Love for the Locals: Cornerstone Sushi-Ya

You may have noticed that I've been posting more in my cooking segment, and that's because I generally avoid going out to eat to save on costs. However, in order to try and maintain somewhat of a social life, I have gone to a few eateries here in London, Ontario.

Even though I've only been there thrice, I have decided that Cornerstone Sushi Ya (440 Clarence Street, London, ON) is my go-to place for a Japanese fix. It's a tiny shop that seats about 20, completely owned and operated by the sweetest Japanese gentleman and his wife. It's close to a kind of shady area in downtown London, but it's not so bad if you have company for dinner. (I've learned that every day from about 5pm, all the "interesting" people come out for basically a regular lurking routine and also occupy the only park in downtown -  just because.) They are open Monday through Saturday from 4:30-9pm, and in addition, Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:30am-2:30pm. They also do takeout~ ;)

Such a tiny place, but it's really cute and cozy inside.
Cornerstone Sushi Ya is actually right next door to a bigger red building housing a Japanese fusion bistro, but it looks like it'd be expensive. From the outside, it doesn't look like much, but when you step inside, you get a nice feel of a cozy little Japanese restaurant complemented with the aroma of sushi rice subtly wafting around in the air.

This was from my most recent visit with my roommate. We opted for a sushi dinner before I headed back home for the holidays, and I knew just the place. It's such a snug little shop with only a few seats at the sushi bar, and less than 10 tables in the main seating area.
The sushi bar, and hallway leading into the restaurant.

Tables in the main seating area, up the steps.

I came for dinner with my dad initially when he was helping me move here, and vowed to return. I've been back twice since then, with one of my classmates, and then with my roommate, and the lovely couple that runs the entire operation was just as warm and welcoming as on my first visit.

The restaurant definitely caters to the general London population with an entirely English menu. However, one notable characteristic of the menu was that it came accompanied with a small book containing photos corresponding to each item in the menu so that you would know exactly what you would be getting.

The quality of the fish - especially the sashimi - was to my pleasant surprise, actually quite decent! It was visibly fresh, and beautifully presented. Earlier last month, another colleague in my program arranged for a group dinner at an All You Can Eat (AYCE) sushi place where the food was below average even for AYCE. Cornerstone Sushi-Ya is a way better option.

On my first visit, I had #23, the Udon Bento Special. It came with a choice of salad or kimchi, with a bowl of udon noodle soup, and 8 pieces of California maki, all for about $10. There was also complimentary edamame :)
For the next 2 visits, I actually ordered what my dad got when he came with me, and probably one of the better deals there - #22, the Sashimi Box Bento Special. It comes with miso soup, 8 pieces of California maki with a special sauce, 2 gyoza, salad, an onigiri, and 12 pieces of assorted sashimi (tuna, hamachi, salmon, and the white one I still can't figure out). All for about $14. Plus, complimentary edamame :)
On my most recent visit with my roommate, we decided to also order a Rainbow Roll, thinking that we might not have enough food. But alas, we were conquered by the food. Instead of giving us one of those generic styrofoam take-out boxes, the hostess/udon/waitress lady (I wish I asked for her name...) gave us one of these boxes, so that our leftovers ended up looking like a storebought sushi platter.
As you may have noticed, I love supporting smaller independent businesses, especially if they turn out to be positive experiences. For those in London, Ontario or those planning to visit sometime in the future, I would definitely recommend a try at Cornerstone Sushi Ya to satisfy your Japanese food cravings!


Cornerstone Sushi Ya on Urbanspoon


B-b-b-baking: Kurowa-san?

[I'd been putting this entry off for quite a while, even though it was started during the Thanksgiving break. I finally managed to get all the pictures in, so enjoy!]

Because I really like bread, P and I started watching this bread-inspired anime over the summer called 焼きたて!! ジャぱん / "Yakitate!! Japan". Spoiler alert - It's about this boy who has magically warm hands that give him the ability to make amazing bread. Yes, we watched that. It's actually quite awesome, but filled with lame puns throughout, making it very fitting for the two of us. The boy has spent some time making numerous kinds of bread through his genius talent, but is sheltered from the professional baking world to such an extent that he doesn't know what "naan" or "croissants" are, even though he's made a superb rendition of them. There was one episode devoted to croissants (P's vice), hence the title. Yep.

Things I have learned today about croissants:
- The process of making croissants is very laborious. When I stacked all of the work together, it still took me 2 days to complete. Once you have the dough, all you have to do is shape and bake them, but making the dough is a LOT of work.
- There is a LOT of butter in croissants. Croissants are made of one bread dough, and 1 whackload of butter that is just rolled flat, and incorporated into the dough through folding. It's ridiculous.
- That being said, you should not be lazy, and just throw the whole block of 2 cups of butter into the mix. It makes a difference. Do you get delicious, buttery croissants? Yes, you do, BUT you also feel like dying because you just consumed a "food" item with that much butter in it. (Immediately after baking the first batch of croissants - thank goodness we didn't bake all 13 [i.e. a baker's dozen]... - P and I proceeded to take a nap for about an hour to sleep off the butter. It was wonderful but kind of terrible at the same time.) Looking at the recipe from How Sweet Eats, she used 1 1/2 cups of butter which is 3/4 of the block. For the love of all that is good, use 1 1/2 cups of butter, or even 1 cup for that matter. Laziness will get you nowhere. I've been to nowhere and it is not a happy place. So, basically, if the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of butter, don't get lazy and throw the whole miserable block in. *end rant*
- Since you basically roll the croissant dough triangles into croissants, it is easy to fill them with anything that you like. I went through some food blogs before attempting this ridiculous task. How Sweet It Is made a combination of croissants with chocolate, cinnamon sugar, and pumpkin cream cheese croissants, which looked wonderful as pictured here.

And without further ado, here are my masterpieces as captured by my Samsung Galaxy SII and P's fancy schmancy camera...

Rolling out butter has to be one of the strangest things I've done. Performed with my refrigerated bottle of elderflower water of course. It kind of makes me cringe knowing that THAT much butter goes into a single batch of croissants, but not really. It's probably half of that, you know, if you aren't lazy and naively decide to roll the whole block. Please learn from my mistake.
The first of 4 folds...You can still see the ridiculous amount of butter that I just folded inside. :S

Rolling pins would probably make for a more even rectangle, but oh well. I learned later, than isosceles triangles are actually better to use, but you can fix this by rolling them out into taller triangles before shaping.
The lovely little packages of proscuitto and brie. Mmmm...
The collection of awkwardly shaped croissants going into the fridge. 
It saddens me how the two most beautiful croissants were shaped by P, and the remaining monstrosities were mine :(
A result of P's beautiful croissant folding technique.
Nom-tastic brunch consisting of freshly baked croissants, and P's hashbrowns and fried egg :)
My first batch of croissants was somewhat successful. They came out like croissants (sort of) and tasted so buttery, and the ones with proscuitto-wrapped brie came with packages of smooth, savoury goodness...
Kurowa-sans (Adapted from Williams-Sonoma & How Sweet Eats)
*Makes 16 croissants*
1 package active dry yeast
2 Tbsp white granulated sugar
1 tsp table salt
3 Tbsp warm water
1-1 1/2 cups butter (Do not use 2 cups of butter unless you are prepared to face near death.)
1 cup whole milk (You can probably use other kinds of milk, but you're already going to use that much butter, so go big or go home?)
Extra flour for folding

Egg wash:
1 egg
1 tsp whole milk

Thinly sliced proscuitto
Brie cheese

1. In a small bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and warm water, and set aside for 10 minutes or until it becomes foamy.
2. In a medium sized bowl, add flour, salt, whole milk, and yeast mixture until just combined.
3. On a floured surface, roll out the dough mixture into about the length and width of a cookie sheet. (To make it easier, I also placed it on a cookie sheet afterwards) Cover in plastic wrap to seal in moisture, and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
4. Place a cookie sheet sized piece of plastic wrap on your surface. Carefully roll out your butter into a flat board, about 1/3 the size of the dough rectangle you created earlier.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge, and remove the plastic wrap from the flattened butter, placing the butter in the center of your dough rectangle.
6. Fold each side of the croissant dough over the butter to envelop it. Carefully press down the dough with a rolling pin (or refrigerated glass bottle of sparkling soda) until it is about the length and width of a cookie sheet.
7. Carefully fold each side of the dough to cover the center third of dough again, and press down the dough, and roll it out to the length and width of a cookie sheet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
8. Repeat step 7 at least 3 more times.
9. After completing at least 4 folds with 1 hour refrigerated breaks in between each fold, refrigerate the dough overnight.
10. Preheat your oven to 425 F. Remove the dough from the fridge, and on a floured surface, slice the dough into 8 relatively equal squares/rectangles. Slice each of the squares diagonally to create 16 triangles.
11. While shaping each individual croissant, you may want to roll the triangles flatter. From my experience this time around, you are better off having Start from the shortest end of the triangle, and roll tightly up towards the pointed tip, until you have a croissant shape.
12. For a proscuitto-brie croissant, slice a small slab of brie cheese, and roll it inside a strip of proscruitto. When shaping the croissant, place the proscuitto-brie "package" at the short flat end of the triangle, and roll it inside your croissant. (I highly recommend doing this to at least some of your croissants! It is quite tasty :D)
13. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and place about 6-8 croissants on each pan with a few inches in between them for space to rise and expand.
14. Brush with an egg wash, so that they become a lovely shade of golden-brown after being baked.
15. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
16. Remove and serve right away for breakfast or brunch or whenever you feel like devouring the buttery goodness. :)

Below is a time-lapse series of photos as I very attentively watched the croissants rise and bake in the oven. It looks much cooler in real life rather than through the poor quality lens of my phone camera.

After 5 min...

10 min...

15 min...

20 min...
Upon completing the assembly of 16 croissants, I took to freezing them in ziploc bags for later use. That way, I would just have to thaw them overnight in the fridge, and bake them as needed. It would not have been wise to consume 2 cups of butter between the two of us in one sitting, anyways. After a day of lazing around, due to the wrath of buttery food coma, P showed me these videos on YouTube of just bakery work. It's the passion of the baker that drives you to watch the videos to the end. Boy, is bakery work labourious or what? I felt inspired to give the croissants another try.

After having a batch of 6 croissants thaw in the fridge overnight, I took to re-rolling them in the morning so that we could enjoy them for lunch.
Second batch? Much better.
So yes, guys...homemade croissants are possible! Even in a student residence kitchen! So you can do it! In total, it was a 2-day process for me, but they look as lovely as they smell while rising in the oven :)



Cardio and Cooking: Celebratory Chicken Parmesan

Half way through today, I breathed a sigh of relief. I've been scrambling for the past couple of weeks to get a professor to supervise my research project for next term, and with only the weekend to spare, I finally got an approval. For some reason, the idea of chicken parmesan sounded pretty good, so I went with it! I can work it off at badminton tonight :)

Things I have learned today about chicken parmesan:
- Chicken parmesan is surprisingly easy to make! It only takes about 25 minutes total.
- I didn't learn this today, but this is a trick for not cooking too much pasta. You can make 1 decent serving of linguine/fettuccine/spaghetti noodles by making a circle with your thumb and index finger so that is about the size of a quarter (the coin), and filling the hole with as many dry noodles as you can fit in that space.
- Most of the cheese on top of the chicken parmesan is actually mozzarella. I made mine without parmesan because I didn't have any parmesan, and just wanted an excuse to use my cheese. 
- According to Wikipedia, it's a regular pub food in Australia? Also, despite its appearance with pasta at places like Boston Pizza, it's apparently typically served with chips (Australian chips, i.e. French fries) and salad. Well, my world just got overturned...fries and salad? Who knew?

My first chicken parmesan. I've actually never had it in a restaurant either.
Chicken "Parmesan" for One (Adapted from The Food Network)
1 chicken breast
3-4 Tbsp all purpose flour
Salt and pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I just used Panko)
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (I used Ragu because it was on sale at Loblaws)
1 serving of noodle pasta (I used linguine because it's my favourite, and it was on sale at Loblaws)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Place your chicken breast in a ziploc bag, and seal almost all the way, just so there is some room for air to escape. Use your fist to pound the chicken breast flatter. (It's supposed to make the chicken thinner and therefore easy to cook, but I don't know if it really did anything. It was fun though :D)
3. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to flour on a plate, and stir roughly. Beat an egg in a small bowl. On another plate, add breadcrumbs. 
4. Dredge the flattened chicken breast in the flour mixture to coat both sides, then the beaten egg to coat, then the breadcrumbs to coat. Place the chicken breast on your lined baking pan. 
5. Spoon about 3 Tbsp of sauce on top of the chicken breast. 
6. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly across the top of the chicken breast.
7. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, and the mozzarella is slightly browned.
8. While the chicken is baking in the oven, you can boil some water for pasta and prepare according to instructions. Mine was Barilla linguine, and it took about 9 minutes over medium heat until al dente. After the pasta is cooked, pour into strainer, and place the pot back on the element and set heat to medium-low. Add the rest of the sauce into the pot and cover with a lid to heat. 
9. Add cooked pasta to a plate with your choice of veggies for a side. Spoon heated sauce over your pasta. Remove chicken parmesan from the oven, and carefully place it on top of your bed of pasta. Buon Appetito!

Mmm...celebratory meals are fantabulous. Even at 3 in the afternoon :)



B-b-b-baking: Apples to Apples

I haven't posted for almost a month, but it's been ridiculously busy lately, so this one will be a combined entry to hopefully keep you more entertained.

Last month, I went with my roommate on a residence fieldtrip to an apple-picking farm. It's called Apple Land Station (329 Richmond St., London, ON). We had a little bit too much fun there...
Apple Land Station!
You could either get a 10 lb. bag for $12 flat, or a 20 lb bag for $20 flat. My roommate, another girl from our building, and I decided to split a 20 lb bag and go pick them together.

They also sold freshly baked goods. We really wanted to try their pies, but they didn't sell them by the slice. The turnovers were selling really quickly, so we grabbed a box to share. The pastry was so light and flaky with just the sweetness of the
apples on the inside, and a coat of turbinado crystals on the outside.

At the end of each "aisle" of apple trees, they had signs that indicated what kinds of apples grew there. Empires were my favourite apples out of what they had. They have such a nice balance of sweet and tart, and they're very crisp - just the way I like them. My favourite kind of all is Fuji. They're a bit sweeter, but it's a bit fainter as well. So good.
These were younger trees, so you couldn't pick them yet.

This was my share of the apples that we picked. That's 1/3 of what we picked. We very likely went over 20 lbs, but shhh... ;)
Just this weekend, I made a very brief trip to Toronto to see my 9 month old nephew. My relatives from the GTA came to have dinner together at my aunt's place, but mostly so that they could see the little guy too. As far as extended family, I think I've seen my nephew the most - even P has seen him more than my other cousins! He is so super cute and drooly.

Anyways, before I headed off to Toronto, I wanted to make a quick dessert to bring with me, so I made a galette.

Things I have learned this weekend about galettes:
- Even though it involves pastry, they are super easy to make, and not a bad idea for a dinner party.
- Any fruit combinations that work in a pie would work in a galette, because a galette is essentially a flatter version of a pie with no top crust. You could even use nutella and banana slices like that dessert pizza at Famoso.
- Most galettes that I've seen just have fruit and sugar, so the appearance of the top is drier. Others have honey or syrup brushed over the fruit to keep it from drying out, and to make it kind of glossy. Mine was even lower maintenance than that.
- I used the last of my Empire apples from Apple Land Station for the galette. If you're using apples in a galette or even a pie, they should be a bit firmer so that when you bake them, it isn't all mushy, and has some texture to it. If making applesauce, Paula Red apples are quite good because they just disintegrate as you cook them. I have yet to figure out what works for jams.

These were the last two apples I had from Apple Land Station. I was going to save the butt-shaped one for P, but he didn't want it anyways. I'm sure we'll find another butt apple for him someday. 

The nice thing about galettes is that you don't have to worry about rolling out a beautifully perfect circle, because it doesn't really matter.

You fold the edges over anyways, and if there are irregularities, it just looks "rustic" :)

The final product!
Homemade Galette (Adapted from Pinch My Salt)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cold butter
4 Tbsp cold water
A shake of salt
1-2 crisp apples
1/3 cup applesauce/jam/preserves/spread
Ground cinnamon
1 egg

1. Combine flour, butter, salt, and water with your fingers, just until it holds together.
2. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and put in the fridge for 15 minutes.
3. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Take this time to prepare your apples - peel, core, and slice them. It will depend on the kinds of apples you use. I used 2 medium-sized Empire apples, and I only needed 1 1/2. 
4. Take the dough out from the fridge and flour your counter. Roll the dough flat, and so that it is bigger than the pie plate by at least a couple of inches. 
5. Place the apple slices around in the center of the dough, sprinkle with ground cinnamon, and smother in applesauce. You could also put the spread underneath the apple slices if you prefer, but I was kind of doing it as I went along. It might look more decorative if the apples slices are on top of the spread. 
6. Fold the edges towards the center, exposing a center of fruit-filled goodness. 
7. Beat an egg with 1 tsp water, and brush on the top of the dough. Sprinkle with some more ground cinnamon and/or sugar if you wish. You can use the rest of the egg to make a scramble or something.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is browned a bit. Remove from the pan and serve right away, or reheat it in an oven at 350 F for about 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

I never imagined eating so many apples and apple products over the last couple of months...



Love for the Locals: Japango!

This past week has been crazy, so I will be publishing a couple more posts, but I'm finishing this one just before I need to make a quick lunch, and dash off to my afternoon class! 

Over the Thanksgiving break, P paid me a visit in London, and we took a short trip to Toronto. While we were there, just like he really wanted ramen...

This was the ramen and salmon rice combination from Santouka (91 Dundas Street East, Toronto ON). It's a very small, and evidently popular ramen shop in downtown Toronto that actually belongs to a chain in Japan. According to P, there are only 2 locations in Canada - Vancouver and Toronto. I opted for the "Miso Ramen". With a Miso soup base, it had ramen noodles, naruto (spirally fish cake), bamboo shoots, pork belly, kikurage ("jelly/cloud ear" fungus - this does not come from ears :P), topped off with green onion. The salmon rice was very simple - a bed of sushi rice topped with some shavings of nori (seaweed), a helping of cooked salmon, and interestingly enough, some alfalfa sprouts. The other side dish was half of a boiled egg which was stewed in a soup base (it was actually so enticing that I ate it, which happens rarely with me and boiled eggs) and some umeboshi (pickled plum).
and Korean BBQ...

Our Korean BBQ experience in Toronto was at Korean Grill House (214 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON). At a very reasonable price of $16.95 per person (as opposed to the ridiculous price at Edmonton's Ginseng of about $30 - although, you do get a lot more variety including bacon, and you could get a segregated room which is good for parties), you could have pork, beef, chicken, kalbi (beef short ribs), ox tongue, ox liver, squid, white fish fillet, squid, and salmon belly. This all came with unlimited side dishes including bean sprouts, spicy bean sprouts (which P and I agreed didn't have much flavour), tofu, garlic potatoes, kimchi, short grain rice, and beef broth. For an additional $3, you could get unlimited vegetables including lettuce, onion, cucumber, mushrooms, and...pineapple. For the price, it was actually quite decent, and it was nice that the grill was embedded in a deep pit between us, so that the oils from cooking didn't splatter all over us during dinner. 

My first plate of Korean BBQ that night - kalbi (beef short ribs), pork sausage, kimchi, tofu, potatoes, and beansprouts. I had a total of 3 dishes of kimchi, 4 dishes of beansprouts, and 1 1/2 dishes of potatoes all to myself :) *insert feeling of accomplishment*
I really wanted buns from a Chinese bakery...

In London, there isn't any Chinese bakery. They only have a baked goods section in the 2 Asian supermarkets that exist, but they're delivered from somewhere else (possibly T&T in Toronto :/), so I kind of went a bit overboard. Recommended by Charles, we went to a bakery in Toronto's Chinatown called Ding Dong Pastries (321 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON), and came back with 1 milk tart with flaky crust, 1 egg tart with flaky crust, 2 egg tarts with pastry crust, 2 pineapple buns, 1 pineapple bun with red bean paste filling, 1 custard bun, 1 bun we don't remember getting that tasted like guava, 1 taro paste bun, 1 BBQ pork bun, 2 steamed pork and vegetable buns, 1 chicken bun, 1 beef curry bun, and 1 pork floss bun. This all came to a total of slightly over $8. It was beautiful QQ...We grabbed them on the way to dinner on our last day in Toronto, and ate some after arriving back at my suite.
As you can see, the buns didn't survive that well on the train ride, but they were still very delicious :D Here, we have 1 milk tart with flaky crust, 1 egg tart with flaky crust, 1 pineapple bun, 1 pineapple bun with red bean paste filling, 1 chicken bun, and 1 BBQ pork bun, in addition to the 2 steamed pork and vegetable buns that we ate then.
And one sushi dinner. Why is food so good in Toronto? :(

With the recommendation by P's friend, Charles, we grabbed an earlier dinner at Japango just before catching the train back to London. Japango (122 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, ON) is one of those little hole-in-the-wall places that I love so much. It's hidden around a corner and sandwiched between a few of the many other restaurants stuffed into downtown Toronto. Run by an entirely Japanese staff, they really knew what they were doing. The tiny place, about 18 seats take up half of the shop, with the other half devoted to the sushi preparation area. Japango is so narrow that they don't really have a sushi bar!

Price-wise, it was probably slightly below average which made the meal very reasonable given the amazing quality of our food. P even mentioned that it was probably the best Japanese meal he had in Canada. You would have to dine there to really experience it yourself, but it was so delicious. Even down to the soy sauce and wasabi, it was delicious. Wasabi is supposed to be edible on its own with a slight sweetness, a nice horseradish-like kick, and a smooth melt-in-your-mouth texture. The food was so lovely in its presentation that I asked P to take all of the photos for this post, feeling that the usual captures from the built-in camera of my year old Samsung Galaxy SII really didn't do them justice.

Japango! Such a small place tucked away in the abyss of downtown Toronto, but very much worth the visit!

Here, we have the "Spicy Tuna" and "Salmon and Green Onion" Maki. Both, in a way, are staples for P and I. P usually opts for "Negi Toro", which is essentially green onions and tuna. Simple, but very tasty! Japango didn't have "Negi Toro", but it was very similar, just with salmon in place of the tuna. 

The quality of the wasabi was amazing. It was the type that you could take bits from and pop them into your mouth with nothing else. There was a subtle sweetness from the raw wasabi, and it's usual sharpness, that just dissolved and mellowed out on your palate. I know, it sounds weird, but it was actually really good. The wasabi was so good that I was almost tempted to try the pickled ginger. Almost.

This was the "Japango Roll" - basically, their house/signature roll. It had avocado and crab in its centre, topped with seared scallop and salmon or tuna, a little bit of masago (fish roe), and a light drizzle of their house sauce. What was interesting was that there were 8 pieces, but in sets of 2, they had very minute differences. This was so perfect in that P and I could try the same delicate taste at the same time and compare them together.

This was their "Sashimi Don". It had such an amazing variety of simple flavours that worked together so beautifully. I felt myself to be almost in a slow motion trance while eating it. There was fatty tuna, red tuna, salmon, cucumber, tamago (sweet egg), crab, turnip, nori (seaweed), and masago (fish roe), all over a bed of sushi rice. It came with a dish of hot sauce, similar to gochujang (Korean hot sauce), but we didn't want to tarnish everything going on in that magical bowl...
Even given all of the options available in the Canadian New York that is Toronto, if I was in town, I would go back to Japango in a heartbeat. This is the sort of place that calms my fury with the 13% tax in Ontario. Our dinner was only around $40, which in some sense is pretty amazing for a sushi dinner for 2. Part of it was that most other items on the menu (with the exception of things like blue fin tuna D:) were not as unique as what we had picked. So, we decided to leave dinner as it was. All in all, it was a perfect ending to our brief, but food-filled vacation!


Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon Korean Grill House on Urbanspoon Ding Dong Pastries on Urbanspoon Japango on Urbanspoon


Cardio and Cooking: In Alberta, we eat cows.

I really needed a beef fix. I didn't know I'd actually have that Albertan withdrawal, but I did. I've already sworn that upon my return to Edmonton for Christmas, I am going to have a steak. A really good steak. Probably a tenderloin while I'm at it. But for now, I am sticking to ground beef here, because steaks don't look as awesome unless they're from the butcher or the farmer's market, but then they're realllllly expensive.

Sooo, I got myself some lean ground beef from Loblaws. Today, I made my first homemade burgers AND buns. The size of my burgers are smaller than normal, but larger than sliders, so I have dubbed them, "Less Than Burgers".

Things I have learned today about burgers:
- Burgers are a lot easier to make than you would think.
- Cooking ground meat isn't actually that scary :D Just make sure that you cook it through.
- You can make burger patties without using chopped onion or breadcrumbs.
- A burger without bacon just isn't the same...always opt for bacon if you have it. :)
- According to Wikipedia, "burger" is apparently also the name of a grape used to make white wine. (I don't know anything about wine. I just know names because I went on a winery tour in the Okanagan with my parents, but I wasn't of legal drinking age yet, so I just had a lot of fancy sparkling grape juices. I'm of legal drinking age now, but I still haven't had my first alcoholic beverage. I'm just one of those, I guess...)

Apparently, I still need to work on this "divide the dough into even portions" thing.

Huh...well, what do you know? They do look kind of "Asian"...

Inside of a bun, courtesy of burnt fingertips. This was a quicker bread recipe, so of course the buns are not as soft and fluffy as they would be with a bit more effort, and instead were a bit denser than your typical hamburger bun. Still, not bad.

Yay, hamburger patties!

So. When you make patties, it may be better to make them thinner and larger circles, because when you cook them, they will shrink a bit in diameter. Also, they don't look as circular anymore :/

My first homemade burgers! It was just the beef patties, some Roma tomato (because they tend to be crisper), Romaine lettuce, shredded Cheddar cheese, and some Dijon mustard. Not bad. I ate another one after badminton, and sauteed some mushrooms along with some Sriracha. Burgers can actually be quite versatile if you want them to be!
Less Than Burgers
Buns (adapted from Taste of Home)
*Makes 12*
1 packet (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup golden brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp table salt
3 cups all purpose flour

1. Add the warm water to a medium-sized bowl, and dissolve yeast.
2. Add oil and sugar into the yeast mixture, and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes until it starts foaming a little. Take this time to grease or line your baking pan with parchment paper.
3. Add a beaten egg, then the flour with salt, until evenly combined.
4. Knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, flouring your hands if it gets sticky.
5. Divide the dough evenly into 12 balls, and place them an equal distance apart on the baking pan.
6. Brush the tops of the buns with a beaten egg and some water or milk to make the tops shiny. (I've been told that because I like to do this with my buns, they end up looking and tasting more "Asian".) Allow the buns to rest with a damp cloth over top of the pan for about 10 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 425 F, and bake the buns for about 12 minutes - they should be golden brown in colour. (Make sure that you bake the buns for long enough. I've eaten an improperly baked bun or roll before, and even though it tasted really good, I had stomach issues for about a day :/ Yeast that doesn't get killed in the baking process kills your stomach, or at least it feels that way.)
8. Let them cool a bit before slicing them open. I didn't do this, and burned my fingertips because I'm smart like that. You can make your burger patties while they cool!

Beef Patties
*Makes ~6 palm sized patties*
1 package of lean ground beef (My package said 0.688kg. Also, I would have preferred extra lean ground beef, but eh.)
Salt and pepper
Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce

1. Break apart the package of ground beef into a bowl, squeeze and mix by hand so that it no longer resembles stiff worms.
2. Add about 1 1/2 Tbsp of dijon mustard and about 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce and mix by hand until combined and evenly distributed.
3. Divide the beef mixture into 6 even portions, and shape them into balls. Flatten them with your palm to form them into patties.
4. Over low-medium heat, add 1 or 2 patties onto a frying pan, flipping them, to make sure that the ground beef is cooked through. I don't bother adding oil to the pan before because of the fats already in the ground meat, but my pan is nonstick. You should consider this beforehand, and add oil to the pan if you need to. You can always pat dry the excess oil with a paper towel after cooking the patties.
5. When cooked, remove from heat, and transfer to a plate to assemble your burgers.

I look forward to the day that I can eat steak again...Real Albertan AAA beef steak...Mmm...