No Dough Pizza – An Open-Face Pizza Hoagie

We wanted the taste of pizza, but not the mess that came along with using dough so we ended up creating this open-face pizza hoagie instead. It’s similar to the campfire pizza I made last year, minus the naan and the campfire. Intead, we use an oven and buns. This recipe is enough to feed two if you’re super hungry, but you can always split one bun and have a side salad if you’re watching your carb intake. It’s nothing fancy, but this recipe surely satisfies that pizza craving!

Pizza_toppings

Pizza toppings

Ingredients:

  • 2 long buns
  • 1 container of pizza sauce (or homemade if you have any)
  • Shredded cheese
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 pepper (I chose orange for some sweetness, but any will work)
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • Bag of pre-cut pepperoni

 

Open_Face_Pizza_Hoagie

Ready to go into the oven

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°C.
  2. Cut the buns into halves, lengthwise.
  3. Spread pizza sauce on top.
  4. Add as much cheese as you desire. The more, the gooier.
  5. Add the remaining toppings as sparsely or as heavy as you would like.
  6. Cover a baking sheet with foil for an easy clean up. Add the prepped buns onto the baking sheet and put it into the preheated oven and bake for about 5-10 minutes (or until the ingredients have warmed up/toasted/melted to your liking).

Easy peasy! Even though I generally prefer a thinner bun, there is something about having a thick, crusty bread too. Plus, you don’t want your ingredients to fall off. Enjoy! 🙂

The Travesseiros of Sintra

There’s a small city not too far from Lisbon called Sintra. It’s a beautiful area full of castles, parks, and sights. Although I originally wanted to see Pena Palace, the local guide recommended that we see the National Palace instead because a) it was more bang for your buck b) the National Palace is apparently more beautiful than Pena Palace, and c) Pena Palace was more gimmicky and touristy, than anything. Being a non-local, I took his advice.

And although I can’t compare with Pena Palace, the National Palace and grounds were beautiful. Interestingly enough, there’s a theory that the Illuminati built the palace because of all the subtle symbols that they incorporated into the architecture. They couldn’t make it blatantly apparent because they would have been prosecuted, so it’s interesting that they would risk their lives to do so. That’s dedication! Anyway, I don’t travel just for the sights but also for the food! If there’s one thing about Sintra, they are known for a little treat called “travesseiros”, which translate as “pillow”.

Travesseiros_Sintra

Travesseiros and a view of Sintra

Our local guide was kind enough to buy us these rectangular pastries, while spoiling us with a beautiful view of Sintra. Travesseiros are pastries consisting of eggs, almond cream, and puff pastry. It’s a light, airy and fluffy pastry that comes in the comforting shape of a rectangular pillow. I’m not usually the type to love cream-filled desserts, but after all the climbing and walking we did, I definitely enjoyed it! The best part is it’s not overly sweet!

 

Wedding Fun

Summer means wedding season, and wedding season means food! I bring this up because recently I went to a wedding and this is what I ended up eating: caldo verde, steak with veggies, and an apple blossom for dessert which I thought was unique:

I’m glad I got to try caldo verde because it was on my list of things to try, but I digress. Although the overall meal wasn’t crazy exciting, they had a huge sweets table and a poutine bar afterwards. I wish I caught some shots of those, but I might have had a bit too much fun by that time. 😉

In relation, the next wedding I have is in the fall. I’m excited because it will be my first Indian wedding! Funny enough, just before I left for Portugal, I got engaged which also explains my lack of online presence. I’m hoping to pump out some more posts soon, but I’m apologizing in advance for the delays! Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details of wedding planning. Unless it’s about delicious, delicious food! 🙂

A Portuguese Tea Factory

“A woman is like a teabag – only in hot water do you realize how strong she is” – Nancy Reagan.

Tea

I found that quote interesting. And the subject of tea just so happens to be in relation to my visit to a tea factory in Portugal.

Tea_Field

Tea Field

When I was in the Azores, I got to see the only commercialized tea producer, Chà Gorrena. The other one, Porto Fermoso, is non-commercialized and the owner apparently only does it for fun. It must be nice to have such hobbies, let alone the time to do it!

Cha_Gorreana

Cha Gorreana

Tea appeared in Portugal when some people brought seeds from Brazil and planted them. At first, the Portuguese didn’t know how to properly cultivate them so they were having a lot of trouble growing the plants. Thankfully, due to some Portuguese ties with Macau (an island not too far from Hong Kong that was colonized by the Portuguese), they were able to fly in some “tea experts” to teach them how to grow the plants and that’s when tea started to take off in Portugal.

Tea_Plant

Tea Plant

While I have seen tea fields before, I never knew that one plant could produce several types of teas. The top leaf of this particular plant produces orange pekoe, the second is just pekoe, and the third is broken leaf tea used to make iced tea.

Tea_diagram

Tea diagram

To gather the leaves, workers manually pluck them off of metre high bushes. It takes seven years for these bushes to grow before you can even use them for tea.

Tea_Field_Cha_Gorreana

Tea field of Chà Gorreana

I can’t fully recall the full process, but the general idea is they separate the leaves, mix them with steam to avoid oxidation, dry them, and then make tea with them.

Back in the day with the older machinery,  only 60 teabags were produced per hour. With the newer technology that they use now, it has doubled production, making it 120 teabags per hour now.

I don’t know about you, but I love tea and this tour was enlightening. Now I have to add tea picking to my bucket list. Perhaps in my next visit to China. 🙂

Unique Blogger Award

Sometimes, you just need a pat on the back when you’re having a bad day. Not that I’m having a bad day at all, but a good day just became better when I found out that Nena from Nena Baking Recipes nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award. She’s an awesome baker who loves to share delicious mouthwatering recipes. Also just in, Anusha’s Cuisines also nominated me. Her blog is so hot right now she has won three awards within a week! Check their sites out for some awesome recipes!

Unique_Blogger_Award

Rules:
• Share the link to the blogger who has nominated you.
• Answer the questions.
• In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 15 people and notify them.
• Ask the three questions.

Questions for Me from Nena:

1. What the greatest thing you have done to your life? Survived 5 days in the Amazon and lived to tell.

2. What is your favourite dessert that will you never feel tired eating for this dessert? This might be too generic, but I love cake. Cheesecake, carrot cake, strawberry shortcake, black forest cake, chocolate cake, vanilla cake…..I don’t discriminate. I love cake!

3. If you have chance to travel, which place you want to go and why? My goal is to travel to every continent at least once (and possibly every country) in this lifetime, but high on my bucket list right now are Thailand, Greece, Russia, and Peru.

Questions for Me from Anusha:

1. Who is your inspiration and why? My parents. They worked hard and came with nothing.

2. Which is your favourite dish and cooked by whom? Hard to say which dish, but obviously something my mom makes. Nothing like momma’s good home cooking. 🙂

3. What are you scared of and why? Centipedes. I was traumatized by them when I lived in a small basement apartment years ago.

My Question to the Nominees:

1. What is your life motto?

2. Do you believe in aliens?

3. Which place is your most favourite country to travel to and why?

My Nominees in Random Order: 

Congrats to the nominees! Don’t feel obliged to accept and re-post. I just thought I’d acknowledge your awesome blogging skills! Enjoy! 🙂

Pineapples in the Azores

Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?….Sponge Bob Square Pants! I know. Very random, but I’m bringing up the topic of pineapples because I’ve never seen a pineapple plantation. Fortunately, being on the lovely island of Sao Miguel in the Azores (Portugal), I got the chance to see one.

Pineapple Plantation Sign

Welcome sign at a pineapple plantation in the Azores

For some reason, I just assumed pineapples grew on trees but (surprise!) they don’t. On Sao Miguel, they are world renown for their pineapples and they grow them in little greenhouses around the island. Each greenhouse at this plantation showed the pineapples at a different stage of growth, which I thought was pretty neat to see.

Pineapple_greenhouse

The beginning stages of a pineapple – babies leaves sprouting

The stalks are tough, thick leaves. They eventually form the deliciously juicy fruit we all know and love in the center.

Pineapple_greenhouse

Pineapple greenhouse – baby pineapples sprouting

This greenhouse used bamboo sticks to keep the plants straight.

IMG_3126

Bamboo shoots help keep them straight

When we were done observing the plantation, we went into the store where they let us sample some pineapple liquor. I can’t say I loved the burning sensation of the alcohol going down my throat, but I did love the pineapple taste. I think it would be really good to mix into a tropical flavoured cocktail drink!

Pineapple_liquor

Pineapple liquor

Pineapples are so famous on the Azores for their natural sweetness that they even sell them at the airport as souvenirs! If I recall correctly, they were 7€ each.

Pineapples_Airport

Pineapples are sold at the airport

How about them (pine) apples? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I’ll go back into into my cave now. Until next time. 🙂

Bayou Gator with Shrimp Po’Boy

I ate alligator. It tastes like chicken, they said. It looks like chicken, they said. Not that it would scare me to eat an alligator, but my take?

Bayou Gator with Shrimp Po’Boy

It literally does look and taste like chicken. The meat seems to be similar to dark meat and it’s a lot tougher than chicken. Oddly, I found that there was some light fishiness to it. I guess you are what you eat?

Gator, anyone?

It’s a southern style influenced dish and I thought it was pretty good. Apparently alligator can come in three types of meat:

  • Tender, white, veal-like tail meat
  • Pinkish body meat (stronger flavours and tougher texture)
  • Dark tail meat (super tough and only good for braising)

The gator I had was battered and mixed with spices and shrimp, so it was crispy and placed into a French baguette – Po’Boy style. Given the toughness of the meat, I’m going to assume it was the “pinkish body meat”. It also came with a bucket of French fries and a side of spicy mayo sauce, which helped enhance the flavours.

Years ago, I discovered a Louisiana restaurant that sold alligator but they never actually had any in stock. When I discovered it at this restaurant, I was happy to order it and be able to finally check it off my bucket list of foods to try! But (!) I would order it again, too. 🙂

Bacalhau à Bras and Takeout

I was never a huge fan of fish. Sure, I love eating salmon, sushi and sashimi, but eating plain white fish never really appealed to me unless it was battered and deep fried with a side of chips. However, Portugal is all about seafood and they love something called bacalhau, which is dried salt codfish.

They use bacalhau in all sorts of dishes and one of the first ones I discovered when I was in Portgual is called bacalhau à bras (sometimes spelled as “braz”). I wasn’t really sure what I was going to end up with and was worried when the server said what I interpreted as “pan fried fish with potatoes”, but thankfully it was much better than I anticipated! Rather than just a plain fish dish, I discovered that bacalhau à bras is a rice dish mixed with shredded bacalhau, onions, matchstick potatoes, olives, and egg. Sometimes it’s sprinkled with parsley (see next picture) and comes with a light salad of lettuce and tomato (this one had an additional ingredient – cabbage).

It was like a fried rice, only with Portugal’s beloved fish and potatoes. The dish was quite heavy since it was full of carbs and protein, but I instantly fell in love with it. It wasn’t too salty, it had multiple textures and it tasted absolutely delicious. So much that I had it several times while I was there and it felt very much like a comfort food. And truthfully, the ingredients mix so naturally well together that there aren’t many spices added to the dish.

The only thing to determine when you eat bacalhau à bras is whether the establishment cleaned out all the bones from the fish. The last thing you want to do is choke!

As a random side note, I found it interesting that the Portuguese culture doesn’t really support the “takeout” lifestyle that we have in North America. I was stuffed to the brim eating this lovely dish and wanted to take the remainder back to my hotel, but first I had to overcome the very confusing conversation (again, language barrier) with the server when he said I would have to pay extra to do so. Not only that, but they didn’t have any plastic cutlery. I hypothesize this lack of takeout culture in Portugal exists for several reasons: 1) They don’t condone eating alone and see mealtime as a way of being social and interacting with friends and family. So if you go to a restaurant, you sit and eat at the restaurant. 2) They are really good at keeping their country clean, so reducing or eliminating the ideology of takeout containers and utensils helps with the preservation. After concluding this, I actually think it’s a good thing. Why don’t we do that over here?

Happy 150th Birthday Canada!

Canada150

Today marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canada, aka Canada Day or Canada’s 150th birthday! There are many festivities occurring all over the country, including parades, fireworks and festivals, but I’m sure there are many throwing their own personal celebrations too!

Whether it be a BBQ or picnic (crossing my fingers the weather pans out) or just hanging out, it’s going to be a memorable occasion for many Canadians! If you plan to throw a party (or need an idea for a potluck), here are some Canadian food ideas and themes:

  • Host a red and white themed party with goodies like red velvet cake, pasta (there are even ones in the shape of maple leafs!) and crab salad
  • Have a Canadian wine and cheese gathering
  • Maple themed dishes – baked goods, glazed meats, chocolates, etc.
  • For the dessert lovers, butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, red and white jello, Timbitsice wine
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Canadian beer
  • Ketchup chips
  • Bacon! bacon! bacon!

For anyone looking for celebrations around Ontario, here’s a grand list of celebrations happening all over the province.

Happy Canada Day!

Azorean Style Corn

When I was in the Azores (Portugal), my guide said that there was something special about the corn there. While I gave a dozen guesses, I couldn’t figure it out. The suspense! I found cooking an Azorean Cozido pretty neat, so I was anticipating on the secrets of this Azorean corn. Eventually, he brought me to this location.

It’s a hot spring called a “caldeira”, which is Portugese for “boiler” and it is naturally heated by active volcanoes. At first it was a bit of a head scratcher why he brought me here because half a day elapsed after the corn topic, but do you see the connection?

Azorean style corn is basically the way they cook it! They take corn, throw it into bags and cook it in the boiling mineral water! The result after an hour of boiling is some super soft and sweet corn on the cob. Even the birds love it (if you’re so kind enough to spare them some kernels :)). 

Mineral water is full of iron. Only a limited number of people are licensed to cook the corn like this on the Azores and sell them on the street. It was very enjoyable and steaming hot! Interestingly enough, my guide led us to the source of the water (a colder version) that was drinkable. Mineral water full of iron? When in Rome…..or the Azores in this case. 

Taking a sip from the first pipe, I wasn’t a huge fan. He suggested I try the second one, which contained more minerals. Let’s just say when I took a sip I felt like I licked a metal pipe and gagged. Oddly, it was naturally carbonated and is apparently good for digestion!  No regrets! And upon my random stumbles, look what I found:

It’s not what I thought it meant though. My guide said it meant narrow grotto or something along those lines. Oh well. 🙂