Monday, 9 December 2013

Restaurant Pick #2: XOLA -222A Queen St E. / McComb Mexican Salad Bowls

Oh had me at 'ola'!!!

This sweet 17-seat authentic Mexican restaurant has been open in the Beach since the summer and I for one couldn't be happier. The place is really small (getting a table can be challenging during the dinner hour) but vibrant, cozy and colourful.

I absolutely love the ambience of the space. Whenever I am there I feel like I am a guest of the chef and I am waiting in her apartment while she cooks me something yummy and authentic. The wall does say 110% Mexican!!!.The owners and chefs are passionate about what they do...and to their credit, they do it SO well.

What I also really like is that they buy their meat from Royal Beef up on the Danforth.  Royal Beef is one of my ' go-tos' ...artisanal butchers, who have been serving Toronto for 25 years selling naturally-raised meats sourced from local traditional farms.


  Check out the amazing graffiti art wall - love it!

Ok, now for the food! It is so great!!! The chef/owner, Mali Fernandez (formerly of Embrujo Flamenco), originally hails from the Xalapa region of Veracruz on the gulf coast. She opened this restaurant to showcase the flavours of the 'Mexican motherland'.

Taquitos estilo Baja - Fish Tacos are a personal favourite!!! Three tacos are served with lightly battered pieces of  fried fish. They're topped with a crunchy coleslaw, avocado, jalapeño salsa and a lovely habanero mayo is drizzled over for an amazing taste sensation.

Chorizo and Scrambled Eggs served with a side of black beans and queso fresco (a light Mexican cheese similar to feta). Lightly scrambled eggs over a spiced diced chorizo.....delish.

The Xola Beef Burrito is a very popular item (at least one person per table had ordered it on the day I was there for lunch!), it is served with guacamole and is one of the best burritos in town. It is authentic through and through and tastes so delicious. Make sure you are hungry when you order's huge!
In honour of my new favourite Mexican restaurant, I made my own McComb Mexican Salad Bowls for the family. 
McComb Mexican Salad Bowls (serves 6)
This is a delicious full meal deal in a bowl. It has lettuce, spiced grilled chicken, black bean paste, salsa (home-made or bottled), diced avocado, diced tomatoes, grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Super yummy!
For the Chicken:
6 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbl cumin
1tbl chilli powder
cilantro chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
lime juice and zest
1 tbl of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (check out the Mexican section of your grocery'll find it!)
salt and pepper
Marinate the chicken in the ingredients listed above, overnight or for a few hours in the fridge. On a grill or in a grill pan, sauté the chicken until cooked through. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes, then slice into strips.
Black Bean Paste
1 can of  drained black beans
 3 green onions diced
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 small onion diced
1 tomato diced
1 tsp cumin
s and p
dash of hot sauce
 (Saute onions, garlic and tomatoes until onions are soft, add in the can of drained black beans, cumin, green onion, s and p and a splash of hot sauce....simmer for 15mins and use a potato masher to turn it into a lovely paste. )
Remaining ingredients:
2 small heads of lettuce
2-3 tomatoes diced
2 avocadoes diced
chopped cilantro
2 limes
grated cheddar cheese
sour cream
salsa - your favourite bottled brand
a splash of balsamic vinegar
Fill 6 larger sized bowls with fresh green boston or romaine lettuce. Top with the sliced chicken. Add a spoonful of black bean paste, a large spoonful of salsa, and sprinkle diced tomatoes and avocadoes over the top. Finally add a dollop of sour cream, grate some cheddar cheese over the salad and top with some chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice...I also like mine with a little balsamic vinegar.
Super healthy and super good. Try it!






Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

My mom is a great mom for many reasons. She has many talents, but one thing my kids love is that she`s fabulous at baking desserts and has always been the Queen when it comes to her homemade Banana Bread. I never thought that I`d stray from her tried and true recipe, but I believe that I have found a recipe that could definitely be considered stiff competition for my mom`s fabulous loaves and muffins.
These muffins have a lovely consistency...not too dry, and not overly moist. The extra 1/2 cup of chocolate chips helps  to make them absolutely decadent and the only other thing you will be in need of, is an ice cold glass of milk or a steaming hot cup of coffee ( with cream and a tiny bit of honey....just the way I like it!).
2 cups cake and pastry flour (salt and baking powder pre-mixed)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 large very ripe bananas , mashed
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and chocolate chips.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the bananas, butter, milk and eggs until well blended and no big banana chunks remain (I used my new, vintage egg beater to make the wet batter nice and creamy - worked like a dream - Thanks D and T!!)
Pour the wet batter into the dry batter and mix until just blended. Do not over mix your dough. Grease muffin tins or 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for approx. 25 mins for the muffins and approx. 55 mins for the loaf. Loaves and muffins should be a nice golden brown in colour when ready.
Let muffins cool for 15 mins. and then remove from the tins.
Home-made Goodness! 
 Have one, and then go to YOGA! Namaste!