When Italian home-cooked meal pictures start popping up frequently on my Instagram ; this means my dear old friend James is back in town for a visit; we always cook together wonderful rustic Italian dishes, and share with our group of friends, now aptly named Italian Supper Club.
Two evenings of fun and laughter with our friends; wonderful food and great company, Grazie everyone (OO)
Here are some of our highlights:
Antipasti (Mortadella, Parma di prosciutto, Grilled eggplant all from Cioffi’s),
Piave Mezzano Cheese (from Les Amis Du Fromage on East Hastings, a cow’s milk cheese)
Blood Orange, Fennel and Olive Salad (Slice thinly and layered, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt)
This is honestly the best artichoke dish I’ve ever had, and peeling artichokes is not as difficult as we imagine !!
Lemon and dill Brill sole (Fresh brill sole (bone in), lemon, olive oil, fresh dill – fish from Seafood City in Granville Island)
Groceries for Dinner II:
What is that can? Salted Anchovies (Available at Cioffi’s and Bosa Foods)…ready to be transformed..
Anchovies in Sabina olive oil, garlic and red chili pepper flakes , served with French Butter and crusted bread – heavenly! Thanks to my hubby and buddy James, they did most of the cleaning – salted anchovies cleaned in white wine vinegar, de-boned (removing the tail and dorsal) and layered in sealed glass container with extra virgin olive oil (we used the Sabina DOP from Italy, you need an excellent quality oil), a little red pepper chili flakes and garlic slices)
Roast Pork Belly (Coarse salt, sage, rosemary and five peppercorn): despite the initial mix up with the temperature (Celsius and Fahrenheit Difference LOL), the roast pork belly was very succulent and skin was thin and crispy.
Pasta Ceci (Chickpeas cooked with sofrito (onion, celery and carrots) and Gnocchi Sardi Pasta) – (dried chickpeas were used – soaked overnight)
Italian Supper Club I: Here’s the very delicious Artichoke and Trofie Pasta Recipe; courtesy of my friend’s James’ Italian friend Giampiero ; Grazie and Mangiamo!
Ingredients: 2 Lemons 4 to 5 Artichokes (firm, tight, green, preferably Romanesco type)2 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled 1 to 2 tsp Peperoncino (red chili pepper) flakes, 2 to 3 Anchovies (preserved in oil), 1-2 cups Warm Chicken soup stock (homemade or store-bought*), 1 cup dry white wine, 500 gr Trofie dry pasta, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheese, 3 to 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, sea salt (for pasta cooking and seasoning).
*Vegetarian stock can replace chicken stock to make this dish vegetarian; chicken or vegetarian stock cubes can be used also. Anchovies are used to “season” the dish so adjust the salt accordingly (OO).
TIPS: This recipe serves 5 (100g pasta each as an appetizer); the usual size 500 g package of pasta is good for 5 to 6 people, depends on what is being used to go with it.
We used the same recipe, omit the pasta and turn the artichokes into antipasti; we just quartered the artichokes and serve it room temperature. The lemon water prevents oxidation; it also removed the somewhat “muddy” flavor of artichokes and add brightness to the dish. Trofie pasta is selected as the shape goes with the sliced artichokes.
Zest the two lemons and reserve the zest in a small bowl for later use.
Prepare a large bowl with cold water. Cut the two zested lemons in half and carefully squeeze the juice into the water being careful not to include the seeds. Drop in the seedless peels in as well. The lemon water is to prevent the artichokes to oxidize.
3. Using a paring knife, carefully clean and trim the artichokes, pulling away the dark and hard outer leaves. Cut off the end of the stem, slice away the darker green outer layer of the stem. Carefully pare away any remaining dark green layer between the peeled stem and the edge of the base. Cut off about 1/3 to a half of the pointy leaf ends. Be careful when paring and not to cut yourself.
4. Slice the trimmed artichoke in half lengthwise and then into quarters and carefully remove the hairy choke, pulling out any pointy interior leaves in the process. Drop the trimmed artichoke (carciofi in Italian) in the cold lemon water and repeat the process until completed. When all of the have been properly trimmed and quartered, take each quarter and slice thinly lengthwise, returning the sliced artichokes into the acidulated water immediately.
5. Put a large pot of salted water (sea salt) on to boil.
6. Warm the chicken / vegetarian stock in the sauce pan; keep it in low simmer (this step will be omitted if you are using chicken /vegetarian stock cube and those can be added directly into the pan for flavoring).
7. Using low heat, add 2 (to 3 TBS) olive oil to a large saute pan or wok (in Italy they have a large rounded pan with a handle called a Salta pasta); gently saute the garlic and peperoncino (red pepper flakes).
8. Add the drained artichoke slices and raise the heat to medium, Stir constantly (without breaking the artichokes). After 2 to 3 minutes, add the anchovies to the side of the pan, carefully mashing them so that they completely dissolve in the oil.
9. Add the warm soup stock a little at a time (when cooking always add warm stock to avoid temperature fluctuations) and stir in the white wine. The stock will add another level of flavor to the artichokes; let hte mixture simmer in low heat. The artichokes will absorb the liquid, you don’t want the sauce to be “watery”.
10. While sauce is simmering, throw the trofie pasta in to the boiling water and cook for at least one to two minutes less than indicated on the instructions. Do not Toss the pasta water!
11. Reduce the heat a bit lower (medium low) for the artichokes, cover and cook until the artichokes are almost tender. They should be al dente by the time the pasta is ready. Taste the artichokes and see if they need any salt, the anchovies should be enough for flavoring, otherwise add a little salt if needed.
12. Using a strainer or a spider to lift the al dente pasta out of the cooking water and toss into the pan with the artichokes. Add a ladle or two of the pasta cooking water (acqua di cottura), stir and fold gently to ensure the water mostly evaporates. The cooking water is what makes the sauce creamy!
13. Add a couple of handfuls of grated parmesan and pecorino cheese to the artichoke /pasta mix. Stir gently to integrate the cheese with pasta, then serve hot in individual bowls. Top each with some of the lemon zest, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and more of the grated cheese if desired. Mangiamo!
Over the Labour Day long weekend, I spent a wonderful Sunday evening with my pal James, hosting a group of our friends together at my home to our famous “Italian Night”.
For the past three years I always look forward to March and September when my dear friend James returns from Italy to Canada for a short visit; we have a semi-annual standing ” Italian cooking date”, a tradition which has a very special place in my heart.
Cooking and sharing with family and friends is the most beautiful way to celebrate relationships and bring people together.
That night we talked, we laughed, we cooked, we learnt and we shared; the memories we created together are priceless…
To my friends who joined us this time (you know who you are), it was great seeing you all and catch up, Grazie! And to our dear friends who missed the gathering this time (you also know who you are), we missed you.
To my dear friend and teacher James, I look forward to our next “date” in March, hope to continue this wonderful tradition for many years to come and one day we will be able to cook together in Italy…Alla Prossima…xxxooo
Remember the most important ingredients you will need to create a beautiful meal….Patience + Love + Kindness + Gratitude
Bagna Cauda: an aromatic “hot bath” for fresh vegetables and bread
Have you ever had Bagna Cauda? It is a dish originally from Piedmont, Italy.
Fresh market vegetables, both cooked and raw, are dipped into a flavourful warm sauce, made of anchovies, olive oil, garlic and butter, enjoyed with scrumptious chunks of bread; this makes a wonderful sharing and wine-pairing dish for any dinner gathering, particularly during Fall Harvest Season.
I’ve only had this dish in restaurants twice here in Vancouver, once a few years ago enjoyed a Japanese “miso” version at Rajio (Izakaya on West 10th Avenue in beautiful Vancouver), and most recently a beautiful rendition at Osteria Savio Volpe.
It sounds very good already right? The even better part, it is not difficult to make.
The key to make a beautiful bagna cauda is having the freshest ingredients and you are already halfway there; the rest involves a lot of meticulous cleaning and chopping! Oh one more thing… a fondue pot will be handy to keep the sauce warm. I actually didn’t have the pot, so I just heated up the sauce right before dinner starts so it was ready to go when we were ready to eat!
I have roughly based the sauce recipe on Epicurious; for my version I have reduced the quantity of the butter and anchovies (trying to be more health conscious by reducing the fat and salt intake). Once you type in “Bagna Cauda”, you will be able to find many different versions for this classic Italian recipe (see alsoFood52 detailed write-up on its background and recipe).
Ingredients for dipping sauce: 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature), 6 – 8 cloves of garlic (chopped), 8 – 10 anchovies fillets.
Preparation: Blend the anchovies, garlic and olive oil in the blender until smooth.
Pour mixture into a medium saucepan and over medium low heat, cook the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, you must pay lots of attention garlic burns easily, you don’t want to brown it. Before removing from the heat, stir in the butter until blended nicely.
Taste and season with pepper (if you like) and sea salt (if necessary, remember anchovies are quite salty).
Serve raw or cooked vegetables and bread; I prepared a tray of fresh vegetables (picture below) purchased from the farmer’s market: a selection of beans, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower and peppers.
Stringozzi with Peas, Pistachios and mint sauce
We put all our friends hard at work this time making Stringozzi together!
Stringozzi is an Italian “peasant” pasta, the shape of the noodles resemble shoelaces; all you need is water and some finest Italian “00” flour (we used “Caputo 00 flour” – see Saveur’s magazine article)
The noodle making process involves everyone’s participation; our “pasta master” James mixed the flour and water and we help a little to knead the dough. The dough is then put in the refrigerator to rest (wrapped in plastic wrap tightly, rest for about 30 minutes to an hour). We then take turns pulling the dough until it smooth (this is the most physically demanding part) and you can feel the “elasticity”. When the dough is ready, we cut into small pieces and divided it amongst our group to “roll” out the pasta by hand. We have to sprinkle a little flour on the noodles when we gather them together to keep them from sticking together. The noodles are actually quite delicate and a bit chewy, my friends said they resemble a little like ‘handmade’ udon.
Prepare a large pot of salted boiling water to cook the pasta, the noodles actually cook quickly (just a few minutes) and you have to stir a little while cooking. Do not “crowd” the pot by putting too much noodles all at once.
When the noodles are cooked 3/4s of the way through, transfer to the large pan already filled with the sauce of your choice, toss gently together and let the noodles to finish cooking through. Please DO NOT toss out the pasta water, you will need to use it to adjust the thickness of the sauce.
My friend James created a “pesto” sauce – a mixture of sweet gorgonzola, peas (we used frozen), basil and pistachios, all blended together smoothly in the food processor. The sauce was transferred and cooked in a very large pan, use the pasta water to adjust the thickness of the sauce, when pasta was almost ready toss them into the pan and mix well, let the noodles cook through.
In the past we have created Stringozzi all’amatriciana (click to see recipe on Serious Eats – Tomatoes (preferred San Marzano), guanciale, red pepper flakes, wine and pecorino romano cheese ) which is one of my all time favourite.
Unfortunately I don’t have a specific quantity for this pasta recipe; I came across a general recipe which is very similar to what we have created on this blog: Madonnadelpiatto
If you are ever interested in learning how to make pasta, my dear Italian friend Peter (Pastaboy) is a wonderful teacher, click on his name for more details.
Here are some of the dishes which I have been cooking at home in September! Autumn is definitely my favourite cooking season (OO)
This month I am featuring three recipes which you may have seen on my Instagram account @mygoldenapron
Follow me for more recent updates; remember always adjust the seasoning and ingredients according to you and your loved ones dietary needs, and the most important ingredient, COOK with LOTS of LOVE and PATIENCE (OO).
Italian style Tomato, Green beans and Potato Salad (Adapted from September 2016 edition of Food and Wine)
I have adapted this simple and nutritious recipe from last September’s Food and Wine magazine; every six months when my dear friend James return from Italy to Canada for a visit, I always go through an Italian cooking phase!
Ingredients and preparation: You can change the produce according to seasonality; I find the balsamic vinaigrette works very well with savoy cabbage and brussels sprouts, so use your imagination and work with the flavours.
1/2 pound baby potatoes: In medium saucepan, covered with cold water and bring to a boil, add a pinch of sea salt and simmer over medium low heat until potatoes are tender. Drain and let cool, then slice in half.
1/2 pound green beans (or any other colourful beans you can find at your local market) – trim the ends; bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the beans and a pinch of sea salt and blanch until the beans are crisp yet tender, under 2 minutes. Drain and transfer beans to ice bath to cool. Drain again and dry thoroughly.
1 whole shallot – thinly sliced, you can use red onions or add more shallots
1 -2 ears of fresh corn: remove the husk (you can freeze and save it for later use to make vegetable broth) and silk, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add corn , cover the saucepan and return it to a boil. Cook until corn is tender; drain and let cool. Place the corn on a clean cutting board, trim one end of the corn so it stands flat, use a knife to slice the kernels off the cob.
1 Tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chiffonade (thin strips) of fresh basil and 1/4 cup chiffonade (thin strips) of fresh parsley
1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
In a large mixing bowl, whisk 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of honey (optional). Add the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, corn, shallots and capers and toss gently. Fold in the basil and parsley, season with salt and pepper.
*To increase our vegetable intake, I added some mixed greens to the dish. When making a vinaigrette, use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
A Healthier Baked Pork Chop “Rice” (with cauliflower, carrot, rice) with homemade tomato sauce with onions, red and green pepper:
Baked pork chop rice is one of my favorite childhood dish, I made a version of this Hong Kong style dish using boneless pork loin (from one of my favourite butcher shop Petes Meats crusted in toasted panko (panko precooked before breading the pork, method adapted from Ms. Namiko Chen’s Just One Cookbook method)
Prepare the Panko Crusted Pork:
Preheat the oven to 350 F (place oven rack on top).
I have chosen a good quality pork and pound it evenly, prepare the toasted panko (1 cup panko and 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat two pork loins) – Combine the oil and panko in a frying pan, and toast the panko over medium heat, stir once in a while to ensure all panko bits are toasted until golden brown and evenly. Set aside and let cool down, keep 1 to 2 teaspoons aside and use as “sprinkle” when ready to bake the dish.
Let the toasted panko cool before you start coating the pork loins. Coat the pork loin one at a time: dip pork loin into beaten egg mixture, make sure you get rid of the excess egg mixture.
Using your dry hand, coat the loins with toasted panko. Lightly brush the flakes to cover the pork loin, then lightly press the panko flakes, make sure they adhere and the fillet is coated evenly. Place the coated pork loins on the baking sheet. Baked the pork loins until 3/4 ways cooked through (approximately 8 – 9 minutes). Remove from the oven.
Prepare the cauliflower, carrot and rice combination: I do not have specific measurements for this recipe, however for the two of us, I have prepared one cup of cooked rice (I used Japanese Haiga rice), 1 cup of finely chopped cauliflower, 1 small carrot (finely chopped) – First I cooked the rice in the rice cooker, when it is ready, remove from rice cooker and let it cool (you can use “overnight rice”). In a frying pan, add 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil), sautéed the cauliflower (you will need to add a little water otherwise it will burn, you will need to cover pan for a short time to “steam” and soften the cauliflower), add carrot when cauliflower is half-cooked, add the cooked rice and a pinch of sea salt (season to taste), mix “cauliflower rice” and rice very well, when vegetables are cooked through, remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the Tomato sauce: You can use canned tomato sauce and add onions, red and green pepper. For my sauce, I used 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil to sautéed three medium size San Marzano tomatoes (I got from the Farmer’s Market, they are so flavorful: chopped and seeded), you can use more tomatoes if you want to make more sauce), 1/2 to 1 cup filtered water and a clove of finely chopped garlic. Using medium low heat, cook the mixture until tomatoes are soft. Turn off heat, working in small batches, spoon mixture into blender, remove the centre cap from the lid of the blender. Cover the lid with a folded clean dishcloth and hold it down when you are blending. Repeat until you are done.
Using the same sauce pan, add another 1/2 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to sautéed one chopped (bite size) onion until slightly caramelized. Add one chopped red pepper (thin sliced) and one chopped green pepper (thin sliced), cook for 1 minute, return puree tomato sauce to pan, mix well and using low heat, simmer until sauce is thickened (20 to 25 minutes), season with sea salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Using an oven proof casserole or baking dish, spoon the “rice” in the bottom, then add a layer of the tomato and pepper sauce, place the panko crusted pork loin, then spoon more sauce and cover the pork loin, make sure you have some onions on top, and sprinkle the remaining toasted panko. Baked in the oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or longer if you want the sauce to brown nicely, remember the pork loin must cook through.
***You can use the “broil” feature to really brown the sauce, cheese can be added to achieve a “bubbling” effect.
***The Extra Virgin Olive oil which I use for sauteed or stir fry dishes is suitable for everyday cooking usage.
Shiso Lemon Water: Recipe from YouTube “Food Video”
Since last year I started watching the “Food Video” channel on YouTube; this channel is based in Shanghai, China and feature some professional and home chefs.This channel is so much fun to watch: the videos are short and stylish; the cooking demonstrations and instructions are simple to understand.
Do you like shiso (perilla leaves)? It is commonly used in Taiwanese and Japanese cooking, particularly used to flavor and pickled plums, and often it will appear on your sashimi order. If you have read my other posting (August 2017: Cheesecake and Salad Rolls with Cooking Buddies), my friend Phung has shown us to add shiso leaves to homemade salad rolls; I have also used shiso in my duck breast dish (September 2014 posting).
Shiso has its medicinal benefits and two recipes are featured on this video: the one I have tried is a very refreshing drink, a great digestive aid and helps to reduce the “dampness” (Chinese medicine term) in your body. The flavor is very subtle and drizzle of honey is used to sweeten the drink. When the lemon juice is added to the purple shiso water, it changes into a very pretty pink colour.
I have made this drink a few times and I really enjoyed it! You only need three ingredients: fresh purple shiso leaves, lemon juice and a little honey (I used a drizzle of manuka honey).
Below is a translation of the recipe:
In a large sauce pan, add 80 grams of chopped purple shiso leaves to 1 litre of filtered cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Set aside and let it cool.
Add 50 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, the shiso water will start to turn “pink”.
Add a drizzle of honey as sweetener.
You can drink as is or add ice / ice water if you prefer the drink to be slightly diluted. Enjoy (OO)
Here’s a snapshot of what I have been cooking the past two months..For updates follow me on Instagram (@mygoldenapron) and you will know first hand what I have been cooking and where I have been dining!
Roasting OKRA: I never thought of roasting okra until my dear sweet friend Jo showed me, sometimes we are just caught in our usual habits and don’t think about the most obvious options! Since then I have been adding okras to our salads or enjoyed with our cooked fish, like the kasu-shio marinated halibut in shiitake, edamame, daikon and mustard leaves dashi broth… As for garnish, I have prepared some roasted kale (in place of seaweed) and pancetta bits.
Remember sake kasu? It’s the remaining lees from sake making and they have been available for sale at Japanese grocery stores (Fujiya in Vancouver) or Artisan Sake (at Granville Island, this is the one I use all the time). For this dish, I added some salt and a little water to approximately 2 Tablespoons of kasu (water for slight thinning of mixture), pat dry (really dry) the halibut filets and submerge them in the marinade for at least a day. Before cooking, wipe the fish clean with paper towel to ensure there’s no kasu left (otherwise it will burn). I baked my fish at 400F and finished with broiling the final two minutes (the cooking time varies pending on thickness of fish fillet).
Dashi broth: prepared with bonito flakes and kelp as base (search my archives for recipe), I added the shiitake mushroom stems, a couple of celery leaves (I kept them frozen and add to broth/stock making), a spoonful of sake kasu and a small chunk of daikon and let it cook for half an hour. I strain the broth then add shiitake mushrooms, mustard green leaves, edamame beans (parboiled already) and season with sodium reduced soy, mirin and a little maple syrup (sugar for most of you), adjust accordingly to your taste and dietary needs always! I prepared the pancetta and kale bits while broth is cooking, okra also roasted before and add-on together with green onion as garnish. The cooked fish is lightly finished with fleur de sel.
The broth can be prepared ahead of time, when fish is about ready, reheat the broth and to serve, plate vegetables and fish in a regular or soup bowl, pour the broth, add the okra and green onions, kale and pancetta garnish last. Enjoy!
Sakuraya: Last month I mentioned there is a Japanese grocery located on East Broadway (close to Fraser), they carry the organic dried mustard leaves and daikon leaves from a small village in Japan. I re-hydrated the leaves and add to my dashi broth and they added so much flavor! It has some glucose so remember to adjust your seasoning.
Soy Dijon Mustard glaze chinook salmon with potato salad, green bean snow peas micro greens sea asparagus in ponzu vinaigrette:
Prepare glaze : sodium reduced soy sauce (2 Tablespoons), Dijon mustard (1 Tablespoon), olive oil (1-2 Tablespoons) and a little maple syrup. Clean and pat dry the salmon filet and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes. Remove the fish from marinade, scrape lightly so not much marinade will cling to the fillets (unless you like real browning action), and bake salmon in oven preheated in 350 F until desired doneness. When you see any white spot appearing on the seams of the salmon filet, that means it should be done and well on its way to being very cooked. While salmon is cooking, use a sauce pan and sautéed chopped shallots, add the marinade and cook until sauce boils and slightly thicken.
I used a store-bought ponzu and add good quality extra virgin olive oil, a little rice vinegar and ground pepper for the vinaigrette (2:1 ratio oil/soy, most vinaigrettes 3:1 ratio oil/acid, I prefer less oily).
As for the salad, basically anything goes! I added the most delicious microgreens (West End Blend from Grown here farms purchased at August Market on Main Street in Vancouver), sea asparagus (In season for a short time in Vancouver, soaked overnight to get rid of the salt then blanched and shocked in ice, green beans and snow peas (also blanched and shocked in ice) . I choose to use mostly organic products, use your imagination and add your favourite in season salad greens and vegetables to load more nutritious greens into your dish.
My potato salad is made of red potatoes, green onions, homemade relish mixed with half mayo (Lemon Ojai mayonnaise) and half greek yogurt, if you want to make it very Japanese, add kewpie mayonnaise.
Tomato and Egg Udon: simple eats and tomatoes are in season!
One of my favourite all time Chinese family dish is converted into a soup base for udon; apparently tomato and egg noodle soup is a very popular dish in parts of China. Taiwanese Chef James, well-known for his interpretation of Japanese cuisine, is now featured in cooking show filmed in China, I found on YouTube accidentally. I modified his recipe and method by changing a couple of ingredients: The ingredient are simple : heirloom tomatoes, shallots, grated ginger (lots), green onion, filtered water, white pepper and a little maple syrup (you can use sugar) I used Japanese udon, omit cornstarch and tomato paste (it was used for thickening, instead I let the soup cook down to thicken). The beaten egg is added in the end; if you have time, follow Chef James and make the eggs two ways. Usually the noodles are eaten as “late night snack”, I had it for dinner and I find it perfect as a summer light supper.
Tomato Miso Nduja Bolognese with Udon
Remember a few months ago I talked about Nduja, the Italian spreadable spicy sausage? I changed things up a little – I mixed a little nduja and red miso into my own pork/turkey Bolognese sauce and had it with udon, garnish with roasted kale (salted and crushed to mimic seaweed) and it was a winner at my recent dinner gathering with my cooking buddies Jo, Phung and Rita. The dish is a perfect marriage of Japanese and Italian ingredients; remember nduja and miso are both a little salty, you do not need to use much for seasoning. The miso makes the sauce very hearty and meaty; if you have a good tomato sauce base, you can add the miso and serve it as a vegetarian dish with grilled eggplant. The nduja sausage spread adds a little spiciness, it is completely optional. Experiment with your favourite meat sauce recipe and add these flavor profiles to your repertoire.
For both tomato udon dishes, the really thin udon noodles will not work as well. I found this perfectly wonderful hand-cut dry udon at our local Fujiya Japanese food store.
This is an idea and recipe which I’ve adapted loosely from the December 2013 issue of Fine Cooking;instead of cooking the vegetables in a skillet, I opted to roast everything together and served as a side dish with our roast prime rib dinner; I will try the slow saute method next time.
Ingredients: (serves 4 to 6)
1 Tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar, 1 Tablespoon Pure Maple syrup, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (more to taste), kosher, salt, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 Head of cauliflower (medium), 1/2 pound of Cremini mushrooms (trimmed, halved if small, quartered if large – approximately 3 cups), 8 large cloves of garlic (peeled and halved lengthwise), 3 rosemary sprigs, 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (optional).
– Pre-heat oven to 350 F, lined roasting pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
– Prepare the cauliflower and mushrooms; for the cauliflower, cut off the stems and leaves (discard); Cut the cauliflower into half, then slice florets and stalks into bite size, cut the florets so they have a flat side.
– Combine red wine vinegar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a small bowl, set aside.
– Toss cauliflower, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil, season with kosher salt and pepper. Spread evenly on baking dish.
– Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and golden brown.
– Remove from oven and gently stir in vinegar mixture and butter (optional). Discard the rosemary sprigs and season to taste with more lemon juice and salt (if necessary). Serve immediately.
I am going through a major “cauliflower phase”.…Roast, steam or even eaten raw, it’s currently my favourite vegetable (last month was kale). I was searching for different ways to turn this cruciferous vegetable into an entrée; Inspired by one of Lidia Bastianich’s recipes (Bigoli with onion anchovy sauce), I added the roasted cauliflower to the sauce and toss with gemelli pasta. As this is my own recipe, the measurements are approximate; always adjust according to your own taste and dietary needs.
Ingredients: (Serves 2)
1 head cauliflower, 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic (finely minced), 1 small onion (finely sliced half-moon), 4 to 6 anchovy fillets (in oil, drained, finely chopped), 1/2 cup hot low sodium organic chicken broth, 120 g gemelli pasta, freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, lined roasting pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil
– Clean cauliflower and cut off the stems and leaves (discard); Cut the cauliflower into half, then slice florets and stalks into bite size. Place cauliflower in roasting pan, toss with 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and half of minced garlic, season with salt (lightly) and fresh ground black pepper. Roast until golden and tender, approximately 25 minutes, turning half way. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.
– To make the anchovy sauce: Set the large skillet on medium high heat, add 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, stir in onions and remaining garlic, season with sprinkle of salt; let onions cook slowly. After 15 to 20 minutes, the onions will become golden and edge with brown, add the chopped anchovies, raise the heat, cook and stir until anchovies melt.
– Pour in the stock, bring to a bubbling boil; season generously with fresh ground black pepper and adjust salt to taste (add only if necessary – *anchovies are salty). Remove from heat, return to simmer before you add the gemelli and cauliflower.
– Cook the gemelli according to package instructions, until nearly al dente in boiling salted water.
– Toss the pasta and cauliflower into the simmering sauce; mix together for a minute in order to finish cooking and coat the pasta and cauliflower evenly. Turn off the heat, toss in the chopped parsley and serve immediately. Enjoy (OO)!
The choice of pasta is my own personal preference.
It’s also a personal preference to have more vegetables than pasta. I adjusted the measurements of the original recipe accordingly and skipped the butter. For the original recipe for the sauce: http://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/885.
For this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, I served this old-fashioned salad with smoked salmon on a platter; it was simply delicious. I love this salad so much and I made it again tonight for dinner..
Ingredients: (Serves 6)
3 small heads Butter Lettuce, 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard, 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1 Tablespoon shallot (finely chopped), 1 large egg (hardboiled and peeled), kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
– Trim the bases of the lettuce heads and remove any damaged leaves. Cut each head through the core into four wedges; rinse under cold water, shake gently to get rid of excess water, set the wedges on a clean dishcloth to drain, cut side down.
– In a bowl, whisk lemon juice and mustard. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, whisk in the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Stir in parsley and shallot.
– Separate the egg white from the yolk; using the back of a spoon, press the white through a fine sieve, repeat with the yolk. Stir the egg into the dressing and taste for seasoning.
– For individual serving, arrange two lettuce wedges on salad plate and spoon dressing over them; serve immediately.
Adapted from Fine Cooking Thanksgiving Cookbook
For this recipe, I used the beautiful and tasty “living Butter lettuce” (roots still attached) by Windset Farms (https://www.windsetfarms.com/). The mimosa vinaigrette is so delicious, I think it goes well with smoked salmon, prawns or avocados.
Preparation is simple and you can prep all ingredients ahead. A great tip from Fine Cooking:hard-boil the egg at least one day in advance as it’s easier to peel.
Did you know Butter lettuce is also known as Boston or Bibb lettuce?
For large hard-boiled eggs, place eggs in saucepan and add enough cold water by about 1 inch. Slowly bring water to boil over medium heat; when water has reached a boil, cover and remove from heat, let sit for approximately 12 minutes. Transfer eggs to a colander and place under cool running water to stop the cooking process. Practice makes perfect (OO)
Whenever I purchase my favourite ciabatta from Pure Bread(http://www.purebread.ca/) at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market, I’ll be more inclined to make sandwiches for weekend or weekday lunches. This is a light and easy recipe, loosely based on Michael Smith’s from Chef at Home; you can always personalize it with your own flavours (and I did); Enjoy!
Fresh ciabatta bread (from your local bakery/market), 1 canned tuna (drained), 1 avocado (pitted and peeled), 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel, 1 green scallion (sliced), handful of chopped italian flat leaf parsley (optional), kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper (or red chilli pepper flakes) to taste.
– Sliced Ciabatta in middle, lightly brush bread on one side with olive oil (optional), toast both sides on pan over medium heat
– Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, salt and pepper to make vinaigrette; set aside
– Chop avocado, mix with tuna, scallion and parsley, toss well in vinaigrette; salt and pepper season to taste. Serve on toasted ciabatta as open faced sandwich.