Saturday, December 10, 2016

Slow comfort food

This month the weather hasn't been very cold, but the nights are getting longer, and it seems to trigger an instinct to sleep and eat more. Pots simmered on the stove with chile, spaghetti sauces, broths, and soups to satisfy my cravings for comfort food.

I tried several new recipes and added to my repertoire. Favourites were:

  • Lupini Beans
  • Samosas
  • Canadian Yellow Split Pea Soup
  • Asian Short Ribs
  • Pulled Pork

There are a few things I notice about the list: it's full of food that takes hours, and in one case several days, to prepare; it's international, with recipes from Italy, India, Asia, French Canada, and the Southern States; and four out of five recipes came from the internet - even though I have a cupboard full of cook books.

Here are the recipes:

Lupini Beans

I had a craving for white bean soup so grabbed some dried beans from the cupboard, prepped them in the pressure cooker, and then went to look for a recipe using lupini beans. Turns out you need to soak the beans for 5-9 DAYS to make them edible. Otherwise, they are actually toxic.

So every day for nine days, I changed the water in the morning and evening. On Day 5, I took a nibble and the bean was still bitter. On Day 8 they were great. Nice and firm and meaty. The shell around the bean is fairly tough so must be removed before eating, but it can be fun it you eat them as a snack and squeeze the bean out of the shell.

One of the ways to serve these beans turns out to be an Italian Christmas tradition, drizzling oil on top and serving with olives.


This month I also (successfully) made samosas  (by hand!).  Which also meant making pie dough. I'm not a baker so was pleasantly surprised that it really wasn't too difficult to make a pie crust, it took about a half an hour. I think if I were to do it again I'd be a lot quicker.

As for cutting and rolling the samosas there are lots of methods, but I chose the one from Smashed, Mashed, Boiled and Baked by Raghavan Iyer. (I had to take the photo on the left as there were no google results displaying a better pic). This seemed the easiest and most straightforward approach from the ones I saw online.

After finishing making the dough, you roll out one big log and then divide it into eight smaller balls, and then flatten each ball into a disc. Since I wasn't making the samosa right away, I wrapped the discs in plastic and placed them in the fridge until the next day. Then I formed each disc into a ball again, rolled the balls into a circle, cut the circles in half, curled the circle into a cone, stuffed it, and wet the dough at the top to seal the edge tightly closed.

The sweet potato filling wasn't to everyone's taste (Penny and I loved it, Rob and Alex not so much). But the dough was a hit.

Canadian Yellow Split Pea Soup

We were out at St. Lawrence Market, and one of the butchers had big bags of beef bones on the counter selling for $2. Perfect for beef stock. When he mentioned smoked pork ham hocks, I couldn't resist.

That same afternoon I had two big pots bubbling on the stove. One full of beef stock that would take ten hours to simmer.  The other a French Canadian classic that would simmer just 3 1/2 hours. I found the  five-star favourite for the yellow split pea soup on All Recipes.

Asian Short Ribs

Alex and Penny were entertaining and asked me for a recipe for ribs I'd made in the slow cooker four weeks earlier. I was flattered, but unfortunately couldn't recall making them whatsoever. I even checked my browsing history but it didn't go back quite far enough. It wasn't until Alex reminded me I'd served them with rice and orange slices, that I remembered SHORT ribs, and easily found the recipe.

Yes, it was tasty! And extremely simple.  From Dam Delicious.


  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 5 pound bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, beef broth, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and red pepper flakes, if using.
  2. Place short ribs into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in soy sauce mixture until well combined.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.*
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Stir in mixture into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and sesame seeds, if desired.

Pulled Pork

The slow cooker was also put to work to prepare delicious pulled pork for Rob's & Alex' reverso 26-62 birthday party. That recipe, I did bookmark, along with the spicy coleslaw that was a perfect match. I followed the instructions, but then added a splash of bourbon for some extra zing. I'll be making this one again - and soon, for an upcoming whiskey tasting.

(Serves 12)
1 4 lb(s) boneless pork shoulder
1 big splash vegetable oil
1 5 ½ oz can tomato paste
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup yellow mustard
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 Tbsp cumin powder
½ cup chili powder
2 Tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
soft sandwich buns for everyone
Spicy Coleslaw
1. Place a heavy Dutch oven or large stew pot over medium-high heat and splash in enough oil to swirl and coat the bottom with a thin film. Carefully add the pork roast to the hot oil and commence Operation Browning. Continue, turning the works as needed until the meat is evenly browned on all sides. Be patient! This is the only opportunity you’ll have to add the rich flavours of browned meat to the dish before the coming liquids are added and lower the temperature.
2. When the roast is evenly browned transfer it to a slow cooker. Stir together the tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, mustard, chipotle pepper, cumin, chili powder and oregano, add a cup or so of water to help evenly dissolve and distribute the flavours. Pour over the pork. Cook for 6 or 8 hours or longer as needed depending on your slow cooker settings. Reverently return, carefully remove the top and behold your achievement!
3. Using a pair of tongs remove the bones and cartilage. With a pair of forks or tongs shred and pull the remaining meat and stir together with the broth. You have a lot of food. Enough to divide into two different meals. Here’s how. Remove and reserve half the proceeds for another meal then make tonight’s dinner with the remaining goodness in the pot.

Craft and build your sandwiches by piling the pulled pork on the soft buns and topping with lots of Spicy Coleslaw. Serve and share!

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