Yummy Mexican Churros: Pancho Bakery

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As I was checking out the food vendors on Wellesley at the World Pride festival, my senses were instantly assaulted by the sweet smells of freshly fried churros. I personally don’t care for these fried pastries because the ones I had in the past were always stiff and cold.  But, my sister-in law had never eaten them before and assisted we must order some. I gave in and placed my one week of healthy-eating on pause. And I am glad I did. We got 3 for $5 and these bad boys were delicious. They were freshly fried, then rolled in cinnamon sugar and piped with silky sauces like caramel, chocolate, nutella, or strawberry. We got one caramel, one chocolate and one plain. The caramel was our favorite. They tasted like a deep fried doughnut with a slight crunch. Definitely worth every cal. Image

Spanish Churros laid out on a tray before frying.

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Freshly Fried Churros

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Churros getting piped with chocolate, caramel, or strawberry.

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If I just made your mouth salivate, you can get your churro fix at Pancho’s Bakery. It’s at various locations in Toronto.

http://panchosbakery.com/

 

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Sensational Burgers at Burgernator

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Since Toronto is having their first international gay pride this year, I thought I would make it my duty and work extra hard to scour the streets this week to find the best eateries that this city has to offer for arriving foodies.  I came upon this burger joint painted in charcoal black in the midst of the Kensington Market area called The Burgernator.

This place has such a badass, motorbiker appeal. When you first walk in your senses are instantly bombarded with the smell of smoky beef. The décor has chalked up signs along the walls which hosts their code of ethics for their handcrafted burger. The menu and prices are also written up in chalk. In the back of the restaurant there is an open kitchen where cooks are busy at work.

We placed in our orders and seated ourselves. 10 minutes later, the burgers were brought to our table. The presentation of the burgers were esthetically delicious to the eye, served in a aluminum deep dish baking pan with the standard checkered parchment paper.

I got the bulldozer($9:50)  which consisted of lean ground lamb with Havarti cheese topped with fresh mango salsa, sautéed jalapenos and in-house chipotle Aioli. The patty was juicy and had a nice caramelized crust outer layer. However, the lamb flavor did not come through for me. The  in-house aioli had a creamy peppery, sweet flavor. The jalapenos gave it an extra kick with a little heat.The bun was pillowy soft which held the sandwich nicely together. If you like creamy, cheesy burgers. This is it.

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The Baconator ($13.99). Since this was the house special, my posy and I had to try it. This gastronomical burger was composed of old-aged cheddar, in-house smoked beef bacon drizzled with burgernator sauce (aioli) accompanied by in-house rustic skin cut fries  served with garlic mayo for dipping. This burger had a really nice outer crust, but lacked succulence.  I would have liked it a bit more juicy. The beef baon stripes were thick cut slabs which had a beef jerky flavor that played well with the spiciness of the chipotle sauce. They really were the highlight of the burger.

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The last burger was the Captain Jerk ($8:50). This burger was dressed up with creamy harvati cheese, grilled pineapple and jerk sauce. The patty was moist with a nice outer crust. The thick red jerk sauce was the star of the show here. It had a savory tomato sauce base flavor with just enough heat to set your mouth tingling. And while the pineapple lends a nice mild sweetness, the flavor of it was a little lost. Over all the sandwich was quite delicious.

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And we couldn’t leave without trying their Rocket Fries ($4.99). This was ooey gooey goodness. The fries were smothered in the home-made jerk sauce and aged cheddar cheese, and drizzled with a creamy garlic sauce. This tasted straight-up like spicy pizza fries. The jerk sauce really comes through here, and the salty sharp cheddar cheese sauce stretched with every bite and held everything together in perfect harmony.

 

I will definitely go back. Service was a bit reserved, but still helpful.

Price: Moderate

Hours: Mon -Th 11-9p.m. (Fri-Sat 10 p.m.)

Recommend: Yes

http://theburgernator.com/

Kale and Spanish Chorizo Soup with cornbread.

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This is kind of my take on collard greens and ham hocks which I grew up on as a kid in Detroit.

I wanted to eat a bit healthier this week, so I decided to make this delicious Kale and Spanish Chorizo soup. I heard that Kale is supposed to be packed with nutrients and highly considered as a super veggie. So, I wanted to incorporate this into my weekly diet.

But besides the health benefits of it, I love the taste of kale, so does my hubby. We find that it adds so much flavor to the soup’s broth . It has almost a sweet, earthy taste which compliments the spicy chorizo so well. It’s awesome!

So, here is the recipe that I like to cook whenever I am dealing with Kale. Hopefully your love ones will enjoy it too.

Ingredients:

1 tsp. of paprika

1 tsp. of red pepper flakes

1 tsp. of pepper

2 tsps. of salt

3 bay leaves

2 garlic cloves minced

1 white potato chopped

1 small onion chopped

1/2 pound of Kale

1 cup of pre-cooked Spanish Chorizo or smoked turkey chopped

6 boneless chicken thighs chopped

2 tbsp. of EVOO

8 cups of water

2 cornmeal baguettes or cornbread (unsweetened) store bought.

Heat up soup pot on medium-high heat with EVOO. Sautee chorizo sausage until lightly caramelized. Add onions and stir until it becomes translucent and then garlic. Toast the garlic for a few seconds before adding the spices. Add 8 cups of water, toss in diced potatoes and chicken pieces and bring to boil.  Boil for 10 minutes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 30 minutes until potatoes softens and season to taste.

Bread Preparation:

Preheat oven at 300. Cut the cornmeal baguette into halves and brush the interior with butter. Have the buttered side faced down on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes until golden brown.

Tip. If Chorizo sausage isn’t your thing, you could substitute it with a pre-cooked smoke turkey drum stick, it will still lend it a smoky depth flavor. And cornmeal baguettes could be purchase at Highland Farms. Or you could simply buy cornbread. ENJOY!

Hey! You gotta try these Meatballs.

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I must say, I’m not all that big on Italian food, unless it’s pizza. I don’t know, I just haven’t tasted a tomato sauce that knocked my socks off like see you on TV.  But, after seeing HEY restaurant featured on one of my favorite food shows, Diners Drive-in and Dives, I had to check them out. Located in Little Italy downtown Toronto, you cannot miss this place with its red logo plastered on the window’s shop. HEY!. It caught my attention instantly. And the humorous sign to come taste their balls is a hoot! 

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The establishment doesn’t have much in terms of décor.  Its is small and narrow almost like a take-out joint with an open kitchen concept. However the ambience has a rustic, old, backcountry charm with wooden worn out signs hung along the walls, and a menu scribbled in chalk on a blackboard.

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Since I heard so much about their balls, I’ll thought I would give them a try. So, I ordered the 3 pork meatballs in their special house sauce ($7).  The meatballs had a nice soft texture that sliced through easily with a fork. It literally melted in the mouth, but I wish it packed a little bit more of a punch flavor wise.. But the home-made Italian sauce made up for it. It had a zesty, peppery taste, and the freshly grated mozzarella cheese melded with the oil’s of the tomato dish was bubbly goodness. I soaked up every drop with my crusty bread, which was lightly brushed with extra virgin olive. 

If pork meatballs isn’t your thing, they also have veggie for you health conscious eaters.

I will definitely go back to try their meatball sandwiches and pasta. 

                                                          

Chef Rod Bowers

http://heyrestaurant.tumblr.com/

Cost: Affordable

Hrs: 6:30 10:00

Recommend: Yes

 

Tapas with a Mexican Twist at EL Catrin

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Watermelon Margarita

Anyone up for Mexican food? If so,  you are in for a treat.  I took my sister-law who is visiting from India to my favorite restaurant in Toronto: El Catrin, which is located at the Distillery District. This place isn’t your typical ooey gooey cheesy Mexican food fare. This place serves straight-up authentic flavors with a modern twist.

When we first arrived, there was a long line out the door. But luckily, it moved pretty quickly.

As we made it to the hostess podium, we opted to sit out-doors  since it was a summery day. Their patio décor had a rustic and charming-look which would transport you to another country. And the music would have you thinking you are in a Mexican villa.

They had some interesting drinks to start with. I ordered the Watermelon Fire ($10) which consisted of fresh chunks of watermelon, lime, and pureed watermelon. The rim of the glass was rolled in a mild Mexican spice which had a salted Cajun flavor. This drink had a sweet and salty taste which made my taste buds tingle. I thought I loved this, until I tried my sister in-law’s Watermelon Margarita ($11) which had Tromba Blanco blended with fresh watermelon and crushed ice. Very refreshing and a great thirst quencher. They have quite a wide selection of drinks.

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Next came the Crab fritters ($10) cooked in a silky mole red sauce drizzled with cool crema fresca and chopped papaya. The crab meat was moist and savory and nicely seasoned. However,  I didn’t get too much of the crab flavor. The mole sauce had a dark chocolate under note flavor with a little bit of heat, since it is after all made from peppers, but don’t let that scare you. The Crema Fresca mellows it out beautifully. This was a table favorite.

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Mexican style pork meatballs($15) came next. The presentation was elegant with 3 meatballs served on a white plate. The meat balls were cooked in chipotle and tomato sauce, toasted amaranth (a type of grain) and black bean puree. This dish had a little heat, but not too spicy. The thickness of the deep-fried tortilla helped balanced everything with it’s mild sweetness and cornmeal flavor, which had a crispy exterior and a dense chewy center. This had a hearty taco taste. This was mm-mm delicious. If  pork isn’t your thing,  they also have other options. Give this a try!

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Next was the Scallop Ceviches ($13). This dish was light and bright in flavor. The  habanero hot sauce gives it a little heat but not too much and the ginger, tarragon and  purple onion lends a refreshing, summery, taste.  And the scallops tasted like it came right out the sea. It is soft and buttery smooth on the palate.

At the end we were so full that we passed on dessert. There’s always a next time.

I must say everything that came out was top-notch. Yes, the prices are pretty steep, and the servings are a little small, but with the tapa-style food fare makes it a great place for a group gathering.

And the staff is very friendly.

Reservations: YES

Price: Expensive

Recommend: YES

http://www.elcatrin.ca/dinner