First Tastes of Spring
Katelyn Sander

First Tastes of Spring

Spice of Life

The days are getting longer. The sun is shining brightly. The temperatures are starting to rise. Dare we say that spring is just around the corner? That doesn’t mean we’re ready to put away our cold weather recipes just yet (check out our spectacular soup recipe!) but we are cautiously optimistic. So, this week’s Spice of Life has a taste of spring mixed in, just a little something to get you excited for the coming warm, spring days!

What we’re listening to…

Have you been spending more time in the kitchen during COVID? You aren’t alone. That’s why we’ve started listening to From Scratch with Michael Ruhlman, an instructive food series that highlights essential kitchen techniques, ingredients, and ideas.

Episodes range in length, so whether you’re looking for a 60 minute deep dive or a quick 10 minute interview with some of the world’s top chefs, you’ll find everything you need right here.

Listen here!

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Paprika-tinged and soothing, there’s something uniquely cozy about this creamy mushroom soup. There’s a wholesomeness to a bowl of soup on a cold, rainy, or snowy night. It warms you to cook it, it warms you to eat it, it warms the people you share it with. Recipe from The Modern Proper.

Ingredients:
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley
Instructions:
  • In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, sauté onions and mushrooms in butter over medium heat until onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
  • Add dill, thyme, paprika, chicken/vegetable broth, soy sauce, and white wine.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by half.
  • In a small bowl, whisk flour into milk until smooth. Add the milk mixture to the soup and cook until the soup begins to thicken, about 10 more minutes.
  • Over low heat, slowly stir in the sour cream and lemon juice until both are completely combined.
  • Garnish the soup with parsley and serve hot.
  • Recipe yields 5 cups of soup. If you’re serving 4 people as a main dish, we recommend doubling the recipe.

Citrus & Winter Greens Salad

Lighten up with this refreshing and light salad. This winter greens citrus salad is a balancing act of sweet and bitter, topped with a quick, homemade orange and red wine vinaigrette. The blood oranges, navel oranges, and grapefruit pair perfectly with the bitter winter greens like radicchio and endive. To round out the flavours, a mixture of seasonal baby greens are mixed in, like spinach, chard, and arugula. Recipe from Aberdeen’s Kitchen.

Ingredients:

For the Salad

  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 radicchio head, halved, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 1 endive head, sliced first lengthwise, then crosswise in 1/2 inch slices
  • 3 - 4 cups baby winter green mix (baby spinach, arugula, chard)

For the Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions:
  • Whisk together all ingredients for the vinaigrette until completely combined. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  • Slice peels and pith (white layer) off of all the citrus fruits and thinly slice.
  • Toss all ingredients for the salad together in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the salad dressing. Serve and drizzle with remaining salad dressing, as desired.

Gnocchi with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

Looking for a delicious, elegant dish to make this weekend? The creamy sauce is rich in flavour thanks to the gorgonzola. Your entire family will be impressed and will keep coming back for more. But don’t just take our word for it, give it a try this weekend. Recipe from the Fine Cooking.

Ingredients:

For the Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 lb gorgonzola dolce (soft gorgonzola), rind removed and cheese cut into 1-inch dice, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour

For the Gnocchi

  • 2 lb russet potatoes (about 4 medium), scrubbed
  • 6 3/4 oz (1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, more for kneading and rolling
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Instructions:

For the Gnocchi

  • Put the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the potatoes by at least 2 inches and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover the pot, and simmer the potatoes until they are completely tender and easily pierced with a skewer, 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes, let them cool just enough that you can handle them, and then peel them. Cut them in half crosswise and pass them through a ricer into a large bowl. Let cool until almost at room temperature, at least 20 minutes.
  • Lightly flour a work surface. In a small bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Add the egg to the potatoes and then add the flour mixture. Mix with your hands until the flour is moistened and the dough starts to clump together; the dough will still be a bit crumbly at this point. Gather the dough together and press it against the bottom of the bowl until you have a uniform mass. Transfer it to the floured surface and wash your hands.
  • Knead gently until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is soft, smooth, and a little sticky, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Don’t overmix it, or the gnocchi will be tough; the dough should feel very delicate.) Move the dough to one side, making sure the surface underneath it is well floured. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Cover two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment and sprinkle lightly with flour.
  • Remove any lingering bits of dough from your work surface and lightly re-flour the surface. Tear off a piece of dough about the size of a large lemon and put the towel back on the rest of the dough so it doesn’t dry out.
  • With the palms of both hands, roll the dough piece on the floured surface into a rope about 3/4 inch in diameter.
  • With a sharp knife or a bench knife, cut the rope crosswise every 3/4 inch to make roughly 3/4-inch-square gnocchi. Arrange the gnocchi in a single layer on the parchment-covered baking sheets, making sure they don’t touch. Repeat until you run out of dough, re-flouring the work surface as needed. When all the gnocchi have been cut and spread out on the baking sheets, sprinkle them with a little more flour.
  • If you’re going to use the gnocchi within 2 to 3 hours, they can sit out on the counter. For longer storage, see the tips below.

For the Sauce

  • Heat the heavy cream in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until small bubbles begin to form in the middle and on the sides, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Gorgonzola and cook, stirring, until it’s completely melted, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes more. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

Cooking the Gnocchi

  • Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
  • To get the gnocchi into the boiling water, fold the parchment ends to form a chute and gently shake the gnocchi out, taking care not to clump them together as you drop them in. Give one gentle stir, wait until the gnocchi all float to the surface of the water, and then cook them for 1 minute. Carefully drain the gnocchi in a colander. Transfer them to the sauce and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately, topped with the parsley, if using.
Tips:
  • You can serve freshly made gnocchi right away or within a couple of hours, or you can freeze them for later use. Put the gnocchi in the freezer while they’re still on the baking sheets and freeze until they are hard to the touch, at least one hour. Transfer them to a large zip-top bag or several smaller bags and freeze for up to two months. Cook frozen gnocchi in boiling water in two batches. Frozen gnocchi cause the temperature of the cooking water to drop, so they’ll fall apart before the water returns to a boil if there are too many in the pot. Don’t refrigerate fresh gnocchi for more than two or three hours, as they tend to ooze water and become soggy.

Classic Hot Toddy

Spring is not here yet so let’s warm up with some hot toddies! They could not be easier to make. For this classic cocktail, you’ll just need hot water, whiskey, honey, and lemon. Unlike your typical mulled wine, wassail, or warm cider, hot toddies are light and hydrating rather than overwhelmingly sweet. Recipe from the Cookie and Kate.

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 oz whiskey
  • 2 - 3 tsp honey, to taste
  • 2 - 3 tsp lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 lemon round
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional, for garnish)
Instructions:
  • In a teapot or saucepan, bring the water to a simmer. Pour the hot water into a mug.
  • Add the whiskey, 2 teaspoons honey, and 2 teaspoon lemon juice. Stir until the honey has disappeared into the hot water. Taste, and add 1 teaspoon honey for more sweetness, and/or 1 teaspoon more lemon juice for more zing.
  • Garnish with a lemon round and cinnamon stick.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This easy flourless chocolate cake with a silky chocolate ganache glaze is rich, decadent, and the perfect dessert for any celebration. The cake is gluten-free and delicious. Total time to make this cake is 1 hour 40 minutes. Recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Ingredients:

For the Cake

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

For the Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan. Place it in the bottom of the pan and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • To make the cake, put the chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft, about one minute. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. If you need to reheat, do for 10 seconds at a time and stir.
  • Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  • Add the eggs and stir until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and stir until just combined. Don’t overmix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake for 25 minutes or until the cake has a thin crust on the top and the centre registers 200F on an instant-read thermometer.
  • Let the cake cool on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges of the pan with a butter knife and carefully turn it upside down onto a cake plate or serving plate. The bottom of the cake will now be the top of the cake. Let the cake cool completely.
  • While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate ganache. Combine the chocolate and cream in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot so it will melt the chocolate. We always start with 30 seconds and check it. It might take longer; it just depends on your microwave. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
  • Spread the chocolate ganache glaze evenly over the cooled cake. Let the glaze set up for a few hours before cutting and serving the cake. We always put it in the refrigerator to speed up the process.
  • Cut the cake into slices and serve with powdered sugar and raspberries, if desired. This cake is also great with whipped cream or ice cream.

Neighbourhood Gems

As the lockdown continues in the city, we know you’re missing your favourite restaurants more and more. Us too. We can’t WAIT to be able to dine out with our friends again, but, in the meantime, we’re still trying to support all of our local favourites…

Gare de L’Est: An authentic, modern French brasserie in the heart of Toronto’s vibrant east end, Gare de L’Est was named after one of the oldest and largest train terminals in Paris, France. It offers an extensive menu of traditional French fare and seasonal dishes with a focus on local ingredients. During lockdown, they continue to offer at-home meal kits, carefully selected wines, and pick-up/delivery options.

The Host: Traditional Indian recipes prepared with new techniques and given an innovative presentation. The Host offers the purest experience of a rich culinary culture. Their food is made with the highest quality ingredients, and we know you’ll find the flavours sublime. The locations in the city are currently open for takeout, delivery, and catering. If you live in Richmond Hill, this location is now open for indoor dining.

Rooster Coffeehouse: With three locations around the city – on Broadview, King, and Jarvis – Rooster Coffeehouse offers up delicious coffee, teas, chocolates, kombucha, cookies, and more! In order to keep you safe, they are offering takeout right now, limiting the number of customers in store, and have free contactless delivery for a number of their products. Grab a coffee and treat to go, and explore the parks and Don River trails.

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