Category Archives: ashley c.

!!!

I am pretty much the luckiest. (offset by being the worst blogger!) My birthday was last month, and look at the amazing gradient cake that Lindsay and Ashley made! It matched my nails, and was delicious! Thanks so much, lovely friends.

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I had the best birthday, we ate an insane amount of smoked meat (but not actual “smoked meat,” just meat that happened to be smoked), danced around to Bruce Springsteen, drank a keg on the roof, broke into a swimming pool, and basically had the best day and night ever.

summer salads

Oh man, summer is seriously here. I say this because I’ve spent a bunch of (amazing) time at cottages, and because we are in the middle of a heatwave, and because it’s just true. Anyway, in the summer, eating gets harder because it’s hot and easy to sit around and eat an avocado and drink a gin and tonic rather than cook delicious things. So, instead of making many exciting meals, I’ve been mostly pouring this carrot and ginger dressing over everything. Tonight, for example, it went over black beans, tomatoes and avocados. Sometimes I dip corn chips in it. Basically, this blog is now boring because I keep eating this salad dressing.

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Anyway, it comes via Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop newsletter, which is a super controversial topic and you should probably avoid talking to my roommates about it. But, general consensus: this dressing is great.

  • 2 carrots (regular, kind of puny carrots, or one big one) peeled and chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • grapeseed oil (until you hit the consistency you want.  At the risk of sounding like Jamie Oliver, a few glugs or whatever.)

Throw everything in a food processor and add the oil gradually.  Then, dressing!

Now, Goop maintains that this recipe is enough for two salads, but this is crazy.  This makes a tonne of dressing, like maybe 10 salads worth.  Perhaps if Gwyneth Paltrow eased up on the huge salads, she could avoid the juice cleanses she always seems to be on.  Cleanses are for lames!

fun birthday!

Oh man my birthday was basically three months ago but oh! it was fun. And, because I am the most delinquent blogger, three months lag time seems about right to commemorate the delicious, amazing French macarons that Ashley and Lindsay made for my birthday. Every year, Ashley and Lindsay make a delicious and rather elaborate cake for my birthday and it’s so nice and so fun and they really don’t have to but it is really the best!

These macarons are wonderful on many levels:
1 – delicious (most important)
2 – very pretty (also very important)
3 – very impressive (everyone discussed how hard it is to make macarons, but surprise! these aren’t so hard, just impressive!)

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For the macarons

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons meringue powder
  • food colouring

For the filling

  • 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Use a food processor to pulse the almonds and the icing sugar together, then sift them and set aside.  Beat the egg whites until foamy, then beat in the granulated sugar and the meringue powder until soft peaks form.  Add the food colouring.  Fold the almond mixture into the egg whites a third at a time.  Use a piping bag to pipe out 1-inch circles, pretty thin, onto a pan lined with parchment paper.  Let them sit for 15 minutes, then bake for 12-14 minutes at 325 degrees.

While everything is baking, pulse all the filling ingredients together in a food processor. Once the macarons have cooled, spread the filling on and make cute delicious macarons sandwiches.

These were delicious!  Birthdays are so wonderfully fun – I ate great great food for a whole week because I really am the luckiest ever.

Saturday brunch

I work on Sundays, so my brunching has really been curtailed (wah wahh! My life is haaard!). Luckily, I have wonderful friends who can pull together the best brunches ever. I’m not a huge fan of going to restaurants with large parties (though of course there are some notable exceptions – hello, family-style!), and staying in means you can really linger over food. Which is exactly what we did last Saturday.

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We had an amazing fruit spread with strained yogurt, two very amazing sweet treats, and a lot of meat. A lot of meat. Really, this brunch was inspired by the deservedly-popular newish meat and drinks restaurant in the city. I would like to keep up my not-waiting-for-a-table streak, but I’m pretty sure this place is only going to get more popular this summer. Anyway, I tried to recreate the Hot Date, a lavender, date, and gin drink. This is hard because I didn’t have any date syrup. But, an amazing, brunch-appropriate concoction worked itself out anyway!

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  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lavender
  • berry juice (I used Black Currant Cassis)
  • soda water
  • gin (use a shot glass to measure it, it’s brunch!)

Boil the water, sugar and lavender until the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool, then mix a shot of gin with a splash of juice, a tablespoon or so of the syrup, and a bit of soda water. Refreshing!

We had tonnes of delicious food, baked french toast and upside-down plum cake, and it really goes without saying that we had two types of bacon. I definitely regret not taking a picture of Paige’s meat treat, which I can really only call “foot cheese” though I’m sure it has a real name.

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The food is all pretty, but I am kind of wishing I took some pictures of my even-prettier friends. Oops!

surprising flavours

So, as much as I want to be Corey Mintz, or at least be friends with him (call me!) I know that this is destined to not happen. The main reason is that I do not have what might be called a “refined palette.” I do not notice more than one flavour, and usually I describe this lone flavour as “good.” Clearly my goals of being a food critic are a bit lofty. Unreasonable, even. But, finally, a dish that I can actually call “complex” and “layered,” not to mention “good.”

Full credit needs to go to Ashley. She has a serious talent of picking recipes that I think sound too insane that turn out to be amazing. This carrot and pear bisque is a prime example. First of all, I always assumed that a bisque referred only to seafood based soups but Wikipedia tells me that a bisque can also be vegetable based. I still maintain that this is not a bisque, since it isn’t creamy, but I clearly don’t know much about bisque so I’ll leave it at that. This soup is delicious, and that’s what matters.
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  • 2 leeks
  • 6 large carrots, peeled
  • 1 pear, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 2 litres of soup stock
  • salt and pepper

Thinly slice the leeks, wash them carefully, and sauté them in the butter. Cut up the pear and carrots into small pieces, and add them to the softened leeks along with the curry paste. Use some of the broth to deglaze the pot, and then add in all the broth, and bring it to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and let everything simmer for about half an hour. Purée everything with a hand-held blender. Seriously delicious!

birthday!

Yesterday we celebrated my birthday which was totally fun and took literally a whole day. For the past few years, I’ve organized a photo scavenger hunt, which is pretty fun and really you can try as hard or as not-hard as you want and it works for everyone. Or, at least for me. After the scavenger hunt, we had an awesome barbecue, and because i was drinking attractive second cousins, I did not take any pictures of the delicious food. An attractive second cousin is whiskey, gingerale and raspberries, and it is for sure the loveliest drink ever. I do not recommend googling said drink, as I think Zack might have named it to suit his fancy.
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After dinner Lindsay and Ashley brought an amazing cake event to the bar. They somehow, miraculously outdid their earlier cake creations, and this was unbelievable. I’m pretty sad that I wasn’t really at my prime in terms of photography. Basically, they went with the barbecue theme and made delicious dessert skewers. There were chocolate covered strawberries, mini cupcakes, and cheesecake balls. I had three skewers. That is a lot.

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These treats were obviously a huge hit and they were gone in seconds. Thank you so so much lovely ladies! I don’t have the recipe, but I can pretty much say that these amazing skewers are really time consuming. They would work for many bite-sized treats, though, and they are pretty much a guaranteed way to impress people. I’m totally impressed! Sadly, Keith was not there, because this would have been the perfect time to feature him on my blog. Sorry, Keith, and also, sorry Keith’s grandma, who has been waiting for her grandson’s internet fame for way too long.

victory!

Lindsay’s Iron Chefnic birthday party was amazingly fun. And, not only because Ashley, Zack and I were crowned Iron Chefs! More generally, the fun came from excellent company and wonderful food. I was too overwhelmed to take any good pictures, which is sad, because there were many delicious foods. The idea is that everyone assembles an entry for the picnic, and then we all eat delicious food and one entry is awarded the the Iron Chef prize (a super cute picnic blanket! Gingham on one side, kitties and puppies on the other! Or, as Lindsay put it, ‘business on the front, party on the back!’ Also, only Lindsay gives out presents at her birthday!) Highlights include: rosemary lemonade (in mason jars! gorgeous), a lemon-cranberry cake that was insanely good, spring skewers with prosciutto and melon, shrimp and pineapple, and stuffed peppers and tomatoes, springrolls (taking the “spring” theme literally!), amazing salads, empanadas, mint brownies, cucumber martinis (amazing! with berry ice cubes, the best summer idea ever!) and many other delicious treats that I just can’t name right now.

Zack and Ashley and I went with a theme of “little cups,” and we made so many cupcakes. We made the mojito cupcakes, some green tea cupcakes (subbing in steeped green tea for the liquids in a cake mix, and using matcha icing), and regular cupcakes with fondant flowers.

Fondant is extremely time-consuming.  It is ridiculous.  Also, it doesn’t taste good.  But, I really think all this is redeemed by the aesthetics.  Because it really does make just the cutest treats ever.

The savoury cups were also delicious, and totally easy, which is what we needed after rolling out individual blades of grass for two hours.  Anyway, we made gambas al ajillo (it sounds fancy, but it’s just shrimp fried in garlic, with a little bit of fresh chili pepper.  Everything sounds better when it’s said in anything but English…) and mango salsa.  For the mango salsa, we diced up a mango, some red onion, some garlic and chili peppers, a bit of coriander, and then added lime juice and fish sauce.  Everything is to taste, we just kept adding ingredients until it tasted right.  Then, we lined the mini cupcake tray with tortilla shells, and baked them until they were fairly solid.  Make sure to oil both sides of the tortilla.  We then diced up the shrimp, put a spoonful into the cups, and topped it with mango salsa.

These were pretty delicious, and fresh-tasting, not to mention easy picnic food.  They transported well, and required minimal serving, which is key at a picnic.  Our entries were pretty simple, but they were centred around the fact that they should be easy to eat, for a pretty big group, and they should be cute, because we know Lindsay, and she loves cute food.

All in all this was an excellent day, I’m so happy the weather held up.  That said, I am still exhausted from a very exciting weekend that was topped off with a Sunday Mother’s Day dinner in Kingston, which was an ambitious plan, though totally worth it.