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The Week In Yum Aug 23-30

Soon summer will be fading and so will my desire for burnt marshmallow ice cream on a sugar cone from Ed's Real Scoop  in The Beach.  For now, there is still nothing nicer than this addictively delicious cone after a long drive around town on a balmy summer night with the top down. Ed's = summer.

On the last Sunday of every month until October, Kensington Market closes the streets to cars for Pedestrian Sunday. It's a great time to enjoy the boho wonderland without worry that you are going to be plowed down by a rogue suburban motorist who thinks they will actually find a parking spot on Augusta. This Sunday we finally got to try out a place I have only heard raves about,  Seven Lives. We both got the fish taco and although it was really delicious, I had buyers remorse the minute I spied someone else's octopus ceviche tostada. I was about to go up and ask them if they would hold off biting into it so I could take a few photos of it but Shack knew what I was up to and grabbed me and made me sit down. He is such a fun sucker.

Anyway, the tacos are big, fresh and tasty, the optional salsas are wonderful and the agua fresca is THE best thing in the market. My strawberry lime agua fresca was the best $2 I have spent in ages.

After my lunch, I finally made it into Thomas Lavers Cannery and Deli for a poke around and came out with a little jar of bread and butter pickles with horseradish and some kimchi jam. I distracted Shack with the giant pickles on a stick they were selling out front so I could dash in and shop in peace. It's a super charming, old timey looking little shop with a wall of beautiful preserved things on one side and a deli counter full of fresh pasta, pates and other tempting treats on the other. I can't wait to go back and belly up to the bar to have the barkeep pull me a big mug of fresh root beer. Don't forget to wax your handlebar mustache before entering.

It was a better week in the kitchen for me as I nudge myself towards developing some sort of responsible, adult routine. I managed to harvest some herbs and freeze some of hem in olive oil and made some compound butter from the rest.
greek oregano frozen in olive oil

Shack was working so The Kid and I ate a few versions of noodle soup bowls like this one over the course of the week:

udon with bbq pork, king oyster mushrooms and bok choy

Back in Kensington on Thursday for a haircut at The Crow's Nest, we stopped in to Pancho y Emiliano for a pre buzz snack. I have been wondering how the food is all summer so I was happy to discover that it's very good. My chicken tinga taco was big and tasty and The Kid somehow managed to devour his enormous pork burrito so that I was able to snag almost the entire bowl of guacamole with freshly fried tortilla chips. I am very happy about the taco situation in the Market but it will be interesting to see who wins out after another year - it's a pretty dense concentration of Mexican or Mexican inspired restaurants in that one little area. I have to say that nothing holds as much promise as Seven Lives so far in my opinion so let's check again this time next year and see who is still standing.

Add in there a little visit to the Diplimatico on College St so Shack could indulge in a giant bowl of old school penne Bolognese and you have a fine week in yum.

My favourite pin of the week: I am a sucker for lemon meringue anything

My favourite instagram of the week: this photo by sternmanrule haunts me for some reason

My favourite share on facebook: Chocolate Chip Cookie Guide

Food find of the week: Finger, Fork and Knife food blog

My tweet of the week:

Grainy Thyme Mustard

I swear to god, if I had known how easy it is to make my own grainy mustard, I would have been doing this ten years ago. I love condiments of all kinds but I am a mustard addict. I couldn't even tell you how many jars of fancy mustard I have in my fridge at this very moment. I should own shares in Maille by this point if you measured the actual amount of their grainy mustard I go through a month. I just know that there is so much mustard that I can't find room for anything else most of the time so we are forced to eat nothing but canned foods with mustard sauce. Okay, it's not that bad but it's close.

For my first batch I knew I should be keep it simple because I also know this is just my first of many, many batches of mustard. Just a pinch of thyme from my garden for this jar but there will be more and they will get fancy.

Grainy Thyme Mustard

adapted from Honest Cooking

2 tbls dark mustard seeds
2 tbls yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tbls balsamic vinegar
1 tsp hot dry mustard
pinch kosher salt
the leaves from a couple sprigs of thyme

Put all of the ingredients into a container, preferably a glass jar and let it sit in the fridge for two days. I let this batch sit for three without any harm done. Throw it in the food processor and buzz til smooth. The yellow mustard seeds will puree but the brown will remain whole, giving it the great texture. Mine was kind of liquidy at first and I panicked but I left it in the fridge for another day or two and it thickened right up.

The Week in Yum Augt 17-22

Sunday's Leslieville Market baconfest was the highlight of the week. It makes me so happy to go to that little farmer's market and see it absolutely packed with people. In only a few short years this market has gone from a handful of vendors and a smattering of shoppers to a jam packed market with live music, crafts for the kids and tons of food vendors, produce vendors, cheese and meat people and the suppliers of my Sunday breakfast fish taco every week, Hooked.

Bacon Fest was certainly hopping - in fact it was so hopping that we couldn't get anything we wanted because the lineups were insane. Again, I am sad that I didn't get to eat a sandwich from Rashers but I am happy that the actual market was so busy. We did line up for Rashers but we were not told that it would be a 30 minute wait for a sandwich until we had waited for 15 minutes in line and already ordered. Shack was not amused because those sandwiches looked incredible and it might have been nice if we were warned that not only were we going to have to wait in line forever, but there would another half an hour added to that wait got some peameal in us.

We did get a jerk chicken sandwich from Mr Spinners because it was the only vendor without a long line and it was okay. It was a bit short on jerk and too much bread for my liking but I am not much of a sandwich person in the first place. I think I will just stick to my beloved Hooked fish tacos from now on.

Shack got a gelato sandwich that had some bacon in it and it was really tasty but because it was also about 400C outside, the chocolate coating started to melt almost immediately and it was too messy to finish. We were not batting 1000 on Sunday.

I worked a bazillion hour day monday so it was smart food, twizzlers and catered chicken. We will not speak of that day again. Basically, it was another week of not much happening between work, where I always eat really badly, and Shack working, where The Kid and I often just eat really lightly. I did make a really tasty, simple tomato sauce with a whack of my basil from the garden on Thursday but that was about it.  

It was a barren week in yum in real life. Lots of salads for me, grilled cheese sammies for The Kid, the on going eating one big lunch at 4pm and then skipping dinner or falafels from The Sultan at 9:30pm. Don't judge.

Luckily, it was not a barren week in yum online:

My favourite pin of the week: 23 ways to use an ice cube tray

My favourite instagram of the week: Sips and Spoonfuls again

My favourite share on facebook: Look at this thing!

My favourite food find:  Food52 Provisions - so many beautiful things

My favourite tweet:

Spicy Almond Pesto

I have had amazing luck with my herb garden this year so I kind of almost keep forgetting about it. In the past I grow everything in pots and they do okay but this year it's like a mutant steroid farm out there and I just can't use all the herbs fast enough. I am not worried about the 400 lbs of oregano, thyme and rosemary since they all dry really well but the basil either had to be consumed this weekend or it was going to go to pot so I had no choice but to make some pesto.

I like a traditional pesto well enough but I like to change it up all the time. I love to add arugula, change the nuts and throw in something to give it a bit of heat. I almost never use pine nuts since I was attacked by them during the great PINE MOUTH EPISODE. I was part of a year long experiment where two friends and I documented our year of never repeating a recipe. I will tell you right now that even though I think of myself as a very good, adventurous home cook who thrives on variety, having to NEVER repeat a dinner once in an entire year was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The first terrible blowup occurred that February 10th when I made a pasta dish with roasted cauliflower, pine nuts and lemon. That is when I discovered that Shack is actually my picky toddler who loves pasta but really only loves it with red sauce of some sort and that the upcoming year was going to be more challenging than I had imagined. If I can only make pasta with a variation on a tomato based sauce for a year, we were in trouble. Because they both poo pooed my delicious pasta dish, I ate it all. I ate a huge bowl that night and then finished it off the next day at lunch in a fit of fuck you. It actually was very, very delicious and I was really angry at the waste of food just because you don't feel like eating it. In a cruel twist of fate, I woke up a couple of days later with a really strong metallic taste in my mouth which would not go away. Everything I put in my mouth tasted like metal- even water tasted like rusty can. Some googling told me that I had a case of "pine mouth" which is not uncommon and was the result of eating some type of cheap, inferior chinese pine nut. So, for the next two weeks, every single thing I put in my mouth tasted like metal and even though I know that if I buy the more expensive, good quality pine nuts imported from Italy I will be fine, I am now terrified of pine nuts.

So, that is how I have come to use mostly almonds in my pesto and it works just fine plus almonds are so much cheaper than pine nuts so I'm still winning.

This pesto has some preserved lemon (my latest obsession) for brightness, sun dried tomato and a bit of chili flake to give it a touch of heat. I froze a double batch in an ice cube tray so if you have enough basil, triple the batch and eat one now and freeze the rest for later.

Spicy Almond Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
1/4 tsp hot chili flake (or to taste)
1 tbls chopped sun dried tomato
1/2 seeded, chopped preserved lemon (mine are the size of large walnuts)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup = 1 tbls extra virgin olive oil
pinch kosher salt

Pack the basil, almonds, cheese, chili, sun dried tomato, garlic , lemon and a pinch of salt into the food processor (my mini processor is the perfect size for this amount) and pulse until it's all fully ground). Start adding the olive oil - either drizzle or if you can't drizzle while it processes, add half, pulse a few times and then add the rest and pulse again until it's the texture you like. I like mine to be pretty well ground and creamy but not totally pureed. 

Pork with Mustard Mushroom Pan Sauce

Don't you just love mustard? I have at least a dozen types of mustard in my fridge at any given time and I have also recently started dabbling in the making of my own mustard, which is pretty damned exiting for me. I don't get out much.

Anyway, the #1 staple in my fridge is always Maille old style whole grain mustard. I usually have their honey mustard as well but the giant jar of grainy mustard is alway in there. I use it in sauces like this
one, in vinaigrettes, on meats, with grilled sausages and in sandwiches. The boys prefer plain old yellow mustard on their sandwiches because they are freaks but not me. When Maille asked for Canadian bloggers to be Maille Mustard Mavericks I was all over that like a Toronto racoon on a green bin the day after Christmas. I almost felt guilty grabbing a free jar of grainy mustard because it's not a new product for me at all but who can say no to a free jar of something they already love?

The Maille store , sorry BOUTIQUE, in Paris is the shiz. You can get over 40 varities of mustard-  blue cheese mustard, truffle mustard, cognac mustard and a zillion other really amazing sounding things. Here in Canada, we can't get these fancy mustards and that makes me very, very sad. We can only get a handful of mustards and they are all really great but I would give anything for some truffle mustard. For now I will have to settle for tried and true old favourites and dream of blue cheese mustard vinaigrette and truffle dijon on a grilled cheese. 

I make a couple versions of pork with a creamy mustard pan sauce in our regular dinner rotation. Sometimes I cut the tenderloin up and pound it into escalopes, pan fry them and then do a creamy mustard sauce with a bit of finely chopped tomato and basil. My other standby is to sear the pork and roast it and then do an herby sauce in the same pan. I used to leave the mushrooms out because The Kid didn't like them but we have recently discovered that although he doesn't like to EAT the mushrooms, he likes the flavour they impart so I can use them again and he just eats the sauce without the actual 'shrooms which leaves more for me and that's always a good thing. I like to use 2% carnation milk in place of cream because it's healthier and it doesn't really affect the taste but if you don't care about such things, feel free to replace it with cream.  It's all about the mustard and the mushrooms anyway.

I served this with this green bean salad I saw on the nytimes website and it was a great choice. It was nice and tangy and acidic and the perfect foil to the rich, creamy pork. I ate the leftover vinaigrette on a bowl of arugula salad the next day and it was amazing. I will be buying over ripe tomatoes just to make this stuff all the time now.

This recipe is not reinventing the wheel, it's a solid, tasty weeknight standard in this house - it's total comfort food. My favourite part is eating the leftover mushroom mustard cream sauce the next day on a bowl of basmati rice for lunch as my reward for feeding these hooligans.

So yeah, I got some free mustard from Maille and my love for Maille mustard is strong and true so my opinions are my own, yadda yadda yadda.

Pork with Mustard Mushroom Pan Sauce

serves 4

2 pork tenderloins
2 tbls olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
1 tbls each of fresh thyme, parsely, oregano and rosemary
drizzle olive oil
2 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups sliced brown button mushrooms
1 cup shitake sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups sliced oyster mushrooms
kosher salt
1/4 cup white wine
2 tbls Maille old style whole grain mustard1.5 cup chicken stock
4 or 5 stalks of fresh thyme
1/2 cup carnation 2% milk

rub the pork tenderloins with 1 tbls olive oil, the fresh herbs and a pinch of kosher salt and a grind or two of black pepper and set aside to come to room temp.

Preheat the oven to 425F

Heat the second tbls olive oil in a heavy, oven proof pan. brown the tenderloins on all sides and then pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the inner temp is about 140F. Take the pork out of the oven and put the tenderloins on a platter, letting them rest while you make the sauce.

In the same pan that you roasted the pork, add a drizzle of olive oil and throw in the shallot and the garlic and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the brown button mushrooms and brown them in the pan for a few minutes, until you see them taking on some nice colour. Add in the shitakes, stir them around and saute for another minute or so before adding in the oyster mushrooms. After a couple of minutes, add in the white wine and deglaze the pan for a couple of minutes. Mix in the grainy mustard. Add in the chicken stock and the stalks of fresh thyme and let it simmer rapidly for about 3 or 4 minutes. Lastly, throw in the carnation milk and let it simmer rapidly for about 2 minutes before removing it from the heat.
To serve, slice the pork and pour the mushroom sauce over the top.

Green and Yellow Beans in Tomato Vinaigrette

adapted from NYTimes

1 big handful green beans, cleaned and ends trimmed
1 big handful of yellow beans, cleaned and ends trimmed
1 big, super ripe tomato
1 tbls red wine vinegar
pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
about 2 tbls chopped basil
about 3 tbls toasted almond slices

Par boil the beans in salted, boiling water for about 2 minutes before removing them to a bowl of ice water to shock them and avoid overcooking. When they are totally cooled off, remove them and dry them off thoroughly.

Cut the tomato in half and squeeze out the seeds using your fingers to make sure you get them all. Grate the tomato on a large hole grater right down to the skin. The skin will protect your fingers and won't grate so it makes it easier than you think. Put the tomato pulp in a bowl and throw in a pinch of kosher salt, garlic and the vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil and taste and add more salt if needed.

Put the beans in a bowl and add just enough vinaigrette to coat them after you give them a thorough toss and let them sit for at least an hour and up to 4 or 5 hours before serving. Add the basil and almonds just before you serve them, giving them one last toss.

The Week in Yum Aug 10-16

I knew it couldn't last. This week was not nearly as exiting as last week. It was one of those weeks where we all take too long to get up and moving so we end up eating a really late lunch and then nobody feels like dinner which always means Shack orders pizza at 9:30pm for him and The Kid. This is the only thing I dislike about summer - we are not very good at keeping to a schedule of any kind unless life forces it upon us. The weekend started off well with a Saturday visit to Kensington Market and late lunch (SEE???? This was the beginning of the end)  at Mexican Salsas . It's not the best mexican food in the world but it's authentic and tasty and they almost always have Mexican coke. It has become our regular taco spot in the market and since I had a team buy coupon which made it feel like it was free, it was even tastier than normal. I always get the chorizo tacos, Shack gets the cochinita pibil tacos and The Kid got a cochinita burrito. Shack left for a hair cut at The Crows Nest so The Kid and I went across the street to grab him some churros at Pancho's Bakery and wandered around, buying yellow plums so I can whip up some plum cinnamon jam at some point.  Doh, another day where we ate the tacos too late in the day so nobody felt like eating again once we got home. Mother fail.

chorizo potato tacos at Salsas

Sunday we met friends for a plentiful lunchtime sushi feast at Sushi Mountain  in Oshawa and it was fine but most importantly, it was cheap. We had four hungry young boys to feed who descended on each incoming platter like a pack of starving wolves. It was nothing but clicking chopsticks, rice flying and cheeks puffed out, stuffed with dynamite rolls. If you don't have hungry kids, you won't see the appeal in a decent all you can eat place that charges $12/adult and $10/kid for lunch but if you have eating machines to feed, places like this are life savers. We ended the day at Lolita's with The Neighbours. We had forgotten that it was Taste of the Danforth so actually getting TO the restaurant became quite an adventure but once we arrived and settled in we had a really nice dinner, as always. We have been eating there for two decades, through different owners, watched the food quality go up and down but it's still our comfort spot. The food has been very good for the last couple of years and we are always happy with our meal. I don't think that Shack has ever ordered anything other than the steak with gorgonzola cream sauce. Ever. He doesn't even like blue cheese.

Looks like it will be a good week.


Except for Tuesday, when I finally got around to make my pork with mushroom mustard sauce that I had planned to make the previous Friday, I don't think I cooked an actual dinner one other time. It was all eat nothing all day, late lunch, nobody feels like dinner so I eat some popcorn and they order pizza later at night.

the only homecooked meal of the week, recipe coming soon

On Wednesday, I did meet a friend for lunch at Xola, the new Mexican place in the beach I talked about last week. I much prefer their dinner menu and really would have liked a fish taco or ceviche again but those things are not offered on the brunch menu. I got a trio of gorditas that are served with a side of scrambled egg. It was fine but it wouldn't win out over sushi or thai for lunch so I am not sure that it will become a mid day spot for me - I still love their dinner menu though!

That was it. No food trucks, no bbqing, one delicious home cooked meal. I am almost looking forward to school starting up again just so we can all get back on track around here because not only is it boring, it's not a really healthy way to eat. I promise to try to do better next week.

So, let's get on with it:

my favourite pin of the week:  Caribbean Jerk Salmon Tostadas from Half Baked Harvest

favourite instagram was this stunning photo by sipsandspoonful

my favourite share on facebook took me to the kitchn where I learned how not to kill people with my canned goods

my favourite food fine: Look at these Laser cut rolling pins!

favourite tweet of the week: I am mildly obsessed with these cakes

My Version of Takikomi-Gohan or Mixed Rice Bowl

Takikomi gohan is a traditional Japanese dish consisting of a bit meat or seafood cooked together with rice in dashi with some seasonal vegetables. In other words, It should translate to The Kid's Perfect One Dish Meal. I wanted to make some  takikomi gohan in my new Zojirushi rice cooker but I wanted to adapt it to what i keep in my pantry. Although I love Japanese food, I don't really keep gobo and konnyako lying around the house if you know what I mean and I don't think they are EVER considered a seasonal vegetable here in Toronto. Again, lazy me also doesn't really want to travel all over the city looking for it either so I used what I already had. I also added a bit of miso, which is not traditional but we like miso and we aren't actually Japanese so I thought it would be okay. In the future, I can see throwing in some frozen peas, or julienned carrot and maybe switching the chicken for some frozen shrimp. I will report back. As far as what kind of rice to use, I like it with a short grain, sticky rice so I use this light brown sushi rice but you can use any sushi rice or you could even use arborio rice. If you don't like your rice sticky, use basmati or any other fragrant, long grain rice but it will have a totally different texture. If you are going to serve it with a vegetable that will not endure the long cooking time of the rice cooker, you can just steam, saute or boil it and serve it on top of the finished rice bowl. I like to steam a bit of baby bok choy, chop it up and drizzle a bit of sesame oil and soy sauce on top. If you put baby bok choy IN the rice cooker along with the other ingredients, you would be left with a terrible, soggy mess and unless that is the result you are working toward, do your vegetables separately and just plop them on top of the bowl right before you serve it.

This stuff is so good and it makes a really great lunch for The Kid to take to school in his new Zojirushi bento thing, which is, by the way, THE BOMB. I can't believe I waited all these years to buy both the rice cooker and the bento lunch system thing. Honestly, sometimes I am so cheap about the weirdest things. I will happily eat three meals out a day over the weekend but god forbid I fork out $75 for a kick ass lunch system for a kid who takes a hot lunch to school with him five days a week.
I really have to work on my priorities.

My Mixed Rice Bowl

serves 2-3 as a main dish

200 g skinless, boneless chicken thigh, diced
100 g deep fried tofu (age), diced
1 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls mirin
2 or 3 dried shitake or any chinese dried mushroom if you don't have shitake
hot water to soak the mushroomwater for the rice
2 cups rice (i used a light brown sushi rice)
1 scallion, sliced thinly
water to make the final liquid = 2 1/2 cups
1 tsp instant dashi (I use Shimaya)
chopped scallion and toasted sesame seeds for garnish 

soak the dried mushrooms in enough super hot water just to cover them and rehydrate them. I soak them for at least 30 minutes when I use the full sized shitake.
Put the tofu in a strainer and pour really hot water over it to wash off some of the oil. Mix the soy sauce, mirin and miso in a bowl big enough to hold the chicken and tofu. Add the chicken and tofu to the marinade, toss and let it sit for a few minutes while you get the rest of the stuff ready. Sometimes I do this earlier in the day or even the night before and let it marinate. If you do that, then putting this dinner together is even easier and quicker. It's up to you.
Now, wash your rice a few times until the water runs clear and put it in your rice cooker. Remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid and slice them thinly and add them to the rice. Now, strain the soaking liquid into a measuring cup and then fill with hot water until you have 2 1/2 cups of liquid. Stir in the dashi powder. Pour that over the rice(with my rice cooker, I am using two scoops of rice with the scoop that came with it and filling the water level to 2 - if you have a rice cooker, follow whatever directions come with it in order to cook two cups of dry rice)Add the scallion and stir it around and then pour in the chicken and tofu with it's marinade on top of that, give it all a stir and cover your rice cooker and hit start. When the rice is done, you will be left with a delicious meal in a bowl. I would give it a big stir once it's done and let it steam in the rice cooker for about ten minutes.The Kid likes to sprinkle furikake over the whole thing so you might want to try that - I like it straight up or with a bit of siracha.

Chicken with Chermoula and Radish Quinoa Tabbouleh

 When I spied this blog post on The Cook Who Knew Nothing, I knew I had to make it. It felt like a great excuse to try out some new ingredients like preserved lemons, pomegranate molasses and baharat spice which are all things that I think about buying but don't because I am not sure what to do with them. North African cuisine is still very unfamiliar to me and I am just really starting to learn about Middle Eastern food this year. There are enough familiar flavours in this food that it feels like something I know but, at the same time, with these kicks of either new tastes or new combinations of spices that I wouldn't normally put together. I can't wait to try this chermoula with some fish and perhaps next time, I will up the chili and make it a bit hotter but otherwise, I wouldn't change a thing at this point. The chicken was just as good over the next couple of days either over rice or in a pita as a sort of shwarma like sandwich with some tahini sauce, pickled turnips, red onion and siracha.

I made a few small changes, as always and fell in love with both of them. Actually, I have made this salad almost every day since the first time I made it and will continue to do so until somebody yells at me. The quinoa in place of the bulgar wheat really works for me because I am not crazy about the texture of bulgur and because quinoa is a complete protein, I can eat just the salad for dinner and feel like I am having all of my needs met without feeling like I have to add meat to my plate. Any excuse for me to throw in some of my persian picked turnip is always welcome and it was a great addition to an already delicious salad.

Reno helped out with the bbq, of course

For me, chermoula is like the North African step sister to chimichurri, no? LOVE LOVE LOVE the preserved lemon and plan to throw some into everything from now on. Next up is a batch of preserved lemons but I am lucky enough to live in a city with plenty of Lebanese and Persian grocers where you can buy them by weight along with the pickled things so for now, I am happy to just buy them along with my pickled turnips and hot peppers.

 Chicken with Charmoula

adapted from The Cook Who Knew Nothing

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 bunch italian parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
hot chili to taste (I used about a 1/2" piece of the hot orange chili I had in the fridge)
1 1/2 small preserved lemon, seed removed, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of two lemons
1 tbls ground cumin
1 tbls ground coriander
pinch kosher salt

Put everything BUT the chicken thighs in a food processor and pulse until you have a mildly chunky paste, kind of like pesto. I don't like it totally pureed.

Put the thighs into a glass or other non reactive container and cover with the paste, tossing the chicken around until you are sure all the meat is completely coated with it. Cover and put in the fridge for an hour, at least, but overnight is best.

Heat your grill to med high (we use a charcoal grill but if gas is your thing, use that) and remove the thighs, shaking off any excess marinade and cook them for about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove and set aside and let them sit for five minutes before serving.

Radish Quinoa Tabbouleh

1 bunch mint, chopped
1 big handful of cilantro, chopped
approx 5 or 6 good sized radishes sliced thin using a mandolin
about 4 baby cucumbers, sliced thin on the mandolin (1 large english cucumber if you can't find the baby cukes)
1 scallion sliced thinly
1/4 cup pickled turnip, sliced thinly
hot chili to taste (again, I used about 1/2" chunk of the chili I had)
1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tbls pomegranate molasses
1 tsp *baharat spice mix
salt to taste

Make the dressing in a big bowl. Throw in the salad stuff and mix it all together in a big bowl. That's it.

*baharat spice

1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cardamom pods
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg

place all the ingredients in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder and grind finely

The Week In Yum Aug 3-9

We have had a great week, despite the cool, late fall weather over the weekend. Normally I am all about crisp, late fall days


the downside of the backseat in a convertible in rain

Aaaanyway, we left for Westport Ontario on Friday to spend the long weekend visiting family. I was pretty sure we were not going to be able to find a nice place to stay so last minute and would have to make the 30 minute commute back to my sister's place every day (said sister was on her boat in Westport, a lovely little town north of Kingston) but on Thursday i started emailing a few B&Bs on a lark and much to my surprise, one of them had a cancellation later in the day and emailed me back with the offer of a room. We stayed at the Rothwell Stone Cottage and I am so happy we did.

Margot and her husband were so friendly and helpful, the house is beautiful, the grounds are well kept and there is a really nice pool in the beautifully landscaped backyard. Breakfasts are delicious, fresh and home made and the coffee is plentiful and strong. I have to be honest, I don't always like B&Bs. I am very much a nice hotel girl, complete with puffy linens,  room service and lots of privacy in my sound proofed room. It's like a Goldilocks situation with me. I have been to B&Bs where it truly feel like I am sleeping in my cousin's old bedroom while he is away at university and I try my hardest to not be an imposition. You are just happy if there is a jar on instant coffee on the table with some creamer and a stale muffin in the morning and you can't wait to get out of there. Then there are the B&Bs that are SO precious and full of $$ antiques that they seem kind of stuffy and prissy and I can't relax. I end up feeling like a rabid 4 year old trying desperately not to break stuff the whole time I am in the house. I feel like I have to tiptoe around and not touch anything until I  wonder why the hell I am paying these people to make me feel so coarse and clumsy.

yogurt and fruit with homemade granola

frittata, home made yam scones

I am happy to say that this did not happen here. This one was was too warm, and that one was too cold but this one was juuuuust right. It's nice enough to be lovely but it's still cosy and you feel like you can kick back and sit on the furniture and we felt really relaxed. I will admit one embarrassing thing right now but don't spread it around or you will ruin our reps.  Shack and I thought it would be nice to sit in the dark out back the first night and read on our ipads. It was a brisk evening and we were enjoying the absolute quiet which just never happens at home but at the first, loud rustle in the bushes we both froze and looked at each other in mild panic. He said "what the hell was that?"

Being the city folk that we are, I immediately assumed it was a crazed serial killer, escaped from Kingston Pen hell bent on murdering us in the garden and I starting calculating how long the police response time is in Westport.  Shack said "maybe it's a bear. Let's go into the sun porch, these bugs are eating me alive". After ten more minutes of loud rustling, coming ever closer, he finally pretended to yawn and said "let's go back to the room. I'm beat" and he pushed me out of the way and ran back into the house.

Our hosts thought it was most likely a lovely dear but I know, in my heart of hearts, that it was a crazed serial killer from the Pen who was going to kill us in the garden and leave our entrails for the bear to feast on. Country people are too trusting.

We had a great time visiting with family but on Sunday it was time to return to the Big Smoke. We left Westport after breakfast to meander home to Toronto, which is normally a 3 hour drive on the 401. Of course, because we are who we are, we didn't get home until 9pm but we had a great drive, complete with a ride on the Glenora Ferry, taking us into Prince Edward County for a  visit to Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in Picton. I have always wanted to visit this environmentally  responsible cheese maker but we are always in more of a hurry and it's kind of out of the way. As we were driving along a lovely, winding road trying to find it, it occurred to me that I had heard something about them closing at some point in the near past and the absence of signs started to worry me a wee bit. Of course, I did not share this sudden memory with Shack because that might not have went over so well and I was just starting to fret when suddenly I realized that we just drove right past it. I was very happy to learn that although they had closed for a time due to divorce and drama, new owners had bought the business and hired the assistant to the former cheese maker who is using all of Fifth Town's recipes and methods to carry on the traditions of the original Fifth Town. I encourage everyone to make the drive to Picton and visit this place - you can even book a tasting. The cheeses, mostly sheep and goat, are so interesting and delicious and it's such a pretty place. We walked out back after purchasing our cheeses and there was a young lady grilling corn. I wanted a piece but I thought "$3 for an ear of corn???" Come on.  I was really hungry and I am ruled by my belly so I sucked it up and asked for an ear. Well, that delicious, sweet corn was only the beginning. I was given a container of their very own alpine butter whipped with their own parmesan to spread on it and was then presented with a choice of three fancy pants salts. Because I can not make my mind about such things, I used all three salts so it was like eating three cobs of corn, which is always better than eating one. It was the best $3 cob of corn I have ever had and I am still kicking myself for not getting a second.

On monday, which was a holiday here, we grilled some steaks and I made a scallion aji amarillo salsa thing, inspired by our MVP (most valued Peruvian) and even The Kid kept asking for more. A recipe for that will be coming soon.

On Tuesday we drove downtown to have a food truck lunch at the Sony Centre. As always, we got the pad thai fries from Fidel Gastro but I cheated on Fidel and my new favourite thing was the Chicken Tikka Box from The Feisty Jack. A whack of crispy fries smothered in chicken tikka, hot sauce, raita, a kind of Indian poutine - total food o' my fickle heart.

The Feisty Jack even gave me this free mushroom toast

Now, if all of this good food wasn't enough , The Kid and I ended the week by going to Xola for dinner last night. There used to be a wonderful little Mexican restaurant on the Danforth called Pachuco. We ate there quite a few times and would have gone more often if it was closer. It was run by the Fernandez sisters from Mexico City and they served traditional Mexican food with a contemporary twist that they call modmex cuisine. I just called it crazypants delicious.  Imagine my delight when I spied a sign a couple of weeks back that said "Pachuco opening soon" in the window of the vacant spot next to Ed's Real Scoop right there on Queen St in The Beach. Ed's is at 2224 Queen East so this place must be at 2222 Queen East but it's so new that you can't find it on the internet yet so just remember it's next door to Ed's. Anyhow, a week later, the actual sign was up but it said Xola and I became obsessed with finding out if it was the same people so when I finally got a chance to pounce on someone, I totally pounced and I would like to apologize for that right now. I was told it was, indeed, the same three sisters, the same cook and, basically, the same restaurant with a new name. I have never been so happy. 

The Beach is a lovely place to live with a stunning boardwalk, dogs as far as the eye can see,  beautiful gardens and friendly neighbours but the food sitch is terrible. It's nothing but wings, pubs, wings and more wings with a smattering of decent sushi restaurants. We desperately need Xola to thrive and to stay so we can have nice things just like our neighbours in Riverdale so I am counting on all Beachers to support this place and I am also telling all of my friends who don't live in The Beach that we finally have a little restaurant that is worth the drive to Acton.

would you look at that ceviche? Not a chicken wing in sight

I have to admit, the service was spotty but it was absolutely packed and they are brand new so I am willing to cut them some slack. The Kid had a cochinita burrito which he inhaled. He said it was amazing and we will all have to take his word for it since it was gone before I could get a bite and we shared guacamole with smoked salmon. They did a version with smoked trout that I was partial to in the other restaurant but it was still delicious. My ceviche was wonderful. It had just the perfect level of limey tartness and an abundance of avocado gave it a creaminess that not all ceviches possess. It was exactly what I wanted although be prepared to wait a good 30 to 40 minutes for it. I was so happy to know it was being prepared fresh that I didn't mind the wait. I had a fresh, tasty margarita to help me pass the time and planned what I was going to eat on my next visit.


favourite pin this week was this roasted strawberry cheesecake ice cream 
if you have to ask why, I don't know you.

favourite instagram this week: These sardine cans from eatlivetravelwrite brought back so many memories of being abroad

favourite share on facebook:   I love this little video about how to deal with an avocado

favourite food find of the week is the Toronto Food Truck App

favourite tweet - just look at these stunning photos. If this doesn't make you want to jump on a plane and go straight to Italy right now, you are not human

Who Is My Local Food Hero? Suresh Doss, That's Who

It's time for my monthly post for The Great Canadian Food Experience Project where Canadian bloggers from across our nation write about a different subject each month. This month we are talking about great Canadian food heros and since I am from Toronto and I am pretty passionate about bringing diverse, interesting street food options to our city, I chose to write a bit about Suresh Doss, our very own Toronto food truck warrior.

Toronto, despite being a world class city that likens itself to places like New York and Paris, has long suffered from draconian city bylaws that hinder any attempt to serve interesting street food. If you were flogging a grilled hot dog topped with condiments that sit out in the sun all day from a cart, or deep frying potatoes and griddle frying greasy burgers in a truck down at the foot of Cherry St,  you were golden but if you wanted to make me a pulled pork sandwich with kimchi, you were out of luck. Don't get me wrong, I like a nice, greasy fry from time to time but I want more options. We have had to sit and watch Japadog take over Vancouver and Kogi Korean BBQ  transform the idea of Korean fusion food in LA. I actually followed Korilla BBQ from NYC on twitter for two years before I even got a chance to go there and eat something because I was so desperate for a real food truck experience. That is how it was, up until the summer of 2011.

my first real food truck , Calexico in NYC

That summer was when all that seemed like it was about to change. Suresh Doss, a tech guy who ate his way around the world before starting Spotlight Toronto, an online guide to food, wine and lifestyle in Ontario was inspired by the food truck revolution in cities like NYC, Miama and LA. He organized the very first Food Truck Eats  event at the Distillery District in Toronto at the start of summer. That first event saw only 4 actual food trucks participating with twice as many vendors. I didn't know what to expect but I think what nobody DID expect was to have 1 hour+ line ups filled with smiling, happy people who clearly did not mind the wait if it meant that they could have a delicious fish taco at some point. They had planned for about 800 and 4000 hungry people showed up.

my virgin Toronto food truck taco experience

The second Food Truck Eats  event that summer was even bigger and the lines were even longer with people who were still just as happy to wait. This time we saw about 10 food trucks, 14 vendors and an estimated 10,000 people filling the entire Distillery District. Vendors were actually selling out of food well before closing time which might be frustrating for those of us waiting for a chance to eat a taco from La Carnita but a great sign for the organizers that they are on the right track. By the time the third event was held in early fall of 2011, it was clear that the city was dying for this food experience and still, it felt like nobody at City Hall was ever going to listen.

Pad Thai Fries. WHAT??

Since then, the number of trucks associated with Toronto Food Trucks has swelled to over 30 and Food Truck Eats events have happened all over the city, in other cities, sometimes in conjunction with the wonderful people of TUM ( The Toronto Underground Market), another local food movement. There is a web site, there is a book Street Eats Toronto, food trucks like Gastronomico Vagabundo and Gorilla Cheese are like rock stars in the city as well as food truck activists, helping slowly change the bylaws in other cities like St Catherine's, Hamilton, Niagara and Ottawa to allow them to operate, often just on privately owned property at first with the eventual goal of allowing them to roam the city and park wherever they like, serving curbside,  like they do in so many other big cities.

Mr. Hynam-Smith of El Gastronomo Vagabundo summed it up perfectly when he spoke to The Globe and Mail last June. 

“This guy, selflessly, I don’t know when the guys sleeps – he’s some sort of Sri Lankan god or something. I don’t know, maybe he’s part elephant. He can just soldier on through anything.”

Gastronomico Vagabundo is a staple at Niagara's Suppermarket

In 2009 there was a failed food vendor experiment that came through City Hall called A La Cart that left many vendors bankrupted and angry when they were victims of a project that was doomed to fail from the start. The vendors were forced to use ridiculously overpriced carts that were not suited to anything other than grilling hot dogs and the vendors had to try to adapt these carts to work for them while mamboing and slipping and sliding around the strict regulations that did not really allow them that freedom. The location fees were ridiculous and, in the end, 7 of the 8 original vendors did not renew for a second year and in 2011 it was scrapped. It was a total disaster.

Now, two city counsillors, Josh Colle and Mary Margaret McMahon have been working with Suresh and his Food Truck group to bring a pilot program to Toronto this summer which will see food trucks operating at five Toronto parks starting Aug 1. According to random polls, the overwhelming majority of Torontonians want these food trucks to be allowed to roam the streets, bringing us a wide array of interesting, diverse, well priced food options so that we are no longer a slave to nothing but hot dogs and sausages that sit on out on the grill all day from the ubiquitous hot dog cars, known simply as street meat here in the city. These trucks meet all the health codes, are inspected regularly and are as squeaky clean as any brick and mortar restaurant and are a far cry from the standard chip truck that, up until now, was all we knew.

So, because you have fought so tirelessly to bring me fish tacos and grilled cheese with bacon and green apple, Pad Thai fries and arancini, I salute you Suresh Doss.

why yes, that is chicken tikka, fries with raita and siracha

and these guys made it

follow Suresh on Twitter or Ontario Food Trucks On Facebook

Inspired by the many variations of all manner of seafood in a taco that I have enjoyed from food trucks, I came up with this Calamari Taco

Calamari Tacos

corn tortillas
deep fried squid
mango aji amarillo sauce or MVP sauce
fresh baby pea shoots (you can sub in anything green and crunchy - shredded cabbage is the norm)
buttermilk crema

on a warm corn tortilla, lay out a few pieces of calimari. Drizzle some MVP sauce and some buttermilk crema over the squid and then plop on a bit of pea sprouts.
Eat it.

Corn tortillas
2 cups masa harina
2 cups warm tap water

mix together the masa  harina and the water and cover and let it sit for about 15 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. When it's time to make your tortillas, check it and if it feels a bit dry, add more water, a tbls at a time until if feels like soft cookie dough.
Preheat a dry cast iron griddle or pan over med high heat.
 Divide it up into about 16 golf ball sized balls and cover. Take one ball at a time and either roll it out really thin or use a tortilla press (wrap the two discs in plastic wrap) to press out each tortilla.
Cook the tortillas for about 30 seconds per side (they should puff up) and wrap them in a clean tea towel until you are done all of them. You can let them sit, wrapped in the warm tea towel for 10 or 15 minutes as well.

*if you don't want to make that many tortillas, just always use equal amounts of warm water and masa since these tortillas don't really hold all that well so only make as many as you are going to eat for dinner.

Calamari/Fried Squid

about 1 lb cleaned squid, cut into rings like for calamari (great photo tutorial on how to clean squid)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp cumin
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
enough vegetable oil to reach about 3" deep in your pot of choice

Rinse the squid thoroughly and pat dry. Cut the tentacles in half lengthwise and the tubes into 1/2-inch rings. Set aside.

Place the flour ,cornmeal and cumin into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. In small handfuls, dredge the squid in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Another cool trick I remember seeing on a youtube video was to put the flour and cormeal mixture into a baggie and then throw the squid in there, shake it around and then set a strainer over a bowl and dump the calamari into the strainer. Give the strainer a few shakes and it will dump the excess flour mixture into the bowl and you can just grabe the breaded squid out of the strainer to throw into the hot oil. I haven't tried that method but I keep meaning to.
In batches, gently lower the squid into the hot oil. Cook for 1 minute. The squid will not be really browned, but lightly golden in color. Remove the squid and transfer to a cooling turned upside down set over a newspaper-lined cookie pan or on a plate lined with a couple layers of paper towel. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Repeat until all of the squid is cooked. Make sure to check the temperature of the oil before each batch to ensure it is 375 degrees F. Serve immediately.

Mango Aji Amarillo sauce or MVP sauce 
adapted from Bobby Flay

1 tbls veg oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 mango, chopped
3 tsp aji amarillo paste
2 tbls honey (or to taste)
1/2 cup white vinegar
salt to taste

heat oil in a small pan over med heat and sauté the onion and garlic until it's soft. Add in the chopped up mango and the pepper paste and cook, stirring often, for about five minutes. Add in the honey and vinegar and cook over low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and pour that  mixture into a blender and puree til smooth. Strain it through a strainer over a bowl and taste. Add salt to taste

Buttermilk Crema

1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbls greek yogurt
1 tsp lime juice
pinch kosher salt
1 tbls chopped cilantro

mix together the all of the ingredients and taste and adjust seasonings if you wish.

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