Living in a city as nice as Toronto, I am surrounded by many great restaurants. I try to cook at home most of the time, for health and economic reasons, but I am slowly scoping out delicious, cheap places to meet over food prepared by someone else.
Currently, some of my favourite places to eat out, if I must, include:
Folia Grill – excellent home-grown Greek fare with a delicious chicken gyro pita for $4
Sky Blue Sky – a quaint sandwich shop, with all under $5, including the suprisingly filling pulled pork sandwich. Chatting with the owner about the trendy (pulled pork) and less popular (cashew butter and cucumber) sandwiches is equally amusing when selecting your choice
The Fish Store – delicious fish sandwiches prepared from your choice of fresh fish, all under $10, and a delicious homemade lemonade for $3
Manpuku – my long-time favourite for Japanese, but you won’t find any sushi here. Their nikku udon (beef soup with udon noodles) is a great heart-warming dish for under $6
Guu – still Toronto’s newest sweetheart, with a second location expected in the Annexe, this is a popular Japanese izakaya (aka tapa-style bar). Everyone is welcomed as soon as they enter and leave the resto and the dishes have yet to disappoint me. All dishes are under $10, but the sizes are smaller and meant for sharing.
Pomegranate – a newer find that complements my latest love of Middle Eastern food. This is Persian food at its finest, at reasonable prices around $15.
Amaya – A bit of a splurge restaurant (mains under $20), especially since it is Indian, but I am enthralled by their butter chicken. If only I knew how to make it myself!
Canoe – This is arguably Toronto’s best restaurant and it has the price-point such that it is very elitist, and limited to special occasions only. You get what you pay for, and it is lip-smacking delicious. I really appreciate their use of local, unique ingredients, prepared, oftentimes, in a myriad of ways. I know these are dishes I would have a difficult time recreating at home, which is important for my restaurant adventures. While the written menu did not immediately appeal to me, I just had to ask the server to explain what each dish entailed. It is here that I had a surreal mushroom soup that tasted like apple due to the varieties used, and I had squab prepared in 3 different ways: marinated with Newfoundland screech, drenched in a Saskatoon berry sauce and served with a side of dinosaur kale.
Enough gushing over Canoe, because I like to post things I make myself on my food blog. Imagine my surprise when I saw Canadian Living had Canoe’s recipe for wild rice pudding with a rhubarb compote. I could now bring the taste of Canoe into my own kitchen. 🙂
It boasted a baked rice pudding with short-grain and wild rice within a orange- and cinnamon-scented creamy base, topped with a sweet-and-tart rhubarb compote.
While I have not had this at the restaurant, I might have to go there to try it out because my kitchen adventures were not as successful as I’d hoped. The rhubarb compote almost seemed to be in excess with the delicious flavours from the pudding. The wild rice added a nice crunch and the orange and cinnamon flavours blended well together, but my pudding was too thick for my liking. I wonder if there was too much evaporation during the baking? I think my substitutions were legit, but you never know. Maybe the recipe was meant to be a teaser, just to bring us back into the restaurant? 😉
Canoe’s Rice Pudding with Rhubarb Compote
1 1/3 cups 10% cream (I used 2/3 cup 35% whipping cream and 2/3 cup skim milk as per this substitution)
1/3 cup arborio rice or sushi rice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp grated orange rind
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 stick (3 inches/8 cm long) cinnamon
1 3/4 tbsp wild rice
1/4 cup 35% whipping cream
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cups chopped rhubarb (I think this would be equally delicious without the compote, so do not limit this dish to rhubarb season)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1. In large bowl, stir together cream, arborio rice, granulated sugar, orange rind, vanilla and nutmeg. Scrape into 10-cup (2.5 L) baking dish. Nestle cinnamon stick in rice mixture. Cover tightly with foil. Bake in 325°F (160°C) oven for 1 hour. Stir; cover and bake for 15 minutes longer.
2. Meanwhile, in saucepan of boiling water, cook wild rice until tender, about 45 minutes; drain and set aside.
3. Remove cinnamon stick from pudding; with fork, gently mix in wild rice and whipping cream; let cool. (Make-ahead: Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.) Sprinkle with brown sugar; broil until sugar melts and darkens slightly, about 4 minutes.
Rhubarb Compote: Meanwhile, in saucepan over medium-low heat, combine rhubarb and sugar; cook, without stirring, until softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in saucepan. Serve alongside pudding.