A Month of Holiday & Christmas Cooking & Baking Around the City! Truffles, Cookies, Traditional Treats & More

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Tis the season for the holiday baking, cooking, and edible gift creating!  There are TONS of fun cooking and baking classes going on as well as some holiday themed workshops so whether you love truffles, pie, cupcakes, or a mix of holiday sweets, there’s definitely something for you here!  My personal picks?  The holiday cookie classes at Aphrodite Cooks and Evergreen Brick Works, the regional and seasonal Niagara-inspired cooking class at EBW, pie-making at Le Dolci, and the Christmas treats baking at Nella Cucina.

I won’t be able to attend any of these but if I could I’d be ALL OVER these like ribbon on wrapping paper.  I’m still plowing away at updating the December Food Calendar so you’ll see some new stuff from The Depanneur and others added to the calendar really soon!  In the meantime, click around the menu bar up top and check out the December Food Calendar, the tastings and classes at Evergreen Brick Works, and all of Le Dolci’s fabulous holiday and Christmas-themed classes!  Oh, and admire the new Christmas photos I took at La Merceria.  Just try not to drool over all the drop-dead gorgeous kitchen accessories and linens.  I know I am.

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Simple Healthy Meals in 30 Minutes at The Chef Upstairs, December 3.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  615 Mount Pleasant Rd.  $99 +HST/person OR $149.50 +HST for two.  Combine fresh and seasonal with fast and quick with these recipes: winter green salad with pine nuts, radicchio, and pear, penne pasta with sausage, fennel, and Pecorino cheese, and fresh fish with tomato sauce with cherry tomato couscous!  http://www.thechefupstairs.com/cooking_classes.html

Introduction to Pie Making at Le Dolci, December 5.  7pm-9pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $55 +HST/person.  Don’t be intimidated by the art of the homemade pie and pie crust – Michelle from the Parkdale Pie Princess teams up with Le Dolci to show you how at this introduction to pie making class!  Learn how to make the a great pie crust from scratch, use fresh fruit to make filling, and take home a pie and recipes!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

PA Day Fun!  Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 7.  1pm-3pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $40 +HST/person.  What better way to enjoy a Friday off from school than to get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create flowers, animals, swirls, and whatever your heart desires!  It’s December, so go for a winter, Christmas or holiday theme with snowflakes, snowmen, candy canes, holly, trees, gingerbread men and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 8.  10am-12pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Designer Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 8.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Walk the runway in true fashionable cupcake style!  In this introduction to cupcake decorating class, learn how to make stylish Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, Tiffany jewelry, and more with professional cupcake decorating tools, fondant, and frosting.  Be the sweetest, most stylish fashionista when you walk out of the student with 12 beautifully decorated vanilla cupcakes!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas Themed – Learn to Make Cake Pops at Le Dolci, December 9.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Use moist, delicious balls of cake and frosting to make holiday inspired cake pops using melted candy melts, sprinkles, icing, and more!  Sprinkle snowflakes and trees and even make reindeer, ornaments, and Christmas tree cake pops!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Holiday Cookies at Aphrodite Cooks, December 9.  1pm-4pm. 201 Weston Rd., Suite 101.  $65 +HST/person.  This class requires participants to bring piping tips and couplers (Wilton’s #2, #4, or #6 tips and two couplers) which are available at Michaels, Bulk Barn, Wal-Mart, and baking supply stores.  Aphrodite Cooking classes mix both pleasure and education as classes provide participants with an atmosphere to socialize and mingle with others while at the same time enjoying food and obtaining and sharpening cooking skills.

At this class, join Canadian Living test kitchen manager, Adell Shneer, as she guides you through a wintery fairy wonderland of beautiful and delicious holiday cookies and decorating!  Learn how to make royal icing and master piping and icing techniques including flooding, flocking, marbleizing as you make brown sugar citrus cookie dough, double vanilla cookie dough, and gingerbread cookie dough for beautiful cookies!  https://www.aphroditecooks.com/class.aspx?c_id=c6add328-06cf-48aa-ab6b-8400f1eac6f2

GE Café Chefs Series: Celebrating Niagara at Evergreen Brick Works, December 11.  6pm-9pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $75 each workshop.  Learn tips and techniques from local Toronto and Ontario chefs, discuss and explore food issues over wine and a great meal with other participants!  Funds raised through the series will help support children’s educational food programs at Evergreen Brick Works.

This fall series focuses on the food culture of southern Ontario.  Join executive chef of Hillebrand Estates’ winery restaurant, Frank Dodd, for an exploration of the bounty of fruit, food, and wine in the beautiful Niagara region.  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/food/chefs-series#dec11

Green Bites Cooking Workshops – Holiday Baking at Evergreen Brick Works, December 13.  7pm-9pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $65/person.  Green Bites workshops are back for another exciting round of seasonal classes!  Join chefs, producers, farmers, and food experts for some hands-on cooking workshops that are sure to expand your breadth of food knowledge and technique.  These cooking workshops will allow participants to explore tastes, flavours, and aromas while engaging in food issues that affect communities.

At this workshop, join chef Joshna Maharaj for holiday baking around the world!  Explore holiday baking traditions, bake 5 different types of cookies, and take home a cookie gift box at the end!  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/food/green-bites#dec13

Christmas Treats at Nella Cucina, December 15.  12pm-3pm.  876 Bathurst St.  $95/person.  Get your holiday sweet teeth ready for this sugar n’ spice and everything nice cooking class where you’ll bake the afternoon away!  Learn a wealth of baking and candy making techniques and knowledge as you tackle some classic holiday recipes such as salted caramels, fruit jellies, rum sour cream pound cake, spiced nuts and seeds, and chocolate cranberry and pistachio biscotti!  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/11/29/249/-/-.html

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Gingerbread Decorating at Le Dolci, December 15.  1:30pm-3:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $40 +HST/person.  Break out the icing, candies, and chocolates for some holiday inspired gingerbread cookie decorating!  Learn piping techniques to create yummy cookies to take home for yourself or to give as gifts!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 15.  4:30pm-6:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 16.  10:30am-12:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas Themed – Introduction to Truffle Making at Le Dolci, December 16.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Create rich, decadent chocolate ganache truffles and dust and sprinkle your way through luxurious truffle heaven with Christmas sprinkles and holiday flavours!  Learn how to use proper hand rolling techniques as well as developing your own recipes and flavourings!  Create a set of truffles to take home for yourself or to give  as a gift.  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

From French Bistro to Molecular Cuisine – October Cooking Classes & Workshops at Nella Cucina!

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Learn the art of French pastry and more at Nella Cucina!

From French bistro fare to molecular cuisine and gastronomy, the cooking classes at Nella Cucina on Bathurst St. in the Annex is anything but boring!  I’m so excited to finally feature their cooking classes and workshops on the Food Calendar and I’m even more excited about the prospect of attending one of these classes!  I’ve never actually signed up for a real cooking class before and with so many options in the city, it really wouldn’t be difficult at all to find something that strikes my fancy.

I thank my walking feet for this particular foodie discovery!  I found out about Nella Cucina and their classes simply just by walking.  I had made plans to meet a friend for weekend brunch around Queen St. and Spadina and had made the trek to Wychwood Barns for the Saturday morning farmers’ market earlier on.  After my market fun, I walked back to St. Clair, looked down the road at Bathurst and thought, “ah, what the heck?  Let’s walk the whole way down!”  And you wouldn’t believe all the nifty food discoveries I made just by walking that stretch of city!  Nella Cucina was one of them and I’m so delighted because their classes sound really fun and engaging.  Aside from offering workshops and cooking classes, Nella Cucina is an actual culinary retail shop selling cookware and equipment for restaurants and food service establishments.  Here’s a sneak peek at part of the October Cooking Classes Calendar and the Nella’s October line-up of cooking classes!

Enjoy the bounty of the fall harvest and seasonal ingredients

Molecular Cuisine Workshop #1: The Professional Series at Nella Cucina, October 1.  10am-1pm.  $150/person (receive a $100 Nella Cucina gift card when you sign up for all 4 workshops!).  Love science?  Fascinated by molecular gastronomy?  Simply want to learn about awe-inspiring professional techniques used by Iron Chefs?  The Molecular Cuisine Workshop series is perfect for you!  In collaboration with John Placko, culinary director of the Modern Culinary Academy, this workshop is designed to introduce participants to the scientific processes behind many professional culinary techniques.  At this workshop, learn and practice spherification, reverse spherification, rapid freezing, and carbonation.  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/09/27/242/-/-.html

Classic French Fare at Nella Cucina, October 4.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  876 Bathurst St.  $95/person.  The kitchen transforms into a French bistro at this three and a half hour cooking class devoted to French classics and Parisian fare.  Create a 5-course feast as you travel through France via food!  Menu includes pan-seared chicken breast with tarragon and dijon cream sauce, gougère (classic French choux pastry with cheese), an apricot and almond tart with whipped cream, and more!  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/09/27/225/-/-.html

The Making of a Chef Series: The Making of a Pastry Chef at Nella Cucina, October 6.  12pm-3:30pm.  876 Bathurst St.  $125/person.  At this intensive three and a half hour hands-on class and workshop, learn the foundations and skills necessary for pastry culinary art from industry professionals using the basic ingredients in French desserts (sugar, eggs, butter, and flour), and create lovely desserts that are as beautiful as they are delicious!  Menu includes chocolate soufflé, mille- feuille (napoleon), crème brûlée, and more!  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/09/27/232/-/-.html

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Cooking Classes, Kitchen Adventures & Frittata Sandwiches With Black Bean Soup – Foodscapes at Depanneur, Part II

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I love all the various food options in the city and the myriad of ways I can whet my appetite for food exploration, but there are few places like The Depanneur that are as all-encompassing.  Themed supper club and dinner party events, hands-on cooking classes and foodie workshops, cooking, business, and career opportunities for enthusiastic foodies, and weekly breakfast and lunch menus full of healthy, homemade food are all part of the mix.  Now that you’re up to speed on the fabulous supper clubs The Depanneur hosts multiple times a month from yesterday’s Part I post, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty cooking classes and delicious daily food!

The Depanneur holds regular cooking and baking workshops and classes taught by independent business owners, chefs, and passionate, knowledgable folks who love and excel at their food craft.  Prices vary depending on the cost of ingredients and the type of food involved, but generally speaking, you could totally find reasonably priced classes for as little as $30!  Classes and workshops in recent past include Italian panforte, vegan rougelach, World of Truffles mushroom workshops, and Mai Ha’s I Love Puffy Love marshmallow making!  These classes and workshops are open spaces meant for anyone and everyone with any level of experience and knowledge, and they encourage thoughtful, open discussion, questions, and of course, FUN!  It’s about learning from one another, learning about where our ingredients and food comes from, opening yourself up to new experiences, tastes, and techniques, and enjoying the wonderful world of food amongst other excited and eager foodies.

Sara of Nice Buns making fresh bread!

Speaking of cooking, The Depanneur also rents out their commercial kitchen space!  If you love to cook and bake and want and need an outlet for your creativity and food products, this could be the space for you!  Independent food entrepreneurs can use the kitchen to make food and sell it in the cafe on a consignment basis.  Rental rates will depend on how long you intend to use the kitchen, but if it’s definitely worth a look-see so just shoot them an e-mail and the staff would be happy to answer questions and work out an arrangement. 

Sara of Nice Buns is a frequent Depanneur crew member who uses the kitchen to bake her famous bread for the CSI markets and other market events, and Lisa of A Food Gypsy creates homemade soup for The Depanneur’s lunch menu.  This is such a great arrangement because chefs and foodies can use this space and outlet to showcase their love embodied in food and expand their business and clientele, and at the same time foodies like myself can get to know about independent food businesses around the city.

Their breakfast and lunch cafe menu is one that changes every week in terms of ingredients.  The one thing that is constant is the format of the menu and the type of food you can expect.  The weekly menu will always include a breakfast item (for example, a frittata sandwich), two kinds of grilled cheese for lunch with a side of coleslaw or salad, and a homemade soup.  Their menu also includes a number of drinks (hot or cold apple cider, hot or cold chocolate or maple milk, coffee, teas, soy lattes, flavoured sodas, and more) and homemade desserts lovingly made by bakers and chefs who use the kitchen and/or who are part of The Depanneur crew and staff.  Sara of Nice Buns has been selling her cinnamon buns and biscotti here!

I love sandwich and soup meals so I had me their breakfast frittata sandwich and a bowl of their weekly soup which happened to be southwest black bean with sweet corn.  Each item was $4 and the nice thing about the breakfast and lunch food at The Depanneur is the nice rounded price.  Simply put, whatever price you see is the price you pay.  NO TAX TACKED ON.  This part deserves a nice shiny star!  Their frittata sandwich was made with fresh baked sourbread bread from St. John’s Bakery (which The Depanneur also sells!), peameal bacon, herbs, and chipotle mayo, while the black bean soup was a hearty mix of corn, red kidney beans, black beans, diced pepper, and a dollop of delicious sour cream with cilantro with crunch bread crisps on the side!

I loved my meal, especially the warmth and crunchiness from the egg and peameal bacon frittata and the creamy deliciousness of the mayo, but if I had to choose a knockout, it had to be the black bean and corn soup.  This was SO DAMN GOOD.  I was thisclose to ordering a 2nd bowl!  I could have eaten all of it too.  I might be a little person, but I can pack in the food!  The soup was just so well-balanced in flavour.  It wasn’t too acidic from the tomato base, it was too runny or too thick and goopy, and I LOVE the fact that I got sour cream with it!  I can’t wait to try their other soups and I’m so looking forward to chomping on some grilled cheese.  Oh, and maybe some maple milk.  I can eat and watch people cook at the same time.  It’s a lovely thing.      

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The Depannuer is located at 1033 College Street between Dovercourt Rd. and Dufferin Street.  They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) and they are currently closed for the holidays but will be back with yummy food in the new year on January 10th!  You can view The Depannuer’s Facebook page here.