Sunday, November 3, 2013

kale salad with zucchini ribbons

Amidst turkeys and burgers and pie and overloads of Halloween candy, I think a little greenery should sneak back into my life. Cue kale! This salad is really easy and PACKED with vitamins and cancer-fighitng nutrients. All you need is a couple cups of kale, 1 zucchini, crumbled fetta, black olives, and pretty much whatever else you like in your salad/have in your fridge. 
I find kale sometimes has an overly earthy taste - to loosen it up a bit, I cooked it in a heated skillet with about 1 tbsp of olive oil for just a minute or two, to let it wilt and ease up on that really raw flavour. Set it aside and let it cool.
Shave the zucchini using a vegetable peeler, or a mandolin if you have one accessible. I had to play around with it for a while, but don't be afraid to be forceful (it's just a zucchini...).
Heat up a grill and give it a spritz of oil so the ribbons don't stick. Arrange them across the grill horizontally, season with salt and pepper. You'll know they're just about done when they start turning yellow and getting those dark grill marks across them. No need to flip them over, these ribbons are so thin they will cook RIGHT through.
I added pitted black olives, crumbled feta, and slivered almonds. Toss with a vinaigrette made of 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Voila, the freshest, healthiest salad your heart ever did see. Feel free to add grilled chicken or shrimp if you want to pack in some protein. 

Everyone needs a little green to combat the sugar overload from Halloween. Or at least I do, as empty wrappers are currently littering my room....

Happy Sunday!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

rose and sons

taken from

I consider brunch a religious festivity. It is a sacred meal, that glorious time between breakfast and lunch where all things egg, meat, and carbohydrate come together to form a delicious concoction of benedicts, waffles, and the homiest of fries.  While I usually practice brunch on Sundays following a rough night out, I decided to switch things up this week in honour of my dear old ma's birthday. Brunch on a Thursday? I'll allow it.  Off we headed to the north Annex diner, Rose and Sons, owned and operated by two gentlemen (Anthony Rose and Chris Sanderson) both formerly employed by the Drake Hotel. Don't bother looking for a Rose and Sons sign; instead, keep your eyes out for simply the word "FOOD" on the storefront. The space, with about 8-10 booths, holds a max of 25-30 guests at a time...and that would be prettttty cozy.  Lucky for us, it seems thursday brunches aren't overly popular so we snagged a whole booth to ourselves. I had heard great things about the food and I was happily surprised to see that the reputation was very much warranted. It felt like every dish was cooked with a little bit of love, you know? Like we were eating at someone's grandma's house where you get that real homey taste, but without the unnecessary overload of grease you pick up from most diners. The fried chicken was moist and delectable and the apple/beet hushpuppies gave our meat-heavy dishes some much needed freshness.  The smoked salmon wasn't exactly what I expected - instead of the raw, lox-style salmon it was more of a piece of salmon smoked on the grill.  It was still very tasty, especially on a bed of Schmaltz hash browns. The real winner was the patty melt burger - it literally melted in your mouth. Welcome to salivation city! We ended with a birthday cake a la blueberry bread pudding; the perfect match of sweet and savoury. 

coffees, cappuccinos, and warm apple cider
patty melt burger - grilled cheese, fried onions, chill mayo
wild rice and old cheddar hushpuppies - apples, brussels, beetroots, honey
fried chicken club - bacon, ezell's slaw, sour pickle
big crow hot smoked salmon - schmaltz hash, egg, dill pickle sauce
bread pudding w/ wild blueberries . . .  .and an old fashioned

We added an aperitif (or two) with dessert. They make a mean Old Fashioned.  My brunches aren't usually paired with booze (Caesars don't count) but quoting the birthday girl, "It's 12 o-clock somewhere!"..

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, October 14, 2013

giving thanks

If I eat any more turkey or pie, I'm going to turn into a turkey or a pie. Maybe a turkey pie. Regardless of the pain my body may be in today, the culinary feast I experienced yesterday was worth every bite. This post will be a shameless depiction of a delicious thanksgiving that no, I did not cook myself. I'm not going to sugar coat it - besides a bit of assembly work, my only real contribution to the meal was the dessert (and I may or may not have eaten some if the night before...oopsie). My Mom took the reigns on this feast, loosely following the recipes from the Williams Sonoma Blackberry Farms Thanksgiving catalogue while throwing in a lot of her own brilliant ideas and admirable cooking talents. For her, I am thankful.
the bird - dad's own recipe

collard greens with lardons and caramelized shallots
brussels sprouts with radicchio and pancetta
wild mushroom and root vegetable gratin
focaccia stuffing with roasted chestnuts, bacon, and apples
apple cherry cobbler - my contribution, recipe coming soon!
I hope everyone had a fun/family/food/friend filled weekend!

Happy Monday!


Monday, October 7, 2013

hopgood's foodliner

image taken from

It was a dark and stormy night, the roads were closed, and I was reallllllly lost. Isn't that how most dinner rendezvous begin? Perhaps not. Luckily, my spirits were saved once I (finally) made it to meet a dear friend at Hopgood's foodliner, an east coast inspired eatery located in the heart of Roncesvalles. For anyone that enjoys fresh, sustainable seafood prepared in creative new dishes, this place is for you. We ended up splitting a few plates, tapas style - my favourite way to dine. The food was delectable, without being pretentious.  I'm pretty sure the crab cakes came with boxed Triscuits (they were baked, but still the household cracker staple at heart), but it couldn't have been a more apt pairing. No need to mask the flavourful crab dip with some fancy schmancy bread. Also, be sure to check the chalkboard for daily specials, and arrive early enough to actually consume them. They were sold out of the mini lamb burgers so we opted for the roasted peppers, which our waiter explained that each pepper had a one in fifty odds of being incredibly spicy. As someone with a very delicate palate for the picante, each bite was somewhat nerve-racking (or thrilling, I'm undecided). 

trying to sneak a peak at the back room oyster bar
beausoleil oysters (mp)
smoked mackerel on oatcakes ($15)
russian roulette roasted peppers ($13)
hot crab dip and triscuits ($15)

If the food isn't enough to sell you, come for a pre-Prohibition style cocktail, such as the Seville Sour (gin, aperol, lemon, maramalde, egg whites, and choco-mole bitters, $14).  The ambiance ranges from high-spirited liveliness in the front, to cozy intimacy in the back. Or if you just want to pop in for a drink, hop on a stool at their ten seat bar.  Hopgood's has found a way to fit the quaint/indie Roncesvalles vibe, but without the dreaded long waits and overwhelming hipster crowd of the Ossington/Queen scene.  Give it a go.

Happy Monday!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Roasted eggplant and artichoke salad

Someone once told me "No one makes friends with salads". Well, summer is the time for salads and last night I made the friendliest salad in existence. I dare you to find any qualms with this guy! Just look at him (^^). Roasted eggplant, toasted slivered almonds, crumbled goat cheese, and fresh artichokes, how can you possibly exclude him from your friend circle?? Impossible.

What you need:
  • 2 cups lettuce, spinach, or other favourite leafy green
  • 1 eggplant (or 2, depending on how big they are)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • goat cheese (as much as you'd like...I'm usually generous)
  • 2 tbsp toasted slivered almonds
  • 4 artichoke hearts
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 squirt of honey (or agave)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

What to do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400C. Slice the eggplant into dice-sized pieces, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and set aside in a large serving bowl.
  2. Mix together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, agave, garlic, cumin, and paprika in a bowl. Coat the eggplant with the mixture, and then place in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake for about 40 minutes, mixing every 15 minutes, until the eggplant is a nice golden brown. Let cool.
  4. While baking, mix the juice from one fresh lemon with the of soy sauce.
  5. Mix the roasted eggplant with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and sliced artichokes. Add the lemon juice mixture and top with slivered almonds and crumbled goat cheese. Add fresh parsley to make this salad look extra pretty.

More friends for this little salad coming your way soon. 

Happy Friday!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Tilapia with mustard chive sauce

Tilapia is probably my favourite of the white fishes but a lot of (crazy) people find it bland once it's cooked. SO, on a quest to appease these strangely-pallated folk, I looked into sprucing up the ol' tilapia recipe. Giada came to the rescue with this light and fresh mustard chive sauce. The sharp mustard, sour yogurt, and sweet agave, all blend together perfectly in an obscenely simple topping. 

What  you need:
  • 4 (5 to 6 oz) tilapia fillets
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup plain, Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp honey (I used agave)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
  1. Preheat a broiler. Spray a small baking sheet with vegetable oil and set aside.
  2. Drizzle the tilapia fillets on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the fillets in a single layer on the baking sheet and broil until cooked through and the flesh flakes easily, about 5-7 minutes. Don't overcook! Dry tilapia tastes somewhat like chalk dust.
  3. For the sauce: mix yogurt, agave, and mustard together in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice and chives, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle tilapia with sauce.  

I'm keeping this sauce in my back pocket as a secret weapon for other white fish.

On an unrelated note, it's Summerlicious in T.O - anyone check out some sweet eats?

Happy Monday!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Greek marlin

Marlin! Not just a professional baseball team it seems. We had some marlin steaks the other night and before I could figure out how to cook it, I had to figure out what "it" was. This saltwater white fish is similar to swordfish, just sliiightly tougher. It's best served grilled or fried but in an attempt to keep things a tad healthier, I found a recipe that involved baking. As a general rule of thumb, baking time is 10 minutes per inch thickness (so 5 minutes/side for a 1 inch thick piece). Don't overcook or you'll end up with a dry, tasteless, sad little fishy! I tweaked this Greek marlin recipe (found here) to make my own delicious concoction.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tomatoes, cubed
  • 4 oz chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese
  • 2 (6 oz) Marlin steaks

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 tbsp garlic in a medium pot, over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted, stir in the tomatoes, basil, and lime juice. Just before the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Toss in feta cheese about a minute before serving.
  3. In a small pot, melt the remaining butter, and mix in remaining garlic.
  4. Arrange the marlin steaks in a baking pan, and drizzle with the butter and garlic mixture from the small pot.
  5. Bake the fish for 7 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn fish, and continue baking 7 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork. Spoon the tomato mixture over the fish to serve. 
fresh veggies 
stewing sauce
buttery garlicky tomatoey goodness
marlin steaks
serve with your favourite veggies

This fish was so flaky and tender, and the greek topping was perfect - light and flavourful, with a hint of saltiness from the feta. Next time I'd add black olives to the mix and make it a full-on greek style...Opa!

Happy Monday!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Indian-spiced potato salad

A quick post about an easy, tasty, spicy little salad I found in the Fresh Juice magazine. I'm always looking for new non-lettuce based salads to make in bulk so I don't have to worry about lunch in the morning. I often find potato salad recipes use cream and mayo (read: fat) as a taste enhancer, but the mix of spices in this one gives off bold flavours while still remaining super healthy. 

What you need: 
  • 2 lb small red potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can (540 mL) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro/parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
For the vinaigrette:
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt, ground coriander, curry powder, and pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
What to do:
  1. Toss together potatoes, oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in single layer on foil-rimmed baking sheet. Roast in centre of 425F/220C oven, stirring once, for about 30 minutes or until tender and golden, then transfer to a bowl to cool. 
  2. For the Vinaigrette, whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic, ginger, cumin, salt, coriander, curry powder and pepper. In a thin stream, gradually whisk in oil. 
  3. Toss half of the vinaigrette with the now-cooled potatoes. Stir in chickpeas, green onions and cilantro. Toss in remaining vinaigrette just before serving, or to taste.

lil tators
green onions (bad breath city)
curry, coriander, cumin, ginger powder
mix it up
I added a can of peas because why not?
Hint: Pair it along side a spice-rubbed pork or chicken dish to really impress at a backyard summer BBQ.

Happy Friday!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Gusto 101

Holy macaroni you need to get over to Gusto 101 asap if you haven't already had that pleasure. A few gals and I went for brunch yesterday pre-matinee musical. It usually takes a lot for an italian restaurant to truly impress me (blame my nonna's incredible cooking), but I can honestly say that Gusto 101 blew me away. Don't come here looking for the grand slam breaky - this isn't your mom and pop shop, nor is it a greasy spoon. Chef Daniel Mezzolo has carefully crafted a menu to epitomize an italian brunch, if brunch were in fact, a thing that italians did. Be ready for cornetto (italian croissants), fine cheeses (Taleggio!), and lots of uovo's (eggs). And obviously there's an entire pizza and pasta section if you so desire.
image via toronto life
I really loved how the bold italian flavours were seamlessly incorporated into traditional western breakfast menu items. Adding ricotta and blueberries created a sweet and savoury pancake dish that left us casually grappling for the last bite. At first glance the Eggs in Purgatorino (mine) seemed like an overly-saucey egg dish, but the smoky provolone and salty olives balanced the tomato fresca perfectly - pair that mixture between two pieces of artisan bread and I'm really not sure it can get much better. Aside from superb food, the venue itself is pretty cool - restored from an old auto garage, Gusto has a whopping 90-seater indoor rooftop patio AS WELL as one streetside. yay!
Ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote ($13.95)
Eggs in Camicia - poached eggs on brioche, with spinach, crispy prosciutto, and sliced fontina cheese  ( $12.50)
Eggs in Purgatorino - spicy tomatoes, gaeta olives, smoked provolone, basil, and tuscan bread ($12.95)
Omelette - with prosciutto, prosciutto cotto and smoked mozzarella ($12.50)
Not pictured above - the most delicious Mojito's I have tasted in a very long while. Kudos to the bartender for knowing how to effectively muddle mint. While the menu itself was nowhere near overpriced for the quality and quantity of food (absurdly rare for a king street hot spot), the speciality cocktails were the same price as my meal. I was feeling pretty happy afterwards though, so perhaps they were doubles? Unsure. You tell me.

Happy Monday!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

saving grace cafe

Nestled in the heart of Little Portugal you will find the cutest, quaintest, and tastiest brunch spot you ever did see. Saving Grace cafe is easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled for the faded sign on the window. Important note: if you're thinking of dragging yourself, and all the friends you went out with last night to SG on a Sunday between the hours of, oh, 12-2pm....just don't. Because you literally won't fit and probably won't be in the mood to wait, and thus your whole Saving Grace experience will be ruined. And no one wants that!

INSTEAD, I recommend coming here during the week (maybe you have the day off?!) or on a weekend where you can eat breakfast at a breakfast-y time (9-10 is fairly reasonable). Start off with a  very generously portioned $4 smoothie. Also, check out the 'Specials' listed clearly on the chalkboard. Even though the french toast with caramelized bananas is ranted and raved about on every blog/website I've seen, we all opted for a more egg- oriented dishes. 

there's something oddly comforting about mismatched coffee cups
Chorizo frittata with mushrooms and peas
Spinach and goat cheese omelette
Corn cakes, poached eggs, tomato chutney, side greens (Special!)
Brunch at Saving Grace is like going to visit your cool, hipster friend's apartment that's had all its furniture replaced with tables and chairs.  Absolutely no more than 25 people fit in here at one time, making the whole experience comforting, cozy, and casual. The food is delicious, the people are happy, and the times are good. 

Come soon. (but not too late in the day).

Happy Wednesday!

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