Cooking with Chef Paula Zavala

A fabulous Saturday afternoon in my kitchen with local Markham via Mexico Chef Paula Zavala. I was lucky to be able to attend her virtual Thai Food Cooking Class today. On the menu – Thai Coconut Milk Soup with Chicken or Shrimp, Chicken or Pork Skewers with Peanut Sauce and Thai Caramelized Plantains or Bananas.

Chef Paula hosts a few weekly classes virtually from her kitchen. Definitely recommend doing your mise en place prep before the class. In addition to her weekly classes, you can also book a private class too. What a fun and safe idea to enjoy with family, friends and/or your team for a little holiday cheer from the comforts of home. Gracias Chef Paula for a great few hours of connecting with others, learning and my delicious Saturday evening dinner. ♥️

Vegetable Lasagna

It has likely been a decade since I have tackled a lasagna but this one was definitely worth the effort. Creating a béchamel sauce for a lasagna is something new to me but made a big difference to the creaminess of this dish.

Recipe is my take on of the vegetable lasagna made by Chef Devan Rajkumar @chefdevan of #ChefDevatHome IGTV videos.

Shopping List:

Lasagna Noodles, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheeses, Butter, Flour, Milk, Pesto, Your Favourite Vegetables


• Lasagna – Use fresh pasta if possible. I bought lasagna sheets from my local Longo’s and will never use a boxed one again.

• To add creaminess to the lasagna, make a BĂ©chamel sauce – one of the five mother sauces. It is essentially three tablespoons of butter and three tablespoons of floor. Cook in out over low to medium heat for three to four minutes to form a roux. Add two cups of hot milk and whisk until creamy. Add a pinch of nutmeg.


• Parchment paper at the bottom of the baking dish

• Add sauce at the bottom of the dish with a bit of oil from a sundried tomato jar if you have on hand. I used a Just Sauce Roasted Garlic Jar for my lasagna.

• Lasagna Noodles – you may need to cut them them to fit the dish you are using

• Mozzarella Cheese

• Béchamel Sauce

• Lasagna Noodles

• Repeat the above. I added sautéed onions, mushrooms, spinach and zucchini on some layers and for others added pesto sauce to the mozzarella and béchamel sauce.

• Avoid thick layers.

• Once I ran out of my béchamel sauce, I added the top lasagna noodles and covered with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper and chilli flakes if you wish.

• Cover with parchment paper and then with foil. Cook in a preheated oven at 350F for 45 minutes to one hour.

• Remove from the oven and take off foil and parchment paper. Add mozzarella and parmesan cheese to the top and broil for 3-4 minutes. Turn the oven light on and do not walk away. Critical to ensure you do not burn the top.

• Let sit for 20-25 minutes and enjoy!

P.S. It is even better the next day.

William Ashley Co.

Life doesn’t always give you the fairytale but it doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to own beautiful table-settings just for you. Beautiful selections at the stunning new William Ashley Flagship Store in Bloor Yorkville.

Wine Wednesday

How times and styles change. My mummi’s tiny wine glasses of decades gone by vs. my big ones of today. Essence by iittala from William Ashley. They are meant for red wine but practical me only wanted to buy one style of glasses. Mine are used for red, white and rose. I have champagne flutes for bubbles. I love the simplicity of the Essence line. Timeless Finnish design for everyday living.

A spring table in bloom 

I love all things Finnish. My entire life I have been surrounded by Finnish design at home including many beautiful iittala pieces. I absolutely adore every one of these timeless beauties. This year, iittala is re-thinking the table setting and asking their Instagram followers to share their table reset. Sunny spring days will be in bloom soon so I created this spring table setting with a few of my iittala, Arabia and Marimekko treasured pieces. A fresh take on my spring table.  

DĂ®ner en Blanc Inspiration

With hot and humid summer weather still in full swing, there is definitely still time to enjoy the opportunity to dine al fresco. 

Here is some inspiration for a pretty table setting from my DĂ®ner en Blanc Toronto table. Thank you to Metro Ontario on Front Street East for the surprise vases filled white hydrangeas that made our table perfect. 

Product Sources:

Dishes and chairs from IKEA Canada

Table from Canadian Tire 

Champagne Flutes and candle holder from iittala 

Food. Love. Family.

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” ~ Julia Child 

Since I was a child, I have loved all things food. I grew up with my great Mummi taking care of my brother and I during the workdays while our parents were at work. I always came home for lunch during my public school years and enjoyed all my meals being made scratch including the most amazing homemade deserts. I would often bake with my great Mummi and Mummi and learned to cook from both of them. I remember how we would spend the day baking Finnish pulla, cinnamon rolls and Christmas cookies. I always wanted to make my own cinnamon braids to compliment my great Mummi’s perfected ones. On Saturday evenings, our family would enjoy a homemade meal – often steak and ceasar salad – complete with dancing in the kitchen to the CHFI 98.1 Saturday Night Oldies. Amazing special family memories were made in the kitchen and around food. 

In grade five, I went to after-school baking class to continue to learn more. With a Loblaws close to home, I truly believe Dave Nichol, the PC products and the Insider’s Report sparked an interest in international cuisine. I hosted decorate your own pizza birthday parties as a pre-teen. In junior high school, we had to select an afternoon activity to join for the last week before summer started. I signed up for the French Club all because we got to go on an outing to a French Restaurant. On a grade eight school trip to Quebec, we found ourselves in Ottawa on the final evening. Three friends and I thought it would be fun to go to a fancy hotel for coffee and desert. To me, it has always been exciting to figure out where to dine on family holidays. I enjoy searching recipes and planning ideas to entertain. I love indulging in cooking and television shows about food, cookbooks, magazines and following all things food on social media. I get excited about new grocery and food stores opening, attending cooking classes and have definitely adopted a European-style to food shopping. It is no surprise when I travel that I may find myself in a grocery store, kitchen shop, food hall or market to see what they stock that may be different from home. A great dinner party filled with good food, wine and conversation makes me happy. 

Despite this interest and love of all things food, the busyness of our modern world sidetracked my enjoyment for cooking. For too many years, I have struggled to figure out what to cook for one so I would opt for unhealthy options or dining out to make life simpler. Last autumn, I committed to returning to the kitchen and get cooking again to ensure I stay healthy as I get older. I have enjoyed the mindfulness of escaping into the preparation process but still struggle after long and busy days to sometimes get motivated to cook. It is a definite ongoing journey but I am looking forward to continuing to learn and try new things. I hope to share a few of my food adventures and inspirations along the way. 

Happy cooking to me!