Sunday, February 11, 2007

the i *heart* me weekend

to help me get through the stresses of midterms, i promised myself this weekend was going to be a weekend of me: no work, no school, no cleaning, and even no cooking. Lots of eating and drinking though, and catching up with friends, some of whom i haven't seen in years.

I went to bed on Friday nite with the hopes of making a reservation in Jamie Kennedy's newest restaurant in Toronto's Gardner Museum of Ceramics, after reading a review of Jamie Kennedy's other Restaurant

I had known that JKROM (Jamie Kennedy -Royal Ontario Museum) had closed due to the transformation the ROM was going under. I had also known that Jamie Kennedy had plans to move his restaurant to the newly renovated Gardner Museum across the street. But, i had *totally* forgotten that the restaurant actually had opened a few months ago, until Friday, when i was looking for restaurants to go to for my father's 55th b-day. I'm still looking for a place for my dad's celebration dinner, but i had found the perfect place for my me day lunch.

I called up my friend, Farriah, at 9am on Saturday morning to see if she wanted to come with. She was in, and was bringing her friend, Melissa too. Great! My me day was turning into a girls day, and there's nothing better than shopping and eating, than shopping and eating with other girls who love to shop and eat.

Our reservation was for 1:30, and we ate until 3. The menu is seasonally inspired and each dish is paired with a recommended wine. I made the embarrassing mistake of asking what type of fish "hopper" was, and was politely informed that hopper is not a fish, but rather sri lanken rice crêpe filled with curried chickpea and sweet potato stew or shrimp . I opted for the curried chickpea version and was blown away of the complex favours that were present in such a simple dish. A thali tray of South Indian condiments was brought out with the hopper and lets you boost the spicing as desired. My favourite was the fried shallots followed by the sauteed baby eggplant. The wine that was paired with the hopper was the Angel's Gate Gewurztraminer. I found that this Gewurztraminer was slightly sweeter than I was used to, but I could definitely taste the lychee. It was good. Very good. Although i wasn't doubtful, when it comes to wine pairings, Jamie Kennedy knows what he's talking about.

We shared creme brulee for dessert, and then headed off to stroll the streets of yorkville. I stopped at whole foods to pick up some fruits for the week. My new fruit/veggie this week being the blood orange.

I came home, showered and then headed out for dinner. This time with a group of friends from high school. Barry, the boyfriend of my long time friend, Carmen, was in town from Saskatoon and we were finally going to meet him. Onil suggested 'Nawlin's restaurant since a good friend of his (Andrew's) band was going to be playing there. I was slightly disappointed that they didn't have good old fashioned Jambalaya on their menu (what new Orleans inspired restaurant doesn't serve Jambalaya?) but their Gumbo soup made up for it. Plus I was there for the company and the music more than the food.

Dinner turned into drinks, and drinks turned into more drinks, as other high school friends dropped by to see Andrew's band play. Last nite I saw friends that i haven't seen in years! It was a good nite, and somewhat refreshing to see how that even though we've all grown up some things just don't change.

I didn't get home until 3am, at which time i joined facebook (after all these months of resistance, i caved!)!

I woke up late this morning, and after a liberte yogurt for a snack before breakfast, i headed to Queen Mother Cafe for a pre-opera brunch. The Canadian Opera Company (COC) recently had a promotion where people under 30 were able to purchase tickets to all their shows for $20 each, and we we're going to the 2pm show of Faust.

When i got home after the opera, my stomach was growling, but i refused to order out. I also was not in the mood to cook. The solution: you'll just have to read tomorrow's entry to find out....

Friday, February 9, 2007

table for one

it's over! my tax midterm is finally over! 40% of my mark is done and over with. 50% of my lectures are over. As of 7pm, reading week officially started, and there is only 5 more weeks of lectures left of my second term. Time is flying.

To celebrate the completion of my exam i decided that i would go out to
dinner- alone. Before I moved to New York City in 2003, I could never imagine eating in a restaurant without someone else to keep me company. I remember being in a restaurant once with a bunch of my friends and seeing a guy, not much older than i, eating his dinner alone. I couldn't help but wonder where were all his friends? I felt pity and embarrassed for him. I remember wondering why didn't he stay at home and order pizza? I remember thinking that I would never want to be in his shoes, and vowed that I never would be.

Moving to New York, alone for 4 months, changed all that. I remember my first time like it was yesteray: I was in the mood for brunch, but not in the mood for making it myself. There was this
tiny place down the street from where I was living, at the time, that i walked by daily, but was waiting until my friends came to visit before i tried it out, coz i would never eat alone! Eating a lone was not for me! I have way to many freinds to eat alone. Except there was a small problem: none lived in NYC and i wanted brunch! So maybe i could try....i mean it was just brunch, and the place was no one would see me really....

So I packed my journal and headed out for brunch. I was embaressed to ask for a table for one, what would the waitress think? But you know what? the waitress didn't look at me funny at all! The whole time I was there, i didn't notice anyone looking at me and snickering "loser" underneath thier breath, like I expected...and once I started to write in my journal, i barely noticed that I was sitting sans anyone! Could I actually be having a decent time eating alone?

These days I find comfort eating out on my own. I'm no longer embaressed asking for a table for one, and look forward to the time that I can spend with just me and my journal/book and some good food. If people look at me funny - which they rarely do, but if they do - i know it's because they havn't experienced the calm that i've found eating out with no one else but me. If they snicker "loser" under thier breath - which they never do, but if they do - i don't mind because I know I have lots of freinds I could call to join me, if i wanted, i just chose not to. If they wonder why i didn't stay at home and order pizza....well i guess i could have, but how boring would that be.?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Knowing that it was going to be a busy week because of my upcoming tax midterm, i knew i wouldn't have much time to devote to making a mess in the kitchen. Thanks to my new best friend, my moleskin organizer - which i t take everywhere and write everything in, and if i lose i would die, even though until a month ago i was horrible at being organized and carried an organizer around just because i wanted to look cool and organized, but not because i actually used it - i was able to pre plan my week, squeezing some time in on Sunday to roast a chicken so that I would have enough left overs to last me most of the week.

Being a newbie food blogger - i didn't realize I forgotten to take a picture until the chicken was all cut up and half eaten. Unfortunately, that means there are no pictures of my roasted 4.5lb organic chicken . I contemplated posting a picture of the carcass, but decided against it, because, quite frankly, it looks kind of gross (although it did make a great stock, which i froze and plan to use next week when i have some more time).

Sticking to my new years resolution of trying a new fruit/vegetable a week - i bought beets on Saturday thinking i would roast them with some sweet potatoes. Now you must be thinking...what kind of food lover has never eaten beets before?!?!? Well, that would be me! I grew up in a house where the veggies we ate on a regular basis included green beans, asparagus, red and green peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and salad and that was it. Don't get me wrong - my mom loved to cook, and never cooked the same meal twice in a month, it was just that vegetables were always considered a side dish and therefore were never given much love.

On Monday, I sliced up 2 garnet yams in the shape of potato chips (just slightly thicker, but not much) tossed them in a bowl with 4 whole cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a generous sprinkling of HOT SMOKED paprika (the only way to have baked yams is with hot smoked paprika. The contrast of the sweetness of the yams and the spiciness and smokiness of the paprika gives the yams a delicious *oomph*. Go ahead! Try it! Just don't hold me responsible if you refuse to have sweet potatoes any other way again.). I added the sliced beets to the bowl, added some more olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme (because i had some in the fridge) tossed everything around in the bowl one last time and baked them at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, flipping them once, so both sides would be crispy.

Since most of you aren't newbies to beets, you probably know this already but just in case you don't: When you go to the washroom the next morning, don't be alarmed if your pee is not its normal color. I was *slightly* freaked out (okay i was a lot freaked out) on Tuesday morning when i went to the washroom and my pee was PINK. I later found out its because of the betacyanin in the beets and not because i have some horrible disease. I guess I have one of those bodies that just can't break it down.

I know my plate looks a little skimpy, but that because i forgot to take a picture until (almost) too late! This lasted me 3 days - today being the last day. Thank god! i don't think my leftovers could have lasted another day in my fridge, although it tasted better than it looked. Plus, it was *much* better than having eggs.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Welcome back into my life!

Ever since the low carb craze took over the world, my intake of pasta has been a big fat zero. I never followed a low carb diet (i love bread and pizza way too much to eliminate it from my diet completely) but when the world is losing hundreds of pounds by eating butter, meat, and cheese day in and day out, I was finding it hard to justify eating a bowl of starchy, comforting carbohydrates.

Thank god the low carb craze is over! Granted it was over a few years ago, but bad habits die hard!

Then yesterday, i had a craving. This didn't feel like my usual craving for chocolate, this was a weird yet familiar craving that i haven't had in a looooong time. I tried to ignore it, but it was impossible! I wanted a big bowl of comfort and ice cream was just not going to do! I mean who wants to eat ice cream when your city is under deep freeze? I suddenly found the box of pasta that I had bought a couple weeks ago was calling my name. So was the can of organic whole tomatoes that was collecting dust at the back of my cupboard. I had bought 1/4lb of ground lamb at the healthy butcher the day before in hopes of making lamb-kebabs for dinner sometime during the week, but those were going to have to wait. I was was ready to take the plunge back into the land of pasta, and there was no stopping me now!

First I made the sauce: I didn't have a recipe to follow and there was no time to search for one. I was going to have to rely on my past cooking experiences and months of food blog reading for this one.

In a small pot, I heated some oil and browned the meat making sure not to fully cook it. When it was ready, I removed the meat from the pot and used the fat to brown 3 cloves of freshly micro-planed garlic. I added 2 shallots to the garlic and sauteed until they were tender. Next I added the whole tin of tomatoes breaking them down with my wooden spoon until i had a chunky sauce. I added salt, pepper, ground Mediterranean oregano, a couple sprigs of fresh thyme, a pinch of ground sanaam chili pepper, the lamb and a spoonful of cocoa and let it simmer on low heat for 20 mins.

For a second i thought about adding some beans to the sauce and making chili. That would have been just as comforting, if not even more so (especially with a dollop of sour cream and a hearty slice of bread) but i had already put the pasta to boil - so there was no turning back.

My kitchen smelled so good, and my bowl of comfy carbohydrates tasted even better, especially topped with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.

Luckily for me there was lots of left overs. I froze some of the sauce in case i have a craving like this again, and the rest i put into the fridge for lunch. Today, after a good run on the tradmill, was feeling a need to eat some veggies. I sauteed some shrimps, snow peas, mushrooms and grape tomatoes and presto! Instant lunch!

Oh pasta! How i missed thee!

Friday, February 2, 2007

my thighs are thankful

i've been wanting to make Pierre Hermé’s chocolate cookies (which Dorrie Greenspan calls World Peace Cookies) ever since i saw the recipe on smitten kitchen's blog a few weeks ago, but i hadn't made, in fear that I would eat them all by myself in one sitting (they are supposed to be THAT good). Knowing me, even if they weren't that good, i could probably eat all of them in a day or two. But that would go against my new years resolution, so i was strong and i resisted. But don't be too proud of me yet. I did bookmark the recipe for later....

Later has come...and I am weak. Today I feel like baking and eating all that i've baked. It been one of those non productive days, where i woke up late, got to class late, went to the gym late, and i am starting my assignment late because I have been reading food blogs (i really have no self control). Why start an assignment at 9pm on a Friday night when there is world peace to be made?

So i dig out the recipe and re-read her description (and warnings) of how good these cookies are. There is drool all over my keyboard and i can already smell the sweetness in the air. I *cannot* wait to make these chocolate pieces of heaven and devour them while watching season 2 of sex and the city. I look at the ingredients: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, unsalted butter, sugar, light brown sugar, vanilla, These are all basic ingredients any regular baker would have on hand.

Except,i mustn't be a regular baker...because when i open my cupboard i have NO brown sugar!!! I have granulated sugar, i have icing sugar, i have sugar in the raw, i even have coloured sugar...but brown sugar...i have NONE!!!!

maybe it's a sign. maybe I am not supposed to make these yet....because if i had made all those cookies and eaten even 5 of them, i would have to spend an extra couple hours at the gym tomorrow working them off...and as much as i *heart* cookies, i hate the gym 100 times more than that!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

baby steps

Yesterday i made a pact with myself that i was going to cook more often. Lately I have lost the motivation to cook. I blame it on the weather, the lack of time, and the fact that I i love to make a mess in the kitchen but i *hate* cleaning it up afterwards. When i was living at home i always had my mom to help me clean and my dad to help with the left overs. Now its just me. Now i have to do it all!

But after a month of eating omelettes for dinner, i'm sick and tired of omelettes! No amount of leeks and shallots and
onion jam can hide the fact that I am eating eggs day in and day out. I'm ready for something new. I'm ready to have some fun! I'm ready to clean up my mess (i hope).

To motivate me to start cooking again, i needed some friends to help me eat.
Joyce was the obvious choice. The fact that she probably loves food more than I do, put the pressure on for me to cook something real. Something good. Something that doesn't come out of a can, a tub, or a carton.

After a few hours of reading through some of my favourite food blogs, i ended up with a menu heavily inspired by
The Wednesday Chef: homemade hummus with toasted pita for appetizer and Russ Parsons' Minestra of Root Vegetables accompanied by a big loaf of very dense seeduction bread and a selection of cheeses to complete the meal.

While shopping at whole foods, i couldn't resist the temptation to pick up two avocados that were perfectly ripe for making guacamole. I also picked up some
sweet lemons because i have never had sweet lemons before. I was good though, and resist getting a piece of mimolette. Even though it's my most favourite cheese in the world i couldn't justify spending $13 on the smallest piece they had!!!

Sans rutabaga, the the soup turned out delicious and I will definitely be making it again, but this time i'll make sure not to forgot! The hummus was sooo smooth, and its flavour was nutty and complex. Before serving i sprinkled it with my favourite spice de jour: hot smoked paprika and drizzled it with the olive oil i picked up in Spain last year that's almost finished so i'm saving it for dishes where you can really appreciate the use of good quality olive oil. This a dish definitely worthy of its use! I don't think i'll be buying store bought hummus again!

All and all, this perfect meal to ease me back into the cooking groove. There were a lot of dishes to wash at the end of the night, but i guess that's the price you have to pay for a food addiction.

Monday, January 22, 2007