Tuesday, April 27, 2010

< Insert Bad Egg Pun Here >

Ok, so I'm not one for puns. Yet as of late I've taken to making my share of omelette's, or when im more company in the morning fritattas. With a range from the classic western, to a more creative breakfast sausage and caramelized apple fritatta; here's some of my ideas.
Western omelet, with mushroom, red and green pepper, onion, bacon, topped with cheddar

omelet with guacamole inside, topped with hot salsa
(inspiration for this was found at closetcooking.blogspot.com)
Broccoli, spinach, bacon, cheddar fritatta
Caramelized apple, breakfast sausage, cheddar cheese fritatta
Italian fritatta, hot Italian sausage, red pepper, red onion, mozzarella cheese
Hawaiian omelet, bacon, pineapple, and mozzarella


So I am quite a fan of Korean food, and as such, I for the first time attempted one of my favorite take out, and even eat in dished, Kamjatan (Pork bone and potato soup). I found the recipe at www.maangchi.com, I have looked up several of her recipes and they all seem interesting, however this was the first chance I have had to give them a shot.

Green onion and Asian chives

Pork neck bones (that have been soaked for 2 hours in cold water)

Napa Cabbage

Bean sprouts and perilla leaves (and potato's underneath)

The sauce, containing Korean chili pepper paste and crushed chili peppers, fish sauce, garlic, and cooking wine

The finished product served with rice.
Overall I liked this recipe. However next time I make it, I will be making it spicier as I found this one a little weak. So if you decide to give this a go, I personally find the recipe as is fine for those who have a medium-low spice tolerance, however for serious spice junkies (or even anyone used to a spicy kamjatan) such as myself I recommend beefing the chili paste/powder portions.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Markaz Cafe & Natural Sushi

Firstly, I apologize for the first few photo's, they came out rather blurry due to the low lighting of the restaurant.

However more importantly, on to the food. So this past weekend the opportunity had arisen to visit a few restaurants. First on the list was Markaz Cafe (www.markazcafe.com), located in Toronto's entertainment district. This seeming fusion of Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine / shisha house whilst not my typical haunt (boasts a 100% alcohol free environment) does happen to offer some very tasty cuisine. Me and Christina split and appetizer and had ourselves a couple of mains.

First up was the Moroccan Comfort, according to the website its slices of pumpkin, but I could swear I remember the menu saying it was butternut squash. So it was slices of some yellowish vegetable sauteed in lemon, ginger and coriander, served with some coriander mint chutney. Whilst not being a usual fan of squash (or pumpkin for that matter) this was quite tasty, ever so slightly crunchy, tender flesh, and a delicate balance of flavours. It's no surprise its the chefs specialty.

Secondly was a complimentary salad, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers, served in what I can only assume is a house vinaigrette, served in a edible flat bread bowl. Another tasty dish, the subtly flavoured vinaigrette went nicely with the very fresh vegetables. The tasty spiced flat bread bowl was a nice touch too.

For my main I had the Sheekh Kebab (foolishly mispronounced shish kebab), which consisted of 2 pieces of beef kebab, covered in more mint coriander chutney, served on top a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, and pickled banana peppers, which was yet served on top of naan bread. The kebab and chutney were very tasty. The salad of iceberg lettuce was nothing to marvel at, and the naan bread was all too plain. However when eaten all together it was quite nice.

Christina had the chicken shawarma. She praised it was one of, if not the best shes ever had.

The following day we ended up in the Yonge and Bloor area and went for sushi. We decided just to stop into the first random place we hadn't previously been too. It happened to be Natural Sushi on Yonge st, in between Bloor and Wellesley. It was a nice quaint and unassuming environment, with classical music on the air to boot.

My stomach wasn't in the best condition, so I decided to keep it light and just get an order of spicy tuna rolls. I was impressed, they were very large rolls with thin layer of rice and lots of filling. It was hard to eat it all in one bite. They were very tasty.

Christina had a Sashimi platter of red snapper, tuna, salmon, and squid. Whilst skeptical at first glance, she conceded that it was quite good, remarking 'its better then it looks'. I thought it looked just fine however, although admittedly, the cuts of fish didn't look like most places (not always a bad thing however).

Pizza's and Calzones

So I felt like doing some custom pizzas the other night after having whipped up a batch of pizza dough. I used a simple pizza dough recipe which can be found here; pizzaware.com/pizzadoughrecipe.htm. I found the dough was best left with a night in the fridge to reduce yeast flavour.

First up was a mainly veggie pizza with a pesto base (I used store bought for convenience). I pan roasted the zucchini, and sauteed the broccoli with garlic before adding to the pizza. This pizza also contained mushrooms, pepperoni, and spinach.

Second up was a simple pizza of olives, bacon, and mushrooms.

Thirdly was a works pizza, with mushrooms, hot italian sausage, pepperoni, bacon, anchovies, green and red peppers, pineapple, and red onions.

And finally, my pizza, another works model, but with olives instead of anchovies.

The pizza's all turned out very tasty.
I had about half the pizza dough I had made left over, so over the next couple of days I made some calzones with them.
Here's the building method I used;
Started by rolling the dough very thin

First base of crushed red chili peppers (mentioned in my italian stir fry post)

Followed by tomato sauce

Provolone cheese

The ingredients, pepperoni, red onion, green and red peppers, mushrooms, and pineapple

I then added a layer of mozzarella cheese and folded it over

Baked at 375 for about 20-25 minutes.

and then devoured the plate of messy, molten hot, tasty pastry.

The next batch I made oozing out glowing red hot chili sauce. Another works model on the right, 1 without pineapple on the left, and the other with just bacon and pineapple.

The Trick to Giving Up Smokes...

Is more smokes! That's right, as of late I decided to give up smoking. And one thing that's been consistent with me and quitting smoking, is a rise in appetite. To help fill this appetite, one thing hits the spot best - poutine! And for this I decided to slate the craving by finally giving Smokes Poutinerie a go (various Toronto locales, I ate at the Adelaide location).

So for my first visit I ordered up a regular sized, plain poutine (gravy and cheese curds). I must admit the portion was more massive then I was expecting (although about right for 7+ dollars). One of the biggest shames of the poutine world are the places using either grated cheese instead of curds, or the places that skimp on the curds. This is no fear at smokes, as your poutine arrives to you with a plentiful helping of curds. The gravy (tasted like chicken gravy) was tasty as well, although I admit to being a sucker for the classic beef gravy.

All in all a tasty poutine, full of cheesy goodness. Whilst not good enough to end my search for the best poutine, it certainly filled the craving... for now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Italian Stir Fry

I recently purchased a bottle of crushed Italian hot peppers. In light of this I've been coming up with things to use it with. Yesterday I decided to use it with pasta, and having my wok sitting by I decided to do an Italian stir-fry.

The ingredients;






Crushed Hot Peppers


Chicken Breasts

Roasted Garlic, Red and Green Peppers
Additional ingredients, mushrooms, zucchini, Parmesan cheese.

I did it in a simple stir-fry fashion. I added a dash of olive oil to the wok, added the onions and garlic, followed by the zucchini and mushrooms, then the broccoli, then the spinach and tomatoes, and finally the roasted peppers and garlic, crushed hot peppers, and pasta. Finished it by grating some fresh Parmesan and layering on the cooked chicken breast.

Spicy Vegetarian

Mild w/ Chicken

Spicy w/ Chicken

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Japanese Tapas

One thing I love about Japanese food is the seemingly tapas approach to eating it. Delicate tasty concoctions, and a wide variety. Even in sushi, there is diversity. I never fully appreciated sushi until realizing the wonderful creative culinary aspects - now I can't keep my hands off the stuff.

So for Christina's return to Toronto I decided to cook up a storm of Japanese food. I prepped more then my kitchen could handle however so not everything was cooked that night.

So first up, I made some Gyoza. Japanese dumplings filled with pork and napa. I did them 2 ways, the traditional fried on the bottom, and then I deep fried some for quick convenience.

The prepared, uncooked Gyoza.

Deep Fried

Fried on the bottom
Second up was chicken Karaage. Japanese fried chicken, marinated in ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sake, then dredged in corn starch and fried. Served with lemon and Japanese mayonnaise.

Chicken Karaage

Thirdly I did sushi. This was my first time doing sushi. It all turned out well except the rice could have been spread a bit thinner on the horizontal rolls as I ad trouble closing them.

Salmon Nigiri

Dragon Roll (Crab inside, eel and avocado outside)

Spicy Salmon Roll

Dynamite Roll
Next up I did tempura. Now out of all time I've done tempura prior (maybe 2-3 times) this definatly turned out the best. I found the batter was a good medium-thin consistency, and when putting in the oil a waved the pieces back and forth to spread the batter a bit.

Finally I did some Tonkatsu. Japanese fried pork cutlets, breaded in panko bread crumbs. With Bull Dog brand Tonkatsu sauce on top.

breading station


Cooked, sauced, and delicious!