When Kulshaan first came to Canada, the first place he stopped to eat out off the plane was Big Pita. According to him, it’s still the best shawarma place in all of the GTA.
Today, since the weather was ok, we decided to make the 15 minute trek to eat there for lunch. The place was busy, but not packed, at lunchtime, and there was plenty of space to sit down. At the counter, I could tell my coworker came here pretty often, because the guys working there knew him.
I’m always down for shoving some creamy garlic sauce and greasy deep-fried falafel down my esophagus, and Big Pita didn’t disappoint. But is it the best falafel I’ve ever eaten? Probably not. They were a little bit dry, and the garlic sauce wasn’t as flavourful as I’d prefer.
Of course, I didn’t try the chicken shawarma, which is what Kulshaan always gets, so I can’t confirm or deny his claim that the shawarma here is superior. Less than $7 for a big takeout box of falafel and yummy pickled veggies, though, is a pretty sweet deal you can’t find at too many places in Downtown Toronto.
I impulsively bought a huge cassava from No Frills last week, and have been too lazy to make a dessert with it like I’d been planning too. So I made oven-baked chips instead! No recipe, just winged it: peel cassava and cut into slices, arrange on parchment paper, bake at 425 °F until the edges are brown.
For my half-assed efforts, the result wasn’t very tasty. I didn’t make the slices thin enough for them to resemble chips, and the cassava was dry and flavour-less. I sprinkled some with kosher salt, but that didn’t improve the taste by much. One silver lining, they are very filling.
The photos may not look too good, but today’s dinner of mushroom and onion stuffed potato cakes was sooo yummy. This recipe comes from ElaVegan, whose recipes have always been foolproof and delicious! Be sure to use plenty of oil on the skillet; the golden outer layer of the cakes provides a crunchy contrast to the soft mashed potatoes and filling. This recipe made a lot of potato cakes, and each one is very filling—I’d say 3–4 cakes per meal is more than enough—so I would pre-form the patties and fry for each meal as needed so you can enjoy them hot and crispy every time.
Inside-Out Burrito from FreshWest Grill
Another spot that Kulshaan has been recommending me to try for lunch is Freshwest, which is right under our building in the Scotiabank Plaza food court.
Today I tried their veggie “inside-out” burrito. The bowl was ok, but I got a stomachache not long after finishing. This happens to me fairly often after eating burrito bowls, so I don’t know that it’s the fault of this location in particular. The food certainly seemed fresh, so I think it’s just me. But I’m certainly not going to take another chance on them when there are so many other burrito places to choose from around here!
Calamari and Beer & Cheddar Soup from Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill
Penny and I both finished work late tonight, and we decided to go for a late night dinner at Jack Astor’s before heading home.
We ordered the Beer & Cheese Soup and Calamari dishes to share. Both were quite good! The soup was served with a shot of beer, which went to Penny 😄 The cheese wasn’t overpowering, but added a lot of savoury umami to the bowl overall.
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of calamari; I usually find it too greasy, and this one was no exception. But drizzling it with the lemon slice and dipping it in the tomato sauce mitigated that issue.
Sourdough Discard Chocolate Cake
Look at that creamy batter!
That’s right, I’m baking a cake from yesterday’s discard from my sourdough starter. I didn’t even know this was a thing, but apparently you can make sooo many things with discarded starter. The recipe for the base of this chocolate cake is from King Arthur Flour, but I’m not going to use their icing. There’s still a ton of cream “cheeze” icing leftover from when I baked my carrot cake, so I’m going to drizzle some onto this cake as well. It tastes so good with the carrot cake and on its own, frankly, I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work for this cake too.
Well, it’s early Saturday morning now as I’m writing this. Nothing like some midnight baking to relieve the stress of your job 🙂
The cake tastes great on its own—it’s moist, rich, but not overly dense—and the cashew cheeze icing makes it even better. Overall, a great success! I’ll probably be bringing some of this to my coworkers tomorrow (yep, it’s that time of year when we gotta start working on Saturdays…) since if I leave it at home, I’ll probably end up eating it all way too fast! And I have to start watching what I eat again since this week already has waaay too much unhealthy food in it.
Vegetarian Lentil Sausages
I saw a very old recipe for “vegetarian sausages” on Reddit recently and was super intrigued by the concept, since I love lentils and have a soft spot for historic recipes.
Instead of boiling them, I tried to save time by cooking the lentils in the Instant Pot. Big mistake. Pressure cooking the lentils for 10 minutes turned them into total mush, but I refused to give up, which was my second mistake. I then added the other ingredients and put them into my blender. The result was a mushy puree that would never in a million years be able to be formed into sausage shapes.
So what did I do? I dolloped spoonfuls of lentil batter onto sheets of plastic wrap, twisted the ends, and spun them into vague sausage shapes. Then I put them into the fridge, hoping that would firm them up. It did… a little. They were still too delicate to be properly fried, but I did my best—as you can see by the horrific images. Even after frying, the inside was still as mushy as ever. The taste was ok, but the texture was way too off-putting and nothing like a sausage in any way.
The next time I see a vegetarian sausage recipe that doesn’t involve vital wheat gluten, I’m going to be very wary!
I’m also preparing a vegan-ish cheesecake with pistachio crust, recipe courtesy of Sainsbury’s. It’s going to go in the freezer overnight, and hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow to a delicious little breakfast! I say vegan-ish because I’ll be using honey for binding the crust, since I’m out of dates.
The pistachios didn’t get blended as fine as I’d have liked for a crust; I should’ve blended them first on their own before adding the honey.
UPDATE: See finished cheezecake here in my next post.