Dessert: Jell-O Candy

An oldie but a goodie is here today!

My mom’s hit dessert when she used to throw me birthday parties when I was a little girl are these yummy Jell-O treats. Its probably why to this day, I love Jell-O so much! Not even sure why. Much opposite from my husband who doesn’t like the texture. These little rainbow Jell-O candies take a few hours and a little patience but not a whole lot of ingredients. They look colorful and usually are a cheerful addition to a party.

Jell-O Candy

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Ingredients
(for 5 layer Jell-O Candy)

5 boxes of Jell-O Candy (go for 3 darks to contrast with 2 lights)
5 pouches Unflavored gelatin
Boiled Water

Other items:
Liquid Measuring Cup
9×13 inch Glass Dish

How to make it

  1. Pour one pouch of Jell-O and one pouch of Unflavored gelatin into your liquid measuring cup. Dissolve with boiled water, aim for the 300 – 350 mL mark in order to have enough liquid to cover the bottom of the glass dish.
  2. Let it cool, then pour it into the glass dish. Make sure it covers the entire bottom.
  3. Place it into the fridge for 30 minutes or until it is solid.
  4. Boil more water (if needed) while you wait and prepare for the next layer.
  5. Follow instructions 1-4 for the next layers.
  6. Let sit in fridge overnight (optimally), if not, for a few hours. The longer it has to cool in the fridge, the better the texture.

Colorful and simple, although a little bit more time consuming and requires some patience, but the payoff is well worth it. Maybe a bit of it is nostalgia talking and because I really love eating this. I make this as a treat when there’s some special occasion. In this case, it was for my friend’s birthday and she likes this Jell-O candy thing.

Cardinal Tea Room (Montreal, Canada)

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Last weekend turned out to be pretty busy as well. On the mission to buy some flowers to decorate the house, as I usually do every year for Chinese New Year, my friend took me to the Cardinal Tea Room for lunch on the way. For those of you who don’t know, I love tea. Love it so much and obviously, seeing as I (used to) bake a lot (and would if I have more time), I love sweets and pastries and the likes. This cute little place seemed right up my alley.

Let’s go!

Cardinal Tea Room

Decor

Cardinal Tea Room

Cardinal Tea Room

Cardinal Tea Room is very welcoming. In fact, its almost like walking into another world. Its quaint and cute with lots of more antique sort of elegance to it. There’s old books in wooden bookcases and mirrors and old-fashioned lights. There’s a beautiful chandelier hanging in the centre of their two storey tea room and a piano near the stairs. The places are decorated with these green lights that we’d usually see at older libraries.

Tea, Pastries & Sandwiches

Cardinal Tea Room

Oolong Tea

Cardinal Tea Room

Sausage Rolls

Cardinal Tea Room

Blueberry Scone (my friend’s pastry)

Cardinal Tea Room

Open-face Sandwich (my friend’s lunch)

Cardinal Tea room

Cardinal Cake: Apple & Walnut Tart

Nice presentation with their very beautiful plates along with delicious food makes this place very nice. While these are rather simple things, the sausage roll is really good for one. The apple tart was really nice. I’m personally not a huge fan of walnut and somehow apple and walnut seems like an odd combination, maybe pecans would be better. However, this tart did grow on me, maybe a hint of the cinnamon (I think) made it tasty. My friend had the blueberry scones which is made with some milk ingredients, cream I believe, so I didn’t get to try it and I wasn’t into sandwiches, but I believe it was good. However, I was impressed with the tea selection although I would have liked a better selection of Chinese tea but that isn’t their crowd probably.

Overall, Cardinal Tea Room is a lovely little tea and pastry restaurant. The service was good and the decor is cozy and charming. The food is pretty good and the tea selection is nice. Definitely somewhere I would like to go again.

Dinner: Pork Tenderloin Roast

Time for another recipe time! Today its all about dinner.

Last week’s new recipe tryout was for a Pork Loin Roast. We don’t tend to make loin roast, just because they take a long cooking time and we don’t plan our meals that extravagantly, like marinate the day before or whatnot. However, we did buy it so we decided to give it a go. I often find the best recipe book for dinners with cool, fun and quick meals are in my Looneyspoons book and I’ve done a lot of those recipes over here for it, especially in the earlier recipe days. Now I have more choices and Pinterest is always a good place to find all sorts of recipes.

Here we go!

Pork Tenderloin Roast
(‘The Loin King’ from  The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet & Greta Podleski)

Pork Tenderloin Roast

Ingredients
Makes 10 servings

Marinade
1/4 cup each brown sugar and ketchup
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp curry powder, ground coriander and ground ginger
1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 boneless pork loin roast (4lbs/1.8kg)

  1. Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Place pork in a large, heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Add marinade and seal bag. Turn bag several times to coat roast with marinade. Marinate overnight in refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F. Remove pork from bag and place on a rack set in a shallow roasting pan. Reserve marinade. Roast pork, uncovered, from about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. Meat thermometer should read 155F.
  3. While roast is cooking, pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 minutes. Brush roast generously with marinade during last 20 minutes of cooking time.
  4. Remove roast from oven. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

To be fair, other than the marinating part overnight, making this one was pretty easy. Plus, it helps that this recipe also turned out pretty good. I’m one of those odd people who do love adding ketchup into marinade and liking that tangy taste it gives. Adding onto the fact that the spices are pretty good as well, it loved it a lot. We did end up skipping the bring the reserved marinade to boil in a saucepan (#3 of instructions) mostly because my husband said that the marinade will heat up in the oven. Which I can’t really argue with especially since it all worked out in the end.

Do you like to make roasts? How do you like to make them? What spices do you like using?

Breakfast Dinner: Portobello Mushrooms & Eggs

2017 is going to be a huge goal of trying to get back to a healthier lifestyle. With that said, cooking is going to be a bigger part of our life. At least we’re really trying to do more homecooked meals.

In the last few months of 2016, I started having a huge love for Portobello mushrooms. Add into our love for breakfast food and eggs in general, I thought about doing something like this for a while and decided this past weekend that with the remaining two Portobello mushrooms left in the pack, I could try this one out. I took some inspiration from the site below for cooking times but I didn’t really season with anything fancy.

Portobello Mushrooms & Eggs

Portobello Mushrooms & EggsRecipe inspired by: http://healthyrecipesblogs.com/2013/11/04/eggs-baked-in-portobello-mushrooms/

Ingredients
Makes 2 servings

2 Portobello mushrooms
2 eggs
Salt & pepper to season
a dash of Herbes des Provences
olive oil, to spray

How to make it

  1. Preheat broiler, setting temperature to high. Set oven rack in the middle and line the baking sheet with foil.
  2. Spray the mushroom caps with olive oil cooking spray on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil 5 minutes on each side.
  3. Remove mushrooms from oven. Switch oven from broil to bake, setting temperature at 400F.
  4. Break an egg in each mushroom. Sprinkle with Herbes des Provences.  Bake 15 minutes, until egg whites are cooked.
  5. Sprinkle the egg with a dash of salt and pepper. Serve.

If you follow the link above, you can see the variation is to sprinkle with cheese. Which would be our first choice except we ran out of lactose-free cheese (for myself) so I used herbs instead. And that worked out quite well. A note to remember would be to avoid sogginess to wipe clean instead of washing the mushroom. I only remembered that as I turned on the faucet and tried to soak up the water as much as I could. It wasn’t too soggy luckily.

Overall, simple and easy. I really loved the taste of this one and to be honest, I’ve been thinking about heading out to get some more portobello mushrooms and adding cheese to the mixture and it should taste even better.

How do you like to make mushrooms? What variety do you use?

Restaurant: Portus 360

It feels like a while since I’ve gone out to explore some new restaurants. After a lovely Christmas Eve meal with my foodie friends, they asked me out for a Friday night out for dinner. I could never say no especially when good company and food are the combination, along with their little one, who just steals everyone’s heart. Let’s just say, I needed a hug that day and the first thing I got was a hug. The restaurant we decided to go to was Portus 360, which is new and takes over the restaurant previously there when it was the Delta Hotel which is now EVO, a student housing building or something like that. Portus 360 is located on the top floor of a tall building. The floor rotates 360 so that as you eat, you can drink in the views of Montreal and on the windows, it also marks where you are looking out into. We’ve all never actually eaten at the previous restaurant but its something we’d like to try out, especially for the 360 view of Montreal.

Portus 360 is a portuguese restaurant and we shared a few tapas plates. Unfortunately, my pictures of the 360 were blurry so nothing to show here except for the food.

Portus 360 

Bread and Olives

Portus 360

Wine

Portus 360

Via Latina is the white wine that our waitress chose for us when we requested something sweet and fruity (I believe). It is a sparkling wine and while we weren’t too sure about it at first. My friend who is the harder one to please in terms of wine approved, we took it. It tasted pretty good. I’ve never had portuguese wine before and its a pleasant experience.

Soup & Portuguese Tapas

Portus 360

Sopa Alentejana (Salted Cod Soup with Poached Egg)

Portus 360

Pasteis de Bacalhau (Cod Croquettes)

Filetes de Sardinha Grelhados (grilled sardine fillets, bread croutons)

Filetes de Sardinha Grelhados (grilled sardine fillets, bread croutons)

Portus 360

Polva Grelhado (Grilled Octopus)

Portus 360

Lulas Recheadas (Stuffed Calamari)

Portus 360

Costela Curta Estufada (braised short rib)

The only thing out of this meal that I didn’t try was the soup. I’m no connoisseur of Portuguese cuisine and I rarely eat tapas but as pricey as Portus 360 might be or as gimmicky it may also be to have the 360 view of Montreal and probably the price tag is for that, the food here is really good. The cod croquettes were delicious. The grilled octopus was perfectly chewy and tender (unlike the last experience I had at another restaurant a few months ago). The stuff calamari was so awesome. The braised short rib was a little salty for my taste but the texture of the dish itself was great. Now, I think that when a restaurant can transform something that someone doesn’t particularly enjoy into a good experience is one of the best feelings ever to the person eating. I personally am not a fan of sardines. It has too many bones and I don’t like the texture but somehow as I took my piece of the sardine fillets and bread croutons, there was a really nice balance. I’m still not a fan of the tiny bones that sardines have but I couldn’t help wondering what they put on the bread croutons and the lovely cooked pepper or tomatoes or onion touch on the top. It was really tasty and a great Portuguese dining experience. I do want to go back one day and try out their actual main dishes. Some of the items look particularly interesting.

Portus 360

Some other things to mention is that the decor is very nice. At one point, we turn to this seafood market sort of thing and we can look at the fresh seafood they have. Its a very nice touch. On top of that, our waitress was great. She chose a good wine and she was polite and very helpful and patient. She made sure to remind me a second time about what had dairy products and that I should stay away from, which is always appreciated, when the dishes arrived on top of telling me when we ordered. It is these little things that make a dining experience feel complete. Sure, Portus 360 is a tad pricy, but sometimes I think its nice to have special occasions to celebrate where we have great food, good service and beautiful views, add on the awesome company and it makes it worth it.

With that said, I’ll probably post again when I go another time (when I do). I believe I might take my husband and my mom next time.

Have you had Portuguese food? What do you like?

TV Binge: Chef’s Table (Season 2, 2016)

If you  missed Season 1 TV Binge of Chef’s Table, you can find it HERE.

I’m not much of a documentary girl, very much less a documentary series girl but Chef’s Table is about chefs and creativity and food. To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about the world renowned chefs despite being a food lover. There’s something so charming in learning about how someone pursues what they love. In this case, its being a chef but there’s a lot to learn when looking at someone’s story that can apply even if you aren’t particularly pursuing a chef dream but rather a creative goal. I love listening to someone’s stories and their experience and that is what made me love watching the first season of Chef’s Table. It took a little while to get onto Season 2 but I’m excited! However, keep in mind that I did watch this a little while back and never had the time to write up the review so maybe some details might be fuzzy but it was a memorable series.

Chef’s Table (Season 2, 2016)

chefs-table-s2

Chef’s Table goes inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world’s most renowned international chefs. Each episode focuses on a single chef and their unique look at their lives, talents and passion from their piece of culinary heaven. – IMDB

Chef’s Table is a documentary that truly takes a nice look at chefs. I like the stories and the lessons that they offer as well as the eye-opening creativity. This time, there’s Grant Alinea who decides to create a meal on a table. Alex Atala that takes Brazilian cuisine and Amazonian ingredients and incorporates it into his dishes. There’s Dominique Crenn who serves a menu which is a beautiful poem. Enrique Olvera who takes on the challenge of making known Mexican street food into fine cuisine to show that his culture can have more. Then, there’s self-taught chef, Ana Ros in Slovenia who cooks out of her house and has her husband as the sommelier to make a great team. Last, there’s Anand Gaggan who lives in Indonesia but has an Indian restaurant who took quite the journey to get to where he is now.

I can’t highlight everything and I think their stories are best felt when you watch the series which I highly recommend but these are a few of my favorite episodes. There’s only six so its a little hard to narrow down but I felt the most inspired by these ones.

Episode 1: Grant Achatz, Alinea – “Turning a meal into an emotional experience”

Chef's Table

Usually, the showstopper of the Chef’s Table season is the story of the first chef they highlight. In this case its Grant Achatz who owns Alinea in Chicago. Every chef has their unique approach and his story is one where he turned what he grew up with into something more creative that would break the norms. His history tells us that even the most successful people grow through different people they meet (which is a similarity between a lot of the chefs in this series). They also have doubted their career but found enlightenment through another way. The dining experience at his restaurant is not only for the guests but for the ones cooking it in the kitchen also.

 

Episode 3: Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn

chef's table

Possibly one of my favorite episodes in the entire Chef’s Table seasons is this one with Dominic Crenn, the owner and chef of Atelie Crenn in San Francisco. She cooks with the focus on the importance of memory and telling a story. Her menu is a poem and she serves it with the intention of making the dining experience a feeling. There isn’t much more to say but the episode itself and her story is one that I just fell in love with, especially her food as well.

 

 

Episode 6: Gaggan Anand, Gaggan

Chef's Table

Everyone has a hard story of how they became successful in in Anand Gaggan’s case, it was being the best restaurant in Asia. He talks about Indian food being a religion. He takes the ingredients and makes it into something more to emphasize its importance. Other than great dishes, I think his story is one of the most heartfelt as he talks about his support system and his brother. The failures and decisions he had to make to get to where he is now.

Overall, the second season of Chef’s Table seems to have a common theme of not only passion and creativity but also that these chef’s look not only for recognition but to be proud of their culture, their upbringing and to share their story in their food and create an unforgettable dining experience that isn’t just in their taste buds but a complete experience. These are inspirational stories.

Salon des Metiers d’Arts of Montreal Haul!

Winter is here! Christmas is right around the corner. What does this mean? Gift shopping and every year for the last few years, I would go with friends to check out the Salon des Metiers d’Arts de Montreal. In translation, it is the Montreal Arts and Crafts Show.

This show has free entrance and especially for the food and wine vendors, there are free tastings. Another addition is that it focuses on smaller Quebec vendors (at least nearby). It is a great place to see what is new on the market and learn about the new products.

Usually, I go to these shows and pick up ice ciders or ice wines but this year, somehow I had a change of heart and focused on other things. Maybe its because we went to the Magog event: Festival des Vendanges (post HERE). Lets check it out! 🙂

Timothee Tartinier Gourmand

Salon des metiers d'arts montreal

I actually picked up two items from this place. The other one I split with my friend and I forgot to take it back which is a roasted hazelnut spread. This one up there is gourmet popcorn with flavors of chocolate, vanilla and caramel. It was my husband’s gift for all the hard work and long hours he’s had to endure the last few weeks. He tasted it and loved it. You can check out this place HERE.

Ferme Guy Rivest

Salon des metiers d'arts montreal Salon des metiers d'arts montreal

Have you ever tasted fruit pearls? I haven’t. I’ve seen them before and they look cool. I just never figured out how it would work with what we eat and didn’t see the need for it. This year, I wanted to try something new and these ladies looked nice so I went over to try it out. The passion they have for these products are fantastic. Ferme Guy Rivest sells five flavors (I believe): strawberry, raspberry, apple, blueberry and cranberry. If I’m missing well, you can always go check out their site HERE. I ended up getting the raspberry. They suggested to use it either as a topping on appetizers like cracker and cheese (which was their display product) or its good to put inside champagne or wine which is what I intend on doing.

i-Sens

Salon des metiers d'arts montreal

A  new vendor at the show (I think) is this gourmet maple syrup/fruit pearls/organic tea place called iSens. The owner is chef and world traveller Philippe Morin and the maple syrup, from what he tells me is sold internationally. I bought this vanilla flavored maple syrup but also tried their Yuzu flavor and Ginseng one as well. While those latter two were pretty good, I just couldn’t decide who I could give it to that would appreciate it the same way and how to use it. However, Vanilla is also quite gourmet and there was no hesitation in getting it. It seems good to make desserts or pancakes. You can check out iSens and their products, including the fruit pearls which have mango and passion fruit flavors HERE.

La Nougaterie

Salon des metiers d'arts montreal

I buy from La Nougaterie every year. They make delicious soft nougat. My absolute fave is Christmas Nougat which they didn’t have last year so I made it point to get it this year. Its great to cut up into pieces and serve at parties. My husband likes the honey and almond and chocolate ones so I get those for him. I’m thinking of giving away the Lavender as a little gift. Lavender is a tricky ingredient to use but they actually retain a good balance, floral but never overpowering. We also went to their shop at Ile d’Orleans a year or two ago. You can check it out HERE. Did I mention that they expanded their line quite a bit with meringue and candies and my absolute fave, marshmallows!

Coach House Shortbread Company

Salon des metiers d'arts montreal

Also, a recent addition to annual buys which works so cute as gifts. I believe in giving food as gifts a lot because its absolutely great to have and its something to share with everyone especially as a general gift. While they come in salty flavors with cheese and herbs in four different varieties, I always go for these sweet ones. I usually would get sugar plum since its so festive but this year, I changed that up for Lavender and the other two flavors are Ginger (which is for myself) and Dark Chocolate/Fleur de Sel. There’s a ton of other flavors and you can find them HERE.

Domaine Labranche

Salon des metiers d'arts montreal

I can’t go to these shows and not buy at least one bottle of ice cider, right? C’mon! That just wouldn’t be right. Fire Cider didn’t quite originate in this show with Domain Labranche but we’re not here to talk about that company. However, Domaine Labranche stole my heart last year when they introduced Fire Cider but as a hot cider drink. You can make it with cinnomon stick and it’ll have this delicious apple and cinnamon smell that just gives off a lovely scent through the house. Its like the drink you picture drinking on a cold winter’s night and its snowing outside and the fireplace is roaring. Yeah…the thought of it all was what happened when I had the fire cider so there was no question when I tasted it again and just fell in love again. I’m actually starting to like fire ciders quite a bit. The way its made gives the drink a nice smooth taste. You can check out Domaine Labranche HERE.

We learned at the show that they also are a vineyard, orchard and maple shack. Maybe we’ll consider it the next time we look for those activities.

Rustique Design by Pascal Normand

Salon des metiers d'arts montreal

Surprising that it isn’t food to end it all off, right? I’ve been looking for artwork for some walls on my house. We’ve moved in for two years and its been a gradual climb to getting it all decorated. As much as I do have complaints about Montreal here and now, which I don’t share here, Montreal is a beautiful city and adding in the rustic feeling on some of the landmarks makes for a really nice touch. This art is called Rustique Design by Pascal Normand. You can check out more HERE.

And thats it! Montreal Crafts Show had a few new vendors. There are still a lot of the same but in general, its a nice place to get gift ideas and seeing as its free entrance, even if you don’t pick up anything, its a nice 2 to 3 hour walking away activity, which is always fun.