Posts tagged lunch
Posts tagged lunch
Lunch at the Dirty Gringo, Ogdensburg, New York State
While doing a little bit of cross border grocery shopping recently, the husband and I decided to venture into the town of Ogdensburg, New York, to track down the Dirty Gringo, a little Mexican restaurant that we had read about online, and had heard about from friends and coworkers.
Once we found the place, which we thought was a little weirdly located a bit far from the main downtown area in a seemingly residential area, we went in and got a table. The set up is similar to a fast food restaurant in that you place your order and pay first, but different in that your food is then delivered to you at your table.
I chose the burrito, which comes on a 13” tortilla with your choice of meat (chicken, beef, chorizo or steak), and is loaded with your choice of black or refried beans, rice, lettuce, cheddar cheese, tomato, onions, peppers, jalapenos, black olives, salsa and sour cream. I asked for chicken and all of the toppings except for jalapenos, and added guacamole on the side for dipping. The husband ordered the steak quesadilla, which came with cheddar cheese and was served with a side of salsa and sour cream. The food was indeed simple, but it was honest and delicious. The kitchen is open, and you could see everything that was going on (in a good way). A lot of their items were made in house, like the salsa, which we really enjoyed.
You can tell that the proprietors were really trying to run a great little restaurant, and I think it showed: it was quite busy the whole time we were there with both people dining in and getting take out. Everything on the menu was also very affordably priced (well, in U.S. dollars) - my ginormous burrito was just $6.99 and the husband’s quesadilla was $8.29.
I think we would go back to try a few of their other menu items - I really wanted to try their pineapple habanero salsa and the unique sounding black bean cakes. Overall, I’d recommend it - check it out if you’re ever in Ogdensburg!
Weekend baking project: one hour (ish) bread
Making bread is a rare thing in my house. Well, any yeasted bread-type recipe really! (Save for my quick rising pizza dough recipe). Most days I just don’t have the time to wait for the dough to rise multiple times. Its not that I don’t have the patience (because I do), it is more the waiting and timing and scheduling of the rising of the dough. I like to enjoy my weekends, people!
So when I came across this recipe for a supposedly “one hour” bread, I was intrigued. Could a tasty, good quality loaf of bread really be made in about an hour? I decided to find out for myself.
After assembling all of my ingredients, I got to work. I decided to make this manually (i.e., to not use my stand mixer) for my first try, but I would definitely use the mixer next time. Kneading is tiring for the arms! The dough came together fairly easily and quickly, then it was time to rest for a mere 30 minutes in a warm spot.
After a mere 25 minutes in the oven, I had bread! We waited as long as we could to let it cool before cutting into it, which was tough! This is definitely a dense bread, with an excellent crisp crust. We thought it was great for such little effort and rise time.
You can click here to see the recipe, which I found on the funny Cravings of a Lunatic blog.I followed the recipe and the directions as best as I could, with the only difference being that I added about a tablespoon of olive oil to the liquid mixture before adding in the flour. I believe the key to what enables you to make this bread so quickly is the instant/quick-rise yeast (I used Fleischmann’s). This yeast basically eliminates the need for the first rise according to Fleischmann’s website, which makes sense in terms of how quickly this bread comes together in this recipe.
I would definitely make this again! We gobbled ours up within a few days and it stayed fairly fresh after the first day, which was good. It was also nice toasted when we ate it with some homemade soup. If you’ve ever wanted a quick bread recipe, look no further!
Weekday lunch idea: kale, ham, mushroom and feta frittata
I am always looking for ways to spice up my weekday work lunches, so I thought, why not a frittata?
I came across this recipe on the lovely I Breathe…I’m Hungry blog, and loved the simplicity but deliciousness of the ingredients used in this frittata. To round out my lunch, I decided to serve the frittata slice over a bed of chopped kale, which would wilt nicely when microwaved at work.
The result was great! A filling, healthy lunch that was speedy to make ahead of time, and easy to put together each night for my lunch the next day. I will definitely be making more frittatas for my work lunches!
Kale, ham, mushroom and feta frittata - adapted slightly from I Breathe…I’m Hungry
- cooking spray for the pie dish
- 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chopped deli ham
- 4 Tbsp finely chopped kale
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg whites (we buy the ones in the carton, but you can use regular eggs and keep the yolks for a later project)
- 1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup light feta cheese, crumbled
- salt and pepper to taste
You have the option to first fry the mushrooms or you can leave them fresh. Giving them a quick fry makes them more flavourful, but it is up to you.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray your pie dish with cooking spray.
Mix the eggs, egg whites and milk in a bowl until the yolks are completely combined. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir again.
Pour into your prepared pie dish (I used a 9” pie dish). Evenly distribute the mushrooms, ham, kale, parsley and feta into the egg mixture. Press the veggies/ham/feta down if they are sticking out too far for your liking.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the mixture is set, and the edges are beginning to brown gently. Serve warm, or cool and cut into four (or more) slices to be used in your weekday work lunches. Serve on a bed of chopped kale!
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.
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!)
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.
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!
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!
Lunch at Fiazza
While doing some shopping in the Byward Market on recent weekend, the husband and I were in the mood for a snack. We decided to try the brand new Fiazza, a casual, custom pizza restaurant.
The restaurant is pretty big, occupying the space of a former bicycle shop. To order your pizza, you line up (in the manner of Mucho Burrito or Subway) to choose either one of Fiazza’s specialty creations or to pick your own toppings. For our first time, we decided to go with one of Fiazza’s specialty pizzas (which range in price from $7.95 to $12.95), the Sicilian, which came topped with local spicy Italian sausage, roasted red peppers and a mix of Fiazza’s cheese blend and blue cheese.
We watched our pizza being prepared right in front of our eyes, and then off it went for a quick bake in the incredibly hot oven (we could see the temperature gauge and it was set to around 500 degrees). As we proceeded to the cash to pay for our pizza, we noticed small containers of aioli (presumable for dipping) in the self-serve bottled drinks refrigerator, and added one to our order (for $2.95).
Our pizza came out beautifully: it was perfectly cooked for our taste, and the toppings were ample. The sausage had a bit of kick to it and the blue cheese added a fantastic tang. We realized as we were eating it that this was the exact same pizza we had shared in South Beach, Miami earlier this year, so we had some fun reminiscing about our trip and our delicious eats. But I can’t forget about the aioli: WOW! It was perfect! Super garlicky, creamy and everything an amazing aioli should be.
Overall we really enjoyed our pizza at Fiazza, and the ample open air seating area which was great for people watching. The self-ordering and pick up system allows you to have a quick bite if that is what you need, but there is still the option to linger. We can’t wait to return to try their other pizzas!
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!
Brunch for dinner: poached eggs, asparagus and smoked salmon on a scone (kind of like an eggs benedict minus the Hollandaise sauce!)
The husband had to work late a few nights recently, which gave me the opportunity to experiment in the kitchen and get a little wild with my dinners! I have been on a major asparagus kick lately, and I wanted to incorporate it into my dinner in a way other than grilling/roasting it.
Knowing that I had a pack of smoked salmon sitting in my freezer, I thought, why not go the simple route and have brunch for dinner? So I found this recipe (click on my photo above) from the Canadian Living website to use as my inspiration. For a special treat, I walked up to Thyme & Again (a wonderful food shop) on my lunch hour to grab one of their whole wheat cheddar and chive scones to use as my vessel for the toppings.
This is truly a dream meal for me: I could eat this every night! Instead of making Hollandaise, I opted to dress my open faced sandwich/Benedict with a simple drizzle of fresh lemon for some freshness and zing. Totally delicious!
Poached eggs, asparagus and smoked salmon on a scone
Serves 1 - adapted from Canadian Living
- 1 scone/English muffin/bread of your choice, halved to make two slices/pieces
- 2 eggs
- 4 slices smoked salmon
- 6 asparagus spears
- a few lemon wedges
Gently steam your asparagus and set aside. Toast your scone.
Poach your eggs (leave the yolks runny). Now build your sandwich: pile 3 asparagus spears on each scone half, then 2 slices of smoked salmon on top of each scone half. Lastly, top with the poached egg, then a squeeze of lemon. Make sure you pierce your egg yolks to let them coat your entire sandwich! Enjoy!
Took a break from shopping in the Byward Market this afternoon to finally try the soft tacos from Corazon de Mais. We ordered one of each kind of meat on the menu, which was chicken, beef and pork. They were delicious! The meats were all tender and flavourful, and we loved the fresh tomato salsa and the beans that accompanied the meat. There was also a mini self-serve salsa bar where we found some tasty salsa verde. A great stop for a quick refuel after a long day of shopping!
Brunch at Pressed Cafe
A fellow foodie and friend had texted me a photo a while back that got me really excited: an eggs benedict but with waffles! I immediately had to know where she had enjoyed this beautiful sight, and the answer was Pressed Cafe.
Funnily enough, I had been meaning to go to Pressed Cafe for a very long time, but with a long list of ‘must try’ places, it had continued to be shuffled lower in the list for no reason in particular. But with this new information (and my love for all things brunch) it had suddenly become very important to get there ASAP!
So the husband and I went to check it out one Saturday morning a few weeks back, and I can say with total confidence that it did not disappoint! I had a bit of trouble deciding between which of their waffle brunch items to order as they all looked so good. In the end, I opted for the Natasha, which is two delicious Belgian waffles that come topped with the Whalesbone’s smoked trout, two poached eggs and a whole lot of hollandaise sauce. So simple, but so totally delicious, this is brunch at its best for me! The smoked trout was plentiful and the waffles were tender and not overly sweet. The whole plate came together wonderfully!
The husband was feeling more of a lunch vibe, so he ordered one of Pressed’s sandwiches, which is what they are most known for. A fresh ciabatta bun came topped with smoked chicken, roasted red peppers and goat cheese, and was served with a side of in-house made sweet potato chips and a pickled green bean. He enjoyed it very much, but it didn’t necessarily top his list of best sandwiches in Ottawa.
I would definitely return to try other versions of their waffle brunch, which I forgot to mention comes with bottomless coffee or tea (they serve Equator, which is one of my favourite local roasters). It is a very relaxed cafe with self-serve seating and food ordering - a great place to relax and enjoy a delicious brunch any weekend morning!
Lunch at the Rex
Walking into the Rex for the very first time, I was on completely familiar ground. How is that possible, you ask? Well, the Rex is housed in a former not-so-special pizza/diner type restaurant that I frequented when I worked in a nearby office building. I was so excited to finally get to try the Rex, about which I had read so many good things.
I was amazed what a fresh coat of paint a little bit of styling can do for a restaurant space! We took our seats and I was overwhelmed by deja vu, but only by my surroundings: the food was about to be a million times better than that which I ate seated at that exact same table a million years ago!
The Rex offers a small menu, but you will still have trouble deciding what to choose to eat - everything looks amazing! For my first time, I went with their shepherd’s pie, which is described on their menu as overnight braised short ribs, caramelized onions, grilled sweet corn, and brown butter mashed potatoes. For my side, I chose the cauliflower soup. Both were incredibly rich and delicious! The braised short ribs in the shepherd’s pie were tender and moist, and flavoured nicely (not too salty). The soup was velvety and earthy, and I almost wanted to lick the bowl to get every last drop!
I can’t wait to go back to the Rex and make some more new memories! Check out their website for more information: http://therexottawa.com/