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Last Friday night we went out for dinner but finding a spot was a much more arduous task than usual because it was Winterlicious. Winterlicious/Summerlicious theme was originally developed by the City of Toronto to encourage residents to go out for meals after the unfortunate SARS breakout in 2002; it’s a participation event where restaurants offer prix fixe meals for standardized rates (Lunch: $18 • $23 • $28; Dinner: $25 • $35 • $45). This year there are over 200 participating restaurants! What’s really cool is that some really high end restaurants participate where you get a three course meal for $45 Canadian (in some of these places $45 is usually just the main course!). It’s a great way to sample some expense account restaurants. But don’t think the restaurants aren’t making money because as one restaurateur once told me that because people perceive they are getting a deal on their meals, they will splurge on the bottle of wine, or two (in Ontario our restaurant liquor is usually marked up 3 times)! Getting a reservation this time of year is no easy task, even in non-participating places, but participating places it’s next to impossible. One year, I was on the phone for over an hour trying to get connected to a highly demanded Summerlicious restaurant, it was like calling a radio station for a prize, you just keep calling and calling and calling until you were connected. One year I gave up after 45 minutes of re-dial!

These days, I just couldn’t be bothered trying to get into the popular places plus we’re still trying to cut back consumption so three courses just isn’t what we want to eat, no matter how good the price. So Friday night we went to the newest addition of the Playa Cabana restaurants on Bloor, Playa Cabana Barrio. It’s part of a small Mexican group in Toronto and we have found (at their three other restaurants) the food to be exceptional and reasonably priced. This one was in Little Korea and the menu read more Korean than Mexican. I usually preview the menu but I was busy and didn’t this time. I was really in the mood for Mexican. The narrow restaurant was very crowded (imagine the width just wide enough for one table on either side, one parallel to the wall and one perpendicular). The tables are very close together so it’s difficult not to say ‘Hi’ and chat with the table next to yours (impossible for JT, that is). We were very fortunate as we had two young women from each end of the country (Victoria, BC and St. John, Newfoundland) reuniting for a girls weekend and we hit it off, weaving short conversations between courses about places they should go to in Toronto and their lives at the polar opposites of Canada.

One of the courses they ordered was BBQ’d Kalbi Ribs which came out “Fred Flintstone” style, piled up on a plate. When I say piled, it must have been 20 cm (8 inches) high! And I’m not exaggerating! It was difficult not to comment (for JT, that is)! But here’s the most unusual part: they insisted we take the last mammoth rib home as they were staying in a hotel (it was served family style, so it wasn’t handled). So we DID! Is that not the best story EVER? How many times have you wanted to give your uneaten food away while on holiday? It’s really a shame to throw away perfectly good left-overs (as long as they weren’t handled)

This inspiration is the result of that donated doggy bag of “Fred Flintstone” proportion Korean BBQ’d beef short rib!

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Although the yolk doesn’t look as runny, it really was!

BBQ’d Kalbi Benny

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 left-over BBQ’d Kalbi Short Rib with kimchi
  • 2 crêpes (recipe can be found here)
  • Hollandaise sauce (make your fav, healthy or not)
  • 2 poached eggs

Directions:

  1. Reheat rib and once hot, shred with two forks.
  2. Fold crêpe into fourths and spread the shredded rib meat in the centre.
  3. Top rib meat with a little of the left-over kimchi, then the egg and pour hot hollandaise over.
  4. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  • This inspiration ‘recipe’ would work famously with any shredded left-over meat.
  • If having ribs for dinner, set aside one or two so you can have this fabulous breakfast.
  • Coleslaw may be substituted for the kimchi or omitted, but it was a tasty addition.
  • English muffins or any type of bread, for that matter may be substituted for the crêpes, I just wanted a slightly less heavy carb.
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Lighting is everything.

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Recently we were invited to a “slider” party. The invitation pictured one of those garden slides that you soak with the garden hose and take a running leap onto it and slide all the way down. But it wasn’t a party like that. We’re talking food sliders! You know, the tiny little sandwiches or burgers that you generally have a few of. The BBQ was hosted by that Titanic, Black and White and Bond party couple and it was the same five couples. Each couple was charged with bringing their own favourite slider for dinner. Yep, that meant we all ate five (FIVE) mini burgers! But it was great fun.

I figured there would be a good selection of burgers (chicken, turkey and beef) so I wanted something a wee bit different; I made our Whiskey BBQ Pulled Pork (previously posted here) with a celeriac, fennel and cabbage slaw. I was inspired by my friend Sissi over at With a Glass when she presented us with her own version of a fennel slaw with an ouzo mayonnaise, but sadly I happened to mention my intentions to JT and he gave me that look; you see, he likes fennel and he likes ouzo but felt that the two together might be a little too strong. I begged to differ but some things are not worth arguing about, so I kept the fennel and made a new dressing for it. It was a tasty slaw and it went very well with the pulled pork. I omitted the mayonnaise from this slaw as we were dining al fresco and I wasn’t sure how long the food would sit outdoors in the heat and sun. The lemon juice and zest were added to mimic the tangy flavour of mayo.

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It was creamy without being heavy.

Celeriac, Fennel, Carrot and Nappa Cabbage Slaw

Makes about 10 cups of slaw but it depends on how large your vegetables are.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized celeriac
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium sized fennel
  • 1 small head Nappa cabbage
  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2-4 tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Reserve 6-8 large cabbage leaves for presentation.
  2. Grate the celeriac, carrot, fennel and cabbage using a fine grater, mix well. Set aside.
  3. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, zest and honey and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mix the dressing with the slaw and serve chilled on a flat plate with the leaves spread around to hold the slaw.
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Such a cute little slider, don’t you think?

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I made tiny little pretzel buns for the pulled pork sliders.

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We’ve been up north for a few days finishing off the mini reno; it sure doesn’t get easier as one gets older! A quick synopsis: wood panelling painted white, ceilings and gaping holes were caulked. Laminate floors installed and waiting for one more box (how did that happen? We are 6 pieces short, damn it! We both did the math, TWICE!) Baseboards have been cut but not fully installed (need to finish the floors under the couch first). New kitchen shelving installed with task lighting. New porch blinds installed with bottom hooks! Garbage packaged and stored for handy man removal. A few more décor items and we’re done! Just in time for closing ;)!
With all that standing up, sitting down it feels like I’ve completed a marathon, but not really, I’m just a spectator of sports. And we all know what a crazy sports fiend I am, I just can’t get enough of it ;-). In fact, I have every single tuner in the house tuned into different sports channels or talk radio channels just to keep on top of it; then there are the push notifications every time a player does something worthy — like fart, for instance! OK, I may be BS’ing a little but I do get a little drawn in particularly when the sport is baseball and we’re talkin’ about our beloved Jays! Blue Jays that is!

My good friend Jed from Sports Glutton asked me to do a guest post as part of his MLB Series (except that I kept calling it the MBL whenever I talked about it, drove poor JT nuts!) and I couldn’t resist. Thank you Jed, I’m not only honoured to do this guest post, but I am flattered beyond belief and I hope to have done your lovely gluttonous blog worthy with this post.

Our beloved Jays are due for a world series win; no — really, I’m serious. I’m told (and god knows I’m no authority) that this year the Jays have the most expensive players and one would think that with that kind of ‘quality’ we would get some wins…except it’s taking a bit of time — you see, those poor Jays had a bit of a rough start, but we’re back on track and as of writing this post, we’ve worked ourselves back within striking distance of first place in the division! Woohoo!
Even with the Jays resurgence the Jays should be hungry for more, I am 100% sure they would want a highly gluttonous meal like Canadian Whiskey BBQ Sauce Pulled Pork Benny and Homerun-fries, don’t you? I developed this recipe for Jed and there are a few things I would have done differently if it was for kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com, but because Jed was a little concerned; that I would make it too healthy, I really stepped it up a notch, within reason, of course! Thanks again Jed, I am truly honoured.
Please head on over to Jed’s blog to check it out, you will be surprised and delighted with what you see.

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The Dijon Béchamel was just the perfect gluttonous addition.

MLB Series Guest Post — Canadian Whiskey BBQ Sauce Pulled Pork Benny and Home-run-fries

Makes enough for 10-12 Bennies if you want to use it all on that, but the pulled pork is wonderful as leftovers in sandwiches, pizza and wraps.

Ingredients for the Pork and the Rub:

  • 1lb or ~500 g Pork Tenderloin
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic (not garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the slow cooker on high.
  2. Combine the spices and mix well, set aside.
  3. In a very hot skillet, heat about 1 tbsp canola oil and sear the pork well. Set the pan aside — DO NOT WASH.
  4. Carefully rub the spice mix on all sides of the pork and set into the slow cooker.
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Searing the tenderloin; it’s so loud, I can’t hear the talk radio!

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The beast has been seared, you can tell because the talk radio is fully audible.

Ingredients for the Canadian Whiskey BBQ Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of Canadian Whiskey
  • Scant 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup strong black coffee (I used espresso)
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

Directions for the BBQ Sauce:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the same pan you seared the pork in and bring to a boil, scraping off any of the bits left behind by searing the pork.
  2. Pour the sauce over the pork in the slow cooker, cover and set the heat to Low and the timer to 4-5 hours.
  3. Turn pork in the BBQ sauce occasionally.
  4. The pork is done when you can take two forks and start pulling it apart.
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Giving the BBQ sauce a good boil

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The pork and the sauce are all cozy and ready for their 4-5 hour rest in the slow cooker

Ingredients for the Homerun-fries:

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes.
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp canola oil

Directions for the Homerun-fries:

  1. Boil or roast the sweet potato cubes until very soft.
  2. Heat canola oil in a pan, pan-fry the sweet potato cubes, smashing them with a fork. You want a slight crispy texture on the exterior of the smashed cubes.
  3. Stir in the chopped green onion.
  4. Serve warm.

Ingredients for the Dijon Béchamel:

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp white flour
  • 2-3 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup of milk
  • salt to taste

Directions for the Dijon Béchamel:

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook but don’t brown it.
  2. Slowly stir in the milk, whisking to incorporate the flour butter mixture so it’s not lumpy. Keep whisking until you reach your desired thickness (it will thicken more as you cook it).
  3. Add the Dijon and blend well.
  4. Keep warm.

Assembly and serving for one:

  • 1-2 perfectly poached eggs.
  • 1-2 Whole wheat English Muffins per person, torn in half and toasted.
  • 2-4 tbsp braised red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup sweet potato
  • Dijon Béchamel
The pork after it has been pulled

The pork after it has been pulled

Notes:

  • I seared the pork in my favourite cast iron pan and therefore could not use it for the BBQ sauce as the acidity of the sauce strips off the seasoning from the pan. Had I done it in my enamel cast iron pan, I would not have had an issue.
  • We added the braised purple cabbage for more gluttony with the benefit of texture, colour and flavour, feel free to omit.
  • To perfectly poach an egg, heat 10cm or 3.5 inches of water to a gentle boil. Add 1 tbsp vinegar (this helps to set the egg white so it doesn’t get all stringy) salt. Break eggs into individual cups or small bowls. Gently turn the egg into the hot water allowing the water to flow into the small cup or bowl, once the egg is setting, gently turn it fully out and giving it a summer-salt. Repeat with all eggs and set the timer for 2 minutes. The water should be gently boiling not roughly bubbling. When the timer goes off, remove each egg onto a paper towel to dry. Serve immediately.

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Happy Independence Day! Since it’s Thursday, do you take Friday off and make it an extra long holiday? How do you celebrate? Last year we were in Wisconsin at our friend’s lake house (Paul & Ts) and at around 9pm we boated out to the middle of the lake and watched the most amazing fireworks–it was awesome!
Speaking of awesome, if you want your guests to see fireworks in their heads, THIS is the dessert to serve. It’s a perfect summer dessert combining popular tropical flavours: pineapple, rum and coconut. You can’t go wrong, and it’s very impressive making it the perfect dessert to serve on such an important holiday.

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July!

The first time I saw this recipe was at Jed, the Sports Glutton’s blog and I knew I would make it, I just didn’t realize how soon! We were entertaining my uni BFF and her hubby a while back and I needed a gluten free desert (she is gluten intolerant) and I wanted something that wasn’t too bad for you…so I chose fruit but even better it was sweet, caramelized Pineapple. I loved the grilled pineapple salsa we made for the grilled shrimp so I knew this dessert would be a hit; it turned out so well, JT suggested that I make it for our next progressive dinner, so I did! What was super cool about the latest progressive dinner was that each course had to be made on the BBQ! This is the perfect summertime dessert, not having to heat the house up by turning on the oven — there are better ways to heat things up ;)!

This is the version I served to my BFF for brunch, no cake!

This is the version I served to my BFF for brunch, sadly there was no cake!

So, I present to you, an inspired version of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Since we sliced the pineapple thinner, they didn't hold their shape, I suggest skewering them as well.

Since we sliced the pineapple thinner, they didn’t hold their shape, I suggest skewering them as well.

Deconstructed Piña Colada: Grilled Buttered Rum Pineapple with Grilled Coconut Pound Cake

Serves 8 (1 cm or 1/2″ slices of cake, with lots left over)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • the rind of one lemon

I

  • 1 /4 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 pineapples, peeled and cored and cut into 8 spears each
  • 24 smallish strawberries
  • 1 Coconut pound cake (recipe can be found here).
  • pineapple sage finely julienned (or mint)

Directions:

  1. Combine the Greek yogurt, vanilla, powdered sugar and lemon rind and stir well. Refrigerate.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and then add the rum, brown sugar and salt and give it a good boil (to burn off the alcohol).
  3. Using the buttered rum sauce, baste the pineapple spears and grill until you have achieved grill marks, you can baste throughout the grilling process but make sure you reserve some sauce for drizzling. Keep the grilled pineapple spears warm.
  4. Slice the coconut pound cake into 1-2 cm (1/2″-3/4″) slices, brush lightly with the buttered rum sauce and grill until you have achieved grill marks.

Assembly:

  1. Place the slice of grilled coconut pound cake on the plate, arrange the spears so that they overlap the pound cake and each other.
  2. Add three washed strawberries clustered together.
  3. Add a dollop of the Greek Yogurt sauce and finally drizzle with the remaining buttered rum.
  4. Garnish with the pineapple sage julienne. Serve immediately.

*Clip art from Microsoft Clip Art.

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I’ve been following a blog called Cooking with Corinna who has been doing the Ducan diet (you know, the French diet). Corinna has been very successful in losing weight following this diet and has decided to try and healthy up some of her favourites so that she doesn’t fall back into old bad habits and jeopardize her success. The first recipe she ‘healthed up’ was pulled pork. JT loves pulled pork but it’s not something I ever make at home, mainly because it is so unhealthy, or so I thought. Corinna’s method was relatively simple and frankly quite obvious but, for some reason I never thought of it myself. She simply chose a leaner and healthier cut of pork — pork tenderloin instead of pork shoulder. Genius! I was inspired to make this pulled pork for dinner the other night and boy was it a success! Corinna used a slow cooker, but I chose to get my roasting pan on the grill outside (it was so hot and humid that day, I couldn’t bear even the slow cooker!). The trick is low and slow; I cooked our 300g tenderloin for almost four hours on 121°C (250°F). I turned it a few times and made sure it was always covered in BBQ sauce. You can use a store bought BBQ sauce, or you can throw one together in minutes like I did. Soooo easy. You will be surprised that you won’t be able to tell the difference from the unhealthy version! And if you want to keep it even healthier, choose a BBQ sauce based with fruit instead of sugar.

Thanks Corinna, this one will be a keeper, that’s for sure!

A Healthier Pulled Pork

Serves 3, 100 g portions

BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

Original recipe can be found here.

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup vinegar, preferably red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp prepared mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp espresso coffee powder

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the flavours have blended well. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pulled Pork Ingredients:

Original recipe can be found here.

  • 300 g pork tenderloin with silver skin and excess fat removed. This is a great video on preparing pork tenderloin. I removed ALL of the fat to keep it healthier.
  • 1-2 tbsp canola oil (or an oil with a high flash point)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce, home made or store bought.
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Preheat BBQ to 121°C (250°F).
  2. Heat the roasting pan on the stove with the canola oil until almost smoking. Sear all sides of the tenderloin. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a minute or two. Add the BBQ sauce and make sure that the tenderloin is brushed evenly with it. Place the covered roasting pan on the BBQ and turn off the heat directly below it. You’ll have to watch your BBQ so that the temperature maintained for the 4 hours is around 121°C (250°F).
  3. Turn the tenderloin 3-4 times making sure it is always covered well with the BBQ sauce. I kept about 1 cup of water near the BBQ and added water as the sauce became thicker and evaporated. Eventually around 3.5 hours, the meat will literally fall apart and you will be able to mix it well with the BBQ sauce and cook it for the last half hour.
  4. Serve warm or cold, on a salad, on a bun, or even in a fajita shell. Garnish with chopped cilantro and finely chopped green onions.

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