Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kultura Social Dining

Last night a couple of our friends visited Kultura with us - none of us were familiar with it and the only reason I chose this restaurant is simply because I enjoy watching "Everyday Exotic" with chef Roger Mooking on the Food Network. His food is always colourful and a delightful fusion of regular dishes with exotic cultural ingredients. In fact, the plantain recipe on my blog ("Plantain Gratin" ~ Feb 09) comes from his show! So needless to say I was really excited about visiting his restaurant and looking forward to tasting his dishes...and we definitely weren't disappointed!!
The building is unrecognizable from the street as it is simply a storefront that is glass and black metal without any signage that is apparent, and upon entering you are greeted by the hostess in the bar area where later in the evening a DJ also spins the great music that flooded the entire restaurant.
She took us upstairs to this airy, loft-like area with 14' ceilings and skylights. The tables are beautifully set and the club chairs which surrounded our table even had embroidered throw cushions on them!
Essentially everything is served tapas style and since we are all avid foodies, we ordered all but 2 or 3 items on the menu so we could taste everything the restaurant had to offer! There was not one dish that disappointed; chicken samosas with mango chutney, a market variety of cheeses from Quebec with quince paste, sliced pears and toasted walnuts, tuna tartare, risotto with cheeses and wild mushrooms, beef medallions, black sea name it, we ate it and shared in the wonderful combinations of flavours that surround each dish. Nothing wasn't thoughtfully paired with zesty, pungent ingredients.
Needless to say the wine and cocktails were also flowing!! The only complaint that we had was that there were four of us at the table and the dishes came out with only three items each ~ we felt the waiter could have suggested he order us plates with four items each for a few dollars per plate more.
Dessert was also served in a sharing platter style; we sampled the mini donut holes with caramel and chocolate sauces, a coconut brulee with pineapple sorbet, chocolate tart with salty crisp caramel and ice cream....all finished off with an Americano!
It was heaven and a must for anyone who is interested in trying a variety of dishes with interesting flavour combinations!
Definitely a very trendy, comfortable environment with great music, food and atmosphere!!

Stuffed Zucchini (or maybe reaching zucchini overload!)

We are still receiving zucchini in our CSA basket and I might possibly be reaching zucchini overload...but not yet!!!
I decided to pull out an old favourite this week for dinner - stuffed zucchini! My son Devon enjoyed it and I think you will too!

1 medium zucchini
1 1/2 tbsp EVOO
1 cup chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tbsp drained capers
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 ozs of soft chevre (goat's cheese)
salt & pepper, to taste
  • Preheat the oven to 400F
  • Cut zucchini in half, lengthwise, and trim both ends. With a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon carve otu the centre of each half and reserve the zucchini flesh in a bowl.
  • Put the zucchini shells in a casserole dish and add 1/2 cup of water. Cover dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes, or until the shells are softened.
  • Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350F
  • Heat oil in skillet and add onion. Saute for approximately 5 minutes, or until soft. Chop reserved zucchini flesh and add to pan with garlic and tomato. Cook 5 mins.
  • Take off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
  • Drain water from casserole dish. Fill zucchini halves with the stuffing and bake for 15 minutes, or until the chevre is melted and slightly browned on top.
  • ENJOY!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zucchini Blini

I was the fortunate recipient of approximately 40 to 50 yellow and green tender young zucchini, which were considered 'seconds' by the grower, but perfect for me! I am embarking on canning zucchini relish and therefore, don't really mind that there are slight blemishes on the skins. After chopping for almost an hour, I have minute and uniform finely diced zucchini which I have added to onions, orange and green bell peppers. Before cooking the vegetables for relish, you have to cover with pickling salt and let them sit overnight to leech out most of the more on my relish later!!!

After all this chopping, I really didn't seem to make much of a dent in the huge pile of zucchini in my sink?! So I decided to get out my trusty box grater and my bulging recipe book for this delicious dish that I haven't created since I grew zucchini in my own garden in Toronto, about 8 or 9 years ago! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!!!



2lbs trimmed and grated zucchini
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp white all-purpose flour
3 large free-range eggs
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
pinch of nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Place grated zucchini in a medium-sized bowl, and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Set aside for approximately 10 minutes to leech out the liquid. Drain by pressing zucchini against the sides of the bowl, and pouring off the liquid that pools.

  • Using a fork, stir in remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

  • Drop heaping tbsps of the zucchini mixture onto a hot skillet lightly oiled. Flatten each spoonful into a small pancake shape.

  • Fry until golden and crispy.

  • Serve with sour cream mixed with finely chopped chives, or tzatziki!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Edamame and Wheat Berry Salad

Although this takes a long time to actually prepare, it is so worth it! The wheat berries are nice and chewy and really make this a satisfying salad. I added red peppers, edamame, celery, feta, garlic scapes and a dressing to make it colourful and flavourful!

1 (16 ounce) bag frozen edamame
1 cup wheat berries (also called whole wheat kernels)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 chopped green onions, or garlic scapes
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
4 tbsps EVOO
2 tbspss lemon juice
1 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tbsps balsamic vinegar
2 tsps dried basil
1 tsp dried dill weed
1 tsp horseradish
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Cook wheat berries in a pressure cooker in broth for 45 minutes, or increase the broth 1/2 cup and bring to boil, then reduce and cover and cook for 2 hours or until liqiud is absorbed and berries are tender.

Cook the shelled edamame in boiling water as package instructions require.

Drain edamame and toss with wheat berries. Remove any excess liquid that is made from this process by straining both together in a collander. Mix in other vegetables.

Wisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and pour over salad. Stir to coat.

Refrigerate after salad has cooled and serve the next day.

A Great Way To Use Zucchini!!!

One of the CSA members from "Cooper's Farm" sent in this recipe as it is her favourite way to use zucchini - and after friends and family taste testing them, I think they're our favourite too!!

(And you know they have to be easy for a non-baker like me to make these!!!)



1 cup flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 - 3 cups shredded zucchini

1 egg

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the shredded zucchini
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, sugars, yogurt, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the zucchini mixture.
  • Spread evenly in a greased 9" x 13" pan (these are lighter than regular brownies and rise more like a cake so a bigger pan is necessary).
  • Sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips (and you can sprinkle nuts on top too if you choose to add these)
  • Bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre, comes out clean.
  • ENJOY!!

Friday, July 3, 2009


There is nothing, for me, that signifies springtime more than the annual arrival of the rhubarb crop!!! After making a couple of pies (rhubarb meringue pie, and a sour cream and rhubarb pie), I turned me thoughts to my newfound obsession of preserving. I scoured my recipe collection and found a few I had torn out of a "Canadian Living" in the thoughts of one day tackling the scary job of canning....well that day has arrived! I decided to create a chutney that can be enjoyed in the height of wintertime either on a baked brie, or just alongside a ploughman's lunch. Although I have the jars in my cupboard, I have yet to crack the seal on one - but I tasted it just prior to canning and I believe it will quickly become a family fave!!
4 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups chopped, seeded and peeled tomatoes
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • In a large, shallow Dutch oven, combine rhubarb, sugar, tomatoes, vinegar, raisins, mustard seeds, ginger, garlic, salt and hot pepper sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to 4 cups. Approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Ladle into hot 1 cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Cover with prepared lids; screw on bands fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 mins.
  • Makes 4 cups (1L)
  • Enjoy on top of a baked brie, with robust cheeses or meats, or on a sandwich!