Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thorncliffe Public School VOICES Event and Moms Picnic In The Park...


With Ramadan over and school coming to an end, for me it all came down to this much anticipated event...! After school Tuesday, the TDSB Welcoming Communities Parent Engagement Culinary Group and I hosted a taster cocktail party to celebrate the achievements of both students and parents in the Thorncliffe Community where I have been teaching culinary classes to moms. The newcomer elementary students in the PALS program led by facilitator Ashima Suri at Thorncliffe Public school showcased their fantastic experiences in a beautiful artistic photo gallery exhibit- VOICES while my brigade of community kitchen moms prepared for the venue assorted appetizers, dips and sips- highlighting some of the best from our  sessions. Families happily ate, browsed their children's work and mingled with other parents and staff. What a perfect occasion to share and exchange the pride of work accomplished during this school year for both kids and their moms!... Thank you TDSB Community Services!

Here are the lovely mom volunteers and participants in my culinary program enjoying a year-end potluck picnic- a chance to share each other's homemade favourites, enjoy each others' company and to say "see you later"... But before this celebration, first things first....

Indeed a beaute of a day for a picnic!


Student hand-crafted invites to their families...


Our menu highlighting some of our favourite flavours, showcasing diversity, freshness and textures!

Preparing food for 100 people

This fridge was completely empty before I had my hands in it...

Buying, storing and schleping all of this solo was a big job let me tell ya'....

Quick smiles for the camera before heads down and grinding away for the next few...



Loving the bright fresh rainbow of colours!!!



Families were lined outside the gymnasium doors... the numbers in the crowd was just as anticipated--  What a great turn-out! YAY! It was a big blur for me, for real... trying to man the kitchen to get the food out on time plus trying to capture excellent photos and lots of it- wasn't going to happen! Food comes first and photos haphazard will have to do...


The tables were ready with veggies and dips, fruit and cheese and crackers platters so guests could settle in and get some regular nibbles before the featured appetizers came out in intervals.  


The build-your-own yogurt parfait station was a hit... kids could choose from strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, dried black currants, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, honey and two kinds of granola mixtures. Although I caught kids take just ingredients sans yogurt.


The exhibit everyone came to see was a collage series of photos, artwork and mementos produced and collected throughout the school year.

"The sun was reflecting off the water like stars without the darkness." 


More photos, and artistic expression with poetry sentiments by students in this creative display! Great work Ashima! 


Food keeps going out and making their rounds to feed the eager crowd...

From top left clockwise: Cheese and Cracker Platter, Spicy Shrimps with Avocado
on Rice Crackers
, Shredded Chicken and Herbs Vietnamese-Style on Endive Leaves
and Sweet Corn, Black Bean and Pepper Salsa in Tortilla Scoops.


There was a lot of food and I prefer that than not having enough. The last appetizers to make their appearance were Cocktail Shrimps in Lemon Yogurt Dill on Cucumber Rounds and Baked Curry Mushroom Palmiers.


What an incredible event and experience for the community! I heard rave reviews on the food and the exhibit in general! And the cherry on top, is interest from parents who want to join my culinary program were we to run it again in the Fall! YAY! Ashima and I are so appreciative for the many volunteers including staff, parents and public health nurses that helped us pull this off together! Thank you everyone- we couldn't have done it without you!

Thorncliffe P.S. Appreciation Certificate and Flower Awards to Volunteers!

Finally, we get to kick back and relax with our homemade faves and just relish with our friends in laughter and conversations! Summer just started and what a way to mark it in our memories...


The totally delicious picnic spread under the afternoon sun with lots of Sri Lankan specialties, from chicken wraps and bun to chaplee chicken burgers, dahi pakori (lentil balls in yogurt sauce and tamarind), chicken biryani and my salad :).


I couldn't resist making this fun and refreshing Zucchini Noodle and Watermelon Salad in Lime Vinaigrette
It is becoming my summer salad-go-to!



Don't be shy, just dig in....



Now this is a true picnic with blankets and under a large tree for ample shade. 



I couldn't resist requesting a display of freshly painted Henna Art hands...
Wow, what gorgeous artistic expression on our most expressive body part-- H.A.N.D.S!

These cute momento jars were our token of appreciations to the moms!

Sweet treats for a sweet ending always....Delicious saucy fruit custard, fruit custard trifle with meringue, tiramisu and mini chocolate cupcakes with a Kit Kat bar (oh what fun!) from a mom who specializes in cakes and decorating.

Check out Fathima's gorgeous cakes and more on Succulent Cakes.

We are so proud of our accomplishments being the first year hosting a parent engagement culinary program... it's about making a difference, creating friendships, and inspiring to try something new... and we did it, by leading with our hearts! Congratulations to everyone!

We must be the change we wish to see in the world -  Gandhi 



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Strawberry Mania... Jams, Crepes and Watermelon Dessert...


School year is wrapping up, and that means my beloved newcomers culinary program comes to a close for summer break. What to cook with my lovely students to bid them farewell and give them something to remember me and our last class by? Fresh bright red sweet strawberries abound everywhere I go, and wouldn't it be such a delicious send off cooking together in some of my favourite things to do with them-- crepes, jam and combined with watermelon and strawberry milk for a fun dessert you can eat and drink. DIY strawberry jam in little mason jars as a token take-home gift and learning to carve a cool serving bowl out of watermelon-- now that's what I call preserving the memories and flavours of cooking together that will hopefully inspire the kids to enjoy the summer fun ahead with foods they can make for or with their friends and family! This is my wish for these classes-- sharing it forward waaaay beyond the classroom.


Yes no cook strawberry jam-- a great way to preserve and savour the top berry of summer.

Easy No-Cook Strawberry Jam (from Kraft Canada)
Makes 5-1/2 cups

1-3/4 cups crushed strawberries (start with 4 cups of strawberries)
4 cups sugar
1 pouch (85 mL) Certo Liquid Pectin
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Mix berries and sugar until blended. Let stand 10 min., stirring occasionally. Add pectin and juice; stir 3 min. or until most the sugar is dissolved. Pour into clean jars or plastic containers; cover with tight-fitting lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours or until set. Freeze up to 1 year or refrigerate up to 3 weeks. 
How to Crush Strawberries: Use a potato masher to crush the strawberries, crushing them one layer at a time. For best results, do not crush the berries in a food processor. 

Extra TIP: Add 1 Tbsp. orange or lemon zest to crushed strawberries before mixing with remaining ingredients. 


Silver Spring students excitedly mashing and filling jars.

Capping to preserve the sweet memories of our culinary class.

Crepes!!!


Basic Crepes (adapted from Kraft Canada)
Makes about 8  8-inch crepes

1-1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. oil
1 cup flour

Whisk milk, eggs and oil smooth. Add flour; whisk until batter is well blended and smooth. Pour into bowl; cover. Refrigerate 30 min.

Lightly coat skillet with cooking spray. Heat on medium heat. Pour 3 Tbsp. batter into skillet; rotate to coat evenly. Cook 1 min. or until golden on underside. Loosen edge with rubber spatula and turn out of pan onto paper towel. Stack, browned side up. If storing to use later, place a waxed paper between each crepe.

Humber Summit newcomer students enjoying crepes for the first time!

A fury of crepe-making over at Beverley Heights!

Silver Springs students customizing their crepe-licious!
 
Here's the cool watermelon carving-- hollowed out watermelon half as a serving bowl for fruit...


Or as a punch bowl... Here making one of my favourite refreshing summer desserts-- Korean Hwachae--  watermelon and strawberry milk soup in a fun serving vessel to entertain with! A dessert kids and adults alike will love...

Henry Kelsey students had fun being introduced to fruit-carving!

Take a whole watermelon, slice a piece off both ends to create a flat bottom (not too deep to puncture the flesh or it will leak), and cut fruit in half. With a large spoon, scoop out all the fruit and place into a container and pour out all it juice into a large bowl; use immediately or freeze for several hours (the pieces should be chunky with some small pieces).

Take a small knife, cut triangles or alternating squares working your way around the melon rim (don`t worry about being perfect-- no one will notice or care). Remove the melon pieces from the freezer-- it should be slushy and icy but not frozen hard; if it is give an hour or so to thaw a bit.


Korean Watermelon and Strawberry Milk Dessert Soup (Hwachae)

1 hollowed watermelon half
watermelon pieces and juice
strawberries, washed and quartered (If not sweet enough, toss with some sugar and let sit for 1/2 hour)
strawberry milk
ice if desired

To serve, place the strawberries in the hollowed watermelon. Add the watermelon and pour in the milk to almost filled. If not serving right away refrigerate. Add ice if desired upon serving.

 

I`ve always been attracted to fruity Asian desserts and beverages that excite the senses-- flavourful, textural and beautifully presented. When the humidity of the summer air creates parched throats everywhere, Korean Hwachae`s refreshing soothing cold fruit soup is guaranteed to quench and quell! Asian cuisines often call this kind of dessert a soup-- a dessert you can eat and a beverage you can drink in one! For more fun variations, including an adult version-- check out my post.

Korean Watermelon Strawberry Milk Hwachae

Cheers to a fantastic and safe summer! Hope to see your friendly faces again...



Monday, June 4, 2018

My China Chapter in the New Taste of the Place Global Cookbook....


It's heeeeeeeere......!!! Over the moon ThRiLLeD to have received the much-anticipated global cookbook Taste of The Place (Authentic recipes from real kitchens around the globe) conceptualized and produced by Julie Ann Cockburn from Oregon, USA who I have had the complete honour to collaborate a chapter with. Lovely Julie is a real food advocate, food photographer and writer with a knack for discovering regional cuisines through cooking and travelling, featured on her site Taste of The Place, now blossomed into it's very own cookbook- Congrats Julie!!! She has also graced Susan's Savour-It! as my very first guest blogger with her delicious autumn Roasted Acorn Squash with Zingy Greens. Along with 12 other food writers from around the world, each with our own countries' chapter, I contributed four recipes for China (an appetizer, main meal, side and dessert) from my beloved heritage on Cantonese Chinese cuisine. Read on for more on how to order an e-book or printed cookbook and for a discount code.

As Julie says, "this is about bringing people together over food, even though they are worlds apart!"


For info. to order an E-Book or Printed Cookbook

Here are a few highlights to whet your appetite –
  • Enjoy over 50 authentic, regional recipes from real kitchens around the globe, each accompanied by beautiful, full-color photos.
  • Each regional chapter explores what makes the food from that area so special.
  • Gain personal insights into the culinary cultures of 13 different parts of the world. 
  • The areas of the world we will explore together – Argentina, China, Curaçao, Czech Republic, India, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Romania, South Africa, Cornwall in the United Kingdom, The Midwest United States, and The Southwest United States. 
  • For more information of how to order an E-Book or Cookbook, see HERE.

Taste of the Place

Meet my fellow brilliant and beautiful women contributors from around the world...

From top left clockwise to bottom left: Mira Jirrar on Jordan; Petra Novotna on Czech Republic; Susan Ng on China; Prachi Grover on India; Sandra Mukidza on Kenya; Lindsey Shifley on the Midwest, USA; Maria Elena Ledesma on Argentina; Debbie Thorpe on Cornwall, U.K; Rebecca Bourhill on South Africa; Terri Salminen on Italy; Muriel Strobos on Curaçao; Dana Visternicu on Romania and Amy Baker Wambold on the Southwest, USA

Now meet the one and only Super Julie, who single-handedly put this entire book together!

Julie Ann Cockburn, Bend Oregon, USA

I had a chance to interview Julie to learn about her vision and the journey that went into  making the book.

What inspired you to create this global cookbook and how did you select the contributors?

The Taste Of The Place cookbook was inspired by my realization after a magical dinner on the Oregon coast that every meal has the potential to tell the story of a place. The ingredients, the flavors, and even the cooking techniques give us a glimpse into the history, culture, and land of that particular part of the world.

I originally met all the contributors through the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution ambassador program. I was inspired by each of these 13 women not only because of their love of delicious and REAL food but because of their passion for exploring and sharing their own unique cultures. So when it came time to begin the Taste Of The Place cookbook project, they were the perfect, natural fit.

Collecting, testing and compiling recipes from food contributors around the world must have been exciting and overwhelming at the same time. What was the biggest challenge and learnings?

There were certainly a lot of challenges to gathering and preparing these recipes to go to print. In some cases, language barriers were a challenge, and of course, there was the issue of converting units and measures. But the biggest challenge was trying to interpret ingredients that are commonplace in one culture, but unknown in North America. For example, in Romania, they have a very different cheese culture than we do here in the US, and there isn't a lot of online information to help out. I actually spent weeks researching and then testing cheeses for the Romanian Tocinei (potato pancakes) and Papanasi (cheese donuts) recipes before finally settling on what I thought were acceptable substitutes to the traditional Romanian cheeses. I have to admit - it was a tasty challenge!
Speaking of Dana's Romania recipes- I had the opportunity to make these recipes as part of the proofing and retesting process. The results were sensational. Take a look here.

Your book is such a celebration of not only recipes, but stories and traditions of cultures from around the world. Was there a particular cuisine or dish that really stood out or resonated with you?

Of course, I love all the chapters in the cookbook and have many recipes that I regularly make at home for my family, but yes, I do have my favorite favorites! I love savory, spicy beef dishes, so the Jordanian Royal Kebabs and the South African Bobotie are personal favorites.

What is your aspiration for this wonderful and collaborative cookbook project?

My hope in sharing all these beautiful recipes and food cultures is that readers will be inspired to embark on a culinary adventure. I believe that by reading the personal stories that accompany the recipes, and tasting these dishes from around the globe, that they will gain a deeper understanding of and connection to not only the regions featured in the cookbook, but also to the rich diversity that the world has to offer.
Thank you Julie! I can't wait to cook out of this globe-trotting recipe book.

So EXCITED last week to have received the books by mail :D

Thank you Julie... I finally have a copy in my hot lil' hands! YAY!


My Cantonese Chow Mein has always been the top contender as my most popular blog post, and that's after 600 posts. And I'll say I'm not surprised in the least-- it's such a gorgeous dish, full of healthful veggies, colour and textures all smothered in a glazy sauce over fried egg noodles! I was so pleased to learn that this beautiful rendition by Julie made running photo after the cookbook's cover page.

Photo Credit: Taste of the Place by Julie Cockburn

Sharing my recipe for steamed fish fillets Cantonese-Style (not whole fish) with Julie remarking, "it's such a perfect and approachable recipe for introducing people to Chinese cooking!" This dish uses readily frozen fish fillets, with no bones to contend with. Beautifully styled and shot Julie! :D

Cantonese Steamed Fish with Ginger, Cilantro & Green Onions

Cantonese Steamed Fish with Ginger, Cilantro & Green Onions

Admiring the history of my heritage roots and classic black and white photos of my dad cooking.
Take a close up read on this very page spread.


Back story: I was flipping through old yellowing family photo albums and sighted these photos I totally forgot about.. it caught me off guard and brought tears to my eyes. These were of my dad before I was born-- the first one of him learning to roast a pig when he went over to neighbouring Hong Kong from Guangzhou, China and the other when he was working in my aunt's restaurant in Newfoundland before coming to Toronto. I just love these rare B&W photos of him! We owned two Chinese restaurants after I was born, and my mom is a wicked cook, no wonder I got cooking in my blood :D.
I can't wait to gift this cookbook to my parents. My dad will be surprised and hopefully very proud!

My father learning how to roast an entire pig-- a hallmark-must for a Cantonese chef. 

How do you get your hands on a copy? You can get an E-book or a printed cookbook shipped out of the States. They are on PRE-order until the release date June 26th. To my readers, I am offering a discount code of $5.00 US off the E-book, and 20% off the printed book. The code to use is: susanssavourit. Click HERE for pricing, and a sneak peek into two of my recipes.

I hope you enjoy reading the book and trying something new…
Here’s to taking the culinary adventure into your kitchen!
Susan Ng