Saturday, October 16, 2010

"the usual"





It's nice to have your regular spots...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

remembering what's good

Sometimes, it's not about the new or the flashy. Recently, it took us a (lucky) series of events to remind us just how good the simple is.

We've long frequented the popular Mother's Dumpling, following it after its move from its first smaller home. Even though I want to love the new location, so badly I do, but sadly the growing pains are clear...bigger isn't always better. (Hopefully things will be smoothed out soon. Even so, I will always have a soft spot for their Juicy Pork Buns. Damn, they are tasty.)

It was late, we were unusually indecisive, and we were getting hungry. Mother's was closing so we kept walking down Spadina. We were almost at Dundas before stopping to turn around:

"Hey, the Dumpling House is open. We haven't been there in ages."

"Um, yeah, that's cause it's old and yucky."

reading the menu

Ok, so I might have said that. I was pretty cranky at this point, and it's sort of true. Even though I'd often check out the cool looking prep area by the front window, I had obviously written off the functional, spare, slightly run-down nature of the space, preferring it to its flashier neighbour up the street. Oh, shame on me!

Because you know what? The dumplings at this house are seriously amazing.

a little hot and sour soup to start

The dough is slippery-but-with-a-little-chew, and the fillings taste simply of what they should be. The boiled pork and salted cabbage dumplings are completely addictive.

boiled pork and salted cabbage dumplings

Fried pork and chive dumplings. Love that crispy lace.

I could also eat these every day. Love that the skin is a touch thinner on them, so that they're a bit more delicate and nicer to eat with that crispy fried bottom layer.

Another awesome thing...the fried dumplings are left open on the ends to let the steam out.

Simple. Great. Tasty goodness. We'll definitely be back again soon.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Have you ever had that feeling of instant connection to a cookbook? There's that eye blinking series of moments where you flip through the first few pages (and if you're liking what you see, perhaps you slightly push out your lower lip while nodding at the pictures), and yes indeed you proceed to zoom in to actually start reading the recipes...

And if you're lucky, once in a while you'll truly enjoy the author's banter - personally I like a mix of casual storytelling, with a bit of hows and whys thrown in (but not too educational, if you know what I mean). Most important of all, however, is that somehow this new personality that you've just met, guided along with mouthwatering pictures - friendly and real, rather than too obviously "touched"- makes you want to cook. And eat.


This, dear friends, is something I would like to share with you. Because the lovely M, from my favourite store in the world (good egg. love it!) was kind enough to share it with me, knowing that I'd get a kick out of it. And some great new dishes too...

This was one of the first pictures that drew me in. Isn't it just amazing? Ravioli with Lemon, Chilli and Goat's Cheese.

Ottolenghi (named after its founder, Yotam) is an incredibly popular restaurant/take away shop with several locations around London. I've seen the gorgeous displays of prepared salads and baked goods - unfortunately not in real life, yet! - and can say that the generous spirit and simplicity in which everything is prepared is so welcoming, and very much up my alley. (Would Toronto be open to having an Ottolenghi-style spot? With self serve platters and communal tables? I wonder...)

Plenty is Yotam's second book, and has the quiet distinction of happening to also be vegetarian. As I am most definitely not a vegetarian (and neither is the author, who often suggest fish or meat dishes to complement some of the side recipes), it's inspiring and refreshing to be reminded of just how fantastic cooking with (um, not meat?) obviously good-for-you ingredients can be.

The chilli in this recipe is a Turkish spice mix called kirmizi biber. Wouldn't this be great for brunch? With a great big pile of buttered toast....

There's something about the English sensibility to putting flavours together that I find so intriguing. Infuse that with the spices and flavours of Yotam's Israeli background, and you'll find yourself thinking about eggplants, saffron, cumin and tahini in a whole new way...


Here's another few that I can't wait to try out. I do love a good lentil salad. You'll also see some nice black mission figs in the market these days, and I like the idea of using pomegranate molasses in the dressing to draw out their sweetness...


Yes, it's definitely time to do a spot of shopping and then some cooking. (I think that's a good sign that you and your new favourite cookbook are going to be great friends!) Hope you have a chance to check it out. Until next time!