Toronto Cooks

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Housemade Semi-Firm Tofu from Ursa

 

September is cookbook month – that’s when all the publishing houses release their newest cooking titles in time for the Christmas shopping season. There are some big ones coming out this fall, including a new one by Marcus Samuelson, Sean Brock’s first ever book and, the one we are most excited about, a cookbook devoted specifically to the chefs of Toronto. Penned and compiled by Amy Rosen, Toronto Cooks, delivers introductions to fifty top Toronto chefs and offers two recipes from each. The result is a dizzying collection of delicious food porn and revealing intros that explain how the talented chefs of our city get their inspiration. Continue »



Chefs For Oceans

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Ned Bell is one of Vancouver’s top chefs but you won’t find him in his kitchen at the Four Seasons this summer. He’s cycling across Canada instead.  Continue »



A New Spin On Fruit Cocktail

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If you immediately think of a can of syrupy fruit with a maraschino cherry on top when you read the word fruit cocktail think again. We’re talking cocktails made with fruit and berry infused vodka. Infusions you can make at home in a matter of minutes. Steer clear of those fruit-flavoured vodkas at the LCBO, it is super easy to infuse your own spirits at home, especially now that Ontario is awash with all manner of fruit, from strawberries to blackberries, rhubarb to cherries, peaches and pears. Vodka, a clear almost tasteless spirit, is the logical choice as a base to concoct your own, uniquely flavoured potent potable. And one that is free of any artificial ingredients. When you infuse your own spirits you can ensure the quality of the ingredients that go into it. Fresh local fruit and berries, in season and perfectly ripe, make such a difference.  Continue »



Recipes to Celebrate Caribana Weekend

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The long weekend is here and so is Caribana – both inspire me to get in the kitchen and try some new recipes. Caribbean cuisine is simple to execute and the flavours are so fresh and fiery. Now seems like a good time to celebrate Caribana, in your home kitchen! Continue »



Front-Yard Foodscaping: Where Every Garden is Cabbagetown

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Front-yard vegetable garden, a massive zucchini plant shows its ornamental value.

It used to be that vegetables took a backseat to ornamentals in the garden. Common wisdom held that vegetable gardens were “messy” and best situated away from public show, in the back yard. This is changing. Gardeners are rethinking where they grow their edibles. If your front yard is sunnier than your back yard, than that’s the best place for your edible garden, as most vegetables need around 6 hours of sun a day.
Some gardeners mix food plants in with their ornamentals, and some give over their entire front garden to edibles, as in the picture above, from Woodbine Avenue in Toronto.

Edible plants can look every bit as useful in the landscape as many shrubs and perennials: they have a beauty in their own right. The zucchini in the picture at top has a sculptural form, with its massive leaves, and makes a bold statement on this streetside front garden. It’s growing a ton of fruit too. The garden also has lettuce, rhubarb and squash.

In the past, front yard vegetable gardening gave us the name of a famous Toronto neighbourhood: Cabbagetown. I’d known about the Cabbagetown nickname arriving with the practice of immigrants growing cabbages in their front yards, but here’s a timely story from Lost Rivers.ca that fleshes out the tale a bit:How Cabbagetown may have gotten its name:

Eileen McBride, who tells us that she was born and grew up in Cabbagetown, where her grandfather told her this anecdote. “It seems that the mayor, running for re-election, was visiting the area with other dignitaries & newspapermen, when they stopped at one cottage and asked a woman there why did she have cabbages growing there. She told them that she also grew potatoes in the backyard, but the cabbages were prettier to look at in the front yard. The then mayor replied ‘what a lovely little town of cabbages.’ When the daily paper came out next day the headlines read ‘mayor visits Cabbagetown.’ The name stuck and represents all the immigrants that have lived there with their lovely heads of cabbage.” She added “I hope this tale is true, as it is more romantic and Irish to boot.”

For me, I think potato plants are pretty nice looking too, but one woman’s cabbage is another woman’s potato?

For those who want to experiment with front-yard foodscaping, there’s an excellent book called The Edible Front Yard by Ivette Soler and you can also check out this Pinterest board on edible front yards to get more inspiration and ideas.