Recipe for Change + Three Questions with Chef Nuit

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One night. Thirty chefs. All you can eat and drink!

I was contacted by representatives of Toronto non-profit organization FoodShare to help raise awareness for their upcoming event, Recipe for Change on February 22, 2018 at the St. Lawrence Market. I can’t stress ENOUGH on how crucial their mission is – teaching kids about the importance of healthy eating and cooking food by working with communities and schools. A lot of kids are disconnected from where their food comes from and they need our help to continue delivering healthy food and innovative education to kids. Recipe for change is one night to celebrate the great flavours Toronto has to offer and to raise funds for this super important cause!

Don’t sleep on this event, and make sure you grab your tickets now before it sells out!!

FoodShare's Recipe for Change 2017

To get you excited, read my quick Q&A with one of the chefs participating in the event, Chef Nuit Regular (owner of Pai and Kiin to name a few) below:

1. What is it about Foodshare that resonates with you?

It’s such a good cause. Health literacy and knowledge is something that has always been very important to me and as a nurse I always love to promote healthy food.

2. Can you give us a tease on what dish/dishes you will be preparing for the event?

Yes, I am preparing the rice salad from my new restaurant named Kiin. It consists of rice and 12 herbs. It’s very refreshing and healthy and very tasty.

3. Recipe for Change is about inspiring kids to eat and cook healthy food! Is there a recipe that you can share with us to help promote this initiative with our own families and friends?

Fruit Salad

Dressing
Lime 2tbs
Honey 2 tbs
Sea salt 1/2 tsp
Mix all the ingredients together

1/2 c Fresh pineapple
1/2 c Strawberries
1/2 c Grape
1/2 c cut Apple
1/2 c cherry tomato
1/3 c Cantaloupe

Mix all the fruit and vegetable together. Then pour salad dressing over and mix well.

***

Since 1985, FoodShare has worked with communities and schools to deliver healthy food and innovative education to improve the way people eat and grow food in Toronto. Supporting over 1200 community-led food initiatives, including growing fresh produce in schools and training young urban farmers, FoodShare’s programs have successfully reached over 270,000 people in Toronto last year alone.

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Healthy bites at e11even Toronto

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If you’ve been following along with my food adventures, you know that I love indulging in the ultimate comfort food. You may or may not agree, but it’s been EXTREMELY hard to resist pasta and all the wonderful carbs this winter!! Well, ever since it hit January 1, I’ve turned over a new leaf!! I’m on a mission to eat healthier, mostly because I have a beach vacation coming up in a few months… which means resisting the bad carbs and stop eating sweets. Yep, I’m 100% guilty of my nightly Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

It’s just SO fulfilling to eat comfort food, and where I live, it’s a bit more difficult to find a good restaurant that has delicious healthy food options. Sadly, in North York I’m surrounded by a lot of Asian cuisines (from Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese), which I adore, but it also means tons of rice, and really limited salad options.

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Thankfully, there are more healthy options downtown! BUT sometimes you can go overboard when you eat salads, especially if they have a lot of meat, high calorie toppings like bacon or fried chicken, tons of cheese and very heavy dressing. Here are three things I look for in a healthy, well balanced meal:

  1. An awesome lean protein like fish, chicken or shrimp
  2. Good carbs such as quinoa or multi-grain toast
  3. Vegetables

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Eating healthy doesn’t have to be tough and unenjoyable, and my nice sister lunch date at e11even just proves my point!! We started off our meal on a wonderful note with their fresh Peach and Ginger tea – it had the perfect balance of sweetness and a slight spicy bite from the ginger. Delicious! I wanted to gulp mine down.

Up first was the Tuna Tartare appetizer, a beautifully layered masterpiece with chunks of avocado and fresh tuna on a sweet soy glaze, topped with crispy shallots. It was served with fried wontons, but you can pass on that if you’re trying to watch your carbs – the tuna by itself is amazing! We were REALLY blown away by the freshness of the fish. I love how e11even takes two simple and fresh ingredients, avocado and tuna, and combines together to create an awesome appetizer.

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We had two salads next, their Seared Tuna Salad (one of my favourite salads ever!) and the Grilled Chicken Salad. I was impressed that both salads were very lightly dressed, and this highlighted the crispness of the leaves – it was so refreshing to eat and I could tell that the greens they used were very fresh!

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I absolutely loved the Seared Tuna Salad, because I was once again pleasantly surprised by the delicious and fresh tuna! It was served with sliced avocado and a ginger dressing which perfectly complemented the salad as a whole. I highly recommend this as a perfect dish for lunch – something you can grab to-go if you work nearby!

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The Grilled Chicken Salad was also very delicious, tossed with a honey lime dressing and topped with peanut sauce. I think there were hints of sesame as well in the dressing and I’m a sucker for Asian inspired salads. Overall, I really liked how everything came together here!

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Finally, my sister and I both split the Atlantic Salmon, served with couscous and grilled lemon. All I can say about this dish is WOW!!!!!!! I was already feeling confident that e11even would serve us fresh salmon, but I was really impressed by how perfect the salmon was cooked! The salmon was lightly seasoned, very moist, tender and juicy. I cook salmon a lot, and I wish I knew how they made this!! I’m definitely going to have to go back to have this again.

Make sure you add e11even to your list for some really delicious and healthy meals in the downtown core!!

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e11even
15 York St
Toronto, ON M5J 0A3

The ULTIMATE winter comfort food

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cropped short rib

Toronto got hit with the first snowfall last night, and the snow was around 15cm this morning!! I’m not ready for winter, and for some reason this is the time of the year when I slack off really hard on my 6am gym workouts and eat all the carbs instead. I just loooove putting on my PJs, turning on Netflix, and eating all the carbs. Just like this awesome braised short rib and mashed potato that I made!!

I’m actually salivating as I type this entry out, just thinking about the braised short rib that I cooked this past weekend, with fall off the bone, super tender meat, in a super delish sauce that has the perfect balance of tangy and umami flavours. The recipe, which I loosely adapted (eyeballed) from a Tastemade video that didn’t have measurements, featured Franklin BBQ owner, Aaron Franklin, sharing his grandmother’s legit looking pot roast recipe. Franklin BBQ is a reallllly big deal in Texas – it is THE place to get classic BBQ in Texas with a wait that could go up to 4-5 hours… and yep it’s on my list of places to eat before I die!!

I tested a bunch of recipes for pot roasts and braised short ribs in the past, ranging from really tomato based ones, to even some with red wine, and I can say this recipe in my top three for sure! It’s got simple flavours that truly complement each other and really lets the beef shine. Comfort food doesn’t need to be complicated!!! I once made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and was a bit disappointed at how the flavours overpowered the meat. My favourite ingredient here is the shiitake mushrooms, which I have never used in a stew before! I’ve only used cremini mushrooms, but I love the flavour this adds.

Make this dish ASAP. It’s the perfect comfort food this winter!! Super simple recipe, which you can set and forget aka leave in your oven for a few hours. I made this with buttery mashed potatoes and roasted garlic carrots and it was EXCELLENT!!!!!

Get the Recipe!

Christmas in a Cookie + Baking with Canola

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I’ve been bad. Sadly, I’ve been cooking with vegetable oil and shortening, which I recently discovered was not the best option for your heart!!

Last week, I attended a really awesome culinary workshop at the Loft on Geary, hosted by Canola Eat Well. They’re a joint partnership between Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba Canola Growers, that aims to inspire us to use canola oil in the kitchen by connecting us to the stories of Canadian farmers. I even got to speak first hand to one of them, a very lovely lady from Alberta, Jeannette (to my right in the picture below). Let me tell you I am CONVERTED! Who knew that Canola is Canadian and grown for us by over 43,000 family farmers on the Canadian Prairies?! I use vegetable oil really frequently to deep fry breaded pork chop, pork belly and chicken, but never again!!

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#CanolaConnect ladies! Photo credit: Josh Tenn-Yuk

Aaaaand here I am with my favourite thing about Christmas (it’s really the other way around…kidding)!! Also, I’m pretty sure I look 17 years old in this photo, WOW!

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Photo credit: Josh Tenn-Yuk

Sooooooo here’s the deal: Canola oil, which should be your local Canadian choice, is heart friendly because it’s a good source of Vitamin E and K, super low in saturated fats (half of olive oil) and is packed with Omega 3 fats (helps protect against heart attacks and strokes). It’s also has a pretty neutral taste, so it allows the flavours in baking and cooking to shine, AND also makes your baked goods moist. Trust me, we baked a bunch of goodies with canola oil at the workshop, and they were outstanding!!

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Kettle Corn, Coconut-Lime Blondies, and MORE!! Photo credit: Josh Tenn-Yuk

Here’s a handy canola oil baking conversion chart! I didn’t know this either but it’s awesome for deep frying (McDonald’s even uses it), because it can fry up until 468F.

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Are you a fan yet?!

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Well, you’re going to LOOOOVE these Chocolate Ginger Jewels I just baked. Chef Claire Tansey is the mastermind behind this perfect cookie, which you need to bake this holiday season. This is literally Christmas in a cookie, with the cinnamon and ginger spice giving me all the holiday feels. UGH! To-die-for!!

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At first bite it’s slightly crispy, but inside it’s super soft and chewy (thanks to the canola oil), bursting with ginger spice, warm cinnamon flavours, and extra sweetness from the chocolate (I used chopped up Valrhona chocolate feves). My eyes literally rolled to the back of my head when I first tried it because it so epic. Especially when you eat them freshly baked from the oven… it’s so dangerous! I’m going to have to work out extra hard today after the 10 cookies I just ate!!!

Don’t sleep on this recipe. It’s so easy and quick to whip up too!

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Get the Recipe!

Fried Chicken Fave!

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There are two things that I look for in my fried chicken: crispy skin flavoured with salt and spices, and inside… really juicy meat. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for, but it’s really tricky and can be easy to mess up if you’re cooking it yourself (read: undercooked and bloody). You really need a ton of oil and patience, because it can take almost half an hour to cook!! Fried chicken falls under the category of something I can eat everyday (like my love of ice cream), AND paired with spaghetti. Yup, you read that right, spaghetti!! But I’m not talking about the Filipino sweet spaghetti you may heard about, which has little cut up pieces hotdog in it. I’m talking about classic Bolognese but with some slight sweetness to it. One of my favourites growing up! Such an interesting combo but it really works.

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Now back to fried chicken, I recently tried some outstanding, juicy fried chicken from Cluck Clucks, a spot in downtown Toronto known for their chicken and waffles. Let me tell you that you have to drop everything you’re doing right now and run over to their location at the Esplanade!!! Ooooooohhhhhhhhh boy. I got to sample a few dishes, and their fried chicken really stole the show! My mouth is watering just thinking about how much I loved their fried chicken: huge pieces, lightly battered, and super flavourful. Every bite was an explosion of spices, and they were perfectly cooked and juicy!

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You really can’t go wrong with anything that you choose (I’m loving their wedges), even the wings were on point!! Dare I say this is the best chicken and waffles place I’ve tried so far in Toronto!? I’ve had School and Dirty Bird but their fried chicken don’t even come anywhere close to Cluck Clucks, which is also Halal by the way. MMMmmm can’t wait until my next visit!!

Cluck Clucks
222 The Esplanade
Toronto, ON M5A 4M8