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The Week In Yum march 22-28 The Windup Bird Cafe, The County Cocktail and A Crap Tonne of Lentils

The Windup Bird Cafe

This has been another fun filled week of food and adventures what with three restaurant visits on Tuesday alone. I lunched at The County Cocktail, supped at The Windup Bird Cafe and joined the boys for a late night negroni at The Wren before coming home to bed. If you add in all of the lentil recipe testing, it was a full week of eating new things and man, am I stuffed.

Misura Giveaway

I love being able to share stuff with you guys when I can and this month, Misura Canada is giving somebody a great box of goodies  so make sure you enter because if you don't enter, you can't win.

Swedish Lentil Balls, Yes You Heard Me, Lentil Balls.

Okay, people it's all lentils all the time here in Lentilville. The Canadian Recipe Revelations Lentil Challenge is on and we have been eating nothing but lentils for the last week while I try out some ideas.
I spent the weekend perfecting my appetizer entry, Cauliflower "Wings" Three Ways and so today was lentil main dish day here. It was time to make my final run of these Swedish Meatless Balls. These meatballs are so tasty on their own that I think I am going to make them into burgers too and I would totally eat these on their own or with another sauce. Honestly, nobody even noticed that there was no meat in there.  When asked what smelled so good, I just said "Swedish Meatballs" knowing it's one of The Kid's favourites. I popped a plain ball into his mouth and all he said was
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph" and skipped out the door to go to karate.
That is some high praise.

I LOVE these and I love meatballs. I love meatballs made with pork or lamb or chicken and this is the very first time I have tried to make a meatless ball and I am actually kind of shocked by how tasty these little buggers are.  They are moist and get a nice crisp on the outside and the flavour is hearty as all get out. The only drama I encountered was the name.

Swedish Dalballs?
Swedish Meatless Balls?
Swentil Balls?

You know what? I am just going to call them what they are; They are Swedish Lentil Balls. Balls of Lentils in the Swedish Style. Ikea balls made of lentils. BAM.

If you want to help me win in the main course category, go to the Canadian Lentil Facebook Page and like them. If you want to be super duper, leave a comment and you can leave one here too, they are paying attention to this stuff.

Swedish Lentil Balls

adapted from Goop

serves 4

A note about the lentils:
If you are going to use dried lentils, cook them, drain them and cool them. I found some organic French green lentils at Bulk Barn and they were perfect so I recommend those but if you can't find them, use a plain green lentil or the small brown ones would work well. Just don't use red or yellow lentils because they don't hold their shape and will get too mushy for this dish. Remember that 1 cup of dried lentils will give you between 2 and 3 cups of cooked.
 If you use canned, drain well.

Lentil Balls

2 cups cooked lentils
1-2tbls olive oil
2 slices bread, whizzed in the food processor
1/4 cup milk
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
2 eggs
1/2 cup ricotta
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 - 1 1/4 cup panko
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, divided


4 tbls butter
4 tbls flour
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you don't want to use chicken)
1 tbls grainy mustard
1/4 cup 2% evaporated milk
a handful of parsley, chopped


Cover the bread that you have whizzed up in the food processor with the milk and set aside to soak for about 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Heat a small pan over med heat and drizzle about 1 tbls of olive oil. Saute the onion for a minute or two before adding the garlic. Saute for another couple of minutes until softened and remove the pan from the heat so that the onions can cool to room temperature.

Put the lentils in the food processor with a tbls of olive oil and pulse until smooth. Remove the lentils to a big bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the ricotta and salt and continue to stir until combined. Dump that over the lentils, and stir well to combine. Now add in the onions, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, the soaked bread,  1/2 cup panko and parmesan. Use your hands to combine.

Put the bowl in the fridge to set up a it for at least 30 minutes.

When it's time to eat, Preheat the oven to 375F.

Remove your lentil mixture from the fridge. Test it out and if it's too wet to hold together, add more panko, 1/4 cup at a time. The amount of panko will depend on the type of lentils but I used up to 1 1/4 cups of panko with these little green guys to get it so that the balls would hold together nicely.

Get a baking sheet and spray it with spray oil. Roll the lentil mixture into nice little balls, smaller than a golf ball and place them on the sheet. Spray the tops with some more cooking oil spray and put them in the centre rack in the oven and cook them for ten minutes. After ten minutes, take the pan out and gently roll them over. At this point they felt like they were still really soft but after the final cook they firmed up perfectly. Feel free to flatten them slightly because nobody cares if they are perfectly round, right?
Now, pop them back in the oven but on the very lowest rack and cook them for another 3 minutes, take them out and rotate them one more time to another side - by now, mine were looking almost triangular which is fine. Cook three more minutes on the bottom rack and take out of the oven.

Meanwhile, during the first ten minutes of cook time, melt the butter in a saute pan and add the flour, cooking, stirring constantly, until the roux gets nice and brown. Slowly start streaming in the stock, whisking as you go to keep it nice and smooth. Once all of the stock is added in and you are sure there are no lumps, add in the grainy mustard, let it come to a simmer and cook it until it thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes. When it's thickened up , turn the heat off, stir in the evaporated milk and leave it on the burner, stirring to make sure it's all mixed in, for another couple of minutes. Throw in your parsley and stir.

To serve, put the meatballs on a bed of rice or noodles, cover in sauce.

Lightened Up Blue Cheese Dip

Last week I spent a few days making batch after batch of mock chicken wings out of roasted cauliflower. Each batch was tweaked and tinkered with until I found the right batter and the right sauces to turn them into a healthy snack that could satisfy my unnatural wing cravings from time to time.  Do you know what really put these things over the top so that my taste buds yelled


was the blue cheese dip. I love blue cheese dip but I don't need to be eating something that is full of full fat sour cream and whatever else is usually in it. I am thrilled with this version and plan to bathe in it momentarily.

Lightened Up Blue Cheese Dip


1/4 cup 2% greek yogurt
2 tbls light mayo (I like Hellmans)
1 tbls buttermilk
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
pinch salt
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese ( I use Castello Crumbled Danish )


Whisk the yogurt, mayo, buttermilk, vinegar and salt together until smooth. Fold in the blue cheese, taste, add more salt if needed.

Cauliflower "WIngs" Three Ways

It's almost spring and a young girl's thoughts turn to.....

Canadian Lentils is having another recipe contest. I was pretty stoked to come in second place last year with my classic Indian dal,  Parippu but this time I wanted to not only do something completely different from my previous entry, I wanted to do something different with the actual lentils. In my head I kept thinking that there must be a way to use ground lentils in something. For two weeks I thought about ground lentils day and night. Could they work as a coating for frying, as a filler in meatballs, as a facial scrub? In the end I almost settled on seared scallops with a lentil crust but that would use just a couple tbls of the actual lentils and so it was back to the drawing board. I was about to give up on the whole idea of using ground lentils when I remembered this recipe for a battered, baked cauliflower in Buffalo wing sauce that was everywhere during SuperBowl season and I thought to myself "Self, I wonder what would happen if I made a version of these cauliflower tidbits but used lentil flour instead of wheat flour?"

I went out and bought a bag of cauliflowers and got to work. I discovered that when I used all lentil flour it didn't crisp up nicely enough so I started to experiment with ratios of ground lentil to flour and I finally settled on a half/half mix. There was enough wheat flour to give the right crunch but I could still taste the nutty flavour of the toasted red lentils shining through.

Toasting the red split lentils in a dry pan first made them extra nutty and brought out a stronger lentil flavour  and I like the fact that adding lentils to the batter gives these fake "wings' a bit of protein so, from a nutritional standpoint, they are closer to a true chicken wing substitute. The red hue they imparted to the batter helped the baked cauliflower more visually appealing than the brown bits of batter that resulted in the plain flour batter.

Now that I had the battered, baked cauliflower down, it was time to sauce them. In the end, I didn't want to narrow it down to just one flavour so I kept it to a trio of honey garlic, Korean and Buffalo sauces for the ultimate wing platter. The Kid prefers the honey garlic, The Neighbours loved the buttery Buffalo sauce and I am always partial to anything with gochujang so for me, it was all about the Korean "wings". The interesting thing is that, for the most part, when I crave wings, what I am really craving is the sauce so we all agreed that these little crunchy cauliflower bites satisfied the wing desire without all the fat, calories and grease that come with chicken wings, which I was dismayed to discover come in at approximately 100 calories a wing.
Who eats just one or two wings??

It's up to you how saucy these things are going to be in the end and it directly correlates to what kind of a wing eater you. If you like them really saucy and sticky, you can actually toss the hot, crispy cauliflower florets in a bowl of sauce and make sure they are completely coated. You will lose a bit of crunch but they will get super sticky and messy. If you prefer your chicken wings on the dry side, you can just drizzle the sauce over the cauliflower on the baking pan before you pop them back in the oven for the final five minutes of roasting. You could also serve the sauce on the side and dip the cauliflower as you go if that's your jam.  Oh, and if you are smart, you will serve them with this Blue Cheese Dip.

One last thing, if you want to  help me win in this category, please leave a comment and like my entry on the Canadian Lentil page here

You're welcome

 Cauliflower Mock Wings

1 head cauliflower, broken up into florets

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ground red lentil "flour"
1/2 cup AP flour
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Spray oil

To make the red lentil flour, toast 1/2 cup of split red lentils in a dry pan over med heat until fragrant and you start seeing a few browned lentils in there as you stir with a wooden spoon. Stir often to make sure they don't burn for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temp. In a spice grinder, a coffee grinder, or mini food processor, grind the lentils until quite fine and resembles flour. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450F

Position a rack on the lowest rung and put your baking tray in the oven to preheat as well.

Meanwhile, whisk the buttermilk, water, ground red lentils, flour, garlic, salt and a few grinds of pepper in a big bowl that can hold all of the cauliflower. Throw in the cauliflower florets and toss them around (or use a big silicone spatula) in the batter until they are evenly coated.
Take the hot baking tray out of the oven and spray some oil onto it before tipping the battered cauliflower out onto it. It will give a lovely sizzle as you shake it out and spread the florets out so the can have some space around them to allow for optimum crispness.
Bake for 18 minutes.

Take them out and either toss them in a big bowl with your sauce of choice or drizzle it over the cauliflower straight on the pan and stir them around to coat them in the sauce and the return the pan to the bottom rack and cook for five more minutes. Take the pan back out, plate and serve.

Buffalo Wing Sauce

8 tbls Franks Red Hot Sauce
6 Tbls butter
1 1/2 tbls white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat all the ingredients in a small pot over med low heat until the butter is melted, taste, adjust for salt and keep warm.

Korean Wing Sauce

1 tbls canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown rice syrup or corn syrup
1/3 cup gochujang
1 tbls cider vinegar

thinly sliced scallion
toasted sesame seeds

Heat the oil in  small pot or pan over med heat and saute the garlic for a minute. Add in the ketchup, rice syrup, gochujang and vinegar and stirring pretty much constantly for 3 minutes until it thickens up. Remove from heat . After the cauliflower comes out of the oven, serve with scallions and sesame seeds scattered over the top

Honey Garlic Wing Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp sesame oil
pinch of chili flake if you like a bit of spice

mix all of the ingredients together in a small saucepan and heat over med heat until it starts to boil. Boil, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes until it thickens up. Remove from heat and set aside.

The Week In Yum March 15-21 Dino's Pizza and Tamales

tamale workshop with Paola of Santo Pecado Catering

Dinos Wood Burning Oven Pizza
After last week's failed adventure to the west end to eat dinner,  we ventured back out to Etobicoke to try the pizza at Dino's  last weekend . Lots of Shack's friends have raved about this place, he was dying for pizza and it was a good day to go for a drive so that is how we ended up way in the wild, wild west in search of lunch. I was afraid that it was only a take out place after reading some reviews on the drive but thrilled to find that there are, in fact, a few tables so you can most definitely eat in. This is not a place to go for a lovely family dinner or a date or anything but I just wanted to let you know that you can eat in if you are okay with eating at table slapped down in front of the take out counter. The staff are so friendly that they make up any lack of decor or ambiance and the wood oven cranks out some damned fine pizza.

Lentil Chili - A Happy Accident

You know what I love about cooking vs baking? When you really mess something up while you are baking, you are often screwed, requiring the finished dish to be trashed and you waste all that time, energy and food. That reason, alone, is probably why I am more of a cooker than a baker. Well, that and the fact that I don't have much of a sweet tooth which one look at the tags on this blog will indicate.

I am not ashamed to admit that I can be very absent minded. I cut myself a lot, I break glasses all the time and, in fact, we no longer buy nice stemware because I will just break it all. We use these plastic Govino glasses and Shack only breaks out the real wine glasses when we have guests, allowing those guests to drink out of them. I am allowed to drink out of my little turkish tea glasses and actually prefer to drink my reds Italian style in the heavy, short rock glasses that are also on the approved drinking vessel list. Basically, I am treated like a toddler by own family and if I didn't crank out so much tasty food for them, I am pretty sure I would be banned from the knife wrack as well.

So, knowing that, you will understand me when I say that I often screw up my measurements when I am cooking and that is how this chili came about. I needed a lentil recipe for this contest over at Canadian Lentils. Last year I came in second with my parripu and wanted to do something a little traditional this time. What I really wanted to do was to adapt my Red Chili Pork with Beans but changing out the pork for King Oyster Mushrooms and using lentils instead of black beans. Everything was going well until it came time to add in the lentils. The mushrooms were browning up beautifully, the smell was intoxicating and I was on my way to creating the dish I was aiming for.  In my head I knew that 1 cup of dried black beans = 3 cups of cooked beans and I wanted about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of lentils in the finished dish. Remember that I am a toddler. I measure out 3 cups of dried green lentils and threw those in, stirred it all around and then thought


Well, unfortunately, 1 cup of dried lentils will give you about 2 1/2 cups of cooked which means I was going to end up with over 7 cups of lentils in this dish and that was unacceptable. The lentil to mushroom ratio was now allll wrong and the chili flavour would be diluted because I was going to have to add some much more liquid to cook the damned things in.

I cooked it for a bit, wondering what to do. Should I just throw it out and start all over again? I tasted it and it was pretty good so I just went to town and treated it like I would treat a pot of regular chili. I added way more stock,  a can of tomatoes, some beer, a bit more chili powder and I thickened it up with some masa harina at the end. Holy crap, it ended up being a really delicious pot of vegetarian chili and I didn't even miss the ground beef. Most importantly, I fed it to both guys and they gobbled it up without even commenting on the lack of meat, which leads me to believe they didn't even know it was meatless.

I still have to make the other dish this week but I am really glad that I didn't just throw the whole thing out because now I have a freezer full of tasty lentil chili.

Lentil Chili

makes approx 5 quarts


1 dried mulato chili1 dried pasilla chili1 dried guajillo chili1 dried ancho chili2 cups water1 heaping tsp smoked paprika1 1/2 tbls cumin1 tsp mexican oregano1 heaping tbls chili powder2 tbls honey1 tbls white balsamic vinegar6 clove garlic, chopped1/2 tsp salt500 grams king oyster mushrooms, chopped in 1/2" dice (you could use any type)203 tbls olive oilkosher salt and freshly ground pepper1 onion, finely diced2 cups green lentils900g vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you are okay with that)2 bay leaves1 473ml (16oz) can pale ale1 28oz can plum tomatoes, crushed between your fingers1/4 cup masa harinajuice of two limes plus more for serving1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped


Heat a heavy pan (cast iron works great) over medium heat and toast the dried chilis for 2-3 minutes, flipping often and pressing down with a spatula, until nice and fragrant. Take them out of the pan and remove the stems and seeds (discard stems and seeds) and put them in a small pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, let boil for one minute, cover and take off the burner and let them sit for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the chilis from the liquid and chop roughly, reserving the liquid.

I use my bullet but a blender works really well to make the chili paste. Puree the chopped chilis, about 1 1/2 cups of soaking liquid, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, chili powder, vinegar, honey, garlic and salt until it's smooth and set aside.

Heat a heavy pot with a tbls of oil (at least 5 quart) over med to med high heat to brown the mushrooms in batches, salting and peppering each batch to taste, adding another tbls of oil between batches as needed. When all of the mushrooms are nice and brown, remove them to a bowl and throw in the onion and maybe 1/4 cup of water to stir up the nice fond from the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes, until the water is evaporated.

Add the mushrooms, lentils and the chili paste to the pot and stir well for a minute and then add the chicken or vegetable stock, 1 cup of the beer, bay leaves and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat so that you can maintain a gentle simmer while the pot is partially covered and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring from time to time. Mix 1/4 cup of masa harina into the remainder of the beer and stir until there are no lumps and stir that into the chili. Simmer for 5 more minutes, add in the chopped cilantro and lime juice.

The Week In Yum March 8-21 Lamesa Filipino Kitchen, The Deppaneur andDim Sum

Chopping up a deep fried pig trotter for our crispy pata at Lamesa

I am getting to the end of my winter rope over here and I know I am not alone. It is mid march and I am still wearing boots and a puffy, down parka and I object. To warm ourselves up last Sunday, we slathered ourselves in stinky suntan lotion, dug out the flip flops and made a big batch of ceviche so we could fool ourselves that summer was just around the corner. It didn't last long but for for a brief moment I forgot that I still had to ice the frozen pond out back so that we wouldn't break a hip out there.

Chilie Verde

Whenever I find fresh poblano chilis at the market, I choose to see it as a sign from the cosmos, telling me that I need to make a batch of chili verde STAT. I am not one to ignore such signs but was seriously considering just taking them home to toast and freeze for a later date when I then turned the corner to see that pork shoulders were on sale. At that point it occurred to me that I would bring a pox on my house if I kept walking. It's like the universe wants us to eat more pork. Add to that the fact that I am working on a recipe that would require some sort of pulled pork and two pork roasts were in my cart before you could say Tha-tha-tha-that's all folks!

Chili verde, a soupy stew of pork, tomatillos and green chilis, is more Southwestern than straight up Mexican and if we are going to be all hung up on authenticity, we should be using hatch chilis. I have been told, much like Texans refuse to call anything with beans in it chili, the fine people of the southwest refuse to bestow the name of chili verde on anything that lacks New Mexico's famous hatch chilies. Well, I have never seen a hatch chili and I don't even know the difference so I use poblanos, which I can get my hands on and I am still going to call it Chili Verde and that's my story. If you can't find fresh poblanos, canned are okay but you will miss out on the smokiness that comes from charring them. If you can find some fresh tomatillos, by all means, use those but they are not easy to find all the time so I often rely on canned. If you do use fresh tomatillos, just half them and throw those on the baking tray alongside the chilis and broil them as well. Each 12 ounce can equals 1 lb of fresh tomatillos so use that as your guide. You could also cook this in your slow cooker if you want, just don't skip the browning of the pork and I would do all of the steps right up the point where you would put the pot in the oven to cook but pour it into your crockpot and cook it all day on low instead.

This is not a spicy dish unless you want it to be. Poblano chilis are not hot so if you want heat, you are going to have to throw in a couple of seeded, halved jalapenos when you roast the peppers. I wanted to keep the heat down because half of this recipe is destined for another dish and requires a milder taste. Sometimes I just like to use hot sauce on the side so that we can all adjust it to our individual tastes too since I like my food much spicier than the boys do. Our favourite way to eat this is over rice with  a handful of tortilla chips that I crunch on the top with some slivered red onion and a squeeze of lime.

Chili Verde

make approx 6 cups


a 4lb bone in pork shoulder (if you are getting a boneless pork shoulder or butt , 3 1/2 lbs)
1 large onion, unpeeled, halved
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
4 fresh poblano chilis, seeded and halved
1 28 oz can tomatillos
1 bunch cilantro ( clean and chop a handful of the stems for the sauce)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 tbls veg oil
1 bottle corona
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbls cumin
1 tbls mexican oregano
juice from 2 limes


Cut all excess fat off of the pork shoulder and discard. Cutting around the bone, chop the pork up into big chunks, about the size of your clenched fist or a bit smaller. Set aside

Preheat the broiler.
Put the poblano chili halves, skin side up, on a baking tray along with the unpeeled garlic cloves and the halved, skin on onion, cut side down.
Cook under the broiler for 8-10 minutes until the poblanos are charred.
Put the chilies in a covered bowl and set aside for ten minutes- use saran wrap if you don't have a bowl with a snug fitting lid.
Remove the skin from the onion and chop roughly. Remove the skin from the garlic and chop roughly. Set aside.
Drain the canned tomatillos.

In a blender, puree the tomatillos with the poblanos and a handful of cilantro stems. I also hold back two chili halves and chop those roughly and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325F
Heat a heavy, oven proof pot over med to med high heat. I use an enameled cast iron pot that gets very hot so I do this over medium. Working in batches so that you don't crowd the pot, start browning the chunks of pork. Salt and pepper each batch after you set them in the pot.

Once all of the pork is browned (leaving the bone with meat clinging to it for last if you use bone it pork), put the onion in the pot, add a bit of beer to deglaze the fond and saute for about 3 minutes, using beer again if the bottom looks like it's going to burn. Throw in the garlic, the cumin and the oregano and stir that so that everything is coated and let it cook for another minute before you add in the pork, the chicken stock and the chili/tomatillo puree. Pour the remainder of your beer into the blender container and swish around to get the rest of the verde sauce and pour that into the pot and stir to mix well.
The pork should just be submerged so if it's not, add a bit of water.
Bring this to a boil, cover the pot and pop it in the oven to cook for 3 hours.

Remove the pork and let cool until you can pick through it and discard the chunks of fat. Shred the remaining pork with your fingers and add back to the verde sauce. Right before you are going to serve it, add a couple big handfuls of chopped cilantro and the lime juice and stir.

Mexican Style Ceviche

There is nothing that tastes fresher or cleaner than ceviche and it's my go to dish when I have a spent a weekend of eating debauchery. There is no oil or added fat of any kind, it's raw, it's cold, it's fresh and it has crunch.You can eat a huge bowl of it and it will amount to almost nothing at the end of the day so you can sit right back down and eat another bowl, guilt free. Clearly, because this dish is not cooked, you want to buy yourself some really fresh fish from a reliable fishmonger like Hooked or my Beaches staple, The Beach Fish House. Look, I don't know where you live but if you don't know where there is a great fish shop in your hood, take the time to find one. You can thank me later.

Ceviche is a popular dish across Mexico, Central and South America and I have yet to meet one that I didn't love. Basically, it's fish or some sort of seafood, marinated in citrus and served cold and from that point, the variations are endless. Granted, I am most familiar with Mexican style ceviche but having my Peruvian friends, the MVPs, I am totally down with their style as well. Of course, they tell me that ceviche originated in their homeland but it is thought that it was actually brought to Peru via the Moorish women from Granada who hitched a ride with the Spanish conquistadors but they aren't having any of that.  In Peru, they don't marinate the fish nearly as long as in other places and they often use lemon, key limes or bitter orange as the base of the marinade. It's usually much hotter than the Mexican version, often featuring aji amarillo, the super hot yellow pepper used all throughout Peruvian cuisine.

Mexican ceviche contains some sort of seafood, lime, salt, onion, tomato and cilantro and then regional differences start to crop up, including the alarming practice of adding ketchup in a version that they call "coctel". I have enjoyed this dish made with all manner of fish, shrimp, conch, scallops and squid while in Mexico but my favourite is a combination of sea bass, shrimp and scallops. Here, at home, I often use a nice, white, inoffensive fish like Tilapia because it's easy to find and easy to work with.

I understand that in Ecuador they use ketchup but add toasted corn, which kind of redeems the whole ketchup thing and Chilean ceviche will often feature grapefruit juice with cilantro. The absolute common denominator is that all ceviches require that citrus marinade because that citrus acid is what causes the raw seafood to "cook" without having to use any heat. Once you have yourself fresh, raw fish or seafood and a citrus juice of some sort, you can actually get as creative as you like. I like to add julienned radish for a peppery crunch and have had success with scallion, cubed avocado and actual chunks of citrus as well. For today, I am just going to share a really simple, basic Mexican ceviche so you can get the hang of it. I use a bit less lime than other recipes you might find because I don't find it actually needs all that much juice and I really don't want lime to be THE prevailing flavour. I also mixed halibut and shrimp in the proportions that we like but feel free to change that up as long as you are using about 400 to 500 grams of seafood for this recipe. Remember, it's also not baking so it's not set in stone. If your limes feel like they aren't all that juicy, by all mean, throw in more lime juice. If you LOVE cilantro, add more and if you are one of those weirdos who think cilantro tastes like soap, leave it out but do sub in some italian parsley so that it retains that fresh, green flavour and it's pretty looks. It's really up to you how much chili pepper you add but I like it to be only moderately hot. I want to taste the fish and if it is too spicy, the taste of the pepper overwhelms all of the other fresh flavours so I go light on the jalapeno.

You can eat ceviche with tortilla chips, saltine crackers, as a taco filling, on a tostada smeared with guacamole or just out of a bowl with spoon.

Mexican Style Ceviche

    serves 4-6


370g halibut steak (about 300 g of flesh), diced
150g shrimp, shelled, deveined
juice of 4 limes
1/2 red onion, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 med tomatoes, small dice
handful cilantro
kosher salt


If you get a halibut steak you are going to have to do some work. Cut away the skin, make sure you don't leave any bones and cut around the cartilage and bone in the filet. When you do all that you should be left with about 300g of actual fish that you will dice. We like our fish in pretty small pieces.

Put the fish in a glass or ceramic bowl (something non reactive-no plastic please). Chop the shrimp and add that to the fish and then juice the limes over the fish. I cut them in half and insert a fork into a half while I squeeze it over the bowl. Toss the fish and shrimp to coat with lime juice. Now add the onion, jalapeno, tomato and cilantro and toss well. Add a pinch of kosher salt, toss, cover and put it in the fridge for at least an hour and up to about 3 hours. Because we cut the shrimp and the fish into a small dice, an hour is sufficient but if you cut the fish a bit bigger it might take longer. Because I use a bit less lime juice, I do give it a stir two or three times while it's marinating just to make sure it "cooks" evenly.
You can tell it's ready when the shrimp and the fish become opaque and appear cooked. Taste and adjust the salt if need be.
Serve with tortilla chips

The Week In Yum March 1-7 Kinton Ramen and Stupid Lyle R Guidroz, The Man In The Giraffe Suit

the best coffee I had all week was at the exclusive and elusive Soho House

Last weekend Shack was working and Hank and I just hung out, not doing very much. It's hard to get excited about doing fun stuff when it's -56999C outside with a windchill that makes it feel like -79954C. When it's just the kid and I, we eat fish because crazy Shack doesn't really like to eat fish. It was nothing fancy, just some nice, simple pan fried steelhead trout on Saturday and then Sunday we watched the Oscars and they had leftovers from the pizza Shack ordered on his way home from work the night before. Just like the beautiful stars on the red carpet who have consumed nothing but lemon water and air for the previous two weeks so they can be suitable dehydrated, slim and light headed for the Oscars, I chose to dine on popcorn and broken dreams and the wish that whatever "Dr" did that to Kim Novack's face should be executed.

Red Chili Pork and Beans

Ever since I started on this cooking beef with coffee adventure, the craving for some red chili pork will just not go away. Red chili pork or carne adovada is another one of those dishes that I rarely make myself because I have convinced myself that this south western classic too much work but now that I am down with soaking and pureeing the dried chilis, I realize that I am an idiot. Cooking with dried chilies is really not all that much work at all and it's changing my life, to be perfectly honest. Between the dried chilies and True Detective, I am a different woman. I feel like this is a dish that Rust would have enjoyed back in Texas when he actually ate food and wasn't busy snorting cocaine and killing bikers. This is for you Rust Cohle, although I fear that you aren't going to live long enough to join me for supper.

While I was seriously craving red chili pork I was also dying for a big bowl of chili so it only made sense to add some black beans to my pork and try to morph the two dishes. Adding beans to stew always makes me feel better about serving a giant bowl of meat for dinner, like I am making it healthier and less meaty somehow. I like to think that the addition of beans cancels out some of the meat, you know? I would ask all of my friends from Texas to slow back away from this post now because beans are going to happen and there will not be an apology.

If you didn't want to soak dried beans for this, by all means you use a can of rinsed black beans but don't add them until the halfway cooking point or they will just get too mushy. You could also get it ready right up to the point where you add the meat, beans and chili puree back in and throw it all in the crockpot to cook. If you do that, please don't skip the browning of the meat and the deglazing of the pan with the onions because it won't be the same without it. Cook it for 6 to 8 hours on low or about 4 hours on high if you do choose to use your slow cooker and it won't require any extra liquid either.

It's nice to use a mix of dried chilis and I went for the milder, fruitier varieties. Did you know that both ancho and mulato chiles are dried poblano chilis? When they dry to a dark red, they become anchos and whey they dry to a dark, nearly black hue they become mulatos and nobody knows which poblanos are going to become which until they dry them out? How weird is that? Mulato chiles are bit on the mild side with a sweeter and earthier thing going.

The guajillo chilies are a bit hotter than the pasillas, which are a standard ingredient found in moles. All three would fall under the mild to moderately spicy chili umbrella so I threw in a fresh jalapeno for some added bite but nothing beats the rich smokiness of those dried chilis. It also might seem like a pain to cook the chilis on the dry, hot pan before you puree them but trust me, it makes a big difference so don't be so lazy.

Oh, and it would appear that blogger is still possessed with typography demons so I do apologize for screaming at you up here in light grey but when I am composing, I assure you that I am writing, calm of voice and intent,  in black Times.

Red Chili Pork and Beans

makes approx 5 quarts


1 cup dried black beans, soaked - great guide to soaking/cooking dried beans by the way
1 dried mulato chili
1 dried pasilla chili
2 dried guajillo chilies
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbls cumin
1 tsp mexican oregano
2 tbls honey
1 tbls white balsamic vinegar
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp salt
*1 1/2 cups chili soaking liquid
1 kg boneless pork loin
2 or 3 tbls veg oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup water
juice of one to two limes (taste after the first lime and adjust according to taste)
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped


Either soak the black beans overnight and drain in the morning OR do a quick soak. To quick soak, cover the dried beans in a pot, cover with cold water by a few inches (at least 2 cups should do it), bring to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, cover the pot and remove from the heat and let sit for an hour. Drain and set aside.

Heat a heavy pan (I use my cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Put the dried chilis in the dry pan and toast them for a  minute, flipping and pressing down with a spatula just until really fragrant. Be careful not to burn them so it's not going to take much longer than 2 minutes, tops.  Take them out of the pan and remove the seeds and the stems and then put them in a small pot, discarding those seeds and stems. Cover them completely with water, bring to a boil on med high heat, let boil for a minute, cover the pot, remove from the heat and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
After the 20 or 30 minutes, remove the chilies from the water and chop them, setting them aside and reserving the soaking liquid.

I use my bullet but a blender or an immersion blender does a similar job to make the chili paste. Put the chopped chilis, 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid, the smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, vinegar, honey, garlic and salt in the blender and blitz until its smoothly pureed. Set aside.

Heat a heavy pot (I use my 5.3 litre/5.5 quart le creuset enamelled cast iron dutch oven) over med to med high heat to brown the pork.  Add a tbls of veg oil and start browning the pork in batches. I do it in three batches, salt and peppering each batch individually after I add it to the pan. You don't want to crowd the meat in there at all or it will steam more than brown and you won't get as nice of a sear on the pork. Let the meat sit, undisturbed, for a good minute before you start moving it around. It will take about 5 minutes per addition to brown nicely. Remove the browned pork to a bowl and add the next batch, adding another tbls of oil if needed.

Once all of the pork is browned, throw the onion into the pan and add about 1/4 of water (if there is any soaking liquid leftover from the chilis use that) and stir up the fond from the bottom and cook the onion, stirring often, for about 3 minutes before you add in the chopped jalapeno to cook it one more minute.

Add the pork back into the pot with the drained black beans and the chili paste and stir that around in the pot for a minute. Now add in the chicken stock, the bay leaves and using about 1/4 cup of water, rinse out the container that you pureed the chilis in  and add that.

Bring this mixture to a boil, partially cover and adjust the heat so that you can maintain a light simmer and cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat should be tender but not totally falling apart and the beans should also be tender. I begin to check it after about an hour and a half every half hour and add water, 1/3 cup at a time as needed. I usually end up adding up to 1 more cup of liquid (you can use water, chicken stock or even beer would work too)

As soon as you take it off the heat, add in the lime juice and a big handful of the cilantro (reserving a handful of cilantro to scatter over the top of each bowl)

As with all dishes of this nature, it only gets better the longer it sits so if you can make this a day or two in advance, great. When I do reheat it, I often throw in a bit of beer or chicken stock as it tends to thicken up after a long rest in the fridge.

True Detective Finale - Who The Hell is Lyle R Guidroz?

is this the Yellow King?

Sometimes I get tired about talking about food all the time, don't you? Let's chat about something else for a change.
Grab a chair and take a seat and we'll chew the fat.

True Detective.

I am currently obsessed with this show, like millions of other people, and I have nothing better to do than poke around the internet, reading what other people think, trying to piece together bits of the puzzle and I am enjoying myself immensely. This morning, I am reading and reading and I think "hey, I will look up the cast in the final episode and see if there are any clues in there"
Maybe a cast member from an earlier episode will come back or something. All I find is this one cast member who is there as three characters but without any sort of photos.
Lyle R Guidroz

Young Lyle is credited with being a VooDoo Character, Mechanic and john. All of his credits are from the last couple of years, many of them uncredited and there are no photos at all. A google search brings up nothing. Hmmm
I do find his linkedin page where he says that this:

4 days on set driving on camera, as a mechanic, a boom operator, and as one of the 4 masked main characters in the finale ritual scene - spoiler alert! Look for the giraffe print to the right of the goat head. I'm the one with a hood but no headpiece. More details after it airs.

Now, who is this dude who only shows up in the finale? Why is he giving details about the finale of the most talked about, secretive show of the year right out in the open (out in the open if you are looking)? I know that when Shack works on set, there are people who's only job is to make sure NOBODY leaks any photos or info of any kind on the internet so if I found this, anyone could find this, right?
Why is nobody else noticing this guy? They notice the scar on the lawn mower, they have theories on Maggie's father being involved but nobody else looked at the cast list for the finale and thought "who is this dude nobody has heard of, that nobody has photos of who is spilling some pretty large beans about the best kept secret in the business?" 
Is the Yellow King going to end up being this tap dancing dude up there?

God, I love this show.

The Week In Yum Feb 22-28 Recipe For Change, Fresh Canteen and Hockey Gold

sweet potato gnocchi with wild boar ragu from Le Select Bistro

Oh my, what a busy week in YUM. The whole thing started with dinner at Splendido on Saturday night. We were attending an awards celebration later in the evening so a big group of us started it all off with a dinner in the private dining room downstairs. I have actually never been to Splendido and was ridiculously excited about the prospect of taking a meal there and starved all day so I could eat my fill.
There were at least 30 of us so they had laid out two long tables and had the bar set up in the corner with at least five or six servers to cater to our every whim. I have to say, service at this place is impeccable and the party room or "the cellar" as it's called is very warm and cosy. We were served a couple of lovely little apps while we milled about, chatting and drinking wine and, in retrospect, they were among the best things we ate so I wished that I had paid more attention. This little creamy onion soup shooter was delicious as were the little beef tartare canapes. I may, or may not have eaten about 100 of those little babies but they were sooooo tiny and adorable that I lost all self control and I fear I was not acting like a fine lady.

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