Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Buster's Sea Cove shows the love of fish on Eat St.

For the Love of Fish Tacos

Today 2 things I really like came together to show the world how good they go together.   What's that? Well one of my favourite Food Network shows is Eat St.  It shows great food trucks that make unusual but great things all over the world.   And today Eat St. filmed Buster's Sea Cove truck in downtown Toronto.

Both Buster's Sea Cove and Caplansky's Food Trucks were parked at Front and Bay St. in front of the Royal Bank Building.   When I got there at about 12:30 there was a lineup for both of them but I was on a mission to get some fish tacos from Buster's Sea Cove.   Buster's sea cove has a very popular spot in St. Lawrence Market where people line up at lunch for very fresh seafood delights.


Today's menu for Buster's Sea Cove was the Lobster Roll, the fish taco, the shrimp taco and Key Lime Pie.   The truck was opened for business at 11am and by the time I got to the front of the line just after 12:30pm the key lime pie was already sold out.  Darn... I really wanted to try that.   I have had a couple of things at the St. Lawrence Market location but on Canada Day I got to try the Lobster Roll and Fish Taco when the truck was parked at Mel Lastman Square for the Canada Day festivities.   It was a hot day and the Fish Taco was light but had a nice kick of flavour.  Really great on a hot day with a squeeze of lime on top.   I went back later and had the Lobster Roll.  It was also delicious.    But today I wanted to try the Shrimp Tacos.

I added a bit or maybe a bit too much of the hot sauce they had on the side of the truck. I would say a bit much because my lips went numb after eating these tacos.   But they were delicious.  There were 3 crispy medium sized shrimp.. not sure what kind of shrimp but they were nice and tender and not rubbery at all and coated in a great batter and deep fried to perfection.   My only complaint was that the tasty but juicy salsa soaked through the soft taco shells and made it difficult to keep them together  so they were on the messy side.  I was glad that I didn't have to go back to work in an office after lunch just in case.   There were a lot of people in line that were obviously on their lunch from working in the Royal Bank as they were dressed in dress shirts and pants and the women in dresses and skirts.  It does seem a little odd to see so many well dressed people chowing down on sloppy tacos and deli foods.   But it seemed like everyone loved it.

The Eat St. Crew were there to film Buster's Sea Cove's truck and I am not sure when it will air but I am guessing sometime next season.  You probably won't see me as I basically wolfed down my tacos and left not long after that.   But I am curious to see what people say about it.

If you see the Buster's Sea Cove truck and have a chance to stop by and pick up some food I would highly recommend it....but make sure you aren't wearing a white or bring a bib just in case.



Got Blueberries? - Turn them into BBQ sauce

Have you been picking up batches of the blueberries that are now in season but don't know what to do with them all?  



Sick of pies and salads?


Why not turn your Blueberries into BBQ Sauce?


That's what I did today.

I don't eat as many blueberries as I should because it never occurs to me to add them to recipes so I decided to turn them into a BBQ sauce that I could use on chicken.

Here's what I did:

Ingredients:

1 Pint of Blueberries
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 cup of ketchup
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 shakes of Frank's red hot sauce
1 tbsp oil

Directions:

This recipe is so easy that even a beginner can do it.

Chop a half a small yellow cooking onion and toss it into a small sauce pot with the oil on medium.   Cook until translucent.
Add spices and salt and pepper.
Add the blueberries and stir.
Add the brown sugar and maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and stir.

Continue to cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until it turns into a combines chunky sauce.

Taste for flavouring and adjust to taste.   I like it smoky and with a kick but you could ease up on some of the hot spices if you like.

Process the sauce in a blender, food processor or using a hand blender.   I used a hand blender right in the pot and then transferred it to a mason jar using a canning funnel.  Keep refrigerated or use right away.

I roasted some chicken wings and then coated them in a spoonful of the Blueberry BBQ sauce and a little bit of Frank's Red Hot sauce to thin it out and kick up the heat.






Monday, July 30, 2012

One person's food waste is another person's life.

How much of your food goes into the garbage?


In North America we take for granted the amount of food that is available and how much we just end up throwing out at the end of the week because it's not fresh anymore.   Because I am working on a documentary about a family that are desperately trying to reduce the amount of food related trash they produce it makes me feel guilty when I have to throw food out now.

Like today.   I went into the fridge to make something to eat and I decided to make the Collard Greens that I knew I had stashed in the crisper.  I have been attempting to buy more greens than I have ever done in the past because I know they are like cleansers in the body and provide a lot of detoxification of a lot of the nasty things that are floating around in the environment these days.   Here's the problem.   I live alone and have been trying to buy as much food from farmer's markets as I can lately.  But the problem with buying at farmer's markets is that you are limited to the amount of food they decide to sell you and what season it is and the availability of foods.

Also when you are shopping for one person but want to have a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need and the variety of foods you want to eat you end up buying a lot more food than you can make sometimes.  Unless you have a huge extra freezer or like to spend a day a week preserving your foods or prepping your foods for the week and planning your meals around trying to use up every last bit of that lettuce or the bag of carrots it gets pretty difficult to stay on top of all of it before it goes bad.

When you are a single person you can't go to the store and buy 1 carrot,  or one stalk of celery or a couple of lettuce leaves or in the case of my Collard greens you can't buy a half a stalk of collards.   So you either have to eat a whole lot, freeze a whole lot, cook a whole lot or waste a whole lot.

Today I was saddened by the fact that in the process of making my collard greens I pulled out some very wilted Kale that I managed to salvage a few fresh leaves from and I had to toss out about half of the collard green leaves because they were in the fridge a bit too long.

Then I went to get an onion and noticed that the one I pulled out was really soft so I had to toss out one of the onions and I had to dice up 3 other onions to make sure they didn't rot in the basket I had them in.   While I was reaching for the onions I had to toss out 2 sweet potatoes that had sprouted so badly that I thought they were going to grow a tree.  Then back to the fridge to get a few other things and I pulled out a container of rice noodles that I made last week that had been in there way too long and needed to be tossed out because there were some shrimps in it.  After pushing a few things around on the shelf I decided to pull out the milk because I knew that I was probably past the expiry date for that.  Yup... a quarter of the carton down the drain.  I also had some buttermilk that I used for some fried chicken and another recipe and that was expired too..... also down the drain.

I finally got down to actually making the collard greens and I kept looking at one lonely tomato sitting in a bowl on my counter and thought I better throw that in or that would probably end up in the garbage in a day or two as well.   So that went into the Collards.   So about an hour and a half later I had my cooked collard greens and a bowl of chopped onions that I had to put in the fridge.   Even after eating my portion of greens I still had another full serving left so that went back into the fridge.   I have to make sure I eat it tomorrow or it will probably get pushed further back in the fridge only to be tossed out later.

Oh and I almost forgot about the thick cut bacon that I cut a third up from the package to use instead of the traditional use of ham hocks.   I find that for me buying the ham hocks is a waste even though it's cheaper than bacon, but since I don't eat the ham hocks it just goes into the garbage too.   So this time I cut up some bacon into small pieces and used the bacon fat to flavour the cooked onions and the Collard Greens and tossed the bacon bits in after they had been cooking a while.   But once again I over estimated and had a little container left of the cooked off bacon bits that I put back in the fridge.   Now I have to remember to use them in a salad or some eggs or something or even with a grilled cheese sandwich.   But the point is I have to remember to use them up when I am thinking about what to cook.

My freezer is already full as I always end up putting in soups and chilli's and chicken stocks because you can't just make a single serving size of them.

I live in an apartment so there isn't a possibility of me getting another freezer, something I really miss about having a house.

So that leads me back to my point about single serving sizes.  I wonder if grocery stores or other markets will find a way to split foods into smaller amounts for the single apartment dwellers so that we can cut down on the amount of food we have to toss into the landfill because the city hasn't figured out a way to process food waste in apartments and condos in Toronto.   I know there is an option to have a composter on my balcony but I am certainly not the most dedicated person to keep on top of that and make sure it's doing it's job.  

This makes me think about all the food that is wasted in a city like Toronto and then multiply it to the rest of Canada and then to North America and all the food we throw out could surely feed the kids they say are starving in Africa.   Well it does make me feel guilty every time I  haul a bag of rotten food out to the garbage shute but other than spending my whole day in the kitchen and cooking up every last bit of vegetable or skipping buying fresh vegetables and eating food out when I want fresh foods then I don't know how to have a happy medium.

Have a look at this article that I found about the statistics on food waste.

What a Waste: The Food We Throw Away

I know the tips they suggest are to plan your meals, to freeze foods you can't finish, to buy less, to share your food.   But life happens sometimes and you sometimes buy food for the week and then have a busy week where you are out of the house more than you are at home and your hard earned food doesn't make it into the pot or pan in time.

This is why you see a lot of single people with only beer and wine in their fridges and why there is an epidemic of people spending more time eating out at fast food chains than they do cooking food at home.

I don't have all the answers as I am struggling with this issue myself, but I hope that I figure it out one day and create some sort of system of food buying and preparing that maximizes the food I buy.

As an example:  I can go into the food court of my mall and pick up a container of Chinese food filled with rice, chicken, vegetables and spring rolls for $5 where I would probably have to spend $50 for all the groceries to make that same food and then there would be so much left that would get wasted.    But the cost of buying the take out version is the lack of control of what's going into my food and the packaging that it comes in.

There are trade offs for everything in life.  All this started with a simple pot of Collard Greens.   I have to try and strive to be more creative in the kitchen to try not to waste my food and my money in the future.  It will be a constant challenge and one that I hope to conquer eventually.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Live Food Bar's Healthy hidden Patio

Are you looking for a Patio to visit this summer that doesn't serve the usual bar food fare?
Do you want to eat Al Fresco and eat healthy food at the same time?
Do you want to eat at a patio that doesn't have cars driving by spewing exhaust fumes?

Then I have the perfect place for you.....

Live Food Bar has a backyard Patio.


This is the favourite haunt of my friend Magie who leads a very healthy lifestyle unlike me.  So when we get together every so often we like to go to Live for Lunch or in this case of today it was more like Sunday Brunch.

I mentioned to my friend that we should go to a patio for lunch and she said we should go to Live and mentioned the backyard patio.  I had no idea they had a back patio so I said yes because I was curious as to why I had never known about it.   You have to walk by the cash and go through a door to get to the back but then you see this lovely little Oasis of orange tables and chairs and rugs hanging on the fence walls.  It doesn't feel like you are in Toronto at all.  There are no cars driving by, although a train passed in the area and the patio shook a bit but that quickly passed.

It's nice to see that there is a healthy food patio in the middle of Toronto that is also lovely.

My friend ordered the quiche and salad.  It was beautiful and she loved it.

I ordered the gluten free waffles with coconut whip cream and mixed berries on top and some potatoes on the side.   The only thing was that the waffles weren't nice and light and were pretty dense so I didn't finish all of it.  The plate looked like a work of art and I liked that I knew it was good for me at least.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer Farmer's Market in Toronto List


Farmers’ Markets by Day
After visiting a lot of Farmer's Market's in the city this past summer it seems to me that the Farmer's Markets are more about community than they are about getting your groceries done.  I visited the Brickworks Farmer's Market and there seemed to be more kids and dogs wondering around eating than there was people actually buying stuff to take home.  It also seems to me that there is a trend emerging for people to want to connect with local vendors to establish a common community and give their kids an experience with food at the same time.  It's less about shopping than it is about entertaining activity.  The vibe at a farmer's market can't be compared to a grocery store experience.  It will be interesting to see what happens in the food buying world in the next 10 years.    
I have compiled a list to reference by day to quickly scan a local market in Toronto depending on your time availability.  

Monday

  • Sorauren Farmers’ Market:3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the field house at Sorauren Park. 50 Wabash Ave.

Tuesday

·                 East York Farmers’ Market:
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 850 Coxwell Ave.
·                 Riverdale Farmers’ Market:
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 201 Winchester St. (in Riverdale Park)
·                 Ryerson University MyMarket:
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Gould Street, east of Yonge
·                 SickKids Hospital Farmers’ Market:
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 555 University Ave.
·                 Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market:
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Northwest corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park
near Dundas St. W. and Shaw St.
·                 401 Richmond Farmers’ Market:
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 401 Richmond St.

Wednesday
·                 Nathan Phillips Square Farmers’ Market:
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 100 Queen St. W.
·                 Queens Quay Terminal Farmers’ Market:
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 207 Queens Quay W.
·                 Bloor-Borden Farmers’ Market:
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Green P Lot, Lippincott St. and Bloor

Thursday
·                 Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market:
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 873 Dufferin St. (in Dufferin Grove Park)
·                 East Lynn Farmers’ Market:
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 1949 Danforth Ave.
·                 Metro Hall Farmers’ Market:
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. David Pecaut Square, 55 John St.
·                 North Civic Centre Farmers’ Market:
8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge St.
·                 Toronto Botanical Gardens Organic Farmers’ Market:
3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 777 Lawrence Ave. E.

Friday

  • Fairview Mall Farmers’ South Parking Lot, 
  •   9 am - 6 pm, South Parking Lot, 1800 Sheppard Avenue East

  • Sherway Gardens Farmers Market
  •   8 a.m. – 2 p.m,  
  • Sherway Farmers' Market will be located in the far northeast parking lot, between the North Queen St. and Sherway Rd. entrances

Saturday
·                 St. Lawrence North Farmers’ Market:
5 a.m. to 5 p.m. 92 Front St. E.
·                 Evergreen Brick Works Farmers’ Market:
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 550 Bayview Ave.
·                 The Stop Farmers’ Market:
8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St.
·                 Withrow Park Farmers’ Market:
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 725 Logan Ave. (in Withrow Park)
·                 Junction Farmers’ Market:
9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Green P Lot, 385 Pacific Ave.

Sunday
·                 Leslieville Farmers’ Market:
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jonathan Ashbridge Park, 20 Woodward Ave.

And 

SQUARE ONE FARMERS' MARKET:

Fridays: 8am to 4pm
Sundays: 8am to 4pm
Northwest Famous Players Parking Lot (on Rathburn Rd West)

Friday, July 27, 2012

A meal in a Pita pocket

A quick summer meal in a Pita Pocket.


I was watching the show the Chew this week and Daphne Oz made a burger in a pita with salad that reminded me of  a similar recipe I made up years ago.

My recipe is based on what I had at home and what I tasted once at a Caravan multicultural event where I had a falafel that tasted a bit different than other falafels that I tasted.
I never had falafel mix handy so I would use ground meat instead.

I was probably in my 20's when i created this and I tend to make it the most in the summer when the tomatoes and cucumbers are in season and taste their best.

Here's my version

Ingredients:

1 tomato chopped
1 cucumber quartered and chopped
4 mini dill pickles (I use Bick's)
2 iceberg lettuce leaves ripped into small pieces
1 tsp harissa chili paste or you could add dry chili flakes or cayenne for heat.
1 green pepper (i didn't have one this time but usually put it in)
salt and pepper to taste

Tzaziki (cucumbers, dill, lemon juice, salt and greek yoghurt)

Pita Bread

Mini Meatballs

- 1 pound of ground beef
- a couple of tbsp's of bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp of onion powder or fresh onion
- 1 tbsp fresh or dried parsley

Directions:

Mix the mini meatball mixture and roll into about 1" round balls and pan fry in olive oil until fully cooked and brown.

In a bowl combine tomatoes, cucumber, pickles, lettuce, chili paste, green pepper and salt and pepper.

Toast the Pita bread until warm or you can toast it on a grill pan just until it is hot but before it gets hard.    Cut it in half.

Add about 3 or 4 mini meatballs into the pita pockets.
Add the Tzatziki and salad mixture and fill it but do not overstuff it.

That's it..  It takes a bit of prep but it's really quick to assemble.

Other options that I have used in the past instead of tzatziki were adding Hummus, sour cream, Tahini sauce with lemon juice depending on what I had in the fridge.   

So you can experiment a bit to make it the way you like it.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spin Dessert Cafe Spun OUT.

Restaurant Review:
Spin Dessert Cafe

It was my friend's Birthday and she decided to do a low key girls night Birthday dinner/dessert close to where she lives to make it easy.  But it didn't end up so easy when SPIN Spun Out.

A couple of us got there at about 7:30 and my friend wasn't there yet and when we asked about reservations the guy told us it was in some other name other than my friends name so we were going to wait and then he said it was for 10-15 people and I guess that was the only reservation for that many so he advised us to sit at a long table.

My friend arrived about 10 minutes later and was confused at the name he had as the name reserved.   That should have been our first clue that it wasn't going to be a great night.

It took another 10 minutes before we got menus and then at least another 15 minutes before I had to ask to get water.   So it must have been at least 25 min from the time we sat down until we got glasses of water.  Then a few minutes later to take our order.   My friend wanted to switch up a sauce on the menu and they did.   We got our dinner about another 10 min later I think.  One of the girls ordered dessert and wanted a certain ice cream and they were out of it.   Then when our orders arrived my friends and my savoury crepe dinner came with ceasar salad and my friend asked for some extra cheese and the waitress looked at her like she was asking for crab legs or something.  Then after a few minutes she said she will see.  I think there was something else my friend asked for but I don't know if she got that.

My friend ordered a chicken pesto crepe and could hardly cut the crepes with the knife that was as sharp as a butter knife.  My order was the chicken fajitas in a crepe with condiments on the side which was fine but the guacamole looked a bit brown like it was sitting around for a while.  The crepes were tough and crispy and it was tough to cut them down.   The chicken though seasoned ok just tasted like it was a cold chicken breast sliced and tossed in.  Very below average.


Then it gets better when my friend tried to order dessert.  After all it was her Birthday and she wanted a piece of cake.  She tried to order the Red Velvet Cake and the guy said he just took it out of the freezer and it was frozen.   Then she asked for something else and they said that was gone.  Some of the friends said to them they should look after her since it was her birthday.  Then she asked for a third thing and she couldn't get that.  All she could get was chocolate cake and cheesecake and she didn't want either.  So she just skipped the dessert and asked for the bill.   I think they gave her some sort of credit but her dinner wasn't comped totally.  We had money and the bill on the table and the waitress still didn't come and clear the plates but instead was kind of hiding out in the back and chatting away.  

We finally left and it was pouring rain but my friend was still hungry and by this time annoyed and really wanted a drink so she wanted to go to either Pickel Barrel or Moxie's.   We ended up going up to Moxie's because they had Bellini specials on Wed. night.  What a difference good service and good food makes.  The Moxie's is in my neighbourhood so by the time we went it was only my friend and I. I felt bad because her Birthday experience was less than Stellar so I hoped that Moxie's would make her night a lot better.  When we walked in we were greeted and seated right away.  We were given menus right away and our drink order was taken.  Her Bellini arrived within 5 min. of walking in the door.  I ordered ice tea and before I even finished the ice tea there was another one on the table.  I didn't ask for another one but I assume they just provide free refills so she wanted to be on top of it when she brought my friend a second Bellini.  My friend was there recently and the people she was with ordered chicken wings and the waitress was very patient trying to figure out which ones they were.  We got honey garlic wings with a little hot sauce and some regular fries.    They both arrived promptly.   The chicken wings were delicious and crispy with a great flavoured sauce.  The waitress was lovely and very efficient and a pleasure to have served us.  It put my friend in a much better mood and she felt satisfied. She never did get her cake but luckily as her gift I tucked in a Sweets from the Earth dessert  so I hope she enjoyed that later.  
We got to the Moxie's through an underground tunnel from the subway station but unfortunately it closed at 10pm so we had to walk back outside in the pouring rain.   My friend hopped on the bus instead of the subway and headed home.   Hopefully a little happier than her planned restaurant girls night.

You know a restaurant is bad when you have to go to another one afterward and order food again.

On their website the place and the menu looked great.   In person the place was a lot smaller looking but ok but not as beautiful as it appeared on the website.  It was quite dissappointing and it's interesting that they have multiple locations.

I am sure that the Spin Dessert Cafe didn't know that there was a food blogger at that table that night.  So my advice is to hire proper staff and treat everyone as though they were a VIP and your business will be around a long time.   My prediction is that Spin Dessert Cafe will be closed within a year.

So skip Spin and go to Moxie's or even the Keg, Pickle Barrel or Milestone's if you want proper food and proper service on a consistent basis.

There are a lot of bad/sad restaurants in the city so skip those and spend your money at the places that want you and your business.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Gelato filled hot summer childhood memories


The first thing I thought of when trying to think about what foods came to mind as summer foods that revisit childhood memories was Gelato.



 So it was nice to see that something from our childhood still remains the same.  On hot days or on the odd occasion during the summer one of my friends dad would pile a bunch of us kids into the car and drive us to Nino D'Aversa Bakery for some Gelato.  We didn't wait for an ice cream truck because we lived on a main street that Ice Cream trucks couldn't stop on.   So when we wanted ice cream we either got it from the convenience or grocery store or we got the good stuff once in a while at the Bakery.  That was the fastest way to make a bunch of kids happy and quiet.  As long as we were stuffing our faces full of Gelato we were content.  I think that's still true to this day for me.  I think my all time favourite food is Italian Food because not only does it remind me of hanging out at my friends houses when I was a kid but it's made with simple, fresh ingredients that bring out the purest flavours of the foods.
Ice Cream or Gelato is still one of my favourite foods to this day.  
For this post I stopped into  
Nino D'Aversa Bakery to get a Gelato and contemplate why I love it so much and appreciate that the place I went to as a kid is still the same as it was as I was a kid.  They did a little expansion a few years ago but it's basically still the same.
When I was a kid i think I used to get the lemon and chocolate flavours, but now I have switched from chocolate to coffee flavoured.  This Gelato is pure flavour.  The lemon tastes like a freshed squeezed lemon with a bit of sugar and the coffee flavour just tastes like you put a cappuccino in the freezer.
It's interesting that so many years later my friend's daughter now works at another Nino D'Aversa location.  Her grandfather is the one who drove us to get the Gelato's all summer long.  I hope that one day she carries on the tradition of taking a bunch of kids there for Gelato.   I don't have any kids to take there but if I did I most certainly would.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Food Bloggers meet at TECHmunch in T.O.

I started this blog in 2011 at the urging of my friends after I posted a bunch of pics to facebook on food I was making while I was at home.  I have worked an office job most of my working life and normally would be working all day and then freelancing either doing makeup or at film festivals or working on own films for the past few years.   I never looked into the Food Blogger World until I started posting on this blog more frequently.  I found out that there are some serious food bloggers out there, and there are a lot of them.   There are Food Blogger Conferences even.  I decided to check one out this past weekend and see what it was like.  TECHmunch is a U.S. based conference that brings food bloggers together with tech savvy people and brand marketers to try and improve the blogs and make some connections.  TECHmunch is produced by Babette Pepaj, founder of BakeSpace.com.  Babette brought the conference to Toronto for the 1st time ever and it was held at Harbourfront Centre during the Hot and Spicy Festival.
Erik Deutsch, Ivy Knight, Jessie Allen, Babette Pepaj (host)

We spent most of the day in the Studio Theatre which I have been to many times before to see film festival movies and other screenings.  This time it felt a little different for me.  In the film/ film festival community it is very social and very small.  There are limited numbers of theatres that show festival films in Toronto and a lot of the same people attend multiple festivals.  When I attend a festival screening I generally run into someone I know and especially now since I have been filming a documentary for the past 3 years on a festival volunteer.   But this food blogger world is new to me.  When you are a food blogger you generally sit at home on your computer and type away into cyberspace and don't really know if anyone is reading anything you put out into the Universe unless someone makes a comment.  You never meet your readers face to face unless they are already your friends or acquaintances.  Unless you have a full career in the food world alone and are connected to various parts of the industry for your blog you generally work in a vacuum.

So I decided to venture out to the Conference and see what tips I could pick up since I just jumped into it and haven't pursued it as a business venture but more as an outlet for food things I am interested in.   But since I am not working that pay the bill day job and the film industry doesn't pay the bills I am looking for other opportunities and decided to see if food blogging was something that could become lucrative.    Well it seems there are ways to make money if you can gain many unique visitors and viewers to your blog and connect with the right brands for marketing opportunities or possibly sell things through your blog.   I don't do any of these things right now but I am open to possibilities of future opportunities.

Back to the conference,  this conference was like starting the first day of school in a new place where you didn't know anyone but you were there for the same reason.  I didn't know anyone but found it interesting listening to the different stories and how people connected to the food blogs.

We started the day with a mingling of people coming in and trying out a whole selection of Sweets from the Earth and O.N.E. cocunut water and drinks from Whole Foods.

We proceeded to the studio theatre where we listened to different panels discussing topics like working from home, getting higher google rankings, and connecting with brands.
It was very informative and all the panelists provided a lot of information which was very helpful.

We had a lunch break and were given a voucher to use to choose our lunch meal at the Hot and Spicy Festival.
I used my voucher to get some chicken and pork tacos.  While they were tasty they were light on the added condiments which would have added some brightness.


After the conference was over we headed upstairs for a mixer with some more food and drinks, a little spiked punch and some beer and wine and some lovely charcuterie from Seeds to Sausage I tried a couple of pieces and the quality was really good.

Lot's more cupcakes, loafs and cookies.  I wasn't very hungry since it was getting extremely hot outside and it really did feel like we were at the Hot and Spicy Festival.  So I took some of the Sweets from the Earth to go and will have some to snack on later.

         
All in all it was a really great Conference and had a great flow to it.  Knowing how tough it is to get events started in this city...and especially when you don't even live in the city, it went very well thanks to a little help from local food blogger, chef and event host Ivy Knight who knows who's who in this city when it comes to food.

I hope that this Conference becomes a yearly event and maybe I will feel more connected to the Food Blogger world by then.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

T and T Night Market - street food in a parking lot

There are a whole lot of food events happening in Toronto this summer and one of the ones I check out on Friday night was the T and T night market.  This is the 3rd year of the market.  I missed last years but went to the first one.  It's pretty amazing what they have accomplished in 3 years.

If you are young and Asian or even a family there are things for you to do there.   Do you like Asian Street foods?  They got that.   Do you like Chinese Dragons and Lions?  They got that.   Do you like Asian movies?  They got that.   They even have live music and a kids play area and other vendors too.   All this takes place in the T and T Supermarket parking lot.


Be prepared to line up for some food if you don't get there early.  In the first year I think I waited an hour and a half to get some beef skewers.  They were tasty but it was a long wait.

The first thing I had when I arrived, and I got there just after it opened, was the STINKY TOFU,  No I am not exaggerating.  That's that they call it and that's what it smells like.  That's the smell you will smell all through the parking lot so be prepared if you are sensitive to smells.

I had this last time and I think there are differences in the vendors because some seemed to serve it with different sauces.  I had a chili sauce and some kind of sweet sauce.  I think there were better ones but I had enough of the one I had so I didn't try any others.






One of my favourite things that I try and get when I am in Chinatown is the Chinese Waffles.  They are little round waffles instead of the usual square ones.  They are so good when they are hot out of the waffle iron.

Another popular thing at the market was Tempura shrimp wrapped in potato strings on a stick.   Things on a stick were the trend of the market.






There were BBQ's set up all over the place grilling all kinds of meats, lamb, beef and even squid and some other things.

It's a great community building event and something to experience if you aren't familiar with Asian Night Markets.  This seems to be catching on in Toronto because it was jam packed and there seems to be a few night markets popping up in the city now.  Anytime you can have a diverse food experience without leaving town it's a good thing.



Friday, July 20, 2012

Fast Food chicken nuggets vs homemade


My fried chicken


I love the taste of McDonald's Chicken McNugget's but I feel guilty every time I eat them because I know that they aren't good for me but somehow how I succumb to their tasty crispy little nuggets.  Also because I am lazy and don't always feel like spending the time to make a batch of the fried chicken as in the picture above.   
My fried chicken was made by soaking chicken breasts in buttermilk overnight.  I then pulled out the chicken and dipped it into flour with a tiny bit of cornmeal and Cayenne, Paprika, garlic powder salt, pepper, thyme and sometimes I experiment with other seasonings.   Then they are fried in a cast iron skillet for about 15-20 min per side.  So it's a lot more labour intensive than walking across the street and grabbing a bag in a few minutes and wolfing down a six pack of nuggets.   And don't forget the time it took to go to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for my chicken and then the clean up afterwards.  So no wonder people opt out for the drive thru when they need a fried chicken fix.   What would really be nice is if you could get Fried Chicken like your mama made it at a drive through, but this is what you get instead:   
This is the Full ingredient list for a Chicken McNugget (from McDonald’s website):
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
                                     *********************************************************
My mom never brought us to McDonald's for dinner and would make her version of what she called Chicken Nuggets by doing this:
Cut chicken breast into chunks
She would add salt and pepper.
She would then dip them into flour, then egg and then italian flavoured bread crumbs and then she would pan fry them until they were golden brown.
She would always make them for friends grandchildren and for us as well.  Kids love them.   It's a bit easier than making my whole chicken breast fried chicken.   She used to make whole chicken pieces and then just started making chicken nuggets which were a lot faster to cook.
Either way... you have a choice.  You can do the drive thru if you can't make chicken these other ways but you aren't a slave to the McDonald's nuggets and you can make your own versions if you don't feel right about eating a whole bunch of other things than chicken, flour, egg and spices in your chicken.  Also if you make them at home you have a choice to buy Organic Chickens and cut a whole chicken and know exactly what's in your fried chicken.
But it's up to you.   I know I will still waiver and eat some McDonald's because of the taste and convenience but I will also continue to feel like they are a guilty pleasure.

Rubber bands vs Water Melon - The Slow Mo Guys

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gordon Ramsay - - Forbes top paid chefs

Gordon Ramsay - Dorothy Pomerantz - Forbes

Gordon Ramsay tops the Forbes list for highest paid chefs.. followed by Rachel Ray who doesn't own a restaurant and isn't a trained chef.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Zucchini pancake goodness





I had some zucchini that I picked up at the farmer's market and I was trying to decide what to make considering the heat wave we have been having in the city I wanted to make something that wouldn't take too long or use the oven.  I decided to make zucchini fritters or pancakes, latke style.   I love zucchini this way.  I think it really brings out the zucchini flavour and the crunchy exterior with the creamy interior is so good paired with some cooling sour cream.  This is my recipe for them:

Ingredients:                                         

3 zucchinis
1 tsp nutmeg
2 green onions
pinch of chili flakes
1 tbsp parsley
1/4 cup of flour
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
1 egg
3 tbsps oil

Sour Cream 

Directions:

Wash, trim ends and grate the zucchini's on a box grater on the coarse side.  Put the zucchini shreds in a colander over a bowl or put in cheesecloth or you can even use a clean tea towel.   Add salt to the zucchini and let the zucchini release the juices or let it strain for about an hour.  You can squeeze out the excess water by using the tea towel and wringing it out.  

In another bowl add 1 egg, 2 chopped green onions, chopped or dried parsley and then add the zucchini and mix.  Add the parmesan cheese.   Then add the flour baking powder, nutmeg and salt and pepper and nutmeg and chili flakes.  Add the flour last and gradually to see if you need more or less flour depending on the amount of moisture left in the zucchini.   You want  the consistency to be able to hold the zucchini fritters together so not runny but also not too dry so that it stays moist in the middle.  Once the mixture is mixed thoroughly heat up a non stick or cast iron skillet to high.  Add oil to the pan and turn the heat down to medium.   Add the zucchini mixture by tablespoonfuls and then flatten them out in the pan.  It should take a couple of minutes on each side.  If you cook them on medium you will be able to cook them through.   Once they are golden brown drain them on paper towels.   This amount makes about 12 fritters.  You can also keep them warm in the oven if you want to make more and serve for a large group or party.

Serve with Sour Cream.  You can be fancy and add parsley or chives or a garnish to serve individual plates or as an appetizer.   

It makes a great lunch and that's how I had them.  They are so light tasting but really satisfying.

Yum..  if you see some zucchini's at your local farmer's market try this recipe.




Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hot Dog carts finally get extensions

http://torontofoodtrucks.ca/toronto-council-votes-to-expand-hot-dog-cart-menus-heres-what-they-can-now-sell

Toronto's Hot Dog carts can finally expand on their selections from just hot dogs and sausages.   it's a step in the right direction but the by laws have a long way to go before we are going to be able to have ethnic diversity.

That being said I am looking forward to being able to get a grilled corn from a hot dog vendor in the city.  That's progress.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What's for dinner on a hot summer night?

It's not scorching hot outside but hot enough for the kitchen to heat up quickly when cooking dinner.  So what do you make that will be fulfilling and won't heat up your kitchen but will heat up your taste buds?  How about a Cold Asian Noodle salad?

In a use what you got moment I thought an Asian salad would fit the bill.   I had rice noodles in my pantry and a few vegetables and I always have all kinds of sauces and vinegars on hand to add flavour to my dishes.

I thought this was going to be a pretty quick easy meal but because I added a bunch of things I was a little hot by the end of it.   And then I tried it and my lips were on fire.   I didn't want to have a bland tasteless noodle salad since rice noodles don't have much flavour, so I jacked up the heat with some Siracha pepper sauce.  It's great for fat burning and eating spicy foods is supposed to cool the body down by making you sweat...  so it's all good.

I started by covering the noodles in a bowl with boiling water and let them sit for about 15-20 min.. then I drained them.

I had snow peas and could have added them raw but I blanched them just to make them a bit more green and a bit softer.

So I had to cook 2 things to make this dish.. well one was blanching.. for the snow peas and the other was using the same water from the snow peas to cook some frozen uncooked shrimp.  

This would have been a great leftover dish if I would have had leftover chicken or shrimp already on hand.

I chopped up the following:

1 green onion
half of a red pepper
1 baby cucumber
bunch of cilantro
a piece of red onion
I used a potato peeler to cut a carrot

I peeled about half a dozen shrimp
and cut the snow peas in half

For the dressing:

zest of one lime
lime juice of 2 limes
about 6 or 7 drops of sesame oil
a couple of tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp siracha chili sauce
2 garlic gloves grated
1 tsp of fresh ginger grated
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of fish sauce


Once the noodles are soft, strain them and place in a big bowl.  Pour half the dressing on the noodles and toss to coat.  Then toss in the remainder of the vegetables and the shrimp or tofu or chicken.. whatever you have.  Pour the rest of the dressing over and toss the whole thing.   It's easier to coat the noodles by tossing them in the dressing before adding the rest and then you can judge how much extra dressing to add to the vegetables.

So that's about it.  You can refrigerate it and let the flavours blend together or have it right away.  It can be eaten cold or at room temperature so it makes a great make and take meal.  Great to take to work for lunch the next day.


I'm Farming and I Grow It



This is an awesome video of some farmers singing the LMFAO song "I'm sexy and I know it" reworked for farmers.

Makes farming look sexy.   Awesome.  I love it.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Shrimp Boil


It's Summer and it's too hot to cook but you want to eat something tasty that doesn't keep you in the kitchen for hours on end slaving in front of a hot stove.  Right?  Well in the South where summers are hot they usually take it outside for a Crab Boil.  But what if you live in an apartment or condo and can't build a fire outside?  Then what do you do?  Well you can still bring the flavours of a crab/lobster or shrimp boil inside by doing the following:  Wash, Drop and Boil.   What if you don't have Lobster or crab?  Well I didn't have either of those but I did have some Raw Frozen Shrimp.  You still get the taste of a Crab Boil but it just becomes a Shrimp Boil instead.

This was my first attempt so I will tell you what I would do to make it better next time I make it.

Wash the following:

Baby potatoes or potatoes cut and quartered.   Baby potatoes means you don't have to do much except wash and toss.

I celery stalk                          

2 or 3 Ears of Corn

Other ingredients:

Old Bay seasoning
salt
pepper
Onion
Frozen shrimp
garlic


Condiments:

Lemon
Red Hot Sauce
Melted butter
cajun seasonings


Directions:

In a large dutch oven on high heat add some butter to the bottom of the pot and when it's melted add a few cloves of garlic and an onion cut in half, and a celery stalk quartered.   These ingredients don't need to be finely chopped because they are just flavouring the broth.

Add Old Bay seasonings depending on how much flavour you want and how big your pot is.  Be generous so that your food gets seasoned well.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add your potatoes and cover the potatoes with water or you could use vegetable stock even.

Bring the potatoes to a boil and make sure they are cooked most of the way through.   Because the corn and shrimp only take a few minutes to cook you need to cook the potatoes in the broth until they are tender before you add the corn and shrimp.

Once the potatoes are cooked you can add the corn, I broke my corn in half to get it into the pot easier and easier to distribute when serving too.  Add your frozen shrimp.  I used zipperback raw frozen shrimp so that they would cook in the boiling liquid and be easy to peel after.

Put a lid on the whole thing and cook for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp are completely changed color to pink.   Cooking shrimps is like cooking mussels... they tell you when they are done by either changing color or opening up.

Once it's all cooked just scoop out all the shrimp and vegetables into a huge serving platter.   When they do crab boils outside they usually use less liquid and just toss everything onto a picnic table lined with newspapers.   But since this is my apartment recipe I just put it all into a large serving bowl.

To serve pour melted butter over top and splash a few drops of hot sauce and cajun seasonings and squeeze a lemon over the whole thing.   You could do individual seasonings so that people can add as much as they like if you make a boat load for a family.  I just made it for myself so I took the easy way out and tossed it all in the same bowl.

You can also add chopped parsley if you like to add some fresh flavour and color.

Make sure you have lots of napkins on hand because it will get messy.

Note:  My ingredients are a guideline...   you will have to experiment with your ingredients depending on the size of your pot and how many people you want to feed.   The bigger the pot the more people you can feed.

This is one of those One Pot Wonders.  Cleanup is pretty easy afterwards too.   One pot to clean and if you use the outside method of dumping it onto a newspaper lined table then all you need is a fork.

Have a Shrimp Boil adventure this weekend.   Pretend you are in the South when you are just chilling at home.   And the bonus part is that since it all cooks in one pot on the stove you won't heat up your kitchen too much and won't waste a lot of electricity and time getting dinner on the *table*.  literally.


Pan American Food & Music Festival

Festival:     Pan American Food & Film Festival Date:          August 11-13, 2017 Location:   Yonge & Dundas Square Website...