Can’t Go Wrong With Pizza

Alright, OK, fine, the title is somewhat of a lie. But compared to other foods, it’s up there for dependability. Pizza Shab, on Ryerson campus was voted best halal pizza. It was two-fold great: pizza, and it was close by.

We ordered the beef supreme which had peppers, mushrooms and Persian beef sausage. After we ordered we noticed that it was done deep-dish style. While we waited for our pizza (they don’t serve slices) we reminisced about our deep-dish adventures (and misadventures) in Chicago. Wondering what awaited us for dinner. Thankfully it was a normal pizza, not some monstrosity with a dense layer of meat atop the dough. Cheese-wise it takes top spot for any all pizzas. It was layered on thick and had been cooked to the point that it was stretchy but also just a liiiiitle bit toasted on top. It was perfect. Another winning point: by default it came with garlic dipping sauce on the side. This should be standard practice everywhere.

Between the two of us we devoured a medium pizza. Which worked out for the best as deep-dish, even when it’s not that deep, does NOT hold up well. Anyone who says it does is a liar. Additionally we were able to add another bottle cap to our magnet collection, we both drank Iranian sodas with our pizza. For a split second when I saw them in the fridge I was fooled. They looked like beer bottles. They were decidedly not. Pomegranate beer would be weird anyways.

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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Uncategorized


That’s a Tasty Dinner

Sugo, voted best cheap eats 2017, marked the last best of anywhere near us. We had to make it count. When we got there on Friday evening the place was packed, looking in through the window as we approached it was uncertain if we’d even get a table. We got one of the last two.

Looking over the menu my eye immediately went to: sparkling red wine. It seemed like an odd combination- and therefore I had to try it. It was weird but kind of good. It made red wine seem like something that can be refreshing. Eventually a server came by to take our order. We were seriously starting to wonder if we were supposed to have ordered our food at the bar. The menu hung above it and it was mildly confusing that our table only had a drinks menu. We were told the specials of the day and we ordered our drinks. In that time another server came by to take our dinner order. I was relieved. I had really dreaded trying to order the gnocchi (regular, not the special one- it sounded too heavy with the Parmesan white sauce) after our first server said it so smoothly and perfectly. I just knew I was going to butcher it and butcher it I did. At least I did so talking to someone else as opposed to someone who had literally just said it correctly.

Brent ordered the veal sandwich and was presented with a mammoth dish. He laughed that he could now sympathize with me whenever I complain that something is too big to bite. There was no way I was going to even attempt a bite of it. Instead I got him to cut me off a little piece of the breaded veal. That would have to suffice. It was delicious. Definitely the best veal sandwich I’ve ever tasted. I actually liked it. The gnocchi with tomato sauce was delicious but what to do with the extra leftover sauce? Why dip the garlic bread that we had so ingeniously ordered.

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Posted by on March 13, 2018 in Uncategorized


Well That Wasn’t Worth It…

I thought it would be nice to make marmalade. I had every excuse in the book: hosting a tea party and it was listed in Brent’s book of 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die. Plus Brent loves marmalade and would eat it all. This I was assured of, repeatedly.

Things were off to a rocky start. The book listed a Martha Stewart recipe. I couldn’t find Seville oranges, no matter I thought, Navel will do just fine. Then I also forgot to buy lemons. Not exactly something one things of when ones thinks of marmalade. Odd I thought. Could I get away without lemons? Just add in another orange? Turns out Seville oranges are tart and this was going to a sweet marmalade. I would have to use a different recipe.

After much searching and reading I eventually settled on an easy-enough-but-not-cheating (*cough* orange juice *cough*) recipe. I even had the requisite cheesecloth in my drawer. Finally a chance to use my cheesecloth. The recipe called for removing the zest and chopping it small. The fruit was placed in the pot with the sugar and water. The white skin and seeds were carefully wrapped in cheesecloth and placed in the pot. All seemed to be going well. The house smelled delicious. I was carefully monitoring the boiling pot, measuring the temperature and at the ready to turn it off at any second. The moment it reached that sweet 220F spot.

Soon I smelled a faint burning smell. There was no smoke. I assumed it was the shitty burner on my shitty stove. In moving the cheesecloth  bag I realized that the whole bottom of it was burnt. Seared actually. What the actual f-ck had happened. I had a super sweet boiled orange soup of a mess with just the faintest smell of burning. And the pot still had not reached that crucial temperature point. I bailed on it and turned it off. This was an epic failure and beyond saving. In the end I had a piece of cheesecloth seared into the bottom of my only canning pot and I ruined my chopper. The inside was caked with orange rind. I filled both with vinegar and baking soda, diluted it with water and now  it’s a matter of time. Can they be rescued? I am still too mad to go back and check.

This just days after I tried to make Smitten Kitchen’s brioche chocolate chip pretzels. The dough was dry and my (new) Kitchenaid mixer was not having it. I turned it off and tossed the dough. What had I done wrong? Did I not know what the paddle attachment was? Had I mismeasured (not that unlikely). Nope. According to the comments it was just a bad recipe. The comments section was filled with horror stories of broken mixers. Just to be sure, a few days later I whipped up a batch of brookies ~just~ to see if my mixer still worked. It did. And now order has been restored in my kitchen, just don’t look over at the sorry marmalade-induced vinegar-soaked mess. Unless you have any ideas?


How Can Cake Betray Me So?!

I must admit, I was super psyched at the prospect of getting a cake from Bake Shoppe and devouring it for no reason other than it being voted the best cake. I’ve had their baked goods before and their cupcakes (from when they were still called Wedding Cake Shoppe). My excitement only grew when I saw that the vanilla buttercream cake was plastered with little rainbow sprinkles.

I was supposed to sit through an entire dinner at Bar Isabel with this cake, awaiting my bites, just siting beside me? Oh boy, I had my work cut out for me. I (half) joked about Ubering home after dinner.

Bar Isabel had been voted best bone marrow. Not exactly a foodstuff that is at the forefront of my mind nor something I would actively seek out. We’ve had it multiple times in the past and yes it was delicious. But what makes bone marrow delicious is moreso the seasonings and all of the accouterments. Not the  bone marrow itself.

Bar Isabel was busy, as would be expected. But the service was exceptionally slow. Oddly though it did not bother me too much, as the drink service was not as slow. By the time I had finished my first drink our server was back to take our food order. And an order for a second round of drinks. I had enough time to really thoroughly read over the drinks menu. I settled on drink #1 being a house cocktail, drink #2 being a seasonal (in this case winter) cocktail and if there was time drink #3 would be a featured sherry. It made perfect sense. I was initially tempted by a fruity sour beer but when I had Brent look up the label for me I recognized it as one I’d had before.

We started out with the cheese and meat plate. The winner of the four was clearly the manchego cheese. We were voraciously hungry, and needless to say the dish did not last very long. Nor did my drink. By the time our server came around to clear the plates I ordered a glass of the sherry, making that drink #3 when only one of the three dishes we had ordered came out.

The bone marrow was alright but nowhere near the calibre of what we had at Pinky’s Ca Phe or at Ici Bistro. Towards the end it just became too much for my poor recovering teeth, having to chomp through all that sourdough bread. I was about ready to give up on Bar Isabel when our final dish, the pork jowl came out. Sweetmotherofgod, it was up there as one of the top pork dishes I have ever had. It was spicy and so flavourful and moist and perfectly seasoned. Everything about it was outstanding, so much so that I claimed as taking both first and second place- it was that good.

We transited home as it was getting late (dinner took longer than expected) and it was awkward to carry a cake so far. Yet all along the way I got so many compliments on our pretty cake. I bit into it with very high expectations- which promptly crashed down around me. Yes there were speckles of real vanilla. But that’s about where the positive aspects end. The cake itself was dense which did not pair well with the oh-so-heavy buttercream. How could anyone think that was better than Bakerbots?! I am bewildered.


I’ll Eat That!

Keeping in the trend of one-handed contained English food (can I really call it a trend? So far this makes two) we made Eccles cakes. This was my first foray back into solid food post-surgery so I was a bit weary. I was also kind of indifferent on this dessert: currants and raisins? Come on! Where’s the chocolate?

Being at-home in the kitchen meant I was not going to settle for store-bought candied orange peel. Oh no, I was hellbent on making it myself. I even determined that at a later date I will be making marmalade (stay tuned!). After reading over an Alton Brown recipe and deeming it too complicated I found a much simpler one. I did not believe what anyone said about candied orange peel being a delightful treat to eat. I stared blankly at my screen wanting to shout: you’re eating orange peels! Point one in their favour: my house smelled delicious. Point two: the sugar water after the peels were done boiling makes for a nice simple syrup. It pairs well with a tea addiction. Point three: they actually do taste good. They are not hard or gross, and it might be the fact that they are coated in sugar but it’s actually not that bad. I was expecting those gross little bits I always picked out of my mom’s poppyseed cake.

The recipe called for just over half the package of puff pastry. Rather than eyeball I thought I would use my kitchen scale. What I did not account for was that the first one I did not roll out thin enough. It barely sealed and the filling kept falling out. I ended up using some extra dough and making a fifth one. There was no way I would make all that filling fit into just four doughs. The Eccles cakes were surprisingly delicious and really hit the spot. They were soft enough for me to eat but still met the criteria for non-mushy food to appease my dwindling psyche. I still would not see this as a regular dish I would make time and again. Bangers and mash is still holding strong in the lead.

From now on we have updated our system and will instead pull up a random number and go to that page number and cook that. Stayed tuned for a German cross between pancakes and french toast!

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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in 1001 Foods


Maybe It Tastes Better Down in A Mineshaft?

Up next was Cornish pasties. Yet another iteration of protein and potatoes. A pattern was starting to emerge. This time it was my turn to screw up. In my head, słonina and pork lard were one and the same. It was only when I brought it home (much to my father’s delight, he was just thrilled at my request) and tried to scoop it with a spoon that I realized I was way off. Cured pork fat was not the same as lard. It was the curing step that screwed it up. My bad.

Don’t worry I redeemed myself. I found duck fat (which the internet said was basically interchangeable with other animal lards). I stood there in the meat section of the grocery store, desperately googling. I cannot imagine what it must’ve looked like.

The recipe for the dough called for just a few tablespoons of lard. I looked at the container after we measured it out. Great, I thought, what the hell am I going to do with the rest of this? It went to live with the other miscellaneous-never-used-items in the freezer. As I’ve said about a million times, I love to bake. I’ve made many a dough, but none has ever been as greasy as this one. It was slick with grease and I was certain the smell of duck fat would never ever come out of my poor rolling pin. Thankfully I thought ahead and rolled the dough between two sheets of parchment paper.

I don’t know if the measurements were off, or maybe I did not roll the dough thin enough but there was so much filling (steak, potatoes, turnip) that it would barely seal shut. Picture an enormous perogie. It was way too big to (conveniently, hah!) eat with one hand. I took to it like a civilized person and hacked at it with a fork and knife.

The Cornish pastie also failed to impress. I’m not sure if it is my prejudice against English (I keep wanting to say British) food or the fact that it was so similar to the other two dishes but I was not impressed. Since the bangers and mash, nothing seemed as amazing. The only other thing I can think of is a lack of gravy.

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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in 1001 Foods


They Can’t All Be Knock-Outs

We were going through the book in order. Up next was codfish cakes. Seemed simple enough, like a poorman’s crabcake. Right?

Brent had been at No Frills and whaddya know?– they had cod for sale in the frozen section. Forget going to a fancy fishmarket, this was far more convenient. It looked like I would need a new excuse to head down to St. Lawrence Market. Or so I thought. Turns out Brent had bought salted cod. The key indicator that something was amiss (I refuse to say fishy) was the fact that the fish contained a whopping 400% of your daily sodium. Nevertheless we soldiered on, convinced we could simply rinse the salt off.

The recipe was weird from the get-go. We had to boil the fish for 5 minutes in milk until it was soft. Except after 5 minutes it did not “flake,” it was not soft. I let it keep cooking. Around the 15 minute mark I determined it would not cook any more. I broke off a piece. It tasted cooked… and still very salty. That’s ok, we would omit the salt from the rest of the recipe. Right down to boiling the potatoes in unsalted water.

Even after the cod had been combined with the turnip, the mashed potatoes and all the other fixin’s… it was not good. I would try a bite and at first it would be ok, but as soon as I hit upon the cod my face would twist. It was still so salty! Even after adding lemon juice (which helped a bit) it was still too salty. They were beyond rescue and we had to bail midway through the recipe.

The next week we attempted it again. This time with fresh cod. Things went a lot more smoothly. After 5 minutes the fish was flaky. I did not have to dump out a pan of curdled, yellowed/browned milk from the frying pan at the end (that may have been the grossest part of our first attempt, the pan had burnt milk making a horrible pattern in the bottom, setting off my mild tryptophobia*).

Tasting verdict? Mediocre. Like I said: a poorman’s crabcake. Cheap, mild tasting fish, and the cake was filled out with potatoes. Meh. But what do you expect from British cuisine?


*The lengths that I went to in order to find out the correct name of it, instead of just referring to it as fear of holes. I always get it mixed up with trichotillomania. The Google results for “fear of holes” were beyond unpleasant for someone who has trypophobia. Why would you do that to me Google??

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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in 1001 Foods

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