Gastronomy and Life's Other Pleasures

Follow me on my gastronomic adventures!

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Weekend dinner: Cilantro and lime marinated chicken fajita kebabs

The husband and I are loving kebabs this summer! They have been an easy, delicious and quick weeknight meal for us to simply put together and toss on the grill. So far this summer we have kept things simple, which has allowed for us to be able to whip them up so quickly, so recently I decided we needed a bit of a flavour punch for the meat. I was thinking a marinade for the meat would be the perfect way to spice things up. I found this recipe on one of my favourite foodie sites, Serious Eats, and decided to give it a whirl.

If you want to save time and make kebabs on a busy weeknight, with a little bit of prep, making kebabs is a breeze. I like to cut up my veggies (usually bell pepper and onion) into 1 inch pieces in advance to save some time. As well, I get my wooden skewers soaking in the morning, and let them soak all day. You don’t have to do this but I find it really helps to prevent the skewers from burning up. All they really need is a good half-hour soak in some cool water, and you can soak them leading up to dinner time if that works better for you. I like to lay them out on a cookie sheet and add water until they float a little bit. Then I use a heavy mug to press them down into the water until they are completely submerged.

For this particular recipe, due to the timing of the marinade (the recipe indicates to marinate the meat anywhere from 1 to 5 hours), we decided to try it on a weekend so as not to over-marinate the chicken. The result was amazing! The chicken was tender and jam packed with flavour from the cilantro and lime.

I followed the recipe exactly as noted on Serious Eats except for that we used boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of thighs, so click here to head on over to their site for the recipe. Happy kebab-ing!

Filed under food dinner supper kebab kebabs chicken recipe cilantro lime Serious Eats bbq barbeque

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I had to include a small snippet of video to share with those of you who couldn’t be there (Lamb!). This is a short bit from “Not A Bad Thing,” which was amazing and beautiful. The whole crowd was singing along with Justin and his band, and the moment was so cool. Enjoy!

Filed under Ottawa Canadian Tire Centre Justin Timberlake jt2020tour 2020experience concert show music songs live band summer 2014

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What a concert! Justin Timberlake put on an amazing show at the Canadian Tire Centre last night. I won’t give too much away in terms of his set list, but my favourite performances of the night had to be “Cry Me a River,” a beautiful acoustic rendition of “What Goes Around…Comes Around,” and, of course, “Not A Bad Thing.” My friends and I danced our butts off!
JT forever! haha

What a concert! Justin Timberlake put on an amazing show at the Canadian Tire Centre last night. I won’t give too much away in terms of his set list, but my favourite performances of the night had to be “Cry Me a River,” a beautiful acoustic rendition of “What Goes Around…Comes Around,” and, of course, “Not A Bad Thing.” My friends and I danced our butts off!

JT forever! haha

Filed under Ottawa concert show Justin Timberlake Canadian Tire Centre summer the 20/20 tour JT jt2020tour music

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Celebrating National Ice Cream Day with an ice cream date at Carp Custom Creamery

In honour of National Ice Cream Day this past Sunday, the husband and I decided to check out Carp Custom Creamery, a small, window service only store front in the little village of Carp. The Carp Custom Creamery is owned and operated by Dustin Therrien, who is also the owner of my two favourite dining spots in Carp, the Cheshire Cat Pub and Alice’s Village Cafe.

The Creamery carries both their own in-house made ice cream and Tracey’s ice cream from Renfrew, Ontario. We were most interested in trying the Creamery’s homemade flavours since we know we can get Tracey’s anytime.

There were quite a few flavours from which to choose, so the husband and I decided to get one scoop each of two flavours. I chose the blueberry custard swirl and chocolate, and the husband had the double vanilla coconut and the vanilla rolo swirl. All four were fantastic! My chocolate was deeply rich, and the blueberry custard swirl had whole fresh blueberries throughout. I adored the husband’s double vanilla coconut,with ample toasted shredded coconut throughout.

We are definitely interested in returning to try more of the Creamery’s in-house creations; their Facebook page shows a few past creations that I think would be amazing, like s’mores and vanilla brownie rainbow. I do wish that the Creamery’s hours of operation were a little bit more clear (there isn’t anything specific on their Facebook page), but it is still worth the drive out to Carp.

How did you celebrate National Ice Cream Day?

Filed under food dessert ice cream national ice cream day ottawa carp Carp Custom Creamery shop store window dairy homemade custom Dustin Therrien vanilla coconut chocolate sweet treat blueberry blueberry custard Rolo

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Weekend dinner: homemade flour tortillas and slow cooker pineapple pulled pork

After making homemade corn tortillas for the first time a while back (see here), I decided it was time to try making homemade flour tortillas. If I had a preference I would say that I personally prefer the real corn tortillas - I grew up on flour tortillas and I just like the different flavour and texture of the corn tortillas. But the husband is a big fan of flour tortillas (especially the ones like from Lonestar Texas Grill here in Ottawa), so we got to work to give them our best effort.

I figured that making the tortillas would be fairly simple, but I didn’t realize the many recipe variations that existed, especially when it comes to choosing the third key ingredient in the tortilla recipe: the fat/oil. From lard to bacon fat to many different types of oils, there are many variations. I researched a number of flour tortilla recipes online, but finally settled on the one from the lovely Table for Two blog (click here to link to her site and see her recipe). I liked that she used vegetable oil, which was a simple ingredient and something that I already had on hand. I followed the recipe exactly as written in her blog post, and the tortillas were amazing! We ended up freezing about half of the batch of tortillas for a future use, and I can tell you that they froze very well.

What better way to use your newly made delicious homemade tortillas than to stuff them with some delicious pulled pork? After our trip to Miami earlier this year, we have become enamoured with tacos ‘al pastor,’ which is a Mexican dish of pork marinated in a mixture of dried chilies, spices and pineapple. We wanted to make our own take on this dish, so we concocted a recipe for herbs and spices to go with our boneless pork rib roast in the slow cooker.  It turned out great! We loved the sweetness imparted by the pineapple and the gentle hint of spice from the chipotle powder. We also added some Bullseye hickory smoke bbq sauce for a delicious smokey flavour. Below is our recipe - enjoy!

Pineapple pulled pork (our take on tacos al pastor) - serves many, many people

Ingredients:

- 1 4lb boneless pork rib roast

- 1 yellow onion, diced

- 1 398 ml can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)

For the sauce mixture:

- 1 tbsp dried oregano

- 2 tbsp brown sugar

- 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) chipotle powder

- 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) chili powder

- 1 tbsp smoked paprika

- 1 tbsp minced garlic

- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

- 3 tbsp lime juice

- 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from the can)

- 1/4 bbq sauce (we used Bullseye old west hickory smoke)

- salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Prepare your slow cooker. Lay diced onions in the bottom of the crock, and set the pork on top of the onions. Salt and pepper the pork to taste. Cover the pork with the pineapple tidbits; what you can’t fit on the pork, lay around it on the bottom on top of the onions.

Make your sauce: combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Pour over top of the pork.

Cook on low for a total of 8 hours.  At 7 hours, start shredding/pulling your pork and mix everything around so that it can cook in the juices for the last hour or so.

Serve in your flour tortillas and top with salsa, lettuce, sour cream and cilantro.

Filed under food dinner supper tortilla flour flour tortilla homemade tortilla press tacos pork pulled pork slow cooker pineapple crockpot recipe onion blog Table for Two

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Dinner at the Rex

I first went to the Rex a while back for lunch, and totally loved it (see here). I knew I had to go back to try their weekend dinners, which feature a different themed menu each Friday and Saturday nights.

The husband and I happened to stumble on a perfect night for our taste buds, which was a World Cup theme, featuring all the great flavours of South America. The weekend menu at the Rex features two appetizers, two main dishes and two desserts: the three course meal for one is $35 - a great deal for such amazing food!

Considering there is only two choices for each course, the husband and I ordered one of each and shared everything. The appetizers were the perfect start to the meal: an Albacore tuna ceviche on sweet potato chips for me, and black bean, corn and cheddar empanadas for the husband. Both were amazing!

Next were our main courses, which we shared equally. My favourite of the two was the spice rubbed chicken breast served with grilled baby red potatoes which were tossed with chorizo, goat cheese and baby spinach, all drizzled in a roasted garlic jus. The chicken was ridiculously moist and tender, and I adored the flavour that the chorizo imparted in the mixture with the potatoes and spinach. The second main course was the striploin steak served with frites and a mixture of grilled king oyster mushrooms and zucchini, all with a side of chimichurri aioli. The steak was cooked perfectly, and the frites were crispy and light. My favourite part of the steak dish was the chimichurri aioli - wow!

I couldn’t wait to taste dessert; the words ‘dark chocolate,’ ‘dulce de leche’ and ‘coffee’ all in one description make my heart (and my taste buds) sing. Obviously my favourite dessert of the two was the dark chocolate cake with dulce de leche frosting and coffee ice cream. The cake was rich and moist, and the frosting and ice cream added sweetness to counter the gentle bitterness of the dark chocolate. I also enjoyed the second dessert, a rum and strawberry sorbet with candied lime zest and fresh mint; it was like an explosion of fresh flavours on the tongue.

Overall, we had a great time at the Rex for dinner.  Service was excellent and attentive, and while the portions are a tad on the small side, we both left feeling full. We can’t wait to go back!

Filed under food dinner supper Ottawa restaurant Little Italy appetizer main course dessert review chicken steak tuna tartare empanadas The Rex tuna ceviche black bean cheddar corn potato chorizo chocolate dark chocolate sorbet strawberry mint lime coffee ice cream

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A (delicious) baking fail (blueberry marble coffee cake)
Sometimes shopping at Costco isn’t the greatest for a two-person family, but I just love it! Thank god for the freezer (yes, we have a chest freezer! haha).
One of my favourite things to load up on at Costco is fruit: it is usually very reasonably priced, fresh, and, of course, there is plenty of it! After coming home with a giant package of blueberries on our last trip to Costco, I thought I’d put a good chunk of them to use in a delicious summery dessert. Coincidentally, I had just come across a tasty looking recipe on the Serious Eats website for a blueberry marble coffee cake, so off I went to get baking! (Click on my photo to link to the recipe).
I made the recipe exactly as described except for the following: I used bottled lemon juice (instead of fresh from the lemon - so what? Yup, I’m lazy) and I used fat-free plain greek yogurt (instead of full-fat).

And now for the fail….
So, when I was at the final stage of the recipe where you swirl the blueberry mixture into the rest of the batter that you’ve poured into your bundt pan, I realized that there might be a slight problem. I followed the recipe’s directions exactly, but realized that my batter was quite thick, and swirling in the blueberry mixture into the rest of the batter was not going well. And I was right - as you’ll see in my finished product, the blueberry swirl ended up being, well, a blueberry bottom! So, I would encourage you to follow your gut while making this, and, if your batter is thick, I’d add half your regular batter to your bundt pan first, then the blueberry swirl (and swirl it around with knife to properly mix), and then the rest of your regular batter. 
I will definitely make this cake again - it was insanely delicious and easy to make - but with the knowledge of making sure to properly swirl my blueberry mixture!

A (delicious) baking fail (blueberry marble coffee cake)

Sometimes shopping at Costco isn’t the greatest for a two-person family, but I just love it! Thank god for the freezer (yes, we have a chest freezer! haha).

One of my favourite things to load up on at Costco is fruit: it is usually very reasonably priced, fresh, and, of course, there is plenty of it! After coming home with a giant package of blueberries on our last trip to Costco, I thought I’d put a good chunk of them to use in a delicious summery dessert. Coincidentally, I had just come across a tasty looking recipe on the Serious Eats website for a blueberry marble coffee cake, so off I went to get baking! (Click on my photo to link to the recipe).

I made the recipe exactly as described except for the following: I used bottled lemon juice (instead of fresh from the lemon - so what? Yup, I’m lazy) and I used fat-free plain greek yogurt (instead of full-fat).

And now for the fail….

So, when I was at the final stage of the recipe where you swirl the blueberry mixture into the rest of the batter that you’ve poured into your bundt pan, I realized that there might be a slight problem. I followed the recipe’s directions exactly, but realized that my batter was quite thick, and swirling in the blueberry mixture into the rest of the batter was not going well. And I was right - as you’ll see in my finished product, the blueberry swirl ended up being, well, a blueberry bottom! So, I would encourage you to follow your gut while making this, and, if your batter is thick, I’d add half your regular batter to your bundt pan first, then the blueberry swirl (and swirl it around with knife to properly mix), and then the rest of your regular batter. 

I will definitely make this cake again - it was insanely delicious and easy to make - but with the knowledge of making sure to properly swirl my blueberry mixture!

Filed under food dessert cake coffee cake blueberry bundt recipe baking bake baked Serious Eats fail swirl marble sweet treat delicious easy

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Lunch from the Red Roaster food truck

I finally got to try the delicious eats from Red Roaster, one of the new food trucks to come out of Ottawa’s revamped food truck rules. It was one of the trucks that I had been wanting to try, but circumstances had not yet allowed me to do so.

Red Roaster’s designated spot (at Bank St. and Clemow Ave.) is not convenient for me, so I had not yet had the chance to try it out.  As luck would have it, the organizers of my annual work summer gathering/celebration decided to invite a number of Ottawa’s best food trucks to serve us lunch, and Red Roaster was one of them!

I knew I had to try their signature pulled pork tacos, and though I had been advised by a friend to try their sweet potato fries, the heat of the day led begged for a cooler, more refreshing side, so I went with the jhal muri.  Both were delicious! I love love love a good pulled pork, and this one had all of the elements that make a perfect pulled pork for me: tender, sweet and smoky.  The tacos were topped with a fresh, tasty slaw, which added a great crunchy texture, as well as a pineapple habanero chutney, which added some heat.  

The jhal muri, which is an Indian street food snack type dish, was new for me. I had never tried it before! I loved it - it was also delicious, packed with many little different ingredients like puffed rice, tomato, peanuts, lentils, noodles and bean sprouts, among other ingredients. You can actually find Red Roaster’s recipe for jhal muri here (scroll to the bottom of the article).

I’d love to go back to try Red Roaster’s other menu items, like their Red Roaster sandwich (their in-the-truck roasted chicken on a bun with cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato) or their roast beef on a bun. So many delicious choices!

Filed under ottawa food lunch food truck 613streetfood Red Roaster tacos pulled pork slaw coleslaw street food jhal muri salad tortilla

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Stock your pantry: homemade toasted oat and coconut muesli (recipe from Joy the Baker)

I love all things oatmeal, and I had been toying with the idea of making my own muesli to use for various breakfast and snack recipes. Sometimes I find that eating my oatmeal hot in the summer can be trying, so having a different option is key for maintaining my routine for a quick and healthy breakfast.

I am also obsessed with cold overnight oats (see here and here), so I thought that making my own muesli would be the perfect way to enhance my overnight oats. What better way to start than with a delightful recipe from the Joy the Baker blog?

Click here to see Joy the Baker’s recipe.  I made it exactly as described, except for the following changes: I halved the recipe (which worked very well), and I used pre-toasted, sweetened coconut as it was all I could find at my local Bulk Barn. One thing that I really loved about this recipe is the toasted oats: it adds a subtle depth of flavour that is so tasty!  And, when you see the recipe, you will see that toasting your oats is as easy as turning on your oven.

I’ve had this for breakfast for a few days now, and it is deeeeelicious! I have been using an 8 oz/ 1 cup/250 ml mason jar.  I fill it about half way with the dry muesli, then top it with 1% milk until it is completely immersed. Lastly, I added fresh blueberries to fill up the rest of the jar. It sits overnight in the fridge, then I have a tasty and cool breakfast all ready to take with me to work! What could be better or easier?

Filed under food muesli recipe Joy the Baker blog breakfast healthy oats dried cranberries ginger candied ginger almond coconut cinnamon nutmeg