Canned tuna is always in peoples pantries, because it is both economical and an easy lunch fix. It is for those reasons that a classic tuna sandwich has become the typical go-to lunch for so many people. Why not jazz it up and go for a toasted tuna melt with sweet cherry tomatoes. I say good food does not have to be expensive.

Serves 2

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F.
Baking time: 12-15 minutes

  • Baguette, split in half
  • Flaked canned tuna (170g), drained
  • half a small onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced red or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 generous tbsp light mayo
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or use 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or Gouda cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 F and place a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Place the split baguette on the baking sheet and place it into the oven for 2 minutes, to lightly toast. Take it out and set it aside.

In a bowl, mix and combine the drained flaked tuna, minced onion, yellow pepper, tomato paste, light mayo, salt, pepper, and the chopped fresh parsley. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Spoon the tuna mixture on top of the toasted baguette halves and then place the cherry tomatoes right on top of the tuna. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese and bake it in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese has nicely melted. Serve warm.

Serving suggestion: The tuna melt would be great with a warm soup or a nice side salad.

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Till just a few short days ago, I had never tasted a "gamay," never knew what "gamay" was, nor even heard of the term "gamay."

Had enough of me saying "gamay?" Me too.

But once you've tried this wine, oooh, you'll be saying it at work, in the street to random strangers, to your significant other, to your pet, clergyman, you name it.

If you're like me and are unaware of "gamay," let me educate thee; after all, that's why I'm here, not just to write some cheap column and have an excuse to drink wine (although it's a damn fine excuse). According to our friends at Wikipedia, the gamay - a type of grape - first originated in France in the 14th century. ...Sorry, that's all I got.

On to the wine!

This Ontario gem is fastened with a screw-top cap, and pours a very deep red. Even on first glimpse it looks rich and enticing, and swirls about the glass in a slowww, lingerrrrring type way.

Smelling full of flavour, of cherries and other dark fruits, Malivoire is almost wild and foresty (?), and definitely distinct.

Tasting, I also picked up blueberries and blackberries; oh my! It tastes luxurious; it IS luxurious. More, more, MORE!

Dryish, and medium to heavy bodied (but not in a bad way), this wine has a slight acidic tilt to it (going with the foresty bit from above), and has a slight thickness to it, combined with the rich fruity taste, almost seems like a dessert wine, but is incredibly drinkable.

And as if it matters, the aftertaste is not offensive, doesn't change terribly, and lingers nicely.

Well. What a tour de force! I note again these strong adjectives for you grammar buffs that I recorded above and in my notes: "luxurious"; "delicious"; "sumptuous"; "just great"; "a treat."

What more do I need say? Although not cheap, just buy the damn wine, you will love it.

This one joins the Comtes de Lauze Cotes du Rhone I reviewed earlier in a very exclusive class here on "Matt's Wine Not!"

**** out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$17.95 (US$16.60).

From LCBO.com:

MALIVOIRE GAMAY 2007, 750 mL bottle
LCBO/Vintages #591313
Wine, Red Wine
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: XD
Made in: Ontario, Canada
By: Malivoire Wine Co.
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Last week, I was flipping through an old cooking magazine (one of many I own) and I came across this recipe for chocolate chip muffins, but what made this different then the usual was that it had pumpkin puree in it. I was intrigued! I kept reading on and found out that this recipe was a grand prize winner from a lady named Cindy Middleton. I figured if it won a grand prize it had to be good. The recipe turned out to be simple and it had no butter, which is always good for health reasons. Best of all the muffins turned out to be hands down the best chocolate chip muffins that I've ever tasted. I don't kid you it is super moist and super yummy! I share this recipe with you all now, enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Taste of Homes: Prize Winning Recipes Magazine (Spring 2005) Submitted by: Cindy Middleton

Makes 12 Muffins

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F.

Baking time: 18-20 minutes


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, solid packed
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line your muffin pan with paper cups. In a large mixing bowl, crack 2 large eggs and start to whisk them, then add in 1 cup of granulated sugar. Whisk the eggs and the sugar together for a minute to create more air.

2. Add and whisk 1 cup of pumpkin puree and the vegetable oil. In another bowl, add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon and the pinch of salt. Stir to make sure that all of the ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and gently mix it altogether until combined.

3. Fold in the chocolate chips. Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop the pumpkin batter into the muffin pan. Place the muffin pan into the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes. To check the doneness insert a toothpick, and if it comes out clean the muffins are ready.

The muffins are good warm or at room temperature. Either way it is good!

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I was making a honey mustard dressing last week for my salad and thought to myself why couldn't I put the same flavours on chicken? I had some frozen chicken legs in the freezer (one of my least favourite parts of the chicken) and thought I have to use this up before it gets freezer burn. I decided the best thing to do with chicken legs were to braise it. I took the honey mustard idea and paired it together with the chicken legs and pure magic happened. The sauce turned out to be thick, sticky, and earthy - everything you want in a sauce. Needless to say I'll be making this one again.

Serves 2-3

  • 6 chicken legs, skinless (To pull the skin off use a paper towel)
  • coarse salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup liquid honey
  • 2 generous tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • small onion, sliced thin
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Place a deep shallow pan on the stove and before turning on the heat, add in the skinless chicken legs, salt, pepper, onion slices and the chopped garlic cloves. In a small bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour it on top of the chicken legs. Using tongs quickly mix it around, to make sure that all of the chicken pieces are coated with the sauce.

Turn the heat on to medium high heat and once the sauce starts to bubble drop the heat down to a gentle simmer. Put the lid on and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Check every 10 minutes to make sure that the chicken legs aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan. Using your tongs turn the chicken at the half way point to ensure even cooking. Serve immediately.

Suggestion: You could use 4 small chicken breasts instead if you prefer.

Try a warm potato salad on the side (like the picture above)

Here is the link: http://www.foodtastesyummy.com/2009/09/warm-potato-salad.html

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Potatoes are such a comfort food in so many households and mine is no exception. I cook with potatoes a thousand different ways (and I mean that almost quite literally). In the summer months, a cold potato salad is the perfect side dish to a barbeque meal, but in the fall and winter months I like to have something more comforting to help warm up the colder temperatures. This warm potato salad is down right good for the soul.

Serves 2

  • 2 large sized potatoes, diced into medium sized cubes
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 slices of prosciutto, thinly sliced (or substitute 2 bacon strips)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus 1 tbsp extra)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable blend seasoning
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Place the diced potatoes into a medium sized pot. Fill the pot full of water, just enough to cover the potatoes, and let it come up to a gentle boil. Cook until tender and drain the water. Leave the potatoes in the colander for now.

2. Slice and dice all of the vegetables and the proscuitto. Place the empty pot back onto the burner and turn the stove on to medium high heat. Drizzle in 1 tbsp of olive oil and add in the diced carrots, celery and the proscuitto. Stir for about 3 minutes and drop the heat down to low.

3. In a small bowl, combine and whisk the 1/4 cup of olive oil, vegetable blend seasoning, salt, pepper, white wine vinegar, the juice of half a lemon, and the olive slices. Place the now dry potatoes back into the pot with the vegetables, pour in the olive oil dressing and gently mix it altogether. Sprinkle on the chopped fresh parsley, turn the heat off and serve immediately.

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Well dear reader, in the world of beer, some beers proclaim themselves to be royalty. The most famous of course is Budweiser - King Bud...sounds like something out of "Married with Children." However! There is another beer out there clamouring for the throne...admittedly lesser known, perhaps exiled in Germany for a long time, but here it is: König Pilsener. Why, it even has a crown on the can, and its very name means "King" (at least the "König" part does).

BUT! Does it live up to such lofty aims? Will it steal the crown and rule the world of beers?

Hmm. After reviewing this one, I think King Bud need not worry.

That's not to say that this beer was bad, it was just...another beer.

Medium yellow hue when poured, it royally presents a fresh, beery smell, light to medium in heaviness, with some clean sweetness to it. Not bad. But you all "nose" (sorry) there's more to beer than smell, but at times, I wish that's all I had to review.

It has a nice carbonated bubbly zing to it, but is definitely hoppy (i.e. some bitterness/graininess), but not too heavy.

This one is dry and not too sweet at all. It's just not complicated and given that this beer has only three ingredients: water, barley, and malt, I'm not surprised.

The beer gives a hoppy aftertaste that lingers, and isn't too clean.

Eh. Meh. Whatever. It is what it is.

Royal? Dunno...maybe it should pull a King Edward VIII and Abdicate, as I think you won't be bursting into choruses of "God Save the King" after having this one. Definitely better with food.

**1/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$2.05 (US$1.89).

From LCBO.com:

LCBO #354928
Beer, Lager
4.9% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 3
Made in: Germany
By: Konig Brauerei Gmbh
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There is no better way to celebrate the fall season then to have a scrumtious and moist apple coffee cake with real apple slices on top. Apples have been long associated with the autumn season and if you're like me you probably have quite a bit of apples at your house too. This apple cake truly is the taste of fall and the cinnamon in the cake only further enhances the apple flavour. If you feel like having apple pie and don't feel like making a crust this just might be the recipe for you.

This recipe has been modified and adapted from Elise's "Apple Coffee Cake" recipe from http://www.simplyrecipes.com/ Post dated: October 7, 2005. Originated from: The Boston Globe

Serves 6

Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F.
Baking time: 30-35 minutes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp of lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 medium granny smith or golden delicious apples, peeled and sliced thin

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and grease and lightly flour a 9" cake pan. In a mixing bowl, add in flour, baking powder, salt, ground ginger and the lemon zest. Then in a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup of sugar and the cinnamon and set it aside for now.

2. In another mixing bowl, cream the butter with the remaining sugar, then add in the egg and the 1/2 cup of milk. Add in the flour mixture and gently incorporate all of the ingredients together until you see no more flour. Peel and slice the two apples.

3. Pour and spread half of the batter into the cake pan and arrange the apple slices on top, then sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the apples. Note: you should be using one apple per layer.

4. Pour the remaining batter on top of the sliced apples and spread it around to cover. Arrange the rest of the apple slices and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture. Put it into the oven and bake it for 30-35 minutes. The cake should be golden on top and firm to the touch. Serve warm or room temperature and enjoy!

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When you first look at the picture above of this recipe you might think that it is a difficult recipe to do. At first glance it looks like quite a sophisticated dish and that's what I intended to do, I wanted this to look like I slaved over a hot stove all night. Let me just say to all of you foodies out there...anyone I mean anyone can do this recipe. I say why not let the oven to all of the hard work for you. Instead of using cream I replaced it with a can of cream of mushroom soup, which is much lower in caloric and fat content. Although I love the taste of real cream for obvious reasons it's good to avoid it when you can. Although this recipe uses a cream substitute this will not disappoint!

Serves 2 generously

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F
Baking time: 20-25 minutes

  • 1 package (350 g) of cheese and spinach ravioli
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can of low fat cream of mushroom soup (284 ml)
  • milk (fill 3/4 of the empty soup can)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 head of broccoli, florets only
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella or Gouda cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F, then put on a medium sized pot full of water on high. Once it comes to a boil, add a generous pinch of salt and add in the ravioli. Once the ravioli floats to the top it is done. Drain the ravioli and pour it into a casserole baking dish. Drizzle about 1 tbsp of olive oil onto the pasta to prevent sticking.

2. Put the now empty pot back onto the stove and drop the heat down to medium. Drizzle in 2 tbsp of olive oil, and then add in the chopped onions and minced garlic. Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper and stir for a couple minutes. Open the can of soup and spoon the creamed soup into the pot, then pour in 3/4 of the can full of milk. Add in the 2 tbsp of tomato paste, then start to whisk the ingredients together so there are no lumps in the sauce.

3. Once the sauce has come together turn the stove off, then add in the broccoli florets. Pour the sauce into the casserole dish with the ravioli and gently mix the sauce and ravioli together. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses on top, as well as the 1/2 tsp of dried basil. Bake it in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle the chopped fresh parsley for garnish. Serve immediately.

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Well dear reader and beeraphiles, I don't know about you, but I'm of mixed opinions when it comes to cream beers.

They can be terribly delicious, but perhaps too creamy, and "un-beer-like" to coin a phrase.

I'm not quite sure what to think, but given the number of times I've gone to bars (and that's a big number!), and the number of times I have not ordered cream beers despite their availability, I guess I'm not a huge fan.

But! For your benefit and enlightenment, I don't fret away from...well, most beers. So, I have ventured into the world of this cream ale, brought to you by our friends at Sleeman.

Sleeman pushes itself and its Canadian history, placing two prominent Canadian symbols on the can: a beaver, and a maple leaf. AH! Joke's on you though...they're now owned by the Japanese! I have no problem with this, I'm just letting you know that not unlike the Transformers(C) some things are more than meets the eye!

Onwards we go!

Sleeman Cream Ale is a slightly dark gold, apple juice coloured beer, and in this case, canned. Upon first sniff, ah! Light! Aromatic! Creamy! Indeed, almost like cream soda! Well isn't this promising!

WHOA! WAIT! Not so fast there...taste time!

*glug glug glug* Hmm. Deceptive!! The taste is not as light tasting as the nose might have you think, with a noticeable dryness and definite hoppiness. And most importantly: where's the cream! I mean, don't get me wrong, it IS a smoothish beer, but definitely not smooth AND creamy.

The aftertaste is a little lighter, but hops still linger about.

Well then, I'll never! Duped again! Not unlike the Pomegranate Wheat Beer I first reviewed, the nose delivers one thing, while the taste delivers something else. This ale is not bad, but certainly nothing to OOH or AHH over.

But as always, I leave it to your taste buds to decide...because tasting is half the battle.

**1/2 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$2.15 (US$1.97).

From LCBO.com:

LCBO #73361
Beer, Ale
5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 2
Made in: Ontario, Canada
By: Sleeman Brewing & Malting Co.
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I think both kids and adults alike have a weakness for cake and frosting, and I am definitely no exception. My sister came over today and we decided to bake our childhood favourite --cupcakes. Back when I was about 10 years old, a very nice lady from next door had made my sister and I peanut butter cupcakes; let's just say I never forgot about those delectable treats. So to take me back to my childhood, I added a generous dollop of peanut butter to this standby chocolate cupcake recipe that I had written down years ago. I hope that these cupcakes make you feel like a kid all over again.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F

Baking time: 25 minutes

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup creamy light peanut butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • Dark chocolate frosting (store-bought)

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line the muffin pan with paper cups. In a large mixing bowl, add and gently stir in all of the dry ingredients. Then in another bowl, add in 3/4 cup of milk, the creamy light peanut butter, 1 tsp of vanilla and the two eggs. Thoroughly mix the wet ingredients together. I recommend using a handheld mixer for this part.

Pour the wet ingredients into the large mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and gently mix the two together, until you see no more flour. Using either an ice cream scoop or two spoons, dollop the cupcake batter evenly into the lined muffin pan. Make sure to fill the muffin pan 3/4 of the way up for each cupcake. Put it into the oven and bake it for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting them and enjoy!

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Need a simple romantic dinner for two? I say there is nothing more romantic than a creamy risotto dish. The sticky and sweet caramelized onions on top of the risotto only heighten the flavour further. The orzo pasta is used instead of the traditional arborio rice to make a quicker version of this Italian favourite.

Serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced thin
  • coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • generous pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup cremini or portabellini mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 20 shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • handful of grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat a shallow pan on medium heat and drizzle in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add in 1 tbsp of butter and once it has melted, add in the onion slices. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar. Slowly saute the onion slices for about 25 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally. By the time the onions have finished cooking it should look bronze-like in colour, and look quite a bit smaller. Put the caramelized onions into a small bowl and set it aside.

2. In a medium sized saucepan, gently heat 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of water. Then place the shallow pan (the one used for the caramelized onions) back on medium heat, drizzle in another tbsp of olive oil and add in the orzo pasta. Lightly toast the orzo for about 2 minutes. You should start to smell the nuttiness coming through. Pour the 1/4 cup of white wine to deglaze and add in the sliced mushrooms. From this point you should make sure to keep gently stirring.

3. Ladle 1/2 cup of chicken stock into the orzo and when the stock starts to disappear add another ladle. When you're on the last ladle, add the green onions and the shrimp. Once the liquid pretty much gets absorbed into the orzo turn the heat off and add in the 1/4 cup of frozen peas and the last tablespoon of butter. Note: if you want to thin it out a bit more then add in a little more water.

4. Sprinkle in the grated Parmesan cheese and the chopped parsley and serve into two shallow plates. Take the caramelized onions and put half on top of each plate of risotto. Serve immediately.

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I feel that one of the best ways to cook potatoes are to bake them. Roasting potatoes in the oven seems to bring out the nutty flavour in potatoes and the crispy outer skin makes it even better. What makes hasselback potatoes even more tantalizing is the fact that you can add more flavour in between each slit. I thinly sliced garlic cloves and put them into each potato slit and sprinkled dried thyme all over. This just seemed to bring a whole new life to the regular old stand by potato side dish.

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees F.
Baking time: 45-50 minutes

  • 6 medium sized potatoes (I like using Yukon Gold Potatoes)
  • 1/4 cup water or chicken stock
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 6 tbsp olive oil (1 tbsp per potato)
  • coarse salt
  • ground black pepper
  • generous pinch of dried thyme per potato
  • 6 tsp grated Parmesan cheese (1 tsp per potato)
  • juice of half a lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Take the potatoes and wash the outer skins. Carefully slice 3/4 of the way through the potato, making sure to have 1/2" intervals in between each slit. Place the potatoes into the casserole dish and pour 1/4 cup of water or chicken stock. This will help to steam the potatoes in the oven.

2. Thinly slice the garlic cloves and place a 2-3 thin slices in between each potato slit. Season each potato with salt, pepper and dried thyme. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil on top of each potato, making sure that the oil goes in between the slits as well. Place the potatoes into the oven and bake for about 50 minutes or until tender.

3. Once out of the oven quickly sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese and squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top of all of the baked potatoes. Serve warm.

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Well dear reader! Did you ever expect me to whisk you to the other magical land down under, New Zealand? Well! We here at foodtastesyummy.com spare no expense (within reason; in this case, "reason" meaning twenty bucks). So there you have it!

I've often stated that most white wines taste remarkably similar; this is perhaps true for a few varieties, but this one breaks the mold and stands out on its own. Perhaps this is because it is derived from what is thought to be a mutant variety of pinot noir? Mutant? I thought they were reptiles in children's cartoons! Right. No more monkeying around.

Coming from the South Island with a screw-top cap, this wine presents a lighter hue of yellow than the picture suggests, and is nearly pale in appearance.

The nose it not terribly light, and is buttery and appley, although the latter definitely is not the dominating scent. Compared to other whites, this is not a terribly fruit-laced wine.

The wine label would have you think otherwise however: "...a remarkably aromatic wine with floral notes and hints of lovely autumn fruits."

Upon tasting, it is a dry, medium bodied white with a slight sourness and alcohol zing, again not yielding too many notes of fruit, but is almost woody/oakey, round, and buttery.

Good gosh I sound like a wine critic!

But, how, you might ask, can a wine be round?

Beats me.

The aftertaste wasn't terribly striking, as it lingers around and then fades off. Eh!

I suppose after so many fruit-bursting, refreshing and crisp white wines, this left me wanting a little bit more depth of flavour. Then again, paired with the right food, this probably would do well enhancing some soft white fish or other lean white meats that needs some kick and fullness.

**3/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$14.95 (US$13.91).

From LCBO.com:

LCBO #93666
Wine, Still Table Wine, White Still Table Wine
12% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 1
Made in: New Zealand
By: Nobilo Vintners
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The fall season has arrived and it's time to bring out the autumn flavours in the kitchen! I knew the first thing I wanted to make for the first day of fall was something with pumpkin in it. In my pantry I had a can of pureed pumpkin, and there was really only two things that I usually made using pumpkin puree...I either make spicy pumpkin pie or pumpkin loaf. I pulled out an old recipe I had and added raisins to it. It was a big success in my home. The flavour is basically the same as a pumpkin pie, what's not to love?

Makes 1 loaf (9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan)

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F

Baking time: 65-70 minutes

  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten (or use substitute)
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and lightly flour a loaf pan and set it aside. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the dry ingredients (except the raisins) and mix it thoroughly. In another mixing bowl, add and mix in all of the wet ingredients.

2. Pour the bowl with the mixed wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Using a spatula gently stir until all of the flour has been incorporated. Mix in the raisins. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the greased loaf pan and bake for 65-70 minutes.

3. To check the doneness, poke a toothpick into the centre of the loaf and if it comes out clean the loaf has finished baking. Cool the pumpkin loaf for a good 20 minutes before taking it out of the loaf pan. Slice the loaf and serve.

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As you may have noticed dear reader, I am one to usually stay within the safer realms of wine tasting (or in my case, the copious drinking thereof - but only in the most refined of ways...); by "safer realms" I mean, I buy a normal sized bottle, and then get my take from it.

If one sees wine bottled in a large, cumbersome container at a fairly reasonable price, one would think the grapes are from the left overs bin at the raisin and flakes cereal factory and then ran through a juicer to produce the wine inside.

At times, this is the case (not literally, the quality just makes one think so!). Fortunately, this one is not the case with today's selected vino - far from it, actually.

But I must admit a dark secret...I have tried this wine before *gasps and oohs* but! have found it to be a tried and true favourite, and is probably the wine that began my love affair with the cabernet sauvignon, hence my larger purchase.

Synthetically corked with a deep cherry red colour, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Triggs' cabernet sauvignon has a medium bodied, fruity/grapey nose, richly smelling of dark berries; inviting, and tasty.

Let's taste it shall we? Yes! Well...I'd pour you a glass, but sadly, it's all gone...but I can tell you about it, that's the next best thing, isn't it?

The berry nose is matched with berry notes in flavour, and it too is medium bodied but smooth, whose flavours are not overly complex, and are balanced well with the dryness and the alcohol.

I should note something rather amusing about the "body" of this wine. According to LCBO.com, this wine is light-bodied; I myself, as you just read, believe it's medium; the bottle however, notes that the wine is full-bodied. There you go: taste, like fashion, is truly individual!!

The label, as is always the case with my wine reviews, gives a more telling story: "...is full-bodied with subtle blackcurrant fruit on the nose. It is a dry, well-balanced wine with pleasing notes of tannin and oak on the palate." Okay then!

I will be the first to admit that this isn't the most expensive, sophisticated wine you can buy, but its smooth noticeable flavours and easy to drink character is what makes it so appealing. If ever I need a wine I know that will please, this certainly is counted amongst my top few reds.

***1/2 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$17.95 (US$16.80).

From LCBO.com:

LCBO #331025
Wine, Red Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Made in: Ontario, Canada
By: Jackson-Triggs Winery
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When I was making dinner one night, I took a good look at package of stewed beef chunks that I had de-thawed earlier and I knew I didn't want to make another beef stew. Although the traditional beef stew is absolutely delicious I wanted to make beef with a serious BBQ flavour. I had bought a can of honey beer the night before so I figured why not put the two together. Turned out to be a perfect pairing and there was even some beer left to drink. This is a good one to serve with a nice crusty bread. The beef is tender, the sauce is thick, and the best part, has a deep barbeque flavour mmmm.

Serves 2


  • 1 lb beef chunks, boneless for stew (usually 1 package from the grocery store)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • small onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • small package of baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup Deep flavoured BBQ sauce
  • Honey flavoured beer i.e. Sleeman's Honey Brown Lager Beer (half of a 473 ml can)
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes with juice (preferably from a can)
  • 1 bay leaf

1. Take a large pot and preheat it on medium high heat. Drizzle in 2 tbsp of olive oil and sear the beef chunk pieces. Do this for a good 3-4 minutes and add in the chopped onion. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper, chili powder, and saute the onion and beef mixture for another 3 minutes to develop the flavour.

2. Add and stir in the chopped celery and baby carrots. Saute for a minute then add in 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce, half a can of honey beer, the diced tomatoes and the bay leaf. Stir all the liquid ingredients together and let it come up to a boil for about 3 minutes.

3. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cover the pot. Cook the braised beef for about 45-50 minutes or until the beef is tender. Make sure to stir the braised beef a couple times during cooking to make sure that the beef doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Make sure to cover the pot again to continue cooking. Serve with thick slices of crusty warm bread.

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Everyone needs a go-to salad that can be made quickly with ingredients that most of us have on hand. This recipe is definitely one of those! I always have iceberg lettuce and a package of pre-cut coleslaw on hand, so I found myself making quite a lot of iceberg lettuce salads. Orange marmalade is another item that I usually have on hand; it's not only good on toast but can be used for many other sweet or savoury dishes. This is a terrific simple dressing that can even be used as a quick chicken breast marinade if you wish. Enjoy!

Makes about 3/4 cup of dressing
Serves about 4 people

Ingredients for salad:
  • iceberg lettuce, chopped (about half a head of lettuce)
  • radishes, sliced thin
  • handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • package of pre-cut coleslaw (about half a package)
  • shredded carrots

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1-1/2 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Take a large salad bowl, and mix all of the salad ingredients together using tongs. Put the bowl into the fridge until ready to serve. In a small bowl, add in all of the dressing ingredients except for the extra virgin olive oil. Whisk the ingredients together and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing comes together. Make sure to toss the salad with the dressing the last minute before serving.

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Since the start of this blog, I have received quite a few nice comments from many of the Food Tastes Yummy fans out there. I wanted to say a big THANK YOU! to all of you for sending me your nice comments. Although I have a comment section below I haven't figured out yet how to make these comments appear below the posts, but I really wanted to share some of the viewers comments with all of you. With this post, I thought I would share a few of these comments and a few of the viewers favourite recipes from this site as well. Ok here we go!

1. I am happy to say that my blueberry lemon bread recipe became a featured recipe on Springpad's Thesimpleme.com I had an overwhelming response and people keep downloading this recipe from Springpad. I initially found this out from my twitter page from @springpartners. Here's what they had to say about the recipe:

"Why not try this blueberry lemon bread for a tasty afternoon treat? It's the perfect combination of sweet and tart!" (Sept 14, 2009)

Here is the link from The Simple Me:

2. Angie V. on the BBQ Oven Roast Pork Loin recipe (Sept 10, 2009)

"This looks like a nice simple idea for fall cooking. Now that it's cooling down I'll be using the oven more and will definitely try this. I also have done something similar in the crockpot in the past."

Here is the link:

3. Kim from Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet on the Roasted Tomato and Tarragon soup recipe(Sept 18, 2009)

"I love tomato soup and always have, I must admit I had never put tarragon in it before and I will have to try this next time I make it. Yours looks so refreshing and yummy! I love dipping my bread into the soup like I did when I was little! Thanks for sharing this!"

Here is the link: http://www.foodtastesyummy.com/2009/09/roasted-tomato-and-tarragon-soup.html

4. Alisa from Foodista on the Tangy Whole Grain Pasta Tuna Salad recipe (Sept 5, 2009)

"I love this! Lately I've been craving for some nice tuna salad, and I love the chunky, crunchy texture this salad brings."

Here is the link: http://www.foodtastesyummy.com/2009/09/tangy-whole-grain-pasta-tuna-salad.html

5. Velva on the Scones with Raspberry Jam filling recipe (August 28, 2009)

"The scones looked fabulous! I know you were thinking that tea would be divine with these tasty treats...I am thinking a good cup of coffee. Thanks for sharing this recipe!"

Here is the link: http://www.foodtastesyummy.com/2009/08/scones-with-raspberry-jam-filling.html

I hope you all keep writing to me or Matt. We love to hear from all of you out there. I would love to know what you think of this site and some of the posts you see on here. If you happen to try a recipe and have further suggestions as to how to improve it I would love to hear them as well. Until next time happy eating every one!
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From the outset of doing this piece (both "Matt's Beer We Go!" and "Matt's Wine Not!"), I wanted to expose you, dear reader, to things foreign and familiar, old and new. To Canadian readers, this beer is definitely familiar. If you live outside the Great White North, then allow me to introduce to you Alexander Keith's Amber Ale.

Keith's is a very old brewery, claiming heritage back to 1820 in the now-Canadian-province of Nova Scotia (i.e. "New Scotland" - and no, I didn't have to look that one up! Yay!). Although now owned by Labatt's (another Canadian legend, which in turn is now owned by beer multinational conglomerate InBev), Keith's is, largely due to a pretty succesful marketing campaign, a firm favourite in this country. Although known chiefly for its India Pale Ale, this amber beer is a refreshing and delicious alternative.

Strangely enough, I still needed a bottle opener! And if you believed that, I have some magic beans I could sell you! *nyuk nyuk!* Anyway! When poured, a dark rich amber red (naturally) is presented, but to truly appreciate the beauty, hold it up to the light to catch its true colours.

This beer has a sweet, fruity nose, almost with hints of berry floating around. How nice!

It is medium and slightly grainy in taste, and not too dry nor bitter, and is very easy to drink and enjoy, although it does have its dark, rich side, which is very satisfying. One also gets a pleasantly grainy and sweet aftertaste.

What can I say really but, "Mmmm!" As I noted previously, Keith's is a favourite of many Canadians, and I am certainly no exception. The India Pale Ale is good, but this one might be even better, although not as famous as its golden brother.

Keith's slogan is simple, but to the point: "Those who like it, like it a lot." ...I like it a lot! And you likely will too.

***1/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$2.30 (US$2.15).

From LCBO.com:

LCBO #53694
Beer, Ale
5.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 3
Made in: Nova Scotia, Canada
By: Labatt Breweries Ontario
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A few days ago I was looking through some old cooking notes that I took about ten years ago and saw this cheesecake brownie cupcake recipe. What I used to do was bookmark recipes that I really wanted to try, but like most cooks out there I didn't get around to making most of them. As I pulled this recipe out of the stack of notes I read "cheesecake brownie cupcakes," the three words in the dessert vocabulary that I just love. I knew I had to try and make it. Well all I can say is the cupcakes didn't stand a chance - they're all gone!

Adapted and modified from the Canadian Living's Best: Chocolate cookbook. Written by Elizabeth Baird and the other Canadian Living test kitchen staff.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 325 Degrees F.

Baking time: 30 minutes


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coffee granules

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

1 package of light cream cheese (125 g), softened

Icing sugar (optional -to dust on top of the cupcakes)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F and line the muffin pan with paper muffin cups. Take a large mixing bowl, and beat the softened butter and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar together, until light and fluffy in texture. Beat in the 2 eggs, then stir in the vanilla extract and the coffee granules and set aside.2. In another mixing bowl, add and stir in the cocoa powder, all-purpose flour, and the pinch of salt. Then add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and gently mix it altogether. Using the two spoon method, scoop the brownie mixture equally into the 12 paperlined muffin cups.

3. In a small bowl, beat together the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, light cream cheese and the egg yolk. Spoon this mixture equally over the brownie mixture, as shown in the picture below. Take a toothpick or a knife and swirl the two mixtures together.4. Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 30 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely then lightly dust the tops with icing sugar. Put the cupcakes in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. These cupcakes should be eaten within a few days since there is the addition of the cream cheese.

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Here's one to try saying ten times fast dear reader:


Go ahead, try it.

Actually, nevermind, forget it.

Have you even heard of the word "zlatorog?" Unless you're Slovenian, the answer is likely, "no." Good. That makes two of us.

But, since I care about you so much dear reader, I took the five second trouble to translate it from Slovenian to English: golden. And, how appropriate, given its colour: gold!

All silliness aside, this was a pretty decent beer! Let me tell you more (after all, that's why you're here, not just to sit here and read my witty remarks).

Once opened via bottle opener, it does pour indeed to reveal a rich, deep golden colour, as if Midas himself had produced it. Take a whiff and you'll get a rich, flavourful nose, beery of course, but inticing and, well, nice.

A crisp, medium bodied, kinda hoppy taste fills the mouth, which isn't too heavy nor overwhelming thankfully, making this balanced between strong and smooth. It is somewhat dry, particularly in its aftertaste, but luckily it is not annihilated by an overly hoppy residue.

After letting it linger for a while in your mouth (as in after swallowing), the bitterness of the hops gives way to a slight beery sweetness.

While I had no real idea of what to expect - as is the case with all new products I try! - this one wasn't utterly amazing, but definitely not terrible at all. I enjoyed the great near one-pint sized bottle this came with, so you certainly get a bang for your buck. Although not golden in excellence, it's definitely a silver, and worth trying, especially at its very reasonable price.

**3/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$2.25 (US$2.10).

From LCBO.com:

ZLATOROG, 500 mL bottle
LCBO #676270
Beer, Lager
4.9% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 2
Made in: Slovenia
By: Pivovarna Lasko
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Rice is a typical side dish at most households all over the world. Rice is paired with just about everything from vegetarian dishes to any grilled, oven baked or deep fried meat or seafood. Being of Korean background, I do have to say that I have eaten my fair share of rice. One thing my mom used to do was either put in beans or peas in the rice to give it more flavour and to bump up the nutrience. This simple recipe is my homage to rice.

Serves 2


  • 1/2 cup jasmine rice or long grain white rice
  • 1 cup of low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • small onion, minced
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Take a medium sized pot and preheat the pot on medium heat. Drizzle in 1 tbsp of olive oil and add in the chopped onion. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and the 1/2 tsp of ground cumin and saute for about a minute. Add in the 1/2 cup of rice and stir to coat the rice with the oil and the spice. Saute for another minute to lightly toast the rice. This will help to develop the flavour.

2. Pour in 1 cup of the low sodium chicken stock, stir gently for a second and cover the pot, making sure to lower the heat down to a gentle simmer. Leave the rice to cook for about 12-15 minutes. Note: make sure to open the lid half way through and stir for 10 seconds just to make sure that the rice isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot.

3. Turn the heat off once the rice has finished cooking and add in 1 cup of the frozen peas. Cover the pot again and leave it alone for a good 5 minutes so the peas can heat through. Chop the parsley while you're waiting. Take a fork and fluff up the rice with the peas and add in the chopped parsley. The rice is now ready to serve.

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I feel the best way to showcase the sweet flavour of shrimp is to pair it with the sweet flavour of bell peppers. I flavour the sauce with Mexican inspired ingredients. The tomato base in the sauce only help to enhance the flavour of the shrimp and peppers. This is a simple and satisfying dish that only takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 20 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (10 shrimp per person)
  • half of a green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • half of a red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • half of a yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
  • small onion, sliced thin
  • coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each of: dried thyme, ground coriander, smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • juice of one lime
  • handful of chopped cilantro or parsley
1. Heat a medium shallow pan on medium high heat, drizzle in the olive oil and saute all of the sliced peppers and onions for about 2 minutes. Make sure to season with salt and pepper. Then add in the minced garlic and the dried herbs and spices.

2. Deglaze the pan with the low sodium chicken stock. Add and stir in the diced tomatoes and the shrimp. Cook the shrimp and sauce for another 5-7 minutes. The sauce should reduce slightly and thicken.

3. Turn the heat off, squeeze the juice of one lime and sprinkle chopped coriander on top. Serve the shrimp and peppers on top of cooked rice and eat!

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Truth be told dear reader, I'm almost at a loss for words with this wine. Truth be told again, I'm outspoken when it comes to most topics, but this one leaves me somewhat silent.

Why? It tasted like a red wine.

That can mean a lot of things of course, but honestly, it tastes like what you'd expect a red wine to taste like.

Grapey, dark, dry, and, well, winey.

It came with a natural cork, and is, as the picture suggests, a deep ruby red, perhaps a little darker. The label is very nicely presented I must say, with classical imagery of wine glasses. If I were grading this wine based on the label alone, I'd be loving it! However, I'm not (duh).

Medium nosed with a good alcohol punch, this wine is sharpish, distinct, and not terribly smooth.

That's all I got.

I'm sorry!

Oh, but if you're wondering what exactly "malbec" is, it's of course a variety of grape that is purple, and produces, "inky dark colour and robust tannins." Tannins of course control bitterness, and this one certainly had its share. Malbec is widly popular in Argentina, the cradle of Navarro Correas. I of course knew all this (...after reading Wikipedia).

Okay, honestly, that's all I got.

...except for what's on the label: "Flavours of ripe plums, cherries and raspberries combine in this generous, full-bodied wine. Well-defined tannins yield to a long, soft, finish."

Seriously, that's it. Go away! Read some other posts here! And I'll say, if you like dark flavoured red wines, go ahead and get this one, it won't hurt ya.

**3/4 out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$15.95 (US$14.91).

From LCBO.com:

LCBO/Vintages #70078
Wine, Red Wine
13.9% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: 1
Made in: Argentina
By: Diageo Canada Inc.

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Well dear reader, if you're anything like me, the very idea of Winter, the word "Winter," and everything about this abominable season sends chills down your spine (as it should; it's cold!). So, if you're like me, and want to stick a big old finger (I'm not saying which one!) at Old Man Winter, sit back, enjoy, and savour a beautiful wine that reminds you that Summer isn't quite done yet, and Fall can still afford to bring some wonderful weather.

This is yet another quality wine produced in my home province of Ontario, which I feel is often overlooked by the international wine community in favour of Old World and even Australian, Chilean, etc. wines. Ontario has produced award winning wines for years, so next time you happen to see this or another Ontario wine in your liquor outlet, try one, you might just love it, as I did this one.

Synthetically corked this rosé or blush wine pours and presents a lovely lighty orangy pink colour in the glass; if you want to really freshen out a room, try painting it that colour!

Upon first sniff, one is instantly embraced by a fresh, crisp grapy scent, beckoning to reveal notes of peach and strawberry.

This wine is definitely not a heavy one, but is light to medium body, whose sweetness is balanced very well by the depth of flavour, but does go down dry (I recorded in my notes that the aftertaste left a little to be desired, but only likely because the initial flavour was so good, a faint aftertaste is kinda disappointing).

Magnotta's White Merlot has the lightness of a white, but the depth and body of a red, making this a perfect balance of both styles. Refreshing and full of flavour, this is a definite winner and is surely best served chilled (as the bottle itself recommends). How ironic: to enjoy Summer tastes, one must chill this wine. Contradictory, but well worth it!

***1/2 out of 4

Purchased at a Magnotta Wine Store for C$13.95 (US$13.05).

From Magnotta.com:

2007 White Merlot Special Reserve VQA, 750 mL bottle
Magnotta Product Number #4521
12.4% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar: 3
Made in: Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
By: Magnotta Winery
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Way back in 1998, when I was really starting to get my feet wet in the kitchen, I watched Mr. James Barber on the CBC network here in Canada. Mr. Barber's show, The Urban Peasant, was one of my favourites, and he inspired me to experiment more in the kitchen. With Mr. Barber's carefree spirit he would hardly measure a thing and really encouraged his viewers to not worry when cooking for people. He stated, "Worry spoils more dinners than any other ingredient." I couldn't agree more. He made a tomato and tarragon soup and called it his "worry-free soup." This is my dedication to him. Thank you Mr. Barber!

This recipe is adapted and modified from James Barber's Worry-free soup recipe featured in the TV Guide on August 15, 1998.

Makes 4 bowls
Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees F.

  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced into quarters
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried tarragon
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • fresh basil leaves, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Take a deep casserole baking dish, add in the sliced tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and the garlic cloves. Drizzle in the 3 tbsp of olive oil and season the tomatoes with dried tarragon, salt and pepper. Coat all of the tomatoes with the oil and seasoning and put it into the oven for about 30 minutes.

2. In a medium sized saucepan, pour in the 1-1/2 cup of chicken stock, add in the chopped green onions and gently simmer to incorporate the onion flavour into the stock. Do this step when there is about 10 minutes left of roasting the tomatoes.

3. Take the tomatoes out of the oven and pour it into the chicken stock mixture. In either a food processor or a blender pour in the tomatoes and stock mixture and puree the soup.

4. Pour the soup back into the pot and gently simmer the soup for a few minutes. While the soup is heating through, start to shred the fresh basil leaves. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle the shredded basil and serve immediately with a warm crusty garlic bread.
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Ah a warm piece of garlic bread, what's not to love? For me, this is one of the best parts to a meal involving soup, stew or spaghetti. I just love to dip the warm garlicky bread in a warm soup and let it soak up all of that flavourful juice. When I make this I never have any leftover.

Makes 1 loaf

Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F.
Baking time: 15-20 minutes

  • one baguette loaf or ciabatta bread, split in half
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Split a baguette or ciabatta loaf in half and set it aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, add in room temperature butter and grate in 2 cloves of garlic. Then add the dried oregano, parsley, ground black pepper, and the tablespoon of lemon juice. Gently mix it altogether using a rubber spatula. Spread the garlic butter all over the split baguette or ciabatta loaf and then sprinkle a generous handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. If you like your garlic bread over the top sprinkle a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese.

3. Place it into the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top. Take it out of the oven and cool it for a minute. Slice it into 2-3" pieces and serve immediately.

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