Power-necessary caprese bruschetta

Oh man, words cannot begin to express how much I love my new camera.

Seriously, seriously love. The pictures. They’re stunning (I think).  I love, love, love, love, LOVE it. It will accompany me around Europe, photographing many a pastry, pizza and bowl of pasta. Oh the things that camera will see in the upcoming month. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out part two of my bruschetta making extravaganza: caprese bruschetta.

This was the second type of bruschetta I was supposed to make on Sunday night, before Mother Nature swooped in and kicked Hydro Ottawa’s ass.  I was so concerned on Monday evening when I got home from work – the electricity was still out, and my Art-is-in Bakery baguette wasn’t getting any fresher.

My worrisome bruschetta fate led to me attempting desperate measures:

To my great relief, the power came on before I was forced to bring my cheese to another location.  My friend Ben was kind enough to offer his fridge, however, and so I brought him and his girlfriend Sara the leftovers.

Anyways, back to the actual bruschetta.  I discovered that this appetizer is actually the only way I like eating uncooked tomatoes.  Normally I hate them, but there was something about the combination of high quality mozzarella, basil and oregano that made it all okay.

In the recipe I adapted my version from, the cheese wasn’t supposed to be melted.  To that, I say all cheese is better melted.  I let it broil on top of the garlic oil-soaked bread and scattered the leftover cheese on top.  Omnomnoms were achieved.

PS: Bruschetta is the most unladylike appetizer to eat. I thank my lucky stars that I was sitting on the porch alone wearing biking clothes when I ate this. A mess was made.

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No-power-necessary strawberry, goat cheese and pesto bruschetta

Apparently Mother Nature does not like bruschetta.

Defying Mother Nature's wishes, I went ahead with dinner (and I'm certainly glad I did)

In the course of 15 minutes, yesterday night changed from a fairly sunny paradise to a Hollywood-action-flick worthy hellhole.  Most of you out-of-towners probably heard about the freak weather in the form of news reports about a little incident that happened at Bluesfest.

Anyways, the storm that wreaked havoc to the Bluesfest stage was the same one that kindly decided to knock the power out on my small, Old Ottawa South street block.  This put a kink in my evening plans. All day long I had been planning to make two types of bruschetta, using this amazing Parisian baguette I bought earlier in the day at Art-is-in Bakery (post to come in a few days).

I arrived home from a photo shoot with Anne from Hello Ottawa, only to find my kitchen engulfed in darkness.  I could have cried.  My bread was at its optimum freshness and needed to be used.

Then I made a decision: no man, beast or freak power outage was going to keep me from my bruschetta.

The oven was still warm from when my roommate and her boyfriend cooked a huge pot roast, so I decided to heat my bread in there.  It wasn’t toasted, but I figured the baguette was chewy and crusty enough already that it would suffice.

After about 10 minutes in the oven I took it out and, by the glow of a small tea light, spread pesto and goat cheese over my barely-visible pieces of baguette.  Thank heavens my strawberries were pre-cut, otherwise it’s highly likely I would have lost a digit.  I tossed the strawberries with a bit of balsamic vinegar and carefully added them on top of the goat cheese.

Taking the bruschetta outside into the 8:30 p.m. light, I could finally see the fruits of my labour.  Yes, the end product looked a little messy, but it was completely delicious.  I ate six pieces.  In minutes.  It was that good.

Our power just went back on a few hours ago.  To celebrate, I made my second type of bruschetta.  My life = officially made.

PS: since my power had been off for 12+ hours this morning when I left for work, I packed up all my cheese and frozen meat and biked them into the office to put in the fridge. Take that unholy lack-of-refrigeration diseases!
PPS: Even though I saw the original recipe that inspired this bruschetta on Tastespotting, it was also partially inspired by this amazing flatbread I had at the Ottawa restaurant Mambo the other week when I reviewed their patio scene for Local Tourist Ottawa.
PPPS: My new camera is leading to me taking even more pictures than before. I’m averaging about 50 per meal.  This is bad news.

Depth of field - you do exist! (even though you're looking a little sharp right here...)

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Spinach Strawberry and Pear Salad

On a warm, reminiscent of summer day, I rejoiced in the fact that I got to eat at a barbeque.  My attendance at this afternoon event meant that I could resist the delicious outdoor supper smells as I returned from my afternoon journalism story covering.  Since I was full of delicious hot dog and cotton candy goodness (I ate the latter on the bus, which is an extremely difficult task), I wasn’t that hungry for supper, so I decided to just make myself a light salad.

As of the late, I have discovered my favourite types of salad always involve baby spinach and some sort of fruit.  With this knowledge in mind, I decided to use these two key elements to whip up a quick and delicious spinach strawberry and pear salad.  The baby spinach I used was the stuff I had sitting in the fridge after I neglected to include it in my last blog post meal.  As for the strawberries, Britt and I went to the local farmer’s market at Lansdowne Park this morning, and had the most wonderful time browsing through the fresh produce and eating AMAZING macarons (the first time I’ve ever tried them).  The strawberries came fresh from the market (I also got peaches and carrots!) and cast a magical “fresh strawberry” spell over me.  I know I’ve been slacking on posting recipes lately, but here is the one for this salad:

Salad
– 1 cup of trimmed baby spinach
– 1/2 cup of strawberries, pitted and halved
–  Half a pear, thinly sliced
– 1/4 cup almonds, toasted (or not, since I burnt my first batch in the toaster oven and decided to settle with them un-toasted)

Dressing
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
– 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
– pinch of salt and pepper

Toss and enjoy!

I hope this salad has the same magical effect on you that it had on me!

Oh, one more thing… I took this picture at around 7:17 this evening.  Please note that the sun now sets at 7:05, which meant that this picture was taken in the semi-dark at the end of my street under a streetlight.  People walked by and saw me crouched down beside the sidewalk, photographing my food.  I’m starting to think my entire neighbourhood thinks I’m off my rocker… I may have to think of alternative arrangements for darkened photography.

Watermelon Salsa (And a Blogger challenge finally completed) (And part one of my dinner party meal)

Well let me just say that WEEKS and WEEKS ago (JUNE 30) when my friend and fellow blogger Carly (check out her cheerful blog Carly Loves), challenged me to make a recipe “that contains an unexpected, out-of-place ingredient,” I was completed boggled.  Sure I’m creative, but food-wise?  I was just learning the ropes.  Obviously, I had a major case of chef’s block (is that a thing?), and endlessly searched the internet in hopes of finding something both shocking and delicious.  Failure.  The next logical step?  CALL MOM.  Of course, my dearest mother had a solution for me: watermelon salsa, a dish which I had curiously ignored during past home get-togethers.  After asking about half a million people if watermelon in salsa was unusual (I got an overwhelming “yes”), I decided to go forth with this recipe.  So I had the dish, the only question was when I should make it, which leads nicely into the second part of this post…

…I decided to have a dinner party!  Sick of cooking for just myself, and still dreading the thought of leftovers sitting in my fridge for days at a time, I decided to have some of my culinarily spoiled co-workers over for a casual three-course meal.  Not knowing what I should make for an appetizer, it dawned on me that this was the perfect opportunity for me to make the salsa.  Once I got to Loblaws, the Grocery Store Gods confirmed my choice to make this dish: both watermelon and tortilla chips were on sale, a miracle for my student budget.  Strangely enough, the end product hardly tasted like watermelon, and the combination of garlic, onion, soy sauce (weird) and brown sugar somehow made it delicious.  Even my roommate who is allergic to tomatoes could eat salsa for the very first time!  If you’re looking for the recipe, I’ll post it under my Recipes tab sometime in the next few days.

In the end, I think this salsa was a big hit, and it gave me an excuse to use my new 99¢ silver platter from Value Village!  Also, please note the impressive “watermelon bowl.”  I thought it was quite ingenious, and gave me one less dish to wash.  Hilary: 1, Messy Kitchen: 0.

Stay tuned over the next few days as I post course two and three from my very first dinner party!

Gord’s Dinner, Part Two: Mini Quiches

At approximately 5:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, I decided that a salad could not possibly be enough for dinner (despite what Canadian Living said about it being a “main course dish”).  With such thought, I promptly began to mildly freak out, whipping open every cookbook in sight in an attempt to find something else to make.  Gord was due for dinner an exact hour after this breakdown occurred.

Since I am writing this post, I’m sure you have all guessed that I successfully managed to make a supplementary dish for dinner.  Inspired by a recipe for mini quiche lorraines in one of our house cookbooks, I quickly went to work creating my own spinoff of the classic recipe.  It was easy-peasy, and basically consisted of me lining greased muffin tins with pre-made pie crust, shoving some sandwich meat (ham) and mozzarella cheese in the base, and filling the rest of the tin up with an egg and milk mixture.  Sprinkle fresh chives on the top, and voila – an appetizer!  For once, I am extremely grateful for my overheated, possessed student oven, as it cooked these quiches in a record breaking 20 minutes.

And they were GOOD.  Quiche is probably one of my favourite foods, and the fact that I whipped these up in an hour makes me giddy with delight.  Nom, nom, nom, nom!