Browsing: Entrees

Chapatis-An Indian Lunch


I do not anything about Indian food.  Ive been out for Indian food a couple of times in Winnipeg but only under the tutelage of others more experienced than I.  Today one of my students invited me to taste his homemade lunch.

He unwrapped the chapati which he described to me as being made from a firm dough made from whole grain flour and water mixed with a little bit of salt and oil.  Small portions of the dough are rolled out into discs using a rolling pin. The rolled-out dough is thrown on the preheated dry skillet and cooked on both sides.

Spices mixed and ready to be crushed into curry.

Often, the top of a chapati is slathered with butter or ghee (clarified butter). Chapatis made in domestic kitchens are usually not larger than 6-7 inches in diameter since the ‘tava’ from which they are made comes in sizes that fit comfortably on a domestic stove top. Tavas were traditionally made of unglazed earthenware, but are now typically made from metal. There are also electric tavas manufactured in India.  Some households simply use a kitchen work top as a sort of pastry board, but homes have round flat-topped ‘boards’ specifically for rolling out chapatis that may be made of wood or stone.

A piece of chapati is torn off and used to pick up the vegetable dish.  This families version is a combination of carrots, peas and potatoes, quickly tossed in a skillet with some salt, olive oil and he said chili powder (but I am pretty sure he meant curry).  The complex taste of curry is certainly the taste that I detected.

I was offered what he called pickles-succulent, marinated pieces of chili and ginger.  To off set the spiciness of the vegetables, a yogurt sauce with a simple sprinkling of salt and pepper could be dolloped on top.

I know that this gentleman’s diet is dictated by his religious beliefs and that he feels that it is his responsibility to eat healthy, whole foods.  This shared lunch, certainly was an indication of those premises.  In my life, there is no greater honour, than when a person invites me to share their lovingly prepared meal.

Kath’s quote:  “This curry was like a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that I’d once heard…..especially the last movement, with everything screaming and banging ‘Joy.’ It stunned, it made one fear great art. My father could say nothing after the meal.”-Anthony Burgess


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Three Sisters Lentil Chili


Last night was our monthly young families’ night and I was stumped.  I’ve been travelling a lot lately and between trying to get caught up on my “real” work and tidying the house for guests, I didn’t have a lot of time for supper preparations.  Sister #3 came to my rescue with an enormous pot of what we call “Three Sisters Lentil Chili”.

She says that it is a snap to make but it actually tastes very complex-between the sweetness of the carrot, the tartness from the salsa, the slightly spicy taste of the chili powder.  The texture is varied too, between the variety of beans and lentils.

She has a very good friend who is vegan and this is the dish that she makes for her when her gf is visiting from Toronto.  We served it with a sprinkling of cheese but that is an after thought.  This is truly a vegan dish.

Here is the recipe:

Three Sisters Lentil Chili

2 tbsp + 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 19 oz can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 19 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 19 oz mixed beans (kidney, pinto and chick peas), drained & rinsed
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup medium salsa
2 tbsp + 1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 12 oz (340 g) package Yves Veggie Ground Round
  • Heat a large pot. Add the oil and onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent, approximately 3 minutes
  • Add the carrots, red pepper, and the garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes
  • Add the can of lentils, kidney beans, plum tomatoes, tomato paste, salsa, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and basil
  • Bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender
  • Add the package of Yves Veggie ground round and heat through.

Serves 8

I had roasted some leeks the day before and made this swirled bread.  Sister #3 also provided some left over corn bread.  If we had not been entertaining such little ones, I might have served the dish with taco chips too.  Those delicious but pesky chips can get caught in toddlers’ throats.

For dessert we had strawberries and bananas dipped in sour cream and brown sugar AND a surprize birthday cake: brown flour and carrot cake with a light and delicious cream cheese icing.  I was so busy trying to facilitate the kids getting their supper, that I forgot to get a picture of the beautiful cake!

Kath’s quote:  “Lentils are friendly—the Miss Congeniality of the bean world.”
-Laurie Colwin

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Le Grand Pestos-Part 3


The Frenchman and Daughter #2 made up the team that drew the side dishes.  They decided to work independently on two separate little plates.

Both dishes included Le Grand Garden pesto.  D #2 assembled a silky cream of potato and butter nut squash soup.  She creatively initialed each bowl for every member of the family.

The Frenchman opted to use the same gorgeous green Garden pesto and blended it with chopped poached shrimp and feta and stuffed it into a mushroom cap.  Parmesan shards were melted on top.  He also grilled marinated artichokes to accompany the caps.

Both members of this team are very proficient in the kitchen and very confident in their skills.  This can create high drama just like the reality shows that we were recreating.

The third team made up of the Son and his wife (J1 & J2) drew the entree and the Le Grand Sundried Tomato pesto.  They worked somewhat independently as well but more harmoniously (they’ve known each other since they were 12, after all).

J2 fired up the barbie and stood in the snow flipping her grilled zucchini and eggplant disks.  She crumbled feta upon the circles when they had finished grilling.  She then stacked them Inukshuk style to accompany the chicken.

J1took a family favourite and modified it to incorporate the “hero” product.  First he pasted the inside of the breast with the bright, colourful and tasty pesto, then added cheese and fresh spinach that J2 had steamed for him.  After the ingredients were sealed inside he bathed it in a mixture of Dijon mustard and white wine.  This provided adherence for fresh bread crumb coating.  While these were baking, they created a spicy cream sauce from the pesto that was kicked up with some chili powder and tabasco.

Once the chicken was cooked and sliced, smudges of the sauce were placed atop in addition to dollops which graced the plate.  J1 loves hot sauces while he is aware that others in the family prefer more subtle tastes.

Before the end of the evening, we were declaring that we would all be anxious to purchase the Le Grand pestos on a regular basis because of the ease of handling, gorgeous bright colours and startlingly fresh tastes.    We also knew that these family cooking challenges would be a regular occurrence perhaps even involving extended family up at the cottage.

As I provided the live tweets and was the videographer and photographer, I did not do any of the cooking.  The rule in our family therefore, is that I did the dishes.  This was accomplished in two dishwasher loads that evening as well as (I’m guessing) 4 sink fulls of pots.  Hmm, next time, which cooking team, shall I try to get on?

Kath’s quote: “Life is too short to stuff a mushroom.”-Shirley Conran

Le Grand Pestos-Part 2


The stage was set.  Teams were formed, courses were drawn, the three Le Grand Pestos were revealed as the secret ingredients, and oh yea, the wine was poured.

D had made a bread dough in the afternoon to bake a loaf to have with supper.  But when he and Daughter #1 picked the appetizer course, they quickly modified their plans to use the dough for pizza.

We were calling it pizza because they used our round pizza screens to bake it but it really tasted more like a flatbread.  No matter how you describe it-call it absolutely delicious.

The team made a couple of very strategic decisions.  At one time, they were contemplating the inclusion of corn meal crusted back bacon but decided instead to make the flatbread a true vegetarian recipe.

They started with huge smears of the gorgeous green pesto and then began layering on the roasted vegetables: yellow and red peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and butternut squash.

They went very easy on the cheese so that the complex and varied tastes of the roasted vegetables would shine through.  There was mozzarella, Parmesan and a light sprinkling of Bothwell’s red wine and sharp cheddar as well.

In addition, in order to offset the nuttiness of the pesto, they included roasted pine nuts to add some crunch.

The resulting appetizer course could have been our entire meal, but we kept warning each other to stop eating so we would have room for the other dishes that were still ahead.

I was looking for a flat bread quotation, when I came across this one regarding flatulence (with apologies to my vegetarian readers and friends).  Kath’s quote: “Vegetarianism is harmless enough, though it is apt to fill a man with wind and self-righteousness.”-Sir Robert Hutchinson


Jamie Oliver’s Spaghetti Bolognaise


Jamie Oliver is my kind of guy-his recipes use affordable ingredients, he is an ambassador of “real” food, he loves his kids and his wife, his success has apparently not changed his wardrobe and he writes his recipes as if he were standing in the kitchen next to you:  “don’t worry about technique, just chop away until fine”, “if you’re ready to tuck in,  just drape the warm slices over the lettuce and serve” , “it would be lovely if everyone had a go at making things like tarts, tortes or pastries at home…..”

My prized “Food Revolution” Cookbook was a gift from my son and daughter (in law) #3.  This past Sunday dinner (mandatory) I prepared a big batch of spaghetti and then sent everybody home with left overs.  I added a couple of my own modifications and the kids had their own improvement as well.  Here is the result:

2 slices of bacon, chopped

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

olive oil

2 heaped t of dried oregano

1 lb good quality beef 

28 oz. can of diced tomatoes


a small bunch of fresh basil

4 oz. Parmesan cheese

1 lb. dried spaghetti

I doubled the recipe and used a lb. of ground beef and a thinly sliced flank steak from the freezer.  I soaked both in milk before cooking (a technique I had seen in another Bolognese recipe) and then finely chopped up the flank steak.

Saute bacon with oregano and cook until golden.  Add veggies and stir every frequently until softened and lightly coloured.  Stir in the meat (drained if soaked in milk) and tomatoes.  Now Jamie adds a can of water but the kids think that this makes the sauce too soupy, so go by your own preference.  Let simmer until veggies or to your desired firmness (approx. 20 minutes).  Add S&P to taste.  Add freshly torn basil leaves.  Cook pasta to your liking and when it is el dente, drain and stir into the sauce.    Sprinkle with Parmesan.

For more beef ideas, go to  I am dreaming of time away at Eat, Write, Retreat

Kath’s quote: “The strands of spaghetti were vital, almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It was hard to imagine that four simple ingredients [olive oil, pasta, garlic and cheese] could marry so perfectly.”-Ruth Reichl

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