recipe: ontario harvest soup

I am proud of this recipe – everything in it is local, organic, and truly “cooking with the seasons.” It is also truly a Canadian recipe, as the flavours are very reminiscent of the famous French Canadian Pea Soup.Any mid-west or “bread basket” town in North America, as well as parts of the UK and France should be able to find the main ingredients in season during the fall harvest.

Pictures to be posted after I repair my camera, which fell off the counter while making this dish :(


  • 2 delicata squash, each about 500g
  • 8 small potatoes – new, gold or red potatoes preferred, each no bigger than 100g, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 2 local apples – peeled, cored, and diced
  • 3 leeks, trimmed and chopped into 1cm wide discs
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 medium chunk ginger, peeled and shredded, fibrous material removed
  • 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil, cooking grade
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 2-4 tbsp, maple syrup
  • sea salt to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Two or three strips bacon.


Halve squash and remove seeds. Place in baking dish; cover flesh in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast in an oven at 350°F for 45 minutes, until flesh is soft. Remove the squash and scrape the flesh from the skin. Reserve.

Meanwhile, boil potatoes until cooked.

At the same time, In a large heavy skillet, sautee the leeks and 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat until aromas are released. As the leeks caramelize, add the garlic and ginger. When the garlic and ginger have combined into the leeks, add the apples and 1 Tbsp of the maple syrup. Sautee until well blended.

Drain the potatoes. Add the sauteed vegetables and the squash flesh to the potatoes, then season with cardamom, the remainder of the maple syrup, white pepper and salt. Bring to a low boil, then turn off the heat. Use an immersion blender to blend most of the ingredients, leaving some chunks of potato.

Fry a fresh strip or three of bacon and crumble. Garnish with cilantro and the crumbled bacon bits. Serve immediately.

Will freeze and keep in the refrigerator for days.

recipe: fast pasta primavera

OK, it’s not exactly spring anymore, but organic Ontario vegetables are everywhere, and my fridge is full of them. Here’s my quick and dirty pasta primavera. The lemon rind/zest (not grated!) gives this dish some extra zip.


  • 1 bunch fresh broccoli florets, stems removed, separated into bite sized portions
  • 1 handful (15-25) fresh green beans, washed and ends removed
  • ½ sweet red pepper, cut into 12 sections about 3cm square each
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 large or 2 medium fresh cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots (not green onions…)
  • 1 tsp dried wild oregano
  • 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth (if you must use canned, go reduced sodium please)
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • ½ cup finely grated hard Italian cheese (Romano, Gran Padano, Parmesan, etc.)
  • ½ of the skin of one lemon
  • Linguini, water to cook


Start water boiling for pasta, using half of the lemon skin. When ready, cook linguini.

Steam broccoli, green beans, sweet red pepper, and the other half of the lemon skin until vegetables are soft and broccoli is a deep green. Meanwhile, sautee the shallots and garlic in the olive oil. When done, add the vegetables (removing the lemon peel) and sautée for 5 minutes. Add the flour to thicken and form a sort-of roux. Add chicken broth and crème fraîche; reduce liquid volume by ½.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and remove lemon. Add vegetable mixture to pasta. Add grated cheese and mix rapidly until mixture thickens slightly. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

recipe: spiced stuffed squash


  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • ½ c. pine nuts (or slivered almonds)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • ¼ c. dried cherries (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1/2 c. grated cheese (I used a firm raw goat’s milk cheese)
  • Balsamic vinegar


Halve acorn squash and remove seeds. Cut a small bit off the bottom so they sit up correctly. Place opening up in a microwave and cover with parchment paper or cling film. Heat on high for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat pine nuts until aroma is released. Add ground beef and brown; do not drain. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add cinnamon, cocoa and cayenne pepper. Stir until beef is well coated. Add ginger, and optionally dried cherries. Stir until aroma is released. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill squash with beef mixture and return to microwave for 5-6 minutes on high. Cover with grated cheese and melt in microwave for 30-45 seconds.

Serve, drizzling balsamic vinegar over each squash half. Goes well with quinoa and sweet potatoes.

If guests prefer a more “rich” meal, add brown sugar or butter to the toppings.

recipe: real szechuan eggplant

Modified from .


  • 4 baby eggplant (aubergines)
  • 150g ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 thumb ginger, finely minced (about double the volume of your garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp. doubanjiang, aka 辣豆瓣酱
  • 1/2 tsp. this stuff (can anyone help with a real English name other than “maaraajyan”?
  • 1 tsp. Chinese sweet black miso, aka 甜麺醤
  • 1/2 tsp. chicken bone soup boullion dissolved in 150mL water (can substitute chicken boullion or 150mL real chicken bone stock)
  • 1 Tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine (or other Chinese cooking rice wine)
  • 2 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. hot sesame oil (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp. potato starch (or wheat or corn starch, if you absolutely must), dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 green onion, chopped or diced finely
  • Some Szechuan peppercorns

Cut the eggplants in half, scoring on the skin at a 45 degree angle to the length of the eggplant. Soak the eggplant in salted water for 5 minutes, then drain. Stir-fry eggplant in hot wok and canola oil. Remove eggplant from pan. Drain oil. Brown ground pork in wok. Add all seasonings, save potato starch/water mixture, green onion and Szechuan peppercorns. Cook for 45-60 seconds to reduce liquid by half. Remove from heat, adding starch/water slurry to thicken sauge. Serve over medium-grain sticky white rice; season at table with freshly ground Szechuan peppercorns and green onion.

This recipe also makes excellent mapo tofu by substituting firm tofu for the eggplant.

Pictures coming soon.

joanbits 2008.03

As the snow finally melts away, I start to get busier and busier. Here’s what I’ve been up to the past week:

  • Work: supporting new projects as usual, writing position papers, working on newsletters, technical enablement, beta testing.
  • House: cooking every night (pasta from scratch, ramen from scratch, gourmet hamburgers…will try and post some pics soon), planning garden, staring at wall that needs repairing and trying to motivate to fix it, regular cleaning, indoor gardening…
  • School: Developing axiology, epistemology, methodology for design research approach. Gave guest lecture on internal Wikipedia politics.
  • Other: Dealing with horrendous migraine. Developing novel database application. Attended One Of A Kind show with friends and got fabulous clothing, jewelry, housewares. Reverse engineering synth. Looking at motorcycle today. Petting cat to deal with stress from everything else i listed.

satay-spackled roast chicken

Tonight’s meal is decidedly anti-Irish. Nothing against St. Patrick’s day, but I really felt like something savoury and spicy. Behold: the satay-spackled roast chicken! (Inspired by a recipe in Solomon’s The Complete Asian Cookbook, 1976.)

  • one 1½ kg chicken, washed and dried, dressed
  • one medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • one garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 2 chili peppers (your choice of heat levels)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or canola oil
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp whole fenugreek
  • ½ tsp finely grated lemon rind (fresh or dried)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine onion, garlic, chili peppers and 2 tbsp coconut milk in blender; puree. Grind all whole spices in a spice mill or mortar and pestle. Heat oil in heavy skillet. When hot, add onions and spices, mixing rapidly and frequently. Remove from heat when puree pulls away from the pan.

Use spatula and puree to spackle the chicken. Place breast up in a baking pan, filled with the rest of the coconut milk. Place pan in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes. Turn chicken over, basting with the milk. Return to oven for an additional 60 minutes, basting every 15-20 minutes wiht the coconut milk. For the last 20 minutes, increase temperature to 400°F, turn chicken over again, and brown the breast meat. Remove when done (a meat thermometer helps).

(It was so good, I couldn’t help but start eating before taking a photograph…)

Serve with basmati rice and an arugula-and-tomato salad.

yummy faggots in my broth

“To make a faggot, cut a stalk of celery in 2 pieces 3 or 4 inches long. In the curve of one piece, tuck a few sprigs of parsley, folding in the end, lay this on a bay leaf, and sprinkle with a little thyme. If the recipe does not include carrots, a small piece of carrot is sometimes tucked in with the parsley. Place the other piece of celery on top very firmly and secure the faggot by winding a long piece of string closely around it. Unless you assemble a faggot firmly and bind it tightly with plenty of string, it is apt to roll apart during the cooking. Always discard the faggot before serving the dish it flavors” -Louis Diat

Essentially a mirepoix that’s not got onions in it. Perfect for those I love who are allergic to onions, if the name is a bit…unusual. From an antique cookbook (1945, published 1961) through my irc bud gyoza.

thing-a-day 2008 over

Here’s a photo collage of the most photogenic things I made for this year’s thing-a-day. Edit: If you can’t view the video below, the original is here.

I’d recommend thing-a-day to anyone who is looking to push their comfort zone and prove to themselves that they can be creative, and can produce something a day. It was eye-opening for me.

bacon breakfast twisties


  • 2 c. never bleached flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 2 Tbsp. of that butter should be melted
    • the rest should be cold
  • 1 scant cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp. brown or demerara sugar
  • ½ Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 chopped jalapenos or pepperoncini
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 egg

Mix first three ingredients in large bowl. Cut in 5 Tbsp. of cold butter with fingers or pastry knife. Slowly mix milk until dough just forms a ball, no wetter. Roll out to a rectangular sheet about 1 cm thick, roughly 30cm x 40cm large. Brush with melted butter.

Cook bacon to desired consistency; if anything undercook slightly. Chewy is better than crispy for this recipe.

Back in the bowl, mix 2 Tbsp of the sugar, and all of the cinnamon, cayenne pepper and jalapenos. Spread over the dough sheet.

Lay strips of bacon on the dough sheet parallel with the short side, so that the short edge of the bacon is right at the edge of the long side of the dough sheet. Fold the sheet over the bacon, then cut through the fold, separating each bacon strip. Twist each bacon-dough strip 2 or 3 times, and place directly on baking sheet. Brush each twist with egg, then sprinkle remaining sugar over the tops.

Bake in a 450° oven for 12-15 minutes, until twists turn golden. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve with tea or coffee and fresh fruit.

bacon breakfast twisties