Momma Rosa’s cooking class at ‘7 Numbers’ Italian Restaurant (Eglinton Ave. W location)

Website: http://www.sevennumbers.com/
Address: 516 Eglinton Ave. W
When I attended: Sept. 15th, 2014

I first heard about the restaurant and the class from my blogger friend Mary (@citrusblack), so I have been scoping out their website for awhile. When the restaurant ran a contest worth $85 for their once a month cooking class, I jumped on that opportunity to win it. If you know me, I have won many contests in my life, but winning a cooking class that included unlimited wine? That’s like winning the lottery for the day.

7 Numbers

7 Numbers

The $85 classes are normally held on the last Monday of every month in the evening at the Eglinton Ave. location. The price per person includes LOTS of food (family style), unlimited house wine and an opportunity to work with Momma Rosa Marinuzzi in the kitchen to prepare part of the meal. The guests were seated in a communal table that fits 20 comfortably. Everyone came in pairs except for me, which gave me an opportunity to mingle with other guests. Many of the guests have been to 7 Numbers on a separate occasion and were raving about the food.

Dinner table at 7 Numbers

Dinner table at 7 Numbers

We started out with fresh baked bread and wine before we moved toward the small kitchen at the front of the restaurant. Before the start of each course, we would go the kitchen to prepare a few of the dishes on our menu. On the most part, the cooking portion is mainly demonstration from Momma Rosa who will ask for a few volunteers each time to help her out. Momma Rosa’s has got her recipes down pat because she does not use measurements, yet she gets the flavouring just right in her dishes.

Cooking time

Cooking time

Rosa was definitely the life of the party! She was loud, friendly and the “mamma/nonna” that everyone wished they had!

Highlights of the evening:

  • I got to get down to business and helped out in the kitchen! I volunteered for the antipasti course and got to grill calamari over a hot grill.
Calamari

Calamari

  • I learned some recipes! The recipe for the fried and baked eggplant batter included 5 eggs, 2+ cups of flour, 2 + cups of water, a handful of Romano cheese and parsley and salt.  The batter was adjusted to get a slightly thick consistency to coat the eggplant. As for the tomato sauce, it was made of plum tomatoes, garlic, onion, olive oil and fresh basil.
  • On that evening, it was announced on CMT’s show “Best in Chow” that 7 Numbers had the best lasagna in TO! Congratulations to 7 Numbers for winning the lasagna title, it was well deserved! The lasagna was a stand out and my favourite dish of the evening.  This one was hearty, meaty and saucy, the way I like it. I would definitely come back for this.
Congratulations 7 Numbers and momma Rosa!

Congratulations 7 Numbers and momma Rosa!

  • To celebrate the win, Momma Rosa brought out the lemoncello! What happens at 7 Numbers stays at 7 Numbers. Needless to say, we had a good time!
  • I enjoyed the classic Italian feast! Check out the pictures of the menu and see how much food we ate!
Menu for the evening

Menu for the evening

7 Numbers

7 Numbers

Overall:

I am thankful to have won the contest. Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes! Now the only thing is, it was not much of a cooking class as the practical time in the kitchen was limited and only a few volunteers helped out each time. What you do get from attending is Momma Rosa’s contagious energy, LOTS of delicious food, lots of laughter and a fun night out. It’ll make your Monday evening feel like a Saturday evening!

* As I won the contest, the food and drinks were complimentary. As always, the opinions in the post are entirely my own.

Seven Numbers on Urbanspoon

{Review} Shomal (North) Middle Eastern restaurant in Thornhill

Website: http://shomalrestaurant.com
Address: 100 Steeles Ave. W Unit #27, Vaughan ON
When I visited: July 2014, dinner, 30 people
Rating: $$, 3

I first went to Shomal over 5 years ago with a Persian friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the offerings. The restaurant specializes in northern Iranian cuisine, close to the Caspian sea with grilled fish as one of their specialties. The interior replicates being in the coastal region.

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Taking a gamble after the long haul, I chose the restaurant because of the location and the space to host a large birthday party, my birthday party. The restaurant had good intentions and placed our group in a private room. Unfortunately, there was little circulation even with a space air conditioner.  With many kids in attendance, the noise amplified in the room and we were uncomfortably hot. If you are thinking of booking for a large group, ask to be placed out in the open dining room in the summer. It was too much trouble to move after we settled into our seats.

Having tried many items off their menu in the past, I decided to stick with the familiar items. I would recommend the items I ordered:

The warm appetizers were delicious including the kashke mademjan, made of fried eggplant with fried garlic, onion, mint and whey, and bademjan kebab made of pan fried eggplant stuffed with walnuts, pomegranate paste and spices.

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For my main, I ordered the  lambchop which came with 4-5 pieces of lamb, tons of rice and grilled tomatoes. The marinade from the lamb was flavourful but it was slightly overcooked.

Lamb

Lamb

The last item that I would recommend (ask your server since it is not on the menu) is the pickled garlic. It is not very garlicky but the crunch on the garlic and the strong pickled taste makes it so fun to eat.

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We had really poor service! (1/5 rating!) Our server mixed up our orders and rarely refilled our waters.

Overall:

Based on feedback from my friends who attended the party, the dishes were a hit or miss. Some mentioned that the meat was dry and overpriced for the quality. For me, I stuck with my usual and was not disappointed. The restaurant continues to be a popular spot for Persian families which is a great sign of being authentic. Although there were many large tables appropriate for large groups, I will return with a much smaller group and hopefully this means better service and attention from our server.

North Shomal on Urbanspoon

{Review} Fishman Lobster Clubhouse, lobster and crab heaven

Website:  No website, Yelp review 
Address:  680 Silver Star Blvd. Toronto ON
Cuisine: Chinese
When I visited: July 2014, dinner, 8 people
Rating: $$$, 5

The first time I went to the restaurant in September 2012, the restaurant felt stuffy, was overcrowded and our server was rude. Things have vastly improved since my last visit with an air-conditioned restaurant and the servers were professional and attentive. One thing that hasn’t changed is the consistency of their seafood dishes.

The huge restaurant is in a plaza close to Pacific Mall. Once inside, there were tanks in the lobby and throughout the entire restaurant with lobsters and HUGE crabs. The restaurant is one of the few Chinese restaurants that serve the expensive King Crab!

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The set menus were expensive compared to other Chinese restaurants; expect to pay between $600 to $1000 (before tax) for a table of 10. We tried to find an economical option by choosing our own items off the regular menu and paid almost $400 (after tax) for a table of 6 adults and 2 kids. We came to celebrate a special occasion and it was worth every penny!

Their Cantonese dishes like sweet and sour pork had too much batter and not as good as many other Cantonese restaurants. However, their specialty is seafood and that’s where they absolutely rock!! The servers will show you the lobster prior to cooking it to showcase the freshness.

Big lobster

Big lobster

The fried crab and lobster dish with fried garlic is a MUST. Let the picture do all the talking!!

Crab with fried garlic

Crab with fried garlic

Lobster

Lobster

 

The tower of crab and lobster was INCREDIBLE!  Yes, the dishes were literally “over-the-top!!” The dishes were flavourful and the best part was all the fried garlic that surrounded the dish. The garlic tasted good with everything!  The restaurant even provided gloves so I could get down to business with my food. I did not use the gloves. Touching, ripping my crab and feeling the oil on my hands was all part of the experience.

Other great dishes include the eel and steamed fish.  We had snow pea shoots with goji berries, beef with fried garlic and other side dishes as well.

Eel

Eel

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Overall:

If you love seafood, get-your-butt over to the restaurant NOW and check it out!

I am not sure how many other Chinese restaurants make or present their fried crab and lobster the way Fishman Lobster Clubhouse does it, but it is the first I have seen. If you live in Toronto, the restaurant should be on everyone’s list of top seafood restaurants! There’s no doubt that I will return again for another special occasion.

The restaurant is worth all the buzz! The restaurant is often busy so I would recommend making reservations 2 weeks in advanced if you want the 6:00 pm seating. Otherwise, expect to be seated in the 8:00pm to 9:30pm for their later seating.

Check out a video of Andrew Zimmern and Chef Susur Lee at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse .

By the way, I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to get their name right. I think I called them Lobster Clubman Fishhouse many times. Do you have that issue too?

Happy Eating!

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Roasted pig head soup recipe

If you get grossed out by seeing a pigs head in a pot, you can skip this post right now!

First off, you’re probably wondering where do you even get a roasted pig head and what’s so good about this soup?

The best place to get it is your local Chinese BBQ butcher. Last time I ordered a whole pig for an event, the butcher gave me an extra head for free. Alternatively, some Chinese supermarkets in Toronto sell it as well. I got mine from a BBQ style culinary class I took at George Brown College where we made a Chinese suckling pig. My teacher was kind enough to give the only roasted pig head in class…also, no one else wanted it! As the saying goes “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.”

Since the pig was already roasted, the flavours in the broth will have a natural deep and smokey flavour. It was incredible!

The recipe will be very rough. For the broth, I used 1 pigs heads, a large handful of roasted pork, 4 carrots peeled and rough chopped, a handful of Chinese apricot seed kernels (aka called “Chinese almonds”) and 2 dates. If you have extra roasted pork bones and meat, throw it in for extra flavour.

For the soup, I added 2 + cups of shredded roasted pork, 2 handfuls of watercress, a handful of Chinese apricot seed kernels, 2 carrots peeled and diced and 1/2 tsp of salt.

Steps:

1. Make the broth: Wash the roasted pig head in a colander for any sauce and discard the skin. Add the ingredients in a large pot. Cover enough water to cover the head. Boil and then reduce the heat and let the broth simmer for about 3 hours.

2. For the soup, ladle the broth without the ingredients in it (in step 1) into a smaller pot, add the carrots and apricot seed kernels and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Before serving, add in the watercress, roasted pork meat and salt. Once the watercress is cooked, serve immediately. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Sorry I couldn’t find the final picture of the soup but I assure you that it was easy to make and the healthy and hearty soup is delicious!

Preparing the ingredients for the soup

Preparing the ingredients for the soup

 

Making the broth

Making the broth

How to make Susur Lee’s chicken and shrimp siu mai recipe at home

At the end of July, I attended a #dimsum101 workshop by the world-renowned Chef, Susur Lee. At the event (read about my experience here), a group of us got to learn how to make siu mai, a traditional pork dumpling with a won ton wrapper seen at every dim sum restaurant. Chef Lee’s version was extremely delicious with chicken and shrimp, topped with scallops and black truffles. 

Here is Chef’s Lee’s siu mai recipe courtesy of Luckee and Chef Lee.

Chef Lee's siu mai recipe

Chef Lee’s siu mai recipe

I cook often and enjoy trying out new dishes, and sharing my experience with you. Making siu mai at home was a first, so I had to try out Chef Lee’s recipe using tips I learned from his workshop.

Please note that my meat portion was slightly more than the above recipe as I used 1 skinless and boneless chicken breast and 1 chicken thigh and had less shrimp than the recommended recipe. I used about 10 tiger shrimps. The mixture made about 22 ultra fat dumplings. I did not have scallops or black truffles, so I topped the dumplings with shiitake mushrooms.

Here are the steps to making my version of Chef Lee’s siu mai at home:

1. Soak about 2 shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of water overnight. On the day of preparing the dumplings, blanch the mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms and set aside.

2. Soak a dry orange peel in water for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take out the peel and scrape all the white flesh underneath the skin. This is an important step to eliminate the bitter taste. I used store-bought dry orange skin found at most Chinese supermarkets. Dice the orange peel.

3. Prepare all ingredients before mixing.  Peel, devien and dice the shrimp and keep in a separate bowl. Dice and add the chicken into the food processor.

Preparing the ingredients

Preparing the ingredients

4. Follow Chef Lee’s instructions in the “method” section of the recipe card. Mix well.

5. Cut the 4 corners of the wonton wrappers. This is important for the presentation.

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6. Using a spoon, stuff the mixture into the centre of the wonton. Pack it tightly or the mixture will fall out after steaming. Place a butter knife in the middle of the mixture and flip the dumpling upside down. Use your hands to shape the wonton.

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7. If you are using a bamboo steamer, line it with parchment paper. Feel free to poke a few holes in it. Place the uncooked siu mais in the tray. I topped each one with a small slice of mushroom. Feel free to top the dumplings with your favourite garnishes. Shrimp or scallops would make a great topping.

8. Steam the tray on medium-high heat for about 8 minutes. Remove, add cilantro and green onions before serving. Enjoy!

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The siu mai’s I made at Luckee:

 

Sui Mai made at #dimsum101 at Luckee

Sui Mai made at #dimsum101 at Luckee

My home version. Not bad! I couldn’t find wonton wrappers as yellow as the ones that Chef Lee had at Luckee which impacted the final presentation between the two. Since I made these for my husband and I, I made them extra fat. If I was serving guest, I would have made them smaller, closer to what they would like at a restaurant.

They were delicious! Thank you Chef Lee for the lesson, tips and the recipe.

Siu mai made at home

Siu mai made at home

 

Try out the recipe. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Mary Tang casted in a new reality food TV series, Pressure Cooker, airing Oct. 7th, 2014 on the W Network

Last week, I promised that I would make a very special announcement, so here it is! I have already informed my friends and family on Facebook and now it’s time to let my readers know.

The reason why I started my blog stemmed from my passion for food and cooking and NOW you can see me on TV this fall cooking away. 

The show “illustrates the real-life pressures of cooking at home when time is tight and ingredients are scarce, pitting skilled home cooks against the clock – and each other. Featuring Giles Coren as tasting expert and host Anne-Marie Withenshaw, competing home cooks race against time for a grand prize of one year’s worth of groceries” (Source: Bristow Global Media website)

Read more about the award-winning host Anne-Marie Withenshaw and “the world’s fiercest restaurant critic” Giles Coren on the W Network. 

Picture from W Network

Picture from W Network

THE PRESSURE COOKER STARTS TUES. OCTOBER 7th on the W Network. I will let you know when my EXACT episode airs, so don’t miss out!!

I will be paired with an awesome and huge celebrity chef. Watch and find out who it is…and find out how I perform against other home cooks!

Chefs on the show include Chef Ann Burrell, Hugh Acheson, Duff Goldman and Graham Elliot!! It’s going to be amazing!!

For NOW, check out the PROMO VIDEO HERE and follow pressure cooker on Twitter (@PressureCookrCA) and Instagram (@pressurecookerca).