Eat

Baked Onion Rings

When you get a hankering for something crispy, junky and fried theres little else that can hit the spot. That was exactly my mind set just a couple hours ago, I wanted fried and I wanted it now. Onion rings seemed like the perfect idea, however I decided to make one substitution…bake it! These onion rings definitely hit the spot without the extra oil and saturated fat. That’s not to say that these are something you should be making daily… but when you have that craving why not make it a little bit healthier?

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For the batter I had a 3 separate bowl system. The first bowl had flour, the second a combination of buttermilk, flour and egg. While the third had a mixture of breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, dried oregano, chilli flakes and fresh rosemary. These onion rings are simple enough to make: dip onion rounds in flour, drench them in the buttermilk mixture followed by a generous coating of the breadcrumb composite. Bake at 425°F for approximately 15 minutes and you’re finished!

While delicious on their own, these are equally good when dipped in Sriracha sauce. However if you’re feeling a little more adventurous I’m sure these would be fantastic with a chipotle mayo or cream-style dip. Yum!

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Crumb cookies with Blueberry-Cherry sauce

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Decided to be a bit more creative today! I’ve had a bag full of chocolate cookie crumbs, purchased from bulk barn, sitting in my pantry for some time now; and finally wanted to put them to use. The idea of cookie crumb cookies intrigued me, however I had no eggs in sight so instead decided to adapt this recipe for a cookie crumb crust.

Surprisingly I had exactly 1 1/4 cups of cookie crumbs so I didn’t need to change up the ratios. I did add some vanilla extract and powdered ginger to the mix. The mixture wasn’t coming together as much as I had liked so I added a heaping tbsp of peanut butter (I was contemplating between using peanut butter and almond milk so i’m sure they would both work). Again it just wasn’t combining together enough to make free form cookies so I pressed the mixture into a 9-inch pan and baked at 350°F for 8 min. Once cooled I cut the crust into smaller pieces and set aside so they would further harden. Now these cookies on their own are delicious enough, but again as I said I was feeling creative.

For the sauce I adapted this recipe, I cut each measurement in half and still had plenty of sauce for a generous helping with each portion. I had a couple cherries left over from my breakfast smoothie (maybe 6-8 cherries) which I pitted and tossed in with the blueberries equalling a total of a cup of fruit. I also added some of the powdered ginger to merry both components. The sauce was extremely easy to make, just make sure to frequently stir the sauce while it cools to prevent sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. I impatiently waited to add the sauce until it was almost entirely cooled. Delicious! Not overly sweet and a nice combination of flavours. Would definitely recommend!

Pasta with Spinach and Asiago Cheese

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers out there in the world! Its become a tradition in my house to make homemade pizza for mothers day and fathers day so as you can tell I’m behind on these Food Geek posts! I made this pasta dish sometime ago, *cough* during my blog hiatus *cough* but this is definitely one that I’ll be going back too!

It all started off with a leftover wedge of Asiago, I didn’t know what to make or use it on and so it remained in my fridge. One day while google-ing recipes I came across this one by Giada De Laurentiis. Giada was probably one of the first chefs I came to admire, this was when I first started getting interested in cooking and started watching the Food Network. Although she quickly became my favourite Food Network personality, for some reason I don’t think I’ve made any of her dishes. Well theres a first for everything!

Let me just say if her other recipes are similar to this one I’ll definitely be looking up her recipe repertoire! The smell alone of the asiago, tomatoes and spinach heating over the stove top is amazing, an hour or so after I had finished my meal my housemate came over to ask what I had made; it smelled THAT good. This pasta dish is both light yet creamy and although minimal in number of ingredients the outcome is a complex flavour and aroma that leaves nothing to be desired. I pretty much made this recipe as is, however instead of the fusilli I used bow tie and I finished the dish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Trust me if you try out this recipe you will not be disappointed!

Dinner at the Works round 2!

As promised today’s post features another meal from The Works. Met up with a friend for dinner last night. We pretty much just had a friend day, we did some shopping, went to the mall then it was back to her place for a movie night. We bought chips and chocolate for our late night double feature; somehow we thought we’d either get hungry during the movie or have room for snacks…but nope that didn’t happen. I woke up this morning still full from last night. Literally.

We decided to get an appetizer last night (we both didn’t really eat lunch and were almost ravenous). Our starter of choice? The Tower O-RingsA stack of perfectly crispy onion rings piled high, with a side of chiptole mayo. These onion rings are delicious; theres no getting around it, they are greasy to the touch but they aren’t the slightest bit soggy. Perfectly crunchy and the creamy kick from the chiptole mayo was a really nice mix.

Next were our mains! Before we had even left for the day I knew what I would be ordering. If you read my last The Works post here, this is the burger I had originally intended to get during that trip. So it was no surprise that I settled on the Crappy Tire. This burger features a grilled pineapple ring, sweet and spicy sauce with a slice of brie cheese. I ordered mine on a gourmet veggie patty with a whole wheat bun. This was in the Gettin’ Saucy section of the menu and saucy it was! This burger, although quite tasty, had me wishing for a wet wipe! The sweet and spicy sauce just dripped down the burger; I can say that it does taste quite good on the spicy die cut chips though. I finished off my order with my go-to side of choice, the spicy die cut chips, this time with beechhouse sauce on the side.

In all honestly I took half of my burger and most of my side in a takeout container (wait until you see the rest of this post, we ordered a lot!) which I ate earlier today. Because of the pineapple this burger is quite sweet even with the sweet and spicy sauce (which is more of a tang than a spiciness). I added some sriracha on my burger and was it ever tasty! That added kick really brought out the flavours.

Now onto my friend JP’s meal! She ordered the B.A.B burger which features cheddar cheese, tomato, fresh red onion and a garlic sauce. She ordered hers on a chicken breast with a whole wheat bun finishing off her order with a side of spicy die cut chips.

As if our order wasn’t enough already we rounded out our meal with milkshakes! I mean how could we not! These were in the 8 oz. kids sizes of course. I ordered the 2001 Shake Odyssey (left), the same one i ordered on my last visit. JP ordered a Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Banana shake. Yup pretty sure I’m still recovering from my food baby.

Top Chef Season 10 finale

Caution SPOILERS up ahead!!

So last night marked the crowning of the 10th Top Chef. Although I would have been happy with any of the top 3 winning, this season has almost been overcast by all the controversy, bias and potential rigging. I’m a big fan of Top Chef, I’ve been watching the show since its first season in 2006 and have watched every season since; except for one (passed on season 3, I found season 2 to be a disappointment).

I do feel like this show goes in circles for me. I was about 14 years old when the first season of Top Chef aired, and I was hooked. In all honestly this is probably around the time when I first started becoming interested, and subsequently obsessed, with food.I found season 2 to be a let down, although a reality show there seemed to be a greater focus on drama as opposed to the food (don’t get me wrong season 1 had all kinds of drama). I mean do we all remember when Elia Aboumrad shaved her head pictured to to the left, or the distasteful moment where Cliff Crooks almost forcibly shaved fellow contestant Marcel Vigneron’s puffy locks as the rest of the cheftestants just watched?

loved each of these cheftestants from Top Chef: Las Vegas (ie season 6)

That season left such a bad taste in my mouth that I couldn’t bring myself to watch the 3rd. I watched the 4th and 5th season out of boredom, curiosity and habit. However all was redeemed with season 6, *sigh*, oh season 6. Undoubtably my favourite, where the focus really seemed to be on the food.  Unfortunately, in my eyes, the show seems to be on a downward again. Enough with my recap of seasons past, lets get to last nights finale!

I’ve had my suspicions of rigging throughout Season 10 of Top Chef. And I know what you’re probably thinking, this is a reality show…of course its rigged! Which may in fact be true however it seemed to be SO obvious this season that even a toddler could see it!

Now don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of Kristen Kish (Season 10 WINNER!) and was glad to see her win the big prize, however it all seemed a bit too planned. Kristen was clearly both a fan and a judge favourite throughout the show, however everybody loves an underdog story and I without a doubt feel that her elimination during Restaurant Wars (image below) was pre-planned for added drama.

Because there was such a strong backlash from the fanbase against both Padma and Tom, I don’t know if it was just the editing but Padma seemed to be gunning for Kristen to go home, it does slightly taint Kristen’s Last Chance Kitchen win. Particularly during her battle with Lizzie Binder. Tom was praising Lizzie’s dish up and down, going for a second and third bite and calling it a perfect dish. Kristen’s on the other hand was called chewy and too much of a mouth-full, yet somehow Kristen scored the win? Now I for one felt a bias from Tom as CJ Jacobsen kept winning challenge after challenge. And don’t even get me started on how poor Kuniko Yagi, didn’t get a fighting chance on either the show or on Last Chance Kitchen…she had to battle 2 chefs, how is that fair!?!?!

But back to the finale.

I HATED the format of the finale. It felt like an even cheesier version of Iron Chef but without the camera work or the play by play that make that show. If you’re going to blatantly copy another show’s format, you would think they would use the best aspects of the show. What I love about the finale of seasons past was the progression of the meal, giving chefs ample time just to cook great food for a reasonable number of guests without all the theatrics. Really, cooking for 300 people in 3 hours in a live stadium was someone’s idea of a good finale? I did like seeing all the past winners of Top Chef in the audience, however I would have much preferred a more intimate finale in a regular dining room setting with the 5 head judges, the 9 previous winners and (as is typical to Top Chef) the owner of the location/vineyard/restaurant. Leave the theatrics to Iron Chef or use them in a quickfire or an elimination challenge. Not the finale.

I love how I can recognize and name each of the past winners 🙂

I like watching the chefs get judged on their overall meal progression and how each dish goes along with the past course. It has a greater sentiment and as a viewer it truly feels like you’re witnessing a raw version of each chef on a plate. Somehow all of that was lost in this finale, which felt distant, cheesy and rushed. Why didn’t we get to see each chef during their menu planning? Why didn’t we get to see them purchase their ingredients, or like Iron Chef were they pre-provided? Why didn’t we get to see how the sous chefs were picked? I have a hard time believing Brooke would let Kristen have the last 3 eliminated contestants on her team in favour of chefs who were eliminated very early on.

I’ve read various comments on last nights finale, and many people seem to think that the actual judging of the finale was rigged. While it may have been, I didn’t find it to be that obtrusive. Brooke did serve burnt pig ears…and chicken wings. This is exactly what I was talking about with a lack of meal progression. Going from scallops to chicken wings to red snapper?? Not exactly a co-hesive menu. However by the end of round 3 it was clear that Kristen would be the winner, there just wasn’t enough time for a 5th round!  It took away any suspense from the already emotionless finale. I do think that Kristen is an incredibly talented chef and I have no doubts that she could have won on her own merit. However with all the producer and outside influence this season has definitely been tainted.

Lunch at the Works!

Went to The Works again, click here to read about my first visit! This time I visited the Oakville location with my sister. It was her first time and I could just tell she loved it. Everything from the menu choices to the decor to the drinks served in measuring cups, she was mesmerized. I got another smoothie, this time it was the  2001 Shake Odyssey that my friend J ordered when I was last there. This milkshake consisted of caramel, peanut butter and oreo cookie crumbs, and it was incredible. I guzzled that baby down so quickly I was tempted to order another one! (this was the kids size which is 8oz)

For a burger I decided on the Crappy Tire, unfortunately the kitchen had just run out of grilled pineapple leaving me a bit frazzled as I contemplated on one of the many other options. In the end I ordered a Malibu Meltdown burger which consists of a crunchy onion ring, beechhouse sauce, havarti, gouda & brie cheese. Delicious! The combination of flavours meld together really well; you might be thinking wow thats a lot of cheese, in which case you would be correct – and was it ever saucy! This burger wasn’t difficult to eat but I would definitely recommend cutting it in half for better control (a tip which was recommended to me by our server! Side note, turns out this is her favourite burger on the menu!) I ordered my burger with a gourmet veggie patty on a whole wheat bun. And of course I had to go back to my original side of choice the spicy die cut chips! Unlike my first experience at The Works, since my burger wasn’t a spicy one, my mouth wasn’t on fire. The spicy-ness of the chips definitely complemented the sauciness of the burger.

My sister ultimately decided on the Three Ring Binder burger which consists of sautéed mushrooms, chipotle mayo, gouda cheese & 3 crunchy onion rings. Funnily enough I had originally almost ordered this burger before changing mine to the Crappy Tire (and than to the Malibu Meltdown) after discovering we were ordering the same thing, clearly we have similar tastes. Apparently we were twin-ing again as she ordered hers with gourmet veggie patty on a whole wheat bun as well.

We both decided to cut our burgers in half and split them so we could each try both burgers, personally I preferred the Malibu Meltdown to this one. The onion rings were delicious, piled high and extra crispy but I found the mushrooms to be a big overwhelming. It also felt like it was missing something, maybe something with some acid or sweetness would have made all the difference. I didn’t dislike this burger but I don’t think it would be one that I would re-order. My sister decided on the Bold Slaw as her choice of side. The menu warns that it contains jalepeno pepper juice and white pepper however if anything this has more of a sweet and sour flavour compared to a spicy one. Again not necessarily a side I would choose myself but hey its another item I can cross off my list 😉

I have plans to go to The Works again this weekend with a friend, so expect another The Works post on Sunday (clearly I’m obsessed!) this post was actually delayed for almost a week (we went last Tuesday) so hopefully that makes me seem less crazy! Since I couldn’t get it the last time I think I’ve already decided on the Crappy Tire burger, hopefully there isn’t  a shortage of grilled pineapple!

Taro Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea (or Boba) is one of my all time favourite treats, I’m actually surprised I’ve never featured it on this blog before! I’ve tried making bubble tea at home with the powders that you can buy from any asian grocery store but nothing compares to that perfect ‘fresh’ tasting bubble tea. Taro is one of my all time tride and true flavours. Whenever I try out a new bubble tea location, I’ll typically judge their quality of drink based on how they make their taro flavoured tea. I still don’t understand why the drink is so vividly purple when the root itself only has a slight tinge, but that simple slightly bean-y taste gets me every time. The one pictured was purchased from a random thai place I had never been to before, was it my favourite? No, but my favourite Bubble tea location in that particular area, much to my dismay,  isn’t open on Sundays; but when you get a hankering for some tapioca anything will do!