Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘pasta’ Category

As our temperatures here in Toronto start to dip and dive again in the face of Autumn I keep thinking about all the gorgeous food I cooked up over the Summer and never got around to sharing with you.  So, over the next little while, you’ll have to bear with me as I turn an uncharacteristically unseasonable page back to the hotter months and post some of the recipes and cook ups that got lost in the comings and goings of all the travelling I did over that time.  Hopefully I’ll manage to get up to speed with the backlog before the glories of autumn are over with, or I’ll find myself a season behind when spring finally comes around and I’m still stuffing butternuts and mulling apple cider.

A lot of the time in Summer the last thing you want to be doing is keeping an eye on a slow cooking stew or spending hours in the hot, sticky kitchen.  Summer over here at Lick Your Own Bowl is often a casual, quickly thrown together meal of the season’s freshest produce, herbs from the garden and a long, candle-lit evening sitting outside in the garden with the scent of flowers and barbecue in the air.  There’s not much too say about this Summer-Coloured meal.  A quick sticks pasta, with sauteed onions and garlic, sundried tomato, fresh Ontario corn and peas, lightly cooked and deglazed with a dollop of white wine and then plucked up with a bit of white tuna and washed down with an ice cold lager and a side of fresh salad is just heavenly.  Then sit back and listen to the crickets and the laughter of neighbourhood kids still playing street hockey in the road.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

 

Manicotti Spinach Ricotta

Manicotti are much larger than cannelloni and therefore much, much easier to stuff.  Personally, I approach the whole stuffing process with joyless abandon.  Not for me the delicate process of cake forks and backs of teaspoons to get the stuffing in the tubes; it’s a roll up the sleeves, hands in the bowl affair in my kitchen.  Although, I must confess, it was the ever resourceful Mr P who beat the prissy out of me one afternoon and a cannelloni stuffing competition, which he won hands down, if you’ll forgive the pun and since then I’ve followed his example.

This is a lighter version of the usual pasta al fourno, foregoing the buttery bechemel in favour of an extra wop of tomato sauce.  And that tomato sauce comes out of a jar, mind you.  I don’t think I’ll be the type to be making bathtubs of my own tomato sauce any day soon and a good quality jar of ye olde tomato sauce does the trick perfectly.

*I used provolone on the top because it’s what I had on hand, but a good mozzarella would be wonderful as well.

** This recipe makes a full lasagna dish worth, enough for 4 – 6 people, so divide proportionately if you want, although it makes great left overs and freezes well too.

Manicotti Spinach Ricotta2

Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives 

Olive oil
1 Onion (I used spanish red) finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach (about 250g), washed and chopped
¼ tsp Garam Masala
½ tsp Nutmeg
10 sundried tomatoes (in oil), drained and chopped
2 Tbsp ground flax
⅓ cup black olives, chopped (I used little nicoise)
½ cup pine nuts
500g ricotta, drained
salt and white pepper to taste
1 jar tomato pasta sauce (I used tomato and basil)
provolone and parmesan, grated – enough to cover dish

– heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onions and garlic until tender. Add spices and cook until fragrant.

– add spinach in batches, to reduce size, and saute until wilted.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.

– transfer spinach mix to a large mixing bowl, add tomatoes, flax, olives, pine nuts and mix well.

– mix in ricotta with a wooden spoon, breaking it up as you go to form a creamy mess.  Season to taste.

– butter a large casserole or lasagna dish and pre-heat the oven to 350˚F

– spread about ⅓ tomato sauce on bottom of dish.

– stuff each manocotti with spinach filling and place on tomato sauce base.  Continue until dish is full.

– top dish with the rest of the tomato sauce and top with the two cheeses.

– bake in the oven for 45 mins, until pasta is tender.

Manicotti Spinach Ricotta3

Read Full Post »

Duck Breast with Green Olives and Rosmary

We’re having our first snow here in Toronto. Big, fat flakes have been falling all day and the temperatures are just right to allow for picture perfect moments: cold enough that the snow doesn’t instantly turn into boot-eating slush but warm enough to allow a certain amount of frolicking in the streets. A cookie baking kind of day, which is exactly where I tend to go once I’ve finished this post. I’m thinking something spicy-autumny, not quite Christmasy. Too early for that kind of talk. We’ve still some Autumn dishes to get through in my house! Even though one must admit to oneself, even if one thinks one can forestall the moment by buying butternuts and plums at the market, that the Winter is not only on it’s way but parking it’s car in the drive and walking up the path to the front door. And once one has admitted the close proximity of Winter, one can quite gladly take the Canada Goose Coat out of it’s box, fluff it up and actually enjoy the snow outside. The fabulous Mr P and I are so equally and utterly in Smit with our Canada Goose coats, that when we see other “Ducks” on the street we share a little glance of smugness and glee.

And speaking of duck…

Duck still seems like a fairly exotic dish to me. Growing up, poultry consisted of Chicken, Chicken and, um, Chicken. That said, duck isn’t any more difficult to deal with than Ye Olde Chicken and since it’s a readily available thing at the butcher these days I tend to keep a portion or two lying around for sudden inspiration. Like this. Mr P got his hands dirty in on this one, though it was almost a case of Two many cooks spoiled the duck. Do we chop the raw duck first and then fry it, or fry it then chop it. How thick should the slices be? Should we remove the fat before cooking it? After cooking it? At all? In the end, after a small glass of wine and some introspection the following happened.

*note: it’s really worth getting a fresh, egg pasta for this. I’m not patient enough to make my own (yet) but I made sure to get the best I could find. Why waste the duck on industrial spaghetti, is my thinking…

Also, I got the olives from “the olive guy” at the market, but you can really use any olives you prefer.

Duck Breast with Green Olives and Rosmary

Duck Breast with Rosemary and Green Olives

2 duck breasts, with fat on
Dried Rosemary, about 1 + ½ tsp
Fleur de sel
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Roasted Green Olives, about
⅓ cup
Good, fresh pasta, enough for 2
2 Tbsp good basil pesto
– Rinse the duck breast and pat dry with paper towel

– with fat side lying up, cut through the fat in gashes about 1 inch apart

-season breast with salt and Rosemary, making sure some rosemary is in the cuts

-fry duck breasts in a non stick, heavy bottomed pan for about 2 – 3 minutes on each side until meat is browned and fat is brown and starting to get crispy. Remove from heat and cool until handle-able. Slice the breast into ½ inch thick slices. They should still be quite raw in the middle.

– put the pasta on to cook

– In the duck fat left in the pan, fry the onion and garlic until caramelised. Add duck breast and olives and cook until meat is cooked, about 5 mins.

– Drain pasta and add to the duck, along with the pesto, mixing well before serving. Add some olive oil if you think it needs it (I found the duck fat more than enough lubrication)

Read Full Post »

Meaty Little Balls

Meat Balls with Maasdam

Growing up mostly vegetarian as I did, it took my Mother-in-law to introduce me to the wonders of Meaty Comfort Foods, such as bolognese, cannelloni and lasagna. I loved when we went to their house for a Sunday dinner and instead of a traditional roast and two veg, there was a juicy, aromatic dish of pasta al fourno bubbling happily away in the oven. These little meat balls, stuffed with a cube of good dutch cheese, went down in a gobble and a gulp from a very satisfied Mr P, half Dutch as he is. The meat balls take a bit (though not much) of fiddling and it’s a good idea to start them a little in advance, say 45 mins before you want to eat, but the rest of the meal is dead simple: just a pot of good pasta on to boil and the simplest of tomato sauces. I made my sauce with a can of whole, peeled, Italian Plum tomatoes, some salt, some sugar and a good dollop of really good Olive oil, just boiled away for 20 mins while I carried on with the meat balls.

Meat Balls with Maasdam, in tomato sauce with penne

Meat Balls stuffed with Maasdam Cheese

450g – 500g lean minced beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten

± 20 ½cm cubes of Maasdam, or other hard cheese

flour for dusting

Veg oil for frying

– combine all ingredients, except cheese, flour and oil, in a bowl and mix well

– roll balls about 1 inch in size and push a piece of cheese into the middle of each

– dunk in the flour and shake the meat ball in your hand to remove excess flour

– fry the balls in batches in the hot oil. Turn frequently to brown all over.

– Serve with pasta and tomato sauce.

Read Full Post »

Pesto Spaghetti with fresh tomato

I smelled them before I saw them. In fact, I smelled them from about 10 yards away, and I immediately switched into hunter mode. I had to find them. Which stall was it? A glint in my eye as I spied them: big wound woven baskets stuffed to bursting with fresh, deep green basil plants. So fragrant that there was a visible mill of people around them and I’m lucky I ended up going to the market an hour earlier than I’d originally planned or I’d have missed out. So fragrant were they, in fact, that when the fabulous Mr P arrived home later in the day he immediately remarked on the smell from the front door, which is as far as you can get from the kitchen in our apartment. “Hmm, Basil!” I heard him mumble as he juggled his usual load of computer bags, keys and shoe-removal. And of course, in my state of grocery fever, I’d bought far more than two people could use. Basil doesn’t really like the fridge, so there was really nothing for it but to use it all up, while it was still so fresh and firm and fragrant. Again I had a mini day dream about having my own little kitchen garden.

I’d never made my own Pesto before.basil
I’m not sure why because I know it’s
not a complicated process and the
ingredients are simple and easy to
come by. Somehow I’ve never even
thought about making Pesto, in the
same way that I’ve never thought
about blending my own mustard or
cooking up my own ketchup. I’ve
upgraded my buying from little jars
of mass produced to hand made
Farmers Wife fare at the St Lawrence,
but further than that crossed my mind. Until last night. And I can tell you: you can taste the difference. Not that the Market stuff is not good, but making it and eating it fresh like that was a special treat. Of course, now I have a whole jar of it and will no doubt have to give it away so that it gets used while still fresh. But what’s better than a gift of food?

I used Elise’s recipe, and doubled it according to the amount of basil I had, but there are other recipe’s here, here and here, so find the one that sounds yummiest to you.

Basil is great on it’s own, but my favourite way to eat it is with a big pile of fresh, ripe tomatoes chopped up on top of it.

Basil Pesto

Read Full Post »