Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Basket '13

Every year I make a christmas basket for a select group of friends and family. This year I made 20 with the theme of nostalgia, which included edible cookie dough that looks and feels like the stuff you bake (minus the raw egg), a jar of jelly reminiscent of Jell-o, hot chocolate mix and my homemade tea blend. A paper fortune teller was included, designed to help the basket's receiver decide what to eat first.

 Mint, chamomile & rosehip tea

 Hot chocolate mix: Sucant (dried sugar cane), raw cocao, vanilla powder, cinnamon.

 Strawberry, cucumber & mint jelly.

 Edible chocolate cookie "dough": butter, flour, brown sugar, vanilla powder, almond milk, chocolate chips.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Secrets & Lies: Pop Up Dinner Series

Over the last two months I've had the pleasure of working with a very talented team to host a series of pop-up dinners held at spontaneous locations around Toronto. The team is backed by Danny Gunam (Owner of the restaurant Ganzi), the chefs, Joe Friday and Devan Rajkumar, and the cooks, myself and Lucas Jones (part owner of Southern Smoke Truck).

The location was announced to rsvp'd guests the day of each dinner - the first at Cabal, the second at College Street Bar. There's always an element of surprise for us too - we had a health inspector show up for one and a shortage of plates during another! It's difficult to capture everything on camera with all of the commotion, but here's a small glimpse behind the scenes of Secrets & Lies.

A shot of rum to get the team started! From left to right: Devan, Blaine, Nicole, Lucas and Joe
Ramen noodles dyed with squid ink.

Joe plating the cold dish

Lighting the japanese wood, lit table-side with the pork belly.

Gin infused squash soup.
Shrimp served in shots of raita.
Lobster bisque ramen with poached lobster, calamari and bonito flakes.
The kitchen was a tight space, this is where the finished dishes went out.
Beef tongue steam buns with pickled coleslaw
Seared pork belly with crispy pork rind, and a side of Hawaiian poi.


Lucas slicing the beef tongue.
Charred scallions for garnish
 Brussels caught in action.
Scallops doused in frothy butter.
Dinner samples!
Blowing up Twitter.
Devan giving the servers a briefing

Pork shoulder arancini balls.
Jerk turkey steam bun with cranberry compote and a soy glaze.
Purple brussels with pickled onion, candied pecans and apple.
Getting psyched and waiting for orders to come in!
Some gin for a little fun.
This is the point when we ran out of plates. The chits wouldn't stop coming!
Lucas with a steam bun spewing turkey.
Dessert! Charred chocolate brownie with matcha ricotta icing, strawberry sauce and sesame syrup.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Fall Food Diary

Ever since the weather got a little colder, I've had this compulsion to eat really warm, comforting food. Autumn has provided us with an abundance of roots like beets, squash, turnip and sun chokes, each holding a firm flesh, that turn somewhat sweet and meaty when roasted slowly. Most of the dishes that follow were inspired by local farmers markets where I was able to buy fresh ingredients at their peek season. Others were inspired by my cold apartment.
Smoked pork hock soup with golden beets and sweet dumpling squash. This soup is very simple. I braised the hock (bought from Twin Creeks organic farm) and used the pork stock as the base. It's savoury but the beets and squash as a slight sweetness.This is my favourite soup since making it. 

The Gojiccino. This is my knock-off version of the Gojiccino, sold at Fresh. Using homemade Goji berry milk, I heated and combined it with Dandy Blend (a powdered mix of roasted chicory and dandelion), cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, water, almond milk, and some agave to sweeten. The Dandy Blend gives it a coffee-like flavour, making it the ultimate hot and healthy drink over the cold months!
Cheesy polenta with roasted roots and sauteed kale. This dish doesn't look as yummy as it tasted. I roasted sunchokes, turnip and heirloom carrots, and let them sink into the soft, creamy polenta, flavoured with aged cheddar. Topped with kale sauteed with garlic and cherry tomatoes.
Roasted squash stuffed with apple polenta and egg yolk. Sweet dumpling squash is my favourite when roasted with garlic and butter because of its sweet, creamy texture. Here I roasted and pureed some Golden Delicious apple to mix with the polenta, as well as some Wensleydale cranberry cheese. The yolk on top was slightly roasted, but still very runny inside, giving a creamy finish.
Egg on toast with quinoa salad and sauteed mushrooms. Toasted rye with cream cheese from my local cheese shop and an over easy egg. Sauteed onion and Chantrelle mushrooms from Forbes Wild Foods, and quinoa salad with fresh veggies, lemon dressing and sprouts from Kind Organics.
Beet, radish and roasted onion lasagna. This unconventional lasagna is layered with thinly sliced candy cane beets, heirloom radishes, roasted onions and ricotta. Topped with aged Beemster cheese and baked at a high temp, the result is somewhat like a lasagna!

Braised Pork  in red curry coconut sauce, roasted cauliflower, pickled onion, tomato and pine nuts. This is like a pulled pork curry made creamy with coconut milk. The pickled onions were extremely rich after preserving in jars for almost 6 months. 

About Me

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Humble Pie has coincidentally captured my journey from an amateur home cook to professional cook/caterer. What was once somewhat of a food journal is now a place where interesting food things are discussed, discovered and drooled over. I am an aspiring food writer, freelance cook and co-founder of Phat N' Phull Catering. I also have a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University.