Saturday, December 20, 2008

his 'n hers

A rare occurrence at our place; not only did we both get up in time to make and eat breakfast at home, but we actually had enough fruits and berries lurking in the ol' kitchen so we didn't end up with the sleeping pill known as the beige/brown meal.

(You know what I'm talking about - as delicious as a proper fry up is, don't you just want to sink your head into the nearest pillow right afterwards?)

Oh, and we even made his and hers must be a full moon!

My girly plate.

I, for once, am trying to practice some (ugh) restraint these days...we'll see how long that lasts!

And for the boy...



I think I may want to have that bacon-fried egg-cheese-avocado sandwich for lunch...would that be wrong?

Friday, December 19, 2008

snow day!

I'm watching the world outside turn into a giant snowglobe...




...and am so happy to be in my silly, fuzzy flannel pjs (pink and yellow stars and all).

It's time to snuggle on the couch for a Planet Earth marathon. Snow leopards, tigers and pandas, oh my!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

comfort food #1

Sometimes I secretly delight in miserable, gloomy days like today, if only for the excuse to cheer myself up with my favourite comfort foods.

This afternoon was grey and damp, followed by a great flurry of stinging sideways snow...


...which, in my humble opinion, is a day just made for mashed potatoes.


And old-school homemade meatloaf. And gravy!

(I hope it rains tomorrow.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

kitchen tour: intermezzo

It's been ages since I visited the gut-busting, eye-popping evening otherwise known as the seven course tasting menu - if you'd like to catch up on where we left off, please click here. And now, here we go...

Betwixt and between, the intermezzo is a literally a showstopper held in between courses. This kitchen - as tradition goes - likes to serve a sorbet as a little palate cleanser.

Why the pit stop in your epic multi-course tasting menu? To give you (and your poor, overstimulated belly) a breather, for one, and well, sometimes it's kind of fun to show off.

Dishes made of bamboo boats and leaves.

Diced cape gooseberries in a touch of sweet-tart raspberry vinegar.

Ice, she is dry.

The pastry chef, K, with her lovely, almost effortless quenelles of strawberry sorbet.

Topped off with candied citrus zest.


Edible flower "confetti" as garnish.

Smoke and mirrors...

Imagine just how fun this would be...

...coming to your table?!

And even more exciting, this means we're only halfway through the meal! Now that you're refreshed, it's time to loosen that belt one more notch.

Up next, course number!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

in mind's eye

I love collecting images for my personal version of the "lookbook" for those blue-sky, ideal-world necessary when the days start getting colder and darker (like at five, what?!) and bright moments of inspiration become even more welcome than usual.


Every now and then, I get jolted by such delicious images that I can actually taste them in my head! This month's issue of Donna Hay magazine (the queen bee of food porn, to be sure) had me with the oozy quail egg and buttery, garlic laced pasta. Totally my kind of there anything better than a good butter pasta, I ask you?


And it just gets better inside...


Anyone who knows me will tell you just how much I adore cured/smoked salmon. Growing up, my Aunt W used to joke that I must be part grizzly bear as she handed over my traditional Christmas present...of a whole side of smoked salmon!

Oh the joys of a visual "cookbook" meal - almost as good as the real thing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

happy days #6

My kind of lazy day. A book, a nap, some noodles. Yes....


I just love the way the word pappardelle sounds...


Friday, November 28, 2008

dr stuart, i presume...

Extraordinarily good, indeed!

Not to mention pretty much the sweetest packaging I've seen in awhile...


Scents of lemongrass and peppermint...


...and dandilion and red clover.


So good for days when I need a tonic (and a mini-vacation from coffee!).

p.s. I'm trying out this new gadget called "following" - it's on the sidebar under Little Piggy Friends. Here's an invite to join in and follow along for new posts!

I'm interested to see how it all works out...please check it out if you have the chance!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

in the kitchen: olive oil cake

I've been puttering around a few ideas for the fall menu, so I thought it would be fun to show you what I've been up to!


I'm a visual kid; most of the ideas get scribbled down so I can get an overall sense of placement (it also helps to figure out if we actually have the equipment and ingredients ready to make the dish!). The larger sheet in the back has some of the original menu; the doodle on the ticket paper is an idea based on olive oil.


A taste-memory:
One of the boys at work recreated a tasty snack he had in Italy - a thin slice of crusty sourdough, grilled, then covered with dark chocolate shavings. The toast was placed under the broiler just until the chocolate melted, then drizzled with plenty of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt. Amazing to say the least; great crunch, nice sweet/savouriness, and a pleasant bitterness, all lubed up by the fruity olive oil. Mmm.

Another taste-memory:
My dear university boyfriend, happy to share some of his British-ness (and tired of me making fun of his Marmite toasts), gifts me with my first Terry's Chocolate Orange. Yum, I'm in love!

So, what is a gal to do, but play around with the idea of the olive oil cake...and here it goes.


B likes to name the equipment; the large food processor is called Robo-Cop.


A good olive oil is a must! I'm loving these orange and mandarin infused ones right now. (I blend them with a plain, fruity oil so it the batter doesn't get too perfume-y.)

Getting the ingredients together...


Cream the oil and sugar (check out the colour, by the way, how happy!), add orange zest, then eggs, then alternate additions of flour and milk. Really easy!


The batter is very loose, and bakes up very moist and rich, almost like a pound cake.


Butter and flouring the moulds. I pour the batter a third of the way up for the individual 3-inch cakes...and into a 350 oven for about 15-17 minutes.

The moist little cakes, ready for the plate...


Olive oil citrus cake with hazelnuts, orange confit and chocolate gelato with maldon sea salt.

olive oil cake

1 1/2 cups good quality olive oil
2 1/2 cups sugar
zest of 1 orange or lemon
3 eggs

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt

1 1/2 cups milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream together olive oil, sugar and zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time; mix in between each addition.

In a smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients.

To the oil/sugar/egg mixture, add half the dry mix; stir, then add half the milk. Stir in the remaining dry, then rest of the milk.

Pour batter into butter and floured moulds and bake in 350 oven.

(In this case, my 3-inch mini tins took about 17 minutes - I imagine a larger cake pan, say 9-inch, would take about 30 minutes...the cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out cleanly!)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

happy days #5

With a serious hankering for some good ol' comfort food - it's been getting really chilly these last few days - we strolled on down to rocks.

On the way, checking out the new addition to the AGO.

I like that the new restaurant inside is named Frank, for the architect and the style of food...clever.


More inspirational/quizzical building watching. I've heard tell that some think the OCAD addition looks like "a dalmation with a hard on"...wish I had snapped the giant red elevator shaft entering the top left side.


Anyhoo, time to check out the menu. We're hemming and hawing over whether to get the shigure don, the curry don (beef, pork, or veggie? It's all so good!)...


No hesitation here; having the takoyaki is a must.

One of the great things about this gem other than that it's clean and cozy and has really nice staff, is that the menu is pretty basic. I mean this in a really good way; there's nothing too elaborate or showy, and contains nothing that you wouldn't wish you could make at home for yourself for a comforting lunch or small dinner. It's all solid, simple, well seasoned, properly done food, which I can't stop gushing about whenever I'm lucky enough to find a great place that does it up right!

I'm probably not doing this much justice, so feel free to check out the actual menu here:

manpuku menu

In the end, we ended up sharing...


Pork curry don: thinly shaved tender pork over an addictive mild, slightly sweet curry with some nice potato chunkage, over steamed rice.


Gotta have the togarashi.


Shigure don: I don't know a ton about the cut of beef used, but let me just say that it's tender and juicy, with a nice sweetness from the onion. Definitely one of my faves.

And then came the takoyaki! The server/part owner, I believe, let us know that these are made to order and so would take about ten minutes...and so worth the wait.


These awesome, tender nuggets are made from a batter poured into special cast iron takoyaki pans...


...and contain little morsels of octopus. So good.


On top, loop de loops of mayo, homemade takoyaki sauce, toasted seaweed and bonito flakes. I would probably go back there right this minute just to have these, they're so addictive.

Thank you Manpuku for such a happy lunch.

105 McCaul Street
(inside Village by the Grange)
open for lunch and dinner, closed sundays