Monthly Archives: January 2015

Cooking on Sundays: Puerco Pibil Edition

The inspiration for today’s dish is from the movie “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” starring Johnny Depp, Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, and others.  Johnny Depp’s character orders Puerco Pibil every time he enters a Mexican restaurant and in the extended DVD version, the director Robert Rodriguez includes a 10 minute cooking show on how to make it. You can view the video here on Youtube.

Puerco Pibil, also known as cochinita pibil or cochinita con achiote, is a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Península of Mayan origin. As described in Wikipedia, the dish is traditionally cooked with a suckling pig, acidic citrus juice, and annatto seed or achiote seed (for colouring), and then roasted while wrapped in a banana leaf. This delicacy is enjoyed in tacos or sandwiches, garnished with pickled onions and the traditional Habanero salsa, one of the hottest peppers in the world.

For the ingredients, we went shopping in Kensington Market since there is a good variety of local shops.

  • Pork butt was bought at the local butcher, Sanagan’s Meat Locker(we also got some thick cut bacon for breakfast. Really, who can resist bacon?!?)
  • Veggies, lemons, and garlic – Augusta Fruit Market (65 Nassau Street)
  • Spices and habenero peppers – Emporium Latino (243 Augusta Avenue)

Since we were walking around, we also picked up some fresh coffee beans at Casa Acoreana (235 Augusta Avenue) and some chorizo arepas and churros for lunch.


Chorizo arepa, doesn’t that look delicious?

I digress. Back to cooking. The prep work wasn’t too hard. I put the BF on pork butt duty and I took care of cutting veggies and mixing the marinade together. Here’s the handsome butcher:

Handsome butcher

We mixed the veggies with oil and the steak spice from a steak taco recipe. As for the pork butt, it was cut into cubes and marinated with:

  • 5 tbsp annatto/achiote powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice powder
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 habanero chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • Splash tequila

When mixed with the meat, it looked really bloody but smelled so good! We let it sit in the fridge for an hour before putting it in the oven. Last time we made it, we did wrap it with banana leaves but found no use for the huge package so this time, we’re just cooking it with tin foil.

The pibil was served with brown rice (cooked with some dried cilantro and lime juice) and pan grilled veggies. I’m so happy with the way things turned out this week 🙂

The result

The result

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Farmers’ Market in Paris

We were lucky to be in Paris on the weekend because there was a farmers’ market that I wanted to check out near the Bastille metro station. It was a nice change to get fresh food and meet locals. We got strawberries, a shwarma and a bottle of freshly squeezed juice. Sitting in the middle of market made me feel at home, since there are plenty of farmers markets in Toronto. I can’t wait for the markets to open up again in the summer.

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Cooking on Sundays: Butter Chicken Edition

After the yummy beef tacos last week, for this edition of Cooking on Sundays, the BF and I decided to make butter chicken in the slow cooker. A little background history of butter chicken before we get to the cooking. According to Wikipedia, it was created by Kundan Lal Gujral, founder of the restaurant chain Moti Mahal Delux in the 1920s. Starting with the chicken being marinated in a yogurt and spices mixture and then cooked in a tandoor. The chicken is then stewed in a gravy made of butter, tomatoes, garlic, spices and cashew butter (used to thicken the gravy). Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time did a feature titled “Moti Mahal: Delhi’s Gastronomic Pearl” that speaks to how butter chicken was created and then became a staple at the restaurant.

Upon a quick Google search, there were so many recipes online that we settled on combining two recipes. The main one we followed was from Damn Delicious but instead of using garam masala (because we didn’t have any or all the ingredients for it), we used the spices from CBC’s Best Recipes Ever. It’s not a true butter chicken since we didn’t even add butter to the recipe but it was a recipe that we had ingredients for so that has to count for something. The curry powder is from Perfect Taste when we went to Niagara on the Lake.

Spices used: black pepper, cumin, chill powder, cinnamon, tumeric, cilantro leaves (coriander), salt and curry powder

Spices used: black pepper, cumin, chill powder, cinnamon, tumeric, cilantro leaves (coriander), salt and curry powder

Along with butter chicken, I really wanted some veggies so keeping in the theme of Indian cuisine, we made aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower) from The Curry Cookbook: Exotic and Fragrant Curries. It’s fairly simple to make: combine boiled potatoes, blanched cauliflower florets, and spices in a medium saucepan and then serve with fresh coriander and naan.

The Curry Cookbook: Exotic and Fragrant Curries We had decided to  make own naan but at the grocery, it was on sale and we got points for it – so we bought some instead. However we did smother it with garlic butter to make it extra garlicky 🙂 For the adventurous ones, here’s a recipe I’d like to try next time to make homemade naan.

After five hours in the slow cooker, this is what dinner looked like:

Butter chicken, aloo gobi and naan

Butter chicken, aloo gobi and naan

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Cooking on Sundays: Beef Taco Edition

As a part of changing my lifestyle, cooking meals is very high on my list. The BF and have been in love with Host the Toast this past year. She has some amazing recipes that we’ve tried. However, our favourites usually include tacos! On Sunday, we made these beef tacos, homemade tortillas (we will never buy store tortillas again!) and a variation of the pineapple coleslaw from another recipe.

Beef and veggies

Beef and veggies


Garlic powder, black pepper, chili powder, salt and cinnamon

Rub for beef and veggies: garlic powder, black pepper, chili powder, salt and cinnamon

I forgot to take pictures of the tortilla making and cooking of beef/veggies. There will be a next time!

We made enough food so that we could both bring some to work the next day as well as make breakfast tacos (homemade tortillas, diced potatoes and scrambled eggs). The leftovers were just as tasty 🙂

Time for assembly: tortillas, beef, veggies, salsa, jalapeno, guacamole, rice, slaw and sour cream

Time for assembly: tortillas, beef, veggies, salsa, jalapeno, guacamole, rice, slaw and sour cream

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Happy New Year!

The year 2014 ended with an exhausting but enjoyable two weeks filled with travelling between cities to spend time with family and friends. This means I haven’t taken much time to focus on me and think about what I want to do with my life. My favourite Christmas present this year was my map cork board (seen above) courtesy of the BF 🙂

The first week of January is coming to an end and I’m feeling very motivated and inspired to make some lifestyle changes this year. With my 30th birthday also around the corner, I am more than just setting goals for 2015 – I am ready to tackle some changes to lead a healthier lifestyle and be a better me. Though travelling is always on my to do list, below are the areas I will be focusing on:

  1. Eating better: Working and the holiday season has given me the excuse to buy my lunch more often and eat more junk food than normal. 2015 is going to consist of cooking more and eating more veggies, lean meats and less take out (the occasional time is acceptable because I love saag paneer roti too much to give it up). Before the holidays, the BF and I were using the slow cooker a lot so I’m excited to start that up again. Keep a look out for Slow Cooker Sunday posts!
  2. Fitness: I have been training Krav Maga at Elite Martial Arts Toronto for the last year and a bit but with all the time spent travelling, I haven’t been as focused.This is the year where I train hard and get my brown belt. The instructors and members form an amazing community that I’m really proud to be a part of. Check them out if you’re in Toronto.
  3. Sleep: This is something that I often neglect and think that I can catch up on or be alright with less. There is a huge difference waking up feeling refreshed versus  waking up and snoozing several times. Creating a sleeping habit what I’m going to focus on doing.
  4. Volunteering: Giving my time back to the community.  I used to  volunteer once a month at an event around town and for some reason, I just stopped. I’d like to do more good this year.
  5. Online presence: Creating a more cohesive me online includes having a strategy that integrates the social media platforms that I’m on (currently on WordPress, Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn). Cleaning up my newsfeed and promoting my blog on Facebook,  being a more active member on Pinterest and in the WordPress Community, blog more, and updating my profile on LinkedIn are some actions to start with.
  6. Learn more: I’ve always been one to be interested in multiple things at once. Typography, blogging, photography and learning a new language are all piquing my interests right now. There are a lot of free online tools to do this as well as free classes at local libraries.

With a plan in action, I’m feeling really good about changes this year. Feel free to comment below on what you’re looking forward most in 2015.

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