Posts tagged delicious
Posts tagged delicious
Dinner at El Camino
It took me a long time to finally get my butt (and my appetite!) to El Camino to try the tacos that everyone has been raving about. I was sorry I waited so long!
El Camino is brought to you by Chef Matthew Carmichael, someone who has been making waves in the Ottawa restaurant scene for many years now. I first tasted his delicious talents at Sidedoor (see here), so I already knew I’d be a fan of El Camino.
I managed to only snap a photo of the plate of tacos I shared with some friends, but I also tried a few other items at El Camino. I started off the night with one of their cocktails: the pina colada. But this wasn’t your ordinary blender version, it was a silky, modern take on the classic drink with coconut crème, coconut water, agave nectar, lemon, pineapple juice and 2 oz cachaça rum. Garnished with a hunk of coconut, this was one of the best pina coladas I’ve ever had. But it didn’t come cheap at $15!
Before digging into the main event, the tacos, I tried a few of El Camino’s other menu items, including their in-house salsa, which was incredibly smoky and flavourful and comes served with tortilla chips. I also tried the tuna tartare crispy taco with queso and iceberg lettuce, which was a beautifully presented dish jam packed with fresh tuna. I think it was my favourite of the night! Last but not least, I tried three different kinds of tacos: the ox tongue, the pork, and the crispy fish. All three were pretty mind-blowing, but I have to say that the ox tongue was a new experience for me. It was very smoky and rich, and I loved every bite!
All in all, El Camino was a fantastic experience. Another great spot in Ottawa for excellent food and ambiance!
Weekend baking: pineapple muffins
Well, we made it through January. It is supposed to be the worst month of the year, right? Funny that my birthday also falls within the supposed worst month of the year: I do agree that celebrating your birthday in January in Ottawa isn’t the most fun. Snowstorms, freezing cold temperatures and other weather-related events can easily foil the most well thought out plans.
I needed a little tropical infusion to help brighten my January, so I went on the hunt for a pineapple muffin recipe. I found this delightful recipe on the Yankee Kitchen Ninja blog, which is one of my favourites.
This recipe requires a little bit of extra effort (yup, you have to get out your food processor) but it is worth it! I followed the Ninja’s recipe exactly as described, so click on my photo to link to her site for the recipe. You won’t be disappointed! I love that these muffins are a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour: it just adds a nice texture and flavour.
These muffins were just what I needed to brighten up this most frigid and snow-covered January!
Product review: Village Buns cinnamon buns
Over the Christmas holidays, the husband and I indulged in a few treats, one of them being Village Buns cinnamon buns. Available in the frozen, take-home food section at one of my favourite Ottawa food shops, Thyme and Again, I had seen these cinnamon buns on numerous occasions but had not purchased them. I finally gave in to my addiction to cinnamon and brought them home to try!
The buns come with simple directions on how to thaw, cook and frost the buns. I followed the directions and they turned out perfectly! We were so eager to eat them that I didn’t get the chance to make icing with which to top them, but recipes are available on the Village Buns website here.
If you’re looking for an easy, tasty way to serve cinnamon rolls to family or guests without all the work, these are for you! I would buy these again and would recommend them if you’re feeling too lazy to make your own (like me! haha).
Weeknight supper and stocking the freezer: red lentil-pumpkin soup
There was a second large can of pumpkin puree lingering in my pantry for the last month or so. I had initially bought two cans in a burst of pumpkin excitement earlier this fall, but only ended up using one of them (see here, here and here).
I wanted to try something different with this second can; I had it in my mind that I would attempt to make something savoury with the puree (and of course something baked too). I came across this recipe for a red lentil-pumpkin soup and I knew it would be perfect! It would also be great for my quest to stock my freezer with homemade lunches for the winter. Click on my photo above to link to the original recipe, or see my adapted version below.
I was very impressed with this soup! It is hearty and has great flavour. It is very gingery (due to the freshly grated ginger that you add right at the end) so if you’re not a fan of ginger, you will not like this soup. But I love it so this soup was perfect for me! I topped mine with some cilantro and a dollop of 0% plain greek yogurt. This recipe could also easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
Red lentil-pumpkin soup - serves 4 (Adapted from myrecipes.com)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
- 1 cup dried small red lentils
- 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Heat a large pot/Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes (take care not to burn the garlic).
Stir in 3 cups broth, lentils, chili powder, salt, cinnamon and paprika; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Puree the mixture - blend until smooth. (Either place the lentil mixture in a blender or use a hand-held immersion blender - I used the immersion blender and it worked fairly well but was not perfectly smooth, which was fine for me).
Return lentil mixture to pan over medium heat. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth, 1 cup water, and pumpkin to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in ginger and lemon juice.
Top with fresh cilantro, a dollop of greek yogurt and some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) if desired.
Weeknight supper: chipotle chicken chili
As I try to expand my knowledge and experience in the kitchen, I’m constantly faced with ingredients with which I have never worked. A great example of one of these ingredients is chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that my first ever cooking experience with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce was just one short year ago! The first challenge was simply finding the ingredient in a grocery store, which was a bit of a challenge and took a few tries at a few different stores. The internet helped me to get a sense of what I was looking for: most chipotle peppers in adobo sauce come in a small can, sometimes with a pull-tab top.
For the recipe that I was making at the time, I was to puree the whole can of peppers in their sauce to make a paste. One of the first things I learned about chipotle peppers in adobo sauce after getting them home and opening them up is that they are very, very spicy! A little bit goes a long way (if you’re using a puree like I did) in a recipe. The second thing that I learned is that you will have lots left over. So, what to do with the rest of it? And that’s what brings me to today’s post.
I put the rest of mine in a glass Tupperware into the freezer, and have been slowly chipping away at it since, adding it to various recipes throughout the year (one surprise: it worked very well in chicken burgers!) until I finally used up the last bit of it in this chipotle chicken chili.
Today’s recipe comes from one of my all-time favourite blogs, Bev Cooks (click on my photo above to link to the original recipe on her site). I made the recipe exactly as indicated except that I did not add the can of pinto beans (I didn’t have any); I added about a tablespoon of pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (instead of three minced chipotle peppers in their adobo sauce); and I added one chopped red bell pepper. Her recipe also calls for beer, so I used a bottle of Bud Light Lime! This is a great recipe: it was very easy to make and it has everything that I keep as pantry staples which I love. The husband loved it too!
Best of all, I can finally wash the Tupperware that was sitting in my freezer holding the chipotle pepper puree for the last 12 months! Now that is something to be happy about! Hahaha.
Pumpkin love: Thomas’ pumpkin spice English muffins
Do you ever tire of the endless barrage of pumpkin spice-flavoured foods this time of year? I love it, and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it! I think it is partly due to the fact that Canadians aren’t as exposed to the madness as much as Americans. Hence why I have to make trips to New York state to get my pumpkin fix!
One recent jaunt to the U.S. yielded these delightful Thomas’ limited edition pumpkin spice English muffins. I’m already a huge fan of Thomas’ corn English muffins: they make for a tasty spin on a breakfast sandwich and are just so completely different than anything I can find in my local grocery store. Same goes for the pumpkin spice English muffins! Dotted with little bits of real pumpkin and flavoured with cinnamon and other spices, this English muffin just screams autumn. I have discovered that my favourite way to eat one of these is lightly toasted with a thin coating of Justin’s maple almond butter and a further dusting of cinnamon. A delicious snack!
Bao for lunch: Round 2
I couldn’t let the last bit of not too cold weather slip away without squeezing in one last trip to Gongfu Bao. I was still dreaming of my first taste of bao (see here) and was eager to get my hands on some more!
I was in for a treat that day, as the proprietor of the cart, Tarek Hassan, was preparing a special bao. The dough for the bao was spiked with tumeric to give it that vibrant yellow hue (I promise, it was very vibrant, although the fluorscent lighting under which I took this photo in my office may have skewed the colour a bit) and just a hint of flavour. It was also shaped differently; more like a thick, open-ended pita pocket than an enclosed stuffed pocket. The filling was the stuff of taste buds’ dreams: chicken and chickpea curry with cilantro and crispy skin. It had incredible depth of flavour with a slight kick to it. The crispy skin bits were my favourite as they were incredibly flavourful.
I can’t wait to visit the cart next year and see what Tarek has in store for us Ottawans with curious taste buds!
Brunch at Eggstyle (again!)
Ok, ok, so it had at least been a few months since we’ve last been to Eggstyle, one of our favourite breakfast/brunch restaurants (see here and here). But, when my parents-in-law were visiting a few weekends ago, we knew we had to take them there!
My three dining mates ordered Eggstyle’s basic breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast, homefries, hot cinnamon apples), which we know and love. I decided to finally try one of their omelettes, so I chose the western, which comes with green pepper, onion, ham and tomato and a side of homefries. I was very impressed by the size and the fresh, plentiful ingredients! I would definitely order this or another of Eggstyle’s omelettes again.
Of course, breakfast at Eggstyle wouldn’t be the same without ordering one of their huge crepes, so we ordered their strawberry crepe for the four of us to share. It was fantastic as always and my parents-in-law loved it!
Lunch at Lunch, the food truck!
Already established as a food shop in downtown Ottawa, Lunch decided to jump on the food truck bandwagon (haha) this summer.
I haven’t had the chance to visit one of their shops, but a few friends have been there and have raved about it.
I was happy to have the chance to get downtown one lunch hour to visit the Lunch truck, which is parked on Albert Street between Lyon and Kent. I was in luck that day: their feature sandwich was a Philly cheese hoagie, which is one of my favourites.
Rich tender beef, Le Coprin king eryngii mushrooms, peppers, caramelized onions and a big slice of gouda cheese came nestled on a Rideau bakery roll and topped with a creamy sauce with a hint of spice (a spicy mayo, perhaps?). Wow! This was a fantastic sandwich. The beef was incredibly tender, and the veggies were cooked beautifully. The presentation was also amazing: just look at that perfectly laid piece of lettuce bracing the bun for all the delicious juices! The price of the sandwich was $6.95, which I thought totally fair for the quantity and the quality of the ingredients. The service was also great - friendly, quick and attentive - and, if I remember correctly, the truck even has Interac capabilities if you forgot to bring cash!
I hope to get back to the Lunch truck soon, and if I can’t before winter sets in, I plan on visiting their shop to see what kind of delicious sandwiches are in store for my taste buds.
Lunch at the Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa
My brother-in-law flew into Ottawa to attend a wedding one recent weekend, and in order to squeeze in a visit, the husband and I offered to pick him up at the airport and drive him to his destination: the Wakefield Mill Inn and Spa. He invited us to stay for lunch to visit and catch up before he had to join the wedding festivities.
Neither of us have ever been to the Wakefield Mill, but I knew that the food was upscale and I was excited to see what the menu had to offer (and, of course, to hang out with my brother-in-law!) We lunched on the patio of the Heron Room Restaurant, which overlooks the MacLaren Falls.
The Heron Room had an extensive wine list, but I was craving a mojito, which came made with fresh mint from the Mill’s garden. It was perfectly sweet and minty! For my lunch, I was tempted by some of the Heron’s Room’s quirky tapas-style dishes, but in the end I ordered the tartare, which was raw and smoked salmon tartare with raspberry mustard, arugula salad and homemade beet and taro root chips. I loved every bite! The salmon was incredibly fresh and plentiful and it paired very well with the arugula and the raspberry mustard.
The three of us enjoyed a lengthy, relaxing lunch on the patio, taking in the gorgeous scenery and peacefulness that the Mill has to offer. The husband and I agreed that we would return on our own to explore everything about the Mill!
Weeknight dinner: slow cooker beef
A combination of factors contributed to this dish: for one, the slow cooker had been collecting dust in the cupboard for much too long, and beef was on sale!
I had also been craving a pot roast kind of flavour, so I decided to cook the beef in the slow cooker using this recipe I found on the Zesty Cook blog (click on my photo to link directly to the recipe). I only made two small changes to the original recipe: I added one medium sized chopped onion, and I used all red wine and no chicken/beef stock.
I paired the slow cooked beef with steamed baby red potatoes and frozen green beans; we used the gravy (which you can whip up easily from the slow cooker drippings - there are directions in the recipe) to pour over the potatoes instead of butter and sour cream. We both loved it: the beef was incredibly tender and so flavourful. We also had fun with the leftovers…stay tuned!
Chef Michael Smith’s Fast Flavours cookbook: slow cooker pork and bean stew
I love all of his stew recipes, and I love the four ways he suggests for cooking them (fast, somewhat quick, somewhat slow, and very slow). I chose the very slow option, deciding to make it in my slow cooker.
I think what really set this stew apart from other stews that I’ve made is the sweetness: the recipe calls for honey. As well, it calls for lots of your favourite mustard, and mine is President’s Choice maple mustard, which is quite sweet. All together, it made for a great hint of sweetness that balanced out the acidity of the can of diced tomatoes. The stew turned out awesome in my slow cooker, and I will definitely make it again!
Slow cooker pork and bean stew
-1 pork loin or shoulder roast (about 2 or 3 lbs) cut into 1-inch cubes
-1 large onion, chopped
-1 can (28 oz/796 ml) of diced tomatoes
-2 cups frozen corn
-chopped fresh garlic (as much or as little as you prefer)
-1 cup of your favourite mustard (I used President’s Choice maple mustard)
-1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
-2 tbsp chili powder
-1 tbsp ground cumin
-1/2 cup honey
-1 tbsp dried oregano (I used Italian herb mix)
-1 can (19 oz/540 ml) black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- Fill your slow cooker with all of the ingredients except the cilantro. Stir well to combine. Set slow cooker on low for 8 hours. Serve as is or with rice/quinoa/pasta. Top with fresh cilantro (and maybe some sour cream) and enjoy!
Breakfast at Eggstyle (again)
The fiancé adores Eggstyle, so much so that he begs me to go there every weekend. Most of the time I say no, but even I have to give in every once in a while! haha
We try something different each visit, and this time we set our sights on the french toast. But not just any french toast: apple bread french toast! Two generous pieces of apple bread dipped in french toast batter, grilled and topped with hot cinnamon apples, yogurt, caramel and toasted almonds. It was quite a treat! The bread was fluffy and light and the combination of the apples, yogurt, caramel and almonds was a delightful taste and textural adventure.
Fast Flavours: apple chicken with rosemary vanilla chutney
This has been one of my favourite Fast Flavours recipes by far. Chef Michael Smith took the most simple and delicious ingredients and combined them to make magic!
I have learned to love the combination of apple and either pork or chicken; apples complement the meats so well. I must admit that when I first read through this recipe and saw vanilla as one of the ingredients, I was a little bit tentative. But I got over it pretty quickly!
I have a few recommendations for sides to serve with this dish: the first night, the fiance and I ate it with a side of fresh steamed broccoli to soak up all the delicious juices. In its leftover form, I made some quinoa to go with it, which was also amazing and absorbed the delicious juices just as nicely as the broccoli. Serve it with your favourite starchy side!
Apple chicken with rosemary vanilla chutney, from Fast Flavours by Chef Michael Smith
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 apples, (unpeeled) cored and chopped, your choice (I used Gala)
- 1/2 cup of apple cider or juice
- 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp grainy mustard
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce (I used sriracha)
- Heat a skillet (with a matching lid) over medium high heat. Add oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan). Once the pan is hot, add the chicken breasts. Cook until first side is golden brown, about 4 or 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side the same as the first.
- Remove chicken breasts and turn down the heat to medium. Don’t worry if the chicken is not cooked all the way though, it will finish cooking in the liquid during the next step.
- Add a splash more oil and the onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the apples, cider/juice, vinegar, mustard, rosemary, salt, vanilla and hot sauce. Adjust the heat to bring to a steady simmer. Return the chicken to the same pan, and nestle them in the liquid. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so, turning the chicken breasts once during that time. Serve and enjoy!
Lunch at Thyme and Again
My bffs and I went up to Thyme and Again one recent Friday for a relaxing lunch and to get away from the office and take a bit of a break. It was a fantastic idea!
I ordered the roasted garlic and cauliflower soup with side of Israeli couscous, which was spiced with cinnamon. It is one of my favourite Thyme and Again salads!
My bffs all ordered sandwiches: the three cheese grilled cheese and the Italian meat combo. Everything was fantastic! We enjoyed a cozy and delicious lunch nestled in one of their corner tables surrounded by the big store front windows. We could have stayed there all afternoon!