Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mushroom & Cheese Egg Puffs

Long time between posts nowadays, eh? I end up going back and making some things repeatedly (because they're good) and also during the holidays, we end up being out more often then usual and other people cook for us (which is nice). These, for example, are from Karen's dad. They were a great breakfast in cute little individual portions.

8 oz. package button mushrooms, sliced
1 small red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups frozen hash browns
2 tsp paprika
pinch each salt and pepper
8 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 green onions, diced
1/2 cup finely crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 375F. Heat an oiled nonstick pan over medium heat and cook mushrooms until browned at the edges. Add peppers, garlic, hash browns, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir until potato has heated through. Set aside to cool.

In large bowl whisk eggs with milk, dijon, salt and pepper.

Oil a large muffin tin, fill each cup with potato and pepper mixture, top with feta and green onions, then pour over egg mixture to fill in. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Curried Potato Pancakes

How did I not think of this earlier? So easy and so good.

Ok, grate up about 5 potatoes and put them in a big mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then add about 1/2 tsp each of garlic, cumin, tumeric, onion powder, cayenne pepper or chili flakes, ginger, cinnamon, and garam masala. Crack an egg into the mixture, toss in 1/2 cup of peas, and mix well with hands. Cook in a well-oiled cast iron pan until golden browned on both sides.

Garnish with a little sour cream and chives. Mmmmmm.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Roasted Tomato and Beef Tortellini Soup

Wow, just awesome. I think Karen and I had about 3 bowls each of this.

1 lb. ripe plum tomatoes, halved*
1 red pepper, quartered and seeded
1 large red onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F and spread out the above ingredients on a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes (toss them around 20 minutes in) until soft and charred.

Tip the vegetables into a food processor, add 1 cup of beef stock, and process until smooth. Strain through a sieve over a large saucepan.

Add four more cups of beef stock, add 1 tbsp of sugar, and 1 tsp of salt. Toss in some fresh prepared beef tortellini (I used the Ziggy's brand from Loblaw's). Use less then you expect you will need...they swell up to about x3 the original size.

Simmer until the pasta is al dente (try one), and adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot in warmed bowls, add a small pinch of cheese, and garnish with fresh basil leaves. I, alas, did not have any so I chopped up some chives.

* two cans of tomatoes if you can't get nice ripe fresh ones...unripe nasty grocery store tomatoes are much worse then canned ones. You would have to skip the roasting of the tomatoes and just do everything else, still.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Salmon with Potato & Leek Hash

I took a break from computer games and the Raptors' games and make a nice dinner for myself while Karen was out. I tend to make things she's not into while she's away and have the chance, and salmon isn't her favorite thing.

The potato leek hash recipe (I made 1/2 of the indicated amount) is here. The salmon is basically rubbed with a little butter, seasoned, and pan-fried in a cast iron skillet.

Ryan's pizza

Understandably frustrated with my recent slowdown in cooking new things (basketball season, playing Neverwinter Nights 2 until my eyes bleed) Ryan took it upon himself to feed the family and made a pizza (under mommy's supervision).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pork Roast with Jus Lie'

I made this a week ago...been too busy playing so much Warhammer I can't post about cooking. :)

4.5 lb pork roast
minced garlic, or garlic-infused olive oil
rosemary, minced
salt & pepper

Allow the pork roast to rise to room temperature, then rub all over with the garlic, then the spices. You may dust it with flour also (I did). Roast for 1 hour at 375 F / 190 C

3 diced onions
3 diced carrots
2 ribs of diced celery
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup white wine
2 cups water
2 thyme sprigs
10 peppercorns, whole
2 bay leaves

After the pork has cooked for it's 1 hour, scatter onto the roasting pan the onions, carrots, and celery. Roast for another 30 to 45 minutes until internal temp of the roast reaches 160 F / 70 C

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, remove pork and set aside for 20 minutes, tented with foil. Place the roasting pan on the stove-top and cook until the mirepoix is browned and the fat is clear. Pour off as much of the fat as possible. Deglaze pan with the wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Add the tomato paste and cook until it's turned brick red and smells sweet. Add the water, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme, and simmer for the remainder of the 20 minutes the pork is resting. Strain the juice into a smaller saucepan, heat to simmering again and thicken with cornstarch slurry to make a nice gravy.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Braised Beef

Most people like summer the best, but cold weather is for me, prime cooking season. Soups, stews, roasts, and braises are all things not best enjoyed in July.

Today we'll do braising. If you own a slow-cooker you've been doing this already. Low heat for long cooking times tenderizes even the cheapest, nastiest cuts of meat. Also, it makes for terrific sauce as the flavors of your aromatic vegetables transfer to the liquids, and the connective tissues of the meat breaks down and lends body to the sauce.

This will not be an exact recipe, and you really don't need one...braising is pretty fail-safe as cooking methods go, as long as you hit the few important parts correctly.

First, you can either do this in a heavy, lidded dutch oven, or with a slow cooker. If you're doing the slow-cooker method, you need to start off with a heavy frying pan and transfer to the slow-cooker later.

First, cut a standard mirepoix of 50% onion, and 25% each carrot and celery. You want enough so that mixed together it'll fully cover the bottom of your pot.

Take your roast, pat it dry with a paper towel, and dust it all over the flour and salt. Heat the dutch oven / frying pan to medium-high and put two tablespoons of vegetable oil in it until it just starts smoking a little. Using long tongs, place the beef in the pan and sear it really well on all sides. You want a nice brown crust on every not hurry though this part, this is where you develop flavor for the whole dish. Once the roast is well browned all over, set it aside.

Turn heat to medium. Add in the mirepoix and stir it around as it cooks until the vegetables soften. Add a spoonful of tomato paste and stir through, cooking until it's rusty brown and smells sweet. Add a spoonful of flour and stir to combine.* Now add one cup each of red wine and beef stock (more of each if your roast is large and feeding several). Scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, then return the beef to the pot.

Toss in two bay leaves, a spoonful of whole peppercorns, a clove of garlic, a sprig of thyme, and a couple pinches of salt. I put in some chopped shallots too. Turn heat to very low, cover, and simmer gently for 6-8 hours.

Remove the roast, set aside and cover with foil. Strain the solids from the liquid, discard solids. Return the liquid to the pot, and season and thicken as required (cornstarch slurry is fine) over medium heat to make your gravy. The solid vegetables you're throwing away are pretty much flavorless and it's all in the sauce, so I have other vegetables cooked separately that I serve alongside the beef. Enjoy!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Chicken with Mushrooms, Thyme, and White Wine

Extremely easy for such a good flavor, this would be a great beginner dish for someone in the early stages of learning to cook for themselves.

1 tablespoon olive oil
Boneless, skinless chicken.
2 large onions, sliced thickly
1 tablespoon white flour
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1 package sliced mushrooms
parsley for color and garnish
salt and pepper to taste

In a large non-stick pan, heat the oil, medium-high. Place the chicken in and brown on both sides (cooked through not required). Remove. Toss the onions in the pan for several minutes until softened. Re-add the chicken, and coat with the flour and thyme. Add the wine, and cover with a lid. Turn heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove lid, add the mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, and combine to heat the mushrooms though. Serve with some fall vegetables.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

French Onion Soup

Holy horrible photo, Batman. I'm never shooting a pic on the downstairs bar ever again...the lighting is flat and lifeless. I'll replace this one next time I make the soup, promise. As it is I had to swipe one of my guest's bowls as I had forgotten to take a photo at all until Karen reminded me.

Don't let the bad photo ruin it, though, the recipe is excellent.

2 tablespoons butter
8 onions, thinly sliced
50 ml red wine
50 ml balsamic vinegar
2 liters beef stock
1 bouquet garni
salt and pepper to taste
2 baguette croutons per bowl
Gruyere or Provolone cheese

In a large dutch oven or other suitable pot, heat butter until it just begins to brown. Add onions and cook over medium heat, until they caramelize and brown a bit. This will take some time, don't leave it. Stir occasionally until it happens.

Raise the heat to medium-high and add the wine and vinegar, then the stock. Add the bouquet garni and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni. Ladle into bowls, add the bread pieces, and pile on some cheese. Broil in a hot oven or just torch the cheese by hand like a crazed welder, which is way more fun.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't even need to say anything.




* 1 cup butter flavored shortening
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups milk chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter flavored shortening, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla .Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until light brown. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Hot Hoisin Chicken

Have you ever, on the last day before a big grocery trip, throw something together with whatever you have around the house? This would be it. The only two things I had that were really fresh and good were some boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a large bag of terrific carrots from the market. This is what I came up with...I'll do the recipe from memory...

Eight pieces of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cooking onions, chopped
1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
1/2 green pepper, sliced thin
4 carrots, cut into thick sticks
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, or 2 light
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 cup hoisin sauce

Cut chicken thighs in small pieces. Heat oil in wok or large nonstick pan. Fry (in batches) until edges are browned, set aside.

Stir fry carrots until partially cooked, this may take 10 minutes or more. Set aside with the chicken. Briefly stir-fry onions, peppers, ginger, and garlic until slightly softened. Re-add carrots and chicken to the wok.

Add soy, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce and toss to heat through. Serve over steamed rice or rice noodles.

Simple, huh? If you have hoisin sauce just hanging around, of course. Black bean or teriyaki sauce should work well also.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Beef Fried Rice

It's a good thing I took this picture when I did, five minutes later most of this was gone. I think Karen and I left teeth marks on the wok.


2 Tbsps. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 lb. finely chopped beef
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2 cups cooked rice, cold


Combine soy sauce, sugar and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Cook eggs about 45 seconds, stirring constantly, until eggs are just set. Transfer eggs to a bowl and set aside.

Add beef, garlic, and ginger. Stir-fry until browned, remove and set aside.

Heat a bit more oil, and add carrots. Stir fry for 5 minutes, then add celery and green onion. Stir fry for one more minute then remove and set aside.

Increase heat to high and add rice. Stir-fry about 1 minute, until heated through.

Add all other ingrediants to wok, stir fry to heat through. Serve.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Curry Stock

Part two. This is used with in conjunction with the curry sauce, as just posted.


250ml water
the coarse stalks from a 15g – 20g bunch of fresh coriander
10 whole black peppercorns
1 × 2.5ml spoon whole coriander seeds
a thin slice of fresh ginger (skin left on)
1 skinny clove of garlic, peeled but left whole


1. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan.
2. Bring the water to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Pour off the liquid through a sieve into a jug and discard the herbs and spices left in the
4. Use as directed in the recipes. Refrigerate the stock once it has cooled to room
temperature. It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Base Curry Sauce

I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but it'll be lengthy and involve several posts so I've put it off a bit. But anyway, now is the time, so here we go. I ordered online a cookbook specific to replicating the curry dishes that can be had in English curry houses. Curry as we know it (Vindaloo, Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken and all that stuff) isn't really from India normally can't go there and just find it (unless they have some places now to keep the tourists happy). In the 1970's when "Indian" food really took off in England, it was actually restaurateurs from Bangladesh, mostly the city of Sylhet.

So, the book. It's not exactly a series of separate recipes, but more of a "system" that a restaurant would follow, as they have to put out a lot of food in a fairly short time, but the food benefits from long cooking. To solve this issues, they make a vast amount of a long-cooked basic sauce, and a basic stock. Pretty much every dish is created from this base, saving a lot of time. It's not unlike a typical Italian place which has many dishes coming forth from a gigantic pot of a basic tomato sauce. I've previously posted one finished dish from this system, Beef Bhuna, but note there is no recipe. I really appreciate this book and the author's intent, so I won't publish and recipes except for the few that he has available as "samples" and are publicly available from his website.

So, a day or two before you are going to cook your dishes for the guests, you make your sauce and stock and keep them on hand, this way when it's time to start cranking out dishes you're pretty much 1/2 done already.

Curry Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 medium onions - finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic - peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 inch piece root ginger - peeled and thinly sliced (it should look about the same volume as the garlic)
  • teaspoon turmeric powder
  • teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 small can of tomato paste mixed with 1 cup of water
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan then add the chopped onion and stir for a few minutes with the heat on high.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic. Stir for 30 seconds then put the heat down to very low.
  3. Cook for 15 minutes stirring from time to time making sure nothing browns or burns.
  4. Add the turmeric, cumin and coriander and cook, still very gently, for a further 5 minutes. Don't burn the spices or the sauce will taste horrid - sprinkle on a few drops of water if you're worried.
  5. Take off the heat and cool a little. Put 4 fl oz cold water in a blender/food processor, add the contents of the pan and whizz until very smooth. Add the tomato paste mixture and stir. Even better, do this right in the pot and use a stick blender.
  6. Put the puréed mixture back into the pan and cook for 20 - 30 minutes (the longer the better) over very low heat stirring occasionally. You can add a little hot water if it starts to catch on the pan but the idea is to gently "fry" the sauce which will darken in colour to an orangy brown. The final texture should be something like good tomato ketchup. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Turkey Noodle Soup

At the end of a relaxing long weekend at Karen's parent's place, we left with a big Ziploc bag of leftover turkey. As I still had chicken stock in my fridge from one that I roasted last week, I decided to make soup. Good news for Karen, as she picked up a bad cold while we were gone.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large carrots, diced
4 celery sticks, diced
1 lb. chopped cooked turkey
6 cups good chicken stock*
1 large onion, halved
2 bay leaves
175 g vermicelli pasta
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in large dutch oven or stock pot, saute carrots and celery until slightly softened. Add turkey and stock, onion halves, and bay leaves. Simmer for an hour, do not boil if possible.

2. Optional step: Remove and chill the soup, then skim off the surface fat, this will make the finished soup more clear and consistant.

3. Add the pasta and chopped parsley, and season. Simmer for 6-8 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Serve.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Angry Red Lentil Soup

A hearty soup with spicy-hot zip, fantastic for cold weather. It's a shame the lentils turn corn-yellow when cooked, because the colors in the bowl don't reflect the agressive flavor.

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced carrot
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 habanero pepper, minced
1/2 cup red lentils
2 cups water
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
chopped chives, for garnish
fresh grated parmesan cheese, for garnish


Place cooking vessel on camp stove over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and habanero, cook until onions are caramelized. Add red lentils and toast for about 30 seconds.

Add the water and cover the pot.

Simmer the soup until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the lentils from sticking.

Mash the soup with a fork or wooden spoon against the sides of the pot, breaking up some of the lentils to thicken the soup. Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish and serve.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Chicken, Spinach, and Pine Nut Stuffed Shells

Hey, special treat for me...the wife cooked for me. :) I was her loyal sous-chef and did some of the dirty work, but she was in control of what went where and when, and I just followed orders. The meal was just terrific, I honestly could not have done it better.

16 jumbo pasta shells
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken meat
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1 package thawed chopped spinach
1/2 container ricotta cheese ( 237.5 g)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili flakes
shredded chedder cheese
fresh parsley


1 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
1/2 can of tomato paste
fresh parsley

1. In saute pan, heat olive oil and add onions and garlic until softened. Add diced tomatoes, paste, and parsley and simmer until reduced. Replace lost liquid with chicken stock and reduce again. Add a shot of vodka, combine, and set aside covered to keep warm.

2. Cook pasta shells, underdone and firm, then drain and set aside.

3. In large mixing bowl, combine all other ingrediants and stuff shells. Arrange in casserole dish and cover with the sauce, then shredded cheese and parsley. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Serve with fresh parmesean and a twist of cracked pepper if you like.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Simple Roasted Chicken

Why use a recipe? You want a roasted chicken and you want it today. No problem.

Take some butter out of the fridge and let it soften to room temperature. Cheat with the microwave if you have to.

Chop up a whole mess of root vegetables so they're roughly the same size. Potatoes, squash, onions, carrots, yams, etc. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil. Toss them around, then into a roasting pan.

Cut a lemon into quarters and shove some lemon inside the chicken, along with whatever else you have. A piece of onion, a chunk of orange, more rosemary, a sprig of thyme, whatever. Rub the chicken all over with the soft butter. Toss some salt and pepper all over it. Lay it on the vegetables. Roast for an hour at 400 F then test either with internal temperature (170-180 F), juices running clear, or wiggling a leg (the chicken's, not yours) to see if it's loose. Everyone seems to have a technique. Don't worry, chances are you won't poison yourself. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Risotto 1.0

I've never made risotto before in my life, so I did a "beta test" while we really didn't have a meal planned. It was ok but I'll be trying again before I post a recipe.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Twice-Cooked Pork

I've actually been making this for years, but not since I started the blog, as I was always trying to reach for new things. This is a really great dish, nothing too exotic for ingredients so you can get everything at the local grocery store, and if peppers are in season, and you find a pork shoulder (or whatever you use) on sale, the whole thing is very inexpensive.

1 pound cooked, cubed pork
1 tablespoon dry sherry
5 thin slices of ginger (pretend you're making dimes)
3 green onion, diced
2 each red and green peppers, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons black bean sauce (PC Memories of Hong Kong works)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tsp salt

Add cooked pork to a hot wok, stir-frying until edges are browned and crispy. If there isn't enough fat in the pork to coat the wok, add a tsp of vegetable oil.

Add ginger slices, green onion, peppers, garlic, and 0nion. Stir fry for several minutes until vegetables are slightly softened. Add rest of ingredients, and heat through. Serve over steamed rice and pass the green tea. Clumsily fumble with chopsticks, then abandon them for forks (just trying to stay accurate here).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Simple Tomato Sauce

The Pierce's dropped by with some gifted Roma tomatoes, so I whipped up a quick sauce immediately. Nothing gourmet here, really, unless you've never had a tomato sauce with some butter in it before. Try it.

6 Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (796ml) can crushed tomatoes
1 (156ml) can tomato paste

4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

Heat large pot of water to boiling. Cut a small X in at the bottom of each tomato, and boil for two minutes, then cool in cold water. Peel and set aside.

In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, paste, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. Add sugar. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Process ½ of the sauce until smooth, and combine with the chunky sauce. Serve.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Rice Pudding

Whoohoo, we have a new digital camera now, thankfully. Didn't realize how much we used it until it was gone.

Another guest-posting, this time my wife's mother Diane with some old-school rice pudding. It's great. If you've never had rice pudding, this is like a warm bowl of spiced, sweet oatmeal. It would make a great winter-evening dessert.

There are many recipes for this using cooked white rice, but this one is Minute-Rice so you lazy buggers have no excuse to not try this. :)

Also, rather then typing out the recipe, I'm attaching this photo. It's one of those great my-grandma's-had-this-recipe-book-for-a-hundred-years looking thing, all yellowed and covered in tape. It's got character.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Crispy Baked Chicken

Crispy Baked Chicken

After a scorching couple of days, today was cool enough that I felt like making something beyond "Ham Sandwich" so here we are. Karen has been growing her own lettuce so we had a great salad with this.

I'm almost fondly thinking of winter, now that I have a cooking blog going...Summer is like the off-season for dishes that are worth showing off a bit. Ah well.

In other news, disaster has struck and our digital camera appears to be broken. :(


4-6 pieces of bone-in chicken, skinless if you prefer
2 cups of corn flakes
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 egg whites (I used Egg Beater, easier)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
vegetable cooking spray


1. Combine corn flake crumbs, mustard, pepper, paprika, garlic powder in a food processor and reduce it to a consistant powder. Add to a large plastic bag, such as a Ziploc.
2. In a shallow bowl, combine egg white and lemon juice.
3. Dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture then coat with the crumb mixture.
4. Place breasts on a baking pan that has been lightly coated with vegetable cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Chili-Roasted Cod and Braised Kale

Yes, that's right, no sausage or heavy cream to be found here. This is something you can eat and not die, which hopefully will be a theme going forward.

Chili-Roasted Cod

3 pounds fresh cod fillets (about 3/4-inch thick), skin on
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Coat a roasting pan with cooking spray, arrange the cod in a single layer, and dust with the spices.

Pre-heat oven to 350 C and cook for about 8 minutes.

Braised Kale

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 teaspoon salt
12 turns freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons minced garlic
8 cups (firmly packed) torn and stemmed kale pieces
1 cup chicken stock
Splash cider vinegar

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Add the garlic, kale, and chicken stock and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes; add a splash of cider vinegar in the last minute of cooking. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Grilled Pork Ribs

This is not so much an exact recipe as a general technique thing, or more exactly, to tell you what not to do. Please, don't take the raw portion of ribs and toss them into dry heat such as your oven or BBQ. You'll have a dry, tough, nasty meal and be wondering why. One should do the actual cooking of the ribs with wet heat, and in order of best to worst is: *

a) steaming
b) boiling
c) microwaving (covered dish)

* the exception is smoking, aka "real barbeque" but I don't know anyone who owns a wood-fired smoker and is dedicated enough to stand watch to make sure you have the right temperature for six solid hours. I'd love to try it, but buying a smoker just to do that on occasion isn't terribly sensible.

After this, you "finish" the ribs with hot, dry heat for flavoring and having a bit of crusty texture.

Ok, enough blah-blah and on with the food. Season the ribs generously with a dry rub (recipe follows), then steam the
ribs until they're almost falling off the bone. They won't be terribly attractive at this point, but that's ok. Remove the ribs to a platter, brush them with a liberal coating of a sweet / tangy sauce, and grill them just enough to get some grill marks and a touch of blackening at the edges. Brush on a little more sauce if needed and serve immediately.

Here's a dry rub called "Bone Dust" from Ted Reader, aka "King of the Q" (his cooking show).

½ cup paprika
¼ cup chili powder
3 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. curry powder
2 tbsp. hot dry mustard
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper

Run the whole thing through a coffee mill so the powder is consistant. Makes about 2.5 cups.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pan Fried Pollock

No, it's not a new nickname I've taken's really Alaskan Pollock (aka walleye pollock) which is a member of the cod family. It's the world's most abundant food fish, which is why it's usually the least expensive type you see at the supermarket. You could use pretty much any mild white fish here, but actual Pollock is good for people who arn't exactly crazy about fish, as it's so lightly flavored you'll be mostly tasting whatever seasonings you use. It's the tofu of fish (tm). Ok, I just made that up.

Anyway, I shallow-fried mine outside on my BBQ side burner, in a cast iron pan. Shallow-frying means you're essentially deep-frying it, but as the oil only goes up about one half of the depth of the food, you're deep-frying one side at a time, in effect.

I seasoned the fish with a good coating that was 1/2 flour, and 1/2 Emeril's Essance, with some extra salt and pepper added also.

The vegetables I just blackened a bit on the main grill as I was doing the fish on the side. Served with a cup of steamed white rice.

No recipe other then the spice mix linked previously...hey, that was easy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Root Vegetable Soup w. Cauliflower

Wow, summer has really put the beatdown on the blog. I mean, unless I want to post "hot dogs" and "chicken with some sauce on it with foil-wrapped potatoes" things are gonna be slow. I'll try to find some summer stuff soon.

Anyway, this is from the previous weekend when it was raining and unpleasant, so it's more of a winter soup. It's really good, but not exactly inspiring for June.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 large potatoes, diced
3 celery sticks, diced
7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium cauliflower, chopped
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 cup light cream
salt and pepper to taste
chopped chives and parsley for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven, add onions and garlic and fry until softened. Add potatoes, celery, and stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Add carrots and simmer for another 10 minutes.

3. Add cauliflower, dill, lemon juice, mustard powder, and caraway and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Process soup with a stick blender, or in batches in a food processor. Return to pot and add the light cream. Season to taste, serve garnished.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Carbonara Sauce with Rotini

This is by no means the traditional recipe, by the way. According to "All the Best Pasta Sauces" by Joie Warner, it's an "updated classic". If you want to do it the authentic way, here you go.

Who likes history lessons? Nobody? Too bad.

"Previously unknown, spaghetti carbonara's popularity began after the Second World War, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the USA. It also became popular among American troops stationed in Italy; upon their return home, they popularized spaghetti alla carbonara (spaghetti with carbonara sauce) in North America."

Anyway, on with the eating part:

2 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 pound bacon, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
cracked black pepper
parsley garnish
pasta shape of your choice (smaller shapes are best for cream sauces)

In large serving bowl, whisk eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper until blended, set aside.

Cook bacon until crisp, transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain. In same frying pan, cook garlic briefly (do not burn!), add tomato and cook until soft. Set aside.

Drain cooked pasta, and toss in the serving bowl with the egg mixture. Add the bacon and tomato and toss again. Serve and garnish with pepper, parmesan and parsley.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Finally, a good excuse to play with fire. I knew learning how to cook would pay off.

Oh yeah, the soup. Spicy and'll like it if you're into Mexican or Thai food, it reminds me of both...I know that sounds odd.

2 tomatoes, skinned
1 onion, chopped
3 cups kernal corn
2 red peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
3 red chiles, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cilantro
2.5 cups milk
1.5 cups chicken stock
3 potatoes, diced
4 tbsp heavy cream
cracked pepper, chopped parsley, and cilantro for garnish

Process tomatoes and onion in food processor until smooth, add one cup of the corn and process again. Set aside.

Grill the red peppers on a bbq (or use a blowtorch) until blackened. Put into a plastic bag (or a covered bowl) and allow to cool. Remove blackened skins, seeds, and dice the peppers. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a pot, add chiles and garlic, stir briefly (do not allow garlic to burn) then add the tomato puree', cilantro and cumin, and cook for several minutes, stirring often.

Pour in the milk and stock, and add the remaining corn kernals, potatoes. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Serve in deep bowls, garnish each with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream, and additional chopped cilantro and parsley, and cracked pepper.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Chickpeas and Corn Salad

This is one for the Weight Watcher people...the entire recipe makes 11 points worth of salad...devide up as you like (my serving shown was about one third of it). Add some bean sprouts, some red onion and you have a pita stuffing.

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup diced green onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
chopped parsley
1 tbsp olive oil

Combine everything in a bowl. That's it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tex-Mex Chicken Salad

I'm about as Texan as winter boots, but I love southwest flavor. Here's a great marinade for chicken or white fish before you grill, or in this case, saute' for topping an otherwise cold salad.

1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon cracked pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt

Marinade your chicken for 4-6 hours. White fish would only need 1 hour or so.

I cooked the chicken (with marinade still with it, not drained) in a non-stick pan, and as it was finishing up, tossed in a handful of mushrooms to heat up. Meanwhile, in a hot cast-iron pan, I was charring up some peppers and onions. Toss the whole pile on cold lettuce, top with chopped tomatoes, cheese, salsa, diced red onions, jalapenos...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Pasta with Lobster and Asparagus

This is Mother's Day for Karen, so here's my offering of appreciation. Ryan, sadly, cooked nothing for her at all. :(

Oh, and it was awesome. I mean that in the most humble way possible.


1 cup asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tbsp. butter
6 oz cooked lobster meat (I used two small canning lobsters)
2/3 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
pinch cracked black pepper
dash of ground nutmeg
8 oz fetuccine


Cook fettuccine according to package directions; drain. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook asparagus and mushrooms in margarine or butter for 5 minutes or until just tender.

Add lobster and cream; heat through.

Add cooked fettuccine to the skillet. Then add Parmesan cheese, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg. Toss until pasta is coated. If necessary, cook for 2 to 3 minutes until sauce is desired consistency.

Serve immediately. Sprinkle with additional pepper and chopped parsley.

Lobster Stock

It's not a recipe for a meal, exactly, but it's certainly useful. :) You can often get lobster shells for free from your local seafood vendor.


1 pound uncooked lobster shells
2 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, washed and sliced
1/2 onion, sliced thin
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 rib celery, sliced thin
1 tablespoons tomato paste
3 sprigs parsley
1 fennel stalk (optional)
1 cup white wine
4 cups water (or chicken stock if you want a richer stock)


Rinse and dry the lobster shells. If you're using the heads, remove and discard the gills and stomach. Grind the shells in a food processor or wrap them in a towel and crush with a mallet. Heat the oil in a heavy pot, add the shells, and cook over medium-high heat until bright red. Add the leeks, onion, carrots, and celery, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 minute.

Add the parsley, (optional) fennel stalks, wine, and water (or chicken stock); bring to a simmer and cook gently for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Strain, cool thoroughly, and refrigerate or freeze.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Corn and Jalapeno Soup

It's been a cold, wet day and evidently the weekend will be the same. Get ready for some cold-weather cooking then. Here's a spicy soup that will keep you warm, and I think some shrimp would be great in this also if you have some.

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, slivered
2.5 cups corn kernels
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped*
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
chopped cilantro for garnish

1. Heat oil in sauce pan or dutch oven, and add onions. Stir and sweat them until softened and starting to brown. Add garlic, corn, potatoes, and jalapeno. Stir and cook until the corn begins to soften. Add chicken stock, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat, then transfer to food processor** and add salt, chilli poweder, sugar, and black pepper. Process until smooth. Return to cooking pot and add diced red pepper.

3. Serve, garnish with chopped cilantro.

* If you want it hot, leave the seeds in.
** If you use a stick blender, no need to wait for cooling it down. Just process the hot soup rignt in the cooking pot.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cajun Haddock w. Peppers

Wow, a healthy dish. Must be summer. :P This is actually from one of Karen's WeightWatchers books, and it was pretty good. I'll make it a bit hotter next time with some ground chiles, though.

1 pound haddock, monkfish, etc.
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 green bell peppers, cut into strips
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced or slivered
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
1 tsp thyme

1. Use 1 tbsp of the seasoning to dust the fish. Heat oil in large nonstick pan, fry about 3 minutes each side until browned. Remove and set aside.

2. Add to pan peppers, onions, garlic, and the other tbsp seasoning. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes and thyme, bring to boil. Return fish to the pan, lying on top of the tomatoes. Simmer on medium for 8 minutes or so until fish is opaque throughout.

I served with brown rice and broccoli.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jerk Pork with Mango Chile Sauce

Spicy! Have some ice cream handy for dessert for this one. The sauce adds a really nice sweet/hot/tart element to the deep earthy/hot jerk seasoning. I stole this from Bobby Flay if you want to look up his recipes.


Pork chops or skinless bone-in chicken

Jerk Rub*:

2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cayenne powder
2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons dry thyme
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Mango Chile Sauce:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 habanero, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
Salt to taste

Combine all sauce ingrediants, simmer on low for 20 minutes, puree in blender. Return to pot and keep warm until service.

* Lazy? Forget the jerk rub and brush on some President's Choice Memories of Montego Bay jerk sauce.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Grilled and Stuffed Peppers

After a long, annoying week of cold and rain, this weekend has been terrific. I decided to do a meal entirely outdoors and actually use my grill's side burner. I've had this thing for four years and it's the first time it's actually seen flame.

1/2 cup white rice, steamed and cooled
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 red onion, diced
1 lb. medium ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 small can tomato paste plus equal amount water
2 red peppers, halved
2 green peppers, halved
grated chedder cheese

Heat oil, then sweat onions until translucent. Raise heat, add beef and brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once browned, add garlic, basil, and oregano. Combine, and add tomato paste, and water. Combine and add rice and mix until consistent. Reduce heat and keep warm.

Grill peppers until slightly blackened but still firm, then move to cooler side of grill on top rack to roast. Once softened, add filling and top with grated cheese. Roast until cheese melts and serve. Great with a salad or on a bed of kernel corn.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Caribbean Chicken with a Peanut Brown Sugar Spiced Rub

I ripped this from License to Grill, but adapted it to the oven because I was feeling lazy.

A bit like jerk seasoning, not as hot and a lot sweeter. Very yummy.

10 chicken thighs, skinless but bone-in

1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Place the peanuts and bay leaf in a coffee grinder and reduce to powder, place in large mixing bowl. Add all other seasonings and combine.

Coat the chicken and bake for 60-70 minutes at 300 C

Shorter and higher temperature cooking would scorch the sugar.

Little Better Burger

Yes, I know you already know how to grill a burger. You may want to try this out though...not much work and makes them more juicy and flavorful.

Ok, make a slice of toast. Remove from toaster and let it cool down to room temperature again. Drop it into a blender or food processer and destroy it into a powder. Dump that into a large mixing bowl.

Add a teaspoon each of: salt, pepper, garlic powder, cornmeal
Add 1/2 teaspoon each of: cumin, ginger
Mince an onion finely and toss in.
Crack an egg in there too.
Add a tablespoon of Worcestershire if you have it.

Now mix it all up well, and then add in 2 lbs of ground beef. Using your hands (nothing else will really do it) combine the whole mess and make your patties.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Braised Pork Chops w. Cajun Ragout

I barely have a recipe for this, as I basically threw it together from stuff we had around the house. It was actually really good and I'll try to recall it here.

The pasta side is a simple garlic-butter sauce with a little parsley. I intended to use linguine but at the last moment realized I didn't have any. Spaghetti it was.

1 tbsp canola oil
2 pork chops
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
2 tbsp chopped parsley

At the bottom of a Dutch oven, heat oil until just smoking. Add pork chops, and let sit untouched until they release easily from the bottom (3-4 minutes, but give them a tug-test with tongs to see for yourself). Flip and repeat, then remove and store to one side.

Add peppers and saute briefly until slightly softened. Add chicken stock and tomato paste, then Cajun seasoning. Combine until consistent, then re-add pork chops and reduce to low heat, and cover with lid. Simmer for 45 minutes, checking now and then to stir the liquid mixture and add a little stock or water if required.

Remove pork chops and plate, then cover with the sauce. Serve with pasta or rice or whatever starch you prefer.

Mediterranean Sausage w. Basil Soup

I've not been cooking much lately (outside of some terribly boring stuff) since Ryan was injured, but now that the long weekend is here I have a little extra time and energy (Ryan gets up several times a night and needs something, so sleeping has been rough for over a week now).

So, the soup. Amazingly good, better then most $12 bowls at upscale restaurants.

1 tbsp canola oil
2 onions, diced
3 links medium or hot Italian sausage, sliced or crumbled
1 cup red lentils
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 tbsp basil
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted if possible
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp each basil and parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)

In a Dutch oven, heat oil until almost smoking. Add sausage and cook until browned. Remove and keep warm in a foil-covered bowl.

Add onions and saute until softened. Add chicken stock, lentils and cook for a few minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes, covered.

Add basil and pine nuts. Puree with stick blender, or food processor (in batches).

Return to pot and add sausage, heat through, then serve in warmed bowls garnished with the 50/50 mix of parsley and basil. Pass out some warm crusty bread too.

* As an alternative method, grill or bake the sausages separately, then slice thin and add them to the bowls at the end with the garnish. Nice presentation and also accommodates your vegetarian friends who snuck in for dinner.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cajun Sausage and Peppers

Please make this. It's inexpensive, easy, and extremely good. The flavors are spicy and deep and taste like hours of work. Bask in the cheers of your guests, who are devastated by your casual brilliance (ok, I'm pushing it, but it's yummy).

The flavors are intended to mimic Jambalaya, by the way.

2 strips bacon, sliced small
2 links hot italian sausage, removed from casing and sliced*
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 rib celery, diced**
1 green pepper, diced
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf

Medium shape pasta, penne or rotini are both good here.

In a dutch oven-type covered pot, fry bacon for one minute. Add sausage and stir on occasion until browned and cooked. Add onions, stir for one minute, then add garlic and do the same.

Add celery and peppers and stir until slightly softened. Add the can of tomato paste, and stir to coat. Continue frying until the paste darkens...the sugars in the tomato will caramelize and deepen the flavor.

Add the chicken stock, and all the seasonings, and stir well, scraping up any bits from the bottom to make sure it's all combined. It should be fairly thick.

Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. This would be a good time to add the pasta to the (salted) boiling water you have on standby.

When done, add pasta to the pot and combine well. Plate and toss on some parsley and parmesean. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy

* much easier if the links are cold, almost frozen but not quite
** I didn't have celery on hand when I made mine

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Macaroni and Cheese

In 1937, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese dinner was introduced in the U.S. and Canada. The timing of the product's launch had much to do with its success. During World War II, rationing on milk and dairy, and an increased reliance on meatless entrees, created a captive market for the product, which was considered a hearty meal for families. Now, of course, you can enjoy this delicious product simply because you want to.

First, the pasta. A noble food of rich and ancient history, this should be prepared with care and respect for ideal flavor and texture. Generally speaking, the more water the better (to disperse starch), and it should be well salted (imagine sea water as your ideal). Bring the water to a strong boil and use high heat for the duration of cooking, as fast cooking of the noodles will produce better results. Stir often, and when you believe them to be approaching al dente (firm to the tooth) remove one and eat it. When at the right level of doneness, drain immediately and return to the pot.

Add two tablespoons of good quality, fresh butter (not margarine, which has inferior properties of flavor and richness) and 1/4 cup of whole milk. Stir gently (being careful not to damage the shape of the macaroni) until all noodles are evenly coated. Add the cheese powder in a nice even layer on top to help avoid clumping. Again, stir gently to coat evenly. Serve immediately for best texture and moistness. Enjoy.