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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