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Nella Cucina: Picnic Cooking Class

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Last year, I bought @WineGuyTO and I some Living Social deals for a cooking class at Nella Cucina.  You may remember it was where I took part in the John Plasko and Eat Rice USA demo.  It took us a while to choose which class we wanted to take, because they sell out fast!  We went with the hands-on Picnic Class (range of $95-$125), just in time for the start of Spring.  @WineGuyTO unfortunately fell ill, but my good friend @munchkinkaty was able to step in at the last moment.

The hands-on classes are great because the instructor goes over the steps for each dish and then the 4 people at the your table make each of the recipes.  I love that there are lots of instructors who walk around, giving tips and helping overall.  We were also sent copies of the recipes via email after the class, as well as taking home leftovers.

On the menu:

  • Cold spring pea soup
  • Muffuleta sandwich
  • napa slaw
  • Spaghetti fritatta
  • Kitchen sink cookies

We had a great time in the class and I will definitely be signing up for other classes in the future.

Spring Pea Soup

Spring Pea Soup

Muffuleta sandwich

Muffuleta sandwich

Napa slaw

Napa slaw


The making of our frittata

The making of our frittata

The frittata

The frittata

What we could throw into the cookies!

What we could throw into the cookies!

Our cookies fresh out of the oven

Our cookies fresh out of the oven

Nella Cucina
876 Bathurst St, Toronto








Boon Eat + Drink, Guerneville CA

I really had not planned out our trip to Sonoma.  The lovely @laurendorphin had been the year before and gave me a great detailed and helpful  list of wineries to check out, as well as places to eat.  So when we got to our hotel in Guerneville, we decided to walk the main drag and just pick a spot.  I think we picked a winner!

Boon Eat + Drink is about supporting local farms and business restaurant, meaning that all the food (and wine!) comes from within Sonoma.  They also have a small hotel and spa in the area too. The restaurant itself is tiny, maybe 6 tables, but there was a heated picnic table outside the door.  There was as much on the drinks menu as there was on the dinner!









What we ate:

I started with the cold roasted cauliflower and faro,  then the boon burger. I chose the Acorn Syrah to drink.

Syrah – palate smacking, robust, a lot of tannins, well structured.Plum,  Cracked pepper, black currents, blackberry/Cassis

Salad – a little salty but the flavored worked nicely together. Just the right amount of vinaigrette and the portion size was  just right, not too small and not very large. Portions I am used to, not the oversized US ones I kept getting.

Burger – the butter of the brioche bun added to the medium fineness of the meat grind. Liked the pickled onions but not so big on the arugula as I am not a fan of lettuce on burgers. A tomato would have been nice but not keeping with local/in season I imagine.

Fries – can totally taste the truffle oil and they were almost under salted which worked. The ketchup had a nice sweetness to it. The aioli was mayo-y in a little overpowering way.









@WineGuyTo had the fried chicken special. He says the mashed sweet potatoes were buttery and the chicken was fried  nicely and not overly breaded. Crisp  and matched well with the lemon tarragon buttermilk sauce. Sorry, forgot to get a picture.

For dessert we shared the chocolate fudge brownie with sea salt and balsamic reduction from the nightly specials menu. Again a little too much salt. The balsamic provided the sweet as the brownie was very gooey.

Would I go here again? Definitely!

16248 main street
guerneville, ca 95446

Essential Pépin: Composed Salad

To celebrate the release of Jacques Pépin’s new cookbook, Essential Pépin, we are challenging Canadian home chefs and bloggers to cook up their own French meals with recipes from the book. Participants will receive a copy of the book* and one lucky chef will win a KitchenAid® Artisan Series Stand Mixer**, courtesy of KitchenAid® Canada!

This arrived in my email late last week and I was intrigued.  Other than chefs on Food Network, I am pretty ignorant of known chefs. I would love to receive the cookbook so I can expand my culinary knowledge.   I was happy to see that the three recipes for entry were actually quite simple.

I choose to do the Composed Salad because it was close to what I normally do for a salad.  We were allowed to add any other vegetable, so I choose beets.  I found candy cane and orange at St. Lawrence Market on the weekend, and had some regular red beets from a stop in Flesherton Market over Thanksgiving weekend.  I love roasted beets, especially with goat cheese, so I knew this salad would work.

Composed salad with roasted beets and herbed goat cheese

Jacques Pépin’s recipe 

Composed Salad of Greens, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Pecans
Serves 4

A composed salad consists of greens and any of an almost endless variety of other ingredients, from cooked vegetables to fruits, nuts, poultry, lamb, beef, fish, or shellfish, arranged on a plate or platter, rather than tossed. In this one, I add cheese, apple, and caramelized pecans to tender greens. The combination makes an ideal summer supper or lunch main course or elegant dinner first course.

1/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of cayenne

1 medium apple, preferably russet or
Golden Delicious
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons oil, preferably a mixture
of walnut, hazelnut, and/or canola
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups salad greens, preferably mesclun
1 ounce semi-dry or hard goat cheese,
crumbled into pieces about 1/2 inch
in size.

For the pecans:

Put the pecans in a skillet and cover (barely) with water.
Bring to a simmer over high heat, and immediately drain. Return the pecans to the pan and add the oil, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the nuts brown and the sugar mixture caramelizes.
Transfer the pecans to a plate to cool.
Halve the apple and remove the core.
Cut it into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Stack the slices and cut them into 1/2-inch wide strips. Mix the apple strips with the lemon juice and set aside.

For the dressing:

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
At serving time, toss the greens with the vinaigrette, and arrange on individual plates. Sprinkle with the apple strips,
crumbled cheese, and pecans. Serve immediately.

Want to enter? Check out the Facebook page, contest closes Sunday, December 4.

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