Prevent yourself from having a case of the Mondays by starting the week off right with a delicious, wholesome breakfast! This omelette is hearty and filling, loaded with cremini mushrooms & Havarti cheese with a subtle spicy kick from the jalapeños.

Omlette
Omlette

Mushroom, Cheese & Jalapeño Omelette
[Serves 1]

Ingredients:
1 tbsp oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup egg whites
2 tbsp milk
1/2 jalapeño, de-seeded & finely diced
1/2 tbsp, chopped cilantro
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
2 slices Havarti cheese

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a medium pan
2. Whisk together eggs, egg whites, milk, jalapeños, cilantro, salt & pepper
3. Pour the egg mixture into pan, tilting the pan to spread evenly
4. Let the eggs firm up slightly (about a minute) and the mushrooms on top
5. Cook for another minute or two, until egg mixture holds together
6. Using a spatula, flip the omelette over and cook for another 30 seconds
7. Add sliced cheese to one half on the omelette, and using your spatula flip the other half over
8. Serve immediately

Enjoy!

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My mom has been out of the country for a few weeks now, and the younger bro & I have desperately been missing Mama’s cooking. Even though it wouldn’t come remotely close to the magic she puts in it, I thought I would get her recipe for one of my favourite dishes she makes and try my hand at it. Something about the combination of succulent chicken in a silky spinach gravy is just so comforting to me. This is also the perfect way to sneak in some greens for those who are fussy over the taste. Serve it over rice or with some homemade naan.

Palak Chicken

Palak Chicken
[Serves 4]

Ingredients:
300g frozen spinach, thawed
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
4-5 cardamom pods (lightly crush with fingers)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp chili powder (adjust depending on your spice preference)
Salt, to taste
12oz boneless chicken, cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1/4 cup tomato paste

Directions:
1. In a small pot, boil the thawed spinach with a little water for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally
2. Using a blender, purée the cooked spinach and set aside
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil on medium-high heat
4. Add onions and cook until translucent
5. Add cardamom pods, turmeric, chili powder and salt. Stir well
6. Add chicken, garlic, ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink
7. Add tomato paste, and cook for about 5 minutes or until oil starts to separate
8. Reduce heat and add the puréed spinach
9. Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes
10. Garnish with coriander and green chilies

Enjoy!

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Garlic Naan

March 20, 2014 · 2 comments in Comfort Food

I have been itching to try making some homemade naan for a really long time now. My inner Pakistani is actually quite disappointed with how long it’s taken for me to finally come around to making some. However, the first time was quite the success! I looked at tons of recipes and ones that included yogurt just seemed to speak to me. The process although slightly involved was much easier than I thought it would be. And the result? Warm, soft, pillowy goodness.

Garlic Naan

Perfect for sopping up curry like my Pepper Chicken Chettinad or the Palak Chicken Curry I made with it. Naans are traditionally cooked in a tandoor, but obviously not many of us have the luxury of having one around. I just used a baking sheet and the broil setting on my oven to make these, but a pizza stone would work great or even just the stove-top. If you’re a fan of making South Asian food at home, you must add this wonderful recipe to your flatbread arsenal!

Garlic Naan

Garlic Naan
[Makes 4]

Ingredients:
2 cups bread flour (you can also use all-purpose)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/8 cup hot water (but not boiling)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt

Topping
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped
1/8 cup melted butter

Directions:
1. Take a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
2. In a deep mug, dissolve the yeast in the hot water. Add the sugar, and stir it until they are dissolved. Let it rest for about 10 minutes (it should start smelling like bread already!)
3. Once the yeast is foamy and almost double in size, add the warm milk and yogurt
4. Pour wet mixture to the dry ingredients mixture and mix well
5. Using your hands, knead and form into a soft ball (it will feel weird and sticky but that’s how it should feel)
6. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for at least an hour or until it doubles in volume
7. Punch down the dough lightly and divide it into 4 portions
8. Using your hands (and some loose flour), shape into individual round balls
9. On a well floured surface, use a rolling pin and roll each ball until 1/4 inch thick
10. Heat your oven to broil on 500 degrees
11. Place rolled out dough on a well-greased baking sheet
12. Brush each piece with melted better and top with chopped garlic and cilantro
13. Bake for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown
14. Flip naans over and cook the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes
15. Brush with more butter if desired and serve hot

Enjoy!

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I was requested assigned to make dessert for game night at my cousin’s place on Sunday. I normally opt for a layered dessert of some sort on family gatherings, but game night seemed to call for a more…hand-held sweet treat perhaps? Plus, those bananas I bought on last week’s grocery run were desperately calling my name to be used. Ripe bananas on their death bed almost always go into banana bread, but plain ol banana bread didn’t seem exciting enough. Decided to use that as a perfect excuse to go and buy myself a donut pan. And topping these bad boys with a chocolate coconut frosting was most definitely a win. I also decided to make these vegan for the influx of vegan followers I got after my Curried Quinoa Salad was featured on Finding Vegan :).

Chocolate Coconut Banana Bread Donuts

Chocolate Coconut Banana Bread Donuts
[Makes 12 Donuts]

Ingredients:
Donuts
1 1/4 cup all- purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ripe bananas, pureed
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting
1/3 cup chocolate spread (I used this)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:
1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. Lightly grease a donut pan and set aside
3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt
4. In a separate bowl, whisk banana puree, sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla until smooth
5. Add banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined
6. Spoon batter into a piping bag and pipe into donut pan (gets a little messy doing it without this technique)
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until donuts are golden brown
8. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes, before turning onto a rack to cool completely
9. For the frosting, warm milk slightly then mix in chocolate spread and icing sugar until smooth. Let cool
10. Dip donuts into frosting and sprinkle generously with coconut flakes

Enjoy!

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My favourite way to cook is not following a rigid recipe, but just perusing through my fridge & pantry, see what I have on hand and put something comforting together tasting as I go along. I did just that last night and it resulted in this delicious noodle bowl with a fusion of Japanese and Thai flavours.

Chicken Udon Noodle Soup
Chicken Udon Noodle Soup

Chicken Udon Noodle Bowl
[Serves 4]

Ingredients:
100g udon noodles
4 cups chicken broth
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
2 Thai chili peppers
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 cup unsweetened light coconut milk
8oz boneless chicken breasts, diced
2 cups baby bok choy
Fresh cilantro
Red chili flakes

Directions:
1. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside
2. Bring broth, ginger, thai chilies, lime juice, lime zest and rice vinegar to a boil
3. Reduce heat to medium-low, add chicken and coconut milk
4. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally
5. Add reserved noodles and bok choy, cook stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes
6. Garnish with cilantro and red chili flakes

Enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
Calories: 232, Total Fat: 5g, Sat. Fat 3g, Carbs: 29g, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 12g, Protein: 20g, Sodium: 335mg, Cholesterol: 33mg

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Alas, here we are…the final instalment of my California food adventures series. In case you missed them, here’s Part I, II and III. Did I save the best for last? You know what…I just might have. Irori Sushi in Marina Del Ray was by far the best sushi I have ever eaten in my life. We only had sushi once while we were down in California and boy, did we get lucky discovering this little gem. The interior imitates a traditional Japanese sushi experience, with a no-shoes policy and floor seating.

After a lot of deliberation, I settled on ordering the Yellowtail Sashimi and their signature Irori Roll. It’s honestly difficult for me to even describe how amazing everything was. The flavour combinations were so unique and the fish was incredibly fresh. I haven’t been able to eat any sushi since because I don’t want to ruin my beautiful sushi memories at Irori. My friend ordered the Baked Lobster Roll and the Scallops and both of her dishes were out-of-this-world delicious. I cannot recommend this place enough if you are ever in the Marina Del Ray/Santa Monica area.

Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Coriander and Ponzu sauce

Front: Irori Roll — Chunk Tuna, Coriander, Avocado & Crispy Onions. Back: Baked Lobster Roll

Next up? San Diego! Even though it hasn’t really been showcased much in my pictures, I had my fair share of fish tacos while I was down in Cali (even some in Mexico!) and the best ones I had were definitely at L’Auberge Del Mar. A delicious combination of grilled fish, cabbage, pickled onions and spicy aioli with a view overlooking the Pacific Ocean? You can’t go wrong.

Fish Tacos at L'Auberge Del Mar

Chips, Guacamole & Salsa at L'Auberge Del Mar

And lastly, here’s some notable mentions from the rest of the trip:

Custom made chocolate bar from Chocolate Lab at Sweet! Hollywood. I chose a milk chocolate base with a Nutella filling, whole almonds, pretzel pieces and toffee bits.

An assortment of delicious pastries from Porto's Bakery & Cafe in Burbank. L to R: Cream Cheese Roll, Coconut Strudel, Peanut Butter Cookie & Guava Roll. I also had the Guava Smoothie which literally tasted like melted guava candies. SO good.

Nutella & Peanut-butter Crêpe at Krafty Krepes in La Jolla. Do I really need to go into detail with this one?!

Thank you so much for joining me in reminiscing my food journey all over California! What’s the best thing you have ever eaten on vacation? Let me know in the comments!

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Our last day in San Francisco was spent strolling along beautiful Fishermen’s Wharf. Around Pier 39, this beautiful building caught my eye.

Boudin

A whole bakery dedicated to sourdough?! Don’t mind if I do…

The inside was even more captivating! The location on the Wharf is their flagship store with big glass windows where you can see the bakers working their magic. We couldn’t get over this adorable transport system that went from kitchen to counter:

Boudin

Aw…look at those little bread baskets go! I picked up some goodies from the store to take home and ordered the Margherita Pizza which was perfectly delicious with an incredible sourdough crust (as expected).

Margherita Pizza from Boudin Bakery & Cafe

You can’t come to San Francisco and not have some chowder, right? And at the Wharf, there’s almost as many chowder places as there are people! Decided to try some at the infamous Crab House and even though I am not a shellfish fan, this chowder had my tastebuds dancing for quite a while.

Crab House

Good thing we did so much walking that day, because I was giddy with excitement over that evening’s dinner plans. We had reservations at Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys! Chef Keller is one of my favourite chefs and I couldn’t be more grateful for an opportunity to eat at his signature restaurant. It was an absolutely wonderful experience with exceptional service and an amazing prix fixe menu. The pictures below aren’t the greatest quality since they’re just quick snaps from my cell phone but I had to share them with you guys!

Top Left: Virgin Mango Guava Cosmopolitan. Left Center: First amuse-bouche compliments of the chef — Chilled Melon Soup & Pine Nut Currant Salad. Bottom Left: Second amuse-bouche — Pumpkin Gratin with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Top Right: Appetizer Course — Avocado & Frisée Salad with Seared Watermelon, Beets & Golden Panisses. Bottom Right: Second Course — Alaskan Halibut with Black Pepper Butter, Pea Greens, Carrot Emulsion, Pea Soup with Roasted Baby Carrots & Parmesan Cream.

Top: Third Course — Rye Crusted Scottish Salmon with Cabbage Three Ways, Buttered Rye Toast, Radishes, Picked Mustard Seed & Caraway Jus. Bottom Left: Dessert Course — Fleurburger (Lightly Spiced Dark Chocolate Ganache in a Home-made Beignet) with Banana Milkshake & Frozen Fennel Ice Cream. Bottom Right: Assortment of Madeleines and Tarts, compliments of the chef

Coming soon: Part IV of the series where we make our way back to LA and head to San Diego. And in case you missed them, here’s Part I and II.

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One of my favourite parts of our trip was when we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Fran — the scenic route was absolutely breathtaking. We decided to stop for lunch at Morro Bay, a beautiful waterfront city midway on our route. The shoreline is populated by quaint little shops and restaurants and it was hard picking where to eat. Settled on Giovanni’s because people were lined up all the way to the docks for it — knew it had to be something spectacular. I had the Halibut Sandwich with a side of Garlic Fries. The fries were insanely addictive and the halibut was so fresh & tender. It was there we coined our new motto: The Line Never Lies.

Morro Bay

Keeping with our motto, we decided to have brunch the next day at Dottie’s in San Fran. We waited almost an hour in line and it was absolutely worth it. I ordered the Black Bean Cakes & Eggs which came with grilled corn bread & homefries. We also got one of Dottie’s Famous Pancakes to share. The black bean cakes were nothing like I have ever eaten before. Not sure what I was expecting, but my taste buds were supremely happy. The corn bread was dynamite and when topped with their signature Jalapeño Jelly?! Don’t even get me started.

Black bean cakes topped with pico de gallo, scrambled eggs, home fries and chili-cheddar corn bread

Dottie's Famous Pancakes

We were full from that massive brunch for pretty much the entire day until 10pm that evening when we decided to track down The Melt Bus. Eagerly wanting some cheesy, melty goodness, we drove up to San Francisco General where they set up shop every night. I ordered The Mission which consisted of pepper jack cheese & jalapeños grilled between two slices of sourdough and a cup of their Sweet Corn Tortilla soup. The boys at the truck were absolutely lovely and the late-night meal was perfectly comforting.

The Melt

The Melt

Next morning, we hit up the acclaimed Tartine Bakery for breakfast which was another line-up that didn’t disappoint. We ended up getting an assortment of treats to go (which admittedly took us a while to finish). Everything we got was gorgeous to look at and perfectly delicious — the James Beard Award winning chefs definitely lived up to their name.

L to R: Coconut Macaroon, Gruyère Breakfast Bun, Chocolate Hazelnut Tart, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Lemon Cream Tart, Morning Bun, Swiss Chard Quiche

Check back tomorrow for Part III as we round out the rest of San Fransisco’s delectable offerings.

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As I spend yet another morning brushing snow off my car cursing what seems to be a never-ending winter, I reminisce back to only a few days ago when my life was nothing but beaches and sunshine. I was fortunate enough to spend an amazing week and a half vacationing in gorgeous California with a friend of mine. We had an incredible time and of course, consumed very delicious food everywhere we went.

Had a bit of a star-struck moment on my flight to LA, when I ran into the ever charming Chef Robert Irvine! My vacation could’ve ended right there and I would’ve been completely pleased with my trip.

Me with Chef Robert Irvine

Alright…that was maybe a lie because as you will see from the following pictures, I’d be a fool to take all this deliciousness for granted.

One of the only things we had planned out before we left Toronto was to see Sean Paul at the Arsenio Hall Show (I know that is super random, but my friend is a HUGE Sean Paul fan). We got there a little late and were turned away at the gate :(. Since food is pretty much the universal anti-depressant, we decided to cheer ourselves up with some Mexican grub at Mission Cantina on Sunset Boulevard.

Virgin Mango Margartia on the patio at Mission Cantina. Also had the Pescado Tacos there but they were nothing to write home about.

Tacos didn’t quite do the trick in the cheering-up department, but we pretty much squealed in excitement when we spotted The Waffle as we walked back to our car. Their Red Velvet Waffle was featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network, so it was the obvious choice. I wanted to try a little sampling of their other offerings as well so ended up ordering the Sweet Flight of Wee which included mini versions of their Red Velvet, Blueberry Lemon & Sticky Bun waffles. They were absolutely divine and I highly recommend checking out The Waffle if you’re in the LA area.

Sweet Flight of Wee a la mode

Some notable mentions over the next couple of days included a late-night stop at Churros Calientes on Santa Monica Boulevard. I had mine filled with Nutella (of course I did) and topped with dulche de leche. SO SO good with a cuppa tea.

Churros Calientes

Fish tacos Round 2 happened at El Compadre, which seemed to be a favourite among the locals. The restaurant has a vintage Mexican feel with a beautiful interior, great atmosphere, and good service. The tacos were fairly decent and their chips & salsa definitely hit the spot.

El Compadre

The next day when we ventured out to Hollywood Boulevard, I must admit we were way more excited to spot a location of Crumbs Bake Shop than we were to see the Walk of Fame. It took us three days to consume everything we greedily purchased, but boy did we savour every last bite. It was also our first time trying the croissant-doughnut hybrid that seems to be quite the rage everywhere, and I most definitely see what all the hype is about. Mmmm…

From L to R: Red Velvet, Peanut Butter Cup, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Glazed Heart Crumbnut

Stay tuned for Part II where we make our way up the Pacific Coast Highway and into San Fransisco!

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I have quite the weakness for shortbread cookies–the light, buttery, crumbly texture can be really hard to resist. They are also one of my favourite kind of cookies to make. They require few ingredients and can be easily transformed into something really impressive. This combination of raspberry jam and white chocolate sandwiched between two shortbreads is nothing short of that. And come on, how perfect are these for Valentines?

Raspberry White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Raspberry White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies with White Chocolate & Raspberry Jam
(adapted from Joy of Baking)
[Yields 18 cookies]

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Filling:
1/3 cup raspberry jam
2 oz white chocolate, grated

Directions:
1. Whisk flour and salt together and set aside
2. Beat butter until smooth
3. Add sugar and beat until smooth
4. Beat in vanilla extract
5. Gently stir in flour mixture until well incorporated
6. Form into dough, and chill for atleast an hour
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
8. Grease and line two baking sheets
9. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick
10. Using a medium-sized round cookie cutter, cut out dough
11. Using a small heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out the centres of half the cookies
12. Place cookies on baking sheets and chill for 10-15 mins so they retain their shape in the oven
13. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned
14. Let cool for 20-30 minutes before assembling
15. Dust cookies with the cut-out with icing sugar
15. Spread raspberry jam on the full cookies
17. Sprinkle grated white chocolate on top
18. Carefully sandwich both cookie pieces together
19. With a small spoon, fill the heart cut-out with more jam

Enjoy!

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