June 2009


Toronto has been the first place that I’ve seen mulberry trees grow. I have been seeing them around town, and the other day, I saw someone eating from the tree. We were walking over to the parade, and noticed that there was a person under the mulberry tree picking fruit off the tree and eating. It had never crossed my mind to actually eat the fruit. We stopped and had a few berries.

eating mulberries off the tree

The ripe berries fell off of the branch once you touched them and are the colour of blackberries. The shape of the mulberries were longer and less plump than blackberries. They tasted less sweet, and more delicate.

mulberries on a rainy day

The whole thing reminds me to try to figure out how to preserve fruits and vegetables. Or, just to stop and eat mulberries instead of hurrying off somewhere.

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Who owns organic food?

organic food infographic
From Phil Howard

HT to the Bitten Blog

Iced coffee is the best thing to drink on a hot summer’s day. I can’t wait for the summer just so I can drink copious amounts of iced coffee (among other cold beverages). I had my first iced coffee of the spring on April 13th, hoping to bring summer more quickly. As many of you have noticed, it has only started to get nice and hot here in Toronto just in the last two weeks.

I was excited to start cold brewing my coffee again for my morning cup of joe.

cold brewed coffee

It’s the easiest thing to do. Get a mason jar, fill it with water and coffee and then just let it sit for about 24 hours. I stick mine in the fridge, but you can also just leave it on the counter top. To strain out the grains, you can just use a fine mesh sieve, or your french press. My inspiration for cold brewing came from an article in the NYT a few years ago. The taste of cold brewed coffee is much more complex than a cup of hot coffee.

A few weeks ago, my friend L was telling me about throwing a birthday party for herself. She was going to cook all the food and invite everyone over for a summer feast in her backyard. L also mentioned that she’d like a cake. A not so subtle hint to break out the bakeware.

Let me just say that yesterday afternoon when I was thinking about baking in this heat wave, I was not excited to be sweating over some cake batter. Then I remembered that the Bitten blog had put out a recipe a few weeks ago on cupcakes that I had been meaning to try. I do not agree at all with the author’s stance on cupcakes. I love cupcakes. In fact, I had a cupcake last week at a new vegan restaurant near my house that totally knocked my socks off. (I’ll save my rant about vegan baking for another time) I will hopefully be able to reproduce those little coconut lemon cupcakes in my kitchen, soon. Big, small, lots of frosting, buttercream, red velvet, pistachio, etc, I love a beautiful little cupcake.

The batter was a snap to make, and I should have reduced the baking time 5 minutes, but I got a bit distracted. The cupcakes came out nicely:

chocolate cupcakes

The ganache was easy peasy, and looked superb on the cupcake:

decorated cupcake

I love decorating cupcakes. You get into a zone that’s almost zen-like. It’s also so satisfying to see them all lined up nicely:

cupcakes all lined up and ready to go!

The cupcakes were a hit, especially the ganache frosting. It was a great backyard party. I’m going to have to make them again this week, and the only thing I’d change is that I would reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes. I think my new oven runs a bit hot.

As I’ve mentioned before, I recently moved to Toronto. It’s been hard finding my footing here, but the food in my neighbourhood is great. Not only do I live next to Koreatown, but I live a stone’s throw away from the best snack ever.

Walnut cakes, if you’ve never seen them are made with a crazy contraption that looks like injection molding for baked goods.

walnut cake machine in action

There’s a person who sits at the machine, s/he puts a walnut into the bottom of the pan, the machine moves the mold forward, injects batter into both sides of the mold, then injects red bean paste and presses them together. The whole thing heats/bakes for like 30-60 seconds. The top lifts off, and the machine pushes out the “walnuts” when it’s done. It’s quite a sight to see.

The walnut cake is like the Korean equivalent to the Timbit or Munchkin/Doughnut Hole I think it’s way tastier though.

The best thing about these walnut cakes is that they’re in the shape of a walnut!
walnut cakes

These beautiful things will run you $1.50 for 6. Way better than any stale Timbit.

hodo kwaja

I’m currently having a preoccupation with making milk by-products. Since I’ve started making my own yogurt I’ve been left with an excess of whey on my hands. I looked around the internet to see what was the best way to use the leftover whey. I found a few ways to use the way:

1. Drink it.
2. Feed it to someone’s dog or cat.
3. Make your own whey powder.
4. Use it in curry, or soup.
5. Bake bread.
6. Make ricotta.
7. Make paneer!

I chose #5, especially since I'm not exactly a huge fan of ricotta. Paneer, I had heard was pretty easy to make. Again my first batch went a bit awry, but my second batch went off without a hitch!

First you start with some whey (about 1/4-1/2 cup) and about a liter of milk (preferably full fat).

step 1, paneer making

Bring the milk up to boil and turn off the heat, immediately add your whey (or other curdling agent like lemon juice). The curds should separate from the whey. If not, stir in more whey.

curds separating from whey

It looks totally funky, but don’t worry! Strain out the curds from the whey by lining a colander with cheesecloth and squeezing out as much water as possible. Quickly run the curds under cold water, and it’s now time to press the paneer.

pressing paneer

I used my cast iron pan with a brick wrapped in newspaper to press my paneer. I let it stand for about an hour and a half. Soak the paneer in cold water in the fridge overnight.

paneer!

I made saag paneer the next day. I would say double the recipe for the amount of paneer that you get from the liter of milk. I found that I had way more paneer than saag.

I spent a nice 22 hours in Boston last month. We went to see Leonard Cohen, and ended up having two beautiful meals.

We ate dinner at erbaluce. Had a glass of Erbaluce which was really quite good. Clean and crisp. Started with the oysters which were just ok. My dining companion is of the philosophy that you don’t mucky-muck oysters with anything except for a squeeze of lemon. They had served the oysters with horseradish on top. I’m not as picky, but I thought they were just ok. I forgot to ask where they were from.

DC had the soft shell crab which was to die for. I had the fish special, which I cannot remember what it was called. The fish was delicious in the moment and quite forgettable I guess.

The best thing though was dessert. We had turkish coffee that was steeped with cardamom. I had the poached pear in saffron sauce and caramel drizzle.

poached pear in saffron sauce

DC had the orange-chocolate tart. The crust was heavenly.

orange-chocolate tart from erbaluce

The service was outstanding at erbaluce, I would definitely go again next time I’m in Boston.

The other meal we had was breakfast at Mike and Patty’s They specialize in sandwiches and breakfast and are located in a tiny corner of a town-house type structure. The place was packed on Sunday morning, and the service was with a smile. DC had the breakfast torta which looked to die for. I had the Banh Mi Hot Dog, one of the specials of the day. It was a bit of a gamble, but it totally paid off. The Banh Mi Hot Dog had homemade liver pate, a hot dog, pickled veg, butter and some hot peppers. It was really good.

We also got a homemade chocolate doughnut that we split on the bus ride home that was beautifully cakey and very well executed. I’m more of a yeast doughnut woman, but this was pretty satisfying.