June 2012 archive

Another Dreamy Combo

I love avocado. I love mac and cheese. However, I have never thought of merging the two. While I was casually browsing recipes online, I became almost shocked when I saw one for Avocado Mac and Cheese. Such a simple combination sounds quite unique and intriguing as well. I immediately knew this would top my “to-cook” list. I got right to it that night and decided to play “housewife” and have it waiting for Jonty when he got home from work.

I will start off by showing some step-by-step photos, followed by the recipe (which I made a few changes to) below.

Combine butter, and milk in sauce pan, bring to a boil.

Add in cheese and flour.

Pour cooked pasta (I used whole wheat) into baking dish.

Add in avocado, garlic, lime juice mixture.

Pour cheese sauce over pasta.

Top with breadcrumbs, and bake in oven (optional step).

The finished product, paired with homemade garlic bread and a side salad.

Ingredients

10 ounces dry elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I dislike cilantro, so it was omitted)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (I used skim)
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese or any cheese of your preference (I used reduced fat marble)

Directions

1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Salt the water and add in macaroni. Stir and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking, make the avocado sauce by placing the garlic, avocados, lime juice, (cilantro), salt and pepper into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

3. For the cheese sauce, place butter in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in flour to help thicken. Next, whisk in milk until smooth. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce starts to thicken. Add in cheese and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy.

4. Place macaroni in a large bowl/baking dish. Pour the avocado sauce over the macaroni and stir until well coated. Add the cheese sauce and stir until macaroni is coated and creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5. If you would like to bake this dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and place it in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 mins. Once you remove it from the oven, let cool a few minutes and enjoy!

I decided to make this rich and often fattening dish a little bit healthier by using skim milk, whole wheat pasta and baguette, and reduced fat cheese. It came out pretty well, and Jonty and I had a lovely evening in.

Ribfest x2

After debating the weekly question of where to spend our Saturday night, we eventually thought of the Tulip. This casual, old school steakhouse sits on Queen Street at Coxwell. However, our plans quickly changed as we spotted a sign right before our destination reading, “Ribfest-Woodbine Park”. Our eyes lit up with excitement and before we could even say anything, we were parked and walking in that direction.

Although Jonty and myself do not eat pork, we were still able to enjoy many dishes. Sadly though, by the time we got there they were sold out of brisket. We opted for half a BBQ chicken from Uncle Sam’s BBQ and found a truck, Hogtown Smoke from Toronto that had a brisket sandwich. The sandwich was a little bit over priced ($13) and wasn’t the greatest. It wasn’t bad, and the bun was extremely soft, but I expected the meat to be a little less dry. The chicken however was drenched in smoky BBQ sauce and was incredibly juicy and moist; thumbs up in my books!

 I have had a slight obsession with cornbread recently, but barely ever eat it because it’s not that common. I found one vendor which served up a nice large slice for only two bucks! I was so pleased with this find, and even more so after tasting it. It had the perfect balance between buttery goodness and sweetness. Also on the side we got the heart attack of all foods-a blooming onion (just so you know we ate only about half!). To pretend to be a little bit healthy we got a corn on the cob, but then it was dunked in melted butter which defeats the purpose. We then topped the corn off with sea salt and dug into our large BBQ feast!

As if we hadn’t eaten enough, I needed something sweet. I was having a major dilemma between deciding on a funnel cake or tiny tom donuts. Since Jonty wasn’t really into the idea of either, I was basically going to be left to eat it all by myself, which is quite dangerous. I then found out that the funnel cake stand ran out of ice cream which made my decision. It is practically illegal to eat a funnel cake without ice cream! Therefore, I went and got myself some cinnamon sugar tiny tom donuts and was extremely satisfied with my choice!

…..

Just when you thought our experience at Ribfest was over, we took it to the next level and went back the next day. However, this was not intentional, yet not disappointing either. My entire family took part in the Father’s Day walk/run for Prostate Cancer at Ashbridges Bay, which is conveniently located across the street from Woodbine Park. This of course could only mean one thing. A 5K run followed by Ribfest!

Since it was earlier in the day than the night prior, brisket was not sold out! We therefore ordered a brisket sandwich from Uncle Sam’s which was way better than our other one! This one was covered in BBQ sauce and the meat itself was tender and juicy. We also got another corn on the cob as well as a Texas Tornado which is basically swirled potato chips on a stick. Jonty then surprised me by sneaking away to grab me not one, but two slices of my favourite cornbread (I did share with everyone though)!

My sweet tooth is definitely hereditary, so my family chose to get some tiny toms tossed in icing sugar.

Ribfest was quite the experience and something that we just might turn into an annual tradition.

 

St. Lawrence Market

The St.Lawrence Market is an incredibly unique, yet overwhelming experience. Between the vendors, food, samples, and people it can be a pretty busy scene. Jonty and I chose to go this past Saturday which is the busiest time. Our favourite place, and basically our reason for visiting is Buster’s Sea Cove. It is the seafood restaurant at the back where the huge line stems from. The menu offers a variety of fish which you can order either grilled, fried, over a salad, as a sandwich, or really however you want. We have ordered calamari, grilled fish, and fried fish sandwiches in the past, but today we shared a fried halibut sandwich, served with coleslaw. We wanted to keep room in our bellies for any other delicious finds that we might come across. We took our sandwich out to the patio and enjoyed the crispy fish, soft bun, and some sort of mayo-herb sauce. I would have to say it is the best fish sandwich I have ever had. Buster’s seriously kicks ass!!

PS-Just recently they opened a food truck which lives at the corner of Queen and Jarvis.

After this amazingly delicious sandwich I was craving something sweet. We browsed the aisles and eventually Eve’s Temptations caught my eye, as it always does. The bakery serves all sorts of pastries from Chudleigh’s, Dufflet’s, and many others with items ranging from cupcakes, pies, tarts, brownies, and plenty more sweet treats. The blondie, with gooey caramel and chocolate chips was sitting behind the glass staring at me. It was just what I needed for a little after-lunch pick-me-up.

We Came, We Saw, We Ate (New York)

Ooohhhh my! I think I may still be full from my trip to New York this past weekend. Jonty and I decided to take a weekend getaway filled with plenty of shopping, sight seeing, and of course plenty of eating.

I will start with breakfast on day one. We went to one of my favourite brunch spots-Sarabeth’s. You may remember it from my other New York post last summer. Everything on the menu sounds incredible, and with my sweet tooth, I chose the lemon ricotta pancakes topped with strawberries. They were perfect. Extremely light and fluffy with just the right amount of lemony zing. I polished these off in no time. Jonty stuck to simple scrambled eggs, but the star of the show was the croissant with their famous homemade jam. The croissant on its own is extremely delicious and buttery, but topped with the preserves added an extra sweetness.

Cafe Habana was next on our list. Although I have been before, I knew this was right up Jonty’s alley. And boy was I right! He couldn’t stop raving about the corn on the cob topped with mayonnaise, cotijta cheese, cayenne pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice.

For dinner we met up with some cousins of mine including a five year old boy in Times Square. We thought it would be a fun atmosphere not only for him, but for Jonty who has never been to Times Square. We went to an Asian restaurant called Ruby Foo’s. We ordered chicken lettuce wraps, calamari, lobster and shrimp spring rolls, kung pao chicken, and fried rice. Everything from the food to the ambiance was lovely.

As the night approached, we were looking for somewhere to go for drinks and some late night eats. The Meatpacking District is always bumping so we took a stroll through there trying to find somewhere. Everything was really busy, but eventually we landed at a place called The Diner. The food and drink menu looked appealing to us, as well as the DJ playing some old school music. Jonty ordered a beer, while I got an Arnold Palmer, with iced tea, lemonade, and vodka. For a snack, we munched on mac and cheese. I can tell you right now that I am still dreaming about that dish. It was incredibly creamy, cheesy, and smooth, with the perfect crunchy breadcrumb topping.

The next day was filled with even more deliciousness! For lunch we met up with my brother who lives in New York. I am a huge fan of Eataly (How can you not be?!) as mentioned in my other post. Last time I indulged in a prime rib sandwich which I haven’t stopped thinking about. We shared that and a caprese sandwich which had yellow tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil oil. As simple as these sandwiches sound, they were to die for. Mario Batali certainly is a genius.

The three of us split the two sandwiches (the entire sandwich is not pictured, it was bigger than that!) in order to save room for everything else that New York has to offer. That being said, our next stop was The Donut Plant. It was also mentioned in my previous post, but the peanut butter and blackberry jam donut is too tasty to pass up. Obviously Jonty loved it too. There is nothing better than the flavour of the fried dough, dunked in peanut butter, topped with peanuts and then stuffed with blackberry jelly.

Later that day, we were ready for some more. I have been dying to go to the Big Gay Ice Cream shop. What started off as a truck soon turned into a storefront. All of the publicity on the Food Network and word of mouth certainly did some good for this little ice cream truck. The creations are quite unique ranging from wasabi, olive oil, cayenne pepper, sea salt as toppings for your ice cream. As we approached the small East Village shop, my excitement had to be put off just a little bit longer to wait in the long line up out the door! Once we entered, it was definitely worth it! I will get to the ice cream in a minute, but the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, offering samples of anything you could dream of. My choice was the ”Salty Pimp” which was vanilla ice cream, drizzled with dulce de leche, sea salt and then dipped in chocolate. Never have I ever tasted something savoury and sweet together that quite compares. With each bite I savoured the moment and dreaded when it started to get smaller and smaller. I didn’t want this cone to end. Jonty ordered the “Bea Arthur”, which was vanilla ice cream, drizzled with dulce de leche sauce, dipped in Nilla wafer cookies. His addition to this though was cayenne pepper. We were both in heaven.

After all of this day’s food had digested, it was finally time for dinner with my brother and his girlfriend. We went to Schiller’s which is a trendy, buzzing restaurant turned bar late at night. My drink of choice was lemonade, vodka citron, with muddled strawberries, while Jonty ordered a Hoegaarden beer. To start we ordered calamari, which was perfectly crisp, along with oysters. Jonty had never tried them before and was a little hesitant. After a little bit of peer pressure he took down a couple. He didn’t love them but nonetheless he was able to handle them.

For the main course, Jonty and I love to share two dishes so we can try a bit of everything. This place is known for their steak frites, so naturally we chose this. Also, we got fish and chips, but substituted the fries for a green salad. Attempting to be a little bit healthy was our goal here if we didn’t want a heart attack right then and there. Everything was just amazing, enough said.

Our last day in New York had sadly approached, so we ended off on a sweet note. Max Brenner was our lunch spot. This restaurant specializes in chocolate and dessert, but also has a savoury menu. Jonty, myself and his cousin all ordered milkshakes. I got the dulce de leche one, Jonty got cookies and cream and his cousin ordered a chocolate and vanilla one. YUM!!!

Since it is Max Brenner after all, I ordered the chocolate chip pancakes as recommended by our waiter. These consisted of 60% dark truffle chocolate cream, pure milk chocolate shavings, spiced pecans, and caramelized bananas. Do I need to even explain how good these were? Let’s just say the waiter was right!

Jonty ordered a pizza with fresh and smoked mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil and avocado. This also did not disappoint.

On the side we ordered waffle fries topped with chili and cocoa powder. We could not resist this unique, yet amazingly satisfying combination.

Last but certainly not least, we indulged in a cupcake from my favourite bakery, Magnolia. I like to think of Magnolia as one of the first cupcake shops around, setting the trend that exists today. I think the simplicity, buttery, perfection makes them the best around.

New York, we shall meet again soon to continue our tour of the city through our mouths and stomachs!