Wednesday, October 31, 2012

bouchon bakery love

One of my regrets for not starting a food blog earlier is that I never got to share some of the amazing food we ate during our past trips (Hong Kong, Tokyo, Hawaii, London, Las Vegas, etc). Of course, that just means that we need to travel some more!

But seriously, one of the places that we discovered (and fell in love with) while on our travels was the Bouchon Bakery in Las Vegas.

During our first trip to Vegas, we stayed at the Venetian, which has both a Bouchon and a Bouchon Bakery (both places are under the Thomas Keller umbrella, and if you're into food at all, you already know who THAT is). After our first morning, we were completely hooked on the pastries at Bouchon Bakery and ended up eating breakfast here every day (macarons the size of my hand! sweet and chewy pain au chocolat! luscious cheese danishes!) On our second trip, we stayed at Treasure Island and ended up walking over to the Venetian for breakfast at Bouchon Bakery at least three of the five days we were there. Are we hooked, or what?

So when I heard that Thomas Keller's next book was focused on Bouchon Bakery, (we already have all his other books) it was immediately placed at the top of my "Must Have" list of cookbooks. Then, I found out that The Cookbook Store was hosting a book launch event with Thomas Keller! What?! Sign me up! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

leftover turkey dinner pucks

Paul and I always have a plan for Thanksgiving leftovers - turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwiches! For a week! LOL. I'm sure there are many of you out there that have similar plans for your leftovers, whether you celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving (in October) or American Thanksgiving (in November).

This year, we had another plan for our leftovers.

Paul and I attended the Toronto Underground Market back in September and one of the treats we tried was the awesome Thanksgiving Puck from Royal Tree Beaver. After blogging about how much we enjoyed them, Royal Tree Beaver tweeted us back and challenged us to create our own (especially timely since Thanksgiving was right around the corner).

So, after stuffing ourselves at two family dinners, we made sure to take home lots of leftovers to put together our own Leftover Turkey Dinner Pucks - turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. 

I'm providing a recipe for our version of Leftover Turkey Dinner Pucks (which differs from Royal Tree Beaver's with the addition of turkey), but really, this is more of a general guideline than a recipe. The pucks can be adjusted based on the leftovers you have and your own preferences.

Our pucks came out AMAZING. They were crispy and full of flavour and were a really delicious way to use up leftovers. We can't wait until the next turkey dinner (at Christmas) to make these again. Actually, would it be weird if we celebrated American Thanksgiving too? 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

the business of food trucks

Most people who like food and like to eat are aware of the growing trend of Food Trucks. I think my fascination with food trucks stems from my childhood memories of hearing the musical tinkling of the ice cream truck rollling down the street.

But Food Trucks are serious business and it's growing. Although many cities are now working on laws and regulations to keep the Food Truck trend in check, I think it's definitely something that will only continue to grow.

Now, I recently was sent this infographic about the business of food trucks and thought it would be cool to share it with my readers. To let you in on a secret: I'm a real sucker for infographics - they make reading facts so much more fun!

Anyhow, the information in this particular infographic is for the US only, but it's still interesting to me as I believe that the US is far ahead of Canada in the Food Truck game.

Have a look and let me know if there's anything in this infographic that surprises you!

America's Food Truck Infographic
Infographic provided by

Friday, October 12, 2012

pumpkin spice baked doughnut holes

It's been awhile since I pulled out my babycakes cake pops maker, so I figured Thanksgiving would be a great time to try another recipe. We had two Thanksgiving dinners to hit, so I wanted something that featured pumpkin, but that was easy to make.

These aren't the traditional cake pops (the ones that are a mash of cake and frosting) but are more of a mix between a cake pop and a doughnut hole (since doughnuts are traditionally fried, I wasn't sure if they were real doughnut holes either). To make these baked doughnut holes, I modified a pumpkin spice muffin recipe that I love so they ended up fluffy and moist.

I know it's never a good idea to make a new recipe for a large getogether, but hey, I like living dangerously (haha, not really), but I figured that since no one knew I was bringing a dessert, if this turned into a massive fail, I could just leave the entire mess at home.

Turned out that I didn't have anything to worry about - these turned out really good. My brother-in-law, Mike, doesn't like pumpkin anything, but even he enjoyed these, since the pumpkin flavour is really subtle. I coated the first batch in cream cheese frosting, but they're just as good without frosting, if you prefer something a little less sweet.

Friday, October 5, 2012

our first TUM (toronto underground market), part 2

(Note: This is the second part of a two-part series about our first TUM. You can read Part 1 here)

After the Thanksgiving Pucks, we headed to the back of the venue to a surprisingly short line up for Fidel Gastro’s (@fidelgastros). I had heard a lot about them on Twitter so was excited to try their food. After browsing the menu, I settled on trying the Gorgeous Jorge ($5) – a sandwich of peanut butter pulled pork, bacon jam and crackling. I think it was the word crackling that won me over. This was a little saltier than I expected (maybe it was the bacon jam?) and the combination of peanut butter and pork was a little weird, but the more I ate, the more I liked it. And the surprise crackling bits throughout the sandwich were really good. It was pretty cool how crunchy they managed to stay squished in that pork and jam mix.

At this point, the live music was really getting going and it was our only complaint about the event. Ok, I get it – live music makes for a really fun atmosphere, and the musicians were talented, but it was SO LOUD. Because of the venue, the sound was really reverberating around the walls. I couldn’t hear Paul, he couldn’t hear me (even when I was yelling directly into his ear), I couldn’t hear the vendors and vendors couldn’t hear my order. It was actually kind of annoying. Everyone around us was shouting at each other and repeating their shouting since no one could hear each other. Since this is an event that encourages chatting and sharing of food experiences, it was a little off-putting to not be able to speak to each other about what we were eating...

We then headed to the open pavilion section where I had the surprise of the night. We saw the sign for Shinaki Co. (@shinaki_co), a vendor I had never heard of, but they had Char Siu listed on their board, which is one of Paul’s favourite dishes, so we figured we should give it a try. As I headed towards their table, the girl who was taking orders and I looked at each other and just burst into laughter. It was my friend Sandy, who I’ve known since high school but haven’t seen in YEARS! How’s that for a coincidence? Her brother (to quote Sandy) “does pork like nobody’s business”. Paul and I ordered the pork belly plate ($5) (which came with some salted peanuts, a nice sweet bun, hot mustard and hot sauce) and was plated in a restaurant-like manner. Verdict – some of the BEST pork belly either of us have ever had and probably one of our favourite dishes of the night (and I'm not just saying that because I know Sandy!).

I was so excited to see Sandy again that I forgot to take a photo of our food from Shinaki, but before we left, I headed back there and asked if I could sneak behind the table to take some shots and she was kind enough to let me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

our first TUM (toronto underground market), part 1

(Note: We had so much fun at September’s TUM that I have A LOT to say about it, so I’ve split this post into 2 parts. Watch for Part 2 coming up in a couple of days!) 

Thanks to the super generous Jen of foodpr0n, Paul and I got to attend the nighttime Toronto Underground Market (TUM) this past Sunday. We were extra excited because not only was it our first time attending TUM, but it was their First Birthday Bash!

According to their site, “TUM is a social food market for the community to sample the food of Toronto home cooks. It is a venue for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their products. These vendors are not necessarily chefs, although some will be. This is a new kind of community market; not a farmer's market, or a food festival, but something completely unique and new to Toronto.”

I’ve been reading about this event and drooling over TUM photos from my fellow food bloggers for months, but every TUM seemed to fall on a date that we couldn’t make. But not this time!

Warning: Since this was my first TUM, I was so excited to attend as an “eater” that I forgot about approaching the event as a “food blogger” – hence I didn’t have my DSLR, only my iPhone. And of course, my iPhone had less than 30% battery life left before I even entered the building. So, I apologize in advance for the blurry photos – lesson learned for next time!

Taking useful tips from Jon of Chan's a Fan and Jen of foodpr0n’s blog posts, Paul and I arrived early and managed to snag a parking spot at the Evergreen Brickworks. We got into line and waited (impatiently) for the doors to open at 6pm. I was armed with a bottle of water (useful),Tupperware (not that useful) and moist toilettes (super useful).

Since we didn’t know we were going to TUM until the night before, we didn’t really have a plan, so we decided to just let our eyes and noses guide us in our choices. There were a few vendors that I recognized from all my time on Twitter, so I definitely made it a priority to give them a try.