Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jak’s Kitchen

Jak's Kitchen is a quaint little restaurant on the corner of Bronson and McLeod. It used to be the old Stoneface Dolly's a while back. I was afraid when they first opened that their breakfast wouldn't be as good, but it is. As was the old restaurant, you have to show up early for breakfast or you'll be waiting a while for a seat. But the wait is well worth it. They even serve you coffee outside in the meantime. This morning I ordered the Popeye Benedictine, poached eggs on a buttermilk biscuit, baby spinach, roasted red peppers and diablo sauce. It comes with homefries and choice of fresh fruit or kitchen greens. I went with the greens. Their coffee and juices are also very good. They even have peach or blueberry mamosas. With some of the other breakfast dishes, you get your choice of bread, and all are amazing - Molasses-oat, Rye Bread, Sourdough, Buttermilk Biscuit or Sesame Bagel. Not that my benedictine on the biscuit wasn't enough, but I just had to order a side of sourdough toast so that I could enjoy the homemade jam on the table. So as usual, I left very full. Their breakfasts range from $6 to $11 and the service is very efficient and friendly. I've never been for dinner but i'm sure it's equally good. Definitely a regular.

Jak’s Kitchen
Jak's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 29, 2008

David Eyre’s Pancake and Smoked Bacon

I believe my husband got this recipe from the New York Times last year. It's always a big hit for breakfast with company. It's simple to make, yet very impressive as it rises to a puffed state when you remove it from the oven. It can be served with any of the following toppings, fruit, whipped cream, cinnamon, or the way my husband made it today, with lemon, icing sugar and maple syrup.

What you’ll need
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
1 cup of flour
Icing sugar
Maple syrup
Smoked bacon

What to do
Preheat oven to 350. Crack the eggs in a bowl and add the milk and flour. Beat lightly and keep it slightly lumpy. Heat butter in a cast iron pan and grease the bottom. Pour in the mixture and then put it in the oven for 15 minutes. It will look like a big puff when it comes out.

Squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle some icing sugar on top. Bring to the table before it deflates. Serve with maple syrup and bacon.

Beet and Goat Cheese Tartelettes and Veal Chops with Risotto

Despite an evening of unfortunate events (getting stuck behind an accident for 30 minutes on his way to get a missing ingredient from a store 5 minutes away, to the alarm going off and the dog freaking out, to the microwave blowing up part way through the meal prep), my husband still managed to pull together one of his best meals yet. Friends of ours were down from Mont Tremblant (you may recall our weekent at Zoya's). And this was our chance to thank them. I still can't stop thinking about how exquisite and mouthwatering this meal was. Unfortunately I didn't get the recipe from him as I didn't want to disturb him while he was cooking. We started off with a warm, melt in your mouth beet and goat cheese tartelette with a balsamic glaze and chives (I would seriously eat 100 of these). Then for our main, he served veal chops in an ambrosial cream, cognac, thyme, shallot and chive sauce with morel and king eryngii mushrooms and an amazing, rich tasting risotto. Served with a dry, medium-bodied Masi Campofiorin (thanks Zoya!) this meal was fine dining at it's best.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Coconut Curry Chicken on Basmati Rice

Tonight's dinner was fabulous and with not too much effort. Although anything that requires more than the microwave is an effort to me. Before getting the details on cooking this dish, I would have thought even more time and effort would have been required. Or maybe my husband just makes it look easy. God he's great! This dish has tons of flavour and is topped with my favorite herb, cilantro!

What you’ll need
Chopped onions
3/4 can of tomato paste
1 can of coconut milk
3-4 tbs of curry paste
Chopped cilantro
Basmati rice

What to do
Cook the chicken in a frying pan or cast iron pan. Once cooked, add the onions and fry. Remove the chicken and cut into smaller pieces. Dump the tomato paste, coconut milk and curry paste into the pan with the onions, mix together and heat. Add the chicken back in. Serve on top of the rice and top with cilantro.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Breakfast Smoothie

I'm the kind of person who, if I really like something, I can eat it day after day for months and not get bored of it. Excluding weekends, here's my regular morning breakfast. It's a tasty smoothie that gives me all the antioxidants I need to ward off colds. It also gives me the energy I need to bike to work and fuels my brain productivity, until about 10am anyway.

What you’ll need
Mixed frozen berries
Plain yogurt
Vanilla hemp milk
Green tea powder
Ground flax
Orange juice (and/or any other juice like pineapple or grapefruit – if you use grapefruit, add some honey)

What to do
Blend it all together and enjoy. YUM! 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Steak with Balsamic Glaze

Since summer ended we haven't eaten much beef. When BBQ season starts so do the steaks and burgers. I briefly worry about my health and then I just say screw it and enjoy every minute, it only lasts so long after all. The rest of the year is spent mainly with chicken and fish. Except the odd occasion, like tonight. My husband made a savory sesame encrusted steak with a balsamic glaze and served it alongside a yummy mesclun mix and mâche salad with blue cheese dressing. Blue cheese and beef have to be the best combo. If you're not a fan of blue cheese, start off slowly, it's an acquired taste. The first time I ate it and enjoyed it was in a pasta combined with steak. Now, I love it, on anything or on it's own with a glass of red wine.

What you’ll need
Sesame seeds
Balsamic vinaigrette
Chili flakes
Soya sauce

Mesclun mix
Mâche mix
Green onions
Blue cheese dressing

What to do
Coat steak in sesame seeds and fry. Set aside. Fry up some garlic and add the sherry. Boil off the sherry (reduce it), then add the other ingredients in the same pan and heat. Spoon over the steak and serve with salad.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sausage and Five Cheese Multigrain Pizza and Spinach Salad

Ok, so this is partially a packaged meal. BUT, no matter what it is we eat, packaged or not, my husband always makes it so much better than I ever would. How? By either adding ingredients to the packaged food or adding an awesome side dish. This McCain pizza looks all fancy schmancy next to this delicious spinach, onion, olive, sunflower seed, toasted walnut and balsamic vinaigrette salad. Amazing what a little bit of effort will do – my husband excellent at making good things great. These types of meals are the best for evenings when you don't get home until 8:30 or so. 

Grey Cup Dinner at Donnie’s

I almost didn't write about this because I was an idiot and didn't bring my camera with me last night. But despite the lack of visual stimuli, I felt it was important to keep it in my food diary. I don't blog on everything I eat. I usually leave out the meals that are at restaurants i've already blogged about, meals we've already had that were similar or details about specific meals that would just get too confusing to start going into detail about. For example, my weekend at Zoya's – the reason we had two soups was because her other friend Rachelle whom I met that night, and who also loves food, and a lot of other things I love (we hit it off really well), her daughter made the delicious sweet potato with peppers soup, but if you view the post and it's complexity, you'll see why I didn't go into detail.

Ok, enough rambling. I'm happy to say that this is the third male in my life who cooks for me. And yes, I do love to rub that in. I feel truly blessed with the friends I have and every single one of them, whether they cook for me or not, are the best people in the world. We all headed over to Donnie's for dinner and the Grey Cup on his giant TV. He started us off with an amazing ratatouille – tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers with apple cider vinegar. This was served along side our choice of veggie, chicken or beef samosas (thanks Eric!). Then for our main, we had an awesome curry chicken and veggie dish served on rice. 3 people actually brought dessert too, so by the end of it all, I was stuffed. The walk home was very pleasant and very much needed to help digest everything we ate. Thanks Donnie!

I'm adding onto this post because I just received the recipe for the ratatouille so I thought i'd share.

What you’ll need
1 Aubergine
1TBSP Olive Oil
1 Onion sliced in strips
1 Green Pepper sliced in strips
3 Cloves Garlic
1-2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
8 tiny fine tomatoes (cut in half)
mixed ground peppercorns
sprigs of oregano for garnish (didn't have, couldn't find any)

What to do
Cube aubergine and place in a colander and sprinkle with salt, let stand for 20 mins then drain and rinse.
Heat oil and sautee pepper and onion and garlic. Then stir in aubergine and cook on high heat for about 5 mins. When gold in colour, add vinegar. Remove from heat. Add tomatoes and let cool. Chill in fridge until cold. Garnish with Oregano.

He also doubled the green pepper and used a big eggplant. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mamma Teresa

We used to live three doors down from this restaurant and would often go here for dinner with a group of friends before a late night out. It's warm and has a more formal dining atmosphere inside, but is not a fancy restaurant by any means. A huge percent of their customers are political folk, and the wait staff know just what to say to make a woman feel good. The service is impeccable and the dishes, although pretty standard with no presentation, are consistently very good. Last night a few of us went for a late dinner (they're one of the only restaurants in Ottawa who still serve food after 10pm on a Friday night – sad but true). We ordered the house Sangiovese and Smelts to start. I love their smelts, we get them every time – they melt in your mouth. For our mains, my friend ordered the Pesto Linguini, I had the Lobster Ravioli (big surprise) in a rosé sauce and my husband ordered the Cheese Tortellini with Cream Sauce, Mushrooms and Prosciutto. Mine was good, my husband's was great, it had way more flavour. I didn't scan the prices on the menu to do my price range because I assumed i'd be able to find it online, but it's not. From what I remember, I believe the apps range in around the $10 area and mains from $15 to $30. They also offer frozen take out on a few dishes and some fresh sauces.

Mamma Teresa on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grouper with Basil Vinaigrette

I had a bad day at work today. After arriving home late and walking my dog, I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only was my husband cooking dinner for me tonight, my friend Dino was also over and doing his share of what was to be an incredible meal. I sat down at the island to chill out and watch them. Dino was making a salad with romain, carrots, red onion, goat cheese and pancetta bits topped with a marvelous homemade dressing. My husband was cooking some garlic infused wild rice and grouper, a fish similar and from the same area as red snapper, only meatier. The preparation was not complicated at all, but the end result seemed elaborate (my husband says the best recipes are the simple ones). He topped this with a tangy basil vinaigrette. I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite. 

Given our dinner tonight was impulsive, we didn't buy any wine. We did however, have a bottle in the liquor cabinet that we purchased this past summer to use for sangria. And the only reason I am mentioning this wine is because I was pleasantly surprised by it's rich flavour. If you're on a budget, this Two Oceans cab/merlot from South Africa should fit the bill. 

What you’ll need
Fresh basil
Lemon juice
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wild rice
Chicken stock

Romain lettuce
Sliced carrots
Pancetta bits
Red onion
Goat cheese

Olive oil
Truffle oil

Whole wheat baguette

What to do
For the salad, mix all the ingredients together except the pancetta and cheese. While you're frying up the pancetta, set the goat cheese on top to soften it.

Afterward, add the pancetta to the rest of the salad. Mix together all the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Top with some of the softened goat cheese.

For the fish, mix together the basil, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the grouper and broil for 10 minutes. When you cook the rice, cook it in chicken stock and add in some chunks of garlic. It will add some wonderful flavours to your rice.

Serve with whole wheat baguette.

Total time, approximately 45 minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Herbed Chicken Tofu on Ceasar Salad

Tonight's dinner was fabulous. (did you expect anything less?) My husband picked up some Louisiana corn chowder and La Soyarie herbed tofu from Herb and Spice and served the tofu on a bed of romain and arugula greens with his amazing homemade ceasar dressing and croutons.

To the salad he added some chopped cucumber and green onion. For the dressing he mixed together egg yolks, olive oil, garlic, anchovy paste, a bit of tabasco, pepper, lemon juice and his secret ingredient – Dijon mustard. The croutons were made with garlic, oil, oregano and chili flakes on toasted bread then cut into cubes. Delicious!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chicken with Hummus and Yummy Veg

The best thing about having a long day at work, followed by an energized bike ride home, then a long walk with my dog, is finally coming home and sitting down to enjoy an amazing meal. I consider myself an insanely lucky woman to have the husband that I have. After days like today, i'd probably just settle in at home with some toast or raisin bran (Yes, i'm thinking of you Teresa!). I guess having someone to cook for can make all the difference in the world. Especially someone who appreciates it. And I appreciate it soooo much, you can't even imagine. Tonight's dinner is very fun and has a ton of flavour. I've even got leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

What you’ll need
Red onion
Red pepper
Cubanelle pepper
2 Chicken breast
Olive oil
Chili flakes
Pita bread

What to do
Cut the chicken breast into cubes or chunks. Cut the peppers and onions into long wedges. Toss the veggies in olive oil with oregano, chili flakes and cumin. Place them in an oven safe pan. Toss the chicken in the leftover mixture and place in pan on top of the veggies. Cook for 16 minutes or so on broil, until black a bit. Stir once. 

Spread some hummus on a plate. 

Place the veggies and chicken on top. Serve with pita.

Total time, approximately 30-40 minutes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I was excited that we ate here this evening because i've been wanting to add them to my list of restaurant reviews. We eat at Shanghai fairly often. They have, in my opinion, the best asian dishes in Ottawa and the best dumplings i've ever had. Ever. I get so excited leading up to eating them it's crazy. We got our usual tonight, the Shanghai Dumplings – pork-filled wontons, pan seared with fresh coriander and chives on a bed of bean sprouts and rice sticks, Vegetable Pad Thai – rice vermicelli, tofu, green peppers, egg, coriander, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and peanut and chili sauce, and Coconut Curry Shrimp in Spicy Peanut Sauce – shrimp served with a sauce of thai red curry, coconut milk and peanut on a bed of broccoli. I absolutely love these dishes. They have so much flavour and the coconut curry shrimp peanut sauce is to die for. Tonight we brought in the food, but it is a wonderful restaurant to eat at. It's not your traditional bright Chinese food type of spot, it's very warm and cozy inside with red walls, dim lighting and great service. They always showcase local artists work on the walls and they have fun theme nights or live DJs every now and then. If you've never been, go, you won't be disappointed. If you happen to go on a Saturday night after 9, you'll have a very entertaining evening – their Saturday night karaoke is the most interesting karaoke i've ever been to. Apps range from $1.50 to $7.50 and mains from $6.95 to $16.95.

Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon

Tonight's dinner was divine and right out of a magazine. My husband started us (my mother-in-law was in town) off with a rillette, olives and baguette. Then he served a homemade celery soup, followed by our main, the chicken with lemon and tarragon served with wild rice. I didn't get all the details of the soup, he made it while I was walking the dog. But it was pretty much a mish-mash of leftover vegetables from the fridge, mainly celery, puréed into this delectable soup. I do have the recipe for the chicken though. It's actually quite easy, but if you didn't know, you'd think there was more work involved in it. The meat literally fell off the bone as you ate it and the lemon gave it the perfect tang. Serve with wild rice.

What you’ll need
Chicken drumsticks
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Lemon slices
Salt and pepper

What to do
Toss the chicken in an olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper mixture then place them in a baking dish. Sprinkle the tarragon on the chicken and then add in the lemon slices. Cook at 425 for one hour. 

Total time, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes – mostly spent in the oven.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Vittoria Trattoria

Well it's been an Italian week for me to say the least. I've got my month's worth of starch and i'm ready to take on the world! We had a friend in town last night who was in the mood for Italian and wanted to eat in the market. So that was a no-brainer. Vittoria Trattoria has been consistently good for as long as I can remember. The atmosphere is perfect for an evening out, with dim lighting, beautiful stone walls and excellent service. They also have a pretty extensive wine list suitable for the average joe to the the most knowledgeable wine connoisseur. There's always a sommelier on staff who can help you choose the best wine. And he did just that last night, bringing us a delicious bottle of Colognole Chianti Rufina (2003). The wine went wonderfully with my choice in dishes, I went for the specials of the night, a roasted pumpkin purée to start and calabrese sausage with spinach, red onion, mushrooms and red peppers on whole wheat spaghetti with a marsala rosé sauce. The soup was absolutely divine, with a great blend of spices and the pasta had a medley of flavours that worked together and complimented the slight spiciness of the sausage. I've got leftovers for my lunch today and i'm just counting down the minutes until I can dig into it. Apps range from $7-$14 and mains from $13-$36.

Vittoria Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Please allow me to introduce you to one of my best friends – Dino. I met him on my husband's and my second date 9 years ago. He was the second man I ever met who skillfully prepared amazing meals. The evenings my husband wasn't cooking, we were over at Dino's enjoying one of his many mouthwatering dishes. We don't eat at his place as often anymore, but when we do it's always a treat, and tonight was no different. We snacked on some homemade bruschetta when we arrived. Then he served a light fried smelts dinner on bok choy. It was very yummy. I didn't take down a specific recipe, although I did follow him around with a camera (not a hosts favorite thing in the world i'm sure!) – but he was very accommodating. 

Homemade bruschetta.

Mmmmm smelts....

Toss the smelts in some flour and fry them with butter. Squeeze some lemon juice on them and sprinkle with salt and voilà!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Flying Piggy’s Bistro

A coworker of mine gave me a gift certificate to this restaurant a few months ago. I'm sorry it took me so long to finally go; however, I do find Italian food more cold-weather friendly (I can eat way more for some reason). The minute we walked in we were greeted by the best smile i've ever had walking into a restaurant. The interior was very cute, and not what you would expect coming in off Bank Street. It's very warm and cozy. As usual when presented with a great menu, I had a hard time deciding what to eat. I managed to narrow my decision down to either the Rutabaga, Pear and Maple Soup with Curry Oil Drizzle and the Roasted Lamb Sirloin and Hazelnut-Raisin Brown Butter with Pumpkin and Spinach Bread Pudding from the daily specials or the Escargot Crostini – Garlic Snails with Blue Cheese Sauce and the Ravioli of the day – Duck, Ricotta and Raisins stuffed in their homemade pasta and smothered in a wonderful Rosé Sauce. If you haven't noticed by my last two posts, I have a soft spot for ravioli. So I went with that. They brought some warm buns with oil and balsamic to start. I did the best I could not to fill up on bread. Then my appetizer came. It was delicious! And it took all of me not to lick the last of the blue cheese sauce off the plate. My main was also very good, and I really enjoyed the raisins in the ravioli, it was a unique and fun change to your typical Italian dish. All in all, it was a wonderful evening. Apps range between $7 and $12 and mains between $14 and $26.

Flying Piggy's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce

Here's the original recipe that the sweet potato ravioli came from. If you are trying to decide which one to make, the maple cream sauce version my husband made is much better. This one is really good too, but the other one is more of a wow kind of dish because of the sweet flavours. Below is the recipe copied from My husband served this with warm baguette and a mesclun mix salad with pumpkin seeds and shaved parm.

What you’ll need


2 1-pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature
1 12-ounce package wonton wrappers
1 large egg, beaten to blend

Fried shallots and sauce

1 cup vegetable oil
4 large shallots, cut crosswise into thin rounds, separated into rings
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
8 large fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

What to do

For ravioli:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Oil rimmed baking sheet. Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise; place cut side down on baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 35 minutes; cool. Scoop potato pulp out of skins into small bowl. Spoon 11/3 cups pulp into medium bowl. (Reserve any remaining potato pulp for another use.) Add sugar and butter; mash well. Season filling with salt and pepper.

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place wonton wrappers on work surface. Using pastry brush, brush wrappers with beaten egg. Place 1/2 tablespoon sweet-potato filling in center of each. Fold each wrapper diagonally over filling, forming triangle. Seal edges. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature while preparing fried shallots and sauce. (Can be made up to 5 days ahead. Freeze, then cover and keep frozen. Do not thaw before cooking.)

For fried shallots and sauce:
Heat vegetable oil in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, fry shallots until crisp and dark brown, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer shallots to paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Cook butter in large pot over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add sage and red pepper.

Meanwhile, working in batches, cook ravioli in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Add ravioli to pot with butter sauce; toss to coat. Transfer to plates, drizzling any sauce from pot over ravioli. Top with fried shallots and pine nuts; serve immediately.

Total time, approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. Mostly spent on making the ravioli.