White Girl Ramen

16 Jul

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To save you the time and exertion from a rage-induced comment, I will begin by acknowledging that my ramen recipe is influenced by but not traditionally a Japanese technique. Ramen has such a vast and rich history there is an entire museum dedicated to it. I won’t bequeath you a history lesson today but want my appreciation for the antiquity of this tradition to be known before I fuck it all up.

People in Toronto are cracked up on ramen – I haven’t seen such a huge food trend since pizza bagels. I’m assuming this fad is rampant in other North American cities but I’m marginally poor and have no money to travel. Honestly, living in such a culturally diverse city like Toronto I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on ethnic culinary experiences. Take for example the plethora of Japanese noddle houses popping up everywhere with Kenzo as the leader of the pack. I’ve been overindulging on the Sapporo Miso Ramen with ground pork – the miso based broth has a beer “essence.” I use essence insecurely because I’m sure there isn’t beer in it but you know how I feel about beer in my food – I dig that shit. So, I based my recipe on this bowl with the intention of adding beer to my broth but I only had white wine in the fridge which is why I appropriately call this, White Girl Ramen.

Broth:

  • 4 Cups of Water
  • 2 Mushroom Bouillon Cubes
  • 2 TBSP Miso Paste
  • 1 TBSP Soy Sauce
  • 1 TSP Sesame Oil
  • Big Ass Splash of White Wine

The idea is to make your broth first, separately cook your additions and noodles then put it all together in individual bowls before serving. This would be great for a group of people who have different palates as the possibility of ingredients is endless. I added:

  • Instant Noodles
  • Ground Pork (no I didn’t, but I wanted to)
  • Cremini Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Pea Shoots
  • Green Onions

As mentioned, you can add whatever you want – knock yourself out!

Greek Bruschetta

30 Dec

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This Greek Bruschetta is a version of a version of an original recipe I’ve never tried. My friend Lee made her version a few years ago and naturally I adjusted it to complement my own palate. What I like about this recipe is how fresh it is. The Bruschetta mixture isn’t placed on top of bread but is scooped up with warm pita triangles. Fresh lemon juice rounds out all the complimentary ingredients that burst with salty and tangy flavours. I use shallots in this recipe because of my intense aversion to raw onions – especially red or purple onions. Yuck. There are so many ingredients you can add or omit – knock yourself out!

  • 1 small pint Grape Tomatoes
  • 10 – 15 pitted and chopped Kalamata Olives
  • Crumbled Feta Cheese (as much as you want)
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 medium Shallot
  • 1 – 2 squeezed Lemons (add to taste)
  • Tiny splash of Olive Oil
  • Tiny pinch of Salt

Just chop, mix and serve.

TIP: I pit olives by cutting one side off then pinch out the pit. 

DIY – IKEA Table

26 Sep

Living in small spaces can often be challenging. The trick is minimalism, if that’s your thing. I like clean, airy spaces with a few pieces of furniture and artwork. I try not to have anything standing on the floor like large vases, baskets, etc. It’s also easier to clean because I rarely have to move anything around when sweeping. I decorate my apartment for me because 95% of the time, I’m the only person there. But there are occasions when I have company and wished I had furniture that comfortably accommodated everyone. I’ve been struggling with whether or not to buy a bigger kitchen table but a bigger kitchen table requires more chairs and I don’t have the space to store them when they are not in use. I also just like what I’ve been using – a $30 piece of shit IKEA desk. It takes up minimal space and suits me just fine.

I tend to have some pretty crazy decorating ideas so I love cheap IKEA furniture – not all ideas are good ones. In this case I printed out a dozen sheets of drawn wood grain I found on the Internet, cut the pieces to fit and used Mod Podge to seal them to the surface. Because the paper was thin, it rippled up but when it dried it gave the top a faux wood texture. The only thing left to do is protect the top so I might buy a fitted piece of glass or not because I’m marginally poor.

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Freezing Tomatoes

25 Sep

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While everyone is busy canning tomatoes, I’m freezing them. Why? Because I’m incredibly lazy and in denial; hence purchasing an enormous bushel of tomatoes with the expectation of canning all 54,681 of them. It’s also important to add that I do this every single year. Not only is canning a huge time suck, it’s messy and often dangerous. That’s my excuse, because honestly, caning freaks my shit out.

I normally freeze flat small batches that stack well and save space but I’m single and have nothing in my freezer other than edamame and coffee so this year I froze larger batches. Rounder batches also fit better in a pot, if you don’t have time to thaw it. I find rectangular pieces of frozen anything are always awkward.

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Stewing Tomatoes isn’t Rocket Science so I’ll Break it Down into Bullet Points

  • Blanch tomatoes until the skin splits. The time depends on how many tomatoes you have in the pot so my rule is: as soon as it splits, take that shit out.
  • Some people let their boiling hot tomatoes cool before they skin them but I have zero patience for that. I run one under cold water, skin it, cut out the green nipple and throw that hot bastard in a large pot.
  • Once you have a full pot of tomatoes, add salt and stew for an hour.
  • Let cool and double bag your batches. Sometimes I let the pot sit for 24 hours for more flavour. 

How to Easily Remove the Evil Foil Cap from a Bottle of Wine

12 Sep

How many times have I cursed while trying to peel away the utterly useless foil cap when opening a bottle of wine? How many nails have I sacrificed while picking away at tiny bits of foil? How many times have I stabbed my thumb with the dull knife attachment on my mediocre corkscrew? How many real life tears have been shed after a hard day of work when I just can’t get that fucking foil off my GD bottle of wine? I’m getting anxiety just thinking about it.

Now imagine my astonishment when I was performing all of the above in Scotty’s kitchen when he simply took a knife, ran it up the side of the foil cap and watched as it slipped right off. My jaw dropped. I was speechless. I gave him cut-eye and then wondered WHY have I never thought of this my entire drinking career?!

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I don’t have a step-by-step guide or video on how to do this because I only have two hands and I often drink alone. I think it’s self-explanatory, just remember – only perform this magic trick with a sharp knife.

Also, this wine is delicious and under $15.  It’s rich and deep with major hits of vanilla and sometimes orange (maybe.)

Fish Fry, Two Ways

9 Sep

Where I come from, we eat a lot of fish, mainly Perch. My Uncle Bob is retired and goes fishing EVERY SINGLE DAY so we get that shit fresh. Naturally, everyone has their own way of cooking Perch but for me there is only one way – fish fry. If you’re lucky and don’t have to gut and clean the fish then this process is super quick and easy. Egg Wash + Coating + Deep Fry = Delicious.

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Preparation:

Soak fish for a few minutes in an egg wash. My Aunt Linda uses, egg and milk. My father uses egg and water. When you’re ready to coat the fish, flip it in the egg wash a few times (don’t be a nerd, use your hands!) and transfer it to your plate of coating. My Aunt Linda uses Saltine Crackers that she runs through her food processor. My father uses Sylvia’s Fish Fry Mix or sometimes the Fried Chicken Mix. Dust off any excess coating and drop that shit in some hot ass oil.

Deep Fry:

My Uncle uses a modest deep fryer called, Fry Daddy and my father uses a propane tank attached to an open flame burner like a lunatic. I recommend the Fry Daddy. Using Conola Oil and carefully following the instructions, deep fry small batches of Perch for 10 minutes and let sit on a bed of paper towel for 5 minutes. I also recommend doing this outdoors.

Garnish:

Sometimes I squeeze some fresh lemon on top or whip up some tartar sauce:

  • 1 Cup of Mayo
  • 3 Dill Pickles, chopped
  • 2 TBSP of Capers, chopped
  • Half of a Lemon, squeezed
  • S&P

You could also add:

  • Smoked paprika
  • Fresh dill
  • Parsley
  • Hot Sauce

Can we also talk about how cute my Aunt Linda’s Hens and Chicks are? Totally stealing this idea next year.

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Shrimp Ceviche

24 Jun

I was introduced to Ceviche only a few years ago – I was a sheltered child. I’ve always appreciated when someone else made it but never tried to make it myself, I’m not so much a fan of chopping a million ingredients. But this was super easy and heat free which is perfect for hot summer days. Scotty didn’t try it because he is “allergic,” to (never tried) seafood but he did help squeeze 15 limes. It really cuts time if you have a lime juicer which we didn’t. This is the one I use. 

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Shrimp Ceviche

  • 1 – 2 lbs of Tiger Shrimp, Raw
  • Half Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
  • 15 Limes
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 LRG Shallot
  • Handful of Fresh Cilantro
  • ¼ Thai Pepper or Other
  • Pinch of Sea Salt

Peel, rinse and chop tiger shrimp. Add to a non-reactive bowl, such as glass. Add the juice of the limes and shallots, cover and refrigerate for an hour or until the shrimp cook. The lime juice “cooks” the shrimp, they will turn pink when done. Chop and stir in the rest of the ingredients, cover and refrigerate for another hour or at least 30 minutes. I was nervous to add the garlic as it might have overpowered the dish but it didn’t. Even when left over night in the fridge the garlic was mellow, in fact it was better the next day.

Beer and Butter Shrimp Boil

18 Jun

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It’s summer and in true Toronto style, I’ve been drinking in parks like a hobo. I also like to invite myself over for dinner to whoever will have me because I rarely cook in the summer. But this weekend my mother and aunt came to visit my cousin and I, so I hosted a dinner and card night which turned out to be quite the ladies night avec sangria and a kitchen dance party.

Cooking with beer is totally underrated. Its hops and barely add new and interesting flavours. It has tenderizing properties valuable for meat and marinades and it’s versatile in numerous cooking techniques. I based this recipe on my favourite dish served at the Portuguese restaurant Bairrada Churrasqueira. I prefer the College Street location in the summer. They have an enormous back patio and often grill sardines for free. Hint: The sardines taste better than they smell!

Beer and Butter Shrimp

  • 1LB of Large Shrimp. Cooked.
  • 1 Large Shallot
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/2 TBSP Cajun Seasoning 
  • A Shitload of Butter 
  • 1 Tall Can of Light Beer (Pilsner) 
  • Ground Pepper 
  • French Bread for Dipping

1/2 squeezed lemon could work too. I forgot to add it.

Sautee butter, shallots, garlic and seasoning in a medium pot. Add half can of beer, ground pepper and shrimp. Boil for five minutes, 10 if shrimp are raw. Remove shrimp. Add the rest of the beer and boil for 10 minutes. Pour sauce over the shrimp and squeeze half of a lemon over top.

Pomegranate Margaritas

29 Apr

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Other than an impromptu night in the village sharing a mic with a drag queen singing show tunes, my weekend was relatively chill. Saturday was the warmest day we’ve had all season and we needed it. I hate talking about the weather though. For one, I’m terrible at small talk. Someone could be talking about how excited they are that Target is coming to Toronto and I could reply with how tripping on Ayahuasca in Peru might bring me closer to understanding my existence.

Another reason why I don’t like talking about the weather is because I truly don’t give a shit. It’s snowing – so what. We live in Canada, it snows, it rains and sometimes it gets super hot and guess what? People will complain about that too. But I will admit this has been a very long, depressing spring so I took advantage of the sun and made celebratory Pomegranate Margaritas which while tanning with a great friend was nothing short of perfection.

Pomegranate Margaritas

Serves 2

  • 4 ounces of POM juice
  • 3 ounces of Tequila (white)
  • 2 ounces of Triple Sec
  • 3 ounces of Simple Syrup
  • 4 ounces of lime juice
  • 5 cups of ice

Blend.

The Best Reuben Sandwich

24 Apr

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I’ve mentioned before I consider myself quite the Reuben enthusiast, not the classiest of obsessions but definitely suitable. I’m surprised how little I’ve written about the almighty Reuben, but like most enthusiasts, I rarely find a notable Reuben that has met my aggressive standards. So naturally, I was surprised to find the best Reuben I’ve ever had in my own hometown, Wallaceburg Ontario.

Although we moved to an entirely different area when I was 8 years old, my mother, step-father and I frequently travelled back to visit my Grandparents and I, my father who has always resided in this area. My best memories live here, which is a kind of nostalgia that never escaped me. I’ve always called this place home. Luckily, my mother and step-father recently moved back so my visits are more common and I can finally appreciate in (my hesitating) adulthood the local cuisine. There isn’t a fancy restaurant to be seen, but that’s part of its charm. Everyone can cook and summer is abundant with local ingredients so cuisine might seem too posh a word for a place that’s characterized by its coveted simplicity.

Chez Denise Bistro & Café, is where I discovered this epic Reuben. It’s messy as hell and difficult to hold – exactly how I like it. But the surprising element is the homemade spinach dip they generously slather on huge portions of corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. It’s greasy, it’s juicy – it makes you feel brazenly guilty for wanting another.

Chez Denise Bistro & Café, 153 Nelson, Wallaceburg, Ontario. 

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