Toronto (Trinity Bellwoods/Queen West): Feast

Toronto (Trinity Bellwoods/Queen West): Feast

Feast Donuts

There’s a new spot in my neighbourhood and no I’m not talking about that cool Mexican, rustic Italian, trendy tapas or burger spot. Instead it’s exactly what the neighbourhood was really missing – a gourmet food spot that EVERYONE can shop at, regardless of food allergies.  Feast opened up earlier this summer in Trinity Bellwoods Park with an assortment of prepared and frozen foods, pantry items and baked goodies.  Bonus: they’re all free from the most common food allergies of wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

Feast entrance

Located right across from the park, it’s the perfect shop to cater to the Trinity Bellwoods set. You can pop in and pick up a gourmet pocket pie (more on that later), a frozen avocado popsicle, or a loaf of bread for the week. A little bit grocery, a little bit bakery, and a lot awesome.

Feast Signs

It’s a bright and sunny spot with a bakery counter that just lures you right in.  If you’ve got multiple food allergies, it’s can be a bit tricky to find gluten-free treats.  Gluten-free treats always seems to have some eggs, nuts and/or dairy but not here at Feast.  They make their treats on site in their in-house gluten-free kitchen and favour ingredients that are local, organic, and non-GMO.  So not only gluten-free and allergen-free, but practically guilt-free too.  Feast Chocolates and DonutsI tried some of those coconut milk caramels ($2 each).  There are two kinds to choose from: Tropical, chewy, delightful, pineapple topped with a sprinkle of smoked sea salt; and Chocolate Krispies made with raw organic cacao nibs and crispy rice cereal.  Very tasty.  I also got one of the ‘On top of Coconut Mountain’ donuts (top right) and it was moist and decadent ($3.50).Feast Collage 1

Beyond the bakery, there’s a nice selection of pantry items to stock your kitchen.  Goodies include lots of options for dried and frozen pasta, baking mixes, jams and more.  Manager Liz told me that it’s a collection of the owner’s favourite things so they recommend everything personally.  Their freezer is also stocked with more pasta, and their best-selling avocado popsicles.

Feast hand pies

Their signature items are their pocket pies which are moist, flaky, and yes, gluten-free.  They have a few varieties to choose from including jerk chicken, beef, and vegan curried black bean ($5 – $7 each).  I tried the jerk chicken and I really liked the pastry and the filling was moist and not too spicy, though I like my jerk with more heat.  Manager Liz mentioned that they’ve already got a strong pocket pie following, a pocket pie posse if you will, who shop weekly and some daily.    Feast BreadsAnd finally they have lots of gluten-free bread to choose from in varieties that are harder to find like pumpernickel, buns, and my fave gluten-free bagels from Kinnickinick.   So if you’re in the west side of Toronto, have food allergies, or just like gourmet food, stop by Feast and feast on some deliciousness.  I’m all about supporting local businesses that have a great vision and positive vibes, offering great gluten-free, allergen-free  goodies for all to enjoy.

Feast is located at 881 Queen Street W. Toronto, ON M6J 1G5 right across from Trinity Bellwoods Park

Feast Italian

Hazelnut Chocolate Power Balls

Hazelnut Chocolate Power Balls

The past month has literally blown by in a sea of BBQs, pool parties, get-togethers, road trips,  etc. And all this socializing has left me a little behind on recipe testing/actual cooking – I’ve been surviving mostly on leftover BBQ, thrown together salads, and a few simple standby recipes like this and this. However, in the summertime spirit of eating light to keep it tight, I thought a raw, vegan snack ready in five minutes would be a good way to go. Perfect for post-workout/road trip/breakfast-to-go type snacking.

Hazelnut Chocolate Powerballs | freshnessgf.com

Now, these may look like truffles, but they are more like homemade Lara Bars in ball form. Thus the name ‘powerballs’ instead of ‘powerbars’. As per usual, D was my first taste tester and I may have forgotten to tell him that part. He thought they were chocolate truffles and was pretty shocked to discover that they were raw, vegan, healthy snacks after he popped one in his mouth. Also, I left one date pit in his by accident and he almost lost a tooth.  Oopsy.

Hazelnut Chocolate Powerballs | freshnessgf.com

Since my first taste testing was a fail, I brought some into the office for the team to try. And guess what? They were a huge hit. I wish I had brought more because I swear there were some serious sad faces going on. But the few who did get to try them had some great suggestions like adding different nuts, rolling the balls in shredded coconut, adding orange zest, nut butters, etc. Basically, the possibilities are endless. Also, this recipe is gluten-free, vegan, free from refined sugar, dairy-free, raw, and paleo.

Hazelnut Chocolate Power Balls | Freshnessgf.com

This recipe was adapted from a great blog called Cook Republic that features healthy, inventive recipes and stunning, inspiring photography. The original recipe called for pistachios, almonds, and orange zest and the combination made for most beautiful flecks of colour. I went for a Nutella inspired version with just hazelnuts and cocoa powder. What’s most exciting about this recipe is that they actually took 5 minutes to make. Quoting my colleague ‘it’ll take longer to clean the food processor’ – it wasn’t that bad cleaning it afterward but you get the point. This recipe is E.A.S.Y. and F.A.S.T.

Hazelnut Chocolate Power Balls | Freshnessgf.com

These pretty, truffle-esque powerballs would also be a great gift idea – specially packaged in a mason jar and a cute homemade tag. You’ll look like a hero because they would only take you five minutes to make and it’ll look like you slaved over them.

So voila, the easiest healthy snack recipe there ever was. Plus, now I know what to bring to the next work potluck.

 

Hazelnut Chocolate Power Balls | Freshnessgf.com

Hazelnut Chocolate Powerballs

These may look like truffles, but they are more like homemade Lara Bars in ball form. Thus the name 'powerballs' instead of 'powerbars'. As per usual, D was my first taste tester and I may have forgotten to tell him that part. He thought they were chocolate truffles and was pretty shocked to discover that they were raw, vegan, healthy snacks after he popped one in his mouth. (adapted from Cook Republic)
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: chocolate, cookies & bars, corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, kid-friendly, nuts, paleo, soy-free
Servings: 20 balls
Author: ness

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cups hazelnuts
  • 6 dried figs (stalks snipped (about 1/2 cup))
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • extra cocoa powder for rolling

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Combine first six ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are chopped and a crumbly dough starts to form. Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture and roll gently between two palms of your hands to form a ball. Place extra cocoa powder in a small dish and roll the ball so it's mostly coated in cocoa powder. Tap any excess cocoa powder off.
Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week (although I have a feeling they'll be gobbled up way before that). Recipe adapted from Cook Republic.
Kedgeree (Indian Spiced Rice with Fish)

Kedgeree (Indian Spiced Rice with Fish)

It’s summer and I haven’t been doing as much cooking as normal.  There are too many patios to visit, friends to see, and outdoor fun times to be had that I’m really making salad and fast suppers for the most part. This dish is a great meal because it’s pretty fast to whip up, is full of flavour and satisfying yet light.

Spices for kedgeree

Kedgeree is a UK dish that goes back to the colonial days in India and is typically had for breakfast. Traditionally, it’s made with smoked white fish instead of fresh, which I’m sure is extra tasty. My fish store didn’t have any on hand so I improvised with fresh fish. Also, kedgeree often includes chopped boiled eggs but my version here is egg-less as I have a weird phobia of eggs unless they are scrambled.  I’ve swapped dried currents for raisins as I also have a weird aversion to grapes, including dried ones.

Onions and rice

rice done cooking

The spices and ingredients for this dish are simple but pack in a lot of flavour. The fish was gently boiled in water with lemon and bay leaf – super easy and happened in tandem while the rice is cooking.  You can also use any flaky white fish or smoked trout if you like.  I used pickerel here, but cod would be great too.

fish with lemons and bay leaf

pickeral on plate

Once you’ve assembled the rice and flaked fish, you can garnish with all the traditional fixings including nuts, raisins, chutney,  fresh lime, and lemon wedges.  I really love the toasted cinnamon pumpkin seeds that I added here as they gave a great salty crunch to the rice.   Sweet, salty, crunchy, flavourful rice – way easy, way tasty.  

Kedgeree | Freshnessgf.com

 

Kedgeree - Indian Spiced Rice with Fish

Kedgeree is a UK dish that goes back to the colonial days in India and is typically had for breakfast. The spices and ingredients for this dish are simple but pack in a lot of flavour. Adapted from Living and Eating by John Pawson and Annie Bell, Jamie Oliver)
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, fish & seafood, gluten-free, nut-free, pasta, rice & grains, rice, soy-free
Servings: 4
Author: ness

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons butter or canola oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger (minced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 ¼ cup basmati rice
  • 1 pound firm white fish such as cod (pickerel)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • Dried currants and lime wedges to serve (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Salted Pumpkin Seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground chili (optional)
  • Coarse sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat a large heavy bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Add butter or canola oil and add onion, ginger and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent and slightly golden, stirring occasionally. Add ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and basmati rice. Stir so all ingredients are combined and cook 2 more minutes.
  • Add 2 cups of water and stir, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer and cook covered for 9 minutes. Remove from heat and add peas. Cover and allow steam to continue to cook rice and warm peas for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add fish, 3 slices of lemon and bay leaf to a sauce pan. Add enough water to just cover and bring to simmer and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until fish is cooked and flaky. Remove fish from cooking liquid and allow to cool slightly. Using two forks, flake the fish apart.
  • In a small frying pan on medium high heat, add oil, pumpkin seeds and a pinch of cinnamon, chili powder, and salt. Gently stir pumpkin seeds so they don’t burn. Remove from heat after a couple of minutes or when they are slightly browned.
  • Assemble kedgeree. Add fish and chopped coriander to rice, salt, and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings and garnish with a sprinkle of chili powder (optional), fresh coriander, pumpkin seeds and dried currants.
Adapted from Living and Eating by John Pawson and Annie Bell, Jamie Oliver.
Korean Beef Short Ribs (Galbi or Kalbi)

Korean Beef Short Ribs (Galbi or Kalbi)

The best way to get invited (and hopefully re-invited) to cottages and pool parties is probably to bring meat and by meat, I mean specifically, these Korean beef short ribs called galbi or kalbi. Take it from a culture that specializes in grilled meats – these ribs are the perfect combination of salty, sweet and jam-packed with flavour.

galbi ingredients

onion mixture

These ribs were actually super easy to make using only a handful of ingredients. Everything in the marinade had a huge flavour hit and the ribs really benefited from marinating overnight. Time really broke down the meat and infused the meat with all that tasty flavour from the garlic, onions, and ginger. I’ve experimented with many variations of these ingredients and proportions (with pear, no pear, etc.) and finally got it right just in time to share with my family for Canada Day. This one is based off a great blog called Maangchi that features authentic Korean recipes.

ribs layer 1

ribs in marinade

We don’t have a cottage, or a pool, or even a BBQ. But my parents have a gorgeous backyard that feels like a secret garden, plus a huge BBQ grill, and my dog Pucci, so it’s the closest thing we’ve got to a summer getaway. Plus my mom’s an amazing cook and my dad has the greatest grilling skills in all the land.

dad with bbq chicken

My dad =BBQ king

Pucci on patio chair

My dog = poser

mom's garden 1

Mom’s garden = gorgeous and lush

See how pretty my parent’s garden is? They spend a lot of time and love in that garden and it totally shows. My mom is an artist and you can see it her green thumb. Back to the ribs though. My dad gave me the low down on how they’re done – high heat at first then lower the heat to medium. Brush the grill with oil and add the meat and cook until you see the blood. That’s when it’s time to flip – be sure to rotate the meat from the hot spots so they cook evenly.

ribs on bbq done

We make galbi at home on our grill pan and they still turn out great, just a bit more wet and saucy than on a BBQ grill. So if you are BBQ-less like us, a frying pan will still do the trick. Or you can do what we did and bring them over to your loved ones’ house with a grill and share them. Sharing is caring – happy summer y’all.

galbi ribs table

Canada Day dinner at my moms: Indian spiced chicken, kale salad, shrimp skewers, grilled zucchini, Korean galbi ribs, and eggplant curry. Not shown, is the onion rice.

Korean Beef Short Ribs (Galbi or Kalbi)

The best way to get invited (and hopefully re-invited) to cottages and pool parties is probably to bring meat and by meat, I mean specifically, these Korean beef short ribs called galbi or kalbi. Take it from a culture that specializes in grilled meats - these ribs are the perfect combination of salty, sweet and jam-packed with flavour.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, kid-friendly, meat, mom, nut-free
Servings: 4
Author: ness

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds beef short ribs (cut 1/4" to 3/8" thick)
  • 1 large onion
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb sized piece ginger
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free tamari soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Canola or grapeseed oil for grilling
  • Chopped green onions and sesame seeds for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Trim the ribs of any excess fat. In a blender or food processor, combine onion, garlic and ginger and puree into a paste. Combine with tamari soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, pepper, and water. Stir to combine.
  • In a large deep sided plate, add a thin layer of the marinade. Add a single layer of ribs and cover with more marinade. Continue until all ribs are in dish and pour any remaining marinade over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat grill pan or BBQ to high heat. When hot, reduce heat to medium and lightly brush with oil. Add a single layer of ribs. Cook for a few minutes or until blood starts to show on top. Flip and cook for a couple more minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
Recipe aadapted from Maangchi.
Easy Perfectly Cooked Bacon

Easy Perfectly Cooked Bacon

Weekend brunch is so over-rated. The line ups alone are enough to kill me. Seriously, I cannot even bear it. I see it all the time – huge lines outside popular brunch spots, folks just waiting around, probably hangry, to get a table. I’ve been guilty of the same thing, waiting sometimes up to an hour during prime brunch time to sit down with friends over coffee and eggs, etc. And all the while, I always thought to myself, damn, with the same money and time I spent waiting for brunch, I could have just MADE brunch. In my PJs.

bacon on foil

Now feeding a crowd can be daunting – I totally get that. I hosted a birthday brunch for my sister this past weekend and I made a lot of different things. I had some hearty eaters coming, 11 adults and 2 kidlets in total, and these included several food allergies/intolerances including nuts, gluten, and sesame. To accommodate, I made a huge spread of sweet and savory dishes so everyone could enjoy a bit of something.

table

The menu included (clockwise from top left): Potato crusted quiche, chocolate chip waffles, mixed berries, croissant BLTs with brie, jalapeno cheddar cornbread waffles, melon kebabs, bacon, and berry stuffed french toast.

For me, I really had to plan ahead and I tried to be as organized as possible, especially to prepare all this in my tiny kitchen. Here’s how it went down:

cheddar waffles

Week Before: I mapped out my menu, figured out my colour theme (black, white, polka dots), and created a shopping list by store and item (i.e. Costco – bacon, cheese,  etc.) and shopped for the groceries and decor during the week after work. I also set the table and got all the cutlery, cups, decor set up a couple of days before. I made the waffles in the evenings and reheated them during the brunch which saved a lot of time.

cupcake

These are the cupcakes I baked for dessert. I used nut-free/gluten-free chocolate cake mix from Kinnikinnick and everyone enjoyed them, especially my niece and nephew who ended up bouncing off the walls afterward.

Night Before: I baked the cupcakes and frosted them the night before and scooped out the melons for the kebabs. I also made the potato crusted quiche and ordered take out for dinner. D was a huge help and his puttering around after me and washing up made the whole process a lot easier.

IMG-20140517-WA0002

Morning of Brunch: I made the french toast filling and pan-fried them before keeping them warm on a baking sheet in the oven at 170 degrees for about 45 minutes. I reheated waffles, put out fruit, assembled sandwiches, and made a lot of bacon.

Whenever I’ve hosted a party, no matter how organized I tried to be, I generally had a bit of a meltdown about 20 minutes before guests arrived. Not this type of meltdown, more like this. This time it was over forgetting to get/make coffee. Oh well, it worked out in the end with my cousin doing a Tim Horton’s run on her way over. Despite my best efforts to be organized, invariably something always goes a little awry where I go a little mental, but thankfully, I tend to calm down once everyone starts to eat. D has also become very skilled at snapping me out of my crazy.

bacon on tray after baking

Brunch can be made a lot easier too by baking the bacon in the oven. You can make tons of it, and it comes out perfectly every time with almost no cleanup. Menu-wise, your guests would probably be happy with a cup of coffee, boatloads of bacon and some simple eggs and toast. I know I would. But probably not as happy as these people.

brunch happy

 

Easy Perfectly Cooked Bacon

Brunch can be made a lot easier too by baking the bacon in the oven. You can make tons of it, and it comes out perfectly every time with almost no cleanup. Menu-wise, your guests would probably be happy with a cup of coffee, boatloads of bacon and some simple eggs and toast. I know I would.
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: corn-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, kid-friendly, meat, nut-free, paleo, soy-free
Servings: 6 people
Author: ness

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 to 2 pounds bacon

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Lay slices of uncooked bacon side by side, close that they are just barely touching but not overlapping. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked to your desired crispiness up, to 20 minutes. Use tongs (or chopsticks) to remove bacon and place on paper towel lined plate to absorb excess fat and serve immediately.
For cleanup, let the oil in tray cool slightly and pour it into a container and refrigerate. To discard, let the fat cool completely and discard in the foil.
For extra crispy bacon, lay a metal cooling rack over the foil and place bacon strips over top before baking.
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn.

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