enjoying the foliage

Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Last year, Pratima wrote about her trip to Chicago and her fantastic excursion to Lou Mitchell’s, a diner with excellent omelettes and cute old ladies who hand out donut-holes foryou to nibble on while you decide what you want for breakfast. I second her exultations!

I was in Chicago for a couple of days for a philosophy conference last month but spent the first day wandering around the city (the lakeshore and the Art Institute are great!). My first stop was the diner–we directed our cab from the airport to it straight away. It was lovely and delicious, just as Pratima described. The omelettes were incredibly fluffy–just the thing to start our adventure.

Of course, I vowed to try and replicate the omelette experience at home, and I think, as of today, we’ve succeeded. Behold, the spinach and feta omelette (what Lou Mitchell’s calls the ‘Spinach Special’):

Note: One of the most important things about fluffy omelettes, or so I’ve read in various places, is making them in a small skillet so that the eggs don’t spread too much and actually have a chance to rise. An 8-inch skillet should do, though we found a 7-inch Earth chef skillet recently at the Bay for about $13–ceramic nonstick and oven safe.


  • 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 3 or 4  large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 25 g or so of feta, cubed
  • milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Put cubed butter in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Sautee onions with a bit of oil and salt over medium heat until soft and slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside in another bowl.
  4. In the meantime, wilt spinach (I just nuke it in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds). When it cools, wring out the excess water, and chop it finely.
  5. Add chopped spinach and feta to onions.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and yolk vigorously for a minute or so. Add milk, salt, and pepper, and beat some more, incorporating air until bubbles form around the edges of the mixture. Right before you’re ready to put the eggs in the pan, add the frozen butter to the egg mixture.
  7. Add a bit of butter to the same skillet when hot (again on medium heat). After it foams and melts, give it a swirl, and then add the egg mixture. Using a small spatula (silicone seems the best option), dislodge the edges of the omelette from the pan as they start to cook, letting uncooked egg take its place. Keep doing this until the bottom of the omelette towards the centre starts to set. Add the spinach, onion, feta filling and incorporate into the eggs. When the omelette is almost set–the top will still be slightly runny–stick in the oven for about 3 to 3 and a half minutes or when the surface of the omelette is fully cooked.
  8. Remove from pan, fold in half, and serve with toast. 🙂

This omelette is pretty easy to make with a bit of practice. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures. I can’t seem to find my camera anywhere.


I was doing the catering for this peace-fair/info-fest at Ottawa U and one of the guys I was cooking with discovered this:

-one block of extra firm tofu chopped into half-inch cubes

-fried in more oil than you think you need

-enough cayenne pepper to kill you

-too much salt

-a few pinches of brown sugar to taste

And fry that all up until to tofu absorbs the spices and sugars. Not to take credit, I didn’t invent this. This tofu is good in curries, fried rice, and other thing.

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Aside from papers, class, and food, life has been woefully uninteresting lately. And so, I present you with the vegetarian chili recipe I used yesterday for tomorrow’s Philosophy and Feminism potluck. I had some for lunch today and can vouch empirically for its overall goodness. The recipe was adapted from something I found in one of those seasonal Longo’s compendiums.


  • 1 Spanish onion – the bigger, the better (I just like onions) – roughly diced
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cup veggie stock
  • 5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 796 mL cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 can kidney beans (or whatever other lentils you like in your chili)
  • 2 sweet peppers, roughly diced (I had a yellow one, and I stole a green one from the crisper)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large stew-pot-type vessel (I used the biggest one in the house and it filled to the brim) and throw in the onions, garlic, and spices on medium heat for about five minutes.
  2. sprinkle the flour over everything in the pot, give things a mix, and let it all cook for another minute.
  3. add the chicken stock and give things another stir.
  4. put in the sweet potatoes and diced tomatoes, then let everything come to a boil.
  5. cover the pot and turn down the heat so that everything is simmering nicely for about 20 minutes.
  6. add the kidney beans and peppers, and let it all simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes.
  7. give things a taste, add salt and pepper as necessary
  8. let it cool on the stove top, stick it in the fridge, and then leave it there overnight or for as long as you can wait. the flavours will meld and it’ll thicken up deliciously.


This probably took me about an hour and a half to do with all of the chopping and clean-up. Like most tubers, sweet potatoes are a pain to work with unless you have a knife with some decent weight. I would be a much happier cook if I had a Chinese cleaver, but alas…

For those of you who actually like spice, substitute a sweet pepper for something that actually has kick. I was cooking for people whose palates I know nothing about, so sweet is always safe.

I love to cook, but my kitchen is cozy at best, and on most days, it is cramped and cluttered with dirty dishes. As a result, I tend to live off of not particularly wholesome dinners of tuna on rye and spinach salad and the like. Things took a turn for the better on Wednesday though because a snow day is always a good excuse to waste more time than you in fact have. Inspired by Anthony Sedlak, I made a somewhat decent dinner that took about an hour from cutting board to dinner plate.



  • 5 medium-ish yukon golds
  • two cooking onions
  • 500 g spicy Italian sausage (traditionally raised pork)
  • as much spinach as you like
  • olive oil
  • coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper

On to the cooking!

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. Wash and scrub your spuds, make generous cubes out of them. Toss them into a baking pan and then coat them with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Put them into the oven for 10 odd minutes or so.
  3. In the meantime, roughly chop up your onions and cut the sausage into fair chunks.
  4. When the potatoes are on their way to golden (after the first ten minutes), give them a toss in the pan, add the onions and sausage and put everything back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
  5. Everything should be carmelised and delicious after this second bout in the oven. Grab a plate, make a bed of greens with some spinach (I always have 1 kg of the pre-washed baby stuff on hand because I’m lazy), and load up on things from the oven.

This is a ridiculously simple dinner and isn’t that deadly. It may be a little heavy on the sodium and saturated fat, but since I can’t be bothered with meat most of the time anyway, a little sausage is all right with me. It’s also great in the sense that it requires minimal supervision. I played 3 battles in Warsong Gulch, won 2 of them, and lost the third narrowly, while making and waiting for this dinner. I even cleaned up in time to get to a philosophy debate at 7, when I’d started dinner at 5. Of course, I had to sacrifice the shower I kind of needed to actually get to Stirling Hall and later regretted it, but that’s another story…