Category Archives: Celebrations | Seasons

Dark Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes

These may not be the scariest looking cupcakes, but they sure are delicious!

I used my standard chocolate cake recipe from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  The recipe makes approximately 26-30 cupcakes, depending on the size of cupcake liners used.  This is an oil-based recipe, which results in an incredibly moist texture, with a deep, dark chocolate flavor.  The buttercream frosting from Foodnetwork.com is a must!

Have a safe and sweet Halloween!

Kitchen notes:
I doubled the frosting recipe and used a food processor instead of my KitchenAid mixer.  It’s less messy.  I also used more whipping cream, a little at a time, until the texture was fluffier, along with 1/4 tsp espresso powder.

Disclaimer: 
I’m not embarrassed to say I ate two for breakfast!

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Victoria’s Restaurant (The Omni King Edward Hotel) – Sunday Brunch Buffet Review

It has been a while since I wrote a restaurant review, so I could not think of a better establishment than Victoria’s Restaurant, located in The Omni King Edward Hotel.

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H and I absolutely love brunch, and Victoria’s is a huge favorite of ours.  We even celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary at the hotel!

Built in 1903, the historic King Edward Hotel was Toronto’s first luxury hotel and in recent years, underwent a $40 million dollar renovation.   The world-renowned hotel was home to numerous celebrities and was also featured in film and movie sets.

The lobby is both grand and elegant.  We still take pictures each time we visit!

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Victoria’s Restaurant is located in the Sovereign Ballroom, which is truly exquisite with floor to ceiling windows and large teardrop chandeliers.

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As usual, we requested a table for two by the windows and arrived early to take pictures.

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I chose to publish this review based on our Canada Day brunch buffet, which also happens to be Canada’s 150th birthday.  Executive Chef Daniel Schick and his team really outdid themselves, and it was obvious that a lot of time and thought went into planning the menu.  We were thrilled to see many diverse dishes inspired by provinces within Canada.

We started with grapefruit and orange juice, which is included in the price of the brunch, as well as coffee and tea.  There was also maple iced tea, which was refreshing and sweetened by Quebec maple syrup.

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If you have not guessed by now, I am a huge cake lover, so instead of following H who tends to go straight for the food items, I headed to the dessert table.  I had to look at the ginormous Canada Day cake.  I took note of all the desserts before finding H.

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The brunch was cleverly laid out, with beautifully presented platters of tantalizing food.  Every time we are at Victoria’s, H jokes that I tend to gravitate towards the pastries, and true to his comment, that is where I headed next.

Here is just a brief description of what we enjoyed:

Croissants

The croissants were flaky and buttery, perfect with a dollop of high-quality jam.

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Assorted Fruit Danishes:

The danishes were also fresh and very flaky.  I loved the blueberry one!

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Blueberry Scones:

The scones were moist and flavorful with a generous amount of wild Canadian blueberries.  I liked how they were not too sweet.

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Chilled Scallop and Shrimp Salad:

We always enjoy this delicious cold salad.  It is an excellent choice and is well prepared.

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Devilled eggs with Newfoundland Caviar:

The caviar was a pleasant surprise and provided an upscale dining experience.  We had just watched an episode of “Chuck and Danny’s Road Trip” where Acadian sturgeon was highlighted. We have tried caviar from New Brunswick; however, the Newfoundland caviar was firm with a buttery texture; very decadent and sumptuous.

Poached Salmon:

Poached Salmon is another dish that we love seeing at the brunch.  The salmon was perfectly poached, and only required a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. While other establishments feature whole poached salmon, we prefer Victoria’s version of individual fillets.  Not only was it easier to plate, but it provided an elegant presentation.

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Roast Chicken with Fruit Salsa

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White Wine and Herb Steamed PEI Mussels:

We love PEI mussels, either hot or cold, and were happy to see them offered again.

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Antipasto

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Charcuterie

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Wild Mushrooms

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Quebec Pork Creton

The forcemeat-style pork spread looked very similar to pate.  The pork cracklings were crunchy and tasty.

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Heirloom Tomatoes with Bocconcini & Basil Vinaigrette

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Three Sisters Prairie Grains with Orange Lemon Dressing

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Watermelon, Mint and Figs and Goat Cheese:

Pairing sweet watermelon with salty goat cheese was scrumptious, and the figs added another level of texture.  I had to go back for more!

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Fennel Arctic Char with Kozlik’s Maple Mustard

This was a very popular offering and we struck up a conversation with other guests on how much we love fennel.  It was nice to see a higher quality condiment smartly paired with maple syrup.

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Potato Salad with Prosciutto:

I can never resist potato salad.  I love Victoria’s version with just the right amount of tangy dressing and slivers of salty prosciutto.

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Buttermilk Pancakes with Quebec Maple Syrup

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The infamous St. Lawrence Market Peameal Bacon with Fried Egg Sandwiches

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Breakfast Bangers and Bacon

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Eggs Benedict:

No brunch is complete without eggs benedict and Victoria’s version does not disappoint.  H had two!

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Scrambled Eggs with Snipped Chives

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King Edward Beef Wellington:

This classic dish is irresistible and the filet mignon was tender and flavorful. It is definitely the highlight of our brunch every time.  H enjoyed it so much that he did not even notice the Three Province Poutine sitting right next to it!  I forgot about it as well … so sad.

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Three Province Poutine

Chicken and Waffles:

This was by far one of our favorite dishes.  It is so popular nowadays, and we were so happy to see it at the brunch.  The chicken was crunchy and moist with a hint of garlic.  The Belgian waffles were thick and crispy, perfect with just a drizzle of Quebec maple syrup.

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KD Mac n Cheese with Ketchup Chip Crust (kid friendly)

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Pulled Pork Braised in Ottawa Beau’s Beer

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East Coast Corn Fritters on Summer Succotash:

I loved the corn fritters and they were flavorful with a slightly crunchy coating.  The fresh succotash was the perfect accompaniment.

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BC Smoked Cedar Plank Salmon:

We love salmon and it was great to see it offered both cold and hot.  Again, the slightly smoked salmon only required a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

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Roasted Vegetables

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What’s on our plates:

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My favorite part of any brunch/buffet!  Desserts!

Beaver Tails

The sous chef suggested a squeeze of fresh lemon juice!

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150th Canada Day Cake:

This cake was a showstopper.  As a cake lover, I was stunned to see such a beautiful cake.  Embarrassingly enough, I just stood and stared at it, as any cake lover would! The fondant and decoration were well executed.  I truly wish I had room for more than just one slice, and I was thinking of this cake for days afterwards!  The vanilla sponge was mouth-watering moist, and I think I tasted lemon curd and Italian Meringue buttercream.  The cake was sumptuous with the addition of sweet and tart berries.

Summer Fruit Crumble:

We loved the crunchy buttery crumble combined with fresh berries.  To gild the lily, we drizzled crème anglaise over top and the simple dessert became sublime.

Gateau Basque:

This is one of my favorite cakes and is a regular feature at the brunch.  It has an intense almond flavor and is truly decadent.  I feel transported to France with each bite.

Fresh Fruit Tart

The shortbread crust was buttery and had a nice firm texture.  The pastry cream and whipped cream were luscious and again paired well with the tart berries.

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Chocolate Espresso Mousse: 

H is a chocolate and coffee lover, so he always enjoys this dessert.  The mousse was smooth and creamy with a dark chocolate flavor enhanced by espresso. The whipped cream and serving size is perfect.

The Great Canadian Butter Tart:

Wow, it was nice to see this classic Canadian dessert added to the Canada Day brunch.  What I immediately noticed was how thin the crust was.  Most butter tarts have a very thick crust and less filling.  These tarts were the opposite and had a generous filling.  The crust seemed to melt in my mouth and had a distinct maple flavor.  I am sad to report I only ate one.

Intense Chocolate Truffle Cake:

We have eaten this cake many times in the past and we love it.  When I dipped my fork into the cake, I could immediately detect how tender the sponge was!

The chocolate truffle filling really is “intense” and super delicious.  The dark cocoa powder makes for a great finish and cuts down on the sweetness.

Crème Brule

This is another classic dessert that we love seeing at the brunch.  I did not have room to enjoy it this time, but H sure did!

Rhubarb Parfait

When I downloaded all the pictures I had taken, I noticed there were so many dishes we wish we had sampled!

Mini Cheesecakes

Chomeur Maple Pudding

Great Plains Rice Pudding

 

Mille Feuille

Nanaimo Bars

Fruit Band

Crème Caramel

Vanilla Cream Filled Profiteroles

What’s on our plates:

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Overall, the food was very well presented and bountiful with appetizing flavors.  The variety of dishes were both classic and innovative.

David Watson, Director of Outlets at The Omni King Edward Hotel checked on us every now and then, and answered any questions we had.  His presence elevated our dining experience, and created fond memories of an amazing brunch experience.

The staff are genuinely warm, welcoming, graciously polite and attentive, yet not intrusive.  The service is what you would expect from The Omni Group.  It was also nice to see Hector again.

We are definitely still thinking of the brunch so a return visit is imminent!

Disclaimer:

Brunch courtesy of The Omni King Edward Hotel.
The comments and my review are unbiased.
This was not a paid advertisement.

 

Happy 150th Birthday Canada!

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick’s Day is approaching; will you be making Irish soda bread?

Traditional Irish soda bread is made with flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. There are strong debates on adding anything else! Surprisingly in Ireland, the bread is referred to as brown bread, and doesn’t resemble any of the recipes in North America.

Nowadays, you’ll find sugar and butter added, as well as caraway seeds and/or raisins. There is no yeast or kneading involved, and the bread relies on baking soda as a leavener. The bread is rustic, typically round in shape, dense and slightly chewy.

Whichever recipe you choose, Irish soda bread is very easy to make and will keep for several days at room temperature. The flavor improves with age, and it’s best made several hours in advance, or even overnight.

We like ours toasted and spread with butter and jam! To serve with savory foods, you can omit or reduce the sugar.

Irish Soda Bread

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sugar (adjust to your taste or optional to leave out)
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk (you can make your own by adding 2 tbsp vinegar to a measuring cup, then add milk to equal 2 cups, stir and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. Butter a 9×5” loaf pan and set aside
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients
  4. Add egg to buttermilk and whisk to combine, then add to dry ingredients and combine until moistened
  5. Add melted butter and stir until well distributed
  6. Spoon into prepared pan
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, checking near the 60 minute mark. When a toothpick inserted comes out clean, the bread is done!
  8. Let cool completely on a wire rack

Kitchen notes:

  • This recipe yields a very soft dough and requires a loaf pan to hold its shape
  • When bread is cooled completely, wrap in foil and keep at room temperature for several days

 

Happy Chinese New Year 2015!

For those celebrating, we would like to wish you the very best for health and happiness!

Happy New Year!

~ Ruby & H

Year of the Ram - 2015

Godiva Truffles for Valentine’s Day

Godiva

I’m not a huge fan of chocolates, but H is!   I took him to Godiva and when we got to the counter, he was waiting for me to choose the flavors.  I told him it was his treat for a change, and to pick the ones he liked.  Of course he resisted, but after some prodding … Birthday Cake, Key Lime, Tiramisu, Chocolate Lava, Champagne, Smooth Coconut, Salted Almond and Hazelnut Crunch.  Mmm!

Godiva Truffles

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