Dinner at Playa Cabana Cantina (Toronto)

Had dinner with my friend Anne at a new hot spot in the Junction area of Toronto.  Mexican style seems to be the new “in” food this year as Mexican restaurants are popping up everywhere. This restaurant is part of a chain called Playa Cabana and this particular restaurant was called “Cantina”.

I had read all kinds of reviews mostly saying the food is great but the service not so much. What I do know is that we could not get a reservation after 5:30 on Saturday evening even a week in advance!  They didn’t think we could get a seat even at the bar if we just showed up as Friday, Saturday and Sunday are their big nights.

So we took the 5:30 reservation. We walked around the area for an hour or so before going to the restaurant and found several great furniture and accessory stores all with unusual items at reasonable prices. When we had enough looking and wondering around (it was cold out) we went into the restaurant and had our dinner.

Anne ordered the chicken burrito “Cantina”  and I had two tacos – haddock and ancho braised short rib.  We decided to have a traditional drink and both ordered a “Paloma” made up of 1 ½ oz grapefruit infused Tromba Blanco (Tequila), citrus syrup and lime.  Yum!!!!!

The food tasted great and two tacos was certainly enough given we had guacamole and tortillas (made on site and delicious I might add). Anne barely made it through her burrito and we both left stuffed to the gills.

After everything I had read I expected the service to be mediocre but it was just fine and the meal was terrific!

I would however mention that it is quite loud with the music and the loud talking but it added to the ambience of the evening. Those of you who know me know I hate having to yell across the table but this was not anywhere near that bad. I would give this a definite thumbs up. The whole meal including drinks, tax and tip was $31 each.  Not bad.  Below are some pics of the meal.

IMG_1421

IMG_1420

 

 

IMG_1428

IMG_1425

IMG_1423

IMG_1429

Advertisements

Fish Cakes

While I normally use tuna and sweet potato in these cakes, I felt like using a fresh fish this time so went and bought haddock (it was on for a good price). The process is almost the same as the tuna but a bit more involved in that I had to cook the haddock first.  I debated how I would do this but settled on a quick, easy and yummy method which was to poach it. See below for method and recipe for this dish.  It turned out well and I was able to freeze a number of the cakes and they were just as good when defrosted. Great to keep in the freezer for those days when you don’t know what to have or just want a light dinner.

Fish cakes

Ingredients and Directions to serve 4 (2 cakes per person):

I first make a broth for  poaching, this usually includes the following items but you can add anything you like.

2-3 cups vegetable, chicken or fish broth (I use what I have on hand)

1- Lemongrass stalk – smash the white portion of the lemongrass so it is almost chewed looking and put the whole thing in the broth

Handful of cilantro fresh or 1 tsp of dried

A good shake of lemon pepper or just a pinch of regular pepper

2-3 tbsp of lemon juice and if you are using fresh add some zest

Doesn’t matter what the broth looks like just what it tastes like.

Fish cake ingredients:

6-8 small-medium fillets of fish

3 large sweet potatoes

Place as many pieces of fish fillets into the broth as will fit making sure the fish is covered in broth.  It will only take about a minute or two depending on the thickness of the fish. The haddock I used was not a thick cut but about 1/2″ fillets. When the fillet is slightly flakey and looks cooked, take it out and drain it on paper towels so it is not too moist. Add more fish to the broth till it is all poached

Crumble the fish into a large bowl and add softened sweet potato (boil or microwave the potato in small uniform pieces until it is soft enough to mash).

Add the following ingredients:

2 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp plain yogurt (use more if you need to make it more moist or add a  spoonful of the broth)

1/2 – 3/4 of a cup of panko crumbs (use breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko). Add 1/2 cup to start and add more as you need till the consistency of the mixture will shape and hold in a ball in your hands

I don’t use salt but feel free to add a pinch to the mixture

Optional – chopped cilantro or parsley fresh

Form the cakes in your hands and sauté them till golden on one side then flip over until the other side is golden.  Take out of the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil (I use canola oil as it has a higher burn rate – meaning you can heat it higher than olive oil without it smoking). I cook on a medium heat – if it is too high the cakes can burn.

Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, sour cream or a seasoned yogurt or dip – we used a jalapeno greek yogurt dip mixed with some plain yogurt to reduce the heat level a bit. Served with a salad this makes a nice dinner.

Note: You can also make small bite size cakes to use as appetizers

Chicks in Charge Retreat

I just love that name!  We just had our annual Chicks in Charge (women running their own businesses) retreat at Sheryls country home.  I always come back exhausted, stuffed with good food, invigorated and enlightened! This year was no exception.  Food always seems to be the key to getting everyone connecting – we eat like royalty when we are there starting with Sheryls initial lunch which was once again outstanding.

We had poached salmon, roasted green beans, mushrooms, walnuts and baby potatoes, pesto marinated tiny heirloom tomatoes and a kale and mango salad. That was just lunch!

poahed salmon

Kale salad

roast veg

tomatoes

Snack time (as though we needed more food….) Amy made an incredible flourless, sugarless chocolate cake (sugar was in the chocolate only – it was divine).

cake

Dinner was my turkey chilli (click for link to recipe) with toppings that included guacamole, shredded old cheddar cheese and low fat sour cream along side a great mixed green salad and home baked oatmeal cookies made by Victoria.

Breakfast the next day was a fabulous frittata with peppers, onion, mushrooms and zucchini (I forgot to take pictures again – forgive me,  we just dove into the meal) made by Nancy. We also had Eloise’s home made granola (click for recipe) and yogurt along with regular and gluten free muffins.

Lunch was leftovers of the day before but the main course was Mariannes fabulous coconut curry chicken – so so good. Below is the recipe. Well worth trying it was devoured by the chicks.

Coconut Curry Chicken

I usually DOUBLE this recipe, and freeze the extra portions.  Can be served hot or cold.

Ingredients                                                                           Substitute

¼ cup coconut oil                                                                Canola oil

¼ cup (or less) Dijon mustard

2 tbsps.  regular mustard (e.g., French’s)

½ cup coconut nectar                                                        Honey

½ tbsp. or more Curry Powder

1 tsp.  lime juice AND grated rind

1 tsp. salt

Garlic

1-1.5 lbs. boneless chicken thighs (~12)                        Boneless chicken breasts,                                                                                                             sliced

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a stainless steel saucepan.  Pour over chicken.  Cook for 45 mins. at 350 degrees.   Enjoy!

Believe it or not, we also managed to have a great guest speaker (Wendy) and business and life discussions from morning till night and then again the next day.  Now you understand why we leave feeling exhausted, stuffed with good food, invigorated and enlightened!

Till next year!

Dinner at Jane’s

Had a wonderful dinner at my friend Jane’s the other night along with another friend Jocelyn.  We sat out in the garden on a perfect evening eating until we started clearing dishes and I freaked out about the bees (yes many of you know I am somewhat bug phobic….).  Inside we went for a pretty spectacularly presented dessert of fresh fruit and a trifle (and some more wine….)

Dinner was salmon steamed in parchment with vegetables (recipe from the cookbook French Women don’t Get Fat), baby potatoes and perfectly ripe deliciously meaty tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. So so good!

raw salmon

salmon in parchment 2

salmon in parchment1

triffle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fabulous Cod Dinner with Friends

This time I put the picture large size and up front. I am not sure people will believe this incredible meal was prepared by my friends Ted and Judy.  This was what we had for dinner the other night.  I don’t think anyone is wondering why I love to go there for dinner. (They are good fun company too!)

Cod dinner

So the glorious meal showing above was as follows:

Umbria lentils – wonderfully nutty but take a bit longer to cook than regular dried lentils.

Cod – beautiful large meaty piece of cod seared to perfection and popped in the oven at about 350 degrees for a few minutes to finish it off.

Topping – Kale (cut into small pieces) sautéed with garlic slices and grape tomatoes in a light chicken broth.  Scrumptious!

Side of baked sweet potato fries baked at 400 degrees for about half an hour.

All topped off with a squeeze of Meyer lemons (these are my favourite lemon – a cross between a tangerine and a lemon, they are both sweet and sour at the same time).

What a meal – it was so good there wasn’t even a lentil left on the plate!

Yum! This sounds great – will have to try it.

fuelmyfit

Parmesan Crusted Halibut

*note: feel free to substitute with any other whitefish (cod, tilapia, sea bass, etc.)

Fuel up with this healthy fish dish – filled with protein and parmesan crusted goodness! Whole wheat breadcrumbs add more fiber than traditional breadcrumbs, while also offering a satisfying crunch! Halibut, sea bass and other similar fish offer a ton of protein for few calories, which helps to keep you feeling full  -nothing fishy about this healthy dish! Serve with a veggie side dish, such as oven roasted asparagus, to round out the meal and fuel up with fiber, protein and healthy fats!

IMG_0566

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 lb (16 oz) halibut (or other whitefish)

1/4 C whole wheat breadcrumbs

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp olive oil

IMG_0561Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place fish in casserole…

View original post 94 more words

Pan Seared Halibut with Ginger Mango Salsa and Cilantro Sauce

This recipe came from my cousin Tamara (originally from www.everydaypaleo.com.) She says it is delicious and didn’t take long to prepare. I will take her word for it and let you all know about it – I think I’ll try it this weekend – looks absolutely yummy and very healthy!

Cilantro Sauce

  • ½ cup home made mayo
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • Hot sauce to taste (I used Tapatio)
  • In a food processor or blender add all of the above ingredients and blend together until smooth.
Salsa
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely chopped( didn’t have one on hand so used pomegranate)
  • Juice from ½ a lime ( I used lemon)
  • 1/2 a bunch of cilantro, diced (also added a kiwi diced)
  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together the above ingredients and set aside.

Fish

  • 1 pound halibut (Or however much you want to make!  One pound served two adults.)
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Season both sides of the fish filets with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium to medium high heat.
  • Once the oil in the pan is nice and hot, place the fish filets in the hot coconut oil in and cook for 3-4 minutes per side
  • Serve the fish topped with the Mango Ginger Salsa and drizzled with the Cilantro Sauce.
Comments from Tamara
I didn’t do the Cilantro sauce due to lack of ingredients, but it was good with just the salsa.
Also made a few substitutions as noted above.  We get sick of salmon since its the only fish I can seem to cook decently, and am always looking for easy ways to dress up  bland white fish like halibut – this does the trick.  Served with steamed carrots and sautéed spinach.
Also had lots of the Salsa leftover and I think it would be great on chicken or burgers as well.