Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekly Roundup - Valentines, Birth, & Family Days Galore!

Happy Birthday Mummy! - Happy Birthday to the best mama a girl could ever ask for! Over the past three or so years, it seems to have become a tradition for me to cook my mom a special birthday dinner come February 13th, her birthday. With so many great meals in the past served to her on her special day, it's tricky to think of something that will top all previous years. After my first oyster shucking experience just one week prior to her birthday, my mom expressed that she would enjoy an oyster shucking night to ring in her day of birth. Without Robin, my shucking partner in crime, I wasn't sure how I would fare shucking a dozen oysters all by myself. Armed with a new oyster shucker from Nella Cucina, I successfully shucked all twelve, with only two oysters giving me trouble for a few extra minutes. My mom and I had such a nice time, spending a low-key evening at home slurping back oysters and sipping on champagne, not to mention devouring the delicious ham and cheese crêpes and Nutella, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream crêpes I served up for dessert. Happy birthday mummy! I hope I was able to deliver you a night just as special as you are to me! I love you up to the sky and back!

Love From Mott's Garden Cocktail - There's nothing like a special delivery on Valentine's Day to make a gal feel special. I've never been a fan of Valentines Day, seeing it as a fake holiday created by card companies to reinforce gender stereotypes and boost sales, but I can't help but get all giddy answering the door for a courier and signing off on a Valentines Day surprise gift for myself! This year I was so excited to receive a special delivery from Mott's Garden Cocktail, sending me beautiful, red, long stemmed roses, as well as some samples of their Mott's Garden Cocktail. As I mentioned in my previous recipe post on my Kale & Poached Egg Salad, I am trying to be more aware of how I am nurturing my body, taking care to feed it with nutrient-rich foods, with a focus on alkalizing foods. With vegetables acting as some of the most alkalizing foods, I have recently realized that my veggie intake has declined in the past year, and I've found it more and more difficult to get the required 7-8 servings of vegetables per day. With two servings of vegetables in each individual can of Mott's Garden Cocktail, and its zesty flavour that reminds me of one of my favourite cocktails, the caesar, I have become a new fan of this healthy and satisfying drink! What a delicious and convenient way to help me achieve my new health goals!

Love From Laura Secord - Absolutely spoiled, not long after I signed off on my roses and Mott's Garden Cocktail samples, there was another knock at the door from yet another courier! Another Valentines Day surprise arrived from Laura Secord, sending me a big basket filled with special Laura Secord chocolates to celebrate not only Valentines Day, but their 100th anniversary as well! Thank you to Laura Secord for helping to make my Valentines Day so sweet! 

Happy Shucking Valentines Day - As I have already mentioned, I am not exactly a fan of Valentines Day. I don't make a big deal of it, choosing to bypass packed restaurants and any gift giving for a low-key evening, or just nothing at all (it's not a real holiday after all!). With my newfound love of oyster shucking, my boyfriend Chris suggested we have a quiet and intimate evening at his place, shucking oysters and sipping on champagne. Nothing could have made me happier! Not one to ever skimp, Chris went all out, picking up a whopping 30 oysters from Diana's Seafood and delicious rosé champagne. With five different types of oysters from both Canada (east and west coast) and the US, it was great to have such a wide selection of oysters to taste and compare with one another. Here I was all eager to impress Chris, who had never shucked oysters before, with my own oyster shucking skills, I was shocked to see just how easy it came to him. At first I thought it was because he was equipped with the better oyster shucker that he had picked up from Diana's as well, but no, even after swapping with my mediocre knife, he still blew my oyster shucking skills out of the water. I couldn't have asked for a better Valentines Day, enjoying spending the night with Chris in the kitchen, shucking oysters and preparing all of the sides (including way too much mignonette sauce and fresh-grated horseradish) together. It was an evening I will not soon forget!
Happy Birthday Danielle! - Wanting to spend her birthday surrounded by good company and good food, my friend Danielle organized a special prix-fixe dinner at The Drake Hotel with some of her closest friends last Saturday. The three-course dinner was a great way to bring her friends all together and celebrate her special day without the stress of figuring out separate bills that always comes with dining with a large group. Danielle took care to plan everything out to make sure we all had a delicious and relaxed evening, which made it very disappointing when the service we had expected simply was not delivered. We certainly enjoyed our meal, but were all a little thrown off when the bills arrived. Our server had split all of our drinks into separate bills, but had left all of the food on one bill, not to mention the total seemed to be higher than what was previously discussed with Danielle. Odd. When someone states separate bills, they generally don't mean just the drinks. Not wanting to cause a fuss, we split the food bill up ourselves, first paying individually for our separate drink bills, and then slapping down our cash and cards for our server for the food bill. With every one of us paying the exact same amount for the food bill, we were all thrown when our server told us we were unable to pay on different cards for the one bill. Being a server myself, I know that that is definitely possible to do. He proceeded to cancel all of the payments everyone had put through for their individual drink bills, and print out all new bills for us, which now included our food, and then cash us all out individually once again. This whole process took 50 minutes! 50 minutes to cash out a table of 14. I have done that in five minutes, and those are bills without the luxury of a prix-fixe and with people swapping seats.

I would have more sympathy for our server if he had delivered great service at least throughout the actual dinner, but to blunt, he was simply a terrible server throughout the entire meal. Despite the less-than-stellar dining experience, we did enjoy the food, and getting to ring in Danielle's birthday with her, and see her having such a great time on her special day made it all worth it! Happy birthday Danielle! Wishing you all the very best this year!

Swan Brunch - Family Day, the second worst day of the year to go out for brunch in Toronto, and the second most popular. With so many fantastic places to go out for brunch in Toronto, it's tempting to want to go for the best on family-oriented days like Family Day and Mothers Day (the second most popular day for brunch). Excited to try out somewhere new, my mom had planned on taking my sister, her boyfriend, and I out to Lady Marmalade for brunch. After driving out to the East end to Leslieville to try out the top-rated brunch spot, we quickly had to figure out a plan-B seeing the giant line that trailed outside of the popular restaurant. With few options in the area, we quickly drove west to Swan, another noted brunch spot. With only a few people in front of us in line, we quickly got a table. I was so happy to have gone for plan-B that day, not only for the quick seating, but also for one of the best brunches I have had to date in the city. My eggs benedict was absolutely perfect, with big, layered flavours, with the rest of family going crazy for their meals as well. I will most definitely be going back soon!

Kale & Poached Egg Salad - Check out the recipe for my simple, healthy, and delicious Kale & Poached Egg Salad here. I loved it so much, I made it for dinner one night, and lunch the very next day! 

The Best Pulled Pork Dinner - I have made pulled pork a few times now, each time not really following a recipe, just throwing a bunch of delicious things into my slow cooker and leaving it for hours, but nothing has even come close to comparing to the incredible pulled pork dinner Chris made for my sister Justine, her boyfriend Duncan, and I this past Friday. I knew I was in for a great meal when I heard about the three day process of first rubbing the pork in a medley of herbs and spices, then slow roasting the pork while "mopping" it with homemade barbeque sauce each half hour, then pulling it and serving it with yet another homemade dipping sauce. The meal didn't stop there. First he decided to make a zesty yellow and purple cabbage coleslaw to serve alongside, then added homemade maple bacon baked beans as a side, and then of course, being the fantastic host that he is, made special cocktails for us all. He went over and above everything by buying styrofoam plates and cups to complete the theme of "Backyard BBQ" to serve everything on. To say we were all blown away by the meal is an understatement. It was, without a doubt, the best pulled pork dinner any of us have ever had, and we are all foodies! The flavours and textures of everything were spot on, leaving us absolutely giddy with excitement when Chris handed us all care packages of leftovers to take home. Where the heck did I find a guy like this? I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! 

Honorable Mentions:

Lil' Baci - Not interested in acquiring more "stuff" for her birthday, my mom and I decided to spend the afternoon after her birthday together, enjoying a nice lunch and a movie. We decided to try out Lil' Baci, a nearby Italian restaurant, and share two of their pizzas before heading out to watch Life of Pi. We went with the recommended Funghi pizza, with mixed mushrooms, taleggio, and truffle oil, as well as the Pappa pizza, with prosciutto, tomato, fiore di latte, and basil. My mom and I both really enjoyed both pizzas, with my mom preferring it to my favourite pizza, Pizzeria Libretto. Nothing has yet to top Libretto as my favourite in the city as of yet, as I prefer their flavourful, chewy crust to all others, but it is nice to have a restaurant that can make a pizza even comparable to theirs uptown.

Buca - On the Friday of my moms birth week, my mom, my aunt Darlene, my sister Justine, and I headed out to Buca for a ladies night to celebrate my moms special day. Not exactly the environment for foodie photo-ops, I refrained from taking any photos of the many dishes we got to try that evening. The rustic Italian menu is designed to be shared amongst the table as though you are enjoying a home-cooked family dinner made by your Italian grandmother. While I appreciated the idea of sharing, I found that it is catered more towards sharing between two or three as opposed to four or more. My favourite taste of the evening? The Ravioli Doppi, double-stuffed ravioli with braised duck and foie gras, goat cheese mousse, finished with goose crackle, fresh citrus, and lovage. 

Follow me on Twitter!
Like me on Facebook!
Follow me on Instagram!

Listening To:
TV On The Radio - Lover's Day

Powered by

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kale & Poached Egg Salad with Pan Roasted Tomatoes, Crispy Shallots,Bacon, & Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

I've got a case of the winter skin blues. Being a redhead, my skin has always been sensitive, but having a high acid count in my body hasn't helped matters at all. I can blame my inflamed and red skin on the wools and cashmeres that shield me from the cold throughout the winter months, and yes, they do play a role in my skin irritations, but I know that much of my skin troubles are a direct result of my diet. During the winter my acid count increases dramatically as I happily indulge in all the foods that make comfort food so damn comforting, but unfortunately result in an acidity hike in my body. Foods such as white flours, beef, butter, pork, peanut butter, sugar, alcohol, fried foods, caffein, the list could go on and on, these are just some of the many delicious and comforting foods and beverages that have an acidifying affect in the body. I've never been good at eliminating foods from my diet, and quite frankly, I just don't care to, but what I know I should always be doing is balancing out those acidic foods with alkaline heavy foods. After a week of being so incredibly fed up with the bus boy at work constantly pointing out how inflamed my chest looks (which by the way is incredibly rude and inappropriate) I knew it was time to stop blaming my cozy winter clothes and take the matter into my own hands...or stomach. 

I was inspired to make this salad after being attracted to so many images of beautifully presented salads topped with poached eggs on various blogs and websites. My Pinterest boards look as though they have been attacked with these images, as I am consistently drawn to them, pinning pretty much each and every one I come across. I began brainstorming and developing this recipe after going out for a friends birthday dinner last Friday, seeing almost every single person at our large table order the kale salad, and proceed to devour said salad, raving on about how delicious it was. Raw kale delicious? This was news to me.

I had only ever experimented with cooked kale, disguising the bitter flavours and tough texture with herbs, seasonings, oils, and various cooking methods. My experience with raw kale wasn't so fantastic, experiencing those same bitter flavours and tough textures in the few times I ate it. But watching 10 or so people devour a large bowl of raw kale, dressed in simply a light vinaigrette and a few slices of parmesan cheese made me reconsider the notorious "super food". Kale is a super food for many reasons, but the reason that sparked my interest in kale is its extreme alkalizing effect on the body. I was determined to come up with a delicious raw kale recipe! I did some research and quickly learned that the way to achieve tender raw kale is to massage it with olive oil and sea salt. I was shocked to feel with my own hands just how quickly the kale's texture was transformed by the olive oil and sea salt massage. In hardly any time at all, I had a delicious (man was in ever delicious!) and satisfying dinner that I could feel good about putting into my body. This is one recipe I will definitely be making on the regular!

Note: Make this a vegetarian dish by eliminating the bacon.

*Massage your kale with olive oil and sea salt to tenderize the tough kale leaves. You'll be surprised at how quickly they soften up!

**I would recommend using a poach pod as it keeps the egg intact and eliminates the issue of watery eggs.

Serves 2
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp grainy dijon mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 drops hot sauce (I use sriracha)
1 bunch fresh kale, washed with leaves torn from the ribs
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 shallot, thinly sliced 
2 slices bacon or pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 eggs
1 pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt and olive oil for rubbing kale*

  1. In a small bowl whisk together red wine vinegar, honey, grainy dijon mustard, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and hot sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Set aside. Note that the kale will be rubbed with sea salt and additional olive oil, so season with salt after kale leaves are dressed. 
  2. Roll up kale leaves into a cigar-type shape and chiffonade. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil and sea salt. Using clean fingertips, massage the kale for 2-3 minutes, or until leaves feel tender. Set aside.
  3. Add bacon slices to a small cold pan. Turn heat to medium and cook until crisp and brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a piece of paper towel to drain, and pour out excess fat in pan, allowing about 1/2 tablespoon to remain. 
  4. Add the shallots to the same pan and cook until golden-brown and just beginning to crisp. Remove and set aside.
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until skins burst. Turn off heat and set aside.
  6. While tomatoes are cooking, poach the eggs. Either follow the instructions here to poach an egg, or use the method I did, by using a handy poaching pod. If using a poach pod**, bring 1 1/2 inches of water to a rolling boil in a small saucepan. Crack the eggs into lightly oiled poaching pods and carefully place in water to float. Reduce heat to low to allow to simmer and cover tightly. Cook for 4 - 4 1/2 for a soft yolk. 
  7. Dress kale in dijon mustard vinaigrette to taste (do not overdress!) and transfer to serving dish. Scatter over bacon, shallots, and cherry tomatoes. Top with poached eggs and season with more sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and pinch of red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.
Listening To:
Future Islands - Balance

Powered by

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

French Macarons

About four years ago I had my first french macaron experience. I had just gotten hired as a counter girl and barista at La Bamboche, a Japanese/French fusion patisserie known for their macarons. Despite the fact that I was working at one of the top places in the city to get the Parisian treat, I much preferred indulging in their fresh-baked croissants and lemon tarts, rather than the many flavours of macarons. After trying a couple flavours of macarons, I found the little cookies much too sweet for my palate, and quickly turned away from them.

The sheer temptation of having so many different flavours, all dressed up in beautiful pastel shells, with a new feature flavour appearing each month, not to mention hearing the sighs of pleasure escape from the mouths of the many regulars that would come in to indulge in macarons each day, made it impossible for me to stay away from the confection. All it took was a few more tastes for me to be completely hooked. No longer did my mouth pucker from the immense sweetness, as I tickled my taste buds with flavours such as caramel seasalt, espresso, pistachio (my favourite!), and even lavender. As I continued working at La Bamboche, I watched as the macaron craze took off and became the new "it" treat in Toronto, with pastry shops popping up in every nook of the city featuring this special french cookie. Although it was much easier to buy macarons in Toronto, it was still rare to hear about anyone attempting to make them in their own home. Working at the patisserie, I knew just how complex the process of making macarons were, seeing how fickle and time consuming they can truly be, and never even considered that I would ever take an interest in making them myself. 

All that changed this Christmas when my boyfriend Chris got me a gift certificate for a Parisian Macaron Making class at Le Dolci. As much as I appreciated the thoughtful and generous gift so early on in the relationship, I have to admit that the thought of a macaron making class really intimidated me. As the date of my scheduled class approached, I started to get anxious about the idea of a hands-on class, making something so notoriously difficult. Yes, I was nervous about the class and how I would fare next to the other participants, but more than anything, I was freaked out over making them on my own after...or failing at them on my own after. I couldn't possibly accept a macaron making class as a gift and not even try to make them on my own. It was happening. The pressure of succeeding at making the treat, both in the class and out on my own, was increased tenfold by the fact that Chris just so happens to be a fantastic cook. With so much hype built up around my own "skills" in the kitchen thanks to my food blog, I was so incredibly nervous about living up to the hype in front of my new boyfriend. Talk about pressure!
Much of that pressure was immediately relieved as soon as the class at Le Dolci began. The class, which was led by the very charming Madalina Paul of Duhlicious, was so unbelievably informative, allowing us participants to learn all the tips and tricks to macaron making that I had never before read about online. That hands-on experience was so incredibly beneficial for me, being able to feel first hand exactly what the proper texture should be in each stage, with Madalina guiding us through the techniques every step of the way. I walked out of that class with a recipe, a ton of hand-written notes, a box of macarons that I could proudly say I made along with the class, and, most importantly, I walked out confident that I could recreate those delicate little cookies all on my own.

After another personal one-on-one macaron making lesson from Danielle at Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop, I was more than ready to take on the macaron by myself! I very carefully followed each step to macaron making, making sure to follow every single note that I jotted down from Madalina. It was when I was folding the egg whites into the almond flour mixture that I was sure that everything had gone macawrong! I was positive the texture was off. Although I could have very well tossed everything in the trash at this point to save myself from wasting any more ingredients, I took a deep breath and prevailed, trusting my instincts of when to stop folding and begin piping.

I must have sat on the floor in front of the oven the entire time those shells were baking, so eager to see if I had found macaron success. Sure enough, after adjusting the baking time (my shells needed about 3-5 extra minutes in the oven), my macaron shells turned out almost perfect! I can't describe to you how happy I was to find such success my first time making them on my own! The shells were crisp and chewy, with the texture just slightly off due to my shells being a little too large. I proudly packaged up the most aesthetically pleasing macarons for Chris, so excited for him to taste my success! The look on his face as he took his first bite of my Lemon Cream Cheese Macaron made that long, difficult, and messy process of making macarons all worth it! As much as I was pleased to impress my guy, more than anything, I was so proud and pleased with myself for tackling the difficult treat with such success.

Chris, thank you so much for encouraging me to go outside of my comfort zone and test my skills in the kitchen by making these treats. It's something that I never thought I would be able to do on my own, and it's because of you that I was able to take that leap and find such success with it. You are my official macaron taste tester!
Macaroon: A dense and moist cookie made with coconut and typically dipped in chocolate. Principal ingredients are coconut, egg white, and sugar. This cookie is characterized by its dense coconut peaks and chocolate base. Source: Duhlicious

Macaron: A light meringue-based and almond biscuit filled with ganache, buttercream, or jam. Principal ingredients are egg whites (whipped to stiff peaks), sugar, almond flour. The confectionary is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference (referred to as the "foot"), and flat base. The outer "shell" is delicate and brittle, and the interior is mildly moist. Source: Duhlicious

Note: 90g is approximately 3 eggs whites

Note: Use the filling of your choice!

Tip: Fresh eggs do not whip up as well as aged eggs.

Tip: Use large piping bags.

Tip: Don't be impatient when allowing your piped macarons to rest before placing in oven. You want them to form a shell on top.

Tip: To test whether your macarons have baked long enough, lightly tap them. They should not wiggle too much, just ever so slightly.

*This is an Italian meringue as opposed to a French meringue. An Italian meringue is ideal because it is near impossible to over mix. The taste and texture remain the same.
Macaron Shell
65g water
250g sugar
90g egg whites, room temperature

gel or powder food colouring (do not use liquid!)
250g almond flour (also known as almond meal)
250g icing sugar
90g egg whites, room temperature

  1. Gently and slowly stir together the water and 250g sugar until combined. You want to stir gently and slowly so that crystals do not form.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Allow to cook, without stirring at all, until it reaches the soft ball stage. Using a pastry brush, brush water along the sides of the saucepan to deter crystals from forming around the sides of the pot. 
    1. Test for the soft ball stage by dipping a spoon into a glass of ice cold water, then dip into the centre of the sugar and water mixture, and then quickly back into the water. Feel with your fingers to see if you can form into a soft, gummy ball. You will reach this stage after the string stage, in which the sugar mixture will feel stringy between your fingertips.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer (make sure the bowl is spotless!), beat 90g of egg whites at moderate speed. Once the egg whites begin to look like a bubble bath, very slowly begin pouring in the sugar syrup, holding the saucepan higher than the mixing bowl so that it pours out in a thin, continuous stream. Increase speed to high and beat until the bowl is almost cool to the touch (its likely to retain a bit of warmth) and the egg whites form stiff, shining, upstanding peaks. You want to be able to turn the bowl upside down without the egg whites falling out.* 
  4. Combine almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor, pulsing until ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and very fine. Sift into a large bowl and set aside. (I like to do this step ahead of time and set aside!) When the meringue is just about ready, fold in the remaining 90g egg whites into the almond flour and icing sugar mixture, along with a small amount of the food colouring.
  5. Carefully fold the meringue into the wet almond mixture, adding a little at a time (should take about 3 additions). Stop folding when the mixture is evenly combined and is the viscosity of lava or molasses. When piped, the macarons should hold a peak of about a second or two, and then they gradually find their round shape and flatten out.
    1. This is where you have to get a feel for when to stop mixing. It's easy to over or under mix at this point. Try scooping some of the mixture up and dropping back into the bowl. The mixture should slowly and gradually flatten back into the rest of the mixture in the bowl. If it holds its shape when plopped back in the bowl, you may need to continue folding for another 10 strokes or so. Continue folding and testing as needed until you have reached the "lava" viscosity.
  6. Pipe macarons onto a heavy parchment-lined sheet pan.
    1. If you do not have a heavy pan, layer two pans on top of each other, but I would still advise investing in at least one heavy pan. I got mine for a mere $15.
    2. Lay your printed macaron circle-shape guide under the parchment.
    3. Tack down the corners of the parchment with some macaron batter to ensure the corners do not fly up when baking.
    4. When piping, pipe vertically (don't hold the piping bag on a slant!) until batter fills the circle-shape guide. Pipe with your dominant hand, gently squeezing the batter, with your other hand guiding. When bater fills the circle-guide, quickly and carefully swirl your wrist, and stop piping so you are not left with peaks. My apologies, because this step is much easier to show than to explain.
  7. Rest macarons until they appear dull and are no longer tacky to the touch. Bake at 275ºF on the middle rack in a convection oven (310º for non-convection) for 10 minutes. To test for doneness tap the top of a macaron, if the bottom wiggles, it should bake for longer. Allow the macarons to cool before removing from pan and transferring to a cooling rack.
  8. Once completely cool, fill with ganache, buttercream, or other filling, and carefully top with the other shell half. Macarons are best enjoyed 24hrs after filling, allowing the shells to set and the filling to rehydrate centres. 
Recipe by Duhlicious
Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream
150g cream cheese, at room temperature
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
zest of one lemon
1/2 - 3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter until soft and creamy. Stir in the lemon zest. Gradually add icing sugar to taste. 

Listening To:
Sufjan Stevens - Impossible Soul

Powered by

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekly Roundup - Impressing Myself With Shucking Macarons

Shucking Virgins - Over the past year my friend Robin and I have discovered a new obsession that we both share, an obsession with the ultra-luxe seafood, oysters! With about 50% of our conversations drifting to oysters (with the other 50% about the crazy characters we encounter at the bar we both work at), it came as no surprise that after going out to restaurants for nothing but oysters and attending events to devour the oyster table, the time had come for us to prepare oysters at home! We had been talking about our oyster night for weeks now, planning out our mignonette sauce, other toppings, and the convenience of the nearby seafood store doing the shucking for us, and this past Tuesday we finally made it a reality!

I have to admit, I was a pretty thrown when Robin pulled out two bags of unshucked oysters. How the hell were we going to shuck a dozen oysters by ourselves, without the proper tools, and zero experience? I was sure our oyster night was a bust. After watching Ocean Wise's video on How To Shuck An Ocean Wise Oyster, we scoured the kitchen for any tools that could safely and effectively aid us in our oyster shucking mission. Eventually, after nearly giving up, we found a pair of scissors with a flat edged tool at the handle that we thought would do the trick. It began pretty hopelessly, with us simply scraping shards of the shell off with the scissor tool, to eventually finding our groove and miraculously getting a shell open! After the exhilaration of getting that first shell open, we were on a roll, realizing that all it really takes is some patience. We quickly shucked all twelve oysters, with only a single scrap on each of our hands, and went to town enjoying them! Robin wisely picked up two different kinds of oysters from PEI, Malpeque (which turned out to be our favourite!) and Raspberry Point. The pride that we were filled with from shucking a dozen oysters all by ourselves made the oysters even more delicious!

Phebes Zee Grill - High off of our oyster shucking experience, we realized that a dozen oysters between the two of us simply wasn't enough. A quick Google search "best oysters Yonge and Eglinton" told us where to go. We quickly hopped in the car and drove to Phebes Zee Grill to continue our indulgent evening. We ordered another dozen oysters between the two of us, as well as glasses of Prosecco to toast to our success! Before we knew it, our friendly waitress had brought over complimentary lobster croquettes. Piping hot, with a light and delicate interior, complimented by the crisp exterior, and drop of smoked sambal aioli, the croquettes were absolutely delicious! We were then greeted by the chef who told us all about the oysters that they currently have at Phebes, as well as some of his other favourites on the menu, including the croquettes he had just sent over. He raved about his favourite seafood, raw clams, amazed that we had never tried them. As if the croquettes weren't generous enough to give us, he sent us over two raw clams for us to try. We both really enjoyed the clams, but nothing could top our love of oysters! The generosity continued with another round of four oysters sent our way! We were so incredibly blown away by the hospitality we received at Phebes. The staff went above and beyond to give Robin and I a delicious experience, making Phebes our new favourite place to get oysters in the city! We can't wait to go back!

Jambalaya - Craving spicy comfort food this week, with a few leftover spicy sausages that needed to be used up in the fridge, I got inspired to try my hand at making a jambalaya for my mom and I. After doing lots of research on various jambalayas, I came up with my own recipe that I hoped would satisfy my craving. I was so happy that my jambalaya turned out so delicious! I was also surprised at how simple and quick this savory dish was to prepare! Keep your eyes peeled for the recipe that I will be posting soon!

Macaron Success - After attending the Parisian macaron making class at Le Dolci, and having my own personal macaron making lesson from Danielle from Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop, I knew I was ready to conquer the tricky French treat all on my own! Despite its fickle nature and tendency for failure, I felt very confident that I would find success before I began the complicated process. It was when I was at the egg-white-whipping stage that I was sure I had failed, and declared that everything was going macawrong! No, I didn't want to waste any more ingredients, but I prevailed and continued the difficult process, even though I was so positive the almond and meringue shells were not going to turn out. It seems the macaron gods were on my side, as my shells turned out fantastic! Just a tad larger than I would have liked, my shells came out just a touch chewier than my favourite macarons at La Bamboche. I filled my shells with lemon cream cheese buttercream, using the recipe that was supplied from Le Dolci, a great sweet and tangy combo! I was so incredibly proud of how my macarons turned out, tasting as though they could have been purchased at a patisserie! I look forward to making lots more macarons in my future, playing with different buttercream and ganache fillings! The recipe, along with lots of tips and tricks, will be posted this week!

Follow me on Twitter!
Like me on Facebook!
Follow me on Instagram!

Listening To:
Chad Valley - Shell Suite

Powered by

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ocean Wise Month Media Launch: Experience It For Yourself!

If you had a chance to catch my entry in November on the Ocean Wise Month Media Launch held at Mildred's Temple Kitchen, you what an enjoyable experience that was for me being able to learn about the importance of Ocean Wise, how to take part in the movement of sustainable fishing and consuming, and learning how to create delicious and striking Ocean Wise approved dishes in my own home. Of course sampling delicious Ocean Wise seafood was my favourite part of the event, but my second favourite part was watching the three chef demos presented by Neptuno Oysters, Hooked Inc., and Chef Taylor McMeekin of the ACC and formerly of Mildred's Temple Kitchen. I loved getting to learn how to shuck oysters, steam fish en papillote, and basket a fish, three techniques formerly foreign to me, as well as hear their own personal feelings and experiences with sustainable seafood in Canada. Thanks to Ocean Wise, you can now share that same experience, by watching all three demos right here! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Listening To:
Kendrick Lamar - Money Trees (Feat. Jay Rock)

Powered by

Weekly Roundup - Pigging Out On Macarons

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce - Everyone has their go-to recipes to turn to when they need a quick and delicious fix with minimal ingredients. One of the recipes that I turn to most is poached or fried eggs in tomato sauce. Quick, satisfying, versatile, and low on ingredients, this dish always leaves me with a smile. I love how simple it is to adjust the quantity of this recipe, making it super simple to whip up for unexpected guests at lunch or for a midday snack. I also love experimenting with different cheeses, sauces, herbs, and spices. This time around, making a single serving for myself as my breakfast last week, I decided to kick up my tomato sauce with lots of crushed red pepper flakes to turn it into an Arrabbiata sauce, while also adding a layer of rich smokiness thanks to the addition of smoked mozzarella. I always serve this dish alongside fresh bread to dip into the cheesy and spicy sauce and egg. Check out the recipe here.

Macaron Making Lesson - After enjoying my Parisian Macaron making class at Le Dolci so much, I seemed to have caught the macaron bug! Although a sprained ankle kept me off my feet and out of my kitchen for a couple weeks, this week marked the first week of me being "back in action" in the kitchen! No longer having the macaron class fresh in my mind, my friend Danielle over at Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop was kind enough to invite me over to her house last week for a personal macaron making lesson! I was happy to see that Danielle had chosen to make cocoa macaron shells to be sandwiched in between her heavenly homemade chocolate peanut butter buttercream. It was interesting to learn how the recipe should be adjusted based on the addition of cocoa. I also found it very interesting to learn Danielle's tips, tricks, and advice being a home-baker. I learned a lot from Le Dolci, but getting that other perspective from Danielle made me really feel ready to try my hand at macaron making myself! Check out Danielle's incredible custom cakes here and her new and adorable olive oil soap line here (my favourite is the adorable sprinkled doughnut!). 

Porchetta & Co. - With so many great eats popping up in Toronto, it's hard to keep track of them all, not to mention actually find the chance to get out to try all of them! Porchetta & Co. is one Toronto favourite that has been on my radar for a while now, despite the fact that I haven't got myself out to Dundas West to try their decadent porchetta sandwiches until last week. What is a porchetta sandwich you ask? I'd say it's the ultimate in piggy deliciousness! A piece of pork shoulder is marinated for 24 hours in a medley of spices including rosemary, sage, garlic oil, and lemon zest. The shoulder is then wrapped in prosciutto (I'm sure I've already got you salivating), and then all of that gets wrapped in cured pork belly. The layered creation gets roasted at a high temperature for just long enough to get a nice crispy crust on the outside, and then turned down to get slow roasted for several more hours. Finally, the meat is carved and put on fresh sourdough bread from Caldense Bakery and topped with Kozlik's grainy mustard.

Porchetta & Co. - Porchetta & Co. totally won me over from my very first bite thanks to the high quality of every single aspect of the sandwich. Perfect meat, on a perfect bun, with perfect mustard. Perfection! I especially loved the crunch and saltiness from the crackling (the crispy crust from the outside of the roast, which is sprinkled on the sandwich), adding another layer of flavour and texture to the sinful sandwich. I'm interested to try some of the sides that Porchetta & Co. serves alongside their sandwiches such as roasted potatoes, rapini, and seasonal daily soups. I look forward to coming back, but next time when the weather is warmer so I can take my sandwich to a nearby park to enjoy in the sun! 
Ruelo Patisserie - During my macaron making day with Danielle, I asked her where her favourite places are in Toronto to get macarons. Danielle eagerly mentioned both Petit Thuet and a new shop I had never heard of Ruelo Patisserie, right near one of my jobs just off Yonge, near Yonge and Eglinton, on Erskine Ave. After a particularly tiring day of work, on a beautiful mild day last week, I couldn't help but treat myself to one of Ruelo's macarons on my way home. I was impressed by their unique array of flavours, with one standing out to me as though it had blinking red lights around it, a chocolate balsamic macaron! Although the single macaron was a whopping $3 (their macarons range from $2.25-$3) I simply couldn't resist the sweet and tangy combo. Although I did enjoy the chocolate balsamic macaron (I mean, how could I not?), I couldn't help but compare the appearance and texture to my favourite place in Toronto to get macarons La Bamboche, which still remains in my top spot.

Ozery Bakery Crispy Pitas - It was as such a delight to come home last week to a delivery at my doorstep from Ozery Bakery, sending me each one of the flavours from their line of Crispy Pita products. Although the Rosemary Garlic and Cranberry Pumpkin Seed sounded like the most enticing flavours, I decided to go for a more basic flavour for my first taste, opening up a bag of their Organic Spelt with Flax Crispy Pita's to serve alongside some hummus. Right away I became addicted to the crunchy and flavourful snack! With great texture, flavour, and health benefits, I can promise you that you too will become addicted to this savoury snack! This healthy alternative to potato chips (they are 50% less fat than regular potato chips) are trans fat free, contain whole grains, and are a source of fibre and contain 6g of protein per serving. I can't wait to try all of Crispy Pita's tasty flavours! 

Rawlicious - Being a lover of comfort food, I wasn't exactly jumping for joy when my friend Rommi wanted to meet up at Rawlicious in Yorkville for dinner last week. On a freezing cold day with a blizzard, uncooked, healthy food was the absolute last thing I wanted, but out I went to give it a shot with, I'll be honest, very low expectations. Curious to try zucchini noodles (raw zucchini made into noodles using a spiralizer) both Rommi and I ordered their pad thai with zucchini and kelp noodles, shredded romaine lettuce, carrots, and bell peppers mixed in a tangy Thai sauce topped with green onions, crumbled cashews, and fresh cilantro. I was absolutely shocked to find the vegan and raw dish so delicious! With big flavours, textures, and portion size I found this dish very satisfying and enjoyable. Who would have thought that I would walk away curious to come back and try more vegan, raw, and organic dishes on their menu, not to mention try my hand at creating raw food dishes in my own kitchen! 

Mojito Night At No One Writes To The Colonel - Is there anything better than enjoying an icy and herbacious mojito on a cold February night? Ok, so maybe a mojito is a bit out of season, but the sweet and minty drink was a delicious reminder that Spring is just around the corner (next month!). With an intriguing name like "No One Writes To The Colonel", my friend Robin and I were expecting an interesting evening when we went out on Friday to celebrate my friend David's belated birthday and "retirement" party. With an awesome bartender (ask for Evan!) passionately shaking up mojitos behind the bar, I dare you to go to NOWTTC and not order one of their many mojito flavours. Although their flavoured mojitos (such as strawberry and peach) were tempting, both Robin and I were happy to have chosen the original, allowing the bright flavours from the fresh mint to shine through. I rarely order mojitos due to a pattern of disappointment with the drink that can so easily be too watery, too boozy, or too sweet, but NOWTTC's mojito had the perfectly balance leading Robin and I to order perhaps one too many...or not enough!

Follow me on Twitter!
Like me on Facebook!
Follow me on Instagram!

Listening To:
Twin Shadow - Five Seconds

Powered by