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Archive for August, 2013

A local chain of Japanese and Thai Spoon and Fork, Etobicoke opened nearby about a year or so ago. We tried to get in few times for lunch but there was always a wait. Then a couple of months ago we had a Girls Night Out there and I was quite impressed with the food, so one day a couple of weeks ago I suggested that we try it for lunch again. Although it was quite busy with the business set, we were able to get a nice quiet table.

The restaurant has a contemporary Asian feel with good lighting (although a little bright at night). The tables are well spaced out and although it’s noisy you can still have a decent conversation and not have to yell over the noise. Our waiter was excellent, he knew the food very well and spoke with enthusiasm about it (always a great sign). JT and I ordered the Sushi & Maki which has 5 kinds of Sushi: Salmon, White Tuna, Kani, Shrimp and Tamago and 8 Spicy California Roll ($12) it comes with a small salad (iceberg lettuce and a few tomatoes) and Miso soup which makes for a filling and delicious meal.

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A very reasonably priced Sushi plate


I would definitely go back, but beware, they push the ‘all you can eat’ menus so you have to ask for ‘a la carte’ and the ‘a la carte’ is quite different during the weekends than on week days.

Overall rating of Spoon & Fork, Queensway (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 4/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 2.5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meals for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

Queensway Spoon & Fork
1233 The Queensway, Unit 24,
Etobicoke, ON M8Z 1S1
416-201-8688

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JT enjoyed a soup similar to this at the Ritz Carlton Toca in Toronto on his birthday and I told him I would replicate it as soon as the Ontario corn was available.
To be truthful, I made this very soup when our dear friends Barb and Kevin (Profiteroles and Ponytails) spent a weekend at the cottage, but I forgot to take photos and I know better than to post a recipe sans photos so I had to make it again, this time with notes and photos! The soup I made for Barb and Kevin used a combination of white corn and fresh Peaches and Cream Corn. The white corn was part of my shopping spree with Chgo John From the Bartolini Kitchens. I didn’t include the white corn in this recipe because I found it too starchy tasting and decided it didn’t enhance the soup at all, so my second attempt used only fresh Peaches and Cream Ontario Corn.
It’s creamed but there is not a spot of cream in it; the inherent texture of the corn makes it velvety smooth and you really don’t need cream at all.
Crab and corn are a match made in heaven and turns this simple soup into a meal, avocado added to anything really ups the ante! We grilled the corn on a charcoal grill to enhance the smoky flavour, but if you can’t grill it, just add it to the pot and cook the kernels a bit longer. Frozen corn also works well in a pinch, but shhhhhh — that’s our little secret!

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Creamed corn, avocado, crab and more corn. YUM!

Creamed Corn Chowder with Avocado and Crab

(makes about 3 to 4 cups depending on how thick you wish the soup to be)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Vidalia onion finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups charcoal grilled corn
  • 1 bacon rasher
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional if you can’t grill the corn)
  • 1 tin crab meat with whole legs
  • 1/2 small avocado, in cubes and sprinkled with lime juice
  • juice of one lime
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 500-1,000 mL vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Grill fresh corn on a charcoal grill. Slice off kernels and reserve.
  2. Heat a pan with olive oil and sauté the bacon adding the onions and cooking until translucent, add the garlic, cumin and smoked paprika (if using).
  3. Add all the corn kernels but 1/2 cup (set aside for the garnish)
  4. Add stock and purée until smooth with an immersion blender, adding stock until desired thickness is achieved. Season with sea salt to taste.
  5. Press through a fine sieve.
  6. In a small bowl, combine drained crab, corn, cubed avocado, chopped cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice. Season with sea salt to taste. Stir well.
  7. Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with a generous spoonful of the crab mixture in the centre. Serve with a grilled crostini on a deck over looking the lake. That last bit is optional, but it does enhance the experience.
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We eat out on the deck as much as possible.

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May I offer you a bowl?

We’ve been spending a lot of time at the cottage this August and I thought I’d share a few of the meals we’ve been enjoying. Cottage is for laid back times, but that doesn’t mean soup out of a can or even ready made products, for me it’s time to really enjoy having time to do things right.

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I made a pulled pork Tenderloin in the slow cooker and it provided a variety of meals such as pulled pork flatbread.

The pulled pork recipe can be found here.

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A wonderful hors d’œuvres of seared scallop wrapped in Prosciutto on Avocado paste smeared crostini.

Click here. for this tasty recipe.

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A nice lunch of deconstructed Caesar Salad, with avocado and Canadian Bacon

Links can be found here and here.

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Mulligatawny Soup with Shrimps. This soup transformed itself into BBQ sauce (add vinegar and brown sugar and a dash of soy sauce), and to Shakshuka (a middle eastern tomato based egg dish).

Muligatawny recipe can be found here.
Shakshuka recipe can be found here.
I made the BBQ sauce on the fly, so there is no recipe!

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Bircher Muesli

Muesli was invented by a Swiss physician to help his patients recover from surgery. It originally was a wet version (unlike the dry ones you buy at the grocery store) with raw oats, a grated apple and nuts and dairy such as milk or yogurt but it can be made using whatever you prefer. I love making a large batch to have over the weekend when we go to the cottage, it’s a delicious and nutritious breakfast particularly when you have projects to finish up like we did. I served it with a half a grapefruit and it satisfied us even working hard!
The first time I had this lovely breakfast was in Zurich in the late 80’s; JT had a business meeting with a wonderful Swiss gentleman (with whom we are still friends) and his wife was kind enough to take me around. I couldn’t wait to introduce JT to it. Years later, I’m still making it even though I confuse the name quite often!

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The variety of textures is a pleasant way to start the day.

Bircher Muesli

(makes about 4 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, grated
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 mixed in salted nuts (I used the Turkish honey and nuts my friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytails gave me)
  • 16 grapes cut into halves
  • 1 cup raw rolled oats

Directions:

  1. The night before you wish to eat this breakfast, mix everything together and refrigerate.
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The honey nuts make a lovely addition to this old favourite.

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You could add a piece of toast, but I find the oats filling enough.

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I seem to have come into quite a bit of free time of late; you may have noticed my sporadic commenting and I do apologize but we’ve been spending a lot of time at the cottage (cabin/lake house). We renovated or more accurately, gave it a face lift and that makes me want to spend more time there. Freshly painted white walls instead of the dowdy wood panelling from the 1960’s, replaced the linoleum and industrial carpeting with lovely wood laminate flooring added some kitchen cabinets in my efforts to annoy the mice and even gave the furniture a face lift too with new slip covers — and purchased new artwork! You can see my excitement. So we’ve been making the most of it. Come September I hope to be back in the normal swing of things.
In the meantime I wanted to share a recipe for Butter Tartlets that I made for my birthday bash from my very ancient Five Roses Flour cookbook and I’ve been making these tartlets since I began to bake in my early teens — they have been a family favourite. This time I used a flower cookie cutter to give them a lovely scalloped edge and I baked them in mini muffin tins so they are quite small, one or two bites.

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Caramelized brown sugar coating the flaky pastry.

Prize Butter Tartlets

Original recipe from Five Roses Flour Cookbook (1983)

Makes about 18 mini two bite tartlets

Ingredients for the pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cup of AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 5-6 tbsp ice cold water

Directions for the pastry:

We all have our favourite pastry recipes so if you prefer to use your own, by all means do so but I hope you make these tasty tarts!

  1. Mix flour and salt together and cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture is crumbly (like oatmeal).
  2. Add water a little at a time until the mixture hold together, do not overwork.
  3. Roll out to about an 1/8th of an inch or 1 mm thick and cut with an appropriate cookie cutter (I used a lovely scalloped edge to make my tartlets).
  4. Press into a mini muffin tin and refrigerate until you have prepared the filling.
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They are rather small, are you sure I can’t interest you in more than one?

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup or 36 small pieces of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (unsalted)
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp dark rum (secret ingredient)

Directions for the filling:

  1. Melt brown sugar and butter together (I do this in a microwave, on low) allow to cool a bit.
  2. Add the beaten egg, milk and flavourings. Mix well.
  3. Spoon about 2 teaspoonful into each pastry tartlet and add 2 walnut pieces to each. Bake in a 375°F oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the pastry has browned a bit.

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You know you want one!


These two are before photos, dark and dowdy:

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We changed the colour scheme to blues and whites to reflect the boathouse theme a bit more. The refrigerator was a later gift from my Mom’s husband so it’s a bit of an after thought, we’ll incorporate it into the kitchen when we get rid of the propane burners, which protrude out from the wall.
Sigh, back to reality!

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Way back in June I took JT to Toca to celebrate his birthday, it’s the fancy restaurant at the Ritz Carlton on King Street West.

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The menus were placed on individual plates hand painted by one of the wait staff who is coincidentally an artist! How lovely that the Ritz did this!

Toca is a contemporarily decorated restaurant with large booths and cozy tables and very flattering lighting. The walls are decorated with custom hand painted plates which were created by Jacqueline Poirier , one of the wait staff. Each place setting is also adorned by these beautiful works of art.

We started our lovely dining experience with some house baked Middle Eastern breads — now I usually try to skip the bread to limit my carbs, but these looked too good to pass up. The patty style bread on the right had a perfect chewiness and the sesame seeds were just the right topping.

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House made breads were too tasty to pass up

I couldn’t resist ordering the smoked burrata. It was served with fresh figs and an absolutely spectacular presentation where the smoked burrata came with a glass dome covering it with smoke trapped within. The server released the burrata and the smoke quickly dissipated. I’m going to have to figure this one out, so we can try it at a dinner party. Any suggestions?

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A gorgeous glass dome encasing the burrata with smokey flavour was the presentation.

JT ordered the creamed corn soup, made entirely without cream. It was spectacular! It was served with a corn & tomato salsa and lump crab. I’m definitely going to make this one!

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So creamy and delicious, but there isn’t any cream in it.

My main course was an appetizer portion of Alberta Classic Beef Tartare (yes, I do enjoy my tartares!) served with a lovely quail yolk on top and very crispy potatoes on top. The description included tartar sauce which made it a little too creamy for my taste, and I wasn’t able to finish it. The lovely waiter and then manager suggested I order something else, but JT had already started his steak and I didn’t want to be eating on my own or to allow his to cool off while I waited so I declined. They even took it off the bill.

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The Steak Tartare was a little too creamy

JT ordered the Alberta Filet Mignon and because the soup was so filling, he decided not to order any sides with it. It was dressed with a cherry gastrique which was simply delicious against the earthy flavour of the Filet Mignon.

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Simple and delicious

Even though my main course was not to my liking, I would definitely return to this restaurant. The pace was lovely and the service was exceptional as one would expect from the Ritz.

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Even the fingertip towels were logo’d in the bathrooms

It was an unseasonably cold day and even colder evening and as we exited the restaurant were drawn by some live music in the courtyard adjacent to the hotel. It was Luminato and we walked right over to see X Alfonso. If it hadn’t been so chilly we would have stayed and danced the night away, but the wind had come up and it felt like October weather instead of June!

Overall rating of Toca Ritz Carlton (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 4/5, food 4/5, Value 3.5/5, Noise: 3.5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meals for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

Toca, The Ritz-Carlton
181 Wellington Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5V 3G7
(416) 585-2500

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We had the most splendid weather on the day JT had my birthday party, not humid at all and it was beautifully sunny. Even though it was a wonderful temperature I decided not to serve any warm or hot appetizers, keeping the house even cooler! When I saw a version of this tasty mediterranean dip over on Karen’s blog (Back Road Journal) I knew I had to include it in my party food repertoire! We served it with papadums and Gluten Free crackers. The next day we had it for dinner with a little goats cheese, very tasty indeed.

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A slightly salty treat

An easy dip to make and delicious to eat!

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Tapenade in Action!

Black Olive Tapenade

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata Olives
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1-2 tbsp EVOO

Directions:

  1. Add everything but the parsley to a small chopper and pulse until you achieve the desired consistency.
  2. Gently fold in the chopped parsley.
  3. Serve at room temperature.

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Our dear friends Rae and Monica dropped in the day before my birthday party to share a little bubbly with us to celebrate! It was such a lovely gesture since they live about 50 minutes away. They dropped their three girls and some friends off on Bloor Street in our hood because we have such lovely shops to browse through; our local Chapters is a great visit because its a converted theatre with beautiful architectural features not to mention the cool stuff to buy! And then there is Sweet Flour where you can get a custom-baked fresh cookie in about a minute (they have a variety of raw doughs and a whole mess of inclusions, you pick the dough and inclusions and presto, a freshly baked cookie!). Definitely worth visiting. They also shopped the trendy clothing stores while we visited with Rae and Mon and a couple of hours and bottles later their girls dropped in! It was such a lovely visit; we’ve known the girls since they were born, so it was nice to have adult conversations. The girls very kindly and generously bought us a box of red currants! How nice is that? With everything going on, my big bash the next day and leaving in a couple of days for a short vaycay, I knew I had to do something very special with these delicate berries, but what? Then I remembered my dear friend Sissi makes the most incredible hot and sweet jellies so I took a little trip to her beautiful blog With a Glass to see what kinds of jellies she has made and boy, what a selection. Sadly their were no jellies for red currants, so I expanded my search on the web and found this lovely jelly recipe by David Lebovitz’s Red Currant Jam recipe, with some artistic license! Thank you Sissi for the inspiration.

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it’s a perfect accompaniment to cheese

The jelly is slightly sweet with some smokey heat right at the very end, nothing unpleasant, and if I were to make it again, I would likely add a bit more heat to it.

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We had this jelly with left over cheeses and fruits from my birthday bash!

Red Current Jelly

based on David Lebovitz’s Red Current Jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 part currents (150g)
  • 1/2 part sugar
  • 1/2 guajillo pepper
  • 1/4 ancho pepper
  • 1/8 haberno pepper

Directions:

  1. Finely chop the three varieties of peppers, including the seed if you prefer a more robust heat.
  2. Remove the large stems from the currants, rinse. Add the currents and the chopped peppers to a pot large enough to be able to add enough water just so that it covers the currents and the peppers.
  3. Cook the currants and the peppers stirring frequently until they’re soft and wilted (like you would in making cranberry sauce).
  4. Weigh the glass container you will transfer the purée into. Press the purée through a fine sieve to remove the seeds, stems and pepper bits into the weighed glass container. (or if you have a scales which tares, simply put the glass container on top, tare it and press the currant pepper mix into it.
  5. Now weigh the purée in the glass container, subtract the first weight from the second weight and divide it by four (if you have a scale that tares, this is much easier).
  6. For each pound (kilo), add the 1/4 of the amount of sugar to the pot.
  7. Mix the purée and the sugar and cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, let it boil for five minutes undisturbed.
  8. After five minutes, turn off the heat and skim off any scum.
  9. Pour into sterilized jars up to the top and screw on the lids firmly. Turn the jars upside down and let cool completely (this is Lebovitz method to can, it worked for me!).

Speaking of the big bash, here is the photo book I created so I can remember the wonderful day everyone made for me (any references to age were intentionally left out, so don’t be rude and ask me how old I am ;-)!):

Click here to view this photo book larger

Shutterfly offers exclusive layouts and designs so you can make your book just the way you want.

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