Uno Mustachio

One of my favourite parts of my new job is the proximity to St. Lawrence Market. Before I worked at Yonge and King, discount I was forced to visit the market on Saturdays due to the less than convenient hours. The market on Saturdays is an unbearable event. It is crowded, ambulance people are violently shoving you out of their way as they try and sample their 18th pretzel with Kozlik’s mustard and you can’t spend time looking at the bounty in front of you. Because I was visiting on the busiest days of the week, I would try and make my visits to the market as short as possible: a quick dart, in and out, to pick up a fancy cookie cutter, a bagel with lox and cream cheese or a tube of cured meat. I had no idea about the amazingness of the prepared foods in the basement of the market.

Until now. The basement of St. Lawrence is truly what makes the market amazing and contributes to its title from National Geographic as the world’s best food market. The basement houses all sorts of food stalls where you can buy prepared menu items to enjoy in the food court downstairs or one of the many picnic tables surrounding the building outside. My first visit to the basement of the market left me with an order of pierogis from European Delight ($4.25/dozen) and I was hooked. I knew I slowly had to discover the halls of the basement and see what other deliciousness it had in store for me.

Last week I visited Uno Mustachio in search of a sandwich.

IMG_6575

It should be noted that I am fairly loyal to California Sandwiches and have eaten dozens, if not hundreds of sandwiches from them. I even had to delete the Uber Eats app from my phone at one time because I was ordering too many chicken parm sandwiches. Yes, I have re-downloaded the app and have since ordered more sandwiches.

But when I saw something called the Godfather on Uno Mastachio’s menu I knew it had to be good. Uno Mustachio doesn’t limit you to just a chicken/veal parmigiana or an eggplant parmigiana sandwich. They allow you to get BOTH and have a name for it so you don’t feel like a ridiculous, glutinous human being! I ordered my Godfather sandwich with veal and all the fixings (roasted red peppers, sautéed onions, sautéed mushrooms, and roasted jalapeno peppers) and this garnered me much respect from the older Italian gentleman who rang through my order.

This sandwich is unreal. The pieces of veal are generously massive, spilling g over the sides of the Kaiser bun. The veal is crispy but the breading is a light coating, it is not overly greasy or too heavy to stick to the meat. The veal itself is thin and moist. The meat is tender and easily bites off intact with its coating. The eggplant is thinly sliced, avoiding any of the fibrous starchiness that is common with eggplant parmigiana.
The toppings are the right mix of flavours and textures. The combination of both sweet and hot peppers adds a kick and sweetness with each bite, playing on the same flavours found in the sauce. There is a generous smear of sauce on the bun but not in excess that will result in sauce flying everywhere. You could wear a white shirt while eating this sandwich.

This sandwich blew me away and was incredibly filling. I obviously finished the whole thing even though it was the size of my head and then I felt like a whale immediately after. I will definitely be having another one of these sandwiches (not with much frequency as I am trying not to have a heart attack before 30) and I think my California Sandwiches days are over.

Happy munching!

Maker Pizza – The Bodega

I’m currently on a huge sandwich kick: I’ve been eating various iterations of Cubano sandwiches, I recently munched a lobster roll from Buster’s Sea Cove in St. Lawrence Market, I’m planning a burger date in the next week or so with my pal Lynsey and I’ve been eating copious amounts of breaded chicken sandwiches from California Sandwiches thanks to Uber Eats.

IMG_5818

While the excessive eating of Uber Eats has to stop (or I at least have to walk to California Sandwiches location that is 10 minutes away from my house), the sandwich eating does not. Sandwiches are the most convenient way to eat meat and cheese. On the weekend GC and I put this theory to the test and headed down to Maker Pizza to try their sandwiches. Yes, we went to a pizza joint to eat sandwiches but I suggest you do too. We both ordered the Bodega which is arguably one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten.

IMG_5815The Bodega with mortadella, ham, turkey, salami, mozzarella, provolone, tomato, white onion, iceberg lettuce, roasted red pepper, roasted jalapeno, pepperoncini, sub sauce and served on a sesame bun.

This sandwich is as intimidating, epic and ridiculous as it looks. Despite having four types of deli meat (which I now think all sandwiches should), the sandwich is not greasy or heavy. This is because the veggie portion of the sandwich is made into a slaw with a vinegary tartness to it, which lightens the sandwich. By making the vegetables into a slaw, you do not have any of that wet, sliminess that can sometimes happen with having lettuce on a sandwich – which is why GC does not put lettuce on his sandwiches. The lettuce doesn’t shift and pull with each bite, leaving your sandwich intact until the very last bite. The jalapeño and pepperoncini add a nice level of heat to the sandwich which also helps break up the greasiness of the deli meat. The heat doesn’t overpower the sandwich or your palate, simply highlights the peppery tastes of the mortadella and salami. The cheese combination is perfect. Provolone and mozzarella play together to create a smoky and creamy cheese duet that can stand up against the strong flavours of the meat quartet.

I fell in love with this sandwich and Maker Pizza. I am already planning my next date with this sandwich (hopefully this Saturday) and future picnics that will happen in Alexandra Park with various pizzas from this restaurant.

Happy munching!

Wilbur Mexicana Restaurant

It is no secret that I love Mexican food, especially tacos so it was shocking that I hadn’t yet tried Wilbur Mexicana Restaurant given that it opened over a year ago. A few weeks ago I was finally able to check this restaurant outwith my friends Lynsey and Sarah.

The restaurant is named after the chemist Wilbur Scoville, who created the Scoville scale which is used to measure the heat of peppers. No, this isn’t something that I just randomly know because I am a huge history nerd (which is true); the restaurant provides fun facts on the menu and the table numbers.

The restaurant’s interior is industrial and resembles a 19th century laboratory. There is a combination of sleek countertops, high-top tables and lower tables clustered around tufted-leather booths. The back wall of the restaurant is a feature wall: there is a large, apothecary-cabinet like wall piece that houses dried chilies and other supplies, ready for scientific experiments. The light fixtures are appropriated scientific beakers, giving the restaurant that hipster-industrial cool edge that King West craves.

The restaurant features casual ordering: you order from the front counter, they give you a number which features a stylized drawing of a pepper on the front and the back provides various factoids regarding the pepper. How could I not love Wilbur: good food and knowledge! We each ordered 3 tacos, and starters to share: chips with guacamole, chips with queso fundido and Mexican street corn.

IMG_5601 Continue reading

Soup Round Up IV

I haven’t been cooking much lately. It’s been too beautiful outside to not use the BBQ and my go to meals have been burgers and steak. These are my summer staples but unfortunately, they are not too exciting for blogging purposes. I have however, returned to making soups for lunch. I had an epiphany the other day where I thought “I eat other warm foods throughout the summer – why not continue eating soup?” Duh. Below are 6 soup recipes I have tried in the past few weeks and what I thought of them.

1. Chilled Potato Leek

I am still trying to figure out my thoughts about chilled soup. This was the first one I made and it was a good introduction to chilled soups. It is silky and smooth and has a subtle flavour, not jarring enough to confuse your palate with contrasting flavours and temperatures.

4 leeks, white parts only, chopped
4 large green onions, white part only, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
½ Tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and ground white pepper
2 Tbsp minced chives

In a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, combine the leeks, the green onion, and 1/2 cup of the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables have wilted and begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the ptoatoes and remaining 2 ½ cups broth, cover, and cook until the vegetables are very soft, 25-30 minutes. Let for for 15 minutes. Stir in the butter.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Return to the pot. Stir in 1/4 tsp salt and season with pepper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, 3-4 hours or up to overnight. The soup wil thicken and become very creamy., Serve, garnished with the chives.

2. Curried Carrot Purée

I loved, loved, loved this soup! It is one of my favourites from my trusty Williams-Sononma cookbook. It can be served chilled or warm, making it the perfect soup for the early summer when randomly cool days surprise us. The flavours are reminiscent of autumn in a way that makes you savour and appreciate our seemingly fleeting summers. I plan to make this soup all through the summer into the long hot days of September and October and you should too!

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large shallot
½ lbs carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
6 cups of chicken broth
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, warm the 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, curry powder, and broth. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the orange juice. Let cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper. This soup can be served warm or chilled. To serve warm, return to the pot and gently warm over medium heat. To serve chilled, let cool, transfer to a covered container, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Serve, drizzled with oil.

3. Spinach and Leek Soup

This is one of the most intensely green things I have ever eaten. If you want to feel like Popeye, eat this soup. It is rich with garden freshness and sweet onion flavours. It doesn’t make a huge batch of soup so this is the perfect soup to make when you need lunches for only a day or two.

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, white and pale green parts, chopped
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ cups vegetable broth
2 large brunches spinach, tough stems removed
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter with the oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and the nutmeg and sauté until the leeks are softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Return to the pot, add the cream, and bring just to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

4. Simple Asparagus Soup

I did not like this soup at all. Asaparagus is one of my favourite vegetables and unfortunately, I live with someone who does not like it which means I rarely get to eat it. I thought a soup that masked the taste and texture of asparagus would be the perfect thing to eat. Maybe it was a little too perfect because GC loved this soup and I hated it. The problem lay in how much zest and lemon juice I used. I followed the recipe but that is too much lemon flavour. It results in a bitter tart soup that only tastes of lemon and not much else.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves glaric, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 lbs asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1é2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp heavy cream
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Return to the pot, add the cream, and bring just to a boil. Turn the heat off and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

5. Cucumer-Dill Soup

Another chilled soup to ease my mouth into this way of eating soup. The texture of cucumber is slightly mealy and when blended, this is the texture that shines through. It was completely impossible to get this soup silky smooth and it was lumpy. I didn’t leave the chunks of cucumber in the soup because this was not a texture I was looking for. Texture and consistency aside, this soup had great flavour. It was cool and refreshing, with a hint of bite like a perfectly mixed gin and tonic. This mixture would make a good chilled salad and cucumber added to a gin and tonic is just delicious.

3 English cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
1 cup Greek-style or thick, whole-milk plain yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 green onions, white and tender green parts, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped dill
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed
Salt and ground white pepper
1 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Coarsely chop 5 of the cucumber halves and transfer to a large bowl. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, green onions, dill, garlic, caraway seed, 1 tsp salt, and 1é4 tsp white pepper. Stir to combine, cover, and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to blend the flavours. Dice the remaining cucumer half and set aside.

Working in batches, purée the cucumber-yogurt mixture in a blender. With the machine running, slowly add the broth and purée until fully incorporated. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Just before serving, stir in the diced cucumer and oil. Pour the soup into wide-mouthed glasses and serve.

6. Roasted Red Pepper Purée with Spicy Corn Salsa

I made this soup on Thursday night and haven’t yet tasted it! GC took some to work and said it was yummy but that the salsa was too hot for his tastes. This soup is incredibly easy to make because the main source of flavour is already done for you: it uses jarred roasted red peppers. You can obviously make your own but who wants to turn on the oven in the summer? Turning on the stove is bad enough.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar (24 oz/750 g) roased red bell peppers
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp mined jalapeño chile
1 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion, white and tender green parts
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and ptoato, stir to coat, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Return to the pot, stir in the sour cream, and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, to make the salsa, melt the butter in a small frying pan over high heat. Add the jalapeño and green onion and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the corn kernels, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup, topped with the corn salsa.

Chili Con Carne with Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

Every great cook has their own chili recipe. Growing up chili was a staple in our house. Everyone loves chili. Except for me. I don’t like kidney beans. I don’t like their fleshy, grainy textures, their hard exterior or their slightly woody flavour. Because of this, I rarely eat chili. But, unfortunately, I live with someone who loves with chili.

In flipping through the pages of my trusty Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day I discovered a recipe for Chili Con Carne which, to my delight, does not have kidney beans!!! I know this is something I should have probably known as I claim to love food but I didn’t.

photo 2This is the best chili ever! Huge chunks of tender, juicy meat, spicy and sweet peppers and a mix of amazing spices: chili powder, cumin, coriander and cilantro. It has a great Tex-Mex flavour to it. This chili has a rich, deep flavour and gives off an amazing aroma. It had such an intense smell that a vegetarian coworker admitted how good it smelt! I think if a meat-based meal can make a vegetarian admit that it smells and looks good, then you have a classic, make-again recipe.

And of course, what is chili without biscuits?

photo 1(2)photo 5(1)I made these biscuits as a Sunday morning, stay-in brunch, served with my fluffy scrambled eggs and prosciutto. They are best eaten day of, warm and flaky from the oven. The combination of cheddar, butter and green onion cannot be matched. This is another classic, make-again recipe.

I stumbled across two recipes that are easy and work perfectly together. Both are below the cut – happy munching!

Continue reading

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

Another day, another grilled cheese sandwich. Last weekend I made the Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese by Simply Scratch featured on BuzzFeed’s list, 31 Grilled Cheeses That Are Better Than a Boyfriend.

IMG_5475 IMG_5476I love this grilled cheese! The bread is smothered with a cream cheese-green onion mixture. I could eat this cheese blend by itself. It is creamy and fresh and should be spread on everything. Do not overload your bread with this spread because it will cause your sandwich to slide all over your grill and create an oozy mess on your grill and not in your mouth!

I am impressed with myself because although this recipe uses jalapeño peppers, I was not afraid to make it. I did not wear gloves but I was very conscious of where my hands were at all times. No burning seeds in my eyes! This recipe has inspired me to make more things with jalapeño peppers, maybe even actual jalapeño poppers! The jalapeño peppers are tender and keep that crispy and smoky flavour. I grilled the peppers in the oven and I can only imagine the intensity of flavour that would come from grilling these peppers on the barbecue.

The cheddar cheese adds another level of cheesy ridiculousness that is indulgent and a bit extreme. I would love to try this recipe with colby jack (the other cheese Simply Scratch recommends).The buttery, crispy bread simulated the flavour and texture of deep fried batter. Yums.

If you are craving bar food and can’t make it to a bar, make this grilled cheese. If you are craving a grilled cheese sandwich, make this grilled cheese.

Happy munching!