Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gingerbread Macarons

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French macarons, the very popular and trendy Parisian cookie, often confused with coconut macaroons, are seen all over the big cities. Les macarons were first popularized in the 1930's by the famous pastry shop Ladurée, in France, where the invention of the double-decker macaron came to be. This light and sweet cookie contains a center filling of butter cream or jam filling which is sandwiched between two dome shape meringues that come in many different flavours. Raspberry and pistachio seemed to be the most popular, but I thought gingerbread macarons would be very appropriate for the holiday season.

When properly made, the dome of the cookie should be a smooth and glossy top with a moist interior that melts in your mouth. There should also be a ruffled ridge around the cookie, the foot of the cookie or le pied in French. Don't worry about mastering these cookies the first time you make them. Not until recently has the recipes been written for chefs at home, it has mainly been for professional chefs where recipes measurements are in weights as oppose to volumes.

But if you intend on becoming a master pastry chef, make sure you follow these tips, they will prevent kitchen break downs and wasted batter.
  • Use pasteurized liquid egg whites as oppose to separating egg whites and make sure it is at room temperature.
  • When whipping the egg whites, add the sugar in once foam has formed and beat at medium high speed until the egg whites are firm and glossy. Try not to stop and start to mixer and don't worry about over whisking the eggs. It is better to get stiff peaks then no peaks at all. I like to mix in a glass bowl.
  • Make sure you sift each dry ingredient at least twice (or "shift" as my mom says). Once before you mix the dry ingredient together and then once again when you add it to the egg whites.
  • When folding in the almond mixture with the egg whites, fold one way to keep as much air in the batter as possible.
  • Do not use wax paper, the cookies will stick to it, use parchment paper.
  • Once you've piped the raw cookies on a baking sheet, dip the back of a spoon in warm water and smooth out any peaks left by the piping bag.
  • Let the piped, raw cookies stand for 30 minutes at room temperature before baking to promote a glossy top crust.
  • Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from the paper with a thin spatula. You can add drops of water under the parchment paper to help remove the cookies as the macarons will release more easily with steam.
Gingerbread Macarons
Makes 24 Macarons

Macarons
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/4 cups finely ground almonds
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1 ginger snap cookie
  • 3/4 cup egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Filling
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  1. For macarons, preheat the oven to 300°F
  2. Line 2 large baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 24 circles, 2 inch in size on each sheet; flip the parchment over. Place each prepared tray on top of another baking tray.
  3. Combine the icing sugar, almonds, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a medal blade. Blend for about 30 - 60 seconds or until the mixture is fine powder; transfer to another bowl.
  4. Place gingersnap cookie in the food processor and blend until finely crushed. Sift through a medium sieve. Discard larger crumbs trapped in sieve. Reserve the fine crumbs.
  5. Place the egg whites and vanilla in a large bowl. Use an electric mixture on medium-high to beat until white are foamy. Add the granulated sugar by the spoonful, beating until firm and glossy. In 2 additions, gently fold the reserved almond mixture into the egg white until the mixture is streak free. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip that is about 1 cm wide.
  6. Pipe the batter onto the prepared baking sheets by placing the tip into the center of each circle, squeezing just until the batter reaches the outer edge. Use the back of a spoon dipped in warm water to smooth out any peaks. Sprinkle each cookie with a little of the finely ground gingerbread cookie crumbs. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes but no more than 60 minutes.
  7. Bake, on the center rack, 1 sheet at at time for 15-16 minutes or until the surface is set and bottoms are light golden. Cool completely on pan. Gently transfer to cooling rack until ready to fill. The cookies can be stored in an air tight container for up to 3 days.
  8. For the filling, combine the sugar and egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer or another large heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl and the water do not touch. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture feels warm to the touch and is light, fluffy and white, about 3 minutes.
  9. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer; fit with the whisk attachment. add the spices and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed, or until mixure cools and forms a thick shiny meringue. Beat in the butter, adding 1 tbsp at a time until very smooth. Beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until very thick and light, about 6 minutes. spread an equal amount of filling on the bottoms of 24 cookies; sandwich with an additional cookie.
Recipe from Food and Drink Magazine

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

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It has been way too long since my last post. The month of November was filled with projects due every week, leaving me no time to write about the things that I ate. But now that the holidays have arrived, I finally have time, to once again, fill my blog up with cooking, baking and eating.

This post is featuring a soup that may seem like it should have been featured during the fall but the aroma and flavour that arise from this soup remind me of the scents of the holidays. This may be because my family likes to accompany our turkey dinners with sweet potatoes.

This colourful and bright soup is perfect for lunch or the start of a tasty dinner. Pair it with a piece of hearty bread as you will be using it to wipe up the bottom of your bowl. Also, the variety of nutrition that makes up this soup will not make you feel guilty for wanting seconds.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 cup of chopped carrot
  • 3 cups of peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 5 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream or 2% (whichever you prefer)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Garnish:
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sage leaves

1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 2 minutes or ntill they begin to soften. Add carrots and sweet potatoes and saute for 5 mintues.
2. Add ginger, chili flakes and cinnamon and saute for 1 mintues or until fragrant. Add lentils and stir to coat with oil.
3. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetable are very soft and lentils have exploded.
Puree soup in food processor or with hand blender. Returen to pot, stir in whipping cream and season with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice and maple syrup. Reheat when needed.
5. For garnish, heat oil in small skillet over medium-high heat and fry sage leaves for 30 seconds or until crisp. Drain on paper towel and place on soup.

Recipe from Food and Drink Magazine

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Buttery Cinnamon Cake with Apple Compote

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For those of you who were lucky enough to go apple picking this year, I have found a recipe that will put good use to your apples. It is an apple compote that is topped onto a soft and delicious cake, infused with cinnamon flavour. I used Empire apples for a chunky texture, but you can also add McIntosh if you like.

I found this recipe in one of my favourite magazines, the LCBO's Food & Drink. Do not underestimate this free magazine that the LCBO puts out seasonally. I would say that this one of Canada's most beautiful magazines, photographically and typographically. Even the layout of the magazine is well thought out, they incorporate the ads so well into the layout that it creates this cohesive look to the magazine without ruining the actual content.

I really just had to appreciate the magazine for a moment since in Canada, we really don't get many beautifully designed magazines and it is very refreshing to see one.

Art and design can make me so happy sometimes, but back to food, as this is a food blog.

Buttery Cinnamon Cake with Apple Compote
Serves 8

Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon or ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
Glaze
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp of water
Apple Compote
  • 4 large-red skinned apples (diced, peeled if desired)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cardamom or ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease the sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until blended. Stir in flour mixture alternately with sour cream, making 3 additions of flour and 2 of sour cream. Spread into prepared pan, smoothing top.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 3o minutes.
  4. For the glaze, combine sugar, cinnamon and water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove ring from cake. Brush top and sides with glaze and serve warm or slide the cake off the pan onto a rack and let cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the apple compote. Combine apples, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until apples are tender but still keep their shape. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve warm with slices of cake and dollop of whip cream.
Recipe from Food and Drink Magazine

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rice Krispie Jack-O-Lantern

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Halloween is a time for yummy treats and great fun. It's also a time to get creative with baking, so think of some of your favourite recipes and how you can add a Halloween twist to it. It's pretty easy to turn Rice Krispie Squares into any holiday treat simply by adding food colouring or sprinkles.

If you can find thicker pretzels, it'll probably look better for the stem of the pumpkin. Also, if you can find a tube of icing to decorate the face, you'll be able to make actual Jack-O-Lantern faces, as oppose to my toothpick drawn smiley faces.

Rice Krispie Jack-O-Lantern
  • 6 cups of Rice Krispie
  • 5 cups of mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup of butter, a little bit extra for your hands
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • Orange gel colouring or red and yellow food colouring
  • Pretzels
  • Chocolate Icing
  1. In a large pot melt the butter on low heat. Once it has melted add in the marshmallows.
  2. Continue to stir the marshmallow until melted and add in the vanilla and food colouring. If you use red and yellow, drop in the yellow first and then the red, as it is harder to make the marshmallow lighter than darker. Add in about 5 drops of yellow and 2 drops of red. Add in either more red or yellow to get your desired colour of orange.
  3. Once you have blended the colour into the marshmallow add the Rice Krispie and mix quickly.
  4. Butter your hands so you don't get the mixture stuck to your hands and roll the mixture into a ball. Take your index knuckle and make a dent on the top where you will stick the pretzel as the stem.
  5. Decorate the faces on the little pumpkins and enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nourish Bistro in Banff AB

Last weekend I went to Banff for the Thanksgiving long weekend. It's always such a nice break for me to head out west to the Rocky Mountains as Toronto can get very hectic sometimes.


Usually when you think of restaurants in Banff, you think of really great pubs where you can grab a beer with friends. However, tucked away in the Sundance Mall is this amazing vegetarian bistro called Nourish.


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You would be surprised by the food that comes out of the small little kitchen, the restaurant itself, can't really hold more than 30 people. I can assure you that you will experience many unique and sweet flavours at this restaurant. I didn't even notice that I was just eating vegetables, the absence of meat did not cross my mind once, that is how flavourful the food is here.


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The food is also meant to be shared, which is a wonderful idea considering you want to try everything on the menu. There was five of us so we ordered 4 dishes and 2 appetizers to start. It was the perfect amount, I was so content in the end, it even left enough room for their strawberry and apple pie.


The first thing that arrived on the table were our two appetizers. We ordered the Edamame Beans and Spanakopita. These appetizers instantly gave me an idea of what I was in for at this restaurant. New flavours added to old dishes. The Edamame beans were tossed in Hemp Seed Gomasio and drizzled with a creamy sweet sauce. The spanakopitas were filled with 4 spinach and feta, served on a bed of fresh greens with a balkan style yogurt and dill.


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We then had the Gourmet Falafel, which contained spiced oven baked chickpeas and fava bean falafael. It was wrapped in a garlic hummus tortilla shell with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, roasted red peppers, field greens and garlic dill. It even came with a edible flower, which kinda tasted a bit like lettuce.


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We then moved onto their delicous House Curry which contained lentils, spinach and chickpeas stewed in tomato masala with seasoned quinoa and veggies served on rice.


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The King Kong Noodle was probably the most flavourful dish of the night. The soup is made up of 6 nuts and veggies in a sweet coconut chili sauce that is topped with cucumbers, spinach, marinated mandarin oranges and pea shoots served with verm rice noodles. Seriously, flavour, flavour, flavour.


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Finally, we received our Spicy Salsa Verde Burrito filled with chinnamon chili spiced cauliflour, mushrooms, red pepper, jalapeno, refriend black beans, sticky rice and monterey jack, topped with their salsa verde.


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Even though I was completely full at the end I had to try their strawberry and apple pie which made the whole entire meal and night come together at the end.


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If you are ever in Banff, I highly recommend you come here with a few friends and enjoy a night of fresh, healthy and flavourful food.


Resrvations recommended 1-403-760-3933
Nourish Vegetarian Bistro
215 Banff Avenue

Upper level Sundance mall

Banff, AB


Le Petit Ogre Alberta restaurants

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cranberry Chicken

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If you're missing out on your mom's Thanksgiving dinner this weekend you should definitely make this dish. It's easy, tasty and it'll feel like a home cooked meal. This is also my friend Cari's favourite dish.

Cranberry Chicken
Serves 4
  • 4 chicken breast
  • 1 can of whole cranberry sauce
  • french salad dressing (approx half of the regular 473 ml bottle)
  • 1 package of onion soup mix
  • 1 cup of frozen whole cranberries
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut up the chicken breast into bite sized cubes and place them in a 9x1 3" oven dish.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the cranberry sauce, french dressing, onion soup mix and the frozen cranberries. Pour the mixture over the chicken in the oven dish.
  4. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes, uncovering for the last 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice and with a mixed green salad.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Delight in the Junction

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I know this fall weather probably isn't making you think about ice cream, but it should. It's never too cold to have Delight's handmade organic ice cream. Greg's Ice Cream at Bloor and Spadina, and White Squirrel in Trinity Bell Woods, serve really great ice cream. But I am seriously telling you, that you have never tried real ice cream, until you've tried it at Delight.

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There's something to be said about people who incorporate love and passion into their food, it taste different. Owner's Jennifer Rashleigh and Jeff Brown are a pair that truly care about how their chocolate and ice cream will taste.

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Delight uses only natural, organic ingredients, fair trade chocolate and sugar, as well as seasonal and local fruits. These people know how to make ice cream and chocolate, they've stripped it down to the bare essential ingredients.

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Two flavours that you must try: Mint Chocolate Chip and their Quebec Blue Cheese. Blue Cheese you say? Yes, Blue Cheese and ice cream, you would have never guessed that they would taste amazing together.

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Delight Chocolate
3040 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario
416-760-9995

Le Petit Ogre Toronto restaurants

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spicy Chicken and Veg Kebabs

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Summer is the ultimate time for barbecuing with friends. So before it gets too cold, try to use the barbecue as much as possible. Kebabs are of one of my favourite things to barbecue, they're easy to make and you can customize whatever meat or vegetables you want on it. Also, if you have a vegetarian over, you don't have to make a whole different meal for them, just make their kebab all veggie! Kebabs are great.

I do like things spicy, so if you don't, just don't add the chili flakes, or maybe just add a little. But I highly suggest you do, they will taste that much better.

Spicy Chicken and Veg Kebabs
Serves 4
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 80z of mushrooms (about 12 mushrooms)
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne flakes
Directions:
  1. Cut chicken, peppers and onions into bite size chucks and around the same size. Place them into a large bowl.
  2. Into the bowl add the rest of the ingredients and mix together well.
  3. Preheat the barbecue to medium high heat while you skew the chicken and vegetables.
  4. Grill the skewers for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Turn the skewers occasionally.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

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Giada De Laurentiis is one of my favourite chefs. Her dishes are simple, delicious and full of flavour. Her enthusiasm and love for food makes you believe that you can recreate any of her dishes that she features on her shows. To me, the food she cooks is very attainable, not complicated, with simple ingredients and cooking techniques that anybody can do.

This BBQ sauce was featured on her show Everyday Italian and is also found on the food network website. This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce which you can package up in glass jars and give to your friends and family as a gift. Homemade BBQ sauce is a great gift for anyone who wants change up the flavour of their regular chicken or steak meals.

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

For the Balsamic BBQ sauce:
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken or steak:
  • 4 pieces chicken (any combination of breast or leg-and-thigh pieces) or 4 pieces of New York strip or Club strip steak
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. For the chicken or steak: Place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with some of the BBQ sauce using a pastry brush. Place the meat on the grill. Place the remaining BBQ sauce, still in the small saucepan, over low heat or on the edge of a gas or charcoal grill and allow to gently simmer while the meat cooks.
  3. Cook the chicken about 8 minutes per side. Cook the steaks starting at about 4 minutes per side until a meat thermometer reads the desired temperature, 120 degrees F for medium rare, 135 degrees F for medium (about 6 minutes per side), 155 degrees F for well done (about 9 minutes per side). Continually brush the meat with BBQ sauce every few minutes. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve with the heated BBQ sauce alongside.
  4. Alternately, the chicken can be baked in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken skin side up in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and spoon the BBQ sauce all over the top of the chicken. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mitzi's on College

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After hearing and reading reviews of bad service at Mitzi's on College, I was reluctant to go. A few friends had said the food was great but the service was horrible. Blog TO had mentioned the same thing. I have been to this restaurant four times now, three times in one week, and I have yet to discover where people are getting this bad service.

The staff is lovely and they make you feel as if you are over at a friend's house for brunch. The patio's relaxed atmosphere is a great place to recharge from a late night out while people watching from your seat.

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Their menu will also aid in revitalizing your body with fresh fruit juices or homemade granola and yoghurt. But if you are like me, and need to fill your stomach with hearty food, you should try their famous sweet oatmeal pancakes, usually topped with seasonal fruit coulis or sauces. They also serve your regular bacon and egg breakfast and scrabbled egg specials that are fantastic.

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Another great reason to try Mitzi's is that it seems their menu changes almost weekly, so you know the food you are getting is fresh and in season.

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Mitzi's on College
890 College Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 533-7400

Le Petit Ogre Toronto restaurants

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Roasted Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

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This summer, I found I was not eating as much meat as I normally do. Don't get me wrong, I love meat. Growing up with parents from Taiwan and Malaysia, we include meat in all our dinners. I think eating less meat this summer has something to do with the fresh vegetables in my garden. I will have finished my dinner and think, whoa, I didn't have meat today. Also, I just realized that this whole paragraph is dedicated to me talking about meat. See, I do love meat.

Part of the reason why I feel I need to include meat in my dishes is because I don't feel full or satisfied if I just eat vegetables. I could never just have a salad and be satisfied, it would have to include at least chicken or shrimp.

However, this roasted bruschetta has definitely left me satisfied, and there was no meat involved. Hopefully it will satisfy you as well.

Roasted Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
Makes 10 pieces
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 10 basil leaves (or a hand full)
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (extra for brushing)
  • 1 small/medium baguette
  • Dash of oregano
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Dice the tomatoes, garlic and basil and mix into a bowl with 3 tbsp of olive oil.
  3. Spread the vegetables onto a sheet pan and sprinkle oregano on top. Roast for 15-20 minutes.
  4. While the tomato, basil and garlic roast, heat up a frying pan to medium heat.
  5. Slice the baguette at an angle, 1 inch for each slice.
  6. Brush the extra virgin olive oil on to each side of the baguette slices and toast in the pan until golden brown.
  7. Top the roasted vegetables onto the toasted baguette slices and sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano if desired.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lahore Tikka House and Athens Pastry Shop

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Lahore Tikka House reminded me of my Thailand dining experiences. Fabulous food, terrible service. However, this did make it feel more like an authentic dining experience in India, and if you're into authentic, then you should definitely come here for dinner. Also, the restaurant is right in Toronto's Little India.

The terrible service came from a few things. First of all, we did not know that we had to go up and order our food, we had to wait 15 minutes to figure it out after hailing down a server. Second, we did not get the extra nan bread we ordered, thankfully we were full with what we had. And thirdly, we had to wait forever for our bill, until we realized that we also had to go up and pay.

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Besides the bad service, the butter chicken was delicious. The great thing about it was that they made it spicy and too often restaurants don't make the butter chicken spicy enough. Along with the good food, the outdoor atmosphere, with Indian music in the background, also made up for the bad service.

After our trip to India, we headed to Greece for dessert.

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We went to Athens Pastry in Greektown, where I was craving the loukoumades I had from the Taste of the Danforth Festival. I was with one of my friends who is half Greek and half Australian and she knew to order Galaktoboureko. Galaktoboureko is a Greek custard pastry wrapped in phyllo with cinnamon sprinkled on top. A bite of this pastry will satisfy any sweet cravings you have as the custard is very rich and sweet.

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My loukoumades :)
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This is one of the great things about living in Toronto, a great food culture. I feel like I can go from Italy to India to Greece, then back to Italy (my area) all in one night.

Lahore Tikka House
1365 Gerrard St. East, Toronto ON.
Tel: 413-406-1668

Athens Pastries Pies
509 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON.
Tel: 416-463-5144


Le Petit Ogre Toronto restaurants

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cari's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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A good friend of mine, Cari, is one of the best bakers I know. I have tried to make these cookies taste exactly like hers, but it has never happened. Don't get me wrong, they still taste delicious, but they will never be Cari's cookies.

Which is why I don't understand why people will not share their "family secret" recipes, because you can never make it taste exactly like theirs. People have different ovens, measure differently, stir differently, really, people should just all share their recipes and it would solve world hunger.

I am not really sure of this theory, but if the day comes where everyone starts sharing their recipes, we'll see if world hunger has ended.

Enjoy :)

Cari's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups choc.chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and then add the sugars. when that is mixed add the eggs.
  3. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda and then add to the mixture.
  4. Add oatmeal and then chocolate chips (you may need to add a little at a bit so it can mix well).
  5. Bake for about 7-10 minutes. Every oven is different so you should watch it and take them out when they are still a little white (but not too white or they wont come off the pan nicely). Even if they don't seem cooked they will harden when cooled.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Spicy Lemon Roasted Shrimp Rotini

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Pasta is one of my favourite dishes to make. It's quick and easy and the variety of different pastas and sauces is endless.

Having a garden in the backyard allows me to create a variety of pasta dishes, fresh daily, without having to worry about the vegetables going bad. Because of this access to fresh and very local vegetables, it influences me to create dishes based around the garden.

I had shrimp in the freezer, half a lemon and the fresh vegetables in the back yard. I decided on making a shrimp pasta with tomatoes and basil. Lemon is so great with seafood, which is why I wanted to add it to the shrimp. Also, the lemon just turns it into a summer dish by making it taste so light and fresh. Apparently, hot tea in the summer helps you cool down, so maybe this spicy dish will help you cool down too.

So here is the recipe...I am kind of guessing on the measurements...but it's cooking, not baking. So really, you can add whatever amount of tomatoes or garlic, or chili flakes you want.

Spicy Lemon Roasted Shrimp Rotini
Serves 4
  • 1 lb of shrimp (about 32, 8 shrimps per person) peeled and deveined
  • 5 tomatoes, diced (mine are from the garden so they are not as big as grocery store ones)
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • Chili flakes
  • Good olive oil
  • 450 g of pasta
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, add the shrimp, half the lemon juice, half the garlic, a bit of salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, about 2.5 tbsp. Sprinkle on the desired amount of chili flakes, you don't need a lot to make it spicy.
  3. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl and place them on a sheet pan. Bake in the oven for about 7 minutes, or until it is pink with a bit of brown at the tips. Make sure you don't over cook the shrimp.
  4. While the shrimp is baking, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the rotini until al dente. Save some of the pasta water for the sauce.
  5. For the sauce, heat up a pot to medium heat with about 2 tbsp of olive oil. When the pot is hot enough (throw in a piece of garlic, if it sizzles, it is ready) throw in the tomatoes, basil and the other half of the garlic. Let it cook for about 2-3 minutes then add in the other half of the lemon juice and a pinch of chili flakes. Also add in 1/4 cup of the pasta water. If you want to add more you can continue to do so till you get the consistency you prefer.
  6. Cook the sauce for about 15 mintues and let it simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add in the pasta and shrimp to the sauce and toss together. Serve with Parmigiano- Reggiano freshly grated on top.
This photo shows one serving of shrimp.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Taste of the Danforth 2010, Aug 6-8

As my first post for this blog, I thought it would be very appropriate to begin with a food festival. The Taste of the Danforth Festival to be exact.

This festival is located right on the Danforth (Greektown) in Toronto and is the biggest street festival in Canada, bringing in over a million tasters to this event.

Out of the three food festivals I attended this summer, Little Italy, Little India and Greektown, the Taste of the Danforth is probably my favourite. It is filled with delicious food, music, entertainment and fun for all ages.

Finding authentic Greek food was not difficult, unlike the Taste of Italy, where all I wanted was a slice of pizza and not a single pizza booth could be found. Falafel, yes. Sushi, yes. Samosas, yes. Pizza, no.

I understand that Toronto has a great food culture, but if it is the Taste of Italy...they should have at least have ONE pizza booth.

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I don't normally start by eating dessert, but my friends and I passed by a Greek pastry shop that caught our eye. There was the option of spinach pie, loukoumades, cheese pie and cream pie, all at $2.

One of my friends decided on loukoumades and he was kind enough to share a few with me. If you've never had loukoumades I highly suggest you go to your nearest Greek Bakery and try them. When you bite into one of these "tim bit" looking pastry you feel a gush of sweet nothings burst into your mouth, almost as if they were deep fried in honey.

I also tried the spinach and cheese pie, which were also quite fantastic. If you love cheese, you will loove the cheese pie.

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Many of the booths featured meat dishes, such as chicken filled gyros, lamb souvlaki, and calamari. If you're a vegetarian, you may end up eating all pastries, which obviously, is not that bad an option.

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Messini is a restaurant where you can get one of the best authentic Greek gyros in Toronto. You can spend $5 for a gyro that is topped off with fries, or $10 for a whole sit down meal. The line up for this booth was long, but definitely worth the wait.

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Of course, before I left, I had to finish off with some tasty loukoumades. This time, I watched as they were being freshly made right in front of me. Yup, I was right, deep fried in honey :)

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