Cyrus hates mango, and I don’t get it. I mean, it’s got everything going for it. Easy to peel, juicy, and perfect alone or in so many foods as a key ingredient, addition, and/or flavour. My Asian card is fully earned with these mango favourites:
- Dried Philippines mango
- Mango bubble tea
- Mango lassi
- Thai mango salad
- Hong Kong-style mango pudding
- Mango ice cream
Then, there is the most mango-y, mango dessert. Mango shave ice, Taiwanese style! Here are the key components: shave ice, chunks of sweet mango, and a mango ice cream.
Minus Cy, Dumpling* and I had this one at Sweet O’Clock with fellow mango lovers, H and her baby E. We dug into it, and the mango mountain was so worth the challenge.
Shave ice It was made to order as it should be. Thumbs up for it’s fine, non-grainy texture.
Mango chunks Mango for days, and it was ripe, sweet and juicy.
Ice cream Some mango ice creams have a bit of an artificial flavour to it, and this one did. While it wasn’t the worse, it was just ok.
Overall, it was so close to perfection. I’d go back, and consider this part of getting Dumpling his Asian card – mango lover, check!
* NEW code name for our baby boy. Like it? A dumpling is Asian and small like him.
I heart a good brunch. There are just so many reasons to fall in love with brunch:
- It’s an excuse to have a lot of bacon
- Brunch specific foods like the perfect runny eggs benedict
- The major girlfriend bonding over the major food groups of sugar, fat and carbs
True story, I used to go for brunch every single weekend to do all the above with my girls, M and P. We exhausted nearly every Vancouver brunch spot back in 2008-09, and in that time we also perfected the timer selfie with a ketchup bottle. No more brunches together now, we live in different cities. Instead, we “toast” each other with milkshake-looking emojis on Whatsapp (ok, the ice cream sundae one is the closest).
Plus, it’s tough to brunch with a baby. Brunch usually isn’t that baby friendly! The brunch restaurants are usually crowded, smaller spaces and then there are the line ups. Either you go super early and wait, or you go at brunch hours and wait for likely over a hour for a good place.
Here is a secret, not all brunch-only places have a good brunch. Super mommy blogger Yashy asked me to join her and fellow moms at Bareburger where they do brunch – it’s all organic, all natural, and all delicious. Here is what I tried and recommend:
French toast stuffed with duck bacon and cheese! I wouldn’t have minded more duck bacon and more fruit on the side.
Super decadent, rich chocolate and raspberry milkshake. They do NOT mess around, this was one of the best milkshakes that I’ve had ever had. The ice cream comes from Greg’s Ice cream, one of my favourite spots in the city.
I was so full by the time the ice cream sandwiches came around, but I couldn’t say no to this. Soft chocolate cookies with creamy peanut butter ice cream. The key is the SOFT chocolate cookies, I hate ice cream sandwiches with hard cookies – no, just no.
Lucky me, I ate and ate because Yashy and Pereina held Baby D – thank you! Also, thank you to Bareburger for treating and indulging me in my love for brunch complete with *duck* bacon, all the right sugar and carbs plus new mom friends to share it all with. <3
I think dim sum actually means “touch heart” – so, it’s like Chinese soul food. And, I love it for so many reasons:
– It’s the kind of brunch that I grew up having as a Chinese kid
– It’s undeniably delicious (except the chicken feet, IMO)
– It’s traditional and yet there are ever evolving dishes and fusion flavours
– It’s meant for sharing
Recently, my beautiful and hilarious friend Andrea and I shared dim sum at Fisherman Villa. I love it there because it reminds me of the old-school dim sum places (a little too crowded, and noisy) but without the push carts. Plus, the food is simple and tasty – and cheap! Usually, it’s safe to order 3 dishes per person so naturally…we ordered more than that. Here is what we filled our tummies up with:
Standard orders of har gow (shrimp dumpling) and siu mai (pork dumpling) were good. You can’t go wrong with these!
Extra sweet soy sauce on the cheung fun, please! We ordered the beef and watercress cheung fun and my very favourite wu tao gok (deep fried taro dumplings).
Lastly, we polished off the lau bak go (turnip cake) and ngao guk (beef balls).
Don’t come here if you want fancy dim sum. Come here for your simple dim sum items and their fresh char siu bolo bau (BBQ pork pineapple bun) – and for the value that it provides. Expect to pay around $7 (you eat a little) -15 (you eat a lot)/person depending on how stuffed you want to be.
At the end, we were stuffed and happy. So, dim sum really does “touch heart”…and my stomach!
Cy takes after his mom – looks, organization, creativity, and his love for classic rock and guitars. Both of them have cool looking glasses too. Last week, she visited us and new baby D!
With the frigid temps, we haven’t really gone out (plus, I was house bound by Chinese tradition – no going out for 30 days post baby’s birth). Jail time was over, and we decided to go out to eat in Japan Town’s Shiso Tree Cafe. We shared a bunch of dishes (family style of course), and here are the verdicts:
Verdict: Order this, it’s like a fancy Japanese Caesar salad. They didn’t skimp on the smoked salmon!
Verdict: Order this once to try. I liked the sauce, but the fries weren’t the best – they were fried for too long and hard.
Verdict: You must order this, it’s kinda life changing. It’s creamy, and the barbeque eel was meaty and flavourful.
Verdict: You could pass on this one. It’s good but doesn’t compare to the Unagi Don (I took the leftover Unagi Don sauce and dumped it on this dish).
We were stuffed by lunch end, I mean look at those portion sizes – they were pretty big. After lunch, we went to Pacific Mall to look for cool, red glasses for Mom. You can never had enough pairs of cool glasses!
Shiso Tree Cafe
3160 Steeles Ave. East – Unit 1
Markham, ON L3R 4G9
I’ve always been the world’s slowest eater according to family and friends.
- I take tiny bites to draw out the time that I spend with a really good chocolate cake.
- I distract myself by chatting and forgetting that I have to eat even if it’s delicious dim sum.
- I sometimes pick at my bento boxes and eat the good parts (ie. not the rice) then slowly eat the not-so-good parts (ie. the rice).
Then, D came along. He is the boss, and he won’t put up with my slow-eating habit. In fact, cooking and baking has to be done in ultra speed too.
So during the holidays, any baking had to be made with easy-to-find ingredients, quick and super delicious. Here is the recipe that did the trick:
Brownies! But, brownies with a secret weapon: Persimons®.
Growing up, my mom bought the short and stout persimmons for the family. They took awhile to ripen and sweeten, but Persimons from Spain are different.
So, here is the recipe! Most of the ingredients are likely already in your fridge and pantry:
1 Persimon®, peeled and chopped
⅔ cup (150 mL) sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice
Place the chopped Persimon® in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour the puree into a saucepan. Add sugar and lemon juice stirring slowly over medium low heat until the consistency of jam. Approx. 5 minutes. Set aside.
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
5 oz. (150 g) bittersweet chocolate (70%)
⅔ cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50 mL) Persimon® jam
3 large eggs
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
¾ cup (175mL) all-purpose flour
Grease an 8 X 8 inch (20cm) baking pan and line bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch (2.5cm) overhang on two sides. Place butter and dark chocolate in a sauce pan over low heat and melt until smooth. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the Persimon® jam, stir and remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with a pinch of salt and vanilla until slightly foamy. Add sifted flour and blend until just incorporated. Being careful not to over mix. Pour the brownie batter into the baking pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and spread the remaining Persimon® jam over the top of the brownie while it is still hot. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 2 inch squares.
Makes 9 servings
Tah-dah! Easy peasy brownies with Persimons. Cy helped me with the garnishes – sliced persimons and some lemon!
NOW, THE BIG CONTEST
Roundtrip charter airfare for two (2) to Spain from the closest available gateway offered by D.O. Kaki Ribera del Xúquer.
- Accommodations for two (2) for seven (7) nights at a 4-Star Hotel, located in downtown Valencia, based on single room double occupancy.
- Breakfasts for 7 days for 2 people.
- Transfers in destination country (From and to Airport /Hotel only)
- Taxes are included.
Contest closes: January 31st, 2015 at 11:59 P.M. E.S.T.
Poutine has this special little spot in my heart. There are only good memories that came served fries, cheese curds and gravy.
Friendship Poutine One of my best friends, Pia, loves poutine as much as me. When we have a serious catch up, I’d message her on the way to her place and ask, “what do you want?” She almost always says poutine, and I’m glad. So, I call it friendship poutine.
Ottawa When Cy lived in Vancouver and I lived in Toronto, he had a work trip in Kingston. It was perfect meeting place to start a mini trip to Ottawa together. It was in the middle of the winter, and all I remember was the bumpy Rideau Canal skate, hundreds of layers, and Smoke’s Poutinerie shared as a snack and breather from the cold.
Giant Poutine I dare you to find someone who loves poutine more than my friend Say who layers it with a pack of bacon in giant aluminum pans.
A new memory was made recently at La Banquise. Cy and I drove almost 6 hours to Montreal for a mini getaway and to eat some poutine. No kidding, we checked into our Buddhist Temple (thanks Air BnB), and walked over to the “best poutine place in Montreal” in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood.
We go there, and no line ups! It was late afternoon, way after lunch and a bit before dinner so go then. We were seated right away, and we had choices to make with the menu of over 28 poutine kinds.
Forget it, I went with the traditional poutine, La Classique. That will give you the real benchmark of a good poutine.This was all mine, a regular-sized portion of fries, cheese curds and gravy. There was a generous amount of squeeky cheese curds and an even amount of not-too-salty gravy all over the fries. Together, it was good but not the best poutine because of the foundation ingredient aka fries could have been more crisp and less burnt. Plus, some of the cheese curds could have been layered into the fries so that they melted a bit.Cy got something different, and he ordered Le Elvis. Look at that, it’s a bit of a heart attack with the ground meat, green peppers and mushrooms. It’s a hamburger poutine (that’s what Cy said)! The toppings really made the poutine taste far different than mine, and a bit sweet. Look at our excited faces. There is no after shot, but we really did finish our poutines and washed it down with some San Pellegrino. And, it just cost us over $20. Not bad for a good poutine, and another good poutine memory for the brain bank.
Almost a year ago, I joined American Express. In ways, it was like starting at a new school with a new building, new things to learn, and new people.
Some of those new people became friends, and it’s just nice to have coworkers that you actually want to spend time with outside of work.
Recently, Cy and I joined Lucy, Sandy, Crysthian (Sandy’s husband), Anooja and Sagar for some morning brunch – my favourite meal of the day! We picked Starving Artist on St. Clair from a friend’s reco of the waffles.
And, we ordered waffles and more.
This is what you have to order here: potato waffles. They taste like crispy mashed potatoes in waffle format. Mine were ordered with sour cream, cheese, chives and bacon (Fully Loaded – $11). The salad and fruit were so so.No surprise here, we all ordered some kind of waffle. And, the verdict was that they were all pretty good – everything but the slow service. From top left (clockwise): The Hitchhiker ($11) with that healthy side of bacon; BLT Sandwich ($9) without the bacon; Tex Mex Chicken Sandwich with really sweet beans ($9); and Breakfast Benny ($11.50) with that creamy hollandaise on poached egg and potato waffle – what a combo!Food and friends, that’s a better combo.
Get your potato waffles at Starving Artist:
1078 Saint Clair Ave W Toronto ON M6E1A5
I can never say no to one thing. That’s dessert. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Really, I could. Ask Cy, and he would agree and shake his head at the same time.
So, imagine if dessert was actually good for you! No, really it can be. I was asked by Sandy (@savvari) to take part in a recipe post featuring a USA-grown brown rice (“unrefined” kind of white rice). It turns out that brown rice is a heck a lot better for you than white rice. Here are some health benefits you might enjoy:
- High fibre content for better poop
- Rich in naturally-occurring oils to fight cholesterol
- Rich in anti-oxidants just like blueberries
So, brown rice is good for you and I had dessert on my mind. Thai sticky rice with mango using brown rice!
Ingredients for this simple dessert included the following:
Plus, glutinous rice, maple syrup, and water.
1. Soak 1/2 cup of brown rice with 1/2 cup of glutinous rice in 1 cup of water for at least 30 minutes
2. Pour all the rice and water into a pot + additional 3/4 cup of water + 1/4 can of coconut milk, and bring to a gentle boil
3. Add a pinch of salt, and 3-4 tablespoons of maple syrup – then, bring down the heat to med-high with the lid half on so that the steam escapes
4. Stir from time to time, and turn off the heat after 20 minutes. Let it sit with the lid fully covering the pot for 5-10 minutes
5. In a separate pot, prepare the coconut sauce with the remaining coconut milk – heat and add some maple syrup to sweeten
6. To assemble, place rice into a cup to mold it then flip it onto a plate. Pour coconut sauce, and top with sliced ripe mango and grated lime zest
*I tried cooking the rice over the stove top, but you could probably try this in a rice cooker – my favourite way to cook brown rice.
For more information and a special brown rice recipe, take a look at the vid below:
Thanks to Sandy and USA Rice for this opportunity to try brown rice from USA.
Cy and I have a secret handshake when we celebrate small and big things. After we pulled off this turducken, we must have done this handshake like 100 times. I mean, we had to pull this off. We didn’t want to disappoint ourselves and the friends that we promised to feed.
So, this is how we did it!
Buy all of these necessary ingredients: Whole turkey, whole chicken and duck breast. Meatballs are optional.
Buy or make your favourite stuffing.
1) Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.
2) Debone the chicken – yes, the chicken first before the turkey! You can “practice” on the chicken, and it doesn’t matter if it looks “bad” since it goes in the turkey. Use a sharp knife – we didn’t have a filleting knife, so Cy used both a Chef’s knife and utility knife.
3) Debone the turkey. If you are using a frozen turkey, make sure that it is completely defrosted!
4) Remove the duck skin from the duck breast.
5) Brine all the meats overnight. Use 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of brown sugar dissolved in 1 gallon of water.
6) Remove meats from the brine, and start the meat layering! Open the turkey breasts, and place stuffing inside. Then, layer the chicken, and duck on top.
7) Sew up the turducken. We MacGyvered it, and used the twine we had at home. Once sewn up, we stuffed it with meatballs to “fill it up”. Tie the turducken so it holds it’s shape – across it’s “waist” and from “head” to “butt.”
8) Season the turducken however you want. We used a mixture of rosemary, garlic powder, basil, freshly ground salt and pepper. Plus, we added garlic slivers in the skin.
9) Slather the turducken with melted butter, and cover it in foil. Throw it in the oven, and baste every 30 minutes.
10) Remove the foil with 1 hour left to brown it! 25-30 mins/lb of turducken.
Slice, and serve! And, secret handshakes.
*Happy Thanksgiving to everyone*
First and last picture by Susan – thank you for being our star photographer!
Pinterest was invented for pictures to be taken at The Grange of Prince Edward, a winery about 2 hours east of Toronto. Cy and I snapped away as we enjoyed our “Day in the Life” tour as part of our fun times to celebrate our 2-year wedding anniversary. Really, it felt like yesterday when Cy was doing cartwheels at our wedding reception!
After a breakfast fuel up for our tour (and cartwheels), we were led outdoors to get started. You would think that the owner would be way too busy to take a small tour of four people (Cy, me, and our new and charming friends, T and D) for an entire morning and afternoon. But, no. The Grange of Prince Edward is run by Caroline Granger who is so hands on with her operation of the estate vineyards and winery. She gets and respects the field-to-table mentality with a sustainable spin on it all.
For example, all wine is produced from the on-site vineyards grown free of nasty pesticides – nature helps nature with alfalfa plants used to attract insect pests away from the grapes.
After touring the lush vineyards, we went to an organic chem. lab. Well, it felt like it with the beakers and graduated cylinders when it came to the blending exercise with white wines including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling . After three tries, we perfected something that actually tasted sweet, light and didn’t burn our throats! Caroline said that it was a “racy” wine blend.
Check out our bottles with our homemade labels – Cy and I created the ones with the castle die cuts (such keeners).
Next up was lunch! Chef Kyle prepared a too-cute picnic basket packed to the brim with goodies like with egg salad sandwiches (the eggs were freshly laid earlier that morn!) rainbow beet salad, Seed to Sausage meats and desserts – maple brioche “tim bits” and pear cheesecake with fresh cheese.
The tour continued with a view into the entire wine production process and a wine tasting! I recommend the Grange Fumé Blanc for it’s smokey and fruit taste.
After everything, we were pooped! Thank you, Caroline for your passion for honest-to-goodness approach to “craft” winery that turns the other cheek to the “corporate” ways of producing delicious wines.
NOTE: Cy and I were lucky to have enjoyed this experience as affiliate bloggers for Buytopia! Thank you to Melissa and her team there.