive Oil and Sal de Ibiza and Santiago Cake -Gluten Free Almond Cake – delish!

We all left with a little memory of leftovers and a sweet little gift from Chef to take home to get us started on our own versions of Paella.A huge thank you to Chef José for his patience and teachings with our group of eager learners in the kitchen!

Stop by for a visit to tantalize your tastebuds, share a little humour and enjoy the shopping experience to come home and create your own Spanish & Mediterranean themed food experiments at home. Or put together a group of friends, family or colleagues and take a cooking lesson on your own and learn the simple pleasures of the tasty meal we enjoyed on your own and know that you are in great hands with the staff at Pimentón. Look for an upcoming Sip N’ Learn session with AYA Life and Chef José soon! Learn about the wonders of Spain and the Mediterranean from a travel perspective while learning how to taste your way through a country.

Pimentón Spanish & Mediterranean Fine Food

681 Mount Pleasant Road

Toronto, ON

Tel: 647.343.4870

© Deborah Peniuk 2012