Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Win A Smoker - Duff and Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza

You might think that BBQ season is on the way out, but now is the perfect time to haul out your smoker. To celebrate smoking season, Ontario Gas BBQ is giving away 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers. You heard that right, 5 Free Smokers are up for grabs.

If you have never been out to the Ontario Gas BBQ store, you are in for a treat because it is truly BBQ heaven. With over 150 different kinds of barbecues from propane and gas to charcoal and electric, smokers and more, it's impossible to not find what you are looking for. They are also home of the Charcoal Room featuring Charcoals of the World with over 10 brands of premium hardwood free of chemicals and additives. They regularly stock charcoal from as far away as Africa and Indonesia so if you think all there is to buying charcoal is running up to the corner store, think again. 

In our house, the smoker is Shack's domain and he takes great pride in his secret recipe for dry rub that he uses on both his pork ribs and his pulled pork.  He won't even let me in the kitchen when he makes it, never mind share the actual recipe with me. He guards that thing more closely than Colonel Sanders guards his 11 secret herbs and spices and don't think I haven't tried to sneak a peak. Not happening. I don't complain too much because as long as he bequeaths the recipe to me in his will, I will happily let him do all the work for now.

getting the ribs ready for the smoker with his "secret" rub. 

No need for any smoker envy though because, now,  you can win one for yourself.

All you have to do is go  here and print out the ballot, fill it out and bring it to the Ontario Gas BBQ Store on Saturday, October 25th. The first draw will be at noon and the last will be at 2:30 but you don't need to hang around til 2:30 to win. If you leave and you win, someone will get in touch with you.

The Hoptimus Prime Fire Truck will be on hand giving away free pulled pork sandwiches to the first 200 people to show up and donate a minimum of $5 to Camp Bucko- a camp for kids who are burn survivors.

Saturday, Oct 25th, 2014
Ontario Gas BBQ, 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughn, Ontario, L4K 4Z8

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Week in Yum Oct 11-17 The Delicious Food Show, Kimchi Korea House

chefs Gentile, Batali, Florence and Hughes testosteroning the joint up at the Media Press Conference for the Delicious Food Show

Last weekend was Thanksgiving up here in the Great White North and so we drove out to Westport, Ontario to spend the weekend with family. Like all good Canadians, I cooked up a turkey feast for the first time in ages and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. Why, oh why do we not eat a full turkey dinner once a month?? WHY?

On Monday, Shack and I went downtown, thinking we would pop into the Salad King for thai but, being a holiday, The Salad King was closed. CLOSED!! We then thought, hey let's go to Pai.
Sansotei on Dundas.....

 Kimchi Korea House

What the hell was going on? On the walk back to the car, we passed by Kimchi Korea House on Dundas and you know what? We were starving, it was opened, it looked to be pretty busy so we walked in and took a seat.  Shack ordered the Bulgogi BiBimBap ($10.95) and I got a big bowl of spicy beef soup ($9.95) instead of bibimbap - i like to order something different so we can taste more things. The tiny salad was really great but I could have eaten four more bowls. The little array of small bits of this and that that accompany Korean meals were also very nice and kept us from getting cranky until our mains came. The soup was quite spicy- not make your eyes water spicy but just right and full of shredded beef but Shack certainly hit the jackpot with his bibimbap - a lovely, bubbling cauldron of rice with bulgogi and a fried egg on top (spend the extra buck and get that egg) and two bottles of addictive sauce - one sweet and salty and the other a hot sauce. He has not shut up about it ever since so I assume we will be back sooner rather than later.  My beef soup was fine but it wasn't nearly as good as his bulgogi so I will never doubt my first instincts again. If I hadn't tasted his bulgogi I would probably be raving about the soup, to be honest.

spicy beef soup

On Tuesday,  we drove to Holland Marsh again because it was nice enough to have the top down on the car and at this time of year, you don't waste top down days.  If you have watched True Detective, you can imagine what Holland Marsh looks like and this is the second time in just over a week that he has taken me out there. Should I be reading into that?

Anyway, on the way home, Shack took me for butter chicken at one of his secret restaurants, Shivas Chicken in Port Perry, of all places. Who goes to Port Perry for butter chicken??
Shack does, apparently.
and it was a damned fine butter chicken too

By Tuesday night, I was starting to feel a bit under the weather and it was a quick descent into fluish hell so the rest of the week involved me lying on the couch and not eating right up until today.

The Delicious Food Show

Thanks god I woke up today feeling like I could actually get up and move around so I popped a few advil, packed my hand sanitizer and made it to the media preview of the Delicious Food Show and I am so glad I did.

Chef Hughes showed us his tattoos, I mean the kitchen where the chef's will conduct the hands on cooking classes throughout the weekend. The price tag might sound a bit steep, ranging from $100 to $300 but these are fully hands on cooking experiences with some incredible chefs and a chance to cook alongside and then sit and enjoy a meal, drink some wine and rub shoulders with the likes of Tyler Florence, Roger Mooking and Mark McEwan. Lets face it, every lady in the room would happily drop $300 just to chop Chuck Hughes' onions so that is a small price to pay to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen with him, am I right?

Tickets for the classes can be bought here

We continued on with a little tour of the show, Abbey's Kitchen Stadium and finished with a press conference with Chefs Mario Batali, Tyler Florence, Chuck Hughes and Toronto's own Rob Gentile of Buca, who also provided a lovely spread for us as well. Food bloggin' is hungry business.
In Abbey's Kitchen Stadium you can sample the offerings from 8 of Toronto's top chefs and then vote for your favourites right up until 4pm on Saturday. On Sunday, the top four chefs will go head to head to compete for the title of Champion, so, if you like a bit of interactive fun, Abbey's Kitchen Stadium is for you.

With more than 200 exhibitors, 40 live cooking demos and classes and more celebrity chefs than you can shake a stick at, this is the place to be this weekend.

Some of the highlights, for me were:

Santo Pecado is there with their tasty Mexican fare. Love these girls

Aracataca debuting their Columbian style Arepas topped with non traditional offerings like the Bangkok thai beef. YUM

Former Top Chef Canada Competitor, Cook Book writer and illustrator Pierre Lamielle is there with his awesome food Tshirts from Food On Your Shirt 

Michael Malleau of Louise Prete , with his delicious, gourmet, all natural sauces modelled after the recipes his grandmother handed down to him (the company is named after her)
This popcorn is CRAZY! Crazy good. The Pumpkin Spice is like a crunchy, salty, sweet pumpkin spice latte but if a latte was caramel corn with a white chocolate drizzle. Absolutely addictive. Crazy Corn - don't forget it

these teeny tiny cookies from the teeny tiny bakery are seriously cute

Parachute Coffee kept me alive all morning. Thank you for that.

Sophia Saunders has brought some of her wonderful linocut prints - need one of these for my new kitchen!

A pine nut butter tart with a hint of orange and mint. The. Best. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Put. In. My. Mouth
The profiteroles were great too. Props to Chef Rocco Agostino of Pizzeria Libretto 

The Delicious Food Show runs from right now until Sunday so make sure you haul your butt down to the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place.

you might get lucky and see this guy out walking around among the regular humans too

Pin of the week: YEAH BABY!

Instagram of the week:  Love this feed this week

Tweet of the week:

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Week in Yum Oct 10-17the - La MexiCanada, Feed Tomorrow Week, Nuit Blanche and Tilde Tacos

Pretty much the only interesting things we saw all night at this years Nuit Blanche

We had so much fun last year at Nuit Blanche that we stayed out til the wee hours, just wandering the downtown core, looking at all of the cool stuff and enjoying being out in the city while it was alive and bustling and full of life. It was like falling in love with the city all over again and all year, we have looked forward to going back. On Saturday night, we bundled up, hopped on the subway with our $11 special events pass and hoofed it down to University and Queen. 

I am sorry to report that it didn't even feel like the same event. Shack thought it appeared that the job of curating the event had fallen into the hands of one of the account managers this year. There was nothing even close to last year's Ai WeiWei's amazing bicycle piece at Nathan Philip's Square. Things were on a much smaller scale and it was impossible to get close enough to see most things. After four hours, I was left with nothing but really sore feet and a headache from all of the screaming drunk kids. Those stairs at Fort York were cooler than any of the actual installments and the guys with the colourful heads giving out the disease juice were fun at least.

FBC Weekly Meal Plan with Yours Truly

Oh yeah, check out my weekly food plan over at Food Bloggers of Canada. They let a featured blogger plan a week's worth of dinners, comprised of recipes from their blogs. Anyone who knows me, knows that planning ahead is not really my forte but I managed to pull one together and I am toying with the idea of starting to do a little bit of planning ahead myself this winter as a result. I said I am toying with the idea, so settle down.

Some very tasty poutine at the hot counter at the new Whole Foods at Yonge and Sheppard
On Sunday we took a spin to check out the new Whole Foods on Yonge at Sheppard and it is a really nice store. The prices were not as bad as expected and, in fact, I got a couple of really great deals and the food at the hot counter looked great. The poutine, at $7, was huge, fresh and tasty. It's still no Trader Joe, but I'll take it.

La MexiCanada

Shack and I took a drive out the Holland Marsh and stopped in at Mexicanada  for lunch while passing through Bradford, Ontario. The restaurant was originally opened to service all of the Mexican migrant workers who come to work in the Marsh. They were homesick and wanted to eat food that was familiar and comforting so a restaurant was born. Because the food is so great, it soon became popular with the local residents too, serving fresh, authentic Mexican food to happy customers.

We had not been for some time so I was thrilled to see that they have done some renovations since my last visit and the place seems to be almost twice as big with a bright, airy addition in the back.
On this visit we had guacamole and chips ($6.95), tortilla soup ($6.50), five mixed, soft tacos($9.95) and something off the new menu called Choriqueso (($8.95). The Choriqueso was tasty but a bit on the dry side but it was really big and rich and so it would certainly serve a few people as an app. The only thing I wouldn't order again was the soup. I am not sure why a bowl of tomato broth with a ton of crispy fried corn tortilla strips costs almost $7 and I am not saying it was bad. It was just too much tortilla strips, not enough substance to the soup and too expensive for what it was.

That said, the guacamole with chips was delicious and a great price, the five tacos (beef, pork and chicken) were simple and delicious, the service is slow but warm and friendly and I love it there. Don't come here looking for fancy, designer, downtown tacos or upscale Mexican cuisine because it's not about that. The food is simple, fresh and delicious and, although I have only ever been for lunch, I get the impression that can be quite lively in the evenings.

La MexiCanada on Urbanspoon 

Second to last week for the Fairmount Farmers Market resulted in those gorgeous radishes and golden turnips

Feed Tomorrow Week

inspiring kids from the 3:30 club, a volunteer mom who feeds over 2000 kids every day at Thorncliff Park PS at the launch
Food publicist, writer and all around superwoman, Mary Luz Mejia always invites me to the best events. When she asked if I would like to partake in some of the things happening to promote Feed Tomorrow week, I was thrilled. I know, I know, I write about delicious food, I photograph it, I eat it in restaurants, I cook it at home and I travel to eat some more but I am also a mother. The fact that 1 in 3 children here live in poverty and at some of Toronto's schools, up to 70% of the students live below the poverty level makes me stand up and take notice.

The Toronto Foundation for Student Success, or TFSS, helps students in need by dealing with issues of poverty, hunger, poor nutrition and the effects that those things also have on a child's ability to learn. Study after study shows that when children are being fed nutritious food, their test scores improve noticeably, especially in math and science. Not only are hungry kids too busy being hungry to learn, our brains cannot function without fuel.

The TSFF supports over 700 breakfast, lunch and snack programs, providing more than 160,000 meals a day within the TDSB. I am particularly interested in the 3:30 program that keeps more than 1200 middle schoolers in high risk areas safe and engaged from 3:30 to 6:30 every day. All of our servers and kitchen helpers throughout the two days of events I attended were 3:30 club kids and they were an engaged and enthusiastic bunch of kids.
Sang Kim hosted the launch at his restaurant, The WindUp Bird Cafe, where we heard from various speakers, people on the board of directors as well as a parent volunteer and some students.

Rifat Khan is a mom who moved to Canada almost a decade ago and although she no longer has kids in elementary school, she is still active in the system and is now the parent coordinator of the meal program at Thorncliff Park School. Here, she and her merry band of about 30 parent volunteers feed over 2000 kids a day. Yes, you heard me. There are 1400 children between grades 1 and 5 and then there are 700 full time kindergarten students at the attached Fraser Mustard Kindergarten Academy, which makes it the largest in North America. Oh, and they do it twice a day since Thorncliff Park has both a breakfast AND a snack program. That means they make over 4000 meals day. I am exhausted just saying that.

On Thursday our big group of sponsors, media and supporters met up at the St Lawrence Market Kitchen for a quick coffee before boarding a yellow school bus to take us first to Nelson Mandela School where we were introduced to some of the teachers and kids and heard a bit about their breakfast program. The TFSS was presented with a giant cheque for $658,000 from the Breakfast Club of Canada while we were there which was a very large cheque, both figuratively and literally.

Back on the bus and off to Spruce Court, a Toronto Model School where another benefactor, Glen Haddon of the Haddon Family Foundation, handed out another giant cheque for $150,000 to TFSS. We were divided up into small groups and were joined by students who took us back to their classrooms with their snack box where they chatted with us, showed us their classroom and answered questions about themselves, their school, what sort of things they like to eat and how much they LOOOOVE snack time. After big hugs all around, we hopped back on our yellow school bus to return the the market for our big, group Sushi Making For The Soul Class with award winning writer, chef, restaurateur and TedX speaker, Sang Kim. 


I had taken The Kid to a children's class at Sang's restaurant,  The Windup Bird Cafe a couple of weeks ago and so it was my turn to take the class with the adults. Sang, a tireless advocate for food security, especially for children, uses his sushi class to teach lessons about poverty, hunger, compassion and love. We learn a bit of sushi trivia, some techniques to improve our rolls and leave with a little extra something to chew on for the rest of the day. If you have never attended one of his classes, you must check it out. 
Click here for more info
For more information about TFSS and how you can get involved, click here

Tilde Taco

We ended the week with a trip out to Danforth and Pape to have some tacos at a new spot I keep hearing about called Tilde Taco . The place is long and narrow, and surprisingly well lit, so I was pretty happy as soon as we walked in the door. I know that most people might not care about that but I always want to take a couple of decent photos to share with you guys AND unless I am on a romantic date where it is important that I am lit by the flickering light of tea lights filtered through the finest baby angel hair, I like to see what I am eating. Two of my pet peeves are music played so loudly that I can't have a conversation and lightening that is so dark that I can't tell if I am eating steak or flourless chocolate cake.

The wines by the glass are offered by the oz, which is something I am seeing more and more and I heartily approve. As much as I appreciate a generous pour, sometimes I don't want 2 nine ounce glasses and at $1/oz, I can get just another couple of ounces as a second glass. I can't tell you how much I love this option. It's also a great way to see if you even like it enough to have an entire glass.

We shared some guacamole while we perused the menu and was relieved to see that it was really tasty, fresh and it had some texture. Lately, everyone seems to be pureeing their guacamole and I don't get it - I am always slightly suspect of pureed guacamole, much like the fact that I don't trust people who don't like bacon. Irrational, perhaps but I find that it works for me. I like a fork mashed guacamole and this one was very nice. The chips seem to be fried in house as opposed to bagged, commercial chips, another score.

We had an array of the tacos off of the regular menu and we loved a couple and a couple were not as beloved, as is to be expected from a brand new place. Highs were the Bengali Fish, the Korean Chicken and The Manchurian Mushroom Tostada and, of course, that guacamole. We will definitely be back  to taste more of engineer turned chef, Gauravi Shah's food as the restaurant finds it's sea legs. I am sure this is not the last you will hear about Tilde from me.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian friends. Now, go eat some turkey!

So, coming up:

Hurry up and get tickets to The Delicious Food Show Oct 17-19 and catch some of the hands on cooking workshops in the Sub Zero Wolf Classrooms

BlogTo's list of restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner

There is Chocolate High Tea happening from Friday to Sunday starting this weekend and ending Nov 2 at the Omni King Edward Hotel. The $45 lunch ($5 of that is a donation in support of the prostate and breast cancer initiatives program) will get you an array of savoury sandwiches, chocolates and chocolate pastries and their special blend chocolate teas. Take your mother.

I bought this gadget in the gift shop of the AGO. It is a peeler that has two extra blades - one to julienne and one to do that serrated cut up there. LOVE IT. It's a rotary peeper by Joseph Joseph

Pin of the week: hone your culinary samurai skills

Instagram of the week: This guy's feed is worth a look see

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Post by The Yum Yum Factor.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bywoods Restaurant, Another St Clair West Gem

linguine with shrimp, spiced light cream sauce
 St Clair West is really in the midst of a restaurant boom lately and I suddenly find myself venturing out there to eat more and more. Before this last year, the only thing that could get me to make the trek to St Clair West was The Stockyards but that's all changing and the list of places that I have been to and loved and that are on my to do list grows at a steady pace.

The latest spot that I have had the pleasure of checking out is Bywoods, a new Mediterranean restaurant from Boom's Tony Cappellano. The two rooms are nice and cosy, with seating for about 65 people split between them. Soft lighting, music played at a decibel level that allows dinner conversation and a nice wall of window at the front all work together to give this place a nice, casual atmostphere that would be great for a big group.

We were there to taste their Fall menu so we wasted no time diggin into a duo of pizzas as soon as we sat down. Of the two I prefered the vegetarian over the Prosciutto with fig, gorgonzola and arugula. Both sported a super thin, crispy crust but the goat cheese, leek, peppers, artichoke, black olive and tomato version was the one that caught my eye and at $15 and $14 respectively , they easily feed a few people as an appetizer. Or, if you are feeling like hogging it all for yourself, it's big enough for an entree as well.

After the pizza, we all shared the Linguine with Shrimp in a spiced cream sauce with spinach ($21), the Mediterranean Salad which was kind of like a Greek Salad but with a yogurty sauce ($13) and, my favourite of the two salads, a Beet Salad ($12). Even people who said they don't normally like beets were taking seconds of the salad, scraping up the goat cheese and charred red onion from the bottom of the plate. How someone doesn't like beets is beyond me.

Pan Roasted Lamb Sirloin with apricot that came with a potato puree with smoked paprika and let me tell you, there was some heavy arm wrestling going on over the potatoes. We spent ten minutes trying to figure out what was in them. Was it squash? Sweet potato? Surely there was something like that making them orange and then there was a smokey thing going on. Chef Craig Dehne came out to answer our questions and told us that we were all wrong and that it was simply a puree of potato with smoked paprika. Well, there was nothing simple about these potatoes and I think I ate more potatoes than anything else and couldn't stop until they were all gone. The lamb was perfectly cooked and sat on top of a Moroccan spiced jus with a side of sauteed spinach ($26).

Grilled flank steak didn't work as well for me but I did love the salsa verde that came with it - it was really fresh and herbaceous and with another cut of steak, I would be all over it ($21).

We were also treated to their signature cocktail, the Bywoods which was a nice gin based drink, infused with rosemary and a hint of sweetness. I am a gin girl and was happy about the choice of drink.

The Bywoods - gin cocktail infused with rosemary

All in all, a really nice restaurant serving good food, generously portioned and full of flavour in a cosy, place with a nice, relaxed vibe. Bywoods is one more restaurant that I wish we had in the east end of the city. Sigh.

So, let's get to know Chef Craig a little better, shall we?

Hey Chef with Craig Denhe
1 Is there something you hated as a kid that you now love to eat?
2 If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
3 If you had to get rid of one thing on your menu, what would it be?
   Penne Puttanesca 
4 If you could only use one animal from now on in your cooking, which animal would it be?
5 Chinatown or India town?
6 pasta or ramen?
7 dim sum or eggs benny?
   Dim Sum
8 Name a city that you have not been to that you would like to visit and eat in?
9 Least favourite food trend in the last ten years?
10 What food/dish/technique that is no longer in fashion that you would love to resurrect?
    Sole de bercy
11 What do you eat for breakfast?
12 What non food thing inspires your cooking?
     The weather
13 What four ingredients will always be in your kitchen?
      Marjoram, garlic, shallots and butter
14 What is your death row meal? 
     Spicy pad thai
15 In a fire you are allowed to rescue one thing from your home kitchen. What would it be?
16 What did you have for dinner last night?
     A Sandwich on German bread
17 Where am I most likely to find you eating on your day off?
18 If you couldn’t head your own kitchen, who would you want to work for?
     A good friend of mine, Crispin Chetwynd
19 Where would I most likely find you food shopping - Kensington Market or Whole Foods?
     Kensington Market

20 If you were offered a million dollar contract to design and promote a McMugget dipping sauce for McDonalds, would you do it?
pasta, mediterranean salad and beet salad

Bywoods on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 6, 2014

Boston Cream Pie's Sister Cake is Kyoto Cream Pie

Did you know that Kyoto is a sister city to Boston? They became sister cities back in 1959 and, in fact, their gift of the Japan House to the Boston Children's Museum is thought to be the most expensive gift ever given to an American community from a foreign sister city. The two cities collaborate on various events throughout the year and are very tight.

Knowing that, how could I not want to give something back to Kyoto when I love Boston so much? Boston gets Boston Cream Pie and Boston Baked Beans but Kyoto?

So many things I love went into the thought process of coming up with this cake:

Boston Cream Pie with Matcha is in there somehow - Come on, how is it that this is not already a thing?

I have been given the task of coming up with a recipe using Almond Breeze Almond Milk and I am going to admit something right now. We use almond milk all the time, but only in our morning smoothies, like this one. Not only have I never baked with almond milk, I really don't bake all that much to begin with. If it wasn't for this blog, I would bake even less than I already do, to be perfectly honest, which means The Kid is pretty happy that mom is a food blogger or he would never get any dessert at all. Without the Yum Yum Factor, it would be nothing but risotto, ramen and pork around here and the poor baby would have to depend on the kindness of strangers for his sugar fixes.

I can't get matcha out of my brain these days and when that happens, I have to go with it or it will never leave me. I started out making a matcha pound cake with the almond milk. It was good but I wanted something more creative than that. It seemed like a good idea to make things that are widely considered foods that depend on cow's milk or cream so I could see how the almond milk would stand up. In the end,  it became a toss up between some sort of custard, a cake and chocolate truffles, with that damned matcha powder lingering in the shadows, poking me in the brain.

Why not combine all three and make my version of a Boston Cream Pie?

I was a bit afraid that the almond milk would be too low fat and adversely affect the texture of the finished products, but that didn't happen at all. After a bunch of reading and researching, I was assured that you can pretty much just substitute almond milk for cow's milk in any of your recipes. The almond milk adds a great nuttiness to the finished cake, especially since I used it in all three elements that comprise it.

The pastry cream was perfectly creamy and smooth and the ganache behaved exactly the same as every ganache I have ever made with heavy cream. I ended up with dessert that is entirely dairy free (you can leave the tbls of butter out of the ganache completely or just replace it with vegetable oil or coconut oil)

Serving it with a mound of toasted almond slices just shoots the nut quotient through the roof, gives it a bit of crunch and I love the blend of the earthy matcha with the almonds and dark chocolate. It kind of tastes like a Green Tea Latte with dark chocolate and that is a very, very good thing.

this is a sponsored post but I only work for products and brands that I really stand behind so my opinions are my own, yadda yadda yadda

Kyoto Cream Pie

because I didn't want to use pastry flour, i added cornstarch to the AP flour. If you use pastry flour, omit the cornstarch.

adapted from Anna Olson

1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup AP flour
1 1/2 tbls cornstarch
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp matcha powder
1/2 cup cool butter, cut into chunks
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F
Grease a 9" round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment and flour, shaking off excess.

Put the sugar, flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt and matcha into the bowl of your stand mixer (or a big bowl if you are using hand beaters). Cut in the butter until it's crumbly - I use my cold hands (run hands under cold tap water and dry well).

In another bowl, whisk the egg, almond milk and vanilla together and then pour that into the flour mixture. Using the paddle attachment, beat on low for a few seconds and then increase to med high and beat for about 3 minutes until it's smooth, thick and creamy.

Scrape into the cake pan and give the pan a few good whacks on the counter to get rid of the air bubbles. Bake for 35 minutes - check by inserting a skewer into the cake. It should come out clean. Let it cool in the pan for half an hour before removing it to cool completely on a rack.
Set aside.

Pastry Cream:
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
4 tbls cornstarch

Heat the almond milk and 1/4 cup of sugar until it comes to a light simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk the yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, the vanilla and salt until smooth and start whisking in the cornstarch, a bit at a time.

Slowly start to add in the hot milk, whisking constantly until the you have poured it all in. Strain the mixture back into the pot (in case you have any lumps) and stir constantly for another 3 minutes over medium heat until it thickens up.

Pour the custard into a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and when it comes to room temperature, put it in the fridge for a few hours (or even overnight).

approx 140g dark  70% chocolate
1/2 cup  almond milk
1 tbls butter
3 tbls corn syrup

Heat the almond milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it's just starting to show bubbles around the outside and add in the chocolate. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted, add in the corn syrup and the butter and take off the heat. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before pouring it on the cake.

clearly, I still need some work on the whole cutting the cake in half horizontally thing

To assemble the cake:
You need to cut your cake in half, horizontally and put the bottom layer on your serving plate. Take the pastry cream out of the fridge and spread it over the bottom layer of cake. Top with the other layer of cake and push down lightly. Run a spatula around the outside of the cake, cleaning up any excess pastry cream that might have oozed out. Now, pour the cooled but still liquid ganache over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Put the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving right away or it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Week In Yum Sept 27-Oct 3 Bywoods, The Boneyard Grill, Ward 32 Crazytown and This Weekend's Happenings

The week started off with a bang when Shack and I offered to cook dinner for a good friend's birthday gathering. It quickly went from 6 to 8 guests to about 16 within 24 hours so, of course, we did a big, old Southern BBQ Porkapalooza with almost 30 lbs of meat between the side ribs and the pulled pork. It's the perfect meal to make when you are not sure how many people are going to show up. We had one gluten free guest so I made my first gluten free cornbread and thought I had taken care of any special needs and  then we had two non meat eaters RSVP a couple of hours before dinner. WHAT TO DO?

We went to Hooked, on Queen St East and threw ourselves at their mercy and, of course, they totally came through and saved the day. A big chunk of sturgeon was whisked out from the back and we were gifted with a big chunk of the "pork of fish" with instructions for a brine and assured that if we just treated it like a pork tenderloin, it would all work out.

And work out, it did. I have never had sturgeon before but after brining and spice rubbing, it really was a very porky fish and a great substitute for the delicious king of meats. Buttermilk slaw, buttery corn with thyme and baked beans rounded out the menu and I think everyone left stuffed and happy.

The Boneyard Grill

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Later in the week, I took Shack with me to the opening of The Boneyard Grill at 1554 Avenue, just north of Lawrence.  I had no idea what to expect and I am getting tired of so-so BBQ joints, so we were both pleasantly surprised to find that the food was really good. The pulled pork sandwich was piled with a nest deep fried, battered onions and it was moist and full of flavour. Dry pulled pork makes baby angels cry people. I took a bite of the burger, thinking I would pass it over to Shack because I rarely eat a whole burger and before I  knew it, I had polished the whole thing off. It was slightly pink inside, moist and tender on a soft, old school bun. By the time the ribs got there, I was pretty full but I am never one to pass up a rib when the meat is just falling off the bone so I ate a couple of those two. Crispy sweet potato fries also did not disappoint and the dipping sauces that came with everything were pretty tasty as well.

Chicken wings, although flavourful, are smoked and, therefore, the skin is wiggly and I cannot abide wiggly skin. I need my wings deep fried to within an inch of their lives so that every inch of skin shatters under my teeth. All in all, everything we ate was great although there is no real decor or ambiance to speak of. Shack has now put it into his roster of spots to grab a bite when he is in the north end of the city and I will happily stop in the next time I find myself up there too.

Boneyard Grill on Urbanspoon 

 I owe the Boneyard Grill and my media dinner at Bywoods to the lovely Vicky (mom who runs) and I shall send her the bill for the addition of a stretchy, belly panel into all my pants too. 


Bywoods hosted a gaggle of food bloggers on Wednesday and treated us to a selection from their regular menu. We got to try a couple of salads, a pasta, two pizzas, two meat entrees and a scallop entree, as well as a cocktail and dessert. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that any cocktail that contains rosemary and gin is going to make me a content woman so their signature drink, The Bywoods, put me in my happy place.

Favourites, for me, were the beet salad with goats cheese, charred red onion and arugula tossed in a walnut dressing. At least four people within earshot expressed their usual dislike for beets as they were all shoveling more beets into their hungry mouths. Imagine how much someone like me, who LOVES beets, enjoyed this bright, nutty salad. 

I preferred the vegetarian pizza over the prosciutto/fig/gorgonzola/arugula. It was loaded with lots of things I love like more goat's cheese, leek, artichokes, tomato, black olives and fresh marjoram and both sported a nice thin, crispy crust.

There was a really nice lamb dish served with the most addictive potato/smoked paprika puree I have had in ages. All of us were trying to guess what it was.... was it squash and potato? just squash? what was making it kind of spicy? 
It turns out there was no squash in there, just creamy, pureed potatoes made a pumpkiny orange with the addition of spicy, smoked paprika. I could happily take a bath in this stuff. The grilled flank steak sat on top of a really fresh, herbaceous salsa verde but I couldn't get past the potato puree at that point. All I wanted was more orange potatoes.

Dinner concluded with that flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream and berries up there.

my favourite part of the blogger media dinner lol

I finished up the week with this cake (recipe coming soon) because everyone should end the week with a cake, no?

Municipal Politics - Bringing the Crazy to a 'Hood Near You

Thursday evening, Shack and I attended the all candidate debate for Toronto's ward 32 and I have to tell you, a more entertaining evening was never had. We saw a broad array of mental illness, personality disorders, delusion, personal vendetta disguised as election platform, an angry old dodger shaking his cane- LITERALLY- while swearing and name calling, an anti Marxist misogynist who runs workshops to teach men how to dickmatize hot sluts and trick them into sleeping with them  because he lost his medical license after being charged with sexual assault a few times who continuously displayed the fact that he misunderstands was Marxism means and a lovely young pup with an impressive hipster beard who will probably grow up to be a decent politician one day but lost all of us when he ended his evening with a touch of angry slander. Ward 32, I give you the real CrazyTown.


Even if I wasn't already a supporter or our current councillor, Mary Margaret McMahon, I would have no choice but to vote for her because she is the only choice apart from a very nice, Catholic lady (don't yell at me, she makes sure to tell us that time and time again) who plans to solve Toronto's congestion problems by cleaning up the dirty tiles at Coxwell Station.
For reals.

For my Toronto peeps, get off your asses and vote on October 27 to make sure that we don't end up with RoFo's taller, meaner brother and city counsellors who either don't live in the wards they seek to represent or live in the ward, physically, but on another planet, mentally.

Coming up this week:

Friday and Saturday get your lederhosen on and go drink beer at Oktoberfest Toronto

It's Nuit Blanche time again! From sunset to sunrise, starting Saturday, October 4th,  get out and enjoy your city whilte you check out hundreds of free art installations, lots of great food and music. You too cool for school, jaded weirdos can trash this event all you like, but it makes my heart swell to wander the city at 3am and see it completely alive, full of people, lights blazing and things happening. Makes me fall in love with Toronto again, year after year.

If poutine is more your thing, make sure to stop in to Smokes Poutinerie for an all day poutine eating frenzy. Free poutine from 10am to 4pm with a poutine eating contests in the afternoon.

Happy Eating!

Pin of the week:  Loving all of this dark, rich looking stuff from Twigg Studios

Instagram of the week: I love this person's instagram

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