By: Marie Lynn Birks

Let’s face it this city loves food! Any one who has ever had a “gourmet mac n’ cheese” or a jacked up version of a meatloaf now considers them self a “foodie” and refuses to eat the food we grew up on unless it has been fried in duck confit fat or has been marinated in this week’s most popular craft beer. Torontonians are spoiled with the huge number of original and daring restaurants we get to chose from for our Saturday night out. Most of us will sit around with our limited knowledge of cooking and food and debate about which new hot spot has the better menu, or better selection or who’s more original.

Well our uneducated debate can come to a close! Last month local chef’s Joe Friday and Devan Rajkumar started the new food event “Toronto’s Underground Chef Cartel”. Capitalizing off the hugely popular food network the event consists of two local chef’s who will square off against each other to compete for the most original and well prepared dishes show casing a specific ingredient they are given just seconds before the battle. The food is judged by a cut throat panel of chefs, food bloggers, restaurant owners and the general audience.

Admission is very reasonable at $25 a ticket, which allows you into the show a drink ticket and some appetizers. The entire night is filmed and features a local DJ for additional entertainment. Check out the latest battle!

So what do you think foodies? Are we ready to take our passion for food to a place that no longer includes actually eating the food? Do you want to watch your favourite local chef’s battle it out in an gritty no holds bar competition for bragging rights?

I know I do!


Turkey Day is almost here. We all like to indulge a little bit on Thanksgiving but if you are looking for something on the lighter side this Quinoa recipe from The Foodnetwork is a great take on classic Thanksgiving recipe.


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Directions


  • Place the quinoa in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until toasted, about 2 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups water (or use low-sodium chicken broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, about 2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the olive oil and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer the garlic to the plate, reserving the oil.
  • Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Add the pine nuts, garlic, reserved oil, parsley, raisins and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss.



This recipe from Women’s Running is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without packing in too many calories. Fruit, nuts and protein-rich quinoa team up to create a supercharged dessert!

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple, cubed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. honey, divided
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1-inch piece ginger, finely minced
  • 1 (14 oz.) can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 4 hours
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 tsp. nutmeg

Place quinoa, 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered until quinoa is tender and water has absorbed (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool. Fluff quinoa with a fork, place in a large mixing bowl and toss with blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, nuts and mint. In a small saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. honey, lime zest, lime juice and ginger over low heat until honey has liquefied. Pour honey mixture over quinoa mixture and toss to coat. Open the refrigerated can of coconut milk without shaking it, and scoop the thick cream that has risen to the top into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the cornstarch until it has a whipped consistency. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, and beat in the remaining honey, vanilla and nutmeg. To serve, place quinoa fruit salad in serving bowls and top with cream.

Nothing says summer like sweet heirloom tomatoes and corn. Make the perfect summer salad by adding some salty bacon and hearty blue cheese. Fresh and light this meal will be the hit of your party. Recipe from In Sock Monkey Slippers


Heirloom Tomato and Bacon Summer Salad serves 4 to 6

  • 5 to 6 medium heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (1 ear of corn)
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles, optional
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped or chiffonade

Basil grows best when it is HOT HOT HOT and this summer has been nothing short of HOT. If your herb garden is anything like mine then you are probably fearing that the Little Shop of Horrors has taken over your backyard and everything is growing out of control! Fresh basil is everywhere but what to do with it?



Pesto goes  way beyond the pasta bowl. You can spread it on sandwiches, marinate meats, dress cold grains and so much more. Use it fresh or store it for dreary winter months. Here is one of our favorite pesto recipes from the Food Network


2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese


Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Caprese Salad:

Here is a great caparase salad recipe from Eating Well


  • 2 medium red tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 medium yellow tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Gently toss tomatoes, mozzarella, parsley, basil and salt together in a large bowl. Season with pepper.

Basil and Strawberry Sorbet

It is so hot out there that it’s time to harvest some of your fresh basil and cool down with this great sorbet recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.Ingredients:

1 lb. fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


1. In a mediium bowl, toss teh strawberries with the sugar. Stir until all of the strawberries are well-coated. Cover and let stand for 1 hour, stirring every so often.2. Puree the strawberries and their liquid with the basil and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until smooth.3. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Spring is here so it’s time to take advantage of all the healthy vegetables that are locally available! This recipe from Healthy Living is an easy way to capitalize on the freshness of the season.

Warm Snow Pea & Chicken Salad Recipe



  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tahini, or cashew butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed and thinly slivered lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cashews


  1. Place chicken in a medium skillet or saucepan and add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size pieces. (Cool and refrigerate the broth, reserving it for another use.)
  2. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil and tahini (or cashew butter) in a large bowl until smooth.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in slivered peas and cook, stirring, until bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the dressing.
  4. Add the chicken to the bowl with the peas; toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with cashews.

A German company, Deli Garage, had developed the worlds first edible spray paint. The spray can makes refining your culinary creations extremely easy. Just off with the lid and on with the spray.

The paint, called Food Finish, currently comes in silver, gold, blue and red. It has not taste at all. Can you imagine all the fun dinner parties you can have?

It’s the final push of winter and mother nature is not letting us forget that. Keep toasty until spring with this delicious Cajun Stew recipe from Martha Stewart


  • 3/4 pound andouille or kielbasa, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 red onion, sliced into wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups frozen cut okra (from an 8-ounce package), thawed


  1. In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker, place sausage, onion, garlic, celery, and bell pepper. Sprinkle with flour and toss to coat. Add tomatoes and their liquid, 1/2 cup water, and cayenne; season with salt. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, 3 1/2 hours on high (or 7 hours on low). Add shrimp and okra, cover, and cook until shrimp are opaque throughout, 30 minutes (or 1 hour on low).

Apple picking season is upon us. This means delicious fresh apples straight from the farm. I love apple desserts so I get really excited when apple season rolls around. Here is one of my fav apple pie recipes from Country Home

Click here to find an apple orchard in your area.

Best Ever Apple Pie


1 recipe Pastry for Double-Crust Pie*
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple sugar or packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 lb. tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (8 cups)
2 Tbsp. butter, cut up
1/4 cup whipping cream
1–2 tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. raw sugar

1. Prepare pastry. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 pastry ball to a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine granulated sugar, maple sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Add apples; toss to coat. Transfer to pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter and pour whipping cream over filling. Trim edge of crust even with edge of pie plate.

3. On the lightly floured surface, roll out remaining pastry to a 12-inch circle. Cut an “x” or a design in the center of the pastry. Place pastry over filling in pie plate. Seal and crimp edges. Cut small slits in top of crust, if desired. Brush with milk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Place pie on a foil-lined baking sheet. To prevent overbrowning, cover pie edges with foil.

4. Bake in a 375° oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil from edges. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more or until fruit is tender and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 8 servings.

*Pastry for Double-Crust Pie: Place steel blade in food processor. Add 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 cup butter, cut up; 2 teaspoons granulated sugar; and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover; process with on/off turns until most of mixture resembles cornmeal but a few larger pieces remain. With processor running, quickly add 1/3 cup cold water through feed tube. Stop processor when all water is added; scrape sides. Process with 2 on/off turns. Remove from bowl; shape into a ball. Divide in half. If needed, wrap and chill until easy to handle. (Or, in a large bowl stir together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in 1 cup butter until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold water over part of the flour mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon water at a time, using a total of 5 to 6 tablespoons water, until all the flour mixture is moistened. Shape into a ball.)