December 31, 2014

Persimon Glazed Ham

Two things put a smile on my face this time of year: Toffifee on the shelves and a box of persimmons on the counter. I alway make sure to stock up on both these beauties when they're in season. 

This year, I was introduced to Persimon - a special variety native to Spain. They're larger and longer than most persimmons, which really just means there's more of it to love. Unlike the other larger varieties, these don't need to be ripened before consumption. They're ready to eat when they're firm to the touch. I personally prefer my persimmons this way - still crunchy and firm. If you've never had one before - picture a peach and a mango making love; and what you get are these juicy babies. 
With a box of Persimon at my disposal, I had them each and every way I could imagine. From my morning smoothies, charcuterie platters,  to my Christmas dinner and even a post Christmas salad. They hold up quite well paired with cheeses and salty meats. Once they get sugar freckles (brown spots that appear when fruit ripens - think bananas) they're perfect for smoothies. 
For Christmas this year I made a honey & Persimon glazed ham. This was definitely one of my favourite lazy girl recipes.  

All you need is :

  • small sauce pot 
  • pealed & diced persimmons
  • one stick of cinnamon
  • a few splashes of OJ 
  • honey to taste
Boil it all down, adding more honey or OJ to taste - then using a hand puree (after you've removed the cinnamon stick), blend it all up.
I bought a bone in smoked ham from Denninger's, scored the top fat layer and slathered that Persimon compote all over that little piggy.  The ham is already cooked so you're just looking to heat it up -  this recipe is a serious no brainer. Make sure to just score the top fat layer and bring the ham out to room temp before you throw it in the oven. I basted the ham with more compote every 10 - 15 minutes. A few times I basted with just honey.  I'm one of those peeps who likes my ham sweet and sticky. 300 degrees, bottom rack, 40 minutes (ish) and then 15 minutes (ish) on broil to caramelize the honey a bit - but watch it closely, the sugar will burn quickly. 
You can't mess this one up. The ham is already cooked so just make sure not to over cook it. You're really just looking to warm it up so pull it out sooner rather than later. 

To serve, I sliced half the ham and left the other half with the bone in unsliced. I couldn't be bothered to debone it. It's the holidays, why make your life harder than it has to be? I left a carving knife nearby and guest were free to slice as they please. #LazyGirlEntertaining 
After that feast, how bout we lay low with an even easier recipe I got from the Persimon website. 
  • 1 Persimon sliced thinly
  • handful of blueberries
  • ½ cup  pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp  lemon juice
  • sprigs of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp  liquid honey
  • 1 cup  Greek yogurt 

Throw the Persimon slices, blueberries and pomegranate seeds in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and honey. Sprinkle with mint and a dollop of greek yoghurt. I used cherry yoghurt below. 

That's it. 

I know. 

Pretty sweet eh? I omitted the blueberries just cause they were out of season. I ate this like it was chip & dip.

Of course, when all else fails, just slice these bad boys up and enjoy! Brings me to tears these Persimon are only available in Canada till mid January - so gobble them up while you can.

Happy Eating! 

*I was given a box of Persimon for this article. Find out more about this variety of persimmons at  and enter to win a trip to Spain. Follow them on twitter @persimonsays #persimonsays

December 30, 2014

Not One of Those 2014 Recaps

So where do I start? First off, I'm trying to make THG happen - like when Puff Daddy went to P. Diddy, I'm transitioning into THG. 

Just Kidding.

The Hungry Gnome has taken a bit of a back seat these past few weeks.  Why? Hmm getting a new kitty isn't exactly what you want to hear so how about we act like that little break never happened and we get back to regular scheduled blogging? Sounds, great - thanks for understanding boo.  
So, the last few months I've been on a bit of a seafood binge. I could eat seafood all day everyday but I'm also a big cheapie so I love finding a good bang for my buck without compromising my butt, if you know what I mean.

My birthday this past October was the perfect occasion to 1. get all the Belly Monsters together & 2. gorge on seafood. Spoonful - 499 Main St South | Brampton | Spoonful By Imperial Buffet on Urbanspoon  is one of the best seafood ayce joints I've seen within a driving distance. We went on a weekend and there was a fantastic spread of raw and cooked seafood from conch, crab, scallops, oysters, shrimp - you name it, they had it! My trick with seafood ayce joints is all in the sauce . Obviously with a buffet you can't expect supreme quality but with a few squeezes of lemon or  a few lashings of  diy seafood sauce - you've got a pretty banging  meal. 
I also used my birthday as an excuse to finally check out the brunch menu at Aberdeen Tavern - 432 Aberdeen Ave | Hamilton Aberdeen Tavern on Urbanspoon  which I am happy to say is finally being served on Saturdays. More restaurants need to follow their lead, I'm looking at you Ancaster Mill! The croque monsieur was heavenly - nice and rich, but not too heavy and was surprisingly the best dish out of the lot. I realize it's just a bougie ham & cheese sandwich, but sue me, I got a little fancy pants in me.  I would go back and order that any day. 
Other October birthdays also provided me with the opportunity to finally check out the Ritz Carlton brunch. It cost me $103.48 - so you better fricken believe it when I say, there is most definitely going to be a blog post about this one! Just drool over the food porn for now and I'll fill you in on the details later. K, girlfriend?
And of course I had an actual birthday gathering - aka, come over and hang out in your pjs and eat all of my favourite things. This is pretty much how I like to spend my birthday's every year.  I go for dinners leading up to the big day and the actual day is spent at home, with a top knot bun, eating the whole fridge.  This year we had kalbi salad wraps, giant fruit platters, a tower of donuts, and a pound of Rapscallions infamous chicken liver creme brûlé. Muchas Gracias to Erin for gifting me with one of my favourite things off their menu. You think this stuff taste bomb dignity at the restaurant - wait till you try it at home, in your pjs, over the sink. ERMAHGERD. I can't even describe the mouthgasms I was experiencing. 
I also ventured out to some new digs - like the new Hakka Chinese place - 239 York Boulevard | Hamilton. To be honest, this place is a total dive. But don't let that scare you away. We walked in on its first week of business and was greeted by a lovely gentlemen working the counter. Turns out he was the server, cook, and cashier. A renaissance man, this guy. 

I have absolutely no experience with Hakka food so, thank goodness for the Chub Squad. They did a beautiful job of ordering and we also asked Mr. Renaissance Man what his recommendations were. I would recommend sticking to the Indian side of the menu - the kebabs & spicy chicken were a personal favourite. A few of the Hakka items - manchurian beef/chicken as well as the fried rice was fantastic. Oh! The garlic naan was out of this world as well. Fresh chunks of raw garlic basted in oil - and it was made fresh to order, in house son! As my fellow Belly Monster, Justin would say - gawdlike. We couldn't help but keep ordering basket, after basket.  There will definitely be a more detailed post on this place as well! 

And of course can't forget the old classics, like Memphis Fire BBQ. Don't bother getting the hot dog though - just stick to their BBQ, what was I thinking? 
I also squeezed in a quick trip to Vegas with the Sisters and a few friends. We spent four days eating and competing in a professional Bingo Tournament. Oh yeah, you read that right baby, we killed it at bingo.
More Vegas eats coming up in a later post. Besides eating out, I managed to squeeze in some time to butcher a lamb, more birthday celebrations, gobbled up an all duck burger from Novemburger, discovered that Demetres now serves ice-cream sandwiches - can you believe they finally changed their menu? It's a little kitschy but I can't say no to those waffles. Wait, those were all times I went out to eat - I need to get a life.

I also went out to SB Prime - 390 Brant St | Burlington | SB Prime on Urbanspoon for some nibbles and drinks with a few other bloggers. It was nice to get out and see some familiar faces and nosh on these beautiful appy platters. I was familiar with them through Taste of Burlington but it was nice to enjoy the food in its natural setting. The restaurant space was pretty intimate with an open concept kitchen but a very quaint private dining area in the back. 
There was a very, very, short period of time before and after Christmas where I attempted to "eat clean" - see persimmon, pomegranate and mixed berry smoothie cup above as proof, but of course, once Christmas rolled around, it was out with the skinny jeans and in come the stretchy pants. 

What can I say? My people know how to feed me - and this was only half the table. 
Our last big dinner of the year was my moms annual birthday dinner at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse - 680 SilverStar Boulevard | Scarborough Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon. I'm sure my parents wait all year for this meal and you, my dear, will have to wait for the complete review as well.  Sorry! 
Did you see what I just did there? I tricked you into reading an entire post of "this is what I ate, and then I ate this - and I ate this" ...suckah Thanks for sticking around, thanks for reading the Hungry Gnome, and thanks for all the love and support. Can't wait for new foodie adventures come 2015.

Happy Eating & Happy New Year! 

December 12, 2014

Street Food Passport

I was invited out to the International Marketplace hosted by the Immigrant Women's Centre today and to be honest, I went because: 1. I came to this country as an immigrant and 2. I'm clearly a women. So, gotta represent for my peeps. 

I didn't really think much of it but when I walked in I thought, "holy #$%^ this place is adorable!". It's pretty intimate aka small but they fit just enough things in there to keep your eyes, wallet and stomach satisfied.  
The marketplace is free but, to take part in the "street food" aspect you buy a "passport" for $10. This allows you four samples, dessert and a coffee. That's a pretty sweet deal to be honest. Consider it a $10 lunch - bring a date and impress them to bits. 

Today, the countries showcased were Bosnia, El Salvador, Cambodia, Chile, Iraq, Egypt, Mexico and Lebanon.  The best part about it is - it's all hand made mom and pop recipes. The lovely ladies dishing out the food basically chose dishes from countries they were all from. So it was like being invited to a potluck at the United Nations. 

The falafel's from Egypt were the best I've ever had. That's right - I said it! I had a falafel and I fricken enjoyed it. Everyone knows I hate, hate, hate chickpeas. But these seemed to be a hot commodity so, I had to see what all the fuss was about. They were moist and very well seasoned. 

I also had the Cambodian pork & shrimp dumping as well as a fava bean dish from Lebanon. I didn't quite catch the name of it but it was very simple and tasty. She literally whipped it up right in front of me. A few spoonfuls of boiled (or baked?) beans, doused with lemon juice, fresh garlic, cumin, paprika and fresh parsley. This was the first time I ever had fava beans (cause they always remind me of Silence of the Lambs)  I don't know if I would ever make it for myself at home but if a sweet lady in a pink apron made it for me, I'd gobble it up. 

Outside of the food they also had some fantastic hand crafted goods for you to purchase. I go to Art Crawl every once in a while and sometimes you see the same vendors over and over but these vendors were all pretty new to me.
These watches were made with recycled wood and leather and these hats, which I'm sure you've seen all over pinterest and instagram, were selling for $15 - word up, that is the cheapest I've seen them anywhere! 
Heads up for last minute Christmas Shoppers - it's definitely worth stopping by, even if it's just for the $10 lunch. They were also selling hot apple cider and hot chocolate for $1.25 - yeah, Starbucks can kiss my butt, I had a lovely apple cider for under two bucks! 

Countries featured on Saturday will be:  Iraq, Egypt, Mexico, Afghanistan, Kenya, India  & Poland

 *The Immigrant Women's Centre works towards social, economic, & civic participation for immigrant & refugee women and their families in Hamilton, On. I was invited to the marketplace as their guest and my passport was complimentary. The opinions expressed are my own.