Sweets

Oddseoul

Ossington has been buzzing for quite some time now, gaining more and more popularity as the days go on. New to the neighborhood is Oddseoul, coming to you from the brothers behind Swish by Han. This Korean meets American no reservations restaurant means business. On any given night you can find a line up out the door waiting for a table in the 40 seat gem. The dishes are small, meant to be shared, and quite reasonably priced. Dinner for two including beer can easily come in at around $50.

First on our list was the spicy scallion and avocado slaw. To be quite honest, I was a little disappointed when it arrived. It was greens, a couple slices of avocado and a few circles of hot peppers tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. Not exactly my idea of a slaw. It was tasty, just nothing to get excited about.

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Next we were graced with large spicy Korean chicken wings doused in extremely hot gochujang barbeque sauce, but still with enough crunch to satisfy.

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The next 2 dishes were OH WOW YUM YUM!! The Han brothers grew up in Philadelphia, so they decided to take their own spin on a Philly Cheesesteak. Take a baguette, stuff it with bulgogi (soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame seeds) marinated shredded beef, grilled onions, white American Cheese, kimchi, and a creamy mayo-mustard sauce. You don’t even know how delicious this creation is. However, there was some competition with their very own take on the hamburger, “The Loosey”. A mixture of short rib and brisket are slapped between two buttery pieces of challah bread, topped with processed cheese, shredded lettuce, ketchup and mayo. They are seriously giving the Big Mac a run for it’s money. I haven’t decided whether I prefer the bulgogi or “The Loosey”, because they are both shockingly flavourful, so I will continue to order both.

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Since the dishes are small, we were not finished yet. Our next choice was the tempura shrimp, tossed with Japanese chili paste, Japanese mayo called Kewpie, and flying fish roe. The tempura batter was thick and crispy with a generous coating of sauce.

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Lastly, the Korean beef Ssam platter arrived, which were ultimately Korean lettuce wraps. The menu offers a choice of meats, condiments and wraps (lettuce, tao or rice paper, depending on your choice of filling). We chose the Beef Short Rib platter which was accompanied by lettuce for wrapping, housemade pickles, kimchi, and bean curd chili sauce. This dish is also served with Kimchi fried rice with an egg over top. The serving of rice was quite generous, and the flavour was explosive. The entire meal was an exciting, unique journey for my taste buds.

We did try to revisit Oddseoul again but unfortunately it was an extremely long wait. I do plan on going back again soon though, and it is well worth the wait.

Happy Birthday Jonty

This week was Jonty’s birthday and I really wanted to take him somewhere special for dinner. While he isn’t such a fan of surprises, I made sure to keep the restaurant a secret until the very last second. I thought long and hard about where to go, and ultimately decided on Jacobs & Co steakhouse. It is a classic, well-known dining experience and I figured since neither of us had been, it was time we check it off our list.

The grand, and might I add heated outdoor entrance was an amazing, welcoming touch. As soon as we entered, we were greeted by the friendly hostesses and an older gentleman, the maitre d kindly directed us to our seats in the classy, polished upstairs dining room. He pointed out the dry-aged showcase, filled with each type of meat, encased in glass, all labeled perfectly.

Our attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable waiter approached us for some drinks, where I chose a glass of white wine, and Jonty opted for a glass of Johnny Walker black. He then proceeded to go into very much detail about the meat, the cuts, the aging process, and just about everything you could know about the steaks.

First our waiter brought over freshly baked popovers. Crispy on the outside, and fluffy yet hollow on the outside. I couldn’t wait to slather it with the garlic butter, even if it meant burning my mouth a couple times. It was totally worth it. 

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Jacobs is known for their tableside caesar salad which is literally made in a cart that they bring to your table. We ordered this and enjoyed watching each fresh ingredient go into the mix, and enjoyed eating it even more. The salad was not your typical overly creamy dressing, but it still lived up to its hype, with the perfect amount of garlic and zing.

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Before the steaks arrived, a few sauces and salts were delivered to accompany the meat. The sauces included an Argentinian Chimichuri sauce, blue cheese with bacon (YUCK, I dislike blue cheese and don’t eat bacon-but I’m sure it was delish), and a Ponzu citrus ginger soy sauce. As for the salts, there was regular coarse sea salt, volcano smokey salt, and charcoal salt.

With a huge variety to choose from, and some advice from our waiter, we both chose a USDA Prime Black Angus California cut striploin. As it arrived in a cast iron pan, we both cut into a perfectly cooked medium piece of steak. It was juicy, and buttery in a way, and we both enjoyed every last bite.

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For sides, we went with mixed sauteed mushrooms and duck fat french fries with tarragon. The variety of mushrooms was a nice light touch to the meal, while the duck fat fries were interesting. The fries themselves were quite delicious, but I felt that the terragon was a little overpowering for my liking.

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I had previously arranged that whichever dessert we chose would be delivered with a candle for Jonty’s birthday. Since he loves cheesecake, this was an easy decision. It arrived with a candle, “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate, and smothered in strawberries and strawberry sauce. It was incredibly smooth, creamy and mouthwatering.

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Just when we thought our dining experience had come to an end, the waiter brought over a plate of 2 macaroons and wrapped up muffins for breakfast the next day. I absolutely LOVED this extra little touch. It’s little things like this that make me so very happy! 

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We both enjoyed the muffins the next day and couldn’t believe how buttery, chocolately and plain amazing they were. Probably one of the best muffins we have ever had!

Jacobs & Co is a great place for special occasions or if you are just looking for some good food, service and ambiance!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day filled with lots of love and happiness! Regardless of who you spend the day with, spread the love while indulging in some delicious Valentine’s treats.

Since this holiday is synonymous with sweet treats and desserts, I decided to do a little baking to get in the spirit. I made heart shaped shortbread cookies and decorated them with pink icing. I know everyone in my office bursts with excitement any time food is in sight, so I figured it would be a nice little gesture to share the love and bring the cookies into work today for everyone to enjoy.

See below for the recipe.

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Ingredients

Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Icing

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk

Food colouring

Crushed strawberries (optional)

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.

2. Stir in flour and combine until a dough is formed and is no longer crumbly.

3. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut dough using heart shaped cookie cutters.

4. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until bottoms are a very light golden brown.

5. Immediately remove from cookie sheet and place on wire rack to cool.

6. Once cooled (about 30 mins), decorate with icing.

*I added some crushed strawberries into one of the icings to add colour and a hint of flavour.

Happy Valentine’s Day once again from Sweets and Meats!

Barque

I don’t know what took my hungry little butt so long to get to Barque Smokehouse, but oooohhh man am I happy that I finally did! Ever since this goldmine on Roncenvalles opened its doors, I have been jonesing to try it. This past weekend Jonty and I along with a couple friends finally hit it up. Oh and might I mention I had to make this reservations 3 weeks in advance!! I think that says enough..this place is seriously amazing.

On this cold winter night we walked into a cozy, wooden mixed with concrete and brick walls, buzzing atmosphere that instantly warmed me up. As we were seated, a spiced bucket of popcorn was brought to our table, along with two barbecue sauces,a Kansas City (tomato based) and a Carolina (mustard and vinegar based). I immediately noticed the brush sitting next to my cutlery and loved that extra touch of being able to slather your own sauces onto everything.

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Because of all the hype about this place and my excitement to finally try it, I had to calm myself down while looking at the menu! For appetizers, we ordered Smoked Miami Beef ribs which had a “savoury rub with a sweet glaze”. They were incredible, not too fatty, and perfectly cooked. We also got what I would award as my favourite dish of the night, the Smoked Dry Rub Wings. Moist chicken was covered in a crisp, but not too crisp skin rubbed with the most amazing combination of savoury and sweet spices.

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Us, as well as the other couple we were with ordered the sampler for two, which includes three meats and three sides. Our picks were brisket, beef ribs, and chicken thighs. Our friends wanted Baby Back Ribs but they had just run out, so they opted for pulled pork, Merguez Sausages (Moroccan lamb sausage), and brisket. I found the brisket to be tasty, but a little bit on the fatty and dry side. The ribs were also a little bit fatty with not so much meat, but still flavourful. The chicken was excellent, with a nice mix of spices and juicy meat. Our friends loved everything they ordered, and I enjoyed the bite of sausage that I tasted.

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We each chose 3 sides, so in total there was a Caesar salad, fries, sauteed garlic kale, crushed potatoes, and 2 orders of the Sage & Smoked Provolone Pasta. MMMMMMM everything was divine!! The pasta was cheesy and creamy with a hint of smokiness which I thoroughly enjoyed. The kale we didn’t get to try because it was sitting under the pulled pork, but I probably wasn’t missing out on much. The Caesar and potatoes were nice and creamy, and the fries were thin and crispy.

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As full as we were, the pecan pie with cinnamon gelato and apple crumble tart with vanilla gelato were calling our name. They were both soooooo yummy, but my only complaint was the crust was very difficult to break! However, this meal truly makes my mouth water at the thought and I need to go back ASAP!!

This was a true sweets & meats experience!!

Birthday Surprise!

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A couple weeks ago was my 22 birthday and boy did I get spoiled!! Besides the gifts, and a wonderfully relaxing day, the food was the real treat. On my actual birthday, I went to Morton’s Steakhouse with my family, Jonty, and my brother’s girlfriend, and the next night Jonty surprised me and took me to Harbour Sixty! Check it all out below…

For starters at Morton’s I ordered a simple, yet satisfying Caesar salad, topped with buttery crouton-like garlic bread. Next was time for the steaks, with a side of crab cake. It’s title on the menu of “Jumbo Lump Crab Cake” really does it justice, since it is just that, large lumps of crab combined together into a rather large crab cake. Jonty ordered a side of shrimp which had a light crisp coating, and were incredibly flavourful. We shared both the shrimp and the crab cake.

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As for sides, we ordered a bunch for the table to share since they are quite large. Our picks were Lyonnaise Potatoes, creamed spinach, Parmesan Truffle fries, and onion rings. They were all to die for!! The fries were incredible and the parmesan truffle really added a nice touch. The onion rings had a thick and crispy coating which is just how I like it.

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As full as we all were, I couldn’t help but have room for dessert. I ordered Key Lime pie, which came with a candle for my birthday. I have tried many of the desserts at Morton’s and they are literally all incredible!

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I also had some wonderful treats after dinner with some friends of mine. Jonty’s sister-in-law baked me a delicious cookie cake with an “S” on it, Jonty ordered custom made caramel cupcakes that said “Happy Birthday Shelby”, and my parents got me my favourite white Loblaws birthday cake! I was sooooooo full I could have exploded by the end of the night.

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I think I ate enough on my birthday to last me quite a few days, but then again, calories don’t count on your birthday, right?!

Jonty told me he had a special dinner planned for me for the night after my birthday since we were with my family on my actually birthday. He knows I have always wanted to go to Harbour Sixty but never expected him to take me there because it is quite pricey. He told me that he made a reservation at some new restaurant I probably haven’t heard of. Next thing I know, we are pulling into Harbour Sixty!!! I could not have been happier, but still worried about the prices in the back of my head!

I absolutely loved the elegant and classy, yet warm and inviting ambiance of the restaurant. We were seated in a lush, comfy booth and immediately greeted by the most friendly, knowledgeable and efficient waiter. I started off with some fruity vodka cocktail that he created for me, while Jonty opted for whiskey. As for appetizers, we chose a warm mushroom salad on a bed of arugula which was a nice, light start to the meal. We also ordered the shrimp cocktail. Large, succulent shrimp arrived at our table with a side of house made tomato chili sauce.

For the main course, we ordered the Filet Mignon, along with several sides such as a jumbo Lobster tail (and I mean JUMBO), truffle mac and cheese, sugar snap peas, lobster mashed potatoes, and parmesan truffle fries. The mac and cheese and lobster mashed were my favourite of the bunch, although I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite of everything I ate.

Last but certainly not least was the homemade  Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding with caramel sauce and Dulce de leche ice cream. Literally every word of that excites me and makes my mouth water. It was warm, creamy, buttery, and everything else that it’s supposed to be. What a sweet ending to a sweet birthday! I am incredibly lucky to have such amazing family, friends and of course boyfriend who treated me like a princess on my birthday!

Southern Accent

This past weekend, Jonty and I gathered up some friends in search of some Southern, New Orleans style food. We decided to hit up Southern Accent on Markham Street, just South of Bloor.

As we walked in, it felt like we had just entered the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The dark, yet inviting atmosphere was flooded with beads and Mardi Gras decorations which added a little fun to the evening.

As soon as we sat down, we couldn’t wait to open the menu and pick out some traditional Southern dishes. For appetizers, we ordered corn bread, hush puppies (fried corn fritters), Piquant Shrimp, Cajun calamari, and alligator…yes, alligator! Our friends are a bit more daring than us so they chose the alligator, which Jonty and I agreed to try. The whole idea of eating this scary creature really creeped me out, but I went for it anyways. It had the texture of chicken mixed with beef, but was a little too tough for me. I think I was just too freaked out to actually enjoy it. The alligator, as well as the shrimp were tossed in a spicy garlic lime sauce, which added a nice Cajun kick.

The calamari had a nice, crispy coating and was paired with a ginger remoulade and blackened tomato coulis. I’m pretty sure I ate the majority of this dish!

As usual, I loved the corn bread, especially with the warm butter slowly melting into each crevice. The hush puppies were nothing special, a little dry and lacking some flavour, but they did have a crisp coating on the outside.

I did get quite full from the appetizers, so Jonty and I decided to share brisket and sweet potato fries with chipotle mayo. The brisket was so juicy, yet tender and was slow cooked with Maple Bourbon Chipotle BBQ sauce and dark lager. It was served with a side of creamy baked cheese grits and seared collard greens. By the end of this dish, I was stuffed! The brisket, grits and greens was a fantastic end to the meal.

African Adventures Part 2

*So sorry this is being posted so late! I’ve been so busy and eager to share with you new restaurants that I have neglected this! Anyways, here we go.

To refrain from a never-ending post, I decided to break it up into two. The yummy finds from Cape Town will be focused on here.

I literally think Jonty and I ate our own body weight in calamari on this trip. Not only is it one of our favourite appetizers, but it is incredibly fresh in South Africa. In Cape Town, we were told that we must visit the restaurant in The Chapman’s Peak hotel for its famous calamari, so we did just that. To accompany the calamari, we decided to go healthy and opt for a Greek salad. The vegetables and feta cheese were so crisp and fresh, which was a perfect balance with the fried calamari.

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Another spot I was encouraged to try was Steers, a fast food hamburger joint. The burger was pretty good for fast food, and the fries (known as ’chips’ in SA) had this unique seasoning salt with all sorts of spices and flavours which added that extra zing to ordinary fries.

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I sound like a broken record, but Jonty also hasn’t stopped talking about this little fish restaurant in Hout Bay called Fish on the Rocks. He recalls it being his favourite meal in South Africa. Coincidentally, we were staying at a flat basically around the corner, so we obviously stopped by for a bite. We chose a calamari roll (go figure) which was fried calamari topped with fries surrounded by a hamburger like type bun. Jonty was onto something, insisting we try this little spot on the water, and I’m glad we did.

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Since I was in South Africa, a traditional South African treat is something called koeksisters. Imagine twisted, deep fried dough which has been dunked in syrup. I do enjoy them, but only in very, very small doses because they are extremely sweet and rich. Since I was in South Africa, it only made sense to try a number of their traditional treats. First was a koeksister. Next I tried milk tart which is a pie crust filled with a milky custard, and topped with cinnamon. I am not a custard lover, but I definitely stole a few bites here and there from Jonty.

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A little breakfast by the beach never hurt anyone. A little french toast for breakfast also never hurt anyone. I guess you could say I enjoyed my french toast on an outdoor patio near the beach, which was accompanied by assorted fruits, including the ever popular South African fruit, a grenadilla (passion fruit). The portion was a little on the small side for my liking, but I was able to savor each bite and still feel satisfied when I finished.

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Piri Piri sauce is basically everywhere in this country. It is made from the spicy piri piri pepper and poured onto pretty much anything. At a Portuguese restaurant that we visited, we ordered piri piri chicken which was delicious, but a little too spicy for me. We also ordered a prego roll with an egg on it which is a piece of steak on a bun. This meal was quite heavy, yet totally enjoyable.

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I guess you could say most of our restaurant choices were based on recommendations, and there is no exception for Willoughbys. It is mainly a sushi restaurant, but they do serve non Japanese dishes as well, which you will see in a minute.  On any given night you can find this place, also known as the best sushi in South Africa, lined up, as they do not take reservations. As for sushi, we ordered prawn fashion sandwiches which just look like mini sandwiches but made out of rice, seaweed and seafood. As well as the 4×4 which is four spicy rock shrimp tempura rolls and four rainbow reloaded rolls which were both to die for. Seriously, I’d give up a lot for these rolls. A little strange for a sushi restaurant, but the butternut squash gnocchi in a basil pesto sauce caught our eye on the menu. I was a little hesitant about having gnocchi at a sushi restaurant, but the waiter informed us that there are a few different kitchens and that it is truly incredible. I took his advice, and am super glad that I did! It wouldn’t be a meal in South Africa without some fried calamari, so we ordered a small portion as well.

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While in Cape Town it would almost be a crime not to visit the wine country. We drove through beautiful Stalleanboch, passing winery after winery, each more stunning than the next. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Cafe Bon Bon at La Petite Dauphine hotel in Franschhoek. The outdoor patio surrounded by mountains and beautiful wineries was breathtaking. The sun was shining, the wine was being poured, and it was time to enjoy. The bread that the waitress brought out first was incredible. Some sort of whole grain bread with nuts and dried cranberries was so tasty that I could have eaten just that!

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For the main course, Jonty and I shared a vegetarian risotto with dried cranberries and a salad with chicken. Although both of these dishes are simple, it was a nice, light meal which was perfectly paired with a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. I will also mention that it was extremely peaceful and quiet at this restaurant, with just the sounds of nature in the background. I never wanted to leave!

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I know this is getting quite lengthy so I will try and wrap is up soon. The winery we visited was called La Motte. I expected nothing less than for it to be beautiful. Vines of grapes, surrounded by a little river was the perfect location for some wine tasting.

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Next we were off to Kruger National Park to see some wildlife. This is one of the best national parks in the world, and I feel extremely privileged that I got to visit there. We saw tons of wild animals such as elephants, lions, giraffe, monkeys, hippos, rhinoceros, crocodiles, to name a few. We stayed over for a couple nights and made our own dinner each night. Below is a picture of the prawns that we put on the brie (BBQ to South Africans).

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Our last and final place we visited back in Johannesburg before heading to the airport is called The Dollhouse. It has been around for years and years, and used to be the “it” place for teens late at night. Jonty’s parents recall basically growing up there. You stay in your car and someone comes to take your order and delivers your food right to the car. Jonty has been there before and knew that I would love the milkshakes that they are known for. He got a chicken mayonnaise sandwich and I opted for the extra thick chocolate banana milkshake. I now see why they are famous for these thick, indulgent drinks! It was soooo thick and creamy that I had to eat it with a spoon, but I loved every minute of it.

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You have now seen our food adventures during our trip to South Africa. I literally felt full the entire time. I was definitely ready for a detox slash healthy eating plan when I got home!

 

Cookie Battle-Recipes

As promised, I will share with you the recipes that I used for the Chef’s Challenge Cookie Battle that I attended the other night. I made two different cookies, leaving me options as to which cookie to bring with me to the battle. The face-off was between Momofuku Compost Cookies and Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip cookies with browned butter, vanilla beans and sea salt. I decided to go with the Momofuku Compost Cookies, as you saw in my previous post.

Momofuku Compost Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (two sticks, unsalted)

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 Tbsp corn syrup (I left this out)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsps Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups your favorite baking ingredients (I used milk and semi sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips)

1 1/2 cups your favorite snack foods (I used potato chips, pretzels)

Directions:
1. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium high for two to three minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides with a spatula.
2. On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate.
3. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size.
4. When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
5. Mix 45 – 60 seconds just until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Do not walk away from your mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
6. On the same low speed, add in the hodgepodge of your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30 – 45 seconds until they evenly mix into the dough. Add in your favorite snack foods last, paddling again on low speed until they are just incorporated.
7. Using a 6 oz. ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheetpan.
8. Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour or up to 1 week.
DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.
9. Heat the oven to 400 F. Take the plastic off your cookies and bake 9 to 11 minutes. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.
At 9 minutes, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don’t match up and your cookies still seem pale and doughy on the surface.
10. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, they’ll keep five days.
Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies with Browned Butter, Vanilla Beans and Sea Salt
Yields about 2 – 2 1/2 dozen
Ingredients:
1 cup salted butter, diced into 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
seeds of 2 vanilla beans (or increase vanilla to 2 tsp)*
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
about 2/3 cup Nutella, chilled
coarse sea salt 
Directions:
1. Brown butter in a medium saucepan
2. Pour browned butter, using a rubber spatula to scrape out any excess, into the bowl of an electric stand mixer and allow to cool until lukewarm, about 20 – 30 minutes. 
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and 1/4 tsp kosher salt, set aside.
4. Add light-brown sugar to cooled butter in stand mixer fit with paddle attachment.
5. With mixer set on medium-low speed, blend mixture together until well combined, about 1 minute.
6. Add in vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla then add in eggs one at a time and mix until well combined after each addition.
7. Set mixer on low speed and slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
8. Mix in chocolate chips.
9. Transfer dough to an airtight container (or place plastic wrap over bowl) and chill in refrigerator about 1 1/2 hours. 
10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
11. Remove dough from refrigerator and scoop dough out about 2 1/2 Tbsp at a time and shape into balls, then align them on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper. Evenly flatten dough balls until you have about a 3 1/4-inch circle.
12. Place 1 tsp chilled Nutella in the center on top of each. Carefully fold dough up and around Nutella, covering it entirely
13. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until golden brown.
14. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle cookies with coarse sea salt (you can also sprinkle them with sea salt before baking as the salt sticks better that way).
15. Allow to cool several minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Chef's Challenge Cookie Battle

Last night I attended the Chef’s Challenge Cookie Battle which was a fundraising event for cancer research and education at Mount Sinai Hospital. Each attendee showed off their culinary talents with homemade cookies tested by Food Network chef, Chuck Hughes (who is just as good looking in person as on TV!). Although my cookies were unfortunately not the winners, it still was an incredible night for a great cause. I had the opportunity to mingle with other bakers, “foodies”, and of course Mr. Hughes.

There were a huge variety of scrumptious cookies such as brownie stuffed chocolate chip, pink lemonade, candied bacon, various shortbreads, lemon meringue, among plenty others. The winner’s Chocolate Macchiato Shortbread cookies were beautifully displayed and were clearly a hit. I am not a coffee fan so I didn’t try one, plus they were all eaten pretty quick after Chuck pronounced them his favourite.

And the winning cookies (the ones in the coffee cups)…

I put some thought into which cookies I would bring to this event and decided to make two different recipes to choose from. First I made Momofuku Compost cookies which are one of my favourites. It is a very intricate recipe which can be a hit or miss, so you must pay attention to detail in the baking process. I also stumbled upon a recipe for Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies with browned butter, vanilla beans and sea salt. They sounded amazing so I gave them a try. The final product was quite delicious, but I felt that they were kind of just ordinary. Therefore I chose to display my compost cookies at the cookie battle.

Pictured below are my two different cookies at home while deciding which to bring to the battle.

Stay tuned for the recipes.

New Continent, New Food

Although I have not been blogging for the past three weeks, I sure have been eating! Sorry for the hiatus, but I was busy hanging out with penguins and lions and rhinos and other cool stuff in South Africa. Still sounds crazy to me that I’ve been to Africa! If someone would have asked me a few years ago if I could ever see myself visiting Africa, I would have probably said “ummm are you crazy?!” Little did I know that a boy would change all of that. That boyfriend Jonty of mine who joins me in a ton of eating was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. That being said, it was time he show me his roots and where he was brought into this world.

Visiting a new place always sparks my taste buds with excitement. I dedicate a large majority of my vacation to finding the best food to enjoy, photograph, and write about. After all, if it hasn’t been photographed then you didn’t really eat it…right?! After spending some time in Johannesburg and Cape Town, I can confidently say that the food is incredibly delicious, fresh and worth talking about.

An authentic South African food is dried meat, also known as biltong. It is quite comparable to beef jerky, yet I find it way more enjoyable. To be honest, before this trip I would never indulge in some biltong whenever Jonty would come across some in Toronto. Three weeks surrounded by this stuff has converted me into a biltong fan.

For years I have been hearing Jonty talk about this Shawarma restaurant in Johannesburg that he went to years ago on his last visit back. I always just thought “ok yeah it’s shawarma, what’s the big deal?”. Well, I now know the big deal. It is super yum! The array of toppings and salads you can stuff inside your sandwich include the staples such as hummus, lettuce, eggplant, veggies, and then some nontraditional ones such as mashed avocado and potato salad!! Also, the beef ribs were literally fall-off-the-bone delicious, yet also quite rich. The juicy, soft meat smothered in a sweet, tangy sauce made for probably the best ribs I have tasted.

A common chain throughout the country is a place called The Spur. Since Jonty and I love to indulge in anything that has hit the deep fryer, we ordered calamari, with fries and onion rings. The one thing I couldn’t comprehend is why they are called rings. They are onion strings to us North Americans! Oh well, I still had no difficulty eating them.

The surrounding oceans in Cape Town allow for seafood to be readily available and extremely fresh throughout the country. Also a chain, which was just mediocre in my opinion was called the Ocean Basket. The food is tasty and the price is reasonable, but it would not be my first choice of restaurants. Anyways, Jonty and I ordered a seafood platter which consisted of prawns, calamari, fries, rice and hake fish, in which we got two fried and two grilled. When it arrived at our table we were overwhelmed with the amount of food, but before we knew it, our plates were empty.

These days you can find frozen yogurt on basically every corner in Toronto, however this trend is quite new to South Africa. There is only one fro yo shop, called Wakaberry, which we of course visited. I do prefer the yogurt here, as I find it to be creamier and tastier. However, for something so new in South Africa, I give it two thumbs up. The toppings were also a little bit different to me, considering there was some candy and treats that I am not familiar with, but I did give many of them a try and was pleasantly surprised. After all, if it’s sweet and sugary, I’ll most likely enjoy it!

We actually only ate Italian food once at a restaurant called Mimmos. Avocado is extremely popular in many dishes because of the freshness and mass quantity of them. The pizza we chose was topped with mushrooms, avocado, and chicken, which are three of my favourite things! We also ordered linguine with chicken and spinach in a garlic cream sauce. My carb craving was thankfully filled with a fresh, satisfying meal.

After all these savory delights I was in desperate need of something sweet. As I entered Milky Lane, I knew I had found the right place. Milkshakes, ice cream, sundaes, donuts, I didn’t know where to begin. I found a section on the menu which was kind of like a Mcflurry or blizzard with different flavours. I chose a Bar One (kind of like Mars bar) and banana creation. As soon as it arrived, I dug in and didn’t look up until I could see the bottom of the bowl. Let’s just say I enjoyed it. As for Jonty, he was feeling nostalgic and ordered something he loved from his childhood, which I find quite revolting, a bubblegum milkshake.

Whenever the topic of food and South Africa come up in conversation, the restaurant Turn n’ Tender is almost always recommended. Since this is the case, I just had to see what it was all about. To start, Jonty and I ordered biltong carpaccio, which was thinly sliced biltong topped with a bed of arugula, Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil. This isn’t something I would have ever thought to order before this trip, but I am sooo glad that I did because I couldn’t get enough. As for the main course, Jonty and I each ordered a steak cooked to a medium perfection with a side of fries and onion rings/strings. I now know why this restaurant is talked about over and over again.

Stay tuned for part two and the rest of our photo diary from Cape Town.

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