Thursday, November 12, 2015

Day 105 - Savage Biriyani

I'll be honest, Indian food scares me.  I don't normally find the sensation of heat, Chili Heat, in my food all that appetizing.  It burns the more you eat it, and pretty soon you can't taste anything but pain.  Then there's the added indignity of what happens to you twelve hours later.


But even I couldn't ignore the smells of Indian restaurants I passed.  The sheer loudness of the scents are undeniably captivating.  Several Indian Canadians have recently come into my life, and the scent of their food got me thinking.

Have I ignored one of the planet's greatest cuisines because of a little heat?  There has to be more than spiciness to Indian food, right?  Then I thought, if I make it myself, it doesn't have to be so spicy.

And this brings me to Biriyani.  My Indian friends know of my interest in cooking, and the subject of what Indian food I had tried came up, and they mentioned Biriyani.  I'd had some President's Choice frozen Biriyani, but I suspected it was about as close to real Biriyani as spray cheese is to smoked gouda.  I watched some online videos of recipes and my mouth watered at the vast coming together of spices, herbs and seasoning.  I had to make this dish.

This recipe is my gateway drug to Indian Food, and I've learned a valuable lesson.  Indian food is a symphony.  It is the coming together of a vast array of spices and herbs to create entirely new flavours that can get as loud as you want.  It often isn't subtle, and it's proud of it.

Okay.  I get it now, and I have no idea where I will go next, and that's a good thing.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 104 - Mexican Fried Rice

I have a soft spot for orphans.  I can’t help myself.  The idea that someone could be left behind makes me sad.  So after making taco’s last week, and I ended up with a bit of my home made taco seasoning left over, I couldn’t just leave it orphaned.

I decided I was going to use the mix and make a fried rice, Mexican style.  So off I went to the grocery store and grabbed what items I found interesting, and set to work.

I don’t normally plug products, but I couldn’t very well share this recipe without also mentioning this jar of salsa I used to liven up the dish.  It’s the President’s Choice Avocado and Key Lime Salsa.  I never tasted it before dumping it into my fried rice, but the end result is incredible!

Give this recipe a try.  It’s pretty quick and fun to make, and boy is it filling!  It’s perfect for sitting out in the back yard with a bowl of rice, and a Corona and lime.

Hasta Luego!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 103 - Maple Cream

As spring battles winter for dominance, our see-sawing weather is as manic as a paranoid schizophrenic.  In the end I think spring and winter will kill themselves off in the battle and leave summer to rise up, unscathed to laugh over the dead and smother us in a wave of volcanic smog.

In the meantime we have one thing to comfort us as we huddle in caves, waiting for the war of seasons to end, and that is maple syrup season.  I came up with this cocktail ten years ago, and I’m truly shocked to see that I never posted it.  It’s a very popular drink because it’s an alcoholic beverage that tastes like maple ice cream.

Who wouldn’t want that!?

How did I come up with this drink, you ask?  Well I think we can thank the Coen Brothers.  You see after watching The Big Lebowski, I was drinking a lot of White Russians, so when I happened across Maple Liqueur at the LCBO, I was in the habit of mixing milk with alcohol, so it wasn’t much of a stretch.  The rest is history.

Here you are, for your drinking pleasure!  The Maple Cream!  One drink really ties the room together!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 102: Chickpea and Corn Falafel with a Sweet Lime Toum Sauce

It’s been an incredible week foodies!  I’ve won the chance to participate in a food competition set up by the people at  On January 12th I will be serving a refinement of my Chickpea and Corn Falafels at an event where they will pick three winners, each of whom will have their recipe published in a cookbook to raise money for the Food Bank!  And if I’m one of them, I go on to compete in May for the final.  The winner is declared the representative of Centretown by Taboo Eats!

But let’s go back a few steps!  When I heard of this competition, I knew I had to make something that was portable, since I couldn't cook the dish at their facilities.  My most popular dish is my Dirty Rubbed Salmon, but it’s not portable, sadly.  So I picked my falafel recipe, but I decided to change it somewhat, so that I can bring out as much flavour as possible.  Rather than grate and squeeze the water out of the onion, I chose to bake it, caramelizing those wonderful onions golden brown.  Then I used whole spices, baked them, to turn the taste up to 11, and only then did I grind them.

I knew I already had a good dish, but this was a competition.  It had to be great.  So I knew I had to come up with a sauce.  I looked online and found someone mentioning a Lebanese sauce called Toum, which is pureed olive oil and garlic.  Simple.

So on a Monday afternoon, mere hours away from delivery of my dish, I tasted my refined falafel recipe.  It WAS better, but it still needed a sauce, and I was having second thoughts about that garlic sauce.  I had a salty dish, and my mind told me the sauce had to be sweet to balance things out.  Immediately I thought of the two anomalies in my falafel.  Corn and corn masa.  What I made was a truly Canadian multicultural Lebanon meets South America dish, and so Lime came to mind.  My hand shot out and grabbed a lime to zest and juice.  I added that to the oil and garlic, and threw in a helping of brown sugar.  I pulsed it vigorously and ended up with what I can only describe as a near candy-like garlic sauce that went perfectly with my falafels.

I guess that’s why I got in.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Day 101: Thanksgiving Turkey with Stuffing and Gravy

Before you roll your eyes and say, that’s too much work, let me start by saying it only took me half an hour of prep for the turkey.  Sure it took five hours to cook, but I was around the house anyway!?  Seriously!  Baking a turkey is one of the easiest things you can make, and when it’s done right, tastes awesome!

So today I share with you the recipe for turkey I’ve been making my whole life.  It’s simple, easy to make, and incredibly tasty for something so basic.  It’s comfort food at it’s best.

First off let me start by saying that there is something you need for this recipe, other than the turkey, and it’s an herb blend called Herbs de Provence.  It is a French style herb blend that is as essential for this dish as the turkey is.  If you don’t have it, don’t bother to start cooking.  It’s that important.

When you go shopping for Herbs de Provence, try to go to a spice shop where you can buy in bulk, as it tends to be cheaper.  You’re going to need a lot of the stuff, so getting it cheaper is not a bad idea.

For the stuffing, as you can see, the ingredients are ridiculously spartan.  There isn’t much too it, but when done, it packs quite a punch.

For extra flavour, don’t forget to smear the bird with butter, salt, and Herbs de Provence (can’t get enough of that stuff!).

Okay, now the third thing you need (aside from the turkey and the Herbs) is a digital cooking thermometer!  Figuring out how long to cook your turkey based on weight is the best recipe for an overcooked bird.  Once a turkey reaches a certain temperature, it looses it’s moisture and then it’s awful to eat.  The only way to avoid this is using a digital thermometer.  This way you know the bird is safely cooked, but not dry as dust.

When it comes to gravy, it all starts with a good roux.  This is where the flavour and thickening power comes from.

You want to cook it until it looks a bit like dark peanut butter.

It'll get even darker once you whisk in the broth.

So that’s my turkey recipe.  I make this every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Now you can too.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Day 100 : Oatmeal Power Bar

I had planned on doing something more grand for my 100th recipe, but last night I threw this together out of a need to make some healthy snacks.

Try it out.  It's insanely easy to make (You can throw a few things in a bowl and mix can't you?  Sure!  I knew you could!), and it tastes great.

This is perfect for a mid morning or post lunch snack.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 99: Ginger and Mary Ann

The weekend is fast approaching, and with it gives the portent of a continuing heat wave.  Fight the battle to stay cool with Ginger and Mary Ann.  Fans of Gilligan's Island have debated "Ginger or Mary Ann" for decades.  We all know Mary Ann wins, hands down.  Having said that, I thought, why not both?

Here is the result.  By mixing the spicy zest of Ginger with the sweetness of a Georgia Peach, I came up with this cocktail that will leave you shaken and not stirred.