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The Week in Yum Aug 23-Aug 29 Nakayoshi Izakaya and prepping for Awestruck

age dashi tofu at Nakayoshi Izakaya

This was another light week and I am sure my body is thanking me for that. I was sick all weekend so apart from water, tea and handfuls of potato chips, my sustenance of choice when I have any type of flu like ailment, I abstained entirely. I am sure The Kid ate something here and there but I can't even remember anything apart from hearing ramblings of ramen and sprite.

Nakayoshi Izakaya

I finally broke my fast with a bowl of spicy miso ramen from Nakayoshi Izakaya on Danforth. Shack and I have both driven by this place a thousand times but, for some reason, I just assumed it wasn't going to be any good. The sushi places in the Greek area of the Danforth tend to be pretty pedestrian, all you can eat places so I guess I thought this would be the same but with noodles.

Illness will make you desperate though and I wasn't up to a drive to Markham or downtown so we popped in to check it out. Only two other tables were occupied and I almost bailed but the spotless, warmly lit interior, not to mention that delicious smells coming from the kitchen, convinced me to sit down and give this place a chance. If I could find a decent bowl of ramen in the east end, it would greatly improve my life.
The Kid drained his bowl of tempura udon and the salad was big enough for two

Our server was a lovely,  young lady who was clearly full of enthusiasm but appeared to be mildly overwhelmed by the task of taking care of her three tables. A couple of service snafus like forgetting to give us any sort of utensil to eat with or bringing water to the table after we asked her for it were forgiven once that steaming bowl of spicy miso ramen was set in front of me. It really was everything you could want. There was a generous amount of thinly sliced, tender roast pork, half a hard boiled egg, corn and some bamboo shoots. The noodles were chewy and properly cooked, the miso broth was appropriately thick and it , as advertised, spicy which is not always the case. I have discovered Japanese spicy is not my spicy but it was actually hot enough to warrant a dab of the nose with my napkin....oh wait, she never brought us any of those. No matter. Shack got up and swiped the place settings from a nearby table and really, she was adorable, but I wouldn't like to see what happens when the joint is jumping.

california rolls were fresh, light and exactly as they should be

We all thoroughly enjoyed our noodles, a really fresh, oversized green salad and perfectly done age dashi tofu. In fact, the only other time I have seen The Kid finish his whole bowl is when we eat at Kinton because the silly bugger says he prefers my noodle bowls. At under $10 per bowl, prices were  totally in line for everything we ordered although Shack remained obsessed with the $15 pricetag on the dragon rolls, which does seem pretty steep but we weren't there for the specialty rolls. In fact, many of the non noodle bowl menu offerings did seem a bit on the steep side, with lunch specials going for $12.50 in a neighbourhood were you can get the same deals for almost half the price.

Bottom line is that there is finally a decent ramen to be had in the east end of the city and that should make everyone just a little bit happier.

Nakayoshi Izakaya on Urbanspoon

The only other dining experience I had this week was at The Hard Rock Cafe at Dundas Square to celebrate a dear friend's birthday with a gaggle of kids in tow. It is actually the very first time I have ever been to a Hard Rock Cafe and the food was pretty much what I expected. My wings were not the worst I have ever had, our server was fabulous, the company was amazing and a great time was had by all. Will I ever go back there the next time I am peckish and I find myself a stone's throw from The Salad King?

Is that really a question?

I am just saying, I ate there, nobody died and I had a great time with my friends and I scored a fabulous pair of pewter Vans on the walk back to the car.

even mom needs new back to school metallic kicks

I spent the rest of the week tinkering with my recipe for Keftedes for the Blend and Extend campaign that will be appearing soon on the blog for Mushrooms Canada. This will be my very first offering as a guest blogger for Mushrooms Canada so make sure you pop over there and check it out when it goes live.

Next week is Back To School, which means back to making tasty lunches for The Kid, TIFF coming up for me and the continued hope that summer is going to finally make an appearance at some point in September. For now, let's enjoy the sun and I am going to enjoy my weekend loaner dog, Stella.

Our loaner dog, Stella, is so sweet and lovely that I could almost see myself getting another

Oh, and don't forget that next weekend is Awestruck, a giant food truck extravaganza that always brings the yum. Stop eating Thursday to get yourself ready to gorge on Saturday in Mississauga's Celebration Square. As a thank you to everyone who has come out and supported this event, admission will be free this year so you can spend more of your hard earned cash on delicious treats.

If you can't make it out to Mississauga  next week, there is an Awestruck Pop Up event going on today in the parking lot at 495 Wellington Street West from noon til 8pm. Even if you can make it out next weekend, go today anyway.

Happy eating!

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Post by Carole Nelson Brown.

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Beef Mushroom Burrito Means Back to School is Around the Corner

As part of my continuing experimentation with this whole blend and extend thing, I have discovered another recipe that is improved by the addition of mushrooms. The mushrooms release liquid that keeps the filling from drying out and it really does make your meat go a lot farther.  I managed to make 7 burritos using only 300 grams of beef and because this filling doesn't have to hold it's shape like a meatball, I think that you could even up the mushroom to beef ratio in this recipe without any trouble. I am going to try it half and half next and will report my findings. If anyone tries it first, please let me know how it went in the comments.

As August comes to a close, I start to panic about the lunch sitch with The Kid and I am suddenly obsessed with the need to stock the freezer with lunch items. It's like a foodie mom's non pregnant nesting or something and I can't stop until I know that I have enough food for at least three lunches/dinners a week for September. A sandwich or two a week won't kill him but September is not only back to school, it's also TIFF and that is my busiest time of the year so I have to worry about dinner too. I can't deal with stressing out about what they are going to eat while I am off babysitting movie stars, so I cook.

There is no real recipe for a burrito. You can do the whole thing with nothing but leftovers. Leftover meat or fish, leftover rice, some cheese, some leftover grilled veggies and maybe a splash of salsa, heat it up in the oven or on a frying pan and you've got yourself a burrito, right? This is a recipe for a meat filling that would also be great in a taco but for today, we are turning it into burritos that you are going to pop in the freezer.

The actual trimmings you put into the burrito are really up to you, as are the amounts. If you like them super cheesey, add more cheese. If you prefer a different kind of cheese, use it. If you want to make your own refried beans, knock yourself out. I don't like to add guacamole unless I am making them to eat right away because I don't like what happens to avocado when it's frozen and thawed but you might not care about that. You could add some leftover corn, chopped tomatoes or grilled peppers if you have those lying around. It's really up to you. Don't even start with me about the cilantro. It's not your fault, it's your brain that makes you think it tastes like soap so just leave it out and stop making that face.

Beef Mushroom Burrito

This recipe makes approx 7 or 8 good sized burritos

300g ground beef
100g button mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 generous tbls cooking oil
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper
1/2 cup rotel (Canadians who can't find rotel can sub in one diced plum tomato with about 1/4 cup of salsa to make about 1/2 cup total)
1/2 cup chicken stock
handful of cilantro

to make the burritos:

10" flour tortillas
can refried beans
approx 2 1/2 cups of leftover rice (or cook fresh using 11/2 cup of dried basmati rice)
about 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco (sub in mild feta if you can't find it)
about 1/2 cup sharp cheddar


Grind the mushrooms in the food processor. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium and saute the onion for a couple of minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Next, add the ground mushrooms and ground beef, smashing the meat down with a wooden spoon, until all of the pink is gone. I don't like big chunks of meat so I really squash it down with my spoon as I stir it while it's browning.

Next, throw in the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and stir well to coat the mushroom/meat with the spices. Stir in the rotel and the chicken stock, cover and turn the heat to med low. After five minutes, take the lid off, turn it back up to medium and let it simmer lightly for another five minutes. It should thicken up nicely. Stir in the cilantro and set aside to cool. (unless you are serving them immediately- in that case you don't have to cool it)

If your flour tortillas feel stiff, put them in the microwave for about 15 or 20 seconds to soften them up, one at a time as you go.

Lay your tortilla on your countertop or cutting board.
Smear some refried beans down the centre.
Lay a big spoonful of rice on top of the beans (the bean and rice layer helps to absorb the juices from the meat so your tortilla doesn't get soggy)
Next is a layer of beef/mushroom and finish that up with some queso fresco and cheddar.

now, fold the flap closest to you over the top and then sort of tuck it under the filling, pulling the filling towards you. Fold in the sides and continue to roll it up snugly, tucking bits in as you go. If you like you can spend some time watching youtube tutorials on how to do it but you will find that everyone has their own technique and they all seem to work so, just make sure the sides are tucked in so filling doesn't fall out and go to it. You will figure it out.

Once you have all of them made, you can freeze them or eat them right away. If you are eating them right away just skip the microwave part and heat them up in the frying pan for about 3 minutes per side until lightly brown and toasty.

To freeze, put them all on a baking sheet that fits in your freezer and flash freeze them for about an hour or so before putting them all a couple of freezer bags. When it's time to eat one, remove one from the freezer bag, pop it it into the microwave on a piece of paper towel and cook on high for  2 to 3 minutes. While it's defrosting/cooking in the microwave, warm up a pan over med heat and oil the pan using spray oil or just add a tiny slurp and wipe it around with a paper towel. Heat the burrito for a couple of minutes on top and bottom, starting with the seam side down,  until it's lightly browned to crisp it up a bit and remove any moisture that is left in the tortilla, making it limp.

As far as packing them for lunch goes, if the kid is happy to eat it cold, I wrap it in foil and put it in his lunch bag with a freezer pack but if he is planning to heat it up at school, I use parchment first so he can remove the foil and throw the parchment wrapped burrito in the microwave. If you don't trust your kid to not set the school on fire by forgetting to remove the foil, wrap it in parchment and throw it in a plastic storage baggie.
Nobody wants to be the mom of the kid who put the foil in the microwave.

The Week in Yum August 16-22 A much needed break from eating out except for a little trip to Seven Lives

a week that begins with a magical wedding weekend in cottage country and ends with a trip to the market is a good week indeed

We attended our second wedding this summer on Saturday in cottage country and had a really great dinner while we were there. I am not going to lie, I don't usually expect much from any sort of wedding meal and I joked that I had checked off the beef option because I was holding out for a steak. Imagine my delight when I saw that the beef option was, indeed, a perfectly grilled, medium rare steak!

20 Tips for Using a Smartphone Abroad

ipad photo shot in hipstamatic and edited in PS Express

Long, long ago in a faraway time I had to lug around an extra backpack just for my camera, my travel books, my walkman - SHUT UP I KNOW THAT DATES ME, reading material and the various gadgets I would need when I set out to see the world on my dinosaur.

Happily, those days are long gone because now I just do a bit of work getting my trusty iphone up to speed, throw that and my ipad mini (you don't even need the ipad but it's really handy for photo storage, magazines and photo editing for my old, bifocal wearing eyeballs) into my purse and I am out the door. Between those two items I have a library of reading material, a million travel books, currency converter, maps, gps, camera and darkroom, a phone, a computer, a travel agent, a translator and personal DJ.

thanks to my iphone, I can travel overseas for 10 days with only this fashionable child's carry on and a purse

Word of warning: This list is very iphonecentric because I use an iphone5 , I have an ipad mini and my desktop is a mac. We are an Apple family and have been an Apple family for well over a decade so I am not familiar with android or other platforms. I am pretty sure that every app that I use is available for other smartphones but because I have no personal experience with them, I am concentrating on what I know based on things I do myself. If you have great tips for using your smartphone abroad, please share them in the comments.

The Week in Yum Aug 9-15 The County General, PanAm Food Fest, Patois and Sauvignon Bistro

brunch at The County Cocktail

Saturday was the first day of the Pan American Food Festival so I didn't want to eat anything heavy for breakfast or lunch. I had a night of eating tamales ahead of me and I had to keep my game stomach on so I passed on going to The Wren. I love the Wren, as you all know, but all of the dishes are pretty heavy and I generally make that my meal of the day when I brunch there so I talked the boys into trying someplace new.

Middle Eastern Inspired Meatball Wraps

Oh, it's all blend and extend all the time in this house right now. Last week, I finally got around to trying this method of adding ground mushrooms to ground beef in order to make your meat go farther and add a serving of vegetable to dishes while you are at it. The result were these Jamaican Patty Pops and I have to tell you, I was actually kind of amazed at how much the addition of the mushrooms worked as far as texture and and keeping the meat moist was concerned. I spent the rest of the week perfecting these Middle Eastern Inspired MeatBalls, which had been my runner up idea for the appetizer challenge until I got it right. These little meatballs are also great on their own and made a nice little dinner served with a dollop of tzatziki, a greek salad and a chunk of bread.

Jamaican Patty Pops

About once a year I toy with the idea of making homemade Jamaican beef patties after having one too many stale, microwaved corner store patties. I get all fired up, spend hours reading recipes but then I start thinking about having to find beef rennet for the dough and all of that work and muse to myself "since I have to get on the subway anyway to go find this beef rennet, why not just drop by Bathurst station and buy myself a delectable beef patty and skip all that work?" and that is usually what I do. One bite of that hot, juicy meat pie and all thoughts of beef rennet fly away. Have you ever had the patties at the Bathurst Subway Station???

The Week In Yum Aug 2-8 Pan Am Food Fest, Norman Hardy

The groom's ride                                                                                                               Photo:Shack

Our week started off with a bang when we attended a Guyanese Hindu wedding in Brampton on Saturday. Now, I have been to an East Indian Hindu wedding and although it was a three day affair, the actual wedding ceremony only took about an hour and was followed by a dinner and a reception so I assumed this would be similar. At this wedding,  guests were free to leave the ceremony and wander over to the food tent whenever they felt a bit peckish with people lining up to fill their plates with delicious vegetarian dishes, sitting at the tables to eat and then returning to the ceremony. Our tablemates filled us in and told us that this was the hard core Hindu ceremony and it would go on for hours and since there wasn't room for all 1000 guests to eat at once, you were encouraged to get up, stretch your legs and get a snack, go back to the ceremony for a bit, come back for a snack until it's all over and then you go home - my kind of affair.

It's Chimichurri Compound Butter for TBT

It's Throwback Thursday so let's repost this No ReEats gem from September 25 back in 2011:

The Week in Yum July 26- August 1 Queen, Patois, Kadbanu and Recipieces This Week

I ate nothing but I took The Kid to see Queen and that was THE highlight of my week, so there

 Busy, busy week again starting with Queen at the ACC on Monday. Shack surprised The Kid and I with amazing seats for the concert because he knows that my son and I share a deep and abiding love for Queen. Let's face it, although they both still play with the energy and stamina of 25 year olds, Brian May and Roger Taylor are closer to 70 than 60 and this could be the last time they play together like this.  Adam Lambert was born to sing this music and did a fine job of standing in for Freddie Mercury but the thrill, for me, was to breathe the same airspace as Brian May, one of the most important guitarists in rock history, in my humble opinion. We laughed, I cried, we sang and all was right with the world.

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