Yum, Yum: Winter Comfort Food

Brrr! So, it looks like winter actually made it this year. Weather like this makes us want to snuggle in our adult onesies and eat nothing but our favourite comfort food. Each of these categories could have a post of its own (which may come later), but for now it’s all about keeping (your belly) warm. Here’s our round-up of Toronto’s best places
to indulge your comfort food craving.



Mac and Cheese 
We’re not going to lie, President’s Choice
White Mac and Cheese was a university staple and often creeps back into our
roster of I’m-hungry-now-but-too-lazy-to-cook foods. We‘ve broached the best mac and cheese subject before, and still can’t get enough of it.



For the lobstah lovahs: Rock Lobster Co.

Mac and cheese for one? Yes, please. 
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For the traditionalists: Czehoski.

No sharing. 
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Fried Chicken 

We’re lucky Toronto has so many places
where we can get our fried chicken fix, especially since most of them seem to
be in the general vicinity of our office. Pairs well with the aforementioned mac and cheese (see, we’re planning your whole meal for you!).



For straight up fried chicken: Harlem Underground.

No utensils needed. 



For chicken and waffles: The Drake Hotel.

#SorryNotSorry. 



For a fried chicken sandwich: The County General.


Because everything tastes better between two slices of bread. 

Meatballs

What’s not to love about a bite-size ball
of delicious meat and sauce? Nothing, unless you don’t eat meat, and well,
we’re sorry about that. There are more places than you would think serving meatballs here in Hogtown – there’s even a restaurant dedicated to them – but here are the balls that we find are our top choices.



For meatballs like nonna’s: 7 Numbers


If Rosa was our nonna we’d eat these suckers every day. 


For another white meat version: Little Anthony’s.

Three little turkey meatballs, all in a row.

For balls with a twist: Banh Mi Boys.


Like we said, add bread and you’re good to go. 



Soup

Whether it’s split-pea, chicken noodle or French onion, soup warms the hearts of even the coldest icicles. Out of the hundreds
of restos in Toronto that offer delicious options, here’s where we usually
frequent.



Something for everyone: Soup Nutsy.

Hint: the Metro Hall location is a great spot for lunch during World MasterCard Fashion Week
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For a taste of South Asia: Ravi Soups.

 We’re hungry already. 
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For the Francophile: Le Sélect/La Société/Le Papillon.
 

Might have just drooled….look at that cheese! 
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The places that have it all 
Can’t decide between your go-to comfort foods? Have no fear; these next places have all your favourites under one roof. 


Top purveyor of all things comforting: The Rebel House


Our choice for the city’s best gastropub, take your pick of meatloaf, baked beans or schnitzel. 



For 24 hour comfort: Fran’s/The Lakeview


A Toronto comfort food staple. 



Post-bar comfort. 



For new comfort: Rose and Sons.


Schmaltz, schmaltz, and more schmaltz. 

Yum Yum: The best soups in Toronto

It’s time to start planning for ways to stay warm. Here on the fourth floor we’re also meal-obsessed, so what better way to kill two birds with one stone, than eat food and stay cozy while chewing…or slurping in this case. We surveyed and came up with a list of favourite soups all over the city.

For those on the southbound train:
Ravi Soups – 322 Adelaide St. W.
With the word “soup” in the title you pretty well know there’s going to be something for everyone. With ingredients like curried apricots, porcini mushrooms, truffle oil and kaffir lime, these are probably not the soups your grandma used to make. 

Caplansky’s –  356 College St.
Everyone loves the smoked meat sandwiches, of course, but we have a special place in our hearts for the chicken soup with matzoh balls. Rich, hearty and filling, it reminds us of what our bubbie used to make when we were younger. 

Cool Hand Luc – 545 King St. W.
If at first glance you think you’ve walked into an ice cream parlour, you would be correct. However, owner Luc is clever and figured that since it’s freezing half the year in Toronto, why not also serve soup (in addition to ice cream) during the winter months? With options like butternut squash, spicy black bean, and great white north bean stew, this is a spot we will be hitting up on a regular basis. 


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Le Gourmand – 152 Spadina Ave.
We’re fairly certain that Le Gourmand only makes delicious food (we have regular dreams about their chocolate chip cookies), and their chili is no exception. If you’re starving but are still in the mood for soup, this is the perfect option. 
Pho Hung –  350 Spadina Ave. 
This pick might generate a little controversy, but we consider it the best bowl of pho in town. Pho Hung is always busy, and the hustle, warm lights and big bowls of steaming broth, noodles,  barely-cooked beef and Vietnamese seasonings are a delicious way to spend a chilly afternoon. Plus, their spring rolls are some of the best in town.


Moving a little farther northbound:
 
Whole Foods (Hazelton Lanes) – 87 Avenue Rd.
If it’s variety you’re looking for, go no further than the pre-made food section at Whole Foods. Every time we go in we discover a new soup, but love that they always have a few of the traditional flavour
s available. Their soups are always delicious and there’s often a vegan option available.

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Patachou – 1120 Yonge St.
For some of the best french onion soup in town, head to Patachou, a French cafe/patisserie in the heart of Rosedale. While it’s hard to choose just one thing on the menu, we keep going back to the french onion for the great taste and seemingly never ending mount of cheese.

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Cafe Shu1073 Yonge St. (2nd Floor inside Totem Fitness)
A new neighbour to Patachou, Cafe Shu is a great option if you have dietary restrictions because of their creative options. All soups are created fresh daily and contain no dairy. Cafe Shu also supports local and organic suppliers and growers, which is always a bonus.




United Bakers Dairy Restaurant – 506 Lawrence Ave. W
You can tell by the title that you’re not going to find many dairy-free options here. We love that they offer classics like vegetable, barley bean, potato, beet and cabbage borscht, and a green split pea that is to die for. Located a bit north at Bathurst and Lawrence, we think it’s worth the trip.

 
Where is your favourite spot to nosh on a hot bowl of soup in the city? Tweet us @rockitpromo or comment below.
 

Yum, Yum: Making the best of leftover turkey

It’s happened again. We’ve been eating delicious turkey, stuffing and all that comes with it this past holiday weekend. Reality, however has settled in… what to do with the leftovers? You can only consume so much turkey with the fixings. Time to get a little more creative. We polled the fourth floor, and came up with our top ways to use the pounds of turkey mom has given to us (thanks, ma!).


Grilled Turkey, Brie and Apple Sandwich



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Ingredients
Serves one.
1 cup of turkey meat (white or brown) cut up into 2” slices.
1/2 an apple, cut in thin slices
3 1” strips of Brie 
2 slices of your favourite bread. We dig a twelve-grain slice.
Butter (to taste)
Dijon mustard (to taste)


Preparation
Gently fry turkey on a non-stick pan until golden-brown.
Butter bread and spread Dijon mustard on one half.
Layer apple slices on bottom slice of bread.
Alternately place cheese slices and warmed turkey slices on bread.
Place on baking sheet, bake in oven at 250 C for 9 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Let cool for a couple of minutes, and enjoy.


Turkey Soup
This is probably the most popular fourth floor recipe for leftover turkey, and a few of us have different opinions about the best turkey soup. This one won.

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Ingredients
Serves about four people


Leftover turkey bones and drippings. Every great soup starts with homemade stock – it’s easy.
Half a yellow onion, cut in to quarters
2 large chopped carrots
2 sprigs of parsley
25g of  fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 celery stalks
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Shredded turkey meat (enough for four servings)
100g pasta/noodles (per person), cooked and drained


Preparation
In a medium sized pot, pour 1 inch of water and warm on medium heat.
Add leftover bones and drippings, and bring to a boil.
*Mom’s tip: Boiling the bones and drippings in just an inch of water concentrates the flavours and helps make for a richer broth.
Once bones have boiled for 15 minutes, remove from pot.
Add 3 cups of water.
Add onion, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. 
Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
Toss in shredded turkey and stir to warm. 
Place cooked noodles in bowls and ladle hot soup over top. Serve with toasted garlic bread immediately.


What are you favourite leftover turkey recipes? Comment below or tweet us @rockitpromo.



Yum, yum: Delicious soups

We’ve been chatting lots about cold weather noshes, like coffee and hot chocolate. We asked the crew on the fourth floor about another delicious way to warm you from the inside – soup. There are a million varieties of soup and a hot, steamy bowl is just the thing to make you feel warm and cozy when the snow is blowing outside. 

Our favourite picks were a surprising mix of restaurant faves and recipes from mom. Enjoy!

Alana: The absolute BEST soup I’ve ever had was at Auberge du Pommier. Their Cappuccino de Truffe soup is served like a cappuccino (obviously), but filled with pureed mushroom and truffle soup with velvet shank cream and a hunk of parmesan cheese (that you put in your soup to melt). It’s also accompanied by a delicious Parmesan biscuit. It’s pricey at $19, but in my opinion, worth every penny, especially for a nice treat. You won’t find a better mushroom soup out there – trust me!

Debra: I adore the lentil soup at Mashu Mashu in Forest Hill Village. It’s hearty, thick and great on it’s own or with pita and hummous. I used to live across the street and loved going in regularly to get this soup.  

Rachelle: The Senagalese Peanut Chicken from Soup Nutsy. It’s filling, spicy and has tons of flavour. The crunchy peanuts are a nice touch. Soup Nutsy bowls are always awesome, and this is one of the best.  


Lara: I’m not a very big soup person, it just never appeals to me. However, if I do have soup, it is from a few places. I like the pea soup from United Dairy Bakery. I also dig a good bowl of pho, but haven’t yet found a great vegetarian option. Any suggestions?

My favourite soup is my mom’s incredible curried cauliflower soup. You wouldn’t know its cauliflower, and the drizzle of honey on top is a not-too-sweet surprise and cuts the curry. The rich flavour comes from how long the cauliflower is roasted for. Yum.


Michelle: I am not really a huge soup person, but I do love a classic chicken noodle soup once in a while. I mainly eat soup when I am feeling sick, and I will make myself Lipton Chicken Noodle soup and break up a lot of soda crackers into the bowl and let them get a bit mushy. For some reason it is the only thing I can eat when I am feeling under the weather. It makes me feel all warm and cozy so I can rest and get better quickly!


Carly: When in culinary doubt, I see only two options – Google Martha Stewart or head to the nearest Pusateri’s. This gourmet foodie shop has the best PB + J party sandwiches, red velvet cupcakes and asparagus soup. Made with puréed asparagus and a little something spicy, this green soup will fill your daily veggie requirements. Add some cheese, and trust me, this is no cup of Campbell’s.


Christina: My favourite soup is A. Walters’ (a.k.a. my mom’s) homemade potato leek soup. The name doesn’t sound appealing, nor does it look particularly appealing, but it tastes fabulous. It’s thick, a little nutty and warms the heart on a cold winter day. Added benefit? Both my brother and sister aren’t fans, so it leaves more servings for me when I go home for a visit. Ma Dukes is usually great about making extra (thanks, Mom!) and sends it back home with me. 
 
Abby: I am a huge Thai food fan, so I regularly crave the shrimp lemongrass soup from Thai Paradise, a tiny little restaurant in Baldwin Village. It’s pretty authentic, spicy, and the shrimp are so fat and tasty. I love the complex flavours of the soup; lemongrass has got to be one of the most delicious seasonings ever. My mouth is now watering.


Lisa: I don’t care what anybody says! My mom makes the best soup in the whole entire world (ahem… Lara and Christina…). My fave is mushroom. Made with cream, loads of mushrooms, a little flour, some butter, and salt and white pepper to taste. Simple. Savoury. Super fattening. It’s so good. I would tell you all to try some, but she lives in North Bay. 
 

Where do you get your favourite soup? We want to know!

What’s In Your…Lunch Bag?

We’ve already shared the contents of our makeup bags, and now we’re giving you a sneak peak into the fridge On the Fourth Floor. We have some major peanut butter and banana sandwich fans, a few take-out girls and a couple of soup fanatics. 
It was a busy week On The Fourth Floor – we had a few events, a sick boss, lots of gift guides to work on and, of course, the beginning of Hanukkah. Needless to say, some of our usual homemade lunches were replaced by yummy local take-out. PR is busy, and having great lunch spots close to our office is so nice! 

Carly packed a wholesome lunch, complete with a Fibre 1 bar, mini Babybel and best of all, a classic peanut butter and banana sandwich. Yum. Her lunch is never complete without a Starbucks to polish it off. 

Classic PB&B.

Alana has delicious homemade meals for lunch nearly every day, but today she opted to bring in take-out Sorn Thai red beef curry instead (remember her earlier rave?). The amazing smell left Carly a little less impressed with her sandwich. 

 

Since being newly engaged and a recent homeowner, Christina has turned over a new, homemaker-ish leaf. Christina has lots of big ticket things coming up next year (wedding, closing date on a home), so she’s on a budget and tries to bring lunch every day. She made a delicious spicy chili, which despite our previous experience, did not make the office smell badly. It smelled home-y and welcome on a cold, grey December day. 

Abby also enjoys bringing lunch from home, but working late at the Oliver Spencer launch party the night before meant sleep was more of a priority than packing a lunch. She went for a chicken shawarma from Falafel Queen. 


It was filling, delicious and the spicy sauce provided a much-needed wake up, too. 


Lisa and Michelle are the take-out type, and ran across the street to Shanghai Cowgirl for a breakfast-for-lunch. Shanghai Cowgirl serves up quick, tasty food at good prices. Lisa had the classic eggs and bacon. Normally, though, her lunch is a slight variation of this: 

Tim Horton’s should give her stock in the company! 
Michelle went for french toast and homefries, complete with powdered sugar.


Rachelle is a busy mom to the adorable lil’ Oliver, so packing a lunch doesn’t always happen. She’s a healthy eater so she went for a fresh bowl of pho with noodles, veggies and tofu from Pho Phuong on Queen West.
 
The bonus of this yummy lunch? One serving was enough for two lunches. And soup is always better the next day. Now, that’s value.
Finally, Lara went healthy with Kashi cereal and almond milk, plus an apple. This pretty much sums up her daily lunch, even down to the Starbucks coffee for dessert. 

Lara happily munching her cereal at her workstation. 
Look for her Meet Our Team profile coming soon! 

What are your lunch must-haves? Do you brown bag it, or rely on a steady supply of take-out? Tweet us @rockitpromo! 

Yum, yum: Matt’s Mom’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Tomatoes and basil are in high-season right now, and there are a thousand ways to enjoy them. Take some of your spare time this holiday Monday and whip up a batch of this delicious soup.

Here’s the back story from Matt’s Mom:

“My friend Maureen and I work out together, and when we test out a recipe that is great, we share it with each other. She passed this one on to me. This is a super recipe, since tomatoes are in season right now.”

Thanks, Mom!



Maureen’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

3 lbs. ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

¼ cup olive oil, plus 2 tbsp. reserved
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 cups yellow onions, chopped (about 2 medium)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 (28 oz.) can plum tomatoes, with juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
4 cups chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock or water)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Toss together tomatoes, ¼ cup olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Spread tomatoes in one layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
4. In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute onions and garlic with remaining olive oil, butter and red pepper flakes, until onions start to brown (about 10 minutes).
5. Add canned tomatoes, basil, thyme and stock or water.
6. Add oven-roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on the baking sheet.
7. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
8. Pour soup into a blender, or use a hand-blender or food mill to coarsely puree.
9. Adjust seasonings to taste, serve garnished with goat cheese and croutons. Can also serve cold.

Happy Labour Day!