Thursday, December 18, 2008


ahh in the hurried descent of the sun, biting winds, and treacherous sidewalks, young fancies turn to thoughts of squash!

two recipes: spaghetti squash... gratin? and whatever squash you like gratin. the first is a molly kotzen recipe, and the second is the esteemed deborah m.

let's begin the medley with the any winter squash gratin because i know spaghetti squash freaks some people out and we may as well ease into it.

thus preheat the oven to 325 degrees, though perhaps not quite at the beginning since the chopping, dicing really, of the squash can take quite a while. unless of course your kitchen is really cold and you need an excuse to warm it up.

2 winter squash(es?), i have only used butternut, peeled and diced as small as your arm can take
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 cup fresh parsley
some salt and pepper

toss the squash pieces with the above ingredients in a large bowl. then add 3 tbs of flour and toss again. pour/scrape/finegle the mixture into a oiled casserole dish, leaving the leftover flour in the mixing bowl. bake for like 2 hours.

the spaghetti squash has more ingredients but is faster in terms of from cutting board to mouth time. the temperature suggested is 375 degrees.

halve a spaghetti squash, they are yellow and disguise their inherent freakishness rather well. you can either bake it in the oven for half an hour, or wrap the halves in saran wrap and microwave them, i would say 8 minutes, and then another 5-8. either way when it is done scrape out the seeds and let them cool.

meanwhile combine the following in a pan:
1 cup of chopped onion, you may as well put more
2 cloves of chopped garlic
salt and pepper
some mushrooms, probably one of those blue boxes, or more if you feel inspired
1/2 tsp oregano
some basil and some thyme

when they are sauted, add 2 chopped tomatoes and cook until the t-juices are mostly gone.
scrape out the squash innards and put them in the pan with everything else. yes, i also find them (the innards) a little disturbing.

transfer the squash melange into a greased casserole dish and cover with grated mozarella. if you want less of an upper skin of cheese you can mix it in, but really i don't understand why you wouldn't want a bubbling browning layer of cheese. on top of that add some breadcrumbs and parmesan. bake for about 40 minutes and voila. strange and disturbing but so delicious.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

breakfast beans.

okay so probably you could eat these beans anytime. but this morning i had one of those moments of realizing that i had already eaten eggs two days in a row but was craving something hearty with a high protein content - and here is what i came up with. it is quick, dirty, and leftovers are even better.

you need:
1 can black beans (or about a cup and a half cooked, if you want to pre-meditate this and soak overnight).
1 large onion, small dice
a heaping spoonful of cumin and one of dried coriander
hot red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped (you could use canned diced or crushed if you don't have tomatoes handy)
1 small sweet potato (i had a VERY small jamaican sweet potato and this worked well), diced extremely small - and i mean this, for rapid fire cooking and eating.

all the extras...... corn tortillas, avocado, sour cream or yogurt if you like, fresh coriander if you've got it, some grated cheese.

Put some olive oil in a skillet with lid or saucepan on medium heat and add the onions until slightly browned. Add spices to your taste, stirring often to make sure to avoid burning and sticking. add the tomatoes which will start to turn the base into a saucy, spicy mess. Then add the sweet potatoes if using, cover and let cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes start to soften (so i when i say chop small, it's serious!). when the potatoes are soft and the mixture is sizzling, add the black beans and cook until everything in the pan is equally hot.

And that's all. Serve however you like - with corn tortillas and the works, or in a bowl topped with a little bit of cheese or sour cream or the like. This is also good cold the next day, or as filling for an omellette if you're feeling crazy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


there have been a lot of harsh words about breakfast being tossed around these days. grim, boring, routine........ and it pains me greatly. the fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is not just a silly cliche. or perhaps it is, but as a friend of mine likes to say, "cliches are cliches for a reason". hmm. well, ponder that later but the truth is, a better breakfast makes for a better day. so let's get the ball rolling on spicing up our mornings. here's a little something i like to make when my taste buds refuse to give me breakfast directions.

wheatberry morning delight:
serving size cooked wheatberries or spelt berries (these are the best if you can get your hands on them. sometimes also called 'farro').
plain yogurt
really delicious honey
chopped peaches
chopped pistachios

so here's what you do. you can cook wheatberries or spelt berries the night before and they keep for about a week in the fridge. depending on how many people you eat breakfast with, cook about 1 1/2 or 2 cups of berries in a large saucepan. the measurements don't matter since it's not absorption method cooking - just make sure that there is enough water to cover the grains. bring the water to a bowl and set the heat on low until the berries are cooked, usually about 45 minutes to an hour.

to assemble your exciting new breakfast, take however many berries you want to eat, cover with yogurt, add chopped peaches or other fruit, drizzle with honey (maple syrup works too, as always, but i prefer honey in this), top with ground cinnamon, cardamom, and pistachios. eat this with green tea while working on a crossword and you will have a lovely day, guarateed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

impromtu peanut sauce

why? why not! everyone gets tired of the old low-quality olive oil and garlic combo. but if you've got some vegetables that, if i may quote the great isaac hayes, are aching for some hot buttered soul, why not try the peanut?

a few spoonfuls of peanut butter
some water (for thinning purposes)
sesame oil
brown sugar
chopped garlic

put the ingredients all up in each other's business in a frying pan, adjust quantities by taste and pour a little out for george washington carver, the peanut pimp daddy.

pumpkin cranberry "i wish i wasn't moving" bread.

dear fellow comfort food enthusiasts (not to be presumptuous or anything...),

as you may or may not know, i'm preparing to move yet again in a mere 48 hours. the logical thing for me to be doing right now would be, of course, to... pack? unfortunately, my desperate desire to pretend that i'm in fact not moving led me to spend the day baking four loaves of pumpkin cranberry bread - festive yet warm and comforting, certainly "home-y". (this recipe - adapted from Gourmet magazine circa 1996 and the internet). so if you find yourselves in a similar situation (any case of denying the inevitable), you might want to acquire the following things:

1 cup solid-pack pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 vegetable oil (or half apple sauce, half vegetable oil - universal rule.)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (although i usually use at least double this)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

now, here goes. preheat your oven to 350 if you have everything at hand - i have consistently "matched the preheat" on this one. in a large bowl with an electric hand-held mixer if you've got one or the raw power of your biceps and a whisk, combine the pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, and sugar. when smooth, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. (the recipe recommends sifting all of these ingredients but i have ignored this every time and it turns out fine). stir until just combined (over-mixing will result in an odd, densely textured bread). add the cranberries and tenderly spoon the batter into a buttered loaf pan (or four, depending on how many times you multiply this recipe).

let bake for about an hour and fifteen minutes (until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean) for this little loaf to achieve its full potential.

enjoy in denial of future vagabond life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Poppyseed Explosion Cake

My first notable encounter with poppyseeds happened somewhere around my eleventh birthday. It was mother's day, it was before I was a vegetarian (and before I was a lapsed vegetarian), and my dad and I were cooking my mom my favourite dish: roast chicken with a smattering of poppyseeds. At the time, I had something of a reputation as a picky eater. It would seem that I refused most vegetables, in fact most foods, that weren't white. I didn't like cauliflower either. Chicken though I did like, especially this delicious roasted chicken, a family classic, that came out golden with speckles of black just like the poppyseed bagels from the world-famous-just-a-block-away-Harbord Bakery.

After intrepidly touching the gross pink carcass on the counter, I told my dad he could go ahead with the preparations and that I'd just find the spices. "Where are the poppyseeds?" I asked. A look of terror shot through his eyes. "Well, uh, just let me find them," he answered, not looking me in the eyes. I knew something was up, so I insisted. I had him cornered, the jig was up, so with much trepidation he admitted that the whole "poppyseed chicken" thing was a hoax.

Those beloved dots on my beloved chicken weren't poppyseeds (!!) as I had been led to believe, but browned ground garlic. The truth of the chicken dish had been kept from me because my parents suspected that I could never accept to eat something so foreign as garlic--even in it's beningly ground form. Resentment, bitterness, grossed-outness, and mistrust flashed through me, but then I remembered that I was all of eleven (or was it twelve?) years old. "That's cool," I said, half meaning it.

Years later, just last week in fact, I saw poppyseeds in the cabinet of my current kitchen. Hmm I said, what do you make with this, if not chicken?

Well, friends, this is what you make with poppyseeds: the most delicious cake of all times, one of Deborah Madison's top five cakes, and worthy of a mighty ingredient that almost-flavoured my first foray into the kitchen. It's a cake that will stay moist for days though it will be finished in hours, it's a cake to write home about, certainly to blog about, and it's just about the best thing you can create on a single Sunday afternoon.

Poppyseed Explosion Cake

Note: this recipe requires numerous bowls. Before you begin make sure your roommates have committed to doing dishes after.
1 cup poppyseeds stirred into 1/2 cup hot milk (mix and leave to sit several hours before continuing with the recipe for maximum delight)

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sourcream or buttermilk
Icing sugar to dust at end

Set poppyseeds to soak in hot milk, in a bowl, watch several episodes of TNG or Gossip Girl, then come back and preheat the oven to 375 degrees farenheit. Lighly butter and flour a 9-inch spring-form pan (one where you can remove the sides after baking).

In a bowl mix dry ingredients together, and set aside.

In a bowl beat eggs whites until they form firm but moist peaks, set aside.

In a BIG bowl cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, then beat in one egg yolk at a time until smooth. Stir in sour cream and drained poppyseeds. Add the dry ingredients in thirds. (At this point, Deborah recommends: "Scrape up the batter from the bottom of the bowl to make sure it's well mixed." I'm sure you'd have done this anyway but, well, never hurts to make sure). Stir in a quarter of the egg whites before folding in the rest.

Pour batter into pan, smooth it out, then bake about 50 minutes until cake is golden and firm. Take it out of the oven, set the cake on a rack and remove the sides so that cake can cool. Before cake is cool, lightly dust with icing powder (my method: take a sieve, put in some icing powder, and hit it so that it falls evenly over the cake).

Serve if you want the people in your life to be happy.

Tortilla Soup and Existential Blogging: Begrebet Angest

I let my first C is for Kitchen invitation expire. I was very overwhelmed by the prospect. As the great Julia Child once proclaimed, you are what you cook! Am I savory or sweet? Sour or bitter? God, Am I Umami?? Am I an anti-animal rights barbarian or a baby-plant pamperer? Soon, posting had become no longer about trivial recipes but my entire self-definition! How could I possibly be expected to create something so substantive in the 14 months before the next blog invitation expired?!?!

And then, the economy crashed and Obama was elected president and I thought to myself, “Yes, I can!”

So, here’s to more productive moments of procrastination:

“Aztec” Soup or “Mexican Turkey Tor-tila Soup”

2 bunches scallions, trimmed and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped and kept away from the eyes and nose
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Many corn tillas
8 cups turkey/chicken/ “vegetable” stock
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, undrained
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or more)
2 cups cooked turkey/chicken, a la julienne (optional for an easy plant-pamperer twist)
Numerous ripe avocados
½ cup fresh cilantro
Cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, anything strong)

Saute scallions, garlic, and jalpeno peppers in heated olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add chile powder, oregano, and cumin and cook for one minute. Cut tortillas into small strips and add to the pot. Add stock, tomatoes and lime juice. Season with salt. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut more tortillas into thin strips and fry with (lots of) butter or oil until crisp!

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with turkey/chicken strips (or not), avocado, cilantro, fried tortilla chips and cheese!

Existence precedes essence!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vanilla Cupcakes with Quick Buttercream Frosting or: How We Learned to Stop Job Searching and Become “Kuchenfrauen”

Guten abends meine Freunde! Unfortunately, I have been preoccupied most of the summer completing a clandestine Masters degree in Abbreviations. So I do apologize (or, as we say in our Abbreviations classes, "apolo") for my recent absence. Nevertheless, I am here now to add more Euro-stylz to the blog by posting a treatise on German cupcake making (machen) and selling (verkaufen).

The Story of the Zwei Kuchenfrauen ("Cake Women"):

As I may or may not have already told you, Berlin’s low cost of living, like Montreal’s, comes at a price: an unemployment rate of a whopping 13% (almost double the national average). Consequently, one of the biggest bonding points of the typical “new Berlin” experience is bitching about the never-ending search for a good job. My new Aussie friend Tim, for instance, after failing to find jobs in graphic design, noted that he recently checked out the “adult” gigs section of Berlin’s craigslist and found (though declined to take) surprisingly high paying jobs as a porno actor. Born entrepreneur that she is, fellow “c is for kitchen” poster Beareene has of late been making many “maverick-y” suggestions about how we can get by. These ideas have ranged the gamut from “outsmarting” the other clothing vendors at the flea market and slowly cornering the hipster vintage clothing scene to running an ad hoc currency exchange business, taking advantage of the recent market chaos. However, the idea she actually managed to rope me in on was cupcake selling (!!) in front of one of Berlin’s most famous flea markets, Mauer Park.

And thus begins our tale. Let me tell you, the selling of cupcakes is not as easy as it may appear. And so, in keeping with the inclination towards brevity advocated by my recent fake degree, and with the grandiosity of yet again introducing another segment of this blog post, Beareene and I present to you: The Dangers and Delights of Cupcake Selling!

1. Making cupcakes in a land with easy access to vanilla and other decoration accoutrement is probably wise. Here in Germany, the Germans seem to prefer shitty “Vanilla Zucker” (vanilla sugar) in tiny, gross packets to real vanilla, therefore impairing the vanilla flavor of our retrospectively ill-chosen flavor of cupcake: vanilla. Moreover, after finding that the colored icing tubes that we purchased were equally unpleasant, we were forced to make the last minute decision of chipping stale Rittersport chocolate onto the cupcakes for decoration. Nico, the Frenchman whose apartment we were subletting and who thoughtfully decided to chain smoke in the 5 sq-meter kitchen the entire time we were baking, was needless to say unimpressed.

2. Even though it may seem easier to ice the cupcakes at home than at the actual point of vending, believe me in the long term it is not. Icing the cupcakes at home and then carefully arranging them on a rustic wooden tray is all well and good, my friends, until one must wait with said rustic tray on the subway platform at 12 am on a fresh Berlin Sunday morning. Then, particularly if one is a small blonde girl, one is left vulnerable to creepy old drunk men who take advantage of your friend buying subway tickets to make wild grabs for the cupcakes while you plead him to stop. Stoic though she is, Beareene, as she would like me to note, almost cried.

3. It is perhaps in your best interest to note in some sort of sign that your cupcakes are not “magic cupcakes,” as some passersby muttered to themselves.

4. Always make friends with the chestnut seller to your left, as he is wont to make your day at the end by unexpectedly buying one of your last cupcakes.

5. Also keep a look out for slightly tubby, jolly men who are likely to be return customers. One dude ended up buying 4 cupcakes (although two were ostensibly for his "friend") while chilling out a few feet away from us and periodically praising the new “kuchenfrauen” to no one in particular.

6. At the end of the day, you may be a little tired and when a guy comes up to you and asks you if you believe in the Koran and then asks you to eat some of his cupcake before he does because “it might contain poison” it may seem like a good idea to just play along. However, this can make you feel like you’re in some sort of fetishistic food porn, so at least be more aware of the erotics of the situation before you consent. (He also brought his friend over after Erin said yes, and then I had to do it. Double gross.)

In the end, Beareene and I sold all 21 cupcakes! (Admittedly, we each also ate one during the day.) And made 27 EU! However, if you deduct the cost of transportation and buying a cupcake tin, two coffees, and the ingredients, we made about 5 EU. Nevertheless, a day well spent!

Love love,
Prof. Tata and Beareeene

Pre and post-Pleasantville-Phenomenon Mauer Park Photos:

Vanilla (zucker?) Cupcakes:

This recipe is really for kids so—make sure an adult is present while you do this!!


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 whole egg plus 1 egg white, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Nonpareils and colored sugars for garnish (optional)


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the egg and egg white one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat just until no traces of flour remain, about 30 seconds; do not overbeat.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until the cupcakes are lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream. (The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before finishing.) Garnish the cupcakes with nonpareils and colored sugars and serve. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Adapted from Cupcakes, by Shelly Kaldunski (Weldon Owen, 2008).

Buttercream Frosting:


6 cups confectioners’ sugar
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 1/2 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Food colorings, stale Rittersport (optional)


Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, the 4 1/2 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks. Tint with food coloring as desired. Makes about 4 cups.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Avacado snack

For those days when you want the great taste without the work.

Take an avocado, cut it up. Season with lime juice and chopped ginger, and a dash of salt. Put onto toasted baguette.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

a treatise on shortening

let's face the facts, for some strange and inconceivable reason, shortening, a soft but mostly solid baking ingredient arouses in many a disgust that other fatty semi-solid baking ingredients, say butter, do not. why? perhaps the unnatural and corpse-like white/grey color, that it doesn't really expand beyond baking horizons, and the fact that in order to find it in the grocery store you always have to ask someone. and then there are people out there who KNOW that you are a user. and given the general aura of weird and gross that surrounds shortening, such a thing can't be good.

but i have been sent to show you the light! alas, the light did not come to me engraved on some golden tablets buried under a hill, but rather on a vegan baking blog in the form of Lime-Ginger Cookies. so let's talk business:

3/4 cup vegetable SHORTENING!
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tbs powdered ginger
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup molasses, the sludge of the gods

mix together, roll into small balls and place on a greased cookie sheet in an oven heated to 350 degrees. (secret from lou's archives:) turn on the light and watch the magic happen. for the frosting, just mix lime juice with more powdered sugar than you're comfortable with, wait for them to cool slightly, and then smear. or if you're impatient go with the dipping method.

i am convinced that the soft but ever so delightfully chewy consistency in these cookies is partially due to the shortening. besides, if you are trying to seduce some waifish vegan babe, this little number is probably worth its weight in gold. and as we and countless investment ba(n)kers all know, gold is back in.

"what did the investment banker say after the financial crisis?"
"would you like some fries with that?"

-with files from the Gazette and a vegan with a blog named tamara(?)

the spanish word for shortening is "manteca," or more illuminatingly "grasa"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger for a Dark and Gloomy Night

A friend came over for dinner tonight, drenched. He warmed his hands over simmering, steamy chickpeas, and I realized how perfect this dish--warm, spicy, delicious--was for a grim night like tonight. It's also a good dish for a dark and stormy night since you probably have most of the ingredients on hand, and can probably avoid a trip to the grocery store. A good recipe to have on hand when in your city of residence every night is a dark and stormy night, or at least between October and May.

Rice, and crunchy vegetables like green beans or broccoli, work nicely as sides.

3 tablespoons mustard or vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tomatoes diced
1 1/2 cups chickpea broth or water
3 cups cooked chickpeas or 30-ounces canned, rinsed
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Garnishes: chopped cilantro, onion, diced tomato, minced jalapeno

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, stirring, until well browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Lower heat and add the bay leaf, spices, garlic, ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, then add chickpeas and chickpea broth (or water). Simmer until liquid is reduced to sauce-like consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with lemon juice, and extra salt if you so desire. Serve!

Credits go to Deborah Madison.

Monday, October 20, 2008

my mom never made this, but i hear moms do

let me set the scene for you: a crisp fall-turning-ever-too-soon-to-winter evening, an unexpectedly clean dining room complete with new navy blue table cloth, an assortment of mismatched chairs, and a sea of delightful company. on the table, a delicious feast complimented by the ever-present and ever-reliable premiere moisson baguette, and a symbolic bottle of fuZion, a versatile red. don't be jealous, just be a primate. you know, ape... like mimic, copy, borrow... god didn't any of you ever do crossword puzzles? ugh whatever.

on the table:

1. potato leek soup with sharp cheddar

2. beets with feta and carmelized onions

3. an innovative ginger/beet green combo a la madeleine

honestly, i can only help you out with items one and two, and if i really need to help you out with item two, well, amateur culinary feats are fine, but don't go into the business.

i ended up making the stock for the soup, though obvs i would never force this kind of endeavor on others. however, it just consisted of the green parts of the leeks, some crushed garlic cloves, and possibly a carrot all boiled up together for about 45 minutes. if that is not your cup of tea, just exercise your money muscle and buy some. stock. not tea.

4 leeks, chopped, white parts only
lots of little yellow skinned potatoes, maybe like 30? chopper-beeks help me out?
vegetable stock, between 4 to 6 cups
salt and pepper
some grated cheese, optional but not really optional

fry up the leeks in some butter, for a while, maybe 20 min, stirring. then pop them into the simmering stock. in the pan where the leeks were, fry the yellow potatoes, skins on and sliced thinly, for as long as you feel like. i suggest 15 minutes. when you're finished frying, dump them into the stock. simmer until the potatoes are cooked and then gingerly, especially if the available blender is one that has accompanied madeleine on her life's journey probably since conception, blend. texture is a great thing, so if you can't manage to smooth everything out, just pretend like you did it on purpose. salt and pepper and serve. the spanish actually have a verb for "to salt and pepper" but we of the english tongue have to take it one step at a time. drop some sharp cheddar in and stir. the spanish do not have a verb for this. sorry.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

spiced whipped cream with a side of pumpkin pie

This year, I made two important discoveries about pumpkin pie. The first was that you can eat and and revel in it all year round, not just while coloured leaves cling tenuously to their branches. The second was that whipped cream becomes infinitely more delicious when you throw in some spices.

Spiced Whipped Cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsps sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
splash vanilla

Beat all the above together until peaks are formed in the whipped cream. Ideally, you have an electric beater, otherwise, you have a group of willing diners with strong biceps and a whisk. Serve with pumpkin pie and let autumn dance across your taste buds like a ballerina across the stage.

Pumpkin PiePreheat oven to 375˚ F, with rack placed in the middle
Pie crust (I usually buy one, but I have eaten this all-butter crust recipe and it was great)
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
2 cups freshly cooked or canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp salt

Mix together all of the above ingredients. Pour into the crust. Put in the oven!

Cooking time can really depend--in the Joy of Cooking Irma tells us that it is ready when "the filling seems set but quivery, like gelatin, when the pan is nudged, 35 to 45 minutes." In my experience, it takes quite a bit longer than that, more like an hour for it to be fully cooked.

After you have deemed it fully cooked (sticking in a fork for wetness helps), let it cool completely on a rack. Serve warm or cold, but definitely with spiced whipped cream.

Madrid's answer to the 4AM Fairmount Bagel

Okay, let's be honest: when I was going out in Montreal it was more like the 1AM Fairmount Bagel. Regardless, after a night out drinking there is nothing more sobering and satisfying than a warm, chewy and crunchy, sweet and delicious loop of dough. Then you arrive in Spain and they don't even have a word for bagel. Last night, however, I discovered that they don't need one. This is what churros were really meant for!

Churros, for those who haven't visited the hispanic world or ArchCafe, is deep fried doughnut in the shape of those red AIDS ribbons, circles, or sticks, served in Spain with either coffee or liquid chocolate for dunking. They're primarily a breakfast food here, which because they're so oily and lacking in nutritional content, is off-putting for a lot of people. What I've recently realized though, is that there is a whole crowd of people who enjoy these at 7am, not when they first get up, but after the bars close and before they've gone to bed.

My first experience was at San Gines, a fancy chocolateria in Madrid's centre that is open all night. The chocolate there is really good. Not Juliette et chocolat quality, but better than the average served here, which is a disconcertingly gelatinous brown-grey liquid. What really clued me in though, was stopping by a churreria, the place where the churros are made, at 6:30AM and picking up a brown bag of them fresh out of the giant vat of oil. The operation is not as elaborate as at Fairmount and St. Viateur, but the similarities struck me: the same narrow shop, no-frills aesthetic, and tired workers in white aprons, making thousands of these units all day and all night right before your eyes. You can pick up a carton of the sketchy chocolate there too, before heading home to heat up a cup, satisfy your munchies, and collapse into bed.

Now because this is a cooking blog and not my own personal travel blog, I will include a recipe. I warn you that I have not actually made these, but this comes from a trusted book by Janet Mendel called Cooking in Spain so if are feeling ambitious, I expect they will be good. Personally I prefer porras, which are thicker and chewier, cooked in a big spiral and then cut into 6-inch logs, but she doesn't have a recipe for that.

Breakfast fritters

(There's a hilarious introduction about papa taking the littlest child to market to buy churros for the whole family on Sunday morning, but I will spare you. I will note that Janet insists churros "were invented for the sole purpose of dunking." Also, "they must be eaten fresh and hot.")

250 mL water
75 mL oil
1 piece lemon rind
1/2 tsp salt
200 g flour
oil for frying

Put the water in a saucepan with the 75 mL oil, the lemon rind, and the salt. Bring to a boil. Skim the rind. Add the flour all at once and beat hard with a wooden spoon, working it on a low fire for a minute or two until it forms a ball. The batter will be quite stiff. Put it in a pastry bag and pipe long strips or rings of the batter into deep, hot oil. It takes a bit of muscle to push it through. Fry until golden brown, remove and drain. With scissors, cut long strangs into short lengths. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Makes about 30 strips.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rainy day hash.

greetings fellow eating enthusiasts,

i'm currently in the process of writing grad school applications (and by that i obviously mean cooking too much and posting on the blog). you want more quick and dirty? this, my friends, is most certainly quick and dirty. it is also a food equivalent to drinking scotch on a cold day - warms up the insides, indeed. it is adapted from my favourite cook book of all time, moosewood new classics.

you need:
1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium sized sweet potatoes (about 6 cups, peeled and diced)
3 medium sized onions (2 cups, diced)
2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper (or if you are crazy like me, 4 small thai hot peppers)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp dried coriander
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn kernels, drained and rinsed
1 zucchini, chopped (or 2, if you're feeling wild like that)
1 tsp salt or to taste
chopped fresh cilantro to garnish
sour cream (optional. and i seriously mean optional, because i hate sour cream. but apparently, if you don't, it is good with this. alternatively, you could go for some raita, which i feel better about actually).

so here's what you do.

1. in a large pot on medium, heat up the olive oil. when sizzly, add the onions, stirring occasionally, and cook until they start to become soft. add the garlic and continue to saute for another minute.

2. add the sweet potatoes, cover and cook for 3 minutes or so.

3. toss in the jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt. mix it all up. cover and cook for 3 more minutes.

4. add the zucchini, black beans, and corn. stir until well combined. then let cook on medium heat for 10 more minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender and your apartment smells delicious.

5. garnish with fresh cilantro and whatever else you might want (sour cream if you are not me. hot sauce from la chilenita if you are me.) presto!

note: if you find that the sweet potatoes stick during the early cooking process, you can add a little bit of water or orange juice to ease up the process.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Asparagus Sesame Salad

This is always a big hit, so much so that if prices are good and so are the appetites, I'd recommend doubling.

First: Put into a big pot of boiling water a bunch of asparagus, sliced diagonally into two-inch pieces. Keep a close watch, cooking for about one and half to two and a half minutes until cooked but still crunchy--the only way this salad can go wrong is if the asparagus overcooks. Once cooked drain immediately and then refill pot with cold water and let it sit until all heat has left the asparagus. Then, drain (dry) and refrigerate until cold, about an hour.

Second: prepare the dressing. Whisk together:
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 teaspoons white wine vinegar

4 teaspoons soy sauce 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Third: toast 4 teaspoons of sesame seeds, then add immediately to dressing

Fourth: when the asparagus is cold, and the dressing is ready, toss together. Eat!

go to Joy of Cooking

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Black Rice Pudding

First things first--the recipe calls for sticky black rice. Because I was unable to find any, I bought "Organic Black Rice," in the shape of a brick, from Bonanza/Segal's. Because of this, I modified the recipe slightly. So, I'm going to put the original recipe here (taken from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet), but I'll note the changes I made to accommodate for the non-sticky black rice.

You will need:
2 cups black (sticky) rice
3 cups water
2 cups canned or fresh coconut milk
3/4 cup palm sugar, or substitute brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional Toppings:
ripe mango, sliced (my favourite)
2 tablespoons dry-roasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup coriander leave
1/5 cup fried shallots

If you are using NON sticky black rice, presoak for about an hour. If sticky rice, don't. Place rice and water in a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Let boil vigorously for several minutes, stirring frequently, then cover, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to very low, let simmer, still covered, for about 30 minutes.

Before the rice finishes cooking, put coconunt milk in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir in sugar and salt until completely dissolved. Heat just to a boil, then reduce heat to lowest point while waiting for rice to finish cooking.

If you are using sticky rice,
put the coconut milk into rice after it has finished cooking, remove from the heat, set aside from ten to 180 minutes, and then serve, adding toppings.

If you are not using stick rice
, I added the coconut milk to the rice while it was still on the stove, and let them cook together on low heat, stirring, for about ten minutes, trying to make the whole thing "stickier." You'll notice that when you pour in the coconut milk it seems very soupy--some of that will cook away, but it will also become less soupy after a few minutes off the stove. When you feel that you are happy with the liquid to rice proportions, take it off the stove, let it stand at least ten minutes, and then serve to everyone's delight.

Friday, October 3, 2008

everything in transit - the kitchen dilemma.

dear real life friends on the interweb,

with the exception of square-cesca, it has been a long long time since we have been posting. to be honest, i think about it every three days or so and make notes to get my shit together and do a little something something. but i don't and you don't and i fear that we are falling off what was once a very good bandwagon. so here i am, writing an e-apology to no one in particular but maybe to the concept of our technological mystical recipe circle. no more, she says! i find it very hard to feel comfortable in a new kitchen with new tools and new space (moving is the worst) - i know, i know. excuses. but seriously. i have been suffering from very poor motivation and inspiration with all food-related things these days. so let's get this show on the road, a'iiight? to quote my mother circa 3 minutes ago, "it's 5 o'clock and time to rock!" thanks.

the only thing i can offer at this time is... well, actually, it's pretty fucking good. rico and i made what will only be called "black velvet compote". mysterious? sultry? romantic? AFFIRMATIVE! i had no idea that this kind of apricot even existed until the one and only rico snogger dumpster'ed a bunch of super ripe ones from the goldmine of all dumpster-ing locations, jean talon market. so in a very large soup pot in a familiar kitchen with familiar things (saint joseph apartment), we sterilized 4 jars with proper canning lids. then, we sliced and diced all those black velvet apricots (i am still so fascinated by these. if you feel like wikipedia'ing these tasty delights, please do it. and tell me all about them. but i'm too tired for that kind of quality research for the post right now). because we wanted to make a lot of jam and only had something like 9 apricots, we also chopped up a whole bunch of juicy quebec peaches (at least 20). in the large pot on low/medium heat (but high heat in our hearts), we combined all of the fruit and let cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. then we added 1/2 cup of sugar (a little more if you like it stickier - this version makes a fairly loose, chunky, real fruit compote), turned the heat to low, and let simmer for a bit more than an hour. when the jam appears to be doing what it should do, add the juice of half a lemon (or more, to taste), and let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

when all is said and done, put your jam into the sterilized jars (it will be very hot - this is good for the sealing process) and put them into a pot of boiling water for about 5-10 minutes until a seal is created (you will know when the top of the jar doesn't pop up anymore when you push on it).

the end!

note: you can make compote with anything you've got following those general guidelines. it is very easy and tastes about 700 times better than buying it at the store.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Imprescindibles en tu alimentacion diaria

Found on my aunt's fridge: the official Spanish food guide. Well not "official" like government-sanctioned, but published by Spain's all-purpose megastore, El Corte Ingles, which definitely has more cred.

Essentials in your daily eating:
1. Fresh products (fruit, vegetables, fish, meat)
2. Olive oil and olives - "one of the pillars"
3. Legumes
4. Rice and pasta
5. Preserved fish and vegetables
6. Cured ham and sausage
7. Wine
8. Dairy products (cheese should be 120-180g/day)

Also, I was volunteering at the World Social Forum on Migration this weekend and starting at 11AM at the volunteer snack table they had two legs of "jamon iberico" (see image), baguette, manchego cheese, pickled everything, wine and many bottles of martini dry. When I get back we are having a cocktail party and there will be no crudite.

Love to you all!

p.s. I almost included with this post a picture of my swollen purple toe as a warning to women who leave their place in the kitchen. But it was gross and brought back painful memories of a children's scooter. So I will simply leave you with this: Get back in the kitchen you fools and post on the damn blog!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Deb's Easy and Delicious Cobbler

I stole this recipe from Deb.

4 cups mixed fruit
1 cup + 1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp water
1/3 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Heat over to 350F. Mix berries and ¼ cup sugar and water. Let stand 10 minutes. Melt butter in 8x8 glass baking dish. In another bowl, mix ¾ cup sugar, flour, baking powder, and stir in milk. Mix well. Pour batter into baking dish and spoon undrained berries on top. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 40 minutes.

Bean burritos

Joy of Cooking esque
Makes 8
1 cup salsa
1 ½ cup sour cream
8 10’’ flour tortillas
2 16-oz can refried beans
4 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack
1 cup onion, finely chopped
½ cup jalapeno, chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Wrap stack of tortillas in foil and heat for 10 minutes. Remove stack from oven and take out one at a time so that it’s still warm and easier to fold. Spread each with beans, cheese, onion, and jalapeno, leaving a 1 inch border. Fold one inch on bottom, then on either side. Roll from bottom. Place seam down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Heat for 15 minutes in the oven. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Lilian's latkes

With so many Jews posting on this blog, I feel like a bit of an imposter putting up the latke recipe, but it must be done. After all, I did wake up at 4 a.m. in the dead of winter every year of high school to make this very recipe for the final holiday assembly.
If I messed this up, please edit.
2 eggs
1 small onion
3 large baking potatoes, peeled
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
3 tbsp Cornflakes, crushed (for crunch factor!)
vegetable oil
This is easiest in a food processor with a grating blade. Grate potato in food processor. Drain in cheesecloth to get rid of as much water as possible. Grate onion in food processor. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add potato, onion, salt, pepper, and cornflakes. Heat ½-inch of oil in a large skillet. Add batter by the spoonful and flatten slightly. Cook until crisp, 2-3 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side. Drain latkes on a rack or with paper towel. Add more oil between batches as needed. “have fun.”

Corn Chowder

c/o New Basics
Warning to herbivores: forget about it. You might think you can vegetarianify this recipe, but you can't. Trust me because I've tried. Those bacon bits and chicken stock make all the difference.
Serves 6
4 oz (110g) sliced bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups onion, chopped
2 tbsp flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 large potatoes, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 cup half and half cream (10% mf)
4 cups cooked corn kernels (drain and rinse if canned)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large red bell pepper, ¼-in dices
3 green onions (use white bulb and 3 inches of green), cut into ¼ inch rounds
Fresh cilantro
Wilt bacon in a large soup pot over low heat until fat comes out, about 5 minutes. Add butter to pot. Add onion and wilt over low heat for 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes . Add stock and potatoes. Cook over medium-low until potatoes are tender, about 12-15 minutes. Add half and half, corn, pepper, and salt and cook 7 minutes. Add bell pepper and scallions, adjust seasoning and cook another 5 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro.

Godmama Marie's Signature Salad

1 clove garlic
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Honey Dijon mustard
Pine nuts, toasted
Blue cheese
Soft pear
Mixed greens

Yoghurty Muesli

c/o Ben’s mom via Gail via Jessy D
Dry mixture:
6 cups quick cook oats
¾ cups raisins
1 cup chopped almonds and walnuts
½ cup sunflower and pumpkin seeds
4 tsp cinnamon
Orange honey
Hot water
Combine dry ingredients and store in an airtight container. Take ½ cup of dry mixture, add enough hot water to moisten. Add yoghurt, and orange honey to taste.

Mango Lassi

Indian dining in your own home. Makes 4 cups.

1 cup plain yoghurt
½ cup milk
½ cup mango pulp, or 7 oz fresh mango, pitted and sliced
Sugar to taste

Blend for 2 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Tofu

A real staple with this group

1 cake firm tofu
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp grated peeled ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp honey, maple syrup, or sugar

Cut tofu into small cubes. Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the tofu and sauté, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Add the rest of the ingredients, lower heat and simmer for 3-4 min.

Rotini con Gamberi, Pomodoro ed Asparagi

1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup white onions, thinly sliced
1 lb asparagus, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 lb (about 5 medium) fresh plum tomatoes
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and (unless you're in Spain) de-veined
Salt and pepper
1 box Rotini
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Cook pasta. Blanch tomatoes (put them in a pot of boiling water for a couple minutes), peel, seed, and chop. Heat oil in a skillet and sautee onions 2-3 min. Add asparagus and sautee another 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, shrimp and simmer 4-5 min or until shrimp is cooked and opaque. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta and garnish with parsley.

Pasta with broccoli, edamame, and walnuts

Note to Jess: Do not quadruple the recipe! It will make an unconquerable mountain of pasta like that of Straga Nonna!

¾ lb chunky pasta
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups broccoli, bite-sized
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup fresh basil, oregano, thyme, or marjoram, chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Salt and pepper
Grate parmesan or pecorino romano

Cook pasta to al dente. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, cook for a few seconds. Add broccoli and ½ cup of hot pasta water, turn to high, and cook for 2 min. Add edamame, salt, and herbs. Cook until water evaporates and broccoli is crisp-tender, and bright green, about 5 min. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta. Toss pasta and vegetable mixture, olive oil, and toasted walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Top with cheese.

Dal a la Joy

So simple! So filling!
1 cup yellow split peas or red lentils, rinsed
3 cups water
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp peeled and minced ginger
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 serrano or jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 plum tomato, diced
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro

Add lentils, 2 cups water, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric to pot. Bring to boil, simmer covered for 20-25 min. Stir in 1 cup water and salt. Simmer partially covered for 20 min. Stir in peppers, tomato, and cilantro. Serve with basmati rice.

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Recipes are back. This one has been enjoyed by one and all over the last couple of years c/o Moosewood. This version has a few of my own modifications. If you don't like it, type up your own goddamn recipes.
1 cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon Thai red curry paste
½ tsp salt
2 cups veggie brother (best without salt)
2 12-oz packages of frozen cooked winter squash or about 1 large whole winter squash
1 lime
2 cups fresh baby spinach
Sugar, to taste
Chopped cilantro
Pan-fried tofu:
8oz (½ cake) firm tofu
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp Thai red curry paste
1 tsp vegetable oil
If you’re using fresh squash, bake whole in oven for 1.5 hours or until poked easily with a fork. In the microwave, cut lengthwise, lay skin side up in ½ inch of water and cook for five minutes. Turn and cook for another 5 minutes or until tender. Seed, peel, and chop squash. In a soup pot, whisk together the coconut milk, curry paste, salt, and broth. Add squash, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare pan-fried tofu. Cut the tofu into small cubes and toss with soy sauce and the curry paste. Heat the oil in a small skillet on medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Lightly grate the lime peel and juice the lime. Add zest and lime juice to taste. Stir in spinach and tofu and cook until spinach wilts. Add sugar and salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

Monday, June 16, 2008

'move it or lose it' pasta!

dear friends,

many of you who are reading this blog probably know the following two things about me: one, if there's anything i hate in this world, it's wasting food. and two, i am moving out of my apartment soon. so i was perusing the insides of my fridge last night, the anxiety about everything i had to eat before the move on thursday building.... and i ended up concocting a pretty wild and delicious noodle extravaganza.

here's what i did:

boiled a bag of rigatoni pasta until i thought that it could probably use about 3 minutes more cooking time (but you could use any tube-shaped pasta, i would imagine.) drained and set aside.

in a very large and deep skillet on medium heat, i sauteed two diced shallots, three cloves of minced garlic, and a teaspoon of dried crushed hot pepper in something like a quarter of a cup of olive oil until soft and fragrant (about 6 minutes). i found part of a leftover yellow pepper and added it to the mix. then chopped fresh basil (i added the contents of my refrigerator, so you really can put a lot and it is delicious). then about a cup of diced sundried tomatoes (you could also add fresh tomatoes, or whatever you have). black olives and surprise! i found a can of chickpeas, which i rinsed and drained and added to the mix. finally, i incorporated money teph's broth method - i added a bag of baby spinach (about 4 handfuls) along with some vegetable broth and turned the heat up. when everything seemed to be well-mixed and delicious, i added the mostly-cooked pasta and combined with cracked black pepper. now the most delicious part - as much grated cheese as you can possibly find. i had about 150g of gruyere and some parmesan. on low heat, mix it ALLLLL in.

when the stovetop portion is all said and done, place your pasta mixture in a glass casserole baking dish (grease with a bit of olive oil). sprinkle the top with some bread crumbs and remaining cheeses and bake at 350F until the top is crisp and the insides are hot and bubbling - about 20 minutes.

you can use this method with pretty much anything you have in the fridge. the versatility is really the charm..... i'm sure that it would be delicious with zucchinis, tomatoes, pesto, garden gnomes... you name it.

whew! well, don't we all feel better now?!!

that's just me. but really. i really really do.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Salmon a la Johnson


This is a recipe for grilled salmon. This salmon is known for its extreme wooing powers. Ladies can't handle this fish. They dig it so much it is crazy. They go crazy. This recipe is tthe result of YEARS of work by my father, Brian D. Johnson (AKA the Silver Fox). It is his "one dish" and it is, apparently, all he needs.

Let us get down to business.

This is a grilled salmon. Grilled with y TONS and TONS of fresh ginger and some other things. Here's the scoop.

First. Go to the fish store (I recommend Waldman's on Roy). Find the freshest most gleaming beautiful fillet of Salmon. Fillet! This will cost you money, but it will be worth it. After all this is not a regular meal. It is a meal of mythical proportions. So, buy the best most healthy, most agile and vibrant piece of salmon you can find. I also recommend getting a nice big piece. Do not be stingy!

Second. Think about what you are going to do with this fish. You are going to grill it. This is best done on a BBQ of the charcoal variety. This will require a BBQ, coals, a way to light the coals, an implement to fan the flames, a big spatula and lots of will power, because BBQing takes time and engery.

Third. Think about what you are going to put on the fish. Find a piece of ginger about as big as your two hands or your head, or something in that ball park. The fresher the better. Do not even try to cook this fish dish this way without a serious source of good fresh ginger. Do not use old dry crappy ginger. In addition to the ginger you will be adding a number of saucy things to flavour the fish. This will be covered in a moment.

Fourth. Think about the setting. What will be on the place with the salmon. You do not want it to be lonely on the plate. Nice rice. . . . veggies. .. asparagus. .. . rapinni. . . sweet potatoes . . . any of these do well. Soba noodles with some kind of sauce . . .woudl also be a good choice. Booze also goes well with this meal. It is best to get a bit drunk while cooking so that when you eat it you are ready to party.

Fifth . . . the recipe.


- two big pieces of fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup or less or more of Tamari soy sauce or whatever
- 1/3 cup real maple syrup (medium colour is good for this and cheaper, but any will do, but NO AUNT JEMIMMA)
- one lime's juice
- big piece of salmon fillet
- olive oil for coating fish


Prepare your BBQ. This is key. You need good steady heat. that will not burn, but will cook your fish. The key to this is BBQ set up. The best is a deep old style charcoal BBQ with room for lots of coals and a good distance between the coals and the grill. Use pure hardwood charcoal i if you can find it. This allows for heat, but not burning. A nice big bed of hot coals is key. So. . . start your charcoal however you do. I recommend starting a little fire with paper and wood under your coals and being all natural about it. This helps you get into the caveman/cavewoman mind state ideal for cooking the fish. Take care of the little fire, make sure it catches the coals. . . TEND to the fire as you will soon tend to your fish. Be gentle and patient, observant and committed. Proceed with care and watch your fire grow. Care and attention to the ways of the fire will lead to prosperity.

(Side note.) On a recent visit my mother, Marni Jackson, described the appeal of the cowboy. When she was in her younger traveling days. . .she spent some time on a dude ranch with real cowboys. It was not the bull-wrangling, lasooing or gunplay that she found most attractive.She said that the great thing about cowboys is that they are "sensitive with animals - they know how to treat animals". You must attend to your fire and your fish as a cowboy would attend to their horse - with care

As the fire catches the coals you can blow on the coals with well directed steady breaths and/or use a large flat implement such as a baking pan to fan the flames (as would would do in the heat of a social revolt). Once you have achieved fire life off, make sure all of your coals get nice and toasty. This may require making a tall pile of coals (heat rises), were you throw the unlit coals on top of the lit ones. Once they are all hot and burning slowly you can spread them out into a nice bed. (As a general rule, use more than you think you will need).

While your coals are getting hot you can prepare the fish and the ginger. Take your fish out and give it a rinse in cold water and dry off with paper towel. Coat the fish in olive oil with your hands and put it skin down on a plate (for preparation).

Get the biggest sharpest knife you have. Sharpen it if you can. Put it beside a cutting board. Peel most of the skin off the ginger using a peeler and/or a small knife. Now take your peeled ginger and, using the big sharp knife, cut it up as small as you can manage (within reason). What you want is a nice big pile of minced ginger. Put this in a bowl. And add your sauces (soy sauce, maple syrup, lime juice). Mix it around and modify to taste. Something spicy can be added if you want, but this should do the trick. This sauce can be modified depending on your taste and approach. The goal is to have salty, sweet, gooey, slightly citrus ginger muck. This mixture will be applied on top of the fish in a thick coat. The maple syrup gives it a sticky quality needed to keep it on the fish. This should be a good thick layer. This is the "je ne sais quoi" of the Johnson salmon.

Cooking! When your fire is hot but not out of hand put the salmon on the grill (skin down, ginger up). Timing is key. This is where the caveman/cavewoman attention to fire pays off. The best is to let the coals get really hot and catch them as they are on cooling off side of things. You may want to grill some other stuff to test the heat. When you think the moment is ready to strike. .. throw that fish on the barbee. Watch closely to assure that burning does not occur. If it does take some actions to stop it. If your fire is too hot, you can try putting some tin foil under the fish or waiting a bit. If your fire is too cool. .. .. . go back to the beginning of the fire starting instruction and get your fire up to speed.

Cook the fish for a little while. What is this? It depends on the heat of the grill. .. .the size of fish. . .the geometry of the cosmos. The basic rule of thumb is to take a good close look BEFORE you think if could possibly be close to being done. Done with fresh good fish is not very cooked. Done is hot, and slightly flaking apart. Whatever you do, do not PLESE overcook the fish. Also, it is best to just feel if the fish is done and don't do too much hacking into it. A flashlight may help if it is dark.

Here is the unexpected plot twist, that makes the Johnson salmon a wiley dish. You are going to take that fish off the grill BEFORE it is done, and you are going to run that puppy under the broiler of your oven. So. . . take it off the grill (maybe using two spatulas and a helper holding an oiled baking pan or dish). Bring your fish to the broiler and watch it broil with eyes like a hawk. You want to caramalize the sugar and the ginger. .. . giving a crispy brown top to your perfectly cooked. The key is to get your heats and timings right. When in doubt . .. . cook less and hotter, but do not burn.

At this point, you will have somehow assured that all other parts of your meal are magically ready and ready to march onto the plate. Before you serve it, make sure it is cooked in the thickest part, but not overcooked on the side. More broiling or grilling is very acceptable for last minute corrections to undercookedness.

Et Voila! You are a caveman/cavewoman at the top of your game. The good thing about this recipe is that you can mess around with more or less or this or that . . . it is flexible. . . as long as you follow the general principles.


Dr. Rocker

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

scurvy free is the way to be!

just can't seem to incorporate enough sweetened condensed milk into your diet? feel like you've been missing out on the essential nutrients and vitamins hidden in that innocuous looking can of mt. everest sized caloric intake? well cry alone in your room no more.

key lime pie! fast, easy and gloriously fattening.

begin with the crust: graham crackers (1/3 of a box, or if you shop at p.a., they sell pre-crushed graham crackers to help us all cope with this hectic modern life, use about 1 cup), combine in a bowl with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup unsalted melted butter. press into a lightly greased pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

le filling: zest some limes, i would say like 2, and then juice a whole bunch more, until you have about 2/3 cup of lime juice. combine this with 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, and mix with a whisk for like 5 minutes.

technically because there are no eggs in this pie, you don't even have to cook it. but i haven't tried this yet, so do so at your own risk. otherwise for you squares and recipe-followers out there, pour into the crust and cook for about 10 minutes or until it seems gelatinous. refrigerate and serve cold (duh). mmmm

Monday, May 12, 2008

c is also for chocolate.

so madeleine's friend, carin (!!), arrived for a long montreal visit from sweden, and madeleine hosted a potluck of guts and glory (theme: aphrodisiacs). money teph and i concocted somewhat of a chocolately, nutty extravaganza - and here is the recipe for all you lovers.

we borrowed from Chocolate&Zucchini's recipe for chocolate cake with candied hazelnuts, but with a few modifications. we added many more nuts, and instead of just hazelnuts, we made a little mix of hazelnuts and pistachios. also, as we all know - using good chocolate is the key to delicious chocolate cakes, as well as all things related to love-making. so instead of bittersweet baker's chocolate, we used a nice hunk of 55% callebaut.

you need:
200g (7oz) 55% callebaut (or bittersweet bakers. or whatever floats your lover's boat)
1 stick unsalted buttah
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 cup sugar (the original recipe called for more, but because we wanted to preserve the taste of the DELICIOUS chocolate, we used 1/4 cup less. you can adjust as necessary)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional. we forgot. but feel that it might be great...)

approx 1 cup of hazelnuts and pistachios combined
1/3 cup sugar

here's what you do:
first, gather combined hazelnuts and pistachios. in a food processor, chop em up (only a couple of pulses). save the flour-like nutty bits at the bottom to later add to the cake batter - this is key. toast the bit chunks in a non-stick skillet over high heat, and then set aside. in the same skillet over medium-high heat, add 1/3 cup of sugar with a splash of water, and let simmer until it forms a golden syrup. then add the toasted nuts, stir around to coat fully, and remove. place the candied nuts on parchment paper to cool.

next, preheat that oven (whooooo spring break!) to 360F. heavily butter a reasonably sized square baking pan a la brownies.

then, get your double boiler on! break up the chocolate (sob) and butter, place in a heat-proof glass bowl over a pot of nearly simmering water, and stir occasionally until melted, combined, and sensuous. once totally melted, whisk in the cocoa powder and set aside to cool off a bit.

the original recipe called for blending the batter in a food processor, but instead we used our giant biceps (GIANT, seriously) and whisked by hand. so grab yourselves a big bowl, and whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. add the chocolate/butter mixture. finally, the flour, and the hazelnut/pistachio grounds that you saved earlier (right? RIGHT??! i hope so). mix until just combined, careful not to overmix!

perhaps you should take your top off for the most sensual part of this recipe - slowly pourrrrrrrrrr the batter into the pre-buttered tin. place the candied nuts over top of the rich and moist batter, until the surface is totally covered. bake for about 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted at the centre comes out clean.

let cool in the pan for a little while, then cut squares out of the pan to serve.

finally, make love.


Monday, April 28, 2008

first step bean salad, second step freedom

Do you ever wander around campus (or, if you have graduated, 'the real world'), wishing that you could find something that was tasty yet healthy, crisp but not deep-fried, and cheap? And then, do you accidentally wander into Caferama and accidentally order one of their bean salads thinking how good it could be, only to be deeply disappointed and unhappy because it is none of the above? Although Caferama will soon lose its spot in the SSMU building to some other uninteresting and overpriced chain, the dilemmas posed transcend this specific merchant of unsatisfying food.

Making your own bean salad, and carrying it around with you in a tupperware for all occasions, so long as it is occasionally refrigerated, is a good solution to all of these problems. Although not to the more systemic ones of corporate control and rampant capitalism and poverty wages and world food 'crisis.' But eating (and sharing!) a good homemade lunch is a way to start.

To set off on the path towards utopian living, via the creatively titled "Bean Salad," you will need to accumulate and mix together in a bowl:

1 can of black beans (or you can soak but I don't know proportions)
1 can of corn kernels (or you can use fresh corn in the summer!)
2 bell peppers, diced, perhaps a red and an orange?
a bunch of green onions, sliced
about 1/2 a cup of cilantro, chopped
1/2 a block feta, crumbled
1/2 cup wild rice (when cooked this makes between 1 and a half cups)
1ish tablespoon ginger, grated

When all of this is in a bowl, throw (or pour) on some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss. Turn. Ideally, refrigerate for half an hour but it will not be tragic if you can't. Eat.

Bonus points: beans and corn, eaten together, form a complete protein!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Moros y cristianos

The handing over of the keys of Granada to Ferdinand and Isabella by the defeated Baobdil. "It is every Granadine's fave," says the BH.

Moros y cristianos
aka racist rice and beans
c/o Joy of Cooking/Spain

olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 chili pepper or red pepper flakes
1 cup diced tomato or can of tomatoes
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup rice
1 tsp salt
2 cups canned black beans or 2/3 cup dried

To cook beans: soak overnight, simmer 30 min.

Heat olive oil over medium in a medium pot. Add onion, garlic, chili and cook 5-8 min or until tender. Stir in tomato, water, rice salt. Bring to a boil. Add black beans and reduce heat to simmer for 20 min. or until rice is tender and water absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand 10 min. covered.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

cranapple walnut cake (find your inner spice!)

dismiss your thoughts of moldy shower curtains, this cake is danky and moist in the best possible way.

350 degrees (beat the pre-heat only for the pros)
9 by 13 greased pan, or really whatever you have that will fit the batter.
the recipe says 45-50 minutes to bake but i found this to be a dirty lie, allot like an hour (one efficiently watched episode of the L word and a southpark)

put on some cee-lo and mix it right up:
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

combine in another bowl and then add to the wet mixture:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

2 cups slice apples
1/2 walnut pieces
1/2 lb. fresh, whole, raw cranberries (though really who knows what half a pound is. i know i misread this section and added half a cup. no lasting damage, though if your UTI is acting up, best ditch the cup for the pound. oh man homeopathic baking, our ticket to fame!)

i think that during the course of this baking adventure, i decided that if i could be a spice, i would be nutmeg. perhaps if you do peyote and flip through a cookbook you too will find your inner spice. not that that's what i did. seriously.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Orecchiette with Spinach

Dear culinary hopefuls,

It has come to my attention that the Gosky Patties recipe was somewhat difficult to execute (common problems included runaway pigs, inability to locate adequate amounts of foolscap, concerns about animal rights violations). I do apologize.

Perhaps this is a better way to improve library-confinement: a quick & iron-heavy pasta concoction that even tastes good cold & out of a tupperware!

You will need:

400-500g of scoop-shaped pasta – e.g. orecchiette or gnocco sardo
16 to 20 oz baby spinach – no need to chop
1/3 cup olive oil
1.5 -2 shallots finely chopped (although the same amount of onions works as well)
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chillies
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (at least!)
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water till al dente – do not overcook, because the pasta will cook a little more when you mix it into the hot oil at the end. About 2 minutes before you figure that the pasta is done, stir the spinach into the pot of pasta (contrary to appearances, it will all fit in). Drain pasta and spinach when done.
Heat oil in large pan over medium-low heat. Cook shallot and chili flakes till soft but not brown (~3 minutes).
Add pasta and spinach to hot oil and mix well. Season with salt, and add grated Parmesan to taste.
(Courtesy of Fresh Ways with Pasta and my mother)

holy crap - chocolate yumms! or, 'i'm such a flake i don't want to bake'

That's right folks, no-bake cookies that are delicious, nutricious and perfect for the impending warmth.

These are a one-pot taste explosion and as if you even needed it, there is the added bonus: they are especially delicious when made with spelt, so they are almost guilt-free (save for the butter...)

In a pot, bring to a boil:

1/2 cup butter

2 cups sugar (less if you are using a sugary cereal or sweetened coconut flakes)

1/2 cup milk

Once you have brought this to a boil, remove from heat and add:

3 tbsp cocoa powder

2-2.5* cups oatmeal OR spelt (spelt is crunchier and thus more delicious, but its your call)

0.5-1* cup crumbled special K/rice krispies

0.5 cup coconut flakes


*vary these amounts as necessary until you get a mixture that is thick enough to make into cookies

drop these cookies onto a greased baking sheet and put in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or as long as you can resist them. do not "pull a beeks" and put them into unlined muffin tins, or they will come out looking gross to say the least. Once they are set, they are ready to be devoured.

the inaugural run of nutter butters, inc.

dear friends,

here is, get this, an ORIGINAL recipe that has come from my blossoming new passion for nut butters. i call this one mystery butter #1: what i did instead of kicking someone in the shins (a la waitress movie).

get a whole bunch (ie. maybe a cup) of raw peanuts, half a cup of raw shelled pistachios, and about 6 squares of dark chocolate (55% or higher, HOLLA), and raw honey (or whatever you got). preheat the oven to 300, roast the nuts until slightly browned and fragrant, about 6 minutes. then, in a food processor, combine all ingredients and honey to test, blend blend BLEND until smooth and delicious (this should take about 10 minutes or so).

put it in your favourite small jar, and if you're not going to eat it imminently, store it in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

happy buttering!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Lentils, Apples, Cumin, Salad

After getting an extension on my Gulag paper, I was feeling invigorated, and thought that with a little more protein, I could go from good to great. Also good, lentils are a great lunch to bring to the library. So, I made this recipe off of chocolate&zuchinni.

All was going well, I even got creative and sauteed the tofu with the dressing which she doesn't recommend but really brings it all together. Then, disaster struck.

I went to taste the fruits (or legumes) of my labour, and it tasted like black licorice. Confused, I added more balsamic vinegar. Still nothing. Like Sherlock Holmes, I began to put the pieces together. I won't go through the clues and red herrings, but the verdict was that I had confused cumin seeds with fennel seeds. DISASTER.

The moral? During exams/paper season, be sure to read all of your labels carefully and not get cocky and think that you can tell your spices by sight. Cumin and fennel mix-ups are bad, but paprika and cinnamon would be way worse. STAY SAFE, and read the label.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Victorian Nonsense, Animal Cruelty: the Solution to End-of-Semester Bitterness?

Edward Lear, famed 19th century master of nonsense was not only responsible for popularizing the limerick form and writing such poetic staples as "The Owl and the Pussycat" - he was also well-versed (har har) in the art of Nonsense Cookery.

Nothing like some Gosky Patties to quench the terrible hunger of paper-writing:

Take a Pig, three or four years of age, and tie him by the off-hind leg to a post. Place 5 pounds of currants, 3 of sugar, 2 pecks of peas, 18 roast chestnuts, a candle, six bushels of turnips, within his reach; if he eats these, constantly provide him with some more.
Then procure some cream, some slices of Cheshire cheese, four quires of foolscap paper, and a packet of black pins. Work the whole into a paste, and spread it out to dry on a sheet of clean brown waterproof linen.
When the paste is perfectly dry, but not before, proceed to beat the Pig violently, with the handle of a large broom. If he squeals, beat him again.
Visit the paste and beat the Pig alternately for some days, and ascertain if at the end of that period the whole is about to turn into Gosky Patties.
If it does not then, it never will; and in that case the Pig may be let loose, and the whole process may be considered as finished.

- Lear, Edward. A Book of Nonsense. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1992.

fit for the king's son

the key to any gratin dauphinois is a golden crust--in 17th century France the golden crust of a gratin signified the "upper crust" of Parisian society.

in this recipe, the golden crust, made mostly of expensive cheese (rich and fatty), rests comfortably atop a hoi polloi of steamed vegetables (simple and cheap). clearly the structure of this recipe manifests the socio-economic structure of the feudal society from which it emerged.

Vegetable Gratin-Souffle

do this:

butter for the dish
3 cups vegetables, cut into 1-inch pieces (cauliflower, turnip, broccoli, zucchini or anything that tickles your absent center)
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1/2 small onion or 2 large shallots, finely diced
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
2 eggs, separated
salt and pepper
pinch grated nutmeg

pre-heat oven to 375 and lightly butter an 8 by 10 inch gratin dish. steam or parboil the vegetables until barely tender when pierced with a knife. drain, rinse under cold water, then finely chop them.
lightly brown the bread crumbs in two tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, then stir in the milk. when it's hot to the touch, turn off the heat. meanwhile, cook the onion in the remaining butter in a small skillet over medium heat until translucent, about three minutes. Combine the onion, vegetables, and bread crumb mixture in a bowl, then stir in the cheese and egg yolks. season with salt and power to taste and the nutmeg. beat the whites until stiff, then fold them into the mixture. pour into the prepared dish and bake until puffed and browned, about 25 minutes.
serve immediately.
i served it with a citrus-avocado salad--the freshness of the salad complimented the rich gratin very nicely.

thank you deborah maidson.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

HEALTH ALERT and a smoothie suggestion

Hi everyone,

I was browsing the good old NYT when I came across this article about the (sometimes fatal) risks of blogging/being a blogger.

Some excerpts:

They work long hours, often to exhaustion... This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.
Bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

“If I don’t hear from him, I’ll think: Matt’s passed out again,” said Brian Lam, the editor of Gizmodo. “It’s happened four or five times.”

Mr. Lam... is known to pull all-nighters at his own home office in San Francisco — hours spent trying to keep his site organized and competitive. He said he was well equipped for the torture; he used to be a Thai-style boxer.
Should we disallow posting between midnight and eight am to promote a healthier work environment for ourselves? And, maybe we should join a gym or something?

A quick, refreshing and nutrient packed smoothie that could help you to keep on keeping on while blogging, or pursuing any other interests.

Locate and put into a blender:

1/2 a block of silky tofu
tip: it can come unflavoured, or you can choose mango or coconut or mixed berries or anything you could ever dream of
1 banana, in chunks
1/2 to 1 cup of frozen berries
tip: I prefer blueberries, but rasberries, mixed berries, any other kind of fruit work just fine, though I would probably stay away from pineapple
tip: frozen berries are good because it's like adding ice and fruit at once, which gives it a frothy texture. if you are lucky enough to have on hand fresh berries, throw them in the blender and add ice as well
enough orange juice to cover everything in the blender
tip: if you only have concentrate, you can plop some in and add water straight to the blender, it will all come together in the next step which is............

turn on the blender. keep it on until everything seems to have blended. try a little. adjust. feel free to blend to the rhythm of your favourite song. it may annoy other people in the vicinity, but they will be grateful because this recipe makes 2-3 tall glasses of smoothie, and you might be willing to share.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Easy Bake Tofu

Addendum: Tofu Your Way Into Mahmoud's Heart
According to, "many people dislike tofu." Mahmoud is not one of these people. When in training season, Mahmoud likes to wake up to a hearty breakfast of tofu scramble, have some salacious sweet and sour tofu for lunch, skip dinner, and order a glass of tofu straight up with an olive for a night cap. This is his secret--the key to his vitality, sex appeal, and what the New York Times once called his "ever-so-appealing smell."
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Many a lady has sought Mahmoud's love, and many have failed. Don't be that lady. Follow the recipe:

Easy baked tofu (courtesy of Moosewood's Simple Suppers)

1 cake firm tofu (I usually double, especially when cooking for 3 roommates)

Basic marinade:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger root
1 garlic clove (pressed)
sesame seeds
Note: with the ginger and garlic, particularly the ginger, more is always better.

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup to the basic marinade.

In the oven:
I started off making the recipe this way, and don't get me wrong, it's good. However, I find it a little easier and quicker on the stove top. Nevertheless, for the sake of options:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tofu into slices, cubes, triangles, or sticks. Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to hold the tofu in a single layer. Whisk together the marinade ingredients (or variation ingredients, if using) and rizzle over the tofu. Gently turn or toss to coat thoroughly. Bake uncovered, stirring once or twice, until the oil is sizzling and the tofu is firm and chewy, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

On the stove top:
Open tofu package and rinse the tofu. According to my kitchen guru, Beeks, it is always best to try to drain the tofu of excess water. I usually do this, although sometimes skip it if in a rush. In any case, should you choose to "bake like Beeks," wrap the tofu block in a cloth and place it under a large book (I use the Bible) for about 5 minutes. Cut the tofu into small cubes. I like very small ones because then they get nice and crispy. Heat the vegetable oil and the sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the tofu and sauté, stirring often, for 4 or 5 minutes, until lightly golden. (If you like really crispy tofu you can leave it in way longer). Add the soy sauce and the sweet and sour sauce, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes longer. Add the sesame seeds in about 5 minutes before you're done cooking.

Great served with a vegetable side (like broccoli) and a grain/starch (favorites have included garlic mashed potatoes, coconut rice and saffron rice).

Love love,
Prof. Tata