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February, 2011:


Led by Suresh Doss five us took our stomach’s on a two-stop tour of Gerrard’s food offerings from the Subcontinent. The highlight for me was Nitya which is pan-Indian, has a buffet, and, gasp, leans pretty heavily on the curry house favourites but the food is really delicious.

The service at Nitya is well-paced and efficient without being solicitous. Our first course takes a while longer than expected to arrive but we fill the time with complaints about the slow-pace of watermelon growth in Farmville and the dangers of buying couches off craigslist. (more…)

Almost Famous Judging

Winston Lin cool under pressure

This week I had the pleasure of sitting on the judging panel for the Canada Regional of the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition. Eight culinary students competed for the chance to move on to the North American finals.

Jean-Francois Daigle's winning plate

Jean-Francois Daigle's winning plate

Jean-Francois Daigle’s honey-seared bison tenderloin was the judges’ favourite. Jean-Francois is originally from Dieppe, New Brunswick and studies at The George Brown Chef’s School in Toronto. (more…)

Beer Cooler Chili

My entry at 86'd Monday and the thematic beer cooler (smaller than the one I used for the cooking)

I like competitions. Hell, who doesn’t? I especially enjoy opportunities to be competitive while cooking instead of having to run or throw balls which is often (though not always) a losing proposition. So I was more than happy to say “yes” when Ivy Knight asked me to participate in the 86′d Monday Chili Cook Off at the Drake.

The chili pendulum swings between two extremes. The vast majority of cooks include beans, some other protein, and a reddish-brown sauce. But while some purists won’t allow any other vegetables into their recipe, others take chili as an opportunity to empty their fridges and freezers of such diverse ingredients as eggplant, ground turkey, and peanut butter. For my entry I wanted my creation to be solidly between these two extremes.

Out of curiosity and because I think it delivers better results I cooked the three elements–beans, beef, and sauce–separately. By preparing the sauce first it’s already reduced and concentrated so the meat can be cooked in it in a closed container. (That last point and the post’s title should make for some pretty obvious foreshadowing.) The beans benefit most from the separate cooking because tomatoes and molasses contain acid that would slow their cooking. (more…)

Winter Clafouti

Straight out the oven the clafouti is golden brown and puffed but will fall when cool

I can’t be the only who spent all summer putting fruit and vegetables in jars and now begins to wonder what to do with all of these preserves. Holiday sharing helped take a bite out of the surplus but there is still a ways to go and I’m tired of hearing about how well it all works with ice cream.

I called a 250 ml jar of my strawberries in syrup and the heel of a jar of balsamic cherries into service to make the clafouti recipe from the Earth to Table cookbook. (more…)


Three jars of homemade kimchi

Homemade sauerkraut is cheap, delicious and customizable, and in its own way, fun.  But the process smells really bad. Until I design an animal-proof, outdoor kraut fermenter I think my days of doing it at home are finished.  But what about sauerkraut’s Korean cousin, kimchi?  It only needs one to two days of room temperature fermentation before being tightly-sealed and refrigerated.  That means that even though kimchi usually includes a fermented fish product it’s cost in terms of smell pollution is much lower.

Several months ago the guys from Paupered Chef, Nick and Blake, had a great series of posts where they compared their kimchi results in search of the ultimate recipe. I was curious and decided to try and create my own version based on attributes of each of theirs. Eric Vellend also had a couple articles in The Star about kimchi as a restaurant trend in Toronto and his recipe.

First the terminology: In the Momofuku cookbook David Chang writes that napa cabbage kimchi is paechu kimchi and radish kimchi is kakdugi. The principle ingredient in my adaptation is cabbage but korean radish is also included so I guess it is paechu kakdugi kimchi. (more…)