Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Italy Starts Today

Well this is it!  Travel day!  The day I have been waiting for for the past few months.  Our flight leaves at 7:45pm and I can't wait to be on it!  Tomorrow morning I'll be having espresso and eating breakfast in Rome!  After a few days in Rome we move on to Tuscany and then the Amalfi Coast.  I will try to post from Italy every couple of days so you can share the experience with me.  Please follow along and if you have any suggestions for restaurant reccos I would love to hear them.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

What's On My Cookbook Shelf

A lot of the cooking I do involves recipes that have been handed down to me from generations past. My mother taught me all the basics of how to cook and passed on the recipes that came from her parents in England or the recipes she learned to make from my father's mother in Berlin. These recipes are often my favorite go to comfort foods that I make over and over again so I know the recipes by heart. In fact, for a lot of them there are no actual hard copies of the recipe. I couldn't even tell you how much of each ingredient to use or start to write a recipe for them without actually making the recipe again and writing as I go because I do it all by memory and instinct. But if I'm looking for a new recipe or just some foodie inspiration I most often head to the great wide world of the internet or one of the many (and I mean MANY) cookbooks that I keep on my shelves. These books have become like classics to me. Here are just a few of my favs:

First and foremost, the classic of all classics, The Joy of Cooking. I still say if you're fairly new to cooking and you can only purchase one book then it has to be Joy!  You can't beat it for its comprehensiveness. It's filled with absolutely everything you need to know (and some things you don't) about the art of cooking, not to mention great recipes. 


A number of years ago I was producing a television show in Vancouver when we featured a guest chef named Donna Hay. At the time I wasn't familiar with her but her books have now become some of my fav go to cookbooks when I'm looking for something easy and flavorful. One of her books that I resort to the most is Off the Shelf: Cooking from the Pantry. It's a great resource if you're looking for a recipe that doesn't require any fancy, often hard to find ingredients. Just stuff that you probably already have in your pantry.


I also adore Donna's book Flavours! If you love stimulating your taste buds you will love this book!

  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a fondness for cooking recipes that don't have a lot of ingredients. Some of my favorite, go to recipes only have 4 or 5 ingredients, not including seasonings.  One of the books I love for simple recipes involving only a few ingredients is The Minimalist Cooks Dinner by Mark Bittman.  I can always count on this book for fuss free, yet tasty recipes.

Indian food is one of my favorites!  In fact I often say that if I don't get it at least once a week I go into withdrawal.  Indian cooking often defies my "few ingredients" rule but the end result is soooo good it's worth it! For my Indian fix I often find myself taking out one of Madhur Jaffrey's books such as At Home with Madhur Jaffrey.

But a few years back when I was living in Vancouver I came to love a restaurant called Vij's owned by Vikram Vij. I am now back in Toronto but luckily Vikram has his own cookbook out called Vij's At Home so I can satisfy my Vij's fix without the cost of an expensive plane ticket to the west coast.

Those are just a few of my favorite go to cookbooks.  As for what's on my lust list, I'm looking forward to picking up the Jerusalem cookbook that everyone is talking about. Have you tried any recipes from it? I'd love to hear what you think about it.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Italian Pottery

My trip to Italy is now only 1 week away and I'm really starting to get excited! One of the things on my list of must dos while I'm there is to shop for Italian ceramic dishes. Also known as majolica, it seems almost every region and town has their own version, colors and patterns but one of the best places to shop for Italian pottery is in Deruta, a picturesque, medieval hilltop town in Umbria. Deruta has over 200 ceramic workshops that specialize in creating the beautiful ceramics they have been producing since the early middle ages. Deruta's trademark pattern is  "Raffaellesco" with the famous dragon design.


I love collecting colorful serving dishes and am hoping to pick up a few pieces while I'm there. There are so many beautiful patterns that I have a hard time deciding which ones to buy. Some other favorites are;



                                      Pictures courtesy of Ceramiche Sberna

Some of the more popular retailers in Deruta where you can find these beautiful patterns and more are;

Via Tiberina Centro 181

Via G. Savemini

Via Tiberina, 146

While there are some retailers in North America that sell Italian majolica it's hard to find here in Toronto so imagine my surprise when I walked into a small kitchen store in my neighborhood and saw this beauty! It was the only piece they had and it was even on sale!  Yay! 

It's clearly marked on the back as being made in Deruta but unfortunately there is no pattern name. If anyone knows what pattern it might be I'd love to know.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables.  Typically a spring/early summer vegetable here in Ontario, you can still find some fairly decent local asparagus around at this time of year. My favorite way to cook it comes from a friend of mine. Roasted in the oven with olive oil and sprinkled with rock sea salt.

Roasted Asparagus
Olive Oil
Rock Sea Salt

Clean asparagus and break off tough ends.  Add to a baking pan with generous amount of olive oil.  Sprinkle rock sea salt and toss to coat the asparagus evenly.  

Roast in a 425 degree oven for approximately 8-10 minutes.  Cooking time will vary depending on how thick your asparagus is. I like to take mine out of the oven a minute or two earlier as it continues to cook even after it's removed from the oven and I prefer my asparagus al dente. 

 How do you like to cook your asparagus?


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Photography

This past weekend I decided I needed to get out with my camera and start shooting again.  I'm working a new series that I'm very excited about.  It's a series of water shots that reflect the feelings of comfort, peace and tranquility.  This image is one of my favorites from last nights sunset shoot at the beach here in Toronto. What do you think? Did I achieve my objective? I've been playing around with ND filters to allow me to use longer exposures and achieve that soft, glassy look in the water. This was shot with a .9 ND filter but after I shot this I moved up to a 1.2 ND filter that allowed me to use an even longer exposure.  I'm still doing some post on the other images but I'll share some more with you soon. I'm also going to be doing some more of these kind of shots during my upcoming trip to Tuscany and Positano!  I can't wait to see what kind of shots I get there! 14 sleeps today!


For more art photography check out my Etsy shop here;  https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/TheMediaShop