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Category Archives: 1001 Foods

Cheesus

Whenever I spot a cheese I am sure is in the 1000 foods book I buy it. Any excuse for cheese right? Trouble is these are not the usual cheeses I am used to (aka bland Canadian* versions of European cheeses).

Where do I even begin on Gorgonzola? We were at Harvest Wagon (fancy grocery store for fancy people) and I suggested we check out the cheese section. We were there because ~somebody~, who shall remain nameless, purchased parsley instead of dill (we were making dolmas that weekend). Gorgonzola may possibly be the most confused cheese of all time. I have never tasted so many different profiles in my life. It was salty, sweet, umami, creamy with a hard rind, a little bit acidic at times. Each bite was more confusing than the last. It did not help that for my first bite I loaded the cracker sky-high with cheese. I have since learned that gorgonzola is to be eaten in small, tiny portions. Even still, I am not a fan.

Last week I chanced upon parmigiano-reggiano (aka parmesan) cheese at the store and I couldn’t resist. I had read in Real Food/Fake Food that a great way to enjoy it is drizzled with a bit of olive oil. And what do you know, since I had read that book last summer I have only been buying proper olive oil- which just so happened to also be in the 1000 foods book. So convenient! As with most cheeses, I preferred it melted. But it was still good either way.

 

*I have since glanced through a book of good Canadian cheeses and am on the lookout

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Posted by on June 19, 2018 in 1001 Foods, Uncategorized

 

My Little Macaron

Apparently the French section of the 1001 Foods book is rife with references to one bakery in particular: La Duree. It was beginning to feel like we’d never be crossing brioche and a few French cookies off our list until we visited Paris. Until we found out that the bakery now had an outposting at Yorkdale mall! Any excuse for a shopping trip and I am in.

It was nowhere near the same thing- except in name and branding. My only option for brioche was to sit down in the salon and eat some french toast, maybe getting half to go for Brent back home. I asked if they sold loaves, assuming they cut the slices of brioche off a loaf? Nope. No dice. I asked about cookies and was told there were some (palmiers is all I remember) in the salon. Frustrated, I just settled on ordering a few macarons. Four to be exact. I did not expect such a whopping bill. I thought to myself- these had better be the best goddamn macarons I’ve ever had if I have paid this much for them. Raspberry and lemon were good but I still feel I may prefer Nadege’s, they were lighter. The rose one was ok. The last one (vanilla-something?) tasted like sunscreen. We’ve all been there. We’ve all gotten sunscreen in our mouths at some point, so this is not hyperbole. It was bad.

 

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2018 in 1001 Foods, Uncategorized

 

~Finally!~

Up next in our rotation was the Top 100 list aka Canada’s Best 100 Restaurants*. All these years I’ve lived in Toronto, having walked by Nota Bene so many times and yet I’d never been. Now was my chance. Once our dishes arrived it absolutely made sense why it had been voted one of the best. You could tell the dishes were made with high quality ingredients. That being said, they kind of played it safe. Yes the dishes were good and well-prepared but they were by no means memorable or outstanding. All I can remember a month later is that my dish had rabbit in it and noodles.

We did also get to knock off another from the 1001 foods list: burrata. I was all for a cheese dish. When I saw that it was served with zucchini though I was quite skeptical. Turns out that it just tastes like cucumbers. All my life I did not know this. But I guess it’s never too soon to learn? The ratio of the dish was off. The main ingredient (based on the menu title) should have been the buratta, with just a touch of all the other stuff. Not the other way around. There were moments when I was eating just zucchini.

Looking at a photo it would appear that we had also ordered a charcuterie board. It was THAT not-outstanding.

*it has inexplicably disappeared from the list since I first came across it and now I am wondering what list I had been reading

 
 

Dolmas

I was not looking forward to our latest food item from the 1001 books, dolmas. I worried that we would not even be able to find grape leaves. But we did! We found them on the Danforth… and then they sat in the cupboard for a month? Dolmas got bumped by a marathon, which was fine by me. I was already dreading attempting to make these. But then I found out there’s no meat in them? It’s just rice, pine nuts, raisins and currants? Wrapped in leaves that you are supposed to eat?! It was really weird to be frying rice, garlic and onions… with raisins and currants. Thankfully I was able to easily figure out how to roll the dolmas up in the grape leaves and we did not lose a single one in the cooking process. It did take a lot longer for them to cook, as I had the heat on too low. And then we had to wait for them to cool before eating? It was a lot of work for an appetizer that wasn’t really that good.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2018 in 1001 Foods, Uncategorized

 

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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