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.

Add to Technorati Favorites Wassail!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

I just cannot get enough of thick, hearty soups in the winter time! This soup provides a double dose of heat from its warmth and its spice. It's perfect for chasing away the winter chills!

If you cannot get a hold of fresh habaneros, substitute a favourite, flavourful hot sauce such as Susie's Calypso.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

  • 1 buttercup squash
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 5 - 6 habanero peppers
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 garlic
  • 2 inch piece ginger root
  • olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ground: cardamom, anise, cloves, turmeric & cinnamon
  • 1 mango
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter*
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • juice of one lime
  • sour cream
  • fresh cilantro


* Real peanut butter is made from peanuts and nothing but.


Wrap squash in tin foil and bake at 400°F for an hour (or more if needed).
Peel onion, garlic and ginger.
Remove stalk and seeds from habaneros.
Dice habaneros, onion, celery, carrots, garlic and ginger.
Sauté in oil until soft.
Peel and dice mango.
Cube squash, discarding skin, stringy pulp and seeds.
Place vegetables, spices, honey, mango and stock in a large pot and cook until squash is soft.
Purée soup in a blender or food processor and return to the pot.
Bring to a boil.
Stir in peanut butter, cream and lime juice.
Simmer soup for 1/2 hour or more to allow all flavours to blend nicely.
Garnish with sour cream and fresh cilantro leaves.

Jalepeño Cheddar Soup

This recipe makes a hearty, delicious, brightly coloured winter soup. The jalepeños give the soup a nice flavour, but are not the hottest peppers available. Add some of your favourite hot sauce or a few habeneros for a spicier soup.

Jalepeño Cheddar Soup

  • 2 x 796 ml tins no salt added tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 3 cups carrots
  • 9 jalepeño peppers
  • 1-2 yellow onions
  • 2 heads oven roasted garlic
  • 1 lb aged cheddar cheese
  • basil
  • oregano
  • olive oil


Peel onions and carrots.
Remove seeds and stalks from peppers.
Cut onions, carrots and peppers into large pieces.
Toss with olive oil in a large oven proof dish.
roasting veggies for jalepeño soup

Roast at 400°F for 40 minutes.
Transfer roasted vegetables to a large pan or stock pot.
Add tinned tomatoes and their juices.
Add flesh of oven roasted garlics.
Season generously with basil and oregano.
Stir all ingredients together and heat to a gentle boil.
Simmer until vegetables have softened.
Purée soup in a food processor or blender.
Return puréed soup to the pan.
Finely grate cheddar cheese.
Stir cheese into soup and heat until melted.

Enjoy this soup as a meal on its own, or with a salad or a flavourful bread such as my Ancient Grains Focaccia.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ancient Grains Focaccia

This hearty and delicious focaccia is fragrant with olive oil and herbs. Omit the feta or substitute a soy-based "cheese" for a vegan alternative.

Best enjoyed still warm from the oven. If you have any leftovers they can be enjoyed the next day, lightly warmed.

Ancient Grains Focaccia

Note: The focaccia did originally fill this pan. A good chunk of it got eaten before I had a chance to take a photograph!

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons "Quick Rise" instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups very warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 + 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup stone ground whole grain amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup stone ground whole grain quinoa flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary + additional for topping
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kalamata olives
  • tomato
  • onion
  • feta cheese


Combine yeast with 1 cup white flour, sugar and salt.
Stir in very warm (hot to the touch, but not scalding) water.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, whole grain flours, and herbs.
Knead dough for 10 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour as needed if dough is too sticky. (Dough should be smooth and elastic after kneading.)
Allow dough to rest ten minutes in a warm, draft-free environment.
Coat a 10 x 15 inch baking sheet with 1 teaspoon olive oil.
Gently press dough into baking sheet to fit dimensions of sheet.
Cover with non-stick parchment paper and a tea towel.
Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free environment until doubled in size (approximately 30 minutes).
Pit and chop olives.
Slice tomato.
Slice onion thinly.
Crumble cheese.
Brush surface of dough with final teaspoon of olive oil.
Sprinkle olives, tomato, onion, feta and reserved rosemary over top of dough.
Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

Ancient Grains Focaccia

Chocolate Hazelnut Yule Log

This recipe is very rich but not sickly sweet like the cheap sugary Yule log knock-offs sold in most grocery stores in my area.

It takes some time to make a real chocolate Yule log, but it's well worth the effort!
(This one is definitely another of my "invite lots of friends to share it with you" recipes!)

Chocolate Hazelnut Yule Log

For the cocoa genoise:
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup flour

For the chocolate hazelnut cream:
  • 2 oz. fine dark chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup half & half cream
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico liqueur
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 100 grams ground hazelnuts

For the Frangelico Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur

For the ganache:
  • 8 oz fine dark chocolate
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico liqueur


Prepare cocoa genoise:

Line 10 x 15 inch baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper.
(Butter and flour paper if non-stick variety is unavailable.)

Mix eggs and sugar together in a large bowl.
Place egg/sugar bowl into bath of very hot tap water.

Boil water in small pot.
Mix in sifted cocoa to form a paste.

Melt butter in a small bowl.
(Microwaving at 40% power works well for melting butter, or use a heavy sauce pan over low heat.)

Whip warmed eggs/sugar mixture until thickened.

Add one cup of egg/sugar mixture to cocoa paste.
Mix until smooth.

Add one cup of egg/sugar mixture to melted butter.
Mix until smooth.

Sift flour into remaining egg/sugar mixture.
Fold in cocoa and butter mixtures.
Cocoa Genoise Batter

Pour batter onto baking sheet and smooth out to fill sheet.
Bake approximately 20 minutes at 400°F.
Baked Cocoa Genoise
(When cake is done, it should be springy in the centre and come away from the sides of the pan easily. Be careful not to overcook the genoise and dry it out!)

Cover baked genoise with a fresh sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool.

Begin preparing chocolate hazelnut cream:

Chop chocolate into small pieces.
Chopped Chocolate

Whip yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar together until smooth and light.
eggs and sugar

Beat flour into eggs until smooth.

Mix remaining sugar with cream and bring to a boil.
heat cream

Temper eggs by slowly adding half of hot cream to egg mixture, one spoonful at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Pour tempered eggs into pan with remaining cream and heat to boiling.
Stir constantly and continue to heat until custard is thickened.
Thickened Custard

Remove from heat.
Stir in liqueur.

Add chopped chocolate and mix until smooth.
adding chocolate to custard

Set cream mixture aside to cool.

Prepare Frangelico syrup:

Bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat and stir in Frangelico.

Begin assembling cake:

Turn genoise out onto parchment paper on flat surface.
Trim any dried crusty edges off the cake.

Brush cooled Frangelico syrup over genoise.
Genoise brushed with Frangelico Syrup

Finish preparing chocolate hazelnut cream:

Cream butter until fluffy.
Add to cooled chocolate hazelnut cream and mix well.
Stir in ground hazelnuts until well blended.

Continue assembling cake:

Spread chocolate hazelnut cream over genoise, leaving a one inch strip along one short edge uncovered.
Genoise spread with Butter Cream

Starting at the uncovered edge, roll up the genoise.
Wrap rolled log tightly in parchment paper.
Place on flat tray and chill in refrigerator.

Prepare ganache:

Chop chocolate into small pieces.
Chopped Chocolate

Bring cream to a boil.
Remove from heat and stir in Frangelico.

Pour heated cream/liqueur mixture over chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Chocolate Ganache

Allow ganache to cool, uncovered at room temperature, until a spreadable consistency is reached.

Finish assembling cake:

Remove rolled cake from parchment paper.
Place onto serving platter.
Spread ganache around circumference of cake, leaving ends exposed.
Draw fork tines across the ganache, lengthwise along cake, to create the bark effect.
Immediately prior to serving, dust icing sugar onto cake to represent snow, and decorate as desired.
Serve THIN slices. (This is a rich cake!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Savoury Fresh Cheese Tart

My favourite savoury pie. Excellent as an accompaniment to chicken or shrimp or as a main dish itself. Serve warm or chilled. Leftovers (if there are any) will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. (Serve leftovers cold or re-heated in an oven. Avoid re-heating in the microwave as this will make the pastry soft and mushy.)

Savoury Fresh Cheese Tart

  • 1 quantity whole wheat pastry
  • 300 g chevre, room temperature
  • 1 yellow onion
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 oven roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • ground thyme
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes


Partially bake pie shell blind for 10 minutes at 450°F.
Slice onion thinly and fry in olive oil until caramelized.
Beat together chevre, cream and sour cream.
Stir in thyme, garlic and onion.
Pour filling into partially baked pie shell.
Slice tomatoes thinly and arrange on top of cheese mixture.
Bake at 400°F for 30-45 minutes.

Crostini à la Dragon

My own take on garlic bread with the works. This is a favourite appetizer at my dinner parties, but the recipe is hearty enough to serve as a meal in itself!

Crostini à la Laura

  • 1 fresh baked, hearty whole grain baguette
  • 1 oven roasted garlic with roasting oil
  • 140 g chevre, room temperature
  • fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • roasted red pepper, cut into small pieces
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • fresh grated parmesan


Slice baguette in half and place both halves, cut side up, on a baking tray.
Drizzle oil from the oven roasted garlic over the bread.
Spread bread with chevre.
Pile on basil, tomato, pepper and feta.
Top with parmesan.
Place under broiler on low heat until parmesan turns golden brown.
Enjoy immediately.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oven Roasted Garlic

Oven roasted garlic is soft, sweet and delicious! The slow-roasting process really brings out garlic's wonderful flavour!

These take some time to cook, so plan ahead: I usually set my garlic to roasting first, then prepare the remaining ingredients for my recipe. Oven roasted garlic is well worth the wait!

  • 1 garlic
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. water


Slice the top off a head of garlic.
Remove outer papery skins.
If shorter cloves remain with points intact, slice these off.
Oven Roasting Garlic 1

Place garlic into ovenproof custard cup or other small ramekin.
Spoon oil and water over top of garlic.
Oven Roasting Garlic 2

Cover custard cup tightly with tin foil.
Oven Roasting Garlic 3

Bake for 75 minutes at 325°F.
Uncover and baste with any remaining oil.
Bake uncovered until golden (~ 15 minutes).
Spoon flesh out of skins and incorporate into your favourite recipe.

Pumpkin Crème Brulée

This is a classy dessert but it's very rich. Use small custard cups and/or plan to share each one!

Pumpkin Crème Brulée

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 + 1/2 cups puréed pumpkin
  • 1 + 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. Cointreau
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar


Beat sugar and egg yolks together until creamy.
Add spices and pumpkin and mix well.
Stir in cream and Cointreau, incorporating fully.
Divide mixture evenly between eight custard cups.
Cover each cup with tin foil and place in large deep baking dish such as a lasagna pan.
Pour boiling water into the baking dish, filling to 1/3 the height of the cups.
Bake at 325°F for 35-40 minutes (until custard is set).
Remove from heat and remove foil.
Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of each custard.
Place under broiler until sugar caramelizes.
Serve immediately.

Whole Wheat Pastry

I prefer this heartier and healthier pastry to its white flour cousins.
Makes base for one 9" deep dish pie. Double quantities for a covered pie.

  • 1 + 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg


Mix butter into flour with a fork.
Beat 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.

For pies with unbaked fillings:

Line pastry with tin foil and fill with dried beans or other baking beads.
Bake blind 25 minutes at 450°F.
Fill as desired.
Bake as per recipe for filling.

For pies with baked fillings:

Partial baking blind may be required.
See individual recipes for instructions.

Cheddar & Herb Scones

Cheddar & Herb Scones

  • 8 oz. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 oz. butter
  • fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • flesh of one oven roasted garlic
  • 1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
  • 5 fl. oz. milk


Mix flour, salt and baking powder together.
Incorporate butter until mixture is crumbly.
Add basil, garlic and cheddar. Mix well.
Add just enough milk to hold dough together, forming dough into a ball with your hands.
Roll dough out one inch thick.
Cut into rounds with cookie cutter.
Place scones onto greased baking sheet.
Brush tops of scones with milk.
Bake for 7-10 minutes at 425°F.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Chocolate Mint Pie

This recipe definitely falls into the "if you're going to indulge, make the most of your indulgence" category. This is not a dish to be consumed every day, but for those special occasions when you want a treat, it sure is good!

Chocolate Mint Pie

  • 1 + 1/3 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 250 g fine dark chocolate, plus additional for decoration
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons peppermint schnapps or crème de menthe
  • 550 ml whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 10-20 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 drop blue + 2 drops green food colouring (optional)


To make the crust:

Melt butter.
Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs.
Press onto bottom and sides of a 9" deep dish pie plate.
Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes.
Allow to cool.

To make the truffle filling:

Melt chocolate gently.
Whip 300 ml of the cream.
Beat two egg yolks and 2 tablespoons liqueur into melted chocolate.
Fold in the whipped cream.
Spoon over crust.

To make the crème anglais:

Tear mint leaves into small pieces.
Beat sugar and 4 egg yolks together.
Gently heat mint, 2 tablespoons liqueur and 250 ml cream in a small saucepan.
Bring cream mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to avoid scorching.
SLOWLY add 1/2 of cream mixture to eggs, initially only 1 tablespoon at a time, incorporating well after each addition.
Return egg/cream mixture to the pan with the remainder of the cream.
Return to a boil and simmer gently until sauce has thickened.
Strain crème anglais through a fine sieve to remove mint leaves.
(Crème anglais will be a pale yellow in colour. If you prefer green, add one drop of blue food colouring for a pale minty green colour and an additional 2 drops green food colouring for a stronger green.)

Spoon chilled crème anglais over top of chilled pie.
Decorate as desired.
Enjoy in small quantities with a large number of friends!

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.

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.