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The End of Homemade Christmas Cookies

making cookies with grandma
making cookies with grandma (Photo credit: sanzibar)

That’s right, if Forno Cultura’s secret gets out, it will be the end of homemade Christmas cookies as we know it.

Grannies, keep your babies and grandbabies out of the city. Tell them since the Ford fiasco,  they’ve shut down the roads, locked the gate until the whole thing settles down.I thought that we had a day in the downtown  that couldn’t get any better.

I thought that a beautiful brunch at Le St. Tropez, and a matinee performance of my favourite musical Les Miserable could not be topped.

I thought that was the best way to finish off a weekend of tree lighting, hot cider sipping and night time parades.

Until I stepped through the doors of Forno Cultura.

Sweet love of all that’s holy, may my soul be saved from the Italian devil of bakery heaven!

We were greeted with Amereti cookies, just slightly crisp on the outside, and oh-so-chewy-and-orgasmically satisfying on the inside

Sweets are sold by the kilogram, and could put a gal on the fast track to selling herself on the streets for just a taste of the dark chocolate, black olive deliciousness that leaves you neither satisfied nor wanting more.

Just like a thorough and proper lover, it leaves you contented. Sated. Feeling as if you know what the end of the world feels like, and it feels marvelous.

So, don’t tell your mamma or your granny, but there just simply is nothing better than the treats you’ll find down the stairs at 609 King Street West.

If you are a singleton, or more likely, half of a couple who is less than satisfied, go soothe your soul, espresso in one hand and sweet beloved cookie in the other, amid the warm aura of Forno Cultura, . It will make it all, everything, exquisitely,  bearable.

Who knew that the secret to happiness was the brine of black olives embraced by the  bittersweetness of chocolate?

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Savoury Sunday: Antipasti I Shrimp & Pea Puree

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy (Photo credit: zilverbat.)

Insufferable foodies be damned, one of my favourite meals is informal, with lots of delicious, healthy nibblies set out among chilled bottles of wine. Delicious food and wine paired with excellent company cannot compare with any other dining experience on the planet.

Today, for savoury Sunday, I offer up a the first in a trio of Antipasti recipes sure to please. Intended to be savoured  during long, winding, conversations at least one of these will be guaranteed to please.

A recent recommendation of Las Moras Reserve Chardonnay  from Billy’s Best Bottles could be paired with any of these three Antipasti’s.

Be sure to check out my music selection below….

Shrimp with Pea Puree


1) 3 cups water

2) Salt

3) 1 cup fresh or frozen shelled  peas

4) 4 tbsp. olive oil (plus some more for drizzling if you like)

5) 16 medium to large peeled and deveined shrimp ( ~3/4 lb)

6) Flour for dredging shrimp.

7) 1 minced garlic clove

8) 1/2 cup dry white wine


1) Bring water to a boil  and add salt to taste.  Add peas, reducing heat to medium and simmer until tender.  Drain peas, reserving the cooking liquid.

2) In a blender or food processor add peas, 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and 2 tbsp olive oil.  Blend until smooth. Add more cooking liquid if needed and add salt and pepper to taste.  (this puree can be made ahead of time and can be gently reheated prior to serving. You may need to add more liquid if reheating.)

3) Dredge shrimp in flour to coat.

4) Warm remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute or two without browning. Add the shrimp, and cook until they turn pink (2-3 minutes). Add the wine and let it come to a simmer.

5) Divide pea puree in small glass bowls. Place two or three shrimp on top of pea puree. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley if desired and drizzle with olive oil. Serve Immediately.


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Savoury Sunday; Tagine of Chicken with Potatoes, Cilantro & Olives

lampYum! This dish is delicious, and it’s been one of our favourites for years.

No proper tagine necessary.

Serve with fresh bread, and a bottle of Goats Do Roam The Goatfather.


1 small to medium chicken, cut into 4-6 pieces or 4 chicken breasts ( I use chicken breasts)

2 cups water

1-2 bay leaves

1 medium onion, grated (this is important to grate NOT chop the onion as it lends texture to the sauce)

1 tsp salt or to taste

pinch of saffron threads

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 Tbsp olive oil, divided

2lbs potatoes peeled and cubed

Large handful finely chopped cilantro leaves

2 thyme sprigs

10  black or green olives, pitted and rinsed

pinch black pepper

2 Tbsp lemon juice or to taste


1) Place the chicken and water in a medium stock pot and bring slowly to a boil (skim any foam)

2) Add bay leaves, onions, salt, saffron, garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon of oil.

3) Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25-30 minutes.

4) Add the potatoes and continue to cook until potatoes and chicken are cooked, adding water if necessary.

5) About 5 minutes before cooking is finished, add cilantro, thyme, olives, pepper and remaining oil.

6) Drizzle with lemon juice just before serving.

*** Dessert isn’t part of savoury Sundays, but I couldn’t resist….

Slice fresh figs in half, add a dollop of whipped ricotta,

drizzle with warm honey that has been spiced with cardamom

and snuggle in next to your sweetie…

Enjoy! ***