A Holiday Dumpling Workshop in the Kitchen – Shrimp, Crab Meat, Herbs, and Veggies For Homemade Wontons!

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It’s delicious homemade wonton dumpling time! ūüėĬ† Yes, that’s right, yours truly made homemade wonton dumplings¬†from scratch¬†yesterday and spent her the whole day in the kitchen preparing and mixing baking ingredients for cookies and cupcakes,¬†and chopping up wonton¬†filling ingredients in the morning.¬† I know these don’t exactly scream Christmas or even “holidays”, but my mum and I made these for ourselves and for my grandparents as a little homemade Christmas food love from our hearts to theirs.¬†
 
I’ll have you know that yesterday’s wonton making session was not my first.¬† I know I never really talk about my cooking adventures or kitchen escapades much aside from baking, but my childhood is full to bursting with kitchen and cooking experiences and memories and¬†I have my grandma and my aunt to thank for that.¬† They instilled a love of home cooking¬†in me¬†and let me help them early on.¬† My first cookie baking experience was with my aunt in her Scarborough apartment at the age of 8 and my first wonton making adventure was with my mum and grandma in my grandparents’ kitchen when I was…some young age that I don’t recall at the moment.¬† But it was so much fun and¬†it will always be one of my favourite memories.
 

Dinner in the making!

I’m so, so excited to share these wonderful dumplings with you guys because¬†not only do they taste delicious, but they¬†are SO much fun to make!¬† You can literally make a fun morning and afternoon out of it and boil your creations for dinner later on at night!¬† I think it would even make a fantastic party activity for a get-together.¬† With the tv on or some music playing it’s incredibly relaxing and soothing and just oodles of fun.¬† It’s honestly one of my favourite things to make, ever.¬† Well, that and making cake pops and cookies.¬† You get the idea.¬† Just like my Christmas cake pops from Le Dolci, this is somewhat of a photo tutorial, so feel free to follow along or you can just enjoy the photos and drool.¬† It’s up to you.

Okay, first things first: the wrappers!¬† Wonton and dumpling wrappers come in a number of sizes and shapes.¬† Most of the time you’ll find them in square shapes and circle shapes, but if you’re feeling ambitious and know or want to make your own wonton wrappers from scratch, you can also make circles with scalloped edges if you like.¬† The wrappers are basically a mixture of flour, water, and possibly some cornstarch, egg, and/or salt kneaded into an elastic dough and then rolled out into thin sheets and cut into squares or circles for wontons and dumplings.¬† There are plenty of recipes online, such as this one, if you want to make your own dough wrappers.

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It’s Crab Cake Day on Ate by Ate! Crispy Crab Cakes With Cabbage Slaw and Chipotle Mayo at La Mexicana

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It’s Crab Cake Day on Ate by Ate today!¬† I’m quite excited because this is the first of many crab cake posts to come!¬† Now before I get into all the delicious crab cake details, I want to share and discuss some blog related goodies with you all first.¬† You guys are well aware of how much I love thinking in and working with themes and categories, and I’m always thinking of new things to add to the blog.¬† When I first started Ate by Ate, I brainstormed a number of categories¬†and had a backlog of material ready so that I’d be¬†ready to go when I launched and went “live”.¬† I started off with the categories I knew I wanted to attack and come back to over and over again such as the Cupcake Chronicles, the Sushi Bar, and the Veggie Eats.¬† Over the past year, I continued adding to the list (which has grown like a beanstalk as you can tell from the right hand sidebar!) and not too long ago I came up with a great idea, thanks to an amazing beauty blogger.

Along with food stuffs, I’m a beauty junkie (someday I should show you all my lip gloss collection!) and I frequent Christine’s beauty empire, Temptalia, on a regular basis.¬† I was majorly inspired by her series, “5 Ways” and in a nutshell, Christine’s posts for “5 Ways” encompass 5 different ways to do wear something or 5 great products in a given category.¬† Things like 5 ways to wear purple eyeshadow, 5 great teal nail polishes, 5 great coral lipsticks, and so on and so forth.

It got me thinking of all the different ways you could incorporate old and material and her series inspired me to think of a way to do something similar here.¬† Just think, the possibilities are endless when you put it into the context of food.¬† I could do 5 great sprinkled donuts, 5 great smoked salmon dishes, 5 great apple baked goods…you get the idea.¬† And I am so excited about it!¬† I haven’t introduced this particular series on the blog just yet, but I’m hoping to have the series up and running by the new year.¬† As you could imagine, it’s going to take a lot of cross referencing, organization, and compiling¬†on my part, not to mention I’ll need to have enough material to make a “5 Great” post for a specific category of food, but I’m up for the challenge!¬†¬†I can’t wait to get started on it and if you have suggestions or ideas, let me know!¬† Oh, and if you’re curious as to why I’m bouncing around ideas in this particular post, it’s because crab cakes are going to eventually be a part of the series ūüėÄ

These amazing crab cakes are from the wonderful La Mexicana¬†in Yorkville.¬† La Mexicana is always a huge temptation for both myself and my boyfriend whenever we’re in the area (and Mela Cafe, my favourite vegetarian and vegan place) and I know I’ve found a gem in them because I’m always looking up their menu online and daydreaming about what I’d order during my next visit.¬† You know a place has your heart when it does crazy things like that to you.¬† Anyway, I love crab cakes to death.¬† I don’t eat them often because they’re such a treat to me, but I get incredibly excited at the thought of them.¬†¬†To my¬†recollection, I’ve only ever had crab cakes 3 times and all 3 times were lovely and delicious, including the¬†lunch I had here at La¬†Mexicana.

Their crab cakes come in sets of two ($8) and are available on¬†both their lunch and dinner menu.¬† The crab cakes (which are about the size of my palm) are lightly breaded and fried with the most¬†savoury,¬†soft, flaky crab meat¬†you could imagine and are placed on a¬†bed of carrot and cabbage slaw with shredded red and¬†green cabbage and carrot.¬† You know the crab is real and fresh because when you¬† break the cakes apart, you see that stringy, shredded quality that’s common with fresh crab meat.¬† When I ate the cakes, I felt like I had bitten into the meat of the ever-popular messy crab legs.¬† The crab cakes just melt in your mouth and the breading¬†has that great crispiness to it that’s not so crunchy the cakes are hard and difficult to eat, but not oily crispy either.¬† The soft, flaky crab meat was mixed with some green onions and red pepper flakes and the cakes were drizzled with chipotle mayo sauce which I LOVED.

The fun thing about crab cakes is not just the different ways they’re breaded but also the different sauces that¬†are served with them.¬† I remember having crab cakes two and a half years ago at a pub that was served with this tangy seafood sauce¬†that was a cross between salsa and shrimp cocktail sauce and the flavours were completely changed and revamped based on that difference.¬† The crab cake sauce at La Mexicana is delicious and that very subtle kick of spicy flavour is delicious and it¬†envelopes every part¬†of your mouth with¬†the salty savouriness of the crab meat and¬†breading.

Oh!¬† And do you all remember the black beans and feta cheese that I¬†had the last time?¬† I dipped my cod fish empanadas in them that time, but I also discovered that they are amazing with the corn chips that are you given to every table during a meal.¬† I know because I ordered the creamy black bean side dish again because it’s just that good.¬† I hope everyone is having¬†a fabulous long weekend and I hope you all enjoy the new upcoming “5 Great” series as much I will preparing for it.¬† Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everyone!

*****

La Mexicana is located at 838 Yonge St. in between Yorkville Ave. and Cumberland St., north of Bloor Street.  They are open 7 days a week at 11am.  They are open until 10pm from Sunday-Thursday and until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.  They serve two other locations, so for more info, visit their website here.

Scrapbooking materials used: to be added!

Big Sushi Pizzas and Philadelphia Rolls at Big Sushi!

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I took a picture of the menu and thought it’d be cute to replicate it, so I drew the fish on the paper menu for my scrapbook layout ūüôā¬† And this lovely sushi restaurant lives up to its name!¬† Big Sushi, located at 388 Bloor St. W (west of Spadina), was an accidental discovery half a year ago¬†last June.¬† Since then, I’ve been back twice and I’ve enjoyed my food immensely!¬† As Richard and I were strolling along Bloor St.W a few hours before meeting up with friends one day in May, I was overcome with an intense pang of hunger.¬† With me, this happens often.¬† I know, how embarrassing.¬† It’s like being with a 2-year-old who whimpers when she’s hungry and wants a graham cracker but doesn’t have one!¬† I get hungry often and¬†I’m¬†thankful that¬†I’m surrounded by so many good¬†eats when I’m out on the town; this belly of mine can sometimes be unpredictable!

So, back to that sunny afternoon in May.¬† As I wrote in my¬†Sushi on Bloor¬†post last month, the strip on Bloor St.W between Spadina and Bathurst is bursting with a plethora of sushi places.¬† Perfect, ripe for the picking! ūüėĬ† When¬†we passed by the restaurant windowfront, I¬†did a double-take as once again, you guessed it, I was lured by the delicious-looking photos of rolls and sushi and sushi pizza *cue Homer-like drooling*.¬† I didn’t want to be impulsive though, so we kept walking…and came back 15 minues later when I couldn’t resist temptation any longer.¬† Go figure.

I ordered the Philadelphia/Philly roll and other than¬†¬†The Sushi Shop, Big Sushi serves¬†some of my favourite cream cheese rolls, eeee!¬† I can’t even begin to tell you how much I LOVE CREAM CHEESE!!¬† *cue cheerleader pom pom waving here*¬† I am a cream cheese fanatic and I love it with and on everything!¬† These Philly rolls were fantastic.¬† Rolls with crab meat, cucumber, avocado, and cream cheese.¬† The combination of cream cheese and avocado just melts right into the crab meat and they are so hella satisfying.¬† I’ve tried several different kinds of rolls with cream cheese from different sushi places¬†and although they’re good, these are GREAT ‚̧¬† And the spicy tuna (pictured below)?¬† Oh, these bad boys will leave you panting.¬† But in the best way possible, I promise! ūüėĬ† Those who find some of the spicy roll varieties too tame at other places will¬†enjoy these ones.¬†

Big Sushi is absolutely PERFECT for those who enjoy bigger portions and fabulous, budget-friendly prices!¬†¬†Almost all the maki rolls come in sets of 8, and they have lots of roll combinations that allow you to try 3 different kinds.¬† For those who are super ravenous, it’s¬†fantastic and it’s¬†also great for¬†sharing.¬† The prices are also really good.¬† For¬†many of the rolls that come in a set of 8, prices hover around $5.50-$6 which is¬†very reasonable for downtown sushi.¬† Not to mention, you get what you pay for; the roll sizes are fab and they load them up with lots of yummy ingredients.¬† No dry mouthfuls of rice here!

The larger portion sizes¬†reeeally shine when you order the sushi¬†pizza.¬† The sushi pizza is amazing.¬† Normally, you’re accustomed to seeing sushi pizzas¬†a little bigger than a¬†coaster.¬† Not the¬†case at Big Sushi.¬† If you were to place the sushi pizza on your face (which I really wouldn’t suggest you to do; everything would fall off), it would cover it up entirely.¬† And¬†you get bang for¬†your buck.¬† Sushi pizzas usually¬†come in at around $7 depending on the type of sashimi you choose.¬† For $7.50, you get a meal-sized sushi pizza with not only special sauce and fresh slices of salmon¬†sashimi draped on top of the cripsy slices of breaded rice, but you also get slices¬†of avocado and shredded crab meat, all topped with a¬†sprinkling of tobiko/fish roe.¬†¬†Did I mention it’s amazing?¬† Because it is!¬†¬†It’s fresh, it’s delicious, it’s filling, and it’s generous.¬†

And really, when you go out to¬†wine and dine, you want to know that the place you’re eating at has the heart and generousity that¬†wants¬†you to eat and wants¬†to give you good food.¬† Big Sushi is a great place and I’m glad I “accidentally” stumbled on it that sunny¬†May afternoon.

*****

Scrapbooking materials: gray and speckled beige¬†cardstock (Recollections); black construction paper; sushi stickers (Sticko and Jolee’s); red alphabet stickers (Recollections); adhesive pearls and gems¬†(K&Company); silver, gold, and red metallic gel pens for the drawing of¬†the fish on the menu.¬†¬†¬†¬†