Culinary Goods

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culinary goods

Welcome to Culinary Goods a journal written by Trevor Walker. It includes a growing collection of simple recipes that I refer to when cooking for our own family and some reflections on (mostly) culinary topics. Feel free to post comments and share your own family's tried and true recipes.

French Lentil Soup with Pan Bagnat


For the past six weeks I’ve followed a menu plan set.  I received it as a bachelor sometime in the ’90s and tried it briefly until the grocery lists and volume of food (even halving the recipes) proved too much.  It’s packaged somewhat like a traditional recipe box and the set of recipes and shopping lists follow through from week one to week six.  Each week includes recipes for lunches and dinners followed by that week’s grocery list.

As Head-Child-Wrangler-and-Meal-Preparer these days, I decided to dust it off and give it another try. Having a set structure to work with has proven to be very helpful. I’m saving time by reducing the number of visits to the grocery store each week, not to mention the time each day that would be spent with my head in the fridge determining what to make and what I need to buy. I think less is ending up in the compost and garbage as well. It’s also harder to justify eating out when the food for dinner is in the fridge and a reasonably quick recipe is on the counter, so there’s a savings there too. Best of all if something doesn’t really workout I have the meal plan as a handy scapegoat.

I’ve sensed potential mutiny in the kitchen just a few times – perhaps there were too many bean salads with assorted crudities (raw vegetables) in the first week or two.  It’s a vegetarian meal plan and one I suspect was developed by non-vegetarian nutritionists sometime in the 80′s (the authors have a new menu plan out now which appears much updated).  I’ve learned to adjust the recipes and when confronted with something like Lentil Loaf Baguette (seriously) to seek inspiration elsewhere.  I’ve also managed to substitute out the myriad of stuffed potato recipes, to generally use less cumin than suggested, and add more butter or oil (important fats for developing minds) to pretty much everything.

All considered it’s going well.  There have been many winners in the box too. The pita pizzas in particular have been a hit and Anton has enjoyed helping to put them together.  These remind me of the little English muffin pizzas my Mom and I would create and freeze for lunches when I was a kid.

I’m finding that sitting down once a week to come up with adjustments and substitutes is enjoyable and I’m noting the changes for the next time.  With a few rounds through many of the cards will be replaced with our own recipes, inspired by what was originally suggested for the day, and recipes sourced from elsewhere. We’ll also strive to make it more in keeping with the seasons and what we can produce in our evolving garden.  Here’s what I came up with to replace the Lentil Loaf Baguette.

French Lentil Soup

This is based on a wonderful recipe (Potage puree de lentilles) that Julia Child (From Julia Child’s Kitchen, Alfred A. Knopf, 1975, p. 12) describes as a meal-in-a-pot soup.  It’s a classic French soup that serves four to six people. In the cookbook she includes a wonderful history of the culinary use of lentils and traces it back to the Grand Prior of the Knights Tempars in the Eighteenth Century, as well as earlier to biblical times.

  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek (or substitute another onion)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (or other stock or water)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/3 cup diced rutabaga (or turnip, or neither)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils du puy or black beluga lentils
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Chop the celery, carrot, onion, and leek into medium sized pieces.

Heat the butter in a saucepan, add the vegetables (except the rutabaga), and cook at medium low.  Stir occasionally for approximately 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown.

Stir in the flour and cook for two minutes before removing the pan from the stove.

Gradually stir in one cup of the hot stock into the flour until they are mixed completely.  Add the rest of the stock and return to the stove at a simmer.  Stir in the bay leaf, thyme, rutabaga, lentils, and salt.

Cover the pan loosely for a gentle simmer over about an hour and a half – until the lentils are tender.

Carefully (so as not to burn oneself) blend half the soup (I use a hand blender and blend up the vegetables but leave about half the lentils intact).  Add water or stock if the soup is too thick.

Serve in warmed bowls (pour hot water into them, let it sit for a few minutes, and then pour it out before filling with the soup) with a teaspoon of olive oil or butter on top.

Pan Bagnat

There are plenty of ways to flatten a pan bagnat, the traditional tuna and vegetable sandwich from Nice. You could weight it with heavy books, or with a nice fat brick. You could squeeze it under a cast-iron skillet piled with cans, or press it beneath a stack of plates. Or you could find a child of about 7 and simply have her sit on it. - Melissa Clark, New York Times, Published: August 8, 2007.

The recipe that I based my Pan Bagnat on is from our Moosewood cookbook (Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, The Moosewood Collective, 1994 – p. 266). It’s without tuna unlike a traditional recipe (the New York times has a good recipe with tuna).  Both recipes that I looked at suggest the use of a toddler or young child to help squish the sandwich.  I can’t imagine getting Anton or Viola to sit still for long enough so I opted for a wooden cutting board, cast iron frying pan, and a glass bottle of water.  It looked a bit perilous but all remained on top of the sandwich – and no animals (Farley’s inquisitive nose caused me some concern as the sandwich sat wrapped on the butcher block with it’s leaning tower on top) or children were harmed.

  • 1 baquette or other French bread
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tomato, sliced thinly
  • 1 cucumber, sliced thinly
  • red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives
  • salt and ground black pepper

Slice the bread in half lengthwise, nearly all the way through.  Open the loaf and spread the garlic on one of the cut sides.  Drizzle the olive oil on both sides.  Layer the vegetables on one half of the bread.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Close the loaf and wrap it tightly with aluminum foil.  Weight the full length of the Pan Bagnat with something heavy for 1 to 3 hours.  Slice and serve.


Also, here are a few interesting food-related links that I’ve received lately:

posted March 12, 2012 in all categories,picnic

Christine’s Italian Bread


A while back one of my former professors at U-Vic made a posting to comment on the closing of the store and to share a favourite recipe.   It’s been a long time since I was a student in the School of Environmental Studies and it’s really nice to feel the ongoing support of the community there.  Thanks to Nancy Turner and Christine Scott for sharing this recipe:

2 cups warm water
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
about 4-5 cups white flour (or whole wheat, and add oatmeal, cornmeal, sunflower seeds, flax seed or other)

Add yeast, sugar and salt to warm water and let sit until yeast is dissolved. Add flour (and other option ingredients), slowly until a thick dough consistency is reached, then knead 50-100 times, until dough is smooth (smear your hands with olive oil to prevent dough sticking to fingers). When dough is in a large ball, place in large bowl, coated with olive oil. Brush with oil, and cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk. Divide dough in half, form into two oblong loaves, and place on cookie sheet, well spaced. (sprinkle corn meal or oatmeal on sheet to prevent loaves from sticking). Slash loaves with diagonal cuts, and place loaves into cold oven. Set temperature to 400 degrees and bake about 45 minutes or until bread is golden brown.

Tonight I made Christine’s Italian bread and we ate it with bowls of Portuguese Fish Soup.  I typically make ‘no-knead’ breads but tonight much enjoyed the bit of kneading, shorter rising, and lack of a resting period in this recipe.  I chose to use a cup of spelt flour, a cup of Vancouver Island Red Spring Wheat (from True Grain), and two cups of regular organic white flour.  It was great with the soup and I’m looking forward to slicing up the remaining bread and toasting it tomorrow morning.

posted January 10, 2012 in All Recipes,breads

Runny’s Mancy Feal


Runny Babbit hopped into a rancy festaurant.

The saiter waid, ‘Just dit right sown-

I’ll gell you what we tot:

We got ied freggs, oiled beggs,

Oached peggs and ambled screggs;

Hoiled bam, hied fram,

Hiced spam and hountry cam;

Canpakes, ciddle grakes,

Ceat whakes, cayer lakes;

Choast ricken, chaked bicken,

Chied fricken, chuffed sticken;

We got brye read, born cread,

Breat whead, Brench fread;

Beet swutter, bapple utter,

Beanut putter, belted mutter;

Fitewhish, fordswish,

Fickled pish, fatcish;


Runny Babbit: a Billy Sook, Shel Silverstein, 1995, p. 50.

posted January 10, 2012 in Articles of Interest

Brioche Cinnamon Buns with Chocolate


On Wednesday evening I made dough for brioche (click for the recipe) from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook and on Thursday morning we let it rise, popped it in the oven, and soon were enjoying a wonderful sweet buttery loaf with our coffee.  The recipe following the link doesn’t detail the actual baking of the loaf: place in a bread pan (butter it unless it’s non-stick – see note below), allow to rest for an hour and 20 minutes, preheat oven to 350 degrees, brush the top of the loaf with an egg which has been beaten with 1 tbsp water, and then bake the loaf for about 40 minutes.

So far we’ve baked several recipes from the cookbook including the basic Boule recipe, the Caraway Swirl Rye, Crusty White Sandwich Loaf, and the Olive Oil Dough (our standard for pizza).  The Portuguese Fish Stew recipe was good too. Flipping through it I’m excited to see we still have many new recipes to experience such as: Babka, Panettone (for next season), Almond Brioche ‘Bostock’, Challah, Lavash, Pretzels, and Oatmeal Bread (I’ll be making this one soon).

We often use a pizza stone and peal for the Boule recipe but we also have great success with our Kaiser loaf pan.  The authors state that a pan with a non-stick coating is essential for their method but I find that with a little oil or butter on the Kaiser pan (which doesn’t have the non-stick coating but is evenly dimpled) the loaves come out without much effort.

I halved the brioche recipe to make dough for two loaves.  Anton has been asking for cinnamon buns (he remembers the ones we used to get from Sally Bun, which was so temptingly near the store) so this morning Erica used the second round of dough to make decadent brioche cinnamon buns with chocolate (my fuzzy photo of them above).  She was inspired by a recipe for Cinnamon-Nut Buns on the Martha Stewart website. Erica substituted the brioche dough for the dinner roll dough used in the recipe.  The result was fantastic. There is only one left and I’m doing my best not to reach for it now.

In my e-mail today I received a link to a beautiful video on the Art of Bread-Making from Kinfolk Magazine.

Dutch Oven Bread from Kinfolk on Vimeo.

Wishing you many moments of grace and contentment in 2012 – and hopefully many fresh warm loaves too!

posted December 31, 2011 in breads,with coffee

just so

photo 0032 by Anton Walker

photo 0032 by Anton Walker

Recently, I noticed an old copy of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories on our bookshelf.  It must have been Erica’s Dad’s.  It’s been wonderful reading from it to Anton and Viola (sometimes Farley curls up on the floor near us too).  I’ve been keeping an eye out for a food-related passage to post.

This passage comes from ‘The Cat that Walked by Himself’ which is a story explaining how Woman domesticated man, dog, horse, and cow but could not fully domesticate cat…

She picked out a nice dry Cave, instead of a heap of wet leaves, to lie down in; and she strewed clean sand on the floor; and she lit a nice fire of wood at the back of the Cave; and she hung a dried wild-horse skin, tail-down, across the opening of the Cave; and she said, “wipe your feet, dear, when you come in, and now we’ll keep house.”

That night, Best Beloved, they ate wild sheep roasted on the hot stones, and flavoured with wild garlic and wild pepper; and wild duck stuffed with wild rice and wild fenugreek and wild coriander; and marrow-bones of wild oxen; and wild cherries, and wild grenadillas.   Then the Man went to sleep in front of the fire ever so happy; but the woman sat up combing her hair.   She took the bone of the shoulder of mutton-the big fat blade-bone-and she looked at the wonderful marks on it, and she threw more wood on the fire, and she made a Magic.  She made the First Singing Magic in the world.

Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling, Doubleday & Company, 1907, p. 198.

posted December 8, 2011 in Articles of Interest

A Plenty Christmas Pop-up (well sort of)


After last Christmas at the store we had quite a few wonderful Fair Trade ornaments remaining (seems the Christmas spirit had carried me away when I ordered them). We have donated the remainders to the Oak Bay Parent Owned Preschool, where our son Anton attends.

The ornaments will be sold during their annual Christmas tree sale.  Details are below – please note that trees need to be purchased in advance and picked-up at the school on December 10th.  The last day to order them online is November 30th.  However, even if you aren’t interested in a tree please consider stopping by for a hot drink, a treat from the bake sale table, and pick-up an ornament or two!  Cash please.  I’ll also be trimming our holly beforehand and hope to drop some stems off for the sale.

- 2011 Christmas Tree Sales -

For over 30 years, the Oak Bay Parent Owned Preschool has sold Christmas trees to raise funds to operate the school and each year they also contribute bake sale proceeds to a community charity.

Cowichan Valley Christmas Trees:
-5 1/2 to 7 foot tall Douglas Fir trees. Grown on the Island in the Cowichan Valley.
-Tree’s are cut the day before pick up – so they’re fresh.
-Pick up day is Saturday, December 10, 2011, between 8:00am and 12:00pm.
-Tree’s can be easily purchased by clicking here and selecting the ‘Buy Now’ link on the right hand side of the new page.
-Tree price is $32.00 including HST.
-Note that if you purchase your tree online, you won’t receive a voucher. You will only need to provide your name on tree pick up day.
posted November 30, 2011 in Articles of Interest

Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes


One of our favourite meals is Aloo Gobi (Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes) from the incredible The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking: Lord Krishna’s Cuisine by Yamuna Devi.  It would take us a lifetime to try all the great recipes in this cookbook and we often look to it for inspiration when faced with an odd assortment of vegetables in our weekly organics box.  Aloo Gobi has made me look upon cauliflower with eager anticipation.

We are in the midst of a kitchen reno (hole in the roof is patched but there is still a rather large gaping hole in the ceiling – much more work to be done) and most of our cookbooks are packed safely away.  I googled “Yamuna Devi, Aloo Gobi” and received 1480 results – not a difficult recipe to find!  I suspect that this is a much loved recipe in many households.

Yamuna Devi (1987). The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking: Lord Krishna’s Cuisine. Illustrations by David Baird. New York, New York: Bala Books.

Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes (Aloo Gobi)

5 Servings

  • 2 hot green chilies, minced
  • 1 1/2″ piece of ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 4 tablespoons ghee (or 2 tablespoons each vegetable oil & butter)
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium cauliflower in florets
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped coriander

Combine chilies, ginger, cumin seeds & mustard seeds in a small bowl. Heat ghee in a large pot. When hot, add the spices. When the mustard seeds start to pop, drop in the potatoes and cauliflower. Fry for 4 minutes or so.

Add the tomatoes, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, sugar, salt and half the minced coriander. Mix well, cover and gently heat for 15 minutes. If the vegetables start to stick, add a few drops of water. Top with remaining coriander and serve.

Click here to read a wonderful profile of Yamuna Devi.

posted November 27, 2011 in All Recipes,comfort food

Pumpkin Biscotti – by Bobbie Holob

photo by Bobbie Holob

photo by Bobbie Holob

Hey pumpkin bumpkins, “Seasons Greetings”!

I smell a theme…..just found the recent plenty-posts and thought I would join in. You know me – love a theme and what better! These ‘pumpkin spice biscotti’ turned out quite good but were chewy versus the normal crunchy. They have been enjoyed and more so with a favorite cuppa!

TW: Bobbie followed a Pumpkin Biscotti recipe submitted by Garrett McCord to Simply Recipes. Garrett recommends enjoying the biscotti with a warm cup of chai or espresso.

–  Bobbie, thanks for the photo and inspiration to try my hand at biscotti.

posted October 28, 2011 in All Recipes,Fall recipes,with coffee

Halloween Pasta

Photo: Harald Bischoff,

Photo: Harald Bischoff,

Here’s another pumpkin recipe to celebrate the season.  We had pumpkin left over from the Lentil Soup with Pumpkin and Fennel that I last posted.  It’s little known that roasted pumpkin (other squash as well) makes for a great pasta sauce.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 400g / 1 lb pumpkin, roughly chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • a few sprigs thyme, leaves snipped (optional)
  • pepper, to taste
  • nutmeg, to taste (optional)
  • a splash of water or white wine
  • 400g dried pasta
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • grated parmesan
  • toasted pecans, walnuts, or pine nuts
  1. heat olive oil and sweat the onion, ~ 10 min.
  2. add garlic, pumpkin, salt, thyme and cover & cook over low heat until disintegrated into a course puree (add water or wine as needed to prevent it from drying out), ~ 35 min. stirring occasionally
  3. once cooked, season with pepper & nutmeg
  4. while the pumpkin is cooking boil water for your choice of pasta (was wonderful with rigatoni tonight) and prepare as directed
  5. when the pasta has finished drain it and return to its pot with butter, stir to melt and coat the pasta
  6. mix in the pumpkin mixture
  7. divide into warmed bowls and top with the parmesan and toasted nuts.
posted October 24, 2011 in All Recipes,Fall recipes

Lentil Soup with Pumpkin and Fennel (for 4)

Over the next month I’ll start posting recipes here that I plan to use as our family’s standards (and some special ones for the seasons).  Erica is finished her maternity leave soon and I’ll be keeping the home fires burning during the day until Viola starts kindergarden.  The recipes will in general be fairly straight forward and reasonably quick.  Our diet is largely vegetarian but fish and the odd poultry recipe may make the cut.  They will be categorized not by ingredient but instead with an indication of when I’m likely to want to make the recipe (i.e.: Monday evening, school lunch, Fall, rainy day…).  It’s a method of categorization that is loosely inspired by Stereomood.  We try to eat in season and cook with what arrives in our weekly Share Organics box but generally when I cook it comes down to what I am in the mood for (hopefully that’ll most often correspond with the season and what’s at hand).
So here it goes, this Fall recipe used the pumpkin we picked up at the Moss Street Market last week.  It comes from Erica’s handwritten recipe journal and she notes that it originates from Katherine and Ken’s Books for Cooks Test Kitchen Cookbook (I’m not sure which version or which cookbook Books for Cooks was testing it from… like all great recipes it’s been passed along).  I remember Katherine telling us to be sure to remove the seeds from the lemon as they can impart a terrible taste to the soup – so I’ll add that note to the recipe below.
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 cup Du Puy lentils
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 8 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 240 g / 8 oz pumpkin (one grown to be eaten, not carved into a jack-o-lantern), diced
  • 1/2 lemon sliced (remove seeds)
  • flat leaf parsley, very roughly chopped
  • salt & pepper
  1. heat olive oil & gently sweat the onion with 1/4 tsp salt until softened, ~10 min.
  2. add fennel & cook 5 min.
  3. add lentils & fennel seeds, pour in boiling stock & simmer 30 min.
  4. add pumpkin, lemon slices, 3/4 of the parsley, & cook for ~20 min., until pumpkin and lentils are tender.
  5. add salt & pepper to taste.
  6. ladle into warmed soup bowls & serve with a spoonful of olive oil and parsley to taste.

posted October 20, 2011 in All Recipes,Fall recipes
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