Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Unsuppressable Cornbread or Cornmeal Muffin Craving

Quick and Easy Awesome Cheesy Spicy Cornmeal Muffins (or Cornbread)
For over a month now, I've had a craving for Cornbread.  It didn't help that we were in Roncey and looking for brunch, we stopped to read the menu at Hey! and saw that they had Cornbread on the menu.  We ended  up eating at Barque which has a pretty good Brunch menu PLUS they have a kid brunch menu that isn't junkfood!!  Anyhoo, haven't been able to shake it and you can't easily find bakeries that sell it.  WTF?  And we don't live near a Mmmmuffins.  Have you ever tried to google that stupid bakery anyway?  You have to have the correct number of M's! 

So I decided to make some.  I played with the Cornmeal and Flour balance and the BP because of the acid from the Lemon Juice.  So After three batches, I think these are pretty Awesome.  It wasn't great I forgot the prepped Cheese in the fridge.  D laughs whenever I do that because I do it fairly often and it's often not an insignificant ingredient.  His mom used to do that too. HA!

Mixing to finishing baking these took me 30 minutes. But I had the routine down and my baking stuff is all to hand.

Quick and Awesome Cheesy Spicy Cornbread or Cornmeal Muffins

3 T or 15 g Unsalted Butter
3/4 c Cornmeal
1/2 c + 1/8 c Wholewheat Flour 
1 T Agave Syrup
1/2 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/4 t Salt (up to 1/2 t if you leave out the Cheese)
1/4 t Cayenne Pepper
1 large egg, room temperature or at least in the room for a few minutes
3/4 c Milk, room temperature
1/2 T Lemon Juice, fresh (or Vinegar)
1/2 Jalapeño, minced
1/2 c Shredded Cheddar (optional.... especially when you forget to put it in)
1/4 t ground Cumin (optional)

Preheat Toaster Oven or regular Oven to 400F

Melt the butter in a small oven proof dish with the spices and Jalapeno in the microwave for 30s. Fat carries aromatics better than anything else so I like to infuse the Butter with the spice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the Cornmeal, Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt.

In a large (2c measuring cup) or small mixing bowl, add the room temp Milk, Egg, and Lemon Juice... or you can replace the Milk and Lemon Juice with Buttermilk but who keeps Buttermilk in the fridge for such small quantities, right?

Mix the Dries together. Mix the Wets together to breakdown the Egg. Add the Wets to the Dries and Mix until combined but do not over mix or you'll have tough muffins.

The batter will make 6 Medium Muffins or 1 Loaf. Spread the batter evenly across the 6 cups... approximately half way up. Or just pour into the loaf pan and shake sort of flat but don't over do it. It will spread on it's own. 20 minutes for Loaf Pan or 17-18 minutes for Muffin Cups. Remove from pan or cups. Let cool on rack enough for you not to burn your fingers or tongue :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Onboard Cafe never looked so good - Chili's LEG TERRIBLE!- Edmonton International Aiport

Oh that's right.  I'm writing about a Chilis.  Oh that's right.  I'm writing about airport food.  Why?  Because I was so astounded that a chain restaurant, albeit in an airport could be of such low quality and quantity that it verges on exploitation.

So coming back from Edmonton a friend and I decided to eat at the Chilis in the Domestic terminal of the Edmonton International Airport.  I mean, what's a girl to do when the other option is Montana's or Quiznos.  We were taking the red-eye so eating on landing was not an option.  I didn't want to order on the airport because I find the prices and selection very constraining.  I don't need 12 hour old Veggie wraps for 10 bucks, do I?  Well, maybe I should have.

I don't know alot about Chilis except what I see on TV and those are mainly American commercials.  What does that imply? Well, rock bottom prices for mountains of fresh, sizzling food.  Or at least the commercials would lead you to believe.

I ordered the Shrimp Rice Bowl and my friend ordered a Burger with a Caesar Salad.  She did not ask how my friend wanted his burger done, which was a bit surprising in cow province.  The food came relatively fast, almost too fast.

My Rice 'bowl' came served in one of those shallow consomme bowls where if you're using a big soup spoon and it's resting on the bottom of the bowl, the lip of the spoon is actually over the surface of the soup.  There was maybe 1/2 c of instant Rice mixed with a few tablespoons of Black Beans and pre Shredded Cheese mixed with Pesto topped with half a dozen small Cajun Spiced Shrimp.  It was no where near an 'American' portion.  It was no where near a Canadian-Children's portion!!!  It did not taste fresh, not one of the individual ingredients tasted fresh.  Terrible.  I mean, they know their clients are usually 'jetting' off so they exploit that and sacrifice their Chili's brand for a quick buck.  That little pathetic service cost 15$ plus tax and tip.

My friend's Burger came Medium Well to Well Done and was dry.  It was an average burger size but his Caesar salad came in a terribly shallow Creme Brule plate dish.  It was like an amuse-bouche salad.

Our server never came by other than to take orders or bring something.  And we had to wrench ourselves around for a while to grab her attention for the bill.

I don't care how hungry you are, DO NOT EAT HERE!!! Eat a Dave's cookie across the way or wait for the plane food.   This is the biggest rip off for tiny portions of terrible food.

Food: Terrible, Overpriced, Tiny Portions, Cold
Service: Rushed, Inattentive
Family Friendly: Well, I guess if you'd like to punish your kids.

(780) 430-0606
100 Aiport Road
Leduc County, AB
LEG Airport, Domestic Terminal

Chili's on Urbanspoon

ZERO maples on Seven

#ChilisTerribleFood, @Chilis LEG horrible. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

the Slice to Beat - North of Brooklyn

North of Brooklyn pizzeria - Sign
I have been complaining for some time that there is a short of good pizza.  Notice the lack of qualification on location?  I meant Vancouver then Toronto.  Toronto has so far proven far more promising than Vancouver did.  7 years and not one good pizza.  Lots of cheese, lots of doughy crust but no good za.  I heard there was an authentic Napoli style pizza place that opened up in Gastown just as we moved, perfect.

Toronto has some good pizza.  The best before today was Librettos.  The crust was a bit charred in a couple of places but that aside, it was amazing.  What does that mean?

1. Thin crust not bready
2. Not soggy... i.e centre is basically a pasta noodle.
3. Fresh sauce
4. Fresh toppings
5. Nice bubbly, airy, crispy edge crust that you actually want to eat.

Not hard right?  Every slice place in New York can do it.  mmmmm so for the last couple of months I've been answering the ever frequent question 'where do you want to eat?' somewhere with GOOD pizza or NY style pizza...(that or Thai to be frank)

So after alot of Thai food, my cousins excitedly let me know over dinner at Bent, you have to try this pizza joint I found on Palmerston.  North of Brooklyn.

Coincidentally, we were in the area the NEXT day house hunting.  After the 200th disappointing view of a overpriced shoebox, I suggested we hop over a few blocks for za!!!  Now the only downside of this place.  No parking.  It is a small place on the east face, north of the corner.  So no stopping either.  Typical of the Bellwoods and Little Italy place, congestion on Saturday was brutal.  I ended up having to hop in to get our pizza while D circled the block.  We ate it off our laps as we drove home and it was still awesome.

North of Brooklyn - Marguerita slice
I got D the fresh out of the oven Marguerita pizza.  I got the white, Garlic Ricotta pizza.  I hesitated at first because as much as I love white pizza they can be heavy.  Like the best white pizza in the world at Amelio's in Montreal.  Man it's impossible to finish even the small.  But I reasoned that since it was just 1 slice it would be fine.  How often do you see awesome white pizza by the slice?  I guess I didn't read the crazy simple menu well enough because to my joy, the White Pizza was heated and served with a lightly dressed pile of Arugula..mmmmm the dressing was lemony and bright.  So good.

North of Brooklyn - White slice
The slices are NY big but they are on they're pretty big.  As well, they should be because, they are on the pricey side for a slice of pizza.  4-5$.  or 22 for the whole pie.  I thought well, that's not bad but if I got two as I had thought about, that's 10 bucks for a couple slices of pizza.  Seemed steep.

Anyhoo, I will definitely be back.  There is some limited seating inside if you're lucky to get parking.  You can watch the endless pies being freshly assembled as you eat.

Food: Great options without over complicating what should be great pizza.
Ambiance: Industrial casual pizza slice joint
Staff: Efficient and helpful
Cost: $$$ for slice

North of Brooklyn
(647) 352-5700
650.5 Queen St West
(corner of Palmerston but actual on Palmerston)
North of Brooklyn Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Great slice!!!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Bent - Drop what you're doing and eat a Lobster Taco!

Bent - Sake Lemongrass Oyster Shot
I am a social person but one of the things I tend to avoid is dinner in large groups.  D knows this.  Wine flows, people order crazy amounts of meats and meaty parts I won't eat.  You end up talking to 3 of the 20 people there and service is slow and expensive.  Anyhoo, it is unavoidable and we've wanted to try Bent for a while.  Run by the sons of the renown chef Susur Lee, it is a worth the trek down this otherwise dull stretch of Dundas.

My cousin H chose it for her sister's birthday.  To make things easier for us, the hostess suggested that we get the Prix Fixe tasting menu since we were such a large group.  These were the only annoying aspects of our visit here.  1. They required she put down a charged 200$ deposit for the table.  2. They sent her a menu and told her the price, $50, for THAT menu (which she emailed to all the guests) and when we arrived, they claimed that was a sample and if we wanted a 50 menu, they would have to make adjustments.  I tried to explain that that wasn't the point.  The point was, we were given that menu and told it was 50$ and we were all here and expecting that.  In the end, though somewhat apologetic, they were unrelenting and insisted we pay the 65$ to have the menu we were emailed.  SO I'M CLEAR, it wasn't the mere 15$ difference.  We ended up spending as much as the meal on wine.  It was that we made the booking based on the menu and the price given and they did not honour that.

Park that because it was my cousin S's birthday.  Thankfully she was at the other end of the looooong table from H and I while we debated the situation with the maitre d', so she didn't have to worry.

Bent - Braised Spiced Short Ribs - Spectacular
Once we decided to put a pin on that annoyance, we happily waited for the food.  As per my opening statement, the time elapsing between courses was excrutiatingly long.  I had thought the pace was slow at Edulis, though that felt more comfy slow than 'coooommmme onnnnnn!?!?'  This was the pace here.  Though when a course came out, it came out for the full table which was nice.  We all ordered the tasting menu to make things easy which was nice.  We shared the plates back and forth.  I think our end of the table was doing most of the eating though.  We easily had twice much as what seemed to come out on the small plates.  No one was complaining from our end though :^D.

Bent - Duck Wraps
The dinner started with their tasty Oyster Shooter.  Let me be perfectly clear here.  I HATE OYSTERS.  But as this was meant to be a whole experience, I thought I'd give it a go since it wasn't like it was sitting there all slimey on a half shell smelling like the pier.  Marinated in Sake with Lemon Grass, Shallots and Ponzu sauce.  It was bright and fresh tasting.  Now as a non-fan of the Oyster itself, it went down as a single shot for me.  My cousins and hubbo, who are Oyster fanatics like to let it sit and chew a few seconds.  They loved them equally.

Bent - Lobster Taro Tacos
There were a near dozen courses so without writing a short novel, I could not summarize here in my normal stye.  I will say though, you get more than just a bite full of each per course which is great without the feeling of being human fois gras, which is what D calls watching my mother feeding lil T.  That said, even though we were given more than our share due to the modest eaters at the other end of the long table, we still gave our best and left little for the compost.  As my brit friends would say, 'we could Eat for Canada'.  The Short Rib event was particularly spectacular.  I mean, they are incredibly rich and though the plate comes out looking all innocent and modest a mere first sharing portion is alot.  But when two plates came towards D and my cuz A, they ploughed through.  Actually, we were recently back for the Bent-O Seafood special and D regretted not ordering the Short Rib, thinking they'd have removed it from the summer menu.  I guess we'll be going back for a third visit within 6 months :D

Bent - Tempura - CrunchyAwesomeness
Lobster Tacos in Housemade Taro Root Shells - Spectacular! Taro very nutty and Lobster well cooked, not tough, great sauce. I will go back again and again for them.
Deep dark Braised Spiced Short Ribs with Potatoes and Kale - An event, very rich, full of flavour, well cooked.
Homemade Pickles
Chive and Shrimp wontons - Crispy, well seasoned
Pressed Octopus with Capers and Pomegranate - Suprisingly tender and gently dressed.
Watermelon and Tuna Ceviche - Signature. Great balance of Sweet Sour Savoury, Rich, Bright. Loved the 'croutons'.
Yellowtail Hamache - Very fresh
Tofu Tempura with a Coconut Tuile and Tempura Yam  - OMG, I could eat that tuile all night. Tempura was light and not oily.  Yam a tad heavy but still yummo.
Duck Wraps with Slaw in Rice Basket - It comes with Fois Gras! H and D were scraping the little cup the Fois Gras came in.  You spread the wrap with FG and layer on the Duck. The Slaw is a nice cruncy Asian take, much less complex than dad's (aka Lee's) but still yummo, served in a playful, edible Rice basket
Mini Apple Tart for veggies / Procuitto Arugula Tart for carnies
Nori and Tofu - Fresh, light.  Had most of this to myself as it came with the Ribs :^D
This was all accompanied by copious bottles of wine.
Assorted Desserts - This was a weak point.  We really didn't like any of the desserts.  On our second visit though, which I'll write about soon, The desserts were much better.

Bent - Procuitto Arugula Tart

Bent - Desserts Disappointing (this time)
Service: Very slow and reservation with prix fixe offer was a bit of a cluster
Wine list: Great selection
Ambiance: Lively bistro but did not like sitting at the elevated barstool table at the door.
Family friendly: no, not the setting nor menu
Food: Wonderful combinations, fresh and addictive

(647) 352-0092
777 Dundas Street West

Bent on Urbanspoon

Saturday Househunt and Family Pizza Lunch

Terroni - Pizza Santo Stefano
After a disappointing morning of visiting cramped, exorbitantly priced houses in the Trinity Bellwood's area, we were eager for some respite and reminders as to why we were looking in that area.  I called up my cousin who knows the restaurants all over downtown like the back of her hand.  It's easy when you eat 98% of your meals out :^D. Jealous!

Anyhoo, I said I felt like 'good' pizza or thai. Given where we were she instantly thought Terroni's.  We'd eaten at the one on Adelaide and loved it so I assumed the same experience and quality.  I was wrong.

Well, the experience was lovely.  The big tables inside during lunch were not all full yet so we had the option between inside or patio.  There were lots of families inside trying to feed their toddlers what looked like awesome fresh pasta.  Almost changed my mind about pizza.  Wish I had.

We had choice of sunny cozy tables on their exceptionally large patio.  The staff were very kind in helping us arrange the stroller and choosing a comfortable table.  T is big enough now that he can either sit in a high chair or prop himself up next to dad in a regular chair.  Pizza is easy to share food so he got his own chair.    The service was great.  Everyone was very friendly.   The only hiccup was at the very start when it seemed no one was going to take our order.  After that, the visits were regular.
Terroni - Soggy Pizza Campagnolo
My cousin and I both ordered a special Pizza Campagnolo, a Roasted Vegetables and D got the pizza Santo Stefano with Arugula, Procuitto and Fresh Bufalo cheese.  As I said, we'd had pizzas and mains at the Adelaide location before and loved the food.  The quality was not the same here.  The crust was thin, which we normally love but it was bland, a tad ashy, and EXTREMELY  soggy.  You couldn't lift the pizza if you wanted to.  It was completely soaked through and floppy.  D didn't think there was enough Bufalo Mozza on his.  If I'm craving pizza gain in the Trinity Bellwood's area, I will look elsewhere nextime. Maybe go back to Libretto's, too bad there's always a line, yummo!

Service: Good though we never knew who our server was
Ambiance: lively bistro
Family Friendly: Seating and staff, yes, but I don't recall change tables in the two tiny powder room style toilets.
Food: SOGGY pizza... just no getting over that when you were craving good pizza!

(416) 504-0320 720
Queen Street West

Terroni on Urbanspoon