Weekend Edition

Valentine's Day cards in London OntarioI realize that Valentine’s Day has been derided in today’s society for it’s over-commercialization. Everyone grumbles about the expensive dinners, over-priced flowers, and red everything! And I don’t deny that big business has put it’s grubby hands all over this long-standing holiday. But being European, I thrive on tradition and romance. 

I’m thrilled to celebrate a day devoted to love. Whether you spend it with your significant other, your family or even your pets, love should be enjoyed in all its glorious forms. And although I realize that we should express our love for each other every day of the year, there is nothing wrong with having a day where you go that extra step for someone special. In that vein, here are a few special ways to share your feeling on Valentine’s Day and maybe stretch the lovefest all weekend long!

  • Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate should be the anthem of this day. So when I found this decadent creation from Louise at Cygnet Kitchen, I knew the boy and I would be doing some indulging this weekend!
  • The art of letter writing has become almost extinct in this day and age. That’s why the written word can still elicit more tears of joy than a sprakly anything. When I came across this list of 9 Most Memorable Love Letters, I realized that letters don’t have to take hours or become long missives…a few special words can go a long way.
  • Everyone says that the most romantic city in the world is Paris. And yes, it’s true. But I’ve found this list of 15 Most Romantic Getaways Around the World that give Paris a run for it’s money. I just may be adding these to my bucket list!

Wishing all of you a fantastic weekend of love and indulgence!

Nadege Patisserie, French Treats in the heart of Rosedale

Nadege - French patisseries in TorontoThank goodness that staying away from mouthwatering treats was not one of my intentions for 2015. It would have been an impossible feat as I crossed the threshold of Nadège Patisserie in Rosedale, Toronto’s chicest neighbourhood. Unlike it’s older sister on Queen Street West, and the first shop opened by fourth-generation confectioner Nadège Nourian, this location is presented like a jewel box boutique rather than a bakery and cafe.

Interior view of Nadege shop - Yonge St. Rosedale TorontoFront counter at Nadege Rosedale - Yonge St. TorontoWarm wood accents, exposed brick, and LED lighting serve to highlight the coziness of the space while providing a perfect backdrop to the colourful, mouthwatering treats. The shop feels high-end but not intimidating.

Interior view of Nadege on Yonge St. in Toronto Chocolate on shelves - Nadege Patisserie Yonge St. TorontoNadège, trained as a pastry chef in Lyon, France, oversees the preparation of the gorgeous baked goods, impressively delicate cakes, and multi-flavoured macarons which are delivered to the boutique daily from the Queen location. The Rosedale shop now serves as the epi-centre for their hand-made chocolate production. From artisanal truffles which pair unique flavours with complementary chocolate, to their famous “Chocolate Tablet”, a 26 letter exploration of unique ingredients and chocolate (J-Jasmine; M-Mint; P-Parmesan), the handmade sweets make for perfect gifts and treats. I’m slowly making my way through the alphabet!

Alphabet chocolate I to M  at Nadege - Yonge St. Rosedale TorontoAlphabet chocolate N to R - Nadege Patisserie Yonge St TorontoAlphabet chocolate T to X at Nadege - Rosedale Yonge St. TorontoBut the real reason I can’t avoid Nadège Patisserie during my Toronto visits are the confections perfectly lined up and displayed in the glass cases like precious jewels. Stepping up to the counter I’m transported to the gorgeous shops of Paris, where as much care is given to the taste of the treats as to their presentation.

Sweet cakes and treats from Nadege on Yonge St. in TorontoGlass display of sweet treats at Nadege Patisserie in TorontoFrench pastries in Toronto - Nadege Patisserie on Yonge St.Macarons at Nadege Rosedale in TorontoAll the attention to detail is not just for show. With the first bite, you’ll be on your way to a serious Nadège addiction! Although there are some staple products like flakey croissants and melt in your mouth Marie Antoinette cakes, many of the flavours change seasonally so there is always something new to try. For those who don’t have a chance to visit Toronto (or Paris!) on a regular basis, Nadège has an online boutique with delivery coast-to-coast. And trust me, you must give these fabulous french treats a try…they are worth every sinful bite!

Wonton Magic

‘Tis the season for parties, potlucks, and drop-ins. It’s the time to get your pretty on, indulge at the table, and not slave over a hot stove. If you are a regular visitor to my blog (and I hope you are, but if this is your first time…welcome!) you know that when it comes to cooking, I have a preference for all things fast and fabulous. In that vein, I’ve developed a couple go-to party bites with simple ingredients. They can be made ahead of time, even frozen, and finished off in minutes. And of course all of them have one thing in common, wonton wrappers!

LEMONY CHEESE WONTONS WITH PESTO

Cheese and pesto wonton wrapper party appetizerThe key to these delicious appetizers is that I treat the wonton wrappers like freshly made pasta sheets. They’re delicious as single serve bites but also make a perfect dinner! As with any recipe, adjust ingredients to suit your taste.

1/2 cup sheep milk cream cheese or regular cream cheese, softened
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
25 square wonton wrappers
water
 
Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 3-4 minutes 
 

1. Place softened cheese into a bowl and added the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well.

2. Line up a few wonton wrappers and drop about a teaspoonful of cheese mix into the centre.

3. Wet your finger in the water and run it along the edges of the wonton.

4. Fold the wonton in half away from you to form a rectangle, pressing down on the edges to seal well.

5. Bring two corners at the top of the wrapper together and pinch to seal. You make have to dab some water on the wrapper again to stick the corners together.

6. Set aside and repeat with the rest of the wrappers.

7. When ready to cook, boil salted water as if cooking pasta. Once the water comes to a boil throw the wontons in and stir once to prevent them sticking to the bottom.

8. Cook the wontons in the water on high heat for 3-4 minutes for an al dente bite to the wrapper.

9. Drain the wontons and dab with a good dollop of pesto. You can find my pesto recipe here.

10. Plate individually on tasting spoons, pierce with a sturdy toothpick, or plate three together on small plates for a light appetizer.

WONTON TACOS

Wonton wrapper taco party appetizerThese seasonal looking appetizers are delicious any time of year. You can control the heat with the ingredients but a little spice works well with these bites.

1 large rotisserie prepared chicken breast
1 tsp sriracha chili sauce, or any hot sauce you like
1 tsp liquid honey
1/3 cream cheese brick, softened
1/2 avocado
1/2 tsp lemon juice
diced red jalapeno or red pepper
25 square wonton wrappers
 
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes    Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Shred the cooked chicken breast into smaller pieces and place in a bowl.

3. Drizzle honey and sriracha sauce over the chicken and mix thoroughly. Feel free to add more sauce for more heat.

4. Beat and mix the cream cheese, avocado and lemon juice together until the cheese looks like green cream.

5. Line up the wonton wrappers and divide the chicken on them equally, about a large tablespoonful. Place the chicken down the middle diagonally.

6. Dollop the avocado cream on top and sprinkle with the jalapeno or the red pepper, depending of how much heat you want.

7. Bring the opposite corners of the wrapper together at the top. You may have to pierce them through with a toothpick to hold in position. The toothpick will be removed once you take the wontons out of the oven.

8. Place the wontons on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or oiled with cooking spray.

9. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 12- 15 minutes. Or until the wonton wrappers turn golden brown.

10. Remove from the oven, take out the toothpicks, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

CREAM CHEESE, CHOCOLATE AND POMEGRANATE WONTONS

Chocolate cream cheese pomegranate wonton wrapper party appetizerThese golden beauties are highly addictive, but baking them instead of frying will allow you to indulge without much guilt. Plus using dark chocolate and pomegranate scores high on the antioxidant scale so I guess you could say that this dessert is good for you too!

1/3 brick of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cups of pomegrante seeds
25 square wonton wrappers
water
 
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes     Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Stir together cream cheese, chocolate chips, and pomegranate seeds until well incorporated.

3. Line up the wonton wrappers and place a heaping teaspoonful of the cheese mix into the centre of each wrapper.

4. Dip your finger in water and run along the edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to form a triangle and pinch the edges to seal.

5. Spray both sides of the wonton triangle with cooking spray and place on a cookie sheet.

6.  Put in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the wrappers are golden brown. Remember to turn half way through.

7. Plate the wontons and sprinkle with icing sugar, or drizzle with chocolate sauce, and garnish with any remaining pomegranate seeds.

8. Serve warm and try to stop at just one!

I hope you try these out at your next get together. Happy munching!

 

Luxury Chocolate Lands in London

Interior of Lindt Chocolate Store London OntarioThere is nothing more decadent than a Lindt chocolate truffle slowly melting in your mouth. The hard shell breaking away to release the warm flowing centre to coat the tongue – pure heaven! I freely admit that I dip into this indulgence whenever occasion strikes. So when I learned that Lindt had opened a standalone location on Wellington Rd. near Exeter in London, Ontario, I wasn’t going to wait long to check it out.

Upon entering the store, the space feels like a jewel box with mirrored shelving, dark wood and crystal chandelier accents. The sign of the Swiss Master Chocolatiers since 1845 is prominently displayed in gold. However, the stars of this show shine even brighter. The individually wrapped coloured truffles are placed in easy to access bins and Lindt specialties line the walls.

Lindt Truffle Bins London OntarioLindt candy bins London OntarioGianduia Chocolates at LindtCaffarel chocolates from LindtThe individually wrapped chocolates and truffles are sold by weight and the variety will have you filling the cellophane bags provided quickly. My favourites so far are the chocolate coffee truffles, the white chocolate lime, the champagne truffles, and the gianduia (a chocolate square with chunks of hazelnuts). There is so much to choose from that I’ll have to make this store a regular stop.

Lindt Store Interior in London OntarioAnd with Halloween around the corner, you have no excuse for a little personal indulgence with this luxurious treat. No tricks, I promise!