25 January, 2013

Quality, Value and YUM!!

I was recently told about a place out in Carp simply named "Carp Bakery".  I wanted to go there last Saturday morning but the Mister didn't understand the concept of driving "all the way" to Carp for a donut when Tim Horton's is "just over there".  Ha!   To be honest, I HAD been informed once that no one dares to try to compete with Tim's, therefore...if I was after a donut, I shouldn't waste my time looking around; just go to Tim's.  What a bummer....  Glad that those people were wrong!!

It just LOOKS that small on the outside..I didn't shoot inside because there were other customers and bakeries in the morning...c'mon...lol...  Busy, busy, busy.  There are 5 or 6 tables inside, 4 chairs each, for people to sit and enjoy their goodies with a cup of coffee.  They have everything in there!  Breads, donuts, fritters, sausage rolls, beef rolls, cookies...  There were even cute little tartlets.  I knew when I walked in that I was lookin' for donuts, so I tried to stick to the planI usually fail at that...  Today, I only had a small "fail"...I grabbed an apple fritter with the donuts.

I devoured the plain chocolate donut first...  It was SO soft and LIGHT.  My goodnessWhen I held it in my hand and pressed, it didn't smash.  That's a great sign!  When there is still spring in the dough it shows that they didn't overload the dough with sugar.  The glaze was perfect on the sweet front as well.  There are definitely times when I've had a donut and could feel the sugar coma setting in after just a couple bites.  My experience with the donut from Carp Bakery was simply bliss!  I can't wait to try the others!  That apple fritter has my name on it!

Something else I wanted make a point to mention was the cost...  For those 6 lovelies you see there...$3.75!!  Ha!  Beat that Tim's!  They can't....  It usually costs over 4 or 5 bucks to get a half dozen donuts from them...that's just the donuts.  Fritters are extra.  So...not only do you get better QUALITY donuts you get a better bang for your buck at Carp Bakery.  You have just got to go try some of their goodies; it is well worth the drive!!

  Carp Bakery on Urbanspoon

21 January, 2013

Dary-Free Tarte au Chocolat Orange

If you ask me what I spend most of my time doing these days your answer is going to be one of two things...watching the Food Network on television or in the kitchen cooking or baking something.  When you are almost 7 months pregnant...everything revolves around food, unless you are still getting morning sickness.  

For whatever reason, with every pregnancy I've had I get the requisite "text book" length of morning sickness...about 10 weeks.  But, I've never vomited and I literally woke up on the morning of the day my 16th week began and never had nausea again.  I realize I am blessed when I talk to other women about their experiences...very blessed.

Most of my cravings in the morning have revolved around chocolate the past week.  In the evening it is meat and dairy...  I like to have something around the house that I can dig into that isn't COMPLETELY bad for me.  Last week when I was watching the Food Network, Anna Olson was making this fabulous looking chocolate tart.  I can't eat dairy in the evening, even though I crave it.  So, I decided to try her tart, but dairy free.

You will need a 9 inch round tart pan for this recipe.

Dairy-Free Tart au Chocolat Orange

Chocolate Pastry Crust 
3/4 c. Earth's Balance buttery spread, at room temperature
1/2 c. organic fair trade icing sugar, sifted
3 large egg yolks
1 c. King Arthur Cake Flour

1 c. King Arthur Pastry Flour
1/4 c. Callebaut cocoa powder
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. organic chocolate soy milk
1/4 c. Earth's Balance buttery spread, cut into pieces
8 oz. Enjoy Life! dairy free semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/4 c. organic fair trade sugar
1/2 c. hot orange juice OR hot coconut water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. Nielsen Massey vanilla extract

For the pastry, beat the butter and icing sugar until smooth, then add the egg yolks all at once and beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift the flours, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt. Add this to the butter mixture and stir until evenly combined. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap and chill until ready to use.

Knead the chocolate pastry dough once or twice on a lightly floured work surface to soften, then roll out the dough to a circle just less than ¼-inch thick. Lift the dough carefully to line a 9-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pan. Press the dough into the shell and trim away any excess. Dock the pastry with a fork. Chill the tart shell for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

Place the chilled tart shell onto a baking tray and bake it for about 18 minutes or until you see that the pastry has an even, dull finish. Allow it to cool while you prepare the filling.  About 30 minutes.

For the filling, bring the soy milk and butter up to a simmer and pour this over the chocolate in a large bowl, letting it sit for just a few seconds. Gently stir the mixture with a spatula until the chocolate melts, then whisk in the sugar and the orange juice or coconut water. Lightly beat the eggs in a small dish and add this to the chocolate, along with the vanilla, whisking gently until incorporated. Pour this into the cooled tart shell and bake (still at 350 F) for 12 minutes. Allow the tart to cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

The tart can be stored, refrigerated, for up to 2 days.  It makes a single 9 inch tart.

Cooled Chocolate Tart

 Ready to devour!!

There is NO detecting that this beauty is dairy free.  Not even close!  The crust is like a fabulous, buttery shortbread; crisp but not hard.  The filling is like VELVET!  It is so smooth and there is just a hint of orange flavor, but for me that is just enough.  You could also try some grand marnier if you're sporting.  

This is such a fabulous recipe and there is really a lot that you can do with it.  As I said, it originally called for 1/2 c. of hot, strong coffee.  We don't drink coffee at all in our home, but we have TONS of other lovelies that I knew could/would compliment and set off chocolate.  Orange, coconut water, cherry concentrate...  Don't be afraid to try something different with recipes you find but for any reason, shouldn't have.  Make it your OWN.  Enjoy!

**If you make this with dairy the filling will need to be adjusted.  Rather than 1/4 c. chocolate soy milk use 1/2 c. whipping cream.  Because of the thinness of the soy milk, I reduced it to 1/4 c. to achieve the proper custard like consistency that you would have gotten with whipping cream.  


18 January, 2013

τρόφιμα άνεσης

I had some errands to run today so I decided to combine my chores with a built in break...food!

This coming Monday we're about to hit the home stretch with this pregnancy; 3rd trimester!!  I have been feeling every second of it, but more than physical changes...I have a NON-STOP appetite.  I feel like I could eat a whale nearly every moment of my day.  Here she is in all her glory....waving for the camera!

I took a glance at my "to eat" list and figured out where I was going to go based on my errands.  Barrhaven...surprisingly enough, I haven't gotten a whole lot of restaurant recommendations for that suburb.  When this happens, I do some hunting and pecking of my own eventuallyBut not today.  This trip, I had a destination.  A little place called Pinelopi's Greek Kitchen.

I was in the mood for something filling, but I didn't want to overdo it on the oil factor.  Sometimes when I get over hungry I end up getting really fatty foods, bad idea.  When I glanced at their menu I was very pleased to see that all of the wraps came with your choice of soup, Greek salad or home fries.  A wrap and a salad sounded fabulous...  I asked the host what their most popular or signature lunch dishes were and he went straight for the Lamburger Wrap.  To be honest I was eyeing that up in the first place.  So the order went in, Lamburger Wrap with Greek salad. 

It wasn't too busy in there at 1:30 in the afternoon but it is a smaller sized establishment so I had to wait for some tables to clear out before I could take some indoor shots.


It was a bit of a wait for my lunch, but I ordered it with changes to the wrap and salad.  No tomato, no onion in either the wrap or the sandwich.  Lol...I'm 27 weeks on the 22nd, I'm not taking any chances with heartburn!  I wanted to be able to eat lunch without burning alive from the inside out...  Oh!  Here it comes!

Lamburger Wrap with Greek Salad
When you hear "burger" you might think, "But hey, that's heavy."  Lamb really isn't a heavy meat (not to me...liver, duck...now those are heavy meats!) and with the herbs that were in this burger, it really had an air of freshness that you don't generally find in ground red meats.  It was SO moist and tender!  Everything about this wrap was a home run.  The tzatziki sauce was divine and the pita was so soft...  I would order this every time I went, but...lol...I should probably try other things on the menu considering how wonderful THIS was.  The salad was alright as salads go.  I missed the bite of a bit of spicy but other than that it was good.

One of the other things the host recommended was the Mini Souvlaki.  I think I'll have to try that the next time I go.  Shortly before I left, two things happened.  I had a lovely conversation with Penny, the owner of the establishment and the host pointed out the HUGE trophy on the corner of the counter at the bar.  It was from Taste of Barrhaven and Pinelopi's had been named People's Choice Winner of 2012 for "Best Food in Barrhaven/Manotick".  I believe it...

Bottom line, sure the place has mixed reviews...but not everyone knows something about food.  I had gotten enough recommendations from people that I know are well versed in food that I was willing to try Pinelopi's.  Ya'll know I don't pull punches, if food isn't up to snuff, I tell you.  This was great food and contrary to some comments I've heard, it is NOT expensive.  My lunch was only 12 bucks!  Even at some of your more popular fast food places, you can spend that much on lunch for one.  So, I imagine those comments come from people who regularly eat off the "value menu" at said fast food places.  As such, I also imagine they won't exactly have a discerning palate.  Give Pinelopi's a try, you'll be glad you did!

  Pinelopi's Greek Kitchen on Urbanspoon

11 January, 2013

Pizzeria Napoletana

Since coming home from Minnesota after Christmas, I haven't had the urge to leave the house too often.  I wouldn't call what brought me to Montreal yesterday an "urge" either, more like a "to do" at Ogilvy that had been nagging me for a couple of months.  I figured while I was in town I'd stop over at Pizzeria Napoletana, a place that was recommended to me by a friend.  She knows I don't frequent Montreal...which is to say, she knows I don't go unless I have a reasonBut, reason or not, my pregnant tummy was begging to be filledAlmost 26 weeks now, it seems like I can never fill my gob fast enough!  There is NO better remedy for an appetite like that than some good Italian food.

I will let you know now, the place was totally packed for lunch, so I didn't even ask for permission to shoot inside.

I was seated at a table for two and they brought me a menu....  My goodness, I have to tell you, I have never seen such a HUGE menu for pizza or pasta in all my life!  For someone that has a hard time making decisions, a menu like this is a nightmare.  So, I asked the host my magic question "What are some of your signature dishes?", with the condition that I wasn't in the mood for a red sauce just then.  He recommended 3 different dishes, but when I read the description for Tortellini Contadina: white cream sauce, sausage and bacon with the tortellini....I knew that was what I was going to get, no question.

While I was waiting they brought out some lovely, large dinner rolls with some real butter.  I mention "real butter" because quite a few of the places I've eaten in Canada bring "Becel" margarine.  Blech...I've never enjoyed margarine, not like I enjoy butter. 

Then, to my surprise they brought some Polpette di Angelina to the table; that is Meatballs Angelina.

They were good.  A moist blend of veal, pork & beef but, the meatballs themselves were bland overall.  The sauce on top was great.  The tomatoes had broken down enough to bring a lovely sweet tone to the sauce and it was properly seasoned.  I was so hungry I ate them both....if I had known how large of a portion my tortellini was going to be I certainly wouldn't have tried to finish them.  In the middle of chewing my second to last bite of meatball, my entree made its debut.

Tortellini Contadina

If you go to look for this on their online menu, you won't find it.  The menu online doesn't have their complete listing of pizzas or pastas.  So, if you look online before you go and don't see anything that catches your eye...go anyhow, there is something for everyone on their menu, I promise!

The first thing I did was dip my finger in the cream sauce, it was so thick and rich.  The flavors of the sausage and bacon had deepened the dimension of the sauce ten fold.  It really made it taste substantial and satisfying.  It almost didn't need the meat on the plate itself, but of course, it was sure a welcomed component.  The tortellini were cooked correctly and the filling was fabulous.  I'd order this again and again without even looking at the menu to see if there was something else I wanted.  But to be fair...if I fell this hard for this dish, there is most likely no end to what other scrummly dishes they have left to offer.

One word of caution...  If you go, bring cash.  I generally don't travel with cash.  I travel so much and have had so many friends get their pockets picked or wallets stolen that I don't carry cash on me ever.  Luckily, they had an ATM in house just for folks like me.  As I was paying my bill, I noticed a book on their counter from "You Gotta Eat Here".  A popular television show on the Food Network hosted by John Catucci.  Who knew....  Apparently, I haven't been living in Canada long enough to see that particular episode.  Pizzeria Napoletana was featured on there a while back, so if you want to see how they make their meatballs you can.

I would definitely go back again, but next time I'd bring more people!  It was packed in there, but this kind of food is really so much better when you share the experience with friends or family.  I know my Mister loves a good plate of pasta and the Sprout is totally in love with traditional red sauce spaghetti.  For good food and a great atmosphere stop in and give Pizzeria Napoletana a try.  Mangiare bene, vivere felici!!     

Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon