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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


(or the gift that keeps on giving...)



...and after.

Monday, November 17, 2008

happy days #4

Even more so, because I celebrated my birthday! So, just a few things from here and there while D and I took in a few of our (well, mostly my, this time) favourite things...

The first treat of the day; a macchiato from Manic Coffee.

Fun posters for a film fest.

Waiting for the streetcar to take us to St. Lawrence Market...

hee hee!

Mmm, salty goodness.

We actually came to the market for our fave Breakfast sandwiches from Carousel Bakery. (That's slabs of peameal bacon, a fried egg and gooey orange cheese in a kaiser bun, oh, what I wouldn't give to have another one right now!) But we were really hungry and scarfed them back before I remembered to take a picture. Next time!

Holiday decorations already!

Unusual leaves in the pretty!

It's starting to get dark pretty early these days...on our way home.

We met up with my mom for dinner at my favourite Japanese restaurant, Toshi Sushi, where we proceeded to gorge on the most delicious of dishes. Nabeyaki udon, served steaming hot in a clay pot, with lots of tempura goodies and (of course, my fave) a gently poached egg for good measure. Broiled scallops with dollops of miso mayo...and thinly sliced, grilled ox tongue...oh, and steamed baby eggplant with a sticky miso glaze, served in dashi and topped with wavy shavings of bonito. And of course, a gorgeous platter of sashimi...with a very special addition of some foie gras sushi! (Just in case that sounds icky, I should explain that the foie wasn't raw, but rather barely seasoned with mirin, then lightly broiled and topped with a dusting of grated ginger...buttery love.)

Some more happy moments...

Bubbles, and pink ones at that. Makes me want more excuses to celebrate!

I'm a lucky girl to have such wonderful friends...

I'm nervous about having this new beauty...water once a week, you say?

I've been dreaming about these stomping boots, can't wait to break them in!

I like it when gifts come wrapped in butcher paper...

...and even more when they contain insanely marbled kobe beef! Holy moly, how cool is that?!

More pretty cards and wrapping paper, perfect for the inspiration board.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

an (early) winter tail

Oh groan! I couldn't help it though; seeing all the goats and pigs and cows at this year's Royal Winter Fair got me all giddy and silly. I guess a nice thing about being a sad city girl like myself is that visiting livestock becomes a seriously fun even!

Taking the 509 down to the fairground.

Best floppy ears ever...don't they kinda look like dogs?

I think we went around nap time....

...because there sure was a lot of dozing going on!

Wheat kings and pretty things...

...and lots of cowboy hats to admire.

Hello, pretty, I like your nose ring!

This stand pretty was definitely the icing on the cake...or rather, the ice cream and gooey butterscotch on the freshly baked apple dumplings.

Spinning class.

And so the assembly line goes; freshly peeled and spun apples awaiting a generous topping of...

...mounds of dark brown sugar and cinnamon. I wish you could have been there to smell it all!

But wait, there's more!

The whole shebang gets wrapped up in squares of flaky pie dough.

Awaiting the oven.

And after, with the works: vanilla ice cream and wicked butterscotch sauce.

Oh, apple dumpling, how I love you!

It might seem impossible, but this might just be better than apple pie. I'm still all torn up about it, it's so hard to decide!

Bye moo cows, see you next year!