Joseph Lavoie

Recipes and Parenting Hacks

Poached Salmon with Dashi

I recently discovered a new series on Netflix, Mind of a Chef, which is way more informative than 99% of the cooking shows on TV these days. Early in the series, we get an education on dashi—the quintessential Japanese soup stock—from the show’s host, David Chang. I’m a huge fan of Chang’s food, having eaten at his NYC and Toronto restaurants on multiple occasions. So when I saw how fascinated he was with the process of making good katsuobushi—the preserved and fermented fish that flavours a dashi—I couldn’t help but give it a try and make my own dashi. So I did. And then I poached some salmon and added turnips, daikon, kohlrabi and some herbs, using a small amount of dashi to give the dish a wonderful smokey layer.  It’s a pretty simple recipe, but the salmon does take some precision work—you’ll need to be attentive when poaching it—but it’s worth the effort. This dish is so delicate, yet full of umami, and fresh enough to keep you taking bite after bite.

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The Ultimate French Onion Soup

We all have that one dish…you know the one.  Maybe it’s the lasagna mom cooked for you on Sundays? Or the pizzas you made with Dad on Friday nights? Or  the salty pretzels you got as a treat after a hard-fought hockey game? We all have that one singular dish that connects with a deeper part of our souls.This soup is mine.

It’s what my wife and I had on our very first date (10 years ago next month!). It’s the dish she’s asked me to make every winter since then. It’s the one I’m constantly tweaking, improving, and taking to a whole other level.  My first attempt at this soup was rough around the edges. I may have caramelized the onions to the point of almost charring them. I hadn’t yet discovered the joy of making my own beef broth and was using the store-bought stuff that’s salty and void of flavour. If memory serves me well, I may have gone overboard with the cheese. When I look back on it now, it sounds kind of awful. At the time, however, it was perfect. We were broke, barely putting two pennies together, but this soup, as rough as it was in its first incarnation, was a luxury that temporarily put our struggling student lives on hold.

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How to drive a “race car” with kids in the back seat

My two boys are obsessed with the Cars franchise. Often, as I way to distract from the bickering or whining in the backseat of the car, I’ll pretend that we’re Lightning McQueen. It’s a great trick; they love ‘racing’ along the highway and laugh hysterically as I make all sorts of goofy car sounds. Last  summer I upped my game by rolling down the windows when zooming along the highway at 119km/hr — er, sorry, I mean 100km.  The wind blasted through the cabin and the car was loud.  This trick is a rush for the kids. (Okay, who am I kidding, it’s rush for me too!)

Recently, I found myself in the passenger seat, using the race car trick to keep my toddler distracted enough to make it home in time to use the toilet (ah, the joys of potty training). I didn’t think my wife would enjoy rolling down the windows in the dead of winter,  so I came up with a better option, and this one it the ultimate variation on a trick: play race car sounds on your smart phone and pipe it into the car speakers.Crank up the volume, and you’ve instantly converted your family sedan into a screeching, Formula 1, open-wheel racing machine.

This was THE. COOLEST. THING. EVER™ for the boys. Even mom couldn’t help herself, suddenly realizing the speedometer’s needle was  cranked further than she’d like.

If you’re kids want to be Lighting McQueen, or if you just want drive like a race car without seeing flashing lights in your rearview mirror, here’s how you do it.

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Lentils, Tahini and Harissa

I just love Harissa.  My fridge always has a tube of the Maghrebian hot chile pepper paste. As the holidays were winding down and I was still on a self-imposed mission to not spend more money on food than was actually necessary, I browsed around the pantry and poked around in the fridge to see what I could work with and was hell-bent on using that magical red-paste-in-the-yellow-tube.  I had also been browsing one of my current favourite cookbooks, Plenty More, and was inspired by one of the lentil dishes.  I adapted it and thought it was a pretty solid comfort-food dish. You can also add this to your list of budget-friendly recipes.  If you give it a try, please send me your feedback in the comments section; I’d love to see how you adapt this bad boy.

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Turkey Rendang with Vermicelli

Yes, you read the title correctly. We’re making turkey rendang. And then we’re mixing it with noodles and topping with fresh garnishes like cilantro, green onion and chile pepper. This recipe was a complete improve, using leftover turkey from our Christmas dinner, with (mostly) leftover produce I wanted to clear from the fridge while it was still fresh. This recipe is super easy and convenient if you already have braised turkey meat to work from. In my case, I had poached a whole leg for 4 hours to make my gravy for Christmas. This meat was tender and succulent and it needed to be put to good use. This dish was its second calling, and one worth making. It packs a punch.

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How to make a (superhero) movie starring your kids

My boys are in their superhero phase right now. They can’t get enough of Superman and Batman. One Sunday morning, as they were running around the living room with their action figures and asking to watch trailers of old superhero movies, I got the idea for a kids’ activity that would be fun: write, produce, and star in our own, homemade superhero movie! I asked the boys if they were in, and they jumped at the idea.  It took up the bulk of our morning, but time zoomed by and the kids were totally immersed in the project. It was a good way to keep them busy. Here’s how we pulled it off.

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