October 31st, 2004

Fishy Circumstances


I came home hungry from the Night of Dread, despite two tasty-but-small slices of pizza and a bowl of soup consumed over the course of the previous five hours. We did so much walking, following the parade back and forth around its route, that I shouldn't be too surprised. So I sat down to see what my cookbooks could offer me in terms of something easily made from what the cupboards had in store.

Now I may not be a frequent baker, but I do so regularly enough that the cupboards are fairly well stocked with baking staples. Ingredients were no barrier to baking. The problem was with the equipment.

The new Joy of Cooking has aimed to adapt its recipes to modern convenience, and so nearly every one calls for an electric beater, which I do not own. I'm quite happy beating my butter by hand, but only if I've softened it in advance. Sudden snack cravings don't allow for such preparations. I looked through the other obvious candidate cookbooks for suggestions. Electric beaters and the wrong baking pan shapes and sizes stood in my way.

But wrong pan sizes should never be a barrier to cooking, not if there's time enough to test the goods in the oven on a regular basis to see if they're done. I found a recipe calling for melted butter, took out the muffin tray, and set to work. The Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts recipe for Old-Fashioned Fresh Apple Cake has now become eighteen very satisfying muffins.
Fishy Circumstances

Southern Accent

Location: Bloor and Markham, Toronto.

C. and I hadn't had a nice meal out in quite a while, so we took advantage of Sunday and Halloween restaurant quiet to do so. I didn't do too much research to find a new place to eat: easy to get to, a style of food we'd not eaten a while, a good review.

Southern Accent is located in a tangle of Victorian houses on Markham St., around the corner from Honest Ed's. There were at least six or seven small dining rooms tucked away around the place. We started by ordering some truly delicious bread: jalapeño rye, buttery pastry twists, and yam biscuits with hummous to spread on them. C. had a good, hearty gumbo to start with, while I had a respectable, but ultimately very straightforward salad, all leaves and a balsamic-citrus dressing.

My succulent New Zealand lamb chops with apricot-mint sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and very fresh green beans was delicious. The sauce was perfectly balanced with the flavorfulness of the meat. C. was somewhat disapointed with his main, a special meat grill composed of second-rate cuts of meat and a striking, piquant barbecue sauce which just didn't appeal to him. His protein-heavy dinner killed his appetite for dessert, but I was up for a sugary finish. Then again, I'd eaten more lightly at that point.

The creme brûlée was quite good too. If anything, the caramel glaze was overcooked and slightly too thick; still, the smooth vanilla custard contrasted well with the as-promised crunch of the glaze. I ordered dessert wine, but not to go with the dessert. The Southbrook frambroise was too strong to accompany anything as delicate as creme brûlée. (Indeed, the menu recommended it with the chocolate cake.) It did, however, make for a pleasant way to wind down the dinner, the rich smell of ripe strawberries lingering in my nose.