Confections, Snacks

The Best Healthy-ish Candy Bar Ever

This bar is a mish-mash of a couple recipes from one of my many idols/internet crushes: My New Roots. It’s healthy in the way that most things are healthy. In the end its healthy-ness is dependent on how much you eat and also what your specific nutrition requirements are. This is not something I’ll pretend to know anything about. I know some people avoid fat, while some avoid sugars, and others avoid carbs in general. This bar has these things. But it’s made with nice, whole, unprocessed foods. No refined sugars. Also plant-based and gluten free if that’s your deal. All in all, it’s a really great alternative to those sugar-loaded, ultra-processed candy bars that are so delicious and yet so horrible. Continue reading “The Best Healthy-ish Candy Bar Ever”


Canis: the restaurant I don’t really want to tell you about

Duck for two at Canis.

I don’t really want to tell you about my meal at Canis. Royce convinced me to do it, but that doesn’t mean that I want to.
But please, allow me to explain. It’s not that I’m hoarding, trying to keep a good restaurant all to myself. The logic isn’t lost on me that the better a restaurant does the longer it will be around. And furthermore, I’m a planner. If something is worth it, I have no qualms making the effort required to reserve a dinner advance.

My resistance to share is driven by a fear that is deeply rooted in a marriage between superstition and paranoia. It’s something that’s developed, nay festered, over the years.
Too often, Royce and I will have a great meal at a restaurant, rave about it to friends and family, only to visit again and be disappointed. Am I being a little dramatic here? Maybe!
To the point, there are many plausible explanations for this disappointment-syndrome. Things change, people change, restaurants change. And, unfortunately not everyone is capable (or willing) to put forth the kind of consistency that one might find desirable in a dining establishment. Common sense and logical explanations aside, I am nearly certain these disappointments are most likely explained by the fact that we jinxed it.
In life, there are just certain things that should not be said aloud: beetlejuice (beetlejuice, beetlejuice), bloody mary, … and over time I’ve come to feel that, for the most part, restaurant praise is right up there.
And yet here I am, tempting fate (thanks a lot, Royce), telling you about our meal at Canis. Fingers crossed, this one will be an exception to the rule. I’m sure we’ll be back, so I will have to let you know.

The basics: Canis is a new(ish) restaurant on Queen West, near Trinity Bellwoods. They offer a 4-course meal with a $60 price tag. This, ladies and gents, is a steal-of-a-deal for what you’re getting. Compared to the cost of a meal at many upscale/trendy/whatever restaurants in Toronto nowadays, the price was so reasonable.

  • They also have appetizers, which is a nice option if you’re extra hungry, or just like to have the possibility of being extra piggy (yes please)
  • We were a table of 4, and our combined choices (there is a choice for each course) ended up touching on most of the menu options. Unanimously, everything was great. No one was disappointed with their choices.
  • My favourites:
    • Duck for two. Yes, you need to convince another member of your party to order this with you. But convince them you must! This dish was outstanding. To be honest, I usually steer away from duck as a main protein. I’m not the biggest fan, but we had heard good things about it, and oh my god I’m so glad we listened! So good!
    • Quince & koji dessert. Usually I opt out of any restaurant dessert. I am really spoiled in this department, and more often than not I am unimpressed, bordering on offended, and wishing we’d just gotten a soft serve cone somewhere. But lo-and-behold, this dessert was good! Not overly complicated, nice balance of flavours and textures, no soft-serve, no regrets!

Really, this was the best meal I’ve had in the city in a very long time. I thought about it on multiple occasions the following day, just pausing to reminisce about the food. This is coming from a girl who habitually orders the least popular item on a menu, so kind of a big deal. In light of this, today I look danger in the face, throw caution to the wind, and so on. Today (tonight, rather), I share this post with you.

Some snacks to start. Not pictured: oysters, falafel.
Ricotta-stuffed pasta, kelp oil, mushroom broth.

Duck for two. (pre-plating pictured in lead image)

Quince, toasted koji & almond dessert.
food, Lunch

Noma: A Retrospective

 Reindeer moss and chocolate-covered, fermented cep mushroom at Noma.

Since making the trip to Noma last July, one of the questions we have been asked the most has been: Was it worth it?
The short answer: yes, it was amazing!
Here, I wanted to share a few of my notes on the long answer…

You can read about it, hear about it, watch the movies (and we’ve done all 3) — but none of these can really substitute for the experience itself. Our excitement and anticipation was already off the charts as we made our way to the restaurant. When the building came into view, we were met by the sight of René Redzipi, crouched in the foliage around the building, plucking what could only be ingredients for some upcoming dish or experiment. From then on the experience was surreal.
Beyond the insane amount of work that goes into each dish (this is evident through photos alone), the tastes and textures were something of a revelation. As Royce likes to put it: there is really no point of reference for the food. When have you ever had a dish of chocolate-covered reindeer moss to compare to? We were in completely uncharted territory and I loved it.

Would we go again? No, definitely not! But (big, bold but here) I need to follow this up with an explanation. I think a lot of what made Noma “worth it” for us was the thrill of this first exposure to Noma’s approach to food. It was truly mind-blowing. That being said, with limited funds and vacation time (commoners that we are), there are just too many other things I want to experience in life to consider going back. On the other hand, in a world without such limitations, and while I’m dreaming maybe a world where someone else makes the reservations (more on that here) — yes please! Sign me up! I’d love to go back! Hell, I’d love to go back to Copenhagen, period. What a great city! It would be incredible to have the chance to experience Noma during a different season, in a different country, or reborn in its new diggs after it closes this year.
…in the meantime, I suppose we’ll have to content ourselves by reliving the experience  through our photos — some of which I’ve included below.

Rhubarb rose.
Aaaaants (on a grilled baby cucumber).
Bread and goats milk butter. I could have eaten only this for lunch and still been happy.
Charred greens with scallop paste.
Turbot ribs.
Sheep’s milk and ant paste.
Photo credit: All photos were taken by Gigi Li (thank you!)

An edible birthday present for a friend

Recently, for a friend’s birthday, we opted to celebrate by staying in. I volunteered to provide dinner.
Camomile roasted heirloom carrots, whipped goat cheese ring, seed brittle and herb garnishes

Roasted brussel sprouts, pan-seared bacon, chicharron, buffalo and blue cheese sauce
Pasta with mushrooms, shaved parmesan and truffle oil. 

Pan-seared striploin, squash puree, jus
Chocolate cremeux, caramel whipped ganache, lime pate de fruit and chocolate garnishes

Tobacco Scented Whiskey Caramel Truffles

Friends of ours have just recently opened a restaurant called Big Tobacco Kitchen & Whiskey Bar in Hamilton, Ontario. The “Big Tobacco Kitchen” gets its name because the menu draws from the childhood experiences of the owner, who grew up on a tobacco farm in Norfolk county. Megan and I thought it would be cool to make them a Christmas gift that was inspired by the story of their new restaurant.

Whiskey Caramel Truffles (makes roughly 22 truffles)

33g light corn syrup
44g sugar (1)
80g 35%
22g butter

55g sugar (2)

20g whiskey

1. In a sauce pan, heat corn syrup, sugar (1), 35% heavy cream and butter and bring it to a boil
2. In a separate pan, caramelize the sugar (2) until desired colour is reached
3. Slowly pour in cream mixture
4. Cook until 107°C
5. Stir in whiskey, and let it cool to room temperature
6. Once cool, pipe caramel in truffle shells
7. Using tempered chocolate, cap the truffles by adding a little bit of chocolate to seal the opening
8. Roll truffles in tempered chocolate, then cocoa powder

From a Francisco Migoya class last October, I learned about aromatizing truffles with the scent of tobacco to give a light hint of the fragrance without directly adding any tobacco to the truffles. In this instance, the truffles are left in a bed of tobacco and over the course of several weeks, the truffles with gain a light tobacco aroma.


Black Sesame Shortbread

These black sesame shortbread cookies make for an addictive, not-too-sweet afternoon treat. We finished ours by dipping in matcha white chocolate, and topping with a sprinkle of candied black sesame.

Sesame Shortbread (Yields 20 x 11g rounds)
50g candied black sesame (1:1 ratio of sugar to sesame seeds) (extra for topping, if desired)
75g butter (at room temp)
100g all purpose flour

Candied, lightly caramelized black sesame seeds.

 The all-purpose flour is sifted into a bowl.

 The candied sesame seeds are ground into a powder and added to the flour.

 The flour and candied sesame are whisked together.

Butter is rubbed into the flour mixture until it forms a dough.
 You can roll it out to 1cm thickness and cut rectangles, or scale small balls of 11g.

Bake cookies at 350F for 15 minutes.

 If you’re going to dip cookies in matcha (or any other flavour) of chocolate, make sure the cookies are completely cool first! Top immediately with candied sesame (or other garnish).
What do you do with left over matcha white chocolate and candied sesame? You pour the matcha chocolate onto a tray and sprinkle it with candied sesame and enjoy it as a snack.
cooking with JASS

Halloween Bake Sale

Last week, my students have been super busy creating treats for the school and a group of elementary students that are staying with us for a short period of time. Here is some of their work:

 Spiderweb sugar cookies 
More decorated sugar cookies
Eye ball cookies 
Chocolate dipped oreos
 Pecan butter tarts before going into the oven
Apple tarts with oatmeal crumble 
Brownies with chocolate frosting and halloween sprinkles
Chocolate cake pops
Pumpkin cheesecakes