A House Divides

•November 29, 2012 • 1 Comment

Pumpkin pie…you love it, or truly hate it.  I’m most certainly of the second camp.

My sweetie and my sister both love it, while my dad, brother-in-law and I all think that pumpkins belong in one place…the side of the road, slowing rotting after Halloween. 

This year I volunteered to cook the Christmas goose, lamb, chicken and pig…and potatoes, green beans, salads and dessert; the standard Mitrovich celebratory meal. I was delighted to find a super simple and apparently delicious (thanks Allan and Rae for testing) pumpkin tart recipe. Best part, it’s waistline friendly!

Here’s what you need:

½ cup ground almonds

2 eggs, beaten

1 ¼ cup canned pumpkin (NOT pie filling)

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

Grease eight ½ cup heat-proof ramekins.

Place ramekins on a baking sheet and divide the ground almonds among them.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg until well blended. Divide mixture among ramekins.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350F (180C) and bake for another 12-15 minutes or until mostly set (the middle of the tart should still jiggle slightly).  Let cool completely in the ramekin on a wire rack.

Top with some whipped cream and ‘enjoy’.

Dad, Noel and I get mini Apple Crisps…and Zoe, she’s very much a Wallace.

Rae’s New and Improved Double Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

•November 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Rae loves anything chocolate mint. A while back and I created a special cookie for him using Hershey’s Mint Chocolate Chips.

Recently I discovered that PC came out with a new chocolate chip…a MINT chocolate chip! Needless to say, I was excited to try my recipe with them!

As soon as I opened the bag I noticed that the chocolate was a lot deeper and the mint was much more natural smelling…the taste made me an instant fan!

Rich and creamy, not waxy, with a genuine pure and clean peppermint taste…and less fat that the other chips!

So here it is, Rae’s New and Improved Double Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup softened butter (salted)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar – I like muscovado sugar the best, but any good quality dark brown will do
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (sifted)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 package ,PC The Decadent Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – Mint Flavour

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream butter and sugar together.

Beat in egg and vanilla.

Gently stir in flour, cocoa and baking soda.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet 2″apart.

Bake one sheet at a time for 9 – 11 minutes.

Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes.

Cookie?

Makes 32…I mean 30…I mean 25 large cookies (om, nom, nom)

Nat Note: I’ve been using spelt flour lately, the result is a little crunchier texture. Spelt flour has a fairly strong nutritional profile, slightly fewer calories than wheat flour and is somewhat higher in protein. The flour is easy to digest but is lower in fiber than wheat.

Another Note: I plan to sandwich these cookies between some of the PC Candy Cane Ice Cream….just sayin’

Butter Chicken Pizza

•November 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

A few of you have asked for my recipe for Butter Chicken Pizza…it’s unbelievably easy, delicious, and not terribly bad on the waistline.  Add a nice big tossed salad and you’ve got a lovely mid-week treat!

What you need:

Whole wheat pizza dough – I love the pre-made dough from St. Lawrence Market; upstairs near the fish vendors.

Left-over roasted chicken – or just buy a roasted chicken breast from Loblaw.

Blue Menu Butter Chicken Cooking Sauce – you can use your fav, but this is only 6g of fat and 100 calories.

Part-skim mozzarella.

Diced red pepper, sweet onion and cherry tomatoes – as much or as little as you like

Green onion for garnish

Place a pizza stone in the oven and pre-heat for at least 30 minutes at 400F.  If you don’t have a pizza stone, I highly recommend getting one.  You’ll get crispy, thin perfection.  The back of a cookie sheet will do if you don’t

Stretch your crust, thinner the better.

TIP: Place a layer of wax paper between the pizza peel and the dough…it’ll make depositing the topped pizza on the hot stone a breeze. I’ve upended many a pizza before learning this trick!

Shred the cooked chicken in a bowl and toss with 3/4 of a bottle of Blue Menu Butter Chicken Cooking Sauce – it really works best with shredded cooked chicken, rather and cooking the chicken in the sauce…too mushy otherwise.  Also, I chuck some Rooster sauce in…you know, that spicy chilli-garlic sauce with the green lid.

Spread the chicken/sauce mixture on the crust, top with a layer of cheese, then the veggies…finish with another layer of cheese and bake till bubbly and the crush is browned. Top with some chopped green onion…that’s it!

Rae’s Birthday Swag!

•June 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Rae celebrated his 40th birthday this year and I really wanted to make it special. Working in teevee, it’s so hard to get everyone together, and I knew that all he wanted was to be surrounded by his favourite people.

I rented the Brunswick Room of The Academy of Spherical Arts for the shin-dig and began planning.  Originally I had intended it to be a surprise, but a few days before, the cat got out of the bag…it was a good thing because we were able to add a bunch of people that I would’ve missed!

Weeks before, I started thinking of a design for the invite…it needed to be slick and a look that I could carry throughout the party.  I’m in advertising after all…I brand, art direct and design everything I do!

I decided to adapt one of my favourite graphic designers famous poster from the Magnificent 7…you know the one! No, not the crappy image on YouTube…I just wanted you to hear the theme.  Saul Bass was a genius…minimalist…brilliant!  This is the one! You’re still listening to the song, aren’t you?

From the invite came the idea to cask-aged a cocktail as a take-home, and what other than a Negroni so perfectly embodies a man like Rae. I got in contact with a local winemaker and was able to purchase a charred oak barrel, sourced some apothecary-style bottles and other rustic looking supplies to package the completed cocktail, and away I went. For those wanting to try this at home…here’s where I found the recipe. 

The funny thing is that I blended, casked, and stored the full cask under my desk so as not to be discovered by Rae….good thing it didn’t smell!

After five weeks of careful rotating, swirling and sampling, my Negroni’s were ready! I bottled, labeled, boxed and hand-sealed each package with a custom wax seal and ribbon. Thanks to the boys at Gas for making the die AND helping me create a beautiful linen-wrapped casebound book that everyone signed!

The batch yielded a little short, so I quickly whipped up a design for some teeshirts and had the lovely folks at Artik print them for me…you’ll see a shot of one that made it all the way to Roma!

Rae Day was a magnificent success, I got to treat him to a special night surrounded by the most important people in his life and loved that people were wowed with my little swag.

Enjoy the photos (taken by Rae!), and here’s the text from the back of the bottle:

The Negroni
one part gin, one part sweet, & one part bitter

because yin would be boring without yang.

A drink premised on being the perfect blend: sweet balanced by savoury. Inspired by a man with a penchant for dirty intercom jokes, but asked you about your grandmother’s health on the way in.

Thoughtfully balanced and well presented never goes out of style.

This cocktail has been specially blended and cask-aged for you by Natalie in celebration of Rae’s fortieth birthday. Pour over ice and serve with a twist

Rae Upton | June 3rd 1972

Love you sweetie – I hope that you’ll always remember 40!page2image10576

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Move over Rack o’ Lamb

•March 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment


I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve perfected my Chateaubriand.  Most home-cooks like to say they have a signature dish…for me it was always ye olde rack of lamb.  My sister used to tease me that in my younger days, I would always make rack of lamb for boys just before I broke up with them (Rae, hunny…that’s why I never made for you until we had people over for company xo). It was kinda like a last supper…but at least I sent them off with a full belly!

The funny thing is, Chateaubriand is the EASIEST thing to make on the planet. It just happens to look and taste like something truly spectacular.

All you need; a good cut of beef tenderloin, a screaming hot pan and a timer.  This is a recipe that i use loosely from epicurious.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (10-ounce) center-cut beef tenderloin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I always salt AFTER the meat has cooked and rested)
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine (whatever you’re drinking)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. In an ovenproof, heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until hot but not smoking.

3. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then brown it in the pan on all sides. (2 mins per side works best…and for the love of god, don’t poke your meat around.  Dump in in and leave it )

4. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 130°F (for rare), 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

5. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and tent it with foil.

6. Pour all but a thin film of fat from the pan.

7. Add the shallot and saute it over medium-low heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

8. Add the wine and raise the heat to high, scraping up any brown bits from the pan.

9. When the sauce is syrupy (about 5 minutes), turn off the heat and whisk in the butter.

10. Carve the meat in thick slices and drizzle with the pan sauce

Maple Crest & Sunnyside

•February 10, 2012 • 1 Comment

I know I’m a little late posting this, but wanted to share some photos from our holiday gift this past Christmas. 

Rae and I thought it would be fun to give our family something a little more personal than just a card this year; he makes kick-ass chocolate mint fudge and I make darn good cookies…and we’re both suckers for good package design.

I came across these wonderful little blank paper lunch boxes and thought we could silkscreen or sticker them and fill them with goodies. 

First came naming our little project…I bounced ‘round some silly names like the “Soggy Biscuit” but Rae came up with the gem Maple Crest and Sunnyside; the names of the two farms his parents came from.  

We designed the look together, and a friend from my studio built the technical file by re-drawing the stag and typesetting the font.  I then approached my lovely friend at Gas Company and asked if he could silkscreen the box for me.  Silkscreen he laughed?  Forget that! We have a new laser cutter that I’d like to try out!

The first test blew the bottom clear out, but a little adjustment and we ended up with this.

The entire design was etched with the laser cutter, including the font and finished by gluing some green cardstock on the inside cover of the box.  We also created a custom stamp for the cards and some stickers to include in the package.

Lot of fun and a big hit with everyone…now what to do for Christmas 2012??

The Tough Mudder

•February 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

In other non-food related news, I signed-up for an adventure race.  It’s called the Tough Mudder; a hardcore 12 mile obstacle course this August in Toronto.

Last summer I ran the Warrior Dash as well as competed in the City Chase for the fifth year.  City Chase has alway been a little bitter-sweet for me, my first year as half of team Dirty Rotten Scavengers I chased with my friend and co-worker Chris Skinner.  We ate worms, hauled each others asses thru blindfolded-piggyback croquet and swam the length of a swimming pool tethered by lifejackets worn as diapers.   If you’ve even ran one of these races you know it takes a special kinda person to remain friends with your partner after the chase.

Tragically Chris was brutally murdered and to this day the case remains unsolved. Chris had a wonderful spirit and never shied away from a challenge.  I still chase under the name Dirty Rotten Scavengers and while I’ve had some great partners run with me, my chase with Skinner will alway be my favourite.

This year I decided to take it up a notch and I’m sure that Chris would be all-over The Tough Mudder as well…

The team is called the Hershey Squirts and I’d love to get a big group together to run it…the more the merrier! I’m not fundraising for their charity, I just want to have fun and finish.

Who’s in?

 
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