Archive for February, 2008

 Truffle oil and artichoke tagliatelle

It’s just starting to snow outside.  Again.  We’ve had a wonderful, and sometimes daunting, amount of snow this year, here in Toronto and I’m grateful that the novelty of it all, caused by having spent most my life in a hot climate, hasn’t quite worn off yet.  I’ve listened to the local population bemoan the fact bitterly that we’ve gotten more snow this year than Anyone Can Ever Remember.  But I do still love to sit on my little window seat over lunch and watch those flakes a-falling down.  Even knowing that I’m going to have to dig my way out of the house, again, doesn’t diminish the glee.

But then, perhaps the glee is due, in part, to a great lunch while watching the Winter Show.  A fresh, egg tagliatelle, some artichokes, green peppercorns, a generous amount of Parmesan, a sprinkle of Fleur de Sel and a trickle of Truffle oil, a stupendous gift from a fellow food-aholic.  Mmmm.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Truffle oil and artichoke tagliatelle 2

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Whiskey figs with oats

There’s something about a hot, steaming bowl of fresh oats porridge on a lazy Sunday morning that somehow sets the tone for the rest of the day. A good, long read of the Sunday papers, a walk in a park in the winter sunshine and a late afternoon nap, followed by a sightly too long, intricately woven Sunday Night Movie, with the wonderful Mr P’s fabulous toasted cheese and a glass of good red wine.

My mother used to make us oats porridge in the winter back home and it still remains an essential part of our routine here, steeped as it is in nostalgia and caring. Of course, we wouldn’t be indulged so much with such adult delights as whiskey and figs, but rather heap our bowls up with a slathering of butter and golden syrup. Our tastes being somewhat more subtle and grown up these days, the smokey, peaty flavours of a good whiskey or scotch paired with fruity figs takes that humble bowl of oats from chilly school morning to the glories of the Sunday breakfast table.

*As with all things cooking, the better the ingredient used the better the results. Don’t skimp on a cheap whiskey, use what ever your favourite nightcap version is; after all, you only use a tiny amount. Naturally, if you don’t do the booze feel free to leave it out.

**Try get dried green/white figs as the flavour is more subtle than the red or black mission figs. I like the softer ones from Iran or Turkey.

Figs in whiskey

Whiskey Figs with Oats Porrige

5 or 6 dried figs, quartered
about 1 cup water
1½ Tbsp good whiskey or scotch
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed with the back of a heavy knife
1 cinnamon stick

whole oats, not the instant kind, enough for 2 people
water for cooking the oats

cinnamon sugar to serve

– combine the water, whiskey, cardamom and cinnamon in a small, heavy based saucepan and bring to a simmer.

– add the figs and simmer over a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes, checking that the pot doesn’t run dry. Top up with water as needed.

– when the figs are done, drain, reserving liquid, and keep warm.

– use the liquid from the figs along with hot water to make up the liquid needed to cook the oats as per the package instructions.

– top cooked oats with figs and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to serve.

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Winter Blues

Ho Hum. I’m afraid I’ve been a little shy on content in the cooking department, due largely to a general tedium of the available content in the market but also to that winter malaise of wanting to eat nothing but the comfiest of comfy cooking. Things like vegetable soup and baked butternut and, funnily enough, ice-cream out of the tub; none of which lends itself to hugely exciting blog entries. Add to that a nasty little head cold and a bunch of Winter Excursions off in the hinterlands and Voila! no bloggables. Not that I haven’t been cooking, mind you. Other than the pots of vegetable barley soups and Pecks Anchovette on toast, I managed to squeeze in the odd dinner of Ooh, Aah proportions, but unfortunately, the dinner never made it as far as the camera. It’s difficult to keep a group of hungry dinner guests from rioting while I whip out the trusty clicker and have them watch their salmon a la Hoisin on ginger-honey, mashed sweet potatoes go cold for the sake of a little blog. I have the public peace to think of.

So while I try desperately to shrug of this case of the Winter Culinary Blah’s, here are a few little pics from the Winter wonderland with which I’m currently surrounded. I promise, the Sabatiers will be blazing soon.

Winter in Canada1


Winter in Canada3

Winter in Canada4

Winter in Canada5

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