Friday, April 29, 2016

Céilí Cottage: Paddy's Irish Pub & Oyster Bar

Nestled in the heart of Leslieville, The Céilí Cottage was opened in 2009 by Publican and World Champion Oyster Shucker Patrick McMurray. Some may say that the world is his oyster, and they might be right. I first met Paddy at Starfish in 2001 where he was head shucker and major domo. Conveniently located across the park from where we live, Starfish was one of our favourite restaurants for years. We became such regulars that before we even sat down, our waiter Rob would come trotting over with a bottle of Muscadet and a corkscrew. Alas Starfish is no longer, having been rebranded as Pearl Diver, but still under Paddy's purvue. His next venture after Starfish was Céilí Cottage, which has been on our oyster radar for years but never made the time to trundle over until now. All we needed was a nudge. On a cold frosty evening we met some fellow oyster fiends and settled into our table at Céilí Cottage for a couple dozen oysters and night of "craic" — Irish for good fun! The cottage which dates to 1884, has exposed ceiling beams, cracked stone walls and old chalkboard which features the oysters for the day and list of dinner specials.

Johnny Walker Black

A dozen select PEI oysters including Malpecque and Beausoleil from NB

The second dozen with Clarinbridge oysters from Ireland and round Belons from Maine

Céilí Cottage Mac & Cheese

Smokey Ribs and Potato Salad

Pan Seared and Oven Roasted Organic Salmon

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Céilí Cottage Sticky Toffee Pudding
Serves 9

1 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped and puréed using immersion blender
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla

Toffee Sauce:
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups whipped cream

For the cake, grease an 8-inch square metal baking pan and line with parchment paper. Boil 1 1/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Add the dates and stir well. Remove the saucepan from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. In a food processor, pulse the dates and water until dates are finely minced. Stir the flour alternately with the date mixture into the sugar mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Pour the batter into a greased pan and bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in centre of cake comes out clean.

Prepare the toffee sauce just before cake is ready. Heat the sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the butter melts. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

When the cake is ready, set the pan on a wire rack. Poke holes, about a 1/2-inch apart all over cake with a skewer. Drizzle half the hot toffee sauce evenly over the cake. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve with whipped cream. There should be plenty of toffee left over to drizzle over individual portions, if desired.

Céilí Cottage Mac & Cheese
Serves 4

1 lb elbow macaroni
1 small onion, diced 
1/4 cup unsalted butter 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups homogenized milk 
1 lb cheddar, grated, with some reserved for topping 
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
1-2 handfuls panko breadcrumbs 

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, sauté onion in butter until soft. Stir in flour. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly to ensure no lumps form. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until no floury taste remains. Add the cheese and cooked, drained pasta. If sauce looks too stiff at this stage, add a little more milk (or cream or butter or cream cheese or mascarpone or all of the above). Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour everything into a 9″ x 9″ baking dish and sprinkle liberally with panko and reserved cheese. Cook until top is brown and bubbly, approximately 20 minutes. 

Seared Trout and Smashed Potatoes
Serves 4

3 Spanish onions
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 lbs skin-on new red potatoes, about 12
1 tbsp olive oil, preferably light
Salt and pepper to taste
4 deboned trout fillets, each 1/4 lb
1/8 tsp salt and pepper

To caramelize the onions, chop each onion in half lengthwise, then thinly slice. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large frying pan set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 60-70 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are deep brown and soft. Adjust the heat as needed.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain, then allow to cool. Place some potatoes between large pieces of parchment. Using a pan bottom, smash each potato to flatten. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high. Coat with about 1 tsp oil. Add 4 smashed potatoes. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes per side until potatoes are crispy and golden. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining potatoes and oil.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Season the flesh sides, then skin sides of fish, with oil, salt and pepper. Preheat a cast iron pan over high. Add the remaining tbsp of butter. Place fish skin side down and gently press for 1 to 2 minutes to help crisp skin. Flip each fillet so they’re flesh side down. Place pan in preheated oven. Cook to your preference or for 3 to 5 minutes until a knife inserted in thickest part of flesh and held for 10 seconds comes out warm. Arrange onions over serving plates. Top with potatoes and then fish, skin side up. Serve fish fillets with steamed green vegetables and a pint of Beau’s Lug Tread Lager Ale.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Anna's Oat, Honey, Flax Seed & Coconut Energy Balls

Energy balls are pretty much the perfect compact snack, offering a quick and convenient on-the-go breakfast or pick-me-up before or after a heavy workout. Healthy and delicious, this no-bake recipe can be made in minutes using just a few simple ingredients. Just mix everything together in a bowl, roll into little bite size balls and chill in the fridge for a few hours. My sister-in-law Anna, who introduced me to these little bite size boosters, makes them with oats, toasted coconut, ground flax, honey, chocolate chips and macadamia butter, however she's also uses peanut, almond and hazelnut butters with equally great results. Rich in protein, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, these energy balls are guilt-free and devilishly-good — it's a potent combination!

Anna's Oat, Honey, Flax Seed & Coconut Power Balls
Makes 20-25 balls

1 cup quick cooking or gluten-free oats 
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter, or other: almond, hazelnut or macadamia
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup honey 
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until blended. Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes, then scoop or roll into 1-inch bite size balls. They can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to a 6 months. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lemon Hummus: Luscious, Light & Delicious

Light, healthy and delicious, this smooth and creamy Middle Eastern–style hummus made from chickpeas, tahini, garlic, cumin, olive oil and just the right amount of lemon juice to make it refreshingly tangy, is puréed all together and served in a beautiful bowl for a luscious lemony Levantine dip. Rich in protein, fibre and healthy fats, this heart smart appetizer is delicious served with fresh raw vegetables, breadsticks or savoury biscuits. 

Lemon Hummus
Makes about 4 cups

1 can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until either chunky or silky smooth, depending on your preference. If you wish to use less oil but still want a smooth texture, replace some of the oil with the cooking liquid from the chickpeas. To serve, spoon the hummus into a decorative bowl and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, fresh parsley or swirl of olive oil and sprinkle of paprika. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Orzo With Parmigiano-Reggiano and Basil

Quick, easy and delicious, this recipe for Orzo With Parmigiano-Reggiano and Basil is a sensational side dish for any occasion. A one pot wonder, the orzo is simply sautéed in butter until lightly browned then simmered with chicken broth until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. A handful of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped fresh basil are stirred in at the end, and then seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Light, luscious and full of fabulous flavour, these five simple ingredients come together as the most mouthwatering and memorable dish.

Orzo With Parmigiano-Reggiano & Basil
Serves 6

3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups orzo
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup fresh basil, washed, dried and julienned 
salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and sauté 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the orzo is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Mix in the grated parmesan and sliced basil,  and season with salt and pepper. To serve, transfer the orzo to a warm bowl and garnish with a sprig of basil. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Byblos: Stylish Eastern Mediterranean Cuisine

Byblos is an homage to Eastern Mediterranean cuisine from night-life king Charles Khabouth, restauranteur Hanif Harji and Australian-born executive chef Stuart Cameron with the chef de cuisine Jennifer Nickel. Spanning two floors in an historic 170 year old brick and beam building on Duncan Street in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District, it's hard to resist Byblos' charm. Drawing on Turkish, Moroccan, Israeli, Lebanese and Greek cuisine to create an upscale Eastern Mediterranean menu, Cameron creates dishes that showcase the regionally-specific spices and flavours of the Eastern Mediterranean to craft a menu that's a coastal and cultural culinary mosaic. For authenticity, Byblos' creative team traveled the eastern Mediterranean coast to source flavours and spices, argan and olive oils, traditional dinner and tea wares, and a crop of local and regional Mediterranean beers, wines, and spirits. “We take great inspiration from the different culinary regions we explore, immersing ourselves entirely and sourcing the finest and most humble ingredients that truly represent the cuisine,” says Hanif Harji. 

The dishes at Byblos are designed to be shared, and include mezze such as Roasted Red Beets with house-made labneh and served with barbari bread that's baked each morning in a wood-fired oven, Duck Kibbeh with dried figs, date molasses and tahini, Turkish Manti Dumplings and piquant Tuna Ceviche with green schug, crème fraîche buttermilk and squid ink chips. Larger shared plates range from Spanish Octopus, Grilled Whole Branzino and Char-Grilled Cornish Hen to an intoxicating selection of cooked-to-order rice dishes served in dark lidded pots including classic Mejadra with lentils, yogurt and fried shallots, and Persian Fried Rice with sujuk, laughing bird shrimp and green peas. The dessert menu should not be missed, nor the authentic Turkish Coffee with requisite thick grounds and poured from brass cezve. Dark, stylish and absolutely buzzing the night we dined at Byblos, the creative menu, beautifully prepared dishes and superb service made our evening one we won't soon forget.

The dark and clubby upstairs interior of Byblos features supple leather banquettes for cozy intimate dining

The menu with wire mesh cover detail

Our server David recommended this frothy Nightingale Sour made with Absolut peach, 
Lillet blanc, galliano, lemon and egg whites

Marcona Almonds finished with lime zest and paprika

Roasted Beets with creamy Organic House Labneh, pistachios, caraway and sorrel leaves served with Barbari Bread 

Barbary Bread garnished with Dukkah

Duck Kibbeh with Dried Fig, Date Molasses and Tahini

Tuna Ceviche with Green Schug, Crème Fraîche Buttermilk and Squid Ink Chips

Fig Salad with Orange Blossom Vinaigrette, Ackawi Cheese, Kohlrabi and Pistachios

Spanish Octopus with Fingerling Potatos, Biber Chili Vinaigrette and Preserved Lemon

Turkish Manti Dumplings with Smokey Eggplant, Yogurt Sauce and Molasses

Black Truffle Rice with Truffle Paste, Foraged Mushrooms, Crème Fraîche and Crisp Fried Chickpeas

Chargrilled Cornish Hen with Sabri Sauce, Toum and Fried Leeks

House-Made Pistachio Ice Cream

Greek Loukoumades with Attiki Honey, Walnut Praline, Burnt Honey Ice Cream and Halva

Traditional Turkish Coffee served in a traditional cezve 

Roasted Carrots With Za’atar & Molasses
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy Chef Stuart Cameron, Byblos

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, and more as needed
1 large red onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lb thin baby carrots, tops trimmed, peeled or scrubbed
Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, stirred
3 tbsp date molasses or pomegranate molasses
2 tsp za’atar spice blend, or to taste

In large, ovenproof skillet, heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium. Add the onions and thyme and cook, stirring until soft and translucent, about 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add some oil until the bottom of the skillet is lightly covered and heat over medium-high. When the oil is shimmering, add the carrots. Cook, turning with tongs, until lightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then return the onions to the pan. Transfer the pan to preheated 400°F oven and roast, turning the vegetables every 5 minutes, until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Place the carrots and onions on a serving platter or in serving bowl and drizzle with yogurt, pomegranate molasses and sprinkle with za’atar.

Seared Cauliflower With Tahini Sauce, Sesame & Coriander
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy Chef Stuart Cameron, Byblos

Cameron cooks his cauliflower in decadent duck fat, but suggests olive oil at home. Toast sesame and coriander seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. If possible, crush them with a mortar and pestle. If you don’t want the fuss (and extra oil) of pan-searing, spread the cauliflower on a foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle with a little oil and roast at 425F (220C) to desired doneness, 30 to 45 minutes.

Tahini Sauce:
1/4 cup well-stirred tahini
1/4 cup water, plus more if needed
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
1-1/2 tsp Asian sesame oil
Kosher salt

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large head of cauliflower, about 3-pounds, cut into medium florets
Kosher salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted, lightly crushed
1-1/2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted, lightly crushed
Chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine the tahini, 1/4 cup of water, lemon juice, oil and salt to taste. Whisk until smooth. Taste, adjust the lemon, water or salt if needed. This makes about 1/2 cup.

For the cauliflower, heat a large, ovenproof skillet with oil over medium-high until the oil starts to shimmer — don’t let it start smoking! Gently add the cauliflower and cook, turning often with tongs, until dark brown, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the pan to preheated 400°F oven. Roast until the cauliflower is tender, crisp and lightly charred, about 8 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Using tongs, transfer the cauliflower to paper towels to drain, discarding the oil left in pan.

In a serving bowl, combine the cauliflower and some or all of tahini sauce to taste. Toss well. The cauliflower should be well-coated but not too wet. Spread on a serving platter, and sprinkle with sesame, coriander and parsley.

Rib-Eye Steaks With Za’atar Butter & Smoky Eggplant Purée
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy Chef Stuart Cameron, Byblos

Za’atar Butter:
4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp za’atar spice blend
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3/4 tsp argan oil, optional

Smoky Eggplant:
1 large Italian eggplant, about 1-1/2-pounds, pricked all over with a fork
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp finely minced shallot
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup whipping cream
Leaves from 2 sprigs thyme
Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely grated aged white cheddar

4 rib-eye or other steaks, at least 1-inch thick
Za’atar dried spice blend
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Argan oil for drizzling, optional

For the Za’atar Butter, combine the butter, za’atar, zest and oil if using in a medium bowl, and mash well with fork until smooth and creamy.

For the Smoky Eggplant, prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and roast in preheated 400°F oven until the outside is charred and the eggplant collapses, about 1 hour. Note: You can also do this on a barbecue or by placing directly on the burner of a gas stove and cooking until skin is burnt and crispy. When cool enough to handle, discard the skin and chop up the flesh and seeds. This should make about 1-1/4 cups.

In a medium, non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium. Cook the minced shallots and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped eggplant and cook, stirring, to get rid of most of the moisture, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream and thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes until thick. Transfer the eggplant mixture to food processor, add the cheese and purée.

Bring the steaks to room temperature and season to taste with za’atar, salt and pepper, then rub all over with olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes in preheated skillet until a crust forms on the bottom. Flip with tongs and cook about 4 minutes for medium rare, or to desired doneness depending on thickness of steak. Transfer steaks to cutting board. Let stand 5 minutes.

To serve, divide the Smoky Eggplant among 4 plates, then top each with 1 steak, sliced or unsliced, as desired. Melt the Za’atar Butter in microwave or in small skillet over medium-low, then drizzle over the steaks. Drizzle argan oil over each portion, if desired.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Guy's Spaghetti Bolognese with Beef & Mushrooms

One of the ultimate comfort foods, Spaghetti Bolognese is like an old reliable friend who shows up just when you need a big hug. Bolognese sauce, known as Ragù alla Bolognese in Italy, is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna that is customarily served with tagliatelle or other flat pasta such as pappardelle or fettuccine. Genuine Italian ragù is a slowly cooked sauce that characteristically includes a soffritto of onion, celery and carrot, minced or finely chopped beef, pancetta and red wine. A small amount of tomato concentrate or tomatoes are added, and the dish is then gently simmered at length to produce a rich thick sauce. Outside of Italy, "Spag-Bol" as my husband calls it, consists of a meat sauce served on a bed of spaghetti topped with a sprinkling of grated Parmigiana cheese — maybe even with a loaf of warm garlic bread — and although it bears little resemblance to the traditional Italian ragù, few could argue that it isn't molto delizioso, especially with a loaf of Guy's Garlic Ciabatta on the side.

Guy's Spaghetti Bolognese with Beef & Mushrooms 
Serves 6

1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oli
1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
3 cups homemade tomato sauce, or good quality store-bought
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup red wine
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 lb spaghetti
1 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino 
1 bunch parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large frying pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat and when it starts to sizzle, add the mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes, then set aside. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan set on medium-high and add the ground beef, stirring frequently until the meat is no longer pink and is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste, and stir thoroughly to combine. Turn the heat down to low, and add the mushrooms plus their liquid into the bolognese, then pour in the red wine and continue stirring until the mixture is the desired consistency. For a looser sauce, add some water or beef stock as necessary. Cover the sauce and continue cooking on low heat to meld the flavours, about another 30-60 minutes.

Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat, and when it comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the manufacturers instructions. When al dente or to taste, drain in a colander then return to the pot and combine with just enough bolognese sauce just to coat the noodles. To serve, arrange the semi-dressed pasta in warmed dinner bowls and top with a mound of additional sauce, as desired. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top and a garnish of chopped parsley and serve immediately, with additional parmigiana on the side for those who wish a little more.

Guy's Garlic Ciabatta
Serves 6

1 fresh ciabatta or baguette
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, mash up the butter and minced garlic until it's well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the chopped parsley. Cut the ciabatta in half length wise being careful not o cut all the way through — it should open like a book. Liberally spread the garlic butter on the inside of both 'halves', then wrap snuggly in aluminum foil. Place in a preheated oven set to 375°F and bake for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, open the garlic bread up from it's foil package and allow it to cook open to the heat of the oven for another 5 minutes. To serve, close the bread back to it's original loaf shape and slice into 1-inch pieces. Place in a bread basket and serve with the pasta.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Baked Swordfish with Citrus Cilantro Marinade

I adore swordfish and serve it at least two or three times a month. Ideally, it's best grilled outdoors on a barbecue to create gorgeous grill marks, but if the weather isn't cooperating, baking the swordfish in the oven is the next best thing. With a dense, meaty texture and mildly sweet flavour, the key is preparing a marinade that is fragrant enough to enhance the swordfish without overpowering it's delicacy. This fabulous Citrus and Cilantro Marinade of lemon and orange zest, cilantro, sesame oil, olive oil and Ponzu sauce works beautifully on swordfish as well as salmon, tilapia or even seafood. Marinated for at least half an hour, the swordfish is simply baked in a 400°F oven for about 25 minutes, or until it's just cooked through. Served with a light salad and chilled glass of white wine, summer doesn't seem so far away.

Swordfish with Citrus Cilantro Marinade
Serves 2

1 lb swordfish, cut in two
3 slices of orange and arugula, for garnish

2 tbsp chopped cilantro
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Kikkoman Ponzu citrus-seasoned soy sauce

In a small food processor, blend the cilantro, lemon zest, orange zest, olive oil, sesame oil and ponzu sauce until well combined. Place the swordfish in a flat dish and coat with the marinade. Allow the fish to marinate 30-60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F and bake the swordfish in a non reactive dish for 25 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. To serve, place the swordfish on a warmed serving plate and garnish with sliced orange and arugula, accompanied with the salad and a chilled bottle of white wine.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Edulis Restaurant: A Culinary Labour of Love

Considered by many to be one of the top restaurants in Canada, Chef Michael Caballo describes the food served at Toronto’s Edulis as 'a cuisine of inspiration.' Michael and his wife Tobey Nemeth established the acclaimed restaurant with a desire to combine their love of European-style bistros with the bounty of southern Ontario, and have done so superlatively. "Pleasure bordering on delirium" was restaurant critic Chris Nuttall-Smith's eloquent praise of Edulis. Their passion for good food is contagious. Their warmth and hospitality is like being wrapped in a warm blanket. Edulis means 'edible' in Latin, as well as the name of their favourite wild mushroom – the Boletus edulis – the porcini. Caballo and Nemeth opened the restaurant in 2012 and the restaurant "crafted with love" has gained a devoted following and critical acclaim ever since. The two had always dreamed of opening their own restaurant and after four years of travelling and cooking in Spain, Italy, B.C. and Panama, in what Nemeth describes as, "a combination of professional sabbatical and adventure-seeking," they learned that Anton Potvin was selling the Niagara Street Café and jumped at the chance. Glowing reviews followed very quickly and rightly so — it's a culinary gem.

Edulis is about many things – the pleasure of enjoying a gathering around the table to share authentic dishes and to be greeted like a friend; conviviality, feasting, celebrating the craft and tradition of cooking, honesty, and spectacular ingredients. Built around French and Spanish country cuisine, dishes change as the chefs are inspired by the daily offerings of local farmers and suppliers. As the season unfolds, so does their inspiration with menus that change to showcase the ingredients of the moment, with a strong focus on seafood, vegetables, and wild mushrooms with a choice of either five or seven course menus, and in truffle season Edulis offers special truffle dishes, and a European set lunch menu on Sundays with all wines half price. Last weekend we placed ourselves in Michael and Tobey's culinary hands and it was love at first bite. The meal started with crusty house-baked sourdough served with artisanal fermented butter from Quebec, followed by an an absolutely outstanding five-course menu which was gilded with both dishes on the special truffle menu: creamy, soft-scrambled eggs topped with caramelized onions and a flurry of shaved black truffles, as well as a decadent serving of Brilliant Savarin cheese layered with black truffles and drizzled with honey. The sweet finale of our hedonistic three-hour lunch was a generous slice of Persian Love Cake with pistachios, cherries and rose-scented whipped cream which the menu said was originally created as a romantic gesture by a maiden trying to win the heart of a Persian prince and now serves as a symbol of undying love — rather like Michael and Tobey's warmth, commitment and culinary passion — they had us spellbound and soporific.

Husband and wife co-owners and chefs Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth 

The front window of Edulis which means 'edible' in Latin, as well as the name of their favourite wild mushroom – the Boletus edulis – the plump and popular porcini

The intimate and inviting dining room of Edulis on Niagara Street 

From the customized dinner plates, coordinated blue-and-white napkins and Carrara marble tables evocative of classic European Bistros, the attention to detail at Edulis is endless 

The extraordinary six-course Sunday lunch menu at Edulis at just $40 per person

 Warm squishy and crusty house-baked sourdough bread nestled in linen bags is utterly addictive

Sweet artisanal fermented butter from Quebec

Collected for years with hopes of opening their own restaurant, antique botanical artwork including the namesake boletus edulis mushroom, lines the walls in addition to framed menus of Tobey and Michael's favourite restaurants around the world decorate the ladies room!

Our fabulous server recommended the Marcel Dreiss Pinot d'Alsace 2013 to accompany Sunday's luncheon menu and it was a perfect choice — absolutely delicious — and half price on Sundays!

With a nose of apples and pear, the Pinot d'Alsace was nicely balanced with a hint of sweetness

Fluke with cucumber aquachile, toasted rice, micro greens and nori dust

Last Summers Baby Eggplants with Sheeps Milk Feta, White Romesco Sauce and Mâche

Roasted Heirloom Carrots with Mizuna in Anchovy Dressing

Omelet with Roasted Onions and Black Truffle

House Bacon with Apple, Kale, Hazelnuts and Wild Leeks

Chantecler Chicken Thai-Style Grilled over Charcoal

Brilliant Savarin, a Soft Triple Cream Cheese from Burgundy, Layered with Black Truffle and Garnished with Honey — "A Special Dish in Honour of Black Truffle Season"

Selection of Cheeses: (L to R) - Idiazabel Raw Sheep's Milk from Pais Vasco Spain; Roaring Forties Blue Cheese from Tasmania; Grey Owl Goat Cheese from Quebec; Aged Lankaster Cow's Milk Cheese with Lancaster, Ontario

Crisp Toasts for the cheese

Ontario Nuts

10-Year Old Justino’s Madeira from Malvasia, Portugal

Persian Love Cake with Pistachio and Cherries

Macchiato with a mushroom-shaped biscuit!

Chicken Baked in Hay
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Michael Caballo - Edulis

3 1/2 lb whole chicken
2 large handfuls alfalfa hay, thoroughly washed
5 garlic cloves
1 bunch leeks, trimmed and cut in half
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
Small handful herbs, such as thyme, parsley and sage, chopped
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 300º F. Rub butter all over chicken. Season chicken inside and out with salt. Truss chicken, if you like. Spread out a handful of washed hay in a large ovenproof dish or deep roasting pan. Moisten hay with chicken broth; this will become a jus. Scatter garlic, leeks and bay leaves over hay. Place chicken overtop. Cover chicken with remaining handful of hay. Tightly seal with a lid or foil. Let stand for 30 minutes. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour 30 minutes until cooked. Carefully lift lid or open foil, allowing steam to escape. The bird will be done when it is still “medium” or rosy at the thigh joint. Let rest for 15 minutes, then carve the chicken. Strain any juices accumulated in bottom of pan into a measuring cup. Add herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken immediately with seasoned juices drizzled overtop.

Baba au Rhum
Serves 10-12
Recipe courtesy of Chef Michael Caballo - Edulis

Rum Syrup:
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Peel of 1/2 orange, pith removed
1 star anise
4 cups raw cane sugar or turbinado sugar
3 1/2 tbsp fine sea salt
5 cups water
1 cup dark rum

Chantilly Cream:
1 cup whipping (35%) cream
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

4 cups bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1 cup water, room temperature, divided
5 eggs, room temperature
3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp fine sea salt
2/3 cup butter, softened

For the syrup, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Add seeds and pod to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add orange peel, star anise, sugar, salt and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, stirring often, and simmer gently until sugar is completely dissolved. Turn off heat and set aside for 30 minutes to infuse. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside at room temperature if using immediately or refrigerate until needed.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together cream, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until soft peaks form (do not over-whip — the silken texture of good cream is at its best at the soft peak stage). Refrigerate until needed.

For the cake, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour and yeast. Make a well in the middle and add 2/3 cup water and eggs. Mix until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to proof until roughly double in size, 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. (Do not attempt to accelerate by placing in a too-warm place! Patience and slow rise are key to the perfect texture.) Add remaining 1/3 cup water, sugar and salt. Mix with dough hook on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium and mix until very smooth, about 5 minutes.

While mixing, begin adding butter, one tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing after all butter is added until dough is very elastic, shiny and smooth, scraping down sides of work bowl with a spatula as needed, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, butter a bundt pan very well. Using a spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared pan. Gently spread dough evenly. Shake pan gently to help dough settle. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise again, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen, until dough has risen to 1/2 inch from top of pan.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove plastic wrap so it doesn’t stick to your soft dough. Leave to rise another 10 minutes, until dough fills pan completely. Bake in preheated oven until cake is deep golden brown and has pulled away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and invert cake into a deep-sided casserole dish. Immediately soak liberally with some of the rum syrup - at least 3 inches deep. Leave to soak for 5 minutes. Carefully rotate cake upside down and pour over more rum syrup. Leave to soak for 5 minutes more. Rotate cake right side up and leave to soak for 15 more minutes. Pour off any excess syrup and place cake on your showiest cake stand or platter.

To serve, cut lavish wedges and arrange on serving plates. Pour rum syrup on the cut side of the cake. At Edulis, they like to do this tableside for dramatic effect and garnish with reckless quantities of Chantilly Cream!