Pumpkin Spiced Crinkles

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that baking happens.  It is also the season for pumpkin spiced things.  I was invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving and I wanted to bring something festive, so I decided to give this recipe a try.

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Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies

Makes 30-40 cookies (depending on size)

INGREDIENTS

  • 330g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 salt
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 250g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g pumpkin puree
  • 100g icing sugar, for coating

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, sieve together and mix the flour, baking powder, salt, all spice, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, cream together the butter and soft brown sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the pumpkin puree and mix further. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a like it is curdling, it will come together once the flour is added. Slowly add the dry ingredients and continue to mix on a slow speed.
  3. Once thoroughly mixed, cover the bowl with food wrap and refrigerate for approximately two hours to allow the dough to firm up.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4. Line two baking trays with baking parchment. Place the icing sugar in a small bowl. With a medium size ice cream scoop, scoop the batter and drop the batter into the icing sugar and coat completely. Place on the baking tray and repeat, equally spacing the cookies.
  5. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, rotating the pan half way through the bake. Allow the cookies to cool a little on a tray before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
  6. Serve. Store in an airtight container.

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As you may notice, in the ingredients it says  “1/4 salt”.  I believe it’s supposed to be 1/4 teaspoon of salt, so that’s what I used.  I actually followed almost everything exactly except 3 things.

1. 100g of icing sugar.  I just poured the icing sugar into a bowl when I coating, adding more as needed.

2. Baking temperature. I used 350 degrees F because my oven didn’t does have a Celsius setting.


Easy to make?

Yes, it was very easy to make these cookies.  The directions were clear and easy to follow.  Nothing was hard or unclear, of course having experience in making crinkles doesn’t hurt.

How’d they turn out?
The recipe turned out great!  I got many compliments.  I’m not a fan pumpkin so I was very worried to try these, but I enjoyed them very much.  The spices really helped flavour the pumpkin.

Timing?
I think when it came to timing, it was short and sweet.  I wanted to try to make the dough and freeze it like I do with the Red Velvet Crinkles, but I noticed the dough was a lot softer than the red velvet one, so I didn’t want to risk it.

Overall?
I was asked for the recipe a couple of times already, so I would say it was a fantastic!  For a person who isn’t too fond of pumpkin products, myself and my husband also enjoyed these cookies.  These are definitely going to become a favourite Fall treat in my household.

the Contented Baker’s  Pumpkin Spiced Crinkles, you’re YOL Approved!

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Kimchi Jjigae – norecipes.com

kimchijjigae

So my hubby is super picky with his Korean food and he is always endlessly searching for a good Kimchi or Kimchi recipe.  We were at Hmart the other day and he noticed they had a “Premium Kimchi”.  Neither of us knew what the premium part was comprised of and what the difference really was.  With that being said, we bought it to try.  Now if any of you have been to the Korean supermarkets, you know that a lot of times the Kimchi is sold in a plastic jar(about 3 lbs), so there’s quite a bit. 20150203_190328

When we got home, we were eager to try this Kimchi out.  It’s the type that had the whole cabbages.  The tasted was quite nice, not too salty or sour.  Full flavour development.  Unfortunately, it’s still not the perfect kimchi my hubby was looking for, and therefore we had a lot left over when we were coming close to the expiration date.  I asked my hubby what we should do with that much kimchi and he suggested that with the cold weather we can make kimchi jjigae.

If you can’t figure out from the picture above, Kimchi Jjigae is a stew made of kimchi.  I believe traditionally, it’s made with kimchi, water, pork (neck, jowl, belly?), salt, green onion, kimchi juice, and gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes).  Since I’ve never made this before, I decided to scour the internet that had a recipe and instructions that seemed to make sense.  I came across this site: http://norecipes.com/recipe/kimchi-jjigae/.  I do appreciate Chef Marc’s take on his site regarding cooking.  Sometimes it’s not about the actual recipes and it’s more so the methods of how to develop flavours, lock in juices, proper steps.  Well I decided to give this recipe a try, sort of.

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kj

Things that I did different:

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Pork Jowl instead of Belly

– no Soju, gochujang (Korean chili paste), gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)

– regular Chinese soy sauce instead of gukganjang (Korean soy sauce)

– Red Miso paste instead of doengjang (Korean bean paste) – simply because I had it on hand

– Sesame oil instead of butter

As  you can see, I did a lot of substitutions.  It’s the techniques and fresh ingredients that matter in the end right?

Step 1:

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Marinate the meat

Step 2:

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Saute the pork jowl. Add oil and kimchi once meat has slightly browned.

Step 3:

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Add water and kimchi juice

Step 4:

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After bringing to a boil, add tofu

Step 5:

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Add sesame oil, sprinkle sesame seeds and green oil. Serve and enjoy!

Easy to make?

Very!  Soups and stews generally don’t require too much effort.  It’s just the order of putting the items in to ensure the flavour development process.  I noticed that there were comments about the pork not being soft.  I’ve made this 3 times now and each time the pork has been pillowy soft, so it’s just stewing it with time.

How’d they turn out?

I loved it.  Made some plain jasmine rice to eat it with.  It was hearty, comforting, and hot on a cold winter night.  I didn’t add a lot of the chili paste/powders as I can’t take that much heat, but the kimchi we had did have a bit of heat already.

Timing?

The 30 mins cook time noted on the site was pretty spot on.  It was enough for the pork and onions to be browned and all the ingredients to mingle and stew.

Overall?

Well as I mentioned above, I made this 2 more times afterwards, so it was wonderful.  I found this recipe super easy and although I made many changes to the ingredients, with the proper steps and techniques that Chef Marc provided, I was able to make it a pretty good kimchi jjigae.  I made it for my mother in law and she said it was “Fancy”, but she did enjoy it.  I would definitely make this again on a cold winter day and I would love to try the other recipes on norecipes.com!

NO Recipe’s Kimchi Jjigae, you’re YOL Approved!

Fin Izakaya

Finhttp://www.finizakaya.com/
55 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, ON M4P 1G8

For my birthday this year, my hubby took me out to Fin Izakaya.  We have been here a few times for other celebrations but it has been a while since we’ve been back.  I usually enjoy the food as I do love Japanese cuisine.  It’s quite refreshing to visit an izakaya rather than the usual sushi bars or AYCEs.  The Izakaya phase does seem to have died down, but there weren’t that many that has spurred during the popularity of this style of Japanese cooking.  I wonder if it has to do the pricing?

On this visit, Fin was hosting one of their fish auctions, but unfortunately by the time we finished dinner, it hadn’t started yet.  I really would like to go through one of these auctions and see what it’s like.  I’m not aware of any other restaurants that hosts these.

So let’s jump right into to what we ordered:

  • Tuna and Garlic rare steak
  • Dried Fish Kawahagi
  • Duck Shichimi Yaki
  • Hot Pot Crab and Asari clam + Rice (a special)
  • Beef Rice Bomb
  • Sashimi of the day – Sea Bream whole
  • Chicken Winglettes – Red Salt
  • Pear Sake
  • Asahi (on tap)

Line ups: None
We had made our reservations on Open Table (www.opentable.com/), but there was no one waiting at all.  Every time we visit, we’ve never had to wait more than 5 minutes and we’ve always had reservations.  They are very consistent at ensuring their patrons are seated and those with reservations do not have to wait.  I greatly appreciate that.  Some places we’ve been to, even if you have a reservations, you’re just lining up when you get there.

Service: Great/Excellent
Let’s start with their parking.  I find it great that they provide parking space for dinner customers since it’s quite hard to find parking on that part of Eglinton.  The only thing that’s inconvenient was getting into the lot.  I called to advise we were approaching the entrance.  The person on the phone asked if we were right at the gate.  I advised him that we were just about to swing around to turn in as the construction was blocking the entrance from the westbound lanes.  He advised me to call back when we’re right at the gate or just come inside.  It was literally 30 seconds later when we found ourselves in front of the parking gate, but no one picked up the phone.  My hubby stayed in the car as I ran into the restaurant.

When I entered the restaurant, I advised the hostess my hubby was at the parking lot and she sent someone out to let him into the lot.  She noted my reservation and proceed to seat me.  Upon coming in, my hubby advised that after the attendant let him into the lot and told him where to park, he disappeared through a staff entrance and didn’t tell my hubby if the front entrance was the only way back.  We had a server come to us within a few minutes to ask what we would like to drink.  Throughout the rest of the evening, our food was always presented to us, they came to check on us throughout the evening, and the bill was prompt.

The only other item for service to note was when we asked for the rice for out hot pot.  We couldn’t find our server, so another server came to our table and when we told her we would like to add the rice to the hot pot, she said we when we finished the items in the pot, then let her know and she’ll take it to make the rice.  Moments later, our server came and asked if we wanted to make Okayu/Zosui (can’t remember which term he used).  We said “sure”, and he took the pot away.  We still had the crab claw and a few clams in there, but he got the chefs to make the porridge anyways.

Food: Delicious

finbeef
Tuna and Garlic rare steak
Findrinks
Asahi (on tap) and Pear Sake
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Beef Rice Bomb

 

Finseabream
Sashimi of the day – Sea Bream whole
finwings
Chicken Winglettes – Red Salt
finfishjerky
Dried Fish Kawahagi
Finduck
Duck Shichimi Yaki

 

finrice
Hot Pot Crab and Asari clam + Rice (Okayu/Zosui)
Finhotpot
Hot Pot Crab and Asari clam

 

Almost everything was excellent.  Loved the Beef Rice Bomb with the sweet/salty teriyaki like sauce.  The mayo adds a creamy texture to coat the beef and rice.

I always like the Dried Fish Kawahagi.  It’s basically fish jerky.  It has a nice subtle hint of sweetness, charcoal fragrant from the grill, and is chewy like jerk.  Great appetizer to go with a drink.

The Hot Pot Crab and Asari Clam was our favourite of the night.   The broth was a delicious concoction of seafood goodness.  It had clams, shitaki mushrooms, cabbage, a crab leg, enoki mushrooms.  What made it even better was the essence of the soup was used to make an Okayu (rice porridge).  I’d have to say, that was the best Okayu I’ve ever had.  Milky, creamy, cheesey seafood flavoured okayu.  I don’t know how they got so much flavour out of the broth, because there wasn’t that much seafood in the pot.

The Sea Bream Sashimi was very fresh.  No metal like taste or fishiness at all.  It had a firm, crunch texture.  Beautiful red, pink, white colour.  After we ate the meat, we had the carcass grilled with salt.   It was nice and light.  Went well with our okayu.

The Tuna and Garlic rare steak had a great soft yet slightly firm texture.  It was served atop of onions.  Although it was cooked tataki style, it didn’t carry much cooked flavours.  It wasn’t as garlicy as we would’ve liked.  Actually I tasted more sweet onion flavour than garlic.

Duck Shichimi Yaki.  It’s basically grilled slices of duck.  I’m pretty sure it was duck breast that was served on a bed of enoki mushrooms.  It was nice pieces of duck.  I didn’t find it extraordinary or anything that stood out, but it’s carried a subtle heartiness.

The Chicken Winglettes unfortunately was a little under whelming.  Yes it had a great crunchy without the oil and batter, but overall it just didn’t stand out in anyway.  Each of them only had 1 bone, so it was nice to not have to chewy out 2.  There wasn’t much fat content like your usual wings.  The red salt did have a hint of sweetness to it, but it was just lightly sprinkled on, so it was very hard to taste it.

I didn’t try my hubby’s Asahi, but he had no complaints and ordered a second too.  The pear Sake was very refreshing.  Sake is a strong alcohol and I know not everyone likes it.  With the subtle hints of pear, it adds a fresh lightness to the drink.  Don’t be fooled though, it’s still 15%-20% of alcohol.

Decor/Cleanliness: Excellent
We’ve never had issues with cleanliness at Fin.  Tables are always clean when we are seated.  We’ve never had to change cutlery.  If food is dropped on the floor, it is cleaned up immediately.

Overall: Great/Excellent

We don’t have any complaints.  Food flavours overall were well developed, sashimi is fresh, drinks are good, general service is good.  There really isn’t much else I would say about Fin.  It’s one of our usual spots when we feel like izakaya.  The overall experience of this visit was great.

Fin Izakaya, you’re YOL Approved!

Apple Walnut Tart with Maple Custard

During the holidays, we were invited to a new friend’s house.  I know she used to bake a lot until she had her little bundle of joy, so I wanted to bring something that was extra special.  It then struck me that I came across a beautiful apple tart a month or so back.  The pictures were stunning.  It definitely was a show stopper centre piece of a dessert.

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This beautiful tart recipe is from the Hip Foodie Mom (the recipe belong to Hip Foodie Mom’s blog.  The opinions and review are solely my own)

http://hipfoodiemom.com/2013/10/30/guest-post-apple-walnut-tart-with-maple-custard-from-baking-a-moment-2/

Apple Walnut Tart with Maple Custard

 Print

Your Guests will be Wowed by this Gorgeous Apple Tart of Roses, with a Toasty Walnut Crust and a Silky Sweet Maple Custard Filling. And it’s Gluten Free!

Author: Allie, Baking A Moment

Recipe type: Dessert

Serves: 10

Ingredients

For the Walnut Crust:

  • 2½ cups walnut pieces (don’t waste your money on halves)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Custard:

  • 1½ cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Additionally:

  • 2 apples (Macoun – I used different ones), quartered, cored, and thinly sliced – keep in lemon water until ready to use)
  • juice of a lemon
  • ¼ cup apricot jam, warmed (optional)

Instructions

For the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor or chopper, pulse the walnuts until the are finely chopped, and the pieces are about the size of breadcrumbs.
  3. Place the chopped nuts in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, tossing together with a fork.
  4. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.

For the Custard:

  1. Pour the milk into a small pot and place over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the maple syrup, cornstarch, and salt.
  3. Slowly pour the hot milk over the egg mixture, while whisking, to warm the eggs.
  4. Place the mixture back into the pot and place over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a bubble and becomes very thick.
  5. Stir in the vanilla and transfer to a heat safe container. Lay plastic wrap over the surface. Chill for 2 hours.

Assemble the Tart:

  1. Spread the maple custard in the walnut tart shell.
  2. Warm the apple slices in the microwave until pliable.
  3. Roll a slice of apple into a tight spiral and stand it up vertically in the custard. Continue to arrange apple slices in a concentric pattern, around the first one, building a rose pattern.
  4. Warm the apricot jam, and thin it with lemon juice. Brush this glaze over the apples, for shine and to prevent browning (optional).

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With regards to this recipe, I have tweaked it a little here and there.  I made the crust and the custard the day before; chilled in the fridge separately and not assembled.   When I tried to spread the custard onto the tart, it felt a bit thick to assemble the slices of apples and also, I didn’t quite like the flavour.  What I ended up doing was putting the custard into the mixer, threw in a teaspoon of cinnamon, and gave it a quick whip.  Apart from the custard, hand slicing all my apples (apparently I left my mandolin at mom’s), using red Macintosh Apples, and Hickory Farm’s Cinnamon Apple Jam, I followed to the T.  

2 1/2 cups of walnut pieces in the Vitamix dry container:

After the walnut pieces have been chopped:

After mixing in the butter,sugar, egg white, and salt into the grounded walnut pieces:

Pressed crust mixture before baking:

Crust after baking:


Starting the custard (egg yokes, maple syrup, corn startch, and salt):

After mixing the ingredients together (I got a thick layer of bubbles on top):

Putting the custard on the stoe (as it slowly heated I added the cinnamon for extra flavour – second time I made it):

This is what it looked like thicked:

Adding in vanilla:

(I did have to cream the custard the next day adding a bit of milk as it was too thick, but I didn’t take a picture of that, sorry)

And after everything was assembled:

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Variation of assembly:


Easy to make?

Yes.  The shell was very simple.  I bought chopped walnuts and threw them into my Vita Mix and gave them a few twirls and they were done.  For the custard, it’s a pretty standard custard mixture, with a few small tweaks afterwards.  For the assembly, I know it looks like a lot of work, but it actually wasn’t.  I think the one thing I spent the most time on was slicing the apples, but it could’ve been avoided with a mandolin. Check out Hip Foodie Mom’s blog (link above) to see the professional pictures:)

How’d they turn out?
As you can see in my picture, it turned out around 95% of what Allie (guest blogger for Hip Foodie Mom) looks like.  In terms of taste and texture, my friends had no complaints.  Actually it was gobbled up pretty quickly and everyone was very impressed.  I liked the hint of maple syrup mixed with cinnamon in the custard a lot better than the recipe originally.  It gave the custard a needed kick so it wasn’t just sweet and creamy.

Timing?
Let’s see.  The crust from start to finish, not including chilling time was about 25 mins.  The custard took about 15-20 mins.  Slicing apples, I lost track of time, lol.  I think if you had the items made the night before and then sliced and assembled the day of, it really wouldn’t take that much time.  The prep of slicing (with a mandolin), microwaving, assembling, and glazing would probably be about 1/2 hr.

Overall?
I like it!  It is a beautiful tart and it would be the center of attention.  The looks was as good as the taste.  I mean, sometimes we eat with our eyes too right?  I loved how creamy and smooth the custard was and with the added cinnamon, it really brought out the maple syrup flavour to not just be sweet.  I received lots of compliments and it really wasn’t as hard as it looks. Would I do it again? Yes!

Hip Foodie Mom’s Apple Walnut Tart  with Maple Custard, you’re YOL Approved!

Red Velvet Crinkles

I decided to give these crinkles a try because of a work pot luck.  Most of my colleagues were Red Velvet crazy, so I wanted to introduce something new to them.

Now, what is a Crinkle cookie?  Simply put, it’s a cookie with small wrinkles and creases on the surface.

red-velvet-crinkle-cookies

So unfortunately this was also a recipe tested during the holidays, so I didn’t get a chance to take pictures.  I would say that my crinkles turned out 80-90% like the pictures on the site.

http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Red-Velvet-Crinkle-Cookies-577458

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: About 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp milk or buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 5 tsp red food coloring
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

  • In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs 1 at a time, blending until combined after each addition. Mix in milk, vanilla bean paste, lemon juice and red food coloring. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in white chocolate chips. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or until firm enough to shape into balls.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour powdered sugar into a bowl. Remove dough from refrigerator, scoop dough out and with buttered hands, shape into medium balls (about 2 1/2 Tbsp each). Roll cookie dough balls into powdered sugar and evenly coat. Transfer to Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets and flatten slightly, then bake in preheated oven 13 – 14 minutes. Allow to rest on cookie sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
  • *If you want them a little more chocolatey you can replace 2 – 3 Tbsp of the flour with 2 – 3 additional Tbsp of cocoa powder.
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

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In terms of the recipe, there’s a lot of substitutions allowed.  Here is a list of what I ended up using:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (sifted and minus 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp  Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (fresh lemon)
  • 2 Tbsp red food coloring 
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

In terms of the directions, it is very detailed.  I only did 1 thing different =>made the dough ahead.  After I chilled the dough for about 1/2 hour in the fridge, I formed them into balls (didn’t need to butter my hands as I used a cookie scoop to scoop out the batter).  I put the balls in plastic wrap, inside an air tight box, then into the freezer.  I made this 3 days ahead so that I can do fresh baked cookies the morning I needed them.

Easy to make?
Yes, it was very easy to make these cookies.  I didn’t find any of the directions unclear.  The only thing I would note for the direction is, when rolling the dough balls in the powdered sugar, make sure that it’s coated white and not a thin layer.  I made several batches of these, seeing how easy and pretty they are, but the first batch, I was worried about rolling too much sugar, but when I rolled and dusted off the excess, they did not turn out pretty.

How’d they turn out?
Overall, I’d say the recipe turned out as it should.  I got a thin crispy layer outside, soft, cake like inside.  The white chocolate chips went well with the cookie, but I wonder what would happen if there were cream cheese chips?

Timing?
In terms of time, it wasn’t time consuming at all.  I guess I did do make mine ahead of time.  The dough freezes well and makes it’s very easy.  Take them out of the freezer, roll in powdered sugar, and bake.  If you choose to use this method, just remember to take the frozen dough out of the freezer and let it rest for about 1/2hr in room temperature before rolling them.

If you were to follow the recipe, you would have that 2 hr gap of waiting for the dough to harden as it chills in the fridge, but if you’re making dinner in between, it would be perfect as well.

Overall?
These pretty cookies were super popular over the holidays.  I guess with the red and white colour, it added to the festive feeling.  My hubby, who generally doesn’t like sweets too much, had a few of these cookies.   Everyone else really liked how they were almost like little cakes  and with Red Velvet being a huge trend still, it increased the popularity of these crinkles.  I ended up making 4 batches of these over the month and they were always gobbled up.

Cooking Classy’s (on Yummly) Red Velvet Crinkles, you’re YOL Approved!

Kinton Ramen – 4

As Ramen is a popular trend in the last few years, there’s more and more shops popping up everywhere.  Most of these authentic Japanese ramen shops are closer to the heart of Toronto.  The chain Kinton Ramen has decided to open their 4th location in North York. http://www.kintonramen.com/locations/

I’ve been to 3 of the 4 locations now but I do have to say, there is a slight difference from this new location to the ones downtown.

On this visit we ordered their appetizer special, Kinton Ball, Original Chicken-Shoyu-Thick Noodle Ramen, Original Pork-Shoyu-Thick Noodle Ramen, and green tea to drink.

kintonball
Kinton Ball
kinton1
Original Pork-Shoyu-Thick Noodle Ramen
kinton2
Original Chicken-Shoyu-Thick Noodle Ramen

 

So let’s break down the visit.

Line ups: None
It was awesome.  It’s very rare to go to any ramen place without a line up.  It could be due to the holiday season as we went just after Christmas and maybe it was lunch rather than dinner, but regardless, lucky for us=)

Service: Good/Great
As we entered the shop, there’s the familiar “irasshaimase!” greeting by everyone.  The staff seated us right away and a within a few minutes a server came to ask what we would like to drink and if we’re ready to order.  At the end of the meal, it wasn’t difficult to find someone to ask for the bill and within 2 minutes, we received our bill.  The only thing about the service that wasn’t perfect was, our tea.  At the other locations of Kinton Ramen, whenever we order tea, no matter how busy the staff are, if they notice that our cups are empty, they will ask if we would like more water.  During this visit, as I mentioned, they had no line ups and the restaurant was not full, so it was just a little disappointing to not be offered more water for our teas.  We did look up for staff a few times during the meal, but there were no staff in sight (other than the ramen chefs, busily putting up the orders).

Food: Good
Kinton Ball: Delicious! What is it, you ask?  It’s a pork scotch egg with sweet chill mayo.  The egg of course is a seasoned egg with the gooey egg yoke center.  It is panko crusted then deep fried.  The ball is light and crispy on the outside, not oily at all.  As you break through that you get into a thin layer of shredded pork, next is the seasoned egg white, then you hit the center with yoke slightly oozing out.  It’s one yummy layer after another, but without the sweet chilli mayo to embellish all the flavours, it wouldn’t be the same.  The mayo adds to the flavour of the pork and keeps the whole ball moist as you’re eating it.  Presentation was fabulous and attractive.  Just like the one from the Baldwin location, better actually because the yoke was a little more gooey.

Chicken Ramen: I decided to get the chicken ramen because the last time we visited the Queen St. location, my hubby got it and it was a nice light broth but full of flavour (minus the fat=P).  The amount of chicken was the same from the other location to this one – 2 slices of  tender chicken breast.  The noodles were chewy and al dente as expected.  The broth was a little disappointing.  It was not the same light flavourful broth I had at the Queen St. location.  The broth was very heavy and thicker, much thicker.  I don’t know what they added to it, but the broth separated and when you stirred it, the flavour was strong and aromatic, but it was no longer a light chicken broth.  I was quite disappointed.  The presentation was ok, a little lacking when it was first served.  As you can see in the picture, the chicken was sunken and you can’t see much of the noodle, it just looked stale and sad unfortunately.

kintonchicken kinton2

Pork Ramen: My hubby got the basic pork ramen because we wanted to go with the basic to see how it holds up.  The pork shoulder-2 pieces, great!  It had grill marks, with the coal aroma, well seasoned, and it was soft and not chewy. The noodles, same as mine, perfectly cooked.  Consistency is so important.  The broth, did not measure up to the other location. We ordered the regular fat level as we do most of the times.  Why do I say the broth didn’t measure up?  It didn’t tasted as though the flavours were not fully developed through the simmering process. (Here’s a link that will explain in depth the broth process so you can try it yourself: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/02/how-to-make-tonkotsu-ramen-broth-at-home-recipe.html)  The broth had some elements of the flavours, but not that full smooth, milky, slightly thickened texture and flavour.   Broth and noodles are the essence of ramen; the toppings are just the extras.

kintonpork kinton1

Decor/Cleanliness: Excellent
The decor is consistent with all the other location.  Unique wooden squares laid out on the walls. The trademark golden piggies everywhere.  It’s modern-chic, in line with the brand.  It’s was definitely clean.  No sticky tables or chairs.  All the utensils were pristine.

utensils

Overall: Great
All in all, I would say it’s a good visit.  This is the closest, distance wise, authentic ramen we have near us.  Everything was great except a few details.  Main issues are just the soup bases, which are very important.  Since they have just opened a couple of months ago, maybe it’ll take a little time for them to catch up.  I, for one am keeping my fingers crossed.

Will definitely will be back to see if you will make it on the the list!

Alton Brown’s Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I do apologize, but due to the holiday frenzy, I didn’t get a chance to take pictures.  This recipe was actually performed by my hubby.  He wanted to bring something to one of the holiday dinners and I suggested him to give this recipe a try:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/creamy-garlic-mashed-potatoes-recipe.html

Total Time: 50 min
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 30 min

Ingredients
3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
16 fluid ounces (2 cups) half-and-half
6 cloves garlic, crushed
6 ounces grated Parmesan

Directions
Peel and dice potatoes, making sure all are relatively the same size. Place in a large saucepan, add the salt, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.

Heat the half-and-half and the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.  Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off the water. Mash and add the garlic-cream mixture and Parmesan; stir to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve.

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2004

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When my hubby when to get the ingredients, he claims that T&T Supermarket didn’t have the Russet Potatoes, so we just used the regular large brown potatoes that you can find at any grocery stores.  We also omitted the Parmesan as he doesn’t like cheese.

Easy to make?
If my hubby can make this and not find it hard, this is definitely an easy to make recipe.  Even though he didn’t follow the recipe to the ‘T’, everything still turned out creamy and delicious!  After he combined the garlic mixture to the mashed potatoes, his words were “that’s where the creamy comes from”.  When he was a bachelor, his idea of mashed potatoes was, potatoes mashed with some butter.

How’d they turn out?
They were super yummy.  Creamy, but not super mushy like boxed mash potatoes.  We love garlic, so for us this was heavenly and perfect.  Although we omitted the parmesan, the texture was still right.

Timing?
The prep and cook times are pretty accurate, I believe it only took us about 45 mins total.

Overall?
This recipe was super easy to make, great flavours if you like garlic, creamy as the name says, and if my hubby can make it right, I’d say it’s fool proof.

Alton Brown’s Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes, you’re YOL Approved!