When EarthFresh comes calling and offers me a couple bags of free potatoes so I can come up with a new recipe, I am always in. EarthFresh is a Canadian company that produce great quality potatoes, carrots and onions and my favourite thing that they do, apart from providing me with FREE BAGS OF POTATOES YO! is they pack the potatoes in a light blocking bag. I bet you didn't realize that potatoes can turn totally green after about 12 hours of fluorescent grocery store lightening - let's not even talk about how I look under those zombie lights. There is a reason that when you store potatoes it always instructs you to put them in a cool, DARK place.
Last week I hosted my monthly Supper Club at The Kingston Social, here in Toronto and the dinner was a Middle Eastern Feast with a touch of Jamaican thrown in for good measure. Each time I host, I like to try one new dish that isn't always mine but that I am dying to try out and this time, I really wanted to make this Moroccan Orange Cake on the blog, Kitchen Confidante. I found the recipe so intriguing - using fresh bread crumbs in place of flour, the idea of soaking it in an orange syrup afterwards so it would almost like a cakey baklava was screaming YAAAAASSSSSSS.
So, on the day, I realized that I only had an 8" spring form pan but the recipe called for normal cake pan so I borrowed one of those. I buttered and floured the pan and I made the cake only to discover that it WOULD NOT COME OUT! I had to, basically, dig the cake out of the pan as it stuck to the bottom and I found myself with three chunks of cake and a whack of crumbs on a day where I was going to have to serve dessert to a dozen paying patrons. I was minutes from going out to buy a box of baklava, right after I was finished my nervous breakdown, when I actually tasted the cake.
OH EM GEE this cake is delicious. I went ahead and made the syrup (the only change I made in the original recipe was to replace the spices with 10 cardamom pods), soaked the cake chunks and made a second cake. If you want your cake to come out of the pan in one, beautiful piece, make sure to use parchment and , even better, use a spring form pan with parchment.
Once the cake was soaked with the syrup, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. I whipped up a bit of whipping cream and then whipped in my homemade labneh, added blueberries since the cake was so sweet it needed a fruit that was not going to be overwhelmingly sweet and topped the whole shebang with toasted almonds and a sprinkling of the cake crumbs. Although the syrup soaked cake is delectable, it is a bit sweet for my tastes and mixing it with the tart, whipped yogurt and blueberries transformed the cake into something that was even more delicious than the cake on it's own.
The moral of the story is that this is the culinary version of "turn that frown upside down" so don't just throw out dishes that didn't turn out exactly as planned because your busted up cake can become an even tastier trifle or parfait and nobody has to ever know. Okay, so I just let the cat out of the bag and everyone knows now but judging by the way the dessert was inhaled, I don't think anyone would care.
God, I love a happy accident.
Moroccan Orange Cake Parfait
Moroccan Orange Cake (click through to Kitchen Confidante for the recipe)
*for the citrus syrup, I subbed in 10 cardamom pods instead of the cinnamon and cloves
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tbls sugar
2 cups greek yogurt or labneh ( I made my own using my Instant Pot)
1 pint blueberries
1/4 sliced almonds
Make the cake as directed but when you soak the cake, hold back about 1/3 of the syrup to drizzle over the parfait. If your cake came out in one piece, collect as much cake crumb as you can, even breaking off some of the outer crust of the cake to crumble, and poke the cake and pour the syrup over as directed.
When it's time to serve, whip the cream with the sugar until you just start to get stiff peaks before adding in the greek yogurt and continue to whip until it's light and creamy and set aside.
Toast the almond slices in a hot, dry pan until they are golden brown and then set aside.
To assemble the parfait, break the cake into small chunks and press into the bottom of clear glass dessert vessels so that you can see the layers. You can use martini glasses, pretty rock glasses or even small mason jars. Cover the layer of cake chunks with a generous dollop of the whipped cream/yogurt, scatter a layer of blueberries on top of that. Top with a pinch of cake crumbs, a drizzle of the reserved cardamom orange syrup and then a pinch of toasted almonds.
I can't believe it has taken me this long to make yogurt in my Instant Pot but better late than never., right?
Look it, I love rotisserie chicken. I buy bubble chickens from the grocery store or I will line up for 30 minutes at the best churrasqueira in the city. I like it in a boat, I like it with a goat, you know what I'm saying? I was first in line when I was invited to come to their sneak peak of their newest restaurant in Toronto.
Nandos originated in South Africa in 1987 but didn't come to Canada until 1994 so some of you may be still living under a rock and have remained unaware of the wonder of this spicy, Portuguese chicken that is the love child of Portuguese explorers and the African Bird's Eye Chili. This addictive hot sauce is full of citrus flavours and garlic and I pour this shit on everything. I keep a bottle of Nandos Piri Piri in my fridge at all times but I have to say, I rarely visit the restaurant, only doing take out, because it seems like the only ones I ever see are in the suburbs and feel too fast foody for me, but their new spot on Queen St West is really nice. With prime patio real estate, I can now go and get my Piri Piri fix al fresco with a cold beer and enjoy some prime people watching.
The menu is pretty extensive for a flame grilled chicken restaurant but I will stick to the straight up 1/4 chicken (breast and wing) with extra hot sauce on the side but there are wraps, sliders, sandwiches and whack of sides for those of you who want to shake it up a bit. One thing that made me laugh were the soft fries because, while in Portugal, I started out hating the lack of crispy fries but, by the end of my trip, I had actually grown quite fond of then and the fries here are definitely of the soft, bendy Portuguese variety.
**I was invited to a preview of the restaurant so my meal was free of charge but my opinions are my own
Shack has been keeping this place under his hat but now that I know it's there, I am going to be demanding that he pick up dinner after work all the time. Situated on Cherry Street, right across the road from T&T. It seems that Lawrence, a location guy from the movie world, has finally realized his dream of opening up a restaurant and judging by the number of familiar crew member faces I saw there, I am clearly the last to know.
Because I wanted to try a few things, Shack and I shared side ribs, pulled pork, mac and cheese, potato salad, slaw and beans. The ribs were tender and flavourful, as was the pork and not drowning in sauce. I like to taste my meat and let the spicing complement the flavours and too many places are all about the sauce instead. The Kid deemed his pulled pork sandwich to be delicious and judging by the speed at which he consumed it before starting to pick at MY food, I would say that this was an accurate assessment. Although the potato salad was my least favourite said, The Kid (who dislikes mayo based salads) loved its vinegary tang.
So many pluses - great patio, great food - it was so jam packed on a Wednesday night that we couldn't even get a seat out there. The only downside, for me, is that you have to line up to order your food, pay for it and then mosey over to the bar and order your drinks, pay for them and carry them back to your table. I would love to see some table service but the food is so tasty that this isn't enough to dissuade me from returning asap.
Cherry Street Bar-B-Que
275 Cherry Street
The July SupperClub at the Kingston Social is in the can and it was a fun night full of tasty food, yummy drinks and great people. Our guests enjoyed a meal that was mainly Middle Eastern with a few Jamaican kisses from my beef patties, spicy gazpacho with pickled jerk shrimp to jerk lamb kofta and then a trifle made with Moroccan orange cake soaked in cardamom orange syrup, homemade yogurt and berries.
If you are in Toronto, keep your eye out for the August date and menu announcement coming soon.
PIKACHU FOR PRESIDENT! COULDN'T BE ANY WORSE, RIGHT?
So, the weekend of June 23-26 was the annual Taste of Toronto at Fort York here in Toronto and it was bigger and badder than ever, with a giant roster of guest chefs doing cooking demos, presentations, wine tastings and food to try from a veritable who's who of Toronto restaurants. This year, due to construction inside the Fort, it was held on the grounds surrounding the actual interior area of Fort York and everyone I spoke to preferred it. There was a ton of shade and it felt more spread out and less crowded than in previous year.
Tickets to the three day event were $29 online and you purchased your food and drink using a "crown" system. You loaded up a card with "crowns" with the word crown really meaning $1, probably in an attempt to take the sting off paying $10 for a small plate of food. This is not a cheap event and it's best to go in a small group that so you can not only divide and conquer to avoid lots of line ups but so that you can also try a few bites of more items. If you are on your own, it will get very expensive very quickly and you will fill up before you can taste all of the treats that you have your eye on. There are so many delicious things to try and you will want to try them all, trust me so bring friends and come hungry. Both last year and this year, my favourite dishes (and best bang for your buck) came from Los Colibris and El Cabillito - a friend and I shared the tosdada de cochinita pibil and the empanada de tinga we both agreed that these made us very, very happy. Honestly, I have never had anything here that I didn't think was very good and as soon as I commit to one favourite, three more things pop up in my brain.
|The seating/shade situation has been a problem with Taste but this year, it was perfect|
This year, there were more tables and seating, lots of shade to relax with a beer and ponder your map and decide which food vendor you are going to hit up next. Despite the steep price tag, this is really one of my favourite Toronto food events as it's so well curated, it runs smoothly, it's outdoors and it really is worth the splurge to get the chance to try food from restaurants that are often difficult to get into to and watch your favourite chefs in action in a beautiful, outdoor spot. If you missed this year's event, make sure to keep your eye open this time next year so that you won't miss out on the fun again.
|SnapChat, I can't quit you (follow me at theyumyumfactor)|
We spent Canada Day weekend with friends near Creemore and it was a weekend full of fun and sun with a Saturday afternoon visit to Collingwood. Despite the fact that Collingwood is a hugely popular ski town (Blue Mountain which I really think should be renamed Blue Pretty Big Hill, but I digress) in this neck of the woods, I have never been there, probably because I don't really "do" winter. Okay, I apres ski really well but I skip that whole spending the day out in the cold, zooming down the hill with the even colder wind in my face, barely avoiding a snapped tibia and go straight to the hot toddies.
The town is adorable, lots of great shops, cafes and places to eat and much more interesting, to me, in the summer. On the recommendation of a number of friends, we decided to lunch at The Smoke. As soon as we got out of the car in the parking lot, my nose told me that we had come to the right place.
We all had the straight up pulled pork sandwich (Shack and I shared one) with coleslaw and poutine on the side.
Usually disappointed by pulled pork at most restaurants, I was pleasantly surprised by the pork - tender, moist, not overwhelmed with sweet sauce, one of my largest complaints. There was an array of sauces at each table and after some experimenting, Shack and I settled on a squirt of South Carolina honey mustard and a squirt of a tangy spiced vinegar sauce that had some bite to it. The coleslaw was really delicious and absolutely made the way I like it. Creamy, a bit sweet with a slight tang to it and really fresh and crunchy.
Although they have a nice looking patio, it was hot and we were feeling a bit frageelay (code for hung over) so we sat indoors. The place is spotless and kind of looks a bit like a really high end auto shop but it smells like the place I want to go to die.
The following week was uneventful as I was sick for most of the week following Canada Day but I am up and at 'em with three food events to attend this week alone so my next Week In Yum will be full of stuff to share.
If you live in Toronto and want to join me for my next Supper Club, it's taking place on Thursday July 21 at The Kingston Social in the east of the city. Tickets are $65 and that includes a specialty cocktail and more food than any human can possibly eat.
You can grab tickets online here
It's summer. It's a bazillion degrees out there, you are invited to a BBQ and BAM!
You are asked if you could bring dessert. If it were just your own family, you would throw a fiver at them and tell them to run to the store and bring back a bag of Mr Freezies but that isn't going to cut it.
That leaves a trifle. Sure, you can make all of the elements yourself if you want, but why would you want to do that in this heat? Trifle requires no special skills, no craftiness and it is almost impossible to mess up but it looks like you took tons of time and effort and is a real show stopper right up until the point where you have to serve it because it really is just a delicious bowl full of sweet slop but, by then, everyone is so excited about tasting it that they don't care about the way it looks.
Think of this more as a blue print, than a recipe.
You can leave out the rhubarb, although I think that tartness provided needed balance in what can often be an overwhelmingly sweet dessert. You can substitute lime curd or grapefruit curd for the lemon, you can switch the angel food cake for pound cake, sponge cake or even leftover birthday cake that is starting to go stale. If you can't find devon cream (or creme anglaise) you can substitute some vanilla pudding that you beat a bit of milk into to make it a bit runnier. Fee free to use oreo crumbs and instead of shaved dark chocolate, feel free to crush up a skor bar or something.
The bottom line is that when you are throwing cake, whipped cream and fruit together to have a party in a bowl, the world is your oyster. Trust me, this dish is like desserts for dummies 101 with the lowest bar being just slopping it all in a bowl so that it takes great but doesn't look all that hot to something like this from the over achievers who have nothing better to do with their time :
** I used lots of President's Choice products but if you are in the States, Trader Joe has a great lemon curd, you can get Devon Cream at stores like Wegmans, Whole Foods or even on amazon. When you find some, buy a few jars or cans and keep it in your pantry.
Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle
you can prep all of the ingredients well in advance and just assemble the whole thing a few hours in advance. If you want to be able to assemble it and leave it for longer than about 5 hours, sub the angel food cake for a heartier pound cake. You can certainly use more of any of the ingredients so feel free to use even more whipped cream or berries or cookie crumbs, just don't use any less.
580 grams (1.5 lbs) rhubarb
1/4 cup sugar
juice from 1 orange
zest from 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla
900 grams (2 lbs lbs) strawberries (reserve about 226 g - 1/2 lb for the top)
1 tbls chambord or other flavoured liqueur
1/4 cup sugar
50ml (2 cups) whipping cream
2 tbls sugar
250 ml (1 cup) lemon curd (I used PC Black Label Lemon Curd )
1 400g (14oz) can Devonshire Custard (I used PC )
1 large angel food cake (I used Farmer's Market from Loblaws)
1 cup of cookie crumbs (I used Mary MacLeod's Butterscotch Shortbread Crumbs)
a chunk of dark chocolate
Combine the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and zest with vanilla in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, let cook for about 10 minutes and then let cool to room temp before putting it in the fridge to chill.
Cut up 1.5 lbs of strawberries and toss with the sugar and chambord and set aside to macerate for at least half an hour.
Whip the whipping cream (I do it in my stand mixer) with 2 tbls sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the lemon curd and set aside.
Cut the angel food cake up into rough cubes and get a big, glass bowl. You want to be able to see the layers so you should always use a clear bowl. How many layers you make also depends on you but want at least two, preferably three layers so divide up the ingredients accordingly. It will all depend on the dimensions of your bowl.
Put a handful of cubed cake on the bottom. Spread a layer of whipped lemon cream and then spoon on some of the berries and spread around. Top that with a layer of chilled rhubarb, spread that around evenly and then drizzle the devon cream on top of that, finishing the layer with about 1/3 of the cookie crumbs.
Repeat for another layer or two and then top the whole thing with the rest of the cake chunks and a final layer of whipped lemon cream. Sprinkle the last of the cookie crumbs on the top of that and then arrange the remaining 1/2 lb of berries around the top. You can slice them, you can half them - just make it pretty and you are good to go. Keep it in the fridge until serving time. With angel food cake, I don't like to let the trifle sit all day when I use angel food cake as it get soggy so I would do it no more than 5 or 6 hours ahead of time.
Right before serving, top the whole shebang with some shaved dark chocolate using a vegetable peeper because you can.
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