Comfort Food

I don’t know if it’s just me, but October seems like the month of comfort food. 

I thinks it’s probably because of the change in temperature. The chilliness makes want to have warm minestrone soup along with garlic bread and pasta– one of my favourite meals growing up.

So, because there was no school day (it’s Thanksgiving holiday), I decided to prepare one of my all time favourite pasta dishes… MAC N CHEESE. 

The amount of buttery and cheesy goodness in this dish just warms up my stomach and places a huge smile on my face.

Unfortunately, I recently found out that my body doesn’t respond well to dairy, which would explain the breakouts I get after eating froyo, desserts, and pizza. So, I’ve decided to try and find a way to prepare my mac n cheese sans cheese. How you may ask? 

With DAIYA CHEESE! I first learned about this alternative cheese product that’s vegan, gluten and soy free from a cooking class I took with Marni Wasserman. What I like most about Daiya is that it melts like cheese! Unlike other non-dairy cheese alternatives, Daiya’s rich and creamy flavour of cheese certainly delivers the bold flavour and the gooeyness flavor of cheese without compromise!

The recipe I used was adapted from Veg Web– but I’m warning you now that it’s not the healthiest meal. After all, the title of this post is “Comfort Food.” However if you are looking for healthier alternatives to dairy-free mac and cheese, I’d suggest you try a few of these websites below

http://veganyumminess.com/cauliflower-macaroni-and-cheese/

http://ohsheglows.com/2011/10/03/butternut-squash-mac-n-cheeze/

http://thekindlife.com/blog/2013/01/vegan-soy-free-sweet-potato-mac-n-cheese-recipe/

Now, the recipe I used to prepare my sinfully delicious mac n cheese: adapted from VegWeb

Ingredients

– 4 tbsp of earth balance 

– 1/4 cup of spelt flour

– 1/3/4 cups vegan milk at room temperature (add more depending on the thickness you want for your sauce)

– 3/4 cup Daiya mozzarella shreds

-1/2 tsp pepper

– 1 tsp onion powder

– 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

– 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

– 3 cooked cups of brown rice spiral pasta from Tinkyada

– 2 cups of baby kale

Topping

– 1/4 cup Daiya mozzarella shreds

– 1/4 – 1/2 cup of spelt bread crumbs

Directions:

– Heat oven to 375 Degrees Fahrenheit 

– Heat a deep skillet over medium heat and add the butter in. Once the butter melts, add the flour in and combine until you get a brownish colour or becomes a roux

– Slowly add the milk and continue to whisk the ingredients and bring the mixture to a bubble (you can decide here if you want to add an extra 1/4 cup of milk)

– Stir in the Daiya cheese and add in the pepper, onion powder, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, and baby kale (feel free to add in some salt or extra spices if you want at this step)

– Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and coat completely 

– Transfer your pasta into a baking dish and top with extra Daiya cheese and spelt bread crumbs.

– Place the dish into the oven for 20-23 minutes, or until the crumb turn light brown and the cheese on top melts.

** Sorry for such bad quality photos! Turns out that I forgot to charge my camera! You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that this dish was uber-tasty and creamy. Even my parents, who are not huge fans of sauce-based pasta dishes, loved it!

Lastly, my question to you is: What’s your favourite comfort food recipe to make?

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Butter Avenue

Since my trip to Paris in 2011, I’ve fallen in love with macarons. I cant believe I didn’t try them earlier!

In Paris the famous Maison Ladurée was where I had my first macaron. The light and airy crunchy shell along with the sweet and smooth buttercream was just heaven in my mouth.

Now that I’m in Toronto, one of my missions is to find the perfect macaron– and I think I’ve done it!
Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you, Butter Avenue.

Even though they just opened last year, Butter Avenue isn’t far behind some of the other macaron stores in Toronto!

The beautiful and chic white decor makes the store a great place to sit down with some friends and enjoy a nice cup of cappuccino and some sweet delicacies!

Today, I got three flavours: Vie en Rose, Lime & Honey, and Blueberry Cheesecake.

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The Vie en Rose was great! Although I wish there was a greater rose taste to the macaron, I was extremely pleased with the texture of the macaroon. Crunchy exterior shell, but extremely light on the inside. As well, I’ve had some macaroons in other stores and they were just too sweet! However, i don’t have to worry about that problem with the macarons at Butter Avenue!

After , I tried the lime and honey. I could taste the tartness of the lime and the sweetness of the honey. Another great flavour.

However, my favourite flavour would have to be the blueberry cheesecake. I was very surprised that I even liked it because I’m not a fan of cheesecake. However sandwiched between the sweet macaroon shell was a creamy “cheesecake” buttercream. If that isn’t enough cheesecake goodness for you, there was also a blueberry gelee in the middle of the macaron!

The Blueberry Cheesecake macaron with a "cheesecake" buttercream and blueberry gelee

The Blueberry Cheesecake macaron with a “cheesecake” buttercream and blueberry gelee

For those who enjoy their desserts, I would definitely make a stop on Yonge St. and stop by for some Parisian macarons! You won’t be disappointed!

Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant

Now that school is over, I have oodles of time to do what I love– EAT and COOK!

To start my morning, I made a large Greens smoothie that contained blueberries, raspberries, kale, chia seeds, and bioflavia.

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There wasn’t enough room in the blender for all of those berries and kale, so unfortunately, the raspberries were the ones that had to get squished!

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Later on in the day, I was around the Highway 7 area, and decided to stop by at one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants in Toronto, Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant. They serve some of the BEST vegetarian food in Toronto in my opinion. What I like about Gourmet Vegetarian is that compared to other Asian vegetarian or non-vegetarian restaurants, they do not use too much oil or salt, and can make the dishes without adding MSG, which is a major chemical additive in many of our foods today.

Some of the dishes ordered were the veggie steak with black pepper sauce on hot plate, veggie curried fish, cha shiu bao (which is a traditional chinese dim sum order that contains barbecued pork in buns), and veggie meatballs.

The veggie steak with black pepper sauce is one of the best dishes made at Gourmet Vegetarian– I order it EVERY time I go there. The black pepper sauce is extremely rich in peppery flavour. The veggie steak, which resembles thin slices of beef , is perfectly seasoned and tastes amazing with the sauce. Not everyone has tried mock meat/ seitan before, and if you are wondering, it is fairly chewy and tastes very good with seasoning and flavouring.

Veggie Steak with Black Pepper Sauce on Hot Plate

Veggie Steak with Black Pepper Sauce on Hot Plate

The veggie curried fish was a new dish that my mom and I ordered and it was up to par with the other foods we’ve tried. The curry sauce was not too spicy, which was perfect for my mom since she doesn’t do overly spicy foods, and having the veggie fish in the sauce was a great addition of flavour. The veggie fish itself is lightly covered in a tempura-like batter, and the taste of the “fish” adds some saltiness to the curry. One of my favourite parts of this dish, is that it wasn’t greasy. Usually, when my mom and I go for curry, the sauce is just so rich with the butter and oil, that we are left feeling sick. However, this curried dish was just right.

Veggie Curried Fish

Veggie Curried Fish

The dim sum that we ordered were also just as appetizing. The veggie meat balls had tons of juicy flavour to it, and the cha shiu bao had a great fluffy bao, and a sweet mixture of the barbecued “pork” inside of it.

Cha Shiu Bao on the bottom and Veggie Meatballs on the top

Cha Shiu Bao on the bottom and Veggie Meatballs on the top

After sampling a bit of everything, My mom and I left the restaurant feeling stuffed. There was no way we could have finished all of the food, so we took some of it to go– leftovers for tomorrow 🙂 I urge any one, vegetarian or non vegetarian, to head over to Gourmet Vegetarian to try some of their DELICIOUS asian dishes.

Some of their other noted dishes include deep fried veggie fish, taro & veggie chicken with coconut milk, and chinese style veggie steak with BBQ sauce.

Deep fried Veggie Fish

Deep Fried Veggie Fish

Taro & Veggie Chicken with Coconut Milk

Taro & Veggie Chicken with Coconut Milk

Chinese Style Veggie Steak with BBQ Sauce

Chinese Style Veggie Steak with BBQ Sauce

Dinner tonight was inspired by the taro & veggie chicken with coconut milk

Taro

Taro

Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk

Mock Chicken

Mock Chicken

... and voila! Taro and Chick'n Coconut Milk Pot

… and voila! Taro and Chick’n Coconut Milk Pot!

I am so glad how the hot pot turned out– and the best part is that it wasn’t hard to make at all! The taro was extremely soft and the coconut milk tied the whole dish together. Overall, it was a fantastic meal, and I will definitely be making this again!

Have a lovely evening!

*Also, if you have a TVA card, you get 10% off your meal at Gourmet Vegetarian!

Canada Day

Happy Canada Day!

Today was an extremely relaxing day. It started off with a Greens smoothie, followed by Wimbledon, and then cooking! I have to say that the highlight of my day was the game between Lisicki and Williams. Although I was disappointed with Serena Williams’ loss, Sabine Lisicki played extremely well . Now I can’t wait for the quarterfinals as I am sure it will be an intense match between all of the players. Half way into the game, I went upstairs to grab a snack, which turned out to be mangosteen, “Queen of the Fruits.” For those of you who haven’t heard of this delicious and tropical fruit rich in antioxidants, let me tell you, it is delicious! It is extremely succulent and sweet– almost like a lychee. I may have not taken the best photos, as they do not look very appetizing, but I’ve come to terms that not all tasty food has to look good!

Exterior of the mangosteen

Exterior of the mangosteen

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The black spots that you see are actually the seeds of the mangosteen

The black spots that you see are actually the seeds of the mangosteen

Later on in the day, it was time to prepare (or reheat) my lunch! On Saturday, June 29th, my mom and I went over to Brickworks Farmers Market and bought a tray of Chef Doug McNish‘s Vegan and Gluten Free Cheesy Squash Baked Mac N Cheese with Smoked Tofu and Kale. It is one of my most favourite dishes. The creamy “cheese” sauce made with butternut squash is very flavourful and not overly salty, like many other vegan mac n’ cheese dishes. In order to bring more texture to the dish, there is a  gluten free breadcrumb crust, which is my favourite part because it adds some crunch to the mac n’ cheese. The bits of kale and tofu are also a great addition of some veggies and protein, and work extremely well in the pasta dish.

"Cheesy" Goodness

“Cheesy” Goodness

The butternut squash gives the mac n' cheese such a vibrant and natural colour-- none  of that artificial orange colour that is found in most cheddar cheese

The butternut squash gives the mac n’ cheese such a vibrant and natural colour– none of that artificial orange colour that is found in most cheddar cheese

For dinner, I prepared some tasty roasted potatoes with EVOO, chive, basil, rosemary, garlic, pepper, and salt– boy did they taste good! They were perfectly seasoned and not too salty.

Seasoning the potatoes

Seasoning the potatoes

Coming out from the oven

Coming out from the oven

The colours of this dish were beautiful

The colours of this dish were beautiful

Well, that’s all for today, got to get working on my assignment for school! Have a wonderful night!