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! 



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Maria's Pork Schnitzel with Oma Philomena's Potato Salad

Submitted by Kathy Lochwin

Maria is my partner Brad's second cousin. When Brad's Oma Philomena came to Canada from Austria she had no idea that her cousin Maria lived here until she received a surprise phone call from her one day. It was quite a reunion!

Maria makes a great pork schnitzel that goes perfectly with Oma Philomen's traditional style potato salad.

To make the schnitzel you need to start with two pork tenderloins.

Slice into approximately 9 pieces each. You will find this easier to do if the tenderloins are slightly frozen.

Pound each piece down to schnitzel thickness.(I make them quite thin, they cook more quickly and you get more bang for your buck.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Beat around 4 eggs in a bowl (adding a little Maggi into your egg mixture if you like) and prepare another two plates with bread crumbs and flour.

Pour about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of cooking oil  into a frying pan (or two) and heat over medium-high heat.

Place each piece of pork into flour, egg, then bread crumbs and fry till golden brown.

If batch cooking, have your oven set at around
200 and place on baking sheet inside to keep warm.

If freezing to for later, do not cook just freeze after flour/egg/breadcrumb procedure, placing the battered pork in parchment paper.

Serve with lemon wedges. 

This goes perfectly with Oma Philomena's potato salad.

To make this, cut and boil some potatoes. You can use any kind (though not russet.)

Boil until fork tender in salted water. Drain and place in a large shallow dish.

Pour vinegar over the cooked potatoes. If you can, use All Seasoned Vinegar which you can find at Central European grocery stores. Or use a combination of Malt and Red wine vinegar (the malt really adds to the flavour!)

Be sure to use a healthy amount. You want the potatoes to bathe in the vinegar and an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil. (You can play with this ratio, its more of an eyeballing kind of thing) Slice some red onion and add(green can be substituted) and toss.

Let this mixture cool in the fridge for several hours. Keep tossing it every hour or so to get a nice even soaking.

Before serving add salt and fresh pepper.

This is one of my family's favourite things to make. It is very affordable, (especially if you get the pork on sale). You can make all this for well under 15 dollars. 20 pork schnitzels and a massive potato salad.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Clay Baked Lasagna

Submitted by Natalie Lochwin

A delicious and easy meal, clay baked lasagna takes a classic and adds new levels of flavour and moistness. This version comes from years of practice!
Put your clay baker to soak filled with cool water. For instructions on prepping a clay baker, see this previous blog post).


  •  1 box oven ready lasagna noodles (whole wheat, spinach or white-your choice)
  • 1 carton of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 mozzarella ball
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (I used basil flavor)
  • 1 lg diced clove of garlic
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1medium eggplant. Thinly slice 1 half and dice the other half . (Salt the eggplant and allow to drain in a colander for 10-20 minutes, quickly rinse to remove excess salt. Squeeze and pat dry. This removes some bitterness and extra water)
  • 1 shredded zucchini
  • 7 sliced mushrooms
  • 250 ml water
  • Salt, white pepper, dry oregano, Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg

In a medium or large frying pan cook the ground beef until nicely browned. Drain extra fat. Add diced onion and garlic, zucchini, mushrooms and eggplant. Add a bit of red wine or water if your pan cooks dry. Add 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Stir occasionally until veggies are quite soft and cooked through, 10-15mins. Taste and season accordingly.

Start your sauce while the filling cooks to save some time. Add 1 minced clove of garlic and 1 tsp of  olive oil to a cold heavy bottomed saucepan. Turn on the heat and gently cook the garlic until you can smell its aroma. Add the oregano. Add the tomato sauce and pasta sauce, 1 tsp red wine vinegar, dash of sugar, 1/2 tsp  Worcestershire or Thai fish sauce.  Add 1/2 cup of water. Allow to bubble away. Add more water as needed if the sauce begins to thicken. This is meant to be a fairly loose sauce so as  to cook the oven ready  noodles. Keep the sauce fairly warm as you assemble the lasagna.

Mix 1/2 tub of ricotta cheese with the cottage cheese, and add a dash  of nutmeg & white pepper as well as the 2 eggs. Stir until mixed. Shred the mozzarella and add (placing it in the freezer for a few minutes prior to shredding makes this easier) reserving a good handful to top the lasagne. Salting the cheese filling is not necessary. It is a nice contrast to the seasoned sauce, meat & vegetables.

Drain your clay baker, and ladle about 1/4 of the sauce over its bottom. Cover with a layer of noodles, snapping them to fit. Add a layer of ricotta, top with noodles, then add a layer of ricotta and meat filling. Top with sauce, add another layer of noodles, repeat with ricotta and meat and sauce and noodles until the baker is near filled. Finish with a final layer of noodles and top these with sauce. Finally, top with with the reserved mozzarella. Cover the baker with its lid and place in a COLD OVEN (always remember to do this with clay bakers). Turn the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 1 hour. If you wish to, you may take the top off for the final ten minutes to further brown the cheese.

This makes enough for 5-6 people.

Serve with a salad and red wine. Great the next day, even cold. The kids loved it!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Ninkasi: The Ultimate Game/Party Day Submarine Sandwich

Today, in honour of the most over-hyped sports event on Earth, I am sharing my ultimate game or party day submarine sandwich recipe. I like to make a couple (or more) of these for an event.  I have named it after Ninkasi, the Sumerian Goddess of Beer, whose great gift to us mere mortals I like to sample daily.

First, take a baguette and cut it in half length wise down the middle.

Put down a layer of thin sliced old cheddar cheese. Top with a layer of Black Forest Ham, then hot soppressata style salami, then sliced smoked turkey breast. Repeat this so that there are two layers of each!

Finally, top with sliced red onion and thick cut tomato. 

On the other half place one layer of sliced banana peppers, a layer of pickled jalapenos and drizzle zesty Italian style dressing all over this. 

Combine the two halves into one gigantic, delicious, majestic sub! The sub can be divided into several individual portions.

Terrific with ice cold beer and friends.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Smashed Potatoes and Crosshatched Rib Eyes

Today we are doing a true "meat and potatoes" recipe with smashed potatoes and crosshatched rib eyes done on a cast iron grill pan.

Crosshatching is a visually and texturally appealing method of cooking a steak that gives it those grill marks that we so like to see at restaurants, while smashed potatoes are a delicious and easy alternative to mashed potatoes.

To start off you want to get the potatoes going. Boil some unpeeled whole potatoes until just fork tender. This generally takes about 10 minutes, though this can vary with size. You want a fork to go in easily but for there still to be some resistance.  While they are boiling, prepare a flat baking tray and drizzle the surface of it with olive oil. Pat dry the potatoes and place on the olive oiled pan.

With a potato masher push down on each potato until it splits open and flattens, making sure not to actually mash it. You want them to look "smashed"!

Then brush each potato liberally with more olive oil,  and cover with salt and pepper to taste (though really, these are better well salted). You can also sprinkle them with other seasonings or herbs. I like to sprinkle French Fry Seasoning on them.

Place the pan on the high rack of an oven preheated to 450 degrees. You want to bake them until golden brown and wonderfully crispy, which takes around 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove your rib eyes from the fridge, brush both sides with olive oil and coat liberally with salt and pepper. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

To make crosshatched steaks on the stove top you need a ribbed cast iron grill pan. These are well worth investing in as they cook great steaks, pork or lamb chops, etc. The ribbing is the key to this. As years go by, if properly maintained and cleaned (no soap!) these become more seasoned as well. 

Heat the pan on medium-high heat (mark 6 or so) until thoroughly preheated. You want the steaks to really sizzle when they hit the pan.

Put the steaks on the grill pan in one direction. I cook steaks rare to rare medium. The steaks I was doing were around 3/4 of an inch thick. Cook them around 2 minutes, and then flip and do two minutes more. Then, flip again, rotating the steaks 90 degrees this time. Do them a further minute, flip again and fry another minute more, and remove to a platter. Let them sit 2-4 minutes before serving.

 If you like them more medium or medium well, or if they are a different size, then you will have to adjust times accordingly. Cooking steaks the way you want them every time takes practice, but ultimately the best and most universal method of telling when they are done is by their "give".

This meat and potatoes pairing is delicious, easy and a real crowd pleaser. Perfect with red wine and lemon wedges for the steak.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Leftover Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad with Watercress & Sprouts
Today we have a quick and easy idea for using up chicken leftovers. Often, to save money, we buy club packs of chicken thighs or drumsticks, cook or BBQ them and find that we have a few still left a day or two later in the fridge.

Leftover chicken, of course, is often quite delicious cold with a salad or some rice. But if you want to try something different, try a Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad.

This recipe is for around 750g of rotini. Cook the rotini to al dente and let cool for a few minutes in a large serving bowl.

Then, take all of the leftover chicken off any bones by hand and rip into nice rustic style pieces. Be sure to include any attached skin. Add to the pasta. Add around 200-250 ml. of pesto sauce. Then add 12-24 cherry tomatoes, a cup of shredded or cubed feta cheese, salt and pepper to taste, a tablespoon of Italian Seasoning, and several dashes of Tabasco. As an option you can add freshly chopped parsley and/or croutons.

Toss all of this thoroughly and serve as a side dish or as a hearty main. It goes great with garlic bread and red or white wine.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Basa Fish Seasoned, Pan-Fried and in a White Wine Shallot Sauce

Recipe by Natalie Lochwin
Basa is an Asian catfish that has become very popular of late due to its mild flavour, (which makes it very versatile to different types of cuisine), its boneless fillets and its low cost. It often costs much less than other fish does. It is becoming more widely available in grocery stores, and is common to those with a wide selection of fish or those that specialize in Asian food.

This recipe can also be used with other firm, white fish with a milder flavour.

First you prepare a seasoned flour mix to coat the fish. This recipe is for 3-4 medium sized fillets. These are generally sold cut thin.

Batter Ingredients:

1/2 Cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves crumbled
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp hot paprika

Mix all ingredients together with a fork in a bowl until thoroughly blended.

Pat dry the fillets. Spread the flour batter on a large plate. Meanwhile heat 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tsp butter in a medium-hot pan that is large enough to accommodate 2 fillets at a time.

Press both sides of each fillet into the flour mixture until covered. Then fry in the pan over medium-high heat until golden brown around 5-7 minutes a side. A lot depends on how you like your fish, but overcooking a fish fillet makes it very dry.

When the fillets are cooked place on a heat proof dish and keep warm in a low oven while you prepare the sauce.

Sauce Ingredients

1 shallot minced

1 clove garlic minced
small handful of dill weed chopped.
3/4 cup chicken stock (reduced sodium if available)
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp. butter
pinch of turmeric
small pinch of cayenne

De-glaze the pan that you just fried the fish in with the wine for a minute or so over medium heat.  Add the butter and cook  down a little. Then add the garlic, shallot, cayenne and turmeric.

Add the stock and continue to allow the mixture to simmer until further reduced slightly.

Add the dill weed.

Remove fish from oven and serve topped with the sauce and with rice and lemon wedges. Basa goes perfectly with a nicely chilled white wine.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Romertopf Cooking is Fun with French Onion Soup, Brussels Sprouts and Lancashire Hot Pot

Vintage Cookbook: Romertopf Cooking is Fun, Wendy Philipson
Publication Details: Various editions, 1960's-1970's

Any follower of this blog knows that I am a big fan of clay baking as a cooking method. I have written posts on the basics of clay baking (please do read if you are a clay baking beginner as it includes some essential tips on cleaning and rules like NEVER placing a clay baker in a preheated oven) as well as on how to cook a deliciously moist whole chicken in one (in terms of moistness, clay baking a chicken is hard to beat).

Clay baking also has the virtue that it is relatively easy, even for total cooking novices, and produces great flavours out of "inferior" cuts of meat.

One of the best clay baker cookbooks, and the one that really got me rolling on clay baking, is the handy, pocket book sized "Romertopf Cooking is Fun" published in the 60's and 70's. Romertopf is the German brand name for a type of clay baker, that are still made, and that are among the best and easiest to buy new (although I have bought all my clay bakers used and, therefore, "pre-seasoned").

With over 350 recipes, from soups, to meats, to game to vegetarian, this largely un-illustrated book is a fantastic resource. I have made countless of its recipes and some are family favourites.

While usually we share two recipes, today we will share three from this classic volume, as always exactly as originally presented). They are all excellent, and the French Onion Soup is a standout.

French Onion Soup

1 lb. onions
2 tbs. butter
2 pints stock
4 slices white bread
2 cups grated cheese
pinch sugar
pinch curry powder

Chop the onions finely and fry until golden brown. Pour the stock into the soaked Romertopf and add the onions. Sprinkle with curry powder and sugar. Cover and cook in a hot oven (400F - Gas mark 6) for at least 1 1/4 hours. Then remove the lid carefully, place the bread in the soup and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Put back into the oven without the lid and cook for a few more minutes, until golden brown on top.
The bread will be delightfully crisp on top if toasted before being put into the soup.[Editor's Note: DO pre-toast the bread!]
As an alternative seasoning add a few drops of vinegar and a crushed clove of garlic. [Editor's note: DO THIS!]
And one especially fine alternative: use 1 1/2 pints stock and 1/2 pint white wine [Editor's note: Again DO THIS!]

Brussels Sprouts

1 lb. sprouts
2 small onions
3/4 cup stock
1 tbs. butter
grated nutmeg
2 tomatoes
2 tbs. sour cream
1 tbs. flour
salt and pepper

Put the cleaned sprouts, the skinned and quartered tomatoes and the sliced onions into the soaked Romertopf. Grate on lots of nutmeg. pour on the stock and add the butter in small pieces. Cook in a hot oven (400F - Gas mark 6) for 1/2 hour. Stir the flour into the cream and blend into the liquid in the pot.

Lancashire Hot Pot

For six good helpings

2 lb. lamb
1 1/2 lb. potatoes
1 cup stock
2 onions
1 tbs. butter
salt and pepper

Dice the meat, wash and slice the vegetables. Arrange the meat. Place in the soaked Romertopf in layers, first potatoes, then meat and onions, sprinkling each with a little salt and pepper. Finish with potatoes. Pour on the stock. Cover and cook in a hot oven (400F - Gas mark 6) for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the lid during the final ten minutes to allow to brown on top.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dominion's "Its Mainly Because of the Meat" Cookbook with Vegetables and Short Ribs & Veal Goulash Paprika

Vintage Cookbook: Dominion's "Its Mainly Because of the Meat" Cookbook
Publication Details: Published by Dominion Stores Ltd., 1969

The Dominion chain of grocery stores was once Canada's largest and dominated the supermarket scene. It was far larger than any of its rivals, but it, for a variety of reasons, basically collapsed in the 1980's and now the only stores that still operate under the Dominion name are in Newfoundland.

One of Dominion's ubiquitous advertising slogans was "Its Mainly Because of the Meat". I remember the TV ads that ran with this slogan and a smiling butcher from when I was a kid, but the slogan ran back to before I was born. Hence 1969's "Its Mainly Because of the Meat" cookbook that was released by the chain and available at its stores.

This cookbook is really worth tracking down as a throwback to a different, and certainly not always better, era of cooking in Canada. The cookbook has a certain camp value, with some of the least appetizing  and unintentionally bad photos of  dishes to ever appear in any cookbook that I have ever seen, and some truly awful (as well as some very good) recipes. These recipes, however, act as a window to a style of cooking and retain their charm, even if one would never make them.

The worst of the book's dated moments are centred around two areas. In an attempt, presumably, to appear "sophisticated", the cookbook includes some faux "International" recipes spread throughout that are humourously inauthentic. The "Pork Chop Suey" springs to mind as does what has to be the most atrocious recipe for "enchiladas" ever put to page. One need only glance at it to know that it should not be prepared.

The cookbook's entire "Sausage" recipe section contains one recipe after another that are so bad they are almost long as one were to never actually try them! The "Mock Spaghetti" recipe (that uses hot dogs) and the "Pilaf with Franks" (a name that rather speaks for itself) are particularly heinous.

However, there are lots of really good classic recipes, dozens of them, especially when it comes to steaks, roasts and stews. The cookbook also contains very useful charts related to cuts of beef, roasting times, storage of meat, etc.

Today we are, as usual, sharing two recipes exactly as they originally appeared, both of which stand up well, over forty years later.

Vegetables and Short Ribs (Serves 4)

3 to 4 pounds beef short ribs
salt and pepper
1 onion, sliced
1 cup tomato juice
8 small white onions, peeled
4 medium potatoes, halved and peeled
8 carrots, sliced
3/4 pound whole green beans

- Brown ribs slowly on all sides; pour off fat and season with salt and pepper.
- Add sliced onion and juice; cover and simmer for 2 hours or until tender.
- Add whole onions and potatoes; cover and simmer for 30 minutes, basting several times with liquid in pan
- Add carrots and beans, cover and simmer until meat and vegetables are tender

Veal Goulash Paprika (Serves 8)

2 tablespoons butter or margarine [Editor's note: Do NOT use margarine!!!]
3 cups thinly sliced onions
3 pounds shoulder of veal cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot beef broth
1 cup julienne cut green peppers
1 cup peeled, diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 cup sour cream
cooked egg noodles

- Brown onions and meat in kettle over medium heat, stirring to brown all sides.
- Add paprika, salt and broth; cover and cook over low heat 30 minutes
- Add green peppers, tomatoes and caraway seeds; recover and cook 30 minutes longer or until tender
- Blend in sour cream. Serve with noodles

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Chilaquiles Inspired Black Bean, Cheese & Salsa Verde Bake

Submitted by Natalie Lochwin

This slightly spicy baked entree is inspired by a traditional Mexican dish, Chilaquiles, and is a truly delicious way to use leftover tortillas or salsa.

  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup salsa verde (for this one I used La Costena brand Green Mexican Sauce, of which I am very fond)
  • 3/4 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken stock.
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 fresh jalapeno
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (local if possible)
  • 2 smallish onions
  • cilantro
  • dried oregano

Preheat oven to 350 degree, and put the corn tortillas in on a baking tray to dry them until they are almost leathery. This will take around 7 minutes or so.

Meanwhile pop the cheese into the freezer for a bit to make it easier to shred.


Dice the onion and garlic and seed and dice the  jalapeno. Chop one handful of fresh cilantro and set aside. Fry the onion, garlic and jalapeno in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Add 1 cup of the tomatillo salsa.  Add most of the stock and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.


Break or tear about half the tortillas into pieces and put them into the simmering sauce which will begin to thicken immediately. Add the remaining stock. Take the cheese out of the freezer and shred.

Grab a casserole dish. Ladle 1/2 the sauce into the dish. Add the beans, scattering them evenly over the sauce, add a layer of cheese and sprinkle with some cilantro. Dip the whole tortillas in the sauce left in the pan for a moment and lay them out like you would a lasagne over the cheese and beans. Cover with remaining sauce and top with another layer of cheese.

Bake at 350 for 10 or so minutes until sauce is absorbed and the cheese is golden and bubbly.

This dish can be eaten on its own, with some extra salsa and some sour cream on the side, or served with pulled chicken or scrambled or fried eggs.

Serve hot topped with cilantro. Enjoy!