TorontoJo's Profile

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tater tots baked like a loaded potato

Oh, totchos are a major weakness of mine. I just made a batch this week. I recommend over-baking the tater tots a bit to make them extra crunchy. I then sprinkle some shredded cheese, do a quick broil to melt the cheese, then add the hot (temperature hot) toppings with a bit more cheese and give it another quick broil to melt the second round of cheese. Top with some diced tomatoes and green onions. Total guilty pleasure.

about 11 hours ago
TorontoJo in Home Cooking

Yum Cha 2015 (Feb. 21) vendors announced

Ah, I was at the morning session so didn't run into that issue. This year it's at Daniels Spectrum, which I assume has a proper HVAC system.

about 12 hours ago
TorontoJo in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2015 Restaurant OPENINGS in Toronto, to June 30...

I've been jumping up and down for joy since December! Their goal is to open in April.

about 23 hours ago
TorontoJo in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Porzia - a report

I forgot that they have a weekly Wednesday special of $10 plates. Nice.

Yum Cha 2015 (Feb. 21) vendors announced

They just posted the vendors for the festival -- an excellent line up, I'm really looking forward to feeding my face!

Momofuku Noodle Bar
County Cocktail
East Thirty Six
416 Snack Bar
Loka Snacks
Rolling Pin TO
Babi & Co.
Buster Rhino’s BBQ Toronto (their first event ahead of the grand opening)
Big E’s Grinds
Come and Get It

Details here:

Tickets here:

Buster Rhino's Toronto Location

I'm sure that both will be available. :)

Buster Rhino's Toronto Location

The super nice couple that runs Sweet Escapes in the Distillery will be running the new spot. It's going to be in the old Phil's BBQ location.

What are some of your favorite kitchen tricks that you'd be hesitant to admit to foodies?

Back in high school, I remember making a fruit dip that was marshmallow fluff and sour cream. My friends and I thought it was the height of culinary achievement. :0)

It was really quite good, though!

Jan 28, 2015
TorontoJo in Home Cooking

What are some of your favorite kitchen tricks that you'd be hesitant to admit to foodies?

I grew up on that stuff and loved it. Chips of choice were plain Ruffles or regular Doritos. Now I want to go buy some onion soup mix and make some!

Restaurant hopping on a Saturday night?

Several areas spring to mind, but Parkdale would be great, with the following all very close to one another:

- Chantecler
- Porzia
- Electric Mud BBQ
- The Rhino (for your beer course)
- Boreal Gelato (can't forget dessert, after all)

The nice thing is that all of the above are very different from one another.

French Onion Soup-How Do You Slice The Onions And What Booze Do You Use?

eLizard -- for future reference, if you want to try a dry sherry in your French onion soup, the leftover sherry can be used in Chinese cooking. It's a great substitute for the Shaoxing wine that is called for in many recipes. It's also wonderful for sautéing mushrooms in butter, then add some soy sauce and sherry. And you can use it in many recipes where a dry white wine is called for (just use a bit less than called for), which is nice because you can keep an open bottle of dry sherry for a long time vs. an open bottle of white wine.

Jan 26, 2015
TorontoJo in Home Cooking

Porzia - a report

Yes, this is a better description. I love Buca (it made my top 10), but the vibe is not always "comforting". Porzia is a cozy neighbourhood joint. That was the only point I was making.

What are you baking these days? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

If the pi can't be in the plates, then it should be in the pie!

What are you baking these days? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

I know! And if you eat pie at exactly 9:26:53 on that day....

Porzia - a report

You're right, sorry -- it was yesterday only. I thought they had indicated Friday and Saturday.

Porzia - a report

I'm going to Campagnolo in a week and a half, so I'll let you know then. ;)

I'd compare the food favourably to Buca, and it has none of the attitude. Plus it's more of a neighbourhood joint, so it's actually possible to get a reservation on short notice. I believe our table of 7 was booked on the day of and when I arrived a bit before 7, the place was mostly empty. So if you like to eat early, this is a good spot to get a table easily. It was packed later in the evening, though.

I'd say the pastas are probably a bit stronger at Enoteca Sociale (though I loved the gnocchi last night), but the other dishes are just as strong, if not stronger, at Porzia. The quality of the ingredients really shone -- e.g., the wonderful olive oil that was used on the carrots and beets dish and the ricotta salata that was in the non-pictured gnocchi.

Porzia - a report

And here are the zeppoli and a shot of the menu that I snagged from a friend. For the anniversary special and the Monday night prix fixe, you get to pick one item from the top 4, one from the middle 3 and one from the bottom 6. $25 tonight or $30 on Mondays.

Porzia - a report

I haven't seen much about Porzia lately and wanted to draw more attention to this Parkdale gem. I had what was probably the best valued meal I've had in a long time. They were celebrating their 2nd anniversary last night and were offering 3 dishes for $25 and $10 cocktails. This was way better than a 'licious meal, as you got to pick a dish from each of the savoury sections of the menu (i.e., dessert wasn't a part of the selection) -- essentially an appetizer, a primi and a secondi. Given that a couple of the secondi are $25 on their own, this was an amazing deal.

They are having this same deal again tonight (Saturday, January 24), so if you're looking for a dinner spot, this would be a good option.

They have a similar deal on Monday nights, except it's $30 for 3 courses and half-priced bottles of wine. Note that they do not reduce the size of any of the dishes. I can't think of a better dinner deal anywhere else in TO.

Because we were a party of 7, we were able to order every dish on the menu (though we skipped the olives and almonds). Everything was good to great, with the standouts for me being the polenta tots (I'm a sucker for fried things), the tripe, sausage, and fried egg primi, the gnocchi with eggplant, and the polenta with meatballs and capicola. The bone marrow with snails was loved by the table, as was the octopus. I found the spaghetti a tad on the salty side.

This is not delicate fine dining -- it's rustic, Italian comfort food prepared with care and attention to detail. It was a perfect meal on a chilly January night.

Oh, and even though it's not part of the deal, I highly recommend the zeppoli with two chocolate budino, olive oil budino and a white chocolate and eggplant mousse. They are so light and fluffy and the budinos (budini?) and mousse are gorgeously creamy and not too sweet.

Pictures of most of the dishes below. The gnocchi normally has ricotta salata, but we left it off for a lactose intolerance. I missed grabbing a shot of the octopus dish. (handy to keep on top of their specials)

What are you baking these days? Happy New Year January 2015 edition!

Looks great, I love key lime pie!

I've never understood why National Pie Day isn't on March 14 to coincide with Pi Day. My friends and I try to have our annual pie day as close to 3/14 as possible, and this year the 14th falls on a Saturday, so we'll actually get to do it the day of. Yep, we're a bunch of nerds. :0)

What are some of your favorite kitchen tricks that you'd be hesitant to admit to foodies?

Parsley and herbs, too! A cold soak, pat or spin mostly dry, then into a sealed container or bag in the fridge. Perks 'em right up. I've taken to using the empty plastic clamshells that pre-washed greens come in as a container for herbs and lettuces that I've washed. Keeps stuff fresh and crisp for days.

Oh, and it helps to trim a bit off the stems of any green you're trying to perk up.

Jan 23, 2015
TorontoJo in Home Cooking

2015 Food Events

Just wanted to point out that the line up for Yum Cha 2015 (on February 21) is going to be announced on their Facebook page next week:

If you bought a passport for the Spotlight City Events, you get access to the VIP session from 11 - 12. If not, you can buy a VIP session ticket for $20, or else $10 for the morning session (12 - 2) or the afternoon session (2 - 4).

Tickets here:

As I've said before, Suresh and Frank put on great events -- the best in TO, in my opinion. And for what it's worth, I didn't have any problems getting my passport through uniiverse. These events don't have the volume problems that The Stop Night Market do.

I need party food ideas for 50 people, including kids

A spiral cut ham is popular and easy and can be served room temp. Serve with little buns or biscuits and a couple of mustards.

Jan 22, 2015
TorontoJo in Home Cooking

$100 for two, all in.

Tabule, Little Sister, Pai, Five Doors North.

Too much Zucchini - help

This quick zucchini saute from Smitten Kitchen is fast, easy and way more delicious than you might think from looking at the recipe. I can eat a lot of zucchini this way.

Jan 20, 2015
TorontoJo in Home Cooking

How to heat and serve meatballs in a Sweet Chili Sauce?

Thaw and heat them in the sauce on the stove, then transfer to the chafing dish. A chafing dish would take hours to get to the temp you want.

Jan 20, 2015
TorontoJo in Home Cooking

Fried rice always sticks

I use basmati for my fried rice all the time with no problem.

I agree with Chemicalkinetics -- it's your wok. The surface of a "used to be" non-stick wok is too rough to be useful as a "regular" steel pan.

I have an inexpensive ($20?) carbon steel wok that works beautifully without any sticking. If anything does stick, my metal wok spatula makes quick work of it.

"Impurities" in bone broth

The foamy scum the forms is a result of blood and other proteins cooking and floating to the top of the liquid. If you've roasted your bones, you will not get much if any scum.

Jan 20, 2015
TorontoJo in Home Cooking

B'day dinner: Edulis or Actinolite

The menu from my last lunch there.

B'day dinner: Edulis or Actinolite

My girlfriends and I now have a standing quarterly date for Edulis Sunday lunch. A magnum of Champagne may or may not make a regular appearance. :)

B'day dinner: Edulis or Actinolite

I'll throw in a variant on your choices: Edulis Sunday lunch. $40 set menu, 5 to 6 courses. There is a single seating for lunch, which means you can have a leisurely, 3-hour lunch if you wish. All bottles of wine are half price, which makes that leisurely lunch even more enjoyable -- celebrate your wife's birthday with a bottle of Champagne or the lovely Montrachet they have. Honestly, it's probably my single favourite meal in Toronto right now. I've now been 3 times in the last 6 months and will continue to make it a regular stop on my rotation.