Morning Glory Diner, Toronto

A tiny little gem of a breakfast and lunch spot in the east end neighborhood of Toronto, may just have the best breakfast sandwich rolls around. Soft, yet chewy, and porous enough to soak up plenty of the house-made aoli they slather on. The small menu isn’t all that veggie-friendly, outside of the omelette of the day and yogurt with granola, but I ordered this breakfast sandwich without the “mennonite ham” and with a side of rosti – basically a hashbrown patti, with house-made ketchup. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a delicious and quaint operation (one cook, one waitress) with vintage dishware, big portions, and nice prices.

Apple Whiskey Maple Tart

A little tart is one of the easiest deserts that you can make for a last-minute dinner party. If you have a good mixer with a paddle attachment or food processor, tart crust is just minutes away. Traditional tart crust has more sugar, and egg yolk, and vanilla or almond extract added, but you can always use a pie crust, too. Add a seasonal fruit, sliced thin, or pile on the berries, and then top with a jam or syrup. For this fuji apple tart, I combined equal parts of maple syrup and whiskey, the egg white leftover from my crust’s yolk, the tiniest pinch of salt, and poured it on the crust under the carefully arranged apple slice, then drizzled just a bit of maple syrup and whiskey on top.

* a few tart hints: prebake your tart crust for 10 to 15 minutes on 350, and make sure to prick it generously with a fork so that it doesn’t puff up everywhere! After adding fruit and before its final baking, cover the edges with tinfoil, so that they don’t burn.

Blue Cheese Savories with roasted garlic and red pepper jelly

I saw these yummy blue cheese savories (blue cheese? savory? sold!) up on Food in Jars (taken from Mostly Foodstuffs – what a round!) the other week, and thought they were the perfect little appetizer to whip up for a last minute dinner party. I was even able to use some frozen blue cheese (it crumbles so well!) and the open jar of roasted garlic and red pepper jelly I had in the fridge. its hard to scoop out very small amounts of a chunky jelly, so it rolled over the savory a bit, but was delicious!

Thai Curried Squash Soup

Arriving home from a long vacation, I looked around my kitchen, realize there is very little fresh in the house, and decided to make a pantry soup for friends arriving for dinner and a movie. Squash can keep almost forever in a cool location, and I had these leftover from my last few CSA pick-ups in November. A few onions, carrots and apples relaxing nicely in my crisper, and some pantry basics rounded out this spicy, creamy soup with inspiration from a recipe from Bon Appetit.

2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup diced white onion
1 cup diced carrots
1.2 cup diced fuji apple
2-4 tsps. red thai chili paste
2 medium crook neck squash, peeled, seeded and diced
4 cups rich vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 14 oz. can light coconut milk
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onions, carrots and apple, cooking on medium-high and stirring often, until the onions are golden. Add the chili paste, stirring to coat the vegetables, and cook for 3 minutes, until the paste toasts and becomes fragrant. Add the squash, vegetable both and bay leaves, raising heat to high and bringing to a boil. Cover and lower heat to medium-low, keeping broth at a low boil and stirring occasionally until vegetables are very soft, about 40 minutes. Remove the pot from heat, and remove the bay leaves from the pot. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth*, and then return to heat. Add the can of coconut milk and the salt, stirring until completely blended. Add pepper to taste. Serve with toasted squash seeds.+

* You can use a regular blender to puree the soup, but be sure not to fill the vessel completely, as the steam from the hot soup can cause the lid of the blender to shoot off, and hot soup to fly everywhere!

+ keep the seeds from the squash to toast for soup or salads. Rinse the seeds, then coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toast in a 300 degree oven or toaster oven for 5 minutes.

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

Sorry loves. It been a long long holiday season, with a lot of travel and spotty internet service, but I plan to make it up to you with some tasty comfort food and a heap of foreign foods.

As I mentioned before the holiday, I’ve been slowly working through the easy, healthy and so far, delicious recipes in “Super Natural Cooking.” As the recipe mentions, this dish is incredibly easy of you have extra cooked sweet potatoes hanging around, but it’s tasty enough to make from scratch. For those of you unfamiliar with spoon bread, its very soft, almost a pudding, so don’t be upset if it seems too “jiggly.” And while the recipe tells you to layer the goat cheese under another layer of potato “dough,” you could skip this step and just put the cheese on top of you like your goat cheese on the brown and toasty side. A light lunch or dinner, even a brunch with a good salad, I served mine with some reheated spicy curried sweet potato soup with greens.