A Foodie Guide to Halifax

Ahoy!
Once again its been a hot minute since we’ve checked in with all of you (anybody still here…Mom??…Bueller??) For those of you that have stayed with us through our long periods of inactivity we really appreciate it – as I’m sure you can all relate life just gets in the way sometimes and as much as we enjoy blogging and sharing photos and stories with you guys recently we’ve been stepping back and really being present in our “IRL” lives and other projects.

To recap you on the past few months – Erica has been off being a kick-ass Momma to the most beautiful little girl (clearly no bias here) and learning lots about motherhood and living in Kingston. With the excitement of this new phase she has also launched her own blog to share her Momma adventures with all of you, she’s created a really beautiful and knowledgable space over there (again no bias). If you want to check that out here’s the link: The YGK Mom.

As for me, I’ve been plugging away at grad school and working various other jobs on the side trying to “taste all the flavours” and figure out what exactly I want to be when I grow up. I’ll be sure to keep you posted when I figure this one out. In the meantime, one of the very few benefits of being in grad school (#overworkedunderpaid) is getting to travel to conferences and have most of your expenses compensated – which is how my most recent trip to Halifax happened. I tagged along on a friend’s free ride, with cheap flights (out of Hamilton – why isn’t everyone doing this?! It was such a breeze – the 7 minutes from leaving the plane to being out the doors of the airport kinda breeze – I wish all travel was this enjoyable) and the idea of escaping academic life for a few days.

Halifax did not disappoint. It has never disappointed, to be honest. There’s something about this city that has always felt like home to me and I plan on one day making this a reality. But for now, I’ll take my weekend getaways with all of the great food, drinks, waterfront views, and the best kind of company.

Here’s a quick summary of our trip – the must eats and drinks – and where I’m dying to try the next time I go!

Food

  • Black Sheep Restaurant – we went here for brunch and it rocked our socks! The location is kinda hidden off of Dresden Row but its worth trying to find. I had the fish cakes (delish) and they give you the option to do half & half salad and fries (freakin’ genius!)
  • 2 Doors Down – we had dinner here on Friday night and were super glad we did. They have a really fun cocktail list – I had a bourbon based one that I can’t remember the name of (blame the bourbon) and Tia had a beer based cocktail. We shared the calamari to start, which wasn’t really anything to write home about but was good BUT the lobster and crab risotto was AMAZING – there were pieces of smoked bacon, crab, lobster and kale pesto topped with fried scallops. It’s so dreamy you won’t want it to end.
  • Ristorante a mano – Tia was feeling Italian on our second night in town so we found this place online with good reviews. We shared some pizzas which were great but not unlike other wood fired oven pizzas I’ve had in Toronto or Kingston but we had a lot of fun there, we sat at the pizza bar which I would highly recommend – you get to watch them make all the pizzas and we asked a gazillion questions. Also, there’s a starter which is basically a pizza crust stuffed with cheese and truffle oil HELLO. All the heart eyes. Its called the Sgabello GET IT.

Drink

  • Rockbottom Brewpub – This was our first stop in the city, conveniently located right across from our hotel (The Lord Nelson). Not my favourite atmosphere but the beer was great and we had some nachos that were loaded with toppings, just how nachos are supposed to be.
  • Bearly’s – We followed Rockbottom up with Bearly’s to see the Mellotones play – if these guys are playing while you’re in town don’t miss them! I typically wouldn’t be interested in their funk, soul, R&B vibes but they are amazing! Also, Bearly’s is a really neat layout and everyone in the place was dancing up a storm.
  •  Good Robot Brewing Company – Craft beer is really having its time in the spotlight almost everywhere in Canada right now but especially in Halifax, I’m pretty sure Nova Scotia has the most craft breweries per capita AKA a recipe for a good time. My uncle is really into the craft beer scene so he took me for a beer at Good Robot. Great atmosphere and they have a beer and “silent reading” night where you can just go, bring along some reading, and enjoy a pint in complete silence. This speaks to me on a seriously intimate level.
  • Lion & Bright – My uncle also took me here – this would definitely be a place I would set up shop and do some work if I lived in Hali. According to my uncle it also gets very animated when they bring in live music in the evenings – admittedly its hard to picture this when you’re there in the day but I would be down to test this theory. I’d also really like to eat here – it looks tasty AF.
  • The Old Triangle – Always the best east coast music – just go here and email me if you’re mad you did. You won’t be.

Places to Try (that I didn’t get the chance to)

My last notes are to please check out the Halifax Public Library it was my first time seeing this space and it blew my mind and also was my number one add to the “list of reasons to live here” that I have going. Lastly, don’t forget to grab a donair before you leave town, its a Halifax staple for a reason.

IMG_6944fullsizeoutput_22e7The fish cake brunch (with half fries & half salad) at Black Sheep Restaurant.IMG_6947Fifth Floor library views – I mean come on!fullsizeoutput_22e9Cocktails at 2 Doors Down.fullsizeoutput_22e8The taste bud exploding risotto also at 2 Doors Down.fullsizeoutput_2264Halifax Farmer’s Market – live music and all.fullsizeoutput_22eafullsizeoutput_2298fullsizeoutput_22ebSad to be leaving – can you tell??fullsizeoutput_22acStaying at The Lord Nelson really ruined me.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Less than a week till Christmas means lots of baking! Usually we pull out the old classics (Snowballs, Thimble cookies, Molasses Gems) but this year I’m trying some new recipes in hopes of stumbling across a new “old classic”. Here my friends is the first of which we will most definitely be adding to the roster.

If you’re in need of comfort food in the form of dessert this is your guy. The recipe can be found here – I didn’t change one thing about it!

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Netflix & Snack

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So over here on Anchored to the East we are VERY excited about the Gilmore Girls revival. We’ve been fans since the show first aired, have watched the re-runs and often dream of a life in Stars Hollow. In preparation for our viewing party- which much to our dismay is not until a week after the release date – we are testing out some “Gilmore-approved” recipes for our marathon. First up- pop tarts!

I looked at a few recipes online- but came back to our favourite site, Smitten Kitchen. For the most part we followed their recipe (linked above) but with a few minor additions and added commentary here to make it a little easier for you to follow along and make these yourself.

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We only made the brown-sugar filling ones but next time I may attempt the jam filled as well. If I do that, I’ll add notes back here on how to process with jam. UPDATE: We have now made the jam-filled and they are THE-BOMB-DOT-COM! Look for the italicized edits below to make the jam-filled and scroll to the very bottom for photo!

Ingredients

Pastry:
1 cup of salted butter, chilled and cut into smaller, thin pieces.
2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of white sugar
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk
1 egg beaten (for brushing dough)

Brown Sugar Filled:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
4 teaspoons flour

Jam Filled with Frosting:
your favourite Strawberry jam – we used a jar of strawberry freezer jam gifted to us
2 cups icing sugar
2 1/2 tablespoon milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

Hook up the dough blade in your food processor. Combine flour + sugar into the bowl of your processor. Add the butter and turn on the food processor.Blend until you see a bead like texture. Twice during this process I stopped the processor and used a spatula to scrape the excess flour from the sides. Near the end you will see small pieces starting to lump together to form a dough- this is when you know you are done. Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl.

Add the egg/milk combo and stir with a fork until combined.

On your countertop or larger cutting board dust surface with flour, place your dough onto this surface and sprinkle with more flour. The dough at this point is quite sticky. I kneaded it through until it formed a more obvious, less sticky dough and then formed a ball. Don’t let the kneading intimidate you! This is not like kneading bread or anything, just simply working a bit more flour into the dough with your fingers. Cut this ball in half.

Roll each half into a large rectangle (roughly 9×13). Cut each rectangle into three pieces. I used a pizza cutter. You will want your pieces to be similar in size because one of these will be your top and one the bottom of your pastries – each 1/3 will be top or bottom to 3 pop tarts.

Brush three (bottom pieces) with your second beaten egg. Spread the topping into three rectangular shaped sections with a gap in between to create an edging for both tarts. Each tart takes 1 heaping tablespoon of filling. Place the other rolled pieces onto the top of the filled sections and with your fingers press all around the edges of the filling to create  sealed pouch. Using your pizza cutter, cut each section into your three tarts.

Edit: if doing the strawberry jam filled version- place about 1 tbsp of strawberry jam and spread into a rectangular shape, still leaving space around the edge to close off the tarts.

With a fork press around the edges. Place tarts onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Prep your oven at 350 degrees. I always use convect bake on mine just because I find it more consistent, but you will know what’s best for your oven.

After 30 minutes, take your tarts from the fridge and pierce multiple holes in the top to allow steam to escape. I used a toothpick for this, a fork works too!

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown. Mine took about 23 minutes. Let cool in the pan, on a rack and enjoy!!!

Edit: For Strawberry version – while your pop tarts are cooling mix together 2 cups of icing sugar, 2 1/2 tbsp of milk and 1/2 tsp of vanilla to make a spreadable frosting. Once they are fully cooled, spread not he frosting and top with your sprinkles immediately. After  a few minutes the icing will set and you can store them. We stored them between parchment paper in an airtight container. 

Here are pics I snapped of the process to go with my instructions above!

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“Date” Night…or Morning

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We had some extra dates hanging around in the cupboard and what better way to use them up than classic date squares. I feel like date squares get a bad rep for being the last guy at the party, but these ones are not dry and full of flavour! They’re called Date Breakfast Squares because the original recipe called for whole wheat flour, raw sugar, and had the option of using coconut oil – healthier alternatives that help make these squares a breakfast option. We didn’t have whole wheat flour so I just used white, and olive oil for my wet option.

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Apple Pie of My Eye

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Wishing you all a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving with lots of apple and pumpkin flavoured treats!

My long weekend kicked off with a Friendsgiving potluck celebration and my contribution were these mini apple pie cookies I found on Smitten Kitchen (my go-to for never disappointing recipes).

Let me warn you now that you’ve got to have a good chunk of time on your hands to get into making these or lots of helping hands! They’re a lot of fun, super cute, and delicious but definitely a time sucker.

The homemade crust is the best part of these so definitely don’t skip on that as they don’t have much filling because of the size so the flavour of the crust really matters and this crust recipe really knocks it out of the park (baseball reference re: Blue Jays win last night!!!!).

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Crazy for Coconut

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I got inspired scrolling through my Instagram feed a few days ago – this is the sole source of modern day inspiration isn’t it?!  – when I came upon a coconut bread recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s account (if you aren’t following her you’re doing all of the things wrong, fix it now!). This coconut bread is bread in the same way that banana bread is “bread”, like ‘hey I’m actually better as dessert with butter and powdered sugar bread’. Basically, the exact kind of bread we all need more of in our life.

I followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe to a tee, and I’m super happy with the result, wouldn’t change a thing. If you’re a coconut lover this might just replace your go-to banana bread recipe.

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Carrot Soup

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If you have been following my journey over on Instagram you’ll know that Ben and I have a MASSIVE garden this year. On Tuesday I decided to harvest all of our carrots to see how they did- and boy, they did!

We put a bunch of carrots into sand for storage to use over the fall/early winter and the rest we will cook with and share with family and friends.

Inspired by my harvest and yesterday’s cool weather here in Kingston, Ontario, Canada I decided to try my hands at a carrot soup. I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos because I wasn’t really expecting the soup to turn out so well.. but it did and I am going to share the recipe with you. I basically just used whatever I had in the house.. and voila- using what you have can be a  beautiful thing! IMG_6426.jpg

Yield: This recipe makes about 5 generous dinner size bowls of soup

Ingredients:
Approximately 17 medium sized carrots (mine were a mix of small-large), washed and chopped into ~1 inch pieces
1 can of your favourite coconut milk
1 large carton of chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to make it vegan or vegetarian) – I used about 1 1/2 cups of homemade stock and 1 1/2- 2 cups of store bought
1 large white onion, peeled & diced
2 large cloves of garlic, sliced or minced
5 tsp of Thai curry paste – I used the brand shown below because it’s what I had in the fridge and you can get it at Farm Boy I believe, but any thai red curry paste would be fine
2 limes, juiced
1 tbsp of brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp of butter (or olive oil if you are trying to make recipe vegan)

1. In a large, deep pan (with a lid) heat you butter and add your diced onion. Cook until translucent and fragrant.

2. Stir in the garlic and thai curry paste and stir. Cook for another 2 minutes.IMG_6427.jpg IMG_6428.jpg

3. Add the juice of 2 limes – you will get a lot of sizzle here and a great smell, let some of the lime juice cook off- about 1 minute.

3. Now add your carrots and about 1 1/2 cups of broth. Stir it all together, cover with a lid and let cook on low until carrots are tender to touch with a  fork. About 30-40 minutes. This will depend on the size you have chopped your carrots also. Mine were very “rustically” chopped so I had to wait until the larger pieces were cooked through. You don’t have to keep too close watch here, as long as your burner is on low and there is enough liquid in the pan your carrots will continue to just get tender.

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4. Now it’s time to get your blender ready. I used my Vitamix blender because it was already out on the counter, but you can use a food processor or hand blender if that’s all you have. I find that the Vitamix makes a beautiful puree and almost adds creaminess. Take about half of your cooked carrot/onion/garlic/broth mixture and add it to the blender. Pour in half the can of coconut milk and  about 1 cup of broth. Blend on high until all chunks have dissolved. Pour this mixture out into another saucepan and repeat for the rest of your ingredients.IMG_6434.jpgIMG_6435.jpgIMG_6436.jpg

Note: Don’t overcrowd your blender, I usually just fill mine to about half full. This will give you a better blend and be faster in the long run.

5. Now that all of your pureed mixture is back in the saucepan, add the tbsp of brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Turn your burner on low and simmer for another 10-15 minutes before serving. I made mine earlier in the day so I did the 10-15 minute simmer, shut the burner off and then turned it back on when we were ready to eat to heat throughly again.IMG_6472.jpg

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Peaches & Prosecco

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When most think of peaches they think “peaches and cream”.. not over here on Anchored to the East- we are puling out all the stops and doing it up with Peaches and Prosecco.

I recently ordered some candy for gifts from Squish Candies – a Canadian company that makes adorable and DELISH gourmet candy. When I placed the order I got a little bag of their Bubbly Bears – couldn’t resist it! While we were sampling the bears the other night while watching Bachelor in Paradise we were inspired to do a post. Since peaches are also in season- this felt like a match made in heaven. Now we bring you- peach cupcakes with prosecco icing – served with a side of Bubbly Bears and Prosecco of course ( couldn’t waste the rest of the bottle).

Ingredients/Shopping List:

Cupcakes:
3/4 cup of softened salted butter
3/4 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar – packed
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup of buttermilk
3 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
4 ripe peaches – cored and diced  (ours were very ripe so made them taste even sweeter)

Icing:
1 cup of softened salted butter
4 1/4 cups of icing sugar
5 tbsp of your favourite prosecco or champagne – we used Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling – one of my favourite lower cost sparkling wines.

Cupcakes:
Heat your oven to 350 degrees (on convection if you have it) and line two 12 muffin pans with liners.

Cream together butter and sugars using your stand or hand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add eggs and vanilla- and blend until combined. Scraping sides to ensure everything is evenly mixed. Add in the buttermilk and combine on low.  In a separate bowl- mix together your flour, baking soda and baking powder. Slowly add this to the wet ingredients until completely combined. Remove your bowl from the mixed and stir in your chopped peaches. Voila!  Spoon dough into your two pans and pop into the oven for 18 minutes. Remove when toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before icing.

Prosecco Icing:

Cream butter. Add 3 1/2 cups of icing sugar and mix on low until combined. Pop your prosecco (if you haven’t already) and mix in the 5 tbsp. And hey- why not pour yourself a glass?! Mix in the last 3/4 cup of icing sugar.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, top with icing. We used a a piping bag and simple star tip because we find this faster and more visually appealing.

Enjoy the following photos of our process/ finished product.

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Some bears were harmed during the making of this post… *wink*IMG_5837.jpgIMG_5569IMG_5572IMG_5576IMG_5599IMG_5602

Enjoy these summer-y cupcakes for your girls night, Bachelor viewing party or heck- to spice up any day of the week.

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Just Peachy!

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It’s been a minute since we’ve posted anything new to the blog – we’ve all been delightfully distracted with the newest and cutest addition to our family, little Nora Emma McIlquham. She has stolen our hearts and we couldn’t be happier!

We’re back today because its peach season and we couldn’t just stand by with peach juice on our chins and not share some of this yumminess with all of you!

I made this Peach Upside-Down Cake last week and it was a big hit! I followed the recipe here exactly as its written and it turned out great! If you’re in our area try and use Niagara peaches – they are the best!

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Lunar Rhubarb Cake

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Our rhubarb bush is in the prime cutting down and cooking or baking stage so we’re planning on taking advantage of it over the next few days. We kick started our rhubarb-fest with this recipe for Lunar Rhubarb Cake. The recipe came from my friend Meghan’s family – Meghan and I often find ourselves talking about food – we both really appreciate the farm-to-table and seasonal cooking stuff – no surprise that we get along so well! Anyways, I gave the recipe to Mom earlier this week and she turned it into a delicious masterpiece.

Cake

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

3 cups chopped rhubarb (1/2″ pieces)

1 tbsp flour

Topping

1/4 cup butter

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Method

Cream butter and sugar till light -Beat in egg and vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together

Add to creamed alternately with buttermilk

Toss rhubarb in flour – mix in

Make crumble and cover batter

Bake in 9×13 pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

The crumble will seem weird because it is really wet and not as typically “crumbly” as you’d expect – but it turns out really tasty and almost like an additional sweet cake layer. The cake batter is unbelievably tasty – we’ve talked about trying this base with other fruits because we loved it so much.

Here’s some snaps of the process

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