[Recipe] Beet salad with leeks and walnut

This salad was adapted from the Jerusalum Cookbook . The salad is a showstopper with key ingredients including walnuts, pomegranates and beets, which are typically seen in Georgian Cuisine, which is influenced by Russian, Persian and Turkish cultures.

The cookbook does not ask readers to grill the leeks or toast the walnuts, but I did. The grilled veggies add more flavour to the final dish. I did not have peanut oil handy, but do add 1/2 tsp if you do. I used walnut oil and made my own tamarind water. I bought the tamarind at a local Chinese grocery store.

Make sure to lightly toss the salad before serving to minimize the colour of the beets bleeding into the leeks.

Beet salad with leeks and walnut
 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Georgian
Ingredients
  • 5 medium beets - Cut into slices after they are roasted and peeled
  • 2 medium leeks- cut into 4 inch segments
  • 1½ cups of arugula
  • ¼ cup of pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup of feta cheese
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Handful of mint- rough chop
  • Dressing:
  • 4 cloves of garlic, ¼ tsp of chili flakes, ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, tamarind water (I made my own), 1 tsp of walnut oil, 1 tsp of salt
Instructions
  1. Wrap the beets individually in tin foil and roast them for 1 hour at 400 degrees F.
  2. Once cooled, peel the beets and slice them ½ inch thick.
  3. Place the leeks in a pan of salted water, boil and simmer until they are just cooked. When cooled, put the leeks on a grill and quickly cook them for some colour.
  4. Toast the walnuts in a pan with some oil and sprinkle with salt.
  5. For the tamarind water, I mixed 1 tbsp of tamarind with 2 tsp of hot water. I let it sit for 20 minutes and then poured the water through a small fine mesh strainer before using it in the dressing. I would use lemon if you cannot find or make tamarind water.
  6. In a bowl, add all the ingredients of the dressing together and mix well.
  7. To assemble the salad, carefully add the ingredients in layers. I topped the salad with the walnuts, pomegranate seeds, feta and mint.
  8. Add the dressing and lightly toss.

Tamarind I used to make tamarind water

Tamarind I used to make tamarind water

Beet salad

Beet salad

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[Recipe] Smoked Salmon Fennel Salad

[Recipe] Smoked Salmon Fennel Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of fennel-sliced
  • 1 package of smoked salmon (454 g)
  • Dressing:
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of honey
  • Garnish with cilantro, green onions or fennel fronds
Instructions
  1. Cut 1 fennel into long pieces.
  2. In a bowl, add all the ingredients in the dressing and mix well.
  3. Add the dressing to the fennel and let it sit there for at least 15 minutes. The fennel in the dressing can be prepared 1-2 hours in advance.
  4. Right before serving. spread the smoked salmon on a large dish, top with the fennel and garnish

This salad needs little preparation time, looks beautiful on the table and is absolutely delicious. The lightly dressed fennel does not overpower the salmon.

Try this at your next dinner party!

Smoked salmon salad

Smoked salmon salad

 

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[Review] Brunch at Lisa Marie

Website: http://www.fidelgastros.com/lisa-marie-main.html
When I went: March 2016
Rating: $$, 4

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Lisa Marie is the Fidel Gastro restaurant located on Queen St. W. I was pumped that they took reservations for brunch, which is not the norm for many downtown brunch spots.

There were many high tables and a few bench tables that were convenient for family with kids. The bar and paintings of the wall made for a hip atmosphere.

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My husband ordered the fried cornish hen on top of jalapeno corn bread waffles ($17). A reasonable portion and the chicken had crispy skin and tender meat. The hot sauce on the side was ultra spicy, the way I like it!

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I had the double pancake pork burgers topped with lettuce, cheese and tomato, with pad Thai fries ($15). I normally eat my burgers with my hands, and with the pancake as the “bread”, it did not hold up well and was better eaten with a fork and knife. The pork had a nice spice to it and juicy! This is the first time I have heard of pad Thai fries…koodos for being creative, and also being absolutely AMAZING!! They were the highlight of my meal.

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For drinks, my husband had the cold brew coffee from Station Cold Brew Coffee Co ($4). It did not need additional sweetness and perfect as is.

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I ordered a lemonade thinking it was fresh lemonade (even, my receipt printed “fresh lemonade”) but it was the San Pellegrino Lemonade ($4). It was fine, but fresh lemonade would have been much better!

The restaurant was busy since it was Easter weekend with most of the tables occupied. This impacted the service with our food taking over 30 minutes to arrive. Keeping a toddler still on an empty stomach was not fun! I am hoping the slow service is not the norm. Good thing, the food was worth the wait.

Overall:

A hip restaurant on Queen St. west that takes reservations. There are about 8 brunch items on the menu, I would go and try them all.

Lisa Marie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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[Review] Dragon Boat Fusion has quality dim sum

Website: http://www.dragonboatfusioncuisine.com/
Address: 160 East Beaver Creek Rd #4-6, Richmond Hill, ON
When I went: April 2016
Rating: $$, 4.5

My family and I have been going to Dragon Boat Fusion for years. Located in a small plaza in Richmond Hill, the outside looks unassuming and small.  Inside, the restaurant fits at least 15 large tables. A few years ago, the restaurant renovated their decor (lots of gold accents), changed their plates and bamboo steaming baskets, and has a menu that is constantly evolving. The changes were beneficial in making the restaurant feel upscale to match their quality of food.

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It’s hard to do a comprehensive review of the food at dim sum restaurants, since our family orders a lot of different dishes.

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Some highlights were the deep fried short ribs, the huge har gow (shrimp dumplings) that came with a sweet shrimp in each basket, the shrimp and beef steamed rice rolls, and the deep fried taro with quail eggs. Overall, the dishes came out hot and beautifully presented, with dumplings presented in square bamboo steamers.

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Fried short ribs

Fried short ribs

Steamed rice roll with deep fried fritter

Steamed rice roll with deep fried fritter

Deep fried taro with quail eggs

Deep fried taro with quail eggs

The only disappointment during our visit was the egg custard bun. Before the renovations, Dragon Boat fusion used to make the best duck yolk custard buns that I have ever eaten, as the fillings were salty and sweet, and the egg custard would flow out of the bun when opened.

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As for the service, I have had a hit and miss at each visit. We have had rude servers that had forgotten our requests frequently, and then we have had stellar service where our requests were taken care of immediately. At our most recent visit, we only waited about 15 minutes for our reserved table and had a wonderful server who was attentive.

Overall:

The food quality is worth the price. Do expect a wait even with reservations.
Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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[Review] Live Octopus at Gonoe Sushi Thornhill

Website: http://www.gonoesushi.com/
Address: 5 Glen Cameron Road, Thornhill, ON
When I attended: May 2016, 4 people, dinner
Rating: $$, 4

I’ve been to the Gonoe location at Don Mills several times, and the Thornhill location is way busier. I couldn’t get a reservation and decided to drop by at 5:30 pm on a Saturday and luckily landed a table. Line ups started to form by the door around 7:00pm.

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The restaurant is located by the Red Lobster and Legend Chinese restaurant plaza just north of Yonge St. and Steeles Ave. Inside, there were mainly private booths with a small open area for large tables. By the bar, there were several aquariums with the live octopus, as well as buckets with sea cucumber and other seafood I did not recognize.

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The menu has a combination of Japanese and Korean fare but what makes this location stand out is the specialty items they offer. They had a separate menu offering the chef special sashimi platter, and a specialty live seafood menu offering flounder, abalone, sea squirt, sea cucumber, gaebul (aka fat innkeeper worm) and live octopus. From the live seafood menu, our group ordered the live octopus ($28) and will return to try the other items…well maybe, I need to be in a brave enough mood first.

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After seeing many YouTube videos of customers eating live octopus in Korea, my husband and I really wanted to try it.  In Korea, restaurants give the whole octopus for customers to eat with the head on and tentacles moving. Customers would wrap the moving tentacles around their chopsticks, dip it into a spicy sauce and chew it alive. At Gonoe, they cut off the octopus head and serve only the tentacles. The complex reflex of the tentacles keep them moving!

Watch the video to see what it is like to eat a live octopus!

At first I was a little freaked out and grossed out, since the chopped up tentacles were moving frantically and even off the table. It was hard to pick up with the chopsticks and easier to pick up with our fingers. Many of the suction cups on the tentacles were stuck to the plate, and it took a bit of yanking to get them off.  I could hear a “pop” noise once they were pulled off, similar to pulling a suction cup from a mirror. The octopus was bland by itself and had a chewy texture. The octopus was more enjoyable dipped in the sauce of sesame oil and salt, with an option to eat with the Korean hot sauce. We got over the initial fear factor and ended up eating the entire plate.

I was paranoid that if I didn’t chew the octopus thoroughly, it would move inside my throat or I would choke, so I chewed every part of it several times. The live octopus would not be something I would crave but definitely a fun experience.

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Aside from the octopus, we ordered a sashimi boat with 60 pieces, and a spider roll to share. I could have eaten it all myself!

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As for service, I had to flag the servers down a few times. Our server was new, so there was a lot of confusion on how to split the bill, but hopefully that was a one time occurrence.

Overall:

A busy restaurant with menu items not seen at Gonoe’s other locations and many other Japanese/Korean restaurants. Definitely try out the live octopus!

Gonoe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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[Charity Event] 1st ever ‘Cook for New Lives Gala’

Website: http://www.massey.ca/, Massey Centre Facebook page
Event Address:  George Brown College, Grand Atrium 300 Adelaide St. E., Toronto, ON
When I attended:
May 4th, 2016

On May 4th, 2016, George Brown College, Hospitality and Culinary Arts Centre hosted the 1st Annual Cook for New Lives Gala to fundraise for Massey Centre.

Formed in 1901, Massey Centre is a Children’s Mental Health centre that helps pregnant and parenting women and their babies who reside at the Centre and in the community.  The young families benefit from a the large array of programs, services and supports 24/7 that respond to their individual mental health, education and transitional housing needs. The young women who call Massey Centre home are one of the highest-risk and most vulnerable groups in Canada.

Being a mom, I know that pregnancy and postpartum can be tough physically and mentally. I can only imagine how challenging it is for adolescent mother’s to take care of a young baby, while trying to build a future for themselves and their child. At the event, a young mom named Kenya told us her tear jerking story of her rough childhood, and how the services at Massey Centre helped her tremendously. Massey Centre has supported a countless number of women.

The tickets to the event were $99 per person and included a cocktail reception, pizza from Pizza Nova, appetizers and cheese platter, desserts from Charmaine Sweets, dishes from the chef teams, as well as a no-host bar and silent auction.

Cook for New Lives Gala

There was a cooking competition with aspiring female chefs from George Brown, who were partnered with top female chef mentors including Alex Feswick, Lora Kirk, Anne Yarymowich and Suzanne Barr. The MC of the evening was the funny Jessica Rae Allen of The Social.

Celebrity Chefs Claudio Aprile, Chef John Higgins, as well as foodie YouTuber Sara Lynn Cauchon were in attendance to judge the dishes. It was amazing that I got to meet and chat with the talented and humble celebrity judges.

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The dishes made by the chef teams were delicious! Each component of the dish was well thought out and executed, with an appetizing presentation. The winner of the competition was Chef Anne Yarymowich and Haewon Choi, who made the Korean braised shortribs with sweet potato perogies, pear and mint espuma, with crispy shallots and kimchi as the condiments. Haewon had a tearful acceptance speech which was really nice to see, as she put her heart out on her food. A well deserved win and congratulations to all the teams!

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One of the best thing about being a food blogger is being able to tell others about charities that really impact the community. I am thankful for the invitation and I hope that the Massey Centre was able to reach their fundraising goals.

Check out the Massey Centre website to learn more about their programs and how you can donate http://www.massey.ca/. Follow Massey Centre on Twitter https://twitter.com/MasseyCentre.  Use hashtag #Cook4NewLives and join the conversation.

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* Disclosure: My ticket was complimentary but the opinions in the post are entirely my own.

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