Fruit


For those who don’t know, my hands-down most favourite dessert of ALL time is chocolate dipped strawberries. I’m not entirely sure when that obsession started but regardless of when it did, it stuck. What I love most about them is that the combine two spheres of desserts into one: fresh, ripe fruit and creamy, satisfying chocolate to create the ultimate dessert for me. Despite my intense love for these things, I rarely get a chance to eat them. So when strawberries were in season, I quickly decided to buy a few and put my leftover chocolate chips to good use.


Recipe:

The process is simple. Get a bunch of ripe and fresh strawberries, wash them thoroughly and pat them dry. Then melt the chocolate however most convenient for you (I typically opt for the microwave but would just as easily set up a bain-marie if I planned to do a lot. Get the strawberries, dip it in the chocolate and set onto some wax paper to cool. If you’d like, you can dip the strawberries into nuts or decorating sugars after the chocolate. You can choose whatever kind of chocolate that you’d like based on your tastes. This would also be a fun cooking event to do with kids.

I thought that these would be particularly cute to make for your special someone for Valentine’s day. I used both white and milk chocolate and then dipped them in red and white sugar and peanuts just for a different taste. They were all equally good and I made a fairly large batch but was quickly eaten in the days after. I haven’t made it since but when strawberries are back in season I’ll definitely be picking up some to make this again.

Happy Eating! :)

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I’ve noticed in the last little while that my home cooking strays more towards the vegetarian region and my restaurant/takeout meals lean more towards more  meaty dishes. So I wanted to switch things up and try the vegetarian fare at Lotus Hearts Blossom. Since moving to downtown, I became aware of the  lovely vegetarian restaurant close to where I live. I’m actually able to look into the restaurant from where I live and I often people watch from time to time while in my kitchen. I was thoroughly surprised at how much traffic the restaurant received. I looked over their great website and wonderful menu and I realized that I had to give the restaurant a try.

I decided to do take out because I’m the type of person who feels a little uncomfortable being in a restaurant alone, especially one that I’ve never tried before. Take out was also more appropriate because at the time I was busy doing lots of readings and housework so I just didn’t want to bother with sitting in the restaurant. Their menu is quite diverse and features so many great dishes and drinks. They feature some vegan and gluten free items when they can. They’ve chosen dishes that have lots of spices and herbs to bring out the most flavour from their ingredients. There are hints of indian, mexican and mediterranean to their meals.  It was actually very difficult for me to decide since it all sounded so appetizing. Their menu is separated by all day selections, lunch meals and dinner meals. They also have a brunch menu for the weekends. Check their site for hours.

It was lunch time when I decided to get something so I decided to opt for their meatloaf meal or “Neatloaf” as they call it, lunch portion. I love meatloaf but I can’t seem to bring myself to make one from scratch. I was intriguied in what a vegetarian version would taste like. They describe the meal as “A loaf baked with rice, grains, eggs, ricotta cheese & tofu served with mashed potatoes and rich mushroom gravy.” After reading that, how could I resist? I also decided to get a strawberry milkshake because I knew their version would probably delicious and healthy as opposed to the version you could pick up at a fast food chain. I adore strawberry or berry milkshakes. As I’m writing this, I’m craving one. :)

When I picked up my meal, I got the opportunity to see the interior of the restaurant myself. It’s an experience for sure. There wasn’t too many people in the restaurant when I went to pick up mainly because it was later in the afternoon so the place was rather quiet and calm. The lady who gave me my meal was very friendly and sweet looking. The whole place had a relaxing aura, very colourful and warm. It definitely doesn’t give off this eat and run vibe to it that some other restaurants can give off. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos inside since it was a quick visit but the website does show a few.

This is how the meal looked like upon pick up. I thought the writing was a cute touch :)

Let’s have a look inside!

Although you could definitely eat it from the very sturdy box, I opted to transfer my whole meal onto a plate for easier photo taking and easier eating. I don’t know about you but I don’t normally eat out of a box. (hehe)

First thing I noted was that it was quite a lot of food for a lunch time portion. I remember having to finish off the rest another time. The neatloaf was definitely hearty. You could taste all the ingredients that went into the neatloaf, especially the tofu. You could also see the bits of rice. It was definitely delicious and filling. The neatloaf was covered with the gravy so you definitely tasted the mushroom gravy sauce first. My piece of meatloaf seemed to have been a corner so some of the edges were a bit more tough that I would have preferred. The bottom was also a bit more crisp that I really would have liked. The whole thing held well together and had a meaty taste so I definitely didn’t miss any of the flavours.

As mentioned it comes with mash potatoes and a salad. The mash potatoes were nicely seasoned. I normally eat the boxed mixed version of mash potatoes for convenience sake so this was a nice change. and the gravy went really well with the potatoes although I would like more gravy to cut the thickness of it. The salad was really tasty. It had a lot of fresh vegetables which included mixed greens, sprouts, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions; all yummy things! The salad dressing that came with it was unique and had an interesting taste. I was testing it for the longest time trying to figure it out but my palate just isn’t good enough to determine the ingredients. It’s not my favourite dressing but I was willing to eat it, although next time I’ll probably opt for my own dressing. It did go well with the vegetables though.

As for the milkshake, it was super light and full of strawberry flavour. They didn’t overdo it with the ice cream so you could definitely drink it through a straw but not so thin that it was a smoothie. There were specks of the strawberries while I was drinking which made me wonder if it was made with actual strawberries. My questions were answered when I found a chunk of a strawberry at the bottom of my cup. I have a sneaking suspicion that they were frozen strawberries as opposed to completely fresh but for milkshakes, frozen strawberries will do. It was a beautiful pink colour and very well blended. Delish!

In total my whole meal was approx $15 with tax included and it was definitely worth it for all that I got. Had it not been the fact that I live so close to the place, I wouldn’t have come across it which would have been a shame. Its definitely an experience, meat fan or not and I highly recommend it. Happy eating!

Lotus Hearts Blossom Restaurant
185 Sydenham Street, Kingston, ON
613-549-7777
website

Lotus-Heart-Blossoms Vegetarian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

UPDATED 01/12/09 @ 3:45PM — I forgot a few more dishes so for those who have already read this post, check the end to see even more food from the party

New Year’s is a huge event for my family because it’s a two fold celebration. In addition to the general excitement for the new year, New Year’s day happens to be my father’s birthday. My family throws an annual New Year’s bash, invite all of our family and friends and party from the afternoon until the wee hours of the morning. Because it is such a long event and there are more people than the normal get-together, there’s a pretty big spread on our table.

After a year of numerous parties, my family tends to feel like we’ve gone through the majority of the Filipino dishes out there. Therefore, we like to attempt to ring in a new year with different food that isn’t always typically seen at a Filipino party. When deciding upon the menu, we consulted a variety of sources for inspiration and recipes and came up with a menu that features some of our most favourite dishes, some experimental food and some tried and true Filipino food.

Recipes that I reviewed

Recipes from various sources

Click to see more food from the party!

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I know I am terribly over due for a post and I have several (decent) reasons. First is the fact that I went home for my Christmas vacation and although you make think that I would have more time to update since I have no school to distract me, its actual more time-consuming as there are more responsibilities and duties while at home. During the holiday season there are several parties to attend, a lot of shopping/errands to run and many attempts at cleaning the house. Second is the fact that although as readers, there are no new posts, I do work on the behind the scenes stuff. For example, I’ve really been working on generating more readership that is stable. I’ve been joining other blogging/food networks to promote the blog because my secondary goal for this blog is to gain a decent amount of readership. I think I’ve done very well for only 3 months of publication and I hope that things only get better from here on out. I also spend a lot of time uploading/editing photos. My lighting and camera quality are not always the best so I do take the time to edit photos to make them as appetizing as possible. I’m trying to do the research needed to improve my photography skills so that I can cut down on editing. So I’ve caught up on editing, done a good chunk of promotion and gained more readership so now its time to get back to what it’s all about; food posts!

We’re gonna go way back to feature the main party food for this Christmas season. This is what a Filipino feast is like during the holiday season, in particular my home for New Year’s. Warning: this post is picture heavy!

For the annual Christmas day party, our family friends take turn on rotation deciding who will host it. This year it was held at my uncle’s house in Whitby from lunchtime until dinner. It was a potluck event and everyone was required to bring something. My family had decided to bring shrimp & vegetable tempura. It was also our opportunity to open our gifts with everyone else. Shortly after, I fell asleep from just exhaustion of the past few days. I awoke in time to eat a little bit of dinner, picture taking with the family and then headed home. But back to the food. There were tons and I wanted to feature all of them.

This was a black forest cake made by a family friend who specializes in baking. I’m not a huge fan of black forest cake, primarily because I’m not a fan of cherries. However, I was informed by my all-cake-loving sister that it was delicious. It was a beautiful cake fit for the season.

This was the tempura my family had brought. We used shrimp, eggplant, sweet potato and green peppers. It was a hit at the party and there were hardly any left overs. My favourite is always the sweet potato. It wasn’t as crisp as it could be since it was cooked earlier in the day but it was still very delicious and very easy to make.

Click to see more photos!

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First I wanted to feature my kitchen at home. The lady in red is the head of the kitchen, my lovely grandmother. My kitchen back home isn’t huge but it suits our family fine. It’s hopefully going to get renovated in the near future to a more dark wood finish, granite top, better shelving within the cabinet, a bigger fridge and better lighting. My parent’s vision for it will be amazing I’m sure. During the summers and when I’m home in Toronto, this is where I cook.

To continue my birthday lunch coverage, I wanted to show you what a typical Filipino get together looks like. Despite the seemingly mass amounts of food, it’s still a pretty casual affair and the food choices are much more extensive during a really big celebration such as Christmas and new years. I only contributed by cooking the Prime Rib but the rest was cooked by my loving grandmother. I did all the set up and ensured that everything was warm and tasty with the help of my sister and father.

Click to see all the food!

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Aromaz is located in the building at the back of the Price Choppers in Scarborough. It is my family’s go-to bakery for our all-time favourite cake. If I could have this someday as my wedding cake, I would do it for sure. Aromaz features many chinese buns and breads that you would typically find in other asian bakeries. They have logs, tarts, and cookies along with all the savoury food.

The real show stoppers are their cakes and other desserts featured in their display case. There’s so many to choose from and they’re all beautifully decorated with glazed fruit, icing and chocolate shavings.

As you can see, the varieties are  numerous. Most of them include fruit both on top and inside and a lot of the cakes are mousse cakes but there’s a little something of everything. Their presentation is so clean and beautiful. The last photo features mango cakes. The one with the peaches on top…that’s the one my mother and I choose to have for our birthday cake. It’s a white chocolate mango cake and it is amazing! What makes it so good is that it’s not overly sweet, the mangos balance perfectly with the cake. The icing and the white chocolate shavings on the outside are a treat. It’s very light but still very filling. They personalize the cake by adding a greeting no charge. They write it on a chocolate circle. I think we’ve come across some other places that have a similar cake but we like it best here. There’s also a food court and a great chinese restaurant inside the plaza if you’re hungry.

Aromaz
2301 Brimley Rd
416 321 3232
no website

We had some leftover dough so we decided to make a little apple pie with the leftover filling and excess dough. It fit the size of the palm of my hand and was so cute. We cooked this alongside the big apple pie. I ate this with some whipped cream that night and it was delicious.

Brie was also on sale that week so I decided to redo the success from Thanksgiving, especially since I didn’t get a chance to eat most of it last time. It turned out fairly well. You basically just roll out dough, place the brie inside and bake it. There are numerous variations out there especially when it comes to what to fill it with. I just kept it simple. and left it plain.

Review:

It tasted pretty good. I prefer the phyllo caseing as opposed to the dough because its a lot light and the cheese is heavy enough. It was warm and gooey. I definitely enjoy it better when they’re other flavours besides just the cheese. I didn’t finish it unfortunately and A wasn’t too fond of it so he didn’t help me out. It was nice to have something new though. Try it yourself!

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