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

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kale Vegan Pizza @ Tatsu's Bread in Etobicoke!

Tatsu's Bread, is a bakery-cafĂ©-eatery in Etobicoke near Humber College's Lake Shore campus which  really deserves a full write up one day looking at its artisanal breads, its unique sandwiches and its many treats, like their wonderful Spinach Bagel.

But recently they introduced a $1...yes I said $1, Kale Vegan Pizza slice that I simply had to write about immediately!

Reminiscent of the street pizza you can get in Southern France, this is served on a perfect crispy thin crust flat bread, drizzled with olive oil (it is delightfully oily) and topped with kale and garlic and nicely seasoned with Himalayan salt. Delicious.

By the way, did I mention it is $1 a slice!

Tatsu's Bread is located at 3180 Lake Shore Blvd. W., one block west of Kipling. Visit their website for hours, etc:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Michelada con Camarones: Our take on a spicy beer cocktail perfect for summer!

Michelada con Camarones is a fantastic Mexican beer cocktail that is almost an appetizer. Spicy, yet cold, with shrimp, jalapenos, beer, Clamato really has it all and is a true crowd-pleaser at a BBQ or patio party. 

My version adds a couple of unconventional ingredients and kicks up the heat a bit!


2 ¼ cups chilled Clamato juice (Spicy or Mild...I of course use spicy)
4 chilled large cans of Corona (or other lager style beers)
½ cup lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup orange juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. soya sauce
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 grated clove garlic
1 teaspoon Mexican habanero style hot sauce (or other hot sauce). I used El Yucateco Habanero sauce.
1 thinly sliced unseeded fresh jalapeno

Mix it all together in large pitcher.

Pour into large serving glasses over ice and serve with six cooked shrimp around the rim. If desired dip glass rim into seasoning salt or Caesar style seasoning prior to pouring.

This drink is delicious, quite filling, and would be a great lead up to some BBQed steak...maybe topped with some Argentinian Chimichurri grilling sauce!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Strawberry Connection with Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Muffins & the Strawberry Fog

Vintage Cookbook: The Strawberry Connection, Beatrice Ross Buszek
Publication Details: Nimbus Publishing, Three Editions, 1984-1988

Beautifully and charmingly illustrated throughout, The Strawberry Connection is one of the most lovely and whimsical cookbooks I own. Done in only two colours, black and, of course, strawberry red, it still is more enjoyable to look at and simply flip through than many full colour, high budget cookbooks. 

The book was part of a series she did, that included the Blueberry, Sugar Bush and Cranberry Connection cookbooks. 

Made in the 1980's it went through three printings,  making it rather successful for an independently produced book. Among the many things that make it striking and noteworthy is its typeface, which is all hand-lettered by the author herself, "at Cranberrie Cottage in Nova Scotia Canada". 

The book reflects its maritime heritage at times, and is dedicated to, among others, "Nova Scotia Strawberry Pioneers". But it also draws on strawberry lore and recipes from around the world. 

The book has everything strawberry!  Pies, desserts, muffins, jams & jellies, cakes & cookies, "potpourri", soups, salads, puddings, wines & drinks! It is also full of little snippets of, as the cover itself says, "flavour, fact and folklore". It has quotes from times and places as far afield as modern California, 17th century Russia & 15th century England.

Today we are sharing three recipes from the cookbook, all exactly as originally presented. Two are classics (how can one not share a strawberry shortcake recipe!), and one, a drink with gin, for no other reason than I like any drink with gin!

Strawberry Muffins

1 cup small strawberries
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 2/3 cup flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten

Cream butter and sugar, add well-beaten egg. Sift flour, salt and baking powder, keeping aside about 1/4 cup flour. Mix all together, adding milk slowly. Toss strawberries in 1/4 cup flour. Fold into the mixture. Bake in a hot oven about 15-20 minutes.

Strawberry Shortcake

3 cups crushed strawberries
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
(sliced bananas)

Mix and shift dry ingredients. Knife in shortening. Add milk slowly and when dough is soft, knead it on a floured board. Cut with floured biscuit cutter. Brush tops with butter and bake at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes. 
While still hot, split biscuits and butter both sides. Fill the shortcakes with heaps of crushed berries sweetened to taste. Top with fruit and then whipped cream.
Sometimes shortcakes are served with banana too. Personally I prefer that only strawberries be used.

Strawberry Fog

1 jigger Hayman's Gin (ok...the editor admits that he added the Hayman's can use any gin!)
1/2 tsp. sugar
4 crushed strawberries
juice of 1/2 large lemon

Shake well with ice. Strain into glass. Fill up with soda water.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Andrea’ s Skillet Grilled Asparagus

Submitted by Andrea Grassby Valentini
For those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have a barbeque, (or for when you are not BBQing!) we can enjoy great asparagus grilled on a stove-top grilling skillet. Make sure your stove fan is on high or that your smoke detectors are working …… the key is to have a really hot skillet! 


1 pound asparagus
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, combine oil, garlic, zest and stir. Brush asparagus with oil mixture.

Cooking directions:

Heat a skillet on high for five minutes.
Trim off the tough bottom of the spear by grasping each end one and bending it gently until it snaps at its weakest point
Place on the heated skillet, turning occasionally to expose all sides to the heat. Asparagus should begin to brown in spots but should not be allowed to char, which should take about 10 minutes.

Remove from the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy!

(Editor's Note: See for a related BBQed Asparagus recipe!).  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Beer Can Chicken with "French Fried" Asparagus on the BBQ!

For Canada Day and our return after a hiatus of a few months due to involvement in actual lefty campaigns, today we look at a backyard, summer classic: smoked beer can chicken made on the BBQ!

Beer can chicken is done using what is known as the "indirect" method in a charcoal BBQ. As I have explained in the past, the indirect method is when, after following the instructions for starting up the charcoal grill that I laid out in a previous post, instead of dumping all the charcoal in the centre, you must instead divide the hot coals into two separate piles along the side of the BBQ drum, leaving the centre without coals. This can be done with a cheap accessory fitted side tray for charcoal made by Weber and other companies, or by simply piling it!

While getting the charcoal going, and you want the coals red hot for when you start to cook, take a whole chicken and brush it all over with extra virgin olive oil. Then season it with seasoning of your choosing. Salt, pepper and paprika make for a good combination. Sometimes I use salt, pepper and Italian seasoning blends. For this chicken I used Schwartz's Chicken Seasoning (Club House imitates it with its Montreal Chicken Seasoning) which does not need added salt or pepper.

On a plate, take a tall can of beer that is half full ( and yes, you should drink the other half first!) and place the chicken on top of it by putting the beer can into the cavity of the chicken. For this one I used half a Sleeman's Cream Ale, but any beer is fine. Remember that it must be a tall can. Small cans will not work. 

Remove the grate from the BBQ and place the chicken standing up into the bottom of it, in the middle. To make sure that the beer can and chicken do not fall over, wrap two pieces of brick in tinfoil and use them to hold the beer can and chicken in place. 

As you see in photo, the chicken will be cooked standing up! The evaporating beer will moisten it as it smokes. 

The chicken will take around an hour and half to cook. You should regulate the coals by taking the lid on and off the BBQ during the cooking so that when they get red hot you put the lid on for a bit. This helps to increase the smokiness as well. I usually do around ten minutes on, then ten minutes off and repeat until done. If you are uncertain as to doneness, a chicken is ready when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 175-180 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the BBQ and beer can and place uncovered on a large plate to let sit for ten minutes before carving and serving.  Discard the remaining beer. Let me emphasize this again, do NOT drink the left over beer!!!

The chicken will come out wonderfully moist and deliciously smoked with that great smoked chicken skin texture and flavour. It is perfect with rice, macaroni and cheese or a summer salad as sides. 

Or, while the chicken is sitting, you can make a side of "french fried" asparagus on the grill. Put the grate back on your BBQ.

Take some fresh asparagus, wash them and snap off the bottoms, and toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place on the grill cross wise (so they do not fall in!) and not directly over the hottest coals. BBQ them for around 5-8 minutes, turning occasionally. 

They will taste absolutely delightful, with a saltiness and crispiness that reminds one of French Fries. They are a perfect accompaniment for any BBQ main!