Joseph Lavoie

Recipes and Parenting Hacks

The Fastest Curry Laksa. Ever.

This is the fastest curry laksa you’ll ever make.

You won’t even have to take out a knife for this week’s recipe. Start to finish, we’re looking at 15 minutes. And I mean real people minutes, not Jamie Oliver minutes.

To pull it off,  we’re letting a kick-ass curry paste do all the work for us. Do not skimp out on this crucial ingredient — it’ll make your big bowl of broth and noodles sing. You should get the curry from an asian grocer, if you’re so lucky to have one in your neck of the woods.  It’s tough to find good curry paste at your mainstream grocer. Look at the ingredient list on the curry I got from my local asian grocer: chilli powder, coriander, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, red rice, salt, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, palm oil, tamarind and drumstick leaves.  No preservatives. No BS. This stuff packs a punch and will help you make one solid bowl of laksa.

So, find a local asian grocer. Get your hands on some awesome curry paste. Sit back. Marvel as this dish practically cooks itself for you.

Get a free PDF of this kick-ass recipe.

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Roasted Broccoli with Israeli Couscous

Broccoli is such an underrated vegetable. I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly get excited about using it in my cooking. Maybe it’s because for the longest time,  I assumed the only way to prepare it was to steam it.  That’s fine when you’re making baby food, but if  you really want to make the broccoli shine, try roasting it, as we’ve done here.

Roasted Broccoli with Israeli Couscous

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • olive oil
  • 1 head broccoli, florets separated
  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almonds, very roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp sumac (optional)
  • 1 oz feta cheese


  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3tsp honey
  • 1 lime

Make it happen

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Heat a lug of olive oil to a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the couscous and stir constantly until golden brown and aromatic (3-4 minutes).  Then add 2 cups of water; bring to the boil, add the bay leaf and rosemary and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the couscous is soft but not mushy.  Remove from heat, strain if necessary, and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, toss the broccoli and onion wedges in a lug or two of olive oil before spreading out onto a baking sheet. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper and roast in the oven until the broccoli is golden brown (25-30 minutes).
  4. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar and shaking vigourously. Season to taste. You may have to adjust the acid levels, depending on how juicy your lime is.
  5. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the almonds with sumac and roast until golden brown, set aside.
  6. When the broccoli is ready, combine with the couscous. Divide among individual bowls. Top with dressing, almonds, and feta.

Cauliflower Caper Cake

Full credit for the inspiration and method for this week’ recipe goes to Yotam Ottolenghi. You’ll find the original version of this recipe in his latest book, Plenty More.  I have made my own tweaks to his version, including the use of capers instead of basil, caraway instead of nigella seeds, and the use of Harissa paste to give the cake a little more kick.  This is a fun dish to prepare with kids, as there’s lots of cracking of eggs and mixing of flours and spices. Plus, you can tell your kids they’re going to eat cake for dinner!

Cauliflower Caper Cake

  • 1 small cauliflower, other leaves removed, broken into 1″ florets
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 tsp Harissa paste
  • 1 cup all purpose flower
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated parmesan
  • melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • salt and black pepper

Make it happen

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Place the cauliflower in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and cover with water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.
  3. Cut 2 round slices, each 1/4″ thick, off the non-root end of the onion. Set aside in a bowl of cold water. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and add to a warm pan with olive oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Once the onion has cooled, transfer it to a large bowl with the eggs, capers, and Harissa paste. Whisk well.
  5. Add the flour, baking soda, turmeric, Parmesan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth before gently adding the cauliflower.
  6. Line the base of a springform cake pan with parchment paper and brush the sides with melted butter. Sprinkle with the sesame and caraway seeds before adding the cauliflower mixture and spreading it evenly in the pan. Arrange the onion slices on top and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let rest a solid 20 minutes before serving.

Bengali-Spiced Salmon Stew

This dish is nothing like the last salmon dish we cooked together. While that one was nuanced and delicate, this week’s recipe is simple, bold, and spicy.  Since we’re still stuck in a winter deep-freeze,  this stew should taste exotic enough to transport you to another world.   While Ottawa was a face-numbing -40°C last week, it was 28°C and sunny in Bangladesh, which is where panch phoron—a 5-spice mix of fenugreek, cumin, black mustard, fennel and nigella seed—comes from. I couldn’t get my hands on nigella seed, so we have a 4-spice version below. By all means, if you can find nigella seed at your local grocer, add it. If you can’t, no worries, this will still taste amazing.

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Sausage Cassoulet

Here’s a simple and affordable meal fit for the season. This food of peasants—a simple mélange of affordable ingredients like sausage, pork and beans is classic comfort food. Get the fireplace roaring and get this dish on a stove and winter will feel alright again. It takes a little bit of time to make, as you want to build up flavours, but you’ll be happy you did it when you take that first spoon (or fork?) full.  And while famous chef Andre Daguin once said that cassoulet is “is not really a recipe, it’s a way to argue among neighbouring villages of Gascony,” I promise there will be few arguments at the dinner table—everyone will be too busy eating.

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Colourful Winter Salad

In the dead of winter, a root vegetable salad, balanced with some citrus can be a delightful treat. This recipe is easy and it looks refreshingly colourful on a plate. The pomelo might be hard to find, depending on your access to a good grocer or produce store, but if you can find it, it makes all the difference. If you can’t no sweat, you could use sumo citrus or grapefruit instead.

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