Forkful of Flavour: Molisana’s Lasagna

Molisana Lasagna

Craving a bite of homemade lasagna but can’t even dream up the time to cook it? Molisana Bakery layers soft sheets of lasagna with cheese and a ragù of meltingly tender ground meat in tomato sauce. Packed with homemade flavour. Total comfort food. Priced right. Olive it!

Molisana_Lasagna

The Molisana ladies make about 20 lasagnas a day. Call ahead to order because these beauties sell out quickly. Dinner – fast, cheap, delicious – done!

Molisana Bakery
1474 Pickwick Drive, Unit 1
Mississauga, ON
L5V 2G2

Telephone: 905-826-8260

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Barrie’s Hip, Fresh Family Resto: The Farmhouse

Barrie’s The Farmhouse puts a fresh, hip spin on family dining with a focus on farm-to-table, locally sourced food. Here’s a quick glimpse of a great night we enjoyed while dining there with family this fall.

The_Farmhouse

Good variety of starters to choose from, like freshly-shucked PEI oysters or french onion soup brimming with cheese.

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French onion soup and freshly shucked PEI oysters.

Entrées come with two sides from a choice of eleven, including: roast garlic mash, baked potato with three cheese bacon butter, mac’n’cheese, daily soup, daily grain, three types of salads, and baked beans.

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Roasted chicken with garden herb pesto, farmhouse greens salad, and baked beans.

Side salads, like romaine salad with house-smoked bacon and parmesan vinaigrette, are served in charming mason jars.

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Romaine salad with parmesan vinaigrette.

Feltis Farm fries are served in mini deep fryer baskets.

The_Farmhouse_Barrie

Flaxseed-crusted seared tuna with Feltis Farm fries and daily salad.

The side daily vegetable that night was a delicious combo of pretty beets and fresh kale sautéed in thyme butter. The daily salad had beets in it too. A healthy dose of fresh vegetables – olive it!

The_Farmhouse

Crispy trout with maple lemon butter, daily salad, and daily vegetable.

The crispy trout with maple lemon butter was so darn good: crisp exterior with a touch of sweetness; rich and moist inside. Others at our table enjoyed the garlic rosemary braised lamb shank, the farmhouse signature roast beef with thyme peppercorn goodness, and the flaxseed-crusted seared tuna with wasabi mayo.

The_Farmhouse_Barrie

Flaxseed-crusted seared tuna with wasabi mayo and daily salad.

Lots of other creative, farm-to-table-fresh dishes on the menu, including weekend breakfast. Located in a historical building with outdoor patios overlooking the waterfront. A great reason to hop off the 400 on your way up north.

The Farmhouse
268 Bradford Street
Barrie, ON, L4N 3B8
 
Telephone: 705-737-0522
 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/farmhousebarrie
 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Farmhouse/162551217235154?fref=ts

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Small Plates: Fall Fruit & Cheese Tartine with Honey Drizzle

Willow

A few snapshots of a wonderful fall weekend I spent with friends,

Front Porch

on a beautiful farm near Lake Erie, Ontario.

Porch

And a recipe for an easy nibble, perfect for sharing with your own treasured friends this winter.

Troy

My contribution to the evening was my take on tartine: little open-faced French sandwiches that I layered with fruit and cheese, sprinkled with nuts and thyme, and drizzled with honey.

Eleonora Gattesco Roberts gattescohouse.com

Photo thanks to Eleonora Gattesco Roberts gattescohouse.com

We arrived at the farmhouse late so I threw the tartines together too quickly and sloppily as you can see in the photo. But they tasted delicious – feel free to be as sloppy or as artful as time permits. Serve with a salad for lunch or as a substantial snack to share with a glass of wine.

A few tips:

  • Ask your bakery to slice your baguette for you (the slices will be uniform thickness).
  • Prep all your ingredients ahead (except for the fruit) and store separately in airtight containers.
  • For larger crowds, double the recipe and make a variety, using all cheese and fruit listed. Stick with one type of fruit and cheese per tartine.
  • Because I knew I would be short on prep time when arriving at the farm, I used some pre-sliced cheese: Les Tranches Cremeuses des Pays de Loire (Coeur de Lion, France) as brie/camembert.

Fall Fruit & Cheese Tartine with Honey Drizzle

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 recipe of Toasted Baguette Crisps (recipe below)
170 g to 200 g of your choice of thinly sliced, good quality cheddar, brie, camembert, or soft ripened goat cheese
2 pears or 2 apples or one of each
¼ cup shelled and roughly chopped, raw walnuts or pistachios or a combination of both
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves (removed from their stems) plus extra thyme sprigs for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Your best honey for drizzling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange baguette crisps in a single layer on baking sheet.
  2. Quarter, core, and thinly slice fruit.
  3. Top each baguette crisp with cheese and fruit of choice, in alternating, peek-a-boo layers (from two to four layers total, depending on your quantity of slices). Sprinkle with nuts, thyme leaves, and black pepper.
  4. Bake for a couple of minutes, just until cheese melts. Remove from oven, transfer carefully to serving platter.
  5. Drizzle with honey. Garnish platter with extra thyme sprigs. Serve warm. Gather your friends around, tuck in, and enjoy.

Toasted Baguette Crisps

Ingredients:

1 baguette, sliced into thin rounds (about 1 cm thick)
Olive oil for brushing
Sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  2. Toast about 3 minutes, just until slices are beginning to become golden at the edges.
  3. Sprinkle very lightly with fine sea salt. Cool. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
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Postcards from Montreal: Restaurant L’Express

Fêting the holidays at Montreal’s iconic L’Express. Bustling, Parisian-style bistro. Elbow-to-elbow with casual French chic. Service attentive and gracious.

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Thoughtful gestures like extra virgin olive oil, dijon, and big jars of petits cornichons on every table. You’d be a fool not to indulge in the baguette.

restaurant_lexpress

Classic French bistro food done beautifully, with a wine list to match. Raw oysters. Chèvre chaud – warm goat cheese with mixed greens and endive.

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Ile flottante au caramel – an island of soft meringue in a hard caramel shell, floating in a pool of crème anglaise. Garnished with an almond biscuit. Ooh là là.

restaurant_lexpress

As vibrant today as it has been since it opened in 1980 and ushered in the revival of rue St. Denis. Still my favourite Montreal hangout.

Restaurant L’Express
3927 rue Saint-Denis
Montréal, QC

Telephone: 514-845-5333

Website: http://restaurantlexpress.com/en/

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Ring in New Year’s Eve Around the World

Ring in 2015 with a fun, progressive feast of foods from around the world. Serve as timed courses on small plates, buffet-style. Start with Russia and end up with Canada at midnight to symbolize the dawn of 2015 as it passes across our wonderful Mother Earth.

Olive’s made it easy with lots of suggestions for countries and ready-made food to pick and choose from. You don’t have to serve it all or run yourself ragged buying exactly what I suggest – let my ideas conjure your own neighborhood favourites.

Call ahead to pre-order wherever possible or stock your freezer well in advance to avoid last-minute disappointment.

If you want to decorate, set out a collection of vintage alarm clocks (from around the house or your local thrift shop) with alarms set for each course. If the clock is not working, set the time on the clock to match the time of the course and place it beside the course. Or make your own paper clocks using a printout.

Photo credit: funinthemaking.net

Photo credit: funinthemaking.net

A vintage globe with a retro peace banner would make a charming centrepiece. Add some sparkle and glitter wherever you can. Click on the photo for a link to this DIY peace banner.

Photo credit: hellolidy.com

Photo credit: hellolidy.com

6:00 pm Russia

Start the night off on the other side of the planet, in Russia. If you are welcoming your guests with a cocktail, Sable & Rosenfeld has a great line of pickled cocktail garnishes – and you don’t need a cocktail to enjoy them. Available in grocery stores and specialty food markets. Click here for locations. I love the Garlic & Dill Tipsy Cocktail Stirrers.

Garlic & Dill Tipsy Cocktail Stirrers Photo credit: Sable & Rosenfeld

Garlic & Dill Tipsy Cocktail Stirrers Photo credit: Sable & Rosenfeld

Serve simple but luxurious smoked salmon with slices of buttered black bread. Starsky Fine Foods sells a gorgeous vodka-infused smoked salmon. Click here for locations. 

Vodka-infused smoked salmon.

Vodka-infused smoked salmon.

 7:00 pm Japan

Keep it simple with a bowl of freshly boiled edamame (green soybean pods widely available in the frozen food section of your grocery store). Lightly boil according to package directions, drain well and toss with crunchy sea salt. Serve in a pretty bowl with a side bowl for discarded pods. To eat, place the pod in your mouth while holding the opposite end; use your teeth to gently squeeze the beans into your mouth and then discard the empty pod.

Photo credit: loblaws.ca

Photo credit: loblaws.ca

Or order a tray of ready-made sushi. My favourite, local take-out sushi is Mac’s Sushi (Erin Mills Town Centre and other locations). I love their Spicy Crunch Vegetable Rolls.

Mac_Sushi

Photo credit: Mac Sushi Spicy Crunch Vegetable Rolls

8:00 pm China

Hot or cold spring rolls make easy finger good. Fresh or frozen options abound in your local grocer. I love the store-made Handmade Vegetarian Spring Rolls at Mississauga’s Michael-Angelo’s (Erin Mills and Folkway). Crispy on the outside and stuffed with a generous filling of shredded cabbage and other veggies – so fresh tasting. Call ahead to pre-order. Pick up in foil tray and reheat gently.

9:00 pm India

Banish boring bbq meatballs from your party and spice up the night with meatballs simmered in an Indian-spiced sauce. Costco sells delicious chicken meatballs in a spicy tikka masala sauce: Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods Masala Meatballs. Call your Costco ahead to make sure they stock them.

Sukhi's Masala Meatballs

Sukhi’s Masala Meatballs

Olive’s taken a shine to Vij’s Delhi-Licious Kettle-cooked Potato Chips made by Neal Brothers Foods Inc. and wonderfully spiced by Vikram Vij, owner of world renowned Vij’s Indian Restaurant in Vancouver, BC. Great balance of spicy, salty, sweet. I found them at Goodness Me (Mavis and Bristol).

Vij's Delhi-icious Kettle Chips

Vij’s Delhi-icious Kettle Chips

10:00 pm Middle East

Pick up your favourite Middle Eastern dips like hummus, baba ghanoush, or muhammara and serve with pita triangles for dipping. Adonis sells really good, ready-made versions of all three plus wonderful, fresh pita (baked in-store) to serve with it. If you can’t get to Adonis and have a hard time finding the less common muhammara, you can make my recipe ahead.

Muhammara

Muhammara Dip

11:00 pm Europe

Lots of choices for Europe and United Kingdom. Here are just a few suggestion.

Starsky Fine Foods has lots of delicious, ready-made Polish food including pierogies, delicate crepes stuffed with cheese and spinach, or Victorian Salad (Polish potato salad with peas and carrots that you could serve on endive spears).

For Italy, I have an easy recipe for Tomato Bocconcini Basil Skewers…

Tomato_Bocconcini_Skewers

Tomato Bocconcini Basil Skewers

…and for Spain, you could switch out the peaches for pears in my Peaches with Serrano Ham, Creamy Blue, & Honey.

Peaches with Serrano Ham, Blue, & Honey

Peaches with Serrano Ham, Blue, & Honey

French ideas include pâté. I adore Spirit Tree Estate Cidery’s luxurious Pâté with Ice Cider & Shallots sold in a charming ceramic pot.

Spirit_Tree_Cidery

Spirit Tree Cidery’s Pâté & Evelyn’s Crackers

Sweet ideas include French macarons (I love the ones from Whole Foods),

macarons_whole_foods

Macarons from Whole Foods

or marzipan from Belgium (available at the Cheese Boutique).

Cheese_Boutique

Beautiful Neuhaus marzipan squares.

or even Dutch syrup waffles from your local grocer.

Dutch syrup waffles.

Dutch syrup waffles.

Midnight: Canada

You will likely be popping champagne, so a cheeseboard featuring Canadian cheeses that work well with champagne would be your easiest choice. Ask the local experts at Cheese Boutique (Toronto), Mill Street Cheese Market (Georgetown), or Cheese Shoppe on Locke (Hamilton) for advice. My Cheese Market directory lists all of their contact info.

You could also consider serving cold PEI lobster salad in shooter glasses or on individual spoons, crackers, or puff pastry (click photo for recipe suggestion).

Lobster salad on puff pastry. Photo credit: themeaningofpie.com

Lobster salad on puff pastry. Photo credit: themeaningofpie.com

Finish off on a sweet note with the quintessential Canadian dessert, butter tarts.

Kates_Town_Talk_Butter_Tarts

Butter tarts from Kate’s Town Talk Bakery.

However you wish to celebrate it, have a healthy and happy 2015!

 

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