Category Oakville

Home Sweet Home: Oakville’s Elm Hill Cookies

Whether your loved ones are travelling from across the pond or across the province, here is a sweet way to welcome them home for the holidays: a mini gingerbread house from Elm Hill Cookies.


Aromatically spiced and artisanally crafted using the finest ingredients. These absolutely adorable, wee cottages are decorated with charming fondant pieces.


Very reasonably priced. Perfect for homecomings or hostess gifts.

There’s No Place like Home for the Holidays (music by Robert Allen, lyrics by Al Stillman, artist Perry Como)

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Peruvian Delights: Oakville’s Machu Picchu

Longing to take your taste buds on a culinary adventure? Oakville’s Machu Picchu serves delicious Peruvian and Latin fusion cuisine. Don’t let the industrial strip of Speers Road mislead you – discovering the food at Machu Picchu may be as delightful as discovering the cloud-shrouded, ancient Incan, mountaintop city it is named after. My Peruvian friend, Pilar, recently took us on an expedition there for a fun girls’ night out – and since then, we haven’t stopped talking about how good the food was.

Frothy and tangy Pisco Sours (Peruvian brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters) and other Latin cocktails are a great way to start off the evening. Toasted Peruvian corn, “cancha”, is a complimentary crunchy nibble served with drinks.


Peruvian cuisine has an Incan base, fused with Spanish, Basque, African, Japanese, Chinese, and Italian influences. Peru’s signature dish is ceviche. Machu Picchu offers several ceviches on their menu.

Machu Picchu’s Ceviche Mixto is utterly delectable: tender chunks of fresh shrimp, calamari, squid strips, and diced white fish cured in lime juice and Peruvian peppers and marinated in a sparkling dressing that is a delicious balance of tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet flavours with hits of fresh cilantro. Mouth-watering! Served with Peruvian corn (larger kernels), thinly sliced purple onion, luscious chunks of yam, and banana chips.


Photo thanks to Eleonora Roberts.

The aromas of the meat dishes passing by our table were so enticing that we shared Ceviche Mixto as a starter and ordered meat as an entrée. Seco de Carne is a slow-simmered stew with big chunks of fork-tender, full-flavoured beef in traditional Peruvian gravy laced with cilantro and beer. It’s served with nicely seasoned rice and delicious stewed beans.


Photo thanks to Eleonora Roberts

There is so much to choose from on Machu Picchu’s extensive menu. Perhaps the Lomito Saltado (marinated filet mignon sautéed with onions and peppers) that my friend said was really good? Or the beautiful Arroz con Mariscos (Peruvian-style seafood rice dish prepared with a mixture of Peruvian peppers) that Pilar enjoyed?


Photo thanks to Eleonora Roberts

Or Papa a la Huancaína (a traditional appetizer of sliced cold potatoes covered in a spicy cheese sauce)? Chupe de Camarones (shrimp chowder, only available Wednesdays through Sundays)? Or Chifa (Peruvian Chinese food served every Wednesday, starting July 16th)?

Go with an appetite for good food and fun: English and Latin karaoke on Friday nights, starting at 8:00 p.m. Live Latin music starts at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday nights.

There aren’t any Peruvian cookbooks on the shelves at my Indigo, which astonishes me because it is such a flavourful cuisine created by a culture that loves food and cooks from scratch. I have just started to follow a blog on Pinterest, Peru Delights; the recipes look so good. Can’t wait to try the Seco de Carne recipe. The authors (Morena Cuadra and Morena Escardo) have written a cookbook, The Everything Peruvian Cookbook, which is available on-line at Indigo and Amazon but I haven’t seen a hard copy yet. Check out my Grocery/Gourmet Store Directory under Grocery/Gourmet Markets/Ethnic/Latin American for a listing of Latin American markets in our region. Don’t be shy to ask questions; the owners would be more than happy to share their cooking tips. Of course, the best way to learn about Peruvian food is to make a Peruvian friend – they’ll enrich your life and your cooking!

Machu Picchu
1272 Speers Rd.
Oakville, ON
L6L 2X4
Telephone: (905) 847-2228
Check website for business hours.


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Easter Feast: Part One

UPDATE: Crawford’s Village Bakery is closing November 30, 2014.

Grab your Easter bonnets, ladies and gents, and follow me along the virtual bunny trail as I gather up some of my favourite local treats. This week, I focus on what you need to order ahead: hams, quiches, pies, and handcrafted Easter chocolate. I share a great tip on exceptional wines and my favourite fruit salad recipe (scroll down to the bottom for Mary Katherine’s Cinnamon-Scented Fruit Salad). Next week: potatoes, homemade desserts, and decorations. Make your Easter feast special for the loved ones gathered around your table. Hippety hoppety!

If you are looking for premium local estate wines and boutique imports (many of which are not available through the LCBO) at direct-from-winery pricing, contact Oakville’s Laurie Blaha. A broker for Sideroad Twenty Cellars, Laurie will suggest wines to pair with your Easter dinner and give you a $10 off your first purchase coupon. Order on-line. Delivery can be made to your home, office, or cottage. Ontario residents only. But hurry – orders should be in by Monday April 14th for delivery by Thursday April 17th in time for Easter.

Our sizable clan is planning an easy Easter lunch. I’ve pre-ordered freshly baked quiches from Crawford’s Village Bakery & Distinctive Foods; they also sell frozen, unbaked quiches. Crawford’s is brimming with a wonderful assortment of quality gourmet pantry products and freshly baked goodies. Easter suggestions include lemon meringue or Easter Egg pies (chocolate mousse  pie garnished with whipped cream and an Easter egg, available from April 18th through April 21st only), squares (including rhubarb or lemon on a shortbread base), and cookies (including Cottontail cookies). Crawford’s handcrafted Easter chocolate, made on-site using fine Belgian chocolate, has been a long-enjoyed tradition for our family. Look at the fine detail on Charlotte and Edward and the beautifully decorated large egg, ready to be filled with Crawford’s truffles, hazelnut crisps, and caramels.


Quiches in the oven, next stop: ham. My nephew-in-law, Jean-Yves, served a succulent slower-cooker ham at Christmas, so I am giving this recipe a try for the first time: Cook’s Illustrated Slow-Cooker Glazed Ham. Cook’s Illustrated recipes are from America’s Test Kitchen and are exhaustively tested and re-tested, so I am confident the recipe will work. I bought the magazine (Cook’s Illustrated Make-Ahead Dinners 2014) at Target a few weeks ago but you can access the recipe on-line here by signing up for a 14-day free trial membership: (it costs a few dollars a month to continue with the membership).

You can’t use a spiral-cut ham for this recipe because it will dry out in the slow cooker. I’ve ordered a Country Ham (uncut, bone-in, skin-on, cured/smoked) from Heatherlea Farm Market in Caledon, ON. Heatherlea’s Country Hams are sourced from Stemmler’s in Heidelberg, Ontario and are excellent quality hams from local farms. Heatherlea Farm Market raises pasture-fed, free-run, drug-free Black Angus beef and sells local free-run, naturally-raised chicken, pork, lamb, and bison. Wild boar, Berkshire pork, and emu are available on occasion.

Especially lovely at Easter, this colourful fruit salad is enrobed with a cinnamon and citrus-infused syrup. I use a different combination of fruit every time: this time strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, mango, and oranges. Thanks to my bff’s sister-in-law, Mary Katherine, for the recipe.

Mary Katherine’s Cinnamon-Scented Fruit Salad

Makes about 6 servings (easily doubled)

This keeps well for a couple of days in the refrigerator.  Delicious served alone or over ice cream or lemon gelato. It makes a good breakfast topped with vanilla yogurt and granola.


1 orange
1 large lemon
About 5 to 6 cups total of assorted, ripe but still firm fruits, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (combos of citrus, berries and tree fruit work well)
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cinnamon stick


  1. With a sharp knife or vegetable peeler, remove only the peel (leaving the bitter white pith behind) of the orange and the lemon; slice peel into thick strips and set aside. Segment the orange, cut into bite-sized pieces and add to a large 8-cup capacity bowl; set aside. Juice the lemon; add about 3/4 of lemon juice to large bowl (reserve remaining 1/4 to adjust acidity level to your taste at the end).
  2. Add assorted fruit to large bowl; stir gently to coat with lemon juice to prevent browning.  Chill in refrigerator.
  3. Meanwhile, heat water to boiling in a small saucepan. Add sugar; stir until dissolved. Add cinnamon and reserved peel; immediately reduce to medium heat. Simmer gently until slightly reduced, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm.
  4. Strain syrup; pour over prepared fruit and fold in gently so as not to bruise fruit. Discard peel but keep cinnamon sticks for garnish. Taste salad and if desired, add remaining 1/4 of reserved lemon juice; fold gently. Cover and store in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, if desired.
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Get Your Motor Running: Artisanal Toast with Ricotta, Grilled Figs & Honey

It is mighty hard to leave a warm bed and face a cold, dark, winter’s morning; a little extra pampering is required. Here is how I got my motor running this morning: artisanal toast, but not at $4 a slice from a trendy San Francisco coffee shop. I’m talking about artisanal toast made at home by you, the artisan.


Artisanal Toast with Ricotta, Grilled Figs, & Honey

Special equipment: cast-iron grill pan


Locally-baked, artisanal whole grain bread, thickly sliced
Olive oil
Fresh figs, sliced in half lengthwise
Ricotta cheese or cream cheese
Good quality honey
Shelled, unsalted, roasted pumpkin seeds
Ground cinnamon


  1. Start with a seasoned, cast-iron grill pan; get it good and hot (but not smoking) over medium heat.
  2. Brush olive oil on both sides of the best artisanally-crafted, nutrient-dense bread you can get your hands on (see suggestions below); lay them on your grill pan. After 1 or 2 minutes, check the underside of the bread – when it has nice grill marks on it, flip it over and grill for 1 or 2 minutes more until both sides have grill marks; remove to a serving plate.
  3. Place fig halves in a bowl; add a healthy dose of olive oil; toss to coat evenly. Place the figs cut side down on the grill pan. Grill for 1 or 2 minutes, until cut side has nice grill marks; flip to other side and grill until softened about 1 more minute.
  4. Meanwhile, smear the best ricotta or cream cheese you can find on one side of your toast. Top with fig halves, drizzle with your favourite honey, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, dust with cinnamon. Feel a smile draw across your face like the sun rising on the dawn of a bright, new day. Make a vow to treat yourself this well every morning. And then thank your local artisanal baker.

Some suggested breads from local artisanal bakeries:

Rye Walnut Bread from La Villa Bakery & Café in Port Credit, ON: baked using recipes and techniques passed down through generations of the Bozzo family.

Pumpernickel from Monestary Bakery & Delicatessen in Oakville, ON: baked fresh daily.

Fig, Raisin, & Walnut Filone from Pane Fresco in Burlington, ON: handcrafted and baked in a European Deck oven. Preservative free.

Hearty Seed from The Glen Oven Café in Glen Williams, ON: A golden flax bread with sesame seeds and poppy seeds.

Boston Mills Multigrain from Spirit Tree Estate Cidery in Caledon, ON: Handcrafted with cracked grains, seeds, and a touch of honey. Baked daily in a wood-fired oven. No artificial preservatives.

Chia Fruit Loaf from Cobs Bakery (click link for locations): Made with whole grain flour, cinnamon, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, dates, and raisins. Made without preservatives or added sugar. Cholesterol free.

Walnut, Fig, & Raisin Loaf from The Hot Oven Bakery at Cloverdale Mall: During the month of February all bread on the bread wall will be only $2.00 each.

Please check my Grocery/Gourmet Store Directory (Bakeries) for details on local artisanal bakeries.

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Fun, Festive Finish to the Holidays: Almond Pithivier from Patisserie D’Or

Here is a fun, festive way to finish the holidays: an Almond Pithivier from Oakville’s Patisserie D’Or. Also known as Galette des Rois (cake of kings), Almond Pithivier originates from Pithiviers, France and is traditionally served on January 6th to celebrate the Epiphany (when the three kings arrived to celebrate the birth of Christ).

Almond_Pithivier Patisserie D'Or

Patisserie D’Or handcrafts their all butter puff pastry which enrobes a delicious frangipane (almond cream) filling; hidden inside is a small porcelain figurine. According to tradition, the person whose slice holds the hidden trinket is honoured as King for the Day and gets to wear the paper crown. The figurine is small; tread carefully until you find it.


Found! My son is King for the Day; we are at his mercy. Good thing midnight soon approaches!

Available in plain almond, apple almond, or pear almond. Includes hidden porcelain figurine and paper crown. Purchase frozen, defrost for 30 minutes, and follow the easy baking instructions. It bakes up beautifully.

Please call ahead to ensure availability. Check my Grocery Store Directory for contact and location details for Patisserie d’Or.

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