torta di risotto bambini

torta di risotto bambini

for years i have been moulding risotto into various shapes, and serving slices of the resulting torta on buffets and summer party tables. i love to eat and serve risotto, and this allows us to enjoy it in a completely different, make-ahead kind of way.

these little rice babies are so adorable and perfect for a dinner party and especially for your vegetarian guests. if you know you’re having vegetarians over for dinner, make risotto a few nights before and do up some individuals. you can reheat them in just 20 minutes and serve a special dinner without any fuss.

feel free to experiment with vegetables too. rounds of roasted yellow and green courgettes or a fat slab of grilled eggplant would be divine in the bottom of the mould. and your risotto can change with the seasons as well.

torta di risotto bambini

torta di risotto bambini

1 pint little tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
6 cups water or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
2 cups grated parmegiano reggiano
aged balsamic vinegar
white truffle oil

preheat oven to 450f. toss the little tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. roast on a parchment lined tray for 15-20 minutes, or until starting to colour and shrivel. set aside.

heat the water or stock to simmering. in a large pan, heat the 1/2 cup olive oil with half of the butter over medium heat. add the onion and garlic and cook stirring for 4 minutes. increase heat to high and add the mushrooms and some salt and pepper, stirring and cooking until mushrooms have released their water and have begun to colour, about 6 minutes. add the rice and stir to coat with the oil and butter. after drinking half the wine, re-measure, and pour it in the pan (you know you do this!) bring to a boil and stir until the liquid is almost gone. start adding hot water or stock to the pan, a couple of ladle-fuls at a time, stirring and cooking in typical risotto-making fashion. i taste throughout the process and stop adding water when the ice has some bite, and the rice is still rather soupy. it will thicken and cook further as it stands. add the cheese and remaining 2 tbsp. of butter. add a few drizzles of balsamic and some truffle oil. stir a few more times and then allow it to cool until the risotto has become less saucy and firmer. taste again and season as needed adding salt, pepper, or more truffle oil or balsamic or cheese.

line 6-8 single-serve vessels with plastic wrap and leave an overhang. i use ramekins, or stoneware timbale molds, or indian dahl bowls, whatever i have on hand. arrange the little tomatoes in the bottom, then spoon over the rice, right to the top. fold over the plastic, then chill until firm. overnight is best.

when ready to serve, preheat oven to 400f and line a baking pan with parchment. turn out the tortas and remove the plastic wrap. bake for 20 minutes, or until the little bambinis are hot and the bottom are sizzling and turning golden brown. serve hot with a nice salad, or some tomato sauce on the side.

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good stuff #6: finds from the road to key west

Avocado Toast at the Collins Quarter

happy sunday friends!

returned from vacation and happy to back at ebta. guelph –> nyc –> key west –> savannah was such a wonderful break. we met some lovely people and for some reason, a disproportionate number of lovely dogs!

the combination of 33 degree celsius weather and a bunch of margueritas got me all philosophical. when i travel i do so as frugally as possible, driving, bringing food for the road, and staying with friends. but i’m really grateful for these little getaways, and for my lot in life in general.

working with food you realize that, like moments in a southern getaway, by its very nature its pleasure is fleeting. once it’s made and consumed, it’s gone, and never to be seen again. documenting it on a blog doesn’t count! remembering all the food i’ve had the pleasure to enjoy, i wonder if i have the right to things that are so good, so good for me, filled with warm colours and spice and soul. my wish for today is that everyone, everywhere, gets to taste even a fraction of the bounty i enjoy daily.

a few discoveries from the road

  1. the wednesday market a the pier in st. augustine, florida. i’ve been to the saturday market at the ampitheatre but this one was a surprise we found after a cat-nap on the beach. after driving all night we used the outdoor shower at the beach and wandered down to find fresh strawberries, bluegrass musicians, and the best shrimp and grits for breakfast. i’m a bad blogger for not getting the name of the chef at this booth but i will!

  2. kitchens on the square in savannah, georgia. the cutest little kitchen boutique ever. hard-to-find and vintage kitchen stuff, all in beautiful colours and quirky patterns. picked up some great props and the prettiest tablecloth ever.

  3. speaking of savannah, we had breakfast outside at the collins quarter and it was perfect. breaking news: avocado toast is not dead. again with the shrimp and grits for my special brit friend, but when you’re in the south it’s what you do. awesome food and service all around.

  4. fishs eddy in NYC. i’ve browsed this shop online but for all my time in NYC i’d never been until now. purveyors of every fantastic dish, glass, and platter you can imagine. stocked to the gills with new and old, including old hotel and food service dishes. cutlery from an old prison, anyone?

  5. key west. if you’ve never done the one-lane drive over the ocean from the top of the keys to the bottom, do it! i was driving, so no photos, but at the end of the year we’re heading back and sailing to cuba and the camera is coming. this is where the car’s thermostat hit 33c in march. oh yes.

  6. the paris market in savannah. there’s a cafe, but then attached to it is a collection of new and old, french-inspired bric-a-brac, jewelry, soaps, french market bags, silk shawls, and treasures from the sea. one section sells loops of silk velvet ribbons for $2.75 a yard and bags of vintage costume jewelry for $7.00. my brit friend scored a sweet pair of mis-matched enamel-inlay cufflinks for a few bucks. so much more online too.

  7. and finally, the housing works in NYC. this organization champions for those affected by hiv/aids and homelessness through its many programs and services, including the operation of 13 upscale thrift shops across the city. i love to get behind social justice champions, and they truly have really great stuff. a woman i was chatting with picked up two french country chairs upholstered in pink for $20, and  a few pieces of mismatched rose-patterned noritake china are going to be making some appearances under some of my food very soon.

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good stuff #5: thriftlove

Palais Royale plate with kumquats

happy lovely sunday to you.

today’s edition of good stuff is dedicated to thrifting, the art of spotting and repurposing those discarded gems. i’m never short of amazement at what i come across in thrift and charity shops. finding beauty in the everyday is a big theme here at ebta, and it’s especially fun to plan posts and photos around items i’ve sourced for next to nothing. it gives me an excuse to slowly browse the aisles of mish-mash and see what reveals itself to me.

always the robust thrifter, a large part of my personal style comes from combining objects from various sources and price points.  sometimes i’m looking for a specific piece, but more often i spot something that just speaks my language, and when it get it home, it fits. sometimes it turns out that i’ve stumbled upon something valuable, but the value for me is how much i love it. 

something really interesting about thrifting: when objects are placed out of the context of a professionally styled environment, it allows you to see their potential in a way that is not curated by someone else, and i like that!

most of what you see in my food photos are props i’ve sourced when thrifting, and in the random shots of my ever-evolving space. here’s a quick smattering…

xx

  1. gourmates chrome tray with bakelite handles ($1.99). i love the post-war modernity of this little tray, and i can see it being very versatile for serving. it was made in montreal and still has the original label on the bottom.

  2. macrame plant holder ($3.99). macrame is indeed a thing again. i love plants, and in my light-challenged house this will make better use of my one sunny window. i also love the fact that someone made this, probably in the 70’s, and it’s getting new life.

  3. old pastry blender (.99 cents). a purely practical purchase, since i do a lot of small pastry jobs in my food processor, which recently caught fire. oh, the gripping excitement of food blogging! this is in mint condition with a smooth wooden handle, perfect tines, and a really comfortable thumb-grip. i’ve used it a few times, and i’d forgotten what it was like to blend butter into flour by hand.

  4. vintage florist vases used as salt cellars. (50 cents/$1.00 each). the shape of these grabbed me, so i flipped one over and it had a “ftd” label on it. back in the day, when you had a floral arrangement delivered, it came in a really beautiful container. these are heavy, and a lovely opaque white. a good wash and dry and they make the perfect salt cellar.

  5. tea jar with bird lid ($2.99). this is a piece of cheap japanese export porcelain from the middle of the last century. the thing is, a lot of mid-century japanese porcelain wouldn’t be called “cheap” by today’s dollar-store standards. they often have beautiful coloration and fine detail, like the bamboo branches and little birds on this footed jar, perfect for tea or little cookies.

  6. curvy white plate (.99 cents). worthless, but not to me, because i love this little plate for its oblong shape and curvy border.

  7. johnson bros. ningpo china ($9.99 for 25 pieces).  it’s not often you see china in these colours of clear grass-green, yellow, and orange, some of my favourite colours. so i grabbed the lot of cups and saucers, plates, and bowls for ten bucks, and now i use them almost every day. a quick search of the pattern at replacements.com revealed what i have to be worth several hundred dollars. score!

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good stuff #4: kitchen goodies

a bunch of aqua

kitchen goodies

as you can imagine, my kitchen is my kingdom. i spend a lot of time there, so it needs to be functional.

i’m a bit nutty for kitchen equipment. when i’m in a groove and the absolute perfect tool is at my disposal, there is no better feeling than having a well-made object that’s right for the job. many people who tell me they hate cooking are working with old junk they haven’t replaced in years, or using tools that they think will make life easier, but actually don’t. like a garlic press.

the kitchen also happens to be the hub of the house. everyone winds up there. so warm, comfortable, and good-looking is also a priority. it needs to have beauty and brains.

this week, a peek into my aga-less, but happy kitchen. and a few cool gadgets that have recently crossed my path.

happy sunday and happy week.

xx

  1. this mushroom brush. mushrooms are little sponges and shouldn’t be washed. i love the shape and gentle bristles of this iris hantverk brush for nice clean mushrooms. for when i make things like this. i bought it online from quitokeeto.

  2. tiny bundt pan. the other day i came upon this little 9″ pan from guardini of italy. it’s perfect for making dainty cakes and the non-stick surface worked really well on a sticky cake i baked up. the orange enamel is a total bonus.

  3. this art. this bare wall was asking for something big and dramatic. art in the kitchen, why not? i found this beautiful limited edition block print by bobby rosenstock of just a jar design press at the toronto outdoor art exhibit, framed it up and put it above the stove. (a stove which, as you can see, is clearly not an AGA.)

  4. this scoop. chefs use them for portion control, i use them for sanity control. trying to coax muffin batter from bowl to muffin tin with a spoon is not fun. for cookies, muffin batter, and veggie burgers, these make perfect portions and life a lot easier. the handles are colour-coded so you always grab the right size.

  5. this awesome little knife by k sabatier. i needed a razor-sharp little knife for fiddly jobs, and this one, with its lovely olive-wood handle, is perfect.

  6. this collection of aqua stuff. lately i’m loving anything aqua. it works really well in my light orange kitchen and is reminiscent of a tropical sea.  when a good friend of mine moved to hawaii, she gifted me the le creuset large roaster (yeah, she’s that kind of friend). ikea raskog cart. vase and casserole dish from homesense)

  7. this paint colour, “orangery”, farrow and ball. one day i just decided to paint my kitchen this creamy orange colour, and i never looked back. it’s amazingly versatile and is dreamy in dimmed light in the evening. although i suspect this colour has been archived, as it’s no longer available to view on the website.

  8. this upcycled island. this was an old buffet/hutch combo that my special brit friend keenly spied at our favourite junk shop. i think it’s from the 40’s. we removed the shelves, painted it out in this platinum shade of melamine paint. i found the marble top as a scrap at the stone yard and shamelessly asked for some man-muscle to get it home. all in, it cost under $200, and i have a perfect place to roll pastry, store extra bowls and linens, and shoot my food photos. score. the toleware chandelier was also a score, $40 at a junk store. i put it on a dimmer to make an inviting spot for drinks and snacks in the evenings.

  9. these containers for utensils. old garden urns and ice buckets make interesting and quirky catch-alls for all those cooking tools. one is never enough. luckily they are easily found in thrift shops.

*please note, i do not work for and am not paid by any of the above companies. this is my unbiased sharing of things i like. thanks!

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absolutely essential kitchen trends

happy thursday lovelies…

this blog is a bit of new enterprise for me, and it’s still somewhat under construction. because what the world needs now is another long-form lifestyle blog, i’ve been cooking like a madwoman, photographing, and amassing posts.  but i couldn’t resist firing off a quick one today,  because it’s trends time folks. i’ve been absorbing what’s happening in the world and what the kids are into these days.

i dig my place and enjoy reading and getting inspiration from design blogs, like this one, which touched on the top kitchen trends for 2015.  bring on those industrial elements, layered lighting, and bold colour!

so in the spirit of a good ol’ top 10 list, i thought i’d helpfully provide:

kitchen trends for 2015 you absolutely must embrace

cracking the stove. it’s that big-ish square thing in the corner that radiates some kind of heat from electricity or gas. you can use the top or throw something inside. it turns raw food into meals, and it’s pretty awesome.

cutting food with knives. knives are for turning food into ingredients. they should be sharp, so cooking is actually enjoyable and you’re not hacking away and cursing how much you hate cooking while trying to cut carrots with the equivalent of a blunt stick. using a dull knife is more dangerous than using a sharp one. you have to press harder and risk it slipping from the food and onto your hand. and the cut you receive will be much worse that the clean nick you would get from a sharp knife. fearing a sharp knife because it might cut you and making do with crappy dull blades is a lot like not changing a light bulb because you might accidentally put your finger in the socket, so you live in the dark and trip over things. see what i did there? fear not the light bulb, or the knife. and for heaven’s sake, get a steel and use it every time.

recipes. look at your background. have you learned to read? put windshield washer fluid in your car? passed your driving test? assembled an ikea billy bookshelf?  congratulations.  you have the skills to prepare a recipe. there are recipes everywhere. if you’re not careful you’ll trip over them. they are in magazines about cooking, and magazines not about cooking. they are on the web and in newspapers and on those little tear-off sheets at the store. also this

planning a meal. kitchens are made for this type of activity. see stove, knives, and recipe, above. if you can figure out that you need shoes to go with an outfit, or keep track of the web of lies on house of cards, you can read a recipe, buy what you need, and make it. if you don’t know a cooking term or need help with a technique, this, and this.

cooking stuff. seems obvious, right? you’d be amazed how many kitchens exist to show off their reclaimed parisian bistro marble countertops and copper exhaust hoods. if they had eyes, those fancy all-clad pots and le creuset dutch ovens would be sadly staring up at you and weeping “use me!” while the hidden recycling drawer lined with organically grown bamboo overflows with two-weeks’ worth of plastic bento boxes. people who cook for a living would die…no…give up their favourite child… for your sub-zero fridge and your aga. hell, have you read my reasons for writing this blog? if you have the means to trick out your kitchen, for god’s sake don’t insult everyone who slaves in kitchens making minimum wage by not using your fancy stuff.

using your fridge, and all its compartments. its the taller thing, bigger than the stove. open it. what do you see? if it’s 1 or 2 six-packs and a bottle of ketchup from y2k, read on. this state-of-the-art device is made for storing your ingredients. the vegetable drawers keep your veggies fresh, your cheese drawer keeps your cheeses at the right humidity. that really, really cold bit is the freezer, and you can use it to freeze pizza dough or edamame or anything else that will make cooking easier and more efficient. if you find you’re throwing away what you buy, buy less, or better yet, use your fridge and a few tips to store your food properly.

cooking together. when you have a party, people congregate in the kitchen. why? it’s where we all have something in common: food, and drink. so when you’re not having a party, put down that game of candy crush and hand your child a knife. (that’s right, the sharp one), and get cooking together. if you’ve already discounted any of the previous hot kitchen trends, at least do this one. by the way, your spouse/life partner/current squeeze wants to be with you, and so do your kids. the kitchen is an awesome place to connect and bond, and feed each other yummy things. and talk about what to make next. you’ll be giving and learning life lessons, promoting togetherness, and leaning some new skills together to boot. nice huh?

maintaining your equipment. baking cookies are great, but not on a old rusty baking sheet. you may have a spatula somewhere with a loose screw, and what about those horrible dull knives? buying a few good pieces, and keeping them in good shape is hot hot hot! some of the best maintenance is using your equipment. like a car that sits in your driveway, that food processor is begging you to turn it on and work out the kinks. besides, you can use it to make this

eating together. the kitchen is a good a place as any. it’s closest to the food. many kitchen have tables, chairs, plates, and cutlery.  sitting down and savouring a meal means you’re freed forever from holding your cup-o-noodles in one hand while the other swipes a trackpad to take the latest buzzfeed quiz.  you can bring the food from the stove, walk it over, and share it with other humans in your tribe. you may have even cooked it together. talk about what you like, what you don’t, your day, whatever. and despite what Slate says, i prefer what Joel Salatin says. imagine my best virginian accent: “the meal is not dead!”

displaying your pretty stuff. i should have said at the get-go, “in no particular order”, but let’s not discount the power of the visual. when your kitchen is pretty, you’ll use it more. you may also eat more, but let’s not go there (for more on that, read this). also, your pantry. why on earth would you venture anywhere near a dark, dreary closet with quarter-ounces of dry pasta wrapped in elastic bands? clear jars let you see what you have, and inspire you to use them. if nothing else, it makes you look like you actually cook stuff, and that’s a start. i’ll even throw in some free printable jar labels so you never again need to wonder if your going to kill your sister because you used whole wheat instead of the gluten-free chickpea flour.

enjoy this lovely spring day, and for god’s sake make something.

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aberfoyle market

Aberfoyle Antique Market
DSC_1734
linen covered directors chair and french flour sack pillow

i was told off just a little this weekend for bringing home another chair. i have a thing for bowls, and chairs.

i’m not sure if the ability to see diamonds in the rough is a blessing or a curse. here’s how I see the top 5 reasons to bring home some old stuff:

  1. (sometimes) you save a bit of money if you buy used things over new (generally speaking. I’m not talking original 17th century handmade french chairs) especially if they need some love.
  2.  you’re giving stuff with good bones a new life and keeping perfectly good things out of the landfill.
  3. no one else will have what you have. your style emerges when you find and buy what speaks to you.
  4. you can make it your own with paint, fabric, or whatever other upcycling talents you have
  5. it’s just fun, don’t you think??
DSC_1732
an old trunk, safari helmet, and washed white tablecloths

aberfoyle, ontario boasts a mighty good antique/jumble sale, held every sunday with some special shows in the spring and fall. i wait all year to wander the hundred or so stalls and find some great things. this weekend i discovered a stall called “White”. french chairs were covered in aged linen, furniture painted white, old trunks and mirrors. pure heaven.

so i brought home a duck-egg blue folding chair  ($20) and (another) white-ware bowl ($14)

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those divine french chairs covered in old centre-seamed linen. le sigh.
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