Hopgood’s Foodliner

2014-02-27 20.20.19
Hopgood’s is one of my all-time favourite Toronto restaurants. The seafood is excellent and the menu changes often. But I really love it for the nostalgia factor — molasses bread just like Nan used to make, and ‘Halifax’ donairs that evoke the Maritime fast food while being much, much better. I’m sure their desserts are also great, but I can’t tell you, because I always get the homemade crispy toffee chocolate bar. So great.

325 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto. Reservations via Open Table. Closed Tuesdays.

Homemade chocolate bars

 

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Bent

Bent, Susur Lee’s latest endeavour on Dundas Street West, is an interesting place to go with a group of adventurous eaters. Many of the dishes are shareable, so you can try lots of different small plates. I wouldn’t say I loved, loved, loved everything about the restaurant, but it’s generally excellent and the food is fresh and fun. I especially enjoyed the beef cheek tacos (a special the evening I was there), and I couldn’t stop eating the apple salad that was served alongside the spring rolls. The room itself is a bit loud, and the service pace is leisurely.

777 Dundas Street West, Kensington Market, Toronto. Reservations via Open Table. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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Chargrilled Vietnamese Beef Salad

Vietnamese Beef Salad

This is a recipe we learned at Saigon Cooking Class by Hoa Túc in Ho Chi Minh City. This salad is fresh and light and relatively easy to replicate at home in Toronto.

Dressing

  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 2 tsps dried red chilli, de-seeded and minced

Beef Marinade

  • 150g beef filet
  • 10g chopped lemongrass bulbs
  • 5g chopped garlic
  • 20ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • black pepper to taste

Salad

  • 15g lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 kumquats, well washed and thinly sliced
  • 90g Vietnamese eggplant, quartered
  • 5g Vietnamese coriander, minced
  • 100g mustard sprouts (in practice we have used pea shoots)
  • 100g mixed greens, coarsely chopped
  • 10g Thai basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 10g fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 15 g sesame seeds

Marinate the beef. Combine lemongrass, garlic, oil, pepper and soy sauce in a dish and set beef to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Grill beef to medium rare. Allow the beef to rest for ~10 minutes before slicing. While beef is resting, prepare the dressing and the salad. To prepare the dressing, mix all ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Chop lemongrass, kumquats, eggplants, greens and herbs and toss gently in a bowl. Plate the salad and top with sliced beef. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and pour the dressing immediately before serving.

Serves four.

 

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Carousel Bakery

 

Home of the Breakfast on a Bun

Home of the Breakfast on a Bun

On most Saturday mornings, I’ll make a trip to the St. Lawrence Market to do my weekly food shopping. And one of my favourite indulgences is to stop by Carousel Bakery. They are most famous for their Peameal Bacon Sandwich, which is excellent. But my personal preference is the Breakfast on a Bun: Egg, peameal bacon, and processed cheese, topped with some barbecue sauce.

St. Lawrence Market (92-95 Front Street East), Downtown Toronto. No reservations, no dedicated seating, cash only. Closed Monday.

Peameal Bacon Sandwich

Nom nom nom

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Khao San Road

Khao Soi at Khao San Road

Khao Soi at Khao San Road

Khao San Road on Adelaide Street does some brilliant Thai food. They don’t take reservations, and there is always a queue, but it’s definitely worth the wait; they will take your number and call you. If I want to wait over a nice quiet glass of wine, I will head to the upstairs lounge at the TIFF Lightbox; If I want beer on a patio, I will try the Town Crier on John Street.

There isn’t really a poor choice on the menu, but my favourites are the garlic tofu and the Khao Soi.

326 Adelaide West, Entertainment District, Toronto. No Reservations. Closed Sundays and holidays.

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Golden Syrup Cookies

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These are the world’s most delicious non-chocolate cookie. But you can add chocolate if you want.

  • 440g        All-purpose flour
  • 5g            Baking soda
  • 5g            Baking powder
  • 5g            Salt
  • 230g        Cold unsalted butter
  • 520g        Granulated sugar
  • 2              Large eggs
  • 70g          Golden syrup
  • 15g          Vanilla extract
  •                 Chocolate-covered candied ginger (optional)
  •                 Sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 190ºC.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.  Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture becomes light and fluffy (approximately 10 minutes).

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the eggs, one at a time.

Add the golden syrup and vanilla extract, and continue to mix until well-incorporated.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter, sugar, add egg mixture.  Continue to mix for 3-5 minutes until the dry ingredients are incorporated and a dough is formed.

Portion the dough into balls (approximately 40g per ball).  If using, push 2-3 pieces of chocolate into the top of the formed dough ball.

At this stage, balls of dough can be frozen individually and baked on demand.

If baking immediately, place balls of dough on a parchment-lined baking tray roughly 10cm apart. Place the tray in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.  Remove the tray from the oven and allow the cookies to rest on the tray for a few minutes before placing on a cooling rack.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Theoretically, the cookies will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight tin.  In practice, they are always eaten sooner than that.

Source: Heston Blumenthal at Home, page 359
 

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