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French Gratin of Potatoes Recipe

There are many ways to make a potato gratin, but this one is our favourite…cream, butter & garlic, how can you not be tasty!  This indulgent gratin will be sure to please everyone.

Butter for gratin dish
1 garlic clove, cut in half
1/2 cup (125 ml) butter melted
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped garlic
1 tsp (5ml) chopped fresh thyme (can be substituted with tarragon)
2 lbs (1kg) red-skinned potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandolin or by hand
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream

Topping
1 tbsp (15ml) butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 c)

2.Butter the base and sides of a rectangular 8-cup (2-L) gratin dish large enough to hold the potatoes in layers. Rub with whole garlic clove. In a seperate bowl combine melted butter, chopped garlic and thyme (or tarragon).

3. Layer potatoes into the dish, mounding slighly in the centre. After each layer, spoon a small amount of the butter garlic mixture overtop and season with salt and pepper. Finish with a layer of potatoes.

4. Heat milk and cream together until simmering. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over gratin. Liquid should come just to the top layer but not cover the potatoes. Drizzle with extra butter.

5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until potatoes are tender and browned on top.

Serves 8

VARIATION

* Sprinkle goat cheese between the layers

* Layer onions and tomatoes between layers

* Use stock instead of cream

* Make it cheesy with 2 cups (500 ml) cheddar sprinkled between layers. 



The Importance of a Romantic Getaway

 

The Only thing better than a family vacation is a romantic getaway for two! Taking time out for a romantic getaway with the person that you love gives you a chance to relax, unwind and helps you regain the balance and focus in your relationship. This is very important because too many times in our day to day lives, we get obsessed with work, running errands, school, household chores and other things that are going on, so we need to take the time for each other to rekindle what is so often lost in our everyday lives. 

A change of scenery and time alone allows you to reconnect with one another while enjoying each other’s company. It’s just you and your partner with plenty of time to talk about the important things in your lives. It heightens the intimacy and keeps the romance alive.

Sharing a romantic getaway together creates lasting memories.  The gifts of love and sharing quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts you can give to your significant other. Relationships are about spending quality time together and bonding, and there is no better place to do that then at the historically romantic Old Mill Toronto, nestled in the beautiful Humber Valley and adjacent to the Parkland and Toronto Bike & Walking Trail System.

The Old Mill Toronto’s ideal location invites you to Escape The Ordinary, where your Romance Package begins the moment you enter the lovingly appointed tranquility of your luxury accommodations. No detail has been overlooked to help take you ‘away from it all’. The luxury king-size bed strewn with heart-shaped rose petals, wine, signature truffles, lush bathrobes, and deep-soaking jacuzzi tub for two invites you and your loved one to begin your revitalizing escape by sinking into a candlelit bubble bath.

Let’s not forget the importance of the Spa, where you can escape your world and luxuriate in ours. Experience relaxation and solitude together as you enjoy side by side Swedish Massages.  

A Romantic Getaway allows you to focus your attention on the present moment while you reconnect with each other, and with a little effort, you can bring that same level of mindful awareness to your time together on a daily basis, outside of your getaway.



Bringing Yoga To Meetings

 

There is a trend in the corporate world moving towards supporting the well-being of employees by placing greater value on their emotional and psychological health. Introducing yoga and other meditational practises into the work day, will provide an environment focused on mental health, emotional support, and stress management.

Working long hours and sitting for long periods of time can leave your mind feeling less productive and your body stiff and tense. Yoga can improve brain function, raise emotional intelligence, and even heighten our ability to absorb and retain information. 

Yoga helps people use their mind in different ways and also helps you relax within the work structure. Gentle yoga and breathing techniques can be practiced at the beginning or end of the work day or during the lunch period, to break up the long hours spent sitting and to inspire and rejuvenate you for the remainder of the day. Yoga breaks do not need to be long to be effective, as little as 15 to 30 minutes will help improve the work team’s ability to focus and problem solve.

Yoga in the office or meetings can even help prevent or alleviate shoulder and back aches commonly experienced by office workers. There is no need for a special space as yoga stretches, breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation can all be successfully performed in a chair. A study in The Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that 20 minutes of Hatha yoga stimulates brain function more than walking or jogging on the treadmill for the same amount of time.

Chair Yoga Postures

 

         Overhead Stretch

  • Raise your right arm slowly over your head, gently stretching at the shoulder.
  • As you fully extend your arm, feel the stretch along your side.
  • As you lower your right arm, raise your left arm over your head, stretching at the shoulder.
  • Alternate one arm and then the other breathing easily with each extension.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times per side.

    Forward Fold
  • With your hands over your head and arms extended, slowly bend forward from the waist.
  • Gradually bring your hands to the floor next to your feet.
  • Let your head relax between your knees.
  • Rest your abdomen on your thighs and breathe slowly and deeply, allowing your breath to massage your organs.
  • After a few breaths, slowly come up one vertebra at a time.

    Side Twists
  • Cross your right leg over your left thigh.
  • Place your left hand on your right thigh.
  • Reach behind you with your right hand and grasp the chair, using it to assist a rotation in your spine to the right.
  • Keep your head aligned with your spine and remember to breathe.
  • Hold for a couple of breaths.
  • Release and repeat on the other side.


    The Arch

  • Sit up straight with your bottom on the edge of the chair. Stretch your arms out straight behind you and place both hands on the either side of the chair, grasping the back of the chair.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply, lifting your chest both forward and upward, arching the lower back.
  • Extend your neck and stretch from the lower back.
  • Hold for two breaths and then relax.
  • Repeat three times.

    Knee Stretch
     
  • Grasp below your right knee with both hands.
  • On your exhalation, pull your knee up to your chest, feeling the stretch in the hip and thigh.
  • Drop the shoulders back and down, lift the chin and pull the knee closer into the chest.
  • Hold for several breath cycles and then repeat on the opposite side.

The benefits of bringing the practice and philosophies of yoga into your next meeting are endless. Yoga is mindful awareness of the breath, postural alignment and patterns of thought giving us more energy, and a deeper intuition.

Namaste



Linguine With Roasted Butternut Squash & Crispy Pancetta

Pancetta is Italian streaky bacon rolled into a cylinder. Pancetta is cured, but not smoked, and comes sweet or hot, much like Italian sausage. Autumn squash has a deep orange interior and butternut squash is especially delicious when roasted.

1/2 medium butternut squash or 12 oz. (375 g) peeled squash
6 cloves garlic
6 to 8 oz (175 to 250 g) thinly slice pancetta, preferably not paper thin
1 lemon
1/2 cup (80 ml) olive oil
1 tsp (5 ml) sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) hot red chilli flakes
several grindings of black pepper
 1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1 lb (500 g) dry linguine or fettuccine
4 cups (1 L) lightly packed baby spinach leaves
1 cup (250 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

1. Cut off narrow neck of squash just where it joins bulbous lower half; set lower half aside for another use. Cut off stem; standing up-right, thinly cut away peel. 

2.  Cut squash crosswise into 3/4 inch-thick (2-cm) rounds. Cut each round into irregular pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches (2.5 – 4 cm ) long. Peel garlic cloves; leave whole but thinly cut off rough end. Set Squash and garlic aside. 

3. Arrange oven rack just above oven centre. Preheat oven to 400 F (200 c).

4. Line a large, rimmed baking tray with aluminium foil. Lay pancetta, overlapping as needed, in a single layer. Bake above oven centre for 10 minutes; remove from oven. Pancetta has shrunk, arrange so slices are not overlapping. Continue baking, checking every 3 to 5 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove pancetta to drain on paper towels; leave fat on tray.

5. Place squash pieces on tray; so they are coated in fat. Arrange in a doughnut fashion. Place garlic cloves in centre; stir garlic so coated with fat. Roast 10 minutes; turn squash and stir garlic. Continue roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes or until squash is golden and tender. Leave squash on tray to keep warm. Remove garlic to a plate; mash with a fork.

6. Meanwhile, zest lemon; set half aside for garnish. Squeeze 2 tbsp (30 ml) juice. Stir mashed garlic cloves into oil along with lemon juice, sugar, chill flakes, pepper and half of lemon zest.

7. Bring a pasta pot half-filled with salted water to a boil over high heat. Add linguine; boil according to package directions, usually about 8 minutes, or just until al dente. Scoop out about 1/2 cup (125 ml) of pasta water; then drain pasta.

8. Turn linguine into a large warm bowl; toss with olive oil mixture until coated. Leaving 12 pieces of pancetta whole, crumble the rest over the pasta. Add spinach. Toss, adding some reserved pasta water, if needed, for extra moisture.

9. Serve right away in warmed bowls garnished with roasted squash, pinches of lemon zest, a sprinkling of Parmesan and reserved pancetta pieces as garnish. Pass remaining Parmesan and a shaker of hot chilli flakes at tables.

Serves 6



Not Your Typical Wedding

Helen Pispidikis from Weddings by Design has been planning Weddings and Events for over 15 years. Many trends have come and gone but says Helen “the key to creating a unique and memorable wedding celebration is to make the trend your own”.

As an Event Designer, her goal is to fuse the personalities of today’s couples, with inspiration from the latest trends in colours and fashion / design to create a unique and memorable experience for all to remember. “A wedding is a chance for each couple to create a celebration they’ve always dreamed of — the story of who they are as a couple representing their personal taste and style. Elements of design are than added to the mix to bring the event to life in its own unique way.”

The wedding featured in this article illustrates how current trends in fashion, colour and floral design can be adapted to create a very organic and eclectic approach to wedding design. “In 2016 floral trends are more organic rather than structured. The trending colours for 2016 are Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue. In fashion we are seeing a lot of large floral prints. When we merge all the above with the couples personality and the look and feel of their venue — magic happens! Love is in the details and no details should be overlooked”.

“The floral inspiration in this wedding design was the Tulip which was used in the floral arrangements throughout the space.  However, taking our inspiration from the large floral prints in the 2016 Dolce Gabbana Spring Collection, we decided to create drama in the space by translating the tulip motif on the Dance Floor, with a custom vinyl floor — this was the WOW factor in the space.”

In this above photo the dresses on the left are from the Dolce Gabbana Spring 2016 Fashion collection, you can see where the design was translated onto the dance floor.

There are many ways to incorporate colour and interest into the design of a space. “Design elements can include cutlery, glassware, charger plates or even dessert plates — small items can make a big statement.”

The floor plan and the use of different size and shape of tables along with the use of coordinating linens and florals all play a role in creating a unique and interesting event space.

“Don’t be afraid of mixing things up. In this space the floor plan incorporated square and round tables. The round tables featured coordinating linens and napkins in Serenity Blue and black, with two styles of centrepieces — a mixed organic floral arrangement on some tables, alternating with tall candles with garlands and a deconstructed floral design on others. The rectangular tables featured a garland of greens accented by tall candles at different heights and clusters of florals in different vessels. The black tulip overlays were used to match the black wrought iron chandeliers and wall sconces in the event space.”

Let’s not forget the cake!!! “Wedding cakes have come a long way and today they are not only one of the design elements in a wedding but a work of art. Hand painted florals and designs on weddings are a big trend in 2016.”

From start to finish your wedding theme should be reflected in every element of the design. “Your invitations are the first impression of what is to come. Stationary at the event including menus, table numbers and seating charts all play a role in the design and theme of a wedding.”

For inspirational ideas and creativity a Wedding Designer can help plan a memorable wedding that reflects your style.  #weddingsbydesign



Shrimp Crêpe Recipe

   

Crêpe, a pancake, made by cooking a thin batter sparingly in a very thin layer in a frying or special crêpe pan. The word comes from the Latin “crispus,” meaning curled. In French rural society, crêpes were also considered to be a symbol of allegiance: farmers offered them to their landowner. In western France, particularly in Brittany, crêpes are prepared throughout the year and served with salted butter. Crêpe consumption is nowadays widespread in France and is considered the national dish. Crêpes can be compared to the African injera, the tortilla, the Indian dosa and the Mexican sope. In traditional cookery, Crêpes are served as a hot hors d’oeuvre, filled with a fairly thick mixture of veloute sauce with mushrooms, ham, Gruyere cheese or seafood. They may also be cut into fine strips and used to garnish soup. Most often, however, crêpes are prepared as sweet dishes.

 Our crêpe Recipe is easier to make then you think!

Shrimp Crêpes

Shrimp, Wild Mushroom, Asparagus with a Tarragon Cream Sauce 

For Crêpe Batter

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken or beef broth
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves or a mixture of other minced fresh herbs, such as chives, coriander, or tarragon
  • melted unsalted butter for brushing the pan

To make crêpes:
In a blender or food processor blend the flour, the broth, the eggs, the butter, and the salt for 5 seconds. Turn off the motor, with a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of the container, and blend the batter for 20 seconds more. Transfer the batter to a bowl, stir in the herbs, and let the batter stand, covered, for 1 hour. The batter may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Makes enough batter for about 16 crêpes.

Heat a crêpe pan or non-stick skillet measuring 6 to 7 inches across the bottom over moderate heat until it is hot. Brush the pan lightly with the butter, heat it until it is hot but not smoking, and remove it from the heat. Stir the batter, half fill a 1/4-cup measure with it, and pour the batter into the pan. Tilt and rotate the pan quickly to cover the bottom with a layer of batter and return any excess batter to bowl. Return the pan to the heat, loosen the edge of the crêpe with a spatula, and cook the crêpe for 1 minute, or until the top appears almost dry. Turn the crêpe, cook the other side lightly, and transfer the crêpe to a plate. Make crêpes with the remaining batter in the same manner, brushing the pan lightly with butter as necessary. The crêpes may be made 3 days in advance, kept stacked, wrapped in plastic wrap, and chilled.

For Filling: 
13 – 15  shrimp- peeled and deviened
1 bunch of Green Asparagus
½ lb assorted Mushrooms (*Button, Oyster, Shitaki or Portobello) finely sliced
2 cloves Garlic Finely Chopped
Pinch of Nutmeg
1 oz White Wine
2 oz Butter
2 oz Olive Oil
1 Lemon juiced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method: 
Cut Asparagus into small spears; blanch for 2 min in boiling salted water.

Add 1 oz of Olive Oil to hot pan, add mushrooms, sauté for 1 min, add garlic and nutmeg, butter and White Wine, sauté for another 2 min, add salt and pepper.

Put Juice of Lemon on Shrimp, add salt and pepper sauté in hot pan till shrimp is               cooked through. Add Asparagus and Mushrooms to shrimp, let mixture cool. Place crepes on cutting board, fill crepes with mixture, roll crepes and set aside.

For Cream Sauce

2 Garlic Cloves Minced
½ cup White Wine
¾ cup 35% cream
½ oz Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
3 teaspoons Fresh Tarragon 

Method:

Sauté Garlic in Olive Oil till translucent, add white wine and reduce by ½, add cream and Reduce by 1/3, add fresh Tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Put Crepes in an oven at 350 Degrees for 8-10 min, take out of oven and pour cream sauce over top and serve.

ENJOY!