Thursday, March 29, 2012

Food craving nightmares

So it's been 18 days since I've been able to eat beef or pork. Normally this wouldn't bother me too much but because I've pretty much had to eliminate everything else I enjoy from my diet including shell fish, all gluten, dairy, sugar, most of my favorite tropical fruits, and anything sesame. I've started to have food nightmares including gorging myself on donuts dusted in cinnamon suagr. Needless to say I think I'm slightly going crazy. A few nights ago I went to go see The Hunger Games with my hubs. For those of you who live under a rock The Hunger Games is a huge blockbuster movie in theatres now starring  Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Donald Southerland... the list goes on. The movie is based on a novel written by Suzanne Collins. The story is about an annual televised event in which children and teens from 12 districts compete in an game of survival, where each of them are forced to fight each other to the death. Disturbing... yes, entertaining... most definitely! Anyways after watching the bizzare movie I had an even more disturbing nightmare. I was in some sort of twisted butcher shop where humans were being cut up. I didn't actually see any of the brutality but when the meat was placed out into the display cases the human flesh was cut into perfectly marbled steak cuts. I'm pretty sure my subconscious in messing with me, even more obvious I'm craving a nice medium rare steak. The detox portion on my new health plan is over Monday and I can't wait to dig into some yummy beef - thinking about treating myself to some Kobe for a #lavishwelldeservedtreat.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Has Sprung-ish Pasta - Detox diet

Good day mates. Hope you all enjoyed the beautiful taste of spring we had in Ontario last week. Almost felt like summer for a hot minute, but at last it seems winter is still upon us judging by the major drop in temperature we've seen over the last few days. After an extremely long weekend (I had a cocktail event for 70 followed by a lunch cooking demo) I finally have some down time to blog about my culinary adventures in detoxing. Eating gluten and dairy free has been challenging but you really do start to get the hang of it after a few weeks. Pasta is just one of those things that needs cheese, or meat or something with fair amount of fat or richness, or so I thought until I concocted this delicious combination. They key is to fold a raw egg into the hot pasta to create a creamy carbonara type texture. This pasta is filled with lots fiber and yummy nutrients. Definitely a dish to try.
TruRoots gluten free organic spaghetti 
fresh or frozen green peas 
frozen edamame - blanched 
hearts of palm (canned) - rinsed & chopped
artichoke (canned) - rinsed & chopped 
French beans - blanched & chopped 
infused olive oil (herbs, zest, garlic etc...)
apple cider vinegar - splash
garlic - minced 
lemon - zested & juiced 
s & p 
fresh copped parsley 
PREP: Marinate canned veg in minced garlic, infused oil, lemon, vinegar, parsley, s & p. 
COOK: Blanch veg in pasta water after pasta is cooked until al dente. Toss a raw egg into the hot cooked pasta as well as all the veg and toss quickly to insure that it creates a creamy coating. Adjust seasoning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saying goodbye to sesame & a speedy Thai Style Slaw

The test results are in and I'm very pleased to announce I am not lactose intolerant nor am I a glutentard (my apologies to those who have taken offence to that statement).  Yes it's all very exciting. I do not have to say goodbye to my good friends 1%, Drunken goat or sour dough. I'm not completely in the clear as It seems I have two pretty high reactions to some slightly random ingredients. The first is cranberry which I'm really not too sad to see go, the second definitely a little morose about - yes I'm extremely melodramatic. You love it! My beloved sesame seed, I shall miss you dearly. No bagel will ever be the same. Every time I go for Middle Eastern food I will be reminded of the good old days when my pita was slathered in hummus and tahinah. If only this food allergy covered all my problems in life. The test actually shed some more light on to why I haven't been feeling so hot, but I'll save the nitty gritty for another post. For now my farewell to sesame continues... This easy slaw is best attempted with a mandolin or some serious knife skills and a sharp handful of Japanese steel. Ie. you need a good knife! 

INGREDIENTS: everything gets a fine julienne
green apple
red cabbage 
green cabbage 
peeled frozen shrimp - or cooked if you like (thaw in cold water)
FOR THE DRESSING: Whisk everything together
1/2 cup natural  peanut butter  (I like to use crunchy for texture)
4 limes - zest and juice- oranges work well too
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sambal 
2 tbs sesame oil  
splash of water - optional depending on how thick/ thin the dressing is
PREP: Chop veg, & whisk dressing. 
COOK: Bring a small salted pot of water to a boil, then drop your shrimp for 45 seconds to a minute. 
SERVE: With black sesame seeds and or toasted peanuts. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

White bean & swiss chard soup - simply delicious

 I'm not going to subject you all to cleanse only recipes while I'm detoxing. This is a post I promised I'd write about and trust me when I say you absolutely must try this recipe!  A few weeks ago my partner Jovan and I cooked for this fabulous couple in Cabbagetown - a historic neighborhood in Toronto. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, a beautifully bright kitchen with a spacious center island (I get excited whenever clients have these since it makes their experience much more comfortable and our ability to cook, and entertain much more intimate). This soup was inspired by a photo I saw in a cook book, too bad I can't remember which one it was. The recipe came together as a complete collaboration. It was Jovan's idea to puree the chard stems along with the beans - something I  would have never considered. I pictured the soup being more of a broth, but this version is just so much better. The day before we were to start testing the recipe I literally woke up in the middle of the night thinking about bacon and how perfect it would be in this simple soup. You will need an immersion or any sort of blender for this recipe.

2 small cooking onions - rough chopped
4 cloves garlic - rough chopped
bunch swiss chard  - rough chop stems & julienne the leaves 
1 can white idney beans 
1/2 cup bacon or panchetta - chopped 
1L chicken stock (or veg stock) 
1 pinch dried thyme (optional)
1 pinch dried rosemary (optional)
1 tbs evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
s & p - to taste 

PREP: Chop all veg. Rinse beans and divide 1/2 the can will get pureed, and the other half reserve along with the leaves to finish the soup. 
COOK: Heat a drizzle of evoo in a medium pot and sautée bacon/ panchetta until crispy - remove and place on a paper towel to drain off excess fat. Then add onion & garlic to the hot rendered fat and sautée for two or so mins. Then add the stems of the swiss chard, herbs, s & p and continue cooking until everything in tender and translucent 8-10 mins. Add the chicken stock & 1/2 the beans - bring everything to a simmer (about 5 mins). Purée the mixture and check for seasoning. Add the remainder or the beans & chard leaves right before serving. 
SERVE: With garlic crostini & panchetta crisp
FOR CROSTINI - Thinly slice baguette drizzle with evoo & sprinkle of s & p.  Bake at 350 until slightly crispy - then rub with raw garlic and bake again until golden. 
FOR Panchetta crisp - On a parchment lined baking dish place paper thin slices of panchetta and bake at 350 for 3-5 mins.

A big thanks to the Cabbagetown boys for a beautiful glass of Niagra wine and the most incredible sea salt chocolate covered coconut caramels in the world. It was a pleasure FOODING with you both!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Cleansing - A pre birthday detox diet

For the past few years I've suffered from psoriasis. A fairly common skin condition that causes your body to over produce new skin cells at an accelerated rate. To the naked eye psoriasis looks like a red splotchy rash or patches of dry shiny skin. In the past I've seen Dermatologists and psoriasis specialist who always just prescribe me with gross sticky, oily, creams and ointments filled with nasty steroids that will probably lead to me growing a third eye or nipple or maybe even worse.  My amazing chiropractor Dr. Karen Zelinkovsky for months has been trying to convince me to get the food sensitivity test - she has a strong inkling that the psoriasis may be being triggered by an allergy. After kicking and screaming I finally agreed that it might just be a good idea to see what the Naturopath had to say. In the back of my mind I've always had a feeling I may be allergic to something but have always been too lazy, nervous, hesitant etc to look in to it further. Well now that I'm approaching 30 (shreek) I'm thinking it's the time to figure it all out. After seeing  Dr. Danielle Sinclaire I went ahead and booked an appointment to have a food sensitivity test. The Doc is 97% positive that I'm allergic to milk. Which is sad because I'm the kind of person that can't have any sort of baked good without a tall cold glass of 1%. I love milk, but it may just be my cryptonite.  My husband thinks it's the most hilarious thing, calling me a little baby every time I sit down to a cookie, or piece of cake with a glass of the white liquid devil. I think i'd take a crisp glass of organic milk over chardonnay any time. When I fist started to think about what my food allergy might be I was dreading the thought that it could possibly be tomatoes. Can you imagine The Tomato Snob being allergic to sweet succulent tomatoes. I'm really hoping it's milk and not tomatoes because the artichoke snob just doesn't have the same ring.  Anyhoo the test takes three to four weeks for the results to come in, so in the mean time my Doc has put me on a cleanse diet to clean out the pipes or something. So for the next three weeks I'm on the no dairy, no gluten, no anything fermented including balsamic, soy or any Asian condiments, no mushrooms, truffle salt, no beef or pork or shellfish and pretty much no fun. The positive side of all this is that I'm really being pushed to cook differently and I'm learning new things every day which for a self taught chef is wonderful. I'm taking lots of photos and mental notes of what I'm eating and doing, and will give you all some tips along the way if you're interested in a spring cleanse for yourself.  Sorry for the late in the week post, but business has been buzzing. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. 
- chow for now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Eating Pho makes people happy - Where to Pho in TO

Eating Pho makes people happy on Twitpic
From the man who said he'd never try Vietnamese food - this is my husbands interpretation of how you feel when you eat a bowl of pho. I honestly couldn't have said it better my self. Pho is like a warm hug in a bowl. One of my favorite soups and you know I love me some soup. When traveling in Asia I always tell my friends if there is an old lady in the middle of nowhere, in a dirty creepy area, making soup, it's probably delicious. The same thing goes here in Toronto minus the old lady.

There's an ever going debate as to where the best Pho spot in Toronto is. I'm going to put it out there as if it's never been said before but Ossington st. really does house two of the best places in the city. At the top of the street there's Thien Thanh who's broth is like no other, not to mention their grilled pork dishes are completely off the chain, or there's the ever famous Rua Vang also known as the Golden Turtle.  One of my absolute favorites there are the pancake/crepe. I have absolutely no words to describe it, all I can say is - just fucking order it! I've recently discovered there is another Golden Turtle in Mississauga, no clue whether or not they have anything to do with one another but the pho was awesome. On  the lower end of the downtown Pho totem pole is Pho Hung with locations on Bloor & Spadina. Both are decent with very good greasy spring rolls and an endless supply of yuppies & pseudo hipsters dribbling soup from their chins.

If your looking for something mid town you will definitely be down grading on quality. Pho Rang Dong is a decent place to go. They actually have the best mango salad I've had in Canada and the service is very good. I would steer clear of Pho St.Clair as I find everything there to taste like dirty swamp water - they even water down the soap in the crusty washrooms #nasty!

There are a few good spots off the beaten path including Pho dau bo near Finch and Weston rd. Their stock is delicious and I just love their fresh lime soda's and tarro smoothie. The last place on my list shall remain nameless until the next time my dad takes me there for lunch, as neither of us can remember what it's called. Anyways it's off highway seven and Woodbine in a little plaza. If you're in the area it's pretty tasty place to be. If any of you now any more delicious places please share! 
- Chow for now

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sweet & Spicy Coconut Ginger drops

These delicious drops take me back to my childhood and the first time my family vacationed in Jamaica. I remember going to Dunns River falls in Ocho Rios with my parent specifically walking through the market with my dad who bought me my first ever coconut drop. They were dark, sweet slightly spicy, crunchy and chewy all at the same time. Probably far more mature a flavor then most little girls would like, but what can I say, I guess I've always had a sophistocated palate. It wasn't until a few years ago that I was reminded how much I love this sweet treat. Unless you are Jamaican you've probably never had anything like this before. Very different then a traditional coconut macaroon the dark caramel and spicy ginger totally transform the coconut into some much more complex. I suggest freezing your ginger in advance which makes it much easier to grate. I actually used these crumbled over vanilla bean ice cream at a dinner party last night and the clients just loved it. 
2 coconuts - fresh/ fine chop
1 cup grated ginger 
2 cups light brown sugar 
2 1/2 cups of water 

PREP: Coconuts have three dark spots on them, you'll want to look for the soft eye. Using a clean sharp tool (meat thermometers work well) try inserting in to the eyes until you find the soft one. Plunge the tool into it piercing deep into to the coconut to reach the liquid. Drain liquid off into a glass and taste to make sure the coconut is good. If it taste sweet proceed, if its sour and disgusting throw it away. The next step is to place the coconut into a 400 degree oven for 5-10 mins which will create cracks in the shell and help break out more easily. Place the coconut in a folded cloth and whack it with a hammer. The shells should pop off. If there is any stubborn coconut flesh that doesn't easily come out of the shell use a butter knife to lift around the flesh and it should release. Then finely chop the coconut. 

COOK: In a medium sauce pan Bring all ingredients to a rapid boil then reduce the heat to medium (still bubbling) and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid starts to thicken and reduce. Cook until it is very difficult to stir and everything is caramelized and sticky. Then remove from the heat. With two spoons scoop out mixture onto a parchment lined baking dish (you will need 2). Let the drops cool and harden before enjoying. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pre Passover Cooking Parties

UPDATE: The Fooding Company will  be hosting our own Pre- Passover cooking Party for those who want to attend, but don't have room in their own kitchen. Our event will be held at the Toronto Kitchen Incubator  with limited space so please  email me asap for details. 
Only kosher style demos will be available!

Hello friends, 
Sorry to single people out again today, but for those of you in Toronto that will be celebrating the Jewish holiday of passover next month this ones for you.  The Fooding Company is now offering in home pre-passover cooking parties & holiday catering. If you know of anyone who would be interested please forward this info on to them. To all of my non Jewish non Torontonian readers please check back tomorrow for a my delicious coconut ginger drops a nice change from the classic macaroon.