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Oistins' Sign

We were lucky enough to have the chance to vacation in the beautiful island of Barbados. The people as well as the food were the many highlights of our 2 week trip. Our first stop was at Oistins where they have their Friday Fish Fry.

Outside Chillin & Grillin

Chillin & Grillin

We had the pleasure of checking out an eatery called Chillin & Grillin. This was one of the hot spots at Oistens as the lineup was literally out the door and around the corner. We also had a front row view of the chef grilling the seafood.

Grilled Shrimp with Macaroni Pie and Coleslaw

Grilled Shrimp

Now Barbados is one of the key places to get some of the freshest seafood. We had the grilled Shrimp and the size of the Shrimp were no joke! They were beyond succulent plus the Macaroni pie, which is a staple for each meal in Barbados, was just the way we like it. We are big fans of Coleslaw and this particular one does not disappoint. We were very glad that this was our introduction to this island.

Inside of Lemon Arbor's bar area

Lemon Arbour

Now when we arrived on the island, we were told that we MUST go to Lemon Arbour especially on a Saturday. Thankfully we arrived midday because the tables were filling up very quickly. This was absolutely the place to be.

Fried Pork with Macaroni Pie & Pasta salad

Fried Pork

We discovered that one of the most popular dishes on the menu was the Fried Pork. I can definitely speak for myself when I say that I LOVE PORK! So when I heard about the Fried Pork I knew that it was a must try. The amount of flavour in the Fried Pork was unreal. Even when I saved some for later I kept picking at the pork, even though it was room temperature, because it was that great. And of course, you know we had to have our Macaroni pie on the side. Not too creamy which worked for us.

Scenery outside of Lemon Arbor

Scenery outside of Lemon Arbour 

 

Now we know you want to see more so stay tuned for Part 2 of our Barbados getaway!

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Hey yall, it’s me again and summer is finally here, so I figured why not welcome it with open arms. This month it’s all about BBQ! Why not start your culinary summer season right with perfecting your signature BBQ chicken. Have you ever had BBQ and its either super burnt and dry, because the cook had to make sure it was cooked all the way through. Or, what about that BBQ chicken that looks super juicy and nice on the outside, and when you cut into it you discover; it’s not cooked!!

I wanted to give you all some super helpful tips that were shared with me when I was a little girl by my brother (who is an international professional chef…can you tell I’m beaming…Lol!) and they have never failed me when Barbequing. I ended up becoming the official grill chef at home before I was 11.

Tip #1: Season your meat. Traditionally in our culture we ensure that the meat is WELL seasoned. It can be marinated in a bevy of spices, fresh herbs and vegetables. So why not crack open that pantry. Don’t be afraid to try spices you may not use often to give your marinade a unique flavor each time.

Tip #2: Start with a clean well oiled grill. This step is crucial because you want to make sure that to end right you have to start right. Making sure your grill is clean and well oiled ensures that your tender loving chicken won’t stick while it’s grilling to perfection.

Tip #3: Don’t get flip happy. Once you place your chicken on the grill, just relax, have a drink and don’t be tempted to constantly open the grill and flip the chicken. Each time you do, more heat escapes from the grill and with every flip you risk the chance of breaking up your chicken. Once the chicken turns opaque and has a little give, give it a flip!

Tip #4: Clear juices are your natural timer. If you are wondering when your chicken is ready for BBQ sauce, just check for clear juices. A tender squeeze or press on your piece of chicken will expel clear juices once cooked through (and when I say clear I mean clear). Your chicken at this point will be ready to be dressed in your BBQ Sauce.

Tip #5: Sticky chicken = finger licking. You want to keep your chicken on the grill with the BBQ sauce just until your chicken starts to get a nice shine to it and looks just a bit sticky. What you are looking for is all the sugars in the BBQ sauce to start to caramelize. At this point your chicken will be perfectly done with just the right amount of char from the grill.

I hope these 5 tips help bring you delicious BBQ all summer this year.

BBQ Chicken, Coleslaw, Corn on the Cob, Guacamole, Mango Salsa, Tomato Salsa

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Wood burning stone pizza oven

Old Kingston Road in the East-end Scarborough has many historical places. Fratelli Village Pizzeria is one of the restaurants that adds that cultural feel to such a close-knit community. From the beautiful wood burning stone oven to the aroma of fresh pasta in the air, we could automatically feel the love in this family-owned eatery!

Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dip

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Dip

One of the steeples in any authentic Italian restaurant is the Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dip that accompanies the fresh in-house bread. What can we say…We love to play with our food and that was apparent when we used the pieces of bread to mix the Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar together. To us, it looked like a fun science experiment that we got a chance to take part in.

Seafood Risotto with Mussels, Shrimp and Spinach in a tomato sauce

Seafood Risotto

I think that it is safe to say that we have a weakness for Risotto. I had the opportunity to try Mussels for the first time and I enjoyed it. The tomato sauce from this dish gave the Mussels and Shrimp a nice, smooth texture throughout the meal. We also appreciated the size of the Shrimp. They were not hidden in the Risotto because they were front an centre. Two thumbs way up!

A fresh piece of Salmon with a slice of lemon on the side

Fresh Salmon 

Our waiter was very accommodating when it came to the Salmon. He offered us the Salmon on the side and we could not refuse. The fragrance of the Salmon has us wishing that we were on a yacht sailing, but when we squeezed the lemon on top, that brought brightness to the fish. Eating the Salmon with the Seafood Risotto was a match made in Heaven.

Four Cheese Pizza - Parmesan, Swiss, Mozzarella, and Smoked Mozzarella Cheeses

Four Cheese Pizza

You can honestly never and I mean NEVER has enough cheese *insert heart eye emoji* This four…and yes we said FOUR Cheese Pizza was nothing short of spectacular. Now you have Parmesan, Swiss, Mozzarella, and Smoked Mozzarella cheese that just gave us a permanent smile on our faces. We could taste the difference in the way the pizza was made. The stone oven is one of the highlights of Fratelli Village Pizzeria because your pizza is brought to you in a matter of a few minutes.

Shrimp Pappardelle with sliced tomatoes, fresh pasta in a cream sauce

Shrimp Pappardelle

Fresh pasta in a creamy sauce…Can you say Bon Appetite! The cream sauce with the diced tomatoes were a beautiful combination. Can you tell that we could not get enough of the shrimp dishes! This is one of the dishes that we can admit that we absolutely ate with our eyes. More please.

Fratelli Pizza - Pepperoni, Bacon, Hot Sausage, Ham and Mozzarella

Fratelli Pizza

I love to called this one the “Meat Lovers” pizza. Having Fratelli’s name on this pizza means that your mouth is in for an awakening. Some of the top Italian meats, such as Pepperoni, Hot Sausage, Bacon, and Ham, all played a role in this masterpiece. The crispiness of the Bacon was my favourite part of this pizza. We could not resist a pizza that had all the fixings when it comes to meat.

Popeye Pizza - Goat cheese, Spinach, Prosciutto, Mozzarella, and Tomato sauce

Popeye Pizza 

Our final pizza that we had to try was the Popeye. It had the Spinach that provides the link for its namesake. The sprinkled Prosciutto that graced the top of the Popeye could not have been better. I was not entirely sure how the Goat Cheese would work with the other ingredients but I was proven wrong. The Goat Cheese added a smooth and creaminess to the pizza that we appreciated.

Fratelli Dessert - deep fried dough with cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar. Two scoops of Vanilla gelato is placed on top.

Fratelli Dessert

WE LOVED THIS DESSERT! This has turned into our guilty pleasure. The fried dough is so light and airy that we promise you will keep going back for more. Over some great conversation, you will find that you and your dinner guests will continue to peel away at this delectable treat. The Gelato is at the top of some of the best that we have ever had! When you go to Fratelli Village Pizzeria, you MUST order this dessert!

The chefs from Fratelli Village Pizzeria & I

We could not praise Fratelli Village Pizzeria enough! Fratelli means “Brother” in Italian and you can feel the love and family-oriented ambience of this restaurant. Superb service with excellent food is a recipe for longevity in our books.

Check out Fratelli Village Pizzeria at www.fratellis.ca 

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This month I thought it would be a good idea if I gave some tips on a really important step when baking or a “baking basic” as I like to call it. I thought about some of the most important baking steps, and pan preparation is at the top of the list.

It’s the worst when you work so hard at getting your measurements right; make this great batter or dough; set it to cook and it turns out fantastic. Only to go and remove your baked creation and it gets destroyed because it’s stuck!

Knowing how to prep your pans can save you when it comes to sacrificing your time, tasty bakes and most importantly – your pans. One thing to consider when you begin is different pans require different attention. Intricately shaped pans, spring foam pans, round or square; it’s good to know your pan. Does it bake evenly? Does it stick in certain areas? Are there any nooks that you have to pay attention to? These are just a few things to know about your equipment. Remember: the older the pan the more personality it has! So I can’t stress how important it is to be familiar with each one individually.

Pan Prep Image

Every baker has their own preference on the medium they use to prep their pans. Most often you can find majority of these items in your fridge or pantry. Butter, shortening, flour, or pan spray are the most popular mediums. In the kitchen of some bakers, you may find parchment paper or something called “pan grease” – a mixture of flour, shortening and oil.

The methods are similar when using butter or shortening. Once you have decided on the fat you will use, you can then coat it all over the inside surface of the pan using paper towel or parchment paper. Make sure you get it everywhere!

Take a small amount of flour, put it in the pan and move it around until the inside is completely covered. It’s super important to ensure everywhere is coated. Everywhere! This will ensure that parts of your cake won’t break or stick when you attempt to remove it.

Once the pan is covered completely, dust out any excess flour. Too much flour on the inside of the pan will present on the surfaces of your bake. And there you have it!

The second method is the one which I use; a combination of pan spray and parchment paper.

To prep your pan with these mediums, begin by spraying the entire inside surface of the pan lightly with the pan spray. Then, take a piece of parchment paper and trace the bottom shape of the pan, cut it out and place it inside along the bottom of the pan. Make sure it covers the entire bottom surface.

Pan Spray Image

Some bakers may choose to line along the inside walls of the pans with parchment as well. This can be a bit tricky as well as time consuming, especially the more detailed the shape of your pan is.

You can also choose to flour your pan the same way you would as described in method 1, except here you are replacing the fat with pan spray. This may be especially helpful if you are using a shaped pan or a pan that you know tends to stick.

And there you have it, your pan is prepped!

Parchment Round Image

Normally these methods can be used when completing most bakes. However, a recipe will explain the pan preparation method to be used if it differs. A couple of things to keep in mind when your bake is complete: WARM BAKES ARE FRAGILE! Even though you may have prepped the pan like a champ, still be gentle when removing your bake.

Hopefully these pan prep tips will help you guys with your future bakes. Happy baking y’all!

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After recently returning from a trip to Cozumel, Mexico, I can’t help but have salsa on the brain! With summer approaching, I figured that this month would be a great one to talk about making salsas. The fresh cooling sensation of eating a homemade salsa compares to no other salsa experience and it is super easy to make.

Tomato Salsa

Salsa is one of those dishes I find is very versatile, the base ingredients include tomato, jalapeno, sweet onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. That’s it! Chop up these few ingredients mix them together, serve and enjoy! You know salsa can go with so many things such as: tacos, chips, salad, and grilled proteins; chicken, fish or steak. I mean the list is endless!

One of the things I love the most is that you can take those base ingredients and make a simple substitution and come up with a fantastic variation. For example, substitute the tomato for pineapple or mango, or both. If you prefer a salsa that is more sweet than savory; substitute the tomato for corn and voila, there are so many combinations.

Corn Salsa

Salsa is a very special dish, it can have such complex flavours made from such a simple preparation and ingredients. There are so many variations, apart from those that I mentioned. I encourage you to get creative!

If you want to take it up a notch, why not pair it with some homemade corn tortilla chips. Super simple just cut, fry, toss a little salt at the end and enjoy! Cinco de Mayo is around the corner and BBQ season is about to kick off so I hope these salsa suggestion add a lot of flavour to your summer ’17 season.

Corn & Tomato Salsas with homemade Tortilla Chips

For more information, please visit www.samssweetdesserts.com

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Garlic bread herb butter and prosciutto on top served on a wooden cutting board.

We have to say the eating at Jamie’s Italian at Square One Mall was an experience that we will never forget! Jamie Oliver’s restaurant makes you feel like you are in a eatery located in the heart of Italy. He has a unique way of transporting your tastebuds to the Italian coast.

Take for instance the Garlic Bread that we ordered off of the ‘Nibbles’ section of the menu. We loved the oozy, garlicky flavour and not to mention the herb butter that was delicately spread on top. And you know that garlic bread is not garlic bread unless you have thinly sliced Prosciutto cascading on each slice. There was no way that we could have passed up that kind of starter!

Prawn linguine with arugula and fennel on top

Famous Prawn Linguine 

Are we allowed to say that these prawns were to DIE for!?! They were the perfect size because with every bite there was a prawn to be had. We could taste the freshness of the tomato sauce and the classic Italian theme of garlic could be tasted with this prawns dish. Now we know that Arugula is typically used in salad but this was an unexpected, delicious additive. Some of the most crisp, refreshing seafood we have feasted on.

Italian style steak with fresh baby tomatoes on top. Seasoned fries are on the side.

Italian Steak & Fries

We’ll have our Steak medium please! This flat iron steak was a perfect, thin lean cut that had those signature grill marks that you look for. We agreed that the Salsa Rosso Crudo created that burst of acidity that did not overpower the dish. Having Italian-spiced skinny fries with our steak was absolutely the icing on the cake. Every bite of this dish was excellently seasoned and well executed!

 

Jamie’s Italian has two locations in Canada: Square One Shopping Centre and Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Check out Jamie’s Italian at www.jamieoliver.com/italian/canada  

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Weighing In with Chef Sam will feature short tips on different skills, techniques and tools that can be used when in the kitchen while either working on sweet or savory creations.

Sam's Sweets Logo

One of the things I like making the most is my own granola. Even though it may look super complicated because of the number of ingredients it can include, it is actually extremely easy to make. What I like the most about making my own granola, is that I can customize it to suit whatever flavour profile I am craving at the moment.

Granola generally involves the combination of some sort of grain (most often oats), an oil, sweetener (usually liquid), and any other additive you want to include like, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, etc.

I had some hemp ingredients that I wanted to try out so I decided to make my granola with oats, coconut, almond slices and hemp seeds, honey and hemp oil.

Granola Ingredients

Here’s a tip, I find quick cooking oats work the best as the granola doesn’t take much time to bake. This way you will get a tender oat texture once your granola is finished.

Once you decide what you want to include in your granola, mix it, place it on a sheet tray and bake it in the oven. It’s done as soon as you get the slightest whiff of it and it turns a golden brown.

Granola 2

And that’s it! Your own homemade granola.

For those of you who want to take it a bit further, try incorporating your newly created granola into another recipe. I decided to create my own cookie, and it turned out great. Give it a try and let us know how things turn out.

Oatmeal Granola Cookies

For more information, please visit www.samssweetdesserts.com

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Outside of Fred's Not Here restaurant

This year, I had the opportunity to attend Winterlicious. With over 10 years of Winterlicious experience under their belt, Fred’s Not Here was looking more and more like a must-try eatery. We chose an evening to feast at Fred’s Not Here, where steak and seafood count for some signature dishes.

Kale salad with Chopped Walnuts and Parmesan on top

Chopped Kale Salad

To start, I decided on the Chopped Kale salad with Miso Tahini dressing and chopped walnuts. I can’t deny that this was the perfect starter. In addition to the presentation, the salad displayed the perfect balance of crunch from the walnuts and the crispness of fresh kale, one that was not drenched in dressing.

Arugula salad with sprinkled Grana Padano cheese and Apple slices on the side

Salad of Arugula

The salad of Arugula, similar to the Kale salad, was great for cleansing our tastebuds. It was dressed with a desirable vinaigrette and fresh Grana Padano cascaded overtop. Salt and pepper to taste, and there we had an unconventional twist to an everyday classic.

Baked Lobster and Crab soup

Baked Lobster & Crab Soup

Now can we please talk about the Crab & Lobster soup! It was jammed packed with an explosive amount of Lobster flavour, but not too much to overpower the palette. The flaky pastry along with the sweet and buttery texture of the Crab was notably the best.

Black Label Beef Burger with a side of Duck fat Frites

Black Label Burger with Duck Fat Frites

The Black Label Burger featured a thick (and I mean THICK) cut of Angus beef with red onion, lettuce and tomatoes. The bun was savoury, almost as if baked in house just for this meal. Though it was the actual size of your average burger; this meal was not for one with a birdie appetite. The beef alone made up for a generous portion and when compiled with the toppings and bun, it made for a very large, messy and juicy experience.

The Duck Fat Frites resembled miniature thin cut French fries minus the grease and though it seems to be the cliché to have a side of fries, what’s a burger without the Frites, am I right?

Blacked Beef Filet (served Medium) with Shrimp Creole and Dirty Rice. Green Beans and Red Cabbage on the side.

Blackened Beef Filet with Shrimp Creole & Dirty Rice

To me, the Blackened Beef Filet with Shrimp Creole & Dirty Rice favoured a Caribbean dish. The seasoning had the right touch of spice that felt like a party in my mouth. The Beef Filet was ordered Medium and you could not get a more beautiful selection of meat. It was just melting in my mouth! Both the Shrimp Creole and Beef Filet complimented each other exceptionally well within this dish. A definite Surf ‘n Turf meal.

Lobster a l'Américaine - Roasted Lobster in a creamy Lobster sauce with Fettuccine

Lobster à l’Américaine

I can absolutely say that this has been some of the best seafood I have ever tried! The Lobster in this particular dish had to have been the catch of the day and not to mention, the Fettuccine was delightful. What I could appreciate by tasting this meal was that the cream sauce did not overtake the star of the show. Happiness on a plate if I do say so myself.

Mango and Berry Cheesecake with Chocolate drizzle underneath

Mango & Berry Cheesecake

I ordered my favourite dessert – Cheesecake. The restaurant featured a Berry & Mango cheesecake, which created the ideal fruit fusion of sweet and tangy. The taste of the cake was well balanced: Its texture was smooth, but not too rich and the portion size was substantial, but not overwhelming.

Mango, Berry and Lemon frozen fruit ice

Fresh Fruit Ice (Lemon, Mango and Berry flavours featured)

The Fruit Ice came as a trio. Mango, Lemon and Berry flavours made for a refreshing cool down for our warm entrées prior. Each flavour hit my taste buds with familiar fruit sensations. When we combined the fruit ice together, this created an interesting, tropical fruit fusion of tang and sweet without the heaviness of ice cream or the added guilt.

Baked Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding with Caramel drizzle

Baked Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding

As a lover of banana bread, this dessert really “took the cake!” The warmth of the Banana Bread Pudding paired with a drizzle of chocolate and the richness of the pudding was enough to impress any banana enthusiast. It honestly reminded me of an actual bowl of banana pudding. It is a shame we couldn’t take a whole container of this delicious dessert home.

Given this culinary experience, I would recommend Fred’s Not Here in a heartbeat for those who enjoy hearty meals and a relaxing vibe. Low lighting made for a calming atmosphere and the staff alike was friendly, humorous and provided excellent customer service.

 

Check out Fred’s Not Here at www.fredsnothere.com

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Outside Agave restaurant

To say that we love Mexican food is an understatement! Anytime we are in Atlanta we have to show our appreciation for the different types of food fusion that this beautiful city has to offer. Agave is another restaurant that we can add to the list of eateries that just touches a certain spot within us.

Agave Cayenne Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Corn

Agave’s Famous Cayenne Fried Chicken

Who said you can not have grilled Corn during Winter? When you see those grill marks on your plate, you know that you are in for a treat. The coating on this Fried Chicken has just the right amount of crispness and was seasoned to perfection. Now when we cut into this Chicken Breast…Need I say more! Ok, I will…The most tender piece of meat all thanks to the buttermilk preparation. Honestly we had a difficult time deciding what part of the meal to eat first. After careful consideration, we literally inhaled the grilled Corn in a few seconds!

The Agave menu featuring Entrees and Sides

We will absolutely vouch for the fact that you can never go wrong with a restaurant that aims to give you the best eating experience with some cultural history. With some of the best Mexican fusion in Atlanta, Agave is undoubtably the sweet nectar of the South!

Check out Agave Restaurant at www.agaverestaurant.com

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Spinach Dip with a Mexican Salsa on the side

This was our first time heading to J. Alexander’s in Dunwoody, GA and we can not say that we were disappointed! Whether it be enjoying a meal with a group of friends or having some quality time with your significant other, J. Alexander’s has exactly what you are looking for. From Mexican-style Spinach dip to a rustic, aged Mid-Western Prime Rib, there is something here for everyone.

Deviled Eggs with Bacon and Pickle Relish

Deviled Eggs

Who does not love a good serving of Deviled Eggs! They were sinfully delicious and the crispy, shreds of Bacon will have you salivating. The filling was smooth and the home-made Pickled Relish had us begging for more. We promise that you have never had Deviled Eggs like these. Period!

Cod Fish Tacos with Avocado and Chili Mayonnaise

Fish Tacos

Now if you are a loyal follower of our blog then you know that almost anywhere we go we have to try some form of a taco. We tried the Fish Tacos and the Cod that was used was so flaky and succulent. We love anything crispy so this was absolutely up our alley. The crunch of the Cabbage and the buttery taste of the Avocado was a balance that you would not expect to work, but it does! And please do not get us started with the Chili Mayo! Anything hot and spicy is what we live for.

Slow Roasted Prime Rib with Mashed Potatoes and Au Jus

Slow Roasted Prime Rib

We moved from eating Mexican to enjoying a Mid-Western aged Prime Rib. I took notice at how easily the knife slices through the Prime Rib with such precision. The “Smashed Potatoes” were scrumptious with the homemade Au Jus. I can admit that I made a well with my “Smashed Potatoes” and pored the majority of the Au Jus in the middle. I loved every bit of it! It is so much fun to play with your food.

 

Whenever you are in the Dunwoody area in Georgia, you need to stop by J. Alexander’s for your fixing of anything from Fish Tacos to a Prime Rib! Check out J. Alexander’s at www.jalexandersholdings.com

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