Sweets

La Cubana

Hi everyone! So sorry for the little hiatus, but I am back with some delicious eats!

I’ll begin with La Cubana. As evident in the name, this is a Cuban restaurant. There are two locations in Toronto, one on Roncesvalles and one on Ossington. The Ossington location is a bit of a smaller menu, but just as good!

I visited for lunch with my dad. He had a beer which was locally made by the Junction Craft Brewing House. The mostly rum-based cocktails did look delicious, but I did not order one.

As for the food, we started with Cuban grilled corn. The sweet juicy corn was grilled and then topped with crema, cheese and cayenne pepper. It was a pleasant combination of sweet, salty and spicy.

It was a tough choice choosing a main entree since the sandwiches and plate entrees all sounded enticing. We decided to go for the guava BBQ beef short rib plate, served with slaw, rice and beans and tostones. The beef was juicy and tender with a sweet finish from the guava. Tostones is a corn fritter which was perfectly crispy and salty.

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My dad and I have a huge sweet tooth so we chose the key lime pie for dessert. Served in a little jar, the tangy, sweet creamy key lime pie with a graham cracker crust was the perfect ending to our meal.

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I cannot wait to visit La Cubana again to try some other dishes!

Rhum Corner

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of family, friends, laughs, and of course good food!!

If you are looking for a cool new spot to try, check out Rhum Corner. Located on Dundas between Bathurst and Ossington, this Haitian restaurant is brought to us by the owner of The Black Hoof. The casual, dimly lit vibe made for a cozy evening when the weather outside was anything but. I almost felt like I was vacationing ian the Caribbean…

The menu is small, but offers something for everyone, and is very reasonably priced.

The wall behind the bar is filled with over 100 different kinds of rum. Their cocktail list is quite unique and intriguing, while also keeping up with old classics. The pina colada caught my eye, and tasted like I was at some island resort basking in the sun (if only!). It was frozen, sweet, and creamy, just like a pina colada should be. Careful not to drink it all in one sip though! It is really THAT good!

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For starters my brother, father and I ordered the Accra, which are deep fried fritters made out of malenga, which is a root vegetable similar to taro. I had never had malenga before but the mild flavour and deep fried crispiness made for a delicious start. They were served alongside a house made mayo and their homemade coleslaw made from cabbage, onion and scotch bonnet hot peppers.

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Next was the Macaroni Au Gratin, which was penne pasta coated in a creamy, cheesy mornay sauce, which is a béchamel sauce with shredded or grated cheese. Toasted breadcrumbs were sprinkled on top for added crunch. I am usually not a fan of overly cheesy or creamy things but O-M-G was this good. I was scraping the bowl when it was finished.

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For the main course, we ordered cashew chicken, and pork ribs (if you follow along you know I don’t eat pork due to preference, but my dad and brother enjoyed them!).

The thought of cashew chicken sounds boring and ordinary. However, not this dish. The chicken and cashews were coated in a sweet sauce, and the rice with black beans and kidney beans had a nice flavour to them as well. The entree came with “bananes frites” which were basically fried plantains, which were sweet, salty and perfectly crispy.

IMG_2483We also ordered the oxtail with bean sauce which was bursting with flavour as well. I was already pretty full by this point but I still managed to have a taste.

IMG_2484We ended off the meal on a sweet note with something called Pen Patat, which means “potato bread” in Creole. It is basically a sweet potato pudding. The variation at Rhum Corner consisted of sweet potato, yam, banana, and condensed milk and topped with rum, raisins and whipped cream. It was dense, sweet and very interesting combination of flavours.IMG_2485

The staff are all extremely friendly and knowledgeable and the place is pretty hip and trendy. I would definitely recommend you pay Rhum Corner a visit if you are looking for simple, yet unique food.

La Carnita

Toronto is a great city to give into your taco and all things Mexican cravings. One of the most popular Mexican restaurants in the city is La Carnita. Reservations are only accepted for groups of eight or more, so for parties less than eight, prepare for a usually lengthy wait.

After finally being seated, I took a look at the menu. It was actually a smaller menu than I had imagined, but after eating, I realized it was all I needed.

To get started, I ordered a cocktail by the name of “So Fresh and So Clean”. It was a combination of gin, jalapeño syrup, pineapple, cucumber, mint, and lime juice. The name says it all, as it was fresh and had the perfect amount of sweetness.

I was with a large group so we ordered quite a lot of food. It is barely a Mexican experience without guacamole, so we tried all three dips including guacamole, corn salsa, and serrano & cashew bean dip. The tortilla chips were crispy and perfectly salted and the dips were bursting with flavour.

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Another appetizer was the Mexican Street Corn which came with 2 cobs smothered in Mexican crema (basically sour cream), queso anejo (Mexican cheese similar to parmesan), and dusted with arbol and ancho chili powder. The sweet corn paired well with the tangy sauce and chili powder, and made for a wonderful, yet filling appetizer.

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As if we hadn’t had enough corn, my group decided to try the Rice & Corn Frituras which are fried balls combining brown rice, sweet corn, queso cotija (another Mexican cheese similar to parmesan) and topped with habanero sauce and creme micro slaw. The brown rice added a great texture and more nutty flavour, which complemented the sweet corn and fried batter. Beware though, the habanero sauce is quite spicy!

This evening La Carnita was featuring chicken wings which were sweet, crispy, and extremely spicy!!!!

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As it became time for tacos I was already on the verge of being stuffed, but I made some room. I tried three different tacos, “In Cod We Trust”, “Pollo Fritto”, and “Beef Cheek”. The cod taco was your typical fish taco, consisting of deep fried cod drizzled with voltron sauce (their secret soy sauce based sauce), lime crema, pickled red cabbage, green apple, and cilantro. The crunchy red cabbage and sweetness from the green apple added an interesting sweet tang to the taco which was a pleasant surprise.

The “Pollo Fritto” was my favourite, which I actually least expected. The corn tortilla is stuffed with multiple pieces of fried chicken, topped with a peanut mole sauce, pickled green cabbage, and salsa fresca. I am a huge fan of peanut anything, so naturally I looooved the peanut mole sauce, and the chicken was perfectly crispy and tender.

The beef cheek taco was also quite a hit, topped with green cabbage, pickled jalapeño, crispy shallots, and a piece of avocado.

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Although I was quite full, the dessert menu was too tempting. We ordered two paletas (Mexican ice cream popsicles), as well as the seasonal tres leche cake. The flavours of paletas that we chose were peanut butter chocolate, which was delicious other than the overly saltiness, and the cookies and cream which was quite a delight!! The tres leche cake was served with apples, walnuts and cinnamon, which was literally to die for. It was creamy and cinnamony and appley and was the perfect dessert!!!

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If you are looking for a true Mexican experience, check out La Carnita. Do beware that many dishes are quite spicy, so look out, and ask for less spice when possible.

 

Homemade Granola

We all eat granola thinking we are doing ourselves a favour and eating healthy. However, many packaged granolas are filled with unhealthy ingredients such as sugar, saturated fat and oils. The health potential of granola is quite high and can be bursting with nutrients as well as flavour if made correctly.

I like to make a big batch of homemade granola and eat it plain as a snack or sprinkled over yogurt. My granola must be a hit because I constantly get requests for it and everyone can’t get enough!

Granola is actually quite easy to whip up on your own, so go ahead and try my recipe!

I use coconut oil which is a healthy fat, and helps to bind everything together. It also gives off a subtle coconut flavour. Instead of using sugar, I use raw, unpasteurized honey for its high mineral and antioxidant content, as well as it’s antibacterial properties.

Granola is meant to be fun and versatile, so using oats as a base, feel free to throw in whatever dried fruit, nuts, and spices you love!

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

2 tbsp raw, unpasteurized honey

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine all ingredients (except honey, coconut oil and cranberries) in a large bowl.

3. In a small bowl, microwave honey and coconut oil.

4. Pour honey and coconut oil into granola mixture.

5. Pour granola onto large baking sheet, spread evenly.

6. Place in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure after about 10-15 minutes to toss granola around on sheet.

7. Remove from oven, let cool about 10 minutes, add dried cherries.

8. Let cool completely and enjoy!

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Feel free to play around with amounts and measurements, as well as ingredients. This recipe is a healthy and tasty snack, breakfast, or dessert! Have fun with it!

Starving Artist

With two locations, Starving Artist bases their menu around waffles. I have been to both locations (Lansdowne Ave. and St.Clair), but I prefer the St. Clair location and the small changes to the menu. The space is newer, fresher and more open. The partial brick walls, couch area at the front, and tall windows make the space feel bright and cozy.

The scent of warm, fresh waffles is prevalent as soon as you step inside. Just that is enough motivation to bare the usually long wait for a table (on weekends).

The menu is centred around waffles, serving sweet and savoury options either on, in, or between a waffle. Vegan, gluten-free, and potato waffles are also offered.

I love sweet foods, but was in the mood for something savoury as well, so my boyfriend and I shared two dishes. New to this location only is the Brunchwich, which is a fried egg, choice of turkey, ham or bacon (we chose turkey), American cheese, and secret sauce, between two mini waffles. I found the size to be a little small, especially for sharing. I did however really enjoy the combination of turkey, egg, and cheese.

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As for the sweet option, I decided to make my own waffles. Three mini waffles were topped with Nutella, bananas and strawberries. Everything was delicious, but I don’t really love the idea of such small waffles. I also don’t think that these waffles are anything special or out of the ordinary. They are good, but not outstanding. Not to be cheap, but I also found it to be a little pricey. Each topping for the make your own waffle is $2, which is a little steep. I was however impressed with the fresh and plentiful side of fruit.

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The service was a little bit slow, even being later in the day, after the brunch rush. Although, it’s difficult not to enjoy something smothered in Nutella 😉 .

 

I still enjoyed my brunch, but wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with excitement.

Monkey Bread Two Ways

Look no further for the easiest, most crowd pleasing recipe.

Monkey bread is basically a pull-apart bread, and can be made sweet or savoury.

I decided to try out both options. The final result not only looks beautiful and complex, but it tastes AMAAAZING. Your guests will assume you worked really hard on this dish, but it’ll be our little secret just how easy it actually is.

Another secret I’ll share with you is that the recipe uses Pillsbury dough. You can make this recipe from scratch but that requires more time and energy, and frankly, who has that these days?!

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LA Part Two

*Restaurants featured: Randy’s Donuts, Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken, Mastros, Huckleberry, Madeo, Laurel Hardware, Salt’s Cure, Dan Tana’s

Let’s get back to LA talk, starting with Randy’s Donuts.

OMG. OMG. OMG. That is all. I also posted about Randy’s in my LA post from over a year ago. However, no trip to LA is complete without multiple stops here. I won’t even tell you how many times I visited. This 24 hour walk-up window and drive-thru donut shop is the real deal. They specialize in simple, old school donuts. Nothing fancy here. Plain glazed, chocolate glazed, cream filled, all that sort of simple stuff. It is kind of unexplainable how good they are. Once again, simplicity is key.

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Fried chicken is up next, with a stop at Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken. It does not get more Southern comfort food than this. My order of fried chicken and biscuits was rich and heavy, but more than worth the splurge. The chicken was crispy and juicy, and the biscuits, OMG, don’t even get me started. Buttery and flakey. The most perfect biscuit I have ever tasted. I dream about these.

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