Sunday, May 1, 2022

A Martini for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is known on this side of the border more for being a day of drinking than for an 1800s Mexican victory against French forces. For whatever reason you choose to celebrate, a spicy avocado martini would be a change from the usual margaritas and Corona.

Ingredients for two drinks

1 large avocado, slightly mashed with a fork, but not pureed
1 lime, cut into wedges
chili powder (use Mexican chili powder or Taji with lime if available)
60 mL gin
45 mL dry vermouth
30 mL club soda
15 mL lime juice (fresh if possible)
200 g sugar
1.5 g chili powder
240 mL water
  1. Combine the sugar, water, 1.5 grams of chili powder, and the avocado in a small pot over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid comes to a slight boil. Remove the pot from the heat and let the flavours infuse for 30 to 60 minutes. Strain the liquid into a sealed container and put it in the fridge to allow it to cool completely; it will keep for up to a week.
  2. Run a lime wedge along the rim of each glass, and rim each glass with the chili powder. Set the glasses aside.
  3. In a martini shaker, combine the gin, vermouth, 15 mL of the avocado syrup in the fridge, lime juice, and more chili powder to taste. Pour some into the martini glasses and top with the club soda. Garnish with lime (or a slice of avocado if you're not saving it for toast) and serve.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Working My Way Through the Works: Kamikaze

A popular gimmick for food blogs is to eat and review every item on a restaurant's menu. This blog is no exception. These are the observations I've had while eating my way through the burger menu of The Works, a Canadian burger restaurant with locations across Ottawa and Ontario.
The WORKS (900 Watters Road)
Burger Description:"Jalapeno, chipotle & banana peppers, cheddar cheese & hotter than hell sauce"
April 14, 2022

How hot is too hot? Depends on the person doing the tasting. Some people need to have their eyes watering and sweat coming out of every pore in order to enjoy their meal. Others will consider their food ruined if anything hotter than a cinnamon heart touches their tongue. The burning feeling people get in their mouths when eating peppers comes from a chemical in the peppers that activate a protein that senses heat. This chemical is capsaicin, and when activated, it sends a message to the brain which then sends a jolt of pain back to the affected part of the body. When it comes to spicy food, it's best to err on the side of caution, especially if you're a restaurant that wants repeat business. For this reason, I asked for the hot sauce to be served on the side and was pleased to discover that's how the sauce normally comes with the Kamikaze. A quick taste revealed it was a Thai-style chili sauce with a bit of sweetness to offset its heat - definitely not hotter than hell. I poured a bit of the sauce on the middle of the top bun and dribbled some more on the spot where I was going to take my first bite. The peppers were a nice addition to the burger, with the sauce acting as a spicier ketchup. While a bit of sweat did appear on my brow and bald head while eating, it wasn't a crazy amount of heat, just enough for you to notice that it was present. Overall, this cheeseburger was what you want when you looking to try something a bit more peppery than usual - it will open up your sinuses but it will leave your colon intact. 

4 out of 5 stars - those wanting more heat can add their go-to hot sauce to it.   

Saturday, April 9, 2022

I Tried This So You Won't Have To: The Snickle

On a recent episode of his soon to ending talk show, celebrity Nick Cannon profused his love of pickles. While that is not unusual, what makes it interesting is that he likes his pickles sandwiched in between chocolate, peanuts, and caramel. Called the Snickle, it is exactly what it sounds like - a Snickers bar sandwiched in between a pickle. This food mashup has been popularized by food bloggers for a few years now, and it has as many fans as it does detractors. Where does this food blogger stand on this? Check out the video below. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Breakfast Popcorn

Popcorn is great as a light snack. But did you know it can be used as a part of a delicious breakfast? I'm not talking about adding milk to a bowl of popcorn as a cereal substitute if you don't have a box of Corn Pops in the house, though that can and has been done. I'm talking about using your popcorn in the same way tortilla chips are used in chilaquiles. With popcorn already being used in salads, it shouldn't be that surprising to see the snack food make its way from the movie concession stand to your breakfast table. So give the recipe a try if you're looking for a unique way to add a tasty texture to an otherwise standard breakfast item. 

NOTE: The recipe below is legit - this is not an April Fool's Day gag.


2 cups popped popcorn
2 eggs
7 g cold butter, grated or microplaned
5 g butter for the pan
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Whisk the eggs with the grated butter.  Heat the remaining butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  
  2. When the butter starts to foam, mix the popcorn gently into the eggs to coat, but don’t let the popcorn get soggy.  
  3. Scramble to your desired doneness, and garnish as you please.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Superbowl Eats: L.A. Rams edition

Two things come to mind when you think about Los Angeles. It is home to some of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry, and it is a city made up of transplants from all across the country and around the world. The same can be said about the year's version of the L.A. Rams. The team parted ways with Jared Goff, the quarterback who led them to their 2018 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. He was replaced by Matthew Stafford, the quarterback who always put up big numbers for the Detroit Lions but had no playoff wins to show for it. Stafford joined superstar defender Aaron Donald and playmaker Cooper Kupp on a team that soon added Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller from the Denver Broncos and flashy wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. formerly from the Cleveland Browns. It took a few games for all these new pieces to come together and gel, but when they did, they marched through the playoffs, defeating divisional rivals and last year's Superbowl winner along the way. It would be fitting for fans of this superteam to enjoy food that captures the spirit of the city the team is based in, and to me, that would mean a carne asada taco from one of L.A.'s native sons, actor Danny Trejo, with a recipe from his "Trejo's Tacos: Recipes and Stories from L.A." cookbook. They say the biggest stars come out on the biggest stage. This will be the second year in a row that a team that will play the Super Bowl will play in their home stadium - let's see if the Rams can deliver the Hollywood ending their fans want to see.

1.36 kg flank, flap, or skirt steak
12 medium tomatillos (about 680 g), papery skin removed, tomatillos left whole
12 six-inch tortillas
6 garlic cloves
3 chipotle chiles from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus 30 g of the sauce
2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges
2 medium-sized jalapeños, roughly chopped
1 medium jalapeño, left whole
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
180 mL orange juice (preferably fresh)
120 mL pure olive oil
60 mL soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime, plus extra to taste
145 g shredded green cabbage
15 g kosher salt, plus extra to taste
15 g ground cumin
15 g smoked paprika
12 g roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Combine half the chopped onion, the chipotles, and sauce, the chopped jalapeños, six of the garlic cloves, eight grams of cilantro, the orange juice, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, cumin, and paprika in a food processor or blender and puree. Transfer the marinade to a large self-seal plastic bag or airtight container. Add the meat and turn to coat it in the marinade, then seal the container you are using. Refrigerate and marinate overnight or for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the excess marinade drip back into the bag or bowl. Place the steak on a platter and set it aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Grill the steak until it is charred, about 5 minutes. Turn it over and grill until charred on the other side, about 5 more minutes. Transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing it crosswise and against the grain.
  3. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat until it is very hot, about 4 minutes. Add the whole tomatillos and jalapeños - they should sizzle when they hit the dry hot pan. Cook until the vegetables are black and blistered in spots and soft on one side, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Use tongs to turn the tomatillos and jalapeños over, then add the remaining garlic cloves. Cook the tomatillos, jalapeños, and garlic until the tomatillos and jalapeños are blistered and the garlic cloves are toasted but not burned, 5 to 7 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  5. Transfer the tomatillos, jalapeños, and garlic to a blender or food processor and add the cilantro, lime juice, salt, and half the remaining onion. Process until the sauce is completely smooth. Taste and add more salt, onion, or lime juice if desired. You now have fresh salsa verde.
  6. Preheat the oven to 121°C. Stack the tortillas, wrap them in aluminum foil, place them in the oven, and let them warm until they're fragrant and pliable, about 15 minutes. Remove the tortillas from the oven. Unwrap the stack and line up the tortillas, assembly-line-style, on your work surface.
  7. In a medium bowl, mix the shredded cabbage with 60 g of the salsa verde. Chill before serving, or refrigerate in it an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  8. Divide the meat among the tortillas, placing it in a straight line down the center of each tortilla. Place a line of the cabbage mixture to the right of the steak. Serve a lime wedge with each taco.

Superbowl Eats - Cincinnati Bengals edition

Nobody saw this coming. Perennial laughingstocks the Cincinnati Bengals are the AFC Champions and are heading to this year's Superbowl.

The Bungles.

A team that went fourteen years without a winning record, or making the playoffs; a team where head coaches and top draft picks went to waste their time and talent; a team that even the Cleveland Browns thought was a joke. But this year, things were different. This Cincinnati Bengals team was led by Joe Burrow, the winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy and the 2020 college football playoff National Championship. Together with former college teammate Ja'Marr Chase, this Bengals team ended one of the longest active playoff droughts in all professional sports by winning their first playoff game in 31 years against the Las Vegas Raiders. This Bengals team then went to Tennessee to upset the #1 seeded Titans for their first-ever road playoff victory, and shock the #2 seeded Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City the following week. This Bengals team has a feisty swagger surrounding it as they head to L.A. to face the Los Angeles Rams. If you like rooting for this underdog, celebrate with some Cincinnati Chili, a soupier version of traditional chili, served over spaghetti and topped with diced white onion and lots of shredded Cheddar cheese. It can also be served with oyster crackers or slathered over a hot dog. As improbably as it is to long-time NFL fans, this soon could be the Meal of Champions.

1 kg lean ground beef
1 L beef stock
1 796 mL can crushed tomatoes
500 g shredded Cheddar cheese
300 g dry spaghetti
250 g minced white onion
45 g chili powder
30 mL vegetable oil
15 g ground cinnamon
15 g cumin
15 g smoked sweet paprika
15 g unsweetened cocoa powder
2 g salt
2 g ground cayenne
2 g allspice
1 g ground cloves and pepper
1 g pepper
3 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
1 sweet green pepper, seeded and quartered
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
1 onion, quartered
  1. Combine the green pepper, celery, onion, and garlic in a food processor; pulse until everything is finely minced.
  2. eat the oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the minced vegetable mixture and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and translucent. Add the chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, smoked paprika, cocoa powder, salt, cayenne, allspice, cloves, pepper, and bay leaves; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and beef stock and bring everything to a gentle simmer. Add the ground beef and return to a simmer, using the back of a spoon to break up the meat into small chunks.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chili is thickened and all the flavours are blended. Discard the bay leaves.
  5. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain well. Divide the spaghetti among shallow warmed serving bowls and top with chili. Garnish with cheese and white onions.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Replenish the Food Freedom Rally Protesters Took From the Homeless

There was a truck convoy protest at Parliament Hill over the weekend. Depending on who you ask, this protest was either about ending the requirement that long-haul truck drivers crossing the border into the United States be vaccinated against COVID-19; ending all vaccine mandates for everyone across the country; or how our freedoms are been curtailed by having Justin Trudeau as prime minister. Although the organizers and supporters of this protest insist that it has been a conflict-free affair, it wasn't all peace, love, and diesel fuel. There were reports of demonstrators defecating on the War Memorial and defacing the Terry Fox statue, as well as incidents of demonstrators assaulting people as they prowled the surrounding neighbourhoods. A lot of businesses closed out of fear for their staff and customers, and the less said about the amount of Confederate, Nazi, and Trump 2020 flags at a Canadian protest, the better.  But to me, the most appalling occurrence that happened during this protest was the reports of truckers harassing the people at the Shepherds of Good Hope for free food.  Whatever you may think about COVID restrictions, shaking down a soup kitchen and taking food away from homeless people has nothing to do with vaccines or freedom. They did this in spite of the fact that a GoFundMe campaign was created to cover the convoy's fuel, lodging, and food expenses. That's why I created a GoFundMe of my own to replenish the food that these subhumans took. Yes, I am aware that people's trust in GoFundMe is low due to the inability of the protest organizers to confirm the monies raised actually gets to the truckers; yes, I am aware you can donate directly to the SOGH to avoid any processing fees. I just wanted to do something to show my outrage at the actions of these people. I wanted to show that as a city, and as a country, we're better than this. Please donate to this cause if you can. Harassing people at a soup kitchen for food in the name of freedom is wrong. 

A Martini for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is known on this side of the border more for being a day of drinking than for an 1800s Mexican victory against French forces. ...