Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Starfish Oyster Bed and Grill

100 Adelaide Street East
Toronto, ON M5C 1K9
(416) 366-7827

Once again, took the photos on my iPhone. But more importantly, why did it take us so long to try this restaurant???

One of my best friends recommended Starfish to us and because Howard knew that I was having oyster cravings, he took me there for my birthday dinner.

We ordered a North American oyster platter to start. These were fresh and tasty. Look at that horseradish puff ball in the middle! Once we finished all the oysters, we knew we should have ordered a larger platter.

Next time. There will be a next time.

The calamari starter blew me away. It was beautifully plated, but every piece had a purpose. We ate the calamari with the greens and diced peppers dipped in the orange and yellow sauce. If the leaves had been bigger, they would have made great taco shells with this delicious filling.

More please!

Fishcakes with a dill yogurt dressing. Again, eat everything together and the flavours just meld in your mouth.

Howard ordered the grilled Ontario heritage beef rib-eye with frites and knowing that we were sharing, our server had the dish split for us. Love it when restaurants are thoughtful and don't mind the extra plate. (Some places actually charge an extra sharing fee. Starfish doesn't!) This way we don't have to both awkwardly share from the middle of the table.

The rib-eye was medium rare like we asked, juicy and tender. The fries were incredible. I would go back for the fries alone! Who knew that we'd get the best rib-eye and fries at a seafood restaurant?

I think the pastry chef brought the desserts out for us. The sticky toffee pudding. I hear that Starfish is famous for it. Try it. You will not be disappointed. Mmm this was so good!

One more, the earl grey crème brûlée with candied orange zest and orange cookies. Strong earl grey flavours - over and beyond our expectations. 

It's safe to say that Howard and I have found our new favourite restaurant in Toronto! The service was excellent, the place was cozy and intimate, but also had a fun vibe to it. The best part is, their menu changes daily, so we can continue to visit and will be delighted with new dishes!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Birthday Weekend Lunch

I just wanted to share my birthday weekend treats with you. Howard and I started off being really good! Bright and early, we both went to the gym - step class for me and the elliptical for him. It was such an uncharacteristic January day, sunny and warm, so we went downtown to have lunch at Nadege Patisserie. We've been before to pick up pastries, but we hadn't tried their sandwiches yet!

My favourite of the two was the smoked salmon, cucumber, dill, and cream cheese! A delicious buttery and flaky croissant with the crunch of the cucumber. Smoked salmon and cream cheese, always a winning combination.

We tried their breakfast sandwich which consists of bacon, scrambled eggs, cheddar, and tomato. They heat it up for you so that you're not eating room temperature eggs and bacon.

The first dessert we tried was this green fuzzy-looking cube with the raspberry garnish and cute Japanese decal. Inside, the matcha green tea cake is composed of two layers, the top being raspberry mouse and the bottom being brown rice pudding.

Unable to resist, we tried two more desserts. The salted caramel mousse, which looks like a mouse, was very rich. Breaking it open, we were surprised to see that there are layers in this dessert!

Finally, our favourite of the picks that day, the raspberry tart. Seeds removed and filled with a syrup or jam, the raspberries themselves were a dessert on their own. But, on top of that scrumptious pastry cream, just wonderful!

If you are going to only pick one dessert, I think Nadege's tarts are worth a try. On previous visits, we've had the grapefruit and earl grey tart, a personal favourite of mine, and the mango coconut tart. They all have a great balance of sweet and sour.

PS: Took the photos on my iPhone. I need to remember to bring my camera out more often!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ici Bistro

538 Manning Avenue
Toronto, ON M6G 2V9

Things are starting to get busy again. Now that the holidays are long over, Howard and I are getting back to our routines. The days are really just flying, we're already in mid-January! Even the weekends don't allow for enough breathing room, I am really looking forward to a long weekend or vacation.

But, it's always fun to look back, so while this post is overdue, it's bringing back memories of a fun experience we had before the new year.

For Christmas last year (can't say "this year," even though it wasn't too long ago), Howard and I treated ourselves to Ici Bistro as our holiday present to each other.

Always doing a bit of research, we read reviews from the National Post, enRoute Magazine, Toronto Life, and the Globe and Mail. The 24-seat intimate dining setting had us brimming with excitement, it'll be so romantic and intimate! We quickly made dinner reservations (a bit of phone tag) and waited for the night to arrive.

The restaurant was small and cozy. A curtain helps diffuse some of the chilly outdoor air, tables to the right and a bar on the left. All the way in the back, a kitchen, open for all to see.

Our hostess for the evening could have been Gail Simmons' twin (but with shorter hair). She welcomed us and took us over the menu. For each item, you can choose to have it shared or an entrée size.

Soon after we ordered, we were presented with an amuse-bouche of goat cheese and caramelized shallot tarts. Warm, rustic, and delicious.

Howard and I ordered a plateau of maritime oysters to share. They were so good that I snapped the photo after a few had already been removed from the plate. And get this, we got a lemon wedge for each oyster!

Howard's favourite dish of the night was the lobster bisque and shrimp frite. We had ordered just one, figuring we should share it, but was given two. At first, we thought they had split it for us, but realized that wasn't the case when we got our bill. No matter, this was very good. The batter for the shrimp frite was amazing!

Here were our entrées, Howard's duck magret à l’orange with Grand Marnier.

I chose the rack of lamb with Ontario leg of lamb cannelloni, monforte tomme, and mushroom truffle ragout.

And we can't skip dessert if a soufflé is on the menu. Praline or Grand Marnier? We went with the Grand Marnier since Howard isn't a fan of pralines.

This dish caused quite a stir among the other diners when it came out and was presented to us. I wonder if others ordered this after?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cinnamon-Sugar Cookie Squares

My first baked good of the year! 

I had bookmarked this recipe from Gilt Taste last December, one of those a cookie-a-day features they were doing (along with many other websites). I haven't made many cookie squares in my life, so here goes nothing.

The batter itself was beautiful. I love a smooth, creamy batter with the right consistency. I poured it into my baking sheet and smoothed it out with my spatula. Then used a spoon to sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top. I couldn't wait for these to come out of the oven. I was lost in memories of eating cinnamon-sugar beaver tails.

The first time I took them out, I trimmed the edges and started snacking on them. They felt very soft and moist still, perhaps more time in the oven?

I put them back to bake for 10 more minutes, it was still sort of sticky and chewy. Again, for another 10 minutes. To be honest, I'm not sure if they're done. Howard thinks that they're still under-baked, but the edges were nice and crunchy now. That's enough oven time for these cookie squares! They're still edible, but not what I imagined.

In my mind, I'm disappointed these didn't turn out perfectly, not a great sign if I mess up the first baked good of the year is it? Crumby! They did harden at the end of the day, so maybe these cookies are best the day after?

I hope you have better luck:

Cinnamon-Sugar Cookie Squares
From Gilt Taste
(Makes about 40 bite-size cookies)

½ cup unsalted butter
2 cups of sugar
½ cup of canola oil
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
¼ cup of cinnamon-sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and line your 11x15-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together with an electric mixer. Begin with the butter, sugar, oil, eggs, milk, and finally the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly with a metal spatula. 
  4. Make cinnamon-sugar by mixing ½ tablespoon of cinnamon into ¼ cup of sugar. Stir until combined.
  5. Sprinkle the top of the batter with cinnamon-sugar and bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are light brown.
  6. Let the cookies cool and cut into bite-size squares.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Back: 2011

Happy New Year! How many of you celebrated all night long and did the countdown? We did. That is why we thought it would be best to have this post scheduled. ;)

We missed doing this in 2010 (we did it for 2008 and 2009), but we're bringing it back. Here's a look back at our favourite posts of 2011.

Howard's Top 3 Favourites:
  1. Home Cooking: Sylvia's savory dinner because it's the best savory dinner she's made for me (even though it wasn't exclusively for me). 
  2. Lady M Confections and Ladurée and Sucré: NYC in the rain because we made the day fun even though it could have easily been miserable. 
  3. Kurt and Diana: KD's wedding because it was our first mass undertaking and we were able to pull it off with success (I hope).
Sylvia's Top 3 Favourites:
  1. Lemon Soufflés: An impressive, delicious, and difficult dessert to master? Challenge accepted! I got to learn from my mistakes and gain an understanding to the not-so-secret creation of soufflés.
  2. How: Pinwheel Cupcakes: This was something that I wanted to make for awhile, the idea danced in my mind for a couple of months, and they turned out quite nice! Whimsy!
  3. Calvin and Hobbes Birthday Cupcakes: Fun. These were so fun to make and blog about.
We also wanted to start 2012 with a giveaway. We feel that this is the time of year when we all feel the most ambitious. Maybe this year you'll make healthier desserts or cook like a Michelin starred chef?

Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery
Written by Erin McKenna
For confectionists of all kinds, delicious alternatives lie within: Red Velvet Cupcakes, Chocolate Shortbread Scones with Caramelized Bananas, Strawberry Shortcake, and BabyCakes NYC’s celebrated frosting (so delicious it has fans tipping back frosting shots!), to name just a few.

Written by David Chang and Peter Meehan
Momofuku is both the story and the recipes behind the cuisine that has changed the modern-day culinary landscape. Chang relays with candor the tale of his unwitting rise to superstardom, which, though wracked with mishaps, happened at light speed. And the dishes shared in this book are coveted by all who've dined - or yearned to - at any Momofuku location (yes, the pork buns are here).

Giveaway Regulations and Conditions: 
  • The New Year Giveaway is open from Sunday, January 1, 2012 to Thursday, January 12, 2012. Entries submitted after 12 midnight EST on Thursday, January 12, 2012 will not be considered. 
  • There are three ways to enter, you only have to do one:
    1) Post in the comment section below:  I want to spend my new year reading ______________. (Fill in the blank with the title you would like to win.)
    2) Post on A Baked Creation's facebook page: I want to spend my new year reading ______________. (Fill in the blank with the title you would like to win.)
    3) To enter via twitter, tweet: I want to spend my new year reading ______________ with  @abakedcreation (Fill in the blank with the title you would like to win.) 
  • Please leave a way for us to contact you.
  • Winners will be randomly chosen and announced here on A Baked Creation. 
  • The winners will have 7 days to claim their prize. If we do not get a mailing address, the prize is forfeited.
  • This contest is available to residents of Canada and the U.S.A. only! However, if you have friends and family with a Canadian or American mailing address, feel free to enter. There will be four different winners, one for each book.
  • Disclaimer: The giveaway copy of BabyCakes and Momofuku were not sent to us by the publisher.
  • UPDATE: Winners have been chosen and notified! Congratulations to Rosebud5192 who will be receiving a copy of BabyCakes. Congratulations to Cat who will be receiving a copy of Momofuku.
Best of luck!