About Me

Here at Sensei Cooks I write about my adventures in the kitchen and sometimes in the dojo.

I have a love for cooking and want to explore all the possible facets of it. Leave no stone unturned so to speak.

I am Vegan and love all types of vegan cooking.

I love the process of cooking. Being in the moment. Sort of Zen and the Art of Cooking.

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Basic Bread Recipe

This is a basic bread recipe. You can add flavours or fillings etc to it but first make the basic recipe.


5 tsp dry active yeast (2 1/4oz packages)
1 tbsp sugar or honey
1 1/2 cups tepid water, divided
4 cups Bread Flour – White Homestyle
1 tbsp fine sea salt
1. Place the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup of the water in a stand mixer bowl, let stand 10 minutes.
2. Sift the flour and salt into the mixer bowl and using a hook, mix at low speed while slowly adding the water.
3. Scraping down the sides and hook as required, mix until the dough comes together and comes away from the bowl.
4. Remove the dough, knead it into a smooth ball, add a little flour to the bottom of the bowl and place the dough back in the bowl.
5. Dust the top of the dough with flour and cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and place in a draft free, warm spot until doubled (1-1.5 hours).
6. Remove dough, punch down and knead, divide and shape into the size and shape desired (add filling now if doing so).
7. Place on a Baking sheet dusted with fine corn meal and cover with plastic wrap and tea towel until doubled (1-1.5 hours).
8. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.
9. Cool on a wire rack.
10. Serve.

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Grilled Tofu with Chili Peanut Sauce

A quick and easy tofu dish with some kick in the sauce. This was a staple for me as a Vegan.


1-2 tbsp Olive oil
3-4 shallots, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2” piece fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup chili paste
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, raw, unsalted
2/3 cup water
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained


1. Place the Olive oil in a medium pot over med-high heat, add shallots and cook until soft (5 minutes)
2. Add garlic, ginger and cilantro for 1 minute.
3. Add chili paste and sugar and cook for 1 more minute.
4. Add Hoisin sauce, peanuts and water and simmer until thick
5. Adjust taste/thickness with Hoisin, sugar, chili and water/
6. Cut tofu into steaks and marinate in sauce for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
7. Heat skillet over medium heat and cook tofu in single layer with marinade until heated through and browned.
8. Serve.

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Emeril Legasse Creole Spice–Bayou Blast

Another post into my personal on line recipe book.

Emeril Legasse Creole Spice–Bayou Blast
Combine in a spice / coffee grinder the following:

2.5 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme

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This is nothing more then my way of storing this recipe on line. Actually that is what most of my recent posts have been. I often run into exotic ingredients being asked for in recipes and it is sometimes difficult to find them, especially at the last minute so I decided to find really good substitutes or in this case the recipe to make  some of those exotic ingredients.

Combine the following in a spice grinder / coffee grinder


1/4 cup Sumac
2 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
2 tbsp dried marjoram
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt

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Homey Chicken Stew

Wednesdays are always a challenge for us, dinner wise. Dylan has dance class at 4:30 and 6pm so eating before is way to early for this household. I grew up eating at 5:00pm every night, or at least pretty darn close to 5pm. But with our lifestyle, people going to bed at 2 or 3am on a regular basis (and some times 5am), the need for the big meal at 5pm just does not make sense to us. We usually eat at 8 or even 9pm. So with Dylan’s dance going during the prep and cooking time, we started to have take out. But then we decided to try the slow-cooker. Wow! Now I can prep and start the meal in the early afternoon and we can eat shortly after getting home at 7:30pm. We have made out of this world chili, Asian ribs, barbeque ribs and now this fantastic chicken stew. This is also a very economical meal, using chicken thighs and veggies. I was out of white wine but happened to have a bottle of cooking white wine so I tried that. I forgot to add the peas and parsley when we got home from dance and it was just perfect without either, so I have labeled them optional.

No pictures of this dish, we were all hungry when we got home and as soon as it was in the bowl, everyone was eating. If I think of it I will post pictures here the next time I make it – the will be soon, I am sure.

Homey Chicken Stew
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution

cooking time 4-6 hours on low
serves 6-8

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
3 onions, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used cooking wine this time)
4 cups Chicken broth, divided
5 small – medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice
4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4” thick
3 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (optional)


1. Dry chicken and season with salt and pepper
2. Brown half of the chicken in a skillet with 1 tbsp oil on medium-high for 4-6 minutes. Repeat with second half.
3. Remove chicken and set aside.
4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in skillet over medium-high heat, add onions and cook until soft about 5 minutes.
5. Add the garlic, tomato and thyme, cook for an additional 2 minutes.
6. Add the flour and stir in for an additional 1 minute. Add wine and scrape up the brown bits, add 1 cup of broth and stir until smooth.
7. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker.
8. Place the carrots in a microwave safe bowl and cover with cling wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add to the slow cooker.
9. Repeat with potatoes and add to the slow cooker, add the chicken to cooker and remaining 3 cups of broth and bay leaves.
10. Cover and cook on low for 4- 6 hours.
11. Remove chicken thighs and pull apart with two forks, add back to stew.
12. Add the optional peas and parsley and heat until peas are hot.
13. Serve with some good bread to soak up the gravy. We had Potato Scallion Bread with ours.

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Glasgow Potato Scones

Belle and I went to see Jamie Oliver last week here in Toronto at Massey Hall. It is the second time we have seen him and he was even better this time. It was a “in the living room” type of event, sitting and talking. Last time the interviewer was really terrible but thankfully they did not use her again and instead the gentleman they used was quite good. Not that Jamie actually answered any of his questions, he would start and then go of one tangent after another – truly funny and very entertaining. It was a great evening. Included in the price for the tickets was a free copy of his latest cookbook “Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain”. Bonus. We kept one and gave the other to Belle’s sister Dawn, a great cook and real big Foodie.

We have made several recipes so far and three are up for tonight’s dinner. This recipe is one from last night and Dylan asked to help with dinner and he really helped make these scones. Everyone loved them, especially Dylan. I was making other things for dinner so I did not make the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon that he has with the scones but Dylan has already asked when will I be making that part of so it will be soon.

Here is just the recipe for the scones. You can use vegan margarine instead of butter.

Glasgow Potato Scones


Glasgow Potato Scones
from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain


1 lb starchy potatoes (I used Yukon Gold – he suggests not peeling them, I did)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 small bunch of fresh chives, finely chopped
2 knobs of butter (no exact amount – but generally a knob is about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
olive oil


1. Peel and cut the potatoes into 3/4” pieces, and place in a large pot of salted water and boil for 10 minutes (or until soft)
2. Drain the potatoes and let steam and cool a few minutes.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and mash.
4. Add the chives and butter and mash but don’t overly mash them and make them gluey.
5. Now use your hands to mix it up and make small balls of dough somewhere between the size of an egg and an apple. Let rest.
6. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
7. Flatten 3-4 balls of dough to about 3/4” thick circles and heat for about 10 minutes, turning every couple of minutes until golden on both sides.
8. Repeat with balance of the dough.
9. Enjoy!

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Early Autumn Cornish Pasties

JO Cornish Pasties 001JO Cornish Pasties 003

Went to see Jamie Oliver at Massey Hall, here in Toronto, on Friday night and received a free copy of his new book Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain. Looks like a great book and I couldn’t wait to get into it.

Unfortunately I had to attend a Jodo seminar (Japanese martial art based on a 4 foot staff and the sword)  all weekend so I didn’t get a chance to look at until Monday.

There were quite a few recipes right off the bat I wanted to make and this was one of them. I had a white onion in the drawer but when I cut it open it did not look so fresh so I went with red onion instead. Quite a difference  in flavour between the two. It is difficult to get skirt steak so I substituted flank steak and I used yellow jacket potatoes (Yukon gold) instead of white potatoes. I omitted the butternut squash as Belle is not a big fan of it, although next time I will put it in anyway. Used ground nutmeg instead grating a whole one and used dried thyme instead of fresh. I did use two zucchini instead of one since I was leaving out the squash.

I had enough for 6 pasties but I filled Dylan’s with macaroni and cheese (and puréed cauliflower) so I had some filling left over. Just sautéed that in a pan for Belle to snack on later.

Great recipe and fun to make. The pastry was delicious but because I got started cooking late I didn’t spend a lot of time making it look really pretty. Maybe next time or better yet, get everyone to assemble their own.

Early Autumn Cornish Pasties
adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
coarse sea salt
8 oz cold unsalted butter, cut up in 1/2” cubes
1 large free range egg, beaten in a small bowl

12 oz flank steak, cut up into 1/2” dice
1 red onion, peeled and chopped in 1/4” dice
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/4” dice
2 small zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2” dice
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
olive oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

1. Place flour in a large bowl and add a large pinch of salt and the butter.
2. Work the butter into the flour with your hands at first then a dough kneader to reduce heat from hands getting into the dough.
3. Add 3/4 cup of water and work the dough by hand quickly into a dough, set aside.

1. In a large bowl mix the meat, onion, potato, zucchini and carrot
2. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper and rosemary. Add a good 2-3 tbsp olive oil and mix well.

4. divide the pastry into 6 pieces and and roll into balls.
5. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll each ball into an 8” circle about the thickness of a quarter.

1. Place a good handful of the filling in the center of each pastry.
2. Brush the egg on the edge all around the pastry, fold the pastry over and press edges together or fold up around to make pockets.
3. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash.
4. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Serve and Enjoy!

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Roast Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary


This recipe comes from a Jamie Oliver DVD I have Oliver’s Twist 2, episode “Big Up the Veg”. Great DVD series with equally as wonderful recipes.

The hardest part of this recipe is deciding if you should do two chickens just so you will have lots of left overs. It requires no more work to do two except you need a large enough roasting pan. Also you will need to increase the marinade by about half again.

Roast Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary
adapted from Jamie Oliver’s DVD “Oliver’s Twist 2”

one (or two) Free-range chickens
18 cloves of garlic, peeled and quartered
1 organic lemons, zested
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
6 stalks of fresh rosemary
3-4 tbsp olive oil
10 small-medium size potatoes
1 large parsnip
2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups organic chicken stock, divided

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Put a small pot of water on to boil and add the lemon.
2. In a mortar smash up the garlic, lemon zest and salt with the pestle.
3. Remove the leaves from 4 of the rosemary stalks and smash up in the mortar.
4. Add the olive oil, 1 tbsp at a time until you have a nice loose paste, a little more olive oil is better then too little.
5. You can freshly ground pepper at this point but I don’t as my son Dylan doesn’t really like pepper right now.
6. Rub the garlic mixture all over and in the chicken.
7. Dip the last 2 rosemary stalks in the boiling water and place them in the chickens cavity.
8. Carefully remove the lemon, stab one end with a pairing knife 5 or 6 times and place the cut end into the chicken with the rosemary.
9. Place the chicken in the roasting pan, breast side down and roast uncovered for 45 minutes.
10. Peel and quarter the potatoes and place in a large pot of salted water.
11. Peel and cut the parsnip into pieces about half the size of the potatoes .
12. Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes and add the parsnips and continue to boil for 5 –6 minutes, until a fork can just pierce them.
13. Drain the potatoes in a colander and cover the colander with a lid to allow them to steam for a few minutes.
14. Remove the chicken from the roast pan, add the potatoes and parsnips and any remaining garlic mixture and toss to coat.
15. Push the potatoes and parsnips to the sides and add the chicken back in and roast another 45 minutes, uncovered.
16. Check the thigh(cut in) or use a meat thermometer to see if the chicken is done.
17. Remove the chicken and let rest. Remove the potatoes and parsnips and keep warm.
18. Place the roasting pan on the stove top OR scrape everything out of the roasting pan into a large sauce pan, on medium heat.
19. Whisk the sauce pan, adding flour, one tablespoon at a time until you have a roux. cook for a minute or two.
20. Start adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly until you have the desire thickness to your gravy, set aside.
21. Carve your chicken, serve with a green veggie (like Kale or Savoy cabbage), potatoes, parsnips and gravy.
22. Prepare to be amazed!

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Chocolate Layer Cake with Peanut Butter Filling

Chocolate and Peanut Butter – a perfect combination. What could be better – and it’s all Vegan.

Photo 2012-09-29 5 25 31 PMPhoto 2012-09-29 5 27 57 PM

Chocolate Layer Cake with Peanut Butter Filling
Everything Vegan – Vegetarian Times Magazine’s Cookbook

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups cane sugar
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 lb confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 oz creamy peanut butter
4 oz firm silken tofu, drained
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. preheat oven 350 degrees F., coat 2 8” round cake pans with cooking spray
2. Sift flour, sugar and cocoa, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.
3. Whisk the oil, vinegar, vanilla and 2 cups water together in a medium bowl.
4. Fold the wet into the dry, pour into the two prepared cake pans.
5. Bake for 40 minutes (check that a toothpick comes out clean)
6. Cool in pans 20 minutes.
1. Sift sugar and cocoa together in a bowl.
2. Add shortening and mix on low with an electric mixer 1 minute.
3. Add 2/3 cup boiling water and vanilla and beat until smooth. Let cool 20 minutes.

1. Purée peanut butter and tofu in blender until smooth.
2. Add sugar, slowly and add vanilla blend until smooth.
3. Cool in fridge until firm enough to spread.

1. Place on cake layer on plate, top with filling.
2. Add second cake layer and spread icing on top and sides as desired.
3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Wheat Berry and Arugula Salad

Wheat Berry and Arugula SaladPhoto 2012-09-21 7 59 21 PM

This was a Great Salad! Took forever to cook the wheat berries but it was really worth it. I added the Feta cheese to Belle’s salad but of course didn’t have any in mine. Also changed the honey to Organic Blue Agave syrup for the same reason. This made it a really nice Vegan salad. I could have added some crumbled tofu instead of cheese but I really liked it just the way it was. Belle is on a real kale kick right now so she asked that next time we try it with the organic baby kale leaves. I know it is going to happen very soon.

Wheat Berry and Arugula Salad – Serves 2
Adapted from Cooking for Two, 2012 ATK


1/2 cup wheat berries, salt and pepper
3/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
1/3 cup roasted red peppers, rinsed and finely chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional – omit for Vegan salad)
3 oz (3 cup) organic baby arugula


1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Agave syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt
pinch of cayenne (optional)

1. Bring 8 cups of water with 1/4 tsp salt to the boil, add wheat berries and boil, partially covered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
2. Drain and rinse berries, lay out on a parchment lined baking sheet to dry and cool.

1. Bring the orange juice to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce to medium and simmer until liquid has reduce to half and is thick and syrupy.
2. Place in a bowl and in fridge to cool – 15 minutes.
3. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, let stand to combine flavours.
4. In a large bowl combine the wheat berries, chickpeas and peppers and half the dressing. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
5. In another bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining dressing.
6. Plate half  the arugula, add some of the wheat berry mixture on top and add the feta – if you must to that. repeat for second plate.
7. Enjoy!

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