From the Kitchen of Chef Michael Davies – Fruit & Herb Infused Waters

While vacationing in California this summer, Chef Michael Davies and his wife discovered an abundance of fruit infused water. What a great thirst-quencher!

Flavour infused water is a delicious thirst-quencher!

Infused water is a delicious thirst-quencher!

Made from a vairety of fruit, vegetables and herbs, they make great summer refreshments and can act as a body detox. Each flavour addition adds its own function and taste:

Cucumbers- Prevent water retention & have many anti-inflammatory properties.
Lemons- The cleansing effect of citric acid helps clear out the digestive system.
Oranges- The peel & juice contain flavonoids to stimulate the immune system, and help to reduce cholesterol levels.
Mint- Aids digestion and soothes the stomach.

Fresh fruits and herbs add flavour and can help detox the body.

Fresh fruits and herbs add flavour and can help detox the body.

Here are a few of Chef Davies favourite flavour combinations. Feel free to experiment with the amount of fruit, vegetables and herbs you use, then fill your jug with water and ice.

Very Berry Citrus Cooler
Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, sliced lime, lemon, orange & mint.

Melon “Bee” Express
Cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, lime, lemon, sour cherries, basil, strawberry and honey

Country Harvest Garden
Cucumber, dill, celery, parsley, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, lemon & lime

Tropical Hawaiian
Granny smith, apple, pineapple, pear, celery, grapes, honeydew, ginger, lime & lemon. Red chilies for heat if desired.

Enjoy a cold glass of flavoured water today.

Enjoy a cold glass of flavoured water today.

The more you refill your jug with water to the same fruits the more diluted and less nutrient-dense the fruit becomes. Don’t leave fruit in water for more than 24hrs before changing the water.

Have fun and enjoy those hot summer days!

Taste more of Chef Davies’ inspirations at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa.

From the kitchen of Chef Michael Davies: Local Ontario Strawberry Ice Cream

Local Ontario Strawberry Ice Cream

With the hot, hazy days of summer in full swing, it’s time to cool down with everyone’s favourite treat – ice cream. This month Chef Michael Davies shows us that making your own is easier than you might think – and well worth the effort!

It's strawberry season in southwestern Ontario!

It’s strawberry season in southwestern Ontario!

Ice cream bowl / maker

Makes 10 ½ cup servings


A few simple ingredients.

1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Finely chop strawberries in a food processor & reserve.
Combine cream & milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook until mixture almost boils, about 5-8mins. Reduce heat to low.
Beat egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until yellow and smooth, 1-2mins. Add 4 tbsp. hot cream/milk mixture and stir until combined.
Gradually add egg yolk mixture to warm cream mixture, stir continuously to prevent eggs from curdling. Cook over low heat until the mixture slightly thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 3-4mins. Cool completely.
When cooled add reserved strawberries, stir until mixed.

add strawberries

Ready for the freezer.

Pour into ice cream freezer bowl. Transfer ice cream when finished into an airtight container and place in freezer until you are ready to enjoy!

A cool summer treat.

A cool summer treat.

Note:  for best results make ice cream according to instructions on your ice cream maker.   

See what Chef Michael Davies is cooking up in the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa kitchen.

Taste wine like a pro

Last month, Chef Michael Davies shared his recipe for Seared Scallop and Spinach Salad – just one of the dishes he prepares for corporate and recreational groups who book a Cooking Lesson & Wine Tasting event at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa.

This month, it’s time for some Wine Tasting tips.

Wine tasting is a popular activity for corporate events and recreational groups.

Wine tasting is a popular activity for corporate events and recreational groups.

Here are five steps to tasting wine like a pro:

Observe the colour of the wine and its clarity
White wine becomes darker with age, while red wine loses its colour over time and becomes brownish, often with a small amount of harmless, dark red sediment visible at the bottom of the bottle or glass. Take a preliminary sniff of the wine, to check for any off odors that could indicate spoiled or ‘corked’ wine.

Hold the glass by the stem
This prevents the heat from your hand to be transferred into the wine. As you swirl the wine, the surface area will increase bringing more oxygen into the wine, bringing out the aromas and body.

Hold the glass by the stem.

Hold the glass by the stem.

Hold the glass a few inches away from your nose, and sniff the wine

Take a sip, but do not swallow right away
Swirl the wine around your mouth so it has a chance to reach all of your taste buds. This way you can determine if it is sweet, sour, salty or bitter. After the initial taste, try to pick up the texture, weight and body of the wine. Swallow.

Pay attention to the after taste
Pause, and be conscious of how long the wine lingers. This is usually when you will discover whether or not it is to your taste and preference.

At the Elm Hurst, we use wines from the Niagara region for our wine tastings, including Birchwood Estates Gewurztraminer Riesling as our white wine sample and the Mike Weir Cabernet Merlot as our red.

The Gewurztraminer Riesling is a sweeter wine, light and clear in colour with vibrant floral aromas and hints of grapefruit and citrus. It is a perfect complement to fish or spicy dishes, and can also be paired with desserts.

This sweeter white wine is perfect with fish, or dessert.

This sweeter white wine is perfect with fish, or dessert.

The Merlot is a dryer red wine, deep in colour with medium body. First hints on the pallet are pepper and spices followed by berry tones. It is great paired with lamb, duck, beef, or cheese plates.

This Merlot pairs well with red meats.

This Merlot pairs well with red meats.

To learn more about booking a Cooking Lesson & Wine Tasting event at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, please contact our Corporate Sales Manager, Theresa, at Theresa [at] elmhurstinn [dot] com.


Get Cooking with Chef Michael Davies

The Elm Hurst Inn & Spa offers many different team building events for corporate groups – or for people just looking to have a fun, interactive group experience. One of the most popular is a private cooking lesson and wine tasting with Chef Michael Davies.

Private cooking lessons

Cooking lessons with Chef Michael Davies are always a popular group event!

This month, Chef Davies shares a simple and delicious salad recipe that is sure to impress….. 

A Salad of Seared Diver Scallops, Baby Spinach, Orange and Grapefruit Filets, Green Asparagus, Sweet and Sour Vinaigrette

Diver Scallops U10
Orange segments
Grapefruit segments
Roast yellow & red pepper (de-seeded and skin removed)
Green asparagus spears, blanched
Fresh baby spinach
Kosher salt
Fresh sweet basil
Ground black pepper
Cherry tomatos (cut in half)
Mixed organic sprouts

Salad ingredients

Lots of fresh ingredients for a delicious salad!

Sweet and Sour Vinaigrette
Makes 6 servings
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tsp honey
½ c. olive oil
¼ white wine
1 garlic clove fine diced
Kosher salt & white pepper to taste
¼ c. champagne vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon

To Make Vinaigrette:
Add shallot, honey, white wine, garlic, champagne vinegar & lemon juice in a small stainless steel bowl.
Wisk together, slowly whisk in the olive oil. Set aside

To Make Salad:
Prepare all ingredients for salad:  Segment orange and grapefruit, roast, de-seed & peel outer skin from peppers, let cool and cut into diamond shapes. Blanch asparagus until they are crisp, then snap. Refresh in ice cold water. Cut tomatoes in half, gently wash and dry spinach leaves, tear basil leaves. Remove connecting tissue from scallops.

To Plate Dish:
Heat a small skillet with a little olive oil. When oil is hot add scallops, sear on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Cook scallops until firm to the touch. Do not overcook.

In a small bowl, lightly mix salad ingredients together with the vinaigrette dressing. Arrange spinach in the center of the plate; place the other ingredients around the leaves. Add the scallops, drizzle a little of the dressing over the salad, garnish with some sprouts.

This salad is perfect as an appetizer, or light entree.

This salad is perfect as an appetizer, or light entree.

Note: The portion for the salad ingredients is up to the individual. You can serve two scallops as an appetizer or 5-6 as an entrée.

Come back and visit our blog next month when we’ll take you on a virtual Wine Tasting….

Or visit us in person at To learn more about booking a corporate event, contact


From the Kitchen of Chef Michael Davies – Homemade Ravioli & Tomato Sauce

It continues to be a long cold winter in our part of the world, which has many of us craving comfort food. And what better way to banish the winter blahs than with a bowl of made-from-scratch pasta?

It has been a cold, snowy winter at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa.

It has been a cold, snowy winter at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa.

This month, Elm Hurst Inn & Spa executive chef, Michael Davies, shares his recipe for Ravioli. So pour yourself a glass of vino and take a culinary trip to Italy…..

The Art of Making Ravioli

Basic Standard Pasta Dough
To make about 1 ½ pounds fresh pasta

3 -4 cups flour
4 whole eggs
2 tbsp. olive oil

Mound 3 cups of flour on a smooth work surface. Make a well in the centre, break eggs into it.

Make a well in the flour, and drop in the eggs.

Make a well in the flour, and drop in the eggs.

Add a generous pinch of salt and olive oil. Make batter by breaking eggs in centre and slowly adding flour to centre until all the liquid is incorporated to form dough. Dough should be fairly stiff but malleable.

Knead dough for ten minutes and divide into 2 fist size pieces. Wrap in saran wrap and let rest in refrigerator for 1 hr.

To roll by machine follow manufactures specs on rolling the dough for thin sheets for ravioli.

Ready to roll!

Ready to roll!

Ricotta Cheese and Spinach Filling
Serves 4-6

14 oz. ricotta cheese
1 lb. spinach parboiled for 3mins. drained, squeezed dry and finely chopped
10 oz. arugula lettuce finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, parboiled drained and finely chopped
5-10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
5-10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped salt

Mix ricotta cheese with all the greens, season with salt.

A delicious and healthy ricotta & spinach filling.

A delicious and healthy ricotta & spinach filling.

Roll out the dough as thin as possible, cut into rectangles about 1 ¼ by 1 ½ inches.Place a little stuffing mixture on each rectangle. Fold rectangle over and pinch the edges together.

Filling ravioli

Poach the ravioli in boiling water with a couple pinches of salt for about five minutes.Drain serve with the tomato sauce and the grated cheese on top.

All ready to cook!

All ready to cook!

Or, if you’re short on time, buy some good-quality fresh pasta / ravioli at your local specialty food store and just whip up the following tomato sauce!

Basic Tomato Sauce
Makes about 1 ¼ cups sauce

6 medium sized very ripe tomatoes quartered
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 or 2 tsp. sugar

Sweat onion, garlic in butter, add tomatoes bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and crush tomato with a wooden spoon as it cooks.

This tomato sauce would work well on any pasta dish.

This tomato sauce would work well on any pasta dish.

Puree tomatoes using a hand blender, add fresh herbs, season with salt and pepper.Add sugar if needed.

We made this wonderful dish for a Valentines Day. It’s a great dish for the whole family to prepare together! Salute!

Made with love!

Made with love!

Enjoy our Fresh Pasta bar, every Sunday at our Sunday Prime Rib Buffet Dinner. 

From the Kitchen of Chef Michael Davies – Classic Beef Stew & Dumplings

It’s been a wild winter in southwestern Ontario, with freezing temperatures and lots and lots of snow!

Driving has been treacherous in Ontario this winter!

Driving has been treacherous in Ontario this winter!

That means it’s the perfect time to whip up a pot of beef stew. It’s a hearty and nutritious meal that is easy to prepare and even easier to eat!

Beef Stew is the perfect meal on a cold, snowy evening!

Beef Stew is the perfect meal on a cold, snowy evening!

Classic Beef Stew & Dumplings
Serves 12

3lbs boneless chuck roast, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & ground black pepper to taste
2 medium Spanish onions, chopped
¼ cup flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
½ tsp. dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. dried thyme
4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 large Yukon potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2tbsp. chopped fresh parsley for garnish

 How to prepare:
In a large stock pot, (one that has a fitted lid for later cooking dumplings) heat oil and brown meat. You can brown in small batches if you like to achieve better colour. Remove from heat with slotted spoon.

Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, until soft softened.

Saute together in a large pot.

Saute together in a large pot.

Reduce heat to medium low, sprinkle flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute.

Add wine, deglaze pan. The flour will start to thicken wine as it comes to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add broth, bay leafs, thyme, rosemary, and beef. Bring back to simmer, cover and cook slowly stirring from time to time about 1 hour.

Add vegetables, simmer another 30 minutes, or until meat and vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Simmer until everything is tender.

Simmer until everything is tender.

Add your favourite dumpling recipe, dropping tablespoon-sized dumplings on top of stew and cover until dumplings rise and are cooked through. Spoon stew and dumplings into serving bowls, garnish with parsley.

Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Chef’s note: Add 2tbsp. of tomato paste if desired for a little tomato flavor.I like to season my stew with a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

Enjoy this stew on snow days when the roads are closed, it will warm your day up!

To savor more of Chef Michael’s creations, pay us a visit at 

How to host the perfect (stress-free) party

Hosting a casual or formal dinner party is a great way to build relationships and to create a circle of friends that will last a life time.

And since December is such a busy month for social occasions, we thought it would be the perfect time to ask Elm Hurst Inn & Spa’s executive chef, Michael Davies, for his tips on making your evening a night to remember:

Plan ahead
Write a menu, create a grocery list, and make sure you are well organized. Prepare a familiar recipe, perhaps with a new twist. If a dish can be made a day ahead, save yourself some last minute stress. If you’re hosting as a couple, divide the duties beforehand, to avoid any last minute arguments.

A dinner party is a great opportunity to bring out your best china and some beautiful flowers.

A dinner party is a great opportunity to bring out your best china and some beautiful flowers.

Use your best
Why wait to use your best china, cutlery and linens? Seize the moment and enjoy the occasion!

Decorate your table
Fresh flowers or candles make an instant impression. But make sure people can see over them.

Start on empty
Always start the night with an empty dishwasher and bin. It will make clean-up so much easier!

Get yourself ready first
This way you simply have to slip off your apron to greet your guests.

Break the ice with some cocktails
When guest arrive, offer them something special to drink. This will set the tone and get  conversation flowing. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss who will be the designated drivers.

BLOG Plated Appetizers

Serve plated hors d’oeuvres instead of an appetizer.

 Skip the appetizer
Instead of serving a formal appetizer, offer stationed or butlered hors d’oeuvres. This gives you and your guests more time to mingle.

Have a seating plan
To keep things interesting, guests should be seated boy/girl/boy/girl, and couples should not be seated next to one another.

Stick to two courses
A soup or salad followed by a main course is plenty, takes less time in the kitchen (both to prepare and clean up) and will give you more time to sit down and enjoy the meal.

A simple scoop of ice cream makes a lovely dessert.

A simple scoop of ice cream makes a lovely dessert.

Keep dessert simple
Choose a dessert that can be prepared ahead of time, or that only requires some last minute assembly. Try a delicious scoop of ice cream served with some fresh fruit, or an assortment of pastries from your favourite local bakery.

Remember – it’s about fun, not perfection.

Everyone at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa wishes you a safe and happy Holiday Season!

From the Kitchen of Chef Michael Davies – Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup

This November, Chef Michael Davies and his team participated in SoupStock – an annual ‘cook off” in support of Domestic Abuse Services Oxford County. Our entry? Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup with Local Dairy Greek Yogurt and Cilantro. It’s a healthy and delicious way to warm up on a cold SW Ontario winter day!

Elm Hurst Inn at Soup Stock

In action at SoupStock 2013.

Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup with Local Dairy Greek Yogurt & Cilantro
Serves 4 

1 tbs. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. curry powder
1 kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 1 cm chunks
¾ cup red lentils
5 cups vegetable stock (add 1 vegetable bouillon cube and dissolve in water)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup local Dairy Greek yogurt
Fresh coriander leaves, as garnish

Place lentils in a sieve and rinse under cold running water.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook stirring often for 5 mins. or until soft. Add garlic, cumin, ginger, curry powder. Cook stirring for 30 seconds or until aromatic.
Add lentils, pumpkin and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, for 15mins. or until pumpkin and lentils are soft.
Ladle half the lentil mixture in into the jug of a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer into a clean saucepan. Repeat with remaining lentil mixture.
Rheat soup on medium heat, stirring until heated. Season to taste, ladle among serving bowls.
Top with yogurt and coriander to serve.

Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup is a delicious way to warm up this winter!

If you’re in Oxford County this December, be sure to drop by to enjoy our special Festive Holiday Menus.






From the Kitchen of Chef Michael Davies – Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just in time for Halloween, Chef Michael Davies proves that cookies aren’t just for kids – and that pumpkin isn’t just for soup! Scare up a batch of these tasty treats today.

Scare up a plate of Pumpkin Cookies!

Scare up a plate of Pumpkin Cookies!

Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 35 large cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup golden yellow sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (canned will do in a pinch!)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Homemade cookies are always a tasty treat.

Homemade cookies are always a tasty treat.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray or line them with parchment paper.

Using a mixer, beat butter until smooth. Beat in white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time; add vanilla extract and pumpkin puree gently mix. Mix together all dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture slowly until all mixed. Add chocolate chips.

Everyone loves chocolate chips.

Everyone loves chocolate chips.

Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 15 to 20 mins, or until cookies are browned around the edges. Remove cookie sheets from the oven, allow to cool and rest for 2 mins. Remove from tray with spatula, cool on baking wire racks.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Cover with your favourite icing. In this case I used buttercream and grated pumpkin.

Enjoy with a cup of tea, coffee, hot apple cider, or glass of milk!

Enjoy with a cup of tea, coffee, hot apple cider, or glass of milk!

From the Kitchen of Chef Michael Davies – Pumpkin Sun-dried Cranberry Risotto with Slivered Prosciutto

With autumn in the air, pumpkins are coming into season – and they’re not just for making pie! Chef Michael Davies shares his recipe for Pumpkin Risotto and gives a sophisticated twist to this fall favourite.

Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Risotto is a tasty way to enjoy this colourful fall favourite!

Pumpkin Sun-dried Cranberry Risotto with Slivered Prosciutto 
Serves 4

¼ cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
6-7 cups vegetable stock
1 small pumpkin (about 3 cups) peeled & diced
¼ cup sun-dried cranberries
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp. unsalted butter cubed
4 thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into fine strips
Fresh Italian parsley for garnish

Heat oil olive in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté stirring until onions are soft. Add diced pumpkin, sauté another 2-3 minutes until half cooked. Add rice and continue to stir, using a wooden spoon.

Photo 2

Add white wine, stir, pour in enough vegetable stock to cover the rice completely, about 3 cups.  Continue to cook, stirring often until liquid is absorbed.

Photo 4 - add stock

Pour in 1 cup more of remaining stock, stir and cook until it has been absorbed by the rice. Repeat with 1 more cup. Add the remaining cup and cranberries, cook, stirring until rice is al dente, tender but still chewy, and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Photo 5 crandberries

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, and the butter. This will give the risotto a smooth creamy texture.

To Plate
Transfer finished pumpkin risotto to a pasta bowl, garnish with slivered prosciutto and Italian parsley. The prosciutto will cook a little as you mix it to eat it.

Photo 6 risotto

Chef’s note:  If you do not have the time to make a proper vegetable stock you can make a quick one by adding to a small pot water, bay leave, onion, garlic clove, black peppercorns, vegetable bouillon and parsley sprigs.

What is your favourite way to use Pumpkin?

Visit to view our seasonal menus.