Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Snacking: Pot Ang and Chinese-Style Chicken Wings


A few weeks ago, Grandpa bought some corn and dropped some off at our house. He likes to stock up on groceries that are really cheap and then distribute the goods among our extended family. Grandpa originally told me over the phone that he picked them from his garden, but when I passed on the message to Mom, she gave me a look. When I saw that look, I knew that Grandpa was trolling. We were going to a family potluck picnic at the beach, so grilling corn would be a perfect snack in the heat.

Two dishes come to my mind when I think of corn: pot ang (grilled corn) and a corn dessert with small tapioca pearls. While I already wrote about pot ang, I thought I’d give a revised recipe.

6 tbsp coconut milk
3 tbsp fish sauce
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 tbsp sugar

Mix all four ingredients together in a bowl. Taste it. You should get hit with the coconut flavour first, quickly followed by the fish sauce and then at the end, there should be a little sweetness. That's with these proportions anyway. Once you're happy with the taste, you're ready glaze your grilled corn. We had 10 ears of corn and we had just enough. You can also water the glaze down a bit if you have more corn.




And with all recipes, you can tweak the measurements to cater to your family’s tastes. You can still taste and smell the fish sauce in this glaze, so if you have family members or friends that are sensitive to seafood, you can cut the amount of fish sauce down to 1½ tablespoons instead. Substituting fish sauce with salt won’t work, but perhaps you can try miso or something else with umami. I'm not saying it'll work. But it might.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tennessy Willems - Remarkable Pizzas in Ottawa


It’s been so long since Lucy and I have had some sister time. Last weekend, I made some reservations at Tennessy Willems one hot evening. Having previously eaten here with some friends, I recommended that we go have the pizzas at the restaurant in Hintonburg. I didn't know that Hintonburg began on the east side of Island Park Drive. I just assumed Hintonburg was part of Westboro. Woops.

We sat right by the large window and enjoyed the cool breezes. Lucy wanted to get everything off their specials menu but decided to get the carpricciosa pizza in the end. I wanted to try the wild boar. I tried the duck confit pizza last time. It was really good, but I wanted to try their other pizzas.

Iced tea for two.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Breakfast at the House of Gourmet

On the morning after Andrew’s open house at Wilfred Laurier University, Dad, Andrew, and I found our way to Toronto's Chinatown. It was weird seeing the streets in Chinatown so quiet. I think I’ve gone to Chinatown before ten in the morning, maybe twice?

There weren’t many stores open when we walked out of the parking garage. It was quarter past nine after all.



Banh Mi Nguyen Huong was buzzing with activity though. People were loading and unloading stock. We picked up twenty regular sized banh mi (Vietnamese subs) to bring back to Ottawa. We asked for the herbs, pickled veggies, and peppers to be separately bagged.

If you find yourself looking for banh mi in Toronto’s Chinatown, I’d highly recommend this place. We’ve been buying their banh mi since I can remember. They have a couple of other locations around city too.

As for Vietnamese desserts, the Banh Mi & Che Cali is the place to go. When Dad feels like something sweet, he always buys some dessert from this place.

We dropped off the banh mi back in the car and then went to the House of Gourmet for breakfast. Doesn't that dragon graffiti look so amazing?

Dad and Andrew were both surprised when they walked through the doors because they haven’t seen the renovated interior (as of a few years ago). The restaurant is more inviting now and no longer looks like a hole-in-the-wall shop. The washrooms are nicer too.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Popeyes Chicken in Waterloo

Andrew had an open house session at Wilfred Laurier University (WLU) two weeks ago, so Dad, Andrew and I went on a road trip to Waterloo, Ontario. There was a heat wave hovering around southeastern Ontario during the first week of July. But we got through the heat with help from the air-conditioned car, water, iced coffee, and lots of shade.

Leaving ourselves plenty of time, we left Ottawa as the sun began to peek over the horizon. We briefly stopped for breakfast at Tim Hortons in Carleton Place. I had a toasted sesame bagel with strawberry cream cheese, Andrew had a bacon breakfast bagel, and Dad had a sausage biscuit sandwich. We ate in the car and continued on the Trans-Canada Highway 7 toward Toronto.

We arrived in the Greater Area of Toronto (GTA) around 9am and decided it would be safe to grab lunch in Waterloo. We arrived in Waterloo around 11am, drove around town, got lost in Kitchener, and then finally found our way back to WLU.

Although there were plenty of other intriguing lunch options like Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese, and Greek restaurants, we settled on Popeyes Chicken. I remember the first time I heard of Popeyes Chicken. My cousin, Jennie, asked me if we had Popeyes in Ottawa a few years back. We (Ottawa) have a few Popeye's stores, but they sell nutritional supplements instead of fried chicken, baked biscuits, and sweet iced tea. I believe the closest Popeyes Chicken location to Ottawa is in Kingston.

Given all the items on the menu, we agreed on their Thursday special: 3 Piece Bonafide Chicken ($3.99). For a split second, I thought about getting the Louisiana spicy tenders like I did in Detroit. We bought two of those combos with spicy chicken, plus a side of mac and cheese, coleslaw, and two fountain drinks. I’m not sure why I asked for mac and cheese. I knew it was going to taste like plastic. I wanted to avoid the mashed potatoes, french fries and biscuits because we were going to be walking around afterwards. If I had gotten those sides, we would've needed to sleep lunch off before visiting WLU.

The chicken's batter was very crisp and crunchy. It was quite salty though. More so than usual. As for the chicken, it was spicy and juicy, but there wasn’t much flavour after the heat went away. Maybe we were unlucky and got a mediocre batch.

It would’ve been difficult to eat the salty chicken if we didn’t bring some bread. But it wasn’t just any ordinary bread. No, no. It was half a caramelized onion potato dill dynamite loaf that I brought along. I had just bought it from Art Is In the previous day at the Bayshore Farmers' Market. The moist chunks of fluffy potato in the bread tamed the salty chicken breading remarkably well.

The dynamite loaf was easily polished off. I wish I had brought more bread. It wasn’t nearly enough. Andrew began getting shifty half-way through lunch. He was pumped.

Once we finished filling our bellies at Popeyes, we joined up at WLU and did a full campus tour. The small campus reminded me of Humber. All the buildings were so close and the people involved in running the tours were very welcoming and helpful. WLU gave off a small, tight-knit community vibe. I kind of wish I was the one going to WLU. Andrew, have a great time at WLU! We won't be that far away... just a quick text or Skype call away.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Roast Pork - Take One


We tried making roast pork with pork shoulder and pork belly earlier this summer. The pork was baked for a few hours and then broiled until the skin crisped up. A seasoned hoisin sauce was brushed on the meat as it baked. When the pork was finished cooking, it didn't look bad at all.

The pieces of blistered puffy cracklings were very fragrant and tasty. But while some of the skin became crackling, half of the skin became hard and chewy. It was a womp womp moment when we ate those pieces.

The pork was tender and juicy, although someone said that the pork was a bit over cooked. This particular tender piece of pork reminded me of pulled pork. After all, it was a slow cooked piece of pork shoulder. As for the seasoned hoisin, it became a seasoned oyster-sauce instead after mistaking a jar of oyster sauce for hoisin sauce. Another womp womp moment.


Our dinner consisted of the roast pork, plain jasmine rice, hoisin sauce (for dipping), sprigs of mint, and pickled cabbage, carrots and bean sprouts.

It wasn’t a terrible first attempt, but I can’t call it a success either. It doesn't come close to the roast pork we get during Chinese New Year (for some reason, those always taste so much better). We need to keep experimenting.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Choux Pastry - July 2009


I found some more photos while cleaning out my external hard drive that were neglected. There were two folders that documented our choux pastry making days. These photos are from July 2009, after our loc lac dinner. I vaguely remember any details. I’m not sure what recipe we used, though it was most likely found on a food blog somewhere on the interwebs.

I remember that we simmered water and butter first, then added flour, stirred the mixture, then took the pot off the heat and added one egg at a time, making sure the previous egg was properly mixed into the choux dough. It was a different cooking method – that’s for sure.


They looked okay and somewhat resembled photos of raw choux pastry. The pastry looked like it needed some more flour to tighten up or something. The tray was popped into our toaster oven and baked until they were finished.

I must apologize for the light contamination. In any case, they looked and tasted great! I remember that they tasted like the honey crullers without the honey glaze. It wasn't until sometime afterwards where I found out that it's made from the same pastry.

Lucy brought out her guns and whipped up – literally – some whipped cream with some icing sugar. We ate the choux pastries with the whipped cream (not pictured).


On the following day, Mom made another batch of choux pastry. I took a few blurry images, then we ate them all, and continued on with our day. The end.

Thanks for reading such an informative and interesting piece of writing. (Sarcasm)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pizza Bagels


When my stomach began to grumble in the afternoon on Monday, I made my way downstairs to the kitchen. After scavenging around the kitchen, I made myself a pizza bagels. I didn't crave pizza or anything. If we had cold cuts, I would've made an open-faced sandwich or the like. But alas, our fridge was full of condiments and sauces.

There was half a bagel, some passata (unseasoned tomato purée), some wilting basil leaves that I accidently left out yesterday, and some mozzarella cheese.

I toasted the pizza bagel in our toaster oven on the "2 slices of toast" option. When the toaster oven beeped, I broiled the pizza bagels to get the cheese golden by using the button beside a photo of a roast chicken.


As the pizza bagels toasted and broiled, I worried that the watery passata would make the bagels soggy.   I should've added a little butter or something to prevent the watery tomato purée from absorbing into the bagels, as OP once told me. When I took the bagels out, it looked like the bagels could've been a wet mess.

Richard microwaved a curry bun and needed a plate so he used mine. As I was about to take photos of the pizza bagels, he placed a basil leaf atop his snack. I guess he wanted me to take a picture. So I did. Like a squirrel, he took his snack and went upstairs to eat.


I quietly put down my camera and took a bite. The cheese slid a bit, showing the concentrated passata. I grabbed my camera for another frame and then finished the rest.

Other than this snack, I'm not sure why I've craved pizza so much over the past few months. I guess it's just a phase, just like my pho phase a few years back, or my chicken phase in second-year college.

Now that I'm looking at these pizza bagel photos, I'm craving some pizza. I think I have a problem.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Homemade Sheet Pan Pizzas


The basil that was planted a little less than two months ago has grown so much! I was beginning to worry that the basil wouldn’t grow well, because they didn’t grow much for almost a month. But then we had heat wave and the basil thrived and sprouted large happy green leaves. The weather then cooled off and then we had some rain for a few days. I didn’t want to make pizzas on a rainy day, so I waited until the weather warmed up again before I invited some friends over.

Looking through my bookmarked recipes on my browser, I found a recipe for a bread that didn’t need any kneading. Using the The Gouda Life’s adapted recipe as a guideline to my dough, I made something similar. I more or less followed the recipe, which made six personal pizzas:

6 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups of lukewarm water
1 ½ tbsp active dry yeast
1 ½ tbsp salt


I made the dough sometime around 2 pm on Friday, though I had planned to make it the previous night. We ran out of yeast so I had to buy some more. The weather in Ottawa was quite warm and humid that day – perfect for making the dough proof quicker. It rose beautifully in the weather. I took the risen dough and divided it into six balls of dough to proof one more time. The dough balls were covered with a moist towel and slowly rose in the back of our kitchen until my friends arrived. Unfortunately VN couldn’t make it to dinner, but she was able to make it on Saturday instead. No problaaaam! I’ll just make moaaaar pizza dough!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Joe's Pizza and Subs: One of Our Favourite Pizzas in Ottawa

Our family has been eating the pizza at Joe's Pizza and Subs for almost 18 years. Wowzas! It all started with pizza days at Bayshore Public. I remember the school always ordered extra pizza and students and teachers would be able to walk down by the gym and buy some slices of pizza. Pretty cool idea.

My favourite thing about Joe’s Pizza is their sauce. Lucy and I used to love the giant bubbles in the crust, but we haven’t been lucky enough to get pizzas with them lately.

After checking out the small farmers’ market at Bayshore, Andrew and I were hungry for lunch. We weighed our options in the car: food court food, Indian lunch buffet, shawarmas, Tim Hortons, or Joe’s (as we like to call it). We decided we’d pick up some pizza, buy some drinks, and head over to Britannia Beach to eat.


The friendly owner, Sam, gave me permission to take some photos of him masterfully making our two pizzas. Their sauce used to be so dreamy! I feel like their sauce is saltier and less herby than I remember. It’s still good, mind you.

Bacon, pineapple and extra sauce. Sam then topped it with cheese and tossed it into the oven to bake.


At the beach, we found a nice shaded area and sat on the grass. Grandma commented, “If I had known we were coming here, I would've brought a hammock!” I would’ve brought a blanket or something to sit on, but that didn’t matter. Dad, Andrew, Grandma and I all liked the bacon and pineapple pizza even though the toppings slid around. The sour and sweet pineapples broke up the salty bacon and sauce real well.

The chicken and onion pizza, it was good but the flavours didn’t jump out. If there was some pineapple and bacon on the pizza, it would’ve tasted amazing! It’s a bit weird saying that. I used to revolt Hawaiian pizzas because of the pineapples.

As we savoured every bite of the two pizzas, a couple seagulls stood nearby and tried to beg for food. We didn't feed them of course. After we ate and sat back, Grandma amused herself by tossing little pebbles and branches towards the seagulls. She laughed when they fought over what they thought was food. I think this was the first time I saw Grandma troll. That explains a lot. Both Mom's side and Dad's side like to troll!

The golden slightly blistered buttery crumb crust was so fragrant. Do you see the dark cheese cooked on the crust? Love it. The pizza was really well made. I expected nothing less from Sam. 

When a bunch of our relatives from Australia came for a visit back in December, we had a large pizza dinner. I’m talking about feeding a large extended family of 15 stomachs. Uncle HT asked if Joe’s was still around and laughed manically when I told him that it was. He said that he missed Ottawa/Lebanese-style pizzas. The pizzas in Australia just weren’t the same. We ordered from Joe’s and Lorenzos, since they’re our favourite Ottawa/Lebanese-style pizzas; medium to thick crust, sauce, lots of meh toppings, lots of cheese. Once we got back home, Uncle HT hyped it up and then proudly watched everyone enjoy their pizza. He quietly savoured his slices before manically laughing in enjoyment again. Needless to say, the two large pizzas from Joe's were the first to be devoured.When I asked my cousins how the pizzas compared to the stuff back home, they simply responded with “it’s nice.

Sometime in April, Lucy and I were craving something greasy. Joe's came up in our discussion. We didn't get to enjoy much of Joe's pizza when the Aussie's came to visit.

So we called Joe’s and ordered two pizzas. We picked up the pizzas and then went to buy drinks at Bayshore. I don't know why we didn't just buy them at Joe's. This pepperoni and bacon pizza was really salty.


How about some pepperoni and mushroom pizza? I actually don’t mind the mushrooms, although the larger clumps are still off-putting.

You can't tell how large these slices actually are. They're quite substantial. You can probably eat two or three slices of Pizza Pizza pizza for every large slice of Joe's pizza. And that's the average slice. If you get one of the humongous pizza slice, unevenly cut, then you probably won't need to eat another slice.

I totally forgot about the crispy pepperoni edges! How could I forget? I remember watching the teacher opening the boxes of pepperoni pizza and seeing dough bubbles and crispy pepperoni edges. And the smell: Joe’s pizza and moist cardboard boxes (the boxes of pizzas were stacked on one another and somewhat steamed). If Mom was in a good mood, she’d send me to school with a can of pop on pizza days. My little elementary self struggled to finish a can of pop and slice of Joe’s pizza. I remember hearing the pop slosh around my stomach during recess. I found it so amusing.

As I write this, I’ve come to realize that Joe’s pizza has become my standard of good greasy pizza. The pepperoni pizzas of my Bayshore Public days have been ingrained into my food memory: fragrant crisp crust with a bit of cheese baked on, good sauce, pepperoni with crispy edges, and golden processed cheese. I think I prefer the fluffy breadier pizza dough at Lorenzos than the richer crumb crust at Joe’s though.

While I like Neapolitan pizza (see Pizzeria Libretto), sometimes I just crave a greasy Ottawa/Lebanese-style pizza made from Joe’s Pizza or Lorenzos. It might not be your favourite, but they’ve been around for three decades for a reason: Joe’s pizza is one of the best pizzas in Ottawa. Tennessy Willems, a small place on Wellington, is my favourite Neapolitan pizza in Ottawa.

When I was in Toronto, I discovered that Pizza Nova makes decent pizzas. It's a shame I realized it too late. Pizza Depot fed my pizza cravings during most of the two years of living there.


Joe's Pizza and Sub's on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored. I received no monetary compensation for writing about Joe’s Pizza and Subs – though if anyone from Joe's Pizza and Subs is reading this, I’d accept your deliciously pizzas.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Bayshore Farmers' Market

Earlier today, we checked out the Bayshore Farmers’ Market. It’s open from 11am – 6pm every Wednesday. Located by the bus station, the small market was packed with moms and their young children. There was a very long line up to get a balloon animal!








The fruits and vegetables looked very welcoming, but we wanted to buy something to eat for lunch. There wasn't much so on our way out, I picked up a full loaf of their dynamite caramelized onion potato and dill bread ($5) from the Art Is In stand. Their other baked goods looked really good; croissants, cookies, baguettes, etc. We ended up eating the dynamite bread the next day in Waterloo.

We'll definitely visit the market throughout the summer. And you should too! Local produce taste so much better than the imported stuff. Local produce won't be available in the larger grocery stores until a later in the summer. Last year we bought some amazingly sweet local peaches. Don't believe me? Go buy some and try them for yourself.


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