Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mideastro Restaurant, Toronto

Snacks, from the bottom, clockwise, hummus with garlic and sweet harissa; tomatoes, onion and bell pepper; eggplant and tomato.

Shrimp felafel: fried ground chickpea coated shrimps topped with tzatziki and feta, pickled veg tartar, hummus masabaha, aji panka and herb tahina. A terrific shrimp dish. The shrimp was properly cooked and the shell perfectly crispy for me to eat ( it is a treat to eat  the cispy shell with properly cooked shrimp in the best tempura restos in Japan ).

Fatoush salad: crispy haloumi cheese, baby romaine hearts, capers, heirloom tomatoes, pita croutons, sumac, preserved lemon and saffron tahina.

Baladi: grilled eggplant, cherry tomato bruschetta, herb tahina, Bulgarian fetta, roasted candied garlic, basil and zatar. A very good dish.

Pastilla phylo pastry filled with confit of duck, tanzia, coconut cream mash, pistachios, honey, dates with a pomegranate reduction and sesame paste.

Morrocan short ribs with ginger, mint, orange juice, mustard, Spanish chilis and honey.

Paella with merguez sausage, scallops, shrimps, mussels, clams, calamari, chili, garlic, saffron, red peppers and roasted fennel. A very good combination of flavours. The shellfish were perfectly cooked.

Fig Kataiv: crispy kataiv pastry layered with spiced mascarpone, fresh figs and pistachios, with fig infused cardamom 

Halva tiramisu: Mascarpone cream with halva, chocolate garnish finished with halva candy "hairs" and lady fingers.

From 12 o'clock, counterclockwise: dark chocolate with gianduja chocolate centre, milk chocolate with white chocolate centre and white chocolate with white chocolate  with a banana and chestnut centre, raspberry and mint coulis with strawberry, gooseberry and cherry garnish and crumbled pistachio topped vanilla ice-cream.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

London, Uk: The Square.

Phil Howard is the chef/co-owner of The Square, a restaurant in London, awarded 2 Michelin stars.

 squid ink crackers topped with dabs of taramasalata.

Cheese gougeres. 

Foie gras filled, crispy cone. 

Venison puree topped with quince jelly and toasted bread crumbs. 

A fabulous lasagne of Dorset crab with a cappuccino of shellfish and champagne foam.

Glazed and stuffed chicken wings with Iberian ham, savoury onions, yellow foot chanterelles, pumpkin and smoked sour dough. Another big hit, a dish of wonderful flavours.

Ballotine and tartare of pigeon with raw and pickled vegetables, chestnuts and truffle.

Roast loin of Iberico pork with a gratin of hand rolled macaroni and cepes, crushed celeriac and apple.

Aged filet of beef and short ribs with beer glazed onions, kale, fermented ceps, smoked bone marrow and parsley. A great beef dish. 

Brillat Savarin cheese cake with passion fruit, lime and coconut ice cream.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Cookbook Store welcomes Ruth Reichl for lunch Sunday May 25th, 2014

Our bricks and mortar location at Yonge & Yorkville may be closed, but this doesn't stop us from bringing you visiting chefs and authors.

What better way to kick off Spring than with a visit from beloved food writer and former Editor in Chief of Gourmet magazine RUTH REICHL. Join us for lunch at The Chefs' House at George Brown College as we celebrate the launch of Ruth's dazzling debut novel, Delicious!

TICKETS: $65, which includes lunch and a copy of the book Delicious!, can be purchased directly from The Chefs' House by calling 416-415-2260, or

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sultan of Samosas, Toronto

Sultan of Samosas started with a shop located on O'connor Drive. The new location that I went to is on Oak Street, just off Parliament St.

This is a true story: as a result of founder Reza's research assisted by the National Research Council of Canada, the Company received Canadian Patent 2,588,248 and international patents-pending for an apparatus and processes to manufacture improved samosa pastry commercially, of the Indo-Pakistan Gujarati cultural tradition. Since this breakthrough, Sultan of Samosas has added several varieties of ingredients for a total of over 10 types of samosas in 3 sizes.

Ten  samosas  fillings to choose from:
  • 10 vegetable splash seasoned with methi leaves
  • Beef with onions and coriander leaves
  • Steak and potato with garlic, dill and black pepper(A FAVE)
  • Paprika marinated chicken, onions and coriander leaves
  • Tandoori chicken Kabuli
  • Curried four-way vegetables with assorted baghara spices
  • Spinach with feta and mozzarella in oregano and basil dressing
  • Potato, cheddar cheese seasoned with paprika
  • Daal, turmeric and fresh coriander
  • Mutton with West-Indies flavours
  • Sweet samosa in coconut or apple pie flavors.
  • Although the samosas are available in 3 sizes, the middle snack size is what is typically served in the restaurant.

These samosas have a crispy, light wheat based pastry that crunch with a bight. Two different kinds of fritters are also shown in this photo. Three house made sauces are available, as shown above, left to right, are tamarind and date, spicy mango and coriander with vinegar and yogurt.

The  passionate staff are very happy here!

These crispy "fritters" are available in either spinach, potato, mushroom or eggplant. They are a bit like Indian "latkes"! 

When out of the fryer the samosas have this lovely golden colour. On this paper napkin, one can see that they are quite ungreasy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The True Story Behind The Beginnings of the Cookbook Store

The history of the cookbook store began with my desire to collect and read cookbooks, cook and eat well, a life long pursuit. My former wife Barbara Caffery was a passionate bibliophile. When the location became available on the corner of a family owned building that housed a dying book store, when the family was trying to decide what to do with the space, Barbara was inspired to open a cook book store there. That is where the store passion began. Of course Barbara and I were both very busy professionals so we put an ad in the paper. Barbara interviewed a number of people, but when she discovered Alison Fryer, it was passion meeting passion, at first sight. And thus the beginnings of the cookbook store. We all met and planned and discussed the store concept, design, store colours and I designed the logo. The store became a continuing work of passion for all of us!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Brock Sandwich Shop, A Toronto Destination Spot.

Brock was created by Matt Gregoris, Dom Amaral and Peter Ornelas. Amaral was the former sous-chef at Zucca Trattoria. Casually chatting with Matt, he passionately expounded on his trips to the wild, finding mushrooms and wild leeks. This food enthusiasm translates into what these sandwich entrepreneurs seasonally incorporate into their menu of salads and sandwiches.

The owners pickle or roast what is seasonal, preserve and jar for use in the sandwiches or for sale.

A very good roasted beet and blood orange salad, with ricotta salata, shaved fennel, arugula and red wine vinaigrette. 

Brined chicken that has been brined in herbs for 24 hours, then left to soak in buttermilk, dredged in spiced flour, then into the fryer and cooked perfectly juicy with a crispy, ungreasy exterior, then dressed with a house made piri piri sauce, charred/ caramelized onions and lettuce, on a good bun. A great, tasty sandwich!

Top view of the fried chicken sandwich.

House made cole slaw, very creamy, but not unpleasantly so.

The porchetta sandwich topped with sauteed rapini, house made roasted peppers and crackling. I told them to skip the cheese. The porchetta is brined for about 24 hours in herbs and spices and is very juicy (without being fatty) and flavourful.

Inside view of the porchetta sandwich.

Paprika dusted fries. Good taste but could be a bit crispier. They were served with 3 house made sauces, a vinegar aioli, a very good beef gravy and a smoked tomato/onion jam.

The turkey club, stuffed with house made roasted turkey, sage stuffing, crispy bacon, mustard seed mayo, lettuce and tomato. Delicious.

Braised beef cheek with sauteed onions and peppers. I told them to skip the cheese.

Brock is one of the great sandwich shops in Toronto and a unique food experience.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Two Wild Game Dinners Cooked By a Prominent Canadian Chef

Wild game is available at any restaurant in Europe or Asia. Wild game is now legal to be served in the restaurants of the province of Quebec. It is time that Ontario modifies it's outmoded game laws for restaurants. Game can add such a delicious dimension of flavours to any menu. I present these 2 game dinners below, to show the range of flavour possibilities prepared by the same chef.

Wild Game Dinner #1

Snacks (no photos): Oak-fired, breast of wild woodcock with oak-fired stuffed woodcock leg. 

Wild perch with paddlefish caviar and a tartar sauce emulsion.

Wild pickerel, shaved Alba truffles with with truffled chervil nage (ate into this one before the picture!).

Wild mallard duck breast, cooked rare, with slices of black Perigourd truffles, game gelee, shaved duck egg yolk and some frisee. DRC Grands Echezeaux was served with this course.

Wild Griffith Island pheasant breast with seared foie gras and a raisin foie gras sauce.

Wild teal breast with parsnip puree, huitlacoche (the "truffle" of Mexico, made of corn fungus) and truffle sauce.

Game gelee and Perigourd black truffles.

Truffle-glazed wild venison sausage with matsutake mushrooms.

Ravioli di selvaggina with an intensely flavoured game broth.

Wild venison chop with pork n'beans, yellowfoot mushrooms, brussel sprout leaves and quince puree. Dominus, a revered California wine was served with this course.

Sevogle farms rhubarb and custard.

Buckthorn sorbet with myer lemon curd and wild blueberries.

Game lovers, known to the Toronto foodie community, tasting and eating at this fabulous food and wine event.

Dinner #2

Snacks (no photos): Amhurst Island potted wild white deer, foie gras and spruce tips; Saskatchewan wild Hungarian partridge and shaved Alba truffle; wild venison striploin carpaccio, gelee, topped with paddlefish caviar.

Griffith Island, very intensely flavoured game consomme with game tortellini, celeriac and shaved black truffle.

The amantillado sherry served with the consomme. A brilliant match.

1986 La Turque, by Marcel Guigal, served with the next course.

Wild mallard and wild mushroom salad with blueberries and duck jus.

Wild Saskatchewan Sandhill crane breast with maple bacon, butterball potatoes, cabbage, carrots and pearl onions.

The wine for the dessert, 1989 Inniskillin icewine, a great year.

Poached quince and wild bresaola with blue cheese, walnuts, vanilla ice cream and shaved black truffles.

Look at the possibilities we are missing in our restaurant meals.