December 30, 2010

proof whisky, Happy New Year, Vol. 13

Cheers to a healthy, safe and happy New Year. Stay tuned for lots of great new recipes in 2011. 
To learn more about our brand visit Become a friend on Facebook 
and Twitter to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

December 23, 2010

proof whisky, and to all a good night, Vol. 12

Tomorrow night is Christmas Eve. We would like to wish you the very best holiday & leave you with this week’s traditional Thursty Thursday recipe, proof’s spiced eggnog. To learn more about our brand visit Become a friend on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

proof’s spiced eggnog 
(this recipe makes 6 cups)
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3 oz proof whisky
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg*
4 egg whites

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the proof whisky, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture. Grate more Nutmeg on top.

*Good quality Nutmeg makes a HUGE difference in your eggnog.

TIPS: If time is a factor, there are many great ready-made eggnogs on the market. Just make sure to spark it up with a little fresh Nutmeg. 
Also...You can pick up a punch bowl at most department stores or borrow one from mom. (Bodum makes a nice simple one)

Nutmeg is a spice from the nutmeg tree, which is native to several Indonesian islands. Both nutmeg and mace come from the same plant. Nutmeg is the ‘nut’, while mace is the surrounding lacy ‘aril’. Nutmeg has a warm, spicy aroma and flavour and can be used in sweet and savoury cooking.

We will be entertaining our dearest friends and family over the holidays. Because we want to treat them to the best, we are heading west to The Spice Trader for some top-quality spices. ( 877 Queen Street West). Spice Trader offers one of the greatest selections of fresh and organic spices in the city.

“Organic Spices can be surprisingly affordable, and will make a tremendous difference in your cooking. We buy all our herbs and spices in small batches so they are always fresh and at their peak.
We do not sell any other brand of herbs and spices. We mix and prepare most of our blends by hand. All of our spices are packed in our own air tight Spice Trader tins, which helps to keep them as fresh as possible”

The Spice Trader is located almost directly across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park. When entering the shop, you are greeted by a warm, but not overpowering essence of spice. The tall wooden shelves are lined with olive green tins filed with top quality spices. Various sets, organized by region (Italian, Moroccan, Provence), make ‘perfect’ hostess or Christmas gifts for just about anyone. The shop also carries a great assortment of salts, oils, vinegars, truffles, tapenades and cookbooks.

We picked up some fresh Sri Lankan Nutmeg and Mexican Cinnamon. Once grated, the Nutmeg is extremely aromatic, with an intensely fresh and peppery fragrance.


Here is another great way to use your spices. This super easy recipe yields very crisp and spicy cookies.

Gingerbread cookie dough (
2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 c solid vegetable shortening, room temperature
1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c unsulfured (light) molasses
1 large egg
Sift flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat shortening and butter in large bowl into light. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in molasses, then egg. Add dry ingredients. Using spoon, stir until mixture forms dough (dough will be very soft). Divide dough into thirds. Gather each third into ball; flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
Shaping and baking cookies
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously flour work surface and rolling pin. Place 1 dough disk on work surface (keep remaining 2 dough disks refrigerated). Press rolling pin into dough several times to flatten slightly for easier rolling. Roll out dough to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness, frequently lifting and turning dough to prevent sticking. Using assorted cookie cutters dipped into flour, cut out cookies. Transfer cookies to ungreased nonstick baking sheets, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Gather dough scraps together and reserve.
Bake until cookies turn brown on edges, about 12-15 minutes. Let cookies stand on sheets 1 minute. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

Powdered sugar icing
This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of icing
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup milk
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
Assorted food colorings (such as blue, red, yellow and green)
Combine lemon juice and milk in large bowl. Whisk in 3 cups powdered sugar. Gradually whisk in enough remaining sugar by 1/2 cupfuls to form icing stiff enough to pipe (mixture will resemble stirred sour cream). Transfer 2/3 cup icing to small bowl to use as white icing; set aside. Divide remaining icing equally among 2 or more small bowls; mix food coloring by drops into each bowl, tinting icing to desired shade. If necessary, stir more sugar into icing to thicken.


While in the west-end, you may want to shop for a whackier food item at The Drake General Store ( 1144 Queen St. W). The store combines flea market scores (a quarter of merchandise is vintage) with quirky corner-store fare. Look for the purple neon cross.

And if you don’t find that quirky gift here...........
We watch it every year. We laugh ourselves silly each year. If you haven’t been able to get your mitts on one of these ‘as seen in Christmas Vacation’ authentic mugs, you can still order one from Christmas 2010 is out, but you will have a great jumpstart on 2011.

Merry Christmas from proof brands!

Weekend Weather:
Saturday: Cloudy with sunny breaks and a high of -3 degrees
Sunday: Variable cloudiness and a high of -5 degrees

December 16, 2010

proof whisky, mcewan, Vol. 11

There are only nine days left until Christmas. Tick tock! If you are hustling to find gifts for your loved ones – look no further. Shops at Don Mills ( not only offers a great variety of boutiques, there are many, many, great restaurants to take refuge from the hostile holiday crowd. We had a blast at mcewan on Saturday where we poured two yummy cocktails in a calm and serene setting. Shopping is supposed to be fun after all! And if it’s not, quick, find a fire and kick back with The Streetcar, this week’s Thursty Thursday recipe. To learn more about our brand visit Become a friend on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

The Streetcar 
(a twist on the classic sidecar)
This one is definitely a sipper, so easy does it.
1 1/2 oz. proof whisky
3/4 oz. Cointreau*

3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, 
add 1½ oz proof whisky
3/4 oz. of Cointreau
3/4 oz. lemon juice. 
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. 
Garnish with an orange peel.

*Be Contreauversial and check out their sexy website –

At Saturday’s mcewan tasting we served our Crimson Cup and Hot Apple Crisp cocktails (made with Filsinger’s Organic Cider from Ayton, Ontario, paired with the award winning Cape Vessey Goat’s Milk Cheese from Prince Edward Country ( It was a hit! We also served local chips from Family’s Best Organics in Richmond Hill, Ontario (

Everything about mcewan reflects Mark’s distinctive style of cooking which captures the essence of classical cuisine with the nuances of contemporary flavour. Much of the store is devoted to the chef’s delicious recipes made from locally-produced ingredients and neatly packaged for just one or for that special dinner party.  At mcewan, take-out is called “Restaurant Meal Replacement” (RMR), the counter brimming with gourmet pizzas, interesting sandwiches and salads, choice cuts of meat, fluffy pastries, delectable chocolates and so much more.

Naturally, Mark’s signature dishes will take centre stage. Check out the RMR Counter for roasted heirloom carrots with a citrus cumin vinaigrette; braised brisket with pearl onions; fresh horseradish and natural sauce; potted salmon terrine with tarragon jelly; Roxy's meatballs; stuffed quail with corn; wild rice and foie gras; osso bucco shepherd’s pie with pomme puree; and baby octopus salad with tomato jam, chickpeas and lemon confit. Yum!
Elsewhere in the store, check out Mark’s line of soups, sauces, tomato sauces, pickled vegetables and preserves, all packaged in charming mason jars. Sixty-two of mcewan’s 80 varieties of world calibre cheeses are produced in Canadian cheese boutiques. While cooking demonstrations aren’t practical, says Mark, product samplings will be in abundance. He’s working with the LCBO, another Shops at Don Mills tenant, to host wine samplings paired with his cheeses and other fresh food, produce and groceries.  Edo will operate a sushi bar on the premises while Quince Flowers will offer up colourful bouquets of local and exotic blooms.
Store hours of mcewan are Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. -8 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. For more on mcewan, visit

And don’t forget to check out his latest restaurant right across the street, Fabbrica (

About five years ago we started a new gift-giving tradition for the holidays. Instead of looking for that under $20 landfill gift idea, we figured out something that people just won’t throw away – and that is good food (and drink :)). Kids aside, we have been swapping unique or over-the-top foods with our friends and loved ones ever since. I am not talking about running to the corner variety store and filling up on Planters and giant Kit Kat bars. We try to match foods to each person’s personality or likes and we go to many lengths to achieve this. (last year we drove to Michigan to buy white gravy mix and real southern grits) We have been known to bend the rules slightly by purchasing a ‘food-related’ item, like cookbook or utensil as long as there is some relevance. In our travels, we have come across many great food shops and with mcewan’s huge tea, chocolate and gift area, this is definitely a great place to start.

The gift that keeps on giving

As part of this new tradition, we also pick one name and make a donation to a food-related charity on that person’s behalf. Here are just a few:,,,,,,,,,,,,,

proof whisky also makes a great stocking stuffer. :) ($19.95 for 500 mL

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of -3 degrees
Sunday: Variable cloudiness and a high of -4 degrees

Happy Shopping!

December 9, 2010

proof whisky, Ciboulette et Cie, Vol. 10

Last weekend we journeyed north to spread some cocktail cheer at a local specialty food shop named Ciboulette et Cie in Midland, Ontario. Somebody else had the same idea and we had a little competition on King Street. Pull on your mukluks and join us for a holiday toast with this festive Thursty Thursday recipe, The Crimson Cup. To learn more about our brand visit Become a friend on Facebook and Twitter to get updates on all of our tastings, parties and events.

The Crimson Cup
Cocktail Size
1 1/2 oz proof whisky
1 oz lemon juice
1 tbsp. cranberries (frozen & thawed)
1/2 oz maple syrup
2 oz Ocean Spray® Cranberry Cocktail
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1½ oz proof whisky, 1 oz. of lemon juice, 1 tbsp. cranberries (frozen & thawed) ½ oz. maple syrup and 2 oz Ocean Spray® Cranberry Cocktail. Shake sharply and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon and cranberry skewer.

Punch bowl size:
1 cup proof whisky
5 oz lemon juice
½ cup frozen cranberries (thawed)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1.89 litres of Ocean Spray® Cranberry Cocktail (full bottle)
In a punch bowl or pitcher add ½ cup muddled or smashed cranberries, 1 cup proof whisky, 5 oz. of lemon juice, 1/3 cup maple syrup and 1.89 litres of Ocean Spray® Cranberry Cocktail. Mix well and add lots of ice. Garnish with frozen cranberries. (

In summer months, the Midland area's population grows from 16,000 to over 100,000, with visitors participating in its many outdoor activities (boating, golfing and fishing in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter). It’s no surprise for a town that hosts so many tourists to want to highlight its downtown core. King Street, Midland’s main artery begins at the Midland Town Dock and runs through the local business section. The street is lined with a string of eclectic shops, restaurants and historical murals. (most painted by Fred Lenz).

Recently a new address was added to King Street’s collection of shops. In April André Sanche (recently moved from Ottawa) opened Ciboulette et Cie. Ciboulette is ‘a food shop’, but not just any ‘food shop’, it is the epicurean epicenter of the area. At least this is what André is trying to achieve with all of his extra-curricular activities. Not only does André serve a seasonal menu of prepared home-cooked meals from his shop and runs a thriving catering business, he now offers evening cooking classes, kitchen parties and other special events. (our favourite was the recent open mic night where proceeds go to the local ‘Clean Water Campaign) Sign up to receive the Ciboulette et Cie monthly newsletter for upcoming menus, events and classes. (

What we like most about André is his passion for community and local foods. (plus, he’s a really really nice guy and didn’t mind answering our annoying questions)

“We believe ‘Local’ is more than a trend. Like us, it is here to stay. We have deep roots in this community and we believe your food should too. Unlike a supermarket, or a single-aisle store, we can tell you where your food came from – and chances are it's just up the road. By shopping locally and preparing our ingredients and meals right here in our store, we are ensuring that that the environment and local economy will benefit just as much as you and your family.” André Sanche

PROOF: At what age did you become a foodie? Was your family an influence?
ANDRÉ: I have always been interested in food. In fact, at a very young age my grandmother promised to send me to France to study should I ever want it.  I was always telling my mother how to cut things and present them on a platter. Presentation is half the battle right? But really I didn't start to understand food and have a real passion for it and for it's origins until I went back to school at the age of 24 and met my friend Bruce Wood who was a Chef and a huge advocate for Local foods.

PROOF: What was the first thing that you ever cooked or baked?
ANDRÉ: Haha! One of my favourite things even still – soup. I used to make soup from anything and make sooooo much of it!  Other than that I would say that I was constantly offering to make cheese platters and vegetable platters.  A caterer at heart! :)

PROOF: What is your favourite ingredient to eat and cook with?
ANDRÉ: That's an easy one – pig. Pork is so versatile, tasty, textural and flavourful.   You can have tender flaky pork, crisp pork, heavy rich pork... hmmm, I can rhyme off 50 things that you can do with it right now :) – from braising, grilling and my all-time favourite, curing.....mmmmmm.. One of my first real experiences with understanding pork and charcuterie was making my first batch of pancetta with Bruce...  I have kept making it and in fact, make it on a regular basis here with Heritage Breed Pork to use in our recipes.

PROOF: Why did you choose to open your shoppe in Midland? What did you love about the area?
ANDRÉ: First thing first – my wife is from the area and Midland was the best choice in terms of avoiding a city.  We had just left a city and wanted to live somewhere smaller. Midland in itself presents both a challenge and what I believe is opportunity. The first challenge is the demographic. People have seen Midland as a stagnant area for such a long time and unemployment is very high. Being able to bring something of quality, that may be a little more expensive, was really seen as a challenge. But at the same time, I see that as an opportunity. It is un-adultered, or explored by the culinary world.  I am of the first in the area.  As far as I'm concerned, this leaves us with so much opportunity and room to grow.  Who else is crazy enough to set up shop here :)  the true opportunity however, lies in the fact that the area is so rich in culture (especially french) and food! Farmers’ fields as far as you can see! Tonnes of small scale farmers, just looking for a venue for its products and we are more then willing to help them showcase them.

PROOF: Would it be possible for anyone living in the area, to follow a balanced 100-mile diet? Is there enough variety of locally produced food?
ANDRÉ: I think that someone living in the area could get quite a bit of food within 100- miles. There are definitely some items that they would need to source from outside, but would be able to get a fair majority.  Now come winter.... it may be a different story.  I do think however, that with very little effort people would be able to at least add 10-20% of their diet coming from a local source.

PROOF: What percentage of your food comes from a 100-mile radius?
ANDRÉ: I don't track where all of our food comes from. Where we can we make an effort to focus on local and-or seasonal foods in our menus. In the summertime quite a bit of our food is local if not at least Ontario and in the winter we try to use as much seasonal veg and meat as possible. 

PROOF: You have only been open since April – do you think that you have already made an impact on the town or the locals?
ANDRÉ: From what we have seen and hear, we have been sought after for quite some time. People have been looking for a place where they can buy fresh, wholesome and quality foods.They are looking for a place that sees these as priorities and wants to offer excellent customer service in the mix.

PROOF: Describe your long-term goal for Ciboulette et Cie.
ANDRÉ: Well, my ideal is really to create a place where the locals, tourists, farmers and producers can come to showcase foods, both in our retail store, café space and Culinary Studio. I would love to be able to expand our teaching and help bring farmers that much closer to the people of the area. Show them that good food isn't and shouldn't be foreign. It's something that is within reach, affordable and really, really easy to do.

PROOF: Who are your food-heroes and why? 
ANDRÉ: I have to admit that one of my favourite Chef's is Jamie Oliver. I am not a big fan of 'TV' chefs, but Jamie always uses his food for social progress. He has taken cooking and uses it as a tool to better his community. Teaching people how to cook is empowering them.  Showing them that local, quality foods go a lot longer then anything packaged or full of preservatives.   If we are ever able to expend our Culinary Studio into programs like that, we will then know that we are completely successful. 

PROOF: Your focus is on local, but if you could travel on a food journey anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
ANDRÉ: Italy – hands down! It’s a place where fresh, local cuisine is the norm. It is also a place where there is so much variety. Good food is ALWAYS in season and differs so much from region to region!  SIGN ME UP!

PROOF: Which culture's dietary example should we follow, in your opinion?
ANDRÉ: Mediterranean – sImple, clean and fresh.  Great combination of freshly caught fish (protein) local vegetables, cheeses...  Eat little, lots and often! Thanks André – we really love what you are doing for the community.

Thanks André – you’ll be seeing us again. :)

André works with Simcoe County Farm Fresh to source a lot of his foods.

Anyway, back to the competition...when we asked someone why King Street was lined with neon-orange pylons, they told us that the annual Santa Claus Parade was to overlap our tasting. Well, Santa may have stolen our thunder for his actual appearance, but we had an enormous before and after crowd come into the shoppe for André’s hot chocolate and proof’s Hot Apple Crisp cocktail. We also had an awesome view of the event. If anything the parade only brought the locals out from their hibernating burrows. Thanks Santa!

After spending our day with André and his awesome team, we headed over to Cellarman’s Ale House, which is located just up the street. They stock proof whisky on the back bar – just another reason to love them.


If you have not yet had a chance to visit the Lowes Christmas Market – you must! We were there for opening night and it was magical. We watched the beautiful lights ignited while being serenaded by the Canadian Tenors. The beer gardens and drink areas are plentiful.


Don’t miss us this weekend (Saturday, December 11th) at McEwan at the Shops at Don Mills We will be serving drinks and quality snacks from 12pm-4pm.


Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 3 degrees.
Sunday: Snow and a high of 1 degree.