Yum, yum: National Hot Dog Month

After the National Post declared
hot dogs the victor
in the nutritional barbecue battle against the hamburger (at least, strictly in terms of calories), we
got thinking about our deeply rooted childhood love for hot dogs: from campfire-roasted spidey dogs to street meat to ballpark classics. With July being National Hot Dog
(yep, it’s worth all 31 days of this month), we round up the best diggity-dogs in the city.

you just don’t mess with a classic. 
The Stockyards (699 St. Clair Ave. W.) dog is all-beef with the traditional fixin’s:
mustard, ketchup and red onion. For another $1.50, you can hit it out of the (ball) park
with bacon and cracklings. Pork on pork on pork, yum…

Who doesn’t? 
(A rhetorical question, we know there are those that don’t indulge in the other white meat).
Image source.

For more in the pork bonanza, try a foot-long from Burkie’s
Dog House found in the ACC and at Real
Sports Bar
. Get ‘em covered in bacon, pulled pork, chili or mac and cheese
in one of their many heart-stopping varieties. For some true patriot love, dig into
the Poutine Dog made with hickory sticks – très bon, n’est-ce pas?

We swear, hickory sticks on a poutine-covered footlong is amazing.
Image source.

After savouring one of Quebec’s most beloved dishes, check
out The Little Dog (566 College St.) for another Montreal classic: steamies. Now, these are no
icky New York “waterdogs.” At Little Dog, they claim steaming is the only way
to go, locking in the flavour and juiciness whereas grilling causes the casing to split. True to their name, these
babies are the two-bite brownie of the hot dog world, ringing in at under $2. Bonus? It shares space with The Big Chill, so snack on some ice cream afterward.

Simple menu, outstanding flavour.

If it’s toppings (of the non-pork variety) you want, check
out The
Hot ‘n Dog
 (216 Close Ave.) With more than 120 condiments, you can load up your hot
dog – either a beef-pork blend or veggie – with everything from asparagus to
maple syrup to crumbled blue cheese. “Less is more” is definitely not the motto
of this Parkdale establishment.

When all else fails, hit up one of our city’s oldest and
most omnipresent “street food” hubs: the hot dog cart. The
cart at St. George and Beverly is the stuff hungover undergrad dreams are made
of. Plus, the same guy (we think) has been serving up U of T students for 20 years – hot

Joining the hot dog scene, Fancy Franks Gourmet Hot Dogs is set to open at 326 College
St. No word yet when we’ll be able to dig into their dogs, but you know we’ll be first in line. 

If you’re celebrating a month of hot dogs at home, get
creative with the condiments and nix the sodium-packed ketchup. Chatelaine
has fun alternative toppings for your cookout, including the “Mediterranean quartet”, “Enticing
Indian” and “Southern corn relish”. 

Dig in and enjoy. 

Yum, Yum: What to bring to a BBQ

We’re not ones to turn down an invite to a BBQ, especially not if the BBQ is held in a sunny backyard or rooftop patio, but sometimes we’re at a loss about what to bring. A potato salad or creamy coleslaw are classic sides, but after your fifth BBQ they can seem a bit staid. Not to fear! We’ve rounded up some of our favourite summertime recipes for y’all, keeping in mind the key tenets of hot weather cooking – easy, simple and fresh. 

Tri-Colour Slaw with Lime Dressing

We know, we just told you that coleslaw was too predictable. But hear us out. This recipe isn’t your traditional coleslaw; it features lots of bright colours and has a light, lime dressing in place of the mayo-based dressing you normally see. We also love throwing some shredded kale into the mix for a boost of macro-greens. 

Recipe via TheKitchn

Grilled Corn Salsa

This recipe requires a bit of on-site prep (unless you want to BBQ before getting to the BBQ), but thankfully you can prep everything else beforehand and add in the grilled corn before serving. It’s great with tortilla chips, as a side salad or even as a topping to grilled fish. 

Recipe via Spoon Fork Bacon.

Sriracha-Grilled Tofu

Looking for an alternative to veggie burgers or grilled peppers for your vegetarian friends? Try this Korean-inspired tofu dish. You need to prep it the night before, but trust us: it is a piece of cake. Show up to the BBQ with this dish and even your most carnivourous friends may swear off meat. 

Recipe via Bon Appetit

Pickled Red Onions

We recommend making a huge batch of these suckers and keeping them in your fridge. The recipe lasts for months and pickled red onions are so versatile — delicious with grilled meats, delightful on pork tacos or even as an unexpected burger topping. 

Recipe via David Lebovitz

Classic Icebox Cake

Alright, this is another “prepare ahead” dish, but! It only requires two ingredients AND is a dessert you can make without turning on your oven. Doesn’t get much simpler than that. And besides, who wants to turn on the oven in the middle of the summer? Not us, that’s for sure. 

Recipe via A Cozy Kitchen

Yum yum: Best sandwiches

Sandwiches are versatile – they work for pretty much any meal (kinda like pizza, right?). We’ve sampled at restaurants all over our city, so it was hard to narrow it down to just a few, but check out some of our favourite spots to grab a sandwich in Toronto. If you need further inspiration, blogTO has some additional choices in their recent sandwich round up (we didn’t copy, we swear!).

If you’re looking for variety, this is not your place. But if it’s the best pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches in the city you’re after, then look no further. Located a stone’s throw from Rosedale subway station, this sandwich bar is one we often find ourselves craving. They start out with the basics, including beef brisket, pulled pork shoulder, seared steak, roasted pulled chicken or tomato, pepper, arugula and eggplant. From there you can choose from a selection of house prepared sauces and toppings. Did we mention the brisket and pulled pork preparation process lasts five days?

What better place to get a grilled cheese sandwich than a shop that specializes in cheese? Don’t let the name deceive you, they have three locations across the city, all serving up delicious gourmet concoctions. Specialties change by day and location, but we have yet to meet a grilled cheese here we don’t like. We especially love their flavoured ketchups – the balsamic-infused version takes your sammy to the next level.

Bonjour Brioche 
We love a little French cuisine once in awhile, and the fare at this east end hot spot is bang on. While a number of things are droolworthy here (everything baked, for example) we also love the rare roast beef sandwich on a crusty-yet-soft baguette. The garlic aioli and Brie add delicious creaminess. Rare beef + baguette + Brie? No brainer.

If you’re in the market for a beef brisket, get over to Lou Dawg’s. They make all their sauces in house and their smoked beef brisket sandwich shows just how much love and tenderness they put into their menu. The briskets are smoked for 14 hours and then partnered with the Genuine Smokehouse BBQ sauce for unbeatable Southern-inspired flavour. 

The name says it all. If you are a huge lover of sandwiches, this is the place for you. From sliced rib eye to a fancy BLT to “The Classic” PB & J, the selection of sandwiches could have you choosing a different sandwich a day for two weeks, each one more decadent than the next. We especially love the Uncle Phil – a take on a Philly cheesesteak – but it’s best to eat that rich meal when you’re feeling good about your waistline.

Happy lunching! 

Yum, yum: Barque

A trip to Austin, Texas a few years back introduced us to the delectable world of Southern BBQ. Us northerners were hard-pressed to find anything similar, until a wave of BBQ joints popped up here in Toronto. The Stockyards was one of the city’s trailblazers, offering delectable fried chicken and pulled pork up on St. Clair West. Now the (relatively) new kid on (a different) block is Barque – purveyor of all things smoked, from ribs to brisket to cocktails.

Photo via Blog TO.

Self-identified by chef-owner David Neinstein as “Toronto’s Urban Smokehouse”, Barque puts a downtown spin on the classic BBQ joint combining a comprehensive wine list and craft beers with smoked ribs, brisket and chicken. They also find playful uses for their signature candied bacon, such as rimming the glass of their Caesar.  

Photo via Blog TO.

We recently went to Barque for dinner and were seated at their back bar, overlooking the kitchen. For those who are interested in what goes on behind-the-scenes, this is the best spot in the house! It also helps when kitchen staff slip you a few pieces of candied bacon to nibble on while looking over the menu.

We decided to start off with the pulled lamb nachos ($10), followed by the sampler platter for two ($38). We highly recommend getting the sampler platter, as it allows you to, uhh, sample many different meats. You can choose three out of the following options – pork ribs, beef ribs, brisket and chicken – along with two sides. All of the sides are delicious, but we highly recommend the pickled platter as it’s the perfect complement to the smokey meat.

Eating Barque’s beef ribs made us feel like Fred Flintstone (we mean this in the best way possible), and their brisket was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. While we rarely order chicken when dining out, Barque made us reconsider our stance. They tout their chicken thighs as “Competition Winning” and we can see why.

We would definitely go back to Barque for dinner and can’t wait to try out their brunch menu as well. They also offer a “Family Dinner” on Sunday night, served as a prix fixe, family-style meal. Best of all? They accept reservations, a rarity in Toronto these days. 

Barque is at 299 Roncesvalles Ave. Visit their website for more info or find them on Twitter and Facebook


Yum, yum: Spiced Tilapia Sandwich with Onion Salad

Summer screams for barbecue: greasy, juicy burgers, creamy potato salad and bright yellow ears of corn slathered with butter and a generous helping of salt. The thought of all of those tasty dishes makes our arteries clog! Oh, how deathly delicious. 
We recently picked up a copy of Canadian Living’s The Barbecue Collection to expand our grilling repertoire. With this hit of inspiration, we are in full force planning backyard bashes and cozy cook-outs. 
We tried out this tilapia sandwich recipe first, since it sounded delicious and seemed pretty easy to make. Coming in at 480 calories, the sandwich will not only satiate your taste buds, but it’s also waistline friendly (as long as you stick to a salad as a side instead of chips or something creamy). A great choice after a summer of indulging in burgers, chicken wings, beer and other high calorie treats.
Spiced Tilapia Sandwich with Onion Salad

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp each salt and pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
4 tilapia or catfish fillets, each 6 oz/175 g
4 tsp olive oil
8 slices of thickly cut bread or buns*

*We hit up a local bakery for some soft artisan buns.
Onion Salad
1 cup thinly sliced white or sweet onion
1 tsp salt
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
4 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp paprika
Tahini Yogurt Sauce
¼ cup plain yogurt*
3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp hot pepper sauce
*we substituted Greek yogurt for plain. It’s thicker and packs a protein punch.
Onion Salad
Toss onion with 1 tsp salt; let stand for 20 minutes.
Using hands, squeeze out moisture: rinse under cold water and drain, pressing to remove excess moisture.
Toss together onions, parsley, lemon juice, oil, paprika and pinch salt.
Tahini Yogurt 
Mix together yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and hot pepper sauce.
Mix together paprika, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne; sprinkle all over fish.
Brush with oil. Grill on greased grill over medium-high heat, turning once until fish flakes easily, about 6 minutes.

Serve on bread with Tahini Yogurt Sauce and Onion Salad.

Yum Yum: Colombian BBQ

Our amazing assistant, Amalia, hails from Colombia and we’ve been hassling her to share a delicious Colombian recipe with us. She finally agreed, and we were not disappointed by how mouth-watering this looks. Plus, it’s perfect for a summer evening on a patio.

Summer is here. I welcomed summer with one of my most favourite BBQ dishes of all time: Carne asada con papas y mazorca. Did I lose you there?

Even though this Colombian recipe is one of the most basic dishes ever, it’s really tasty, healthy and is ready in just under an hour. It reminds me of summers with my mom. ¡Que dicha!

Finished product, hope you enjoy (I sure did).
Grilled Flank Steak, Potatoes and Corn on the Cob
(serves two)

1 pound of beef (flank steak or fillet)
2 small white potatoes
2 cobs of corn
1/2 cup of water
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced into small pieces
1/4 red pepper, diced small again
1/3 of cilantro bunch (aim to fill up about 3/4 of a cup)
2 tsp of Dijon mustard
4 tsp of cooking oil
3 tsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
Seasoning salt (of your choice)
Dash of hot sauce (any type will do, even pepper flakes if need be)
Salt and pepper to taste

Carne Asada (Beef) 
1. Combine mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl, mix in beef and let sit for 15 minutes in fridge.
2. Once the meat has absorbed flavours of the mustard and garlic, it’s ready to go on the BBQ. Cook for as long as you like (i.e/ rare, medium, well-done, etc). Most Colombians typically cook their meat to rare.

Papas (Potatoes)
1. Wash and dice potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.
2. Mix garlic clove (finely chopped), seasoning salt and oil together in a bowl.
3. Add potatoes, mix thoroughly to ensure that potatoes are fully covered in oil.
4. Place seasoned potatoes on tinfoil, and wrap into a package, tucking in all edges. Poke small holes on top using a fork.
5. Cook for about 35 minutes on top rack (or the coolest spot on your BBQ) and rotate twice to ensure it cooks properly.

Mazorca (Corn on the cob)
1. Cut corn cob in half (or smaller pieces if you’d like).
2. Place in boiling pot of water with a pinch of salt for 15 minutes.
3. Cook for 10 minutes on top rack of BBQ (or a cooler spot on your grill) and rotate to ensure it cooks evenly.

Aji (spicy dipping sauce)
1. In a small bowl mix spring onions, tomato, red pepper and cilantro, add olive oil, a dash of water, pinch of salt and some hot sauce (or spicy ingredient of your choice). Mix thoroughly until sauce reaches a saucy texture (like photo below).

Image via My Kitchen’s Flavors.
Once everything is cooked, plate and enjoy. Dip potatoes into sauce, or do like I do, and dip everything in it. Trust me, it’s amazing that way.

Happy Victoria Day Weekend

We would like to wish you a very safe and happy long weekend. Thank you Queen Victoria for giving us our first long weekend of the summer, a.k.a. summer’s unofficial kick-off.

Our top five things we packed for the weekend:

Sunscreen (one can always hope).
A case of beer.
Umbrella (let’s face it – it always rains on this weekend. Especially if you go camping).
Friends and significant others.
Image source
We hope you enjoy the holiday.

Bisou bisou from the fourth floor. xx