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Cook with Nikki

I’m Nikki, and I live in downtown Toronto with my husband Joe, and my awesome dog Buddy.

I’m really into the arts in any form, and that includes culinary arts. I’m not professional chef, but I love to feel like one in my home.

How long have you been a Daring Baker/Daring Cook and what’s your favorite thing about being in the group(s) so far?

I’ve recently signed up for the Daring Kitchen, as a Daring Cook,and am about to embark on my first challenge! My favorite thing about this experience is the fact that it’s a community based on trying new things, and broadening your horizons in the kitchen.

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget? How about your favorite kitchen appliance?

My favourite kitchen gadget would have to be my milk frother. It’s inexpensive, small, and does a great job and whipping up foam for my coffee drinks! My favourite kitchen appliance would probably have to be my blender. I could not live without a blender… For sauces, smoothies, dips, soups… The list goes on…

Are you known for making a certain dish or dessert? If so, what is it?

I used to be known for my chicken, my husband called it “Nikki Spice”, along with asparagus. I’ve also been known to make tabbouleh quite often. Recently though, I’ve been really into general baking and making candy.

Do you have a favorite movie? Book? Genre of music? Actor? Actress?

I don’t have a specific favorite when it comes to books or movies, rather I enjoy reading/watching anything and everything that can catch and hold my interest for longer than 5 minutes. I like actors that have talent, and any music that sounds good. So general, but I find it really hard to pick just one favorite of anything like that…

You’ve just won $5000.00!!! What would you spend it on?

To the protest of my husband, KITCHEN STUFF!!! Smile Heehee…

What is the ultimate comfort food to you?

That’s easy. Chocolate.

Which season (Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall) is your favorite.. why?

Spring, Summer and Fall are my favourite seasons because of how wonderful the weather is, and how many fresh foods are available. I’ve never been a fan of winter, it’s too cold. I’d be happy if we didn’t get any snow at all, as I’m not any good at winter sports.

Other than cooking and/or baking.. what hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy wandering around Toronto, going for walks with my dog, spending time with my friends and family, and I love drawing/painting and reading. I love going for bike rides along the lakeshore as it’s literally in my backyard, but I have to get a new bike…

How long have you been blogging? Do you like it? What’s your favorite post you’ve written?

I originally had a blog with one blogging website from about a year and a half ago, however in August of 2009 I decided to start up a new blog with Wordpress. For me, their interface is easy to use, and they have a lot of great options. I love blogging, because I feel it really allows people to have a creative outlet, and allows people to share ideas with other people. It’s inspiring to see other people out there in the world with similar passions to your own, and to get feedback and opinions from people with life experience. I don’t quite have a favorite post, but instead I enjoy the combination of all of the posts together as they show my progress in writing and in my recipes that I’ve experimented with.

What’s your favorite cookbook for desserts/baking? What’s your favorite cookbook for savory/cooking?

For both desserts/baking, and for savory/cooking, I would have to say that the Complete Canadian Living Baking Book satisfies all of my general needs. It’s the one book that I’ve gone to time and time again for my favorite recipes. They have such a perfect combination of sweet and savory foods that I would have to say it’s the perfect book for any beginner cook! I’ve even learned how to make a puff pastry with this book, and that is something I never thought I would be able to do! There are other books that I adore for desserts, such as the Chocolate and Coffee Bible, which really goes deeply into detail about chocolate, coffee and all that surrounds the two. From beverages to desserts, that book really does have it all. The most indulgent gourmet recipes for desserts that I’ve seen and all of the recipes aren’t even nearly as difficult as you’d assume by looking at the pictures. A good book for savory/cooking basic knowledge, and information on foods and methods of preparation of each type of food, would be The Cook’s Book Concise Edition. This book is great for studying, or for a quick go-to guide when preparing different sauces/foods for meals. They don’t have a lot in ways of recipes, but they tell you how to prepare foods so that you can put together your own recipes. They even include lists on how long to cook different types of vegetables for, with different methods.

Is there one food that you seriously dislike/hate? If so, which is it and why?

Mushrooms. No matter what mushrooms are in, I can’t stand the taste of them. Ever since I was a child, mushrooms would make me sick. They taste too “earthy” for my liking, and have a bland muddy flavour. I’m sure that people who love them would disagree, but something about them just doesn’t work with my palette.

What’s your favorite flower and/or plant?

Orchids. I’d never eat them, hah, but they are absolutely beautiful. I also love basil plants because of how they smell in the kitchen, and it’s really nice to be able to just pinch a few leaves off to throw into your cooking!

Do you have a favorite local restaurant? If so, why is it your favorite and what kind of food is served there?

I don’t really have a favorite local restaurant. I like to randomly go and check out different eateries, but generally I prefer to eat in at home. I love cooking, and people only get better with practice, so over the years I’ve come to prefer my own food over restaurants.

Who taught you how to cook and/or bake?

My mum and my grandma both sparked my passion in the kitchen by having me assist them at dinner time. They were both my biggest influence when it came to how open I am with trying new things in the kitchen, and taught me how to not be afraid to experiment with recipes that seem as though they’re too tough.

What’s your favorite holiday and why?

Christmas, because in my experience, it’s the one holiday that ensures that everyone is brought together. I also love how the holiday is so drawn out, and filled with so much anticipation. I also love getting 1 whole week off of work… Wink

Reading any good books lately? Which ones?!

The Cook’s Book Concise Edition…

You’ve had a rough week. How do you relax after a rough week?

I curl up on the couch with my husband and my dog, watch movies, and I eat some frozen yogurt. I can’t get enough of that stuff!

Where is your favorite vacation (holiday) destination?

Paris, Rome, Athens, England or anywhere hot!

What is your favorite cooking/food related magazine? Why?

The Canadian Living magazine, they always have great little tips and recipes!

Do you have a food addiction?

Oh yes… Chocolate. Chocolate. And MORE chocolate…

What did you eat for dinner last night? Did you prepare it or someone else?

Last night I ate Eggplant Parmigiana, and I prepared it myself from scratch! Just posted the recipe in my blog, too!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Cappuccino flavoured frozen yogurt with chocolate flecks… I can eat a tub of that stuff in one weekend…

What kind of colors do you like? Pastels? Earth tones? Brights? Neons? Etc.

I love all colours if they’re in the right tones. I don’t like pale colours, or colours that have a dirty feel to them. If there’s a brown, it needs to be a rich, deep chocolate brown. If it’s one of those green-browns, I’m not a fan of it. Mousy brown is horrible too. Same goes for all colours… Rich, deep reds are beautiful, but if it’s dull and pasty, it looks horrible.

If you had the choice of a free kitchen, bathroom, living room or bedroom makeover – which would you choose and why?

At the moment, we’re currently deciding on our dream kitchen for our new home, so if we go with the options we really like, I’d have to say that I’d rather we got a bedroom makeover. We aren’t going to be putting too much effort into the look of our bedroom right when we move into our new home. However, that answer would quickly change to “kitchen” if we decided to not go with options that are going to make our kitchen beautiful and inviting!

The Martha – Angel of Domestication or Minion of Evil? Why? Hmm… This is tough. I’m not a big fan of HER really, never watched her show or anything of the sort… However, I love the layout of her website, and her Cupcakes book is absolutely amazing. I was given this book as a birthday gift, and boy was I happy I got it! The peppermint patty filled brownie cupcakes are to die for! It’s a GOOD thing! (hah)

Do you watch any competitive cooking shows? Like Top Chef or Hell’s Kitchen? If so, which is your favorite and why?

I do enjoy the odd episode of Hell’s Kitchen, or Iron Chef. Unfortunately I do not have the food network (gasp!), so I only get to watch it at the gym. (How odd is that…) I love the shows Ultimate Cake Off, and Cake Boss because they do such a great job at the cake decorations. I can’t even imagine being that good at what I do. Another great cooking show is Kitchen Nightmares, though I don’t know if that’s competitive really, but it’s great!

What’s your favorite “sweet” spice? How about your favorite “savory” spice?

My sweet spice favorite would be cinnamon, and savory spice favorite would be cayenne pepper.

If you could eat in any celebrity chef’s restaurant which restaurant would it be, and which chef owns it?

That’s a really tough question, because at the moment I’m actually obsessed with the thought of going out to New York to eat at the bakery that the Cake Boss owns. I would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there… And then dessert.

What’s your favorite herb to cook or bake with? Do you prefer fresh or dried?

That would probably be basil for my savory foods, and mint for salads (like tabbouleh). I really do prefer fresh, but will use dried if fresh is not available.

Is there one recipe on your blog that you would like to share with us? If so, leave the link here.

Whole Wheat Date Loaf with Cocoa and Flax seed

Do you have a time saving kitchen tip you’d like to share with us?

My best time saving tip would be to clean the kitchen as you’re cooking. There’s nothing worse than being ready to sit down for an amazing meal, and looking at the kitchen and seeing that it is a wreck. Knowing that I have to clean a huge mess after I’m done eating really makes it hard for me to enjoy my meal. Now I don’t mean to interrupt your cooking just to clean, but as you’re doing things, clean up the little messes. When chopping onions, quickly toss the unused parts into the garbage. Same goes for garlic. You get the idea…

You can visit Nikki on her blog Cook with Nikki