Bleecker Breakfast Cafe Does Ripley’s Aquarium

Nemobreakfast

Friday morning started with a hearty brunch — can you call it brunch on a weekday? — of scrambled eggs, strip bacon and peameal, homefries, toasted buttered bagels, with jam, cream cheese or greek yoghurt optional.  There was homemade lemon cake — of which I got none! — and the most glorious fruit salad…which I enjoyed thoroughly.  And, of course, coffee and orange juice to wash it all down.

Fuelled with a hearty breakfast we pulled ourselves together for the trip to Ripley’s Aquarium.  Most of the 20 residents attending took the regular TTC while four of us waited and waited and waited on a Wheel Trans bus.  At the end of the compulsory 30 minute No Show we called and asked and they assured us the bus would be along in 10 minutes.  In 12 minutes he was out front and the four of us clambered aboard.

It was March break for the public school set.  There were more children in one place than I ever remember seeing at one time anywhere.  It was crowded but for the most part they, and their parents, were respectful of the old folk riding on the scooter and pushing the walker.  The whole thing was amazing but the world’s longest moving sidewalk under a sea filled with barracuda and sharks of all appetites patrolling over head and around you was stunning.  Just who was sizing up whom, I had to wonder?  There were green sawfish and elegant rays resting on the tempered plastic just a couple of feet over your head.

There was a white grouper so big I thought it was carved in stone…until it moved.

On a glorious multi coloured garden wall of all manner of anenomes I swore I saw wee Nemo darting about.  There were all kinds of jellyfish including one called Blue Blubber.  In a tank unto themselves were several elegant spiked Lion Fish.

I plunged my hand into the Horseshoe Crab display and stroked the solid exoskeleton as it lumbered by.  They are not actually crabs but in a class of their own, closely related to spiders and scorpions.  And like lobsters they must shed their shells to grow.  One might even say they are “bluebloods!”  This curious creature has developed blue blood with remarkable anti bacterial properties.  This gift to humanity may endanger them.

And speaking of Lobsters we saw a monster of a brown fellow with HUGE claws lumbering along the perimeter, a Blue Lobster!,  and another rosey red or orange like it had already been in the pot.

Our thanks to Chef Michael for the hearty breakfast to fuel the adventure and to Ryan and the Co-op office for the tickets to this most memorable adventure.

Blue lobsterStingrayGrouper deep

 

ScoobiDoo! Pasta Lunch

Image result for pictures of cavatappi

There were 20 of us gathered in the community room today to enjoy lunch.  We must be doing something right.  Our numbers have climbed and are holding.

We started with ScoobiDoo pasta — I kid you not! — a curious ‘hellical’ or corkscrewed, tubular macaroni other wise known as cavatappi.  We coated our al dente macaroni with Chef Michael’s homemade tomato sauce added chopped sausage, with a pleasant hint of tarragon, zucchini, diced red pepper, crumbled ricotta and thawed chopped formerly frozen spinach.  That was baked in a dutch oven under a “streusel” topping of shredded cheddar cheese and bread crumbs until golden orange.

The Romaine greens were dressed with Michael’s home made Caesar dressing with anchovies.  This rich simple salad was accompanied by diced Applewood smoked bacon, croutons and finely grated Parmagiano Reggiano.

For dessert there was Lemon Cake with Lemon Drizzle, homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and bluebberries.

After lunch we enjoyed a virtual tour of Toronto’s key art venues led by Betty Ann Jordan, a journalist and tour guide.

Image result for pictures of cavatappi with cheddar cheese

Cooking with Wine Workshop

 

Comfort Food at DFC Cafe

comfort-food.1

Comfort food cafe
 
It was comfort food on the menu today with a rib sticking macaroni and cheese with a twist.  The al dente pasta was tossed in a creamy bechamel made gooey and rich with 4 white cheeses, including a generous helping of Gruyere, and diced panchetta and bacon.  
The pasta was accompanied by a romaine salad with chopped tomatoes, red peppers and crumbled feta dressed with a simple homemade oil and vinegar dressing.  
And it wouldn’t be a DFC lunch without baguettes and sweet butter.
 
The dessert was spice cake with peach sauce and whipped cream.  There was a great deal of debate in our small kitchen about whether whipping cream should be beaten ice cold or at room temperature.  Apparently COLD is strongly recommended both for the cream and the utensils and should be done in a chilled metal bowl.  Cold effects the size of the bubbles that beating forms, allows the butterfat to cling to itself and provides light and fluffy volume.  It also helps it stay that way.  [Room temperature is better for egg whites.]
 
Dr. Louise Hidinger of ‘Ingredients’ was our invited contributor of the day.  She spoke to us about the science of the epidermis, maintaining the health of mature skin and what to look for in assorted products.  An interesting talk.
 About 20 people sat down to lunch and, by the comments we received they quite enjoyed our culinary endeavours. 

Dahlias

Frankling Co-op Christmas Dinner

Little Elves

First and foremost we must thank Ann, our Frankling Co-op administrator for underwriting the banquet we enjoyed on Christmas Day.

We also have to thank Barry, Miriam, Ryan and Simon, our Christmas Elves, the coordinators, who pulled it all together on such short notice and without whom it would not have been possible.

Although we assured everyone nothing was required of them save their presence they went ahead and provided even more.  Our thanks go out to our generous residents and guests.

Our dinner guests included AnneMarie, Barry, Carol, David, David (in a tuxedo!), Darryl, Doris, Jeanette, Jennifer, Jim, Joe, Kevin, Lee, Maria & Juan Carlos, Mary, MaryAgnes & Ann, Miriam, Morgan, Peter, Petru, Rol, Ruth, Simon and me, the potato masher.

Some stayed to dine.  Some passed thru the social hour wishing us all well and promising to return.  We’d also like to acknowledge Ada, Alana, Geoff, Kimon, Mike, Michael, Heather and Steven who dropped by to share Season’s Greetings.

There was an appetizer table to wet our appetites:
Goat Cheese, Brie and crackers, Guacamole and chips, Veggie, pita and dip.  There was a black bean, corn and edamame salad as well as a Caesar salad and a mixed green salad.

Our Vegetables included:
Broiled Brussels sprouts, Mediterranean Vegetable Medley, Roast heritage mini potatoes, Roast root vegetables, Mashed sweet potatoes, and Mashed Russet potatoes with garlic butter; my mother would have approved.

All of this bounty of the earth and field accompanied a whole glazed ham and 2 huge moist Roast Turkeys with all the traditional accoutrement: stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce and dinner rolls.

If you weren’t full at the end of that repast we had a fully laden dessert table:  There were cookies, cake and squares, shortbreads and Clementines, 3 pies including lemon meringue and strawberry rhubarb and 2 Yule logs ou bûches de Noël.

All of these delights could be washed down with:
Red or White wine
Beer
Perrier
Juices and sodas
And coffee or tea.

I, for one, enjoyed myself thoroughly but then I’m happiest and most at home in a busy kitchen.  It was hard to count heads with the social ebb and flow but we believe about 30 people sat down to enjoy our co-op hospitality and dine on this splendid Christmas Day Feast.  The feedback from our assembled guests was positive and enthusiastic.  

Little Elves

Our Last Cafe for 2015

Delicate Firs
A little late with this one with apologies.
 
Tuesday was our last Bleecker Café for this year.  They will resume in the New Year.   However, we won’t be wanting for nibbles and treats.  Our Christmas Market is coming up on Saturday 3rd December, featuring homemade goodies and crafts by our residents.  Then there is the social highpoint of the year at Bleecker:  the annual Christmas Doggie Poochgent with its catered offering and open bar.
For our last endeavour of this year Chef Michael returned to the original concept of the Café:  a simple hearty lunch of soup and sandwich.
There was live and lively entertainment provided by the Rock-a-Doodle Duo which morphed into a trio for this visit.  They’re the folks that play all those great folksy R&B tunes us mature types like to sing along with.  Forget the board games!  Their official fan club, Ruth, Mary and Ada, cheered them on from the front row.  Miriam took up the conga drum challenge and added some rhythm.
This was one of best attended Cafés with 20 soul present.
Those that could came to the servery and those that couldn’t were served by Emilie, who also “cheerfully”(?) volunteered to wash up the dishes.
The homemade cream of tomato soup with its tomatoes concasse (seeded and crushed) the seasonings and lots of buttery rich cream paired perfectly with the classic grilled cheese sandwiches.
We buttered almost 3 loaves of bread, laid on slices of cheddar and smoked gruyere and grilled the sandwiches to a lovely golden brown.  Guess who got to do the buttering?
Dessert was a wedge of Chef Michael’s homemade spice cake on a bed of peach compote topped by a dollop of whipped cream.
Guess who got to whip the cream?
These Cafés are a wonderful community building event and appreciated by all our diverse members.
For that we would like to thank the office for the funding and thank Ryan and Chef Michael for the planning and preparation.
Until next year!
See you in 2016!
Delicate Firs

 

Bleecker BBQ in the Courtyard

BBQ Café in the Courtyard
Image result for bbq clipart
21 September 2015
Our Café in the Courtyard had been bumped from the community room by Red Dress Productions.  They are working on a Promise-in-the-Park pebble mosaic for the Winchester Park South.  Schedules collided and the big room was double booked so we took it outside to the Grill by the Gazebo.
And it was on a Monday, not a day I can alter to any great degree so I was in attendance but as a guest instead of being part of the preparation.  And even that took some schedule rejigging on the part of the library.
 
Get out your fleeces and body warmers, folks.  Fall is definitely in the air.  But we here at Bleecker are a hearty lot and when the Café in the Courtyard really was in the courtyard and was a dinner time barbeque café we were ready for it.
Where we have often seen upwards of 25 or more in attendance we were a slim brave few of nearly half that number; perhaps 15 what with comings and goings.
Michael served up his Mother’s recipe for potato salad with radish, celery and good ol’ Miracle Whip.  The Harvard Beets, which are a personal favourite of mine, were dressed in a rosy balsamic with sliced red onions, and red and orange peppers.  The grilled burgers were prepared by Alana and were Michael’s equal mix of ground beef and pork.  It took 10 lbs of meat and a cup of fine breadcrumbs along with the traditional salt’n’pepper seasoning to feed these hearty hungry diners.
While we dined we were entertained by a folk duet and we joined in for a couple of their numbers.  Nothing like golden oldies for the mature set.  We love to sing along.
For desert Michael served up bitter sweet chocolate ice cream with blueberries.  OMG, It was so rich.
The event was enjoyed by all except perhaps Michael and Alana who had to haul it all up to the courtyard and back again.  There will be more Cafés, Michael and Ryan assured me, but they will be held inside in the warm confines of the Community Room.  It will be easier on Michael as transporting food stuffs and utensils will not be an issue.  And being inside it gives the guests more opportunity to interact directly with Chef Michael and the kitchen.
We did disperse a little more quickly than usual but as the sun set so did the temperatures.
Thanks again, Michael, for all your culinary crafting and Ryan for arranging these community events and Alana for aiding and abetting the endeavour.

Bleecker Cafe in the Community Room

Bleecker’s Courtyard Café in the Community Room
26 August 2015
Due to overcast skies and unpredictable weather Ryan decided to move the festivities to the Community Room.
Chef Michael outdid himself.  For lunch today we had baked salmon on sauteed Swiss chard and spinach w/papaya chutney, mustard coleslaw and brown rice with peas.  And, as always, fresh french stick (4 of them disappeared!) and sweet butter.  Ah, life’s simple necessities.  There was also a very spicy peppery green condiment.  The specific ingredients escape me but the effects live long and delightfully on the tongue.  Michael?
Dessert was a warm peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice crm topped with a sprinkle of blueberries.
Michael had 2 assistants today:  Alana and moi.  Its a small kitchen down in the Community Room but the 3 of us choreographed the dance well enough not to run into each other too often.  I think it’s not unlike working in a railway galley car the space is that narrow and limited.
To facilitate “even and fair” portioning Michael served our guests as they cued at the the counter.  Some of our less mobile guests were served where they sat.
We had a large turnout of nearly 30.  Its always a good interactive group, lots of conversation and catchup at these events.  I’m certain the lunch was enjoyed by all what with by the kudos and compliments Michael received from our guests.  Everyone made a point of thanking him for his efforts.
Betwixt lunch and dessert we had a talk from a representative of Big Carrot on stress relieving diets.
Thanks to the Co-op and Michael & Ryan for arranging and facilitating these events!
I love getting back in the kitchen!
Looking forward to our next Culinary Café!
                   Image result for baked salmon and swiss chard

Too-hot-2b-in-the-Courtyard

Too-hot-2b-out-in-the-Courtyard today (Weds)
29 July 2015
 
Almost all day today I have been down in the Community Room helping Chef Michael cook up and serve a delicious lunch for 16/18 souls for our too-hot-2b-out in the Courtyard today Café.  Roast pork tenderloin served on Swiss chard, homemade radish pickles, tiny little Ital pasta …ORZO! with pesto, asparagus and Parmigiano Reggiano grated over top.  French stick with sweet butter! and Michael’s homemade extra rich vanilla ice cream (made with eggs) topped with blueberries.  I let my ice cream melt and had the blueberries swimming in it.
Chef Michael and I are developing a symbiotic relationship, tho’ he did decline my offer of marriage.  I love helping him and he appreciates having the help.  He has more faith in me than I do which is good for me.  (Can you imagine anyone being afraid of whipping, vb, cream? I was last time and it whipped up perfectly.) This is his show.  I’m just there to paint the scenery, so to speak.  So I diced, chopped and stirred.  I really do enjoy ‘garde manger’-ing (food prep).  And I have enough leftovers for 2 meals of Orzo and pork!  The Swiss Chard was amazing but its all gone.
Looking forward to Weds. 26 August for our next culinary endeavour.
 Picture1

Bleecker Cafe: Bon Appetit!

Bon Appetit! 
 
27 June ’15
I took most of this past week off and used Wednesday to assist Chef Michael as his “garde manger” [cold prep or keeper of the food (!?)] for our, almost monthly at this point, Bleecker ‘Café in the Courtyard’.  It wasn’t much but I felt right at home back in the kitchen making assorted sandwiches, meat and veg on bread, buns and rolling flat breads.  He left me to make the strawberry shortcake on my own which is worthy of mention because I am afraid of “whipping, the verb, cream” having turned it to butter once!  I have carried that regrettable memory even longer than the memories of success!!  It worked perfectly!  Shiny soft free standing peaks to dollop onto the angel food cake and berries.  I was so pleased with myself and so engrossed in what I was doing I showed up 30 mins late for the lunch!!  [In part I was distracted by the Xtra large helping I made for myself — cooks privilege!]  And 30 mins with this crowd is almost missing lunch.  Chef also served a red gazpacho and a pale green cream of cucumber made with Greek yoghurt.  I mixed the 2 together for the most amazing result.