Posts tagged food
Posts tagged food
South Beach Creamery, Bells Corners, Ottawa
I am actually a bit embarrassed to admit that I partook in this humongous sundae! The husband and I had driven past this little truck in Ottawa’s west end a ton of times before we finally decided it was time to stop and check it out.
I was kind of hoping for some homemade ice cream, but was disappointed to learn that they served Nestlé ice cream. Nonetheless, as we perused the menu, we were immediately drawn to their crazy sundaes. Bonus: everything was on sale because it was the end of the season, so the sundaes were basically half price! (SCORE!)
We ended deciding to share the poutine sundae, which sounds really weird but was actually quite genius in its presentation. Two generous scoops of your choice of ice cream (we chose pralines and cream - there were limited choices as they were closing for the season the next day) came topped with caramel sauce (to mimic the gravy), vanilla wafer cookies (to mimic the french fries) and mini marshmallows (to mimic the cheese curds). There was also sliced banana and generous flourishes of whipped cream, both of which weren’t there to mimic anything but to make the sundae more decadent and delicious! Obviously this was one super rich sundae, and we weren’t able to finish it all, but it was pretty creative.
If you like simple, run-of-the-mill ice cream, this little truck is for you. From our experience, they are also good at turning these simple ingredients into something fun with their creative sundaes (there was a whole menu of them - at least 8 or 10 creations!). However, if you prefer a homemade product, this is not the place for you (check out Carp Custom Creamery - see my review here). I’m not sure if we’ll revisit this truck, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it if you’re looking for a quick, cheap, basic ice cream cone.
Lunch and treats at Holland’s Cake and Shake
I get so pumped when a new shop or restaurant opens close to my work because it means that I can get out at lunch time for some adventures and try some new things while I’m at it! This was just the case with Holland’s Cake and Shake, which I patiently watched and followed on social media since the spring when they first started getting the shop ready for opening day.
They finally opened their doors on July 15 of this year, and I was there within a few days! Owned by Chef Michael Holland, known for his work as the pastry chef at Ottawa’s popular Atelier, the shop offers a selection of mini cakes, tarts, muffins, scones, cookies, in-house made soft serve ice cream, milkshakes (including the cake shake: take one of the mini cakes and blend it with soft serve and milk), sundaes and sandwiches. But don’t let your eyes glaze over: these are not your average desserts. Chef Michael Holland’s specialty is to be quirky and playful. An example of one of the crazy cake flavours featured in the shop so far is the orange Kool-Aid cake with Red Bull pastry cream, lemon icing, streusal and raspberries (see here).
I have tried a few of the treats from the shop (a future post), but today I wanted to tell you about their lunch special. Each week, the shop offers two different sandwiches two times a week (Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday to Saturday), which can be purchased alone or bundled into a brown bag lunch combo by including a drink and your choice of a cookie or a brownie for $8.50. So far, the sandwiches have all looked so amazing, and all have been served on in-house made bread. WOW! I have only tried one sandwich so far, but it was so great: simple, fresh ingredients that made for a delicious lunch. The sandwich I tried was a combination of roast chicken, gravy mayo, mozzarella, spring mix, and potato chips on their homemade bun. I made mine a combo, and chose the brownie. and house made lemonade. The brownie was mind blowing: rich and soft, almost like fudge.
I highly recommend Holland’s Cake and Shake: everything is made in-house, which I love, and you can really see the love in all of the treats and food items they produce. Bonus: there is currently a pop up Ministry of Coffee counter, offering everything your caffeine dreams are made of. I wish this little shop all the best and I hope that it sees success!
Stay tuned for a future post on the wild and wacky treats of Holland’s Cake and Shake!
Siam Bistro, you complete me.
Weekend breakfast: yet another pancake recipe
I almost always try a new pancake recipe whenever the husband and I make pancakes. It seems silly, I know, but since we hardly ever make pancakes, and since I still haven’t discovered a recipe that I find to be perfect, I figure, why not try a different recipe until I find a great one? (Or, at least one that we love enough to make again).
Nigella calls these “American breakfast pancakes,” which is kind of amusing, but seeing that she is British, perhaps not surprising. We were looking for this exact kind of pancake: light, fluffy, and thick. I was really pleased with the result: so much so that I might even use this recipe again! Do you have a favourite/go-to pancake recipe?
American breakfast pancakes - adapted very slightly from Nigella Lawson (click on my photo above or here to link to her page).
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 large eggs (break into a bowl and beat before adding to blender)
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/4 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- butter for frying, optional (we did not use the butter - we simply cook ours in a non-stock pan, no cooking oils required).
Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until ingredients are mixed. For a Blendtec, use the “Batter” setting. Depending on how big you make each pancake, this recipe made about 12 pancakes for us. We froze the leftovers and they froze well!.
Friday night project: homemade fresh peach margarita
It’s Friday, it’s hot as hell outside here in Ottawa, and it’s time to relax! Why not enjoy a fresh peach margarita while sitting on your deck and reading a good book and let the relaxation wash over you and the stress and worries of the week just melt away.
I came across this recipe on the Gimme Some Oven blog a while back, and knew I had to make it. This year’s crop of Niagara peaches have been incredible: ultra sweet, juicy and perfect. The husband and I have gone through a few 3 lb cases of peaches and there hasn’t been a single mealy or gross peach in the bunch.
We have also been loving our Blendtec blender immensely, and I was excited to use it to puree the peaches in this recipe. It worked like a dream, of course! The result was the most amazing peachy margarita - I adore the taste of fresh, real peaches. It just can’t be beat!
Peach margarita - recipe from Gimme Some Oven
For 1 drink:
- 1/3 cup fresh peach puree (to make, peel and pit two ripe peaches, pop in the blender and puree until smooth. If you have leftovers, make more drinks obviously! haha Or use in a smoothie/on yogurt, etc. - you get the idea!)
- 2 oz tequila (I used gold as that was what I had on hand)
- 1.5 oz lime juice (I used bottled - just so much easier)
- 1 oz Triple Sec
- 1 Tbsp agave nectar or honey (I used agave)
Sugar for rimming your glass (I prefer it over salt), fresh peach for garnish
Rim two wine glasses if desired. Fill with a few ice cubs (as much or as little as desired) and set aside.
Put all ingredients (minus garnishes) in a cocktail shaker with 4-5 ice cubes. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Pour into your wine glass and garnish with a fresh peach slice.
Relax and enjoy!
Easy summer project: homemade pesto
I know, I know, summer is pretty much technically over. Well, it was still summer when I actually made the pesto a while ago!
My parents have a huge garden, and they plant a few different herbs each year (with basil being a yearly favourite). Since the plants are free to get as big as they possibly can, my parents end up having more basil than they could ever know what to do with, which is why my mother brought me a huge bunch of it when she visited earlier this summer. After using some of the fresh basil to make this lovely caprese salad, I needed to think of a way to use up the large remaining amount and quickly. The solution came to me in an instant: pesto!
I found a simple recipe on my How to Cook Everything iPhone app, gathered my ingredients (all of which I had except for a quick trip to Bulk Barn for some pine nuts) and got to work. Moments later, presto: I had pesto! It smelled wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to use it in a dish of some sort. The colour of my pesto was perhaps a bit darker than usual due to the fact that I had used a combination of green and purple basil, but I still found it looked great (if a little less bright green than one might imagine). It was delicious! We used to dress pasta one night; I added it to a soup I made, I used it spice up a sandwich…the uses for pesto are literally endless. I was very pleased with the result and can’t wait to make it again next year!
Pesto - from the How to Cook Everything iPhone app
- 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 clove garlic, peeled, or more to taste (I used 2. We LOVE garlic).
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as desired
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, pecorino Romano or other hard cheese (optional - but I added it)
Combine the basil, salt, garlic, nuts and about half the olive oil in a food processor or blender (I used a food processor). Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add more oil if you like a thinner pesto.
Stir in the cheese by hand just prior to serving. Pesto can be stored in the fridge for a week or two or in the freezer for several months.
Dinner at Tennessy Willems
It had been quite some time since the husband and I had been back to Tennessy Willems since our first visit last January (see here), so we thought it was time to return. I also thought my mother would really enjoy their pizza, so it was a good excuse to take her there while she was visiting recently.
I was happily surprised by TW’s new tapas menu, which is in addition to their regular menu. There were so many things that I wanted to try! It was tough to choose just one to share with my mother. In the end, we couldn’t resist the chicken liver and foie gras paté, which came topped with a maple jelly and three pickled cherries. Talk about amazing! The paté was absolute perfection, with the salty/fatty/creamyness of the foie gras and chicken liver being cut ever so gently by the sweetness of the maple jelly, and the tartness of the pickled cherries. Also, pickled cherries?? Wow - a pure delight. As well, I can’t forget to give a shout out to the accompanying toast points: they were crusted with salt and pepper, and tasted incredible. The perfect vessels!
A visit to TW would not be complete without having their mac and cheese, so we shared it among the three of us as an appetizer. It wasn’t quite as delicious as I remember it (I remember the tarragon flavour in the sauce being way more pronounced last time, which I loved, whereas it was much more subtle this time), but it was still solid: rich, creamy and oh-so-indulgent.
For our mains, we decided to share two pizzas: the wild boar (with local wild boar sausage, caramelized apple, sage oil and two-year-old cheddar), and the Capricciosa (with fire-roasted tomato sauce, fior di latte, cremini mushrooms, artichokes, Kalamata olives and Pingue’s capicola ham). Let’s start off by saying that TW’s crust is one of the most amazing in the city: that wood-fired smokiness just can’t be beat! The crust is thin, yet light and fluffy (not a thin papery crisp, which I find dissatisfying). The toppings on the wild boar were lovely, with the caramelized apple adding sweetness to the sausage’s saltyness. My mother and I thoroughly enjoyed the Capricciosa, as we are partial to toppings like olives and artichokes, which were ample and tasty.
Overall, it was a great meal (with lots leftover to enjoy the next day!), and the husband and I can’t wait to go back to try even more of their delicious pizzas…I still want to taste the pulled pork pizza!
Easy summer supper: caprese salad
I love it when the ingredients for a dish you’ve been craving simply fall right into your lap when you least expect it! That’s what happened when I made this caprese salad while my mother was visiting recently.
I had been craving a caprese salad for a while, but I hadn’t quite figured out how I wanted to pull it all together. Well, my mother helped to clear it all up by bringing fresh tomatoes and basil from her and my Dad’s garden, and a bottle of amazing olive oil from her trip to Spain as a gift to the husband and I. All I needed was some fresh cheese, and I knew exactly what I wanted: President’s Choice’s new formaggio di bufala mozzarella!
The directions for making caprese are fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t bore you with how I did it. But I will say that I thought that interchanging the green and purple basil leaves made for an even prettier presentation! I also drizzled my salad with some balsamic vinegar and some of the olive oil from Spain. It was delicious! It is one of my favourite ways to enjoy the summer bounty of tomatoes and fresh basil from my parent’s garden. (P.S. - the zinnias in the background are also from my parent’s garden. So pretty!)
I finally tried an affogato for the first time EVER today! I can’t believe it took me this long to try a treat that combines two of my favourite things: gelato and espresso. I had seen that Trii Lounge, a little outdoor gelato stand near my work, was selling affogatos, so I knew I had to try one. Trii Lounge’s affogatos come with one or two scoops of gelato topped with a shot of espresso, chocolate ganache drizzle and cookie crumble. You can choose your flavour of gelato, and I chose tiramisu. It was DELICIOUS! The gelato melted slowly and gently, and sweetened the espresso. I loved the added texture from the cookie crumble too. A fantastic first affogato!
Brunch at Navarra
Having brunched at Navarra once before (see here - it was amazing), I was pretty excited to return. I thought it would be fun to take my mother there during her recent visit, so off we went.
As some of you may know, Navarra’s owner and head Chef, Rene Rodriguez, won Top Chef Canada earlier this year. I was wondering if the experience might be a little different at Navarra since my last visit due to Chef Rodriguez’s huge success on Top Chef Canada, but it was very much the same. I don’t think the fame has changed anything about this already fantastic spot, and I think it is a good thing. In fact, for a Sunday brunch hour in Ottawa (Ottawans love their brunch, let me tell you), I was kind of surprised at how quiet it was at the restaurant.
The menu had of course changed since my last visit, and I was excited to try something new (and perhaps try a few bites from the plates of my brunch companions). As you can see from my photos, it was a beautiful spread! I don’t feel my words can do this beautiful and delicious food justice, so I’ll let my photos do all the talking (if you click on the photos, I have added captions to at least give you Navarra’s description of each of the dishes).
I’d still like to get to Navarra for dinner: just reading the menu makes me drool! If you’re ever in Ottawa, this is definitely one restaurant I highly recommend.
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeek! This is both a really good AND a really bad thing. I just discovered that the rumours that I had heard were true, and that there is Starbucks opening right near my work! Yippee!!! Also, finally!
Weeknight summery supper: pork and mango fresh spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce
The husband and I love to order fresh spring rolls when we go out for Vietnamese food, and our love of these delicious rolls inspired me to try to make them on my own. My sister had made them for my family a long time ago, so I had seen it done before, but I still wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I was also inspired by a few of the food bloggers that I follow who had made posts about them in recent months (see here and here).
I knew I wanted my rolls to have some sort of meat in them, along with mango. There is just something about mango that I think works so well in these savoury rolls. I also wanted to add some lettuce for texture and freshness, and vermicelli noodles to make them filling (and vermicelli is a pretty typical ingredient in these rolls).
After preparing my ingredients, I set out to start rolling. It took me a few tries on the first wrap, but I got the hang of it surprisingly quickly, and the rolls came together quite nicely. The husband and I both loved them! The flavours came together wonderfully, and we were so pleased with how they turned out. We have since made them again, and will continue to make them in the future!
Pork and mango fresh spring rolls
Ingredients - for two, to make about 6 small rolls
- 2 to 3 boneless pork chops, bbq’d, cooled and sliced into strips
- 1 Atalufo or regular mango, peeled and sliced into thin, long strips (you will have leftover mango)
- 4 to 6 pieces of romaine or red/green leaf lettuce, washed and de-stemmed
- 1/4 package vermicelli noodles, cooked, drained and cooled
- fresh cilantro, washed and dried (use as much or as little as you like in each wrap)
- 1 package of rice wraps (you’ll have lots leftover for future use)
Lay out all of your prepared ingredients. Fill a large, flat bowl (I had to use a frying pan as I don’t have a bowl that large and flat) with very warm water to use to soften the rice wraps. One at a time, soften a wrap, then fill with ingredients (be careful to not over stuff the wraps as you’ll have more difficulty rolling them up. Use a burrito rolling technique for an effective roll.
Once rolled, enjoy immediately or refrigerate. I recommend eating them within the same day, or the next day.
We love having our rolls with homemade peanut dipping sauce, and I can recommend this recipe that I have tried from the lovely How to Eat blog. Trust me, these wraps just LOVE this dip - don’t eat them without it! Enjoy!
Happy Friday! What better way to celebrate the weekend than with a boozy blender drink?
The husband and I have been enjoying our Blendtec's amazing blending properties for more than just its ability to make the most deliciously smooth green smoothies. The recipe book that accompanies the blender has some super tasty and easy boozy frozen drinks, and we have been having some fun!
We’ve tried a few of the recipes from the Blendtec’s accompanying cookbook, including the frozen mojito, the pina colada (see here), the frozen margarita (see my photo above, left) and the peach daiquiri (our take on Blendtec’s strawberry daiquiri recipe, above right).
We have never made homemade boozy blender drinks before, and it has been a revelation! It has been a fun summertime experiment and treat.
Here is Blendtec’s recipe with a few of my modifications for the peach daiquiri - enjoy!
Peach Daiquiri - serves 2
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peach slices
- 3 oz light/white rum
- 1 oz Malibu rum
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 2 Tbsp agave nectar
- 1/4 cup ice cubes
Add ingredients to the blender in the order listed. Blend until smooth! (For the Blendtec, choose the “ice crush” setting).
Dinner at Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar
While my mother was visiting one recent weekend, we decided to try somewhere new for dinner. I had read about Juniper’s recent menu overhaul (see here), and thought it would be fun to give it a try. The husband and I had been to Juniper once many, many years ago, so it was also time for us to return.
I had forgotten about Juniper’s great the atmosphere. It is so big and bright from all of the floor to ceiling windows. We were promptly greeted and seated when we arrived, and that great service continued through the evening.
We decided to order a couple of appetizers to start, but before that came an adorable and tasty amuse bouche, a meaty strudel. I love amuse bouches; they are such a treat and I find that very few restaurants do that anymore. For my appetizer, I ordered the crispy lamb dumplings, which were so rich and delicious. The husband had the inverted poutine, which he liked for its unique take on the classic Canadian dish. My mother had the gazpacho, which she thoroughly enjoyed.
For our mains, I absolutely had to have the scallops with bacon-garlic scape risotto. Wowsers - this was magical! The dash of chimichurri added an insanely fresh and tangy flavour to the whole dish. The scallops were perfectly cooked, of course! The husband had a few of the small plates for his main dish, including the pulled pork grilled cheese with onion rings and the sous vide pork ribs with fries. He enjoyed both - the ribs were very tender and flavourful. My mother opted for the cornish hen, which came with a very spicy slaw and rice. She enjoyed it but the spicyness of the slaw was a bit of a challenge.
For dessert we decided to share the brownie with ice cream. Juniper’s menu overhaul included switching out expensive, large desserts for smaller, reasonably priced dessert bites (most are just $5). Indeed, the brownie was small, but it gave each of us two bites or so to satisfy our sweet craving, and that it did!
Overall, we enjoyed our dinner, and would return. The food was delicious, the service excellent, and the ambiance lovely!
Lunch at the Mill Street Brew Pub
When your acting manager asks if you want to spend an extended lunch on a beautiful patio on a beautiful day, your answer should always be a resounding YES! One of the managers in my group happens to love beer, a good patio and delicious food, which is what has brought us to the Mill Street Brew Pub on so many Friday lunch hours over the past couple of summers.
Feeling like something fun and different, my coworker and I split the pretzels as an appetizer: these in-house made beauties came with two dipping sauces, a marinara and a mustard aioli. They were soft, chewy, and oh so salty. Perfect pretzels, really!
I was craving something other than a sandwich or a big meal for my main, so I opted for the red thai mussels, with red thai curry, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and lime juice, served with their in-house made spelt grain bread (which is amazing) on the side. These mussels were tender and full of flavour! I preferred them over the Brewmasters mussels that I had eaten last time (see here).
It is moments like these that I have to keep in mind during the frigid winter months: the thought of a beautiful summer day on a patio with friends and good food!