Every week, without fail, these three dinners will be eaten in my home:
- Tacos, with tortillas from La Tortilleria in Kensington Market, black or pinto beans and guacamole. Other rotating additions include rice, tomatillo salsa or sautéed veg.
- Whole wheat pasta. Toppings include garlic, oil and parsley, to which it’s great to add some pepper flakes, chopped olives, chopped anchovies, sausage, and/or a squeeze of lemon; canned tomatoes with some or all of the above; this great harissa and kale recipe from 101 Cookbooks.
- Stir-fry of some sort. Right now I’m really into Mark Bittman’s braised eggplant with tofu and shiitakes, but any Asian green or mushroom will work. I like to keep my stirfries very simple and cut my veg pretty small. I hate random horrible chunks of undercooked veg, a la Spring Rolls. Ech. Usually I make double rice and then eat a simpler stir-fry with egg a day or two later.
Luckily I’m not tired of these meals despite making them for 872 years. It’s much easier to make dinner on a workday when I can do it in 45 minutes or less on autopilot. I could probably make tacos with my eyes closed. Other meals that are on semi-regular rotation include pad thai, chili, mac and cheese, and veg with soba noodles and a tahini-miso dressing. Le Jenk makes a wicked paella…hmmm, haven’t had that lately.
As for new meals, I’m hitting How to Cook Everything Vegetarian pretty hard lately. The eggplant/tofu/shiitake stir fry is awesome, the bean burgers are pretty good, the seaweed stirfry was kinda meh, the braised radishes were so clever and yummy…overall, it’s a terrific book, very inspiring. More elaborate meals have been scarce lately, due to an extreme lack of time. I need to give this massive Spanish cookbook some love—I’ve only made squid in it’s own ink, which was very tasty, and really strange-looking.
As far as processed food, the main offenders for us are tofu, St. Lawrence Market perogies (aka the best perogies east of Roncesvalles), Pacific organic soups (the buttery corn and cheesy tomato are awesome) and, sadly, hummus and baba ganoush. I say sadly because hummus and baba ganoush are so easy to make, and I hate buying them in plastic containers, but that’s life for the time-crunched. I wish I could take the containers back to be refilled.
Cheap dinner out is the urban girl’s lifesaver. Regulars in my neighbourhood include Manpuku, Pho Hung (even after my Vietnamese hair dresser told me “you know, I hate to say this, but it’s for Caucasians”), Fresh (don’t love it, but good when I’ve eaten more junk/meat than I like), and C’est What (close to work; great beer). When making a parental visit to Scarborough, Tangerine (by my parents’ place) and Shahi Karahi (by his) are our favourites. Fish pakoras are a must at the first, chicken tikka rolls at the second.
Fancy dinners out don’t happen too often—we’d both rather save our money for holidays. I’d like to try Ame. The standout of the past year is probably Nota Bene (those ethereal onion rings are the coolest); longer term favourites are Foxley, Crush and Cava. If I were rich, I’d have been to Hashimoto by now. We went to Amaya recently, which was pretty awesome. The prawn appetizer and subcontinentally-spiced cocktails really stood out, and the prices were much better than Indian Rice Factory. But neither is as good as Vij’s.
And that, at long last, is how I eat.