Welcome to Poutineville!

Poutineville MTL 1 arrDie hard fans of french fries – the hearty type – mustn’t miss out on a hidden gem in Montréal. Sure, there are plenty of self-proclaimed “best-selling” venues of the beloved ‘poutine.’ But when you steer off the beaten path, and follow the locals to 1365 Ontario Est, you know you’re in the right place for all things cheese curds, gravy and piping hot fries. Without further ado, then, ‘Bienvenue’ to Poutineville!

Talk about first impressions: go big on the exterior sign, and feel right at home in this quaint yet cozy family friendly eatery. Clearly a promising indication of greater things to come, this restaurant exudes a pleasantly familiar aroma that leaves the senses anticipating one’s very own plate of comfort food – à la all things potato, of course! Promptly seated, and welcomed by a gracious and bilingual – French/English – host, getting my poutine fix is a mere order form away.

Poutineville MTL 2 arrKid you not, the variety of flavourful poutine options are extensive. As such, patrons can either verbalize a menu item or fill out a sheet to specify desired toppings for their very own customized take on this French-Canadian dish. Choices abound, I feel for the indecisive folks but there’s no need to panic. Instead, take a breath and remember: simplicity is key! Wasting no more time contemplating, get your order in for an iconic staple – before the kitchen closes – and await a generously stacked plate of simply delicious: crispy house cut fries topped with fresh cheese curds and a rich braised beef broth-based gravy. Time ‘properly’ managed and decision made, one thing’s certain: you can never go wrong in keeping with tradition – especially, when talking about food affairs.

Poutineville MTL 3 arrFried and fabulous, I couldn’t help but request a double-take of tubers and ask for the “2 Poutine Sampler.” Having lunch chez-Poutineville, afterall, why not try both hand-crushed and crispy sweet potatoes? Going for twice the poutine, this appetizing select also means one can taste two times the gravy – red wine and pepper sauces – in addition to a mound of oozing melted cheese curds. Combining winning pairings of mild and bold flavours, I’m an instant fan of the peppery sweet potato poutine. Equally exclusive to Poutineville, other inventive dishes include a mélange of vegetables, cheeses – Mozzarella, Swiss, and cheddar – as well as a range of sausage meats, minced beef, and pulled pork additions that contribute to the endless array of unforgettable hot potato dishes, including: “The Montrealer,” “The Hat Trick,” and the head honcho of all ‘Messieurs Patates’, “The Godfather.”Poutineville MTL 4 arr

Comparatively humble in proportion to the aforementioned starchy indulgences, I leave my plate unfinished albeit full-ly satisfied. Pleased with the service and food, every visit to Montréal should include a poutine outing. So if you’re seeking a hot meal ‘rooted’ in comfort, have no fear of carb overload and happen to be in Poutineville’s neck of the woods, now you know where to go – P.S., they’re open until 5 A.M.

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

The Latest Scoop

No-Churn Ice Cream 2 arrAsk any ice cream fan, and I bet they have their ‘favourite.’ While mint chip and rocky road are popular flavours, mocha almond fudge tops my list.  Whatever your preference, most would agree that quality ─ real dairy ─ ice cream can’t be beat.  And much to my delight, “no-churn” recipes are no-fuss and all things decadent, rich, creamy, and simply divine.

Too irresistible not to try, I put a three ingredient “no-churn” ice cream recipe to the test. Happily evading use of an ice cream maker, I only need an electric mixer and these “must-haves”:  2 cups of heavy cream, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and a couple dashes of vanilla essence.  Once the aforementioned ‘magic three’ are whipped and form soft peaks, I pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container, cover it with a lid, and set it into the icebox for at least five hours.

No-Churn Ice Cream 3 arrThat’s it! Truly, your work is done ─ “no-churn” vanilla ice cream 101.  But why stop there, right? ─ Right on!  Getting creative, I double the ‘basic’ vanilla recipe, and divide the ‘very good’ vanilla bean ice cream into four separate loaf pans.  Creating a blank canvas of sorts, you can stick with vanilla-infused ice cream and later incorporate added texture and taste via your imagination.  For instance, consider the following:  chocolate chips, caramel sauce, fresh berries or fruit preserve, nuts, crumbled cookies, liqueurs or even mint extract for a more refreshing taste.

No-Churn Ice Cream 4 arrGoing for delicious scoops of ‘breige,’ my ice cream cloud is made of plentiful shades of wonderful: vanilla bean, espresso, double chocolate and mocha almond fudge.  For the already mastered classic, use of pure vanilla extract is a given.  Catering to purists, I also recommend following suit by integrating the scraped black seeds of an authentic vanilla pod for an elevated flavour profile.  As for a chocolaty spin, whip a few tablespoons of cocoa into the basic mixture until it appears homogenous, and then stir in shavings of dark chocolate.  In similar fashion, treating the basic vanilla mixture to an “afternoon pick me up” is as easy as blending it with chilled brewed espresso or with a few tablespoons of the ‘instant’ alternative.

No-Churn Ice Cream 1 arrReserved for last, but certainly not least, my favourite ─ mocha almond fudge ─ tastes like the real-deal. Best part is:  the only place I need to ‘bask in’ for the making of this confection is the kitchen.  Kid you not, this take on mocha almond fudge is ‘that’ good!  And, here’s how to make your own:  blend the basic vanilla mixture with cocoa powder, espresso powder ‘et voilà,’ you got the mocha part ready.  Half-way done, freeze the mocha ice cream for about an hour while you prepare the fudgy addition.  No-Churn Ice Cream 6 arrFor my interpretation of a DIY nutty ganache filling, I take a dark chocolate almond bar ─ the family-size variety, about 300 grams ─ save some with which to later decorate, and then melt the rest with some heavy cream over a double-boiler.  Once the contents have melted and the ganache has cooled, remove the mocha ice cream from the icebox and spoon in the filling, trying to create chocolaty almond ribbons.  Finally, top off the mocha almond fudge ice cream with a crunchy combo of toasted sliced almonds and chopped chocolate chunks, and really freeze it this time ─ a solid five hours should suffice.  Wait time ‘somehow’ endured, appeasing to one’s appetite for homemade “no-churn” frozen dessert is undeniably a cinch.  As for the question of brain freeze, “no-churn” is still a no-brainer ─ happy ‘paced’ consumption!

© DISHFUL, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

“Food of the gods”

SOMA chocolate 1 arr

Toronto is home to many foodie hotspots, and rightfully so. But, where do chocoholics go?  Having heard many great things of one particular chocolaterie, I thought I’d pay a little visit to a quaint gem in the heart of the Distillery District.  Say it is so ─ SOMA Chocolatemaker.  Catering to fans of all things cacao, enter this one-stop chocolate shop and you will not be disappointed.  A local paradise of sorts, SOMA looks, smells, and embodies the multifaceted tastes of chocolate.

SOMA chocolate 2 arrPleasantly surrounded by one of my favourite things ─ chocolate, of course ─ I take some time to admire the shop’s ambiance and machinery such as the cocoa grinder. Also capturing my attention, I locate an encased chocolate and nut salami that is uniquely made and available by SOMA.  Clarification provided, this show stopping treat contains no meat and can be sliced and served in rounds, making it ideal for individual delighting at any holiday party. SOMA chocolate 3 arr

SOMA chocolate 4 arrNeglecting not the other senses, it’s time to taste test. Patiently waiting in queue, I studiously scan the endless array of handcrafted chocolates, and begin to decide.  Certainly wanting chocolate, which one?  With no shortage of options, I decisively place an order of hot and cold, in addition to both liquid and solid cacao treats:  six truffles and a mug of Spicy Mayan Hot Chocolate.

Saving the confections for later, I first sample the ginger and cayenne infused hot chocolate. Clearly combining sweet with heat, this invigorating hot chocolate will leave your taste buds ─ on fire ─ with a chocolaty picante bite.  Needless to say, this spicy hot chocolate lives true to its name.

Another day, another chocolate? Yes, please!  SOMA chocolate 5 arrOpening my wrapped box of handpicked bonbons, I behold these heavenly beauties:  Brown Butter Truffle, 8 year aged Balsamic Vinegar, Roasted Cacao Bean, Magnolia Peach, Australian Ginger and Meyer Lemon, and a “unique origins” truffle.  Though a select few, the aforementioned truffles are all synonymous with pure quality chocolate that is aromatic, refined, and smooth while equally indicative of a myriad of flavours and textures.  Favouring the Peach Magnolia, I recommend it for its delicately perfumed taste and silky ganache interior.  The clean and bright citrus profile of the Australian Ginger and Lemon is pretty good in its own right, as are all the rest.  In all fairness, I haven’t had a bad ─ “Food of the gods” ─ experience at SOMA, and thank goodness.  Happily, my overall first impression is this:  SOMA truffles are more than chocolate ─ they’re chocolate made right!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

C’est Si Bon

Bailey's & Hazelnut Truffles 2 arrOnce upon a reverie, a dessert table befitting of all celebrations ─ Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa ─ prepared itself.  Wishful thinking, of course, planning for the upcoming holidays need not be stressful.  Joyful, joyful ─ still ─ seasonal eats may require some elbow grease but, are very manageable.  So yes, you can do it all ─ parades, shopping, dinner parties and homemade desserts ─ but, just remember:  pace yourself.

Bailey's & Hazelnut Truffles 1 arrWith the festive spirit in the air, I cast aside wintry blues ─ the best way I know how ─ and get the ball rolling with a recipe fit for success.  Even better, this task involves quality control in the form of taste testing, and includes none other than an all-time favourite ─ cho-co-la-te!  Clearly, happy times call for chocolaty measures.  Making no exceptions, then, here’s my idea of a must-indulge crowd-pleaser that’s easy to create, share and devour:  Bailey’s Chocolate Truffles.

Bailey's & Hazelnut Truffles 3 arrCourtesy of Martha Stewart’s recipe, the making of your very own cocoa rich confections are a few ingredients away.  For this highly achievable chocolate truffle, all you need is:  ½ cup heavy cream, 8 ounces of fine quality semi-sweet chocolate, liqueur, and cocoa.  Equally versatile, chocoholics rejoice!  Personalizing truffles to suit your palette is a cinch.  First follow basic instructions, then swap the Bailey’s Irish Cream for a preferred alternative, and finally enrobe the truffles with melted chocolate in place of cocoa.

Bailey's & Hazelnut Truffles 4 arrFinding this recipe too irresistible not to quantifiably double, two times the ingredients happily yields twice the amount of velvety rich morsels of creamy chocolate.  Just to recap, here’s a second take on what to do:  heat the cream, pour the liquid over the chocolate shavings or chips, add flavouring, mix contents until smooth, and chill the mixture in the fridge.  Once set, use a melon-baller to measure out even-sized rounds of ganache filling, and then work quickly to roll the truffles into your choice of possible coatings:  confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, toasted nuts, shredded coconut or chocolate sprinkles.  For my second batch, I replace Irish Cream with hazelnut syrup in addition to use of filberts for added texture.  Mindful that these decadent bites of heaven can be spoiled by a rancid nut, I recommend purchase of raw hazelnuts that can be pan-toasted or cooked in the oven.  In essence, use of fresh products will ensure premium truffles that will leave guests with a palatably sweet memory.  So good, in fact, these two-bite delights will get everyone caroling, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…” ─ bonbons!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Broke Da Mouth, Good!

North Shore 1 arrBig waves, big surf, and ─ fortunately for pescatarians ─big shrimp is a trio to be found along O’ahu’s northern coastline. Home to plenty of land and water action, North Shore is exactly the place I want to be for more reasons than one: food, sunset and beaches. Driving along the Kamehameha Hwy., the town of Haleiwa is a destination worth exploring. Befriending locals, eating shaved iced, drinking fresh coconut water, and ─ need I say ─ ordering shrimp only scratches the surface to a memorably ‘wiki’ ─ fast ─ road trip.North Shore 2 arr

Leaving surfing to the skilled, distant admirers ─ like ‘moi’ ─ do what we do best, the possible. Needless to say, I happily exchange the waves for a seat and ‘professionally’ catch a glimpse of the famous ‘pipeline’ ─ on dry land, of course! And to make the whole experience more succulent, occupying island time can and does get better with a local favourite ─ “Shrimp plate, anyone?” When hunger calls, the friendly staff at the North Shore Shrimp North Shore 3 arrNorth Shore 4 arrTruck answers with this ─ simple yet sufficient ─ menu: spicy, lemon butter or garlic butter shrimp. “To each, their own” ─ literally! Ordering individual lunch plates ─ one for me, and one for you ─ two times a meal makes for an opportune tasting of both spicy and lemon butter shrimp. Skimping not on the scampi, this food truck’s shrimp is not only made to order but is also generously served with rice and Pupukea greens. Spreading the ‘aloha’ spirit, my order was kindly altered to cater to my appetite for less starch and more greens ─ ‘mahalo’ for the much-appreciated service and ‘ono’ food.North Shore 5 arr

Shrimping not on a flavour-marathon, a secondary food-stop is made. This time, behold the ‘Original’ ─ Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Shrimp so good that it ─ as locals say ─ “Broke da mouth!” I always say, “Busy is a sign of success,” and business is clearly hot for this food truck. So if you make your way to Giovanni’s, be sure to get in queue and place your order. Wait-time both accrued and elapsed, picnic-style table seating is spotted, secured and ideal for resting the requested spicy shrimp plate. North Shore 6 arrAccompanied by two scoops of rice and macaroni salad, Giovanni’s doesn’t mess around ─ this white shrimp plate is on fire! So ‘picante’ as a matter of fact, Mother Nature came to the rescue ─ with a showering of rain! Honestly, it was raining and the shrimp was hot but undeniably enjoyable for those who like it ‘peppery.’ Rain or shine, these bustling roadside food trucks still ‘openly’ welcome patrons and their insatious appetites alike. So if you ever get the chance, venture to the North Shore and be sure to ‘net’ some savoury local delights ─ where “must love shrimp” and “must eat shrimp” unite!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

A Taste of “HI-Life”

Keoni 5 arrSea, sun and surf ─ life’s pleasantly a beach! Recently back home from the most surreal island vacation, I’m not only living the life, I clearly lived the “HI-life” whilst in the beautiful archipelagic state of Hawaii. Unforgettable for more reasons than one, ‘mahalo’ is in order ─ thank you ─ to the incredibly warm and kind-hearted people of O’ahu, who have left me with countless impressionable memories. Beyond beachin’ splendors ─ ocean air, salt in in my hair, and sandy toes ─ befriending locals has enriched my short-lived stay with plenty ─ good company, light-hearted conversation, and delectable food of course.

Keoni 2 arrTalk like the locals, why not? Here, ‘ono’ means delicious. And for a meal worth recounting, this foodie is ready to talk about all things ‘ono,’ primarily breakfast ─ made Hawaiian-style! Feeding my mind, heart and soul with every bite, Keoni is the place I ventured for a simple yet elevated Hawaiian take on the all-American pancake breakfast. Not too far from Waikīkī Beach, Keoni’s offers a generous plate at a modest price. Serving plentiful of all things wonderful, behold: two strips of crisp bacon, two scrambled eggs, and two moist golden pancakes.

Keoni 3 arrFar from ordinary and with keeping with the numerical trend, Keoni’s pancakes are made particularly enjoyable for TWO reasons: macadamia nuts and coconut syrup. Yes, indeed ─ coconut syrup exists! Tried and true to authentic flavour, I am very familiar with maple syrup but now ─ and courtesy of the gracious hostess ─ I have learned the ‘proper way’ to indulge in mac-nut flapjacks: first pour equal portions of maple and coconut syrup onto a separate plate, and then soak up morsels of cake into the pool of heavenly liquid nectar. Combining coconut-essence sweetness with crunchy bites of moist cake and seasoned bacon, this dish is comfortably similar while somewhat welcoming different. In a nutshell, fluffy macadamia nut-embedded pancakes soaked up with coconut syrup, in addition to its salty and crunchy accompaniments of ‘extras’ echoes a balanced dish full of flavour and texture ─ in other words, pure ‘extra’-ordinaire!

Hawaiian Sun Coconut Syrup arrFortunately, time and distance away from the south-pacific doesn’t mean one cannot recreate this “must-indulge” plate for a Sunday morning treat or everyday breakfast. For a taste of “Hawaiian Sun”, an insider’s tip is that this brand of coconut syrup is ‘the one’ to try. Hopefully spreading ‘aloha’ ─ love and kindness ─ is achievable via coconut syrup on top of your homemade flat-top griddled rounds. But in case this syrup is far-reached and inaccessible at your grocer’s, know this: a golden morning can still persist with shredded coconut or flakes sprinkled over ladled batches of your favourite pancake recipe. For an alternative spin on this local find, you can even add bananas and/or chocolate chips into the nutty batter. Trying one or all, happily decide how to make your very own pancakes ‘extra.’ All in all, I take away more than a recipe from this trip. Fully embracing the HI-Life state of mind, life is about enjoying the small and simple things ─ edible mac-embedded sunrises included!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Melon Ice Pops

Are hot and humid days leaving you with a muggy disposition? Fortunately, taming boiling temperaments is possible with a clear solution ─ ice pops to the rescue! Evading sugary selects, this summer encourages the making of your very own icebox “go-to” treat. For my take, I forgo the freezer aisle and opt for fresh and seasonally fragrant produce. Both naturally sweet, either watermelon or cantaloupe is ideal for your choice of melon pops though other varieties ─ canary, honeydew or casaba ─ are equally formidable substitutes.

Melon Ice Pops 3 arrSimply delicious and irresistibly quick to make, here’s how: cut your melon of choice into chunks, then place fleshy cubes into a food processor and pulse until a purée consistency is reached; and finally, pour contents into a popsicle mold and set it into a freezer. It’s truly that easy! Just chop, blend, and let it go into the icebox to solidify. To enjoy, simply remove the frozen pops from the icebox and leave them at room temperature to slightly defrost. Melon Ice Pops 2 arrOr, if you can’t wait, run hot tap water over the surface of the container’s exterior until a popsicle loosens and is ready for a lift. ‘Et voilà!’ ─ no-fuss frosticles!

Subtly sweet and virtually guilt-free, I did not add any sugar to my batch of cantaloupe melon pops. Hopefully, you will also luck out with ripened fruit. But if not, no worries! Keeping a cool head, you can most definitely adjust this recipe with extra helpings ─ tablespoon(s) of sugar or honey ─ and ultimately appease your sweet tooth. As a rule of thumb, remember: give blitzed contents a taste and, then, fine-tune ingredients to create a palatably suitable concoction.Melon Ice Pops 7 arr

No food processor? ─ No problem! In keeping with a cool summer and the above steps, you can conveniently use a blender to make melon pops. As a friendly tip, liquid may be required to facilitate movement of solid watermelon or cantaloupe with this particular kitchen gadget. In this case, adding some water ─ just as I have for the cantaloupe pops ─ can help yield a liquefied texture. If watching your sugar-intake is a non-issue, replacing water with a splash or two of simple syrup ─ or a little more ─ is completely fine. Getting creative, you can even try elevating these frozen fruit pops with flavourful bursts of freshly squeezed orange or lemon citrus. Putting a lip-smacking spin on this recipe, I combine watermelon with good old-fashioned lemonade to create the best of both worlds ─ a tartly sweet edible duality that works, tastefully!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Chiado Is What Chiado Does

Chiado 1 arr Summertime is sizzling and for one reason ─ Summerlicious! If you haven’t heard, no worries, there’s still time. Every year, this Toronto food event caters to hungry, enthusiastic and curious patrons. Foodie or not, now is the time to literally sample a three course menu from that establishment you’ve been eyeing for some time. Among friends, here’s a little piece of FYI: please do, R.S.V.P. Chiado 2 arr“I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.” This expression clearly resonates, given we’re ready to eat but uncertain in which locale to invest. Choices galore, the range of participating venues leave many to contemplate between fair to fine dining hosts. This year, however, I just had to taste my way through a ‘prix-fixe’ that was inclusive to an item never tried. And so, I must ─ “must-indulge,” at Chiado. Chiado 3 arrDid someone say ‘sizzle’? ─ Sim, sim, sim!!! ‘Chiado’ ─ as in the Portuguese term ─ indicates ‘sizzle,’ and for a reason. Happy to greet, seat and serve guests, the start of my experience is sizzling with great service. Waiting not, prompt seating and tableside attention is not an issue ─ mind you, former reservation had been made. Evidently still, staff are welcomingly present, professional and do their very best to accommodate patrons. First thing’s first, treat your senses with a taste of complimentary: black cured olives, an overfilled bread basket, and dipping olive oil. Already noted ─ here ─ it’s all about quality.Chiado 4 arr Eager for more appetizing delights, the menu selection is consistent with palatable options. For starters, opt for a seaside inspiration via saffron and cognac-infused shrimp bisque, grilled lemon garlic sardines or salmon tartar à la avocado mousse. Agreeably tempting, I forgo the aforementioned for a vegan appetizer that satisfies while taking account of needed room for the ‘main’ choice to come. In the meantime, my first course leaves a pleasantly earthy and enriching taste that is: portabella mushroom and eggplant that is topped with delicately broiled goat cheese, and justly flavoured with champagne vinaigrette.  Chiado 6 arr A true reflection of the Mediterranean, Chiado succeeds in a menu that well-encompasses regional cuisine as seen with: ‘dourada’ or fileted sea bream, grilled squid and a salted cod terrine, in addition to other piscatorial dishes such as pan-seared skate fish and Atlantic salmon. Seafood cooked right is an incomparable experience in its own right. Chiado 5 arrNonetheless, I set my ‘mainly’ mind on Chiado’s apparent “rule of the roost.” Tried for the first time, the garlic and herb-crusted “Roasted breast of Capon” is overbearingly succulent, adequately heated with ‘piri piri’ sauce, and persists to be undeniably preferred over the usual ‘white meat’ chicken alternative.  Absolutely hearty, the generous serving of ‘capon’ is enough to satisfy one’s eyes and appetite, though the root vegetable and ‘haricots verts’ accompaniments are worth savouring. Chiado 7 arrAnd now, time for dessert! Beyond comfortably-full ─ several bites ago, into the second course ─ how can I ignore Portuguese tradition? Treated to a pillow slice of light ‘molotof’ ─ egg white meringue ─ enrobed in caramel, this cotton candy-like cloud denotes both a sweet finale to this delicious meal, and a prelude to a necessary siesta. Happy eats and sweet dreams in, this Summerlicious experience is ─ most definitely ─ ‘Chiado.’

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Froyo Inferno

Banana ChocoFro arrHot and hazy days call for an ice-box favourite ─ say it is so, “ICE CREAM!”  Sweet, creamy and undoubtedly refreshing, who wouldn’t want to indulge in this summertime favourite?  I know I do, but with another ‘seasonal must’ beckoning ─ teenie weenie swimsuits ─ dreaded bouts of foreseeable guilt supersede advanced signs of temptation.  Fortunately, sunny days remain bright with an evasion of processed “sugar-free” and “fat-free” alternatives in exchange for homemade batches of fruit-flavoured frozen treats.

Banana Fro arrRecipes abound, there’s no shortage of instructions that call upon the usual suspects ─ sugar, cream, eggs, vanilla ─ and use of an ice-cream maker.  Having both the ingredients and the machinery ‘chez-moi,’ the common necessities aren’t an issue.  What it really comes down to, however, is the “s” word ─ SUGAR!  And so, I continue to scour the net and happily find an effortless frozen recipe that calls for two things:  bananas, and a food processor.  Ultimately working with a blank canvas, be brave and personalize your soon-to-be congealed treat with tasty additions ─ dash of cinnamon, a handful of nuts for added crunch, and even a tablespoon or two of either peanut butter or Nutella.

Blueberry FroYo arrStarting with the basics, follow these steps:  first peel and slice ripened bananas, then place cut pieces into a freezer-proof container, and freeze for a few hours or overnight.  How many bananas?  Good question!  As a rule of thumb, you can start with three but, just remember:  if you use more, you’ll get more.  So, it really depends on how large a batch you seek.  Once frozen, place the banana slices into a food processor and keep pulsing ─ about three to five minutes ─ until you yield a smooth consistency likened to soft-serve.  Finally, enjoy this naturally sweet delight immediately or store it in the freezer ─ once again ─ for a more solidified confection.  Requiring minimal ingredients but resulting in superior taste, it truly doesn’t get any easier than this.  So easy, in fact, I couldn’t resist dividing my potassium-rich batch into two and by proceeding to blend it with some cocoa powder ─ ‘et voilà,’ my very own chocolaty banana ice-cream.

Strawberry FroYo arrHooked on something wonderful, why stop now?  Equally achievable, making homemade strawberry and blueberry frozen yogurt is next on my list.  Courtesy of Just A Taste, I adhere to directions that call for three ingredients:  four cups of berries, ½ cup of yogurt, and three tablespoons of honey.  Like the banana recipe, begin with your choice of frozen berries and pulse the fruit using a food processor.  Catering to my taste, I combine the frozen fruit purée with ½ cup of thick and creamy Balkan-style yogurt, in addition to Manuka honey.  So far so good, I pour the vibrant batch of semi-frozen yogurt into a temperature-safe container and leave it in the freezer to solidify.  That’s it ─ done and done!

FroYo Palette arrAs for overall impressions, taste is not an issue so much as texture.  Clean and refreshing to the palette, both berry-inspired frozen yogurts are light and far from saturated ─ no cream, no refined sugar, no problem?  Not quite!  As any ice-cream maker well knows, sugar helps reduce the formation of ice crystals.  Honey, on that note, has purposefully been incorporated into this somewhat health-conscious recipe.  Making a valiant appearance, however slight, the ‘sweet stuff’ ─ agave nectar or other sweetener ─ does not share similar proportions as one would typically find in the rich custard original.  That said, the absence of fat and white sugar in this recipe indicates a less than creamy outcome that fares closer to a ‘granita.’  Needless to say, this fro-yo recipe may cater to some but not all.  On the plus side, there’s no denying this:  bright authentic taste of hand-picked strawberries trump any artificially-packed tub load.  So is fro-yo a go go?  I’d say so!  It’s definitely good as-is, and worth repeating using an ice-cream maker, at least for curiosity’s sake ─ churn baby churn!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Uncle Tetsu’s Special Delivery

Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake 1 arrIt’s finally here!  Branded, boxed, and hand-delivered ─ over the counter ─ the iconic Japanese cheesecake has made its way to Toronto.  Already a franchise favourite abroad, the latest addition of Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake shop is conveniently situated along Bay and Dundas.

Is it worth the hype?  To be expected:  long line-ups, retrieving and holding onto a ticketed number, and practising patience ─ or self-entertainment ─ while amidst a swarm of patrons.  Fortunately, the foodie gene runs in the family.  Needless to say, I evaded two hours of the aforementioned ‘expectations’ in exchange for a special home delivery of now trending dessert.  Best of all, the experience ─ for me ─ was a piece of cake!Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake 2 arr

Speaking of cheesecake, Uncle Tetsu’s take on the American style classic is similar in appearance but, quite distinct in its own right.  Light as air, this particular Japanese cheesecake reminds me of a delicately sweetened ricotta cheese minus the excess moisture.  What’s more, it’s springy to the touch and doesn’t leave you feeling guilty post consumption.  If anything, this feather-weight sponge is clearly the alter-ego to all that we have known the ‘original’ to be:  a heavily dense and richly saturated mixture that’s encased by a graham cracker crust.

Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake 3 arrClearly composed of part cheese and cake-like ingredients, don’t let Tetsu’s mildly sweet round fool you.  However ‘light’ in mass, it is still a dessert item ─ a.k.a., a caloric pleasure.  Clarification noted, pinpointing a stoppage time in face of devouring subdued lusciousness persists to be challenging, and somewhat borderline dangerous.  “Rebel, rebel” ─ if you must ─ and omit moderation.  But, you’ve been warned!  I repeat, given the delicate taste and texture of Tetsu’s cake, one’s likely to take plentiful bites ─ and more pieces ─ than just one.

In my case, I tried, tasted, and delighted in a ‘reasonable’ share of this traditional eastern dessert recipe.  And, here’s my verdict:  while diverging in consistency from the western variety, Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake is notably palatable though it does not yield a velvety cream-based body as one would typically anticipate from a Philly-inspired treat.  Luckily, you can be your own judge and find contentment in knowing this:  Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake welcomes everyone to take a stand ─ waiting in queue ─ to order their very own ‘nouveau gateau au fromage.’

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.