Wednesday, July 30, 2008


My children are...well...I love them to death, and when they ask me to make them something that they love, I try to oblige. As with most children, spaghetti with meat sauce is high on the favorite list and my kids asked me to make it for them recently.

I know, I isn't exactly the most interesting meal in the world, but I honestly believe it is one of the most comforting meals we can eat. I guess it appeals to our memories of childhood, I don't know. Anyway, I was asked the other day what meal I would ask for if it was to be my last. I think this would be it. But then a pig out on wine and cheese followed by a butt load of chocolate just might be it too. Hopefully I'll never have to choose.

One thing I know about meat sauce is that everyone has their own way of making it and they generally like it the way they make it. So, with that in mind, I won't go on about how good my sauce is. I like mine the way I make it and that's all that matters to me. I'll just share it here for those of you who may like to have a go at it.

This is not a traditional Bolognese sauce. Traditionally, Bolognese is a ragout which is a sauce of beef, pancetta, onions, garlic, tomato, broth, wine and herbs. But the recipe is somewhat like Borscht - everyone has their own version. What this is is a meat sauce which is bulked up with sausage. The ingredients are ground pork, sweet Italian sausage, red wine, balsamic vinegar, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, carrot, zucchini, oregano, anise, salt and sugar.

This is the Italian sausage. I like a sweet sausage for the kids, but personally...I prefer a hot sausage for myself.

A Pelee Island Merlot is the wine I chose for the sauce.

The sausage is cut into 1 inch lengths.

A heavy bottomed pot is ideal for slow cooking a tomato based sauce.

Brown the sausage....

...add the ground pork...

...when the sausage and pork are browned...

...splash in some wine. Simmer this out for a few moments while you enjoy a few sips of some wine.

Add in some grated carrot and zucchini...

...and some minced onion and garlic.

Cook all these ingredients out for about 20 minutes over a high heat.

Add crushed tomatoes...

...and give everything a stir. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add sugar, salt, anise and oregano.

Add balsamic vinegar and stir everything together.

Reduce heat to low and cook out for about one hour.

Add tomato paste.

Cook the sauce for another 20 minutes to 30 minutes and it's done. Serve with linguine, garlic bread and Caesar salad.


We went to the Toronto Jazz Festival in the Beaches the other day. I don't have a lot to say about it other than that the music was great and that it was fun. Next year I'll definitely return and spend more time there than I had this year.

Kaitlin and Garret (my kids) joined us there and Garret got bored of the music pretty quickly. I don't think it's a venue for children, unless they are fans of live music. But Kaitlin liked the music because she is musical herself. She sings and had spent the last few years in her school jazz band learning the saxaphone and the flute.

There were several bands playing - about 20 - and they were all awesome. The Latin bands were my favorite, but that's because I love Latin music. I will say though that I watched a lot of passers by start dancing when they were in the Latin section. It's infectious!!

Here are a few pictures, although they aren't the greatest. I wanted to get more shots of the "street food" but I was pressed for time. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


It doesn't take much to throw together a quick antipasto, and there's nothing better with a little wine and some good company. Antipasto can be as informal as you want it to be and keeping it simple best.

A few assorted olives...

...a bit of cheese...

...a little roasted garlic...

...some marinated mushrooms...

...some more fromage...

...a little sausage and a little fresh crusty bread and you're happening!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Lola and I tried to go out for a nice dinner the other night and it seemed like it just wasn't meant to be. We wanted to go to one restaurant in particular but found that it was closed for a private party when we arrived.

We walked up and down Queen Street looking for something nice, but didn't happen upon anything that sparked our interest. When we did find one that looked interesting (we'll try it soon) we found they didn't take Interac. We looked up and down that area of Queen and couldn't find an Interac machine that worked! Grrrrrrr!

All of this walking around wasted about an hour or so and as we passed the original restaurant we wanted to go to, we found it had opened up to the public again so we decided to go there for dinner.

As we were walking home along Queen Street, we were passing other restaurants looking in at the staff as most of them were closing up and reading menus posted on windows. We were passing one place - Cafe Taste - and a waiter standing in the door asked us to come in to see the patio in the back. We went in and decided to have a look.

Cafe Taste is a wine and cheese bar that offers over 30 wines by the glass and up to 30 cheeses. We came in at the close of the night after there had been a wine event, but there were still a few people lingering on the patio sipping wine over quiet conversation by candle light. Lola and I ordered a glass of ice wine each and had a sampling of two cheeses. It was a nice way to end a what started out as a not so perfect evening.

The best thing about the night was that we discovered Cafe Taste; we want to go back soon for a night of wine and cheese. Cafe Taste not only offers a vast array of wine and cheese for sampling, but they are proud of the fact that they search for local products to offer their guests.

While we were enjoying our ice wine, we were brought a really nice blue cheese that paired well with it. I also wanted some goats cheese which was supplied without a problem.

As a wine and cheese lover, I want to go back to Cafe Taste to bust a gut one night. I think it will be a a night of sensual pleasure and fun!! And if you're a wine and cheese should check it out too. You may find a new favorite.

Here's a link to the Cafe Taste web page:

Cafe Taste 1330 Queen St West (@ Brock St.) 416.536.7748

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Do you ever get those cravings sometimes that just don't go away until you satisfy them? You know...the "I gotta eat that or else I'll die" cravings? Well, the other day I had a craving for crab cakes something fierce and I just had to make some. I think it was the crab cake recipe Lola had hanging on the fridge that did it to me; it's been there since January and I've been looking at it ever since. Anyway, the situation finally came to a head and I had to do something about it. I had to make some crab cakes!

Unfortunately for me, I shopped for all of the ingredients I needed to make crab cakes before discovering that the store had no crab. Can you believe crab! So, I decided to combine shrimps and salmon in place of the crab meat. Improvise when necessary I say!

Here, some white shrimp, shallots, garlic, scallions and parsley are ready to be minced for the cakes.

The shrimps are minced roughly...

...and combined with the other ingredients.

The salmon fillet awaiting mincing.

The minced salmon added to the rest of the ingredients fleshes out the shrimp. Any other fish can be used as well.

A bit of grated potato adds filler to the cakes . I also added some chopped cilantro, cayenne pepper, Old Bay Seasoning and lemon juice.

Stir it all up....

...add some mayonnaise....

...stir it again....

...add bread crumbs to dry it out a bit...

...ball it out the same as you would for hamburger patties... it down and cakes ready for the pan! The cakes are fried in olive oil and butter until golden, flipped and fried on the other side until golden. I finished them in the oven for five minutes to ensure they were cooked through. These babies are big!

Lola made a really nice salsa/salad of charred corn, pepper, avocado, jalapeno, olive oil, lime juice and cilantro to go with the cakes.

Up close and personal.

The cakes with chile chipotle mayo!

In your face!

Done deal! And this is soooooooo goooooood!

Give it a try!!