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How To Use Up Leftovers so that they don't taste like leftovers - I Give You Risotto Cakes

If you do a search of my blog, you will see that we appear to eat a lot of risotto. As soon as the weather turns colder, risotto gets bumped up to the regular weekly rotation. If you have some stock, a glass of white wine or a bottle of beer laying around, a handful of leftover meat or seafood, some vegetables or maybe some dried mushrooms, a little chunk of parmesan and a pat of butter lying around, you have dinner.

Chili with Chorizo

Winter is just around the corner and I find myself craving stuff like chili, stew and soup. Went I came to the blog looking for my chili, I was surprised to find that I didn't have a straight up recipe for my regular chili. I found a great recipe for Red Chili Pork and Beans, Lentil Chili, and a Chili Chicken Soup but no simple, meaty chili. I was sure that I had posted it at some point and after a search, I found it on No reEats, the blog that documented my year of never repeating a recipe. To be honest, that year was such a blur of stress and mental anguish, that I think I have blocked most of the meals from my memory in order to protect my fragile psyche. 

I made a batch of this stuff over the weekend and realized that I had to share it with you guys because it's too good to keep to myself. This fills my 5 quart heavy pot or my 5 quart crock pot. It freezes beautifully by the way.

Chili with Chorizo

makes approx 4-5 quarts
small glug olive oil
500 g ground beef
300 g mild chorizo sausage, removed from casing and broken up into chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
796 ml can kidney beans
2 tbls cumin
5-6 tbls chili powder
1 heaping tbls mexican oregano
341 ml bottle of beer
700 ml tomato puree
1 cup chicken stock
kosher salt

optional to serve: sour creme, grated sharp cheddar, cilantro, lime and tortilla chips

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over med heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes before adding the meats. Brown the meat until all the pink is gone. Add the cumin, chili powder, and a pinch of salt and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the beer, the stock, the beans, tomato puree and oregano. Stir well and bring to a light simmer, cover partially with the lid and let it cook like that for an hour. Taste after an hour and adjust seasonings if you need to, add more salt if it needs it. Keep cooking it until it has reduced to the consistency that you like at this point. We like our chill pretty thick so I usually have to cook it for another 45 minutes or an hour.

*to cook in a slow cooker, saute the onion, garlic and the meats through to the adding of the spices and then scrape the meat/spice mixture into your slow cooker, add the beer, the stock, beans, tomato puree and oregano and cook it for 6-8 hours on low.

We all eat it differently so I serve all of the condiments on the side - Shack likes it with sour cream and cheddar, I like a bit of cheddar, cilantro and a squeeze of lime  and The Kid likes it naked. We all like to eat it with some tortilla chips

The Week In Yum Sept 20-26 The WIndup Bird Cafe, MacKellar Farms, Almond Breeze, Lobster Mushrooms and What's Coming Up This Week

Last Saturday, I took The Kid to The Windup Bird Cafe for the first of two, free sushi making classes that Sang Kim is offering to bring awareness to about child poverty and food insecurity right here in our own backyard. It was a packed house with kids from the age of 6 up to 15 with the majority hovering around 11 years old  (my kid was the giant 15 year old of the bunch).

What I loved most about this afternoon class was not the facet that he learned to actually make a maki roll, although I am thrilled that he now has an appreciation of just how finicky these things are to make. No, what I loved was the sneaky way Sang uses making sushi as a sort of metaphor to make these kids think about something a little deeper. After each roll is finished, he makes sure that they all eat the roll they just made, even if it was terrible. After everyone has eaten their roll, they go on to the next and at the very end, they all say they are now full and can't eat any more. 

Sang asks them if they have noticed that, now that their bellies are full, they are all calmer and more focused, their rolls have vastly improved and they are all paying more attention to what they are doing? He then tells them that when a child is hungry, that child has trouble focusing on anything other than his/her grumbling tummy. Without fuel, our brains don't function properly, making school work and even just managing our behaviour a difficult task.

He then asks them who makes their breakfasts and lunches? All the hands shoot up to shouts of "my mom or my parents!"

Sang then tells them of his own childhood as one of many children of a poor, struggling single mom who often had trouble putting food on the table and how he, himself, usually went without breakfast and lunch most days. Imagine, he says, how difficult it must be for a child to do well at school on an empty stomach. He reminds them that they are very privileged to have parents who can provide them with tasty, nutritious food and that they must promise to thank their parents the minute they get home from class. There was not an eyeroll to be seen in the house.

Sometimes a sushi roll is not just a sushi roll.

There is one more class on October 4th, if it's not sold out already. Click here for more info

MacKellar Farms Edamame

It was a week of goody deliveries and the first of the bunch was a box of GMO free, all natural edamame from MacKellar Farms, right here in Ontario. I am really thrilled about this find because I have been shying away from buying edamame more and more and had no idea that buying good quality product grown locally was even an option. We ate the freshly picked soybeans boiled and salted and I made a couple of different dishes with the frozen. Needless to say, we are new fans.
recipe for edamame guacamole and ceviche tostadas coming soon
Recipe for Edamame Quinoa Cakes w Spicy Avocado Sauce click here

We finally painted the kitchen! We finally painted the kitchen!

I got something that I can't share yet because it's a surprise but I can tell you that I made smoothies all week with the first box of Almond Breeze that I was given to play with. We already use Almond Breeze all the time but  I usually buy the vanilla so it was good to be forced to try the unsweetened. I was pleasantly surprised to find that nobody complained and I liked controlling the amount of sweetener in the finished product. Be on the lookout for a couple of recipes in the next couple of weeks as I continue to play around.
this almond matcha smoothie is as delicious as it is unattractively grey! Recipe coming soon
I did something else that is a surprise - sooooo many secrets this week- and the next thing I knew, the week was over.

Oh yeah, I finally got my hands on some lobster mushrooms so I made a risotto with them. I threw in some dried morels and instead of using butter for the mantacare finish, I drizzled some porcini sage olive oil with the parmesan and then topped it off with a little pile of buttery, sauteed enoki mushrooms. Holy mother of god, it was delicious. The mushrooms, which are kind of not really mushrooms at all, really give off a lobstery smell and taste faintly of the sea. It's called a lobster mushroom because of it's bright orange colour and rather than being an actual mushroom, it's a parasitic ascomycete fungus that grows on certain species of mushrooms. YUMMY, right?

Shack and I spent Friday shopping to prepare for our BBQ feast on Saturday. As a birthday gift to a good friend, we are making dinner for his birthday party. We bought 20 lbs of ribs, almost 10 lbs of pork shoulder for Shack's pulled pork with mustard mop, I am making a couple pounds of buttermilk coleslaw, baked beans, grilled corn with thyme brown butter, skillet cornbread with maple jalapeno butter and a baked potato bar. It's been a very long time since we have put on a spread like this and it feels good. Hopefully it won't suck or make everyone sick, knock on wood while throwing salt over both shoulders and spitting like my friend, Shirley Meisels taught me. I will tell you all about it next week.

Phew Phew

Coming up:

The Delicious Food Show is quickly approaching but while you wait, why not enter their contest to win the dream kitchen that will be featured during the show? If it's good enough for Tyler Florence and Mario Batali, it's good enough for you, right?

The third year anniversary is also the date of the LAST TUM event ever this Saturday, Sept 27. Why not buy a ticket and go give them the send off they deserve since they truly were pioneers in the current food scene here in the city. Tickets are just $15 bucks and because I can't go, you have to go and eat for me. Get your tickets here 

On Sunday, Soupalicious takes over Wychwood Barns - click here to read up on the who, what, when, where and why of the whole thing. All I need to know is that there will be soup. Lots and lots of soup.

Canada's Baking and Sweets Show is coming up next weekend if dessert is your thang. It's a whole weekend of nothing but sugar, sugar and more sugar with lots of celebrity chefs and demos.

Pin of the week:  This might be happening and I am as excited as The Kid is terrified!

Instagram of the week: gorgeous feed from a Southern Ontario food writer

Facebook share of the week:

Coolest thing I saw all week:

'Green Marilyn' - John Malkovich recreates iconic photos

Tweet of the week:

MacKellar Farms & Edamame Quinoa Cakes W Egg and Spicy Avocado Sauce

We love edamame. If you have ever eaten sushi, you have probably had steamed, salted edamame in the pod and might not even know what edamame is apart from the fact that it is a tasty snack. Let me give you quick answer: it is the preparation of immature soybean in the pod and it's packed with protein, fibre, folates, vitamin K and more. In North America, we just call the actual soybean edamame, regardless of how it's prepared or whether it's in the shelled or removed. One of my favourite, quick lunch bag items, we go through this stuff like an ape goes through bananas.

As much as we love the stuff, I am becoming increasingly wary of the soybeans coming from overseas because I can't really be sure about the quality. I keep reading all kinds of stuff about GMO's and other sketchy practices in production, never mind the fact that they are coming half way around the world to land in my freezer so who really knows how fresh they are? It is widely reported that 99% of our edamame is a GMO coming from either China , Thailand or some other East Asian country but even most of the American grown soybean is a GMO product, so what are we supposed to do?

I was told about an Ontario farm that is growing non GMO soybeans and set out to find some. A handsome young farmer, Jacob MacKellar, is the fourth generation running the show at MacKellar Farms and he is growing what I was looking for. He is the very first producer of 100% naturally grown, non GMO edamame in Canada, representing the mere 1% of edamame grown right here at home and he also happens to be in my Province. I got in touch and asked if I could sample some of the product and received a care package of freshly picked as well as bags of frozen in the out of the shell edamame to try.

We boiled and salted the fresh and ate them straight up because I wanted to really taste the soybean in it's natural state. They were delicious and fresh and I will be forever spoiled from now on. I tried the frozen, shelled edamame in two different recipes and again, the quality was excellent. No freezer burn, good colour, fresh taste and great texture and best of all, grown right here in Ontario, traceable, accountable, all natural and nutritious.

To find a store that sells MacKellar Farms edamame near you, click here

Clearly, I was given the edamame I used to make this recipe but my opinions are absolutely mine and this will now be my regular edamame in my home.

Edamame Quinoa Cakes with Egg and Spicy Avocado Sauce

this makes a great brunch dish or a light supper and between the quinoa, edamame and the egg, it's packed with protein 
serves 4-6

Edamame Quinoa Cakes:

1 cup cooked, cold quinoa
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 scallion, chopped
zest from 1/2 lime
1/3 cup cilantro
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko

Put the cold quinoa in a big bowl.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook your frozen edamame for about 3 minutes, drain under cold water and set aside.
Into your food processor: garlic, scallion, lime zest, cilantro, salt and the well drained, cooled edamame. Pulse until it's smooth but still a bit coarse with texture - don't puree it.
Scrape into a bowl with the quinoa and blend well, taste for salt and add more if needed.  Now add in the egg and stir again, mixing well and finally, add in the panko. After a final mix, put the mixture into the fridge while you get your sauce together.

Spicy Avocado Sauce

1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup water
7 canned tomatillos
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup cilantro
1 seeded jalapeno (or to taste)

Throw everything into the blender and blend until you have a smooth sauce. Taste, adjust salt and hot pepper if needed and set aside.

To make the cakes:

edamame quinoa cakes
olive oil to fry the cakes
*poached or fried eggs
spicy avocado sauce
feta cheese

Put a small handful of arugula down on each serving plate.

form the mixture into balls - you should be able to get 6 of them. Heat a bit of olive oil in a frying pan over med heat and add the balls, flattening them down a bit with a spatula to form little hamburger sized cakes. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned and crispy.

Remove and set on top of the arugula.

Top each cake with a poached egg, spoon some sauce over them and sprinkle some crumbled feta over the top.

*to poach soft eggs with runny yolk:
heat  at least 4" of water to a light simmer and add about a tsp of white vinegar to the water. Use a wooden spoon handle to create a cyclone inside the pot but stirring really fast in one direction. I like to crack the eggs, one at a time into a shallow bowl and slide them gently into the barely simmering water, right into the vortex of the swirl you created. Put up to four eggs in the pan and turn on your time for 3 minutes if they are straight from the fridge and 2 minutes if they are at room temperature. When the timer goes off, remove them gently with a slotted spoon and rest them on a plate lined with a piece of paper towel unless you really like wet eggs that make your food all soggy. I don't like soggy food so I let the slotted spoon rest on paper towel.

You can make the eggs a bit ahead of time and hold them in a bowl of very warm water while you get everything ready.

The week in yum 13-19 Flavor Your Life, Danish Obsession, Paul Cunningham

Thrilling the Loblaws gang with my Cauliflower Fried Rice

This week was pretty busy, starting with our annual tomato canning session with Nonna , my September Cooking Demo at Loblaws, deliveries of Almond Breeze, Nanny Hudson's Homestyle Ketchup and a box of edamame from MacKellar Farms. This means that there is going to be a whole lot of cooking going on in the next couple of weeks and that means lots of new recipes coming on the blog. Except for our Friday night trip to The Wren, we didn't eat out much so there isn't a lot to report on that front. I did attend a couple of media events but otherwise, I stuck pretty close to home.

Flavor Your Life
delicious canapes and desserts, all made with EVOO at Brassaii

I bet you might think you know a lot about olive oil. I know I thought I knew how to choose a decent oil until this week, when I attended a presentation put on by the Flavor Your Life campaign. Jointly funded by the EU, the Italian Department for Agriculture and Unaprol, this campaign wants to increase awareness and, in turn, consumption of high quality olive oil. Unaprol, established back in the 60's, is the largest Italian association for olive growers and now represents more than 500,000 olive farms and works tirelessly to promote European production of quality olive oil.

Anthropologist and food journalist, Robert Beauchemin, schooled us for a good hour on the facts and the the frustration of navigating the world of olive oils while we snacked on various appetizers made with, of course, olive oil. He told us how to choose a quality oil, what to look for on the label, when to use it (you should use it within one year of the date of production on the label if you want to enjoy the health benefits of the oil but the taste will last for two years) and where to buy it. The sad reality here in Canada is that the oils that most of us buy at the grocery store and use in our kitchens that are not what they say they are - for instance, what is the point of saying that an extra virgin oil is cold pressed when ALL olive oil is cold pressed. It's like bragging that your chicken nuggets are COOKED! The majority of "extra virgin olive oils" sold in the grocery store are adulterated blends of oils, not all olive and from various countries and in the worst cases, containing scary additives that lower  the acidity in order to "look" like it's extra virgin.   A "made in Italy" on the label means nothing without the EU seal of approval unless, perhaps, the label was made in Italy. If you are paying less than $13 for a 500ml bottle of extra virgin, you can be assured that it's fake.

they say we eat with our bloggers eat with their phones

The evening ended with a couple of Chef Marcus Monteiro's desserts made with olive oil while he answered questions about baking and confectionary using oil instead of butter. We were sent home with a really good bottle of Bellucci EVOO from Tuscany (and I know it's from Tuscany because it says so on the label, which has both the EU stamp and is certified by the IOC (the International Oil Council) AND it's also a traceable bottle so that I can actually trace this exact it back to the groves it came from and the farm that produced it.

I have been inspired to make a dessert using my gifted bottle of olive oil so be on the lookout for that.

 Bloggers on couches snapping pics , me, @DragonsKitchen , @AphroditeCooks@ATasteofWorld

A big thank you to Brassaii restaurant for hosting the evening in their lovely space and to Mary Luz Mejia for inviting me to this event.

Danish Design Obsessed at The Bay

are all British men charming and funny with Rickey Gervais' teeth? I am starting to think so

The next day, I got to meet Chef Paul Cunningham, formerly of the michelin starred The Paul in Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens. When the stress and pressure of maintaining that star (awarded only 9 months after opening) landed him in the hospital for over a month, this transplanted Brit closed down The Paul, moved his family to the wild and wooly west coast of Denmark and he opened a lovely Inn, The Henne Kirkeby Kro, where he and his band of merry cooks run amok in the huge gardens and surrounding environs, working with what he calls a local kitchen as a base but using spices he brings back from his world travels.

He has written a whack of cookbooks, both in Danish and in English and is a very funny, engaging guy. For the occasion, he made a deconstructed lemon meringue pie which also happens to be my favourite dessert in the entire world. A dollop of tart lemon curd cosied up to a mound of torched, soft meringue and a spoonful of wild blueberries. Crushed cookie crumbs dusted over the top was then pushed just over the top with a drizzle of......


After spending the evening learning not just about olive oil, but focusing on the use of olive oil in desserts, I get to taste a dessert that depends on the addition of olive oil to , as Cunningham put it "add an adult feel to what could be a childish dish and waken the taste buds"

If I wasn't already fired up about making a sweet of some kind using olive oil, I was after tasting this lemon dessert that was basically designed just for me.

So, if I hadn't been invited to come and check this event out, I wouldn't even know it was happening and even some intense googling on my part has revealed very little information about it. What I know is that for the next couple of weeks The Bay will be featuring Danish design and food. You can wander around the store and check out some fresh, new design lines like Whiite and then go down to the basement and order the Danish menu while this promotion is going on. We tried some very nice Danish ale and cheeses and then proceeded to the hot table for lunch.
There was a tasty roast pork served with mashed potatoes, red cabbage and gravy for $10.89 , a selection of smorrebrod (2 for $10.99 or 3 for $13.49) and a rhubarb and berry compote with whipped cream for dessert ($5.00) It's kind of expensive if you want to actually try it all but the two pieces of smorrebrod that I tried were delicious, especially the vegetarian version with Havarti, beets and remoulade.

The Crown Princess of Denmark was on hand briefly to torch some meringue and pose for pictures before moving off to perform more royal duties elsewhere in the store. She was everything you would expect a Danish Princess to be - poised, lovely, slim, dressed tastefully and gracious with good hair.

The Danish Obsession event will be going on until October 6th at the Queen St Store.

We ended the week with dinner at The Wren with The Neighbours, which is always a great way to end the week.
a trio of apps from their $5-$6 app menu

Coming up:

The Toronto Garlic Festival this Sunday at the Brickworks

Canning Tomatoes with Nonna and Shack's Favourite Rigatoni with Tomato and Sausage

It's tomato time! 

 2011  was the last time we spent the day with Nonna and the gang, washing, blanching, grinding, skinning, boiling and jarring bushels of juicy plum tomatoes. Looking at those pictures, I can't believe how much The Kid and his friend, Patricia have grown and wonder how it is possible that as everyone else gets older, Nonna keeps looking younger all the time!

Guardians of the future

If you have never done this before, you might wonder why anyone would work from the crack of dawn until suppertime just to come away with 20 litre bottles of tomato puree? At $20 a bushel for the tomatoes, approx $1 a jar for jars and lids, surely you can just buy cans of decent San Marzanos for a couple bucks and save your lower back and shoulders?

three teens, three adult women plus Nonna and one strong man to tighten the lids and it still takes over 7 hours to process a dozen bushels
As I have said many times, I didn't grow up with any sort of strong, cultural family traditions. We were kind of Irishish, my mom was very far removed from her French Canadian roots and we lived a pretty white bread, 70's existence. We certainly enjoyed a big turkey dinner at Christmas and Thanksgiving, baked ham at Easter and big, family Sunday dinners until I was a teen but nothing that even comes close to the yearly wine making extravaganza, tomato canning or the making of 4 million tamales that other families joined forces to undertake year after year.

Soon, it will be these kids who will take the reigns and grow up to share this family tradition with their own children.

Because our children are now teenagers, they have taken over the more laborious aspects of tomato preserving as they operate the machine that skins and grinds the tomatoes, bringing up the cases of clean jars from the basement and dragging around the heavy buckets of tomatoes in their various states of being. For them, it's time to laugh and gossip and tease and the time passes unnoticed. They are also starting to take turns stirring the bubbling, red mulch as Nonna walks back and forth, adjusting the flame of the propane burner, tidying this and that, bringing espresso, apple cake and cannelloni, gently barking "Sotto, sotto!" when the person wielding what looks like a giant canoe paddle starts to get lazy. You have to stir in a figure 8 or the tomato in the middle of the huge pot will stick and burn and it's the most stressful part of the entire operation.

By dinner time, shoulders are aching, lower backs are twitching and our dogs are barking, everyone is covered in splatters of pulp and the garage looks like a crime scene but our reward lies inside of those ten cases of jars, sitting upside down under heavy blankets where they will rest for the week until we get the call to come and claim our booty.

After it was all jarred,  was just enough sauce to fill 3/4 of a small jar and Nonna told us to take it home, along with another 750ml jar so that I could make Shack some pasta for supper because he must have really worked up an appetite with all of that strenuous lid tightening. You know, I used ot think that I was Nonna's favourite but there is no longer any doubt that it is Shack, our big, strong, jar putter onner, that has won her heart. 

should I be worried? They look pretty cosy together, don't they?

We will be forever grateful to the Altobello family for sharing their knowledge, traditions and, most importantly,  their wonderful Nonna with us.
Oh, and the tomatoes are pretty good too.

it's hungry work and Nonna makes sure that you never lose steam

Shack's Favourite Tomato Sausage Sauce

if I let him, this is what Shack would eat every night for dinner, 7 nights a week. It's important that the tomatoes are smoothly pureed so if you are using canned San Marzano tomatoes, puree them in the blender or with an immersion blender before adding them to the pot

serves approx 6 main course servings or 8 as a first course or 3 if one of your dinner guests is Shack


1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 sweet italian sausages
*1 tsp #5 umami paste (leave out if you can't find it but it really enhances the flavour so look for it)
5 cups tomato puree
2 tsp salt (if tomato puree is unsalted - otherwise start with 1 tsp and then to taste)
1 heaping tsp dried oregano
1 handful roughly chopped, fresh basil

Rigatoni, freshly grated romano cheese


Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot until shimmering and then add in the onion. Saute the onion, stirring from time to time, until softened but not browning at all, about 4 or 5 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, remove the sausage from the casings, discard the casings and set aside.

Add in the garlic, saute for another minute and then add in the sausage. You want to break the sausage up so you can keep smashing it down with a wooden spoon as you brown it or even use a potato masher to break it up as it cooks. When no more pink remains, stir in the umami paste, mix well and then pour in the tomatoes. Bring to a light simmer, add in the salt and the oregano and let it cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Add the basil right at the end and take the pot off of the heat.

Cook a heavy pasta (we like rigatoni with meat sauce) until al dente, drain it and then return it to the empty pasta pot. Ladle in just enough sauce to coat the pasta as you toss it around in the sauce.

Divide the pasta between bowls, ladle more sauce on top and sprinkle with freshly grated cheese.

*Umami paste is a paste made of concentrated anchovy, porcinis and a bunch of other stuff. Loblaws sell PC #5 umami paste. You can order it online at Amazon, Dean and Deluca. It's called a flavour bomb and can be added to just about anything

The Week in Yum Sept 6-12 My Week in Photos Pizzeria Mare, This End Up, Fika and Free Sushi Classes at WindupBird and More

It was a busy week. I took a lot of pictures.
I love the weekends at McEwan's when everyone is giving away free samples - okay that steak wasn't free

Private party at This End Up on Saturday meant more of my favourite, tasty snacks ALL FOR ME!
My first real cocktail at This End Up since I only ever go there for lunch. The Mutt. Oh, it will happen again.

Mare Pizzeria at 158 Baldwin and opened about a week or so. Shack enjoyed a delicious breakfast slice in Kensington.
Nice big slice for about $3

Fika, in Kensington is the prettiest, most feminine little girl's wet dream of a coffee shop I have ever seen. Oh, the coffee is good too but don't go on the weekend if you are in a hurry.

These Atsuete Shrimp Tacos - one of my two recipes entered in a bit of a recipe challenge using Pulo Cuisine Sauces and Marinades

It must be TIFF if I am eating at the Intercon. Tasty BC Salmon with Lavender Sour Cream and Plums at Azure in the Intercontinental

Friday lunch at the Caledon Family Restaurant, formerly known as FlapJacks. Good, solid diner fare. No complaints here.
satisfying tomato macaroni soup that made me miss my mom - greasy spoon staple

would you look at that thick, toasted bread? Really good BLT while Shack had the old man special - sorry that's a hot hamburger on white bread

Friday was haircut day so we stopped by Mare Pizzeria again after The Crow's Nest for some hipster pizza slices. Just as great as it was when we went on Saturday and Shack has declared "might be the best take out slice in the city"

Coming up:

Free Sushi Making Classes for Kids at The Windup Bird Cafe

In an effort to draw attention to the issues of childhood poverty and food security here in Canada, write-chef and food literacy warrior, Sang Kim, offers two free sushi making classes to children between the ages of 8 and 16. The classes are being held at his restaurant, The Windup Bird Cafe on Saturday Sept 30 and Saturday Oct 4 from 3-5pm and there are only 30 spots available at each so sign your kids up!

Click here to watch his 2013 TEXx talk where he shared his childhood experience of hunger and poverty while growing up in a Toronto housing project.

Read more about Sang Kim and all of the fabulous things that go on over there at the Windup Bird

The Toronto Underground Market call it quits after basically launching the careers of the likes of Rock Lobster, La Carnita, Fidel Gastros and the majority of the rock star food truck chefs, most of whom now operate successful brick and mortar restaurants. Tickets are on sale for this event on Saturday Sept 27 at 99 Sudbury. I think we should all attend, wear black armbands and I would say let's form a drum circle but I can't possibly drum when my both hands are stuffed with tacos and dripping grease and hot sauce.
The whole gang will be there, including:  La CarnitaRock Lobster Food Co,Fidel Gastro'sHotBunzzBabi&Co.Big E's Hawaiian GrindsME.N.U Food TruckStuffed & Co.Tequila Tromba

Have you bought your tickets to the Delicious Food Show yet? Aside from the general admission tickets, which get you into the Oct 17-19th event, you can buy tickets for one of the Exclusive Chef's Series with chefs like the delicious Chuck Hughes, the terrifying but brilliant Mark McEwan and the dashing Food Network star Tyler Florence.

You know I will be right there on Friday afternoon to see Mario Batali on the Celebrity Stage hoping to see if he will let me try on one of his orange crocs and sign my pasta pot. A girl can dream.
It's basically three days of non stop food porn with endless vendors offering tastes of their wares, demonstrations and, if you are over 19, lots of adult libations to enjoy.
Check here for the various ticket prices and options

Oh yeah, I am teaching a class at the Musgrave Loblaws this Thursday at 1pm! It's going to be Thai Turkey Skewers and my Cauliflower Fried Rice. To book, click here
Make sure you choose the desired date from the pull down menu 1pm-2pm class from the pull down menu

Pin of the week: Starting to get the Italy itch

Instagram of the week: I am obsessed with these placemats from Bradshaws in Stratford


Post by Patois.

Tweet of the week:

Adventures in Filipino Cooking with Pulo Atsuete Shrimp Tacos and Kare Kare Bola Bola

Oddly enough, Filipino food is quite new to me. Just when I thought I was pretty familiar with every sort of Asian or Southeast Asian food that's out there, I got my first real taste of Filipino food this year and I am on a mission ever since. Because it's a mix of Malaysian, Chinese, Spanish and Indian you would think that I would have come to this party a lot sooner, but better late than never, right? Crispy Pata now runs neck and neck with Chinese roast pork when I need my fix of crispy pork skin and I could take a bath in a big bowl of Arroz Caldo if I could find one big enough.

Because of my new found love of Filipino food, I jumped at the chance to snag a box of sauces and marinades from Pulo , hoping that I could come up with some fresh recipes built around them.

I know, I know, you think that I don't generally use bottled sauces and marinades but that is not true. If the product is not full of preservatives and other things that make my dark little heart sad, I am a fan but I don't often write about them. I am a condiment addict and barely have room in my fridge for food because it is full to the brim with all manner of sauces, hot sauces, mustards, fishy asian things and pastes. These things can be a great introduction to the flavours of unfamiliar cuisines and make life a lot easier when you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off but you still want to make something tasty for dinner.

Pulo sauces and marinades contain no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives and are made in small batches right here in Canada. It's like having a Filipino grandma to make them for me because, clearly, I do not have one of those. All of the marinades work great on their own as a straight ahead marinade but my job is to take it a step farther than that.

After tasting all of the marinades, there was something very familiar about this Lemongrass Atsuete and upon further investigation, I discovered that Atsuete is Annatto which is Achiote! Achiote is a very popular ingredient in Yucatecan cooking, the basis of my cochinita pibil and something that I am very familiar with. Now I had a place to start. I love the fact that most cuisines have overlapping herbs and ingredients and it makes fusing them together more fun. It's like the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon with food, which really is the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon since I have groomed him a couple of times in the past. 

Kevin Bacon. Bacon. Atsuete. Achiote. TACOS!

I groomed him here for TIFF years ago

Tacos made total sense. This mild marinade has a  citrusy, peppery thing going on and the familiar twang of lemongrass just peeks out from underneath. The sweetness of the pineapple goes beautifully with it and the whole thing comes together with the addition of a smooth but spicy avocado cream - cool and hot all at the same time. My main objective was to use these sauces in ways that would be familiar to everyone and to merge them into dishes that most people already eat. These shrimp tacos are the first of two recipes that I loved the best after trying out a number of different things. The second recipe is for Kare Kare Bola Bola which sounds like it could also be a fun dance move instead of a delicious spin on a classic, peanut based stew swimming with delicious little pork meatballs. 

First up, the tacos:

Atsuete Shrimp Tacos

calamansi is a cross between a lemon, a lime and a pineapple and the cans of juice can be found at most asian grocery stores. If you can't find it, use lime juice mixed with 1 tbls of sugar

340 g shrimp, thawed if frozen, cleaned and peeled
about 1/2 cup Cebu Island Lemongrass Atsuete Marinade

1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 scallion, sliced
1/4 cup calamansi juice drink
2 tbls vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil

avocado cream
1 large avocado
/14 cup diced pineapple
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
3 tbls calamansi juice drink
small bunch cilantro

To assemble:
corn or flour tortillas, scallions, chopped dry roasted peanuts, bamboo skewers, 1/2 cup extra pineapple chunks

Make your slaw first by throwing the cabbages, and the scallion in a medium sized bowl. Whisk together the calamansi, vinegar, salt, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl, pour over the cabbage, stir well and set aside.

peel and clean your shrimp and put into a bowl with the Lemongrass Atsuete Marinade, stir well and set aside.

To make the avocado cream, put all of the ingredients into the small mini food processor or blender. Pulse and until its smooth and creamy, scrape into a small bowl and set aside.

By this time, your shrimp have been marinating for about 1/2 an hour and that is long enough. Thread the skewers with alternating shrimps and chunks of pineapple - about 4 or 5 shrimps and one or two chunks of pineapple per skewer is good.

Right before you start to cook your shrimp, heat a big frying pan over med heat and start to warm up your tortillas in the hot pan, letting them sit for about 30 seconds per side. Put a clean tea towel down and as each tortilla is heated up, wrap it in the tea towel until they you have a stack of tortillas wrapped up. This will keep them soft.

Heat a grill pan over med high heat (you can also grill them on the bbq or broil them), spray it with cooking oil and cook the skewers for a few minutes. How long they take depends on the size of the shrimp but they are very easy to overcook so keep an eye. When you can see the bottom of the shrimp has turned pinky white and opaque, carefully flip them and cook them another minute or two more, until they are just white and opaque everywhere and then remove them to a platter.

To assemble the tacos, lay down a tortilla, smear some avocado cream down the centre, lay a skewer worth of shrimp and pineapple on top, scatter a handful of slaw and then top with some sliced scallion and chopped peanuts.

The second recipe is:

Kare Kare Bola Bola

My inspiration for this stew like dish was Swedish Meatballs. I imagined sitting at the Ikea in Manila, enjoying a bowl of the thick, peanuty Kare Kare sauce served with plump little meatballs over a bed of rice while agonizing over the choice between the Ivar or the Kallax shelves.

Kare Kare is a popular stew characterized by a creamy peanut sauce that is thickened with toasted, ground rice. It might be made with oxtail, or pork hocks or stewing beef and it is must have whenever there is a celebration of any kind. A traditional Kare Kare is served with a little mound of bagoong, a pungent, fermented fried shrimp paste, on the side but I think a better way to incorporate that flavour into the dish, for those of us who are not used to it, is to put it in the meatballs. That way, you still get a hint of it but it is more subtle and more of a background supporter than right up front as a stand alone condiment.

In the Philippines, they love meatballs, calling them bola bola, mostly served in as sweet and sour bola bola, in spaghetti or meatball based soups. My bola bola are more highly seasoned than a traditional version and because of that, they also stand alone so would be great on their own as an appetizer or in a wrap.

This Kare Kare sauce is not only delicious and vegan (all the sauces are vegan) , but it's the only gluten free product in the Pulo line. Legend has it that this popular sauce was the result of the British sepoy's attempt at replicating an Indian curry and although I would say they failed at making a curry, they certainly scored at coming up with a delicious, new dish. It's really nutty, kind of like a Thai peanut sauce but there is a really nice vinegar tang to it that balances out the richness of the peanut. I really love it.

The boys INHALED this one and I am already thinking about other ways to incorporate this peanut sauce into other dishes.

Kare Kare Bola-Bola

makes approx 27 golf ball sized meatballs and serves 4 to 6 over rice

1 lb ground pork
1 scallion
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp kosher salt
*1 tbls Bagoong
2 tbls Pulo Mango Marinade
1/2 to 1 tsp hot chili flakes, sriracha or hot chili paste or to taste
1/4 cup panko

put the scallion and the garlic in the bowl of a mini chop if you have one and pulse until minced or hand mince as finely as possible.
Throw all of the meatball ingredients into a bowl and mix well with your hand. Fry a tiny pinch of the mixture to taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Put the bowl of meat into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

from the upper left: eggplant, dry roasted peanuts, bola bola before going in the sauce, chinese long beans

For the stew
2-3 tbls veg oil
a handful chinese long beans or green beans
1 small eggplant, chopped into 1" chunks
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 jar Kare Kare sauce

garnish: sliced scallion, finely chopped dry roasted peanuts, steamed rice

Roll the meatballs into little 1 1/2" inch golf balls, heat up a braising pan or a sauce pan with a tbls or so of vegetable oil. Cook the meatballs, in batches, rolling around until they are well browned and remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Give the pan a wipe with a paper towel and add another tbls of oil. Add the garlic to the pan and after about 30 seconds, throw in the eggplant and stir around, cooking until it starts to take on a bit of colour. Now, return the meatballs to the pan, add the green beans, cover with a jar of Kare Kare sauce, lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Spoon over steamed rice and sprinkle some scallion and dry roasted peanuts over the top.

*bagoon is a Filipino fermented shrimp paste that can be found at most asian grocery stores or online. If you can't find it, sub in a couple of tsp of fish sauce. Sometimes it is called sauteed shrimp paste

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