recipe: southern barbarian grilled eggplant

The literal translation of the Japanese noun 南蛮 (namban) is southern barbarians,, an epithet often reserved for the early European visitors to Japan, or 南蛮人 (nambanjin), who first arrived at the southern-most islands of that archipelago during the late 16th century. These early Catholic missionaries and Portuguese and Spanish traders were clearly not well liked to earn such a name!

However, the noun 南蛮 on its own also means cayenne pepper. Today’s recipe is for grilled cayenne pepper eggplant, and you’re going to love it as much as my potluck-dinner-having board-gamer friends did two weekends ago. It’s adapted from the book おつまみ (otsumami, or “snacks,” or as I learned it, “obligatory free appetizers you get when you order an alcoholic drink at many Japanese restaurants”), a fantastic cookbook of 478 small dishes.

Recipe follows after the break. Photo coming shortly.

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recipe: chicken pot pie

after japan, i had a craving for north american food. so, with doozer’s help, i made chicken pot pie very similar to this recipe. differences: instead of cream, an oil/flour roux to thicken. no pearl onions on hand. lesueur canned petits pois instead of frozen. seasoning with dried cilantro and a dash of paprika instead of parsley. and i used her pie crust 102 recipe – no vodka, just butter, all by hand, took all of 5 minutes to prep, honest injun.

the results were outstanding, if a bit high on the fat scale. slightly over half an 8″ pie later, i’m stuffed…the rest will be a great lunch tomorrow. also, the little pastry biscuit was a delicious appetizer. suddenly, puff pastry seems achievable! oyster patties are in my future, i think.

two pot pies with pastry biscuits

two pot pies with pastry biscuits

inside the delicious pie

inside the delicious pie

recipe: pão de queijo

been a while since i got time to post something. after a sudden and draining trip to Boston, i decided to take the weekend entirely for myself. 75% of it was spent sleeping. the rest was cooking and eating.

here’s the recipe i worked up for pão de queijo, a delicious Brazilian cheese bread.


  • 250g polvilho doce (cassava flour)
  • 135g milk (approx. ¾ cup)
  • 41g sunflower or canola oil (approx. 4 Tbsp)
  • 5g kosher or coarse sea salt (approx. 1 Tbsp)
  • 58g beaten egg (approx. 2 large eggs)
  • 62g finely grated Minas, Parmesan Reggiano, Pecorino Romano or mozzarella cheese (approx. ½ cup – see note)


Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.

Mix the milk, oil and salt in a pan. Heat the mixture until the milk scalds and starts to boil over. Remove from heat immediately and stir briefly. Place the flour in a medium size bowl and pour the milk mixture over it, scalding the flour. Stir until incorporated and no large chunks remain, about 3-5 minutes by hand or 60-90 seconds by electric mixer with dough hook.

Allow to rest until total time mixing & resting is no less than 5 minutes. Dough should be very chunky and crumbly at this point. Mix in the beaten egg until the mixture is consistent but still quite thick. Then, gently stir in the grated cheese. Dough should be sticky and thicker than cookie or biscuit batter, but workable.

Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Dip fingers in a bit of extra oil to prevent sticking and form small balls of batter approx. 3-5cm in diameter and place on cookie sheet. Bake until light golden brown, between 20 and 35 minutes.

Yield 20 pão.

the cassava flour (aka yucca flour, aka “tapioca” flour but not what we know as “tapioca” in western culture) forms a special gluten that is safe for those with gluten sensitivities. the gluten has a particularly cheesy texture, which adds to the actual cheese in the recipe. if available, use 2 parts polvilho doce (regular cassava flour) to 1 part polivlho azedo (fermented or “sour” cassava flour). as far as i have been able to determine, it is not possible to substitute other flour types. find a Brazilian grocer, or get “tapioca flour” from an Asian grocer (it’ll usually be the right product).

classically the recipe is made with oil as a fat source. some variants swap in butter for a “richer” taste. i’d avoid that. you could substitute some olive oil instead of the vegetable oil, but it might not hold up during baking.

the selection of cheese is critical. traditionally this would be made with Minas cheeses from the Minas Gerais part of Brazil. the cheese recipes there were invented locally, but brought over and adapted from recipes from Italy in the late 19th and early 20th century. when not available, freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano is a good substitute. you could add a bit of a higher moisture content cheese to assist with consistency, such as a freshly grated Pecorino Romano, cotija or mozzarella. personally i find an all-mozzarella version strays too much from the original texture and flavour but it’ll do in a pinch. i have seen variants on the ‘net where people insert chunks of cheese in the middle. i tend to prefer the more consistent dough; the magic of this bread is that the dough itself has the cheesy flavour and texture brought about by the flour itself. if you want cheese-filled bread, try making bolinhas instead (recipe to come).

i seem to have eaten them all without taking a picture! they were that good. that said they looked a whole lot like this:

picture of pão de queijo

picture of pão de queijo

inspiration for the recipe came from this amazing article, in which the function of each ingredient in the recipe is analyzed. their conclusions are as follows:

  • viscosity (thickness/density) increases steadily as the milk is mixed with the flour
  • adding the egg drops the viscosity
  • adding the cheese raises the consistency to a level in between before and after the egg was added
  • different proportions of flour and different sorts of cheese had a minimal effect on bread consistency
  • egg and cheese are essential components whose proportions radically effect the outcome
  • the graph below shows the time plot of viscosity during the scalding, egg-mixing and cheese-mixing portions of batter preparation. the 4 different curves represent different proportions of polvilho doce and polvilho azedo: PAFC (100% azedo), PDFC (100% doce), PSFC (70% azedo + 30% doce) and PCFC (50% azedo + 50% doce)
graph of pão de queijo batter viscosity

graph of pão de queijo batter viscosity

i encourage you all to research this and post more experiments, especially with different proportions and ingredients!

thing-a-day #15: deep fried kitchen

tonight i went overboard and deep fried things. yanno, when the oil is hot, ya gotta use it, right? my beer batter included sleeman’s cream ale, flour, and two kinds of bacon salt.

besides the fairly mundane broccoli and onions, i also deep fried local organic cheese curds. they are now my new favourite vs. mozzarella sticks.

but the real amazing item were the deep fried bounty bars, in the same batter (yes with bacon salt). these things have no right to taste this good. seriously. if you live in the US try finding bounty bars (coconut enrobed in dark chocolate), they’re in many places now. if not you will have to use the inferior mounds bars.

camera dead

You might have noticed that my last few posts have been image-less. This isn’t because I’m protesting visual communication. I love it – in fact, I’m downright jealous of what most other bloggers pull off with the visual design of their sites!

My camera died. Yeah, the “new old” Olympus C-5050 I bought broke. I only have myself to blame. The camera was on my kitchen counter. I reached for it, but scooted it off the counter, dashing it on the floor. The damage could have been worse – only the mode dial came off. I can’t just reattach it using the screw hack someone posted, because the impact on the floor cut through traces on the flexible PCB. And they’re too fine to bridge easily. Besides, disassembling to the point where I could even consider repairing that damage ended up cracking a couple of very delicate plastic tabs, ones designed to hold the whole thing together. I could try and glue all of it together, but…

Someone on eBay has the entire mode dial assembly for $39, plus $8 for shipping to Canada. Soon I’ll have a working camera again, and by then the studio should be warmer, so lots more pictures and music for everyone.

Oh, and I’ll have my first actual honest to goodness conference submission done by then too (deadline: Dec. 18th). It’s been a long time coming but it’s good to have actual research data and prepare it for publication again. YES!

recipe: sweet potato butternut squash soup

Straight from the New York Times, this is something I’ve made countless times and love making this time of year. I made minor modifications for ingredients on hand and to suit my tastes. Also, I used some turkey broth left over from this year’s Canadian Thanksgiving, which is far less salty than the store-bought kind and added a nice buttery texture. Thanks for the reminder, Martha Rose Shulman!

I ate this with one chicken enchilada mole wrap, and some more of the apple thing. The mole sauce tastes even better after having been frozen!


  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (I used frozen minced ginger)
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium-size McIntosh apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 6 cups homemade turkey stock
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


1. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and stir together until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the squash, sweet potatoes, regular potato, and water or stock, and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are thoroughly tender.

2. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (or you can put it through the fine blade of a food mill or use a regular blender, working in batches and placing a kitchen towel over the top to avoid splashing). Return to the pot and stir with a whisk to even out the texture. Heat through, adjust salt and add pepper to taste.

recipe: baked apple cherry maple thing


  • 300g never bleached flour
  • 175g Demerara (dark brown) sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 4 organic Ontario Spy apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm thick apple slices
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Demerara (dark brown) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 2 ounces / shots spiced rum (can’t go wrong with The Captain)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl place cherries, cranberries and rum. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Combine flour and 175g sugar. Add cubes of butter and rub in until mixture darkens and looks like dark bread crumbs.

In a 9 inch or similar round casserole, place apples, 4 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice. Mix. Add fruit/rum mixture, maple syrup and cinnamon. Mix. Don’t break up apple slices. Cover in flour/sugar mixture. Cover with glass lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Eat hot for best results.

recipe: dutch apple pancake

I get organic groceries delivered each week. it saves me having to own or rent a car, and it’s only a $5-$10 delivery charge for some good produce, most of which is local. Recently I’ve been inundated in apples, a fruit I can only eat peeled due to an allergy. So I got a craving for dutch apple pancakes, made with Ontario organic Cortland apples. I adapted Mr. Breakfast‘s recipe as follows. Turned out great with powdered sugar and lemon wedges!


  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup never bleached flour
  • 4 tablespoons Demerara (dark brown) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 medium organic Cortland apples, peeled and cut into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ fluid ounce (½ shot) cognac
  • 3 tablespoons powdered “icing” sugar for dusting
  • 4 Lemon wedges


Pre-heat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, flour and 3 tablespoons sugar until batter is of consistent thickness (no lumps). Stir in the Cognac.

In a heavy ovenproof (cast-iron) skillet, melt butter. Add apples, cinnamon and the remaining sugar. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes, or until the apples are softened slightly. Remove pan from heat. Pour batter over the apples in pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pancake is lightly browned and puffy.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve with lemon wedges.

Have a great breakfast!!!

recipe: homemade mole sauce


  • 3 tablespoons lard or bacon grease
  • ½ onion, finely choppedg
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon epazote
  • 3-4 large dried ancho chilies
  • 8-10 dried pequin peppers
  • ½ cup pitted prunes
  • ¾ cup dried black currants
  • 1/4 cup brazil nuts (6-8)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts (40-60)
  • 2 tablespoons almonds (~10)
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 bar Ibarra mexican chocolate (3.1 ounces)
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs, unflavoured
  • ¼ cup corn meal or grits
  • 2 litres chicken or pork broth


Remove the stems, seeds and pith from the ancho chiles. Cover them and the pequin peppers in hot water and let steep for 15-20 minutes.

Sauté the onion and garlic in the lard/grease in a heavy skillet. Slowly add the spices, fruit and nuts, stirring and sautéing for 10 minutes, or until the nuts are well toasted. Puree in a food processor. Add the bread crumbs and corn meal, and about 500mL broth, and blend thoroughly in a blender or large-capacity food processor.

Place chocolate disk in the center of a sauce pan. Cover with the blended fruit/nut/vegetable paste. Slowly incorporate the rest of the broth. Heat until chocolate is melted and sauce is rich but not too thick. Consistency should be that of good gravy. Pour over enchiladas (chicken or pork), baked chicken, etc. Freezes well.