This blog has now been folded over into "The Left Chapter", a blog dedicated to politics, art, writing & food!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Doing a Sirloin Roast with Horseradish Dijon Sauce using the High-Low Method.

How to make a great beef roast? One that comes out a nice rare-medium/medium rare, is juicy and has a delicious texture and crust. How to do this especially when using a less expensive, less fatty cut?

While the method we are blogging about today works for cuts like the ultimate, the standing bone-in rib roast, it also works wonderfully for far less expensive roasts, like a sirloin roast.These cost half or less of the same sized rib roast.

This is the high-low heat method. We will be accompanying the roast with a Horseradish-Dijon Sauce.

Sirloin Roast seasoned with sea salt, pepper and Keen's Dry Mustard

First, take about two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and brush all around the roast. I like to do this with lower fat, lower cost roasts as I find it helps moisten them and acts as something of a  substitute for fat. Then liberally season on all sides with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Rub it in! This can be done to taste, of course, but meat needs to be seasoned, and a nice level of salt and pepper helps to create the texture that the hi-low method gives to the outside of the roast.

Finally top with about a tablespoon of Keen's Dry Mustard (or any other brand...I am just a fan of Keen's). I only put this on top. It will drizzle down during cooking.

Let the roast stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Put the roast on a roasting rack in the middle of the oven and cook at this temperature for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature by half to 250 degrees and cook for approximately 15 minutes per pound for rare, 20 for rare-medium, 25 for medium-rare or 30 for medium. During the entire cooking time it is critical that you do not open the oven! You should not open it until you think it is time for it to come out.

I highly recommend doing a roast of this type on the rarer side. Even at medium it will be quite dry. But it is a matter of taste. An instant read thermometer can be used. Around 120 degrees is time to remove for rare, around 130 is for medium rare. The internal temperature will continue to rise after cooking, when you let the roast sit.

Always remember, if a roast is not cooked enough for your taste, you can always put it back in or sear it a bit in a frying pan after slicing. If you overcook it, there is nothing you can do!

Remove the roast from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes on a platter before slicing. You should cover it loosely (with foil is the most common way). Do not cover tightly, as it needs to "breath".

Slice into pieces of whatever size appeals to you. I like them not too thin. About half an inch.

Rare, with a Horseradish Dijon Sauce
Traditionally this is served with a gravy. And that is great. But I like to have it with a Horseradish
Dijon Sauce. To prepare this simply combine two parts Dijon mustard for every one part horseradish and stir together in a bowl. Serve this on the side for dipping. For a 3 lb. roast I will generally blend 4 tablespoons of Dijon and 2 of horseradish. For added kick use an extra-hot horseradish.

I find that this method produces moist, textured and flavourful roast every time, with every cut. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Dish: The "Pesto Pizza" @ Adriano's Pizza and Pasta

The picture speaks for itself!
The Dish: The Pesto Pizza with spinach, feta cheese & more
Where: Adriano's Pizza and Pasta, 3329 Lake Shore Blvd W., Etobicoke (@ 27th St.), 416-792-4074

Opened just over a year ago in South Etobicoke, Adriano's Pizza and Pasta is a New York style pizza joint run out of a very small storefront located near Humber College's greatly expanded campus at the foot of Kipling. 


Adriano's specializes in thinner crust pizzas with fresh toppings offered in a variety of creative options, like their shrimp, spinach and roasted pepper pizza, or more standard pizzas like a Margherita. All are very good, as are the standard grab and dash slices they have for walk-in customers.

But the one we are focusing on today is a real stand out; their "Pesto Pizza" as it is called on the menu.

Topped with a winning combination of green peppers, black olives, spinach, feta cheese and garlic, this pizza is a truly delicious mix of salty, crunchy and cheesy. The green pepper is diced into small bits that contrast perfectly to the feta, which is offered in larger than usual pieces crumbled over the pie. The spinach lends a freshness that blends delightfully both in flavour and colour with the olives. All are on Adriano's excellent in-house crust, which is somewhat thinner than most and yet still has an unmistakable presence that enhances the overall taste. 

Call ahead for pick up, or if you are in the area have one delivered. While there is no real in store seating, it is worth a trip to try. Take it to one of the area's amazing waterfront parks and enjoy by the lake.

As with all of his pizza's and other dishes, the prices are reasonable. The "Pesto Pizza" costs 12"- $10.95, 16"- 13.95, 18" - 16.95 and Party Square -  18.95. 
Adriano's is on the 501 Queen Streetcar line.

The Dish is a regular feature that will look at one dish that we particularly love at a restaurant, diner, food truck, etc. Please feel free to submit your favourite dishes from restaurants in your community. Please include a photo of the dish or establishment if at all possible.

Weekly food news roundup: Barilla says gay customers unwelcome, CFIA recalls four spinach products, austerity wreaks havoc on Portugal & more...

This week's Friday food news roundup, sharing news, links and stories of interest to or from those of a lefty viewpoint.
Barilla, one of the world's largest pasta manufacturers, tells gays that they should eat another brand:

Bertolli, meanwhile, says gays are more than welcome!:

Picnic protest planned in Bancroft, Ontario over the homophobic actions of a local restaurant:

Spinach recall...CFIA pulls four products over salmonella concerns:

Atlantic Canada's first Food Truck Rally to roll into Halifax October 5th:

The owners of a Colorado cantaloupe farm linked to a 2011 food poisoning outbreak which killed 33 people and sickened 147 have been arrested and charged with selling contaminated food:

Mass starvation feared in Syria:

Are fish oil supplements really beneficial to the brain?:

Austerity wreaks havoc with the ability of Portugal's  citizens to afford food:

Cuban scientists say that global warming is harming pollination and food production:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Pauper's Cookbook: A Cookbook for the People from the 1970's U.K.

Vintage Cookbook: The Pauper's Cookbook, Jocasta Innes
Publication Details: Penguin, multiple editions, 1970's

Today we are going to look at a remarkable cookbook that was published in the UK in the 1970's and that very much fits the theme of this blog.

Put out in a no-frills, largely unillustrated mass market pocket book edition, The Pauper's Cookbook by Jocasta Innes was aimed squarely at the people. It is the exact opposite of the lush cookbooks by Food Network celebrity chefs (and I am not knocking these, I own more than a couple of them) and is all about using basic ingredients and stretching the household food budget.The cookbook was published by Penguin and struck quite a nerve in the UK in its day, being reprinted several times (my copy is the eighth reprint).

The book is divided in sections that reflect its aim, starting with "Where the Money Goes" and following through with sections like "Getting to Know Your Oven" and "Padding", a section that "deals specifically with the art or science of stretching small quantities of food (and money) a bit further."   

The book includes many UK staples like Yorkshire Pudding, Toad-in-the-hole, Oxtail Stew, and "Stovies", as well as some more eccentric entries. It also runs the gambit from mains to soups and salads to desserts, with a full array of meat, fish, vegetable and poultry options. Most of the dishes are simplicity itself, and many have a wonderfully rustic element to them.

Today we will share two soup recipes; Celery Soup & Barley Kale Soup. As always these are shared exactly as they appeared in the original text.

Celery Soup

An excellent, easily made soup, which really tastes of the vegetable. Water and bouillon cubes can be used for the stock.

1 head celery, 1 large potato, 2 pints stock or 1 pint stock and 1 pint milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, butter\

Wash the celery thoroughly. If the head is small use all of it, if large you can keep the heart for a salad. Chop it roughly, leaves included. Peel and chop up potato. Melt a lump of butter in a deep pan and gently stew the vegetables in it till well coated. This preliminary stew-frying of the vegetables makes these soups richer and tastier. Now add the stock, bring to the boil, cover the pan and cook steadily for 45 minutes or until the celery is soft. It needs to be soft because you have to pass it through a sieve. After sieving, return to the pan, add the milk, stir well and heat through. Taste and add salt and pepper and a little grated nutmeg. Just before serving, you can stir in a spoonful of milk or a little butter. 

Croutons go well with this.

Barley Kale Soup

An old Scots cottage recipe, and highly economical.

2 oz. pearl barley, 1 quart basic stock or water plus a mutton bone and a few scraps of meat, 1 lb. kale, 3 leeks, salt, pepper

Put the barley and stock, or water plus bone and scraps (the bone from the lamb joint would do very well) to simmer for about 3/4 hour or until the barley is tender, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Add the kale, washed and cut into thin shreds, with the coarsest stalks removed, also the washed and sliced leeks. Simmer till the vegetables are tender, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Before serving remove the bone and any unsightly scraps of meat.

These two terrific recipes pretty much embody the tone throughout; direct, no-nonsense and delicious! The book itself reflects a different time in publishing and cookbooks as well, and it truly aimed at the people and the working class.

As part of a feature on That Lefty Food Blog, we will be looking at vintage cookbooks, long out-of-print, that are worth seeking out for their quirky or community sensibility. Putting together cookbooks was done by union locals, community groups, church groups and the like, and many of these are well worth remembering. Sometimes the cookbooks would try to capture a certain place or bring new types of cooking to the people. We will feature one or two recipes from each cookbook we look at.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Weekly food news update: Republicans attack access to food stamps, the high cost of banana plantations & more!

This week's Friday food news roundup, sharing news, links and stories of interest to or from those of a lefty viewpoint.    

The terrible assault on those living in poverty continues in the United States as Republicans seek to cut food stamp access:

New research finds pesticides from banana plantations in spectacled caiman blood:
New Canadian research suggests gluten-free products are getting cheaper as gluten-free diets become more popular:

AwesTRUCK 2013 Toronto Food Truck Festival hits Toronto this weekend:

The Calgary Food Bank is seeing a big jump in demand this month and needs your help:

The Oromocto food bank is getting short on supplies and  needs your help:

Canadian website launches an Eat Local! food and sustainability challenge starting September 29th:

Ontario Government Launches New Local Food Fund:
Coffee shop workers in Halifax organizing through the Baristas Rise Up campaign:

Deadly E. coli outbreak linked to B.C. Gouda cheese:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The St. Lawrence Market Cookbook & an Asparagus and Tomato Bake

As part of a new feature on That Lefty Food Blog, we will be looking at vintage cookbooks, long out-of-print, that are worth seeking out for their quirky or community sensibility. Putting together cookbooks was done by union locals, community groups, church groups and the like, and many of these are well worth remembering. Sometimes, as is the case with the first one we will be looking at, cookbooks would try to capture a certain place or bring new types of cooking to the people. We will feature one recipe from each cookbook we look at.

Vintage Cookbook: The St. Lawrence Market Cookbook, Anita Stewart
Publication Details: Stoddart 1988

Published in 1988 when Toronto was truly starting to come into its multicultural own, The St. Lawrence Market Cookbook is delightful small volume of recipes that the author, Anita Stewart, had culled from amongst the many vendors who operate in the famous, historic Toronto indoor food market.

The book sought to incorporate the different types of cuisine to be found there, as well as the many cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fine meats into its recipes. It begins with a short history of St. Lawrence Market and a tour of it (as it was in 1988), and is then divided into recipe sections according to the type of dish (vegetable, meat, poultry, etc.). It also features a section looking at the cheeses and fruits/vegetables to be found there. These are still remarkably current!

Some notable highlights among the recipes include Greek Fish Soup with Garlic Almond Mayonnaise, Chevre and Leek Tart, Swordfish Szechuan and Applesauce Honey Muffins. 

Today we are featuring a recipe from the Vegetable Dishes section that fits our blog's theme of inexpensive and easy, an Asparagus and Tomato Bake.
It was, according to the cookbook, submitted by Alice Boychyn, who was a fruit and vegetable vendor in the market at the time.

Featured Recipe:

Asparagus and Tomato Bake 

The word "Great" is scrawled across the notes I made after testing this recipe.


4 Tbsps/60 mL. butter
1 1/2 lbs./675 g. fresh asparagus spears
5 medium sized tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsps/45 mL minced onion
3 Tbsps/45 mL chopped celery

2 Tbsps/25 mL fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tbsps/25 mL grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 Tbsps/20 mL fresh sweet basil minced
1 1/2 Tbsps/20 mL granulated sugar*
1/2 tsp/2 mL salt
1/4 tsp/1 mL freshly ground pepper
*The amount of sugar could vary, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 Celsius). In a 9 by 13 in. (3.5 L) baking pan, melt the butter. Line the bottom of the pan with fresh asparagus and sprinkle with the diced tomatoes, onion, celery, breadcrumbs and cheese. Season with the basil and sugar. (If the tomatoes are quite sweet, reduce the amount of sugar used.) Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender.

Makes 4-6 servings.

If you can track a copy down, this one is well worth it. The recipes center around the kinds of ingredients that you find at a big city, multicultural food market, and vary from the simple to the gloriously rich and complex.

In addition it is centered around a market that National Geographic deemed to be the best in the world! Watch for a post visiting St. Lawrence Market in the near future.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pain Perdu (Sourdough French Toast) with Maple Berry Syrup

Submitted by Andrea Grassby Valentini

This is a breakfast or brunch dish I’ve made for years,  that I adapted from my French grand-maman’s recipe. I have wonderful memories of being in her big kitchen in her Quebec City home, on a crisp winter’s day, inhaling the tantalizing aroma of pain perdu cooking in her big cast iron skillet, while I stirred the berries in the maple syrup on the wood stove. 


1/2 loaf sourdough bread (8 slices)

 4 large eggs

 1 cup whole milk

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Cut bread into 8 thick slices.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon until combined; pour mixture in to a shallow dish.

 Preheat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat and grease with butter.

 Place bread slice in the egg mixture and soak until saturated, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side (thicker bread needs more soaking time).

Transfer bread to skillet/griddle and cook until golden, 2-3 minutes, then flip over and cook until golden on the other side. The center of the bread should spring back when lightly pressed when the pain perdu is done.

Transfer to serving plates and serve immediately with Maple-Berry sauce

Maple-Berry Sauce

 ¾ cup pure maple syrup

3 cups raspberries or any berries of your choice

Combine the syrup and berries in a medium saucepan.  Simmer over medium heat until the berries begin to soften and release some juices, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.

Andrea is a life long leftist activist and a former campaign organizer of both provincial and federal NDP campaigns from the 1960's through to the 1990's. She lives in Toronto.

Submissions of recipes, positive reviews of restaurants that you like in your community, food news, pieces about booze or techniques or anything else are very welcome. Please send them to

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Jerk Style Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw & Jalapenos

Now that fall is at hand, it is time to share a recipe for Jerk Style Pulled Pork sandwiches. These are ideal fall and winter cooking as they cook for a very long time in the oven and suit the season. We will be making it with coleslaw and pickled jalapenos for toppings. It is simple to make, and very flavourful. It is a terrific party or sport's gathering dish.

This is also the easy version in that many of the ingredients are store bought. In some future posts we will look at homemade vinegar and barbeque style sauces. 

To start you need a 4-6 lb. pork shoulder. Try to get one with a good fat layer on the one side. A couple of bones in are fine. You remove them at the end. 

Then you take Jerk Seasoning (Mr. Goudas makes one, among others) and spread it all over and rub it into all sides of the shoulder other than the fat side.. You want the shoulder fully coated. You do the same with a Jerk paste like the one made by Grace, again rubbing it in to the pork on all sides thoroughly, again other than the fat. 

Place the coated pork shoulder in a Dutch Oven and, lid off, into an oven, preheated  to 275. 

You let the pork cook for 6-7 hours. You don't need to do anything at this point. Just leave it be.

After 6-7 hours, remove the shoulder and put it on a large plate. At this point you take off the fat layer and discard. 

You take two forks and start to pull the shoulder apart. It will fall apart into threads very easily. Discard any bones. 

Once you have pulled the entire shoulder apart you are ready to put it back in the dutch oven. Before doing that you should scrape off and remove any residue from the bottom of the dutch oven. Put the pulled pork back into the dutch oven and cover it with between one and two full bottles of Jerk style BBQ sauce. The amount depends on how large the shoulder was and how saucy you want it. For a larger shoulder you will need two full bottles. Grace makes a Jerk BBQ sauce, as do some others.

Stir all the sauce and pulled pork together and put it back in oven. Heat for about  another houroven set to minimum, stirring once or twice.

Serve on rolls or hamburger buns. I think it tastes best topped with a nice creamy style coleslaw and I usually add a few jalapenos (but it is already a bit spicy, so this depends on taste of course.)

This exact method, of course, can be used to make pulled pork of different styles. You can use different seasonings or BBQ sauces, including homemade ones. Watch for a future post on doing a spicy North Carolina style vinegar sauce.
Coleslaw is a great topping for pulled pork


With the leftovers you can try making Jerk Pulled Pork Tacos. Take hard-shell style tacos, put in the pulled pork as the base filling, top it with creamy slaw, then salsa or salsa verde, some sour cream and, if you like, hot sauce or jalapenos. This will be a big hit!
Jalapenos, sliced, with some carrots in!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Michael's West Indian Flavor in New Toronto: "Take-Out Counter" Spots II

In true take-out counter spot style, Michael's West Indian Flavor is simplicity itself. A small spot, it has the food counter, a small counter you can stand at if you want to eat inside, and a very small menu of three regular dishes that is expanded with other options depending on the day.

But this basic simplicity belies the tremendous complexity of flavour of their dishes, all of which are some of the best West Indian food I have had in Toronto (and I have had a lot of it!). 

Jamaican style Oxtail, Curried Goat or Stewed Chicken with rice or rice and peas are always on the chalkboard menu, while Jerk Chicken and Spicy Fried Chicken are regularly available as well.

Everything is perfectly done, and I have tried the lot multiple times. The goat, chicken and oxtail are always done bone-in, with a different saucing for each, and are dreamily moist and fall-off-the bone cooked. I have spent years trying to duplicate the oxtail gravy at Michael's. It is simply fantastic. If you are lucky you will get a piece of seeded Scotch Bonnet hot pepper "skin" in your dish

All dishes can be had with an optional creamy slaw. They are also all available small, medium or large (and the large is really large) and range from $5-$12.

If it is a nice day you can take you food and enjoy at one of the neigbourhood's many parks. Colonel Sam Smith Park, one of Toronto's waterfront gems, is a short walk to the west. Michael's is also on the 501 Queen streetcar line. They are located at 3067 Lake Shore Blvd. W., which is about 4 blocks west of Islington Ave.

If there is a "hidden gem" you like in your community that you would like to share a story about...please do! Send contributions to with "That Lefty Food Blog" in the header.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekly food news update: Homophobic incidents reported at two Ontario restaurants, Grow Calgary works with food banks, NDP calls for a national food strategy & more!

This week's Friday food news roundup, sharing news, links and stories of interest to or from those of a lefty viewpoint.  

Grow Calgary, Canada's largest urban farm, to supply Calgary's food banks with fresh vegetables and fruits:

Some unexpectedly positive news about global food prices:

As well as prices finally stabilizing for now in Canada after years of dramatic increases:

Terrible fire guts the historic St. Jacobs Farmer's Market near Waterloo:

Hamilton on the verge of becoming the first city in the world to require food outlets to have life-saving medication on hand for allergic reactions:

29th annual Vegetarian Food Festival kicks off in Toronto:

NDP food critic proposes a national food strategy:

Calgary looks at food truck policy changes:

Bancroft restaurant's homophobic actions outrage residents:

Toronto west-end diner asks gay couple to "leave their relationship at the door" (scroll down to find news of the incident):

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Making quick pasta sauces at home: Pasta Puttanesca

Over the years, one thing I have found is that many people think that making a pasta sauce at home is a drawn out or difficult process, when nothing is further from the truth. Many sauces can be made fresh, very quickly and taste far better than the vast bulk of canned or jarred sauces that are found on grocery store shelves.

There are a few recipes that I want to share, but the one that I am posting today is a really good way to get started for even the most nervous home cook. It is easy and yet very impressive.

When getting home late I like to make my version of a classic, delicious Italian tangy, salty and spicy spaghetti dish known by a few names and with few variations, but that is most commonly called Pasta Puttanesca.

This version is for about 500 grams of spaghetti.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
3 cloves garlic minced
50g. can of anchovies
1 small jar of capers
Approximately 15 each of green & black olives pits in. (Use whatever variety you like, though for the black olives I prefer Kalmata olives. Fresh as always is best, but jarred olives are fine. I find that canned olives are basically inedible, however).
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon oregano
1-2 tablespoon Red Hot Chili Flakes (depending if you like hot or HOT!)
sea salt and pepper
1 large can diced tomatoes

First prepare the spaghetti to al dente

While doing that, heat the EVOO in a large saucepan to medium heat. Add the minced garlic as the oil just starts to get gets hot. Add the anchovies.  Stir in hot oil blending together for 3-4 minutes or so, crushing the anchovies as you go and until the garlic is beginning to get sauteed.
Add the capers. Stir and saute another 1-2 minutes.
Add the green and black olives, Italian seasoning, oregano, red chili flakes and sea salt and pepper to taste (remember anchovies are already salty).

Stir and saute another 1-2 minutes.
Add the can of diced tomatoes.
Reduce heat and simmer, stirring for several minutes to thicken and blend flavours.
Pour over pasta and serve, topped with fresh parsley if you like.

Have with crusty bread and, of course, a heavy Italian red wine.


Monday, September 2, 2013

The Dish: Gyro & Eggs @ George the Greek

The Dish: Gyro & Egg Breakfast with Potatoes 
Where: George the Greek, 3575 Lake Shore Blvd. W., Etobicoke.

Tucked away out in historic Long Branch on the lake is one of Toronto's hidden gem diners, George the Greek. George's has all of the usual diner classics; burgers, Club Sandwiches, large Caesar salads with grilled chicken, All Day Breakfasts, etc. And they do them all well.

But they also have really excellent Greek fare mixed in to the menu, like their huge Gyro sandwiches, terrific Souvlaki dinners and, if you are lucky and go on the right day, their absolutely fantastic Dolmadakia.

But one of the things that keeps me going back is the Gyro & Egg Breakfast with Potatoes. George's incredibly moist and delectably seasoned Gyro meat served with perfectly cooked eggs, a delicious homemade Tatziki sauce to dip the meat in, and lightly fried thin sliced potatoes with a distinctive paprika seasoning blend. 

It is to die for.


At $8.95, it is also a perfect way to start the day...or to enjoy mid-afternoon on a day off! 

George's is on the 501 Queen Streetcar line, at Long Branch Ave. 

The Dish is a regular feature that will look at one dish that we particularly love at a restaurant, diner, food truck, etc. Please feel free to submit your favourite dishes from restaurants in your community. Please include a photo of the dish or establishment if at all possible.