Click to download: UpCountry
Learn to make your own savoury stout pies.
Break open the hot flaky puff pastry to find tender braised beef, potato and vegetables in a flavourful beer infused sauce.
1 In large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and pepper; add beef and toss to coat.
2 In large deep pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 1/2 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat; add beef and brown. Transfer to bowl. Add remaining oil to pot and cook onion for 1 minute. Add carrots, potato, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and rosemary; reduce heat to low and cook 3 minutes, stirring often. Add beer, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and sugar.
3 Return beef to pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Spoon 3/4 cup of beef mixture into six individual 1 cup ovenproof ramekin dishes. Allow stew to cool before adding pastry top.
4 On lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out 6 circles 1/2-inch larger than the top of the ramekin dishes. Place pastry circles on top of each dish, pushing the excess pastry down inside the ramekin. Cut an x into the top of the crust. Brush pastry tops with beaten egg. Place ramekins on baking sheet.
5 Bake in 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Tip: Prepare pies up to 1 day ahead, cover and refrigerate cooked pies. Reheat in 325°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until filling is hot.
Cook time: About 1 1/4 hours
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Image by: Donna Griffith | Styling: Christine Hanlon
Hushed tones and plenty of natural light make for a dreamy retreat
When these newlyweds ditched their condo for a house — as so many do — they set their sights upon Toronto’s leafy Summerhill neighbourhood , which they admired for its older homes. The couple found a 2,290-square-foot four-bedroom semi built in the 1930s that fit the bill in terms of age and locale, but it hadn’t been touched since the ’80s.
“It was so dark,” says one of the homeowners, referring to the interior, which was coated in dowdy browns and suffering from tiny rooms and windows, as well as a gloomy kitchen partitioned from the rest of the house. “We needed more light and a large kitchen for my husband, who loves to cook,” she says. Simply put, the house was hardly what you’d call a love nest. So the homeowners enlisted Croma Design’s Ryan Martin and Amy Kent to give their starter house a style transfusion.
“We wanted to create a classically inspired backdrop with clean-lined furnishings and art,” says Amy. The homeowners didn’t want to go too stark or too stuffy, so they settled on a transitional look with bold lashes of black and modern furnishings boasting traditional details. And, of course, they addressed the cramped spaces and lack of light.
To that end, the designers reworked the layout, removing the powder room, relocating the kitchen and expanding the windows at the front and back of the house. “We opened everything up so the light emanating from the new windows and existing skylight would stretch further,” says Ryan.
As for the finer details, near-black accents add striking drama against the palette of soothing greys, blues, browns and whites. “The colours in this home are very subtle, tone-on-tone and easy to live with,” says Amy. “We wanted the house to make an impact as a whole – not for any particular wall or accent to stand out above the rest.”
Whether the homeowners are upstairs lounging in the relaxed media room or downstairs sipping tea in the more formal living area, there is indeed a clear sense of cohesion, which is a hallmark of this home — and what makes it a far cry from its gloomy beginnings.
A dynamic explosion of hexagonal and subway tiles gives the third-floor bathroom edge. The contrasting grout as well as the blackened metal fittings, chair rail and sconces look sharp against the white backdrop.
Watery blues and greys lend a serene painterly feel to the tranquil second-floor family room.
The long and linear print of birch trees (with hand-applied copper leaf) echoes the shape of the low-slung sofa, which is clean-lined to suit the quiet space.
“I loved being able to customize the house to our needs,” says one of the homeowners. “My husband really loves the new kitchen.”
Designers and decorators share they favourite kitchen trends for 2017.
For many of us, the kitchen is the hub of the home. It’s where the family convenes every night for dinner. It’s where homework is done and family meetings are had. And it’s where guests gather even though the dining room table is set and a fire is roaring in the living room. There’s something about the kitchen that makes it far more than merely a utilitarian space. If you’re thinking about updating your kitchen this year, check out these hot trends, as identified by designers.
Photography: Michael Nangreaves
1 "Mixing metals is my favourite kitchen design trend for 2017. I think it reflects a more individual, less formal approach to design that is popular with millennials and non-millennials alike. While it takes a bit of an expert eye, it is totally appropriate to mix metal finishes in your faucet, cabinet pulls, chair legs and pendants!" - Designer, Lisa Canning.
Credit: Stacey Cohen
3 "One top kitchen design trend I love is to have sections of the upper cabinet extended onto the counter. Let's face it, we all love our small appliances (i.e. toaster oven, espresso machine) but we may not want them on display all the time. A multi-purpose kitchen island has been the go-to solution to disguise the microwave and dishwasher, but unless the island is 10 feet long, it is challenging and perhaps impractical for the island to house the small appliances we use daily off the counter. By having the upper cabinets extended to the counter and small appliances sitting behind doors, you can achieve a sleek design statement without sacrificing your morning coffee!" - Blogger and Decorator, Tim Lam.
: Donna Griffith
4 "In 2017, we will continue to see cabinetry painted white and various shades of grey. I think that we will also see cabinetry painted warmer tones such as greige (grey & beige), taupe and mushroom. Islands in a different colour or stain than the perimeter cabinetry will continue to be prevalent. In addition, handcrafted islands that look like furniture with legs will be popular for that unfitted kitchen look. It also adds personality and charm and the kitchen then looks like it has evolved over time. Quartz as a counter will continue to be popular as consumers become aware of its benefits." - Interior Designer, Vanessa Francis.
Photography: Monic Richard
5 "After years of white on white kitchens, our clients are asking for something different again. While you might not want to paint an entire kitchen in one colour to stand out from the crowd, the tendency in 2017 will be to mix natural wood, paint and metals in the kitchen. Try framing the range hood and the island in chrome to add sparkle to the space. Add texture to your cabinetry with a mix of light wood veneered lowers and white lacquered uppers." - Interior Designer, Tara Fingold.
Photography: Donna Griffith
6 "Say hello to dark metals in the kitchen. Polished chrome and nickel accents are giving way to black faucets, burnished steel pendants and matte black cabinetry handles. The dark finishes can work in sleek modern kitchens or the most cottagey of cooking spaces. With white kitchens continuing to dominate, a dash of black can provide high contrast and instantly update tired cabinetry." - Blogger and Designer, Jennifer Flores.
7 "Terra Cotta is back! But it's not the tangy orange clay you're used to. In 2017, Reclaimed Rose Terra Cotta will be hitting it big. Following the trend of reclaimed wood, the rich creams and pale pinks of this antique terra cotta tile will be the next phase in the modern farmhouse kitchen. Look for hexagon or herringbone for a modern take on this old classic. Pairing over-sized pendants and industrial decor with reclaimed terra cotta will help keep the space current." - Designer, Andrea Haraldsen.
Add or expand your closet space with helpful tips and tricks from Scott McGillivray
If you live in a condo or an older house, you know that closet space is at a premium. Adding a closet or expanding an existing one will help to increase the functionality and value of your home. Or, if it’s a low-cost, flexible solution you’re after, stand-alone wardrobes are always an option.
Photography courtesy of istockphoto.com
Adding and increasing
You’d be surprised where you can squeeze in closet space. Consider, for instance, the often overlooked area underneath your staircase. With a little ingenuity, you can really gain some valuable extra storage. If it’s your bedroom closet that’s lacking, you may be able to get away with widening or deepening it – or even building a new one – by expanding into an adjacent room. Just be sure the other space is large enough to give up that square footage without losing its functionality.
Photography courtesy of Stacey Van Berkel
The easiest and most affordable way to increase closet space is by adding stand-alone wardrobes along a wall. What’s great about this solution is that they’re a non-permanent addition, so when it comes time to sell, buyers will be able to visualize the space as either having the extra storage or not.
A lot of people ask me if converting a small bedroom into a walk-in closet is worth it. It’s the simplest and most obvious solution to a lack of closet space in a house, but before you commit to this type of reno, there’s something to consider first. Does your home have four (or more) bedrooms? The most appealing type of property to the majority of prospective buyers is a detached house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Bringing your home down to two bedrooms eliminates a large portion of the home-buying population, so any value you gain by adding the big closet is erased. However, if you plan on staying in your home for the next 20 years and this is a “just for you” renovation, go for it.