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Light yet luscious story and photography

by Rebecca

LeClaire

Bridal showers are the ultimate girly event. They are the grown up versions of our childhood tea parties, complete with pretty china and sparkly shoes. Fabulous events, like fabulous outfits, don't just happen, they require planning; however, it need not be stressful and it need not be difficult. Search bridal showers online and you will get everything from games and decorations to themes and etiquette to, most importantly, food. Just like our childhood tea party food, bridal shower food should be pretty and dainty, which unfortunately, in the grownup form, can translate into frozen puff pastry and lots of trans fats. While they may be notably absent from the online search results, pretty, healthy, lower calorie and flavourful dishes can always be achieved. Traditionally, bridal showers are not big parties in terms of the number of guests. This smaller size gives the host the perfect opportunity to play around with some great cocktail food. By this I mean little picky bits and pieces that can be eaten in one bite while maintaining one's dignity. If it is your inclination, bridal showers are the time when you can bring out your inner Martha Stewart, to take things up a notch from the typical chips and dip event. Lower in calories and big on flavour - these dishes are the perfect thing to serve with your pretty china and your best sparkly shoes.

Rebecca LeClaire has been a passionate home cook since she was a small child and has spent the last several years focusing on creating lower calorie options so that she can still indulge her passion without compromising com.

Chicken in cucumber cups

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her health. Visit www.simpleorsensational.


The roasted red pepper mayonnaise and presentation elevate this dish. You can buy roasted red peppers easily in any supermarket, but I prefer making my own, not only because I know that there is no oil in them, but also because there is something very satisfying about a process that actually requires you to cook a wegetable until it's black. It's like breaking every rule and still coming out on top. Ingredients 200 g (7 oz) boneless chicken breast 2 red peppers 1/2 small red chilli, seeded and chopped 1/2 clove of garlic, crushed 1 mL (1/4 tsp) balsamic vinegar 45 mL (3 tbsp) lite mayonnaise 5 mL (1 tsp) lime juice 10 basil leaves, chopped 4 small cucumbers

Method Roast red peppers under a broiler until the skins are blackened. Put peppers into a bowl and cover with plastic w~ap and allow to cool slightly. When peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the plastic wrap and gently remove the skins. Put two peppers into a food processer and pulse to a puree. Chop remaining two peppers into small pieces. Combine the pureed peppers with mayonnaise,

Makes about 20

balsamic, garlic, lime and chilli and mix well. In a food processor, pulse chicken until it is

When serving this salad at a cocktail event, I use mini Chinese takeout containers. These little boxes hold the perfect amount for a small serving and are easy to hold and eat from. Typically, these containers are found at stores that specialize in gift packaging.

ground. (You can buy pre-ground chicken, but it may have a little more fat). In a non-stick pan, saute chicken until it is

Ingredients

Method

just beginning to brown. Remove from heat and combine with basil, peppers and pepper

200 g (7 oz) crab meat 2 1/2 mL (1/2 tsp) white wine vinegar

mayonnaise. Retum to cleaned food processer and pulse once or twice.

200 g (7 oz) Japanese Udon noodles 45 mL (3 tbsp) sesame seeds 20 mL (4 tsp fish sauce 45 mL (3 tbsp) lite soy sauce 60 mL (1/4 cup) lime juice 1 small red chilli, finely chopped (if you like less heat, seeded)

In a dry pan, toast sesame seeds until just browned, 3-4 minutes. Mash 10 mL (2 tsp) of seeds. I use a mortar

Cover the chicken mixture and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or ovemight. Cut each cucumber into five 1 1/4 centimetre (1/2 inch) slices and scoop out the seeds in the middle to form a cup. Fill each cup with a little of the chicken mixture.

and pestle, but if you don't have one you can put them into a zip lock bag and smash them with a rolling pin. Combine crushed sesame seeds, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, chilli and garlic and mix to combine.

1 clove garlic, crushed 1/4 of a medium red onion, finely sliced

Cook noodles in boiling water for three minutes, drain and run under cold water.

These can be refrigerated for up to an hour, but allow them to come to almost room temperature

1 red pepper, finely sliced 2 small cucumbers, finely sliced

before serving.

5 spears asparagus, chopped in 2,5-cm (1-inch) pieces and blanched handful of cilantro (chopped)

Combine noodles, crab meat, vegetables and dressing and mix well. Just before serving mix through cilantro and top with remaining sesame seeds.

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Ingredients

Crisps Preheat oven to 325 F.

Scallops

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25 scallops (10-20 count) 5 mL (1 tsp) of toasted sesame seeds 45 mL (3 tbsp) lite soy sauce 60 mL (1/4 cup) honey 15 mL (1 tbsp) hoisin sauce 5 mL (1 tsp) lime juice

Whisk egg whites until just fluffy, about a minute.

5 mL (1 tsp) ginger, finely chopped 5 mL (1 tsp) garlic, crushed

be very thin. Take the lid of any plastic tub (large yogurt tubs work well) and cut out a shape that you like. I find it easier to print out the shape

Crisps 2 egg whites 30 mL (2 tbsp) light butter 60 mL (4 tbsp) potato flour (not potato starch,

I want and transfer it to the lid by placing the printed sheet on top of the lid. Then run a pen

available at most Bulk Barns) pinch salt

Method

Makes about 20

The first time I made these, my husband asked where I got such amazing potato chips. Making the potato crisps does take time, but you can do it a couple of days in advance and keep them in an airtight container. These scallops couldn't be easier, but they really do need to be cooked just before serving. You can make the glaze in advance.

Scallops Combine all ingredients, except scallops and sesame seeds. Heat in a small sauce pan over medium heat until the glaze starts to thicken, about 4-5 minutes. While the glaze thickens, cook scallops in a non-stick pan until just slightly under done, 2 -3 minutes. Transfer scallops to pan with glaze to finish cooking.

Combine butter, egg whites, flour and salt and mix well to form a batter. You can shape the crisps free hand, but I find using a stencil is easiest, because they have to

around the edges of the shape, thereby making an indent into the plastic of the lid below. Finish the template by cutting around the shape. Line a cookie sheet with either a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper and place template on the sheet. Using a knife, spread batter thinly over the template. Remove the template leaving a perfectly formed potato crisp. Repeat for remaining batter. Cook for about 17 minutes or until brown and crisp. To serve, place one scallop on each crisp and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

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Makes about 20

If you are looking for some "wow factor" in with your bridal shower menu, these are definitely the things to serve. Not only are they delicious, they are also visually stunning. I have included the instructions to make the chocolate letters below and, once you get the hang of it, they are not difficult. Typically, you would use first letters of the bride's and groom's names, but you could do just the bride's initials or dispense with the letters altogether. The tarts will still taste amazing \vithout them. Ingredients

Dip the tops of the pastry shells into the

25 mini croustade pastry shells

remaining white chocolate and allow them to set.

500 g (2 cups) lite cream cheese 175 g (1 cup, 2 tbsp) white chocolate bits, melted 1/2 pouch (4 g) gelatin 4 eggs, separated 35 mL (2 1/2 tbsp) icing sugar 90 mL (1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) lemon juice 10 mL (2 tsp) lemon zest 30 g (1 oz) bittersweet chocolate

Method Combine gelatin and lemon juice and allow gelatin to dissolve. Combine egg yolks, cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix until smooth. Add one cup of the melted white chocolate. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold into cheese mixture. Put cheese mixture into fridge covered by a piece of plastic wrap (lay plastic wrap directly on top of mixture to prevent a skin forming) and leave overnight.

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Using a computer, print out letters you wish to copy in chocolate. I found simpler ones gave me a better result, but that may be because drawing is not my strong suit. For the letters pictured here, I used Monotype Corsiva font at size 60. Print the letters out and place a piece of parchment paper over them. Melt the chocolate (the microwave works well for such a small amount).

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Cut a square of parchment paper and twist it into a cone shape. The smaller you make the tip, the easier it will be to pipe letters and the better they will look. Using the letters under the parchment as a guide, use melted chocolate to pipe letters. Leave letters to cool, then transfer paper to the fridge. When letters are fully set, place them on the tarts using the tip of a knife. Using a piping bag, pipe the cheese filling into the pastry shells, top with chocolate letters. Tarts can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 hours.

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Bridal shower menu