A thorough inquiry

Category: Dinner

Spicy Bun-less Burgers

Veal burgers with curried cauliflower and tomatoes

Veal burgers with curried cauliflower and tomatoes

These simple burgers are inspired by this habanero-in-protein recipe. Not overly spicy, but very bright and delicious.


  • 1lb ground meat (I used veal — lamb or beef or poultry would work)
  • 2 habanero peppers
  • 2tsp minced garlic
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Dice the habeneros to your preference for appearance and heat distribution
  2. Whisk the egg in a large mixing bowl
  3. Combine the egg with habaneros, minced garlic, and pepper
  4. Add the ground meat
  5. Salt — I do this after adding the meat because I’m accustomed to judging the amount visually. Be liberal!
  6. Using moistened hands, form into 4 evenly-sized balls. Don’t over-work or over-compress.
  7. Place in a pre-heated skillet at medium heat
  8. Smash into shape using a spatula, making them thinner than you want them to end up after cooking
  9. Leave them completely alone until browned on one side, then flip once

Braised Lamb Shanks

This year for New Year’s Eve, we decided to make a couple of old favourites: bacon-wrapped dates followed by braised lamb shanks and risotto. We’ve made the dates before, but I thought that there is room in this dish for a bit of acid and some more flavour, so we made some rosemary mustard filling.

Finely chopped rosemary and stone-ground mustard

Finely chopped rosemary and stone-ground mustard

  1. Slice the dates length-wise and remove the pit
  2. Use a small spoon to fill with desired filling
  3. Wrap with bacon of choice (we used European back-bacon)
  4. Bake at 450F until bacon is crisp (~20-30m)
Rosemary mustard bacon-wrapped dates

Rosemary mustard bacon-wrapped dates

Next up were the shanks. After seasoning with salt and pepper, we simply browned them in our tajine, added sliced garlic, rosemary, and ~3/4c of chicken stock, then covered and braised in the oven at 300F for 3h.

Lamb shanks with garlic and rosemary

Lamb shanks with garlic and rosemary

A risotto recipe will have to be a separate post, so here’s the finished dish:

Lamb shank with basic risotto

Lamb shank with basic risotto

Flank steak and bacon potato salad

I thought I’d post a very summery dinner we did a little while ago before the leaves turn brown. Here’s what went into the very simple and very bacon-y potato salad:

  • Bacon mayonnaise (thanks to Brad for the suggestion of using bacon grease instead of oil)
  • Potatoes
  • Homemade bacon bits
  • Finely diced dill pickles
  • Herbs and spices (salt, pepper, fresh dill, chili powder, cayenne)


Dinner potpourri

After concluding our plant-based diet experiment, we still had some pantry and freezer items to finish up, so we’ve mostly been on a ‘diet break’ for the past few weeks. This has had a few interesting effects, including fairly rapid muscle (re)gain for myself. Too many variables have changed to really draw any conclusions, other than it seems that a low-protein, low-calorie plant-based diet combined with intermittent fasting probably won’t give you great gains in the gym.

At the moment, we’ve ended up eating something fairly close to what the Jaminets prescribe over at The Perfect Health Diet. I’ve also incorporated small whey shakes throughout the day — mostly to increase thermogenesis in order to resolve low body temperature issues while at work. This in itself probably qualifies as an experiment, so I might get into how that’s going in greater detail later on.

Here are a few examples of the dinners we’ve been eating lately:

Pulled chuck roast with spicy miso sauce over pea shoots and jasmine rice

Chili-rubbed BBQ pork tenderloin with mashed sweet potatoes

BBQ pork loin with mashed potatoes and baby bok choy

Plant-based Conclusion

Last week marked our return from vacation, and the conclusion (for now) of our plant-based diet experiment. It lasted 6 weeks, and we were extremely happy and satisfied with the food. It was a great opportunity to cook with a bunch of new ingredients and prepare some more traditional dishes from around the world. We would have continued with this diet if it weren’t for two things: GI distress and poorer body composition.

When we first started eating a very high fibre diet, I assumed it would take around 4 weeks to adjust, digestion-wise. During this time I experienced a lot of bloating, gas, and cramping (as might be expected), but it seemed to taper off somewhat at 3-4 weeks. However, a moderate and constant amount of gas and bloating persisted, and this wasn’t something I was used to or particularly keen on tolerating. I felt as though most of the legumes and grains that we ate were properly prepared (legumes soaked for at least 24 hours, sprouted grains, etc.), so it’s not clear whether or not these symptoms could be fully resolved on a diet including these foods for us. A possible alternative would be to base meals around starchy tubers, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. We may consider this approach for the future.

The body composition issue (decreased muscle, increased fat) was not severe, though still fairly disheartening. This is something that wouldn’t be an absolute show-stopper for me in the long run, but at the same time, who doesn’t want to be more lean and muscular? Since the diet was very high in carbohydrate, I did avoid any additional added fats. This meant no nuts, no added oils (not even for cooking), and choosing plenty of low-fat staple foods such as lentils and rice. Of course, if you believe Taubes, it makes perfect sense for carbohydrates to drive fat storage, but I was trying to give the other side a shot with this experiment.

So what’s next? A diametrically opposed experiment, of course. More details to come, but here are some dinners in the meanwhile.

Wild Alaskan salmon with fresh mayonnaise and cold-pressed camelina oil

Rib steak with home-made dill mayonnaise

Lamb loin chops with parmesan

Simple slow-cooker refried beans

This is an absolutely dead-simple recipe for refried beans that I’ve used a few times for burritos and spicy rice bowls:

  • 1-2c dried pinto beans (1c will yield 2 generous servings)
  • water
  • spices

Add the dried pinto beans (you can first rinse them or otherwise clean off any debris) and enough water to cover by at least 2″ to the slow cooker. Cook on the high setting for 8 hours. When they’re done, drain the beans, reserving the very murky brown cooking liquid. Mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth, then switch to a spatula or wooden spoon and mix while slowly adding a tablespoon at a time of the reserved liquid until you reach the desired texture. Season to taste! Last time I chose cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt.

Veggie wrap

Lentils, peppers, tomatoes, onions, Sriracha

Black bean burgers

These ultra-simple burgers are tasty and hearty, and accommodate a lot of seasoning possibilities. We went with a traditional American-style burger this time, but we’ll be sure to mix it up in the future (a la Boon Burger Cafe).

Here’s the deal with the patties (makes 4):

  • 1c dry black turtle beans (soak overnight)
  • 1c dry rolled oats
  • 1-3tbsp liquid of your choice (we went with BBQ sauce)
  • seasoning to taste

After soaking overnight, boil the beans for 1 hour in 3c fresh water. Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl, mash with a masher, add oats. Let the beans and oats sit for ~15mins to give the oats a chance to absorb some of the liquid from the beans and start to adhere. If necessary, add small amounts of liquid while mixing until the mixture just stops being crumbly and turns into a very thick paste. Season with salt, pepper, and whatever spices you feel like! Next time I might try cayenne, cumin, coriander, or italian seasoning, or garlic and onion powder, or chili flakes, etc. Almost anything would be good here!

At this point, form into patties using wet hands and bake on parchment or grill. There’s no more cooking needed, we just want to dry out the outside somewhat to give the burger patty a bit of a crust. We served these on Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Buns (no flour or oil).

Sushi: a first attempt

We decided to try our hand at maki sushi this weekend, and given our current plant-based experiment, we would at least get to leave the fish out of the picture. All-in-all it was a delicious success, despite the overabundance of poorly-cooked rice and misshapen rolls. Not bad for a first try!

Mise en place

Carrot and tofu maki

Final result


This is a really simple Japanese-inspired noodle dish that we had lots of fun making and eating! The following ingredients can be found at a natural-foods store or Asian supermarket:

  • 3-4 large pieces kombu
  • 2-4tbsp red miso paste (to taste)
  • soy sauce (to taste)
  • 1 1/2c halved shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 green onions
  • soba noodles

Boil the soba noodles for 5mins, rinse with cold water, and set aside. Simmer the kombu in ~2-3L of water for about 30 mins, then remove the kombu. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the vegetables (of your choice!) are tender. To serve, ladle over the soba noodles in individual bowls.