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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fiery Okra Jalapeno Slaw‏

Submitted by Natalie Lochwin

This intense, delicious, and very spicy side dish, inspired by Caribbean and Southern cooking flavours, is a great accompaniment to West Indian food, BBQ, picnic food, or just about anything that goes with heat and coleslaw! It also puts good use to okra, a woefully underused delight.

Here it is pictured with clay baked, curried goat!

  • 1/2 cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 7 fresh green okra (frozen would likely work just fine)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 fresh Jalapeno's
  • red hot pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (I used Madras)
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • vinegar
  • cider, wine or broth
  • lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
Cut the cabbage into a medium shred. You want a texture that is not too fine and is less shredded than many slaws.
Dice the onion.

Slice the okra into 1/2 " rings.
Slice the garlic, seed and slice the jalapeno. Always be careful seeding a jalapeno, as the seeds can irritate your skin, eyes, etc. Especially if inexperienced you might want to wear gloves. Seeding is a good idea, however, as if you don't, the dish will be intensely spicy and enjoyable for only the most seasoned spicy food palate. 
Add 1 TB olive oil to a hot medium or large sized frying pan.
Fry the onion until soft, add the jalapeno and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Add the okra. Okra has a viscous quality which blends well with other ingredients. It will act as a thickener. Cook for 8 minutes or so, until soft.
Add the curry powder and a small pinch of hot pepper flakes,  around 1/4 tsp (you can adjust later and add more if you'd like it hotter) cook for a bit, then add some cider or wine (a splash at a time) as your pan is drying out. Add garlic, and cook a little longer until fragrant. Add 1 tsp of vinegar.
Add the cabbage and cook down for several minutes, adding 1 Tbsp. of butter if desired (a  delicious addition).
Add salt and pepper to taste. More hot pepper flakes or a bit of cayenne may be added now if you'd like it even hotter. Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

This can be both made more al dente if you prefer a crunchy cabbage dish or on the softer side. Both ways are great.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Grey Cup Sunday "Game Day" Chili

Chili is a wonderful thing. Vegetarian or meat, it is hearty and fortifying which is likely why it is most closely associated with fall and winter. Chili is also a great way to make a lot of food for family or friends for relatively little money. If making just for your own household, it will usually leave days of leftovers that can be had over pasta and whose flavour will actually "age" well. It keeps up to 3 days in the fridge if made with ground meat (longer in some other cases) and will taste better as each day passes!

I have several chili recipes, including a terrific Cincinnati style chili and a Cowboy Chili, which is all meat and seasoning, with no beans or tomato, and will share those, as well as a really good vegetarian bean chili, later in chili season.

Today, being Grey Cup Sunday, I am sharing my basic chili recipe, that I make most often, especially for gatherings, so I call it my Game Day Chili. It is easy to do with ingredients that are easy to get.

I like my chili spicy, and I think the heat enhances the flavour, but this recipe does allow a "sliding scale" depending on how hot you like it!


 2 lbs. Ground beef
2 lbs. mushrooms
2 large cans herb & spice diced tomatoes
1 large jar sliced jalapenos
1 large jar sliced pizza olives or cocktail olives
1 packet chili, 1 packet taco & 1 packet Sloppy Joe seasoning (or 2 chili and 1 taco if you cannot find Sloppy Joe seasoning)
1 can red kidney beans
1 teaspoon browning liquid
Salt & Pepper to taste.
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1-5 tablespoons Mexican or Tabasco style hot sauce.

Slice the mushrooms. Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium-low heat, adding the mushrooms as you go.
When the beef is nearly fully browned  (usually a few minutes when this much) add the seasoning mixes, stirring constantly.
When the beef is fully browned add the tomatoes. Do not drain.

Drain the jars of olives & jalapenos and add them.
Add the beans, browning liquid, Worcestershire Sauce, and hot sauce. (My favourite for this recipe is Goya Salsita Habanero Sauce, but Cholula is good as well...or any one with that Mexican or, if you prefer, Louisiana Tabasco style taste), stirring constantly.
Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for NO LESS THAN 3-4 HOURS!!! I prefer 4-6. But 3-4 is a must. Less than that is just not good enough. It needs to thicken and the flavours need to come out. Stir occasionally and check to make sure it is not boiling or simmering too much.
Every hour or so, give it a taste and add salt & pepper to taste & more hot sauce to taste.
Serve with beer, football, sour cream, grated old cheddar cheese, nacho chips, etc....
It is a good one! If you do try it...let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Egg and Cheese Oven Bake with Vegetables or Meat (or both!)

What to do with leftovers? A common concern for those of us on tight budgets or not wanting to waste. Today we will take a look at an egg and cheese bake recipe that can use a variety of different vegetables or meats that are sitting around in the fridge or pantry. The basic recipe never varies, but what you do with it does. It is very flexible and can be made as a breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner meal and can have meat or be vegetarian.  

And, it has the virtue that it is fast, easy and hearty.

(We will be using portions that are family sized and suited for a 15"x11" baking dish. For smaller or larger portions, adjust accordingly.)

For all ingredient variations you will need 6 pieces of white or brown bread. You should use a standard sized thickness, not a rye or thin sliced bread, as you want the bread to absorb the egg mixture. You will also need 8 eggs and 3 cups of milk.

In a large mixing bowl blend the eggs and milk together with a whisk. Add salt and pepper to taste (I tend to use 1 tablespoon of each), 1 teaspoon of dry mustard and, if you want a little kick, a teaspoon (or two!) of red hot chili pepper flakes. Blend thoroughly.

Meanwhile, rip the bread into chunks, a few chunks a slice. Line the bottom of the baking pan with the bread chunks. Then top these chunks by evenly sprinkling over them 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese (I suggest old and sharp cheddar, but marble, mozzarella, or whatever grated cheese strikes your fancy, work as well). Then you add the leftovers (or whatever ingredient you want!).

This is really the best part. For the bake I picture here, I used pepperoni slices leftover , unused, from some homemade naan bread pizzas we had made a couple of nights before. I spread them evenly over the bread and cheese. But you can use leftover chicken slices, other sliced meats, or any number of vegetables, like mushrooms, onions (sautéed is particularly good), zucchini, etc. Experiment and use more than one. Olives and cooked bacon for example. Or sliced up left over turkey with chopped celery. Or leftover cooked spinach. You want to use about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of these ingredients.

Once you have laid the layers of bread, cheese and other ingredients, pour the egg/milk mixture over it.

Place into a preheated 350 degree oven. You want to cook for 40-45 minutes. It is done when the eggs are set and the cheese golden brown.

Take out and let sit for 5 minutes. The bake will have risen and it will settle by "deflating" a little. The bread will have formed into a kind of crust and you will get a great blend of flavours and textures.

Cut the bake into slices and serve.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cooking Favorites of Long Branch with Perfect Meat Loaf & Christmas Cake

Vintage Cookbook: Cooking Favourites of Long Branch, Women's Committee St. Agnes Anglican Church
Publication Details: Self-published, c. 1970's

Cooking Favorites of Long Branch, the historic lakeside south Etobicoke community that I call home, is a nearly perfect embodiment of the old style community cookbook. Put together in the 1970's by the church Women's Committee to raise money for the local St. Agnes Anglican Church  (which was closed in 2005) it is full of folksy recipes and advice contributed by residents of Long Branch.

It is divided into the usual sections, like "Pickles and Relishes", "Salads, Vegetables and Soups", "Meat, Fish & Poultry", etc. In addition, it ends with a section dedicated to oven and time charts, ingredient substitution, measurement tables, etc, as well as a neat page of "Super Quantity Cooking" like doing Cabbage Salad for 175! (20 lb. cabbage, 1 1/2 qt. Miracle Whip, 4 large cans crushed pineapple, 2 bunches carrots).

The cookbook is full of advertisements for community businesses (some of which are gone, some of which remain) and has blank pages for the addition of new recipes one comes across.

As with so many of these community books, it really captures, almost like a snapshot, a tone and a feel for a time and place and the recipes speak to what people saw as "home cooking" and "comfort food". It is also completely free of pretension.

As always we are sharing two recipes exactly as they appeared that reflect the feel of the book overall.

Perfect Meat Loaf 

Submitted by Prudence Smyth (Mrs. R.W.)

1-1 1/2 lb ground beef
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 - 8 oz. tomato and mushroom sauce

Combine first 6 ingredients thoroughly with 1 can tomato and mushroom sauce. Pack firmly into pan (8x4x3 inch loaf pan). Chill one hour. Unmould into a shallow baking pan. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for one hour. Pour remaining sauce over loaf. Bake 20 minutes more until loaf is nicely glazed. Makes 6-8 servings.

Christmas Cake

Submitted by Eleanor M. Smith

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. each of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup grape juice
3 cups seeded raisins
1 cup seedless raisins
1 1/2 cup dates, chopped
2 cups mixed peel, chopped
1 1/2 cup candied pineapple
1 1/2 cup red and green cherries
1 1/2 cup almonds, chopped

Sift 3/4 cup flour over all fruit. Cream sugar, butter, eggs. Add liquid alternately with flour and spices. Fold in fruit and nuts. Put into greased paper-lined deep pan and bake at 250 degrees F. to 275 degrees F. for two hours.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pooh's Fireside Recipes: Comfort food for kids of all ages with Potato Pancakes & Honey Cake

Vintage Cookbook: Pooh's Fireside Recipes, Katie Stewart
Publication Details: Methuen Children's Books, 1985

Inspired by A. A. Milne's classics Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner the truly charming cookbook, Pooh's Fireside Recipes was published in the UK in 1985.
A rather small book, at only 32 pages, it was aimed at children and getting them involved in and interested in cooking, but it is a joy for adults as well with 14 classic comfort food dishes as well as four ideas for making toast (i.e French toast or cinnamon toast). It is illustrated throughout with lovely little sketches of all the Pooh characters by Ernest H. Shepard and is appropriately shaped like an old fashioned honey jar. There was a companion volume, Pooh's Picnic Recipes that was published contemporaneously.

The author, Katie Stewart was the cooking editor for Woman's Journal at the time.

While technically not a seasonal cookbook, I have always associated it with fall, and its recipe for potato pancakes with bacon is one of my family's favourites for a cool October or November afternoon or evening.

As always we are sharing two recipes, as they originally appeared.

Potato pancakes with bacon

[Editor's note: When I have made these I like to serve them with sour cream for the pancakes, and I generally simply fry some good smoked bacon slices to accompany them as opposed to the grill method outlined below]

Serves 4

400 gr/ 1 lb. potatoes
1 onion
2 eggs
25g (2 oz. or two rounded tablespoons) plain flour
1 level teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
8 bacon rashers
2-3 tablespoons oil for frying

Find a potato peeler a grater, a large mixing bowl, a wooden spoon for mixing and a tablespoon. Chose a large frying pan and find a pair of scissors for trimming the bacon rashers.

Peel the potatoes and the onion. Grate the potatoes and the onion, through the coarse side of a grater, into a large mixing basin.  Take care not to grate your fingers! Add the eggs, the flour, salt and pepper and using a wooden spoon mix the ingredients thoroughly.

Using a pair of scissors, trim the rinds from the bacon rashers. Arrange the rashers neatly in the grill pan (remove the grid first). Place the fat part of each rasher overlapping the lean of the next and set aside ready for grilling.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the potato mixture in tablespoons at a time. Fry only 3-4 pancakes at a time as you spoon the mixture in flatten them slightly.

Fry the pancakes over a moderate heat until brown on the underside-it should take about 5 minutes. Then turn over and brown the second side.

As the pancakes are cooked, lift from the pan and place on a hot serving plate. Keep the prepared ones warm, while cooking the remainder. You should get about 12 pancakes.

When they are almost all ready, turn on the grill. Place the bacon rashers under the grill, about 7.5 cm (3") from the heat, and grill for about 3-5 minutes.

These are something to have when your friends come round for high tea. Get them to help you make them and serve straight away, together with the grilled bacon rashers.

Honey Cake

Makes 24 squares

175g (7 oz.) (or 7 rounded tablespoons) self raising flour
125g (5 oz.) butter or margarine
100g (4 oz.) (or 4 rounded tablespoons) soft brown sugar
150g (6 oz.) (or 6 rounded tablespoons) honey
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water

Find a sieve, a square of foil or greaseproof paper, a saucepan and a wooden spoon. Take an oblong cake tin of about 27.5 x 17.5 x 2.5 cm. (11"x7"x1") or a small roasting tin, grease the tin and line with a strip of greaseproof paper. Turn the oven heat on to moderate 180C (350F or Gas No. 4) and find a pair of oven gloves.

Sift the flour on to a square of greaseproof paper or foil and set aside.

Measure the butter or margarine and the sugar, honey and water into a saucepan. Place the pan over a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the fat has melted. Do not allow to boil. Draw the pan off the heat and allow to cool for about ten minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, beat the eggs into the honey mixture one at a time. Tip in the flour mixture all at once. Stir until it has blended and then beat thoroughly.

Pour into the prepared cake tin and spread evenly. Place in the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake is well risen.

Remove the cake from the oven using oven gloves. Loosen the sides of the cake with a knife and turn out. Allow to cool and then cut in squares.

Honey cake keeps well in a tin so you can take a piece out anytime your tummy rumbles.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Weekly Food News Roundup: Canadian food bank use at near record level, UN says climate change threatens food supply & more

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

The number of Canadians using and depending on food banks remains at a near record high level at over 800,000 citizens:

FoodShare launches a fresh food vehicle in Toronto:

Very stark UN report states that climate change directly threatens the world's food supply:

UN believes that some stability may come back to global food prices:'pullme'%3EIn%20short,%20when%20you%20empower%20a%20woman,%20you%20change%20the%20world%3C/span%3Ettp://

Are Yelp restaurant reviews being faked?:

Lawsuits lead companies to quietly drop "natural" claim from labels:

Chef Amanda Cohen calls out Time Magazine's "Gods of Food" for its sexism:

Various salad products recalled due to Listeria monocytogenes by CFIA:

The recession in the UK drives families to cut back on healthy foods:

US FDA contemplates a trans fat ban...and how this could affect Canadians:

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Green Bay Packer" Wisconsin Beer Brats with Sauerkraut & Mixed Vegetables

A shrine to the Packers...yes I admit it is a bit sad...
I am a huge fan of the community owned National Football League team, the Green Bay Packers. One of only two community owned professional teams in North America, it is not run by a corporation or one the many overbearing, interfering and only barely rational super rich "personalities" who "run" many other franchises...often into the ground!

Instead the Packers have several thousand owners, all of whom own a stock which gives them voting rights as shareholders. Many of them are in Wisconsin, though there are others spread around the world. The stock pays no dividends and the money raised by their issue, and by the team itself, is put back into the team. This community ownership structure, of course, is the only reason that a city the size of Green Bay has a pro team at all.

Sadly, in the NFL at least, this type of non-corporate or non-individual ownership is no longer allowed and the Packers were "grandfathered" in. They remain, however, something of a highly visible though little discussed example of how alternative ownership structures based around community instead of profit are actually possible.

Years ago, while flipping through a magazine article on "tailgating", which is essentially the practice of eating food and drinking beer in parking lots before the "big game" on Sunday, I came across a recipe for doing Brats that hailed from a Packer fan. They would make them tailgating at Lambeau Field, the storied stadium home of the team. I have long lost the article, but, this is my version of their  recipe, with a few minor modifications of my own.

The first thing you need is to get some good German Bratwurst or Oktoberfest style pork sausages. You can use any style of thicker sausage, but these are the ones the recipe is designed for. For the portions laid out below, we did 12 sausages.

Using an indoor, or outdoor gas or charcoal (always my preferred choice as it gives them that smoky flavour) you need to grill the sausages for about 10 minutes, five a side.  You do not need to cook them fully, as this is only the first step.

Meanwhile, cut into slices a large green pepper, one large yellow hot pepper or, if you want it more mild, one large Cubanelle Pepper, (or, if unavailable use two green peppers) and two medium sized onions.

In a large pot blend together six cups of chicken stock and three cups of a lighter ale or pilsner beer. You can use any beer, but I used Kalnapilis, a somewhat lighter Lithuanian pilsner. Add the chopped vegetables to this and bring to a boil.

Add the grilled sausages to the pot and reduce to a good simmer. Simmer the whole lot, stirring occasionally, for a further twenty minutes uncovered.

When done, serve on buns on a bed of Sauerkraut with the now wonderfully soft vegetables as toppings. Add any other toppings, of course, of your choosing. I like to add a rustic style country or Dijon mustard.

The sausages will have both a grilled aspect and an incredibly moist texture. The flavour of the brats and the vegetables are also completely transformed, in a good way, by the stock and beer.

They are really great to accompany watching a football game, or if sports are not your thing, watching whatever it is that you like to with friends or family on a fall weekend day.


Monday, November 4, 2013

The Magnificent Salads Cookbook 1988 with Bean Salad & Layered Taco Salad!

Vintage Cookbook: Magnificent Salads Cookbook, Kathryn Ramsay
Publication Details: Magnificent Cookbooks Publishing, 1988

Magnificent Salads Cookbook is a wonderful piece of late 80's kitsch. Done with a sturdy spiral binding and illustrated with a full page, full colour, and fully 80's picture for each recipe, it runs the gambit from the solid and traditional to the almost absurd and over-the-top.

Part of a series of cookbooks from a small Richmond Hill, Ontario publisher, they also released "Magnificent" cookbooks for cookies, casseroles, muffins and more, none of which, sadly, I have yet been able to get my hands on! If the salad cookbook is any indication, they would likely be rather fun.

Yes...this is a real photo from the book!

Magnificent Salads has 60 recipes with names like "Harvest Vegetable", "Warm Spinach", "Eggs Benedict Salad", "Molded Salmon" (which rather needs to be seen to be believed!), and so on. These are all over the place from healthy and vegetarian to "Steak Salad" which is pretty much as it sounds!

I have an affection for this cookbook that is entirely in inverse proportion to its culinary seriousness. This is perhaps due to the fact that so many of the salads are really, really good as well as the fact that they could be made by absolutely anyone.

So, without further delay, as always we are sharing two recipes as they originally appeared and that reflect two opposite poles of what you will find if you ever pick this up this little blast from the 80's past.

Bean Salad: 

Yield: 8-10 servings

Green beans 1lb/500g
Yellow beans 1lb/g
Red kidney beans 2-14 oz. cans/796 ml.
Chick peas 19 oz. can/540 ml. can
Spanish Onion 1 large

Vinaigrette - Yield 1 1/2 cups (375 ml.):
Corn oil 1 cup/250ml
White vinegar 1/4 cup/ 50ml
Lemon juice 1/4 cup/50 ml
Salt 2 teaspoons/10ml
Granulated sugar 1 teaspoon/5 ml
Dried thyme leaves 1 teaspoon/5 ml
Ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon/2 ml
Celery salt 1/2 teaspoon/ 2 ml
Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon/15 ml
Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons/10 ml

Trim the ends of the green and yellow beans and break them into pieces of the desired length. Wash them, put them in a pot and cover them in cold water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the beans until they are firm but can be pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes. Drain them well and place in a large bowl.
Drain the juice from the kidney beans and chick peas and rinse them under cold water. Drain them well and add them to the beans.
Chop the onion into small pieces and add it to the vegetables. Toss all the ingredients to combine well.
To make the vinaigrette place all the ingredients in a jar, blender or food processor and combine until thoroughly mixed.
Pour the dressing over the beans and toss to coat all the ingredients. Cover the salad well and refrigerate several hours to allow the beans to absorb the flavor of the dressing. Stir the salad several times while marinating and toss again just before serving.

Layered Taco Salad

Yield 6 servings

Ground Beef 1lb/500g
Taco seasoning mix 1 package
Iceberg Lettuce 1/2 head
Tomatoes 2 medium
Kidney beans 15 oz/425 ml can
Grated cheddar cheese 1 cup/250 ml
Chopped green olives 1/2 cup/125ml
Chopped black olives 1/2 cup/125 ml
Chopped green onions 1 bunch
Avocado 1/2 medium
Lemon juice 1 teaspoon/5 ml

Dressing-Yield 1/2 cups (375 ml):
Salsa picante 1 cup/250 ml
Sour cream 1/2 cup/ 125 ml.

Tortilla chips

Cook the beef and the taco seasoning mix together according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.
Mix the salsa picante and sour cream together in a small bowl.
In a large glass bowl shred the lettuce. Pour 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the dressing over the lettuce. Peel the tomatoes, cut them into wedges and arrange them on top. Drain the kidney beans and lay them over the tomatoes. Cover with 1/4 cup (50ml) of the dressing. Sprinkle on the cheese and pour 1/4 cup (50ml) of dressing over. Spoon the cooled meat over top and pour on the remaining dressing.
At serving time, sprinkle the olives and onions around the edge. Cut the avocado into slices, moisten it with lemon juice to prevent discoloring and arrange it on top of the salad. Surround with tortilla chips and serve.
HINT: This is also very attractive if made in individual dishes. Salsa picante is available in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Weekly Food News Roundup: Celebrity chefs debate seal hunt, Amazon to enter the Canadian grocery business, US food stamp cuts hit & more

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

US Humane Society led boycott of Canadian seafood to protest the Canadian seal hunt called "ill-considered" by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain:

Canadian celebrity chef Michael Smith follows suit:

Other chefs disagree:

Health Canada issues warning over bacteria in bottled water produced by the Blue Glass Water Co. and found across Southern Ontario:

Federal government launches food recall app; NDP health critic Libby Davies says the most important thing is food labeling:

Canada-EU Trade Agreement to place restrictions on the use of 145 food names:

Amazon to get into the Canadian grocery business:

Disgraceful and devastating $5 billon food stamp cut takes effect in the USA:

Some residents of Irwindale, CA say that fumes from the local Sriracha factory are seriously hurting air quality: 

McDonald's drops Heinz as its ketchup supplier after Heinz appoints former Burger King chief exec as their new CEO!:

Food is a "human right" Vatican Archbishop tells U.N., saying "Hunger is not just a technical problem awaiting technological solutions. Hunger is a human problem that demands solutions based on our common humanity.”:

Image from Wikimedia Commons