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Monthly Archives: April 2014

COOKIES!!!

If you know me, you know I love, love, LOVE cookies. My love affair goes way back to a certain blue monster, whom I used to imitate (much to my mother’s horror, “what’s wrong with my child?” she thought as I monster-ate my food). I just about lost it when I found out about a place in Toronto, a stones throw from my house really: Red Bench. What’s so great about this place you ask? What do red benches have to do with cookies? It is a beacon calling me to the cookie mothership: they make custom cookies baked to order!!

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Instead I found myself paralyzed by choice. What type of dough should I get? Once that was figured out, I had to decide on two fillings out of at least 12. It was a daunting task. In the end we settled on basic cookie dough with coconut and Snickers pieces. They also have cookies baked in the morning for sale in a jar. We split the brownie-cookie while we waited for our batch of 5 mini cookies to bake. It was as good as it sounds, brownie and cookie in one heavenly dessert. As if I was not already obsessed with this place: they also serve tea from Tealish!! Top it off with some frozen yogurt??! I wish I was rich. I would be there every freakin’ day for breakfast.

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There is no sight more beautiful than a stack of 5 (not so) mini cookies presented to you, still a bit warm, fresh from the oven. The cookies were out of this world phenomenal. It’d be fun to go back and try out every possible combination, but here math fails me. I have no idea how many there could be, there are five base doughs to choose from, and more than 12 toppings I think! AUGH I need to go back!!! This is easily my favourite place in all of Toronto and my new go-to spot whenever out & about and feeling snacky.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Fooding

 

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Mm…

Easily one of the best ideas PMCEL ever came up with. Last summer while in Florida we were sitting around eating strawberries one evening when we realized, to our horror, that we had not yet cracked open the giant jar of Nutella. That needed to be remedied fast. We justified our late night snack by spreading it on the strawberries, thus making it a “healthy” snack, as opposed to just eating it off the spoon.

Nutella and strawberries, better than fondue.

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http://www.nutellastories.com/en_CA/stories/41527

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Ideas

 

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Quiche, Quiche, Quiche

I am not a big fan of quiches, something about the texture of it just does not sit well with me. Regardless, I sucked it up and we headed out to Patisserie La Cigogne for the best quiche. Thankfully they were also recently voted best danish, ousting Harbord Bakery. I at least had that to look forward to, plus we would not make the same mistake again and order one of each danish and spend the day eating danishes. That is really just a once in a lifetime sort of thing.

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Was I right in my dislike of quiches or had I just been eating bad ones? I was right, as I usually am. And while this one was tasty (ham, bacon and swiss cheese) I could not reconcile with the odd texture. That and I am not a huge fan of eggs (except in their godly state: baked goods). The lemon danish was the runaway winner, totally thwarting any danish I have ever eaten, and even making me like danishes more. It was very fresh, soft and fluffy. My only beef was that the lemon filling was a tad too sweet- it’s lemon! It should be at least a tiny bit tart!!

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P.S.: none of the salad that came with my quiche got eaten, I am not a rabbit.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Fooding

 

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Craving Unfulfilled

I was rather pissed when best frozen yogurt was voted as a place…. outside of Toronto. Outside of the city is not easily accessible to those of us living in the downtown core without a car. We lucked out because Brent’s brother (i.e.: someone with a car) was in town all this week, translation: I will finally 1.) get my froyo fix and 2.) see what the fuss is about with this Pacific Mall/amazing froyo.

We wandered the mall twice searching for this utopia of frozen yogurt to no avail. My craving only grew as I dreamt of Sailor Moon flavoured froyo (it had to be pastry flavoured):

Alas Yutopia was nowehere to be found, turns out it had closed down. I was mad. The hell did we go all the way to Markham with dreams of froyo for?!

Turns out best ribs was nearby at Memphis BBQ which was just another version/location of Big Bone BBQ. I had been angling to go to Big Bone ever since Brent told me about it a long time ago, alas there are no locations in Toronto. My anger subsided as I dreamed of mouth-watering BBQ. It was quickly settled, I wanted ribs… but I also wanted wings. Thankfully there was a meal that was a half order of each. Brent suggested I get the larger version as he was only getting a sandwich. We swapped out the side of beans for cornbread. Unfortunately they had run out of it, and we were presented with a plate of garlic cheese bread- no complaints here, I hate cornbread. The table was covered with food, we also had ordered a side of pulled pork. I was not too keen on the pulled pork or brisket as it hard to find good brisket and pulled pork in the city (other than Kaplansky’s and Beer Bistro)- and when it goes wrong, it is bad- there is no middle ground. Turns out I was right. The ribs were the winner by far, followed closely by the spicy honey garlic wings. Bonus points for the wings being both spicy and honey garlic (usually it’s either or). the ribs were well spiced, lots of meat on them and not dried out. Needless to say most of the fries did not get eaten as I filled up on meat. The coleslaw was quite terrible- but who cares when you are stuffing your face with ribs?!

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We need a Big Bone BBQ/Memphis BBQ downtown- or at least a food truck. It would be nice to have amazing meaty ribs more often during the year rather than waiting for Ribfest season to roll around.

 

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Best? Blurst!

The city’s best fish & chips was recently updated to Old Yorke Fish & Chips. I was wary of this as I am not a fan of fish & chips, I prefer fish without the breading and baked not fried, it just tastes better that way. Luckily they also had shrimp & chips on the menu. I had high hopes for dinner. I was expecting breaded shrimp like bread-crumbs breaded, not fish & chips breaded. It was far too greasy for me to enjoy, all I could taste was grease. Same goes for the fries.

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I maintain my dislike of fish & chips.

 

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Double Breakfast

I was dreading the day when we would be heading out to Lady Marmalade in the Beaches for best eggs Benedict. For one thing I hate eggs benedict. Add on to that the fact that we were planning on waking up at 7:30am to get there at open- I was not a happy camper. I love french toast, but not that much. We lucked out this week, Brent’s boss was gone so he could come in late. Given that we were going on a Tuesday morning there was no pressure to get there right when it opened. I still had to wake up way before my usual time at an ungodly hour of 8:30am.

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Bonjour Brioche, voted best croissant (booting Clafouti, of which I have fond memories as that was our first “best of” outing) just happened to be a block away. Before brunch we stopped in for croissants and ate them on the way to Lady Marmalade. The guy had asked us if we wanted napkins. As soon as I took it out of the bag I understood why: those were so damn greasy croissants! Yet so light and fluffy! No funny aftertaste either. I may have been eating the wrong croissants before Clafouti and Bonjour Brioche. Clafouti still wins for me, they have a variety of croissants (I still need to try the chocolate one, apparently my memory is flawed and I have yet to try it).

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We had been at Lady Marmalade maybe a total of 10 minutes, I had barely started to enjoy my machiato when what horror walked in: hipsters, three of them. “Which vintage table do you want to sit at?” one hipster asked the other two. I shuddered and looked at Brent in horror. I watched silently in terror as they chose, of all the tables… the one right behind Brent. Oh God, I thought, our brunch has been ruined. Then one of them did the unthinkable, most irritating thing on the planet: he started singing along with the music playing in the cafe. My only consolation was that right after I ordered the apple cinnamon french toast (there were two choices, and I hate strawberry rhubarb- I think) it was erased from the board. When one of the hipsters ordered the french toast and was told that they only had the strawberry rhubarb I silently rejoiced.

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The french toast was baked in the style of bread pudding- something I did not know you could do with french toast and nor did I know how delicious it could be. The only problem was that it was giant. It was easily the equivalent of 3-4 slices of bread. The apples on top reminded me of homecooking (apple pancakes to be exact). It was almost like eating a really soft, warm piece of cake rather than french toast. Due to the bread pudding style it lacked the crunch you get at the crust.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Adventures of Pinka!, Fooding

 

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Cookies!!!

What happens when you want the decadence of cake but the convenience of a cookie? You get cake batter chocolate chip cookies from the genius at Sally’s Baking Addiction. The Gaming Olympics were confirmed for the weekend and my sweet tooth would not let the occasion (fine, excuse) for baked treats to pass. I have been hiding a can of pumpkin puree in my cupboard, but there was no way I was going to make pumpkin cookies lest they all get eaten (the pumpkin blondies from last fall are easily one of the best desserts I have ever had). The only other thing I could remember from further down my Pinterest board was the cake batter cookies. Notice how I missed something there. I was at the bulk food store and I remembered to buy powdered cake mix and sprinkles. Only when I got home and looked up the recipe did I realize that I had forgotten a key component to the cookies: chocolate chips. Swearing under my breath I dragged my tired self to Shoppers Drug Mart, provider of emergency baking goods.

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I felt a lot better after a few handfuls of chocolate chips. Alas my “bake a few test cookies and eat them to make sure I won’t poison my guests” test had to done the next day: it was recommended to refrigerate the cookie dough overnight*- I still snuck a few spoonfuls of dough though. Even with not having the full amount of cake mix (which was used to replace some of the flour so I adjusted accordingly) and running out of margarine (I had to sub in 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt) they turned out amazing! We had eaten half the batch when my sister saw the photo and Facebook and begged me to bring her a few. I grabbed a few and ran off to stash them for the next day. These are easily some of the best (non-Tollhouse/Martha Stewart) cookies I have ever made. And it’s no wonder, Sally is the same genius who brought us the Reese’s stuffed cookies.

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This recipe is easy, delicious and a definite keeper. Plus the cookies just look amazing, so colourful with all the sprinkles. Plus cake batter makes everything better from ice cream to rice krispie squares.

 

* I am now sold on this method, but I will probably stick to baking a few: who can wait overnight for cookies?!

 

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If You’re Already in The Kitchen

I finally got around to tackling some of the older recipes on my Pinterest board lest they sink further to the bottom into obscurity. Somehow one recipe turned into three. I was going to make balsamic-garlic pork loin. I had the (giant) pork loin roast defrosting in my fridge for two days when I realized: crap, I would not have anything to eat for dinner the next day unless I cooked a (sort of still frozen) pork loin. I took some chicken breast out of the freezer to make lemon chicken. Alas, the recipe called for marinating the chicken overnight. I figured if the chicken is marinating, so will the pork. I was already in the kitchen, best to make one giant mess than two small ones. I had also found crab at the grocery store that week. Two dishes were more than enough for one day however.

The pork loin had a giant bone in it that I first had to cut out of there, to make it fit in my tiny oven. At some point Brent poked his head in and mentioned that he was hearing a lot of hacking and I looked up brandishing a knife with pork fat hanging off it and said everything was fine. It took a lot of effort to get that damn bone out. At least now I have something for pork bone soup.

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After everything going smoothly with the pork it is no surprise that the chicken dish almost failed. Turns out I forgot to adjust, given I was using one large chicken breast instead of 3-4lbs of “chicken parts.” I was desperately scraping thyme and rosemary off my chicken in a desperate attempt to save it. I managed to salvage it. I also managed to use up the sad little half lemon I had leftover from making lemon-blueberry muffins (wherein I learned that subbing in egg-whites for eggs is only OK in cookies, it fails terribly in cakes and cupcakes).

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I was way too tired to attempt the crab cakes, I left those for the next day. They were the easiest to make of the three dishes. Very few ingredients and they all mix well together. I breaded mine, which for some reason is not in the recipe. The only downsides are that, as far as I know Old Bay seasoning is an American thing (I got it while in the US last year) and crab is expensive.

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My freezer is now stuffed to the brim and I have at least the next two weeks covered for dinner.

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Business Lunch

It finally worked out that I had a day off work and Brent had a business meeting downtown: we were set for a business lunch at The Chase, voted best business lunch. As a joke I was going to wear a blazer and some fancy-pants and present Brent with a folder full of pseudo-business papers. I quickly abandoned the business clothes as it was uncomfy and I did not feel like myself in it. As for the business papers, I got caught up playing GTA V and never really got around to drawing them up.

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Brent had originally (accidentally) made our reservation at The Chase Fish & Oyster, i.e.: the slightly less fancy place downstairs. Quite frankly I wish we had been eating there instead. They were not kidding when they said best place for a business lunch. When we got there (it is on the 5th floor overlooking Yonge St) there were ties, blazers and uncomfy shoes as far as the eye could see. I overheard snippets of conversations about percentages and stocks and investments. Some groups actually had papers and laptops spread out at the more casual spots near the bar. I felt like Ferris Bueller and co. when they had their fancy lunch.

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The place being so fancy we decided not to switch plates halfway through (can you imagine the stares?) and opted for just stealing a bite of each others dishes as covertly as possible. The dungeness crab with pasta was good, a little messy though. Brent’s dish won hands down- you can’t go wrong with steak.We split an order of fries as well, nothing says business lunch like fries.

I also enjoyed gawking at the wine list, Brent amused himself by finding the most expensive bottle of wine and having me guess the cost. Let’s just say my guesses were way off.

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Well That Was A Bad Idea…

The best new bar of 2013 was Northwood, not entirely sure why, apparently the beer selection is amazing? See, I wouldn’t know. I hate beer. That being said, I was still really looking forward to going there- just not for the beer. Apparently they make an amazing cold brew coffee (so much so that they sell it in giant bottles so you can take it home). What sealed the deal was the fact that they serve mini donuts with chocolate coffee pudding to dip them in. The coffee was indeed delicious and did not taste like coffee that someone had left out on the counter for a while. The only problem was that we were there in evening and I had an early wake-up the next day: not good*, especially given the coffee was rather large. We ordered wings as well to hold us over (we were meeting my sisters at Victory Cafe for some birthday mac & cheese). They had the most amazing breading and seasonings- I kind of wish we had been given more than four which seems like an unreasonably small portion, too small even for one person.

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* I got maybe 4 hours of sleep that night, part of that was because we got home so late

 

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