Barley Salad with Grilled Chicken, Cranberries, and Dill

Barley salad with dill, chicken, and cranberries, from Kiku Corner

After cooking barley for the first time this summer, I was hooked. Barley is so easy to cook and unlike most other salads, this salad keeps a few days in the fridge without getting soggy. It’s a robust salad, great for a picnic or as a weekday lunch. I’ve tried quite a few variations and found that barley works with almost anything you have on hand. Try this version first though because it’s delicious!

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Deconstructed Banana Split

How to update your banana split, Kiku Corner

Early this summer, Donatello told me he was in the mood for a banana split. We went for a classic one at Dutch Dreams and devoured it on the spot. Then one day he picked me up from class and suggested another round. Except he didn’t want the chocolate ice cream, and I didn’t really want the strawberry.

Then we had an inspiration! We stopped in our favourite grocer in Chinatown and picked up mango and green tea, my two all time favourite ice cream flavours.  We also found some plump cherries, juicy uchuvas, crispy cookies, and ripe bananas.

An uchuva is the Colombian name for a little orange berry that has many names in English including cape gooseberry, Inca berry, and giant ground cherry. In North America they are usually used only as garnishments for fancy tarts, since they are quite expensive. Luckily, they were on sale and I jumped on the chance to try them again.

Since I was already trying new flavours and fruits, I decided I also didn’t want to split the banana lengthwise- it didn’t quite fit in my martini glass. Why not try banana coins?

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Summery Garlic Salad Dressing

Summery Garlic Salad Dressing, Kiku Corner I am not a big salad eater. I was never a fan of vegetables. I remember the first time I wasn’t forced to eat my vegetables: I was about 10 years old, and eating dinner at a friend’s house. Her parents served me a green bean dish, and I couldn’t offend her mother by not eating them. So I held my tongue and those beans went down the hatch! Now rarely a meal goes by where I don’t have a big serving of vegetables, and this fresh and light dressing is great on greens or even cooked lentils. I often have a little container of this tucked in the back of my fridge. The olive oil will turn cloudy and solidify if you keep this dressing in the fridge, so just warm it up to room temperature before adding to a salad. Summery Garlic Salad Dressing, Kiku Corner Continue reading →

Toronto Eats: Birthday Dinner at Black Hoof

Toronto Eats: Dinner at Black Hoof, Kiku Corner

In addition to me liking to bake birthday cakes, our family likes to go to nice restaurants to celebrate each other’s birthdays. For Karlos’ birthday a few weeks ago, we had dinner at Black Hoof, a popular nose-to-tail eatery on Dundas St West. There were eight of us there for dinner, so we had enough mouths to order quite a few items off the menu, including:

- buffalo mozza salad

- pork carnitas tacos

- beef heart and heirloom tomatoes

- blood sausage

- tongue on brioche


Everything, from the display to the sauces, was spectacular. Mouthwatering presentation, rustic but inviting atmosphere, and scrumptious flavours will definitely bring us back for another birthday meal. You would think that with such a popular restaurant serving seemingly complicated dishes, the kitchen would be large and super busy. Imagine our surprise when we walked past the open kitchen (next to the bar), where the cooks were preparing dishes on a regular electric range!

If you can’t get a table at Black Hoof, you can move next door to Rhum Corner or across the street to the Black Hoof Cocktail Bar for drinks and snacks.

Toronto Eats: Dinner at Black Hoof, Kiku Corner

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Canadian Design: Marvindale’s Watercolour Birds

The Real Sir Peeps, Marvindale, Kiku Corner

The Real Sir Peeps


Like Senay Studio, I came across Marvindale’s gorgeous, whimsical paintings at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto. As a wintertime birdwatcher, I love Cori Lee Marvin’s watercolours that include inquisitive birds.There is so much detail in these pastel watercolours, and the subject matter is a cheeky juxtaposition of living creatures in the still-life settings of what I imagine to be a country cottage. I also appreciate how she portrayed different birds, from colourful robins and goldfinches to more sombre crows, juncos and sparrows.

Cori Lee Marvin’s pieces are available on her website as originals, limited edition prints, or even just art cards.

Here are some of my favourites bird paintings:

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