Monday, March 3, 2014

My Weekend With Walter

I'm not a particularly big fan of Caesar's, I am, on the other hand, a big fan of the weekend.  So when I got asked if I would possibly be willing to take home some Walter Caesar mix to give it a test go, I thought, just maybe I could bring my own twist to the Canadian Classic.  So it was going to be a weekend with Walter.


Walter, a natural, small batch crafted, Caesar mix, produced in British Columbia, comes in a 725 ml glass bottle, available in two temperatures, mildly or well spiced.  Heads up, you gotta shake these bad boys really well, if you want to really taste their elements.  I stood them up side to side, at room temperature and gave them a go..

First impressions; these are definitely seasoned, although I prefer the Well Spiced version and for those who want to brave into bold spaces, you can kick it up a notch, by adding some hot sauce.  It's all a personal preference.  Right now I'm digging No. 7.  As for the Mildly Spiced, it was ok, and ultimately became delegated for other purposes in my pantry.

Secondly; the consistency surprised me. I'm so used to the smoothness and liquidity of the mix that is commonly used in most bars we wander in to, including those in our own homes.  Walter was akin to having a drink made with Gazpacho. It made me wonder if I could really drink a large glass of this as a cocktail, that has this much much body in it. For those who love "virgin" Caesars, Walter would take it out of the park. Who needs vodka? So I began to think about ways that Walter could be a part of life, not only in cocktail glass but a real, multi tasking kind of guy.

I wasn't joking about Walter being like Gazpacho. It could be used for an Amuse Bouche at a dinner party. Half filled shooters.  How you to choose to dress it, is up to you.  That goes for the cocktails.  Celery sticks have been the industry standard.  Pffft. to that.  You can use everything from Manning Canning's pickled carrots sticks to pre-made, food swizzle sticks from the likes of Sable & Rosenfeld.  Or as I did, I went hog wild and cooked up some bacon stirrers.  Kind of decadent but it goes well with the nature of Walter.


A small trick, if you are using Walter for cocktails then I would highly recommend using lots of ice.  I used lots of ice and a martini shaker.  Shake, shake, shake and pour in to prepared glass.  The melting ice helps to dilute the drink so you won't miss any of it.  I prefer to use rock glasses, so drinks are approximately 3-4 ounces, plus an ounce of Vodka.  So 750 ml. would yield approximately 8 cocktails

Some like it hot!  Kicking it up a notch.  

Going Hog Wild!  Loving the Bacon Stirrer! 



A cooking tip with Walter;  I've used the Mildly Spiced Caesar Mix in a few other pots in my kitchen.  I use approximately a level cup (250ml) and added it to Soup (Shrimp Bisque), Stew (filling for pot pie); Beef Bourguignone, which by far and away was my favorite dish.  I suspect it would be a great add for crock pot dishes such as Chili or braised foods.  Where I used it, the results have been good.  So just be brave and bold, think of where you could toss in a cup of Walter.  Did I mention to give it a good shake first before you pour?

Walter isn't cheap, than again, neither am I.  The 725ml bottle retails for between $8.00-$9.00.  But as I pointed out earlier you could easily stretch the bottle to 8-9 cocktails.  I recognize good value, multi purposes, a well made product and I'm happy to support a Canadian small industry. Pricy, without question. Still, less than what we fork over for a glass wine when out with the girls. So I guess you just have to decide where you want to spend your hard earned money for what you take and send out of your kitchen or off your bar.  #FoodIsLove

If you like more information about Walter visit waltercaesar.com  I'm not sure of the retail sites but in Toronto I do know that Walter is available at Fiesta Farms.

Disclaimer:  
Yes, Walter was gifted to me, but as always, my opinions, thoughts and the pics, were all my own.  #JustSaying

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Make it a Berry Good Christmas

I love cranberry sauce.  Turkey just isn't turkey without it.  Even the day after, for me a left-over turkey sammie just isn't complete without the cranberry sauce.  I grew up on the standard Ocean Spray jellied canned cranberry sauce and to me there was always the lingering taste of tin and the cloying taste of sugar.  Over the years I have learned that making cranberry sauce from fresh berries is really a very easy thing to do and the difference is definitely worth the small effort that it takes.  

Inspired by the classic Cosmopolitan cocktail, this version of Cranberry Sauce kicks it up  a notch with the addition of Vodka & orange liquor.   The first time I made this Cranberry sauce I was surprised at how much more tartness the cranberries took on and the rave reviews made this recipe the “go to” for Cranberry sauce.  To add to the presentation I serve it in a martini glass, rimmed with course sugar and a slice of lime.

The “Cosmo” Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:
1 - 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
1 Cup Sugar
½ cup of water
½ cup of orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
1/3 cup of Vodka
3 tbsps. of orange flavoured liqueur (Grand Marnier,  Triple Sec)

Directions:
In heavy medium saucepan over moderate heat, combine cranberries, sugar, ½ cup water and ½ cup of orange juice.  Bring to boil, stirring often to dissolve sugar, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, stirring often, until thickened and reduced to about 3 cups, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to medium bowl and cool, stirring often, until tepid, about 30 minutes. Stir in vodka and liqueur. Transfer to serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 2 hours.  Because of the natural acidity of cranberries, this sauce can be made up to 3 weeks ahead.  Just keep it refrigerated. 

Variations:
The alcohol can easily be omitted if you are worried about making this a child friendlier recipe.  Add a dash of orange zest and a couple of whole cinnamon sticks when boiling/simmering the sauce.  Remove cinnamon sticks after sauce has cooled.



Friday, May 31, 2013

Some Like It Hot!

Hot sauce is a staple in our house.  You can pretty much take away any of the condiments from my fridge but if you mess with my hot sauce I'm going to have to lay a big 'ol hurt on you.  So for the heck of it I thought I would ask my fierce fire eating afficianados if they would be willing to give their tolerant, heat seeking taste buds a go round round over two hot sauces that are currently holed up in my fridge.

The first hot sauce is from the kitchen of Chef Rossy Earle's company Supi Cucu . Her Diablo's Fuego can be found in the kitchens of La Carnita and Chef Scott Vivien of Beast. I think it's even been found on some Christmas wish lists.  This hot sauce is heavily inspired by Chef Earle's Panamanian roots.  
Without question it rocks.  As my hunny would say...best hot sauce ever.  


Next up is a new comer to the Big Smoke from the kitchen of Cafe Con Leche which makes unbelievably awesome Paletas (popsicles) which you'll need to cool down after chuffing down this hot sauce.  This baby is packing some big time heat.  Carlos, who makes this sauce, is using his Mother's traditional Mexican recipe. I'm not sure where the name No7 comes from but I'm willing to give 'er a go.  I


So big daddy let's kick the tires and light the fires.  Stay tuned....results to come!  


Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Naked Truth

I'm not an easy room to play to when it comes to prepared sauces.  After being married to an Italian for 29 years I know a thing or two about sugo.  So when Sizzling Communications invited me to a product launch for Louise Prete's prepared jarred red sauce I was leery about just what this sauce would be like.


The launch was a lovely evening with lots of delicious little bites of goodness all meant to highlight the  product.  I knew though that for me to truly know if this sauce was as good as they were telling me that I had to give it my own test, in my kitchen, all on it's very own so I could get to the naked truth.  
So it began....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Artisanale ....worth the drive to Guelph

Artisanale [ahr-tuh-zuhn-al]
Adjective  -  pertaining to or noting high-quality, distinctive products made in small quantities

Woolwich Street is my most favorite street in Guelph.  It is the street where one will find the best eating and quaffing that Guelph has to offer.  It's reputation for being the street to hit up was solidified by the recent relocation of the local French restaurant called Artisanale. Moving from their previous downtown storefront location to a beautifully restored historical house on Woolwich Street was absolutely the right direction to allow for the restaurant to honour its true commitment in providing dining patrons to experience true rustic French cuisine.                                                                                               Owner/Chef Yasser Qahawish,  whose personal culinary commitment and philosophy has been anchored in the locavore and ethical food productivity, gets to take that commitment up a few more notches in this new location.  Guelph is a perfect place for this Chef because Guelph has been a forerunner in the bio-dynamic, ecologically responsible and ethically driven food production from ground to market.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Yes, I am proud to be a Mangiacake. Buddaboom. Buddabing.

Dear Rose DiManno, if I'm a Mangiacake, then you my dear, are what we Brits would refer to as a Wanker.

The title of your latest article "When will Toronto street food reflect its population?" should have really been called "Wow, I can't believe that I actually get paid to churn out this drivel."


Monday, June 25, 2012

David vs. Goliath - It's a Sammie Smackdown ....

These shoes were made for talking.... and that's just what I'll do. So the word on the street was that one of the Goliath's of the Canadian food community, Mark McEwan, was going to do a Saturday Sammie Smackdown against the golden boy of the pop-up street set, the soon to be on the road in his own food truck, the small but mighty, Fidel Gastro's.  Whoa, the Crown Prince of the Top Chef Canada panel, owner of the restos Bymark and North 44 and purveyor of McEwan Foods, this dude is a gastronaut of epic proportions.  This kinda feels like Yoda taking on Luke Skywalker for bragging rights on who kicks up the best sammie.  Ain't no way MamaCoop is gonna miss out on this sammie goodness so I traded in my red pumps for my go get 'em sneakers. After all there were sammies to be had!  So let's break it down and see whose sammies were King this past weekend.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Love in a lunch bag....memories of Johnny

He was born John Margetson Cooper on October 30, 1929, in Glasgow, Scotland, tipping the scales at a whopping 14lbs.  He was also my Father.   I was the middle child of his three daughters and my claim to being different from my sisters was that I was the only child of my parents who was actually born in their bed.  My Father cradled me as I came into the world, while waiting upon the arrival of the midwife.  I always felt that created a different kind of bond between myself and my Dad. 


In 1957 my parents bundled us up and immigrated to Canada.  They knew absolutely no one here but they took  a chance and we became part of the melting pot of Toronto.  My Father had traded in the dust of a coal mine for the white dust of a bakery

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's a Seafood Sammie Smackdown

MamaCoop is on the hunt for the best Seafood sammie she can find around the big 'smoke.  With the advent of street food there seems to be an abundance of more great eats to stuff my maw with.  So I thought I'd go head to head with two Seafood sammies that I've had the good fortune to gobble up over the past couple of days.

Monday, May 28, 2012

'shroom! 'shroom!


It's 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning and my alarm just went off. I'm up and at it for my first Mushroom Foraging experience hosted by the Culinary Adventure Company and I keep reminding myself that once I get my eyelids pried open this is going to be fun. I'm instructed by Chef Scott Savoie to meet up with the group at a little nest of a park quietly tucked away on a cul de sac on the southside of Lawrence, just west of the Don Valley Parkway.

 I was pleasantly surprised to show up and find an eager group of 25 people, ready and waiting to hit the trail.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Butter Chronicles - Part 3 - The Results Are In!


I have finally amassed all the feedback from my adventures in shortbread making and the results are all in.  I had provided the volunteer taste testers with a list of short questions to try and help them decide which shortbread they liked the best.  All in all I got 24 returned sheets with responses.  I had separated their samples and numbered #1, #2 &; #3.  The butters were:  #1 - No Name Butter (from Walmart), #2 - Lactantia &; #3 was the Stirling.  All butter was salted. 

In the tasting notes/questionnaire I asked them to rank them in order of: 
-  Most Buttery Flavour
-  Best Consistency/Density
-  Best Overall Appearance
-  General Favorite

So here are the results......(drum roll please!)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Butter Chronicles, Better Butter - Part 2


Let the butter battle begin! 
To put butter to the test to see if all butter is not really created equal I decided to use the mutha of all butter recipes, traditional Scottish Shortbread to see if there really was a different. The results for the tasting of the Shortbread will tumble in over the next few days but until then I wanted to cover off a couple of things.
As I said this is a traditional Scottish Shortbread. It is pure, basic & simple. It contains 4 ingredients: Butter, Sugar, sifted Flour and finally Rice Flour. (Recipe is below) I always use Fruit Sugar (also known as Castor or Quick Dissolving Sugar) and it has a very fine consistency. Rice flour will give Shortbread the powdery crispiness that should be associated to Shortbread. I always sift the rice flour and the white flour together. In this test I used salted butter.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Butter Up - Part 1

"It took me years to figure out that you don't fall into a tub of butter, you jump for it." - Claudette Colbert

Imagine an evening where butter was the focal point and you had a chef, let's say one like Lynn Crawford, churning out (pardon the buttery pun) oodles of little bits and bites all consisting of butter. Someone please pinch me, am I dreaming or is this my dream come true?

Last Monday a small hoard of butter loving people gathered at Ruby Watchco to give Stirling Creamery butter a go 'round. I would say, that for the first time in my life I think I might have actually come close to feeling like a human version of foie gras. You think I'm joking?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Life is a Trifle....

My British roots are showing. I love Trifle. I think more than anything it has to do with many happy childhood memories and watching my Mother make Trifle for special occasions such as Christmas, Easter and milestone birthdays. Essentially Trifle is very easy to make and is just pure and simple comfort dessert.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I have two words for you Galen Weston....Flock Ewe

"Farmer's markets are great....One day they're going to kill some people though. I'm just saying that to be dramatic though." - Galen Weston - 2012 Canadian Food Summit (2012 CFS - #FS2012)

On a day when most of the country was supposed to be busy talking about mental health Galen Weston hit the 2012 CFS delegates square smack in the puss with a PC Choice Mississipi Mud Pie when he lobbed that comment out during his address. By about noon Galen Weston was trending second on Twitter, right behind #letstalkaboutit and it wasn't pretty. I suspect that by about the end of the day the golden hair boy, whose face and Mr. Roger's styled sweaters have become synonymous to the President's Choice brand and marketing campaigns had quickly become the most hated person in the food industry.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Remembering Sean

I first officially met Sean D'Souza about a year ago, along with his lovely bride, Beverly Ann D'Cruz(@flotch) at a social media food event at Menchie's. We had been invited by Mary Luz Mejia to come on out and compete to create an official Menchie's yo-fro creation. Crammed in next to each other we sampled our Menchie's custom creations and those two rascals managed to beat me out for the big prize (an iPod Nano) with their "Tropic Thunder" sundae. Ok, I'll admit it, that exotic fruit concoction towered over my "Some Like It Tart" dessert. One can never begrudge a champion their prize. Little did I know that as the year would unfold I would share a different kind of journey with Sean and Beverly.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reel Eats - From Screen to Table

The idea of taking film about food and translating it in to real time, real life and better yet, real food makes me as giddy as Dr. Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) would be at the thought of being locked in ComicCon after hours. Bazinga!. I'm such a gastro-nerd of the most fun kind, a moniker that I must say, I much prefer over the label of being called a Foodie.
Mary Luz Mejia & Mario Stojanac of Sizzling Communications introduced the inaugural series of Reel Eats by kicking it off with film director Ang Lee's "Man Woman Eat Drink". Hosted out of the working loft of Chef Vanessa Yeung's Aphrodite Cooks and co-anchored by

Friday, October 14, 2011

Having your CakeStar and Eat it too!


How sweet it is. In a great leap of faith, two sisters who have spent their lifetime growing up in a family bakery business, decided it was time to take their own pathway in the world of baked confectionery. Located down in the rapidly reviving 'hood of Mimico/Long Branch/New Toronto, along the section of the Lakeshore we just call "the 'shore", you'll find a sweet, sweet spot called CakeStar.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Flower is on the Bloom

The flower is definitely back on The Bloom on Bloor Street. I used to be fairly regular at this Bloor West destination but dining competition is fierce and it after a few visits at Bloom the menu lost its lustre for me. Then the lovely Mary Luz Mejia of Sizzling Communications, invited me to what I refer to as a "soft re-opening" of the restaurant for the local Tweeps and social media food goonies. How could I possibly turn that invite down?
A night to hang with my sisters in food crimes! I was so down with that.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Welcome to the Death Row Supper Club....reservations anyone?

Sounds kind of ominous....the Death Row Supper Club.....

Supper clubs have become an underground food phenomenon where a bunch of people, most of whom don't know each other, buy up tickets (usually online) for an evening of dining, organized privately, often hosted by a Chef, in a private location. In Toronto the most well known supper club is Charlie's Burger, a dining club I might add, that actually asks you to fill out an application for consideration for the invite list. Tickets are usually on a first come, first serve basis, involve cash and in many cases there is often a BYOW option.

Monday, February 21, 2011

La Vida Es Buena

Life is good. That is the translation of this latest installment of CoopSpeak Eats. Kensington Market is one of my happy places. Walking around there, even on a winter's day is like going into sensory overload. I always make sure to carry some extra shopping totes with me when I head through the streets. What can I say, I'm just a weakling when you put me on to these streets. Meat, cheese, fish, spices, baked goods and then your nose takes over. Akram's for Lahm Pies, Strawberry Baklava and Turkish Delights made with Rosewater. Meats at Pete Sanagan's, slabs of pie from Wanda's Pie in the Sky or empanadas from Jumbo Empanadas. These are my kind of streets. I feel very at home here on Augusta, Kensington and Baldwin Streets. As as kid, who grew up in the heart of the city, shopping on these corners was just a part of life. Now being in the 'burbs, while it might seem like an effort to haul ass down there, it is simply worth every single sight, sound, smell, taste and flavour.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When You Wish Upon a Michelin Star.....

Being awarded a Michelin star is to a chef what snagging a Grammy is to a rock star. It is the benchmark that says not only have you arrived but hot damn you are simply one of the best in the business. So when I got an invite from MaryLuz Mejia, of Sizzling Communications, to to sit in on a dinner up at the Stratford Chefs School being cooked by Michelin Star Chef Alexandre Gauthier, I started babbling and giggling moving straight into my food groupie mode. I felt like someone just handed me a pair of front row tickets for a Bon Jovi concert. Ok, ok, I know, I'm a middle aged broad, but Jon Bon Jovi still does it for me. Chefs are the food rock stars of my life.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Comfort Food with Pure Elegance


I love risotto. It is though, a labour of love to make it and it is a dish that while preparing you just cannot turn your back on. Once you the start the cooking process risotto becomes about as high maintenance as it gets but if you do it right it is pure food love and comfort on a dish. My favorite risotto of all time (forgive me Iron Chef, Mario Batali, it isn't your Risotto Milanese!) is a fragrant Wild Mushroom Risotto, inspired by the mushrooms of northwestern Italy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This Boy Is One Long, Tall, Cool Drink of Water

On Monday nights I hang out at the Drake. It's where most of the food community meet up since that is usually the night off of the chefs, the sous chefs, the waitstaff, the restaurant owners and all those people who just generally speaking, love to eat and drink. We've done everything from the Holy Guacamole smackdown to a Crunch & Munch for pickled food. Hell, there's even been Manhattan Monday. I say, bring it!


I have a regular crew I hang with. They are fun. Ivy Knight, I want you to know that this girl appreciates how much more fun you've made Monday nights. I'm going to do my very best to make it out to the cookie exchange.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some Like it Tart!

No matter what you put into that little pink cup at Menchie's newly opened fro yo corner shop along the busy strip of the Bloor & Bathurst hood, it is simply all fun. Hey, how can you not smile at a fro yo called the "Original Tart". That just speaks to the old broad in me because this old foodster still has some 'tude left in her.