Thursday, October 30, 2014

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is a fun time of year when our kids dress up in fun costumes and go trick or treating door to door.  It is also a great time for treats for not so little ghosts and goblins.  One of our family’s favourite traditions is to go to Lester’s Farm and pick out our pumpkin.  We pick out a nice round pumpkin and bring it home to carve.  My favourite part is not the carving of the pumpkin, but in roasting the delicious pumpkin seeds and enjoying them as a healthy, tasty snack.

The greatest thing about roasted pumpkin seeds is that you can make them any flavour you choose, salty, sweet, spicy, you name it.  One idea you can do is coat the seeds in your favourite popcorn seasoning before roasting.  Here is how to roast pumpkin seeds


Roasted pumpkin seeds



Pumpkin seeds                 Salt

Water                   Seasoning (optional) I used 2 tsp chilli powder, 2 tsp brown sugar for my 2nd batch



1)      Scoop out seeds and pulp from pumpkin

2)      Separate the seeds from pulp by rinsing seeds in a strainer under running water

3)      Soak the seeds overnight in saltwater (1/4 C salt, 3C water)

4)      Take seeds out of water and place on paper towel

5)      Sprinkle salt over seeds (or coat seeds in seasoning by tossing in a bowl)

6)      Put seeds in frying pan (no oil needed) and cook at low-med heat, stirring constantly until seeds become dry and turn a golden color


It is important to soak the seeds overnight because it breaks down enzymes in the seeds that make them difficult to digest.  Soaking in salt water also brings out the flavour in the pumpkin seeds.




Enjoy and have a safe and happy Halloween!

Friday, October 24, 2014

National Bologna Day

October 24th is National Bologna Day!

Bologna, or “baloney” as it is often pronounced is a very popular luncheon meat in North America, made from finely ground meats and fat.  Bologna sausage got its name from the city of its origin, Bologna, Italy. 

There are different kinds of bolognas which are made with different ingredients;  German garlic bologna, which adds garlic to the mixture, Halal bologna, which does not use pork products, instead using beef, or chicken, turkey or lamb, Lebanon bologna, which is cured and dried like a salami to name a few.

Bologna is to Newfoundland as Spam is to Hawaii.  Locals have coined it as the "Newfie Steak". We consume 1/3rd of all bologna products sold in Canada, and given we have a population of about 500,000, that is quite a lot of bologna!  When I first heard that there was a bologna cookbook out, I thought to myself, “I bet you that the author is a Newfoundlander” and he is, Chef Kevin Phillips hails from Cape St. George. 


As a Newfoundlander, bologna is near and dear to me.  I have so many great memories of having breakfasts on the weekend of fried bologna and eggs, a nice treat from the quick cereal and toast during the week.  I have had Barbequed bologna, bologna sandwiches, appetizers and casseroles.  If the recipe called for ham, in a pinch bologna would work.  The bologna in Newfoundland is a variant of the rag bologna, as we call it, the wax bologna due to being coated in wax during processing.


To celebrate this exciting holiday, I have made up a bologna recipe using bologna and another one of my Newfoundland breakfast favourites, toutons.  Enjoy!




Bologna Eggs Benedict on a Touton


1 Slice Maple Leaf bologna

1 Poached Egg

1 Piece Pan-fried touton dough

Hollandaise Sauce



Hollandaise Sauce:

3 Tbsp Butter

2 Egg yolks

½ tsp White vinegar

1 Tbsp Water

Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste



Start by taking a palm sized amount of flattened touton dough and pan fry it in both sides

To make the hollandaise sauce, melt butter in a small steel bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water. Add egg yolks, vinegar, water, salt & pepper. Whisk continuously until the sauce begin to thicken and turns a pale yellow, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

Next we have to poach an egg. In a small sauce pan, bring 2 inches of water to a simmer and slowly drop in the egg and let it cook slowly until the surface is cooked and the middle is runny and soft.   

Heat a large frying pan with 2 tbsp of oil on medium heat. Place a small piece of touton in the pan along with the bologna. Let it fry for about a minute and turn over the touton dough when it starts to rise and brown and continue to cook for another minute. Also flip over your bologna until its crispy on both sides.

Plate the crispy touton dough. Drizzle with molasses. Top with the slice of bologna and poached egg. Spoon the hollandaise sauce over the egg and let it cascade over the bologna and touton dough.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Magic Wok Restaurant

Last night, my wife and I were invited out to dinner by a good friend of ours.  Our friend suggested we go to Magic Wok, a popular Chinese restaurant downtown St. John’s.  Magic Wok Restaurant has been in business for quite some time and has built up a great reputation in the city.  I remember first going there years ago with my parents for dim sum, at the old Magic Wok, which had burned down in 2001.  It was a great old charming building and a friendly atmosphere.  The new building is larger, more open and bright with modern yet distinctly Chinese décor.  The friendly atmosphere remains as warm as it ever was. 
The Menu

We arrived to the restaurant at 7pm to find the dining room buzzing with activity.  “Is there a special occasion tonight?” I asked the waiter, to which he replied “no, this is a typical Saturday night”.  Our host had called ahead a few days prior and reserved a table, so we were seated immediately.  The waiters came over and took our drink order immediately.  We looked over the menus, which had pictures of the signature dishes and were written in English and Chinese.  Our friend had pre-ordered the Peking Duck, which came as 3 courses (You need to order this dish in advance).  The first course was crispy duck skin with shrimp chips, pancakes, scallions, cucumber, chili sauce and hoisin sauce.  The second course was a duck bone and vegetable soup and the third course was a delicious duck stir-fry.  We also ordered flambé beef, captain chicken, shrimp and broccoli stir-fry, braised beef, a pork rib dish, won ton soup and steamed rice.

At the beginning of the meal, the waiter brought out our roasted duck for our approval before bringing it back into the kitchen to prepare into the 3 courses.  It looked elegant, with silver frills on the feet.  We were so in awe that we forgot to take a photo until the duck was brought back into the kitchen.  The first course that came out was the duck skin course.  This course is a fun dish you make your own duck skin pancake rolls with.  First you take your pancake and place the skin in it, then veggies then sauce, roll it up and enjoy.  It is a social dish best enjoyed with friends. 
Crispy duck skin

The crispy duck skin course

The next course was the soup course, where we enjoyed duck bone soup and won ton soup.  The wonton soup was good, but the duck soup was excellent.  The baby bok choy in the soup complimented the subtle flavor of the duck.  The broth was flavorful, but not too salty or overpowering so it could bring out the duck flavor.

duck bone soup

The captain chicken is Magic Wok’s take on sesame chicken, a sweet and tangy but less spicy version of General Tso’s Chicken.  The noodles were crisp and light, and the chicken was crispy yet sweet and tangy.
Captain Chicken

The shrimp and broccoli stir-fry was next to come out, the shrimp were juicy and the broccoli was tender but not too soft.  The sauce had a nice seafood taste to it, but was not too salty.
Shrimp and Broccoli
The braised beef was next.  It was so tender that it melted in our mouths.  This is one of my favorite rustic dishes that I enjoyed as a child.  I was not disappointed with this dish.
Braised beef
We then tried the pork rib dish.  The pork was very flavorful and the veggies were grilled to perfection.  The onions and choy had started to carmelize, but were still juicy with a hint of sweetness.
pork ribs
The last dish to come out was the most impressive; flambé beef.  With this dish, you get a little bit of a show with your tableside service.  The waiter brings out the beef on a sizzling platter, then pours vodka on it and lights it on fire.  After the flame burns off the alcohol and died out, the waiter then adds the sauce.   The beef was delicious, juicy and sweet.

Flambé beef
Our last course was dessert, we had coconut balls.  They were unlike standard dessert fare and reminded me of dim sum dessert that we would get in Toronto, sweet but not as sweet as Western desserts.  The homemade treats were coconut, fried in a crisp shell and rolled in powdered sugar.  The waiter told us that they were not ordered often, so they were a sort of best kept secret at Magic Wok.
coconut balls
The signature dishes ranged from about $10-$20 each, which is quite good for an upscale Chinese restaurant.  The flambé dish, which would have to be my favorite, was $18.99 plus tax, and worth it, given the little show and tableside service you get.   You also get decent size portions. There were 6 of us in our party, and there was plenty to eat and leftovers to take home.
We were served by multiple servers over the duration of our meal, this proved to be very effective during peak hours; instead of waiting for our section waiter to become available to bring us our food, as soon as the food came off the line, the next available person would bring it out asap.  The servers were also all very friendly and fast. 

I would recommend Magic Wok for anyone wanting to not only have a tasty meal during an evening out, but who would also enjoy the unique dining experience of dim sum and flambé during the same meal.  I definitely recommend the flambé beef, it will not disappoint.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Chef Michael Smith's Family Meals

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend.  On Saturday, I went to Chapters and met Chef Michael Smith, who was there for a book signing.  His newest cookbook is called Family Meals and I grabbed a copy to check out.  I chatted with Chef Smith for a few minutes and he was telling me about a few of his upcoming projects.  For a celebrity chef, he seemed quite down to earth and genuine.  I took a few photos, and man he is tall!  I am 5’11” and next to him I look very short.

I decided this week I would do a review on the cookbook Family Meals and try out one of the recipes.  The cookbook itself is a large softcover book, with easy to read print.  The layout is attractive and colourful, with large glossy full page photos of the finished meal on every second page.  Ingredients are listed on the side of the instructions for easy reference.  The meals themselves are fun, easy recipes that would suit a family restaurant, or a bar and grill as they would a family dinner table.  With recipes such as “Moroccan-Style Cinnamon Cumin Lamb” and “Street Tacos”, there is definitely a recipe for everyone in the book. 

As you may know, I am a diehard fan of Chinese food and Chinese style cuisine, so when the recipe “General Tso’s Chicken Wings” caught my eye, I decided to try it out as my first meal from the cookbook.  The instructions were simple and easy to follow and the chicken wings came out crisp and the sauce was tangy and sweet just as I would expect from one of my favourite take out places.  One thing I noticed in the photo in the book is that there was a brush with the sauce on it, and the instructions described tossing the wings in the sauce.  I decided to do both for my photo; I first tossed the wings in the sauce, I then brushed some of the left over sauce in the bowl onto the wings, to appear like the photo in the book.  It is not necessary to do this when preparing them at home.  The wings were decidedly a success as my wife and guests were raving about them all night.  I was impressed with this recipe as it turned out the way it was intended, and the photo of my wings looked very close to the wings in the photo.  I recommend this book for easy to follow fun meals.  The meals are not overly artistic or “fancy” but they are good for everyday enjoyment.

General Tso’s Chicken Wings  From Chef Michael Smith’s  Family Meals

For the baked wings:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) sea salt
  • Lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 24 whole chicken wings or 48 assorted flats and drums
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) cornstarch

For the finishing saucy touches:

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) ketchup
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) water
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) your favourite hot sauce
  • 2 inches (5 cm) or so of frozen ginger, grated (about 2 tbsp/30 mL)
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) sesame seeds
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to 350F (180C). Turn on your convection fan if you have one. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.

Get the wings going. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour baking powder, salt and pepper. Thoroughly whisk in the eggs. Tumble the wings into a large bowl and sprinkle evenly with the cornstarch. Toss evenly, coating every surface, nook and cranny with the powder. Pour the egg mixture over the wings and gently toss with your fingers, evenly coating the works. Neatly array skin side up on the baking sheet. Bake until the wings are tender, lightly browned and crisp, 1 hour or so.

Meanwhile, build the glazing sauce. Into a small saucepan, measure the sugar, ketchup, water, vinegar, sesame oil, hot sauce and ginger. Heat gently. In a small cup of some kind, stir together the soy sauce and cornstarch until dissolved. Pour the slurry into the simmering sauce, stirring gently as it thickens into a shiny sauce. Remove from the heat.

When the wings are done, transfer them to a large bowl and pour the sauce over them. Toss lightly once or twice, add the sesame seeds, and toss until the wings are evenly coated. Plate the proceeds and sprinkle with the green onions.

Serve and share!

Makes 24 full wings.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Maple Dijon Chia Vinaigrette


3 tbsp Cider vinegar
4 tbsp Maple syrup
1/2 cup Olive oil
1 tsp Whole grain Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Chia seeds
Freshly cracked black pepper


In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until mixture is homogenized and blended.
Or alternatively, you can place all the ingredients in a mason jar and just shake for a minute or so.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chia Seeds


Today I will be discussing the benefits of Chia seeds as part of a healthy diet.  Chia first became a household name when a company named Joseph Inc. began producing pottery animals (and later other shapes) that you could soak and apply chia seeds to and it would grow a vegetation coat that looks something like fur or hair.  I never had a Chia pet, but my wife got a Chia kitten for a Christmas gift as a child and said she often wondered if the chia seeds or greens were edible.  They are the same seeds, actually and are thus not only edible but healthy, but don’t eat the chia seeds that come with your Chia pet; they are not officially food grade chia, plus there is only a table spoon of seeds in the package that comes with the Chia pet planter, so that would make them pretty expensive to eat.

Now that we know Chia seeds are edible, why should we eat chia seeds?  Well for starters chia seeds are packed with essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6 which can help lower cholesterol, and boost skin, hair and immune system health.

In addition to Omega 3 and Omega 6, chia seeds are also packed with fibre.  And unlike flax, which is also a great healthy seed packed with nutrients, Chia seeds are easily digestible and do not need to be ground up.  Chia seeds are also great for your diet as when they are wet, they gain a gel coating and bulk up to nearly 10 times its original weight, giving your stomach a more full feeling after eating them.  Chia seeds are also known to be an antioxidant.

So here’s to the amazing super seed, Chia!  And in addition to health benefits from eating Chia, you can also use them when your Chia planter runs out of seeds, which will happen about a week after you buy the planter because there is only enough for 3 coatings, and after Christmas you can’t buy official Chia pet seeds and thus have a naked chia pet…you can always buy whole chia seeds at your local health food section and use those for your chia pet.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Formosa Tea House

Last week, a friend and I visited the Formosa Tea House on Lemarchant Road.  Opened by Taiwanese tea merchants in 2011, after 10 years in PEI, Formosa Tea House is one of St. John's best kept secrets.  Part cafe, part tea wholesaler, the tea house is a welcome change from big chain places like Starbucks and Treats and also from the expensive cafe's downtown.

The space is small but welcoming.  The walls are decorated in Chinese decorations, in a minimalist design.  They have tea products prominently displayed, as well as authentic Chinese tea sets you may purchase.
My friend and I sat down and ordered our drinks.  I ordered an almond milk tea and my friend ordered a mocha ice coffee.  The prices were fantastic.  $2.21 for the almond milk tea and $2.65 for the mocha ice coffee.  The almond tea was sweet and creamy and reminded me of the Chinese tea shops I used to visit in Toronto, except for the prices are much better at Formosa.  The mocha ice coffee was sweet and refreshing, perfect for a summer's afternoon.

Formosa Cafe is unique in that they have all vegetarian options for their traditional Taiwanese snacks.  We ordered BBQ buns, veggie sushi, spring rolls, bamboo rice, dumplings, stuffed buns, sticky rice, sweet bean buns and kim chi.  At an average price of $2-$2.50 per dish, we couldn't pass up trying many dishes.

The flavours were amazing.  If you did not know the snacks were vegetarian, you would swear they had meat in them, especially in the spring rolls and BBQ buns.  Even if you were a meat lover and did not like eating vegetables, the textures and flavours of the snacks would make you reconsider, as they have made the snacks so well.  It is worth it for everyone to try out this little gem.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Iceberg Season

       Late May to early June in Newfoundland is iceberg season, as icebergs make their way down Iceberg Alley, from Baffin Bay down past the Southeast coast.  This year is a very active season for icebergs, where you can almost see an iceberg in every Bay.  This past weekend, I headed up Signal Hill with my buddy to check out the Icebergs just outside the narrows.  It was beautiful!  All this "iceberg fever" inspired me to have an iceberg theme for my blog.

Iceberg Beer

       Today I bring you a proud lager brewed right here in St. John's, Newfoundland by the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company. Iceberg beer was launched in 2007 and like all their beers, they are brewed without adjuncts; which involves no corn or rice, just malt. At launch this brew came in a clear bottle but a few years later the company changed the color. They are available province wide in liquor stores and corner shops all year round. It's currently the 4th best selling Newfoundland beer according to the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation website. If you attend the tour given at the brewery then you'll most likely hear that their Iceberg beer is made from pure 25,000 year old glacier water. And we all know that the purity of the water affects the quality of the beer. Now on to the review, I’m getting thirsty…

image of Quidi Vidi Brewery by Tudorw @

       You can purchase Iceberg beer in either a white box of a dozen or six. Being somewhat of a casual drinker I opted for the latter. It comes in a tall glass bottle with a long neck much like a Corona except this bottle also comes in a cool looking blue transparent hue. A possible reason being is that clear glass bottles allows an increased amount of light exposure, thus degrading the hops and sours the flavor of the ale. Or it could also just be a clever marketing strategy to differentiate this lager from many other ones with similar clear bottles.

The above video is the property of the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company

        After snapping the pry-off crown and hearing the crisp sound of escaping vapors from several millennia of frozen purity I immediately poured the cold one into a tall glass. This light lager measures in at 341ml with an alcohol by volume content at just 4.5 percent.

It comprised of a pale yellow ale in color with a short head and plenty of fizzing bubbles.

It smells like mild wheat and yeast.

The flavor is a bit weak with a hint of malt compared to other light beers. It lacks in body but has a pleasant after taste with a dry finish and a balanced bitterness.

Iceberg beer is not too strong and people who like light beer will find it quite pleasing to taste. I was quite intrigued by the marketing direction of the product and believe that Iceberg Beer makes a great Newfoundland product to promote to locals and visitors alike. At $18.68 for 6 and $34.96 for a dozen I will drink again for that price.  Bottoms Up!

Drunken BBQ Chicken Wings

  • 3 lbs. chicken wings, split; tips removed
  • 1 bottle Iceberg beer
  • 2 tablespoons Clubhouse chipotle mango seasoning
BBQ sauce:
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Iceberg beer
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  1. Start with a large bowl, marinate the chicken wings witht he Iceberg beer and chipotle mango seasoning. Cover with plastic wrap and lay in the fridge for at least 2 hours for flavors to infuse but overnight is best if you plan ahead of time.
  2. Preheat oven at 375F
  3. Meanwhile in a medium sauce pan or large frying pan, combine all the BBQ sauce ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Lay chicken wings out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove the wings from the oven and place them in the BBQ sauce and make sure they are evenly coated. Then place them back on the same baking tray with a new sheet of parchment since the first sheet probably has a lot of grease and moisture left on it from cooking the wings before.
  6. Continue to bake the wings for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble and brown.
  7. Turn over chicken midway through the cooking process and baste with additional sauce if needed.
  8. Once the internal temperature of the wings reach 180F and desire brownness is achieved they are ready.
Don't forget to pass these tasty wings around with more ice cold beer!

Tip: Using a wire rack inside a parchment lined baking sheet makes the chicken crispier.
       You could also do these wings on the BBQ and baste them when they are almost cooked through. 

ClubHouse Chipotle Mango

     Part of Clubhouse's la Grille series comes a seasoning that combines the smokey blend of fire roasted chipotle peppers with sweet mango and spices. A few shakes onto chicken, pork or fish before grilling or baking will instantly jazz up any meal. Follow along as I use this ingredient in a featured recipe this week: Drunken BBQ Chicken Wings!

Nutritional info:                     Ingredients:

sugar & salt
spice and herbs (including chipotle chili pepper)
dehydrated vegetables (onion, garlic, tomato)
brown sugar
natural flavour
sodium acetate
disodium Inosinate

Acetic Acid
mango powder
corn maltodextrin
fancy molasses
spice extractives
lactic acid & calcium lactate
sunflower lecithin & calcium silicate
silicon dioxide & calcium stearate

It comes in 2 sizes: 160g shaker or the large 650g container.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

There's an "app" for that!

Cooking has never been easier with all the technology of today, From Smart Fridges to Iphones, there are so many tools at our disposal.  As with cooking and pretty much anything you could think of, there is a helpful App just a download away.  Today, I will be taking a look at one of my favourite cooking apps and making a yogurt cake using one of the recipes featured in the App.
It doesn't matter if your culinary limits knows no bounds or if you burn water, We all could use a bit of help improving our cooking skills and saving time.  If you have a smartphone or a tablet then join me as I show you the food/cooking apps I found useful as I turned my failed endeavors into delectable delights!

Today's App of the Day is:


       This FREE app offers the best of the best with tried & true recipes from popular websites and magazines. You can choose between a variety of categories ranging from Weeknight Dinners to I Can Barely Cook. You can also search for recipes based on a Main Ingredient, Meal/Course, Cuisine, Dietary Consideration, Dish Type, Season or Occasion. On top of all that you may also save recipes and generate shopping lists before heading to the supermarket. This app is available for download @ iTunes & Google Play.

Description from iTunes:
Experience the all-new Epicurious app with added free features and a fresh interface. The ever-popular cooking resource—over 10 million downloads—has been fully redesigned and reengineered for today’s home cooks.

· A whole new look and completely reengineered—it's even faster,   friendlier, and more fun to search.

· Recipe Box sync is now FREE: all your recipes—from anywhere on the Web—saved and searchable in one place.

· Manage all your recipes and shopping lists from anywhere on your iPhone, iPad, and desktop.

· No more smudge-y screens: Voice-activated commands in the Cook Mode let you follow recipes while keeping your hands free for cooking (available only on iPad).

· New fonts and bigger pictures make cooking from iPhone or iPad even easier.

· Search more than 30,000 editorially tested and member-rated recipes.

· Get inspired browsing new categories like Chocolate Desserts, Kid-Friendly Mains, Gluten-Free,      Stir-Fry Suppers, Low-Carb Mains, Healthy Dinners, and Hearty Sandwiches.

· The only app resource for recipes from the editors of Epicurious and Gourmet magazine, plus recipes from Bon Appétit, Self, Random House, and more.

· Read comments and suggestions by other home cooks like you on tens of thousands of recipes.

· Thousands of mouth-watering images by today’s top food photographers.

Tonight, I tried this Turkish recipe from Arabesque, March 2009 Issue by Claudia Roden:

Yogurt Cake

4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 2/3 cups strained Greek-style yogurt
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry compote
1C frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sugar  1tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp. of water.

Preheat oven to 350 F
Beat the eggs yolks with the sugar to a thick pale cream. Beat in the flour, then the yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice until it is throughly blended.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the yogurt mixture. Pour this into a 9 inch round, nonstick baking tin, greased with butter or cooking spray.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is brown. It will puff up like a souffle and then fall as it sets.
Turn out onto a serving plate and serve warm or cold.

Raspberry compote:
In a saucepan over medium heat bring raspberries and sugar to a simmer.  Stir in cornstarch mixture until desired thickness is achieved.  When compote cools, spread over cake.

Turkish Yogurt Cake with Raspberry Compote

With a texture somewhere in between an airy cheesecake and flan you know you gotta have a slice!

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Every year or two, I go with my wife to Ottawa to visit family and we always make a trip downtown to see the sights, tour the parliament buildings, visit the museums, walk down Sparks Street, shop at the Byward Market and grab one of my favourite treats: a Beavertail.
The Triple Trip, an ooey gooey guilty pleasure

Beavertails are Canadian treats, something like what you would find at a county fair, made of flat fried dough topped with delicious toppings.  Beavertails is a National Chain, founded in 1978 by Grant and Pam Hooker, who first sold their pastries at a local fair and two years later opened the first Beavertails location in Byward Market, Ottawa.
When we go to Beavertails, we get our usual favourites.  My wife's favourite is the Avalanche, which is a cream cheese icing, caramel and Skor bar bits.  Mine is the Triple Trip, made with Nutella, Reeses Pieces and peanut butter.  It was only during my visits to Ottawa that I was able to enjoy this treat, until today.

A Beavertails mobile location had a grand opening down on the Waterfront downtown St. John's today, so a friend and I checked it out (My wife is currently in Ottawa and can go to the original location).  It was quite busy, but the atmosphere was festive, with a beaver mascot and employees giving out free samples, temporary tattoos and balloons for the kids. 

I ordered my favourite, the Triple Trip.  If I closed my eyes, it would feel like I was on the corner of Byward Market (albeit sometime in October, it was chilly today).  At $7.00 for the "premium" Beavertails, the prices were the same as in Ottawa.  It is great to be able to have a Beavertail any time that I want, however seeing that beavertails are fried dough topped with chocolate, peanut butter and candy, it will have to be reserved as a special occasion treat.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pho Vietnam Restaurant

Corner Brook is a city on the West Coast of Newfoundland which is home to the Krueger paper mill, Memorial University's Grenfell Campus and close by to the Marble Mountain Ski Resort.  It is also a very special place to me, because it is where I was born and spent my early childhood years.

Corner Brook is also home to some great restaurants, some that you wouldn't expect to find in a smaller city in Newfoundland, but would see in larger centre like Vancouver or Toronto.   One such restaurant is the Pho Vietnam Restaurant, a charming little Vietnamese restaurant next to Coleman's Grocery store.  The space is small, but warm and welcoming with some Chinese and Vietnamese decorations adorning the walls.  The restaurant is always busy and full, but the owner always makes sure to welcome and seat the customers as soon as possible.

One evening we decided to try Pho Vietnam and ordered Vietnamese style crispy spring rolls and vegetarian cold noodle rolls for appetizers.  The vegetarian cold rolls were one of the freshest and tastiest I have had in a long time, especially in Newfoundland.  The taste was delicate with the sweet cool cucumber as the main flavour.  The peanut sauce dip was very tasty, but not too overpowering.  The crispy spring rolls were very flavourful with a savoury sweet sauce. 
Vegetarian Cold rolls with a peanut sauce

Crispy Spring Rolls

For the main, we ordered seafood hotpot and beef ball pho.  Pho (pronounced like "fuuuh") is one of the most popular dishes from Vietnam, consisting of flat noodles, meat and a light broth.  The pho was savoury but not salty.  Since I am a fan of spicy food, I added some sriracha sauce and some other spicy condiments to the soup, it was delicious.  This however was not needed because it was flavourful on its own. 
Beef ball Pho

The hotpot was very interesting.  The owner brought out a pot of hot soup broth laid on a portable burner which used a gel sterno.  She also brought out a plate of cold rice noodles, a plate with an array of seafood and a plate loaded with vegetables.  The hotpot was a little different than the hotpot we have at home because we were given a ladle instead of the individual scoops.  We tossed all the ingredients in the pot and ate it in our bowls like a soup.  It is not quite like hotpot at home, but it worked well for us, and was very tasty.  It was also very filling, as there were 3 of us and it serves 4-6.
Seafood Hotpot

The price is very reasonable, at about $20-25 per diner for appetizer and main (depending on the item)

The owner, Cathy Nguyen is very personable and makes sure her customers have a great dining experience.  She has become friends with all of her customers who instantly become regulars.  She chatted with us after our meal and told us about her native country, Vietnam.   I will definitely visit Cathy and Pho Vietnam Restaurant when I return to Corner Brook.