A new blog!!!

Hi All!

I'm very pleased to announce that my two blogs, Olive and Lemon and Sweet Secrets have now come together in a fabulous culmination of culinary joy! Check out Gourmet Gal - a culmination of all that's good in my kitchen: from the sweet to the savoury to the absolutely sublime!

All the wonderful recipes I've already shared can be found there, along with new goodies I'll be adding almost daily! So stop by and say hi - you'll be glad you did!

See you soon!

Ally aka 'Gourmet Gal' (http://www.allyskitchen.blogspot.com)

Please note: I'll only be posting on Gourmet Gal going forward, so please update your favourites & bookmarks accordingly. Thanks for your support!!!

Sweets by Ally Event!!!

Hi All!

Sweets by Ally is pleased to announce that we'll be on hand at the YRMG Christmas Craft Show and Sale at the Glenway Country Club in Newmarket, Ontario!

This Saturday, November 15th from 10am to 3pm, shoppers will have the opportunity to get a head start on their holiday shopping with fabulous crafts, presents and decorations - and of course, delicious chocolate bark from Sweets by Ally. For more details on Sweets by Ally treats - check us out online at http://www.sweetsbyally.com!

Hope to see you all there!

Glenway Country Club
470 Crossland Gate, Newmarket ON
(south side of Hwy 9/Davis Drive betwen Bathurst & Yonge St)

Magnificent Mussels

Sometimes the best thing about a dish is watching someone else experience it for the first time. Seeing that look of wonder across someone's face when they bit into something they know they're going to love. For example, I've always been a seafood junkie, but my husband is a recent convert, and watching him discover - and fall in love with - seafood has been an eye-opening experience that takes me back to the beginning of my oceanic culinary journey.

It's one of those experiences that led me to write this blog. My husband and I were married this past June and for our honeymoon, we took a road trip through Quebec and down into upstate New York (the Adirondacks rock!). While I loved every waking minute of that trip, two particular nights (or rather, meals) stand out for me: mussels and green salad at La Moulerie in Outremont, just outside of Montreal, and moules frites at Poisson D'Avril in historic old Quebec City. On both these nights, my beloved and I devoured whole bowls of steaming, fragrant mussels with a passion and vigor I normally reserve for really good chocolate cake or ice cream. There weren't enough baguettes in all of Quebec to help my hubby sop up the rich, aromatic broth that his beautiful black-shelled beauties were cooked in. It was wonderful to watch him enjoy a dish that I have loved for years.

Of all the places I've eaten mussels over the years, the house special at Poisson D'Avril was simply one of the best. Below is my take on their classic recipe.

Bon Appetit!

Mussels in white wine with herbs

2/3 cup chopped white or red onions
3 pounds mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
2 cups dry white wine
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp butter

In a large wide pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and cook until translucent; about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add mussels, white wine and bay leaves. Cover and steam mussels until they open, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer mussels itno a large bowl, reserving the liquid. Discard bay leaves. Pour liquid into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add butter and parsley and stir until butter is dissolved. Pour sauce over mussels and serve immediately with crusty bread and a lemon wedge.

Green salad with Dijon vinaigrette

Dijon vinaigrette
(makes 2 cups)

1 1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch of salt

In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Drizzle over pieces of bib lettuce. Dressing will keep for 1 week in refrigerator.

One potato, two potato...

I'm a french fry fanatic. To me, there is no greater side dish. In fact, I'd be perfectly happy to make french fries the main dish - and put the burger/sandwich/hot dog on the side. Especially since I discovered sweet potato fries. Not that there's anything wrong with the good old-fashioned russet potato, but the flavour and colour of the sweet potato just add that something extra - and make french fries a main dish in my world.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries
3 large sweet potatoes
Olive oil
cayenne pepper

Slice sweet potatoes into thin wedges and add to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and a generous amount of pepper (about 12-14 turns). Hit with a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne for some heat. Toss until potatoes are evenly coated with oil and spices.

Spread the potato wedges on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, turning fries once. After 30 minutes, turn the oven up to 450 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until wedges get slightly dark.

Remove from oven and serve piping hot with garlic & dill aioli

Garlic Dill Aioli
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 - 1/3 cup minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup finely chopped dill

In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients and chill for up to 3 hours before serving.

to skin or not to skin?
this is totally a matter of personal preference. If you like baked potato skins, then leave them on...they add great flavour to the fries. If skins aren't your thing, peel 'em off. This recipe works well either way!


The Harvest Table

It's beautiful, sunny and unusually warm today, but there is no mistaking that it's Fall. The leaves are changing; the corn fields have dried, dotting the rolling hills with fields of gold, and the markets are full of amazing fall fruits and vegetables.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable symbols of Autumn is the pumpkin. From Thanksgiving desserts to Halloween Jack-o-lanterns and toasted pumpkin seeds, the pumpkin's bright orange colour and fun shape remind me of family, fun and of course, good food.

While often found as decoration around the Thanksgiving table, or on window sills for Halloween, the small little pumpkins, or gourds, are one of my favourite Fall foods.

Here's a quick and easy way to enjoy these little fall treasures instead of the usual baked potato:

Roasted Baby Pumpkins

6 small pumpkins
cayenne pepper (optional)

Cut the tops of the pumpkins and scrape out the seeds & pulp, leaving the hard fleshy part of the pumpkin in tact.

Spread the butter around the inside of the pumpkin and add another small dollop in the bottom. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and some fresh cracked pepper (about 6-8 turns) inside the pumpkin. Add a dash of cinnamon and just a tease of nutmeg. If you like a tiny bit more heat, add the slightest pinch of cayenne as well.

Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for approx. 35-40 minutes, or until the pumpkins are tender and carmelized.