Posted by: Kennedy | May 9, 2010

Cooking buddies rock

I recently learned of a very cool blog called 1,000 Awesome Things. It’s pretty self-explanatory – a guy blogging a countdown of 1,000 simple things in everyday life that are awesome.

Well, just last week, I experienced my own particularly awesome thing: I walked into the LCBO to get myself a nice bottle of red, and I walked out with the latest edition of Food & Drink!

For my fellow foodies across Ontario, I don’t need to explain the level of excitement one experiences when they find a big stack of these on the LCBO shelf. The (free!) glossy magazines are issued seasonally, in limited supply, and they disappear faster than treats in the office kitchen. They’re full of delicious recipes and tips for entertaining – plus the food photography is incredible! I start to salivate just flipping through the pages in the store.

Now, I’ve mentioned how my coworkers and I love to talk about food. Our morning conversation often consists of latest triumphs in the kitchen, new restaurants we’ve been to, and what amazing leftovers are awaiting us in the fridge.

The other day we were discussing the latest Food & Drink dishes we were dying to make. Joanna and I were both particularly enthusiastic about the Scallop Cassoulet – but we were hesitant to try cooking it on our own, for several reasons:

1)   It called for some costly ingredients: scallops, obviously…chorizo sausage, and squid, to name a few.

2)   It was a large portion. When a single person cooks a dish that serves 6, it means a lot of leftovers…which means you had better really like it.

And for me, the seafood in particular was a concern. I’d never tried scallops in my life but had convinced myself I hated them. But since I’ve recently come around to calamari and other previously-sworn off foods, I thought maybe I should hold my judgments about the poor scallops until AFTER I’d tasted them. Plus, like I said, the magazine’s photos are incredibly powerful.

What better way to test out a new recipe (or, for that matter, a new food) than by cooking it with a friend? That way you can share the cost and, if it doesn’t appeal to your palate, you won’t end up wasting all of your efforts by throwing away the leftovers. And, of course, you get the social benefits of cooking a meal with a buddy – which always makes the food taste better!

Joanna and I made plans to cook the cassoulet together at her place last Thursday. We are so fortunate to work within walking distance of the St. Lawrence Market, a huge retail vendor market and one of Toronto’s historic claims-to-fame (it’s been around since the 1800s). The market is our go-to spot for fresh, local, delicious fare to use for special meals when the shipped-from-Mexico stuff at Loblaws just won’t do.

At the market, we bought squid, scallops, sausage and fiddleheads, another recent and most pleasant discovery of mine, for a side dish. We also picked up a baguette to make a bruscetta appetizer to hold us over while cooking.

Fiddleheads: another awesome veggie!

Bruscetta: The perfect pre-dinner snack

By the time we made it to Jo’s, we were quite excited to get started.

We first got the bruscetta in the oven, then set to work pre-washing and chopping our ingredients. Total prep time was approx. 15 minutes between two people.

The directions in Food & Drink were simple and straightforward. The timing was quite precise – adding specific ingredients to a heated skillet in a specific order, and cooking for specific times. However, as long as all the prep is done ahead of time, it’s easy to follow the recipe down to the letter.

Simmering on the stove...

We sipped on white wine as we sautéed and seasoned. Finally, after baking our finished product in the oven for 12 minutes, we were ready for my favourite part: the taste-test!

Scallop Cassoulet: Baked to perfection

Jo had thoughtfully set her dining table in preparation for our dinner party for two – complete with candles and a lovely centerpiece of fresh-cut fleurs!

Dinner for two!

Not to toot our own horns, but… in a word, this dish was AHH-MAZING. The chorizo in particular added a delicious salty/spicy flavour. And the various textures made it a rich-tasting, interesting meal that you didn’t tire of quickly. Needless to say, my first experience with scallops was a great success!

Even though we both had generous helpings, we had so much food left over that we were able to turn it into a two-day feast! It served as next-day lunch for Joanna, myself and another colleague, Caitlin.

I think we’ve started a new tradition…



  1. Love it!!! Looking good gals and now I think I have to try this recipe from the coveted LCBO mag! 🙂

    • I highly recommend it! Jo also made the pea risotto and brought some in to work for me to try… very tasty!

  2. Kennedy, my long lost roomate!Love your blog, and i love your love of the vegetables you would once NEVER touch. I once wanted a food and drink so badly that I took the only copy left, in french, and tried (unsuccessfully) to translate the recipes. Hope you’re doing well, miss you.

    • Krista: you know you were the first to start broadening my food horizons. I miss our roomie dinners! Thanks for reading, it’s so nice to hear from you!

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