Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kale and Swiss Quiche - Nutty Goodness

We make a quiche every Sunday afternoon to keep in the Fridge for kiddie dinners and lunches for work.  It's a great way to use the veg in your fridge at the end of the week.  We had some Kale leftover in the fridge from making Kale Chips for the kids so we used it instead of Spinach this time.  The combo added a lovely nuttiness and fullness that Spinach doesn't give.

Kale and Swiss Quiche

Follow the basic Quiche technique described here except for the veg changes I will explain

Spinach Quiche recipe

1 Yellow Bell Pepper diced into 1 cm pieces
1 1/2 c Kale, finely chopped instead of the Spinach
plus 1 pint of Cremini or Button Mushrooms, by pint I mean those small boxes they come in market.  I bought pre sliced cuz that just how I roll when I'm lazy.

Saute all the veg in a large non stick skillet to give room, on medium high heat until throughly soft and 'dry' looking.  i.e. no liquid in the pan.

Spread in the pre baked shell and follow the recipe above as regular.

Very very good.  It was a bit more gooey that the spinach which was weird because we cooked the kale through.  But it tasted awesome.



Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas British-ish Fish Pie

British-ish Fish Pie

Christmas was a bit turned about this year.  One of my sisters is in Louisville with the in-laws this year.   Since it was going to be a smaller gathering the day off, my mom was hosting but agreed to let me do the main.  Usually when it's a crowd, D will do a large roast beast of some sort.  Since it's me, I decided to do a dish I miss from my UK days and can't easily find outside the coziness of someone's home outside the UK.  I did 'fancy' it up a bit by adding Lobster since my uncle gives us a case of Lobster tails every year for Christmas.  By the look of the baking dish and how we usually eat other casseroles, I thought this would be good enough for 6 adults but really this could feed 10 since I did it in the deeper Creuset instead of a standard 12x9 pan.

British-ish Fish Pie

2 cup Vegetable or Fish Stock
3 cup Milk
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Flour
(If you are using a standard 'Lasagna' baking dish that is about 2inches deep, you can half the first four ingredients above.  I used a large Creuset baking dish that is the same size as a standard Lasagna pan but twice as deep. MORE room for Mash and goodness.)

400ml Heavy Cream (35%) (I bought a 500 ml carton and the rest is for the Mash)

2 Medium Lobster tails, uncooked
300-400 g Salmon
300-400 g Smoked Haddock or any white fish (no herbed or candied)
8-10 large Shrimp

1 small Onion
7 cloves
8 Black Peppercorns
3 sprigs of Thyme
1 T of Pernod (optional)
2 stalks Celery, minced (1/2 cup)
1medium Carrot, minced (1/2 cup)
1 medium Shallot, minced (1/4 cup)
Nutmeg, fresh

1 packet of frozen Spinach (1 lb), defrosted and drained in a sieve
3 - 4 Eggs, medium boiled (5 minutes), peeled, cooled and halved.

8 Potatoes (mashing, i.e. Russet), peeled and cubed
(The best way to estimate is to take the baking dish you plan to use and lay out the potatoes until full in one layer.  That should do for the amount of Mash you'll need with a little extra.)
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Cream
1- 1.5 tsp Salt
White Pepper to taste.
1/4 cup fresh chopped Parsley
Zest of 1 lemon.

You should start about 2-3 hours ahead minimum.  You can start 4-5 ahead if you want to take a pause.  You can make the Mash, Poach the fish and take a pause.

I don't like the taste of cooled off Mash so I don't start the Potatoes until an hour out.  But if you are trying to arrange the timing, the Potatoes need to boil covered in salted water in a large stock pot for at least half an hour until a fork goes easily through any piece.).  Drain the potatoes but leave in the pot.  Save some of the Potato water, about half a cup.  Throw in the Butter in chunks and the Cream and mash thoroughly with a Masher.  I try to mash until fluffy.  Season to taste with Salt and White Pepper. Add the potato water or more cream if they seem dry.  Set aside covered.

In a Braiser or large Pot, add the Milk and the Stock and bring to a simmer.   Pierce the Onion with the cloves and place in the braiser.  Leave the skin and shells on all fish and shellfish.  Place the Lobster, Smoked Haddock (remove the string) and the Salmon.  I place the Salmon on top and make sure the Lobster is in the liquid.  You may have to turn the lobster but it doesn't matter as the steam should cook it through.  Bring to a boil but immediately turn back down to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes until the shell is bright red.  Add the Shrimp for the last minute to just turn pink.  Turn off and set aside for at least half an hour.  Or right away if you want but the fish will be pretty hot to handle.

When the fish is cook enough to the touch, lift all the seafood out into a large bowl.  Strain the liquid and set aside.   Have a dish ready on the side to set the seafood you cut aside in 'groups'.  Remove the skin and the shells.  Cut all the fish into bite sized pieces.  I like it chunky so it doesn't end up tasting like tinned fish.  Take the leaves off another 3 sprigs of thyme and sprinkle over the fish and zest 1 lemon over top too. Set aside.

In the same braiser,  add the Butter on low heat.  Add the Celery, Carrot and the Shallot and sauté until slightly softened but not browned.  Sprinkle the flour over and mix constantly to prevent burning.  Lower the heat as needed.  You want to cook the flour through but you don't need to brown it like you're making a roux.  Just mix for about 5 minutes.  Grate some fresh Nutmeg over, like 1/4 tsp-1/2 tsp depending on if you're doing the bigger sauce recipe, 5-6 passes on a rasp per 1/4 tsp ish.  And add some White Pepper to taste.  The only reason not to use black pepper is not to speckle the dish.  It will look lumpy and oatmealy.  That's fine.  Add the reserved braising liquid gradually while stirring with a whisk.  Add the Cream.  You can turn the heat up to medium as you're doing this.  Let it BRIEFLY come to a bubble/boil and immediately turn down and take off the heat completely if your burner stays hot longer.  It will thicken the instant it bubbles.  Whisk briefly, fast then set aside to cool.  You can let this cool completely if you want and set aside covered if you want to assemble at the very end.

Preheat the Oven to 400F or convection to 375.

In the baking dish, spread out the drained Spinach on the bottom.  You don't have to be too fussy about it.  Just spread out loosely with your fingers.  You can use fresh Spinach that you wilt in a pan with some oil or water if you prefer.  Spread out the fish evenly over the Spinach so that each type of seafood is equally positioned throughout, particularly the Lobster :D.  I hope you remembered to peel and take the tails off the Shrimp.  Sprinkle Parsley over top.

Dollop the sauce over top covering most of it before you start spreading.  Actually, I tried to just drop instead of disturbing the fish layer.  Once it's covered you can gently spread with a rubber spatula.  Place the halved boiled Eggs evenly throughout.  I like to put the cut side down.

Dollop big scoops of the Mash on top in positions like in a muffin tin so you don't disturb the lower layers.  Keep doing that with a spoon until it's all covered.  then you can try to even out.  If you like your Potatoes crispy, you can run over the top with a large serving fork to make furrows.

Place a liner under neath in the oven or place the dish on a tray in the oven.  Place small pats of butter over the Potatoes if you want.  I did.

Place in the oven covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for 10.  If you're not baking in a convect oven, covered for 30, uncovered for 10.

Serve warm with wedges of Lemon.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Satisfactory Sushi on Roncy

Spicy Maki Roll Combo B - Sushi on Roncy
I had 'okay' sushi on Roncy.  Yup.  That's about all I can say about it.  I think though that I may be tainted because I'm big big big on respect of the customer and customer service and I'm a tad unhappy (euphemism here).  On the menu, they have a Lunch special.  While I am accepting of the annoying caveats about price on printed menus, I do not have the same level of understanding on the the same menus on websites.  I think websites are instant and if you change anything you should update.  So this wasn't a simple thing like an additional couple of quarters on a bento.  Their lunch special SPECIFICALLY stated that it came with Miso soup, Salad, Crispy Rice Noodle, and Rice.  I only received Soup and Salad.  When I asked for my Rice noodle and Rice, the server had NO idea what I was talking about OR was faking understanding and hiding behind language barrier so I would let it go.  I moved on because I still needed to pick up stuff for dinner.  I also didn't hold back on her tip because again, I just wanted to go.  But I'm telling you here.  They do not honour what is printed on their menu.  Your Lunch Special will NOT come with all the accoutrements stated.

I bought the Spicy Maki Combo B.  It came with a Spicy Crab, Spicy Yam Roll and California.  While the Rice was well flavoured and well cooked it was applied so sparingly it was very notable.  I mean, no one likes a 'too ricey' roll so you're all bloated and stuffed after.  But there is a happy medium if the Rice to Filling ratio is decent.  However, you have to respect the skill of this chef to be able to apply the Rice in a SINGLE layer!  I mean it.  Literally, a single layer.  Not only was it a single layer but it was more of a stippling.  You could see the Nori between the grains.  The Yam was warm and not too breaded.  The Spicy Crab was also tempered and crispy but not bready.  The whole thing, the whole plate was doused in a teriyaki or takoyaki sauce and weird spicy mayo.  It was too much.    The plate was well presented though.  Much nicer looking that a typical casual sushi place.

The music that was BLARING was weird 70s pop elevator music.  They have a patio in the back during nice weather.  Service was one girl at lunch running around like a maniac.  Surprisingly, she still didn't ignore you.

Price: $$
Ambiance: Casual sushi diner
Service: okay but didn't honour special

Sushi on Roncy
293 Roncesvalles
Toronto, ON

Sushi on Roncy on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spinach and Red Pepper Deep Quiche

Spinach and Red Pepper Quiche 
What's in the fridge?  A Quiche is a relatively easy way to use 'whatever's in the fridge'.  I bought a Red Bell Pepper last week to make a stir fry and never got around to it and in the mean time, used the other ingredients to make supper for the kids.  I did have frozen Spinach.  I always have frozen Spinach in the freezer.  I was obsessed for a while on Curried Spinach so since then I always keep a pack in the freezer.  Do it.

I prefer to use frozen crusts because I'm not a masochist.  I have made the crusts in the past and for pies, I do prefer to make them.  But for a mid week dinner, why torture myself.  The place my food processor used to occupy on my counter is currently taken up by a baby bottle rack. So there.

I buy the deep dish kind because I like to have more filling to crust and as well, I was always making generous fillings and I'd regularly have overflow situations in the oven.

Red Pepper and Spinach Quiche

1 Deep Dish Pie Crust

1 small-medium Bell Pepper, diced (approx 1-1.5 cups)
1 small Red or Yellow Onion, diced (approx 1 cup)
1 clove Garlic
1 pkg Chopped Frozen Spinach (400g), defrosted
1 t dried Thyme
1 t dried Herbes de Provence
1 t dried Oregano
1 T Flour
Salt and Pepper

2 c Swiss Cheese, shredded (approx 200g) or Feta but I had Swiss

4 large Eggs
1/2 cup Heavy Cream (oh yeah!) + 2 T
1 T Flour
1/2 t Salt

My instructions are in order of how I proceed to save sitting oven time and optimism execution. :D

Take out Spinach from freezer and place package on a plate on counter for several hours or on in the freezer the night before.

Take out the crust as you begin for the bake, and leave on counter.

Shred the Cheese.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sauté the Onions and Bell Pepper with the Herbs for 10 minutes until slightly caramelized.  Add the Garlic for the last minute.  Spread thin around pan too cool.

Drain spinach in a sieve or cheese cloth and wring out.  Set aside.

Place a piece of parchment paper or foil in the crust and pour in pie weights aka dried beans and spread in crust.  OR you can poke with a fork to prevent bubbles.  IF you dock aka poke, instead of pie weights, bake at 350 not 375 F.  For 15 minutes.  Take out and cook on rack.  I like to place the crust on a pie pan to keep if flat on insert and removal because they tend to fold a bit and then crack otherwise.

Sprinkle 1 T of flour over the cooling Vegetables in the pan and toss until thinly coated.

In a large measuring cup, at least a 2 cupper, for easy pouring, crack the 4 eggs.  Add the Cream and Salt.  Beat until you've denatured the Egg whites. i.e. when you lift the whisk out of the cup, the Eggs are loose and less gloopy.  Add the flour and Whisk to combine.  Yes, you don't need it and most don't need it.  But I added it to a Quiche over a decade ago and never had a loose omletey centre to my Quiches since.  Helps it set.

Adjust the stove to 350.  Cut strips of foil about a inch wide.  Cover the edge of the crust with the strips by crimping over the edge of the shell.  You don't have to do this but I don't like to burn the crust or make to brittle.  The Quiche is in the oven for a long time so it turns out nice and golden this way.

Spread a layer of Cheese on the bottom of the Crust.  Spread out the Bell Pepper and Onion mixture.  Sprinkle a thin layer of Cheese.  Spread the Spinach over top.  Press down.  Cover with the rest of the cheese.

Move the Crust, still on the sheet pan, over to the oven.  Pour the Egg/Cream mixture over top and jiggle to make sure it gets in all the crevices.

Bake in the middle for 45 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes or longer.



Friday, April 17, 2015

the Vegan Experiment - the Forks Over Knives trial

Really, it wasn't so much an exact Forks Over Knives diet but a vegan trial.  I watched Forks Over Knives on Netflix last fall.  I watch a lot of these food related documentaries.  Some are better than others for various reasons.  I find some are too preachy or too factually skewed.  This one was different.  It wasn't trying to turn you off by showing baby pigs being castrated by hand or filming visits to an abattoir.  It was independent studies showing how animal products are factually tied to cancer and heart disease as well as other vascular issues.  Of particular interest was the startling proof was the link between L-Casein, found in dairy, and cancer.   In any case, you have to watch it to believe and I convinced my mid-western american brother in law just to watch it.  Just watch it.  I am actually surprised he did even watch it.  I was speaking to my sister on the weekend and he was shouting in the background, I watched it!  I'm practically a vegetarian now.

The actual lifestyle is a bit extreme for me.  It requires you cut out all fats, including Olive oil.  It's a Whole Foods Plant Based diet.  Eat food as close to their original state as possible.  I understand why and the proof.  That our bodies are designed, primaly to need the calories to survive. The dense calories found in high fat foods, fool our bodies into thinking we're still hungry.  The recipes require you sauté in a dry pan or with broth.  No Olive oil.  Anyhoo, since heart disease nor weight gain wasn't my primary concern, I decided to try just Vegan.  Why?  Because I found the documentary compelling as well, I decided that there are various things in our life we can't completely control, our genes, pollution, drunk drivers, ... this, this I can control.

As opposed to popular belief, you cannot be nutrionally deprived by a vegan diet as long as you eat balanced i.e. nothing but one type of food.  You also do not need to combine on a single plate to get the full protein profile.

For the month of January, I gave up all animal products.  But unlike a vegan diet or the Forks Over Knives and associated Engine 2 recipes, I don't really care for the labour and effort behind making 'fake' food.  i.e. using Nutritional Yeast to simulate cheese or Blending raw Cashews to simulate cream or bechemel.  I just ate a lot of vegetables, grains and legumes.  It was fairly easy except for my family.... namely my mom who lives for food.  If you follow regularly, you'll know she makes her own soy sauce and chill paste.  She's hard core.  We went over for lunch and she had made some dumplings but she'd used egg to seal them so I didn't want to eat it.  She flipped out and told me to 'grow up' . It reminded me of when I first went vegetarian back in high school and she'd hide meat in my food.

I think the hardest part was that there doesn't always seem to be a central 'hearty' part of a plate.  You can eat a lot and your body will tell you when you've had enough.  With a Whole Food Plant Based diet, a true one, without concentrated fats, you can't really have too many calories.  So when I felt like a 'hearty' part of a plate, I marinated a piece of Tofu and grilled or fried it.  Actually, though eating small meals more frequently is better for your metabolism.  I did the month with ease.  I could have kept going but decided for ease of everyday living, I would eat this way on my own and go back to Ovo Lacto vegetarian with my family.

I made a lot of salads. Too keep it interesting, I tried to mix and match.  I kept two large containers in the fridge so I always had access.  Here is my basic formula:

Vegan Salad Formula

Include each of the following groupings but at the same time, add as much of any vegetable you want!

One Grain

  • Cous Cous (1:1 Grain to Cold Water, let stand half an hour)
  • Quinoa (1:1.5 Boil vigourously, let cool)
  • Farro 
  • Bulgar Wheat
  • Wild Rice
  • Brown Rice
  • Barley
  • Whole Wheat Orzo
One Texture (Chew or Crunch)
  • Pine nuts
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Pistachios, chopped
One Herb (fresh, chopped)
  • Parsley (lots, entire bunch)
  • Cilantro (lots, entire bunch)
  • Dill (don't over do)
One Legume
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Lentils
  • Cannellini beans
  • Black beans
  • Romano beans
  • Canned or Fresh Corn (yes, yes, not a legume)

2 Vegetables, diced
  • Red bell Pepper
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Cooked Beets
  • Shredded Kale
  • Blanched Green Beans
  • Shredded Carrot
1 Aromatic
  • minced Red Onion
  • minced Celery

One Umami (rounded flavour, optional)
  • minced Black Olives
  • crumbled, firm Tofu
  • mushrooms, raw or cooked
  • if not giving up Dairy, this is where Feta can come in

  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Lime juice and zest
  • White Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt, pepper
  • Olive Oil or Sesame Oil (optional on the oil if you're going full on Forks Over Knives)

Mix and let stand.  Yummo!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Househunting in Roncey - Barque Smokehouse

Barque Smokehouse - Salmon Wrap
I have friends moving to Toronto from Cancun.  Actually, they're from Mallorca.  They did a whirlwind tour of Toronto in 4 short days.  I took them to Roncey on Thursday and they fell in love.  I knew they would.  The homes have character and you don't have to get into the car to buy a carton of milk.  That was what I had asked him they wanted in a lifestyle.  Did they want the big yard but then have to get in a car to pick up necessities.  After visiting a house, we went for lunch at the Barque.

It's funny what you take for granted in culture.  I told them that one of the features that was nice about Roncey was that many of the restaurants, if not all, are family friendly.  I knew it was important to point this out because they have 4 small kids and in Spain you take your kids with you.  It's not unusual to be on a terrace at 10pm and see a kid sleeping in his stroller.  They're immediate reaction was of course, 'What do you mean family-friendly?'  I replied, 'I mean, it's okay if you bring your kids for dinner.... or other meals.'  they replied, astonished, 'What?! you mean? you can't bring them everywhere?'

D and I have been to Barque for brunch before.  They have decent on theme brunch.  I'd never been there for lunch before.  I will say, for people with diet restrictions, there are not many alternatives to cow.  Yeah yeah, I go to a smokehouse and I'm surprised? No, don't get me wrong, I knew and it was their choice.  Actually for lunch, there's only 1 option, the Salmon Wrap, which I had.  My friends, opted for the highly recommended Burger.

The Salmon was nicely cooked, a tad ruby in the middle with a nice crust on the outside.  Some might actually have considered it a bit underdone but that's the way I like it.  The fries, as I have had before, are seasoned, and VERY SALTY, TOO SALTY.  My friends both had the burger and loved them. He had the soup of the day, perfect given the drizzly weather we had.  It was Red Bell Pepper.  She was worried that it would be spicy and Spanish, contrary to popular belief, do not like spicy food, not even liberal use of black pepper.

For families, they have lots of boosters and offer crayons for the kids.  Everyone there is used to having kids so no one blinks if you have them.  The staff are super cool about kids too.  I think next time I'll skip the fries.

Cost: $$$
Ambiance: comfortable, bright but cozy mercantile feel
Staff: helpful and friendly
Family friendly but tight for strollers

Barque Smokehouse
299 Roncesvalles Ave
Toronto, ON M6R2M3
 Barque Smokehouse on Urbanspoon


Monday, March 23, 2015

Eggplant Parmesan - Food Bucket List #11

Eggplant slices ready for the bake
I LOVE Eggplant Parm.... LOVE LOVE LOVE it.  I am not, however, a big fan of how some people make it nor how much work it is to make.  But if I want to avoid greasy, bland Eggplant, then I have to do it myself, as they say.  What do I mean by Food Bucket list?  Well, when we were little kids like 10 years old, we used to play, 'what would your last meal be'?  I know that sounds morbid and I truly don't remember where we even came to know what that meant.  I am fairly certain it wasn't due to anything worth reporting to the Censor because my mother, to this day, won't watch anything too violent or too elicit.  It was probably a soap opera where some forlorn, ridiculously chiselled, leading actor was locked up for something his evil twin did.  Anyhoo, whatever the origins we were fairly young when we started our Food Bucket List.  What are the parameters exactly, should you wish to develop one? Well, a Food Bucket List is similar to a life bucket list with a twist.  What food / dish would you request should you find yourself being asked to order your last meal OR would you be willing to eat in perpetuity and nothing else OR if presented with a menu with the item on it, you will not bother to read the rest of the menu and will order it OR you will go at least 5 km out of your way to have it when in the vicinity of a good representation of it when out of town.  Tira Misu is an example of the application of the third category.  Even if I'm not in the mood for dessert, I will order it if it is on the menu.

The 11th position does vary from year to year but Eggplant Parmesan, the casserole or sandwich version, has had a place on my list since I first tasted it. If I see it on a menu, I get it and unfortunately, it is more often than not, terribly done.  It's actually not that often which is also unfortunate but when it is, I have found it is usually bland, done well in advance so mushy, poorly breaded, under cooked, over cooked or all of the above.  One of my favourite sandwich versions was served at the family joint #Amelio's in Montreal but they recently closed. *sigh* Also unfortunate, Eggplant Parm is also not a quickie quickie dish to make.  It's one of 'those' dishes that requires cooking before cooking.  The key to making it as painless as possible is to be organised and use a recipe you trust because instructions and measurements aren't vague.   This is one such recipe.  It is adapted from a recipe from a Bobby Flay episode of Throwdown.  I liked it because of a few reasons, mainly the deep fryer and peeling the eggplant.  Sometimes when an Eggplant Parm is not properly cooked, you'll get a slimey ring of peel in your mouth like when an Onion slithers out of an Onion ring.  You will love this dish and you will add it to your Food Bucket list.

Eggplant Parmesan fresh from the oven
Eggplant Parmesan
  • You will need a Deep Fryer.  I cannot guarantee the results if you pan fry like in other recipes.
  • You will need a Deep Lasagna pan.  Ours is 10x13", fairly standard.
  • 2 large sheet pans lined with newspaper and topped with paper towelling (or lined with a wire rack)
  • 3 shallow mixing bowls, I use metal ones I got in Chinatown.  Wide shallow soup bowls will do.
  • 1 large mixing or salad bowl
  • Metal tongs

Do not preheat anything now,  I'm just letting you know for reference. I'll tell you when.  
Oil 350 F
Oven 375 F

1 large Eggplant (approx 12")
4-5 c Bread crumbs (1/2 stale Italian loaf) (do NOT use panko.)
3 Eggs, large
1 T Water
1 c Flour
1/2 T Basil, dried
1/2 T Oregano, dried
1/2 T Rosemary, dried
1 t Granulated Garlic
2 jars Tomato Sauce (your favourite Marinara sauce that you would eat on its own)
1 lb Mozzarella, shredded
1/2 c Parmesan, grated

Take your stale Italian loaf torn up and toss into your food processor.  Don't over fill.  You may need to do 2-3 batches.  Pulse until crumbed. Do not let just run because if there is any moisture left in your bread, you risk just getting a big doughball.   Once all crumbed up, bring all the Breadcrumbs back together in a large bowl.  Toss in all the dried Herbs and granulated Garlic.  If your dried Rosemary is still in full leaf form, you may want to pulse a couple of times to break it down.

IF you choose the path of lesser resistance and buy your Breadcrumbs, just toss in the herbs and don't sweat the whole processor thing.  Pour some of the breadcrumbs into one of the shallow bowls, half way.  Set the others aside.

Grate the Cheese, a whole 1lb block OR just buy it grated and save yourself the aggravation.

In the second shallow mixing bowl, beat the 3 Eggs and fill one of the half Egg shells with Water and add to the Eggs.  Beat Well. Set aside.

In the third bowl, place the flour.  Set aside.

Peel the Eggplant and cut the calix off (stem) using a Vegetable peeler.  A T-shaped one is best for this and not the straight handled one.  Cut into 1/2 - 3/4 cm or half inch slices.

On your counter, in front of you place the 3 bowls in this order: Flour, Egg, Breadcrumbs.  Behind the bowls further away from you place a large cutting board with the Eggplant slices set to Left side.  Sound crazy?  Nope, this will help you avoid the dough club-hand and keep thing running smoothly.  Only let your left hand go in the Egg.

Now, you can preheat the deep fryer to 350F now if you plan to start frying while still breading, BUT I wouldn't recommend you do this on your first try unless you're confident about your timing and coordination :D.

Let's go.

Place a couple slices of Eggplant in the flour with your RIGHT hand.  Cover and rub it in.  Flip and repeat.  Then bounce it around to dust it off.  This is important or the breading will just fall off.  Place in the Egg.  With your LEFT hand, flip it and coat it and try to handle with the edges but don't worry too much.  Pick it up and place it in the Bread Crumbs.  With the RIGHT hand,  cover the slices with Breadcrumbs and push down slightly.  Flip and repeat until the whole thing is coated.  Bounce and shake off excess Breadcrumbs because they'll just fall off and burn in the fryer.  Place flat on the left side of the cutting board.  Continue to bread all the slices.  Now your cutting board may fill up so you can stack if you want but try to stack off set and not in direct piles.

Now most home deep fryers are not as big as restaurant ones so you will likely only be able to fit 2 slices in at a time.  Gently place one slice in and shove the first one over and lay the second over.  You can try make sure you're always frying one of the bigger middle slices with a smaller end slice so you'll have room.  Fry for 1 minute then, with the metal thongs, carefully turn over in the oil and fry for another minute.  If you've left the basket in, you can lift the two out together and shake off the excess oil.  Or you can use the thongs.  Place to drain on the two baking sheets you've laid out and lined.  Continue until all the slices are done.  You can lightly season with Salt, LIGHTLY, while they're still warm.  Don't over salt because jarred sauce and the cheese will also add salt.

Preheat the oven to 375 with the rack in the middle.

Pour a thin layer of sauce to just cover the bottom of the Lasagna pan.  Layer in the Eggplant.  Our pan was two across and 3 along.  Cover with thin layer of sauce, Mozza and Parmesan cheeses.  Continue until all slices are used up.  Mine had 3 full layers and most of a 4th.  Cover with Sauce, Toss the remaining Cheeses with the remaining Breadcrumbs.  Place over the top of the dish.  Cover LOOSELY with foil and place in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 until the sauce is bubbling but the topping is not too brown.

Let stand for 10-15 minutes and slice and eat..... or right away.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hogtown Cafe - this Place will NOT help the Vegan movement

Dry Dry Unchicken and Floppy Waffles
I first heard of this place on the TV show You Gotta Eat Here!  I've found the places recommended on that show to be VERY hit or miss.  When we lived on the west coast, we used to visit a lot of places on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and for the most part, the places lived up to the hype.  The show tries to find places that go out of their way cook real food despite outward appearances.  Whereas, I think, You Gotta Eat Here! is largely based on visitor reccos.  Well, I visited and I would not recco.  I specifically even tried the dishes they covered on the show and feel like the show was describing another restaurant.

I got the unChicken and Waffles and lil T got the Peanut Butter and Banana French Toast w Fake-on.  D had hoped he could order the Philly Cheese 'Steak' from the lunch menu but they won't serve anything but the brunch menu during brunch so he, reluctantly order the BLT.  It was difficult enough trying to get him to go to a Vegan restaurant so he wasn't a happy bunny when he couldn't have the dish he thought he was willing to try from the show.

Service was PAINFULLY slow.  They were very friendly and nice when we saw them but that was like never.  We waited well into 'lunch' for our order.  There was a lady sitting next to us who was a tourist who had come because of the show too.  She heard lil T complaining for his food and she had ordered the PBnB French Toast as well and hadn't touched half and offered it to us for lil T.  Since we had waited for ever and she seemed okay, we took it.  He was well into his brunch before our actual food even arrived.

The Fake-on or fake Bacon was like plastic.  Yes yes, carnivores, are rolling their eyes and shaking their head saying 'duh', it's fake on.  But I've had decent faux Bacon and this was NOT it.  Lil T loves bacon and bacony things and he spat this out.  It was worse than jerky.  The portions are huge but in a bad way.  The bread on the French Toast was very very thick and not well soaked and the fresh natural Peanut Butter was laid on thicker than plaster.  We will be scraping from the roof of our mouths for days.  We all tried and barely at a third of it and the extra the nice lady offered T.  The unChicken and Waffles were not enjoyable either.  That said, the Potatoes that came on the side were quite tasty. Again, I can hear the likes of D moaning. What were you thinking Vegan.  I like Vegan food.  Though I will admit, I prefer Vegan food that doesn't try to be fake something else.  Anyhoo.  The Waffles were doughy, rubbery and bland.  The unChicken was tough and also BLAND!  D's BLT would have been somewhat okay if not for the aforementioned Fake-on.  Again, with the bread cut slightly too thick, it was too dry and tough.  The side salad was uneventful premixed greens.

Thick, pasty, dry PBnB French Toast
The place itself is like a dive which I'm not fussed about if you can bring the goods with the food.  This place did not.  The service was excruciatingly slow so if you have kids, do not come here.  Or if you value your weekends, do not come here.  The staff was friendly and nice but it didn't redeem how long we waited for our food.  Oh side note,  I know it goes without saying that a Vegan place had no milk for lil T but they didn't even have any Soy as beverage.  Plan ahead.

Food: Bland, flavourless and well, bad. (and I love Vegan/Vegetarian food)
Ambiance: Dive

Hogtown Vegan
Dufferin Grove
1056 Bloor St W
 Toronto, ON M6H1M3

The Hogtown Vegan on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Odd Oddseoul

Overdressed, scarcely any Avocado having Avocado Salad
My cousin had a big birthday at a burlesque bar in the Ossington area aka #Hipster mecca and so my other cousin H and I took advantage of the opportunity to go eat out without the kids.  Oh you thought I'd let the burlesque thing slide?  No, that is accurate.  Birthday drinks after dinner was at the Painted Lady and it got burlesque but with less Cher and no singing.  Just a pasty young lady stripping down to her pasties on the bar.  Still the music was good and the bar service quick.  Anyhoo, I'd been meaning to try Odd Seoul on Ossington for over a year.  I'd heard good things about the Korean fusion place.  I mean, I'm all for the mainstreaming of my own 'soul' food.

I have to say, I was generally disappointed.

The place is very small and they don't take reservations so go when you're not in a rush and never in a large group.  Cuz H knew this so she went ahead by 15 to grab us a table.  Love her!  We were seated at a tiny little two top and served by a bearded white hipster with an indiscernible  accent.  It was rather loud in there so a ridiculous sequence of shouting and repeating transpired for our whole meal. We ordered a bunch of stuff but I could  not order a stone bowl since there were not vegetarian or seafood options.  And I absolutely could not pay over 20 bucks for a small bowl of Japchae.  My mom would have disowned me.  It was rather amusing to have the ...i want to say kiwi waiter but again his accent was just unplacable, try to describe to us what Japchae was when I said 'WHAT?!' because he pronounced it CHAAP-CHAI.

We ordered the Buffalo Tofu, Torched Mackerel, Spicey Scallian and Avocado Slaw, Tempura Prawn and O.S. Wings.  We also ordered a bottle of Cucumber Soju.  The Soju was lovely.  Lightly perfumed with Cucumber and not to big a punch.

The Slaw was a rather mundane.  It was over dressed and there was scarcely any Avocado which is really taking the piss since the ingredient is listed in the NAME! The Torched Mackerel was nice, though the portion a bit laughable for a Korean table.  The Korean's have a tradition much like the Portuguese, that pride themselves in a bountiful table.  This portion of Mackerel was slightly bigger than one sashimi portion of Mackerel, sliced and torched at the table.  It is a oily fish but the fine slicing and the dipping sauce were nice.

Tiny Portion of Torched Mackerel
The Tempura Prawn were in short disgusting.  If it were a shared plate where everyone got barely 1, maybe it would have been tolerable.  But sharing this dish with two people or having the dish to yourself will leave you feeling heavy.  The Prawn are coated in a very heavy pancakey batter which is doused in a strange mayonnaisey sauce.

Smothered, mayonaissey mess of Tempura Prawn
Then came the Buffalo Tofu.  Even worse than the prawn.  The Tofu came in domino sized pieces.  They are deep fried so that the centre is all but obliterated and hollow.  What is left is this tough shell that is coated in a terrible vinegary, sugary batter.  The after taste will haunt me for months to come.

Disgusting Buffalo Tofu - Vinegary Oddness
The wings were all for H.  They were dark and looked over cooked.  They were very dry and she ate less than half the plate.

Overall, I found the service negligible and haughty.  Though we tipped the standard expected even though the attention was lacking, he was visibly displeased and made no effort to conceal that he expected more.  It was very very loud and you have to shout to be heard across even small tables.  Though we enjoyed our house made Soju, we did not enjoy the food.  I would not recommend you eat here EVER.  If you fancy Korean food, go to Christie or ask me where you can get decent homemade Bibimbap or Japchae without being gouged by hipster prices or attitudes.  I hate when place guise traditional food as 'fusion' or 'modern' but it isn't really and thus justify over pricing or just bad flavours.

90 Ossington Ave
 Toronto, ON M6J2Y7

Oddseoul on Urbanspoon