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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

The Organized Thinker: Weathering the Poorhouse

Posted by lifestyle On May - 16 - 2008

By Steph Perkins

Steph Perkins is an organized thinker. In the time it takes you to read this column, she did her taxes for the next four years in advance. Trust her advice.

Q. I did something really stupid and blew my entire month’s pay on a trip to Vegas and now I am so broke I can’t imagine how I’ll possibly endure the next few weeks. I hear you’re a bit of a skid — can you pass on some expertise on how to survive on a bare minimum till I’m back on my feet?

You heard right, super skid to the rescue! Oh I’ve been there, hell I’m pretty much permanently there, and you’ll be fine. Honestly, probably the hardest thing you’ll have to do between now and your next paycheque will be swallowing your pride. [You will not die! It's not poison! -Guest Ed. Robert Zimmerman]

# 1 Accept offers for dinner.

Probably if you’re broke, you’re feeling semi-depressed and therefore anti-social, but if someone invites you over for dinner, say yes. You need the nutrients, and you need to get over yourself and out of the house. And you don’t have to bring the customary bottle of wine — offer to bring an “after dinner treat” and pick up a three-dollar box of cookies, or grab a bouquet of daisies for under five bucks. And if it’s someone you’re really close to, be honest, arrive empty-handed, and just watch how big of a pity serving they dole out.

# 2 Eat a casserole for a week.

And it doesn’t have to be a fancy casserole with meat and vegetables or whatever normally goes in casseroles, don’t ask me. Below is my world famous mac & cheese bake recipe, and if you don’t invite anyone over to share it with you it’ll feed you for five days.

3 boxes Kraft Dinner
1 cup of macaroni noodles
1 brick of cheddar cheese
= $10

So — cook mac noodles for 5 minutes, then pour in 2 boxes of KD, chuck the 3rd box but save the cheese. Grate cheddar. Mix up noodles, 3 KD cheese bags, milk, margarine, salt & pepper. Pour half into large greased baking dish, add layer of grated cheese, rest of noods, top with more grated cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then broil until cheese gets brown and crunchy. Enjoy for lunch & dinner. And then lunch & dinner. And then lunch & dinner.

# 3 Look in the back of the pantry.

You never know what you might find back there. Cup-a-Soups are a guarantee; poor excuse for a lunch but we’re not being choosy right now. That Lipton Sidekick would make a (pretty gross) meal. Cans of beans can be fun, you can pretend you’re camping. Old noodles and rice are most likely still good; if you can whip up a butter & herb sauce or fry up a vegetable to go with you actually have yourself a decent dinner there.

# 4 Choose your plans wisely.

You can still afford to see your friends; you just can’t afford to be the party animal right now. So say yes to what you can do on a budget (night in at a friends place, coffee, afternoon stroll) and turn down what you can’t. Meals out are big money eaters — say no to those but meet up with your buds later, treat yourself to a rye & coke, make that baby strettttttch, and watch everyone else say stupid shit for a change.

# 5 Wait for the bus.

Ya, it sucks. That blue-line bus blows: standing for maybe an hour on the corner of College & Bathurst with a bunch of drunk skids (meet your people, my friend) waiting to get on the fullest, stinkiest, loudest, longest bus ride of your life. The worst part being you’re probably not drunk enough to be oblivious to it due to your current Saturday night budget. Just hold your breath and imagine yourself building character. Or walk.

A few more simple things you can do to dig up a little coin (all of which I have resorted to at one time or another): skip the laundry and go commando; roll your pennies and return your empties; hold your head up high and go in to the teller and withdraw that $7.50. Hang tight. Accept pity. And when you finally do get some cash in your pocket go and get yourself a steak, pronto.

Denny’s Dishes: Pan-seared Salmon with Corn Salsa

Posted by lifestyle On September - 18 - 2007

By Elisha Denburg


2 salmon fillets
2 cobs of corn, husked, niblets cut off
½ onion, diced
1 tsp each, minced — ginger, garlic
1 tbsp each — olive oil, butter
1 tsp each, ground — cumin, coriander, fennel, smoked paprika
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp hot chili sauce
zest and juice of 3-4 limes
a large handful of fresh chopped coriander leaves
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil and butter in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Rub cumin, coriander, fennel, paprika, salt, and pepper all over salmon fillets. Sear salmon, flipping only once, until cooked through on the inside and crispy-brown on the outside.

Remove fish to rest on a plate. Drain excess oil from pan, reserving a little; this oil has tons of flavour from the fish and spices.

For salsa, lower the heat a touch and add the chopped onions to the reserved oil. Saute with some salt and pepper until soft and translucent. Add ginger and garlic and saute just for a minute, until fragrant.

Mix in corn niblets, lime zest and juice, chili sauce, and maple syrup. Bring to a bubble and cook until sauce has reduced and thickened.

Remove from heat, and mix in the coriander. Place salmon on top of corn salsa with a green veggie on the side if you want (asparagus or broccoli are very good in this case). Garnish with some more fresh coriander and serve.

Denny’s Dishes: Pizza

Posted by lifestyle On August - 7 - 2007

The “I don’t want to be an asshole, but this is the best pizza I’ve ever made” pizza: with Italian sausage, caramelized fennel, anchovies, red onion, and buffalo mozzarella with herbed olive oil.

By Elisha Denburg


hot Italian sausage, fully cooked and cut into thin slices
one large fennel root, very thinly sliced; also cut up the soft green tops
a few very thin slices of red onion
6 anchovy fillets
about 2/3 of a baseball-sized chunk of fresh buffalo mozzarella
a handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese (“Reggiano” is the best)
extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of dried oregano and dried basil

I used store-bought ready-made pizza dough and it was delicious. If you want to make your own, please call me and show me how.

I was lucky enough to have leftover cooked sausage for this, but if you just bought yours you can cook it up by frying it in a pan with some olive oil, then taking it out and slicing it and frying some more. You can add some barbecue sauce, mustard powder and paprika for extra flavour at this stage if you like. You could also grill it on a barbecue.

To caramelize fennel, just heat some oil in a skillet and put the fennel in with some salt and pepper. When it’s softened and starting to brown, put in a small spoonful of brown sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Let this cook down for a while until the fennel has really reduced in size and is really soft with a dark brown colour.

Preheat your oven to 375°F and brush the shaped dough with some oil mixed with the dried herbs as a base. Make sure to get the oil all the way to the edge of the pizza. Put on your sausage, caramelized fennel, anchovies, and red onion, then crumble the mozzarella over the top. Finish with the fennel tops, parmesan, and a little bit of the oil from the anchovy tin and/or some more herbed oil. You will not need salt or pepper.

Put the pizza on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is browned on the edges and the cheese is bubbly. Before serving, add a touch more parmesan cheese.

Be sad when you finish because there is no more left in the world, and although it can be reproduced, it will never be truly duplicated.

Denny’s Dishes: French Toast

Posted by lifestyle On July - 31 - 2007

The Best French Toast is served with warm fruit topping

By Elisha Denburg

A delicious and devilishly decadent dessert — for breakfast!


thickly sliced challah (egg bread)
about 1 large egg for every 2 pieces of bread
a splash of milk
a dash of cinnamon
a few drops of vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of butter
pure Canadian maple syrup (room temperature or warmer)
powdered sugar and fresh mint leaves for garnish (adds pizzazz and pretentiousness)
a selection of fruit


Beat the eggs and whisk in the milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture to coat evenly. Don’t leave them in the batter or they will get soggy. You should get them in the frying pan shortly after you’re done dipping.

For the fruit, just put whatever you’re using in a medium saucepan on moderate heat and let the fruit soften and warm up, stirring every now and then. You can cook it for a longer time if you want something more akin to a pie-filling or gooey, jam-like substance.

Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan on medium-low heat. Fry the dipped bread pieces until golden brown spots appear on each side.

Serve fruit over French toast, garnish with powdered sugar and mint leaves. Drown in maple syrup. Only eat on special occasions or you might die.

“Ugh… I can actually hear you getting fatter.” — David Spade, Tommy Boy

Note: You can use many different kinds of fruit, obviously: whatever you like. I went out on a limb and used blueberries and mango. If you are heating up the fruit I wouldn’t use something like melon but you can always just have the fruit as is without heating it up. Almost any kind of berry would be really good for this recipe.

Denny’s Dishes: Beef Curry with Crispy Okra

Posted by lifestyle On July - 23 - 2007

By Elisha Denburg

Beef Curry:

2 lbs stewing beef, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 tbsp curry paste
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced, plus an equal amount of ginger, minced
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp honey or brown sugar
chili flakes if you like it spicy
fresh coriander for garnish

Heat some vegetable oil in a big heavy-bottomed stew pot. Add beef and curry paste, and fry until beef is browned on all sides. Remove beef from pot, leaving in liquid or any other browned bits.

Sauté onions, ginger, and garlic in pot until soft and fragrant. Add curry powder, garam masala, and the chili flakes, if using. Without draining, add the entire can of tomatoes, along with the honey and browned beef. There should be enough liquid to almost cover the beef.

Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 1.5 hours, or until beef is very tender. Uncover and simmer for another 15-30 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. Season with salt to taste and garnish with some fresh coriander. Serve over basmati rice.

Crispy Okra
(you can do this while the beef sauce is reducing): approx. 15 medium-sized okra pods, ends trimmed, cut into thin slices on an angle
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp each: coriander, mustard powder, crushed fenugreek seed
pinch of turmeric

In a medium skillet, use some vegetable oil over medium-high heat to fry onions with some salt and pepper, turning often until browned and crispy. Remove and set aside.

Put the same pan back on the heat and add the okra, also stirring frequently. After a minute or two, add the spices and some salt. Whenever the okra looks too dry, add a bit more oil, so that you are, in effect, re-frying the okra several times. When the okra is browned, crispy on the outside and very soft on the inside, turn off heat, add onions, and serve with the beef curry.

Marvel at your accomplishments.

Denny’s Dishes: Jam!

Posted by lifestyle On July - 9 - 2007

NBA (Nature’s Best Apricot) JAM!

By Elisha Denburg

6-7 cups prepared apricots (use very ripe and soft ones)
3 cups sugar
zest and juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pouch liquid pectin

If you don’t have brand new jars you’ll have to sterilize them first. Take the lids off and immerse the jars and boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Wash the lids in hot water but don’t boil them. (If you have new jars you should still warm them up in this water bath to prepare them for the hot jam so they don’t crack under the heat.)

To prepare the apricots, remove pits and any stems and mash until smooth, with skins on. You should have 6-7 cups of this mixture when you’re done.

Mix apricots and sugar with lemon and cinnamon, bring to a medium boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, skimming foam off top occasionally.

Bring to a high boil and stir in pectin. Keep stirring for about one minute then turn off heat.

Spoon jam into the warm jars, wipe any excess jam off the rims with a clean paper towel, put the lids on tight and place them back in the boiling water, upside down. Boil for 5-10 minutes then place right side up on a kitchen towel until cool. You will know they are sealed properly if the lid is curved downward and doesn’t move when you touch it. Also, it should make a popping sound when you open it. If it doesn’t, you will just have to eat the jam within a month. BOOMSHAKALAKA!

Denny’s Dishes: Seared Tuna Steak

Posted by lifestyle On May - 28 - 2007

By Elisha Denburg

This is a quick and affordable meal, sure to delight your guests. Dr. Smoothmoves came over last week for dinner and joked several times that he would start referring to my apartment as “tuna town.” We got to talking, and did you know he’s not really a doctor? Oh well. Here’s the recipe.


tuna steaks (good quality, ideally sushi-grade)
a couple of cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
some sprigs of fresh rosemary
coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon wedges


Heat the oil in a heavy-duty frying pan over high heat, then add the rosemary and garlic and fry it for a couple of minutes, or until brown. Remove the rosemary and garlic from the pan.

Pat the tuna dry with a paper towel, season it with salt and pepper and fry it for 1 minute per side, or until it is just seared on the outside but still rare on the inside. If you have good quality tuna this is the desired doneness — anything more will kill the flavour and it will end up tasting like the canned stuff.

Squeeze some lemon juice over the tuna and serve with a green salad and warm baguette. Laugh at your guest’s jokes, no matter how uncomfortable they might make you feel.

By Elisha Denburg

Yes, this is what I eat when I’m alone. The secret to a good sauce is the salty tears.

For a great time, you’ll need:
1 large fillet of rainbow trout
2 tbsp pure Canadian maple syrup
½ tsp each: sweet paprika, mustard powder, hot cayenne powder, salt and pepper

And also:
200g dried penne pasta
1 small bundle asparagus, ends broken off, then diced
1 small red onion, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup (4 tbsp) soft, unripened goat’s cheese
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
juice of one lemon
large handful of chopped fresh coriander
dry vermouth or white wine
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil and butter

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil and place fish skin side down. Mix syrup with dry spices and spoon over fish, reserving a little. Bake for 15 minutes or until fish is cooked through, but still moist and flaky. You might want to turn the broiler on for the last couple of minutes to get some nice browning on the top of the fish. Spoon more sticky sauce from baking sheet and/or reserved mixture onto fish. Set aside to cool.

While your fish is in the oven, boil some water for your pasta and heat up a skillet for your sauce. Splash a little olive oil and a spoonful of butter into the skillet. Add salt and pepper, then the onions. When the onions start to get a little soft, add garlic and asparagus. Cook until garlic is very fragrant (about one minute) then add mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice. Cook for a couple more minutes, then pour in vermouth or white wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Let sauce reduce for a minute or two, then turn off the heat and add most of the goat cheese and coriander. Toss the mixture with your strained cooked pasta and place on a plate.

Place cooked trout fillet over the pasta and garnish with more crumbled goat cheese, chopped coriander and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Throw out entire meal and cry yourself to sleep.

Denny’s Dishes: Eggplant & Chickpea Chili

Posted by lifestyle On May - 14 - 2007

By Elisha Denburg

Tagline: A low-cost meal that doesn’t skimp on flavour!


1 large eggplant, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
2 medium carrots, diced
1 head of broccoli (or 1 zucchini), cut into bite-sized cubes
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large chunk of ginger, minced
1 tsp each: cumin, fennel, coriander, paprika, mustard powder, turmeric, cinnamon, hot chili flakes, salt, pepper
1 tbsp honey
¼ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
1 large handful chopped fresh coriander
sour cream and more coriander for garnish (optional)


Place a paper towel in a bowl, then add the eggplant. Sprinkle it with salt and cover with more paper towel. Let it release its bitter juices (this is called “bleeding” for you keeners out there) for about 15 minutes while you chop other stuff and start cooking.


In a large saucepan, heat some oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, salt and pepper and sautee until softened and just starting to brown.

Add ginger, garlic and the rest of your dry spices. Sautee until very fragrant — a nice golden brown crust will form on the bottom of the pan.

Pour in the vermouth (this is called “de-glazing”) and scrape all the yummy brown flavour stuff from the bottom of the pan. Add your eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender but not falling apart.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and the honey. Bring to a boil and add chickpeas and broccoli. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until broccoli is soft. Uncover, and if the whole thing is looking a bit too soupy, cook for a little while longer to reduce the amount of liquid in the pan. Stir in fresh coriander.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with sour cream and more coriander if desired and serve. (This is called “eating.”)

Denny’s Dishes: Tex-mex Steak & Rice

Posted by lifestyle On May - 6 - 2007

By Elisha Denburg

Served with a cool cucumber-mint salad.

The Steak:

Two 8oz NY striploin steaks
1 tsp each: crushed with mortar & pestle: cumin seed, coriander seed, fennel seed
1 tsp each: mustard seed, coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Coat steaks with the Worcestershire sauce and then the dry spices. Let them marinate for a little while as you start work on the rice and salad.

The Rice:

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
a splash of olive oil
1 tsp each: cumin seed, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp hot chili flakes
salt and pepper
1 small onion and 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
juice of half a lime
a large handful of chopped fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley

Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add onion, garlic and dry spices. Cook until very fragrant, then add rice. Toss to coat, add water and tomato paste, mix well, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer until rice absorbs all liquid and is fully cooked.

In the meantime, heat a large frying pan for your steak on medium-high heat. Put a splash of olive oil in. Cut your steaks into thin strips and toss them in the hot pan. Fry until browned evenly on all sides.

Remove rice from heat when it’s done and stir in lime juice and fresh coriander. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Lay out on a large serving platter and place steak strips over top. Garnish with more fresh coriander or parsley and some lime wedges.

The Salad:

1 medium seedless cucumber, roughly diced
1 large handful fresh chopped mint leaves
2 tbsp sour cream
juice of half a lime
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and serve alongside steak & rice.

Denny’s Dishes: Italian Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Pasta

Posted by lifestyle On April - 30 - 2007

By Elisha Denburg

Simple and delicious. Feeds 4 generously.


450g package of pasta
one large eggplant
one large zucchini
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
4 Italian sausages
one bottle of Italian passata (strained tomatoes)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely minced
1 large handful chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp each: dried oregano and paprika
one heaping spoonful of grainy mustard
one small spoonful of honey
olive oil and balsamic vinegar
dry vermouth
coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Roasted Vegetables:
Preheat oven to 400F. Dice eggplant into small chunks and zucchini into slightly larger chunks. Toss with some oil, salt, pepper, oregano and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

Italian Sausage Tomato Sauce:
Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan while the veggies are roasting. Sautee onions and garlic until fragrant and add salt, pepper, and rosemary. Start the water for your pasta in the meantime and add a generous amount of salt to the water.

Squeeze meat out of sausage casing in meatball-sized chunks directly into pan. Add mustard, honey, and paprika and sautee until brown and richly caramelized. By now your water should be ready for the pasta.

Add passata, a splash of balsamic vinegar and the same amount of vermouth. Add roasted vegetables. Cook for a few more minutes. Your pasta should be ready. Turn off the heat, add parsley to the sauce and then the pasta. Toss to coat.

Enjoy with a kind-hearted lifestyle editor and get some ice cream afterward. Preferably strawberry.

Cooking for Kids with Chef Leo K. Moncel

Posted by lifestyle On April - 23 - 2007

A Taste of Authentic East-Asian Cuisine Your Kids Will Love!

By Leo K. Moncel

“Ee ta da ki mas!” That means “Chow down!” in Japanese. If you’re anything like me, you’d probably love to expose your kids to the exciting world of flavour that exist out there in the realm of international cooking. But, if your life is anywhere near as hectic as mine, between driving to soccer practice, swimming lessons, ballet and karate, there’s just no time to gamble on a dish your kids might turn up their noses at.

That’s why I’m offering a sampling of recipes that bring the exotic, tangy flavours of the Orient right into your kitchen with easy-to-prepare meals your kids are sure to love. Follow along with these simple recipes and in no time, your kids will be saying, “Ee ta da ki mas!” Chow down!

Hunan Orange Beef

This one is a rich, spicy stir-fry that originates from China’s Hunan province.

3/4 lb flank steak
4 green onions
2-3 stalks of celery
4 dehydrated chili peppers (optional)
1 whole orange zest
corn oil for frying

2 tbsp beef broth
1 tbsp Chinese dark soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp corn starch

1) Cut the orange zest into thin strips.
2) In a “wok”, heat the oil on high and drop in thin strips of flank steak.
3) After a couple minutes, take out the flank steak, lower the heat, and fry the veggies with the zest.
4) Re-add the flank steak and sauce, stir-fry for two minutes until sauce has thickened.

Flank steak can be difficult to find and prepare properly. For that reason, I usually substitute flank steak with all-beef hotdogs cut into wheels – they cook faster and your kids are guaranteed to love them. My kids can’t take the heat of the chilies or slight bitterness of the orange zest, so I usually omit those ingredients as well.

Chicken In Black Bean Garlic Sauce

A favourite in many parts of Southeast Asia, this is a version made by Chinese settlers in Malaysia where it’s known as Ayam Pongtay.

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
12 Chinese dehydrated mushrooms
1/2 can bamboo shoots
corn oil

3 tbsp black bean sauce
1 large onion
6 large cloves garlic

1) Soak dehydrated mushrooms in hot water for an hour.
2) Put chopped onion and garlic in a blender with the bean sauce.
3) Simmer the sauce in a “wok” until thick.
4) Add chicken, then mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
5) Cover “wok” with a lid and let cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.

I always substitute chicken thighs with frozen chicken nuggets, which keep longer and come already breaded. Your kids will thank you! Forget about the onions and garlic, my kids hate that stuff. And who wants to travel all the way to Chinatown for some foreign-tasting bean sauce? I find that a cup of chocolate chips is sweeter and much easier to find.

For sure, scrap the bamboo shoots and dehydrated mushrooms. They’re hard to find and kind of gross. Half a cup of mini-marshmallows tastes better anyways.

Thai Jumbo Prawns In a Chili-Tamarind Sauce With Lemongrass

Cut the hotdogs in wheels. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, marshmallows and sprinkles (optional). Serve.

These recipes have been excerpted from Leo K. Moncel’s latest cookbook, 101 Authentic East-Asian Recipes Your Kids Will Love!

He is the author of numerous cookbooks including 101 Quick-Fix Recipes Your Kids Will Love!, 101 Authentic Caribbean Recipes Your Kids Will Love!, 101 Authentic Ethiopian Recipes Your Kids Will Love! and 101 Vegan-Macrobiotic Recipes Your Kids Will Love!

He is also the joint author of a national study on childhood obesity and the host of the Food Network Canada’s syndicated hit, Cooking With Hotdogs And Marshmallows!



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