Posts tagged lunch
Posts tagged lunch
The most perfect mini corn breads to accompany a southern BBQ-style lunch from @DoubleDsBarBQ - always a delicious meal!
Stocking the freezer: chickpea and roasted squash chili
As I mentioned here, I have been having fun with coming up with ways to use up the butternut squash I got from my parent’s garden during a recent visit.
Since there is no convincing the husband to eat any kind of squash, I knew this was going to be a fantastic opportunity for me to stock my freezer with some healthy lunches.
I had come across a recipe for a black bean and squash chili on the Serious Eats website a while back (click here for the original recipe), and realized it was the perfect way to both use my butternut squash and stock my freezer with ready-made lunches for my work week.
I altered the recipe quite a bit, so below is my adaptation. This turned out wonderfully! It is a hearty, healthy meal, and a perfect lunch for a cold winter day. It can also very easily be a vegetarian or even vegan dish by using vegetable broth (instead of chicken or beef). As I mentioned in my post about butternut squash soup, they key to amazing flavour is to first roast your squash!
Chickpea and roasted squash chili (adapted from Serious Eats)
- 1 can (540 ml/19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I used President’s Choice no salt added chickpeas)
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into bite-sized chunks (about 2-3 cups)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used an orange one)
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. herbes de provence
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups beef broth (or you can use vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian)
- freshly cracked pepper and sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 425°. Toss squash chunks in olive oil, salt and pepper and spread in an even layer on a shallow roasting pan/cookie sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Heat a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil, onions and bell pepper, and cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, herbes de provence and cook for a minute or two but be careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the beef stock, chickpeas and squash. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. If desired, mash a few of the chickpeas to thicken the mixture (I left mine all whole).
Serve topped with diced avocado!
Lunch at the Flying Banzini (round 2)
I was excited to return for a second lunch at the Flying Banzini recently; my first experience was fantastic (see here) and I couldn’t wait to try another of their delicious sandwich creations.
After being warmly greeted by the owner, Dave Scharf (he is so incredibly friendly and helpful!) I placed my order. This time, I opted for the Swing Swing Swing panini, which contains smoked salmon, spinach, red onions, capers and dill cream cheese all on a rosemary focaccia bun. I have an obsession with smoked salmon, so my hopes were high for this panini. It delivered! The classic pairing of smoked salmon, red onion, cream cheese and capers is artfully and skilfully brought together in this panini; there was the perfect amount of each ingredient on this sandwich.
Of course you don’t leave the Flying Banzini without also having one of their delightful mini cheesecakes! This time, I had the pumpkin cheesecake, which came topped with marshmallows - wow! The texture of this cream cheese was incredible: soft, silky and smooth. I managed to scarf it down before I had the chance to take a photo so you’ll just have to use your imagination about what this little gem looked like!
Once again, I’ll be back to the Flying Banzini, hopefully sooner rather than later this time! My next quest is to try one of their soft roll sandwiches…my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Lunch at Ad Mare (round 2)
Look at that beauty!! I couldn’t tell you the last time that I had a lobster roll; I think it has been years. My first experience at Ad Mare (see here) was so great that I knew I had to return to try one of their signature offerings, their lobster roll.
I was so impressed by the amount and quality of lobster in the sandwich: it was piled high! The dressing on the lobster was light with a strong lemon flavour. Overall, a wonderful experience! I also got to try their maple vinaigrette salad dressing, which was delightful. There are still a few more menu items that I would like to try at Ad Mare, so I will be back!
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!
Lunch at LUNCH!
You may remember my post about the LUNCH food truck, when I devoured an amazing philly cheese hoagie earlier this fall. So while adventuring downtown for some bao, I decided to stop in at LUNCH’s non-food truck Bank Street location to try one of their daily soups. I settled on the ginger yam, and when offered homemade croutons as a topping to the soup, I obviously said yes!
The soup was tasty; it had a spicy kick to it, and was heavy on the seasoning with an overwhelming almost curry-ish flavour (or perhaps coriander). The texture was amazing: velvety and smooth. The croutons were delicious and helped to tame a bit of the spicy fire on my tongue. Overall the soup was good; the price was about $3.50 for the small, which is kind of expensive but you get what you pay for - a high quality, home made product. I would definitely go back to try their other soups, sandwiches, salads and baked goods.
Lunch from Gongfu Bao
I was incredibly excited to finally sink my teeth into a bao from the Gongfu Bao, which is one of Ottawa`s newest food carts to hit the street this summer.
A little personal history on my relationship with bao (aka a steamed bun), which began many years ago when I went for dim sum for the first time. I remember that experience vividly: it was magical - an incredible adventure of a feast of mini bites for my eyes and mouth. It was on that day that I had my first taste of a steamed pork bun, and I was hooked. But here is the sad part: I have yet to be able to recreate that experience until now. I have seen a few poor imitations at some Chinese food buffets, but nothing that compared to that first dim sum experience. Needless to say, when I read about the Gongfu Bao cart, I was beyond excited!
For my first time at the cart, I had to order the maple charsiu pork bao, which is one of their staple menu items. I added a side of “killer slaw” (coleslaw) to complement the bao. Both were everything I had dreamed they would be! The dough of the bao was soft and chewy yet fluffy. I love the contrast of the slightly grilled outside of the bun with the soft fluffiness of the inside. The maple charsiu pork was delightfully sweet and salty, and incredibly tender. Amazing flavour all around! The slaw was very interesting - I loved the delicately sliced cabbage and the zingy dressing. Hands down, Gongfu Bao is my favourite of Ottawa’s new food trucks/carts! Great job, and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for next season!
The husband’s find: Big D’s Dog House
Who knew I might eventually get my husband just as obsessed as I am with trying new things? Well apparently I at least have him interested as he discovered a food truck that he himself wanted to try: Big D’s Dog House and Poutine Emporium.
I must tell you that, besides pizza, hot dogs and poutine are some of the husband’s favourite foods. So, when he discovered Big D’s, it seemed to be made just for him!
Big D’s just opened in mid-September, so it was brand spanking new when we dropped in for dinner one night last week. At the window was this wonderful lady who turned out to be the owner’s mother! She helped the husband decide what to order from their seemingly giant menu, which is basically dogs and poutine, but with various combinations of interesting toppings.
The husband settled on the junkyard dog, which came topped with bacon, beans and cheddar cheese, and the kicked up mac poutine, which came topped with Kraft dinner, jalapeno cheese sauce, and the usual cheese curds and gravy. He really enjoyed both! He said that the dog was perfectly cooked and that the toppings were delicious. He also said that the kicked up mac definitely had some kick to it, with just a small hint of heat. The fries were golden and the cheese curds plenty!
After just about finishing all of that, the husband still had a bit of room left so he decided to try one more of their dogs, the Coney Island. This dog came topped with Coney Island meat sauce, raw onions (which he politely declined) and spicy mustard. I actually tried a bite of this one as I was intrigued by the Coney Island meat sauce; it was delicious!
Overall, Big D’s had great food, and excellent service. The owner, Dennis Colette, came out to talk to us to ask us about how we found the truck, and for our feedback on the food. It was lovely to be able to talk to him a little bit and hear the passion in his voice for food and for opening the truck. We both enjoy supporting local businesses as much as possible, and judging by how much the husband loved his meal, we will soon be back.
Visit the truck on Twitter at @BigDsDogHouse.
Partaking in Thanksgiving lunch in my cafeteria at work is seemingly becoming an annual tradition! Judge if you will, but this traditional lunch, complete with roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed turnip, cranberry sauce and turkey gravy is delicious! I look forward to it every year since it is not in my family’s tradition to have turkey for big holiday meals. I’m already looking forward to next year!
Lunch at Freshii
I noticed Freshii a while back when I drove past it in a blur trying to focus on the lanes of traffic and cars around me while driving into the downtown core. I didn’t think much of it until my sister mentioned the name, saying that it was a great spot for a quick, healthy lunch.
During my sister’s recent visit, we took advantage of my day off and went to Freshii for lunch so that I could see what it was all about. There are two locations in Ottawa, one on the University of Ottawa campus and one on Sparks Street. We had parked on the university campus so my sister could attend a meeting so we ate at that location.
The interior is bright, and Freshii’s colour theme is quite apparent: white, bright emerald green and black. There are menu boards displaying the myraid of options for their wraps, salads, burritos, soups and bowls. I decided to stick with their menu boards for my first time, but they have another option: design your own _____ (wrap, salad, burrito, bowl or soup). They provide little clipboards with pre-made forms that list all of the available ingredient options and prices for each choice. Wow! You could literally go in and order something completely different every day of the week. You might think that this is no different than say, Subway, but Freshii has even more toppings such as chopped beets, artichoke hearts, corn, edamame, green apple, chickpeas, celery, cabbage…and the list goes on! Definitely not your average toppings.
So as I was saying, I decided to go with one of their menu board items, and I chose the Fiesta burrito, which is basically a heated wrap that comes stuffed with brown rice, cajun chicken, avocado, corn, black beans, diced tomato, cilantro, salsa and low-fat ranch dressing. It was fantastic! A huge burrito that left me full for the rest of the day. I did feel the price was a tad steep at $7.99 plus tax, but it was a really big portion and the ingredients were all of excellent quality.
I can’t wait to go back to try more of their menu board items (or even create my own). I’m going to try to take the husband as I know he’ll love it, even though I know he’ll be totally overwhelmed by the choices! Have you been to a Freshii? Any tips? What is your favourite menu item?
Weeknight dinner: chicken and vegetable noodle soup
I started coming down with a cold on Sunday. You know that feeling; a little tingle in your throat. Next comes the sore throat, and then it moves into your nose and sinuses and into a head cold. Thankfully, this hasn’t been one of the worst head colds I`ve ever experienced, but I’ve been feeling tired and like crap.
I decided to make myself a batch of that all time favourite magical cure: chicken noodle soup. I wasn’t following a recipe, so this you could say is my own recipe! It has definitely helped me to feel better and it was delicious too (when I could taste it, that is!). Even the husband enjoyed it. Lucky for me, I now have a go-to chicken noodle soup recipe for the next time I’m feeling under the weather.
Chicken and vegetable noodle soup - serves about 4 or 2 with lots of leftovers
Ingredients for the roasted chicken
- 2 large skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 1 cup cauliflower florets
- 2 big sprigs of fresh thyme
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp dried herbes de provence
- a little bit of water for the roasting dish
Directions for the roasted chicken
Preheat oven to 375°. Lay the sliced onion in the bottom of your roasting dish and then lay the fresh sprigs of thyme on top of the onions. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the onion and thyme and arrange the cauliflower florets around the chicken. Season with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbes de provence. Pour a little bit of water into the baking dish to just cover the onion layer in the bottom of the dish. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until chicken is cooked.
Ingredients for the soup
- 8 cups chicken stock (homemade or store bought)
- 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced (I used two)
- 1 cup cooked mini noodles (I used tubetti)
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- mini carrots, chopped into coins (use as much or as little as you like)
Directions for the soup
Preheat a large pot to medium-low heat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil.
Once the chicken is cooked, carefully remove the chicken breasts to a separate plate - be sure to keep the liquids from the roasting dish. Take all of the meat off of the bones (discarding the skin) and chop. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Remove the onions and cauliflower and either add to the soup as is or chop into smaller pieces. Add to the pot. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the juices from the roasting dish and the 8 cups of chicken stock. Add the carrots, corn, noodles and chopped cooked chicken and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until carrots are just tender and corn is warmed through.
Lunch at the Flying Banzini
As you can perhaps guess, I get excited when a new restaurant opens in Ottawa. Especially one that is close to my workplace, which affords me the delight of being able to wander out on my lunch hour to experience new and delicious eats.
When I first saw and read about the Flying Banzini, it was a little bittersweet because it was opening in the former space that belonged to Collected Works, a fantastic independent book store that had to close its doors. Alas, I had high hopes: even the name had me intrigued!
I had been following the owner’s blog during the first couple of weeks of the business being open, and it was interesting. Of course there are ups and downs when opening a new restaurant, and the owner, Dave Scharf, blogged about every one of those ups and downs. I really liked his honesty in those blog posts - I thought he was pretty brave for being so open about the ups and downs of his new restaurant.
I am a big sucker for a good sandwich, so I was excited to sink my teeth into one of the Flying Banzini’s fine offerings. I decided on one of their paninis, which was cutely named “Late in the Evening” and cost $8.95 Served on focaccia, this panini comes with pulled roast chicken, double-smoked bacon, sliced granny smith apple, spinach, tomato, Quebec brie and lemon chive mayo. What a fantastic sandwich! The portion size was huge, and the flavours complemented each other incredible. I loved the mish mash of textures from the creaminess of the brie to the crunchy apple. I also added a side salad to my sandwich for an extra $1.95; it was fresh, ample and the in-house made lemon, honey and thyme dressing was fantastic.
But if the amazing sandwich and salad weren’t enough, feast your eyes on probably the most delightful aspect of their menu: the mini cheesecakes! When ordering my lunch, I also wanted to get a couple of cheesecakes to take back to the office with me. The cashier, while handing me two of the adorable coins you see in my photo above, advised me that, when I was done my lunch, I could return to the counter and hand in my coins for my two cheesecakes. Cute! I opted for the chocolate espresso (the one with the coffee bean on top) while a curious coworker for whom I promised a cheesecake had chosen the sea salt caramel chocolate cheesecake. My chocolate espresso cheesecake was incredibly rich and dense, and full of coffee flavour. I loved every last bite! My coworker also loved hers but thought that the chocolate base overwhelmed the salted caramel a little bit.
Overall, I can’t wait to go back to the Flying Banzini. What a fabulous restaurant!
Lunch at Double D’s Bar-B-Q
My fine followers please let me start off by assuring you that I do indeed cook food for myself at home! It may not seem like it lately by the abundance of my eating out posts, but I haven’t had time to experiment in the kitchen lately so we’ve been cooking our good old tried and true dinners. Nothing exciting so not really worth sharing! But I promise I will have some new recipes soon!
Finding Double D’s Bar-B-Q was one of those lucky timing kind of things, as in, I was checking Twitter on my phone at the right place at the right time!! I discovered the new spot via a tweet, and the rest is delicious history!
Double D’s menu is limited; there are basically only a few options which you can either have individually or together as a combo. We decided to share the Piggy Plate, which, for $10, gets you a generously portioned pulled pork sandwich, two sides (we chose the baked beans and the mac and cheese - the third option was coleslaw) and two big hunks of corn bread. Everything is homemade (well, except the bun for the sandwich) and completely delicious! The pork was incredibly tender from their long smoking/cooking process and seasoned very well. Both of the sides were fantastic but I think if I had to choose my favourite it would be the baked beans (I’m a sucker for sweet baked beans!) And having homemade cornbread is a real treat for me, so you can imagine my delight at sinking my teeth into a big chunk of moist, sweet (yet savoury) cornbread!
We were also introduced to something completely new to the two of us (including my pop connoisseur husband), which was Cheerwine. The proprietors of Double D’s (who were very sweet and out to please) described it to us as the flavours of cream soda and Dr. Pepper mixed together. The husband loves Dr. Pepper (but not so much cream soda) and was feeling daring enough to give it a try, so we did. It is over-the-top sweet with a cherry-spice aroma. Definitely interesting and we were glad to have tried it.
We both can’t wait to return to Double D’s - we asked them how late into the fall they planned on staying open, and their answer was that they hoped to stay open all winter! Stay tuned.
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 Ad Mare
I finally found some time to visit a few of Ottawa’s brand new food trucks this past week. It only took me the whole summer to do so!
I was really excited to try all of Ottawa’s new food trucks this summer, but it hasn’t been as easy as I thought. I’ve been lucky enough to get to Chow Down a few times (see here and here) with a friend at work who drives and it was fantastic! A few things contributed to my failure to get to the food trucks, including the following: the fact that I take the bus to work (and therefore not having the flexibility to get to the location of some of the trucks with a car); bad weather (rain); hours of some of the trucks (only open at lunch and not always on the weekends) and a few other reasons but I am boring you so I will get to the good stuff: the food!
When I finally did get the opportunity to visit some of the trucks, I chose Ad Mare first and foremost. I think this is the truck that I was most excited about: sustainable, delicious seafood! I was most excited to try their lobster roll, but I had to settle for the fish “taco” the day that I went as lobster rolls weren’t available. The husband came with me, so he sampled their other menu item, the fish and chips. Yes, there are only two to three menu items each day - I think it helps them to serve customers efficiently and effectively and to serve a high-quality product.
My fish ‘taco’ wasn’t a taco exactly; it was more of a wrap. But it was delicious. I didn’t get the chance to ask why it is called a taco but served as more of a wrap but my guess is that it makes it easier to eat when standing on a street corner! Filled with fresh haddock, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, some sort of spicy creamy sauce, it was pretty delicious. I chose to try their in-house made ‘chips’ which is a mix of potato, sweet potato and beet chips. You also get a hefty cup of their homemade coleslaw, which was a vinegar based-slaw (as opposed to a creamy slaw); it accompanied the dish perfectly adding great texture and flavour. Yum! The husband tried their fish and chips (and I got to try a bite or two) and it was pretty amazing: the batter was incredibly light and fluffy and the fish was fresh. He also enjoyed their home made chips.
I hope to be able to make it back to Ad Mare before the food truck season is over for 2013…I don’t know if I can wait until next spring to get my hands on a lobster roll!