Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rethinking Food

As my book deals with food in the future in some small part, I found this piece from the BBC to be interesting: Food needs 'fundamental rethink'

Professor Lang is a member of the UK government's newly formed Food Council.

"Essentially, what we are dealing with at the moment is a food system that was laid down in the 1940s," he told BBC News.

"It followed on from the dust bowl in the US, the collapse of food production in Europe and starvation in Asia.

"At the time, there was clear evidence showing that there was a mismatch between producers and the need of consumers."

Professor Lang, from City University, London, added that during the post-war period, food scientists and policymakers also thought increasing production would reduce the cost of food, while improving people's diets and public health.

I think there is a need to spend more time on saving food, and not wasting it in the future. We should be more diligent about what we have in our refrigerators and learn to appreciate and understand just how easy it can be to make the most of any kitchen pantries.

  • Oil and energy: "We have an entirely oil-based food economy, and yet oil is running out. The impact of that on agriculture is one of the drivers of the volatility in the world food commodity markets."

  • Water scarcity: "One of the key things that I have been pushing is to get the UK government to start auditing food by water," Professor Lang said, adding that 50% of the UK's vegetables are imported, many from water-stressed nations.

  • Biodiversity: "Biodiversity must not just be protected, it must be replaced and enhanced; but that is going to require a very different way growing food and using the land."

  • Urbanisation: "Probably the most important thing within the social sphere. More people now live in towns than in the countryside. In which case, where do they get their food?"

Monday, December 15, 2008

DVD Review: Meals on DVD: Shop, Watch, Cook!

Food network

While most average cooks are content to follow a recipe and create a limitless array of healthy, fresh meals; the process is not without its problems. Some recipes can be hard to follow, missing key ingredients or lack important detail altogether.

For those of you content to heat boxes of heavily processed foods in the microwave or emptying cans into pots, the process of preparing fresh meals can seem rather daunting. With life in the fast lane; fresh, hot prepared meals are becoming a thing of the past.

Now thanks to Food TV and Sony Pidctures Home Entertainment, you can get the best of both worlds. They are releasing 12 wonderful DVD’s full of delectable recipes and demonstrations selectively edited from your favorite Food TV shows ready to buy at your local grocery store. The ingredients are conveniently listed on the back so you’ll be fully prepared to start the culinary masterpiece listed by host or theme.

It’s a feast for your eyes as well as your soul. Featuring popular Food TV chefs such as Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentis, Michael Chiarello, Paula Deen, Rachael Ray and Ina Garten among many others; the DVD’s provide easy to follow directions with text screen recaps and ingredient lists. No TV in your kitchen? Fear not. There are even printable versions on the dvd’s for such an eventuality but at least you’ll remember how the bubbles should look like on the red wine reduction in the Blue cheese vinaigrette and how exactly to layer the ingredients for the lasagna rolls. The direction and camera work is so perfect and detailed that you can almost smell the cinnamon on the doughnut rolls.

Most of the recipes are simple, quick to prepare and very well chosen. They vary from the healthy to “heart attack on a plate”. Southern chef Paula Deen lays on the fat and calories on pretty thick. While cooking her Swiss steak she mentions she’s going to add the butter “just ‘cause I saw the butter sitting back here. Can’t resist it.” Okay so she doesn’t spare the fat and calories nor does she spare the butter in her Peach Cobbler or cans of soup in her creamy Macaroni and Cheese slow cooker recipes but she is entertaining and like all the chefs take you step by step through the recipes to a perfect finish line. There are also helpful tips for seasoned chefs such as freezing blue cheese in order to make it easier to grate on salads.

All the discs have a theme. There’s the Slow Cookin’, the Elegant Entertaining with full course meal of “Loin of Pork with Fennel”, “Salad with Blue Cheese Port Wine vinaigrette”, “Banana Chocolate Hazelnut Crepes”, “Pea Whipped Potatoes” and “Chive Biscuits.”. Pastas From Giada present simple pastas anyone can prepare such as “Lasagna rolls” and delectable “Italian Doughnuts” which can be made with prepared pizza dough.

Regardless of how well you cook, the Meals on DVD: Shop, Watch, Cook! DVDs will have you cooking like a pro in no time. Do you want to make more friends? Be sure to check out these wonderful titles and impress your friends with your new found culinary skills.

The discs come with full ingredient list and retail for a suggested list price of $7.99 each. They are be available in grocery stores now.

Buy Now!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm sick of Pomegranate

It's time to vent about an ingredient.

Make no mistake about it, a pomegranate is a really healthy food. Curried by a level of mainstream media reporting on the health benefits of an ingredient on the order short of Oat Bran, studies of the antioxidant levels of the pomegranate have been pouring out like nutrition industry bought a condo in crazy town. It practically comes in pill form, except that you have to suck medicine off of it.

A safely assessment study even showed there's limited adverse effects from over dosing too. Oh good, because I've been having these nightmares about dying from fruit.

It inhibits prostate cancer growth and has anti-inflammatory properties and cardiovascular disease prevention, teeth strengthening super fighting power and not to mention prevention of erectile dysfunction for good measure. Bacterial infections and anti-biotic resistance are also the default health line for these kinds of healthy foods.

It's called cellular antioxidant activity or (CAA) and it's a quantifiable level of activity in a cell. Pomegranate and berries (blueberries, blackberries etc.) have the highest, whereas bananas and melons have the lowest.

Since this upsurge in science, recipes that have capitalized on the ingredient requiring pomegranate juice. You wouldn't seriously ask for someone to squeeze all the seeds from that thing would you? Then there's the juice/sludge you can buy from a pretentious bottle in which you can read an entire (early) Harry Potter book before the stuff makes it all the way down your throat.

Healthy and nearly perfect; except for the part where it's kind of tart, doesn't taste that good and there's only a slightly tangy so bad it's good quality to the flavour, I'd say it was a pretty good ingredient.

So full confession: I hate those things! I'm sick of seeing pomegranates stocked up on some pre-fabricated display of desperation that I buy them or risk sudden death from malnutrition. I value the exercise gained and calories burned as I maneuver around them in the grocery store.

Hot tip: How to remove the seeds Cut off the top of the fruit. Score the skin in quarters from top to bottom. When removing the seeds from the fruit, submerge it in a bowl under cold water in the sink and soak for a minute or two. Break the sections apart with your fingers and thumbs. This will keep yourself and your kitchen cleaner as the juice will stain just about anything. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl in the process, the rest will float away. Dry the seeds and enjoy.

Or not.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pumpkin Gratin with Crispy Romano Garlic topping

This is a bit late and more of a fall dish for obvious reasons but it's fun to make. You can even use your leftover Halloween pumpkin.


1 Small pie pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 oz cheese curd (substitute mozzarella cheese)
2 tbsp flour
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 tsp dried basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of Japanese Panko Bread crumbs
1/4 cup of romano cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp butter, melted


Preheat the oven 375. Butter a round 3L baking dish (or use several small souffle dishes).

Line the bottom of the dish with the pumpkin pieces. Cover and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Add the milk, eggs, basil and flour and mix until the eggs are frothy. Add the cheese curd to the cooked pumpkin and mix so it is spread evenly. Mix the flour, milk, eggs and basil until frothy. Pour the mixture over the pumpkin-cheese combination.

Cover and bake for 10 minutes until the pumpkin is tender and sauce is bubbly.

Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, romano cheese, thyme and butter and spoon over the pumpkin. Place under the broiler for about 2-5 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sauteed Bison with Potatoes Dijon

Here's a nice twist to old fashioned 'meat and potoates' that I really enjoy making. The potatoes Dijon is another recipe from my book except the Bison is new addition. I found it really made the plate pop and it's fun and easy to make. Good quality Bison has a nice strong gamey flavour that isn't off putting and goes well with the potatoes.


3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 lb Bison steaks
1 tablespoon of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Potatoes Dijon

2 pounds baby purple potatoes, haled
3 red onions, diced
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
2 yellow peppers, finely diced
1/2 pounds turkey bacon, chpped
3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped


Add the potatoes to a pot of salted water and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Add the bacon to a pan and allow to cool a bit. Keep the drippings and set aside. Crumble the bacon and add the onion, peppers, mustard and mayonnaise to the bacon.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan and add the butter. When the pan and the oil is hot, add the bison to sear. Cook from 4 to 7 minutes a side until done in the middle. Spoon the butter/oil mixture over the bison to baste. Tilt the pan if necessary but be careful. When the bison is cooked, remove to a plate and allow to rest for a five minutes.

Add the hot potatoes to the cold mix and stir with turkey bacon drippings. Add basil immediately before serving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mediterranean Linguine with Tomatoes, Olives and Smoked Mussels


11 oz dried linguine
1 tbsp sea (or kosher) salt and pepper each
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup of fish (or chicken) stock (substitute white wine)
1/2 cup Smoked Mussels, chopped
1 can (8 oz) of chopped olives, drained
3/4 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tbsp butter
5-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped


Boil a pot of salted water (should taste like soup) and add the pasta. Cook for 8 to eleven minutes until al dente or to taste.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium low heat and add the onion and garlic and fish stock until soft about 3 minutes. Add the olives and mussels and heat through an addition minute or two and the liquid is reduced by half.

Drain the pasta and add the butter, stirring to mix evenly. Add the olive, mussel and onion-garlic mixture and toss until evenly distributed. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Add to warm plates and drizzle with olive oil and additional sea salt.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quinoa : Pronounced "Keen-wa" (Quinoa pudding with fresh blackberries and pear)

Quinoa is a seed that is edible though it's not quite a cereal grain though it's technically a fruit. It's leaves can be eaten much like lettuce though they're not easy to find. It can be used as a substitute for rice, couscous or small pasta and it's mighty healthy. It's not cheap but if you're looking for a healthy alternative to brown rice that's easy to cook, Quinoa is a good choice.

This is a simple pudding you can make for breakfast or a dessert. I've made a similar breakfast recipe with risotto but this is a healthier version.


2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/3 cup of maple syrup
3/4 of dried cranberries
1 cup of vanilla yogourt
1/2 cup of blackberries
1 pear, chopped


Add the water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa and reduce to low heat. Cover and simmer up to 15 minutes until all the water is dissolved and the quinoa is soft in texture.

Place the cornstarch, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

In a saucepan, add the milk, maple syrup and cranberries and heat over medium low heat. Add the cranberries and the dry ingredients, whisking until smooth and slightly thickened about 2 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and cook for about 5 minutes until well blended and heated through.

At this point, the mixture can be stored in the refrigerator. It should be cool until ready to add the yogourt. Stir in the pear and add the blackberries on top.

Obama's Key Appointment: White House Chef

The NY Daily News has an article speculating on the identity of one of Barack Obama's most important appointments: White House executive chef. The article says that Obama is very health conscious about his food, in contrast to Bush's love of BLTs and BBQ, and there are three main chefs in the running: Art Smith, Rick Bayless and Daniel Young.

Obama's Key Appointment: White House Chef

Surprise! Surprise! Barack Obama is a health nut. Good to know we won't see a beer gut on the guy in four years.

Courtesy of Ed Brayton at Scienceblogs.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Big Mac: Home version

You may have heard of Don Gorske's record of having eaten 23,000 Big Macs. Gorske was the Big Mac addict chronicled in Morgan Spurlock's fast food expose Super Size Me. Gorske says he eats roughly two of the popular fast food hamburgers a day.

The Big Mac has a long history as a staple of the fast food diet. Perhaps the mixed message of Super Size Me was counter productive and showing people how to make their favourite fast foods from fresh local ingredients is the better option than staying away. It does make more sense to show how to make their favourites from fresh local ingredients rather than deter people from going to McDonald's.

So with that I give you the home made Big Mac.

It was easy and I used organic baby greens. It tastes just like a big mac -- only better. I won't even insult your intelligence by telling you what you already know about the health factor.

There are tons of recipes on the net that replicated the recipe fairly well but being a McDonald's veteran. I worked there in my teen years and discovered cooking while working some overnight maintenance shifts in which we were allowed to cook anything as long as we wrote everything down we used.

Fryers, grills... you name it ... a huge kitchen and 18 years old? We got creative. You get the picture.


1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 pound very lean ground beef
5 oz organic mixed baby greens, chopped
4 Sesame buns plus 4 tops of other (cheaper) buns (similar width)
2-3 Dill pickles, sliced
4 slices processed (American) cheese
1/2 medium Onion, chopped finely (save some for the sauce)
salt and pepper to taste

The sauce:

1/4 cup of thousand island dressing
2 teaspoons of ketchup
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of sugar (ok to substitute splenda or sugar sub)
1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon relish
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of mayonaise (don't use the low fat stuff -- it contains too much sugar)
1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce


Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Cut the tops of the extra top buns and reuse for other hamburgers or make bread crumbs.

Either place buns in a toaster oven (a top, a middle and a bottom) for each slice (easiest way) or heat a pan and fry the buns until golden brown.

You'll need to grab a golf ball size of ground beef, flatten it and even it out so it cooks evenly.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the burgers for about a minute each side. The burgers should be about the size of a regular big mac. The ingredients are supposed to blend so don't make them too big unless you have a ginormous mouth. Cover to keep warm.

Turn the meat and season with salt and pepper. Normally, McDonald's would add the onion on top of the meat, but it was reconstituted so please do not try this at home!!!

McDonald's buns are smaller than most commercially available buns, so smaller buns are not only better, but healthier.

To make the sandwich, place a tablespoon of the sauce on the lower portion, and a tablespoon on the middle. Place enough of the greens to cover both the middle and the bottom. Place a slice of cheese on the bottom and two pickle slices on the middle. Then two burgers on each and then a teaspoon of the chopped onion on each. Top with sesame bun and it's done.

note: I tried this with whole wheat buns and chopped baby spinach but it felt like biting into a garden hedge. Use one or the other, don't use both.
If you want a more authentic taste, eliminate the sesame oil and the worcestershire but I think it's better and more flavorful that way.
You can substitute romaine lettuce for the greens or use the green leafy part of iceberg.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How to boil water like you mean it!

I often have to cook foods in boiling water. It's practically a default reaction and a culinary practice most people are used to. Pot. Water. Stove. High heat. Wait for bubbles. As much as I love a good rolling boil, I've always felt that it's the next step where people go awry.


Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I think flavour should come from every single step in the cooking process. There are many ways to enrich the flavour of a dish and I usually try to add it to the boiling water. I used to think only my mother could could rice properly. White rice I had tried from other sources tasted bland in comparison until she told me she always cooked it in water with a chicken bouillon cube thrown in instead of salt. I have a short list of things I like to add when I cook anything in water, especially pastas, rice, eggs, grains, vegetables and meats. I always add salt when cooking vegetables and it helps retain their colour, but when cooking most foods you could always try adding anything from this list you think applies.

  • Curry

  • Chicken stock/cube

  • Cinnamon Sticks

  • Bovril (beef stock)

  • fish stock

  • Clam juice

  • Fresh Herbs

  • Onion, garlic and chives in a cheese cloth

  • Olive oil

  • Almond, sesame (or other nut) oil

  • Vinegar (especially flavour infused rice or wine vinegars)

  • Raw vegetables (even if they're a bit old)

This list is not by any means complete. If you have a suggestion, please feel free to post in comments.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Romanesco: Eating Mathematics

Cauliflower or Broccoli? Broccoli or Cauliflower? The Romanesco something was discovered in Italy in the 16th century and is believed to actually be a variant of cauliflower but is green just like a broccoli and is often sold as such.

Heralded for its anti-carcinogenic properties, like most Brasssica genus, it's heavy in vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, riboflavin and fibre. This ingredient makes a fabulous center piece in any dish or meal.

One study noted its level of isothiocyanates (ITC's) which are bioactive compounds that inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. Only black and purple cabbage showed higher levels.

The florets grow from a pattern called the Fibonacci series which is a fancy way of saying the sum of two numbers is equal to the two previous. It is also a premise for a bad Dan Brown novel, but this post is supposed to be about cool vegetables and not sour grapes..

Years ago back in film school, a professor got bored showed the class a documentary on fractals and the nature of chaos and how evolutionary biology can be understood mathematically. Well he wasn't very good anyway but that was eye opening.

I like the Romanesco because it's both broccoli and cauliflower and yet something completely different all at the same time. That is an outlook I find both philosophically comforting and pithily descriptive of myself in many ways. All of nature should give me this much satisfaction wrapped in a vibrant green parcel, but alas that is not always the case. Besides, any vegetable could do math better than I could and yes I'm anthropomorphizing but every so often I like to think nature has a sense of humour.

There is more to be learned from its complex replication of simple fractals patterns which make this healthy vegetable (broccoli or not) a mesmerizing substitute for the ordinary offerings at the big box grocery store. It's almost a shame to chop.

Mmmmm... this needs a song.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Are Barracuda good to eat?

I'm not sure if this is a good ingredient, but the idea seems interesting enough. Here is video footage that I took in Saona Island south of Dominican Republic in the town of Manu Juan.

Apparently they are very oily and have a strong fish taste. That may account for a high degree of Omega 3 fatty acids which are quite healthy and are responsible for the fish taste.

Perhaps it was best I didn't get a taste as they have a toxin (ciguatoxin) in them that can cause diarrhea and even neurological problems according to this health warning. Cooking doesn't help as ciguatoxin has a high tolerance for heat. People have died from eating it though so I'll likely stick to salmon.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Smoked Salmon Spirals

This is a simple and old family recipe and is in my book along with many recipes that have been passed down through the ages. Some of these recipes have come as far away as Glasgow and the Isle of Skye. It's great for tea time or even adding as an appetizer for a soirée for friends and family.


Smoked salmon thinly sliced
Chive cream cheese
Salt and pepper
Romaine lettuce, center 'vein' removed
Flour tortillas


Spread tortillas with chive cream cheese. If you can't find chive cream cheese, substitute plain cream cheese and use fresh chopped chives. Top with salmon slices in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add a leaf of romaine lettuce. Roll up tortillas tightly and wrap each in plastic wrap.

Place in a dish and store in the fridge. When ready to serve, unwrap and cut tortillas on the diagonal.

For a low-carb alternative, omit the tortillas. Spread each salmon slice with cream cheese and sprinkle with pepper. Use the romaine leaf as a wrap.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Risotto with Coconut milk and Butternut Squash Puree

I read a recipe for Risotto that was described as 'fast-cooking.' I had to laugh. Risotto is never fast and probably shouldn't ever be. It's a very slow yet therapeutic dish to make. I find it very calming to concentrate on the rice absorbing the liquid knowing that at any moment, I'll have to add more. In doing so, I forget about all my worries and focus on immediate goals.

This is a somewhat speedier version of Risotto, the way that professional chefs prepare it. It's sort of the omelette of haute cuisine especially in Europe and New York. Parboiling the rice before hand shaves cooking time by about twenty minutes. I used coconut milk instead of cream because it is lower in saturated fat.

Servings: 2 (about 1/2 cup rice per serving)


1 medium butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup risotto rice, preferably Aborio
4 cups chicken stock
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup coconut milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of Parmasen Cheese
2 tbsp fresh or dried Summer Savory
2 tbsp butter


1. Preheat oven 400 degrees F and put on some music; preferably something either soothing or catchy.
2. Brush a baking dish with a tablespoon of olive oil.
3. Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and insides and place flat on the baking dish. You can leave the skin on.
4. Bake the squash for 45 minutes.
5. While the squash is baking, place the rice in a pan, cover with water to about an inch above and parboil for seven minutes. This will drastically cut down on the cooking time. Set aside.
6. Heat the chicken stock in a pan and keep warm. Place in a pourable container cause you're going to be pouring from it a lot.
7. Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and saute the shallots and the garlic until soft.
8. Add the rice and season with salt and pepper.
9. Pour in a half a cup of chicken stock and stir until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Keep the heat low and repeat this process until all the chicken has been absorbed. You want to maintain a slow boil.
10. When the Squash is ready (it should be soft almost like mashed potato), scoop out from the skin with a spoon and place in a blender.
11. Add a tablespoon or two of the chicken stock and blend until smooth.
12. Add the cinnamon and blend again.
13. When all the stock has been absorbed, add the puree and heat through.
14. Add the summer savory
15. Add the coconut milk and the butter and stir until al dente.

Authentic Italian Risotto is very al dente (chewy) but you might like it softer. Keep stirring until desired tenderness is reached.

16. Add the coconut milk and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
17. This makes two servings. Serve with a smidgen of summer savory on top and a nice glass of white wine.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chicken Kiev with Smoked Panchetta and Shanghai Bok Choy

This recipe for Chicken Kiev is a little more international than most, but has a lovely flavour. I was just a wee lad when I discovered this wonderful Russian concotion. Thanks mum!

The savory panchetta offsets the sweet Shanghai Bok Choi perfectly. It's one of my favourite of my own recipes.


2 large free range chicken breasts
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 oz smoked panchetta bacon
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 leaves of shanghai bok choi
1 egg
flour for rolling
oil or shortening for frying
salt and pepper


1. Place chicken breasts between two sheets of wax or parchment paper. Using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken breasts flat so they are no more than 1/8th inch thick. Place in refrigerator.
1. Place butter in bowl with tarragon, chives, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and place on plastic wrap or wax paper.
2. Roll up the butter and place in the freezer for twenty minutes or until solid enough to handle.
3. Cube the panchetta and place in a hot pan and fry until it starts to turn brown.
4. Place a paper towel in a colander and allow the fat from the panchetta to drain.
5. Remove the solidified butter from the freezer and cut in two.
6. Place a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper on a cutting board and put a chicken breast on top.
7. Place a leaf of bok choy on the chicken breast. Place a tablespoon of breadcrumbs, a tablespoon of panchetta and one half of the butter mixture at the end of the chicken breast.
8. Fold the sides of the chicken breast over the butter and using the plastic wrap or wax paper, roll up the butter in the chicken breast tightly. Make sure that sides are well sealed. Seal the wrap or paper around the chicken breast tightly and place in the refrigerator for half an hour up to overnight.
9. Whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water until blended and place in a bowl. Add flour to a plate enough to coat both chicken breasts. Add the rest of the breadcrumbs to a third plate.
10. Cover a chicken breast with the flour, coat with the egg and dip into the breadcrumbs until well covered. Make sure that at each step, the breast is well coated equally.

Note: Make sure that the chicken is completely covered in crumbs. The chicken needs to be dry (hence the flour) to make the egg wash stick, and wet to make the crumbs stick.

11. Place enough oil or shortening in a medium sized pan to half an inch depth.
12. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, place the chicken breasts and heat up to four minutes a side. Check the colour of the crumbs. They should be somewhere between a light and dark golden brown. Turn often if needed making sure the pan or the oil are not too hot.

13. When the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, remove from pan and drain the chicken in a colander. Let rest for a few minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fried Brains in Bloody Syrup

This is one of my favorite desserts in the book and it's so fun and easy to make. It was inspired by a make up effects artist who made brains out of bananas for a Sci-Fi/Horror film.

It's also great if you have children as they like to make the sauce and fry the bananas. What kid can't resist bananas?



6 bananas, split lengthwise
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 cup of whipped cream or ice cream

Bloody Syrup

1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup of fresh raspberries, plus some for garnish
3/4 cup of fresh blackberries


Add berries to a small saucepan and add the maple syrup. Cook over low heat until the berries have been reduced by half. Strain to remove seeds and set aside.

Add the brown sugar and the rest of the maple syrup to a clean pan and stir until it begins to caramelize. Add the heavy cream and the butter and stir until well blended.

To serve, place two banana halves with the caramel on a plate and cover with the berry sauce. Top with whipped cream and fresh raspberries for garnish and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Removing Bones from a Northern Pike

I've never been able to do it up until now but Greg Laden has an amazing video on slicing up a Northern Pike. It's enough to make me cry I tell ya. Great job Greg! That PhD thingy really does come in handy, up there in Minnesota.

When in doubt, go fresh.

Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Pear, Goat Cheese Brie and Portobello Mushroom

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Pear, Goat Cheese Brie and Portobello Mushrooms

This is a great dish I love to prepare for guests. You can make this ahead of time as you can always roll up the tenderloin in cling film and store in the oven before cooking once the filling is complete.


2 tbsp (45 ml) butter
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup Portobello mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup minced baby spinach
1/4 cup of red wine
1/2 cup goat cheese brie, cubed
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1/2 Pear, cubed
5-8 leaves of baby spinach for coating.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pork tenderloin, about 3/4 pound
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven 475 degrees.
2. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.
3. Add chopped onion and mushrooms and stir until onions are soft and mushrooms have lost most of their water.
4. Add the chopped garlic and stir for another minute.
5. Add the spinach and the wine and stir until heated through.
6. Remove from heat and add the wine, brie cheese and the thyme. Stir until the mixture is heated through and the cheese has melted evenly.
7. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped pear.
8. Slice the pork tenderloin down the middle being careful not to slice all the way through. Leave about half an inch at the bottom.
9. Place a few leaves of baby spinach over the tenderloin to coat fully.
10. Place the onion, mushroom and cheese mixture over the leaves in the exact center and fold up the tenderloin.
11. Tie up at every two inches with twine.
12. Heat olive oil in a pan and sear until brown.
13. Place tenderloin in oven proof pan and bake until done for 20 minutes.
14. Remove from oven and let sit for about five to ten minutes.

If you have trouble tying up the tenderloin, you can see a good demonstration here.

You can always use the drippings from the tenderloin as a sauce if you want to. Just add a couple tablespoons of the wine and stir until evenly mixed.

Slice the tenderloins about an inch two two inches apart. Pour sauce over top of the tenderloins and serve with fresh chopped baby spinach leaves on top.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Alien Egg" Quiche

This is from my book but I made it a bit differently. I found these really neat ramekins at the dollar store and they only cost me a dollar each. They don't look like I paid only a dollar for them which makes them more worthwhile. I've even fooled a few people. The key is the complete lack of tackiness and the so-simple-it's-elegant angle.

I envisioned this recipe as a way to incorporate the movie Alien (directed by Ridley Scott) and take advantage of the 'egg' idea. The quiche is supposed to look like an open egg with the four edges sticking up. Of course it doesn't always look that way but I like to give myself points for trying.

So here is my quiche...

alien Breakfast Quiche


2 sheets of puff pastry
4 shallots
1 ¼ cup Gruyere cheese, grated
¾ cup Swiss cheese, grated
8 stalks of asparagus, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
6 strips of roasted red pepper, chopped fine
½ cup of prosciutto, shredded
6 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and white pepper


Place a sheet of pastry in a 9-inch spring form pan and press down firmly at sides and bottom.

In this instance, I took a single sheet of puff pastry and evenly divided it up into four pieces. I then used two squares for each ramekin instead of a single sheet for a spring form or baking dish.

Place the second sheet on a 90 degree angle to the first and press pastry against sides of the pan. The corners of the pastry will stick up.

Saute the asparagus on medium heat until soft, remove from pan and set aside. Add the shallots, and red pepper and saute until soft.

Add half the cheese to the bottom of the pastry lined spring form.

Sprinkle the vegetables and prosciutto over the cheese and add the rest of the cheese on top.
Beat the eggs, cream, salt and pepper, and pour over top. Place strips of aluminum foil around edges of pastry to prevent burning.

Bake in 350ºF for 80 to 90 minutes or until top is firm.

Serve with cappuccino.
Serves: 4

Friday, April 4, 2008

My First Post

Enjoy with: Crackers with Maple baked ham, Monterey Jack cheese and a glass of milk and/or chai tea
Genre movie to see: 28 Weeks Later
Classic movie to see: The Tin Star

This is my first post of my new blog It Came from the Kitchen, which is based on the book I co-wrote with my friend Gord Reid. It is a cookbook we put together based on Sci-fi, horror and fantasy film-makers, writers and actors. Most of the recipes were compiled from celebrities from those fields and the rest were either written by me or chefs that I have known.

There have been many passions in my life but the book puts two constants together: movies and cooking.

I must confess that this wasn't supposed to be the first post. I thought I would do my own personal favourite shrimp and beer recipe from the book but someone beat me to it (Thanks Alana!) I was just about to pick another recipe but I saw my oven needed cleaning.

So I found an old can of fume-free (yeah right!) oven cleaner and wasted time coaxing the cheap stuff to come out of the can. It only looks like it does in the commercials after about five minutes of shaking or alternately banging on the kitchen counter. I grabbed my old painting gloves, an old t-shirt, face mask (to dampen the fume free fumes) and a pillow for my knees I set out to clean said oven.

Now my oven is all foamy and I have to wait two hours for it to set. Perfect. I can go buy groceries, make dinner, eat dinner, watch Battlestar Galactica, remove nails from bedroom wall, choose paint, clean shower, move furniture, paint bedroom and write my first blog post.

I forgot about the oven.

Hint for cleaning oven: make sure you use a laundry sink for dumping the water from dirty oven. If you don't have a laundry sink I recommend the sink or drain you hate the most. In my case, it's the bathtub which I then set out to clean.

If you're sensing a pattern here, it is that I'm a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to writing. It only took me eight years to finish the book but I somehow manage to write reviews and articles given a deadline so I promise to be good this time.

Classic movie seen: The Tin Star. I'm on an Anthony Mann kick so I started with this one. Henry Fonda and Anthony Perkins star as a bounty hunter and sheriff respectively with differing views on the law. An over used western theme is made fresh again thanks to Mann's attention to detail plus Perkins' perfectly naive sheriff who tries to coax Fonda's hardened bounty hunter into helping him rid the town of baddies.

Genre Movie to see: 28 Weeks Later. Despite an average script, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's deft juggling of a frenzied hand held pace with and a heart felt veneer, makes this one of the better horror sequels in recent years. It's 28 Weeks later in the city of London which was ravaged by a plague of angry zombified (note: not actual zombies 'cause they're not dead -- very important!) disease ravaged people. A father (Robert Carlyle) comes together with his two kids. The kids are played by the aptly English named Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton and they're both quite natural.

The other plus is the way Fresnadillo handles London. He captures the vistas of old and new London (Isle of Dogs) that is both eerily dead quiet and stunningly peaceful like a Sunday morning after a huge block party. By some strange stroke of luck, I found myself sitting in the exact location it was filmed with friends only five days after seeing it in the theatre back home.