Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Red Beans and Rice

I went to New Orleans for a bachelor party in March and when we weren't out on the town we actually got to enjoy some amazing Creole and Cajun food. My favourite was Red Beans and Rice. This was traditionally a "wash day" meal because you could throw everything in the pot and head down to the river or wherever people did laundry back in the day. Usually people use leftover ham from the previous meal but Jess hates ham so I ended up using bacon and it turned out great. I love the smokey flavour of the sausage combined with the creaminess of the bean sauce.  

  • 1 pound dried red beans
  • ½ pound chopped bacon
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 pound smoked sausage (see my Andouille recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions 
 Here is a picture of one of the post cards I got framed after we got back:


  1. Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches.
  2. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper to the pot. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the bay leaves, parsley, sausage, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage, about 4 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the beans and stock and bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 3 hours.
  9. Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/2 of the beans against the side of the pot.
  10. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 20 minutes.
  11.  Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
  12. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cajun Style Andouille Sausage

This was my first foray into meat smoking and I think it was very successful. I will definitely change a few thing next time but was very happy with the final product, (next time I will use pork casings instead of the collagen ones I had on hand, I will use curing salts, and I will get my meat from a butcher instead of using the prepackaged pork that has a lesser fat content). The smokey flavor mixed with the spice of these sausages is mouth watering.
I fell in love with Andouille on a trip to New Orleans for a bachelor party... despite spending an inordinate amount of time on Bourbon Street we actually ate some amazing food from the area including dishes that feature Andouille as a key ingredient. My favourite dish was Red Beans and Rice with smoked sausage.
To make this sausage it ate up most of a day but was well worth the effort.


  • 5lbs ground pork butt
  • 3 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 5 - 6 feet pork casings
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (2 if you want to amp it up a bit)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 - 3/4 of a light beer
  • 1 tsp curing salts (this is optional if you "hot smoke" your sausage, I didn't use it this time but will in the future because it cuts the risk of pesky things like botulism)
  • 3-4 cups Pecan wood chips


  1. Prepare your sausage casings for stuffing according to the suppliers instructions.
  2. Mix the meat and spices thoroughly and refrigerate for a couple hours to have them blend.
  3. Soak your wood chips in water or beer for 30 min then get your smoker ready to go (I smoked mine on a natural gas bbq).
  4. Smoke your sausage at 170 F to 250 F (my bbq was pretty constant at 200 F on the lid thermometer, I'm guessing it was probably closer to 225 F under the lid) until the internal temp of the sausages reads 165 F. My sausage took about 3-4hrs.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sweet Buttermilk Biscuits

I slightly modified my biscuit recipe to make more of a cakey biscuit that is perfect to pair with jams and preserves and scarf down with a cup of tea.

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (extra to top)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (extra to top)
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter (cold and cubed)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the food processor with the butter.
  4. Pulse the processor until the dough looks like wet sand.
  5. Add most of the milk and pulse a couple times until you have a wet dough.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter top.
  7. With your hands, press the dough out until it is around half an inch thick. 
  8. Fold it over on itself and repeat (I fold it 7 times but that's just cause I like the number 7).
  9. It will pretty much double in height in the oven so pat it down to half of the final height you want.
  10. Cut it into rounds using a cookie/dough cutter or a drinking glass (If you have nothing round I guess you could make square ones)
  11. Repeat the process with the scraps but try not to work the dough too much.
  12. Top with sugar and cinnamon.
  13. Bake the biscuits for around ten minutes (try to keep an eye on the bottoms because they cook pretty quick, I ended up broiling them for a minute to get the tops golden).
  14. Try not to burn your mouth as you start stuffing them in.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Spaghetti Sauce with Corned Beef

I get nostalgic thinking about this recipe because it was the standard spaghetti sauce recipe that would be simmering away on the stove when I was a kid. It wasn't until I was older that I realized that everyone else wasn't on the same page as my family for their spaghetti nights.
This is actually one of the oldest recipes in my family passed down a few generations. It was born out of the post WWII era of affordable (canned) foods and is tastier than you would imagine.
It can be thrown together and heated in about 45min. I actually have an affinity for canned/processed meat and think they can actually be enjoyable (in moderation).

  • 2 cans tomato soup
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can corned beef (Hereford is my brand of choice)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • basil or oregano (fresh or dry if you want)
  1. Mix everything in in a sauce pan and simmer on low until heated thoroughly. 
  2. Remove bay leaves and serve hot topped with extra cheese. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stuffed Potatoes

There is something about the creaminess of the filling mixed with the crust of melted cheese and potato skin that makes me drool over stuffed potatoes. You can pretty much eat them as their own meal depending on what you put in them. This is a fairly standard recipe with cheese, bacon, onion and sour cream but you really don't need more than that for the potato to compete as the tastiest part of the meal. 
I try to make sure that the skin is seasoned well so that the whole thing can be eaten. There is nothing more disappointing than a hollowed out skin sitting on a plate after someone abandoned it for the garbage. 
I find that it is easier to make these over two days (one day to bake and the second to fill).
  • 2 Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 a package of bacon
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt, pepper, and garlic salt
  1. Clean the potatoes then prick them all over with a fork (this will keep them from exploding in the oven).
  2. Coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic salt.
  3. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 F for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.
  4. When cool enough - slice each in half lengthwise and scoop the insides into a mixer.
  5. Cook the bacon until crisp then soften the onion in the bacon grease (I dumped all the bacon grease in with the potato filling).
  6. Chop the bacon in to small pieces.
  7. Add the bacon, onions, sour cream and cheese to the mixer.
  8. Mix thoroughly.
  9. Re-fill the skins with the improved potato.
  10. Sprinkle a little extra cheese on the tops.
  11. Heat the potatoes at 350 F for about 30 min.
  12. When they are starting to look bubbly turn the broiler on low until the tops are nicely browned.
  13. Serve hot (not molten hot) with sour cream and fresh scallion.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Steakhouse Cheese Bread

A couple of weeks ago my friend took me for dinner at Caesar's Steakhouse & Lounge in downtown Calgary. I have been there a handful of times in the past and love the food and throwback atmosphere. The steak is always great but the thing I crave the most is their cheese and garlic bread. I have a feeling that they are so good mostly because they are doused in butter, garlic, and cheese. 
Jess and I went to Canmore this past weekend made a "steakhouse" dinner including Teriyaki steak and mushrooms, stuffed potatoes (recipe coming), and my version of Caesar's cheese bread. I don't think their recipe includes the cheese sauce that I used but it ended up being very tasty, easy to prepare, and different than the usual.

*** If you are at all concerned about calories, salt, fat, carbs or your general health I recommend avoiding this recipe at all costs... if you are a glutton like me continue on to your destiny.

  • 1 loaf of French bread
  • 1 can cheese sauce/soup (I used Campbell’s Condensed Cheddar Cheese soup)
  • Parmesan cheese (I used a 1/3 of a shaker of Kraft Parmesan Cheese)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  1. Slice bread lengthwise. 
  2. Coat both sides with the melted butter.
  3. Turn your broiler on low.
  4. Apply a thick layer of cheese sauce. 
  5. Shake a thick layer of Parmesan over the cheese. 
  6. Put in oven until the Parmesan browns and it looks like boiling lava. 
  7. Serve hot.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Caesar Salad Dressing

Living in one of the best beef producing areas of the world I grew up with an affinity for "Steakhouse Classics". Our family menu would usually consist of steak marinated in teriyaki sauce, fried mushrooms, stuffed potatoes, bread and Caesar salad. My Dad was the grill master, my mom would make the potatoes and my brother always made the salad dressing. I usually would just show up and stuff my face.
This dressing recipe is not for the faint of heart (excuse the idiom) because it includes two things that make some people squeamish and makes me salivate. Raw egg yolk and anchovies are two of the stars of this dressing and quietly make your taste buds explode without realizing you are devouring raw unborn chicken mixed with preserved oily fish.
I once watched a documentary on these old Spanish ladies hand stuffing tins of anchovies and was amazed at how methodical they were. The taste can be overpowering but if you find the right balance they can make a great addition to many meals.


  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 anchovy fillets
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • fresh ground pepper


  1. Place everything but the cheese in a food processor and puree.
  2. Toss the salad with the cheese and dressing.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Potato, Jalapeno, and Cheddar Perogies

Perogies are one of my favourite foods. They make me nostalgic for when I was a kid and our family would make sausage and perogies in mass quantities. They are versatile because you can put anything you want in them.
One of my best friends had a garden on his patio this summer and he has been dropping of baggies of herbs and veggies periodically over the summer. He recently dropped off a bag of home grown jalapeno peppers. I was shocked that you could grow them in Calgary and am always amazed when someone can spend time growing something. I have no problem cooking all day because I know that I am going to stuff my face at the end of it but gardening is so delayed that I couldn't handle spending time waiting months to enjoy something.
These were so good we ended up making perogies again this week. I used the dough recipe from a previous post and made 2.5 dozen.


  • 2 russet potatos
  • 3 jalapeno peppers (Seeds removed)
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper


  1. Peel the potatos then cube and boil them until soft.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave.
  3. In a food processor puree the jalapenos, butter and garlic.
  4. In a stand mixer combine all the ingredients until mixed well.
  5. Cool for 45 min in the fridge so that it hold together when filling the dough.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hoisin Beef Short Ribs

This recipe is a mishmash of a bunch of different food inspirations and can generically be labelled as an "Asian" meat that will be tasty in almost anything. I decided to make beef short ribs because Jess and I were reminiscing about these steamed buns we used to get in New Zealand for a buck at this International Cafeteria near our apartment.
I don't have a steamer so I decided to bake the buns using the recipe for Chinese Cocktail Buns I used a while ago. I had extra meat while I was cooking and ended up making some Banh Mi subs that were amazing. After making the Banh Mi I had an even better idea and cut the buns in half and stuffed in the carrots, cilantro, cucumber, and other sandwich fixins to make mini Banh Mi subs. I didn't get a photo because we had company over but they were fun little snacks to fill up on.

  • 3 lb boneless beef short ribs 
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 cup beef stock
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high (I used the liner to our slow cooker). Sear the ribs 2-3 minutes per side.
  2. Add  the onion, carrots, and celery until soft and a bit browned, 10 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. De-glaze the pan with the beef stock.
  5. Add the hoisin, orange juice, brown sugar, and water. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Cook in the slow cooker for 4 hours, stirring every hour.
  7. Remove the ribs and chop to serve.

Sweet as...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Vector Crunch French Toast

I am sorry for being absent on the blog but I've been busy since our little baby Jack was born. To get back in the swing of things I figured I would start out with something simple with ingredients that most people would have in their kitchen. I crusted French toast with cereal and it was the perfect way to take a fairly pedestrian breakfast and make it a memorable one.

  • some form of sliced bread
  • 3 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups crushed cereal (I used Vector)
  • syrup and jam to top it

  1. I only had two cups of cereal so I just took the bag out of the box and smashed it up on the counter.
  2. In a bowl mix up the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  3. Dunk the bread in the wet mix then coat it in the cereal crumbs.
  4. Brown the bread in a buttered skillet then top with syrup and jam.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beer Mignonette

Drinks and seafood are something that most people have together, but not necessarily mixed into one thing. One of my favourite drinks is a Caesar (a tomato and clam juice, Clamato, mixed with vodka and spices). While traveling internationally people would cringe at the idea of a mussel and a refreshing drink together.  I think that beer and various seafood's were made for each other and it makes sense to have the salty fresh taste from the sea and the cool refreshing flavours of a good beer combined. In the last couple years I have taken my addiction of bivalve molluscs to another level starting with a beer and oyster combo in New Zealand (see below).

After a long afternoon of Stand Up Paddle Boarding the pairing of a a couple beers and a couple oysters was exactly what I needed to recover. If you can throw an oyster in your beer you might as well put some beer in your oysters.
This beer based mignonette is the perfect way to ensure that you still taste the natural greatness of the oyster while tempering some of the flavours so that no single flavour is overwhelming.
My friend hosted an amazing dinner party where different beers were used to enhance every dish from the appetizers to dessert. I swung by early to help and ended up shucking the oysters that we covered with the mignonette. I have a new appreciation for oyster shucking because I felt like I was going to lose my hand at any moment. These were some of the better ones that I miraculously did not mangle. Try to keep the beer intake to a minimum when shucking or you probably will lose a finger or two (safety first).


  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1 beer (We used Creemore Springs - Premium Lager)
  • salt and pepper

  1. Open the beer and let stand for 20 min so that it loses some of the carbonation.
  2. Mince the shallot.
  3. Mix the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Let sit for 30 min to 1 hr to let the shallots absorb some of the beer and lose some of there potency.
  5. Spoon over fresh oysters and top with a squeeze of lemon.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


The bruschetta was so successful I decided to see what else I could whip up with minimal effort and pretty much the same ingredients. Salsa is a mostly tomato dish that has a totally different flavour profile than bruschetta. To take it to the next level I grilled most of the ingredients first to char them and infuse a bit of a smokey flavour.

  • 4 cups tomato
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 handful of cilantro

  1. Cut the tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno in half.
  2. Peel the garlic.
  3. Grill 5 - 10 min or until the skin on the tomatoes and jalapeno is starting to char.
  4. Put everything in a food processor and chop until fine.
  5. If required drain some of the liquid of in a mesh strainer.
  6. Add some salt and pepper.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


If there is bruschetta out I usually can't stop myself from devouring it. It is something you can whip together in 10 minutes and you can't beat the fresh burst of flavours. If you can let it mingle for a couple hours in the fridge it is perfection.
You can buy French/Italian loaf or make some yourself  or find another recipe here (I made a half recipe of the sub buns).

  • 4 cups tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp extra olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 6-8 basil leaves
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp  black pepper
  • 1 tbsp white onion (optional)

  1. Chop in a food processor.
  2. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Raspberry Sherbet

It is a sad day in our household... this is the last creation in our ice cream maker before it cracked and had to be thrown out. It has been a bit of a heat wave here so a fresh raspberry sherbet is exactly what we needed to take the edge off. This was our first venture into making a sherbet and it was pretty much the same as the Philadelphia style ice creams.

  • 4 cups frozen raspberries
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  1. Blend the raspberries, milk, and sugar in a food processor.
  2. Strain the mixture to remove the seeds.
  3. Sir in the lemon juice.
  4. Freeze in your ice cream maker.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Beer Battered Onion Rings

This post is dedicated to two good friends of mine. One is close by and and one is across the world from me. One of my closest friends, Travis, works for Molson and has supplied beer for more occasions than I can count. My favourite is the simple refreshing "Canadian" lager. This was the perfect beer for battering because it is light enough that the food doesn't weigh you down but still provides the flavour you are looking for.
My other friend, Ben, met Jess and I on our adventures through New Zealand and Australia. His hobby of metal working produced the amazing bottle opener shown above. "Canadian's" are convenient twist offs but I couldn't help but team the beer and the opener up to make beer battered onion rings for a BBQ.
At the BBQ I went crazy deep frying anything I could get my hands on. I started with some french fries followed by the onion ring then followed them up with fried jalapeno's and banana peppers. The rings and peppers disappeared pretty quickly right out of the frier, but we did have enough to snap some pictures and some of them even made their way on to the burgers.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • ~ 2 bottles of beer
  • 2 large white onions
  • canola oil, for frying

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour with the spices. Separate one cup.
  2. Whisk in the beer until the mixture is well combined. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  3. Slice the onions into 1/2-inch-thick rings and toss them with the remaining dry cup of flour.
  4. Add the oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot (or fryer) heat until a thermometer reaches 375°F.
  5. Working in batches, dip the onion rings into the prepared batter then immediately drop them into the hot oil. 
  6. Cook the onions in the oil, for about 3 minutes.
  7. Immediately season them with salt.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Caprese Salad

This is a really quick and easy salad to throw together. It is a summer salad from the island of Capri in Italy. We have visited Capri but don't remember the salads being any better there than anywhere else. The island is mostly known for their Grotta Azzurra - "Blue Grotto" (see below). Jess and I traveled through Italy for 3 weeks about 4 years ago and it is where I really started getting into food, (not surprisingly it is when I started getting fat as well), and we learned that one of the best things you can do when traveling is to travel with luggage light enough to carry - I should be in an ad for MEC with both Jess and my bags on while waiting for a ferry back to the mainland.

It was a simple way to showcase my home made mozzarella and is a great cold salad to have on a hot night. My favourite part of it is the burst of freshness from the basil and tomato and the mix of vinegar and oil. You can eat it with a fork and knife or put the whole stack on a cracker or crostini .

I started with a couple tomatoes and tried to use up all the cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • tomato
  • basil
  • olive oil 
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  1.  If you are ambitious, you can thicken the balsamic vinegar by simmering it with some honey.
  2. Slice the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Top with a full basil leaf and slice of mozzarella.
  4. Drizzle with the balsamic and olive oil.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chevre Cheese - Homemade Goats Cheese

Jess and I were on Vancouver Island visiting my family and we took a day trip to Salt Spring Island. We were planning on going to a market but when we got there we found out that they weren't going to run the market for another week (typical island time starting something three weeks after it's planned). We decided to just go to the places that were supposed to be at the market. One of our favourites was the Salt Spring Island Cheese    company. They are mostly known for a fresh goats cheese that they pair with different things to flavour it. After touring the facility and abusing the samples I decided that it would be a good challenge to make it on my own.
I found it to be very easy to make a cheese that was just as good as Salt Spring and about a third of the cost.


  • 2 liters goats milk
  • 1/4 tsp mesophilic culture  (Bought online from http://www.thecheesemaker.com/)
  • 1 drop liquid vegetable rennet mixed in 1/8 cup water
  • cheese cloth
  • sea salt 
  • flavouring of your choice (I used garlic chili and olive tapenade)

* Plan to make this recipe 2 days before you plan on eating it. It is not time consuming on your part, it just requires a lot of setting and draining time.
  1. Heat the milk to 75 degrees F.
  2. Sprinkle the mesophilic culture on the milk and let it dissolve for a couple minutes.
  3. Stir the milk with up and down motions of your spoon.
  4. Add the rennet mixture and gently stir.
  5. Cover the pot and set aside for 16 hours at room temperature.
  6. After culturing it will look like yogurt sitting in whey (the clear liquid).
  7. Line a colander with a couple layers of cheese cloth.
  8. Pour in the cheese then tie the corners up and hang it from a cupboard handle to drain.
  9. Drain for 6 to 8 hours.
  10. Remove from the cheese cloth and add some sea salt. If your going to add herbs line a short glass with olive oil add the herbs then the cheese.

This is an easy recipe that produces amazing creamy cheese that you can kick up to another level with herbs or sauces that you probably have in the refrigerator.