I like football. This is surprising because I generally hate watching sports on teevee. I don’t know if its the tight-ends or the hairless arms, but football is a-okay in my books. Every Sunday, we dress baby Otis in his football onesie and have football family time. My friends love a good ol’ fashioned food competition, so I thought, why not host a soup competition for superbowl. Get it, Soup-erbowl. Turns out I’m not that genius and grantland hosted the king of all head-to-head souperbowl competitions online days after I had sent out my invite.
Superbowl custom dictates chili eating, so I decided to forgo the opportunity for soup supremacy and take myself out of the running by making a venison chili with skillet cornbread. I used up some of my black beans (thus continuing to fulfill my new years resolution) and used some fantastic Deer Valley venison from the Brickworks market. I wanted to be on theme, so I made Brooklyn based Baked’s tomato soup cupcakes with mascarpone icing. The batter was a horrifying shade of orange from two whole cans of tomato soup, the finished cupcakes were…Mmmm wow…unexpected…moist, spicy, tomatoey – genius!
Our friends are so impressive – almost everyone brought soup, with garnishes! Fancypantses. There was a creamy cold “tailgate” vichyssoise with croutons and a perfectly soft boiled egg from Ferran Adria’s new home-cooking book, a parsnip soup with toasted mustard seeds and parsnip chips, and a 101 cookbooks cheddar broccoli soup with crispy croutons. We each tried the soups and had a secret ballot drawing at half-time – the winner by a landslide was the “tailgate” vichyssoise, oh and that creepy slackline dancer.
Skillet Cornbread (makes one skillet)
1 cup All-Purpose flour
1 cup old cheddar
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1) Preheat oven to 400F. Grease seasoned cast-iron with shortening.
2) Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, cheddar and salt in a bowl.
3)Combine wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients until just combined.
4) Place empty cast-iron pan in heated oven for 5 minutes.
5) Remove and pour batter into pan.
6) Bake for 25 minutes, let stand 15 minutes before serving.
*I like to top cornbread when it comes out of the oven with a maple syrup butter sometimes. You know, to gild the lily.
I have been busy. I just started my new job. I soon hope to fall into a more normal routine that includes going to work AND making delicious dinners, preserving, walking my dog and blogging. For now, I need a few weeks to get used to the daily grind.
At work, I have been busy making agnolotti dal plin*:
At home, I have been busy pickling asparagus….
And, I won’t lie and admit I succumbed to buying another 7 litre bushel of sweet cherries from the market. I’m thinking they might need a good pickling. Pickled cherries are supposed to be delicious. We’ll see!
The Brickworks Saturday farmers market is quickly becoming my favourite place in the city of Toronto. I have eaten the best belgian waffle of my life from the waffle bar, drank delicious coffee from the merchants of green coffee, bought beautiful tomato plants from the Evergreen garden centre and snacked on the most rich and delicious chili chocolate from Chocosol. The Brickworks is our new Saturday morning routine.
In Italy I had many technical glitches. It seemed most electronic devices I touched stopped working in one way or another. The first of a string of electronic mishaps was when my precious life-line of a laptop died, the day before I left the safety of ALMA, my Italian cooking school, into the remote countryside of Piacenza. Until I arrived in Bilegno (lets not forget – population 70), I had no idea how much I needed the laptop. Luckily, my roommate and co-worker, Sara, let me borrow her laptop while I was there. What an angel.
One of the great tragedies of the laptop debacle was that I had just transferred thousands of photos from my time at ALMA where we went on the most unbelievable field trips. Today, I got the photos off my old laptop and thought over the coming weeks I should share some of my adventures on this blog, like I would have if I had access to them when I was in Italy.
It’s no surprise I went to many markets when I was in Italy. I took pictures at some of them, while others will be remembered fondly and revisited again. The Campo de’ Fiori is in Rome, near Piazza Navona, a famous piazza that is home to a beautiful Neptune fountain and a fun Christmas market. The Campo de’ Fiori has an interesting history (doesn’t all of Italy!?!), it once was a place of brutal punishment. There is an extremely foreboding statue in the centre looking over the market. The statue is of the philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was deemed a threat to the church and burned alive. The statue is in the exact place of his death. Creeeepy.
And now, the Campo de’ Fiori is filled with a market every morning of the most gorgeous produce, puntarelle, raddichio, artichokes – anything you could imagine. We arrived when the market was closing for the day so we saw the quick clean-up with the tiny little pick-up trucks that seem to be everywhere.
We ate some tasty pizza bianco at Forno Campo de’ Fiori, a bustling bakery busy with hungry locals looking for an afternoon snack. Rome is where the heart is.
My first pesto. My first post.