Tag

food

Browsing

St. Patrick’s Day: How personal tradition defines the way we celebrate our holidays

 

By Sinead Mulhern

When St. Patrick’s Day rolled around each year while I was growing up in Alberta, my mom and I would get to work whipping up batches upon batches of clover-shaped cookies. In the middle of March, winter showed no signs of letting up in the Prairies and so it only seemed natural to stay inside, roll out the dough and fill the house with the agonizingly sweet smell of nearly-baked goods. In our prep, we’d throw into the bowl flour as powdery as the snow heaps outside and whirl it together with crystals of white sugar. While they baked, we mixed up the icing – green of course – ready to coat each little clover with a generous layer. Then, I’d proudly bring them to school to share with my classmates. Being  the Irish kid in the class, it was my special treat.

As traditions go, this possibly was simply an idea one year, before carrying on to the next and the next. Eventually, supplying my peers with these shamrock treats became part of my St. Patrick’s Day routine. Once, I even remember when Paddy’s Day eve rolled around and we had both forgotten so we woke up extra early and baked a double batch together in the indigo blue pre-dawn hours.

At school, I’d pass around the green snacks,  press play to an accordion tune and perform one of the jigs which I learned at dance practice in Edmonton’s Irish club. During those years, St. Patrick’s Day was the celebration of the country where both my parents were born and lived in until their mid-twenties. For me, it was green cookies and dancing and, of course, church and Irish brunch.

The latter would be standard for many Irish households living both in the stocking-shaped emerald isle or abroad – like us. The former though, are traditions we created ourselves. When the calendar turns to March 17, many in Canada will celebrate by clinking pints of Guinness or green-dyed beer. Packs of university students in North America will wear obnoxious amounts of green with probably at least one top hat and kiss-me-I’m-Irish sash in every group. In Ireland, some relatives of mine will take in mass and a breakfast of eggs and sausages after. Green sugar cookies will be few and far between, I know.

Though we religiously kept up our tradition for years, it eventually faded. I grew past the age where it would have been appropriate to pass around baked goods in class and we moved across the country,  well away from our Alberta kitchen with the snow piles out the window. While the sugary clover cutouts became a thing of the past, my mother’s and my love for working with food didn’t wane. Out were the cookies, in was the baked soda bread (a classic) or a piping hot pot of Irish stew (even more classic). Together, we busied our hands putting together recipes that were, this time, symbolic of the place where my mom grew up.

When I left home and moved to Toronto, I kept up our tradition of making food on this day even though we no longer lived in the same household. Just as I did when I was seven, I again made a point of sharing it with school friends. For a few years during this chapter in my life, I avoided the tacky party celebrations and instead whipped up a pot of Irish stew and a fresh loaf of bread for my best lady friend. Together, we drank beer well into the evening.

The food that I now make on this day is traditional, yes. But my tradition of working away in the kitchen on (or just before) March 17, and sharing with friends has nothing to do with Paddy’s Day really. That habit stems from the days I spent mixing sugar cookies with my mom. The food has changed over time, the activity has not. This is how I, a daughter of two Irish immigrant parents, choose to spend this day. It’s interesting, how the customs we make for ourselves somehow have the most importance. Our personalized celebrations often trump how holidays are typically celebrated by the masses.

This year, the tradition, for me, has changed yet again. For the first time, I won’t be in Canada for this Irish holiday. I now reside in Colombia – over 6,000 kilometres away from that Alberta home and 4,000 kilometres away from my mom. The traditions I’ve set for myself will continue to evolve as I celebrate this holiday and the ones to come. As we head into Paddy’s Day, my mom and I have already discussed our menus. She’ll make her St. Patrick’s Day stew on the weekend whereas I’ve made mine already. The difference: mine contained a cup not of Guinness, but a local beer: Club Colombia Negra.

Woman of the Week: Janet Zuccarini

Janet Zuccarini is the CEO and owner of Gusto 54, a global restaurant group that encompasses a number of Toronto’s top restaurants, including Trattoria Nervosa, Gusto 101, PAI Northern Thai Kitchen, and Gusto 54’s Catering and Commissary Kitchen, among many others. She describes her role in the company as “the visionary”, responsible for finding locations, managing real estate, determining the concept, and assembling teams for each restaurant.

Zuccarini has an intense passion for international cuisine, with a specialization in Italian foods. She is the first Canadian woman to become an AVPN-certified Pizzaiola and was featured as a resident judge in Top Chef Canada’s fifth and sixth season. While her responsibilities now are more business-related, she started in this industry because of her love of food — both cooking and eating it.

Zuccarini has received the RBC Woman of Influence Award in Entrepreneurship and the 2017 Pinnacle Award for Independent Restaurateur of the Year. One of her restaurants is currently under review for consideration as one of Canada’s 100 Best New Restaurants of 2018. Here is what she had to say to Women’s Post in an email conversation during her travels.

Question: You are from Toronto, but you moved away for schooling, why?

Answer: I have a passion for traveling, which began at age 19 when I traveled to Europe on a one-year trip. I spent a few months in Italy on that trip and decided at that time that I needed to find a way to stay in Italy and experience living in that culture, so I found an American University in Rome and completed my undergrad there. When my four years was up and I completed my degree, I felt strongly that I needed to spend more time there, so I searched for another post-grad opportunity. I then found an MBA program at Boston University, which had a campus for a few years in Rome, and stayed in the city for another four years.

Did you always want to be a restauranteur? 

It all started with my father, who loved Italian food and was an incredible cook. We ate very well at home; always whole foods cooked from scratch. Living in Italy for eight years and being a student, I had to learn to really stretch a dollar (or back then it was the Italian lira), so I began cooking for myself and my friends. During that time, my friends would suggest that I open up my own restaurant, but I never thought that would become a reality. After I finished all of my university work, I traveled back home to Toronto for a friend’s wedding and went to Yorkville to get my hair done at Salon Daniel. I was chatting with a stylist there who told me that the corner of Yorkville and Belair was under construction and was set to become an Italian restaurant. I was intrigued, so I walked over and introduced myself to the guys who were opening it. Shortly afterwards they asked me to be a partner and literally overnight I was in the restaurant business. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was marrying my two passions: business and food.

What was the first restaurant you opened? 

I opened Trattoria Nervosa (back then it was known as Cafe Nervosa) in 1996 with two partners, which very quickly turned into only one partner. During that period of transition, I had to thoroughly immerse myself in the business to learn its ins and outs. In the early days, I worked every position; six days a week, 17 hours a day. I learned every aspect of the business, which is incredibly important to creating procedures so that you can step away from being a “technician” and put yourself at the top of your company where you can more efficiently and effectively run it. After the four-year mark, I bought out my partner (thankfully, as it was a soul-destroying partnership) and that’s when my life took this extraordinary turn. The business was stable. I had learned every aspect of it. I successfully bought out a toxic partner, and I really started to run my business instead of letting it run me.

How did Gusto 54 come about?

Three years ago when we decided to consciously transition the company from owning three restaurants in Toronto to becoming a global restaurant group. Gusto 54 was created in honour of my father, who opened up the Sidewalk Caffè at the corner of Yonge and College Street in 1954, which at the time featured the very first espresso machine in Canada, as well as the first wood-burning pizza oven and heated patio. My father was a pioneer and I owe any entrepreneurial spirit that I possess to him.

Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen is your latest restaurant to open – how is it doing?

Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen opened to Toronto’s King West area in early December and we are busy, which is great considering that we opened our doors during that time of year.

What does it take to run a successful restaurant?

To be successful in the restaurant business you need to deliver on all fronts of the experience, including service, food, location, design and music. You also have to consider what exactly you aim to deliver with your restaurant, as every concept will have different requirements. A destination restaurant will not have the same formula as a restaurant that services a neighbourhood. The restaurant business is arguably the toughest business at which to succeed due in large part to the fact that the margins are so slim. To help mitigate this risk we analyze sales and our numbers every day. All in all, you need to possess a certain level of business acumen, as well as consistently keep your finger on the pulse to deliver what people are looking for in order to truly succeed in this business.

What is the biggest challenge?

This can be a challenging business where you need to keep a very close eye on food and labour costs and keep the operations very tight. Systems, procedures and technology become integral in operating a profitable business that consistently delivers against our mission. Consistency in both food and soulful hospitality can also be a challenge given the number of people we rely on every day to serve over 3,500 customers. This is where training becomes essential in ensuring everyone is set up for success.

How do you make sure the food served is following the newest trends – or even leading the trends?

My job as the visionary is to make sure that my finger is always on the pulse of what’s happening in the world as far as food and industry trends go. I have a passion for dining out and checking out all kinds of restaurants wherever I go in the world.

What advice would you give to a young female business professional with dreams of starting their own empire?

You can do anything if you have grit and don’t let anything stop you.

What’s next for you?

I feel like I’m just getting warmed up in the restaurant business. We’re opening Gusto 501 to Toronto’s Corktown area this year, we are looking to open in New York, and we’re currently working on rolling out two additional concepts.

What do you do to help women?

As a woman operating in a primarily male-dominated industry, supporting and helping to empower women is extremely important to me. Many of the key leadership positions within our company are held by women including chefs, GMs, and our President, Juanita Dickson. In addition to contributing to various local organizations such as Women in Capital Markets, Dr. Roz’s Healing Place, and Dress for Success, I always strive to make time to personally meet with women to provide mentorship or advice.

What do you do when you are not working?

I live in Los Angeles half of the year, so I love taking advantage of the weather there and doing a lot of activities like tennis, hiking and biking. I’m also super passionate about yoga and, whenever possible, I love checking out new restaurants and hosting friends and family at my house for dinner.

I’m currently reading “The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance” by Timothy Gallwey, as well as “Becoming Supernatural” by Joe Dispenza.

 

Enjoy these profiles? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and have them delivered directly to your inbox!

Toronto eatin’: leftover turkey soup

Let’s be honest — you can only eat leftover Christmas dinner for a few days before it makes you want to throw up. Even a good turkey sandwich only goes so far. Instead, why not put some turkey aside to make something different. A good turkey soup is perfect for lunches or dinners, and excellent on a cold winter day.

The recipe I’m going to share is for a chicken vegetable soup I make on a regular basis. Just swap our turkey for chicken and you are good to go!

Start by sautéing garlic and a chopped onion in a large pot. Add in chopped vegetables of your choice (carrots, mushrooms, celery). Stir for a few minutes. Add canned corn and green beans. Pour in two cups of chicken broth and some pepper and salt to taste. Since the turkey will already be cooked, add it in last. Shred it up before putting it in the soup.

If you want to make it more of a Minestrone soup, you can add a can of tomatoes. Boil for 15-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked.

In a separate pot, cook a cup of rice. When you are ready to serve the soup, warm it up with a few spoonfuls of rice. By cooking the rice separately, you avoid the starchiness of the liquid. You can substitute rice with potatoes or macaroni noodles, but the cooking process should still be the same.

Toronto drinkin’: signature holiday cocktails

I went to a holiday party the other weekend and the hosts served a signature cocktail.

A signature cocktail adds a lot of class to a get together, especially when that party is BYOB. It’s a nice touch that shows the host was thinking about their guests. It adds class to a simple party. These signature cocktails are also fun to make and will fill you with pride when friends and family ask for seconds. Here are some simple, easy cocktails you can make for your holiday parties this weekend:

Mulled Wine: Why serve plain old wine when you could serve a holiday delicacy like mulled wine. The beverage warms the soul from the inside out! It’s ten times better than regular sangria. Combine one bottle of red wine, 1/4 cup of brandy, 1/4 cup of honey, one orange, two stars of anise, eight cloves and two cinnamon sticks.

Juniper Champaign: Champaign is nice, but it can sometimes have a bit of a funny aftertaste. Juniper syrup is a lovely addition to any cocktail. Simply mix together juniper berries, orange zest, cardamom, and half a cup of water and half a cup of sugar. Boil and let cool. Add a squirt of juniper syrup and a fresh pine sprig for a festive, celebratory beverage.

Cranberry Mule: This twist on a classic is perfect for afternoon cocktail. Combine equal parts cranberry juice and vodka. Add ginger beer, lime juice, and some cranberries to garnish. This drink is sweet, but packs a punch.

Orange gin martini: Not every drink has to have cranberry. Try adding some one and a half ounces of blood orange juice, half an ounce of Campari, a dash of vermouth, and one and a half ounces of gin. Mis together in a cocktail shaker with some ice and pour in a martini glass with a sugared rim.

Coconut warmer: Sure, you can serve the typical hot chocolate or eggnog, but why not create a new concoction? Mix an even amount of coconut and whole milk together with two to three teaspoons of hot chocolate powder (or homemade chocolate syrup). Heat up and stir in one and a half ounces of rum. Top with coconut whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

What are your favourite signature cocktails? Let us know in the comments below! 

Toronto eatin’: easy cauliflower ‘fried rice’

If you feel like you’ve been eating badly this holiday season and you want to ‘lighten up’ your dinner menu, there are many great alternatives to dishes that contain rice. In some homes, rice is a staple and in others it is avoided at all costs. Cauliflower fried rice will make you feel less guilty, but still fill you up. Personally, mashed cauliflower or cauliflower mac and cheese is a favourite of mine to make every time I want to switch it up and reduce my carb intake. Cauliflower fried rice will be another one to add to the list.

Ingredients:

  • One large cauliflower head
  • 2 large eggs
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 3 cloves of garlic- minced
  • 1 tsp fresh hopped ginger
  • 5 table spoons soya sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots ( or broccoli mix)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 1tsp salt (or more if needed)

Directions:

  1. You can choose to grate your cauliflower or just place in a food processor to make your ‘rice’
  2. Add vegetable oil to a hot skillet and lightly scramble your eggs with a dash of salt. Remove eggs and set aside
  3. Add more oil to fry the scallions, garlic, ginger and onion, stir until softened- not brown
  4. Add the cauliflower along with some salt and the soya sauce
  5.  Stir constantly and cook until tender
  6. Add the eggs, sesame oil and sugar
  7. Taste to add more seasoning if necessary

It’s that quick and easy to have delicious guilty-free fried rice at home. you can use this dish as a side or even add cooked chicken strips.

Will you try this recipe at home? Comment below

 

5 hair trends you need to leave behind in 2017

We’ve talked about beauty, fashion, and food that have all become a hot mess in 2017. This week we are going to close off the trends series by talking about some wacky hairstyles I’ve seen this year. Here are five hair trends you need to leave behind in 2017:

Unicorn Hair

This one should not come as a surprise! We are living in a culture that seemingly obsessed with a mythical and magical creature. Unicorn hair, or hair in layered pastel colours, is not uncommon to find, especially during the summer of 2017. There were lots of millennial pink heads out there in addition to the rainbow hair styles.

Silver Hair

At one point silver hair on a younger person became all the rage and it’s still present in 2017. Maybe in 2018, we should try not chemically stripping our hair for the sake of fashion and embracing our natural hair. Colourful styles can we fun, but by all means get highlights and stop layering in bleach and dye.

Chunky Highlights

Speaking of highlights, back in October of this year, a hairstylist from New Jersey posted a few pictures of her clients wearing this 90’s trend in 2017. It was well liked and many started to consider bringing back chunky look. Think Kelly Clarkson peak 2003 the Thankful album cover. While we have seen some embarrassing styles in the 90’s (I’m not afraid to admit I was once a lover of chunky highlights too), I think people should return to the preferable the thin, blended or ombre effect for 2018.

Half Shaved Head

It’s the classic ‘badass’ look. Having one side of your head buzzed and the other with a flip of luxurious hair. This look has been popularized in the pop music industry by people like Cassie and Rihanna. It also made its way to Hollywood. However, shaving half or even a bit of your head is a big commitment. If you really want this style you have to stick to it and maintain it, or deal with having uneven hair for a very long time afterwards if the look doesn’t please you.

Excessively Long Extensions

Long hair can be a lot of work, but it sure looks great.  However, if you’re a lover of wearing hair extensions, the excessively overdone look can be bit much. Celebrities like Kim and Kylie Kardashian have been known to switch up their looks ever so often using this trick, but half the time they are using some really good quality wigs. Earlier this year, Kim was known to switch up her looks from blonde to short to extreme 32 inch extensions. It was her “Cher’-inspired beauty look. This Rapunzel type look has been a favourite of celebrities to express drama and luxury — but that doesn’t mean it works for the regular everyday person.

Here is hoping you can leave all the excess baggage and negativity in your life behind for 2017 and focus on better things to come for the New Year!

Leave a comment below!

5 low-carb Christmas recipe ideas

Christmas foods may offer temptation and delight, but if you’re interested in a more low-carb Christmas, maybe for personal of health reasons, Women’s Post has got you covered. Here are five low carb christmas recipe ideas to enjoy over the holidays.

Parmesan Spinach Bake

If you’re thinking about replacing the side order of mac and cheese at the dinner table, this creamy parmesan spinach bake will leave you wanting more. It simply a combination of spinach, cream cheese, and parmesan

Thyme and Honey Roasted Carrots

This can be such an elegant dish once prepared the right way, You can choose to keep the carrots whole or cut them lengthwise while baking and sprinkle with thyme and honey.

Studded Peppers with Bacon and Blue Cheese

It doesn’t get more delicious than mixing blue cheese with bacon. These stuffed peppers can be cut in quarters to offer up as an appetizer.

Baked Cajun Shrimp with Lemon

The perfect combination of spices and zing will make your shrimp burst with juicy flavour as you slowly let it bake in a bed of lemon cajun juice. Talk about adding some heat to your holidays.

Low Carb Coconut Chocolate Mousse

This easy to make chocolate treat will be the perfect finish to your holiday meals. It’s also dairy free and egg free. Simply combine coconut cream, cocoa powder and chocolate to whip up the most creamy and chocolatey dessert.

What will you be making for Christmas dinner? Let us know in the comments below!

5 last minute, impressive D-I-Y holiday gifts

I love gifts that have thought behind it, like personal touches, For instance, last Christmas my niece gifted me a homemade brown sugar and lemon hand scrub, which smelled just as delicious as it sounds. This holiday season, it’s all about that age old saying: ‘it’s the thought that counts’. With the right amount of ingredients, you can craft Christmas presents that will leave others impressed, without spending a ton of money. Here are five do-it-yourself holiday crafts you can git to your loved ones (or even to yourself)!

Hot Chocolate Mix

It’s rather fun to put together deconstructed kits. There is nothing better than some homemade hot-chocolate on a chilly winter night. All you would need is some mason jars, ribbon,  hot cocoa mix, mini marshmallows, crushed candy-cane for topping, and any additional ingredients you choose. There are so many variations: try creating melted snowman hot chocolate by using white chocolate and decorated marshmallows or add a small bottle of Baileys to your chocolate kit for an adult-friendly beverage option.

Sugar Scrub

The options are almost endless when it comes to choosing the ingredients for your sugar scrub. Sugar scrubs are easy to make and make easy and thoughtful gifts. For instance, if your sister loves lavender, consider adding lavender oil to the mix. With a base of brown sugar and coconut oil, adding additional ingredients will be easy.

 Hydrating Face Mists

There is nothing like a little burst of a facial mist to brighten your day. These face mists are easy and portable, and will keep you going on those long days. Depending on the skin type you want to target, you can try a green tea hydrating mist for dry or sensitive skin. Combine water with green tea bags and rosewater, and put it in a spray bottle. The best thing is that these mists can also double as natural toners.

Cookie Mix

Back to the idea of putting together deconstructed ingredients, why not put together your own little d-i-y baking kits for your loved ones or friends. Measure out the appropriate ingredients for your favourite cooke mix and layer in a mason jar or bundle a collection of tubes. Feel free to write out your own recipe card to include with the gifts for an even more personalized touch. The same can work for cakes and other pastries.

Bath Bombs

D-I-Y bath bombs are fun and easy to make. Using a base of baking soda, epsom salts, and citric acid, you can combine different essential body oils and essences to come up with the perfect scents. You can also add colour, glitter, and even petals to your homemade bath treats.

Are you putting together some DIY holiday gifts? Let us know what you made in the comments below!

Recipe: holiday-themed maple creme brûlée

As Christmas is slowly sneaking up, it’s time to start thinking about your holiday menu. Or maybe you need some ideas for when you will be entertaining guests? Maple creme brûlée is a perfect example of a French-Canadian inspired dessert for the holiday season. It’s simple, creamy, delicious — and a little more impressive than the typical sugar cookie.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream ( or whipping cream )
  • 1/2 cup Canadian Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp maple sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp Demerara sugar ( for topping )

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, scald the cream until small bubbles start to form. Then remove from heat.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla extract, maple sugar and maple syrup. Blend well.
  4. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot cream and stir until smooth and of a uniform colour.
  5. Fill your baking dish or individual ramekins with the custard mixture, but only halfway.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes.
  7. Once done, leave the custards to cool for about 40 minutes or refrigerate for 2 hours.

To Brûlée:

  • Preheat the broiler, or prepare your brûlée torch.
  • Place the custard dish on a baking sheet and evenly sprinkle the Demerara sugar on top of the custard.
  • Once sugar is even this means caramelization will be equal and ensure a crunchy top layer all around.
  • Broil /torch until light brown.

Hope you will enjoy cracking into this delicious treat. Let us know in the comments.

5 fashion trends you need to leave behind in 2017

If you have been following with the trends to leave behind in 2017, you would have read my list of five food trends and five beauty trends that should be tossed in the garbage before you ring in the new year. This week, after a well-tested Instagram poll, I am tackling fashion. Sometimes, fashion trends stick around for way too long, and these five items are no exception!

Fluffy footwear

A little bit of faux fur on your feet —no problem. In fact, there was some cute Steve Madden pumps with a bit of  fur trim that was quite popular this year. I am talking about the extremely obnoxious full fur slippers that have been spotted on celebrities around Hollywood. The ones that look like bedroom slippers, but are worn in public for some reason. I get they are comfortable, but some things just need to be left at home (or behind) in 2017.

Bucket hats

After being a popular hit in the 90’s, these hats made a brief come back in 2017. I’ve seen Kanye West, Justin Beiber, Chris Brown, Pharrell, and even Rihanna wearing these hats. Maybe it’s my personal preference, but I just don’t find the bucket hat quite appealing. Maybe it comes in handy for a fishing trip though.

Off the shoulder/shoulder robing jackets

I’ve seen this look a lot in 2017, the “effortless throw off your bomber or oversized jean jacket and let it hang off your shoulders” trend. It has slightly replaced shoulder robing. It’s just that suggestive approach of showing off the right amount of shoulder. Popular on celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, this caught on fast. The jacket is never fully on, it’s just hanging there…

Coachella-inspired fashion

Have you even noticed, especially around the start of summer, the common look in stores, year after year is the kind of boho-chic festival style. It’s that carefree, wild child with a flower crown, in a distressed tank top and short shorts kind of look. We have seen her —we have been her, but it’s time to retire this Coachella look every single summer. Unless you’re actually going to Coachella then thats fine … I guess.

Over the top nail art

I love getting my nails done or doing it myself, but when I explore some of the nail design pages on Instagram, I am shocked that many people still get their nails done with over the top and elaborate designs like studs and flowers. I understand wanting to show off your creativity, but this can be a bit much. Did anyone see the fidget spinner nails? Yes, those happened.

What else should we leave behind when it comes to fashion trends. Comment below!