Monday, May 31, 2010

The Killer Burrito - Burrito Boyz delicious but deadly

I just had to warn all my Tomato Snobs that the day has come. An awful day I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy.  A day filled with many trips to the LOU, excruciating gastronomic cramping followed by nausea, fever and weird pains in my hands and chest. This was no ordinary case of food contamination it's Ciguatera poisoning and it's day five - please shoot me. Any other form of food poisoning would be long gone by now, only remembered by the empty rolls of toilet paper in the waste basket, but not Ciguatera.  This horrendous experience can last up to two weeks with symptoms even lasting up to one year. Right now i'm in bed praying to wake up normal again. 

Wednesday night I enjoyed a delicious fish burrito from Burrito Boyz on Adelaid st. I waited in line for 10 seconds and my order was taken, haddock burrito dressed with guac. lettuce tomatoes cheese rice and beans salsa and burrito sauce (a combination of sour creme and god knows what else).  Some 10 minutes later we were on our way home to watch the seasons finale of American Idol burritos in hand. It was hot outside - like heat wave temperature definitely not May weather. I was already feeling a bit flushed from the heat, but knew I would be fine once back in the comfort of my air conditioned town house. 

We got home and I quickly dove into my piping hot Mexican treat. Half way through my delicious burrito I started to feel full. With disappointment I put the remainder of my dinner aside. Over the next 45 minutes I started to feel queazy. My nausea was growing fast and my stomach started making  strange noises.  Like a powerful thunderstorm  before it turns into a hurricane I felt my guts begin to seize. After three sharp rounds of agonizing cramps I was nearly crippled in pain. I managed to get myself into the bathroom, and thank god for that because my evening was about to take a turn for the worst. 

I've decided to spare you the rest of the horrific details. I've been poisoned by food before, but never to this extent. As I said earlier I'm on day five, and I still feel miles away from being normal again. The last few days have been filled with a nervous combination of rice, toast and gatorade. I tried some soup but nearly ended up in the hospitalized from the outcome. To put a cherry on the whole thing I've spent the last three days doing manual labour - we moved uptown. Body killing, clothes every where boxes galore. I also had to attend a gala fundraiser honoring my grandparents for the Reena Foundation. The night was beautiful, but needless to say I'm was not a happy camper. Couldn't eat anything, couldn't fit into my dress from the bloating, and even worse couldn't enjoy the open bar. If it weren't for the Micheal Jackson impersonator It would have been an all out flop.  I'm cranky bloated and freaking hungry - i've got too many symptoms. Now i'm in bed dreaming about unpacking my new home and enjoying my huge new kitchen. No cooking for now. I'll stick to my rice for a few more days, and get some well deserved bed rest. 

PLEASE Beware of eating fish in hot temperatures - also of eating burritos made by smelly downtown hipsters. I'm thinking about calling my lawyer. 

To read more about food poisoning 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hey diddle diddle some shallots and some fiddle...

For a few weeks every spring these funny looking coiled fronds are found all over Canada. They are mostly foraged  meaning they are found out in nature and are not cultivated like other commercially consumed vegetables. These things are fun to eat - slightly scary looking - my fiancee was convinced there was a worm curled up inside one of the fiddlehead. You must blanch or wash these a number of times before consuming. If you dare to uncurl the green super food you'll be pleasantly surprised by it's clean tubular inside no worms in here. Fiddleheads with shallots and white wine INGREDIENTS: 
bunch of fiddleheads
2 shallots 
1 clove af garlic - finely chopped
1 tsp butter
splash of white wine
olive oil 
PREP: let fiddle heads sit in cold water - rinse 2x then blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds. 
COOK: suatee shallots and garlic in olive oil add s&p to taste add splash of white whine and then finish with a little butter. Enjoy!

Crustless broccoli & red chard quiche with lemon potatoes

Quiche is just one of my all time favorite breakfast/ brunch dishes.  Plainly know as a savory egg pie, quiche is an excellent way to use up whatever is fresh and seasonal in your vegetable drawer. Traditionally quiche is served in a open pie shell that has been blind baked - meaning the crust is baked before adding the filling. To eliminate a couple hundred calories I've decided to make my quiche crustless in a glass vintage pyrex square dish. I just love these baking trays they are so retro - mine is a hand me down from my grandmother. This quiche uses left over red swiss chard and broccoli and is served with the most delicious lemony potatoes. INGREDIENTS: 6 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup parmesan - finely grated
splash milk 
1 cup suateed swiss chard
1 cup broccoli  - blanched and chopped
1-2 pounds of red potatoes or fingerlings
1 lemon - zested and juiced 
2 cloves of garlic - finely chopped 
bunch parsley - finely chopped
olive oil
Quiche PREP: Sautee the chopped chard in butter of olive oil... add a splash of white wine if you really want to impress. Beat eggs with milk, sour cream and 1/2 parmesan s&p to taste - add veggies at room temp - or they will cause the egg to start cooking prematurely. You can butter the baking tray before adding egg mixture, but it isn't a must. Use the rest of the parmesan on the top of the quiche for dusting. 
BAKE: for 35 - 1 hour at 350 - when quiche puffs up and turns golden it's ready to devour. 

Lemony potatoes: DRESSING: add finely choped garlic and parsley with lemon juice and zest drizzle olive oil into mixture with s&p. Leave off to side. 
PREP: Chop potatoes into bite sized pieces - if using fingerlings cut in half legnth wise. Coat them in olive oil s&p and some paprika. 
BAKE: 30 minutes at 300 then remove from oven add 1/2 of the dressing making sure all potatoes are covered.  Bake for another 15 - 20 minutes on 400 until potatoes are crisp on the outside and creamy inside - golden colour. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I feel like pesto and shrimp - Brown rice fusilli & pan fried shrimp

Oh how I've waited for the day. My first seafood blog. Not the first time i've cooked seafood, just the first time I'm writing about it. I love shrimp! It's one of my favorite things in the world and I don't cook it at home anymore which is something I've really missed since I'm so damn good at it. Toot toot, yes that was me tooing my own, but at least I know what I'm good at. Being a Tomato Snob means I'm also a potato snob and quite possibly a food snob all together. While I won't turn my nose up at a shady whole in the wall restaurant if the food is fabulous. I will however turn my nose up at a plethora of other things. I value quality in ingredients and shrimps is at the top of my list. I'm super picky about where I eat these underwater delights. I happen to think the jumbo zipper back variety are part of the most regal of the crustaceans.  Obviously followed by lobster, crab, mussles, scollops and those sweet little oysters from PEI. Yes i'm a bad jew - I love seafood there it's out.  This day was even more exciting because it marked the beginning of what I think will be a very fruitful and beautiful relationship. I will get into this later, but I have something very exciting up my sleeve. I can't talk about it too much right now, but very soon hopefully these will be a lot more to blog about. Have I said too much already?
Fusilli with pesto and pan fried zipperback shrimp INGREDIENTS: 
2 bunches basil 
2 handfuls baby arugula 
1 cup grated parmesan 
4 cloves garlic - 2 for pesto 2 for shrimps 
lemon - juice
olive oil 
salt & pepper
zipper back or jumbo shrimps - raw 
white wine - splash
PESTO: In blender, or handheld emersion blender add basil arugula splash of lemon juice parmesan s&p and stream olive oil into mixture until smooth. If texture is too thick add a bit of the pasta water. Will stay up to 4 days in the fridge. Perfect for spreading on sandwiches, or dilute mixture with more lemon juice and use it as a dressing for salads etc. 
SHRIMPS: defrost in a water bath and pat dry. I like to marinate my shrimps in finely chopped garlic parsley and paprika s&p. Let them sit for a few hours then pan fry for 2 minutes adding a splash of white wine and cook for another few minutes until pink and succulent. My partner Jovan likes to cook the shrimps naked and then toss them in garlic and a ton of paprika and parsley after they're done. Both ways taste good, but the consensus was the Tomato Snobs way this time. 
SERVE: Boil your pasta in super salty water, and add a drizzle of olive oil. Toss cooked pasta with a few large dollops of pesto - perfection. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pasta Pasta

Have you ever found yourself lost and confused in an Italian restaurant? I found a great Pasta Glossary  to help you identify all the tiny differences between types of pasta. Ravioli versus tortellini or agnolotti. Never confuse linguini and spaghettini again.

black radish salad with jerusalem artichoke over cold salmon

Back in university my room-mate and I used to love playing a game we called survivor. I went to school in Montreal and it would get crazy cold in the winter to the point where it was totally unbearable to go outside. This was when the game really started to get intense. In this game we would see how long we could go with out buying groceries. We used the most random ingredients mostly whatever we had left in the fridge freezer or pantry and try and make something delicious or at least tolerable  before buying new groceries. This game has taught me tons, and has definitely made me a more resourceful chef. Now  I love buying a bunch of fresh local fruits and vegetables and then seeing how creative I can get with new flavors and textures. Sometimes all it takes to create a new recipe is cutting something differently. I happened to stumble upon this recipe, and I'm sure glad I did - It was delish, and easy because it tastes even better cold. You will require a mandolin or  carrot peeler, the veggies can also be finely julienned if you have super knife skills. 
Black radish salad with jerusalem artichoke over cold salmon INGREDIENTS:
small black radish - ribbons
3 jerusalem artichokes - ribbons
celery sticks - prefferably the hearts (center pieces) - bite sized
1 clove garlic - finely chopped
white balsamic vinegar - splash
olive oil - drizzle
mint - handful chopped or chiffonade
salt & pepper
salmon - baked or grilled then chilled. 
SALAD: Add all ingredients in bowl and mix together with oil and vinegar. 
SALMON: salt pepper rub some garlic and lemon zest & olive oil before cooking. Let sit until room temp then serve, or refrigerate overnight. 
SERVE: Salad on top of room temp fish - it's delish!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Restaurant review Trimurti - Indian Cuisine

I'm not exactly sure what goes on when Indian food is prepared, but i'm convinced they put drugs as a secret ingredient. Indian food is addictive, delicious and very filling. Many people are afraid of this type of cuisine, they think it's all spicy or they don't like curry, or they have some other dumb excuse as to why they don't like it. But truth be told most of the time they have no clue what they are talking about, or maybe they are just nervous to try something new, or ask about the dishes. I'm a real chatty Cathy when it comes to food. I love asking lots of questions, and learning about what I'm eating. It really helps to understand flavors and cooking methods and also makes me a better cook. I wanted to tell you all about one of my favorite Indian restaurants in my hood. While I can't vouch for the service, I can tell you everything is good. Saturday night feast with friends we ordered in from Trimurti 

RECOMMENDED: Tamatar Ka Shorba (tomato soup), Saag paneer, mutter paneer, butter chicken (for the beginners) Subzi Ka Pakoras,  Subzi Samosas,  Seekh Kebab, Tarka Dal, chicken Jalfrezie. Tandoori Naan and Muttar Pilau. 
To break down some of these terms: 
Paneer - Indian cottage cheese
Saag: Spinach
Mutter: green peas
Subzi - vegetarian
Pakora - fried patty 
Seekh Kebab - lamb or beef 
Dal - lentils
Naan - bread made in clay oven
Pilau - rice
The food is excellent, not overly oily like some Indian restaurants. I've never had the i'm going to die food coma feeling after eating their food. Portions are generous and the price is pretty inexpensive. Another plus is their quick delivery time, and free papadums which are delicious. I give this place an A! And as you can tell from the photo so do the diners. They couldn't tear themselves away from the food to smile for a picture. 

Roasted root vegetable mash with horseradish

This is dish is vibrant and delicious. A great substitute for boring mashed potatoes. Roasted root mash INGREDIENTS: 
2 carrots
1 parsnip
2 beets - red
1/2 large rutabaga or 1 whole small
2 tbs horseradish
olive oil
Prep: Peel and roughly chop everything. 
Cook: roast everything at 350 for 45 mins. Let cool, then mash by hand in ricer, or throw it in the blender with a bit of water (or stock)  which is what I did. Add salt and pepper to taste. For a kick add 2 tbs of horseradish, or just enjoy the simplicity of this mash. 

Chocolate Craving Dessert Muffins

Sometimes you just need chocolate, I mean NEED! like nothing will make me feel better then a mouth full of rich deep dark chocolate deliciousness.  It's usually once a month or more depending on the Tomato Snob at hand. This recipe is still being perfected but many agree it's a satisfying solution to dessert or breakfast depending on what time of day the craving strikes. I've made these muffins with a combination of buckwheat flour  and matzo meal  you can substitute the matzo meal for any whole wheat flour I'm just trying to use up what I have left over from passover. 
Chocolate Craving Dessert Muffins INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup whole wheat matzo meal
1/2 + 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour
pinch fine salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch cinnamon
3/4 cups cocoa
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
4 bananas - mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange extract
3/4 cup non fat yogurt - or cup of milk
4 tbs butter
1 tbs oil
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Icing sugar - optional
PREP: Grease 12 mold muffin pan or line with paper. In two separate bowl - wet & dry. Combine dry ingredients including chocolate chips and mix with fingers. Then combine eggs sugar extracts bananas butter oil and yogurt. Spoon mixture into tray but do not fill any to the top.
BAKE: place banana chip onto mixture after 10 minutes. 25 minutes on 350 (check after 20 mix tooth pick)
GARNISH: dust tops of muffins with icing sugar.