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What's For Dinner #338 - Winter Wonderland Edition [through 12/14/14]

I made the Slow Cooked Bolognese Sauce posted on Serious Eats a few days ago. The recipe is here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

I had to make a small change to their recipe due to supermarket limitations and running out of time to try another grocery store, or go to a butcher shop. Ground lamb and ground beef were unfortunately only available in packages about 2/3 to 3/4 of the required amount, however the chicken livers were sold in a package that was larger than required. Since the liver was very cheap, I added extra to compensate, rather than buy more ground meat than I would need. I don't think this made too much of a taste difference, but I think it did cause the end product to be much grayer in colour. There was almost no hint of red at all in the sauce. I am not one to dwell on visual appeal, but I wouldn't do this substitution if I was serving it to special guests.

Another issue was the pancetta. This was by far the most expensive component, and I don't think the marginal taste benefit was worth the significant extra cost of 225 grams. I would either leave it out entirely, or try out a small amount of diced bacon instead to see if it would work just as well.

All that being said, it was still a hit for my family. It is a very heavy, rich, meaty, dish. I served it with a very fresh, light, chopped veggie and lettuce salad which worked out fine, but you still can't eat much of this without feeling bloated. Expect leftovers if you have fewer than four or five adults at the table.

How can we say no to a dinner invitation? We don't want to appear ungracious even though we don't really like the boyfriend!

"Is it wrong of us to want to just stay home instead of spend an evening with someone neither of us like?"

Of course not. Why would you think it is? An invitation is not a subpoena. Decline with grace.

"Thank you for the invitation, but unfortunately we have no free time left to attend."

What are you concerned could happen?

How long to cook a 25-lb turkey?

Are you cooking it whole? It is an extraordinarily difficult task to pin down an exact time on a bird that big. Brining gives you some leeway to keep the white meat juicy at a higher temperature, but not much. If you want to be safe don't worry about time, worry about temperature. Do you have a probe thermometer? Get the deepest part of the breast meat a little above 150, then take it out and let it rest, covered, for at least 20 minutes, and you should be good to go.

Nov 27, 2014
JDAWG in Home Cooking

Disastrous meal at 28 Lister steakhouse in Hamilton

LOL The website.

"Due to lack of payment. This website is closed. If you are Chris Des Roches please contact your webmaster."

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly not as hot as expected

That's for the advice. She is going to tinker with the quantity of jalapenos and amount of sugar. I will let you know what happens.

Oct 28, 2014
JDAWG in Home Cooking

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly not as hot as expected

Hi, I'm relaying a query here from my mother! She has made a few batches of Jalapeno pepper jelly that are not turning out as expected. The jalapeno pepper flavour comes through nice and clear, but the heat is underwhelming, buried in the sweetness.

The recipe she is using is as follows:
7 jalapeno peppers
3 green bell peppers
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne Pepper
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
2 pouches liquid pectin
(and green food coloring as needed/wanted)

I confirmed she is including the jalapeno seeds in the jelly, though removing the white pith, thinking it would look odd in the green jam.

Her idea here isn't to make a scorching hot jelly, just something that puts a twinge on your tongue and a bit in the back of your throat. Itcould be something to complement cheese on a cracker without overwhelming the cheese flavour.

What do you think can be changed? Should there be more jalapenos? A different kind of pepper(s)? Another change in the recipe?

Any advice is appreciated.

Oct 25, 2014
JDAWG in Home Cooking

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving - How is your day going?

Greetings from Toronto my fellow Canucks.

It's Canadian Thanksgiving weekend! For the Chowhounders from the US that are unfamiliar, the actual holiday in Canada is Monday, but it's not held strictly as "the day," like in the US. People get together on the day of the weekend the works best, and often multiple days with different families (co-ordinating can sometimes be an inter-family nightmare). But my family has always met on Sunday.

Today I am hosting my first ever T-dinner. I am pretty nervous as I have never tried to pull off something like this before. 7 family members will be attending.

I will be serving a turkey, which is unusual for my family as our normal Thanksgiving meat is lamb, but I have never cooked one before, and didn't wan this to be my first time. I am doing a spatchcocked turkey, which I have done many times before, and don't anticipate to be a problem. My sides are mashed turnip, roasted brussel sprouts, and a baked penne with sausage, which I made yesterday and will just heat up today.

I made a cole slaw, which I know everyone in my family likes, and my mother is bringing another salad, not sure what kind. My sister and brother-in-law are bringing deserts: butter tarts, and nanaimo bars.

I have a plate of cheese, olives, pickles, and kielbasa (my mother's step-father was Polish so this is a favourite) for appetizers.

Wine is ready, Conundrum to start, and my great Aunt, who lives in Vineland, is picking up some local Niagara reds to bring down.

And of course there's beer for the post-meal food coma while we watch the Leafs game (they'll beat the Rags tonight!). Side Launch Pale Ale from Collingwood, and Dead Elephant IPA from St. Thomas.

I am simultaneously panicked, terrified, gratified, and happy right now.

And as I have been writing this I realised I completely forgot about bread and rolls. So now I'm back in panic mode and am about to run for the streetcar to get to Loblaws and pick through whatever bread they have left.

How is your day going?

Oct 12, 2014
JDAWG in Home Cooking

The Cabbagetown is becoming the new Ossington

The 420, the Hey Lucy, The Stout, the House on the Parliament, The Wing Machine, The Ronnie B, the Murgatroid.

"One of these things is not like the other."

Wing Machine aside, there have been some good additions to the area recently, but I wouldn't go nuts as to call it the new Ossington.

I've lived in the area since 2005 and have seen good restaurants come and go while mediocre to poor places carry on.

The Stout is a great environment with great beer, but is really a faux-gastro pub with buzz-word filled menus are really just a gimmick and the food is not anything special. A hilarity is their claim that their hamburgers are topped with "Bermuda Onions," which google shows are an all but extinct variety, and were nothing special when they existed.

The HoP is the Hop, but it's been there forever and is expensive.

Murgatroid does interest me, but I am meh on Ronnie B.

I am hoping 420 sticks around, but they were late on the smoked meat trend and they don't do it as well as their competitors.

Oct 03, 2014
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Good Food in Hamilton?!

I had some great central American food near the Hamilton Supercrawl yesterday.

My friend and I did pick up some items from the huge row of food trucks, but were underwhelmed. Busters Sea Cove, Gorilla Cheese, and some perogi truck, whose name I forget, were all good food, but at the steep prices, $10 to $15, do not inspire return visits if I see them in the future.

The highlight came at the north end of the crawl at Barton Stret, where a tiny sign was advertising central american food at All Souls church around the corner. When we arrived it was apparent a Spanish language service was in progress, but two friendly gentlemen outside happily escorted us to the basement, where it looked like a hall was being setup for a social event with a dj and food and drinks. A little hesitant, I wondered if this was just for the parishoners, but they reassured me the food was for anyone who stopped by.

The menu looked appetizing, papusas, tamales, tacos, and more, all for $2 each. I had the papusas and tamales. The papusas came topped with a vinegary cabbage slaw and diced tomato salsa. I've never had them before, and the interior stuffed with pork was a delicious surprise. They were very hot and fresh. The tamales came steamed in banana leaves and were filled with chicken, potatoes, and olives, all in a light tomato sauce, which Wikipedia tells me is probably Guatemalan style. Perhaps these would not qualify as 100% authentic, the olives were obviously from a jar as they had the pimento paste inside, but they were still the best food I had at the Supercrawl. This was real food cooked on the spot by some loving grandmothers in the kitchen, and in typical grandmother style, insisted I order extra to bring home. An extra $4 donation to their church made them ecstatic.

I don't know if this is a weekly or monthly event, but I intend to find out and go back.

Tree Top African Cafe - Opening!

WHAT?????? Seriously? I always assumed that was a place that went out of business long ago, not one that was just waiting for work to open. That sign has been up for as long as I can remember!

Google streetview shows it was there 7 years ago, and it looks even then like it had been sitting vacant there for years already.


Perhaps it was a working cafe in the past, has sat dormant all this time, and now someone will have another go at it?

Aug 26, 2014
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2014 Restaurant and Food Store CHANGES and CLOSINGS

I called that one when I saw they added burgers to the menu, then the restaurant death warrant, grilled cheese sandwiches.

Aug 26, 2014
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Millennial Dining Trends: What Have You Noticed?

All of the items listed are about exploiting dining as a method of affecting a trendy personal brand to be telegraphed via social media. I hate to throw marketing jargon around like that but I don't know how else to say it.

Newness, access, secret things: they're all popular now because never before have you been able to so rapidly publish to everyone you know that you are doing something unique and special that others are excluded from, therefore making you better than them.

The funny thing is they don't really like "newness", "access", or "secret" things, when they are not able to be involved. If it is too much of a secret, and requires actual "access" then it's considered gauche, and the people involved are hand-waived off as too haughty and worthy of mockery.

Jul 13, 2014
JDAWG in Not About Food

Shattering the Myth of Craft Beer

I envy you. I live in Ontario and there are a lot of people producing great beer here, and attempting to create a great market for it, but it's almost impossible to make it a commercially viable operation since we have the most bizarre beer distribution system on Earth: "The Beer Store". A retail chain, owned by Labatt, Coors, and Sapporo, that was granted a literal monopoly over stores that sell beer. As you can imagine, they sell almost nothing that isn't their own product. The government has their own liquor stores that also carry some beer, but they put very little effort into developing that side of the business (wine and liquor get almost all the shelf space) and getting even local craft beer on to the shelf is a huge hassle.


May 23, 2014
JDAWG in Beer

Shattering the Myth of Craft Beer

I am Canadian so I don't know all the details, but I believe at some point during Jimmy Carter's presidency there was deregulation of many barriers that kept people from getting into the beer brewing business.

For a few decades prior to that time there was almost no access allowed to brewing equipment, unless you were a giant industrial producer who paid a fortune for it. The result was that a few generations of Americans simply did not know how to make beer, and couldn't even learn if they wanted to. Even the concept of a brew-pub was mostly banned by state regulations.

The craft beer explosion today is the result of those restrictions finally being lifted and the next generation of people finally being able to learn how to do it themselves, and to be able to access the equipment needed to do it.

Here's an interesting look at it from a graph perspective:


May 23, 2014
JDAWG in Beer

2014 Restaurant and Food Store CHANGES and CLOSINGS

Spring Rolls on Church Street at Richmond is closing next Saturday, per a sign in their window.

May 08, 2014
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Pizza delivery charge

The first thing is to recognize is it's not a fee. Don't think of anything called a "fee" as a fee. Just look at total cost and evaluate from the businesses point of view.

Separating out various costs into line items, or bundling them into "specials" are just marketing gimmicks. The "delivery fee" is a part of the price of your order that has been un-bundled. If they were not charging it separately, the cost of the food would be higher by the same amount.

Having taken orders for a pizza place a long time ago, I have seen how this causes a lot of cognitive dissonance. People would tell me they will call somewhere else and pay $5 more for a pizza rather than pay our $2 delivery charge "on principal". It's utter non-sense. That $5 is composed of the $2 delivery fee and $3 of profit, but for some people a line item on a bill can't be viewed as part of a whole.

And no, it does not "go to the driver," even if all of it ends up in the drivers hands later anyway. It is still all revenue for the store first, and they will pay out as an expense as they see fit. Think of a situation where the price of a pizza was raised $2, and they driver's pay went up by $2/delivery. Would you think a part of the cost of your pizza "goes to the driver"? It's the exact same situation: an amount is billed, the store collects it from the driver, the store pays the driver.

This is all just marketing gimmicks designed to make things look cheaper, or to make it appear a certain cost is a special separate expense, when on the back end, everything is happening just as it would.

2014 Restaurant and Food Store CHANGES and CLOSINGS

Ginger at Parliament and Carlton is closed today with a landlord notice on the door.

Apr 26, 2014
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2014 Restaurant and Food Store CHANGES and CLOSINGS

Does it count if they never opened?

Il Panettone on Queen, west of Parliament appears to have never made it to opening for business. A for rent sign is up on the still papered over windows with a landlord's notice on the door.

The website is still up and running but it's been a year since they started renovating and appear to never have finished.


Apr 08, 2014
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2013 Food and Restaurant OPENINGS

Seven months later.... 420 Smokehouse is finally opening tomorrow.

Jan 28, 2014
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Less of this in 2014 thread

Cilantro and I are not compatible. There are probably only five food items I have encountered and found myself repulsed by, and cilantro is one of them, and the only common one (I don't expect to be offered fermented fish ever again).

I don't actually expect it to be removed from a common menu item on request, but I would appreciate it's inclusion to always be listed on a menu; and for it not be arbitrarily added as a garnish to dishes that don't otherwise use it.

What I do NOT want in a Cookbook

"15 minute meals"

I really don't understand this genre as all the books I own (all received as gifts, which itself is a rant for another day) there is NO WAY most of the recipes will require only "15 minutes" of my time. I guess the assumption is the clock doesn't start until all ingredients have been gathered; all veggies peeled, chopped, sliced and diced; the meat seasoned and prepped, the pans heated; water boiling; and the oven cranked up. All you need to do is throw it all together. I should publish a book of 5 minute meals. Sure it takes 90 minutes to make, but only 5 minutes to eat!

Dec 27, 2013
JDAWG in Home Cooking

☺Supermarket scavenger hunts: "Why'd they put it THERE?"☺

My local grocery store puts the tomato paste next to the pasta, but canned tomatoes are with the other canned vegetables three aisles away. I can never remember that the paste is not with the tomatoes.

Dec 23, 2013
JDAWG in General Topics

What I do NOT want in a Cookbook

I agree with this, and would also apply some of this to food blogging. I find it tiresome scrolling through a recipe on a food blog that contains really large and unnecessary pictures. Showing pictures of unique or unusual ingredients is fine, and of course, the end product, but please not every single interim step. I don't need to see pictures of celery being chopped, or butter melting in a pan, or a picture of the oven temperature dial setting. This format is ridiculous.

Am I the only one who doesn't like...?

I don't particularly enjoy wine. I use it in my own cooking, and I will drink it if served, but I would never choose to order a glass. I have some knowledge of varieties and have had wine with dinners that has been specifically paired for the food, but I still don't enjoy it.

The one and only common food item I cannot stand is cilantro. I don't know if it's true, but I read that researchers recently proved some people are simply wired to consider the scent of cilantro as noxious and I am certainly one of those. It's not a matter of acquiring the taste for it. I find it repulsive.

Other than that, bring it on!

Sep 30, 2013
JDAWG in General Topics

Fire at St Jacobs Market...

The building owners stated it was fully insured.

You can say no excuses, but you may be surprised that thousands of public buildings in Ontario don't have them. For example it only became mandatory for nursing/seniors homes to have them in 2001 and all existing ones were grandfathered. Only this year did the law mandate all nursing homes install them, and they still have until 2020 to do that.

Sep 03, 2013
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Fire at St Jacobs Market...

Changes to the fire code usually grandfather existing structures. I don't know how old the building was, but sprinklers were probably not required when it was built, whereas now they would be. It's purely up to the building owners to add them and it sounds like the Fire Chief had suggested it but they declined.

Sep 02, 2013
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2013 Food and Restaurant OPENINGS

A new Italian bakery called Il Panettone appears about to on Queen, just west of Parliament. I can't find any info about it anywhere.

Aug 26, 2013
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Foods you pronounce incorrectly.

I live in Canada, so there is an added level of complexity given there are millions of native french speakers, many who don't know much or any English. No matter where in the country you live, you will be exposed to enough French to at least know how to pronounce French words properly, or pretty close, so it really sticks out when someone does not say them correctly. But there are still some words that have an "English" pronunciation, whether anglicised recently or not, they are accepted, widely used, and I feel no need to change.

The best example is the pronunciation of city of Montreal. I do not use the French pronunciation of Montreal and never will. It amazes me there are people who believe you should as absolutely no one expects a French Canadian to pronounce cities with English names the same way as English speakers. It's obvious pretension to suggest it.

Jul 05, 2013
JDAWG in Not About Food

2013 Food and Restaurant OPENINGS

420 Smokehouse has a building permit and liquor license app posted in the window at 420 Parliament Street. I can't find any information about it via Google search. Anyone have more details?

Jun 19, 2013
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Nuit and Jeff leaving Khao San Road

Has anyone seen information on the status of the Parliament location? Last time I looked inside it was still closed for renovations. It's been two months now and I can't see any significant change , at least from the front door. I really miss it.

Feb 10, 2013
JDAWG in Ontario (inc. Toronto)