Toronto Eats: Kub Khao

The opening of Kub Khao Thai Eatery in Scarborough is a game changer. Before this, good Thai food used to be something we had to schlep to the downtown core for, all while suffering through interminably long subway rides, incessant track work delays or slow-moving streetcars. But not anymore! Now we get to contend with the bus system!

Presently, Kub Khao is in a plaza at Birchmount and Sheppard with a striking view of the gas station. Scenery aside, this little restaurant and take out spot, promising lemongrass-scented coconut curries, caramelized grilled meats (the kind with the burnt crispy edges–yum!), pad thai and noodles, warm soups (khao soi, tom yum) and all sorts of heavenly goodies (fried chicken, curry puffs, chicken toast, etc), has so much variety on the menu that it’s almost impossible to settle on just one thing. This means repeated visits will be very, very necessary.

Am I already in love with Kub Khao? Yes. Yes, I am.

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Easy Homemade English Muffins

Making English muffins from scratch is much easier than you think. You don’t even need an oven. There are plenty of recipes out there that look promising (each with different dough consistency, method, fermentation time, etc…), including one I’ve bookmarked in my favourite bread making book (Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley), but today I present a relatively fast and simple recipe adapted from beautiful French blogger extraordinaire,  Mimi Thorisson.

These muffins can be made within an hour and half. (That’s a good thing to know, especially on days when you wake up craving a certain breakfast sandwich from a certain fast food chain.)

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Because the rise time is so short, the muffins won’t have time to develop much flavour. (Longer rise time = more flavour.) Buttermilk, which adds a bit of a tang, will help give it some depth. But don’t worry if you don’t have any, water works just fine.

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Another great thing about this recipe is that you won’t need those English muffins molds. The dough is firm and can be rolled and cut (or shaped by hand), then pan fried. The muffins will puff up once they hit the pan. If you prefer thinner muffins, lightly press them down. (Also, if your muffins look misshapen and weird, like mine on the first try, that’s totally fine!)

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Once baked, cut the muffins open and toast. (In our hungry rush to eat, we didn’t even think of toasting the muffins! Shame. Just imagine the photo of the muffin above all brown and toasted.)

Homemade English Muffins

  • Servings: 10-16 English Muffins
  • Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
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Recipe adapted from Mimi Thorisson’s Eggs Benedict post.

Ingredients

300 g  (1 1/4 cup) of lukewarm water or buttermilk
560 g (3 1/2 to 4 cups) of all-purpose flour
10 g of fresh yeast / 1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
2 eggs whites, beaten to soft peaks
1/2 cup of coarse cornmeal

Preparation

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, pour the lukewarm water and/or buttermilk and mix in the yeast. Add in the dry ingredients followed by the egg whites. Mix well until smooth. (If it doesn’t seem like the dough will combine, use your hands to pinch them together.) Once the dough starts to stick together, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until elastic and silky. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a clean cloth. (To prevent the dough from drying, I sometimes rub a bit of oil over the dough.) Let rise 1 hour in a warm place.

Once risen, roll out the dough and cut out into rounds using a cookie cutter or a glass. Dip the dough in cornmeal and let rest for another 30 minutes.

While the dough is proofing, heat a slightly oiled frying pan or skillet until hot. Reduce to medium high and fry each muffins on the pan for 4 minutes on each side. If it seems like the English Muffins are burning, reduce the temperature.

Late lunch at Kadbanu

The light at Kadbanu, an Iranian café and kitchen on Dundas West, is a dream. By the time we finished our meal–lovely, hearty stews with some sharp pickles–I was determined that my own kitchen would need to have white and blue tiles. I really can’t get over how bright and fresh the space was. If you’re in the neighbourhood, it’s definitely worth a stop. Have a Persian chai and enjoy.

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Gheymeh – Split peas with beef shanks stewed in tomatoes and dried lime.

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Ghormeh Sabzi – Fresh herb stew with red kidney beans and beef shank.

Kadbanu
771 Dundas St. West | Website

Kale and Chorizo Bread Pudding

The Super Bowl is over and you don’t know what to do with all the garlic bread you made, obviously.

For when you have stale week-old garlic bread in your fridge. Why? Because your family goes all out with party food and you’ve been eating leftovers all week. So, nobody’s been cooking and now it’s the weekend again and all the food is gone–not even any rice left!–BUT there’s garlic bread.  And some kale… Oooh, look, a piece of chorizo. Cheese? Yes, there’s cheese. Do you still have eggs? Yep. Milk? Cream? What are you waiting for?

For sure, this bread pudding is a heavy hitter. No hungry stomachs will be left behind. You’ll feel full for the rest of the afternoon, which is fine, because it’s the weekend (I’m assuming you’ll be making this on Saturday) and you can take a nap and digest it off.

If you have some leafy greens or some slaw, they’ll make a nice addition to the plate.

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Of course, if you don’t have any garlic bread, kale or chorizo, that’s fine. In the original recipe, which comes from Tartine Bread, Chad Robertson uses mushroom, leeks, radicchio and ham for his savoury bread pudding. The recipe is a basic formula that would work with any sort of cooked vegetables and/or meat.

One other note: make sure the egg custard goes as close to the rim of your baking dish or at least covers the top of your bread. I didn’t do that and the exposed top bits were just a tad difficult to chew. So, do as I say, not as I do.

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Kale and Chorizo Bread Pudding

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hour maximum
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Recipe adapted from Tartine Bread

You can also assemble the dish a day ahead and store it in the fridge, letting it come to room temperature before baking.

Savoury Bread Pudding
3 slices of leftover garlic bread…or any stale crusty bread, torn into large chunks
Handful of kale, stems removed and leaf roughly chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup chorizo, cubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil

For Custard
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup of sharp cheese, grated
Herbs of choice (fresh or dried thyme, sage or oregano should do)

In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, pan fry the chorizo until crispy. Add in the kale, season and cook until tender. Set aside and let cool down.

In a bowl, whisk eggs and salt until well blended. Add milk, cream, herbs, half of the cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place the bread, chorizo and kale in a large souffle dish or any suitable oven-proof dish (1-quart pyrex casserole dish). Pour in the custard so that it comes all the way to the rim, stir once or twice to get an even mix of everything. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Let stand for 8 to 10 until the custard saturates the bread.

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Bake until the custard is no longer runny in the center, about 35 to 50 minutes. Let the pudding rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Quinoa Salad with Lemon and Cumin Vinaigrette

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If you’re looking to practise your dicing skills, then this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink quinoa salad is a winner. Similar to a tabouleh, all the vegetables are diced as small as possible and then mixed with your favourite grain/protein and choice herbs. In this version, I’ve gone with corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes paired with mint, parsley and green onions. For the dressing, a really fresh, but hearty tasting lemon and cumin vinaigrette makes it perfect for easing into the end of summer.

Quinoa Salad with Lemon and Cumin Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4-6 people
  • Difficulty: easy
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For the salad
2 cups of cooked quinoa*
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 of a cucumber, diced
1 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels
1/4 of green onions, chopped
Handful of mint and parsley, roughly chopped

*One cup of dry quinoa will yield three cups of cooked quinoa. To cook them, rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cold water and soak it in a bowl of water for 15 minutes before rinsing again. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and add the quinoa. Cook for about 1 minute until the water evaporates and the quinoa is toasted. Add 2 cups of water or broth and a pinch of salt. After the water comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low. Cover and cook until the water has all been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and it stand for 5 more minutes.

Fluff and dress the quinoa as desired!

Lemon and Cumin Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

In a bowl whisk together the the lemon juice, cumin, cracked pepper, salt and oil until emulsified.

After combining the vinaigrette with the quinoa salad, cover the bowl and let it rest in the fridge for about 10 to 15 minutes so the flavours are all absorbed!

Roberta’s Pizza Dough and a Fifteen Minutes Pizza Sauce

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that the most hated ingredients can be made appealing to the pickiest of eaters on top of a pizza. That, my friends, is one of life’s greatest mysteries. For example? I spent the first twenty-two years of my life avoiding cheese, but would somehow magically eat pizza. The first time I accepted eggplants into my life was through an incredible spicy eggplant pizza (from Toronto’s own Pizzeria Libretto). My uncle, whose face twisted as he ate kale one night, had no issue eating about half of the kale pizza I made the next day. I suspect that one day I will probably have goat cheese or blue cheese on pizza and my life will be irrevocably changed for the better (or so they tell me).

Roberta's Pizza Dough and a Fifteen Minutes Pizza Sauce

  • Servings: Two 12-inch pizzas
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Roberta’s Pizza Dough
slightly adapted*
makes two pizzas, original recipe via New York Times

306 grams all-purpose flour
200 grams lukewarm tap water
8 grams salt
4 grams of olive oil
16 grams of baker’s yeast

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.

In a smaller mixing bowl, stir the water, yeast and olive oil, making sure that the yeast has dissolved completely. Pour the mixture into the flour. Knead with your hands until well combined, about 3 minutes, and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

After the dough has rested, knead it for about 3 more minutes. Cut into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a tight ball. Place on a floured surface and cover with a dampened cloth. Let dough rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or 8 to 24 hours in the fridge. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 25 minutes before you shape it make pizza.)

To make pizza, place each ball on a heavily floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares. Top with your favourite ingredients and bake for about 10 minutes.

*The NYT recipe recommends using half and half of 00 Flour/pizza flour (153 grams) and All-Purpose (153 grams) and they use active dry yeast (2 grams).

15-Minutes Pizza Sauce
makes enough for one pizza

1 1/2 cups of crushed tomatoes and tomato juice
4 tablespoon of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly diced
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of dried parsley

In small sauce pan, sautee the garlic for one hot second over medium heat. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, sugar, basil and parsley and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and let the sauce reduce for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Quick and Summery Grape Tomato and Garlic Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

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Grape and cherry tomatoes are in peak season in summer. They’re perfect in quick and simple summer recipes like skewers, salads and make for excellent sauces when you’ve got an excess after a barbecue (or when you’ve been rained out from one). Pasta sauces that don’t require you to stand over a hot stove are an added bonus in summer, so here’s our version of a classic marinara sauce using roasted grape tomatoes, lots of garlic and fresh basil:

Roasted Garlic and Grape Tomato Spaghetti

  • Servings: 4 people
  • Difficulty: easy
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Via Three Hour Brunch Friend

Ingredients

3 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
1 head of garlic
Handful of fresh basil
1/2 of an onion, sliced
3 tablespoon of olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt*
1 lb of spaghetti [450g]

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

On a baking tray or sheet pan, toss the grape tomatoes and onions in oil and arrange in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt. Cut off the top of the garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap loosely in tin foil. Place the wrapped garlic in the centre of your tray. Bake the tomatoes, onions and garlic for about 30 minutes – until the tomatoes are soft. Check the garlic, it should be soft to the touch and squeeze out of their shells easily. Place all your roasted ingredients and some roughly chopped basil in a food processor (we used a hand blender) and crush them into a consistently chunky texture. Set the sauce aside until ready to use.

Prepare spaghetti according to the package. Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain and portion it out to four plates. Spoon the tomato sauce over the spaghetti and drizzle with more olive oil.

*We used Joe Beef‘s Country Salt

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Poached Egg & Frico

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One of the most beautiful things about a poached egg, or a fried egg, is its amazing ability to turn the sparest of plates into a proper meal. Your salad needs something extra? Top it with an egg. Pancakes or waffles looking a bit lonely? Fried eggs will make it better. In this case, my roasted rainbow carrots, coated in olive oil and seasoned with some spiced herbed salt (Joe Beef brand), needed a friend. The addition of frico (cheese crisps) were the perfect salty and crunchy foil to the sweetness of the carrots.

Roasted Carrots
Serves 2 very hungry folks or 4 nibblers

Ingredients
7 medium sized carrots, peeled and halved
1 teaspoon of spiced salt (if not available, mix the salt with black pepper and dried herbs of your choice)
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Preperation
Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
On baking sheet covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil, toss the carrots with olive oil and salt until thoroughly mixed. Arrange carrots in a single layer, sprinkling a bit more salt on top. Roast for about 30 minutes, flipping the carrots halfway through, until brown and tender.

Frico (Cheese Crisps)
Makes 4 waffers

Ingredients
1/3 cup of grated cheese (firm cheese like Parmesan or Pecorino is ideal, but anything you have on hand should be fine!)

Preperation
Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
Sprinkle about 1 1/2 tablespoon of cheese over a prepared baking sheet. Spread the cheese into an even layer. Repeat three more times, making sure to leave a 3-inch space between each cheese spread. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until the cheese is just about to brown. Remove from the oven. Use a spatula to lift the edges of the crisps and loosen them from the pan. Let them cool on some paper towel before serving.

Asian Beer Can Chicken

My boyfriend wanted to make beer can chicken for our friend’s birthday barbecue. Rather than the usual barbecue rub, we went with something a bit different. But to say it’s simply “Asian” is kinda vague. It’s more of a Beer Can Chicken with a Southeast Asian Twist as the flavour profile leans towards the delicate balance of sweet, sour and salty that is common to Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. This all comes from the magical combination of brown sugar (sweet), lime juice (sour) and fish sauce (salty). (Think beyond ginger and soy sauce, my friends!) The three ingredients are blended together with a generous portion of chopped garlic and red chilli, and then cooked down to a thick paste for glazing the chicken as it cooks. Of course, one of the joys of cooking, as opposed to baking, is that you can adjust the ingredients to taste without any dire consequences. For more mouth puckering sourness, I am considering adding tamarind to the sauce next time…mmm.

We served the chicken with cilantro, green onions and lime wedges. And bread. Lots of bread.

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Continue reading “Asian Beer Can Chicken”

A few favourites for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is coming! I’ve dug into my old blog’s archive to find some of my favourite recipes. What will you make?

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Dutch Baby Pancakes: Regular pancakes are nice, but kinda boring. Change it up with an eggy German-style pancake. For a cuter presentation, make them in muffin pans for individual mini pancakes. [Recipe.]

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Cheesy cast iron skillet scones: Because why not? Everything looks better in a cast iron skillet. [Recipe.]

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Baklava: Easy as one, two, three. You just need store-bought filo, chopped nuts (any nuts will do, but go for pistachio for something luxe), cardamom, powdered sugar, and syrup. Simply assemble and bake. [Recipe.]

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Earl Grey and Grapefruit Pound Cake: A thick slice of citrusy pound cake paired with tea. Perfect for Mother’s Day. [Recipe.]

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Tea-Infused Milk Jam/Dulce de Leche: My special occasion treat (I usually make it around Christmas time). It can be used for baking or as a topping wherever you see fit. [Recipe.]