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Great Parties! (June 20, 2002)


Toronto has had its share of terrific charity benefits lately, and the food was uniformly brilliant at them all... and we simply couldn't wait to share some of the recipes with you.

They were great parties; a glorious mix of spectacular food, perfect location, the best beverages and, of course, a crowd who appreciates it all and acts in kind to benefit those less fortunate or in need.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Empty Bowls Fundraiser at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art in Toronto; it's part of a North American-wide network of events to fight hunger. Empty Bowls at the Gardiner raises money for the Anishnawbe Street Patrol, which helps homeless people find a place to rest for the night.

Chef Jamie Kennedy of JK ROM restaurant at the Royal Ontario Museum, right across the street from the Gardiner, recruited chefs and edited the delightful cookbook as well. Not only did guests enjoy a feast of soups, each could choose a handcrafted ceramic bowl to take home. We can tell you, these weren't just soups – each was a glorious gourmet meal in a bowl.

In our last two columns we've been talking about Toronto Taste, which benefits Second Harvest, a wonderful organization that gets fresh food from grocery stores, restaurants, caterers and suppliers to the needy within six hours. Fresh from the event comes a spectacular appetizer or first course; Vineland Estates created and served this little wonder which you must try!

Wanting to do more? Read on: KitchenAid and author Rose Reisman have teamed up with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to establish KitchenAid Cook for the Cure, a grassroots-based fundraising effort that will deliver ongoing support for vital breast cancer research. The way it works is that you host your own benefit party at home…for a cause! Now, this is an idea whose time is truly here. It's so easy it's almost silly, and yet there's nothing frivolous about this plan.

Great chefs and you, working together to help those who need it most. It can't be better than that.

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (67 KB)


Smoked Fish Spread
for KitchenAid Cook for the Cure

Rose Reisman is a bestselling cookbook author, a busy mother of four and, with her husband Sam, a tireless crusader for breast cancer. A few weeks ago Rose invited us up to their place to introduce this splendid Cook For The Cure concept.

How does it work? Easy. Whether it's a backyard BBQ, a potluck dinner with friends, a weekend brunch, cocktails or even a formal dinner party, just ask your guests to provide a donation to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation instead of bringing the usual hostess gift of a bottle of wine or flowers!

There's more: KitchenAid Canada will donate $100 from every sale of its limited edition pink stand mixer to the important efforts of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Hey, isn't your old mixer wheezing a bit... and wouldn't pink look great? Go on, get a party organized, and treat yourself a new mixer, available online at the KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Web site. It's all for such a great cause!

Makes about 1½ cups

4 oz skinless boneless smoked fish such as trout or smoked salmon
1½ oz light cream cheese, softened
½ cup smooth 5% ricotta cheese
¼ cup low fat sour cream
2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp freshly round black pepper

In food processor, combine all ingredients; puree until smooth.

Rose's tip: spice up this spread by adding a little fresh minced jalapeno pepper or some Tabasco sauce.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
A light- to medium-bodied dry white like Muscadet (Loire Valley) or a Riesling Kabinett Trocken from the Mosel.


Garden Island Honey-cured Figs with Parmesan Gelato, Triolo Figs and Pignue's Prosciutto
from Toronto Taste 2002

Your guests will be dazzled, as we were, with this rich appetizer or first course. It's from Chefs Mark Picone and David Berggren at Vineland Estates Winery in the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, and it's an absolutely delectable combination; we shamelessly stood at Toronto Taste and, blush... ate several more than we should have. Never mind, we couldn't resist, and we know you won't either.

Makes 12 servings

12 arugula leaves
12 slices prosciutto, halved and rolled
3 fresh figs, thinly sliced

Honey-cured Figs:
12 dried figs
¾ cup Gewürztraminer wine
¾ cup wild flower honey
1 whole clove
1 green cardamom pod
Half cinnamon stick

Parmesan Gelato
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Honey-cured Figs
Trim stems from figs; place in heatproof bowl. Cover with hot water; let soak for 30 minutes or until softened. Drain, discarding water.

In saucepan, bring wine, honey, clove, cardamom and cinnamon stick to a simmer over medium heat, add figs and simmer for about 2 hours or until figs are translucent. Drain figs, reserving liquid for another use; set aside.

Parmesan Gelato
In saucepan, bring cream, milk and sugar to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan. Let cool. Refrigerate until chilled. Strain and freeze in an ice cream maker, according to manufacturer's directions. Keep frozen.

Cut honey-cured figs in half lengthwise and scoop out some of the seeds to make bowl. Place two halves cut side-up on arugula leaf; fill centre with small scoop of Parmesan Gelato. Top with proscuitto and fresh fig slices.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
An aromatic dryish white wine – Alsace Gewürtztraminer or dry Muscat, Ontario Gewürtztraminer.


Cold Summer Fruit Soup with Vanilla Anglaise
From Great Soup, Empty Bowls

Michael and Nobuyo Stadtlander's Eigensinn Farm was recently named as one of the top ten restaurants in the world, and no wonder. We've had the pleasure of dining there, and we wholeheartedly agree with the ranking. It is indeed a working farm; we made our way past large friendly doggies and a flock of geese to get to into the dining room! It's a joyous place, and during the day it abounds with family and friends and local growers delivering the best provisions. We suspect he created this rich summer dessert soup full of just-picked fresh summer berries when the kids roared though the back door with buckets overflowing. It's just what you'd do, too! So, go ahead, it's a spectacular dish, and worth the effort... life and summer and berry season is far too short!

Serves 4

1 vanilla bean
1 cup milk
1 cup 35% cream
3½ oz vanilla sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 cup strawberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackcurrants
1 cup rhubarb, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup apple cider
1 bottle Riesling wine
Berry sugar to taste
Springs of fresh mint to garnish

Cut the vanilla bean open lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Put the scraped bean into a pot with the milk, cream and half the vanilla sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil.

In a bowl set over bowling water, whip the egg yolks with the remaining vanilla sugar until the mixture is creamy. Add the vanilla cream to the egg mixture just as the vanilla cream begins to boil. Stir until the cream is completely incorporated. Refrigerate until cool.

Strain out the vanilla bean. Combine half the strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and rhubarb with the cider and the wine in a large saucepan and cook until the fruit has softened. Purée in a blender and strain through a fine sieve. Return the fruit to the heat and bring to a boil. When the pureed fruit is boiling, add the remaining fruit. Just before the fruit mixture boils again, remove it from the heat and add berry sugar to taste (not too much, as it should be refreshing). Keep the fruit soup cool in the refrigerator.

To serve, ladle some soup into chilled bowls, top with vanilla anglaise and garnish with sprigs of fresh mint.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
A medium-dry white wine or off-dry sparkling wine – Vouvray (Loire), Viognier (California).

We wish to thank the following for permission to publish recipes and photographs:

Toronto Taste 2002 Recipe Collection
Vineland Estates Winery, Mark Picone and David Berggren
Photographs by: Ron Morris

Great Soup, Empty Bowls, recipes from the Empty Bowls Fundraiser
Jamie Kennedy, Executive Editor. Published by Whitecap Books, Ltd.
Photographer: Christopher Freeland

The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art

KitchenAid Cook for the Cure

The National Breast Cancer Foundation

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (67 KB)


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.




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