Monday, December 24, 2012

Pork Molotes with Pickled Onions

I bought a bag of masa harina, or corn flour last year and figured it was time to use what remained of the bag on something new. I found a molote recipe online, a dough-encased meat pocket originating from Oaxaca, Mexico. This version includes pickled onions, a delightful combination and a fun alternative to the standard Western holiday eating I've been indulging in lately. The original recipe calls for an empanada iron in which to cook the molotes. Since I don't have one, I pan fried these pockets in canola oil. These go well with a light coleslaw of your choice. 

Adapted From:

Makes about 12 molotes


Marinated Pork

1 t dried oregano

1 1/2 T ground black pepper
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1 whole head of garlic
1 t salt
4 oranges, juiced
1 lime juiced
1/4 red onion
4 lb pork shoulder

Pickled Onions

2 large, red onions, sliced 1/8 inch thick

1 cup fresh lime juice
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 t salt
A few molote challenges along the way.

Molote Dough

2 cups masa harina corn flour

1 cup all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 t vegetable shortening
1/2 t salt
2 1/2 cups of warm water
canola oil for frying


Marinated Pork

Place all ingredients except the pork in bowl equipped to handle the spray of a hand blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a sealable plastic bag and add the pork to it, ensuring the mix coats all of the surface of the meat. Let stand for 30 minutes or refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place the pork in a tin foil-lined roasting pan. Cover the roast loosely with tin foil and bake for 2 hours. The meat should be tender and falling off the bone.  Once cooked, cube the meat and set it aside.

Pickled Onions

Combine the juices and salt in a bowl. Add the onions to the mix and cover the bowl. Set aside.

Molote Dough

Mix the flours together with the baking powder, salt and shortening. Add the water and mix until all the flour mixture is combined with it.

Separate the dough into about 12 balls. Roll each ball flat between plastic sheets. Add a spoonful or two of the cubed pork and some onions onto half of the dough. Fold the other half overtop and seal the outside edges by pressing them closed with your thumb.

Heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil on high heat in a large pan. Place a molote in the pan and let brown for about three-five minutes on each side.

We served our molotes with salsa, sour cream and a side of coleslaw. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies

I believe the actual feedback from the subjects of this shortbread experiment went something like this:

Question: So, what's your first reaction?

Answer: This would be better without lemon and rosemary.

I get it. Your grandmother made shortbread, mince tarts and fudge...perhaps some ungodly marshmallow concoction too. Doesn't matter what she made, this is what you know and what you look for at Christmas.  I feel much the same way. Unfortunately, I'm also a sucker for unique flavour combinations and I think there's a place for recipes like rosemary lemon shortbread.  This particular one is zesty and delicious, especially with a mug of black tea. Just be sure to have the classic version handy too. You don't want your Christmas party to get ugly. 


Makes 3 dozen cookies


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 4 1/2 t minced, fresh rosemary
  • 1 t lemon peel
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t salt


Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the lemon juice, lemon peel and vanilla extract to the butter mix, stirring well. In a separate bowl combine the flour, rosemary and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches. 

Chill the dough for two hours or overnight. When ready to bake, let the dough warm up and roll it into tablespoon-sized balls. With a spoon, press the balls into a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, flattening them to 1/4 inch-width disks.

Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are a golden brown.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Icelandic Lamb Soup

From the land of volcanoes and Scandi-babes comes one of Iceland's famed recipes: Kjötsúpa. No idea what this means?  You are not alone.  Kjötsúpa is a lamb soup. Not sure why, but this dish made me realize just how much my taste buds have evolved. I wouldn't have touched it as a kid. Lamb was stinky and root vegetables were gross. Ok, ok, I would have touched it, because I wasn't allowed dessert unless I ate my main course first. Anyways, I hope you savour this lamb-based broth and simple combination of ingredients as much as I did. Root vegetables are definitely in season in Alberta, so finding turnips, potatoes and carrots was a snap. I even managed to find some Alberta lamb too!

Now here's my attempt to shamelessly plug this soup: Pick up a crusty loaf of French bread, ply it with chunks of cold butter and pour yourself a glass of red wine to enjoy it with. This combination just might make your cold winter evening a little less chilly. 

Adapted from:

Serves 8


  • 6 cups water
  • 2.5 kg lamb shank(s), bone in
  • Dried onions and other herbs (I used an onion soup mix...might be cheating)
  • Half a large onion, diced
  • 5 carrots, cubed
  • 3 small turnips cubed
  • 3 medium yellow or white potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Bring to a boil the water, lamb and onion in a large saucepan and once boiling, reduce heat to simmer. Add the herbs and dried onions and let simmer for forty minutes. Add the carrots, turnips and potatoes and cook on low heat for thirty minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Removed the lamb shanks and trim the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and add the lamb pieces back into the soup. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Maple Beef Tenderloin with Chocolate Red Wine Jus & Leek & Potato Mash

Yes it tastes as good as it looks; even better actually. The recipe was a finalist in the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef's Competition in Toronto. That I learned from the blog I pilfered this bad boy from. The recipe intimidated me at first, but it looked so good I figured that even if I didn't get it just right, it would be delicious.  As expected, I didn't reach the pinnacle of perfection here: the potatoes were a bit lumpy, I didn't have juniper berries for the beef marinade and my wine wasn't exactly a Meritage variety. I'll get there. At least I'd like try getting there and I'm going to enjoy the journey of making this again with all the right ingredients and a potato ricer, my father's secret for perfect mashed potatoes. At this stage in my culinary journey, I just felt fulfilled attempting it. Now I also feel fulfilled having eaten it!


Serves 8 

Beef Tenderloin

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 T chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 kg of beef tenderloin
  • Pinch of salt and freshly ground red pepper

Chocolate Red Wine Jus

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 90g of dark chocolate (90% cocoa)
  • 1 T red wine vinegar

Leek & Potato Mash

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 625 g of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup warm milk

Beef Tenderloin

In a large dish, combine the maple syrup, thyme and garlic. Add the loin, turning to coat evenly and let marinate for fifteen minutes. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper on all sides. Place the loin on a rack in a roasting pan, and roast the meat at 450F for ten minutes. Reduce the heat to 275F and continue cooking for one hour. Let stand for about five minutes before slicing. 

Chocolate Red Wine Jus

In a saucepan heat the butter on medium-high heat and saute the carrot, onion, leek and bay leaves, stirring occasionally for about ten minutes, or until softened. Add the wine and simmer for about five minutes or until reduced by half. Add beef stock and simmer for about ten minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve or cheese cloth into a clean sauce pan. With the sauce pan on medium heat, whisk in the chocolate and melted butter. Once blended, add the red wine vinegar and set aside. 

Leek & Potato Mash

In a non-stick skillet, heat a tablespoon of butter on medium heat until melted. Add the leeks, stirring occasionally and let cook for ten minutes. Stir in the parsley and salt and set aside. Bring the potatoes and thyme to a boil in a large pot of water. This should take about twenty minutes. Drain well and mash until smooth. Add the remaining butter and milk stirring well to combine. Finally, fold in the leek and parsley mixture so that it's all combined. Set aside and keep warm.

To assemble, spoon a few tablespoonfuls of the leek and potato mix onto a plate. Place the tenderloin slices on top and drizzle the jus on the side or overtop of the beef.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quinoa & Pea Spiced Croquettes

In the quest for snacks, I've decided to get a little creative. I'm tired of humus and vegetables, fruit or whatever I usually snack on. If these croquettes were a little more gluey, they'd be easy treats to pack. Add a little Sriracha and/or sour cream to them for some extra kick.

The original recipe did not include an egg, but I added it part way through my patty making process because I needed a binding agent. I'm not sure how the original chef made it happen without one. If you don't feel like making these into patties, this also acts as a nice hash. Grill a little fish or meat of your choosing and serve it on top.

Adapted from:

Serves 4

  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled, chopped and mashed
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1/2 cup peas fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t garam masala
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for frying


Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and saute for a minute and then add the peas, mixing well with the garlic and oil. Pour the pea mixture into a bowl and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and return to low heat. 

Add the potatoes, quinoa, cilantro, cumin, garam masala and salt to the peas and mix well. Form the mix into little patties or croquettes and set aside.

Pour about two tablespoons of oil in the fry pan and bring the heat up to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, place about four of the croquettes in the pan and cook each side for about four minutes, flipping gently as needed. Repeat with the remaining croquettes and serve warm with Sriracha sauce and a little sour cream.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Oktoberfest Lager Stew

I love being organized. 

I fight this notion in some parts of my life because I don't want to make the effort to get organized. When it comes to food, there is no fight.  During the week, I want a meal waiting for me when I get home. I don't want to piece together a sandwich, or prepare an out-of-the-box/can combination.  I want something satisfying, nutritious and exciting. Many of the recipes I've tried via this blog have filled these requirements and Oktoberfest stew sounded like it had potential. As the weather begins to turn, the thought of a hearty stew with crusty, butter-laden bread sounded too good to resist. The cider vinegar and lager gives it some punch and the broth seemed to get more flavourful over time. A made a batch on Sunday and really enjoyed the leftovers throughout the week. I recommend adding this to your to-do list.

Adapted from:

Serves 6

  • 1 T olive olive
  • 400 g package of beef sausage, slice into bite size chunks
  • 1 1/2 onions, sliced
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 1/4 t ground pepper
  • 1/4 t ground caraway seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup German-style lager
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sausage, allowing it to brown well. This should take about five minutes. Stir in the onions so that they caramelize in the heat, about two minutes. Toss in the cabbage letting it soften and then add the pepper, caraway seeds and salt, mixing well. Add the garlic, stirring until it becomes aromatic and then include the lager, letting it sit for about three minutes until the liquid has reduced. Combine the stock, potatoes and carrots and bring the stew to a boil. Once bubbling, reduce heat to low and let the pot simmer for forty minutes with the lid partially on. After forty minutes, add the vinegar and parsley and serve. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Figs & Polenta

I cannot reduce sauces. I boiled the crap out of this sauce and still couldn't get it to the consistency required. This isn't the first time, but this time I didn't have the energy to fake it and add a corn starch mixture so at least it looked like I knew what I was doing. If you have any advice, I'm all ears.

Ok, let's move on to this dish's evaluation. This is my first experiment with instant polenta (only had the ready-made produced before) and I liked the result. I would guess my reaction had something to do with the pound of parmesan I added to it, but let's not begrudge our perky polenta. Searing the tenderloin definitely helps retain more moisture, so my resulting pork was lovely. The red wine sauce and fig combination was also notable. I deviated from the recipe for a few reasons: one, it was in Polish. Thanks Google translator for getting most of the recipe converted to English, but there were a few key areas where I had to guess what was happening next. Two: I couldn't get my hands on any fresh figs. Caramelizing dried figs didn't sound like a good fit, so I ended up sautéing them with onions, which was a decent trade off. Two thumbs up from this end. Hope you enjoy this entree too!

Adapted from:

Serves 4


Pork Tenderloin

  • 350 g pork tenderloin sliced into four steaks
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 T olive oil

Fig & Onion Melee

  • 4 dried figs, halved
  • half an onion
  • 1 T olive oil


  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup beef stock
  • Pepper to season


  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup polenta
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1 T mascarpone cheese
  • 1 t olive oil
  • salt to season

For the Pork

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the pork well with salt and pepper and set aside for 15 minutes. Place in the heated skillet, searing each side for about 2-3 minutes. Place in a baking dish, in the oven for about 10 minutes.

For the Melee

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and saute for a minute. Combine the figs, mixing well until they soften, about 4 minutes.

For the Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil until the sauce has thickened and is about a third of the original volume. Add the figs and onions to the sauce before serving.

For the Polenta

Bring the milk and water to a boil. Slowly pour in the polenta, stirring continuously. Once the polenta is added, turn off the heat and add the parmesan and mascarpone. Finally, add the olive oil and season with a little salt. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Spatchcock Roast Chicken with Grapes, Herbed Potatoes and Wilted Swiss Chard

This year's Thanksgiving wannabe meal at the Laughren-Eder residence is spatchcock chicken. What is spatchcock chicken you ask? Sadly, it's not as embarrassing as it sounds. Spatchcock is a bird that's been flattened before cooking by removing the backbone. There is likely a reason for this method, but I don't know what it is. Anyways, I like the idea of having fewer bones to contend with, so this particular recipe got my vote. 

I've mentioned on a few occasions that I am not a careful cook or particularly with it for that matter. Preparing for this meal supported my theory yet again. While shopping for the meal's ingredients, I happened upon some beautiful kale and bought that for the Swiss chard recipe. Kale is NOT Swiss chard. Please remember this when you find yourself romanced by other greens. 

From: Chatelaine Magazine (October 2012 p. 241)

Serves 6-8

Spatchcock Roast Chicken with Grapes  

  • 2 whole chickens, each about 1kg
  • 2 T butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 1 kg red seedless grapes

Position racks in centre and lower third of oven. Preheat to 375F. Have a large roasting pan and a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment ready. Wash chickens and pat dry with paper towels. Place one, breast-side down on a cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone from end to end and remove. Flip chicken breast-side up and open like a book. Press firmly on the breastbone with your palm to flatten. Repeat with other chicken.

Mix butter with salt and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Loosen skin of each chicken at neck-cavity end with a finger. Spread 1/2 tsp butter mixture under the skin, reaching in as far as possible. Gently push 2 or 3 sage leaves under skin on each side of breast, keeping leaves flat. Rub skin all over with remaining butter mixture.

Arrange chickens side by side on roasting pan. Slice heads of garlic in half horizontally. Place between chickens. Using a potato masher, gently mash half of grapes just until the skins burst and scatter around chickens. Divide remaining grapes into 8 clusters and lay on prepared baking sheet.

Roast chickens in centre of oven until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165F, about 1 hour. Roast grape clusters in lower third of oven for 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Move chickens to a cutting board. Cover with foil to keep warm. Remove garlic from pan. Pour mashed grapes and pan juices into a medium saucepan. Squeeze in garlic flesh. Mash grapes and garlic into sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Gently boil, stirring frequently until sauce is slightly reduced, 5-10 minutes. Skim excess fat from sauce. Cut chicken into 8 portions and serve with grape clusters and sauce.

Smashed Herbed Potatoes

  • 2 kg large Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Quarter potatoes, then cover with cold water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, until fork-tender, about 25 minutes. 

Whisk oil, Dijon and salt in a large bowl.

Drain potatoes and cool slightly. Break up potatoes with a wooden spoon. Add the oil mixture to the potatoes, mixing well. Toss in the parsley and serve.

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Capers
  • 1 kg Swiss chard
  • 1 T olive oil 
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3 T capers
Cut stems from chard, discarding and tough ends. Slice into two-inch pieces and slice the leaves into one-inch wide strips. 

Heat a one-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add oil, then chard stems and the salt. Cook the stems until they are almost tender, about five minutes. Add the leaves and continue to cook for about three minutes or until the leaves are tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Couscous with Shrimp, Cilantro, Corn & Avocado

Perhaps it was my August hiatus that sparked a need in me to cook all freakin' week. While most of the week's recipes have already made it to the blog, this little gem has not. The original recipe was meatless, but I had some shrimp in the freezer that were calling so I threw them in. Remember to seed the serrano pepper if heat isn't your thing. Otherwise, enjoy!

Adapted From:

Serves 6-8


  • 3 cups of couscous uncooked
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 limes
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 4 ears of corn


To cook the couscous, bring the water to a boil. Add the couscous, cover and remove from heat. Meanwhile, in a large pan, toss the cashews on medium heat until golden. Set aside and when cool, chop into smaller pieces.

Toss the avocado into a bowl with the juice of one lime, mixing well and season with salt and pepper.

In a blender or food processor add the pepper, cilantro and juice from one lime. Blend until everything is well mixed and then add the olive oil and process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a couple splashes of olive oil in the same pan used for the cashews. Coat the pan with olive oil and add the garlic and saute for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the corn kernels and cook together for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with the cilantro-pepper sauce. Add the vegetables to the couscous, mixing well. Portion into bowls and top with avocado and a little cilantro if you have it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Feta & Basil Crusted Halibut with Wilted Spinach & Risotto

And we are back! After a two-month hiatus, I am back in the kitchen preparing new dishes worthy of blogging about. My summer sandwich assembly and barbecue routine just didn't make the EBF cut, so I set the blog aside until I could devote a little time to trying something new. 

A recent trip to Iceland has given me a new appreciation for all Scandinavian foods, so I was poking around Billingsgate Seafood Market yesterday looking for Gravlax and other Nordic delights. What I picked up instead was a nice piece of halibut, so I spent last night working with it. This is a recipe I would make again, especially for company. The entire meal took me about an hour to prepare from start to finish and is visually pleasing. The combined flavours are surprisingly bold and if you have guests that appreciate good fish, I would add this to you entertaining menu.


Serves 4


  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 3T plus 1T butter
  • 2-3 cups of water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 100g aged cheddar, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Feta and Basil Halibut  

  • 4 T dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 100g crumbled feta
  • Handful of chopped basil
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Ground pepper
  • 4 pieces of halibut 
**I opted for fillets, but the recipe I followed used steaks

Wilted Spinach

  • 4 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 T butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Risotto

Simmer the stock in a pot to keep it warm (I used what I had left for stock and topped it up with water). Saute the onions in three tablespoons of melted butter in a large pot until they are soft, about five minutes. Add the rice and the wine, mixing well until the wine is absorbed by the rice. Add the stock, about a half-cup at a time, letting each portion be absorbed by the rice before more is added. This should take about twenty minutes. Test the rice to ensure it is cooked through, adding a little water if required to soften it further. Remove the risotto from the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter, the cheddar and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.

For the Halibut

Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, combine the feta, basil, breadcrumbs, olive oil and pepper. Place the fish in a well-oiled baking dish. Cover the fillets each with a tablespoon of the mustard. Coat the top of each fillet with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake uncovered for ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the thickness of the halibut. 

For the Spinach

Saute the minced garlic in the melted butter for about two minutes. Add the spinach, coating it with the butter and garlic mixture, cover it and remove it from the heat. Let stand for a minute before serving. Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers & Portobello Mushrooms

This goes beyond cheating, but I felt pretty comfortable with it considering I had been donated a box of readymade potatoes. Of the two veggies, I preferred the stuffed portobellos and would likely stick to mushrooms the next time I make like this. I think the nice surprise with this recipe is that it's got a number of vegetables in it. You can beef this up with ground chuck or turkey, or actually follow the recipe and add shrimp to the top of the casserole (I forgot to thaw my tiger prawns, so that limited my options).

I have developed an aversion to anything a little too easy lately because I don't know what's in it. Instant potatoes and pre-shredded Tex-Mex cheese are the two offenders here. If you're a purist, go for the real ingredients. If you're a cheater like me, use the insta-food just this once and pound back a beer while your preparing this bad boy. You're a wild one and don't you forget it! 

Post Oven!
Adapted From:


  • 2 bell peppers 
  • 2 portobello mushrooms
  • 24 oz instant potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups Tex-Mex cheese
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • Kernels from 2 raw ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 small, white onion, diced
  • 1 T adobo sauce
  • 1/4 t kosher salt


Heat oven to 400F. Slice peppers in half, lengthwise and seed them. Remove stems from mushrooms and place them along with the peppers face up in a casserole dish, 9"X13" or larger. 

In a mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, half a cup of the grated cheese, corn, zucchini, cilantro and cumin. Spoon the mixture into the peppers and mushrooms. The potato mix should be heaving over each of its receptacles. 

In a separate bowl stir in the tomatoes, onion, adobo sauce and salt and spoon the mixture around the peppers and mushrooms. 

Bake uncovered for thirty minutes, then add the remaining cheese to the tops of the stuffed veggies and return to the oven for ten minutes or until the cheese has browned a little. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Raspberries in Syrup

It's now just after 6 am and I am currently sinking my teeth into some delectable pancakes, my craving now satisfied. As an eggs and bacon advocate, I tend to go for the savoury breakfasts with the exception of my once-a-year attempt at pancakes. I tried a banana recipe last year and while delicious, I don't think I bothered posting it. My photos of these charred, lumpy-looking turds didn't sell it. But these, when smothered with fruit and yoghurt, hide the charred spots that I can't help but get every time I make pancakes. If I wasn't lazy, I'd wipe down the pan with each round to avoid getting darker pancakes each time. I also learned this time to make small pancakes so I have better control over how they cook. 

Oh yes...the other reason I don't make pancakes that often is because they don't sustain me for very long. There isn't enough in the way of complex carbs and protein to keep me going. Well, after having spotted a number of cottage cheese pancake recipes, I thought I might have a go at one of them. This one in particular looked easy and after having read some Martha Stewart versions, I wanted one that took less effort (Martha, I'm just not up for foraging for elderflowers at 5 am). The protein in cottage cheese, just might help bridge that energy gap I need and today is no exception. We're cycling 100kms just north of Edmonton today and I need energy. Let's see how this breakfast holds up compared to my Sunday egg on toast.

A bit less turd-like than last year's batch.
Adapted From:

Serves 3-4

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T honey or agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • cooking spray or vegetable oil for the fry pan
  • Container of frozen raspberries in syrup (shockingly lazy, I know)


Whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another. Add the wet to the dry again, mixing well. Heat a non-stick fry pan on medium heat and coat with either cooking spray or vegetable oil. Spoon a few tablespoons of the batter on to the fry pan (I seemed to have better luck cooking three pancakes at a time). Cook pancakes for 2 minutes on each side and set aside on a plate. 

Serve with fresh fruit, the thawed raspberries and a dollop of thick yoghurt.

*After having eaten I thought these might be even more hearty if I were to add a fistful of thick cut oats to the recipe. I might have to adjust my wet ingredients to balance out the extra dry. Just a thought!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cherry Balsamic Pork Chops, Quinoa Pilaf & a Crunchy Salad

While I know I haven't stopped eating, I couldn't figure out why the blog entries have suddenly come to a halt. My analysis brought several excuses. First and foremost was the elusive patio. I've hit every patio I could find over the last month, which has kept me out of the house and the kitchen. Summer cooking also seems less like cooking than the experiments I try in the winter. I think barbecues just call for simplicity and I haven't quite figured out how to make my grill-top creations exciting enough to write about. Finally, I pulled out several of my old favorites and repeat entries just don't make for good reading.

Now that I've given you all my excuses, here's what I ate for Sunday dinner. A good price on pork chops and incessant rain called for an attempt at a way to make pork chops juicy and delicious. I included some goods sides that I can carry as lunches too. 

Pork Chops in Balsamic Cherry Sauce

Adapted From: Fairchild, B. (2006). The Bon Appetit Cookbook. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. p. 293. 

Serves 4

  • 4, 140g pork chops
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette*
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries


Place the pork and vinaigrette in a dish to marinate for 15 minutes. Make sure that the chops are turned at least once to coat.

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Lift the pork from the marinade, shaking off the excess liquid and place in the skillet, reserving the marinade. Sprinkle the pork with pepper. Saute until brown, at least three minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a plate. Add the shallot to the skillet and stir until soft, about one minute. Add the broth, cherries and reserved marinade and bring the mixture to a boil, scraping off the brown bits from the sides of the pan. Return the pork to the skillet and simmer, turning the pork once until it is cooked through, the cherries are tender and the sauce has thickened, about four minutes. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper if required. Transfer the pork to plates, top with the sauce and serve.

*You can make your own by whisking a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with 1/4 cup of any oil of your choice and seasoning it with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of dijon mustard for some additional kick.

Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions

Opted for oyster and porcini mushrooms 


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup toast pine nuts
  • 2 T parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Bring the broth and quinoa to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onions and mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and let cook for about a minute. Empty the quinoa into a bowl and add the mushroom mix to it, mixing well.  Toss in the pine nuts, parsley, salt and pepper and serve.

Chopped Salad with Feta, Lime and Basil

Adapted from:

  • 3 cups, crunchy vegetables, chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 T chopped basil
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

The original recipe used various wax beans, cucumber and radishes for the vegetables along with mint as the herb of choice. I opted for green beans, asparagus, both blanched, radishes and basil as my herb. Go nuts with your favorite herbs and veg people!! That's what this salad is meant for!

Combine the vegetables, feta, onions, sunflower seeds and basil into a bowl. In a separate dish, add the lime juice with the oil, chili powder, salt and pepper. Whisk well until all ingredients are well combined. Add the dressing to your vegetables and toss well. This salad can be eaten immediately, but makes for great leftovers.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Peanutty Green Beans

I had purchased green beans a little over a week ago and had forgotten about them. Of course a week later, the beans had aged enough that I didn't think they would be ideal served neat. While still edible, I went looking for a way to spice them up. Ta-da! This peanut sauce was divine and surprisingly light when served with the beans. We served this with barbecued chicken and some chopped fresh tomatoes.   Definitely a favorite summer meal!


Serves 6

  • 450 g fresh green beans 
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T fresh grated ginger
  • 1 T peanut butter
  • chopped red pepper to garnish


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the green beans for approximately 2 minutes. You may want to blanch these for less time if your beans are fresh. Strain the blanched beans in a strainer and rinse well with very cold water to stop the beans from cooking any further. 

In a separate bowl combine the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic, ginger and peanut butter. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Add the beans to the dressing and toss well. Top with the chopped red pepper and either serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled. 

Pesto Pea Salad

I know this blog is drowning in salad recipes, but I'm hoping they are as useful to others as they are to me. I enjoy creamy potato and pasta salads, but am well aware that they are loaded with mayo, other hidden fats and sugars. This version of a pasta salad supplements some of that mayo with yoghurt, which not only offers more in the way of food value, but reduces the fat content too. Go for 2% greek yoghurt and you'll cut out even more fat (although, I did not do that here!). While pesto is loaded with olive oil, again it is a better alternative to mayo as far as nutritive value. I did the unthinkable and fattened up this bad boy with parmesan and prosciutto. I am ok with this decision. I was a delicious one.

Adapted from:

Serves 6 

  • 350 g of dried pasta
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup greek yoghurt
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (thawed)
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 1/4 radishes sliced
  • grated parmesan to garnish
  • pepper to taste


Prepare the dressing by combining the yoghurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pesto and mixing well.  Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside. Blanch the spinach in boiling water for approximately one minute. Mix the pasta with half of the salad dressing, adding more to taste as per your preference.  Finally, add the vegetables and toss well. I topped my salad servings with fresh pepper, parmesan and some leftover prosciutto.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lentils with Roasted Cashews & Goat Cheese

Roasted cashews with lentils and goat cheese

Serves 2

  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup French lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • soft goat cheese, to serve
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 t walnut oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Preheat your oven to 400F. Place them on a roasting tray and roast for about 10-15 minutes. Set the cashews aside.

Rinse the lentils and place in a small saucepan with the water. Bring to boil, then let simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain off the excess water then place back in the saucepan.

Mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Pour the mixture into the saucepan with the lentils and mix through. Add the cashews and the parsley and spoon into a bowl. Top with soft goat cheese before serving.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chana Masala Fever

This isn't my first attempt at a masala dish, but it's perhaps the closest I've come to anything I've eaten out. I bought roti to eat this with and chowed down on pieces of the roti with yoghurt-dolloped spoonfuls of the chana masala. As great as it tasted, I've been eating a lot of Indian food lately and am still trying to figure out what needs to be in this dish to make it taste more authentic. I used fresh foods as much as I could, choosing whole spices as opposed to ground and fresh tomatoes I stewed myself. I am this close (picture my thumb and index finger almost touching!) to getting this dish to a level of authenticity I am satisfied with. In an attempt to solve the mystery, I'm throwing a sample size of this in my lunch for tomorrow and bringing it to my colleague Tanmay to try over lunch. He's going to take some home to his mother (he doesn't know this yet). I need advice. With all this criticism, you'd think the dish was pitiful. It wasn't, but I know what I like and this has a little ways to go. 

Chana Masala

Serves 6 

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 t fresh grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 t red chili paste
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 3 T cooked chick peas
  • 2 T water


The Base

  •    1 T olive oil   
  •    2 cups cooked chick peas
  •    1 onion, finely chopped
  •    8 T tomato puree
  •    1 T Garam Masala
  •    1 t cumin seeds
  •    4 whole cloves
  •    handfuls of cilantro to garnish
  •    1-2 cups of water (depending on how thick you lick   the consistency of the sauce) 


To make the paste add all the ingredients in a blender and puree. Set aside.

For the base, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds and cloves to the oil, stirring until the fragrance hits you.  Add the onion, mixing well until the onion is transparent. Combine the puree and paste, stirring well for about 10 minutes. Add the chick peas and the water and let simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with cilantro leaves and yoghurt on rice or with naan/roti, etc.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Char Kuey Tiao

Malaysian goop....goooood goop.

That's what I said: Char Kuey Tiao. This dish is otherwise known as Penang fried noodles and while my version looks like a little turd-like, it tastes like a symphony of seafood and spices.

I've had Char Kuey Tiao while in Malaysia (and out of it) and was craving that noodley, seafood stirfry once more. I doubled up on the seafood, but I don't think it caused any harm to the dish. My challenge next time is to get the noodles fried in such a way that they don't combine into a noodle goop. This did...I overcooked the noodles, making them starchier than anticipated and very sticky. I also veered off the authentic path a little and added veg to the dish (carrots, to be precise). Peas would be lovely in this too. I know it becomes a little less authentic, but I'm looking at noodle goop here as I make my decision. Authentic disappeared ages ago.

Adapted from:

Serves 6

  • 250 g flat rice noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • 16 shelled, raw prawns
  • large handful of clams
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sprouts (your choice)
  • 1 carrot, finely shredded
  • 5-6 chive stalks
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 T cooking oil
  • 2 T chili paste
  • 2 t sugar

  • 1 t fish sauce
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • 1 t oyster sauce


In a pan on high heat, add garlic and oil and let cook for a few seconds. Mix in the chili paste and sugar and let cook for another few seconds. Add prawns and clams, stirring well and let cook for about thirty seconds. If either of your seafood choices are already cooked, add them to the pan a little later, when you add the eggs. Add the cooked noodles and seasoning, tossing well. Stir in the eggs and let sit for a few seconds. Add the sprouts, carrot and finally the chives, mixing with the rest of the components.  

Spoon onto individual plates and serve. Goop is good!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Avocado Soup - Chilled soup of the year!

I have been searching for this soup ever since my parents advised me of their latest trip north to visit us. Truthfully, I've been looking for this soup much longer than that. My mother has a repertoire of chilled soups she's served at dinner parties over the years that have wowed guests. I have yet to find anything that compares to them and while I continue to make her (and my) favorites, I don't want to serve them to the original chef. This launched me ages ago to find other soups that would complete a summer dinner menu. My mint, spinach soup from a few weeks ago was an attempt to find the one, but this...well this, takes the cake. It has a universal appeal that many chilled soups don't and once the habanero is removed, I think they'll flip for it. Yes, some like it hot, while others do not.

The velvety texture of the soup base combined with a three dimensional topping has texture, punch and a savoury kick makes this my new party soup. I did not expect to enjoy this soup as much as I did. I'll be serving it this Saturday with a crusty loaf of bread, some chilled butter and a crispy salad among other treats. This is soup spirituality for you!

Avocado Soup

Adapted from:

Serves 4

  • 2 Haas avocados
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T sour cream or yoghurt
  • 1 1/4 cup water

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 pieces of cooked bacon
  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 habanero, diced
  • handful of fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste


To make the soup, place the avocado, broth, lime juice, salt and sour cream in a blender. Blend until smooth. Remove the center of the blender and slowly add the water while blender is in motion. Taste and season with salt and pepper as required. Set aside while you prepare the topping.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about five minutes. Add corn and pepper and saute for another three minutes. Add sliced bacon and parsley. Cook until well heated. Season with salt and pepper.