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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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Strawberry Custard Tarts

This is a quick little dessert I threw together as an excuse to enjoy the raspberry pulp left behind when making my Chambord Coulis.

Strawberry Custard Tart

  • one quantity of your favourite shortcrust pastry
  • raspberry pulp reserved from juiced raspberries
  • custard*
  • fresh strawberries
  • 1 oz fine dark chocolate


* There are some commercially prepared tinned custards available. You will want to choose a fairly thick one if you are going this route. Alternatively, you can make your own with:
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch (or custard powder)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • vanilla or other flavouring to suit


Prepare pastry as per your favourite recipe, rolling out into small disks and lining the bottom and sides of tart or small muffin tins, and bake blind.
Allow pastry to cool.
Mix 1/2 cup milk with corn starch, sugar and custard flavourings.
Bring 2 cups milk to a boil, stirring to ensure even heating and avoid scorching.
(Always watch milk cooking over high heat -- it can boil over VERY QUICKLY.)
Stir hot milk into custard paste.
If custard does not thicken, return it to the milk pan and heat gently until desired thickness is attained.
Allow custard to cool partially (but not set hard).
Spread raspberry pulp onto each baked and cooled pastry shell.
Fill tarts with cooled custard.
Wash and hull raspberries and slice in half lengthwise.
Top each tart with 1/2 strawberry.
Gently melt chocolate.
Drizzle chocolate from a spoon in a zigzag line across each strawberry.

Chambord Coulis with Summer Berry Salad

Research into the health benefits of eating berries has been rife with good news for those of us who love these delicious little fruits. Most are naturally sweet and delicious straight up, but for something a little more decadent, try this tasty treat:

For the coulis:
  • 600g raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Chambord liquer
  • juice of one lemon

For the salad:
  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 1/2 pint blackberries
  • 1/2 pint strawberries
  • 1/2 pint blueberries


Press 600g raspberries through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.
Reserve raspberry pulp.
Combine raspberry juice with lemon juice, Chambord and sugar.
Slowly bring coulis to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Simmer coulis gently 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened.
Wash fruit.
Hull strawberries.
Chop strawberries into pieces of similar size to the smaller berries.
Gently toss berries together.
Drizzle a small amount of coulis over berries and enjoy.


Fresh berries are best enjoyed, well, fresh! Pick or purchase only the amount you need for today. The coulis has a longer shelf life and leftover sauce can be bottled and stored in the refrigerator.

Don't discard your raspberry pulp! It contains a lot of flavour and goodness and can be put to many a delicious use, especially as a low-sugar alternative to jam. Unlike jam, however, the fresh raspberry pulp doesn't keep well. Refrigerate any unused portions and try to enjoy them within a day or two of pulping. (I enjoy raspberry pulp as a spread on waffles, whole wheat pancakes, muffins or toast. It is also delicious in this little recipe.)

The presentation ideas shown below have drifted a fair distance outside the realm of "healthy" desserts, but if you've decided today is a day for indulgence:

Chambord Coulis, Berries & Waffles
Chambord Coulis and Summer Berry Salad with Waffles and Chocolate Ice Cream

Chambord Coulis, Berries & Cheesecake
Chambord Coulis and Summer Berry Salad with Cheesecake

Monday, September 17, 2007

Coconut Mango Smoothie

This recipe makes a delicious, thick drink.

  • 1 coconut
  • 1 mango
  • 1 peach
  • 1 inch ginger root


Drain, filter and reserve water from coconut.
Bake coconut at 350°F for 10 minutes.
Break coconut open and pry flesh away from shell.
For best juice extraction, peel brown skin off coconut flesh.
Remove peel and pit from mango.
Remove stone from peach.
Juice coconut and ginger on high speed.
Juice mango and peach on low speed.
Add reserved coconut water.
Shake smoothie to mix well.
Enjoy fresh-squeezed or chilled same day.

Spicy Vegetable Juice

I have been staying at my parents' home the last couple of weeks. My father has a brand new 1000 watt Breville "Juice Fountain Elite" and my mother an enormous refrigerator which is perpetually stocked with more produce than they can eat (and crammed so full that my mother can seldom find what she has hidden away in there!) I felt this was a good combination for experimenting with some new juice recipes *. Here is the first:

  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • red pepper
  • celery
  • cilantro
  • hot sauce **


* I did a fairly good job of cleaning out my mother's fruit and vegetable drawers during the course of these experiments, but they were chocker-block full again the next day!

** I used Dan T's Inferno White Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce. If it's heat level is not to your liking, any cayenne/tomato-based hot sauce would make a suitable substitution.


Cut the stalk out of the red pepper and scrape out the seeds.
Wash the cilantro, squeeze into a bundle.
Stuff red pepper with cilantro bundle.
Juice carrots and celery on high speed.
Juice tomatoes and cilantro-stuffed red pepper on low speed.
Add a dash of hot sauce and mix well.
Enjoy fresh-squeezed or chilled same day.

Apple and Orange Egg Custard Tart

A refreshingly tangy twist on Mom's apple pie.
I usually bake it with the pie plate sitting on top of a cookie sheet because the filling invariably spills over the top of the dish while baking.

  • 1 + 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 orange
  • 3 cups apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup half and half cream


To make the crust:

Mix butter into flour with a fork.
Beat one egg and stir into flour mixture.
Knead pastry with hands until it forms a soft ball.
Roll pastry out until it is sufficient in size to line bottom and sides of a 9" deep dish pie plate.
Grease and flour pie plate.
Line pie plate with pastry.
Line pastry with tin foil and fill with dried beans or other baking beads.
Bake blind 10 minutes at 425°F.

To make the filling:

Zest and juice the orange.
Peel and core apples and cut into thin slices.
Toss apple slices with orange juice and zest.
Beat two eggs.
Add sugar and cream to eggs and beat well.
Fill pie crust with apple mixture.
Pour egg mixture over top of apples.
Bake at 375°F for 45-55 minutes (until custard is set).
Cool in pan on wire rack.
Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Wild Mushroom Crêpes

An excellent crêpe filling -- especially for those not quite up for the heat of my chicken curry.

  • crêpes
  • 6 cups mushrooms (portobello, cremini, shitake & oyster)
  • 1 garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • butter for frying


Prepare crêpe batter and chill.
Stir fry garlic and mushrooms in butter until mushrooms are soft.
Add wine and cook until liquid has evaporated.
Purée mushrooms in a food processor.
Return mushrooms to pan, add cream, and heat gently while mixing well.
All mushroom mixture to simmer over low heat until thickened.
Cook crêpes.
Spoon mushroom mixture in a line across crêpe, 1/3 of the way in from one edge.
Fold near edge up over mushroom mixture and roll up crêpe to surround filling.
For best results, serve crêpe immediately.
When large quantities are required, place filled crêpes in a singler layer in a large baking pan (such as a lasagna pan) and warm in oven to heat through just before serving.

Chicken Curry

This recipe is a favourite at my dinner parties as a crêpe filling. It is also excellent served over rice. I take it wilderness camping, preparing the curry ahead of time and freezing it in airtight plastic freezer bags. The curry then serves as an ice pack for the rest of my food during the first couple of days of my trip. Once it has thawed out, it is time to enjoy it. Cook the rice over an open fire, then stir curry mixture into cooked rice and heat through.


  • 1 coconut
  • approximately 1 cup hot water
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 inch ginger root, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb chicken breasts *
  • 2 tablespoons hot curry paste **
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • freshly squeezed juice of one lime


* I often work with chicken breasts pre-cut into strips for stir frying. This makes for quick, even cooking throughout without drying the outside of the chicken, and speeds up the work of dicing the cooked chicken.

** I favour Patak's Madras curry paste, but there is a wide variety of excellent prepared curry pastes available for those of us without the time to prepare our own.


Drain and reserve water from coconut.
Bake coconut at 400°F for 15 minutes.
Break coconut open and pry flesh away from shell.
Peel brown skin off coconut flesh.
Purée coconut flesh in blender or food processor with reserved coconut water and enough additional water to make liquid up to 1.5 cups.
Allow pureéed coconut mixture to stand for 15 minutes.
Press coconut mixture through a fine sieve to extract milk.
Stir fry onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil.
Add chicken and continue stir frying until chicken is cooked through.
Dice chicken with spatula while continuing to cook. (Once cooked, it should slice easily with a plastic or rubber spatula.)
Add curry paste and mix well.
Add peppers, continuing to stir fry.
Add coconut milk and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer.
Add mango, chopped cilantro leaves and freshly squeezed lime juice.
Continue to simmer curry until flavours are well blended.

To fill crêpes:

Prepare crêpes.
Spoon curry mixture in a line across crêpe, 1/3 of the way in from one edge.
Fold near edge up over curry mixture and roll up crêpe to surround curry.
For best results, serve crêpe immediately.
When large quantities are required, place filled crêpes in a singler layer in a large baking pan (such as a lasagna pan) and warm in oven to heat through just before serving.


Crepes are best served fresh, straight out of the pan, but when serving a large crowd, I prepare all of the crepes ahead, filling them as they are cooked, and place the filled crepes in a baking pan in the oven to be re-heated for serving.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk (approximately)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • additional butter for frying


Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs with a wisk.
Beat 2 cups milk into eggs until well combined.
Slowly pour egg mixture into flour mixture, beating constantly.
Continue beating until mixture is well blended and batter is smooth.
Add melted butter and beat until combined.
Cover batter and refrigerate at least one hour.
Stir refrigerated batter. Batter should be smooth and thin.
Stir in additional milk if batter is too thick.
Melt small amount of butter over medium heat in crêpe or flat-bottomed frying pan. (Just enough to lightly coat surface of pan.)
Pour very thin layer of batter into pan.
Cook crêpe approximately 90 seconds over medium heat (bubbles should start to appear in top surface of crêpe.)
Flip crêpe with spatula.
Cook second side for approximately 90 seconds.
Turn crêpe out onto plate.
Fill as desired and serve.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tyrcuill Experiments in Winemaking

My parents have an enormous apple tree in their yard which yields tens of thousands of apples each year. Save for a few eaten by the dog, my mother has been gathering these apples up into plastic bags and putting them all out at the curbside on garbage collection day. (I know, I know! I cringe too. I have tried to convince my mother to at least compost the apples, but she refuses.)

This year, my father and I decided to pursue a new plan for saving some of those delicious apples from the local landfill. My father purchased a 1000 watt Breville "Juice Fountain Elite" and we have been experimenting with making apple wine and cider. I will be chronicling those experiments in this post.

More to come soon!

Apple Spice Cake

This makes a delicious, moist and flavourful cake. I baked one for a camping trip, covered it in plastic wrap once it had cooled, and enjoyed some everyday of a five day trip!

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup whole grain oats
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups filtered apple pulp
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins


Beat butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs.
Sift flour, oats, baking salts and spices together.
Stir flour mixture into egg mixture.
Mix in apple pulp until well combined.
Fold in nuts and raisins.
Pour batter into greased and floured 9" x 5" loaf pan.
Bake at 350°F for 55-60 minutes (until wooden pick inserted in centre of cake comes out clean).
Allow to cool in pan on wire rack.
Cake is best fresh but cooled leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap, stored at room temperature and enjoyed for several days.

Apple Strudel

This is a great recipe for using up some of the pulp left over from the process of juicing apples. I use a high speed juicer which presses some filtered pulp through with the juice. This can be shaken into the juice for a healthy, fresh-pressed drink, but when I need my juice a little clearer, I strain it a second time through a double thickness of cheesecloth and use the pulp from that filtering in this recipe.

  • 4 cups apple pulp
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup chopped pecan pieces
  • 1 lb. phyllo pastry sheets
  • 100g parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup butter, melted


Assemble all ingredients before beginning to work with phyllo pastry.

Mix apple pulp, ricotta cheese, pecans and beaten egg together thoroughly.

Grate parmesan cheese. (This step should be obvious, I know, and I'm not receiving sponsorship for any product placements on this site, but the tool I have been using for this job is so cool, I have to share it with you.)

The Amazing Microplane Zester

This fabulous tool was a gift from my friend Pam. The Microplane is awesome for finely grating chocolate, hard cheeses, garlic and hard fruits and veggies such as carrots and coconut.

Grated food is collected in the Microplane's own little tray.

And from there can be easily decanted into whatever other container you like.

The Microplane created a full cup of fresh and finely grated parmesan cheese in less than 60 seconds!

Spread one sheet of phyllo pastry out onto work surface.
Keep remaining sheets wrapped in damp cloth.

Lightly and quickly brush phyllo pastry with melted butter.

Sprinkle grated parmesan on top of buttered pastry.

Repeat with two additional layers of pastry, butter & parmesan.

Spoon apple mixture along one edge of pastry.

Fold near edge of pastry over apple mixture, tuck in sides of pastry, and roll up.

Bake strudels in 400°F oven for 20-25 minutes (until golden).

Enjoy these pastries fresh and warm.