on rice pudding

I used to think rice pudding was gross (though, truth be told, I had never even tried it). Then earlier this year I went to London. And while having a meal at the Harwood Arms, I decided to to take the plunge and order the rice pudding for dessert (ok, mainly because it had the promise of first-of-the-season strawberries). That rice pudding was so good and changed my perception about the dessert forever.

Here's my version. Made with arborio rice, vanilla bean and way too much cream.

No more strawberries over here, so I topped mine with a dollop of warmed homemade rhubarb vanilla bean jam.

3/4 C arborio rice

3 1/2 C whole milk
1 C heavy cream
1/2 C sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1. Combine all of the ingredients (I even throw in the vanilla bean pod) and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes or until rice is cooked (I like mine with a tiny bit of bite) and creamy. Serve warm.


senor chipotle

Thanks to my bro for recommending Senor Chipotle, an awesome authentic (no quesadillas) Mexican restaurant in Guelph. We showed up at 11 a.m. on the dot and they weren't ready to open yet, but once we were spotted peaking into the window, we were ushered inside to be seated. 
The restaurant is located in the unassuming Westwood Plaza strip mall in the south-west end of the city (an area I rarely visited when I lived in Guelph throughout university). Service was amazing. Family-run restaurants are the best.
Two Jarritos please!
Awesome guacamole that had a hint of spiciness. And these are fresh tortillas chips.
Enmoladas for Joe. Chicken stuffed corn tortillas smothered in a crazy-flavourful mole (a complex blend of chocolate, peppers, spices) sauce with a side of refried beans topped with queso fresco and Mexican rice (not the bland, over-cooked kind either).
Chilaquiles for me. Crunchy corn tortilla chips cooked in green tomatillo sauce, topped with cheese and crema, plus a side of refried beans. This is one of my all-time favourite Mexican dishes. Crunchy, cheesy, spicy and saucy. 
We were given a complimentary flan for dessert because we had to wait (which really wasn't much of a wait at all and totally worth it anyways). This was silky, sweet and the perfect end to our meal.

* Senor Chipotle
500 Willow Rd.
Guelph, ON.



Have you seen the latest issue of b.a.h magazine? I made tacos. Slow-roasted pork tacos with peach salsa and quick-pickled shallots. They are seriously good. I made them again this past weekend.

This time I pickled thinly-sliced red onion instead of shallots. I love their bright fuschia colour.
My favourite place to get fresh corn tortillas is La Tortilleria in Kensington Market. Made fresh daily, the tortillas are still warm when they're handed to you and only cost $1.99 for half a kilo.


last days of canning: part 2

For my last canning project of the year, I decided to make homemade ketchup. This was a messy job. Red splatters everywhere! It was a crazy bubbling cauldron of tomato goodness. But the resulting ketchup was amazing. So much more flavourful than store-bought. Next summer I plan on canning way more. In the meantime, I'll be rationing my stock.
I followed this recipe from Bon Appetit. Even though the recipe says it takes up to two hours for the ketchup to reach the right consistency, mine took just over three hours. Totally worth it.


last days of canning: part 1

I did quite a bit of preserving over the summer. I have rhubarb vanilla bean jam ready to slather on toast. Peaches (in light syrup and vanilla-infused syrup) to help me remember what summer tasted like. Chow chow relish that I'm planning on mixing into pots of hearty beans. Peach salsa to top tacos. And my favourite candied jalapenos that I eat on just about everything. 

And now I can add dilly beans to the list. I made a small batch (2 pints) since this was my first time making them.
And I also made some more candied jalapenos for emergency purposes. 


on the road

Last weekend, me, Seema and our respective boyfriends took a road trip to the Catskills to attend a wedding. We left a day early so that we could take the scenic route through some of the smaller towns between here and our destination. Estimated travel time was supposed to be about seven hours...but due to extensive flooding in New York state (that we didn't know about), our trip went from relaxed to stressful. And it took about twice as long through winding, hilly, unfamiliar county roads (not to mention numerous detours around flood-ravaged areas). We didn't get to enjoy the scenery too much or stop at all the antique stores and wacky roadside attractions we wanted to. But, in the end, with much help from the most kind strangers who helped us along the way, we made it. 

The wedding took place in Roxbury, NY on a beautiful property with views of the mountains and never-ending fields of green. If only we had a couple more days to explore the area. Such a nice change from the city.
We did get a chance to sample some awesome ice cream from Yummies in Warsaw, NY (we were still happy and unaware of the impending doom that we were about to face at this point).
And I ate copious amounts of American snacks to get me through the hours of uncertainty.


asian style bread

I find the bread at Asian bakeries hard to resist. It's always light, aromatic and so soft. After much research, I found the secret to its texture is the tangzhong or water-roux method. This technique involves making a water-flour mixture that you cook, cool then add to the rest of the ingredients. Somehow it keeps the bread soft for days—way longer than most breads. 
I used this recipe as a guide, but halved the amount of sugar (Asian breads tend to be sweet)and kept the bread plain. 


nectarine crisp

I bought a basket of nectarines recently and they ripened so fast that I couldn't eat them all. I know some people put stone fruits in the fridge to slow down the ripening process, but I find this turns the fruit mealy. Yuck. Now, my favourite thing to do with an abundance of perfectly ripe nectarines (or peaches for that matter)? Make nectarine crisp. 
6 ripe nectarines, sliced
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon


1 C flour
1 C oats
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C cold butter, cubed

1. Mix filling together and place in baking vessels.

2. Make topping by mixing together flour, sugar and oats. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly (there should be chunks). Spread over fruit.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before eating.


thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies

I didn't think a super-thin, crispy-edged chocolate chip cookie would be my style, but I loved these. The outside becomes caramelized like candy and the middle stays nice and chewy. 
1 C brown sugar
1 3/4 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C sugar
2 tbsp water
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 C + 3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking soda
milk chocolate chips

1. In a stand mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add sugars and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, water and vanilla. Mix to combine.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Scoop onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour. 

4. Flatten each ball slightly and bake at 375 degrees for 16-18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool completely before eating.


chow chow

With all of the vegetables that are in season right now, I really wanted to make some kind of relish. I considered a spicy corn relish, but finally settled on Chow Chow. Chow Chow is a type of relish that's chock full of vegetables including green tomatoes (which I had the hardest time finding). It's popular in the southern states and the east coast of Canada and served on everything from various types of meats to hamburgers to baked beans. I can't wait to crack open a jar in a couple of months.
makes four 500 ml jars
2 C firm pickling cucumbers, diced
1 1/2 C red pepper, diced
1 1/2 C green cabbage, diced
1 1/2 C sweet onion, diced
1 1/2 C green tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 C carrots, diced and blanched 
1 C green beans, diced and blanched
9 C water 
1 C kosher salt
2 C white vinegar
1 C cider vinegar
2 1/2 C sugar
3 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp celery seeds
1 tbsp tumeric

1. Combine all of the vegetables except carrots and beans in a large bowl. Add 8 cups of the water and the salt. Mix, cover and let sit overnight in the fridge.

2. The next day rinse and drain the vegetables. 

3. Combine remaining 1 cup of water, vinegars and spices in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add all of the vegetables including carrots and beans. Simmer for 45 minutes. 

4. Ladle into sterilized mason jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Process in boiling water for 15 minutes.



Unfortunately I think the secret to really, really good pancakes is butter. Lots of butter. It's the key to the crunchy outer rim which is my favourite part. 
makes 6 biggies
1 C flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 C buttermilk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 egg
3 tbsp melted butter + more for greasing the pan

1. Whisk together dry ingredients. Whisk together wet ingredients.

2. Add wet to dry and fold together until just mixed (it's ok if there's some lumps)

3. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add some butter to coat the bottom. Add spoonfuls of batter. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side or until edges are golden and bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and cook an additional 1-2 minutes more.