Welcome to the Polyphagous Dragon!

Hearty greetings from the Rainbow Dragon to all visitors to my digital kitchen in the blogosphere!

As my blog title suggests, these pages contain a wild mix of recipes which sample a wide range of flavours and cultures. I won't even try to apply an over-arching theme to this project other than to say that every dish is about creating good food!

The Polyphagous Dragon offers multiple options for site navigation in the sidebar panels. Use the Contents box to search for recipes by dish type, the Blog Archives to search for a specific recipe by title or the Ingredients Index to pull up all recipes that feature a particular ingredient. See also my Cooking Philosophy notes for further insights.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Made with whole grain flour, I could almost consider this banana bread a healthy treat -- if I didn't load it up with chocolate chips! The bananas are good for you, at any rate, and this is just about the only way I can stomach them once they cross the ripeness threshold.

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 150 g premium dark chocolate chips


Grease and flour a 9" by 5" loaf pan.
Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, incorporating well.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together over batter.
Blend flour mixture into batter.
Stir in mashed bananas.
Mix in coconut and chocolate chips.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 350°F until centre of cake is dry (50-60 minutes).

This bread will mostly likely crumble if you attempt to serve it fresh out of the oven -- but so what? That's when it tastes best!

Any portion not consumed immediately should be allowed to cool in the pan, then slice into single serve portions, wrap each portion in plastic wrap, and store in a cool, dry place. (NOT the refrigerator!)

Tzatziki Chicken Salad

  • cooked chicken breasts, diced
  • apples, cored and diced
  • dried cranberries
  • pine nuts
  • tzatziki *
  • baby spinach leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • apple butter **
  • mandarin orange segments

Notes on the Ingredients:

* One day I will figure out my own tzatziki recipe. Until then, the thickest, garlickiest tzatziki I have found is Skotidakis Tzatziki.

** Commercially prepared apple butters are often flavoured with spices such as cinnamon - which are fine for this recipe - but please choose an unsweetened variety. Apples are sweet enough on their own!


Mix oil, vinegar & apple butter together.
Toss spinach leaves with vinaigrette.
Mix chicken, apples, cranberries & pine nuts with tzatziki.
Line serving plates with spinach.
Heap chicken salad on top of spinach.
Garnish with mandarin orange segments.

This chicken salad also works well as a spread for sandwiches.

Summer Fruit Salad

This simple salad is a favourite at my summer dinner parties. Full of flavourful, nutrient-rich goodness, it is the perfect starter to whet one's appetite for more good things to come.

  • mixed salad greens
  • mango, peeled & pitted
  • avocado, peeled & pitted
  • strawberries, hulled
  • a fruit-flavoured vinaigrette (raspberry or mango works great!)


Cut fruit into bite-sized chunks.
Toss fruit with salad greens.
Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Budget Bean Salad

When time and/or money are tight, this hearty salad is a great choice. Taking only minutes to prepare, this recipe makes a LOT of flavourful, nutrient-packed food!

(If you have time to start preparing this salad a little earlier, you can save even more money - and have greater control over quantity - by working with dried beans and soaking them overnight to rehydrate before use.)

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • a favourite vinaigrette (a tomato-based dressing works well)


Mix chickpeas, beans, onion, peppers & cilantro together.
Toss with vinaigrette.

Tomato & Feta Salad

Simple. Tasty. Nutrient rich. What more could you want?

  • tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • fresh basil leaves, ripped into small pieces
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil


Toss tomatoes, feta and basil together.
Sprinkle with oil and vinegar.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Guacamole is a wonderful accompaniment to many Mexican dishes and a delicious and healthy chip dip. (Not that the chips themselves are all that healthy, but, if I've been working up a good sweat, and the chips are of a low-salt-as-far-as-chips-go variety, then I allow them under my Most things in moderation policy.)

Don't be shy with the hot peppers in this recipe. Avocados are known to have several important health benefits but they are a mild-tasting fruit and can really take the sting out of the jalepeños' heat.

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled & pitted
  • freshly squeezed juice from one lime
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch spring onions, sliced
  • 2 jalepeños, diced
  • fresh cilantro leaves, chopped


Mash avocados with a fork.
Incorporate lime juice thoroughly.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Cover and chill approximately one hour to allow flavours to blend.
Serve immediately.

Guacamole is best served fresh. I have personally eaten leftovers stored for 1-2 days in full, air-tight containers in the refrigerator -- but I don't serve this recipe to guests once it's more than a few hours old.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lemon Mint Fresh Cheese Tart

The perfect mix of tart and sweet, this pie is a favourite summer dessert. Tonight I was lazy and made it with a graham crumb crust, but it also works well with a short crust pastry.

Makes one 8-9 inch pie or 12 mini-tartlets.

  • one quantity of your favourite pastry or shortbread crust
  • freshly grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 140 g chèvre
  • 13 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
  • whole fresh mint leaves for garnish


Mix zest of one lemon into dry ingredients for pastry/shortbread.
Prepare crust recipe as per usual and bake blind.

Cream together egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar.
Add chèvre, chopped mint and zest of one lemon. Mix well.

Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold beaten egg whites into cheese mixture.
Pour filling into baked tart crust.

Bake in pre-heated oven at 325°F for 30 minutes or until filling is set and golden in colour.

Whip cream with lemon juice and 2 tablespoons sugar.
Spread cream mixture over cooled tart.
Garnish with lemon zest and whole mint leaves.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

A much-loved specialty of the house and one I have been making for a long time. My father (who likes chocolate -- so long as it's not mixed with anything else!) poo-pooed this recipe for years -- until he finally tried it!

Makes one 9-10-inch round cheesecake and lots of very happy and well-fed friends!

  • 1 1/3 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 lbs. cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 cups raspberries
  • 3 oz. liquer (I use Maple Leaf Distillers' "Creme de la Creme Chocolate Raspberry Cream Liquor")
  • 8 oz. fine bittersweet chocolate, melted


To make the crust:

Combine the cookie crumbs with the melted butter.
Press onto the bottom of a greased 9 or 10 inch round springform pan.
Bake for 8 minutes at 350 F.

To make the filling:

Beat the cream cheese until soft.
Add sugar and corn starch and beat until smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Beat in sour cream, 2 cups raspberries and liquer, then melted chocolate.
Pour filling over crust and bake at 350 F for 75 minutes (or until set).
Allow to cool 8 hours before removing from pan.

To garnish:

Carefully remove cheesecake from springform pan and place on serving platter.
Decorate with fresh raspberries.

Enjoy! (With many friends!)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mint Lemonade

There's nothing quite like this sharp, minted lemonade to quench one's thirst after toiling in summer's cloying heat. I find that unsweetened lemonade is more refreshing, but if you must sugar your drinks, try adding a little locally produced honey to this recipe.

  • freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
  • 2 cups ice water
  • sprig of fresh mint


Mix juice, water (& sweetener if desired) thoroughly.
Add mint whole.
Chill 1 - 2 hours to allow mint flavour to infuse lemonade.
Enjoy over ice.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cups

This recipe makes approximately one large pie, 12 tartlets or 40 miniature chocolate cups.

Chocolate Truffle Cups

Ingredients & Special Tools:

For pie or tartlets you will need:
  • your favourite pastry or cookie crumb crust - pre-baked as the filling does not get cooked.

For miniature chocolate cups you will need:
  • a candy mould (I use a cup-shaped mould, 4 cm in diameter across the top and 3 cm deep)
  • 250 g fine dark chocolate
  • an icing brush (or other fine art brush - which has not been used in paint or other noxious chemicals!)

For the filling you will need:
  • 250 g fine dark chocolate
  • 2 egg yolks
  • a favourite liqueur (I use a wonderful raspberry liqueur called "Chambord")
  • 300 ml whipping cream, whipped

For the garnish you will need:
  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • a favourite liqueur
  • grated chocolate
  • whole raspberries


1a. If you are making a pie or tartlets, prepare your favourite pastry or cookie crumb crust and bake it. (Or, if you are strapped for time, you can cheat and purchase ready-made pie or tartlet crusts which just need to be baked.)

1b. If you are making miniature chocolate cups you will need some time, but these are beautiful and well worth the effort!

- melt the chocolate (gently! chocolate can burn)
- pour the melted chocolate into the candy moulds, filling each cup approximately 1/3
- paint the chocolate up the sides of the mould, coating all surfaces evenly
- refrigerate until set (approximately 20 minutes)
- gently pop the chocolate cups out of the moulds and place upright on a tray or serving platter

2. To make the filling:

- melt the chocolate - gently!
- beat in the egg yolks and liqueur (approximately 1 tablespoon of liqueur - but it doesn't hurt to be a little more generous if you like)
- fold in the whipped cream
- spoon filling into prepared pie shell, tartlet shells or chocolate cups
- refrigerate until set

3. To garnish:

- whip the cream with the sugar and liqueur
- top the pie or each tart/cup with whipped cream
- sprinkle grated chocolate on top
- top with raspberries (1 each for tartlets or miniature cups, make a ring or some other pretty design if making one large pie)

4. Invite some friends over and enjoy!

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

This creation was designed jointly by my friend Sumaya and I and is based upon my green pesto recipe.

  • 3 bunches fresh basil
  • 2 packed cups sun-dried tomatoes *
  • 1 garlic, peeled (yes, the whole thing!)
  • 2 handfuls pine nuts
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil to mix

Ingredient Notes:

* The sun-dried tomatoes should be moist. Sumaya and I have had great success with a variety which is sold vacuum-sealed in plastic with some moisture locked in. Oil-packed tomatoes also work nicely. (Unless the oil is pure extra virgin olive, drain the tomatoes well before use.)


Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend, using just enough oil to mix pesto into a thick paste.
Invite your friends over to enjoy the wonderful aroma in your kitchen and sample your flavourful creation.
If there are any leftovers, package them into single portion airtight containers and freeze immediately.

To enjoy leftover pesto:

Thaw enough pesto for one use GENTLY.
(Be careful NOT to cook the pesto!)
Enjoy immediately.


Pesto is a wonderful, versatile food, bursting with heart-healthy garlic. I enjoy our sun-dried tomato variety tossed with whole grain pasta and sprinkled with additional freshly grated parmesan.

LRD's Cooking Philosophies

This article contains brief notes on my various cooking philosophies which may provide insight to visitors browsing my recipes who don't know me and are therefore wondering what to expect from these pages. It will be updated from time to time as I add new recipes which suggest additional content for this overview.

Care and feeding of chocolate:
  • Choose good quality chocolate. I cannot stress this point enough. Most products sold in the baking isle of your grocery store as "baking chocolate" are a sorry excuse for chocolate and their lack of quality will show through in your creations. Always bake with fine, dark chocolate. If it doesn't taste exquisite straight up, don't waste your time baking with it!

  • "Chocolate chips" are good for use as, well, as chocolate chips. They are designed to remain intact within a baked product and not melted down and mixed into the batter. Most chocolate chips are poor quality "baking chocolate" -- although there are premium quality varieties available. It is worth your while (and the extra $) to choose a premium variety when chocolate chips are what you need.

  • Do NOT refrigerate chocolate! Refrigeration spoils chocolate's taste, can cause a film of moisture to form on the chocolate (a problem if you intend to cook with the chocolate later and just plain icky if you plan to eat it without further cooking) and causes the chocolate to absorb the aromas of other things in your refrigerator.

  • Chocolate should be stored in sealed packages in a cool, dry, dark environment, away from anything else that has a strong aroma.

  • Goods baked with chocolate are best consumed on the day they were created, but, if you must store chocolate desserts, wrap them individually and freeze (do NOT refrigerate) them in air-tight containers.

  • Frozen chocolate sponge cakes (cookies, brownies, etc.) can be thawed gently in a microwave. Cheesecakes, truffles and other chocolate creams are best thawed at room temperature.

  • Chocolate burns easily and therefore must be melted GENTLY. Suggested methods include a double boiler or directly over LOW heat, stirring constantly. A microwave on 50% power is also suitable, provided that you pause the microwave frequently to stir the chocolate. (Chocolate will hold some of its shape, even when melted, so eyeballing melting chocolate is not a good reference. Stop the microwave, take the chocolate out, stir it as best you can -- this also helps to distribute the heat evenly -- and put it back in the microwave only if it really needs more time.) Whichever method of melting you choose, it is advisable to break the chocolate into small pieces before beginning. This will increase the surface area of the chocolate, thereby enabling it to melt more quickly and uniformly with less risk of scorching.

  • Do not allow your chocolate to get wet! This is especially important when melting chocolate as any stray drops of water from a wet bowl or utensil or condensed steam (do NOT cover melting or melted chocolate) will cause the chocolate to stiffen and become unworkable.

  • Enjoy your chocolate! While the health benefits of consuming chocolate may be limited, the health benefits of harbouring guilt are none. None of the chocolate recipes included in this blog are designed to be consumed everyday, but, when you do choose to indulge, do it with style!

This brings us to the next point in my cooking philosophies:

Most things in moderation:

There are a few things that have NO place in my life (cigarettes, hydrogenated oils, etc.) and some for which I feel there is no excess too great (my mother would tell you garlic and onions fall into this category, but I was thinking more along the lines of love, joy, intelligence, wisdom & knowledge). For the majority of foodstuffs, however, moderation is key.

A healthy, balanced diet requires some fat (the consumption of certain fats in particular, is necessary for good health). It also requires some salt and some carbohydrate.

Do a large percentage of north americans consume too much of these things?
Do I?

I don't use salt to flavour my cooking and I don't eat a lot of prepackaged meals or other "fast foods" (the vast majority of which are high in salt) -- so I don't need to stress over the small quantities necessary to ensure success with pastries and quick breads.

I don't eat cheesecake everyday, so I have no need to water it down with weird ingredients such as "low fat cream cheese product". Cheesecake is high fat. Period. It is also an occasional indulgence meant to be enjoyed fully -- or there's no point to consuming it at all.

As for carbohydrates: None of my recipes are intended to be low carb or low calorie. I participate in a healthy amount of physical activity everyday, so I need to eat in order to maintain a healthy body weight. I do, however, ensure that the majority of carbs in my diet have a low GI.

Optimal human health requires regular consumption of a wide variety of nutrients, and a polyphagous diet is the best way to ensure that this need is met.

It's better with butter:

Sorry folks. There's just no way around this one. When a recipe calls for butter, I really do mean butter.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I am NOT advocating a diet high in saturated fats. I practice yoga, sleep eight hours a night, get a minimum of 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily and eat a diet high in whole grains and fresh fruits & vegetables. When I cook my food, it is most often stir-fried in healthy olive oil and I don't butter my bread, prefering instead to eat it dry or slathered with a healthy spread such as pesto.

The point to all of this healthful living, however, is to enjoy life. To that end, when I indulge in a treat that's not intended to be a staple ingredient of a healthy diet, it has to be something that I will enjoy thoroughly. Butter tastes better. Period. For many baked goods, there simply is no adequate alternative.

Having said all of that, you are, of course, the artist in your own kitchen and are free to modify any recipe you find to suit your own desires. All I ask is that, if you do modify one of my recipes to include margarine, don't tell people that it's my recipe -- it no longer is -- and please, PLEASE do NOT use a margarine that contains hydrogenated oils! Ick!

On garlic and quantity:

When I write "one garlic" I really mean the whole garlic. (NOT one clove!) Cooking with part-bulbs is for wusses. There are no vampires in my kitchen!

On garlic and friendship:

Garlic is for sharing! Trust me on this one. If you consume any of my garlic-containing recipes, you will NOT be able to mask the scent with a swig of mouthwash or a sprig of parsley. You will breath garlic and you will sweat garlic! The only way to enjoy garlic and to still have friends is to share your garlicky creations with all of your mates. Then you will all smell the same!

On measurements:

While baking does involve some chemistry, most culinary creations do not require chem lab titration techniques or the precision of a burette for measuring. You will find quantity measurements in my recipes given in metric, imperial and colloquial terms. These are generally the references most useful to me to provide reminders of ingredient ratios which have served my desires in the past. If you're not sure of the size of my "handful" or my local grocer's "bunch" please don't sweat it. Listed quantities are only ever guidelines and can be adjusted to suit individual tastes. If you would like help converting metric to imperial measurements or vice verse, check out this cool tool


The herb seller in my local market knows me as "the basil lady" because, whenever my friend Sumaya and I get together for "Fest-o-Pesto", I am wont to clear him out of his stock.

A word on garlic and quantity: When I write "one garlic" I really mean the whole garlic (NOT one clove). Cooking with part-bulbs is for wusses. There are no vampires in my kitchen!

  • 3 bunches fresh basil
  • 1 garlic, peeled
  • 2 handfuls pine nuts
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil to mix


Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend, using just enough oil to mix pesto into a thick paste.
Invite your friends over to enjoy the wonderful aroma in your kitchen and sample your flavourful creation.
If there are any leftovers, package them into single portion airtight containers and freeze immediately.

To enjoy leftover pesto:

Thaw enough pesto for one use GENTLY.
(Be careful NOT to cook the pesto!)
Enjoy immediately.


Pesto is a wonderful, versatile food, bursting with heart-healthy garlic. I enjoy it spread thickly on fresh, whole grain bread and topped with fresh tomatoes and Lancashire cheese.

Pesto is for sharing! Trust me on this one. If you consume this pesto, you will NOT be able to mask the scent with a swig of mouthwash or a sprig of parsley. You will breath garlic and you will sweat garlic! The only way to enjoy garlic and to still have friends is to share your garlicky creations with all of your mates. Then you will all smell the same!

Cranberry-Raspberry Crumble

This dessert is full of flavour and actually pretty good for you.

Apologies for mixing metric and imperial measures. The fruit is sold frozen in bags of that size in my neighbourhood, and the crumble topping is adapted from an old British recipe of my mother's. If you need help with conversions, try this calculator.

  • 600 grams raspberries
  • 600 grams cranberries
  • 4 oz whole wheat flour
  • 4 oz oats
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  • 2 oz brown sugar


Mix fruit together in large pyrex baking dish.
In a separate bowl mix topping ingredients until well combined.
Spread topping over fruit.
Bake in pre-heated oven (400°F) for 20 minutes.
Enjoy warm or chilled.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sunshine Salad

Sunshine Salad

  • mixed salad greens
  • cooked chicken, diced *
  • avocado, sliced
  • mango, cubed
  • red bell pepper, sliced
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • roasted cashew nuts (unsalted)
  • pumpkin seeds, shelled
  • sunflower seeds, shelled
  • dried cranberries
  • golden raisins
  • citrus vinaigrette **


* If you prefer a vegetarian salad, simply leave the chicken out. My diet isn't overly high on protein, so I tend to throw some chicken breasts into any dish they will suit for some nutritional balance, but this salad is loaded with plenty of other goodness!

** Kraft's "Mandarin Orange wtih Sesame" works wonderfully with this salad!


Line plate with mixed greens.
Sprinkle chicken, avocado, mango, peppers, feta, nuts, seeds & dried fruit over greens.
Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Curry Chicken Salad

Curry Chicken Salad

  • cooked chicken, diced
  • "Sweet Mild Jakarta Curry Dip" *
  • red bell pepper, diced
  • yellow bell pepper, diced
  • red onion or bunch of spring onions, diced
  • mango, diced
  • fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped


* This is a "Compliments" brand dip, available from Sobey's. If you cannot acquire it, try your favourite curry paste mixed with a little mayonnaise and/or sour cream.


Toss all ingredients together.
Enjoy on a sandwich or on salad greens.

Here it is...

... finally, my cookbook, online.

I find myself continually collecting recipes on scraps of paper, reading food magazines and books, taking notes from friends' tables or other displays of food outside my own kitchen, and almost always modifying the recipes to suit my own tastes and dietary preferences. Then I look to repeat a popular recipe at a later date and often cannot remember what I did the previous time.

Certainly experimenting is half the fun, and I may come up with an even better creation on my subsequent attempt - but sometimes I really do want to re-capture the magic of that earlier creation. (Not to mention: I get requests from friends for my recipes frequently!)

The boxes full of scraps of paper filled with recipes that seldom detail the way I create the dish have got to go, and time to sit down and compile a full-on tome of my gastronomic delights never seems to materialize so I've decided a recipe blog is the way to go.

I'll simply be adding recipes here as I sample them in real life. The order of posts will therefore comprise a sort of culinary journal and the web 2.0 wonder of "tagging" will serve as the index for my progressive cookbook. Enjoy.