My take on POHA (Indian dish)

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When I visited India this year, I was introduced to this popular Indian breakfast dish called Poha which means flattened rice. My spouse’s maid prepared this for me one morning and I found myself asking for seconds. The texture of Poha tasted more  like a potato hash rather than rice, which was quite interesting.

What made this dish really pop were the peanuts and green chilies. They added a nice sweetness and spiciness to the flavor profile. These two ingredients definitely played will together. Star of the show.

When I got back to Toronto I decided to try my hand at this yummy dish since I knew the recipe. I was literally a fixture on the wall in the kitchen during my stay in India.  So, here are the steps of making Poha.

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Servings 2 to 3

Time: 20 minutes

labor: Easy

 

1/2 of an Onion

1/2teaspoon of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of black poppy seeds.

4 green chilies (de-seed)

2 dried red chilies (optional)

1 teaspoon of red chili powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons of salt ( salt to taste)

2 sprigs of curry leaves

1/3 cups of peanuts

2  Cups of Poha

1  diced white cooked potato ( boiled) (Optional)

2 tablespoons of extra olive

Garnish:

Dice one small plum tomato and de-seed it. Mix it into a 1/2 cup of  3% of thick yogurt.

Tip: This helps cool things down if too spicy.

Tip: You can get all these ingredients at an Indian grocery store.

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Rinse Poha in a colander for a few seconds under luke-warm water. Or soak the Poha in a shallow dish, then strain the liquid with your hand. I tried both methods and I preferred rinsing it because the texture turns out better, in my humble opinion.

If using a potato in this dish which is optional, take a sauce pot and boil one potato for 10 minutes. Rinse under cool water and dice it into rough slithering pieces.

After that, place Poha and diced potato aside.

On high-medium heat in a big sauce pan add oil and black poppy seeds.  Once the seeds start to crackle, add curry leaves. Let the curry  leaves sizzle for a few seconds before adding the onions and salt. Sautee the onions until translucent and then add garlic and chillies. Sautee them  for a couple of minutes, then add peanuts. Stir them into the mixture for a few seconds until they get slightly toasted. Add turmeric and chili powder. Reduce the hear on medium low heat and add diced potato and poha. Stir for a three minutes until the poha is cooked through and everything is incorporated.

 

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Enjoy this delicious popular Indian breakfast dish with your family and friends.  So, chalo, lets eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Los Chicos (Peruvian restaurant in Toronto)

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When me and my hubby went to Washington D.C a few years ago, a good friend of ours took us to this fantastic Peruvian diner where the food was de-lish. Since then, my spouse has been craving Peruvian food and decided one day to google a Peruvian restaurant in our neck of the woods and Los Chicos came up which is located on Markham and Highglen Avenue.

When you first walk in you are greeted with their red logo on an expose brick wall.  Next to it is a counter where you order your food. We were greeted with a smile by a guy who was serving us and he generously explained their menu which can be a little confusing given that we don’t eat Peruvian food often. We decided to dine-in and was told the sitting area was on the second level. The restaurant is very simple and small with seven tables which were nearly occupied. The ambience was relaxed and rustic, it definitely had a hole in the wall feel with a lot of natural lighting. As we were waiting for our food to be served,  Peruvian music played which set the mood.

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First came the Ceviche ($15). This dish is only served on Sundays. It’s consisted of muscles, boiled sliced yuccas, and fresh white fish cut into chunks tossed in secret house sauce which was tangy and light tasting. What made this dish interesting was the canchitas which essentially tasted like half cooked toasted kernels. I can’t say it elevated the dish. The flavors didn’t marry well. But the canchita was good on its own. I’ll say give this a try!

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Later came our 1/2 Chicos Brasa combo, which was recommended for two people. It consisted of cooked Peruvian style charbroiled chicken, Peruvian rice served with Los Chicos Brasa Peruvian salad ($14.50). The rice was nicely seasoned with turmeric, salt and pepper. The salad was light and flavorful. I really not a salad lover, but this was gooood! I enjoyed the fresh veggies and diced avocado tossed in a creamy dressing. But the star of the show was the chicken. It was nicely charred, which gave the meat a nice smoky out-pit barbeque  flavor which I loved. The meat wasn’t at all dry. And their in-house sauce on top of it made it even more out this world. Their secret house sauces will make you want to do a happy dance. The chicken is served with two which one is spicy red and  the other green. I liked the green sauce. It had a wonderful tangy, yogurt cooling taste that brought everything together.

 

Over all,  great place to get your Peruvian food fix. It’s a family own restaurant with great homey service. I definitely recommend it . I’ll give it 4 stars for it being a take-out place.

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Prices: Inexpensive

No reservations

Attire: Casual

http://www.loschicosbrasa.com/

Phone number: 905 -209-9100

 

Torito Tapas….A Spanish Restaurant in Toronto

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I was thinking of a nice, fun restaurant to take a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time, and Torito Tapas came to mind. I’ve been there once before and liked the chill-out atmosphere. This place is located in the Kensington Market where the area has a bohemian feel with eclectic stores selling their creative funky rears. So, I thought this restaurant would be perfect since we both don’t explore on this side of town often.

When I got there I was instantly greeted and showed to my table. I was a little skeptical how dead the place was, but twenty minutes later the place was packed! Good thing I had reservations. The ambience was intimate with dim lighting. And the walls were adorned with posters of bombshell movie actresses and cool art. The expose brick gave a rustic look to the restaurant, yet still having a classy vibe.

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They had a variety of drinks to choose from, but we settled on sangrias($8). I ordered a red and my friend ordered a white. They both were equally good. The white was refreshing and light, opposed to the red which was fruity and smooth. Needless to say we were both happy with our choices.

 

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One of the first tapas we ordered was the Ceviche ($11). This was a hit! This dish was consisted of roasted corn, chili peppers, diced red onions, and cilantro. The white fish tasted moist and tangy which seems like it was tossed in freshly squeezed lime juice, and the slight sweetness of the fried taro root chips was a nice compliment. We scrapped the bowl clean!

 

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The next tapa that hit our table was the Cassava fries serviced with a spicy paprika aioli ($6). The fries were nicely seasoned and tasted even better with the creamy aioli sauce (which I can eat a tub of). However, I found the fries a bit starchy and over cooked for my liking. I can’t say these were my favorite.

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Following next was the Patatas Bravas ($8). This was recommended by our waitress. This dish is basically diced potatoes served on a thin layer of cooked tomato sauce with aioli drizzled on top, garnished with crispy croutons and jamon serrano pieces. I liked this dish. The potatoes were soft and buttery, and the tomato sauce underneath gave the dish a nice light tanginess. This kind of reminded me of poutine, just without the gravy. I would’ve liked this dish more if didn’t have croutons which didn’t do anything to elevate the flavors. I would say try it if you aren’t counting calories. I was left finishing it.

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Following next was the Grilled Spanish Chorizo ($9).  This sausage looked pretty mean with its spiky grilled marks. This tasted spicy and juicy. I didn’t find this to be tongue stinging hot, however the spices gave a nice kick to the palate. But I felt something was missing…perhaps a bun?….I don’t know. This dish was lacking something, perhaps creativity. I wasn’t too blown away by its presentation. It was pretty hard to share without butchering it up into mince meat.

 

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Last but not least was the Lamb Sliders ($10).  I’ve heard great things about their lamb sliders so I was anticipating this dish. When I took my first bite of this burger, I was pleasantly pleased. The meat was succulent and nicely seasoned with salt. The lamb wasn’t at all gamy and strong in taste. And the aioli ricotta was creamy and smooth giving more depth to the flavors that were dancing in my mouth. The interior of the bun was chewy and soft while the exterior had a baguette type texture. My friend who isn’t a big lamb eater, finished her burger within seconds and liked it. So, there you go!

 

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We both were so stuff by the end of meal that we didn’t have room for dessert. Oh well, next time.

I would recommend this place if you are looking for a cool place to chill with friends to have a great conversation, or to romance someone. The service is very attentive and nice.

Reservations: Yes

Dress: Casual

Price: Moderate

Phone Number: 416-961-7373

Website: http://www.toritotapasbar.com/menu/

 

Poetry Jazz Cafe…A hidden Gem!

 

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After having a fabulous dinner with an ole college buddy of mine, I decided to take her to a Jazz bar located in the Kensington Market area on Augusta AVE. My spouse took me to this place before about a year ago and I really enjoyed it (and I’m not even a jazz lover.)

When I took my friend, she thought the outside façade looked like a fighting outlet for boxers, needless to say she was skeptical of the place, which does appears a little sketchy I must say so myself. But once inside we were faced with a warm and romantic ambience. Every table had a lit candle giving the bar an intimate vibe.

 

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The bar was very narrow and packed with people when we got there at 11:00, but luckily we found a table with an awesome view of the band.

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The sweet bartender came to our table and gave us the drink menu tucked inside a book, which is a signature thing they do.

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My friend ordered a drink called the Bitches Brew. It consisted of aged dark rum and Tequila with a splash of hibiscus nectar($10). I had a sip of her drink and I was tempted take it and give her mine. It was smooth and light with a bit of a bite. Not at all strong tasting. So, don’t let the tequila scare ya. We loved it!

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I ordered the white & coconut flavored rum blended with brown sugar and mint ($10). The coconut was the predominant tasting note in this drink. It was refreshing. However, I think it’s best enjoyed on a hot day.

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Over all, this Jazz bar is great for a romantic date or to take a friend to have a good conversation. Don’t worry at all about the music being too loud. And bear in mind that they don’t have an extensive food menu. I suggest to eat before you visit.

The mural on the façade of the bar is very indicative how hidden this place really is. I definitely recommend it.

 

Admission: $10

Weekdays: 4:30 – 2:00p.m.

Saturday: 7:30 – 2:00p.m.

Sunday:2:30 – 7:30 p.m.

No reservations.

Attire: casual

Phone number: 416-599-5299

 

Sauteed Shrimp in Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

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I love anything pumpkin. And I am always thinking of ways to spend less time in the kitchen, but still crank out a healthy flavorful meal. So, I thought to give this pumpkin pasta sauce a shot and it was creamy goodness. Here’s how I whipped it all up.

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Cooking time 15 minutes.

Recipe:

1 tsp of oil

1 box of whole wheat pasta

1 jar of Pumpkin Pasta Sauce. ( could be found in the gluten-free section of your supermarket)

1 bag of spinach

2 cups of already cooked shrimp.

Boil water in a big pot and add whole wheat pasta. Cook for 8 to 1o minutes. Drain pasta and sit aside. (Tip!  if you don’t like your pasta sticking together, add a tbsp. of oil in the boiling water while cooking.)

Meanwhile,  heat sauce pan with oil.  Sautee shrimp for 3 minutes until lightly caramelized.  Sit aside.

On medium high heat, add a bag of spinach in a sauce pan. Stir until the spinach wilts. Add Pumpkin pasta sauce, and shrimp. Cover and reduce heat to low medium and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Toss in cooked pasta to the mixture and stir until everything is combined.

Serve with  salad of your choice. I had sunflower as my salad…I love trying different kinds of salad.

 

Side dish: Zucchini  Tossed in pesto. Cook time 8 to 10 minutes

1 tsp of oil

2 Zucchinis Diced

tbsp. of pesto.

 

Heat  oil in pan on medium high heat and sautee the diced zucchinis for 8 minutes until soft.  Add in a tbsp. of pesto to the cooked zucchini and stir until thoroughly coated and wha-la! you are done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant now opened in Toronto!

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My spouse and I decided to do some last minute Christmas shopping and as we hopped out the car we noticed Yorkdale Mall had opened up a new restaurant…not just any restaurant, but JAMIE OLIVER! Food Network’s star.

I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver for years, even before I knew how to cook like a pro. I always wanted to taste Jamie’s food, so I was gungho when I saw this new restaurant at my favorite mall in Toronto.

Now, you might be wondering…Why an Italian restaurant? Jamie is British. Well…Jamie is a lover of Italian food and its traditions.  In Jamie’s words..”When I tasted the menu at Buca (…in Toronto), and found that we had the exact same ideas in mind, I knew I had found the right guys to kick start this exciting project with.”

When we walked into the establishment we were instantly greeted by a hostess. The place was relatively packed.  There was a forty five minute wait for a table, so we opted to sit at the bar. I was pleasantly surprised how attentive the service was even at this disadvantage. Besides, It was pretty entertaining watching the bartenders do their thing.

 

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In the evening, the ambience is very laidback and intimate. The décor is rustic with wood paneling running throughout the restaurant.

 

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This was pretty cool.  Huge legs of prosciutto and bundles of grape tomatoes hung around the deli station, which can be seen in its glory at the bar.

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In the back of the restaurant,  you can find an open kitchen where all the cooks are bustling in action.

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For the main, I initially wanted the Rabbit Ragu…but it was sold out. So, I opted for their famous Prawn Linguine. It was delicious. The pasta was swimming in a spicy reddish orange broth. My spouse and I agreed that this dish would have been better with crusty bread to soak up the flavorful broth. I will definitely recommend this dish. But if you don’t like spicy dishes I will suggest you tell the chef to tone it down a notch.

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We ended the meal with an Italian dessert called Panna Cotta. It had a light, creamy cheese cake consistency with a sweet raspberry compote pooling on top.  This was my first having this dessert and I liked it. The perfect dessert to bring a good meal to an end. Not at all heavy.

I ordered a cup of Americano to watch it all down.

Over all, the experience was great. The service was very attentive. A cool place to bring family and friends.

 

Reservations: Yes

Price: Moderate (small servings are available)

Website: https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/canada/

Quinoa and Cajun Shrimp

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I’m on a journey towards a healthier lifestyle. I’m sick of eating out all the time and clogging my arteries. I’m getting older and need take better care of myself. So I’ve been thinking of ways on cooking healthier. That means finding better substitutes for white rice because I would love to fit into my skinny jeans again.

Lately, Quinoa has been getting good a wrap for being nutritional over white rice. Therefore higher in fiber, iron and protein.  So, I thought I would give it a try.

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I went to Whole Foods and picked up a bag of Gluten free Quinoa, and came up with this festive, healthy , simple recipe that will have your family and friends imploring to make it again!

 

 

2 tsps. oil

1 tsp of Cajun seasoning

1 1/2 cup of vegetable broth

2 cups of Quinoa

1 bag of raw shrimp

1 pomegranate

Garnish with a dollop of yogurt.

 

Rinse Quinoa. Place in a sauce pan and add vegetable broth. Bring to boil and let cook for 5 to 10minutes. Cover and reduce heat to low. Once done, fluff the Quinoa with fork and toss in chopped cilantro.

Meanwhile, add oil to pan on high medium heat. Saute shrimp in a shallow pan until pink. Add Cajun seasoning and stir a couple of minutes.

Place cooked Quinoa  and shrimp on a plate. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top, which the sweetness plays well with the saltiness of the shrimp.

Garnish with a dollop of yogurt, and enjoy!