Sunday, 31 July 2011

Origin Restaurant, Toronto

Photo credit Origin
On our recent visit to Toronto my family and I got together with a wonderful old friend and her husband, and went to an amazing new restaurant on King Street East in Toronto.  It’s called Origin, and came highly recommended to my friend, who booked us a table at this trendy new eatery. So busy was this buzzing new eatery that we could not even get a table till 9pm, but we had so much to catch up on over drinks at our hotel bar that it seemed like no time at all until it was time for the short walk from our comfortable base at the Intercontinental Hotel on Front Street over to Origin.

We walked through the patio, which was full absolutely to capacity on that warm summer evening, and then made our way into the restaurant. The décor is simple and modern, and the tables are laid out round a huge bar on one side, and the fully exposed, open kitchen on the other. The chefs were entertainers as much as cooks, with one chap wearing a top hat, another a Chinese hat and still another wearing a Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap. There was a lot of banter going on in the kitchen, as tempting dishes were passed into the hands of attentive waiting staff. I was delighted to find that our table was right opposite the kitchen, so we had a great view of the action.

Origin is billed as a 'high energy global food bar'. The menu can be a bit intimidating as there are so many dishes you really don’t know where to start, but our waiter was incredibly friendly and happy to explain how to best enjoy the myriad selection. The dishes are prepared in tapas style, so he suggested that each of us choose two dishes and share them.  Between the five of us, we came up with a really good selection.

We were all a bit worried about where all the dishes would go as the table was not that big, and ten dishes seemed rather a lot to fit on it, bearing in mind we already had plates and wine glasses. But our waiter told us not to worry, and explained that they would ‘stage’ the dishes, bringing them to us in groups of two or three complimentary dishes.

We started with a couple of cold salads, the Bankok Beef Salad and a shaved Asparagus, Arugula, Manchego Cheese and Almond Salad. Oh my! The flavours were incredible. The Bankok Beef Salad was rare slices of beef, with peanuts, mint, mango, fried shallots and a nam jim dressing. An explosion of flavours and textures, this was one of my favourites. The Asparagus in the other salad was shaved, and the dressing included strips of lemon rind – the Manchego cheese was the perfect foil to the almonds too. I could have eaten the whole thing for lunch, it was that delicious – but I was a good girl and shared!

Other dishes arrived in a similar fashion as the evening progressed.  Highlights included a dish of buffalo mozzarella, pear, rosemary oil, pinenuts and honey. It was exquisite, the sweetness of the honey the perfect foil to the rosemary, as was the creamy mozzarella to the still al dente poached pear.  I even enjoyed the Chinoise duck wraps, and I won’t normally eat duck! The Tostones with Guacamole were fantastic, as were the spicy Spanish fries with chorizo and manchego cheese.

The whole menu was an incredible fusion of Mexican, Spanish, Eastern and Indian influences among others. Origin also has a very good wine list, with a large number of selections at all price points. We enjoyed a delicious Argentinean Malbec, which complimented every dish we had.

This was one of the most memorable meals I have had in a long time – both for the wonderful company and the incredible food, and the next time I am in Toronto, we will definitely be planning a return visit.

The 21st Century Housewife has not been paid for this post. Our meal for 5 at Origin included 10 dishes, one bottle of wine, two bottles of water and coffees and came to about $300 Canadian plus the tip.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

What Will You Share With The Weekend Roundup?

I’ve had a lot of emails about the photo I have been using for the roundup, and as some folks did guess, this is definitely one of my cousin Esther’s cakes! She is incredibly talented, and I can definitely testify that her cakes taste just as beautiful as they look. I’m sorry I have yet to make this into a proper button for The Weekend Roundup, but I just have not had time!
Once again we had some fabulous posts last week, and I enjoyed them all. If I have yet to leave you a comment, please do forgive me, I am trying to blog and comment as normal while on holiday, but I have found myself running out of time! I really do appreciate you linking up, and I do visit every post. I will be back to commenting on every post in a couple of weeks. 
I have chosen a couple of posts to feature this week. The first is this delicious seasonal Blueberry and Mango Salad from Chaya at Bizzy B Bakes.
Photo credit Bizzy B Bakes
And these spicy Grilled Moroccan Chicken Kabobs from Elsa at Elsa’s Cooking Diary sound like the perfect seasonal dish for summer entertaining. 
Elsa's Cooking Diary
Have you written a blog post you are proud of, or one that you would like to get a bit more well-deserved attention?  Maybe it’s a special recipe post, or a book or travel review, a piece about fashion, a craft or homemaking post? This is the place to share it! You can link up virtually any family friendly post, all I ask is that you please link back here so that others can join in. 

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Social Networking Blog Hop - Feed Me Tweet Me Follow Me Home

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to Feed Me Tweet Me Follow Me Home, the blog hop designed to help new people discover YOUR blog or Facebook page and to help promote YOU. My co-host, Alex of A Moderate Life, and I would LOVE to see even more folks linking up each week, so please do spread the word. You are welcome to co-host with us and run the hop on your own site. Just click on the link below that says ‘Get the code here’.

I hope you will forgive me if I just provide a link to the Hop on my main site today as I am rushing out the door for our flight to Los Angeles! To see this week's lovely featured foodie, and to join in with Feed Me Tweet Me Follow Me Home, please click here

Thursday, 28 July 2011

My Mom's Blueberry Muffins

There are so many blueberry muffin recipes out there, it would probably be impossible to count them, but I think this is one of the best. It’s easy, amazingly delicious, and out of season you can use frozen blueberries with no problems whatsoever. It takes a grand total of about ten minutes to mix together, so within half an hour you can have hot, fresh muffins using ingredients you probably already have on hand. 
To be fair, I don’t remember my Mom actually making blueberry muffins, but this was the handwritten recipe she gave me to use when I expressed an interest in making them when I was a teenager. Although I have tried other recipes, this is the one I always come back to, not only for sentimental reasons, but also because it is just so good. 
Makes 10 to 12 large muffins (easily doubled)
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1½ cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries 
(if frozen, do not thaw)
Preheat the oven to 350℉ (170℃ or 160℃ for fan ovens). Grease and flour or line a 12 cup muffin tin.
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg. Add the vanilla and milk and mix thoroughly. 
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the blueberries.
Add the flour and blueberry mixture to the wet ingredients all at once, and stir just to mix. (Batter will be lumpy.)
Spoon into 10 to 12 large muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffin tops spring back when pressed gently. 
These are lovely served warm from the oven, or you can cool them completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature (or warm briefly in the microwave) before eating. Best consumed within two days. 
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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Come and Share Your Favourite Breakfast, Lunch and Brunch Recipes

here at Let’s Do Brunch! 
I must apologise that I have not been round to comment on everyone’s posts from last week yet. I am travelling in Canada and catching up with family and friends so I have not quite managed to actually comment on them all yet, although I have visited! Two posts that particularly caught my were these beautiful and healthy Mango Orange Blossom Popsicles from Judee at The Gluten Free A - Z Blog
Photo credit The Gluten Free A-Z Blog
and these delicious grain free Paleo Pancakes with Coconut Flour from A Mom on a Mission.
Photo credit A Mom on a Mission
My co-host, Chaya from My Sweet and Savory, has chosen two featured recipes as well, so be sure to go and visit her too! 
This week I have shared my cousin Esther’s delicious Lemon Blueberry Waffles. Please join us and link up your favourite breakfast, lunch and brunch recipes. Any recipe that would work for any of these meals - or as part of a brunch buffet - is very, very welcome. Chaya and I can’t wait to see what you share with us this week! We do ask that you please link back here to Let’s Do Brunch as a courtesy , and also so that others can find us and join in too. 

Scrumptious Crab Melts

These Crab Melts are great for a light lunch or brunch with some chips or a salad. You can also cut the panini or ciabatta into smaller pieces and serve them as hors d’oeuvres or on a brunch buffet. Easy and delicious, they are perfect for warmer days when you don’t want to have the stove going for too long. In cooler weather, I like to serve them with a bowl of hot soup for an easy supper. 
I buy my crab meat ready prepared in a little pot from the grocery store.  It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. These are very rich; you only need one half of the ciabatta or panini each so this recipe serves 2. It’s easily doubled or tripled to serve more people. You can, of course, use canned crab meat, which definitely makes them more economical.
½ cup white crab meat
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp finely chopped red pepper 
1 tbsp finely chopped celery
2 tbsp mascarpone cheese 
salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese
1 small rectangular ciabatta bread, or 1 panini
Cut the ciabatta bread or panini in half, and put the halves in the oven on a baking sheet at about 350℉ (175℃) for five minutes to toast up a bit.
Meanwhile, mix the crab meat with the mustard, red pepper, celery and mascarpone cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.  
Remove the ciabatta or panini from the oven, and divide the crab mixture between the two halves. Cut the cheese slice slices in half and put two halves on top of the crab on each piece of ciabatta or panini.  
Return the crab and cheese topped bread to the oven for five to ten minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and brown. (You can place them under a broiler or grill for a few minutes if you prefer.) 
The cheese gets very hot, so allow these to cool a bit before Serving one half of the panini or ciabatta to each person, or cutting into small pieces to serve as hors d’oeuvres.
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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The One and Only Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth and Soul Hop at the 21st Century Housewife

I’m having a fantastic time in Canada catching up with family and friends. We had a wonderful weekend in Sarnia, and are now back in my home town on our way to Toronto to see yet more lovely people! On Friday we fly to Los Angeles, and are looking forward to chilling out at a house we have rented in Beverly Hills for a few days, as well as doing some sightseeing. Then it’s on to San Diego and BlogHer ’11!
All this visiting and catching up, much of which has centred round celebration and food, has reminded me how important food is to us - not just in terms of survival, but also in terms of memory, connection and yes, even love.  And that is what the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop is all about. Food from the hearth, to feed your soul - the food of memory, the food of hope, the food of comfort and of joy. To read our full mission statement and the rules for linking, please click here
It was such a pleasure visiting the links last week, and reading about other people’s special recipes and experiences round food. I enjoyed all the posts I visited, and highlights include: 
Soda Biscuits from Miriam at The Pioneer Cookbook.
Photo credit The Pioneer Cookbook

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake from Common Sense Homesteading
Photo credit Common Sense Homesteading
and Mango Banana Pistachio Cake from Swathi’s Zesty South Indian Kitchen
Photo credit Zesty South Indian Kitchen
What will you share this week?
Please remember that it is very important you link to your specific blog post and not just your blog, and please be courteous and link back to the hop on one of the host sites. You can use the badge below, by copying and pasting the HTML code into your post, or you can simply use a text link. 

Thank you from all of us on the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop Team,
Alex at A Moderate Life 

1. How to Make Candied Flowers
2. Blueberry Muffins
3. My Moms Ginger Cookies
4. Motor Oil Chicken
5. Spaghetti Sauce
6. AMAZING Dairy-Free Chocolate Nut Fudge (w/ SF opt)
7. Bacon Cheese Dogs & July 4th Family Reunion!!
8. Cherry Scones w/ Sweet Almond Glaze
9. Jalapeno Burgers
10. Lemon Lime Sugar Cookies
11. Tangy Mango Rice
12. Sprouted Moong Salad
13. Refried Black Beans
14. Raspberry Zucchini Bread
15. Carrot Cake GF SCD
16. Chickpea Squash Potpie w/ Pumpkin Biscuit Topping
17. Creamy Dark Chocolate Banana Smoothie
18. Goodies for a pleasant life
20. 2 Layer Blueberry Pie
21. Pasta Salad for a Crowd
22. Prawns and Chips with green olive aioli
23. Lightened Up Hummingbird Cake
24. Strawberry Jalapeno Jam
25. Dark Chocolate, Bacon and a Luncheon!
26. Crab Quiche
27. Losing Creek Farm - Thai Tea and Iced Coffee
28. Spiced Carrot Side Dish
29. Sticky Glazed Grilled Chicken with Cucumber Salad
30. Green Beans with Chevre and Pine Nuts
31. Cheesecake Ice Cream
32. Unstuffed Pepper Bake
33. Pancetta-Gruyere Burger with Grilled Vidalia Onion
34. Whole Wheat Fig Newtons
35. Asian Linguini Salad
36. Seared Scallops with Ruby Red Grapefruit Reduction
37. Tapioca pudding
38. Filipino Cocido
39. Stuffed bittergaurd
40. Creamy Veggie Bread Bowl
41. Roasted Red Pepper and Chickpea Salad
42. Roasted Veggie Salad
43. Raspberry Citrus Jam
44. Cinnamon Apple Spelt Muffins
45. Lemon Cake
46. Chicken Enchiladas
47. Simple Greek Pasta Salad Recipe
48. Thai Massaman Curry
49. Orange Pineapple Frozen Yogurt
50. Dark Chocolate Mousse
51. Roasted Veggies with Quinoa (At Home with Gina C. )
52. Oatmeal Flax Chip Cookies
53. Collards n Bacon
54. Vegetarian Gyoza
55. Imperfectly Perfect Culinary Accidents
56. Cherry Berry Clafouti
57. Kale and Walnut Pesto with Gnocchi
58. Honey Greek Yogurt Parfaits with a twist
59. Potato Chickpea Samosas (Hounds in the Kitchen)
60. Lemon Blueberry Waffles
61. Stuffed Pepper with Cracked Wheat Upma
62. Aloo Parantha
63. Homemade Gnocchi with pesto and summer squash
64. Mini Mango Breadlets
65. potato slices with sauteed Mushrooms
66. mideastern white beans and pilaf
67. Cold Tomato Soup
68. Ultimate BLT sandwich!

This linky list is now closed.