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Shrimp Salad (to impress all your friends)

My new year's resolution is to blog more here - and I have a lot of pics for the 2014 year in review coming up. In the meantime:

Shrimp Salad


  • One bag of frozen pre-cooked shrimp (find the kind with shells and tails removed; it’s so much easier)
  • Half a medium-sized onion (white or red)
  • 3 celery stalks (washed etc)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dill (dried or fresh)
  • Granulated garlic
  • Red chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon


  1. To thaw the shrimp in a food-safe and efficient manner, empty the frozen shrimps into a bowl in the sink and run cold tap water over the shrimps until thawed. Drain the shrimp well.
  2. Finely dice the onion and celery.
  3. Chop the shrimp as fine as you want it - it’s nice to have a bit of variety in the shrimp.
  4. Combine in a bowl with two tablespoons of mayonnaise. (You may want to add more later but start small)
  5. Add 1 teaspoon dill, 1/2 teaspoon garlic (or less depending on your crowd), 1 teaspoon chili flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir to combine, then put in the fridge for a few hours.
  7. Just before serving, squeeze over the salad the juice of 1/4 lemon (or more) and add more salt to taste.
  8. Serve on crackers.
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The Best French Onion Soup

I was going to make a recipe my mother had, but then today I realized that I didn't actually have the recipe so I winged it. And oh my, did the fates smile on me today.

The bulk of the work here is done in the oven, so yay!



  • Butter
  • 3 medium-to-large yellow onions
  • Fresh thyme (leaves from about 10 stalks)
  • 1 cup of cooking sherry
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 1 l beef stock (no salt added)
  • 1 l beef stock (regular)
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

Total cooking time – 5 hours, but most of it is in the oven.

Preheat your oven to 350F

Peel and slice your onions and place them into oven-safe pot. On top of the raw onions, place four slices/pats of butter. Do not be stingy with the butter.

Place the cover on your pot and put it in the oven. Leave it alone for one hour.

Remove the pot from the oven, and set aside the lid. The onions by this point should be starting to sweat and go limp. Stir, cover, and put back in the oven.

Over the next two hours, remove the pot from the oven every 30 minutes, and stir. When you get close to that third hour, your onions should be browning and caramelizing nicely.

When your onions are caramelized enough, move the pot to the stovetop, and turn your burner on medium-high.

Put the thyme into the onions, and stir. Remember that you only want the leaves from the thyme stalks, not the stalks themselves. What you’re doing now is waking up the aromatics in the thyme.

Now it is time to deglaze your pan. Slowly pour half the cooking sherry into the pan, and stir to scrape the lovely caramelized bits off the pan. Add the rest of the sherry, and then the crushed garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until the pot is bubbling (a few minutes at most).

(If you don't have any cooking sherry on hand, you can use dry white wine. If you are using wine, you will need to add more salt)

Now it is time to add the beef stock.

(As an aside, I used one litre of unsalted beef stock and one litre of salted as cooking sherry has quite a lot of salt in it. You will be able to add more salt at the end for taste.)

Stir well, turning the burner to high. Bring the soup to a boil, then turn down to low/medium low. You’re going to want to cook the soup down for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.

After about an hour, you can start tasting it to figure out how much salt and pepper you want to add.

When it’s time to serve, measure out into bowls and add in the cheesy toasts.

Cheesy Toasts


For each bowl, one slice of sourdough bread
Grated cheese (gruyere if you have it, or whatever you do have)
Granulated garlic (optional)

First off, toast the bread in the toaster until it’s nicely golden (not browned)

Turn on your oven's broiler

On a cookie sheet, lay the bread flat, then cover with a healthy amount of grated cheese, and if you're using it, a dash of granulated garlic.

(Most recipes call for gruyere cheese, but if you don't have any in stock you can use another cheese like cheddar - gruyere can be expensive).

Broil the toasts, keeping a close eye on them. They are done when the cheese has melted and is just starting to turn golden-brown on the edges.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Put the cheesy toasts on a cutting board and cut them into squares. This will save you from the usual problem with French Onion soup, which is making a mess of things when you can't cut up your cheesy bread with a spoon.

Carefully slide each toast directly into the bowls (cheese side up, obv).

Time to eat. Be careful do you don't burn your mouth with the deliciousness.

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World’s best Alfredo sauce

I had a dinner party yesterday and made my mother's very best ever Alfredo sauce. It is incredibly good and very easy to make.


  • 1 l whipping cream (33%mf)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Half a block of cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated/flaked parmesan
  • A dash of freshly ground pepper
  • A shake  Hot paprika (like 1/16 tsp)
  • Salt (to taste)

Cooking time: 90 minutes or more.


  1. Add the whipping cream to a saucepan  and turn  the burner on to low.
  2. Crush the garlic clove into the cream and give it a stir.
  3. Cook the whipping cream on low for about an hour, until the cream has reduced to about 3/4s.
  4. Add the cream cheese, the parmesan,  pepper and paprika. Stir.
  5. Keep stirring and cooking on low to medium-low for a while longer, half an hour if you have it.
  6. Add salt and more pepper to taste.
  7. Serve over freshly made pasta.
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Baked Egg Cups

A fun breakfast idea.


  • Whole egg (1 per cup)
  • Thin sliced ham or cooked bacon
  • Cheese (I used old cheddar)
  • Chipotle hot sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Put two slices of ham into personal ramekins in a "cup" shape (ie line the cup with ham). If using bacon, either shape the bacon to the cup if it's not too cripsy; otherwise break the bacon up and line the ramekin
  3. Crack one whole egg into the ramekin on top of the ham.
  4. Add a couple of dashes of chipotle hot sauce on top of the egg.
  5. (Note that there is no added salt in this recipe - if you're using ham or bacon, there is already a lot of salt in this dish, and the egg doesn't need additional seasoning) (well, maybe a little pepper)
  6. Add a few slices of cheese on top of the egg, just to cover the top of the egg.
  7. Bake the ramekins for 16-18 minutes. The goal here is to have the egg white set while the yolk is still a bit running.
  8. Remove from the oven, and eat.




Prawns with Spinach

A delicious recipe modified from one in  Indian Cooking for Family and Friends.


Vegetable oil or some other neutral oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tbs tomato paste
1 pound raw prawns, shells removed and well rinsed
Salt to taste
Two large handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 heaping tsp garam masala
2 tbs cream


Heat two glugs of oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and bay leaf; stir and cook until the seeds start to crackle. Add the chopped onion and cook for around 10 minutes.

Add the ginger and garlic; cook for another 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and chili powder, stir, then add the tomato paste. You may need to add some water to allow this mixture to cook for a bit (you will want to cook the tomato paste until it has mellowed).

At this point, add a bit of salt to taste. Don't make it too salty - the garma masala will add much flavour in just a little bit, and you can always add more salt at the end.

Now add the prawns. Stir them in and keep stirring on-and-off for approximately 5 minutes. Add the garam masala.

Turn down to medium heat. Add in the spinach, stir to coat with the mixture, and cover to let the dish steam.

Uncover, add the cream, and stir to incorporate. At this point you can either turn off the heat, or if your dish is a little too wet, cook out a bit longer. Be sure you don't over-cook the prawns.

This can be served with rice, although I ended up accompanying it with a rustic sourdough toast.


A variant on kheema

My mother swears by a kheema recipe she found in a 1980s cookbook - I modified it the other night, and present it to you thus:

Kheema with turkey and spinach


  •  300 g ground or diced turkey
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbs fresh ginger, diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin (I prefer to buy whole cumin, toast it in a cast iron pan until browned, then crushed in a mortar. It tastes a million times better than what you get in stores)
  • 1 tbs coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • handful of baby spinach, shredded
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs garam masala
  • Juice of half a lemon

Steps toward delicious

  1. In a cast iron pan or heavy wok over medium-high heat, heat 1 tbs of oil. Drop in the turkey and cook until it it just cooked. Be sure to break up the turkey as it cooks.
  2. Remove the turkey from the pan, tamp out the moisture. Add the rest of the oil to the same pan, then add the onion. Cook until the onion is soft.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook until the onion is browned.
  4. Add the cumin and coriander and chili flakes. Stir stir. You may decide to add more oil at this point, but it's up to you. Turkey can be a lean meat.
  5. Add the turkey, giving it a stir to coat everything with spicy goodness. Then it's time to add 3/4 cup hot water (I use water just off the boil from the kettle). Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-high, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove cover. Stir it up. At this point, the mix should still be plenty moist.Add the salt, garam masala, lemon juice, and remaining water. Stir, re-cover, cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Uncover. Taste. You may decide to add more salt at this point.
  8. Add the peas and the spinach. Crank the heat up to high, stirring constantly. At this point, you want to accomplish three things: heat up the peas (already cooked in the freezing process), cook the spinach out, and get rid of the rest of the water.
  9. When that's all done, serve over rice or quinoa.

Most recipes call for ground lamb or beef, but I prefer poultry myself. It's even better the next day.


Homemade Chicken Soup with Quinoa

So it goes a little like this:

A few weeks ago, I roasted a chicken and saved the bones and stuff with the vague idea of making stock. I ended up freezing the bones (for optimal freshness).

And it goes a little like this:

Roast chicken stock

  1. Take the reserved bones, skin, joints, meat scraps, etc, and chuck them in a soup pot.
    1. If you kept it, throw in the refrigerated roast drippings for added flavour.
  2. Add water to cover the bones, then some more.
  3. Chop an onion, two ribs celery, one large carrot, and throw into the pot
  4. Also add the following spices:
    1. 2 bay leaves
    2. a handful of peppercorns
    3. one clove
    4. a whole dried chili
    5. a pinch of thyme
    6. and a pinch of oregano
  5. You may want to add some salt.

Bring all this to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about two hours, adding more water to keep the bones covered.

A note: Unlike making stock from a raw chicken, you may not have to skim the scum from the top. Your milage will vary.

After all this is over, fish out the bigger bones and stuff with a slotted spoon. Then strain the soup into a big bowl. With a flat spoon, skim off as much of the fat as you can.

Go team.

Chicken Soup with Quinoa

This one is really easy.

Into a pot:

  1. 1.5 cups chicken stock (see above)
  2. 0.5 cups cooked quinoa
  3. Bring back to a boil.
  4. You can also add some cooked chicken meat. Chop it up though.
  5. Before you serve, taste for salt.
  6. Serve with a bottle of hot sauce. I use Frank's (I put that stuff on everything)

The quinoa gives it a bit of chew.


Mmm salt

A post about seasoning salts

When I was a kid, the only kind of seasoning salt in existence was Lawrey's. What can I say? It was Alberta in the 80s.

what it says on the label


Nowadays, with Vancouver being a culinary hot-spot or something, we luckily have access to more than the one seasoning salt.

Tonight's dinner was testament to this sodium-bomb bounty: I used two kinds of seasoning salts to make steak, yams, and kale into a wowza of a meal.

Let's break that down a little:

For the steak, I bought what was probably a too-tough cut of beef and, after pounding the crap out of it with the back of a butcher knife, seasoned it liberally with Montreal Steak Spice, so:

Of course, it may say "spice" on the label but the first ingredient is chunky rock salt. Delish. Also works well on mushrooms. For added yum, use a bit of hot water to deglaze the pan and pour the resultant au jus over the steak while it sits. Mega yum.

(The yams were baked and seasoned with regular salt; nothing innovative to write home about).

The kale was a bit of a strange mash-up - sauteed with a bit of crushed garlic and Haida Gwaii Salt from Sea to Sky Seasonings (they're at the Edible BC booth on Granville Island). The lobster flavour of the salt highlighted the flavour of the kale.

Some trivia:



Dry Spiced Chicken

  1. A confession

My love affair with Indian cooking began the day I picked up Meena Pathak's Flavors of India in 2002. There are so many wonderful recipes in that book (and my other fave of hers, Indian Cooking for Family and Friends). If you're into Indian cooking, I recommend picking up a copy and trying some of the recipes.

Which brings me to tonight

Having just acquired a rooster timer:

I decided to try something that needed actual timing. And since I wasn't totally into the idea of sauce tonight, I went with

Dry Spiced Chicken

(adapted from the recipe in Indian Cooking for Family and Friends)


  • Canola oil
  • Spices
    • 1 tbl whole cumin seeds
    • 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 tbl whole coriander seeds
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 3 wee chilis
  • salt to taste


  1. Dice the chicken breasts into cubic inches. Set aside.
  2. Cut the chilis in half. Scrape out the seeds and veins. Dice.
    1. (For both the steps above, you should wear gloves. Makes for easier cleanup)
  3. Slice the onions in half, then slice perpendicular to the layers (ie little half-moon shapes)
  4. Put the coriander seeds into a coffee grinder or something. Hit frape.


  1. Heat three glugs of oil in a high-sided pan or pot
  2. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, the fennel seeds, and the bay leaf.
  3. Sizzle.
  4. Add the onions. Using your Rooster Timer (sold in discerning Michael's), cook the onions over a low heat for no less than 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 min, add the coriander, chili powder, garam masala and turmeric. Stir. Cook for 5 more min.
  6. Toss in the chilis. Stir.
  7. Add the chicken. Stir. Add a bit of water. Cover. Cook for another 15 minutes (using the rooster).
  8. Remove cover, add salt to taste. Give it another 2 minutes on the stove and then serve over rice.

(Usually, I use basmati rice for Indian dishes, but this time I was stuck and had to raid the pantry for short-grain rice. With the lack of sauce in this dish, the moist rice was well suited to the dish.)

In short? Awesome.


Pot Roast Chili

As sort of a mashup between pot roast and chili. Best dish ever.


  • Beef roast
  • Canola oil
  • Salt
  • Cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, sliced thinly
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin powder
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • One can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup Beef stock, heated
  • Boiling water

Cooking accoutrements

  • Dutch oven
  • 2 forks


  1. Preheat your oven to 325F.
  2. Rinse the roast. Cut the roast in half  (into 3 pieces if it's a large roast). Salt the raw beef very lightly.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in the dutch oven (hereafter referred to as the "pot") on the stovetop.
  4. Brown the roast on all sides in the pot. Once the browning is complete, put the beef on a plate and set aside.
  5. Add another tbsp of oil into the pot. Add 2 tsp cumin seeds and cook until the seeds are sizzling.
  6. Add the onion. Fry for around 5 minutes.
  7. Add 1 tbsp chili powder and stir. If you're like me, you cut your chili powder 50/50 with cayenne, so keep the fan on our else your eyes will burn for days.
  8. Add 1 tbsp granulated garlic and 1 tbsp cumin powder. If you have more time, you can use fresh garlic (and add it during the cumin seeds step).
  9. Add the tomatoes. Fry this whole mess for 5 minutes.
  10. Add the beef back to the pan. Dump in the drained beans. Over the whole mess, pour the cup of beef stock. You may need to add a bit of hot water to the pot to just cover the meat.
  11. Stir once more.
  12. Cover, and place the dutch oven in the preheated oven.
  13. Cook for 90 minutes.
  14. Remove the pot from the oven, and remove the lid. Try to shred the beef with the forks - if it doesn't want to shred, re-cover and put the pot back in the oven for another 30 minutes or so.
  15. But if the beef shreds easily, then do so... Shred it like Steve Vai.
  16. Once you have completed the shredding process, stir the beef back into the sauce, re-cover, and put the pot back into the oven for another 15 minutes to let the flavours combine.
  17. Eat. Because this is the best dish ever made.

Note: You will probably not need to add salt to the end product. There's enough sodium in the beef stock and the inital salting to flavour the dish.