Sunday, September 30, 2007

A cure for road rage

Today, Lou and I decide to make an early day of our Sunday as we had lots of errands to run like grocery shopping, pet food shopping, and dropping off dvd's. Today was also the CIBC Run for the Cure for breast cancer so a lot of the streets downtown were blocked. We decided to go uptown by Yonge & Eglinton to walk around and find something quick to eat.

As I parked on Yonge Street, I noticed a cupcake shop right beside us called The Cupcake Shoppe. The window was filled with chocolate cupcakes with orange icing (decorated for Thanksgiving & Halloween) and I couldn't take my eyes off of them. We decided to grab something to eat first and then come back and pick up some of these perfect cupcakes for a nice Sunday snack.

After a couple of slices of pizza and a quick shop in an italian food shop (which I will blog about later when I make something with what I purchased), we headed back to the cupcake shop. It was a quaint little shop with 5 cupcake makers in the back and stacks of about 100 cupcakes. On the counter were about 6 different cupcakes to choose from. I wasn't in the mood for chocolate so I chose the "Lov'n Lemon" and Lou choose the "Strawberries in Cream". My mouth was watering when I was paying for them. I couldn't stop staring at the cupcake makers (do I just call them bakers? or is there a special title for them?) decorating each cupcake perfectly. They put the 2 cupcakes in a cute little pink and white box. I took the box into the car and placed it carefully in the back making sure that nothing could make it move or slide so that the cupcakes wouldn't get disturbed.

I have to say, one of my biggest pet peeves is TRAFFIC!!! The Run for the Cure had ended already but they hadn't removed the barriers around the downtown area so everyone was being diverted in every which way but where I actually live. It took me 40 minutes longer to get home from what would have been a 10 minute drive home. If there was a Road Rage Anonymous group I wouldn't only be a member.. I'd be the president! My blood pressure rises and my pulse travels north to my head. This is why I live an 8 minute walking distance from home to work. 8 minutes from my apartment door to my desk. I love it :o)

Anyway, the whole time I was in traffic, I couldn't stop thinking about sitting on the settee with a cup of tea and my beautiful lov'n lemon cupcake. I have to say, after sinking my teeth into this lemon treat I can actually say that it was worth the wait. Lou's saving hers for dessert.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nikon D80 50mm f1.8

My co-worker Mark recently got a new Nikon D80 and purchased a 50mm f1.8 lens. I wanted to test it out so I took a few shots. There's always people trying to compare the Canon 30D and the Nikon D80 but really, I think that they are equally good cameras.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Not a pretty dessert

My dad has always been a dessert guy. Like having an "All day breakfast" menu... you could also have an "All day dessert" menu. Couldn't you? I'm sure my sister and dad would attest to it be entirely possible! My dad loved having apple or blueberry pie for breakfast and my sister IS and will always be infamous for waffles with ice cream for breakfast. And if I'm not mistaken... I think she even invites Aunt Jemima to the mix as well.

Oh... speaking of Aunt Jemima.. (Sorry have to mention this). Here in Canada, you can buy a bottle of Aunt Jemima's syrup for approx $4.00 CAD. There's no other syrup like it. Just like how I only purchase "Q-tip" brand cotton swabs... I'd only buy Aunt Jemima syrup for my pancakes and waffles. When I was living in the UK, I never had pancakes or waffles simply because I couldn't imagine them without Aunt Jemima syrup. Until one day... at the corner of my eye, I saw Aunt Jemima staring at me! It was if she was saying, "BUY ME... but I hope you have enough money in your pocket!". A smile from ear to ear immediately came upon my face. I was in Selfridges which is probably much like Holt Renfrew here only they serve & sell food that sometimes is completely out of the oridinary like chocolate covered grasshoppers for 19.00 pounds. They also sell imported foods from America and other parts of the world. It was here that I discovered Aunt Jemima at the corner of my eye. Within a split second I grabbed one of the bottles and stared at it lovingly. Then it hit me! My eyes were as wide as a deer in head lights. The cost for this bottle of sweet succulent syrup was 8.00 POUNDS!!!! Which is equivalent to approx $16.00 CAD. I instantly returned the bottle to it's place and walked away sad as ever. There was no way in hell I was going to buy that bottle for 8 POUNDS. That's extortion as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway... sorry for that side track. It actually has NOTHING to do with what I wanted to write about so back to desserts.

One of my favorite desserts that my dad introduced me to when I was a kid was avocado with evaporated milk and sugar. Yes.. you read it right. Avocado... Evaporated Milk... and Sugar. So simple!

I'm sure you're wondering what that tastes like and maybe how it looks like. It's not the most prettiest looking desserts but I promise you, it will surprise your taste buds.

All you have to do is take a ripe avocado and cut it into cubes.
Add approx 1/2 a cup of evaporated milk (I use Carnation Milk) or more if you like.
Then add teaspoon of
All you do is mix everything together.
Now if you don't normally store your avocado in the fridge, then once you've put this concoction together, I would suggest putting in the freezer for 5-10 minutes because to me, it just tastes better when it's cold.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Farmer's Market

Today was my lucky day. The Farmer's Market Ontario was at Nathan Phillips Square today. I'm on course for 3 days for Project Management at the University of Toronto near Nathan Phillips Square so I decided to take my camera with me to experiment with sites around Toronto. I, unfortunately, haven't dedicated any time to my camera. Toronto is such a big city and there's so much to see - so much to capture. I've been wanting to take pictures of flowers, vegetables, and fruits in natural light and today couldn't have been a more perfect setting for this endeavour.

Monday, September 17, 2007


This is going to be short and sweet as I'm in the middle of doing my laundry and waiting for my cup of proper English tea. PJ Tips!

I just happened to be in the mood for one of my favorite dishes tonight. #1 reason why this is my fav is that it's so easy to make. It's not an overly difficult recipe by any means but it sure is delish and spicy!

400g can crushed tomatoes
14 tiger prawns or more if you like. I usually aim for 7 per person.
1/4 cup of water
chopped garlic
chopped onion
olive oil
dried hot pepper seeds
chopped fresh parsley
arugula (rocket in the UK)
salt & pepper to taste
spaghettini pasta (I have a pasta measurer so I cooked enough pasta for 3 so I can have left overs for lunch tomorrow)
juice of 1/4 of a lemon

I wont' go into detail on how to cook pasta as I assume that most people know how to cook it.

Heat up olive oil and saute garlic and onions. Add crushed tomatoes, water, and hot pepper. Let simmer for a few minutes and add parsley. Simmer for another few minutes and add prawns. Cook the prawns until they turn pink and then add the arugula. Simmer for a couple of minutes.

The pasta should be done by now so drain the pasta. Add pasta to the sauce and add the lemon juice. Mix pasta and serve immediately.

VOILA... Spicy Prawn Pasta.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Not your usual fish and chips

I didn't think I was going to have it in me to try a recipe this weekend as it's been so hectic with work, a Filipino 18th Birthday party which is similar to MTV's Sweet 16 parties but without a B-list rapper performing or the Range Rover or tiara as a gift at the end of the night, and the most important event of the weekend.... my grandmother's 98th birthday!

But today, I was compelled to try a fish recipe which I didn't exactly follow because I had the wrong kind of fish and the wrong kind of potatoes. It was originally a Creamy Baked Haddock & Tatties recipe, but I had cod and yukon gold potatoes.

I know it's weird that this dish has french fries with it but if you know anything about the British, you'll know that they eat practically EVERYTHING with "chips" (french fries). Lou eats lasagna, pizza, fish (any kind.. not just battered), chicken, and BREAD with "chips". Yes.. I said bread. Picture this... 2 slices of bread... buttered... with french fries in between to make what is called a "Chip Butty". But it's pronounced "chip bu-eeh". The "t" is silent. It's one of the strangest things I've seen thus far when it comes to British cuisine.

Anyway... the recipe is easy and if you want to try the original recipe, again.. you can find it on BBC GoodFood website. But for now, I'll put the recipe how I made it.

400g cod fish
1 trimmed leak, finely sliced
handful of parsley, chopped
142ml carton double cream
4 yukon gold potatoes, partially boiled
1 cup of grated white cheddar cheese

Firstly assemble the dish. Scatter the haddock, leek and parsley over the bottom of a shallow microwavable dish and mix together with your fingers or a spoon. Drizzle over half the cream and 5 tablespoons of water. Lay the potato slices over the fish and leeks and drizzle over the remaining cream. Season the potatoes with a little salt and plenty of black pepper.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Put the oven on broil and remove foil from dish. Sprinkle the cheese all over the potatoes. Broil for 5-10 minutes until the potatoes turn brown to your liking. Serve straight from the dish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Asian Persuasion

So I'm on a recipe frenzy!!! This week has been my "Try a new recipe" week. It's probably cuz I love my new camera and just want more excuses to take pictures of food. So far I've tried 2 new recipies - Honey & Soy Chicken with Cashew & Coriander Rice and the Raspberry & Mascarpone Creams. I know... nothing spectacular but I'm getting there.

Tonight was Singapore Noodles! Yet again, I got the recipe from the BBC GoodFood website.

I compared the dish to the Singapore Noodles from Spring Rolls and it was very close. Unforunately, I had to use my crappy T-Fal non-stick pan instead of a wok. (For those who wish to get me a bday gift, I need a wok!) That's got to be why Spring Rolls is better. The recipe also says to put the hot peppers on top of the dish after it has been plated. I wanted the dish to be spicy so I cooked the hot peppers with the onions, red peppers, spices, etc. It still wasn't as hot as I would have liked. Perhaps I'll try some hot pepper flakes next time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Raspberry & Mascarpone Creams

Raspberries to me are bitter sweet. I love them because they are good for you, they have a vibrant color, and for some reason, I love the texture of the soft mushiness and the crunch of the seeds in my mouth. Are they seeds btw? What are those little things and stick in between your teeth?? (Hope that's not a Miss South Carolina type of question?) I love the sweetness of it but it does have that bit of sourness to it that I hate. I really have to crave fresh raspberries. It's not like a banana where I could probably eat it everyday.

In any case, I wanted a really quick, cold, raspberry dessert recipe and I found the perfect one on BBC GoodFood website. It can't get any easier than 4 ingredients! Raspberries, caster sugar (which is super fine sugar in Canada..thx for googling that up for me Sis), mascarpone, and whipping cream.

Much to my surprise, it wasn't really to my liking, however, it did look pretty in my martini glass. It was kind of boring. I'm not giving up on it yet but I will have to find something to add to it. Perhaps some sort of cake. Stay tuned to see what I come up with!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Stir-fried chicken with cashews & coriander rice

I was surfing the net today looking for something different to cook. When I say different, I mean something outside of my usual menu of chicken pasta, fish or chicken with mashed potatoes, veggies and gravy, Mc Donald's, KFC, and lasagna with chips (yeah I know. It's weird. It's a british thing. Chips go with everything apparently). I wanted something fresh that had a lot of flavour. I came across the BBC GoodFood website and found a lot of great recipes that I want to try this week.

For today, I decided to try the Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews & Coriander Rice. I thought, "Oh how I miss cashews in cooking." This is the perfect recipe for savory sweet & sour flavours and the freshness of coriander". So, I wrote down the ingredients and headed for the grocery store. Ok, I'm not a professional cook and I'm sad to say that I didn't know that coriander & cilantro were the same thing. :o( But hey, you learn something new everyday! I know that in the UK, it's referred to as Coriander and I've used it a lot there but never really cooked with it here so I had to ask for help from one of the people who work in produce.

Unfortunately, because I didn't start cooking until about 7pm, I didn't get the natural light that I wanted from outside so the pictures aren't as good as I wanted them to be. How sad... it's starting to get dark early!!

The recipe was so easy and only took about 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Now that's what I'm talking about!!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Finally... a new camera!

For the past year now I've wanted a new camera. The one I've had my eye on was the Canon 30D. Now that the 40D is coming, 30D's are now on sale. PERFECT TIMING!!

So stay tuned to see better pictures of food, travel, and fun!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ziggy loves Strawberry & Rhubarb pie

It doesn't matter what you are eating, Ziggy will stare at you and your food until you give her a morsel to satisfy her curiosity. Apart from daschunds being stubborn, another warning we received from the PJ's Pet store assistant was that daschunds will eat and eat and eat and eat. Over the year, we've discovered that Ziggy loves to eat wood, rubber, foam, tennis balls, couch cushions, chicken, rice, potatoes, and strawberry rhubarb pie just to name a few.

I'm sure if Ziggy knew how to type, her food blog would be a very interesting read.

Pilipino breakpast

Today is Canada Labour Day!

Wikipedia definition of Labour or labor may refer to:

- Work of any kind
A Labour Day is an annual holiday celebrated all over the world that resulted from efforts of the labour union movement, to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers.

I don't think very many people really care how Labour Day came about. All they care about is that it's the last cottage weekend for the summer. When I think of cottage weekends I remember waking up to the smell of wet trees, fog, lake water, sand, and the first cup of coffee of the day. Now if I was at a cottage with Filipinos, for breakfast, we'd be eating fried rice (with last night's left over steamed rice), fried eggs, and the most important dish of all.... longanisa (long-ga-nee-sa)! Longanisa is a filipino sausage. It kind of looks like mini chorizo's but we cook it differently. Some might even say it tastes like a sweet chorizo as well.

Here's how ya make it!

First of all, you buy longanisa raw and frozen. You cook it in a pan with about 3/4's of an inch of water. You let it boil flipping the sausages every so often to make sure it's evenly cooked. The water will eventually evaporate. Once the water evaporates, you can.. if you want.. add a bit of oil to the pan so that the sausages don't stick. But just so you know, it's impossible to end up with a pan that doesn't have burnt longanisa remnants stuck to the bottom of your pan. But don't fear!!! There is a way to get it off. I'll explain in a bit. So, now that the water has evaporated and you've added a bit of oil, you can now cook the sausages so that they are browned on the outside and juicy in the inside. WARNING: If you try piercing the sausages with a fork, you better be wearing something to protect yourself from being splattered with scolding hot oil and sausage juices. Believe me, I know this from experience!

When your sausages are browned to your liking (my mom loves it burnt), remove them from the pan and put the left over steamed rice in the pan to make fried rice! Now you can start scraping all of the succulent burnt sausage pieces at the bottom of the pan and mix it with the rice! Jesus I'm drooling on my laptop.

Cook a fried egg and YOU'RE DONE!! Voila... a Filipino breakfast.. or "BreakPast hhhuuhhh".
Next time I'm in Birmingham UK, I'm going to Chinatown to see if they sell these bad boys. I'd love to cook this for my in-laws.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fancy lunch

If you ask some Brits if they like Jamie Oliver, they'll probably tell you that he's a twat. Pay no attention to what they say... they only say it cuz they're jealous! ;)

So today was just another ordinary Sunday where I wake up at about 9am, make myself a cup of Breakfast Blend Starbucks coffee, sit on the settee, watch Lou clean and watch HGTV or FoodTV. I watched a couple of my favs - Design Inc and Sarah's House. Then I got bored and hungry so I switched it to FoodTV. I don't normally watch "Tyler's Ultimate" (Tyler Florence) but he was making Chicken Parmesan with Pasta and home made Caesar Salad Dressing. Then I watched "Jamie At Home" :o) I LOVE THIS SHOW!! I hope one day I can have my own little organic garden as long as it's bug free!! Yeah right... that's wishful thinking isn't it? After about an hour of watching tantilizing dishes, I was inspired to cook up a feast! Well, not a big feast but a perfect light delicious late lunch.

We headed off to the shop to get some ingredients and when we came back, I had the menu all set - Seared Bacon Wrapped Rosemary Scallops, Mushrooms with Mozzarella & Thyme, and a Caesar Salad on the side. The scallop recipe and the mushroom recipe were courtesy of Jamie Oliver and the Caesar dressing was Tyler's own recipe.
I have to say, the $10.00 scallops were worth every penny. (Yes.. I paid $10.00 for 4 large scallops. That's my expensive craving for the week). I've never made scallops before so this was quite exciting stuff for me.

After I plated everything and took my first bite of everything, I have to say that the mushrooms were not as desirable as I thought they were. But I think that's because I took too long taking a damn picture of it that the cheese started to harden. Note to self "eat the mushrooms as soon as they come out of the oven and then take a picture of the last one". The caesar salad was as expected... just another caesar salad but I'm glad I actually tried making my own dressing things time. Tyler's recipe calls for the juice of 1 whole lemon which I found to be too much so next time, I'll only use 1/2 a lemon. And last but not least... MY EXPENSIVE SCALLOPS!! They were simply deeeeeeelish! The flavours of bacon, rosemary, and scallops in my mouth were endless. None of them overpowered the other. It was perfect.

Seared Scallops with Bacon and Rosemary - Jamie Oliver - Jamie at Home
- 4 large scallops
- 4 peices of bacon (Canadian/American bacon is thin and long. UK bacon won't work)
- 4 rosemary sprigs
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt & pepper

Take the rosemary sprigs and take off 3/4's of the rosemary leaves off the sprigs so you're left with a sprig that looks like a tiny tree.
Wrap each scallop with a piece of bacon and pearce the wrapped scallop using the rosemary sprigs so that it holds it all together.
In a pan with hot olive oil, place the scallops and sear both sides until the bacon begins to crisp.

Mushrooms with Mozzarella & Thyme
- cremini mushrooms caps
- small bocconcini mozzarella balls
- fresh thyme
- salt & pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 380 degrees farenheit on broil.
In a oven proof pan, place the cremini mushroom caps top side down and tear the mozzarella balls apart and place as much as you want on top of each mushroom cap. Add a little salt and pepper to the mushrooms.
Broil for approx 8 mins or until the cheese has melted to your liking.