tapas galore!

This is another entry that really doesn’t include a single recipe… only pictures of absolute goodness. I had the opportunity to finally try out an amazing Ottawa restaurant, Allium (on Holland Drive)… well, I think the few pictures I took speak volumes.

Highly recommended… I taste tested a roasted beet salad with pecans and an herbed goat cheese, absolutely decadent mac & cheese… seriously, just look at the picture! Tuna tartare with a crunchy won ton noodle and fish cakes topped with mango and avocado… sigh. Everything was just perfect. Top that off with some good wine and even better company… I would call that a perfect dinner.

roasted beet salad with pecans and herbed goat cheese

 mac & cheese

tuna tartare with a crunchy won ton noodle

fish cakes topped with avocado and mango

all done

I highly recommend Allium and their Monday night tapas menu… anyone have plans next week? ;0)

cake anyone?

Emily and I have been friends for… 12 years now. I met Emily on my first day in Ottawa; 10th floor Thompson Residence. We got along right away and stayed friends long after we checked out of residence and became the people we are today.

A few years back Em and I decided to run a 30 km race together… I would see her every week, sometimes twice in the same day: we would encourage each other by talking about… food. Sweet potato fries to be exact. We successfully completed the race and Em vowed never to do it again; so we came up with another way to spend time together… baking. Baking cakes to be exact.

This is our first collaboration. My colleague at work, Sylvie, asked if we could bake her daughter’s engagement cake. She gave us the details – beach theme, date of the proposal and was specific about wanting a starfish or two. We rolled up our sleeves and decided to get baking.

the star fish sylvie requested ;0)

I baked the cake (5 batters to be exact) and made the syrup. Em did the hard stuff. I bow down to my friend for being able to decorate this massive 14×14 cake.

the 14 x 14 cake… insane!

i had to level the cake… so we kept the scrapes on the side

and then we got to sample them… amazing cake!

I am so excited to share the results with you. As you can see, a marbled cake with vanilla buttercream icing was taken to the “beach” to celebrate a happy couples engagement. I think that Emily was able to capture exactly what Sylvie was asking for…starfish and all ;0)

the final result

I love that not only do I get to bake cakes, but I get to spend time with Em. This is even better than those runs… since not only do we get to talk about food, but we get to sample it too!

just a bite


Sometimes all you want, all you need, is one bite. One bite of something sweet… one bite of home baked goodness. These mini muffins are those little bites (well, more like 3 bites, unless you’re in a hurry).

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, oatmeal chocolate chip muffins remind me of my mom; of being a kid and the excitement of coming home from school to a freshly baked treat. I decided to take the classic recipe and make mini muffins… they baked up perfectly, with slightly golden puffed tops…super cute and absolutely delicious. Who doesn’t love a muffin? Especially one that brings you right back home, sitting in the kitchen with your mom. :0)

*Special note for Abigail… these could be perfect for your “coffee, cake, 1000 words per day” goal… only substitute the muffins for the cake ;0)

Traditional Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins (mini sized)
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. oatmeal (not instant)
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c. mini dark chocolate chips (I used mini since the muffins were going to be mini)

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line your mini muffin tin with paper liners – I was able to get 24 muffins out of the batch.

In a large bowl, mix together the buttermilk and the oatmeal; then allow them to sit for about 10 minutes or so.

While you’re waiting, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Go back to the soaked oats and use a large spatula to stir in the egg, the brown sugar and the oil. Add the flour mixture to it and stir to just combine (you’ll see, all it takes is a few strokes). Toss in your chocolate chips, incorporate those and, voilà! Your muffin batter is done.

Grab your mini-ice cream scooper and scoop out the batter evenly into each muffin liner – you want the batter to hit the top (so that you get a nice puffed up effect once baked).

Bake for about 12 minutes (I checked at 10 minutes and then added a couple more minutes for good measure). Remove from the oven, allow to sit in the muffin tin for another 10 minutes and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack… but really, why wait?