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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

I’ve been waiting for some inspiration in the last year in order to bring you some new recipes on Gourm(eh), and I’ve finally admitted to myself the reason that it’s been a slow time in my culinary adventures. The truth is, it’s not very exciting to cook for oneself. One thing that I’ve really enjoyed, however, has been long-distance meal-planning with my significant other, especially because it’s so exciting to see that despite distance, food is still able to bring us together and we often send messages back-and-forth of ideas and questions about how best to prepare things, and what produce has been good lately at the market or grocery store. Yes I’ll admit, Hamilton is a bit ahead of Ottawa, but we’ve got some good things here too now! It’s not nearly as nice as a meal together, but it will do if it’s all we’ve got for now!

I’m telling you this because this recipe was inspired by his own a few weeks ago. A tomato sauce with beets! I had one pound of delicious ground beef from my CSA box, new young leeks, fresh oregano and beets, so I decided to attempt some meatballs with spaghetti and a spicy beet tomato sauce. The spicy sauce is well-balanced by the sweet beet base, and it goes very well with flavourful beef.

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Ingredients – 4 servings

Meatballs

1 lb ground beef, extra lean
2 young leeks, cleaned and minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed (I like to pound mine in a mortar and pestle)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 egg
dash salt and pepper
olive oil

Spicy beet tomato sauce

1 onion, diced
2 young leeks, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chili flakes (to taste)
1 beet, diced into small pieces
1  good tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes (796 mL or 28 Oz)

Spaghetti or other pasta, enough for 4 (according to package)

Parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Mix all ingredients for meat balls except olive oil and egg in a bowl with hands until everything is well mixed, then add the egg. Form into small balls in the palm of your hands, and place on a plate drizzled with olive oil. Roll the meatball in the olive oil so it is coated, and repeat until you have made all the mixture into meatballs. Depending on the size, you should get 20-30 meatballs. Set aside in refrigerator while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce, dice the onions first, and heat up the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onions for a few minutes, then add the minced leek. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the garlic, chili flakes and basil. Stir until the onion is soft and everything is fragrant. Add the beet, and then the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a strong simmer and then reduce the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, while you prepare the meatballs and the pasta.

For the meatballs, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat in another frying pan. Once the oil is hot, cook the meatballs, turning them carefully so all sides brown. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until they are cooked through (you should not see any pink inside).  Set on a paper-towel lined plate once cooked.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta to your liking. Pour a ladle-full of water into the beet sauce to make it a little saucier if you like. Serve the meatballs tossed in the sauce, over the pasta, with grated parmesan and enjoy!

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Wishing you and yours a very happy new year!

The past year has flown by.  It’s been a busy year – finishing up my Master’s thesis, travelling in Tanzania, starting medical school – and I have been very fortunate.  While I’ve had fewer new cooking adventures (to be remedied in 2013), I have certainly enjoyed many old favourites with friends and family!

Gourm(eh?) continues to exceed expectations. It’s hard to believe that a small project for me and Sitelle to share recipes has turned into a blog that has received over 30,000 hits!  We look forward to sharing many more in 2013 – including a few more Canadian specialties.

To start off 2013, I wanted to share the five most popular recipes from 2012.  Bon appetit!

– Catherine

5. Lotus Land Linguini

Creamy lotus land linguine

This pasta from rebar was initially cooked to fulfill a peanut craving.  The lotus land linguini turned out to be a fun and tasty dish enjoyed by all – the leftovers were perfect as a picnic lunch the next day on a wintertime outing to Peggy’s Cove!

4. Whitewater Cinnamon Buns

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

These cinnamon buns from Whitewater Cooks were nice and cinnamony, and perfect for a late morning brunch!

3. Spicy Steamed Fish, Gambian Style

Gambian platter

Sitelle shared many of the recipes she picked up while living in Gambia – and this one looks divine!

2. Christmas Cookies

Swedish Pastries (Thumbprint Walnut Christmas Cookie)

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Slice-and-Bake Icebox Cookies

Icebox Cookies

Christmas baking is a favourite family tradition, and these two cookies are my great-grandmother’s secret recipes.  They continue to be loved year after year!

1. Benachin

Bowl of benachin

Another of Sitelle’s Gambian dishes was our most viewed of 2012, and this is certainly a dish meant to be shared with company!

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Flipping through rebar: modern food cook book, I was captivated by the name of this linguine.  The recipe looked perfect for dinner with peanut-loving vegetarian friends.  I followed rebar‘s hint to make the sauce rich and creamy by adding equal amounts of canned coconut milk.  I also added fried golden tofu to boost the protein content.   With two helpers, the chopping preparation passed quickly.

This pasta was a delight: creamy, peanut-buttered flavoured crisp veggies over noodles.  We ate the leftovers as a cold picnic-lunch a few days later while driving the Lighthouse Route on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. All of us agreed that the peanut-flavour had intensified, making for even more delicious leftovers!

Lotus Land Linguine with wok-fried vegetables and peanut sauce

(serves 4 hungry individuals)

Ingredients:

1 recipe peanut sauce

1 lb (454 g) linguine noodles

1 tablespoon peanut oil, separated

1 pound firm tofu, cubed (optional)

1 yellow onion, julienned

2 carrots, half moon slices

1 large red pepper, 1/2-inch triangles

1 bunch broccoli, florets and stem sliced

4 ounces snow peas, ends trimmed

4 heads baby bok choy, leaves separated

2 bunches scallions, 1-inch long slices

1 can coconut milk (optional)

sesame oil

Directions:

Heat a large pot of water for cooking the pasta.  In a small pot, gently heat the peanut sauce with the coconut milk. Begin cooking the noodles when you start the stir-fry as they will take about the same amount of time.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat.  Add half the oil, and just before it starts to smoke, add the tofu.  Stir-fry  until it is golden brown.  Remove from wok.  Add the remaining oil.  Stir-fry the onions until translucent and then add the remaining vegetables in order of their cooking times, beginning with the carrots and ending with the snow peas, bok choy and scallions.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Continue stirring and tossing the vegetables, keeping them crisp and brightly coloured.  If they start to stick, add a splash of water and cover briefly.

Toss the drained noodles with a splash of sesame oil.  Toss the noodles with the veggies, tofu, and creamy coconut peanut sauce.  Garnish with crushed peanuts, freshly chopped cilantro, and lime wedges, if desired.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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It’s hard to imagine that 2012 has arrived!  2011 has flashed by quicker than either of us expected, and both of us have loved writing entries for gourm(eh?).  Neither of us could guess how rewarding this blog would prove to be.  We are so grateful for our reader’s supports and comments, and hope you will continue to enjoy our posts in the year ahead! In the meantime, we wanted to share with you our 10 most popular recipes from 2011.

To a wonderful 2012!

10. Coconut Turnovers – A  recipe Sitelle invented while reminiscing about her travels in Belize — these turnovers are mouth wartering.

9. Okra, Potato and Cauliflower Curry – Who doesn’t love Indian food?  Madhur Jaffrey spotlights okra is this spicy dish.

8. Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Asparagus, and Zucchini  – Pesto is a favourite of Catherine’s, and this pasta dish (or a variant) features at least once a month in her kitchen.

7. Mocha Chip Meringue Cake – Our very first gourm(eh?) post!  This is a little taste of meringue heaven.

6. Crispy Baked Mac and Cheese – The more cheese, the better in our opinion.

5. Chocolate Zucchini Cake – One of Catherine’s top secret family recipes, she has yet to meet a picky eater who didn’t love this chocolatey, moist cake.

4. Flaky Pastry Crust: Savoury or Sweet! – A cornerstone of both our baking inventories, delicious buttery pie crust is our foundation for most pies.  And if you need a filling, may we recommend Catherine’s two favourites from 2011:

3. Cream of Broccoli and Spinach Soup – Concocted during Catherine’s month of vegetarianism, she’d eat this any day of the week!

2. The ultimate Canadian butter tarts! – We wrote developed gourm(eh?) partially to explore Canadian cuisine.  This here is Sitelle’s take of this delicious Canadian treat.

1. Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch – The post that saw us freshly pressed (!!!!), this rich pasta casserole is keeper.

You'll devour the pine nut crunch topping!

– Catherine & Sitelle

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I often cook up a large batch of food on Sunday to last me for the week, and this Sunday I craved lasagna with a twist.  Rummaging for inspiration through my fridge, I happened upon an acorn and butternut squash.  Squash is one of my favourite vegetables, and, as winter approaches, it is one of the few you can find at the market.  The beauty of this vegetable is the sweetness and versatility of its flesh.  This recipe from the Food Network was receiving rave reviews, so I decided to give it a go.

I felt the recipe needed garlic as well as a new flavour to balance the sweetness of the butternut puree, so as an experiment, I introduced arugula to offer a bitter contrast.  The original recipe only used mozzarella and Parmesan, but I love ricotta so included it with the cheese layer.  The final lasagna was enticing: the 15 minutes of letting the lasagna sit was torture as the aromas of pesto and cheese wafted through my apartment.   And I can attest that the zesty arugula balanced the mellow squash beautifully!

Butternut Squash and Arugula Lasagna

(serves 12)

 

Ingredients:

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PUREE

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1.5 to 2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup vegetable stock
 
PESTO BECHAMEL

1/4 cup butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup flour

1 litre (4 cups) milk

2 bay leaves

Generous pinch nutmeg

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves (or a few tablespoons of pesto)
 
REST OF LASAGNA

12 spinach lasagna noodles (either fresh no-boil or pre-boiled)

2 cups packed arugula

2 1/2 cups mozzerella cheese

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 
Directions:

To make the butternut puree, heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the squash and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pour the broth into the skillet, cover, and simmer until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally.  Cool slightly and then transfer the squash and any remaining liquid to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Season the squash puree with more salt and pepper to taste. Set the puree aside.

To make the pesto bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and flour and whisk until slightly brown.  Gradually whisk in the milk and add the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg.  Allow the bechamel to cool slightly.  Transfer a cup or two of the sauce to a blender.  Add the basil and blend until smooth.  Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the lasagna, preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.  Lightly butter a 13x9x2 inch baking dish.  Spread 3/4 cup of the bechamel over the prepared baking dish.  Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan.  Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the mozzerella cheese, 1/4 of the ricotta, and 1 cup of arugula.  Drizzle 1/2 cup basil bechamel over the noodles.  Repeat layering 3 more times, including the other cup of arugula on the 3rd of 4 layers.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna.  Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer.  Let the lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Unsurprisingly, if I have not gone shopping in over a week, my dinner pickings tend to be slim.  Friday evening was one such occasion.  As I eyed my wilting vegetables and containers of leftovers, I wondered whether Thai take-out might be a smarter idea.  After some deliberation, my Scottish frugality won out over my laziness, and I decided to throw together a refrigerator pasta.

This turned out to be a delicious idea.  I was in the mood for something creamy, so I went for a one-pot creamy pasta.  I had some ground beef leftover from tacos earlier this week, which inspired me to give my bechamel a little kick using Worcester sauce and mustard.  And to I threw in a few vegetables that needed eating. Less than half an hour later, I sat down to a bowl of creamy pasta that could have fooled me was leftover-inspired.

Creamy penne with ground beef and vegetables  (aka refrigerator pasta)

(4 servings)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound whole grain penne

Generous handful of peas

2-3 generous handfuls of spinach

2 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1 red pepper, chopped (or any other veggies in your fridge that need eating – mushrooms and zucchini would be particularly delicious)

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1 bay leaf

Splash of Worcester sauce (plus more to taste)

1 teaspoon mustard powder

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1-2 cups of leftover ground beef

Directions:

Bring a large pot of  salted water to a boil and cook penne to package directions.  One minute before you are finished cooking, add the peas and spinach. Drain into a colander.

Saute the garlic and red pepper in the butter.  Whisk in the flour and continue to cook for another minute.  Whisk in the milk, and add the bay leaf, Worcester sauce, mustard powder, and salt and pepper.  Stirring occasionally, bring the bechamel to a gentle simmer.  Allow the sauce to simmer until thickened slightly.  Taste and modify seasoning to your liking.  Toss in the parmesan, ground beef, and pasta.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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With the first frost approaching, I thought it would be likely this recipe would come in handy! Before moving to Montréal, we harvested all our tomatoes (even though it was just the end of August), and made pots and pots of sauce to put in the freezer. Our tomato harvest this year was phenomenal.

The oxheart variety we planted was particularly spectacular. You can see the tomatoes truly resembled a heart (with the ventricle and atrium larger on one side than the other!). Many of the oxheart tomatoes were over one pound, some almost two, and we couldn’t keep up with eating them as fast as they ripened.

Having too many tomatoes is definitely a blessing. And if you’re wondering what to do with yours, well, here’s a possibility!

Ingredients – 10-12 servings

-10-14 tomatoes (I measure the quantity by seeing how many fit into my big pot I’m going to make the sauce in, and then use all of them)
-2 onions, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-3 Tbsp olive oil + more for brushing
-1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 1.5 Tbsp dried
-1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried
-2 bay leaves
-1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional, but I find it makes cleaning up a lot easier). Slice tomatoes in half or quarters, brush with olive oil, a dash of salt, and roast in the oven for approximately 35-45 minutes, or until they begin to have brown spots on them and taste sweet.

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions,then reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook them until they become translucent. Stir in the garlic, and cook for another minute or so but try not to let garlic brown.

Add in all roasted tomatoes and any of the juices from the bottom of the pan if it is not burnt. Stir, and then add in bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and basil. Increase heat to medium-high and wait until it is simmering. Then stir, reduce heat to medium-low or low, letting it simmer away for 40 or so minutes. Taste, and add salt accordingly.

To store, place in containers and freeze. If you use jars, make sure to freeze this with them open and then close the lids after it is solid! The sauce itself stores around 5 days in the fridge without being frozen.

You can also alternate the herbs in this with parsley, herbs de provence, rosemary, and hot pepper flakes.

-Sitelle

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