28 April 2007

St. Lawrence.

I have written about it before, but the St. Lawrence Market rules. We went early-ish this morning (about 8:30), and we had amazing breakfast sandwiches from Mustachio's on the lower level. It was a vegetable frittata sandwich with ham and tomato sauce. It was so huge! I could not begin to eat it all!!!!

It was really tasty. I ate about half the second half and then had to throw in the towel! I was bested by the gigantic sandwich!!!

Here's the place...

From there, we went to the farmer's market across the street. We bought some chicken from the farm. Oh yeah. The guy was really nice, off in the corner. All of his chicken is usually gone by the time we get there, but this time, chicken was ours!!! Look at it all...

I asked if I could take pictures, and he was so gracious... so here's his sign...

I have to confess, the chicken was not expensive. Two breasts and 4 thighs was about $10. For organic grain fed roams when the weather permits, but not caged meat... all good.

Around the corner, we found some local potatoes. I am making a repeat of my Easter potato dish... wanted some Ontario potatoes to go with. G says that I am a pain in the you know what about buying local produce and meat now, that I have become evangelical about it, but whatever. I really want to do my part to help the environment, and I believe that the things we can control, we should. Whatever. The farm we went to had the goods.

We went back into the proper part of the St. Lawrence Market, bought a roast, tasted some cheese and hams, bought some scarmoza and halloumi cheeses, and then as we parted, I took a shot of the market...

From there, the eco shopping trip continued with a short drive (it was raining so no bikes) to the Big Carrot. We bought some odds and ends, but I took a picture of the outside because it's just so pretty...

Anyway... our friend just buzzed up, we're making dinner for her and her new baby... It should be good times... Pictures will follow, don't you worry about that!

Soup and Pizza.

G and I had a long week, and sometimes you just want to go home, put on your pj's and eat something warming. G made a great leek and potato soup (she's such a great soup maker). We had a President's Choice Blue Menu pizza in the freezer, so we warmed that up, to have a nice relaxing dinner.

Not fancy, but all manner of tasty. Well, actually, the pizza was mushroom, and when it baked, the mushrooms gave off a ton of water, so it was kindof weird in that way...

But it was just a-okay. The soup was good. (We're having it for dinner tonight, too!) All good.

If it was Tuesday, it must have been STEAK NIGHT!

There's a pub in/near our 'hood that has a different dinner option each night. The Bishop & The Belcher has steak Night on Tuesday nights, and boy, is it a deal. First off, let me say, living in downtown Toronto makes you not drink a lot (especially when you have a food magazine addiction that takes alot of your disposable dough), but this place has half pints of Stella for less than $4. That's enough to start drinking more regularly.

Steak night is a great deal. For $9.95, you get the following: Starter: either caesar salad (which is huge) or French onion soup. I didn't take pictures of the starter, but over time I have tried both, and they are pretty dang good. This time, I had the caesar, and it was so big I couldn't finish it. Then for your Main: filet or striploin WITH either peppercorn sauve, garlic mushroom, or fried onion, AND either mashed potatoe, french fries or sweet potato fries. Oh yeah. I got a picture of that:

Oh yeah, you get some veg, too. Really good for the price, and it's a nice atmosphere with boxes of old skool trivial pursuit cards on the table for your effort. I recommend it, it's on Church near Bloor.

23 April 2007

Really, the fry-up saves the world.

Okay, I didn't get to the fry-up in my last post, because Heroes started... That Mohinder.


Today was a good food day. I had left over risotto for breakfast. See pic below in the earlier post.

From there...I had lima bean salad and a turkey club from the cafe downstairs. I've never seen the lima bean salad, but man alive, I love lima beans when they are cooked properly. This was pretty good, not the best ever, but definitely a better choice than pasta salad or chips!

I took this picture in my crazily dark office, this bizarre storm moved in about mid-day. But it was a nice lunch, under $5, can't be beat!

For dinner, G made a delish fry-up, meat free. We had grilled tomato and fried egg on toast, with Heinz baked beans, and potatoes. It was positively delicious. But...I was too hungry and irritated, and just jumped into dinner, so here it is from about half way through the whole thing...

So there it is. Yum yum yum. I love breakfast for dinner. I didn't eat the second piece of toast... eyes bigger than stomach syndrome.

And yeah, otherwise, all's good.

Heroes! (Save the Fry-up, Save the World)

So I am just marking time 'til Heroes starts! Right here in good ol' Canada, we get it at 8pm, so I am all queued up and ready to go... a perfect time for an update!

Saturday was a beautiful day outside. And G was sick. I had gallantly declared that I would make meatloaf and roasted potatoes, and it would all be good. But I was so not into it, so I decided to make the British favorite, Spag Bol. We had this crazily hardcore whole wheat pasta, and some mushrooms leftover from the CSA box, so I chopped those in quarters and added them to the onions and meat while it cooked... My secret ingredient? A little grated carrot gives you the sweet without having to add sugar. And extra vegetables never hurt anyone!

Good times. We really enjoyed it, and I made enough for an army, as per usual.

Sunday brought a new beautiful day. Sunshine everywhere, I could not believe it. G and I decided to go for a long walk, and G wanted to have shwarma. There's a newish restaurant on Church street, A la Turque, and they have meat shwarma, so we decided to go there because a good walk could be had in any general direction.

We had a HUGE plate of shwarma each. The plate included meat, rice, lettuce, tomato, pickled turnips, hot peppers, cabbagey salad, hummus, hot sauce, garlic sauce, sliced cabbage, parsley, and onions if we had wanted them but we didn't...

Here it is...

I could tell you the price, but I don't know it, because the guy rang us up wrong. But two of these bad boys with two cans of soda was $16, but we thing he undercharged us. He waved it off, so so did we.

The walk was great. We went through Cabbagetown and saw new flowers and sunny skies. I love it.

Heroes is on.... I will be back!

22 April 2007

Pat's Cheesecake.

My friend Pat sent me a pic of a cheesecake he made for easter... beauty like this must be shared!

It's a nice looking cheesecake. Well played Pat!

Greasy, but good.

One evening last week, I phoned G on my way home and asked if she was hungry for dinner. No, she wasn't, really. She'd had a big lunch and I had not, so I was ready for food! We ended up going to a neighborhood haunt, Just Thai.

I ordered the chicken pad thai, no peanuts. There's is a little sweet, but something about their tofu just really works for me. Anyway, the plate comes, and it's just swimming in oil. Weird.

It's crazy! So I pushed all the pad thai to one side and just ate away. It was really good, though the oil concerned me. G ordered some type of shrimp soup, which had many large juicy shrimp in it. Which if you like shrimp, that would be good thing. Which G does and I don't. Like the shrimp, I mean. Anyway... the soup looked funny with these big floating balls of mushroom...

On another note...

We are getting the new Jamie Oliver show, Jamie at Home, on our Food Network. It's really strange, it's filmed in 'his' garden (I believe) and he has a theme garden ingredient each week. This one that is ending is centered around the mighty onion. Anyway, I love Jamie, I have all his cookbooks, I have eaten at Fifteen and, I have watched all his shows, but the thing that irritates about him is how he goes on about how brave he is compared to other British chefs. In this episode, he mixes a bunch o' veg with balsamic vinegar and bakes it in the oven. And he says a good few times how 'brave' a recipe this is, and how no English chef would have the balls to make it... It's food... you know?

BUT! I did buy myself a present this week of the book Cook with Jamie, and I have to say, it's really worth the staggering price tag! I bought this at the lovely lovely lovely Cookbook Store near Bloor at Yonge, and it's the British version, so a bit dear, but lovely!

First, the store. It's really very neat, with tons of books and magazines, a few kitcheny gadgets, but the selection of the cookbooks is absolutely stupendous. I also try to buy my food magazines there, to continue my support of their store. If you are ever in Toronto, you absolutely must go there. It's really great.

Second, the cookbook itself. Jamie has done alot for changing the way I think about food, and he has a whole section about buying high quality eats and veg. He writes about how as a society, we care more about what kind of gas goes into our car then the type of food that goes into our bodies. And that's true. While it's difficult to always be virtuous, I think that there is alot of room for improvement. Especially now. It's not as difficult (or expensive) as it once was to buy locally grown organic meat and veg. You can always buy directly from a farm, or from a health food store. Now I am sure I have ranted about the gestalt of Whole Foods elsewhere, but there are good smaller options that just require patronage in order to remain in business against such competition as the money machine of Whole Foods. (It's great to buy organic food, but do I really need organic potatoes from Peru? Potatoes grow in abundance right here in Canada.)

I love the Big Carrot, and we buy alot from here. They sell health products, non-chlorine bleached girly things, cleaning products, tissues, etc. And it's much cheaper than alot of other stores. So it's a good thing. And you can shop there without feeling like you are being ripped off by the corporate green machine.

Donna Hay would be proud of the looks, irritated by the taste.

When visiting a friend in London last year, we were treated to a delicious Donna Hay recipe, from her New Food Fast cookbook. I of course ran out and bought it as soon as I returned home. It was a chicken coconut curry, and it is basically, curry paste, chicken, sweet potato, chicken broth and coconut milk. Yum!

So I decided for one of our fast dinners at home, I would make this curry and relish in it's glory.

Well, it looks good.

Now as someone from the land of cream gravy's, I have to confess that while this cooked, it smelled exactly like cream gravy, which was just wrong. I managed to choke mine down, but I was happy that I had thought to make the President's spring rolls as an accompaniment.

These are positively delicious. I really really love them.

So what went wrong with the curry? I think honestly it's two things, 1) we didn't have red curry paste, just lots of red curry powder, so I tried to make a paste and it was too hot, but not the right consistency, I think. 2) I didn't shake the coconut milk up enough and (which should constitute point 3, but... the coconut milk was of the light variety. It just didn't set up right. But when the pest part of your dinner is the pre-made something from Loblaw's, you know you are in trouble. SERIOUS trouble.

Organic shwarma?! At a price!

We have had an internet outage over the last couple of days for reasons that are beyond us, so between working late and no internet has meant no updates...

Thanks to one of my co-workers, I discovered an organic meat shwarma restaurant in the neighborhood... It totally rocks!

I don't know the name of the place, but it's not particularly fast, but the meat is peppery and not from a factory farm (and the price reflects that)... You get a selection of toppings, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, pickles, hot peppers, beets, onions, etc. I believe it's as organic as they can get everything, and it's really just a nice happy place. The restaurant itself has a real New York.

You can get a side salad with your sandwich. You can choose from a greek salad or this array of handmade salads, including chickpea salad, beet salad, couscous, etc. I had my favorite rice and lentil salad...

Delish. It's very lemony, but it's really nice.

Overall, the food there is really nice. The price ($11 for the combo with a can of soda) is a bit steep for lunch, but since you are supporting the organic aspect of their restaurant, I can't help but think it's a good once a week option.

It does allow you to feel better about the food you are eating. I find lunch is the hardest time to eat 'responsibly'. There are scant few places that have really healthy reasonably priced alternatives, and I am not organized enough of a morning to bring my lunch... though I am working on doing it the night before. It's a process, but I am getting there.

16 April 2007

G's Steps Up to the Plate and She Shoots and She Scores!

I like to mix my sports metaphors.

Anyway, G woke up with the ants in her pants to make some tasty grub. Her first stop? Carmelized onion and stilton tart. From scratch. Go G. Go G. As I sat in my office typing away at my computer trying to get some work done, G stood in the soon to be remodeled kitchen, slaving away carmelizing onions, rolling out pastry, and crumbling the beautiful English stilton she purchased at Kensington Market.

It was gorgeous.

The cripsy-ish bits of cheese on top were so tasty. So we sliced it up and had it with some salad. Okay, fine, G had it with salad, I had it with a glass of water.

Look at these beautiful onions...

So that was a delicious little afternoon treat, as I nursed my migraine hangover. Then G decided to make fasulya (a green bean stew) for dinner, and we invited G's parents to share in the delight. The pics make it look kind of gross, but really, it's a simple and delicious stew from the cookbook that G has from Zimbabwe. It's a spanish african Jew thing, apparently.

She also made a really knock out salad.

Not to brag, but I think that's a good picture. I have been monkeying around with the different modes on my camera, and I think that I have had a few good pics of late.

For dessert, G's mom brought some nice blueberry blintzes, and we had blackberry's and whipped cream ready to go. It pained me to buy the blackberry's, nowhere near local, but everything else pretty much was, so I had to relent. I want to read that book about the couple in Vancouver who only ate food grown in a 100 mile radius from their house. I actually went to buy it over the weekend, and it's $32! May have to wait for it to come out in hardback. Or if someone wants to buy me a present.....

Anyway, whipped cream and blackberries are alllll good.

And, as I worked late and had about two more hours of work to do once I got home (I am actually doing it now as the pictures upload), plus nursing the start of another migraine, G stepped up and made a simple dinner of my request. Chicken schnitzel. We were running low to no on the starch, so G made couscous which was great, and we had the last of the massive bag of frozen peas. Oh yes, don't wait for it....

Oh yeah.... home cookin' at it's most basic. It hit the spot though. And now, with my presentation finished until I review it tomorrow morning and ship it off to BC, and my blog updated, it's time to go make some brownies. Oh yeah. Brownie me baby.

But one more thing, I am looking for to tomorrows Wanigan box... www.wanigan.com... cukes and tomatoes!!!!! GIMMMMMMEEEEEEE! Though I think tomorrow's dinner may very well be chicken coconut curry (provided I get home in time to make it), I think some tomato salad or something will have to accompany... yeeeee haw.

Gran Gusto!

Well, this weekend was a total bust. I had a migraine off and on the entire time (again). While we did have time to talk to the kitchen reno people, by the middle of Saturday afternoon I was downing the migraine meds, lying with the eye cover over me! But prior to that catastrophe of small proportions, G and I had some amazing Italian food in Woodbridge at Gran Gusto!

We felt like it was going to be okay when we walked in and realized that we were the only non-Italian speaking people in the restaurant. And okay we were! We ordered bruschetta right away because neither of us had eaten all day and we were starved!

It was so fresh and lovely tasting, and this beautiful plate with lemons was such a nice touch!

For our main meals (and they were HUGE) G ordered the gnocchi with meat sauce, and I had the penne ala vodka. Wow oh wow. Mine was an amazingly perfect pasta mixed with a bacony tomato cream sauce that had such a nice depth of flavour. It was an absolutely perfect pasta dish, and really hit the spot!

G's gnocchi was really nice, but man, a plate that size is toooo much gnocchi! It's so heavy. The meat sauce was really flavourful with some extra something that we couldn't quite identify. G added extra crushed red peppers (something we have become addicted to at our house) and declared it magnifico!

More red food. I think I like testing the bounds of my photographic abilities!

G had a delicious bubbly water and I had a diet coke. Good times. The bill was reasonable, low $30's I think, and the meal was memorable. The place isn't anything fancy, though I bet it's packed in the evenings, but if you are up in Woodbridge, it's definitely worth a stop. It reminded me of restaurants we went to in France. The atmosphere was festive, the people were local, and the food was out of sight!!!

12 April 2007

Biryani Indian House.

G and I have been talking about trying the Biryani Indian House, an Indian restaurant in our neighborhood that frequently gets really good reviews. On Tuesday night, I made up with a friend for coffee, then G and I gave the House a go.

It was really good... A bit expensive and smallish portions, but that was actually the good part. The food was really spicy. I ordered the Chicken Chilli Street Style with rice. MAN IT WAS SPICY!!!

It was really good. But man it was spicy, did I mention that?

G ordered some lamb something, but got butter chicken instead. It was unusual, but really tasty, though we only got to try it before it was time to ship it back to the kitchen for lamb.

I find Indian food to be very difficult to photograph. It is so red! The lamb looks really similar...

It was really tasty, but the cost was a bit dear. I can't say we'd go there again unless we were taking company or something. It was nice to try something new.

Day One Post Migraine -- My friend Wendy and Soup!

Yesterday was a day filled with a very massive migraine, so food consisted of mac-n-cheese at night with a can of ginger ale. Not good food blogging.

But today, I felt like a new me!!! So for breakfast, I had the lovely ladies in the cafe downstairs make me a piece of toast with butter, which I washed down with half a gatorade, which really does help with headache hangover.

From there, I decided that I was going to have Wendy's for lunch. I had a spicy chicken sandwich with a small fries.

This piece of chicken was so big. It was delicious. I did take a picture of the innards of that sandwich. It was delish. My one day of fast food a week is so good. Just like the chicken sandwich.

Anyway, so back to work I went, work work work, with thoughts of Giada de Laurentis's lovely easy soup on my mind. I went to the store after work and got a container of fresh cheese tortellini and raced home to make the soup.

It's so easy. You take ready made chicken broth (or your own, whatever) and bring it to the boil. You drop in some cheese tortellini, and cook it through, then you have soup! A little parm and pepper on top, and the option of parsley, which I didn't exercise. It was so tasty.

At the store, I also decided to make cheese things. What on earth are cheese things? Well, they have a long history with my family. When I was a kid, my step-mother used to make these things we called cheese things. I think she got the recipe from a pizza place or something. I have to confess, I have bettered the recipe... here's how I make it... WAIT... first, here's how it looked today...

You buy french bread sandwich rolls, then cut them in half. Put a little butter. I then rub some fresh garlic, then sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes, dried parsley and dried basil. You put on a piece of mozzarella cheese, wrap it in foil and then stick it in the over for 25 minutes or so at 400degrees. YUM! While it did make this a cheese heavy meal, it was still crazy good.

All in all, a bit of a heavy bread day, but I really needed that heavy comfort-y food after feeling totally beaten down yesterday.

08 April 2007

Boxing Counsel.

Yesterday was an odd day. I had a total allergy meltdown and felt really out of it. I missed my running class because I laid in bed blowing my nose like an insane person, and I really wanted to go buy a new black suit. Well, off to the shops and nothing even remotely like the black suit I want, complete depression sits in, so off to the food shops to relieve my misery. (Easter dinner post is below this one...keep scrolling for my Easter triumph!)

After getting my hair cut, it was off to the land of naps, as G and I had plans to go to Boxing Counsel last night, since G was doing a story on it for her paper. It started at 7ish, so we made plans to eat an easy dinner early. G made fricadelles (which are basically like hamburger patties with lots of parsley) and peas.

She also sauteed some mushrooms and shallots to have on the side. It was fantastic. I had had a 'breakfast on a bun' from the Cosmo Bakery at the St. Lawrence Market, and it was a good bread free dinner.

We get around and go to Boxing Counsel. Basically, this was a fundraiser which featured lawyers boxing one another. The "main event" was Crown Prosecutor vs. a Defense Attorney. That fight was something else, yikes. The Defense Attorney was all over him, but it has to be because his theme song was "the wheels on the bus go round and round".

Anyway, we get to the location and it's jammed pack full of lawyers. Mostly of the criminal law variety. We get a drink, talk to the organizer, and basically soak in the atmosphere. I said to G, "Do you think dinner is served here, it doesn't make sense that we aren't being let in to the main room?" No, no dinner, she assures me, nothing anywhere says anything about dinner.

Okay fine.

We go into the main ball room, find our table and see how it's set up...

Oh yeah, there's food being served. And not just any food, but a full on steak dinner. Dinner #2 awaits!

So two dinners with Fred Flinstone sized portions of meat were a little much for this delicate flower. Thank heavens it was followed by boxing, so we could cheer away all those calories.

Easter (and Passover) -- A Culianry Triumph

We are a multi-faith household in that, G is Jewish and my family is not. I really was in the mood to make Easter dinner this year, and since ham is out, it was a no-brainer to go for turkey. But for the two of us, a turkey is too much food, and I only like white meat and G only likes dark, so we end up with lots of meat that doesn't get eaten. Plus, it's right in the tail end of Passover, so we couldn't have any bread or flour with the meal, so everything had to be planned out fresh and new.

During a quick trip to the St. Lawrence Market yesterday morning, we stumbled across a most delightful looking boneless turkey breast, all tied together like a roast. After a chat with the butcher, we gave the man our money and walked away with one good looking part of a bird.

From there, we went to the grain market on the 1st level and purchased a bag of wild rice. We rounded out the 'dressing' with some very clovey beef sausage. At home, we had shiitakes from our CSA box, as well as an apple, as indicated in the recipe I found online. No flour in this dressing, and no stuffing the turkey breast, so it needed to be good on it's own. (Links for recipes below.)

In Waitrose Food Illustrated, a food mag from the UK I read, I found an excellent recipe for roasty potato and onions (March edition), and the CSA box provided the potatoes, as well.

This morning, I woke late and began the preparations. First was the stuffing. It took the shortest amount of time to bake, but the longest to prepare. Then I made a sage butter and slathered the turkey and put it in the oven, sliced the potatoes, and got everything ready for its oven escapades.

Look at this beautiful Easter dinner...

The spread on the table didn't look this plentiful!

And yes, that is the Kosher Coke making it's debut over there... delish! G says it tastes like the Coke in Africa. I say, it taste's like Coke but with a kick.

The side dishes were all beautiful... I couldn't believe that out of a meal of making three things I have never made before, everything turned out excellent!

Ahhhh, such beauty! The green beans were in the cooking stage. Still trying to get the light right in my kitchen.

Bello the beautiful ate some turkey and then went for a snooze. He likes to 'tunnel' in things and today's find was a pile of clean sheets.

Tee hee! He's too cute.

Anyway, the link for the dressing recipe can be found here. I highly recommend it. It's crazy easy to make and really a delight to eat. It added a really nice element to the dinner.

The potato receipe was found in Waitrose Food Illustrated, March edition. The link for the magazine is here. It's a magazine that I fluctuate quite heavily on, but this months had Gordon R. on the cover, and road trip diners, so it's all good.

And one last thing on this meal... Thanks to Jamie Oliver and his Christmas 2006 Podcast. I was listening to it last week and he stresses that your turkey should rest for a good long time when coming out of the oven. So today, when I took out the turkey, I let it set for 30 minutes. It made all the difference in the world. Thanks Jamie.

05 April 2007

Long Weekend Blues.

And why the blues on this the first night of a three day weekend? Because it's snowed all day and it's cold and it's grim. But whatever, while G is sorting out her paypal account, I thought I would update my blog with some of the pics of late.

First up... the aforementioned mac n' cheese. Man alive, it was really good. I used this really lovely stilton, cheddar, mozarella and parmesan made in a butterless bechamel sauce which is a great way to shave a few calories off the meal. How do you make it? Well let's see... you take 2 and 2/3 cup of 1% milk and in a large bowl whisk in 1/3 cup flour. You can do this directly in the pan, but sometimes I find the flour will cling to the side of the pot instead of mixing. Then you heat it slowly over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes until it thickens. Voila!

So the mac was good. It was really one of the best ones I've made in awhile, I love it so much that I honestly could just sit down with the pan in my lap, a smile on my face and fork in my hand, but I had a little restraint.


Last weekend I read this article in the Globe and Mail about Kosher Coke. The article said that Kosher Coke is the closest North American's can get to ye olde Coke. So of course, after falling in love with Coke all over again while in France, I had to find some. Fortunately, next to G's parents there was a great store with a huge sign that said "Your Passover Headquarters", so of course, in we went.

Kosher Coke was waiting. Kosher Coke was purchased. Kosher Coke is in fridge "chilling". What the heck.

Now once I try it, of course you will get to try it.

Passover was Monday night, and I took a few pics, which I will blog about over the weekend.


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