Thursday, 30 July 2015

Hemingway's

Hemingway's has one of the best outdoor patios in Toronto with a great view of Yorkville in the summer and a heated patio to keep people warm and toasty in the winter. I usually think of it more as a pub for drinking than food.  However, I was meeting up with some friends at lunch in the area and we decided to hit up Hemingway's. 

20150730_121849
Tandoori Chicken Wrap with Caesar Salad
The wrap was good with curried chicken and raisins. It was delicious and filling, the only part of the plate I didn't understand was the pickle. 

Overall: Good service and fast too - and the food was good. 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

George Brown Culinary Arts 1

I found that since I've been taking the George Brown cooking class (part of continuing education) that I haven't been eating out as much.  The class gives you a different perspective on food and I found that it makes you think about the quality of the dishes served in restaurants and almost makes me question what goes into their meals. It's amazing what you learn about tastes, textures, how to put things together and what works and what doesn't when you start experimenting with cooking.

20150716_125340

20150726_180849
Great experience! I would highly recommend it (even though it costs $750 for 12 weeks - but that includes the ingredients and uniform - except the steel toed shoes and the knives and utensils). 
Some of the photos aren't mine (and belong to my classmate E).

Week 1: Learning to make stock
Intro week - we watched the Chef make beef, fish and chicken stock (not that we got to try it or anything) and we went to the store to pick up our uniforms.

Week 2: Tuscan Bean Salad
Our first chance to make food! Chef Frank demonstrated how to make three salads and we got to make our own tray of Tuscan bean salad which was tangy and delicious with beans, peppers and prosciutto. Week 2 was all about learning proper knife skills and learning how the kitchen worked as well as the logistics of our stations and how to share food with the other 3 people at our table.

Week 3: Piquant Vegetable soup
Chef made some cream of wild mushroom soup and the vegetable soup. We graduated to using the stove top and my vegetable soup was rather chunky and not as piquant or flavourful as I would have liked it. Well, I guess it's all about experimenting.

Week 4: Lasagna al Forno
One of my favourite classes and definitely the longest class that actually took the full 4 hours (and we learned how to use the oven!). We made our bolognese sauce with meat and vegetables and then layered the pasta sheets with cheese and sauce and then baked it. Yum! Surprisingly simple and yet so time consuming - I could see this as a recipe that I'll use again in the future.

Week 5: Rainbow Trout Vin Blanc (poached filets of trout in Riesling wine sauce) and duchesse potatoes
My portion of the Chef's demo (trout and potatoes)
The potatoes were so pretty and really delicious - but it was the trout that was AMAZING! It was actually better than most restaurant trout I've had - which makes sense since they train the next generation of chefs out of George Brown.  It was like I was eating high end restaurant food for free! 

My rainbow trout 
Also, really good - but I couldn't recreate the Chef's balance of flavours and perfectly cooked fish.  It's great that there's an ideal to try to live up to, but a little sad when I can't perfectly recreate what he served us.  Another recipe that I'll use in the future! 

Week 6: Crabmeat quiche (and Chef Frank made hollandaise sauce)
IMG-20150606-WA0003 IMG-20150606-WA0012
Quiche and Eggs Benedict on an English muffin with asparagus and hollandaise sauce
After watching Chef Frank make the hollandaise sauce from scratch, I'm not sure I'll ever order it again at brunch.  It was really yummy and great that we actually got to try the real thing after he made it right before our eyes. However, watching him put in all that butter and egg yolk made me a little queasy and knowing that most restaurants make it using powder is kinda gross. The things you learn in cooking school.

  
Our quiches and in a take home container. 
  
Looks amazing right? And this was actually so simple to make that it's almost crazy to think that they charge $5 and more for a slice of this (or $6-$10 in grocery stores for a full quiche). 
Another recipe for that I'll use (although I probably won't make the pie crust from scratch again - I tried really hard to follow the instructions to a T and I still couldn't get the pie crust right - it seemed a little soggy).

Week 7: Carbonnade a la Flammade (braised beef Flemish style)
The carbonnade that the Chef made was okay - not my favourite dish.  We got a tougher cut of meat that required more braising to make it tender, but despite leaving the beef in for a long time, my meat still came out really tough.

Week 8: Roast Chicken
Surprisingly, another super easy class! The roast chicken recipe was actually really simple and chef made it look like a walk in the park and the chicken was really juicy and perfectly seasoned.  This was one recipe that I had no issues recreating and the chicken was perfect! The downside of this class? I burnt my hand on the oven door...owie.

Week 9: Beef Stroganoff and spatzle
The Chef made the plate below (and this was also the approximate size of our take-home portions). The beef stroganoff was made using a better cut of beef, so the meat was easier to handle (but you also didn't want to leave it too long on the stove to toughen it) and it had a much easier time soaking up the flavour of the espagnole (gravy) sauce. We didn't get to make the spatzle though - and when the Chef made it - it looked so easy! 
IMG-20150627-WA0010

Week 10: Poached chicken breast with curried lemon grass cream and mushroom rice pilaf
Chef made some delicious poached chicken with an amazing curry lemon grass cream sauce. It was a little taste of Thai cuisine with the lemon grass sauce. Another amazing dish! We didn't make the pilaf, but my chicken was fantastic - even with my nutmeg heavy sauce.

 

Week 11: Roasted pork chops with apple and Stilton and bread pudding
I really dislike blue cheese - it's strong, pungent and makes me a little nauseous. So who would have thought that Stilton cheese would work so well with apples and pork chops? The blue cheese complemented the sweetness of the apples and added a punch of flavour to the pork, even my mom (who hates blue cheese and the smell) really enjoyed this! And we had savoury bread pudding with it too. This was a seriously gourmet and delicious class! And all the food was surprisingly simple to make.
IMG-20150711-WA0001 

Week 12: Roast leg of lamb with goat cheese and onions and cauliflower polonaise
We each got a young boneless lamb leg to make our roast.  The Chef's lamb was really good! Not gamy at all, but the goat cheese was a little too overpowering for me. Also, he made a beautiful cauliflower polonaise with hard boiled eggs.  I would have never thought of eating cauliflower this way with the polonaise sauce - totally expanding my horizons.
IMG-20150718-WA0009 IMG-20150718-WA0003IMG-20150718-WA0002 IMG-20150718-WA0005
My classmate (E)'s lamb and cauliflower polonaise (because I'm terrible with taking pictures when I'm focusing on cooking). 

IMG-20150718-WA0004
And to top it all off, Chef Frank made us a dessert bread pudding with caramel sauce! I can't believe it was so easy to make after he demonstrated it (and it was phenomenal!). 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar

July 9, 2015
I've heard great reviews about the pastas here at Scaddabush since it opened (and a favourite was the butternut squash ravioli).  My old coworkers suggested a reunion dinner here which was also just in time for Summerlicious, but they also had another prix fixe menu:
20150709_181545
Mixed Greens Salad
Nice salad, great balance of crisp greens, sweet and tangy pickled onions and crunchy walnuts.

20150709_182920
Steak
I wasn't a huge fan of the puree underneath the meat, but the meat was tender and perfectly cooked to medium rare.

20150709_191024
Chocolate jar cake: Chocolate ganache with vanilla whipped cream
A delicious way to end the meal! 

Overall: The only hiccup was the strange table we were sitting at - there was wide gap in between the two sides of the table - enough for a gigantic walkway in the middle which made conversation across the table difficult. Otherwise, service was good and food was yummy.  

November 5, 2014
People have been talking about Scaddabush on the first floor of the new Aura Condos at Yonge and Gerrard for a while now. When my friend suggested we grab dinner here after work, I was pretty excited to see what all the hype was about.
20141105_214537[1]

20141105_193020[1]
Charity Bread
Crusty Italian bread with rosemary, garlic and butter. I thought it would be warm and fresh from the oven, but it wasn't and the toppings just seemed like they were sprinkled on top. Oh well - at least the net proceeds go to charity....
20141105_195608[1]
Stuffed Meatball with mozzarella and spaghetti
The tomato sauce was really good and the meatball was quite large. I just wish there was more pasta so that we could have filled up on carbs.

20141105_195550[1]
Baked Carbonara
A rather small pan...the pasta was very good, but I just wish there was more of it. I liked the poached egg on top - it made the presentation more rustic and fun (especially with the skillet). I didn't really tasted the "baked" carbonara part, probably because I was expecting a crunchy cheesy layer on top of the pasta.

Overall: Nice and simple Italian food at Scaddabush. I loved the presentation of the food - very fun and playful

Saturday, 4 July 2015

G for Gelato

It was a beautiful sunny day today, so we decided to get some gelato after our George Brown cooking class.  My coworker told me about G for Gelato and raved how it was her favourite gelato place in Toronto, so I had to try it. 
20150704_171817

20150704_172427
These were small cups and yet they were jam packed with yummy gelato! 
20150704_172433
Right: Pistachio and salted chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and hazelnut gelato
Left: Pompelmo rosa (blood orange) and assorted sorbets gelato
Sweet and delicious! Perfect for a hot day.
The pistachio was great! Full of pistachio flavour and not too sweet and the salted chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and hazelnut gelato was really good! Definitely not a combination I usually hear of, but yummy all the same.
The assorted sorbets was really cool with all those pretty colours and the blood orange was tangy and tart.

Overall: Great place for gelato! Lots of choices and they give great portion sizes.

George Street Diner

We've been driving by here for weeks on our way to George Brown College for Culinary Arts 1. 
Last week was the first time I noticed the bright red George Street Diner. 
This week, we decided to get downtown early so that we could try their Irish style breakfast. 
20150704_115231 20150704_115315

Except we ordered Huevos Rancheros:
20150704_112456
Two eggs, chorizo sausage, re-fried black beans, guacamole, cheese, home fries, tortilla, salsa and sour cream. 
It was okay probably not the most amazing huevos rancheros I've ever had, but it was definitely a little strange to be going to an Irish diner to have a Mexican farm breakfast.  It was a rather hefty portion and luckily the two of us decided to share because we couldn't eat all that food individually and then go cook and eat at cooking school. 
The waiters mentioned that the Irish soda bread was great here, so we got a side order of Irish Soda Bread to try it out and it was DELICIOUS! I would definitely come back and eat this again. 

Overall: Friendly, quick and helpful service and good filling portions of food. Love the Soda bread! 

George Street Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato