26 July 2015

Recreating the Experience with a Chilled Zucchini Soup with Chèvre and Herb Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms and Garlic Chives

The scene is set at God's Mountain

Have you ever had a life changing moment where you are so overwhelmed on many different levels of emotion that it is hard to put it down in words? I have experienced this only rarely in my lifetime. When discovering the tiny island of Kea in Greece through the eyes of Aglaia and Costas of Keartisanal, climbing up pinnacles of rocks to ancient monasteries in the Meteora region in Greece, driving along the Cinque de Terre in Italy at 18, staying at a converted convent on the Coast of the Gods in Tropea, Italy with an active volcano as my view across the expanse of a cerulean blue sea. These are life changing moments than can never be forgotten.

However, life changing moments can also be found in the simple things in life. When I attend any type of event I have always taken hundreds, if not thousands, of photos.  My third eye is my camera lens and through it I see the world through rose coloured glasses. Long before blogging I was taking photos of the food at my table while on even the smallest of adventures. There’s something so evocative to me about pictures of food and the power they have to vividly remind me of mouth-watering meals and moments that I’ve had on my travels. I can look at my culinary photos and remember exactly where I was, the scent of the dish placed in front of me, and the way the flavours opened up on my palate. In many cases the taste or smell of something in my past is capable of painting a picture with richer, deeper brush strokes than any snapshot in my photo album. In some small way I hope today to take you along for a few moments on this journey hand in hand.

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21 July 2015

The Attack of the Killer Summer Tomatoes 2015

Every day we should be excited about what we are eating even if it just means something as simple as making use of a wonderful find at our local farmers market. Wineries, craft breweries and artisanal cheese makers are emerging and adding a new dimension to our local cuisine, enriching it and extending it well beyond it's traditionial boundaries. West coast salmon, New Brunswick lobster, Ontario cheddar are all being paired with wonderful Canadian wines and locally harvested fruits and vegetables. Foodies are in heaven and locavores are finally coming into their own. 
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11 July 2015

Lobster and Fennel Salad with Arugula for Diner en Blanc

Lobster and Fennel Salad with Arugula - Lobster Roll without the bun!!
It's one of France's greatest exports next to baguettes, Godard movies and Thierry Henry. On an ethereal night hundreds of people dressed elegantly in white, converged at a secret location, shrouded in mystery, setting up miles of white fold-up tables draped in white crisp linens and topped with sparkling crystal soon to be filled with local wines. White plates and silverware were set, table decorations arranged from candles to candelabras. Our senses were heightened and we were more than ready for a highly anticipated evening. The stage was set, candles flickered and nature created the backdrop, a kaleidoscope show of colour in the fading light as a sea of white revellers loomed before us.
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31 May 2015

Whole Wheat Quinoa Pancakes with Blueberries for Slow Sundays

Whole Wheat Quinoa Pancakes with Blueberries 
A long, leisurely breakfast.

A calming drive south to Gods Mountain for an ethereal long table dinner. 

What more could I ask for on my day off but to start the day off right. Something that would curb my hunger well into the afternoon.

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20 May 2015

Spring Salad from Ottolenghi

Spring is all about alfresco dining, sun-drenched days, and quality time with friends. When I first started learning to cook in my home kitchen, one of the initial things I discovered was that the key to outstanding meals was using good quality ingredients. As time passed I realized that this meant either growing or purchasing the best local ingredients available which with today's trends has become easier and easier with a resurgence of farmers markets, specialty food shops and local producers.

What has taken me years to understand is that recipes are merely guidelines and are open to any interpretation. I used to follow recipes to the letter and they always turned out well, but as the years progressed, and I have become confident in the kitchen, I am more open to experimentation and substitution. 

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16 May 2015

May is National Burger Month So Let's Get Flipping

Did you know that May is National Burger Month? Now that it is the long weekend we are flashing up the barbecues across the nation, donning our aprons armed with spatulas, condiments, and hearty appetites and fulfilling our meat-centric dreams.

I like burgers. I like burgers a lot!!! I am part of a wanderlust group of over 200 burger aficionados who travel up and down the valley one evening per month sampling burgers, on or off the menu. We hit everywhere from established burger joints, pubs, and wineries to high end farm-to-table eateries. Anywhere where we can make burgers happen we will be there. Of course we don't all go at once!

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10 May 2015

A French-Inspired Picnic to Celebrate Mothers Everywhere

Macarons; Salmon Rilettes with Easter Egg Radishes and Microgreens; local asparagus
The lilacs and dogwood trees are in full bloom, orchards are buzzing with bees and the hummingbirds have returned. A visit to the farmers market yesterday cemented the idea in my mind and ultimately in my kitchen. Spring is when everything seems to come alive!!!!! The days are longer and the markets are beginning to burst with the colours of the bountiful fruits and vegetables of the season. Nothing comes quick enough as we wait impatiently to enjoy fresh, sweet cherries and sweet garden peas. It is the season for furled fiddleheads, asparagus and escarole and a wide variety of lettuce hand plucked from the garden for green salads. The delightful fragrance of chives, mint, chervil and tarragon fill the air to season our dishes. All of these tastes of Spring were bursting from the stalls at yesterdays market.

Yesterday I had a rare morning off and was able to head to our local farmers market. Awaiting me were fresh local asparagus from Armstrong, freshly plucked greens of all kinds, fresh herbs, Easter Egg radishes, free range eggs, and microgreens. So to celebrate moms everywhere I created another Sunday picnic with a French theme in mind…ooh la la...
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7 May 2015

My Vote is for Marinated Burrata with Basil for Perfect Picnic Fare and Other Burrata Recipes

Marinated Burrata with basil
Sometimes you come across a recipe that changes your way of thinking. On a wanderlust day in the Okanagan this marinated burrata made its way into my kitchen and into my heart forever. As a result picnics here at More Than Burnt Toast will never be the same again. Simple, rustic, and so transportable. I will be taking this Italian-themed antipasto on EVERY picnic from now on. It comes together in a flash which makes it perfect for an impromptu Italian-inspired picnic under the shade of a blossoming apple tree.

What makes this antipasto a star? Burrata from my beloved Puglia!!! You could use buffalo mozzarella but it would simply just not be the same. However it would work in a pinch. If you're a lover of mozzarella, ricotta, or really anything that's straight-up creamy, this cheese antipasto is what you need…

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6 May 2015

The Last Supper with Asparagus, Fiddleheads, Lemon and Proscuitto Pasta

Pasta with Asparagus, Fiddleheads, Lemon and Proscuitto

The Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club has been on our radar and in our lives since 2009. In the early days as we were taking our baby steps into the blogging world we were a part of Cooking Lights on-line community and featured once a month on their blog Simmer and Boil.  I am honoured to say that I have been here throughout, sharing recipes from the pages of Cooking Light magazine despite  the challenges of being super woman…wink…wink.

As of this month however we will retire our aprons (or our capes as the case might be) as a group after almost 7 years with a heartfelt sense of loss. Real life has a way of getting in the way of writing and blogging and enjoying our passions to the fullest as many of you know. But I am here to tell you that it is always a matter of making time for doing what your passionate about and making it happen no matter what that is. 

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3 May 2015

Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese and Other Picnic-Worthy Salads

Puglian Barley Salad with Pecorino Cheese
I am very high on Puglia although I have never been fortunate enough to travel there. In my humble opinion it is the “next Tuscany” for the culinary traveller and high on my travel bucket list. It is exotic, yet accessible. 

When I travel I like to live with the locals. Breaking bread at the same table has always been in my minds eye the best way to discover a country and its people. I want to live day to day and harvest olives and grapes that have grown and matured under the heat of the southern sun and taste their richness and aromatic flavour. The Murge in Puglia is dotted with mysterious-looking conical shelters called "I Trulli" where I want to live out my days. They were built by an ancient race and although they are still used for agricultural storage they are slowly being converted into accommodation for locals and tourists alike. 

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