Tacos al Pastor

When in Mexico, one of our favorite street foods is Tacos al Pastor. We can’t equal the flavour at home without an upright spit to grill it, but this is a close second!

A plate of pork, seasoned with Tacos al Pastor flavours and just waiting for fresh corn tortillas!

A plate of pork, seasoned with Tacos al Pastor flavours and just waiting for fresh corn tortillas!

1-4 lbs pork “butt” or blade roast (just make sure it is a cheaper cut, well marbled)
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
2 ancho chiles
2 guajillo chiles
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp adobo sauce
5 clove garlic, peeled
A few sprigs of oregano (or 1 tbsp dried oregano)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 large onion, sliced
Slices of pineapple
4 – 6 carrots, peeled and kept whole

1. Put the ancho and guajillo chiles in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the chiles to steep until they are rehydrated, about 30 minutes. Discard the seeds and stems and toss the chiles in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients, except onion.

2. Slice the roast into 3/4inch thick slices, but not all the way through.

3. I usually put on plastic gloves for this part – the marinade REALLY stains …Slather the marinade between each layer until all the meat is covered. Stack the onion and pineapple slices in between the slices of meat. Tie the roast back together. Cover it and allow it to marinade for at least 3 hours or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 245 °C (475 °F). Put the roast on a row of carrots in the bottom of a roasting pan and add water to the bottom of the pan (this is to keep the drippings from smoking). You can use a meat rack if you want, but those carrots will be incredibly delicious if you use them for a roasting rack! Roast for 30 minutes at this temperature then turn down the heat to 160 °C (300 °F). Roast until the meat is very tender (about 3 hours).

5. After removing the meat from the oven, cover it with foil and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

6. Pull or shred meat apart

Out of the oven, and ready to rest for 30 minutes or so before shredding.

Out of the oven, and ready to rest for 30 minutes or so before shredding.

Serve with:

fresh corn tortillas
minced white onion
roughly chopped cilantro

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Pecan Glaze

A hint of cinnamon, a whiff of coffee, and a moist delicious chocolate cake - doesn't get much better than this!

A hint of cinnamon, a whiff of coffee, and a moist delicious chocolate cake – doesn’t get much better than this!

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup cold coffee, or espresso
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have it – use 1 tbsp lemon juice and fill to 1/2 cup with milk)
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt cake pan well and dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.

Melt butter (2 sticks) in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in cocoa. Add coffee and whisk until smooth, then remove from heat. Whisk in separately sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl, then sift again into cocoa mixture and whisk until just combined (don’t worry if there are lumps).

Pour batter into cake pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 45 to 55 minutes. (Leave oven on just to roast pecans.)

Cool cake in pan on a rack 20 minutes, then loosen edges with a thin knife and invert onto a plate.


2 cups chopped pecans (71/2 ounces) Roast lightly until slightly browned – set aside.
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, then stir in half-and-half and confectioners sugar. Add chocolate and cook, stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in pecans and salt. Cool glaze until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Spoon glaze over top and sides of cake (cake will still be warm) and spread with a small offset spatula or knife to cover completely.


Raspberry Coconut Oat Muffins

Be prepared for your house to smell fantastic when these are baking – pretty difficult to wait for them to cool enough to eat!

Delicious muffins - loaded with coconut and raspberry with just a hint of lemon to brighten them up.

Delicious muffins – loaded with coconut and raspberry with just a hint of lemon to brighten them up.

1 1/2 cups of white flour
1/2 cup oat flakes
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 overripe bananas
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut, divided
Fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees then coat a muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners. (you can also use coconut spray)

In a small bowl, combine the flour, oat flakes, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together, mix well. In a large bowl, beat together the coconut oil, sugar, banana, and vanilla until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then continue beating until well combined, finishing with the lemon zest and juice.

When Sloan and I are cooking we taste and add ingredients by a smidge of this, a dab of that - but baking I tell her,  must be precise!

When Sloan and I are cooking we taste and add ingredients by a smidge of this, a dab of that – but baking I tell her, must be precise!

Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir until just combined. Add the 3/4 cup of coconut, 1 cup fresh raspberries, and gently mix them into the batter.

Spoon the batter evenly into each muffin tin. Add one fresh raspberries to each muffin, pushing them in gently. Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut to the tops of each muffin.

Place into the oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool on a rack.

Raspberry Lemon Muffins with Pecan Streusel

Muffins are a great way to start the day, or a perfect snack – go ahead and try these, you will make them your house favourite! Swap out the raspberries for blueberries, or chop any fruit in season – such a versatile recipe.


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk ** see below
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

** If you don’t have buttermilk (and I usually don’t!) squeeze about 1 tbsp lemon juice into a 1 cup measure, add 1 tablespoon plain yogurt, whisk well and add milk to reach 1 cup.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

To make the topping, in a medium bowl, mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the melted butter. Add the buttermilk and lemon zest and whisk to combine, add vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just to combine. (Batter will still be somewhat lumpy; do not overmix.) Gently fold in the raspberries so the berries do not break and scoop into the prepared muffin tin. Crumble the streusel topping over the muffins and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Let cool in the muffin tins for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on wire racks.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Last summer we had an overabundance of beautiful red peppers growing outside the back door, so we used them in a variety of ways – smoked, dried and then ground into powder to be used in salad vinaigrettes, dips and meat rubs. We also canned a few jars of them, to be used in another variety of methods ….. this is one of them, hope you enjoy! Remember, if you don’t happen to be crazy about the idea of doing the work for your own roasted red peppers, they are easy to buy!


About 3/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers
One 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup tahini
Half of a large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 1 1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

For serving: 2 tablespoons of minced red pepper, extra virgin olive oil and sesame seeds.

Throw everything into a food processor and let it whiz until smooth and creamy. Add a bit of water if it seems too dense.

Now – this is critical – taste!!! Every different jar of roasted peppers, or can of chickpeas will have a different level of flavour. Make sure this is the way you like it. I often end up adding a bit of water, a bit more oil, more salt and certainly some fresh ground pepper. Just to bump up the flavour a bit, I also added a teaspoon of our ground red pepper – but you could use smoked paprika.

Turn into a serving dish, drizzle with a little extra good, extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a few sesame seeds and a few of the roasted red peppers, minced.

For the non wheat eaters in our group, I serve this with a pile of fresh vegetables, and for the rest of the crew they love pita chips, taco chips or rice crackers. This is as versatile as your own household likes!

Crab Cakes with Horseradish Aioli

Crab cakes are one of our favourite appetizers to get when eating out …. this is an easy to create appetizer at home, or make slightly larger – serve with a great big tossed salad – amazing bread, and you have a complete meal.

Delicious crab cakes, served with horseradish aioli.

Delicious crab cakes, served with horseradish aioli.

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely sliced green onions (green and white bits)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Blend well together, and gently stir in:
1 pound lump crabmeat (take care to pick through it to make sure it is shell free)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

In separate bowl combine:
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
Sprinkle of salt and pepper

1 pound of crab meat should make about 16 small cakes (appetizer size) or 8 larger cakes.

Form crab meat mixture into balls, and press each ball into the panko crumbs to coat.

Set aside in fridge to allow them to set up.

The crab cakes can be done to this stage, and kept in fridge until the next day.

Heat fry pan, and add 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp vegetable oil. When foam has subsided, add crab cakes and heat through for 2-3 minutes per side, flipping gently. Do not crowd the pan, fry in batches if necessary.

Horseradish Aioli

1 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp horseradish
1/2 tsp smoked garlic powder (or roasted garlic)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blend all ingredients well, and allow to sit in the fridge so that the flavours develop.

Serve crab cakes with aioli, sprinkled with a few cilantro sprigs.

Thai Noodle Salad with Chicken and Peanut Lime Dressing

This refreshing salad is delicious! A total meal in a bowl, but you will also find this to be the perfect salad dressing or dipping – go crazy and try it with sate also!

This refreshing salad is a meal in a bowl, so delicious and complete with crunch, salad and protein.

This refreshing salad is a meal in a bowl, so delicious and complete with crunch, salad and protein.

Peanut Lime Salad Dressing

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 -2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp roasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

In food processor – blend all ingredients, with the exception of the cilantro – taste and adjust for seasonings. I can’t say this enough – every brand of each ingredient is different, and will have a different profile. I start with the ingredient amounts listed above, and then continue to adjust as I taste. When smooth, creamy and you LOVE the taste, blend again with the cilantro. You want to see little bits of the cilantro.


cooked, shredded chicken

red leaf lettuce
grated carrot
slivered coloured sweet peppers
slivered snow peas
cucumber – halved, seeds removed and sliced into half moons
bean sprouts
toasted cashews, peanuts and sesame seeds

Cooked, cooled noodles, either rice or wheat – (toss with a little sesame oil when cooled to prevent them sticking)

When cooking for a crowd, I like to place the salad in one bowl, shredded chicken in another, and the nuts, green onions and bean sprouts in separate bowls. Everybody can create their own, and drizzle the dressing over. If working with a smaller group, just blend it all and mix the dressing in.

Try serving this with my Thai Chicken Wings, and leave out the chicken from this recipe.