In This Issue...
Back to the daily grind this week, but I’m happy I can go back to cooking and trying recipes after a short break. And add some home baking with my new mixer!
★ My weekly Food Diaries are a way of tracking what I cook, buy, and eat every day. They provide insight into my eating preferences, allow me to analyze patterns in my spending, and help improve my cooking. And I always share my recipes! ★
We ate at the new restaurant beside Izna for dinner. Sushi is just one of the things that you can order at Matsu Sushi, which carries a full Japanese and Korean menu, with bibimbap and pajeon sharing space with udon and sashimi. Maybe not the most authentic sushi, with rolls like “Waterloo” and “Vancouver,” and a bulgogi-stuffed roll which Kevin ordered.
He wasn’t too impressed with his roll, but I enjoyed mine, which featured an edible soy wrapper with tempura shrimp and avocado fillings. The presentation could use more work, with the rolls a little messy and rice spilling out of one of them, which took away from my impression of the quality. Despite that, it was tasty and well-priced—not as upscale as Ken’s, maybe closer to Watami, but just as tasty as either one—and the decor is cute, with furniture that looks new and clean. I hope this place actually manages to stay open for more than a year. (In the time I’ve been living here, I’ve witnessed the closing of two restaurants at this location in as many years.) I’m very happy to have another sushi option to choose from in the plaza, because I’m getting a little tired of Ken’s.
Since we only ordered one roll each, we weren’t that full after finishing up and stopped by Onezo for some boba.
Onezo Bubble Tea
I think this was only the third time I’ve ever ordered something from Onezo, even though it’s been open for almost a year. We rarely come here despite being more than willing to walk the extra distance to Kung Fu Tea, because I can’t stress how much my boyfriend hates the stuff from Onezo. However, he knows that I enjoy the pearls at this place, so I really appreciated that he was willing to give them another try.
Kevin’s hate for Onezo isn’t unfounded; I agree their drinks are weak and lacking flavour compared to the more popular shops around here, like Coco or Sharetea, but there’s no question THEY MAKE THE BEST PEARLS (you can fight me on this). Whereas other places only offer the standard tapioca and sago pearls, in addition to a few jellies, Onezo carries an amazing selection of different tapioca pearls. So far, I’ve tried their cactus and crystal pearls, and I’ve enjoyed both.
This time, however, I didn’t get any pearls with my drink, which was rice milk tea with fresh taro. Kevin ordered the brown sugar dirty milk tea (I swear every bbt place is hopping on this dirty milk latte thing after The Alley started the trend). He didn’t like the drink itself, or the brown sugar tapioca—Onezo pearls have always been too soft and squidgy for his taste, although I personally prefer their chewy texture.
I enjoyed my drink, but seriously, it’s taro and rice milk, two things that I love. Not even Onezo would be able to mess that up for me.
I didn’t eat much on Tuesday, since I had to detox from the weekend of eating, so we’re skipping straight to Wednesday folks. I discovered two forgotten bananas in the fridge this morning, and luckily they hadn’t fully turned brown, but were on the way to getting there. Refrigerated bananas aren’t so good for eating on their own anymore, so I tried to cook them two ways.
The first thing I tried was making banana fries. This recipe is stupid simple: peel your bananas, cut them into roughly fry-like shapes and drop into some hot oil. Surprisingly, they were pretty yummy, although as you can see, this is not a photogenic dish. However, next time I would use unripe bananas for this because they will hold their structure better. These bbs were almost too soft and fragile to scoop out of the oil, and a little too mushy on the inside for my taste.
Another unphotogenic meal. This 2-ingredient pancake recipe (spoiler: the ingredients are eggs and bananas) ended up being harder to make than it looks. My bananas were hard to mash with just a fork, and after a lot of struggling, I gave up and just mixed them into the eggs, lumps and all. The texture was inconsistent because of this, with parts that were spongy and eggy and parts that were mushy. It reminded me of French toast. 6/10.
If I make this again, I’ll do a bigger batch and blend it up in the food processor to make sure the batter is as smooth as possible. Also, maybe I’ll use flax eggs instead to avoid that eggy flavour.
For lunch, I had an entire wheel of camembert.
… I guess going to Montreal revived my love for cheese, which sucks because I’m expressly trying to reduce my dairy consumption! But I saw this beb in the grocery store and it looked so cute I couldn’t resist picking one up to try it. Funnily enough, I had to do some research on camembert for my last microbio lab report. Did you know that the fungus used to age camembert cheese is called Penicillium camemberti? There is another fungus with the name P. roqueforti. In both cases, the cheese got its name first!
This is my first time trying camembert (that I’m aware of. I’ve probably had it before on a cheese plate or something and never realized it). I have to say I prefer brie, it’s more creamy and rich, and has a more melt-in-your-mouth feel. However, camembert is still enjoyable. On my top ten list for sure!
Vegan Tomato Basil Pasta
Dinner was penne pasta with homemade vegan tomato sauce, over steamed broccoli. First time steaming broccoli in the Instant Pot. They came out slightly undercooked, so next time I’ll let the pressure release naturally for a bit and see if that works out.
The pasta sauce (I used a cashew-based recipe from Amy Le Creations) was disappointing. I think Isa Chandra’s amazing roasted red pepper sauce has spoiled me for pasta sauces. Every sauce I’ve tried since then hasn’t come close. There was just no real… flavour to this one. I might as well have been eating canned tomato sauce straight out of the tin.
Artichokes in Oil
As a snack since I was hungry at night, I had a small jar of artichokes in olive oil. This felt really sad to eat, cause, idk, it feels wrong to eat artichokes straight out of the jar without any dressing up, but I used to do this all the time at home when we had the big jar of marinated artichokes from Costco. It weirdly made me feel kind of homesick. I haven’t had artichokes in a long time and they have been missed. :’)
Now I have this cute glass container that I need to find a purpose for. Maybe a spice jar?
Sushi Boat at Ken’s
IT’S KEVIN’S BIRTHDAY TODAY! My baby finally turned two decades old and I went out with him and a friend to celebrate at Ken’s Sushi. This is my first time ordering a sushi boat from there and wow, I was pretty impressed!
Something about seeing all that sushi and sashimi piled up on one tray, waiting to be eaten, is super satisfying. Stuff like this is the reason I can’t lose weight.
Kevin has been obsessed with rum and coke lately, so I tried making him a birthday rum cake using a recipe from Pass the Sushi. Doesn’t that batter look creamy and wonderful? Omg, it smelled delicious too. The friend of one of my roommates even commented on how good it smelled as it was baking.
Don’t get too excited, because it was a spectacular failure. Although the outside of the cake was baked into a perfect golden crust, the middle was completely undercooked. It collapsed when I was transferring it out of the pan. When the inside fell out as I was flipping the cake onto a plate, my heart had never dropped harder.
After we both ate most of the outer crust, I put the rest back into the oven to see if an extra 20 minutes would help. Nope. Once again, it cooked the parts that were on the outside. Everything on the inside was still as wet and underbaked as ever. I’m scratching my head at this one. I didn’t skimp on any ingredients for this recipe, and the only change I made was subbing in hazelnut extract for almond extract because I didn’t have the latter on hand.
Kevin was the sweetest and kept insisting that it tasted good despite the ugly presentation (and the crusty outer parts were pretty good—you know, the parts that were actually cooked through), and I so appreciate it. If he hadn’t been so supportive, I would’ve felt terrible for not being able to make him a delicious cake for his birthday. On the bright side, I am definitely going to make it up to him with a homemade cheesecake soon.
Another milestone that happened today was my simultaneous finishing of a bag of sugar, flour and jar of butter! Yep, I was pretty surprised at how perfectly everything worked out. This is my first time using up an entire bag of all purpose flour, and it’s a strange feeling of… accomplishment? Yeah, I’m proud of this, LOL. But now I have to lug back a 10 kg bag of flour from the store on my next trip. Ugh. It’s times like these when I wish I had a car.
A simple salami pizza today for Kevin’s dinner. I defrosted a ball of the dough I made a couple weeks ago. Then I rolled it out and baked the crust by itself for about ten minutes (until the edges were just beginning to deepen in colour), before spreading on a layer of tomato sauce and bbq sauce and topping it with mozzarella and sliced salami. It was super soft and droopy when I was laying out on the pan, resulting in this demented rectangle shape. The pie smelled so amazing pulling it out of the oven, I couldn’t help trying a slice. Guys, this is my favourite homemade pizza so far. Something about the spicy sausage with a sweet undertone of bbq sauce… mmm.
The bf didn’t seem as impressed as I was, commenting that the dough could be less thick and I should add a few varieties of meat toppings next time instead of just the salami. He also pointed out that the salami slices were too large to chew conveniently, so next time I think I’ll slice them into halves. Despite all that, he said this is one of his favourite pizzas so far. He got annoyed with me for stealing a few slices from him, lol!
Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns
I tried my hand at making hot dog and hamburger buns today! I actually attempted two different recipes. The first one, from King Arthur Flour, didn’t really work out, which was so sad because their recipes usually go well for me. For some reason, the dough just would not form a smooth ball in the mixer. I was afraid of over-kneading it, so I stopped the mixer while it was still quite shaggy.
After rising, it was still very loose, sticky, and too unmanageable to work into bun shapes, so I said fuck it and divided them into pizza dough balls. I tossed them in the freezer (at least now I have pizza dough for the next month), and moved onto another recipe, this one by Chef John. It too didn’t work out super well. I’m still getting used to kneading dough in my mixer, and it hasn’t been going as smoothly or magically as I’d expected it would. In the end, the only way I could shape the buns was to use a ton of oil when handling them.
I am a little disappointed (and confused) with my mixer. I thought that kneading would become as simple as throwing all the ingredients into the bowl and leaving the machine to run for ten minutes, but this was a reality check to make me realize good things don’t happen that easily. For instance, did you know that you’re supposed to mix all the wet ingredients first, then add the flour slowly while mixing?
Veggie Hot Dogs on Homemade Buns
Even though the hot dog buns didn’t turn out as well as I’d like, today was good practice for breaking in my mixer and learning a few things about how machine-kneaded dough is different from hand-kneaded dough. I’m not going to stop until I’ve mastered perfectly soft and airy buns, leaving grocery store buns in the dust. And even the ones from today weren’t bad—I made these hot dogs with Yves veggie wieners that were totally edible! Even Kevin thought they tasted ok, so [hulk meme] I see this as an absolute win.
(I’m probably not going to buy those veggie dogs again, though. Not that they don’t taste good—I inhaled five in a single day—but something about these simulated meat products always leave something to be desired, like there’s a part of me that’s unsatisfied. I’ll stick to my tofu and beans if I need to get protein in me.)
I feel like I’ve said something like this a lot: “How can you mess up something that’s just fries, gravy, and cheese?” Well, today those words came back to haunt me after tasting what was probably the strangest poutine of my life. We ordered lunch from Chickooos today. (I know, I know, I feel bad every time we get delivery but sometimes it’s just so easy. I promise I’m trying to stop.) Kevin ordered a chicken poutine while I ordered the regular. They were both super promising at first. The gravy was on point (dare I say I prefer it over Claudette’s?), the cheese curds were (omg) squeaky, and the fries were awesome—until they weren’t.
A few bites into my meal, I bit into a fry that was just… off. The texture was hard to describe: mushy yet crunchy, like it had been dunked in cold oil and left to soak up oil like a freaking sponge. I dismissed it as a weird one-off until it happened again. And again. By the third one, I couldn’t deal with them anymore and left a small growing pile of inedible gross oil-saturated fries on the side of my dish. That seriously ruined my eating experience because I was always wary of biting into yet another one.
Kevin reported the same thing had happened with his poutine. We’ve had poutine from Chickooos before and it’s never been like this. Hopefully today was just a bad day for the Chickooos folks, or their fries supplier somehow messed up. However, it does turn me off from eating there again in the future.
Hot Dog & Sandwiches Meal Prep
In other news, I prepped and froze a few quick grab-and-go lunches for those days when there’s no will to cook. I used up my last Yves sausage for the hot dog and stuffed the sandwich rolls with salami, laughing cow cheese, and mozzarella. I’m not gonna lie, I did this partly to prevent myself from eating any more of the salami. I’m scared I’m becoming addicted. Yep, somehow I was able to resist smoked meat from Montreal but I can’t resist grocery store salami. SO I’m keeping the rest of them in the freezer to inhibit my fall to temptation.
Right after I eat one sandwich, though. 😉
Zucchini Walnut Bread
Today is a huuuuge baking day!
Got up early, before Kevin was awake, to bake a nice hearty zucchini bread. I’ve wanted to make zucchini bread for so long. Even though zucchinis aren’t quite in season here yet, they were on sale at the store. I bought a few to finally fulfill my zucchini baking dreams. I used the recipe from King Arthur Flour and made a few changes:
- Since I’m out of all purpose flour, I used whole wheat flour but sifted out most of the bran.
- I used apple juice (from a juice box I got at a lunch event during my co-op and somehow still have…) instead of boiled cider.
- I used 100 g of brown sugar (about 1/2 cup instead of the 1/3 cup called for).
- The raisins were omitted entirely.
- I wasn’t careful about measuring the volume of the zucchini, but it was 250 g. It looked like slightly more than the 2 cups called for.
The result? Fucking ah-ma-zing. I was afraid my little loaf pan (which is a bit smaller than the typical 8.5×4.5 or 9×5 inch pans) wasn’t enough capacity for the entire recipe, but turns out it was perfect. Previous quick bread recipes which I’ve scaled down to fit my loaf pan turned into a flat rectangle shape, which I don’t like. But as you can see in the crumb shot, this bread rose into a nice square. I know it’s just visuals, but a square slice is so much more satisfying to me!
Because I’ve been waiting to make a zucchini bread since forever, I hyped them up a lot in my head, and THEY LIVED UP TO THE HYPE! It’s been a while since I’ve made a non-yeast bread that was this good. It was such sweet sorrow waiting for the loaf to cool with its delicious smells wafting all around me. After it did cool, I ate slice after slice after slice.
This bread made 10 slices at 260 cal each, which is concerning because I’ve already eaten five. In fact, I’m starting to crave another slice as I’m writing this. Unfortunately, Kevin didn’t like it, which shouldn’t be surprising because why would he like something that has shudder vegetables in it? But I don’t see how a normal person can take a bite of this and not fall in love. I plan to make this a lot more once zucchinis get super cheap in the late summer and fall. Planning to experiment with omitting the walnuts and subbing eggs with aquafaba to lower the calories a bit. Maybe add some bananas for the oil? Kevin mentioned that he would like this more if it were a banana bread, so maybe that’s an idea worth trying!
While the bread was baking, I decided to use up the rest of the zucchini before I forgot about it in the crisper drawer. (Did you know? It’s apparently the biggest source of rotten produce in our fridges.)
As it happened, I perfectly finished the remaining zucchini with this recipe. I adapted a KAF recipe for zucchini-cheese pancakes for my waffle maker. Just kidding, no adaptation was needed and I followed the recipe as is. It’s another great recipe, not as mind-blowing as the bread, but I couldn’t keep myself from eating several of these savoury waffles as they came off the iron. I actually prefer these to the spinach cheddar waffles I made a few months ago. These are less greasy and messy. They’re great for meal prep too; I froze the rest of the batch that I didn’t eat right away. BOOM, another grab-and-go breakfast, solved.
As I was cracking eggs for the zucchini recipe, I discovered this lil freak of nature at the back of the fridge. The temperature at the back of our fridge is unpredictable, and it froze one of my eggs in the carton! I thought this was really cool. After it defrosted and melted into the waffle batter, it didn’t seem to impact the taste or texture of the finished products one bit. Should I start keeping some eggs in the freezer just in case? Nah. There’s not enough space in our freezer as it is. Still, knowing that eggs can be frozen whole is probably wisdom that will come in handy one day. You’re welcome, future self!
Triple Meat Pizza
Dinner was pizza again, this time with more varieties of meat as Kevin requested. We’ve got bacon, spam, and salami on this bad boy. I made sure to slice all the meat into small pieces so they wouldn’t be difficult to slice.
Confession: this was not meant to be pizza dough. This dough was from my failed hot dog buns on Friday. Here’s a picture of that dough after the first rise. Scary how much dough can rise in an hour, right? Anyway, even after spending a few days in the freezer, the dough was still sticky af after defrosting. I had to stretch and pull it into a circle with my fingers, instead of using a rolling pin like usual.
I was afraid that Kevin wouldn’t think much of this crust because not only was it whole wheat (his mortal enemy), the fact that it was super sticky might impact the flavour and texture, or so I thought. Yet against all logical predictions he said that he really liked it. He went so far as to say this was one of his favourite pizza crusts so far. (???)
I am so confused.