Friday, September 21, 2012

Momofuku in Toronto!

When I was at chef school in New York, I often made my way to the East Village for a pork bun bite at Momofuku. At the time, there was a small line but nothing like the phenomenon it has become today. Pork belly, though certainly not invented by David Chang, has become a trendy menu item across a myriad of restaurants in North America. Since moving from NYC, I have often yearned for the two-bite pork buns made famous by the Momofuku brand. And now Torontonians can enjoy them at Toronto's very own Momofuku, in the recently opened Shangri-La Hotel.

I usually don't tend to wait in line for restaurants but I was ready to make the exception when I went for lunch at Momofuku today, the day after it opened.The restaurant is far bigger than its New York counterpart however, so we were seated as soon as the doors opened.

 As I sat down, I couldn't help but think about one of the lines from an old episode of 30 Rock that refers to Toronto as "just like New York but without all the stuff". The line always makes me laugh, but I think somewhere deep down it kind of annoys me too. I've only lived here for a little over a year, but I strangely feel attached to this city and think its potential is far greater than most places I know. The fact that David Chang decided to open here, is, in my mind, a small token that shows just how much of a food and culture hub Toronto really is.
Back in 2009, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Chang as he was promoting the release of his Momofuku cookbook (you can read my review of his book here) and it seems that in the few years since he's become that much bigger. With his Lucky Peach magazine, his Milk Bar success and now his Toronto expansion, Chang has achieved a level of success most chefs can't begin to dream of.

As I was feasting on my ginger scallion noodles (another staple dish) I looked up and David Chang was there, on the second story of his restaurant, looking down at the bustling, feasting crowd. And for any skeptics out there, let me tell you, the food was amazingly flavourful, well-executed and true to the New York Chang meals I have enjoyed. The bill on the other hand? Still a little high for what you get on your plate - but still somehow worth it..!

Have you made your way to Momofuku yet?

Momofuku on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Easiest Blueberry Tarts

No matter how satisfying making dough is, sometimes you just need a fast alternative. Don't get me wrong, I love making dough from scratch - taking a few simple ingredients and turning them into a pliable, versatile dough always seems rather magical. But for those times when you're really in a pinch, I'll let you in on my go-to solution

Phyllo dough is the hero of the show here - I like to use whole-wheat phyllo dough, but regular works just fine as well. Simply cut out circles of dough using a cookie cutter (or tracing around a glass with a pairing knife). You can easily free-form these using mini muffin tins. They then crisp up wonderfully thanks to a warm oven and a little melted butter. In the summer, I love filling these with wild blueberries, a simple sprinkling in each crisped-up shell makes the perfect sweet treat - but during the wintertime, these work wonders filled with a little chocolate ganache and a dollop of whipped cream.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shallot and Herbed Mussels (with Fries!)

Mussels and fries. Need I say more? This classic combo, a staple for so many restaurants, is so easy to put together at home... and dare I say better? Mussels - like scallop and shrimp - often get a bad rep as being finicky, but they are incredibly easy to put together and so flavourful that you don't need much extra fuss to turn them into a satisfying meal. As long as you have ready-to-go, mussels, this is a really feasible everyday meal. I love the classic when it comes to mussels - a little white wine, some sweet shallots and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. I do occasionally branch out with curry or creamy flavoured mussels but this is a simple go-to.

A few words of wisdom when it comes to mussels:
- make sure your mussels are as fresh as can be
- before cooking, make sure all mussels are tightly shut. Close the ones that aren't and make sure they stay shut; discard those who won't stay closed
- remove any beard by tightly pulling on the thread
- once cooked, only eat the mussels that have opened; discard any closed ones

Shallot and Herbed Mussels
Serves 2

3lb mussels
2 tsp olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups white wine

In a large stockpot on medium heat, add olive oil, shallots, garlic and thyme. Saute for 2 minutes, stirring.

Add mussels and wine; stir. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, shaking the pot once or twice to help the mussels open. Serve with your favourite crispy fries. Enjoy!

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