Tag Archives: brunch

Maha’s Egyptian Brunch – review

Chef's Appetizer Platter, Maha's Egyptian Brunch

Chef’s Appetizer Platter, Maha’s Egyptian Brunch

Look at this platter.  I mean, just LOOK at the presentation (and drool), do I even need to write a review to convince you to try Maha’s Egyptian Brunch?   Because, yes, this golden platter IS as fresh and tasty as it appears.  The East end of Toronto has really stepped up it’s brunch game in the past few years and Maya’s Egyptian Brunch is part of this movement.  Located on Greenwood just north of Gerrard, this small unassuming bistro opened it’s doors in 2014.  The inside is cozy and welcoming with Egyptian elements and decorated with personal trinkets.  Outside, there is a cute patio and we happened to score a spot on this unseasonably warm day.

The chef’s platter is perfect to share between two people and surprisingly filling!  I would have been content with just the platter but the menu was so enticing, I got greedy and ordered the Po’Boy to split as well.  The platter consists of a few homemade dips: babaghanoug (eggplant), hummus (chick pea), Egyptian beet salad, pickled onions, garlic tomatoes, Roumy (Egyptian) cheese, traditional Balady bread and pita, and the best falafels I have ever tasted.  Nicely spiced and delicately fried, these falafels are light and fluffy and not heavy at all.  Well proportioned with an interesting assortment of fresh flavours, this platter is an ideal way to sample a good selection of their side dishes.

The Po’Boy is an example of authentic Cairo street food, and consists of a pita stuffed with battered, deep fried shrimp topped with homemade tehina (tahini – sesame paste) and tomeya (garlic sauce).  The marinated shrimp are juicy and thinly battered, and the soft pita is a delicious vessel for the creamy, crispy goodness that is every bite.  Indulging in Egyptian street eats is the best way to enjoy the last day of patio weather!

With friendly service, a relaxed vibe and inviting food at reasonable prices, Maha’s is a refreshing addition to the East end brunch scene, and gave me another reason to travel to Egypt!

Pharaoh's Po' Boy, Maha's Egyptian Brunch

Pharaoh’s Po’ Boy, Maha’s Egyptian Brunch

 

 

Marmora Mines

Over the Victoria long weekend, we decided to visit my boyfriend’s grandmother out in Marmora. I’ve been to Marmora in the summer, fall and winter, but this was the first time I would see Marmora in the spring.  I was really looking forward to a relaxing weekend out of the city, and was also curious about the Marmora Mines that my boyfriend said we were going to check out.

On the way, we stopped by Pitcher’s Place, a restaurant just north of Cobourg in Gores Landing that had received rave reviews for their brunch.  Pitcher’s Place did not disappoint and we were treated to an incredible, home-style, totally indulgent, utterly comforting breakfast.  I had the poached eggs on homemade toast, with a potato and squash hash (brilliant!), plus some charsiu (new word! It’s pork belly…) and a side of house braut (spiced pork sausage, oh my!) and house made pickled cauliflower, brussel sprouts and beets.  Everything was exceptional and the owner was also super friendly and helpful.  I wish they were in Toronto, I would go here every weekend!  Although…the good thing about brunch in Gores Landing is that you don’t have to wait an hour in line.

Pitcher's Place breakfast

Pitcher’s Place breakfast

The highlight of our day trip to Marmora was a visit to the Marmora Mine, an abandoned open pit iron mine just on the outskirts of town.  From the years 1955 to 1979 the mine supplied iron ore pellets to the steel mills of Buffalo, New York and the size of the mine is truly impressive.  Underground streams have since filled the enormous pit with water, turning it into a peaceful lake more than 656 feet deep and covering 85 acres across.

Marmora Mine

Marmora Mine

Marmora Mine

Marmora Mine

We spent over an hour walking along the edge of the mine and exploring down below.  A really cool site and exceptionally scenic on this gorgeous spring day!

Marmora Mine

Marmora Mine

 

Brioche in Brooklyn

Scrambled egg sandwich with ham, gruyere and caramelized onion on brioche

Scrambled egg sandwich with ham, gruyere and caramelized onion on brioche

As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning scouring the internet for cheap flights to NYC, I’m reminiscing about the last time I was in the Big Apple.  The city that never sleeps feels like a     second home to me, and it’s nice to know that I can skip all the tourist traps and focus my attention elsewhere.  Besides visiting my dear friend from university, I also love to discover new places to stuff my face, shop for vintage clothes and check out the latest MOMA exhibit.  I used to be swept away by all the celebrity restaurants in Manhatten, but during my last visit I took Brooklyn by storm.  From the flea market of food that is Smorgasburg to the infamous fried chicken at the Brooklyn Bowl, I placed some serious effort into filling my belly with the best of this borough.  The most memorable brunch I ate however, was hidden away in a little nook in Prospect Heights called 606 R&D.  Their scrambled egg sandwich with ham, gruyere and caramelized onion on brioche was a fistful of savory protein balanced out nicely with the sweetness from the onions and fresh bun.

Brioche has definitely claimed a place in my top five fave breads (along with croissants, baguettes, bagels and Persian barbari flatbread) and my taste buds dance whenever the buttery flakiness takes hold of a burger or is turned into French toast.  This French bread, along with croissants belong to a subgroup of leavened delights called Viennoiserie a term that originated from Austria and literally means “things of Vienna”.  Viennoiseries are baked breakfast goods or snacks that are made in the same way as bread but have more of a pastry-like quality due to the sinful additions of cream, eggs and higher quantities of sugar, milk and butter.  While I’ve made homemade bread successfully, I had never attempted brioche.  I turned to my baking bible – Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  The recipe looked intimidating, but I was feeling patient and in the mood for a baking project.  Most of the time is spent waiting on the dough, with roughly two hours of actual prep, so the process is actually pretty relaxing and ultimately very satisfying.

One should note that you do need to chill the dough overnight, so this is a good baking project for a lazy weekend.
As with any baking, a kitchen scale is essential, and while my mother kneaded bread by hand, my Kitchen Aid mixer is a blessing and my baking in general has improved since I started using an electric mixer.
I didn’t have brioche molds, so I used 3 (x 6) muffin tins and even though they turned out more muffin like in appearance – they are all brioche in taste and texture.
In the second part of the recipe, what you will essentially be molding out of the larger piece of dough is a mini bean bag chair for the smaller piece to sit in, and this, when baked will result in the classic brioche shape.

I was quite pleased with the final product!  My “muffin” brioche tasted sweet, rich and was puffy with a golden, flaky crust, just as I remembered from my Brooklyn brunch brioche.  Now that I can make my own brioche, I can’t wait to start creating some breakfast sandwiches, the possibilities are endless!  To be continued…

Martha Stewart's brioche

Martha Stewart’s brioche

Martha Stewart's Brioche

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Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 27 hours, 42 minutes

Yield: 18 brioche muffins

Martha Stewart's Brioche

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) bread floor, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup (5 ounces) pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
  • 4 large eggs, cold, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon nonfat dry milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • canola oil for plastic wrap

Instructions

    Part 1:
  1. Make the dough: In a medium bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water; stir with a fork until dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 2 ounces bread flour; stir until well combined. Cover with a clean kitchen towel; let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk and bubbles appear on the surface, about 1 hour.
  2. Place remaining 7 ounces bread flour and the pastry flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the butter, eggs, sugar, and the dry milk, and beat on low speed until well combined, about 5 minutes. Add the yeast mixture; beat on low speed for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in salt; beat on medium speed until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; immediately place in freezer for 30 minutes (to prevent the dough from rising too quickly). Remove from freezer; punch down dough in bowl. Fold sides into the center, and invert, so dough is smooth side up. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 10 hours or overnight.
  4. Part 2:
  5. Butter 3 x small muffin tins and set aside. Divide the dough into 18 equal pieces. Working with a few pieces at a time (returning the rest of the dough to the refrigerator), divide each piece in two, making one twice as big as the other.
  6. One a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece into a round ball using the cupped palm of your hand. Press your thumb into the center of the ball to form a deep well. Then rotate your thumb to widen the hole. Shape the smaller piece into a teardrop. With lightly floured fingers, press the tip of the teardrop gently into the bottom of the hole. Place in a prepared mold. Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Drape the dough pieces with a well-oiled piece of plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, nondrafty place until fully doubled in bulk for 1-3 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 375F.
  9. Just before baking, brush dough gently but generously with the beaten egg. Place tins in center of oven, and bake until deep golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove brioches from muffin tins, and cool on wire rack.
http://iseehungrypeople.net/2015/04/08/brioche-in-brooklyn/

What are some of your favourite breads, or Viennoiseries?