Monthly Archives

November 2015

Design

A KETTLE THAT’S STYLISH & PIPING HOT

Okay… the hottest thing in my walnut kitchen is …… the Alessi ‘Bird’ Kettle  

It’s also one of the coolest things. You’ll notice in the photo on my home page, it’s front and centre on my stove.  

sapper kettle

Sapper Kettle

Graves Bird kettle 04

Bird Kettle

sapper kettle above shotHere’s the story – It was a toss up when it came to kettles – which kettle to get, Alessi’s first kettle, the Richard Sapper ‘Whistle’ kettle that came out in 1983, or Alessi’s Michael Graves ‘Bird’ kettle that was introduced 2 years later?  Both were instant classics for Alessi, the nearly one-hundred year old Italian kitchen company that specialized in high-end utensils and gadgets.

 

I have to admit that I preferred the rounded design of the Sapper kettle, and actually secretly still do, but the deciding factor was two fold, the ‘Bird’ kettle actually has a top you can pop off so it can be cleaned (the other does not).  And secondly, my brother Robert and sister-in-law Tomoko actually had the final say because they gave us a housewarming present and it happened to be the ‘Bird’ kettle.  So, obviously, it was the ‘Bird’ that was meant to be in my walnut kitchen.  And I’ve loved it ever since.

 

Graves Bird kettle 02First cool thing – the red bird actually sings when the water boils, though I have to say it’s not exactly the beautiful tweet of a red-crested sparrow – more like a high-pitch scream of a 3-year old.

SPOILER ALERT – the plastic bird did meet its maker – it melted over a hot gas stove, so be prepared to replace it (about a $15 part).

Bird wide 2 (2)

 

 

 

Food Michelle's Favourite Recipes

GORDON RAMSAY’S ROAST CHICKEN WITH CHICKPEA STUFFING

 

 

Gordon-Ramsay-1I am a HUGE fan of conventional , or, as they say in the TV business “dump and stir” cooking shows.  Sadly, they barely exist anymore.  It seems competition shows are the only type of food show that gets any sizeable viewership. For years  Gordon Ramsay has been yelling and screaming all over primetime with “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Master Chef”, to name just a couple.  But it’s his daytime cooking show that I love most.  ramsay and family

gordon ramsay's ultimate home cooking

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Home Cooking” is a chance to see the softer side of Gordon as he cooks dishes with his kids and his mom at home.  Besides the thrill of being a voyeur in his private life and kitchen, the recipes he makes are to die for.  One of my favourites is his Roast Chicken with Chickpea Stuffing.  You should try it.

A couple of suggestions:  I get the butcher to make a couple of slits and loosen the skin from the flesh and I replace butter with coconut oil because it’s healthier and has the same consistency as butter.  I throw in some potatoes, parsnip, sweet potatoes at the bottom of the roasting pan.

 

GORDON RAMSAY’S ROAST CHICKEN WITH CHICKPEA STUFFING
Serves 4-6

IMG_29911 large free-range corn-fed chicken (about 2kg), giblets removed
Small bunch of tarragon, leaves roughly chopped
200g butter, at room temperature
3 heads of garlic, halved horizontally
Olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 x 400g tin cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 red chillies, sliced
1 lemon, zested
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
Olive oil

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400F. Season the inside of the chicken. Place the tarragon and butter in a bowl and beat until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

    Loosen the skin over both chicken breasts by gently pushing your fingers underneath it. Now push the tarragon butter under the loosened skin so that it covers the whole crown.

  2. To make the stuffing, put the chickpeas into a bowl, season and add the chillies, lemon zest, thyme leaves and a dash of olive oil. Mix well. Spoon the chickpea mixture inside the chicken cavity and place the whole lemon at the entrance.
  3. Place the garlic heads, cut side down, in a roasting tin. Put the chicken on top and drizzle with olive oil. Season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper and roast for 10–15 minutes, until turning golden and beginning to crisp up. Reduce the heat to 180ºC/350F and continue roasting for 1¼–1½ hours, until cooked through and golden all over.
  4. Extract the lemon from the cavity of the bird and spoon the stuffing into a large bowl. Place the chicken on a warm platter, cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for 10–15 minutes.
  5. Spoon the garlic out of the pan and squeeze the pulp into a sieve placed over the bowl of stuffing. Slice the roasted lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the garlic. Push the garlic and juice through the sieve with the back of a spoon. Mash the entire contents of the bowl with a potato masher. Mix well, then transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.IMG_3332 (2)

 

Design Food

LET’S TALK POTS & PANS

Cooking is an even greater pleasure when you have a good set of pots and pans

Daniel Boulud photo 01

Daniel Boulud

Daniel Boulud photo 02 Did you know that many of the most famous eateries in the world almost exclusively use All-Clad? – like Daniel Boulud’s signature restaurant “Daniel”, and Danny Meyer’s “Gramercy Tavern” and Thomas Keller’s “French Laundry”.Over the years I’ve experimented with many different brands of pots and pans, and some I still really like.  My favourite was purchased at the Bonnie Stern Cooking School when it closed its doors.  It’s a brand called Sitram from France, but I have never been able to find it anywhere since then!  Recently, I donated some old cookware to my son Ben who needed to stock his own kitchen.  Lucky me!  Now I had a great excuse to refresh my equipment!

French Laundry photo 01 Gramercy Tavern photo 03

 

 

 

 

 

 

keller and pan - Copy

Thomas Keller

IMG_3037

My All Clad roasting tin rocks!

stack of pots and pans tk

All Clad TK Collection

All-Clad TK photo 02

Stacks for easy storage

I did some research and found myself honing in on All-Clad. I have made good use out of my All-Clad roasting tin and a few different sized Saute/Frying pans. They are technically great because of the way they consistently and predictably distribute heat.For a long time, I had been admiring All-Clad’s TK collection which was inspired by Chef Thomas Keller.  I love the look of the brushed stainless exterior, they have universal lids which makes them easier to store, and flared edges for drip-free pouring.

 

I know good kitchen equipment is a good investment, but the problem is that they are a small fortune!  After keeping an eye on those babies for over a year, they finally went on sale and I decided to give a few pieces a try.I’m happy to say, they’re terrific. Depending on what piece you get, they have a 5 ply stainless or copper core or 3 ply with a stainless core.  Technically the heat is distributed evenly which is great for sautéing, braising and pan roasting.  So, if you are in the market for a kitchen splurge AND, if they go on sale, I would highly recommend them.  Let me know what your favourite cookware is. And also let me know if you find Sitram for sale.

 

 

 

Food Michelle's Favourite Recipes

MOM’S CUMIN CARROTS

 

My mom is a fabulous cook.  Growing up in her household,   I was spoiled!  There was always yummy smells coming from the kitchen and always a tasty meal at our dinner table.  Everything was homemade, delicious, and nutritious.  To me, food is love and I think it’s because that’s the way my mother expressed ,and still expresses her love to her family.  I learned everything I know about cooking from her.  I’m so grateful and lucky to have such a wonderful relationship with her and I enjoy preparing meals together with her to this day.

Estelle Kosoy, my mom, was born in Casablanca and came to Canada when she was 17.  I thought it would be fitting that the first dish I share of hers should be one that comes from her roots.  Her Moroccan “Cumin Carrots” is one of my favourite recipes of all time.  I hope she won’t mind me passing it onto you.   Enjoy!

CUMIN CARROTS

2 pounds carrots peeled and sliced into ½ inch coins

6 tbsp olive oil

2 small cloves garlic crushed

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

3 tbsp  white vinegar

¼ cup chopped coriander or parsley

Boil the sliced carrots in salty water until just soft (careful not to overcook).  While the carrots are cooking, grind the cumin seeds using a pestle and mortar and add the paprika, salt and pepper.  Mix well and set aside.   When the carrots are done, drain and set aside.  In the same pot, add olive oil and crushed garlic.   When lightly browned (careful! garlic burns easily), add the spice mixture and stir. Next, add the cooked carrots,  toss so they are fully coated and finally add vinegar and stir.  When the carrots are cooled, add chopped coriander or parsley.  Voila!  We like to eat these carrots at room temperature.  Delicious!

 

Beauty

BEST EVER LIP BALM

As winter slowly descends upon us, there is so much to look forward to.  The magic of a fresh snowfall and cozying up by the fire are just a couple of my favourite things about this season.

Of course, there’s also lots to complain about when it comes to the prospect of frigid temperatures. Dry skin for starters.  Is it just me? It’s not even that cold yet and my hands and lips are already chapped.  I’m really picky when it comes to lip balms.  Often what you put on your lips makes them feel even more chapped!  How is that possible?

For years the only lip balm I used could only be found in Germany!  I would literally stock up with 10 sticks at a time!  But then I discovered that the ingredients included hydrogenated palm oil.  Yuck! No wonder that brand was no longer for sale in North America!

creme de roseNow, my favourite lip balm is Christian Dior’s Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm.  Although I really don’t think there’s a whole lot of plumping action going on….it’s nevertheless wonderful! And it performs miracles overnight.  I first heard about it from Elle Fowler who (among other beauty gurus on You Tube with millions of followers) described it as one of her favourite beauty products ever.   Because it’s in a pot, I don’t carry it in my purse, instead, I keep it on my night table and smear some on every night in winter. With shea butter and essential oils, it’s very very rich and as a result, incredibly moisturizing.  It’s got a rose scent which is a draw for some people.  I myself don’t care one way or another much about the scent, but I love what it does.

creme de rose giftIn fact, I love it so much that I’ve shared it many times with friends and family.  It’s a bit expensive (just under 30 dollars), but it makes a lovely stocking stuffer, Mother’s Day splurge or birthday treat.  Let me know what you think.

Interior Design Wellness

DIVINE SCENTED CANDLES

Apart from a hefty bank account and a huge fan base, what do Beyonce, Manolo Blahnik and Karl Lagerfeld have in common? Answer:  A passion for a French luxury brand called Diptyque.

imagesI’m certainly not rich or famous, but, a few years ago, I splurged on this very brand and fell in love.

multiple candles

Founded in 1961, the perfumer, Diptyque is famous for its scented candles. If you are one of those poor souls who is sensitive to perfumes, my heart goes out to you because these jewels provide a sensory bundle of joy. There is nothing more healing and restorative than a room filled with the delicately balanced fragrance of a Diptyque candle.

 

 

Baies candles and ovalMade by hand in a 12 step process, the candles are world renowned for their all natural scents inspired by nature.  Of the 50 intoxicating candle varieties they create, the ‘Baies’ scent which was first introduced in 1983 has a near cult like following.  I confess, I’m part of the cult as it’s one of a handful of scents I’ve enjoyed.

The blend of blackcurrant leaf and Bulgarian rose that characterises the ‘Baies’ fragrance is how Stefano Pilati (of YSL) preps his studio before a visit by Vogue editor Anna Wintour.  At least I’m good company!

 

 

Diptyque is in the enviable position of not needing to advertise because so many superstars in the entertainment and fashion worlds embrace their products.  Get this, when Tom Ford designed for Gucci, he had the ‘Figuier’ candle throughout the brand’s stores, his offices AND his home so the ‘soothing scent of sun-warmed fig trees and white cedar’ was with him everywhere he went.  And I thought I was obsessed.

 

Victoria Beckham used 60 of their ‘Figuier’ candles for her fall 2012 fashion show! You can’t buy that kind of publicity.

IMG_3080My favourite Diptyque candle is Figuier.  Related to this scent is an Eau de Parfum or Eau de Toilette called Philosykos which is on my wish list down the road.  But I digress….

IMG_3072 I know that for some of you, fragrances can be migraine inducing, and trust me, I’m sensitive too when it comes to cheap potent perfumes, but these candles are worth a try if you want to spoil yourself or someone special in your life. Diptyque candles are a small fortune, but they are one of the many beautiful things that bring me peace, joy and enhance the quality of my life.  I hope you get a chance to enjoy them too one day.    Tell me if you are a fan and what your favourite scent is.  I’d love to try some more myself.

 

 

 

Inspiration Wellness

MEDITATING ON A SMARTPHONE

Andy PuddicombeFrom Monk to millionaire, Andy Puddicombe, founder of the meditation app Headspace is doing for meditation what Jamie Oliver did for food. (New York Times)

Considered the “international poster boy for the modern mindfulness movement”, Puddicombe is one of the people I’ve stumbled upon whose life journey is SO powerful.  I am truly inspired by him.

Andy Puddicombe MonkAfter dropping out of university, he travelled to the Himalayas to study meditation.  10 years later, he was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Prepared to live out the rest of his days in relative seclusion, one day Andy had an epiphany: a yearning to return West and make “meditation and mindfulness accessible, relevant and beneficial to as many people as possible”.

Mission accomplished.

Andy is the author of 2 books, has been featured in Vogue, New York Times, Entrepreneur, Men’s Health and Esquire to name a few.  He also makes regular appearances on TV and online having been featured on BBC, Dr. Oz and Netflix. I’m only scratching the surface of his story.  There is so much more to it.   Check out his Ted Talk which has 5.7 million views!

https://www.ted.com/talks/andy_puddicombe_all_it_takes_is_10_mindful_minutes?language=en

I’ve attended and downloaded courses, subscribed to Oprah and Deepak’s free 21 day meditations, tried different techniques from humming to counting.  No question, mindfulness meditation has been proven to be an effective treatment for stress, worry, lack of focus, relationship problems, addictions and more.

Get Some HeadspaceAccording to neuroscientists as you continue to meditate your brain physically changes even though you’re not aware of it re-shaping itself.  A recent review of nearly 50 scientific studies found that mindfulness was as effective as anti-depressants in helping depression, but with no side effects.

The biggest challenge to meditating is actually finding the time and being disciplined to do it on a regular basis. I’ve never been able to commit until now.

Headspace logoAs part of my journey to chart a different route for myself, for over 2 months, I’ve been religious about meditating every morning.  That’s thanks to Headspace.  It’s a mobile app and digital platform with a library of themed meditation packs for improving your health performance and relationships.  Because your phone is always with you, it’s so easy to use, and you really only have to commit 10 minutes a day if that’s all you can spare.

I DO notice a difference in the way I feel since I started.  I would highly recommend trying it. Anyone can get 10 sessions free, but I want to pass on a 30 day voucher that I earned.  Just go to the headspace.com homepage or at checkout and enter this code. REW30-SUM698

Enjoy and please let me know your meditation stories and whether you have anything to recommend.

 

Food

FARMERS MARKET

Organic, fruit, vegetables, local, farmer

Hello Lovely People,

So what motivated me to start this blog?  Lately, I’ve been mixing it all up, dabbling with new things, exploring different interests and trying to listen to my inner voice.  I’m on a journey to discover dormant and new passions around food, health, wellness, fitness, beauty, fashion and design. I can’t think of a better place to chart this journey than in my Walnut Kitchen.

It seems fitting that my first post should be about food.  For as long as I can remember I’ve been crazy about every facet of food.  I adore trying new restaurants.  I’ve always loved preparing meals and find so much pleasure in the ritual of setting a beautiful table, especially if it’s with my grandmother’s china!  Everything about eating and entertaining is just lovely.

I am one of those crazy people who actually enjoys and gets far too carried away grocery shopping.  Recently, I started going to farmer’s markets.  It’s almost embarrassing that it’s taken me this long to do so.  But, I’m hooked! No, I’m obsessed!

The Stop’s Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns has been my ‘go-to’ spot every Saturday morning.     The market supports local agriculture by encouraging farmers to grow as sustainable as possible, and many of their farms are certified organic.

 

I made a great risotto using shiitake, oyster and cinnamon cap mushrooms. (stay tuned for that recipe soon).  The baby lettuces I found at the market were to die for.  Apart from the fruit and vegetables which are gorgeous, there’s some amazing prepared food to devour as well.  If you are hungry for a hearty breakfast sandwich, the Dundas Park Kitchen is worth a try. Although I’m not a celiac, I am sensitive to gluten.  The best discovery I’ve made so far is the Flourless Cheddar and Herb Almond Bun and the Chocolate Cherry Orange Scone from delish kitch.  They are so delicate and scrumptious, it’s hard to believe they aren’t made with conventional flour.  You have to try them.  I’d love to know what your favourite farmers market is and which vendors you love.