banana layer cake

This cake is one the best things that I’ve baked in a long time. Two super moist banana cake layers sandwiched with fluffy cream cheese frosting, then topped with even more of that luscious frosting. 
I’ve been eating this straight outta the fridge. A nice, cold slab to end my day. Perfect.
The recipe is actually so simple that I made this cake on a weeknight (a very, very rare occurrence over here). And you only have to dirty two bowls, one for the cake batter and one for the frosting.

for the cake: makes two 9-inch round cakes
2 C cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 C butter, softened
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C buttermilk, divided into two additions
1 tsp vanilla
3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand), mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. Add in the butter, sugar, half of the buttermilk and the bananas. Mix for one minute.

2. Add in the eggs, remaining buttermilk and vanilla. Mix again for one minute.

3. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease the pans. Divide the batter evenly into the pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

for the frosting:
1 pkg cream cheese, room temp
1/4 C butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1 C icing sugar, sifted (or more)

1. Using a stand mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add butter and vanilla and beat until combined.

2. Add in sifted icing sugar until the frosting reaches the consistency and sweetness that you like. For me that was about a cup.



The tough thing about not having a backyard—especially in the summertime—is not being able to have a bbq. Especially a Korean bbq. Joe and I usually head to my mom's one or twice in the summer to get our grilling fix, but this summer seems to be flying past and we've been just too busy. So we did the next best thing: head to a Korean bbq restaurant. I'd heard good things about Sariwon at Yonge and Steeles (quite a trek from downtown) and decided to give it a try. For bbq, we had the marinated kalbi (Korean beef ribs). This was some good quality meat! Tender and flavourful—almost as good as my recipe. Almost. When the waitress started laying out all of the complimentary banchan (customary Korean side dishes like kimchi) my eyes grew with excitement. I love banchan!
Making ssam (lettuce wraps): Take a piece of lettuce, smear it with some salty-sweet bean paste, add some rice and meat and wrap it all up. Lettuce makes it healthy, right?
We foolishly ordered a bowl of spicy soon dubu chigae (soft tofu and seafood stew) too, not knowing that the bbq came with a bowl of doenjang chigae (soy bean paste stew). Both were really good, but we obviously had way too much food for just two people.
Luckily we were hungry because we may have also ordered a broiled mackerel...our eyes are definitely bigger than our stomachs. Surprisingly (or not) we actually polished off almost all of this feast. There's something about delicious Korean food that makes it so irresistible.
7388 Yonge St.


sanagan's meat locker

Sanagan's Meat Locker in Kensington Market recently moved from its original location in the old Max & Sons butcher shop into the space that was once European's Quality Meats & Sausages just down the street.
The new location is much bigger. The meat, as always, is sourced from small Ontario farms. They now offer a variety of cured meats and terrines as well.
And there's a hot food counter!
Here's the roast beef sandwich—a pile of juicy shaved roast beef piled onto a fresh bun and topped with caramelized onions, mushroom gravy and old cheddar. It was messy, but delicious. 
Sanagan's Meat Locker
176 Baldwin St.



I first mentioned Kanto at the Scadding Court Market way back in February when they hadn't even opened yet. Well, it's been months and I've walked by so many times without stopping in, so last week when my mom was in town we picked up some food for a quick dinner. 
Kanto's menu is focused on convenient Filipino street foods. We grabbed an order of lechon kawali (crispy pork belly) and lumpia shanghai (spring rolls). 
The lechon was awesome! Juicy with a bubbly, crispy skin—just like it should be. And the lumpia (we had the chicken version since they were sold out of pork) were little deep-fried bundles of flavourful ground chicken wrapped in a thin and crunchy spring roll wrapper. Not gonna lie, I ate most of this straight out of the container before we even got home.

707 Dundas St.W 
@ the Scadding Court Market


pierogis + cabbage rolls

One of the benefits of having my mom around is being able to request some of my favourite meals. I was pretty pumped for this one: homemade pierogis and cabbage rolls. Not sure how and when my mom learned to make cabbage rolls (and I’m sure she doesn’t use a very authentic recipe—I saw a can of tomato soup get thrown in the mix), but they taste delicious and that’s all that matters to me. For the pierogis, we used Veselka's dough recipe and filled them with mashed potatoes mixed with caramelized onions and cheddar. 


filipino ensaymadas

My mom is visiting for the week which means I'll be getting lots of home cooking. So far one of the highlights was when she showed up with bags of homemade Filipino ensaymadas made by my 80-year old auntie. Sort of a cross between a brioche and Asian-style breads, ensaymadas are buttery, soft, slightly sweet buns. They can be eaten plain, topped with a smear of butter, then dipped in sugar, or topped with a smear of butter, dipped in sugar and sprinkled with shredded cheese (yes, cheese). Sounds weird, but tastes amazing. 
My auntie used to make these all the time when I was a kid (though we never got the cheese version) and me and my bro used to devour them. She’s passed the recipe onto me, but they’re pretty labour intensive to make and I’ve yet to tackle them. For now, my freezer’s stocked and I’m set for a little while.


house of gourmet

I've been trying to be more open when it comes to eating in Chinatown. I have my usual joints for pho, dim sum and seafood, and when I want "rice & meat" aka roast pork, bbq duck, bbq pork or soy sauce chicken on a bed of steamed rice, I usually head to King's Noodle. But the last time I went, there was a way too long line and I was inpatient, so I tried someplace new: House of Gourmet. Overall it was a pretty good meal. Joe and I ordered our usual King's Noodle dishes and everything was about a dollar cheaper. 
Rice with roast pork and bbq pork. Can't go wrong with double pork right? 
Noodle soup with wontons, brisket and tendon. The portion here is smaller than King's, but I actually liked this version much more. 
This rice flour roll with Chinese doughnut (zha liang) is more of a dim sum staple, but I always order it I see it on the menu. Even though this is a larger portion than King's, the doughnut was way greasier and the rice roll much thinner. At King's the rice roll portion has green onions and dried shrimp mixed in too, making it more flavourful. 

House of Gourmet
484 Dundas St. W.


ultimate butter tarts

Butter tarts are one of the few sweets that I find really irresistible. Buttery, flaky crust filled with a gooey filling—it could be the hottest day on earth and I could be stuffed to the brim, and I'd still eat one. 
And although mine are never picture perfect, they do taste mighty fine. 
For the pastry: makes 12
2 1/2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 C cold shortening/lard, cubed
1 egg
1 tsp white vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
ice water, about 1/3 C

1. In a food processor, mix flour salt and sugar. Add in shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. 

2. Beat the egg and the vinegar in a measuring cup. In the same cup, add in enough ice water to make a total of 1/2 C of liquid. With the food processor running, pour in the egg/water mixture. The dough should form a ball.

3. Form the dough into a disk and chill for an hour. When chilled, roll until 3/8-inch thick. Cut out six-inch circles and form in a muffin tin. Chill until ready to use.

1 C unsalted butter, soft
1 C brown sugar
1 C corn syrup
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 C raisins

1. Beat butter until fluffy. Add in sugar and beat until light. Add corn syrup and beat until combined. Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice and beat until thoroughly mixed.

2. Divide the raisins evenly among the tarts. Spoon in filling. 

3. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 and continue to bake for 22-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is dark brown and set. Let the tarts cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing and cooling completely.