Guest Post: Spicy Peanut Chicken and Cucumber Cold Noodles

Mattster Chef is back on the blog! Tonight, Matt will be writing about one of our easy weeknight meals.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything for Our Happy Jar, and April wanted me to post this recipe because it’s one of our favourite cold noodle dishes and also super easy to make.

Spicy Peanut Chicken and Cucumber Cold Noodles

wpid-img-20140908-wa0001_1.jpg

It tastes better than it looks!

 Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
  • 1 package of spaghetti or noodles
  • 2 pieces of chicken breast (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 English cucumber (julienned)
  • 4 tablespoons of natural peanut butter (crunchy)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce + ½ tablespoon to marinate chicken
  • ½ tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil (split into halves)
  • Chili oil to taste
  • Water (varies)
Directions
  1. The first thing to do is cut up your chicken into small pieces. I try to cut mine into long, narrow pieces to give it a shredded chicken feel.
  2. Once your chicken has been cut up, marinate it with the minced garlic, ½ tablespoon of soy sauce, and ½ of the sesame oil, and mix it up. Once mixed, let the chicken marinate for as long or as little as you would like. Obvious rules apply: the longer you marinate, the more taste the chicken will have.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, start to julienne the cucumber and make the peanut sauce.
  4. For the peanut sauce: in a large bowl, add the peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, ½ tablespoon of dark soy sauce, ½ sesame oil, and chili oil. Once all the ingredients are added, stir them together. The mixture will be thick, which is where the water comes in; slowly add water little-by-little and stir it into the peanut sauce.  This will gradually reduce its thickness, and you can stop adding water when it has enough of a saucy consistency (basically, you need it to be able to easily coat your noodles).
  5. When the chicken is done marinating, boil the water for the pasta and heat a pan for the chicken. The chicken can be cooked and set aside while you’re making the pasta. Once the pasta is done, run it under cold water to cool (if you have time, you can also let it cool naturally).
  6. After the pasta is cooled, get a large mixing bowl, and throw the pasta, cucumbers, and chicken together. Pour the peanut sauce over everything and toss thoroughly so everything is mixed well.

And then you’re done! This is a quick and easy meal that practically anyone can to make during the week, which is a requirement for us because we both work all day.

Chatime Opens Shop in the Annex!

Last Friday, Mary from Mary’s Happy Belly was kind enough to invite me to join her at Chatime Annex’s media launch. We not only got to tour the newest location—which is stellar given its close proximity to UT, residential buildings, and offices—but we also got to learn a little bit more about the company and its philosophy.

At the heart of it, it’s about making good tea (one part of their slogan of “Good Tea, Good Time”). At all the locations, they brew each kind of tea according to unique times and temperatures, and the tea leaves are imported from Taiwan. The toppings, like pudding and grass jelly, are also made fresh in-house!

One of the things I have always liked Chatime is the customization aspect of their drinks. Matt and I like ours with less ice, 50% sweet, and it’s awesome that they do that for their customers.

Chatime AnnexGood Tea Good Time

During our visit, we sampled their most popular drinks, as well as some of their more unique offerings!

Most Popular Drinks
  • Chatime Milk Tea with Tapioca
  • Taro Milk Tea with Pudding
  • Roasted Milk Tea with Grass Jelly

The Roasted Milk Tea with Grass Jelly is actually my favourite drink from Chatime, and ever since Matt got me hooked on it, I crave it all the time. The Chatime owners also explained something that I had lamented about in an earlier post: I thought that the taro milk tea seemed powdery. It’s actually because they use real taro, which has that grainy texture, whereas I had mistaken it for powder! It’s good to know that it was because it was fresh taro!

Unique Offerings

chatime

  • Chatime Red Bean Milk Tea
  • Hazelnut Chocolate Milk Tea
  • Brown Rice Green Milk Tea
  • Japanese Sakura Sencha
  • Chocolate Mousse
  • Wintermelon Mousse
  • Taiwan Alishan JinShyuan Tea

*The adorable bubbletea cake in the middle is a chocolate cake with green tea mousse from Kelly’s Baked Goods!

They were all very good, but for me, the most interesting were the wintermelon mousse (kind of savoury-sweet) and the Japanese Sakura Sencha (very refreshing!) I also enjoyed the red bean milk tea, which you can’t go wrong with!

Two of Chatime Ontario's Owners, Kenton and Thomas

Two of Chatime Ontario’s Owners, Kenton and Thomas

Overall, it’s cool to see that Chatime has done so well in Ontario and in Canada, which is truly a job well done on the part of owners Kenton, Vincent, and Thomas. I think I value predictability and stability too much to ever be an entrepreneur, but it’s fascinating to hear the stories behind those who are!

Chatime Annex on Urbanspoon

Where We Ate: Portland Variety

More than ever, Instagram has become a source of new restaurants to try. Portland Variety was one of these finds! Conveniently located at Portland and King (former home of the now-closed KiWe Kitchen), the restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The drink menu is pretty interesting (they have a proper mixologist and all), and there are plenty of shareables to choose from. We liked pretty much everything we tried!

What We Ate

  • Housemade ricotta with honey, hazelnuts, and pears (soooo good!)
  • Salt cod brandade (loved it!)
  • Roasted bone marrow (the crispy top was a nice touch)
  • Grilled octopus
  • Eggplant confit
  • Beef tenderloin carpacio with Parmesan shavings
  • Patatas Bravas
  • Bite-sized beignets with chocolate sauce (airy, vanilla cream-filled goodness)
Housemade Ricotta

Housemade Ricotta

Salt Cod Brandade

Salt Cod Brandade

Roasted Bone Marrow

Roasted Bone Marrow

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus

Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio

Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio

Eggplant Confit

Eggplant Confit

Mini Beignets

Mini Beignets

Portland Variety Cafe on Urbanspoon

Favourite Spots: Chicken Rice at Doner Kebab House

This post is going to be a short but very necessary post. When Matt and his friends first started raving about the chicken rice from Doner Kebab House, I was pretty skeptical about it, but now I’m a believer: honestly, that stuff is like crack. Chicken? Goood. Rice? Goood. Housemade garlic hot sauce? Extra gooood.

It’s right by Ryerson and a short walk away from Yonge-Dundas Square, so if you’re in the area, get yourself some chicken rice (or don’t, because then you’ll be like me and crave it all the time). Even if you don’t love it, you really can’t go wrong with a good, filling meal for $8.50!

The good stuff

Chicken Rice!

Doner Kebab

Look for this sign!

Donair Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Favourite Spots: Treadwell Farm-to-Table Cuisine (Niagara-on-the-Lake)

The first time I went to Treadwell was in 2009 (Matt and I were celebrating 4 years together… how time flies!), and it was love at first bite. The food was delicious, innovative, and well-executed, which was only made better by the fact that the service was on point. Ever since then, Treadwell has been on the list of our favourite restaurants!

The last few times we’ve been, the restaurant was still in its old Port Dalhousie location, but last year, it relocated to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The dining room is smaller but the restaurant now features bar seating by the kitchen, a large patio space, and a wine bar. I also love that it’s nestled among all of the little shops and restaurants in NOTL, but still tucked away in a nice, cozy space.

A couple of weekends ago, my girlfriends and I decided to take a somewhat spontaneous wine country getaway to celebrate my good friend J’s birthday, which was the perfect opportunity for another meal at Treadwell. As usual, it didn’t disappoint!

True to the name of the restaurant, all of the ingredients used are in season, fresh, and locally sourced. I don’t think I’ve had the same thing twice at Treadwell, but the food is always delicious. My parents are coming to town next week, so we’ll definitely be making a trip to take them there!

treadwelloldlocation.jpg

Treadwell’s former location at Port Dalhousie

wpid-wp-1409795225841.jpeg

On the patio at Treadwell’s new location in Niagara-on-the-Lake

treadwellfood1.jpg treadwellfood2 wpid-wp-1409795225840.jpeg

Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Station Cold Brew Coffee Co. Launches at Brunch TUM!

Last week, fellow blogger Mary from Mary’s Happy Belly (who also happens to be a colleague and foodie friend) forwarded me an email about Station Cold Brew Coffee Co.’s official launch at the August TUM event. After contacting Mitchell Stern, the Marketing Director at Station Cold Brew, we were extended an invite to their debut! In my opinion, the brunch-themed TUM event was a big disappointment (more about that later), but we really enjoyed the cold brew coffee!

A little about cold brew coffee…

Cold brewing coffee (which, coincidentally, my friend J was talking to me and Matt about it a couple of weeks ago) involves steeping coffee grinds in cold/room temperature water for about 12 to 24 hours. Eliminating the heating process also results in coffee with lower acidity and a subtly sweet flavour.

Station Cold Brew Coffee Co.: Thumbs Up

Station Cold Brew

The crew at Station Cold Brew was very nice, especially Mitchell, who introduced himself to us. We learned that in addition to BOOM Breakfast & Co. and Cheesewerks, their coffee will soon be available at the various Fresh locations in Toronto. I was super excited to hear that because I’ve been wanting to bring Matt to Fresh ever since I went last time… now we can go for the food and cold brew coffee!

We bought a cup of their coffee, which was really cold and refreshing, especially given how hot it was outside today! We had it with a little bit of milk and agave. And as their guests, we each also got to take home a cute, little personalized 8 oz. stubby of coffee (they’re currently chilling in the fridge as I write, but Matt and I each took a sip before I started this post!) Definitely a must try!

Personalized Stubbies of Coffee

Personalized Stubbies of Coffee

Brunch TUM: Thumbs Down

We’ve been to TUM events, and I definitely stand by the idea of supporting local eateries and chefs, but this brunch event was a big disappointment for us. As a brunch-themed event (and marketed extensively that way), you’d think that there would be actual brunch food. One vendor had eggs, but that was the closest it came to brunch! There were also only about 8 food vendors, which doesn’t offer much variety. Not worth it, in my opinion.

What We Ate

All of these vendors were hard at work at the event and the food was good, so I definitely want to give credit where credit is due, but at the same time, nothing we tried really blew us away.

Brunch TUM

  • Babi & Co.’s Babi on a Bun (braised pork belly on fried buns with pickled cucumbers): These were nice and crispy—very good!
  • Good Pho U’s Banh Mi: These were okay, but I still really like the ones from Nguyen Huong in Scarborough best!
  • Empanada House’s Empanadas (fried with chipotle shrimp and cheese inside): I wish there was a bit more filling! The chimichurri was good though.
  • Bombay Street Food’s Spicy Beef and Spicy Veggie Pate (served on a bun with a side salad): This was good, as was the side salad, but unfortunately, it made the bun very soggy.

It was a gorgeous summer day in Toronto though, so it was hard not to be happy just being out and about in the city! Hope you all had a happy weekend🙂

Bring on the Ice Cream! Bang Bang Ice Cream & Bakery and Sweet Olenka’s

Just like cupcakes, froyo, and macarons were popping up everywhere just a while back, ice cream sandwiches have been the biggest thing lately! So far, we’ve tried them from 3 different places: Moo Milk Bar (see this post), and more recently, Bang Bang Ice Cream & Bakery and Sweet Olenka’s. Let the ice cream sammie adventures begin!

Bang Bang Ice Cream & Bakery

Bang Bang Ice Cream

Ginger Cookie + Bellwoods Stout Ice Cream; Birthday Cake Cookie + PB&J Ice Cream

Bang Bang has become really popular as of late, so Matt and I had to wait in line with the many others hoping to try their ice cream sandwiches. Luckily it was a nice night and the line moved fairly quickly. They make all the ice cream sandwiches on the spot and there are various options to choose from. In addition to picking between a half sandwich (1 cookie) or a full sandwich (2 cookies), you can also opt for a macaron ice cream sandwich or an ice cream puff. There are also a variety of ice cream flavours and cookies to choose from! Matt had the PB&J ice cream with a birthday cake cookie, while I went with the Bellwoods Stout ice cream and a ginger cookie. We also got an Everything cookie (chocolate, peanut butter, pretzels, and oats) to go, which we had with some vanilla frozen yogurt the night after. Delish!🙂

Bang Bang Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Sweet Olenka’s

Sweet Olenka's

Pear Caramel Ice Cream; Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich

The Queen West location of Sweet Olenka’s is literally around the corner from Bang Bang, so there’s plenty of ice cream goodness in the area! We went today, and the decisions were endless—they have handmade ice cream, ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches, chocolates, and baked goods! While their ice cream sandwiches are also handmade, they aren’t made-to-order. To be honest though, that really didn’t matter because their salted caramel ice cream sandwich is absolutely AMAZING! We shared that and the pear caramel ice cream, which was also really good (think refreshing and sweet at the same time). We’ll definitely have to go back!

Sweet Olenka's on Urbanspoon