Dorm Cooking 101: Rice on the side

I always have rice and lentils or beans in my kitchen cupboards. Both are versatile and last for a long time. I keep a little tupperware box of beans soaking in water in the fridge. That is how I came up with this recipe. A big box of soaked beans, a can of tomato paste that needed to be used up and rice that I didn’t want to carry from my summer residence to my regular residence. This rice dish is great for a meal on its own, like a light lunch, or as a side to grilled chicken, fish or even eggs. I sometimes eat it for breakfast, topped with a fried or boiled egg. It’s flavourful, wholesome and delicious.

The best part is, you can make a giant pot of it and eat it over a week, or you can scoop little personal portions into ziplock bags and freeze it. Dump it into a bowl, microwave, and ta-da!


  • A cup & a half of rice (Brown, basmati or long grain, but brown is healthiest.)
  • A cup of mixed lentils & beans (or just one kind, whatever you have. Or none, works too.)
  • Vegetables (Anything works, some vegetables I’ve used before are carrots, broccoli, green onions, butternut squash, zucchini, eggplant, green peppers, mushrooms.)
  • Half an onion
  • A teaspoon of minced garlic
  • Some tomato paste (This is optional)
  • Chicken/vegetable stock cubes or powder
  • Dried thyme (Rosemary and basil works too, although basil tastes best fresh)
  • Salt & pepper
  • A little olive oil

The night before you want to make the rice, soak the beans in water and leave them in the fridge over night. If you forget to do this, you can soak them an hour before and cook them in a slow cooker, boil them or steam them. What I usually do is, soak the beans and lentils in water over night and then cook them along with the rice in a rice cooker. That way, they’re soft but have a slight bite to them.

Once you’ve prepared your rice and lentils, chop up your onion and fry it along with the garlic in some olive oil. Once the onions are translucent, add bite sized vegetables. Do not over cook them (broccoli & green peppers should be a bright green, mushrooms should be gray or brown, not black or dark brown). If you are using tomato paste, add it along with some water (to dilute it, because tomato paste is concentrated) at this point. Add the stock cubes or powder, dried herbs. Toss your rice and lentils into the pot and mix it well. Salt and pepper the rice according to taste. If you are using fresh herbs, add them right at the end.

Serve it in a bowl for a light lunch or pair it with some grilled meat. Delicious!

I love how the veggies & tomato paste contrast-- beautiful!

A steaming hot bowl of this rice by the window, in the rain... perfection!


Summerlicious Lunch at Bier Market

Summerlicious has been on my list of things to do for the summer. A couple of old friends suggested lunch at Bier Market, a place I had heard about but never visited. I didn’t really know what to expect.

The restaurant itself has a very slight European feel with its patio tables and Belgian words on the menu. You can definitely tell it’s in Canada. The ambience is a little too dark for my taste, but very interesting use of space, colour and old bags of wheat and wood. The doors are out of the ordinary but nothing else really is. What is amazing is the number of different kinds of beer. They even have Kingfisher, an Indian beer I watch my dad drink when we visit relatives back home! I was introduced to what is now my favorite kind of beer: Früli. I had it in a cocktail but to be fair, the cocktail only had Früli, rum and lime so I think I can say it’s my favorite beer, haha. Other than that, Bier Market didn’t really impress me. Like most restaurants in Toronto, it is way overpriced for the quality of food served.

Check out more Summerlicious menus & restaurants here.

Strawberry Dak with Früli, rum and lime. Behind the rosy glass is a beer “sampler”, that features any six combinations of beer you would like for $20. It’s quite a lot of beer for one person, but seems fun nonetheless.

Wild Mushroom Soup: Everyone that ordered this expected a creamy mushroom puree sort of soup. However it was surprisingly delicious and flavourful. The little egg and chive souffle on top was an interesting little bonus. I saw some mushrooms I’ve never seen before, even in stores. Who knew mushroom broth could be so flavorful?

Braised Beef Baguette: I don’t eat beef but everyone who ordered this thought it was the blandest sandwich they had eaten. As described on the menu, it seemed like a juicy flavourful sandwich, which apparently it was not. However the balsamic vinaigrette it was served with did help to boost the flavor.

Smoked Chicken Flammekueche: A sort of crunchy, thin flatbread topped with smoked chicken, garlic and I believe it may have been Gruyère cheese and served with a wedge of lime. This may have been the best thing on the menu. Very flavourful, the cheese and chicken gave it a wonderful texture and it tasted sort of like a gourmet chicken salad sandwich.

Moule Hoegaarden: Mussels in a white hoegaarden sauce. I didn’t eat this but all I heard was that it really wasn’t all that special or out of the world. Not impressive.
I kind of inhaled the dessert before I could remember to take a picture of it, but I had an Austrian funnel cake topped with some sort of Mango-vanilla cream compote. It sounded a lot fancier than it was, it was simply Austrian funnel cakes, little pastries topped with a sort of fresh mango ice cream. It was delicious but not as exotic as I expected it to be.

The verdict? There are cheaper places that have more flavorful food. But fewer beers. Perhaps Bier Market must be visited to drink and not eat.