Roasted Tomato, Leek, and Fennel Soup

Soup is one of the good things in life. It warms our tummies and our souls. Each hot spoonful eases our minds and comforts us, embracing us with all its deep, rich, flavours. Soup is like a loving hug from the inside out. I’ve come to love all soups, in all the flavours and textures they come in.

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This a perfect day to post a soup recipe. I’m sick in bed with my sick-day crew: laptop, Puffs Plus Lotion tissues, and a cup of tea. I came across this recipe a couple weeks ago onย deliciousness (re)visited and tried it out last night. It was the perfect recipe to test out while feeling under the weather because it’s simple and doesn’t require too much work (my perma-headache isn’t allowing too much brainwork). Continue reading

Spicy Creole Shrimp

This is a really quick, really simple, really tasty, really spicy, recipe. I LOVE spicy food, but I know that not everyone does, so I’m giving you the warning now: spice alert! That being said, you can adjust the recipe however you like to make it work for you. A simple solution: use less cayenne pepper and don’t add the deathly pepper from hell!

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While I’ve sadly never been to New Orleans myself, although we’re planning a possible trip in JUNE! (Excitement!), I can certainly appreciate the wonderful flavours that it has to offer the food world. Creole cooking involves a beautiful mix of everything I love. If you’ve never tried this southern deliciousness, it’s hard for me to put into words. Creole cuisine is a combination of Caribbean, African, French, and Spanish flavour influences. Hot pepper, seafood, butter, citrus, tomato, onion, celery, rice, bean explosion of taste! It’s real comfort food.

Anyway, this is a quick recipe I found from a blog called Tummy Travels.ย I tried it with my tiger shrimp last weekend as part of a huge seafood feast I unintentionally put together. I wouldn’t say it’s a classic Shrimp Creole. I think that involves more veggies, a tomato base, a nice saucy gravy-ness and it’s traditionally served over rice. This shrimp could be a main served with French bread or a good addition to any meal. It’s got nice Southern flavour and a good kick to it!

Cooking shrimp makes me think of Bubba from the movie Forrest Gump (hope you’ve seen it). Bubba knows a million ways shrimp, “the fruit of the sea”, can be cooked. I love this clip! ๐Ÿ™‚

The tiger shrimp I used were headless, but I cooked them with the shells on. Heads on, ever better! You can find whole shrimps at most Asian grocery stores if you don’t see any at your usual store or market.ย Cooking shrimp with the heads and shell intact add so much more flavour! All the juices are kept inside. In New Orleans, crawfish and shrimp are always cooked whole. The best part is pulling off the heads and sucking all the delicious juices and seasonings out of there before eating the rest of it. I know the heads freak some people out, but they’re delicious, I promise. In my half-Asian household, I grew up eating shrimps with heads. My sister and I discovered the next best thing to press-on nails…wearing the pointy/spiky shrimp head shells on our finger tips. It kept us entertained, and super stylish, at family dinners. (Cute…minus the shrimpy fingers afterwards.)

Spicy Creole Shrimp

Ingredients:
The spicy stuff is optional…switch it up to keep things at the spice level you want.
This recipe called for 8 tablespoons of butter (a whole stick). I cut the butter amount in half. I didn’t want to go too butter crazy, but by all means, use more butter. More butter = more sauce, and a richer sauce.

  • 1- 1 1/2 pounds shrimp (I recommend doing them with shells and heads, but you can do headless, or peeled if you like)
  • ~1/2 – 1 tablespoon olive oil, to saute garlic
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon (my large lemon gave about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
  • 4-5 tablespoons butter (just cut butter into cubes and keep cold)
  • Sea salt, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic, and saute until garlic has softened.

2. Add all other ingredients except butter and shrimp. Allow this mixture to reduce for a couple minutes on medium heat. There wasn’t too much liquid and it reduced quite quickly. Don’t let it burn!

3. Add your shrimp into the pan, cooking one side and then flipping to cook the other. Two minutes on each side should be sufficient. The shrimps are cooked when they turn pink.

4. Turn to low heat and begin slowly incorporating cubes of butter.

5. When well mixed you should have a gorgeously rich, amber, shrimp creation.

6. Plate and serve!

Enjoy! xx

As Easy As Apple Raspberry Pie!

There is nothing that can lifts one’s spirits the way pie can. I’m talking about both the baking part and the eating part. Pie therapy is a combination of the warmth of the oven, the sweet smell of baking pastry and cooked fruit filling the air, and finally, cutting through the flaky crust and taking a bite. There’s such comfort in a slice of pie, especially when you’ve baked it yourself.

โ€œThere is something in the red of a raspberry pie that looks as good to a man as the red in a sheep looks to a wolf.โ€
E. W. Howe

I am definitely a pie-wolf…I mean, I am the girl-wolf to the raspberry pie-sheep. In other words, I LOVE pie.

I was in the mood for some baking, and decided to try baking a pie. Continue reading

St. Lawrence Market: This Weekend’s Seafood Haul…And Resulting Feast

So it’s been established that I should not be allowed to roam St. Lawrence Market unsupervised. It’s like giving a kindergarten kid a hundred bucks and sending them to the candy store… a bit too much of a good time.

For those of you who don’t know the St. Lawrence Market, it’s the largest indoor market in Toronto and consists of two buildings. The North Market is home to weekly farmer’s markets and antique markets, while the South Market is a two-floor food market filled with fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, seafood, pasta, wine, restaurants, bakeries, cafes, florists, and even kitchen ware (everything you could think of). For those of you who do know the market, you can probably understand why I lose control when I’m there. It’s like a food lover’s dream come true.

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Saturday afternoon I decided to head over to the market just to “check it out”. Continue reading

Parsnip Puree: A Mashed Potato Alternative To Die For

I love mashed potatoes! Garlic mashed potatoes? Even better. But I have to admit that sometimes while I’m mashing I feel like maybe there’s something a little more exciting or different I could be making. Something with the same texture and the same satisfying creaminess.

Well, I found the something! The something is REALLY GOOD. The something is PUREED PARSNIPS (plus a little potato). This is most definitely worth a try! It’s a slightly sweeter play on mashed potatoes, with the same satisfying richness. I seriously love this. Continue reading

Beef Short Ribs Braised In Red Wine

This was dinner a few nights ago. Delicious short ribs slow-cooked in red wine. This was my first time braising beef short ribs. I braise oxtail more often, which I think would also work well with this recipe. I’m an oxtail addict. The meat is much softer and juicier, although it’s probably a little fattier than the ribs. I found this recipe on cbc.ca, I liked it best out of a few that I read through.

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The meal consisted of these yummy saucy ribs, pureed parsnips (recipe here), and a kale salad with sweet potato, carrots, and beets. It was a perfect combo. The pureed parsnips were REALLY good. A great alternative to classic mashed potatoes. I’ll be posting that recipe soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

Beef Short Ribs Braised In Red Wine
Serves 4-5 people

*I cooked my ribs in a slow cooker, but you could try doing this in a pot on the stove if you don’t have a slow cooker. I slow-cooked the ribs for eight hours, you could probably let them cook on the stove for about three. Continue reading

Peace, Love, Perfect Guacamole.

Making a perfect guacamole is a really useful (and tasty) skill to have. This delicious Mexican dip is a healthy snack, a good appetizer, and a perfect addition to a pot luck or barbeque menu. This is one of the first dips I taught myself to make, because it’s one of my favourites. It’s one of everyone’s favourites!

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I’ve gotten so many compliments on my guac over the years. It is time I share my secret. (Not too much of a secret…it’s pretty simple, actually.)

A few important guacamole rules I live by:
1. RIPE AVOCADOS
2. NO GARLIC
3. USE CILANTRO
4. SAVE THE PITS

Your avocados have got to be ripe for maximum sweet, creamy, delicious avocado flavour and mashing potential. You can tell an avocado is ripe when its skin has darkened and it is soft when you squeeze it.

Here are some videos I found on youtube that might help if you have avocado problems:

Despite popular belief, authentic Mexican guacamole doesn’t include garlic. When people ask me why my guac tastes different from theirs…it’s usually the garlic. So, save your garlic for something else!

Cilantro is a key ingredient in a good guacamole. Cilantro and lime are like a Mexican flavour-match made in Mexican flavour heaven.

A common problem when using avocado is that the avocado will start turning brown. This browning occurs once the avocado flesh is exposed to the oxygen in the air. (Same thing that happens with apples.) Although slightly brown avocado is still safe to eat…it’s not very nice to look at. There are ย few things I do to keep my guac super green, and so far, it’s been working amazingly!
1. Lemon/lime juice slows down the browning process and is already one of the ingredients
2. Save the pits and put them back into your bowl of guacamole after you’ve made it. Food specialists claim that keeping the pit in the avocado also slows browning. It works for me!
3. If I need to store my guacamole, I use plastic wrap pressed right up onto the dip itself. Make sure there are no air bubbles. This way your guac comes in contact with as little air as possible. Refrigerate.

Perfect Guacamole

Ingredients:
I’ve made this so many times that I don’t measure my ingredients anymore. Your main ingredient is the avocado, all the other ingredients can be used to taste. Add ingredients bit by bit and taste as you go! TIP: don’t over-do the onion…may result in lethal onion breath burn.

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper (or to taste)
  • Approx. a quarter of a red onion, not too much!
  • Fresh cilantro about 5-6 sprigs (wash and trim ends)
  • Juice of 1 lime (Can substitute with lemon juice. But lemons are bigger, you may not need to juice the entire thing.)
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tomato, remove all the seeds, diced (optional, I don’t always add tomatoes)

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1. Cut avocados in half. Remove pits and save for later. Scoop out all the avocado flesh into a bowl.

2. Finely chop red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. I use a food processor. The processor will make sort of a paste-like mixture and your dip will be smoother. For a more chunky guac, chop with a knife. If you’re not a fan of spiciness, you can remove the jalapeno seeds. Jalapeno peppers aren’t generally too hot. I usually use half a pepper and leave the seeds in. Transfer chopped mix into the bowl with the avocado.

3. Add lime juice, salt, and pepper.

4. Mash, mash, mash, mash, mash. You avocados should be ripe enough to mash in the bowl with a fork. Continue mashing and mixing until everything is smooth and well mixed together. You can mash more or less depending on whether you like a smoother or chunkier dip.

5. Add in your chopped, deseeded tomatoes before serving. The seeds are removed to get ride of the excess water/juices. Without removing all the innards of the tomato, the juices will leak out and your guacamole will end up being really watery. If I’m bringing my guac to a friend’s, I always play it safe and keep the tomatoes on the side. Mix them in right before eating. That way you avoid watery pools forming. (I don’t have tomatoes in my photos because I didn’t add any this time around.)

6. To prevent browning, stick the pits back into the dip and lay plastic wrap right onto the top of the guacamole (no air bubbles.) Refrigerate if not serving right away.

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6. Serve with tortilla chips. ๐Ÿ™‚

ยกBuenย apetito! xx

 

This Kitten Is Now On Facebook And Twitter!

This Hungry Kitten is finally on Facebook and Twitter!ย Like and share! Follow and tweet!

I’ve also given the blog a makeover and hope you like the changes. I’d love to hear suggestions.

Came across this gem today, and it made me smile. ๐Ÿ™‚

lobster me

Thanks for reading! xx

Oyster Boy: An Oyster Girl’s Dream

It only took me a dozen oysters at Oysterfestย in Toronto two years ago to realize what I’d been missing out on for so many years. I hadn’t eaten raw oysters before that special day, and fell in love with the briny beauties instantly. Iย didn’t know muchย about oysters or the oyster community in Toronto back then. All I knew was that I needed to find out where the best oysters were, and have some more!

I AM SO GLAD I FOUND OYSTER BOY.

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It’s not only their AMAZING oysters that make Oyster Boy my favourite oyster bar. It’s also the atmosphere. I love everything about the place. It’s a small, warm, cozy restaurant by Trinity Bellwoods Park on Queen Street West with wonderful food and terrific people. Everyone is extremely friendly, from the shuckers, to the servers, to theย chefs.ย It’s one of those restaurants that you walk into and can feel the love. You feel their love for oysters, for the restaurant, and for eachother. The restaurant is simply, and very well, decorated. The walls are adorned with all things oyster and the sea. You’ll find a beautiful collection of everything from family photos to seaside memorabilia, art, maps, and oyster shells. They’ve even got pretty little oyster shell light fixtures along the walls. You can tell each of these pieces has got a story behind it, and that’s what makes it more special than anything. Take the time to check it all out. Oyster boy is like a small family that welcomes you into their home. I sometimes joke that it’s my second home (and by joke, I mean I sort of wish it was). Everything’s just so great there that it seems silly to go anywhere else.ย For a while I didn’t even bother trying other oyster bars. I’ve now tried a handful of places in Toronto, and have to say that Oyster Boy remains my fave.

Oyster Boy has built a strong reputation for being one of the best oyster houses in the city. They are also one the main suppliers of oysters in Toronto, catering to restaurants, events, and private parties. Their oysters are always fresh and you’ll find some of the top shuckers in Canada behind the oyster bar. They’re super friendly, and so knowledgable. There’s lots to learn, so ask away! In fact, they hold really great shucking classes at the restaurant on weekends. I did a class a few months ago and it was loads of fun. You’ll learn more than you’d ever dream about oysters and all the tricks to shucking them the right way. The best part though, of course, is eating your first 16 self-shucked beauties.


My first time shucking at a shucking class. Callย to check availability and book a class. Booking a class with a group of friends or colleagues for a birthday or work event is a great idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Our two dozen from my visit last week. These were Plack Pearls (BC), Kumamotos (USA), and St. Simons (NB). Delish. We always ask the shucker which oysters are particularly good that day. If you’re not sure which oysters to order, be sure to ask. The servers and shuckers know their stuff, and they’ll give you great suggestions.

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The St. Simon oyster is one that we order quite regularly. This is a great one to start with for oyster-eating beginners. St. Simons are light, salty, slightly sweet, and delicate…nothing too robust.

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The Black Pearls were really yummy, and they’re gorgeous to look at. The shells were more thin and delicate than most others I’ve seen, and the oysters had frilly black edges. They were a perfect combination of salty and sweet, and almost had a slight watermelon or melon rind flavour to them. We liked these so much that we saved them for last. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Kumamotos have always been a favourite of mine. Definitely worth a try…and then another try (and another one). They are small oysters that originate from the Kumamoto region of Kyushu, Japan. They were transported to the United States and are now farmed on the west coast. They have deep cupping, fluted shells (like a little oyster bucket…so cute) and a mild, smooth, sweet taste. They are sometimes described as having a buttery flavour. I’ve also heard them be referred to as a “dessert oyster”. I always say they’re like the cheesecake of oysters…maybe that’s taking it a little too far…I love cheesecake.

IMG_6272Oysters are always served with lemon, freshly grated horseradish, and three housemade sauces. The sauces include a cocktail sauce, a ginger and banana pepper hot sauce, and a shallot and red wine vinaigrette. The hot pepper blend is not too hot, it adds the perfect amount of spice, and the red wine vinaigrette is amazing. Their sauces are the best I’ve had.

There are cooked oyster options too, if you’re not into the whole raw seafood thing. They bake oysters a few different ways, or you can order them fried. I’ve tried the Oysters Royale, baked with crab meat and a sherry bechamel. A really nice change from the classic Rockefellers you find at most other restaurants.

There are so many other oyster varieties I’ve eaten at Oyster Boy. Some of the others include Black Point, Beach Angel, Malpeque, Caraquette, Caspumpec, Cavendish Cup, and Colville Bay oysters. Try some from the east coast, and some from the west. Mix it up!


They have my favourite beer on tap. (Another plus.) Pints of Beau’s (and Jameson) have become our Oyster Boy tradition. It’s what I order every time I’m there. Spicy caesars are good too (with fresh horseradish, yum!).

Although oysters are a main attraction for me, I cannot deny that the rest of the menu is equally delicious! Oyster Boy is a seafood lover’s dream come true. I’ve been lucky enough to try a number of different menu items on my many visits. We always order a couple of other things to go with our oysters.


I am a huge chowder fan and the Sustainable Seafood Chowder here is really good. It’s rich and hearty, and the nice, plump clams are the best part. A lot of the time they have a daily soup special as well, so make sure you ask your server. The daily specials are always tres fab!

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This is a past soup special: Smoked Whitefish Jalapeno Corn Chowder, with fingerling potatoes and topped with seasoned popcorn. It was similar to the Smoked Jalapeno Corn Chowder with Smoked Oysters they served at Soupstock 2012.

ob fish tacos
Oyster Boy makes a pretty mean fish taco…and fish tacos rule! The fish is crisp, juicy and has got nice, spicy flavour. The juicy, saucy goodness tends to leak all over your hands and you end up with sauce all over your face, but this is what tacos are about. Ask for some extra napkins and dig in. Enjoy them!

Steamed clams and mussels are both classic seafood favourites, and we order them here time and time again. The mussels are done three ways: classic garlic, white wine, parsley broth, a coconut curry broth, and a smoky tomato chorizo broth. I’ve tried all three. The coconut curry broth can be a nice change if you’re in a curry kind of mood, but you can’t go wrong with the classic.ย The clams are steamed in the classic garlic, white wine, parsley broth, and usually plump and juicy. (If you ask nicely you could try them in one of the mussel flavours.) Don’t forget to ask for bread to mop up that broth!

They serve whole steamed shellfish, lobster or crab (when it’s available). It’s so much cheaper to steam one of these bad boys at home, but you deserve a treat every now and then! The dungeness crab we had was fresh and perfectly steamed.

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The Sturgeon Ceviche is divine. It’s a great starter, served with crispy taro chips.

ob fries

I love oyster boy’s thin-cut shoestring fries. They are to die for, and a great side to add to your meal. They come with a choice of chipotle, lime jalapeno aioli, or a curry sauce on a half oyster shell. ๐Ÿ™‚ They also offer yummy onion rings, the size of your hand!

They’ve got other seafood favourites such as crab cakes and fish and chips (I’ve heard the fish and chips are really great), along with some tasty salads as well. They also serve pasta and non-seafood options. (I’m usually there for seafood.) Always check what the daily specials are because they are always AMAZING! They have some really creative delicious choices!

We always stop by late in the evening, so I’ve never had to wait for a table, although I’ve heard it gets crazy busy during prime meal times. Reserve a table to be safe.

I’ve hopefully inspired you to give this place a try. It’s one of my favourite restaurants and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Click here to visit their website. (FYI: I don’t think their menu is up to date.) Like them on Facebook!

Happy seafooding! xx

Turkey Pot Pie

I definitely found the right recipe at the right time. After making my first turkey for Passover/Easter, I had a ton of turkey left over and didn’t know what to do with it. I decided to freeze it. Leftover turkey will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, but freezing it will extend it’s shelf life by months. So, I packed it into neatly labelled ziploc freezer bags to use for future meal planning.

I came across a chicken pot pie recipe from My Healthy ‘Ohana, a blog full of yummy recipes (go have a look and try some of them). I thought turkey would work wonderfully with this recipe as well. It turned out to be a great way to use up leftover roasted turkey, and the recipe is not hard at all. I’m so proud of my first pot pie! ๐Ÿ™‚

Turkey Pot Pie (or chicken)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • ~ 2 cups homemade turkey broth (or 1 can chicken broth)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Half a large onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2/3 cups milk
  • ~ 3 cups of leftover roast turkey chopped into large cubes (you can substitute with chicken)
  • 1/2 cup frozen or canned peas
  • 1 9-inch pie crust (I was pressed for time, I used a pre-made crust)
  • 1 egg, beaten

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the chopped carrots and sweet potato in a small saucepan, cover with broth, and add thyme leaves and bay leaves. I used homemade turkey broth I had made from my roast turkey bones. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until the carrots and potatoes are just tender. It’s easy to overcook the sweet potatoes, you don’t want them mushy.

In a separate pan, fry onions in butter until translucent.

Add flour, salt, pepper, and paprika and cook for a couple minutes, until the onions are well coated and everything’s mixed together nicely.

Next, add the milk in and stir until the mixture becomes a thick paste.

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Remove the bay leaves from your pot of vegetables. Add the onion/flour paste to your vegetables and broth and continue cooking and stirring until the broth thickens to become a creamy sauce. (It doesn’t take long.) Fold in peas and leftover turkey (or chicken).

Place this mixture into a 9-inch pie dish. I used a round glass casserole dish that was a bit bigger than a pie tray, there was a lot of filling. You can also use individual ramekins if your want to make smaller pies. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the mixture before you put the crust over top.

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Cover your filling with pie crust, making sure to seal the edges well. Remove the excess crust. You can shape this extra crust into fun decorative shapes to make your pie look extra special. I had a lot of extra crust, so I made an edge around my pie…and a heart. Next, brush the top of your pie with the beaten egg and cut several vents in the top to let steam escape. You’re ready to bake!

Bake the pie for 20-25 minutes at 425 in the oven (or until the crust is golden and crispy). I baked mine for 25 minutes.

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I am so happy I tried this recipe. It was delicious! The sweet potatoes add a sweet creaminess that is really nice. My pie was done with one crust over top, but you can also use the same filling with two crusts. Line your pie tray with the bottom crust, fill, and then seal with the top crust. Play around with different spices too!

Enjoy! xx