Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

I arrived home from Nova Scotia to an empty refrigerator.  Panicked, I moved to my cupboards only to find them as barren as my fridge.  I then succumbed to jetlag and shamelessly broke down and ordered sushi.  The next day dawned and all I had to show for the $30 I spent the night before was some sad day old sushi.  I knew I could not survive on takeout forever, my pocket book couldn’t handle such abuse, but I really didn’t want to go to the grocery store.  Grocery shopping in Toronto can be an extreme sport.

Peaches

Have I ever told you how much I hate grocery stores?  Well, I hate them!  I know it’s an odd thing for a foodie to say, but I do.  I love markets (I love that Toronto has so many of them), but I think grocery stores are the devil.  They’re always freezing, the staff is disinterested, other shoppers are oblivious (especially on Saturdays) and I always seem to select the worst possible cart.

Peach with Pit

My blood pressure is elevated just thinking about it.

But what else could I do, eat old sushi?  So I mustered up my courage, took a deep breath and threw myself into the fray… I should probably mention I’ve been on a war movie kick lately.

Red Pepper

I didn’t even have a list.  I was determined to give each isle one shot to inspire me or seduce me with an exceptional buy.  There was no plan; I was more or less blindly pulling things off the shelves.  When I got home I surveyed my loot and scratched my head.  What on earth could I make with all this stuff?  Well, the answer was this salad.  I started with some gorgeous Ontario peaches and the rest wrote itself.  A base of peppery greens, a red bell pepper, a bit of cucumber, some raw cashews and, of course, bacon.  Incidentally, I actually found the bacon in the fridge.  I can always rely on my beau to replenish the all important bacon supply.  Dish soap on the other hand…

Chopped Cashews

The dressing was made with a dollop of my aunt’s homemade strawberry jam (made with Nova Scotian strawberries), some rosemary, and garlic.  I married these bold flavors with some flax seed oil and balsamic.  I watered the jam down a touch to give the dressing the proper consistency.

Bacon

Not surprisingly my beau was a bit apprehensive about the peaches, but he came around and wound up liking the salad quite a bit.  I, on the other hand, think I’ve found the salad of my dreams!  I really dug this salad!  Peaches and bacon laced with punchy accents of rosemary on a bed of peppery greens; what could be better?

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

Give this salad a try before the peaches go out of season.

 

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches: Serves 2

2 cups mixed greens (I used baby spinach and arugula)

1 peach, stoned and sliced

¼ red bell pepper, sliced

1/6 cucumber, sliced

¼ cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped

4 slices of bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped

Strawberry Rosemary Vinaigrette:

1 ½ tbsp strawberry jam

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup flax seed oil

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl whisk together jam and water.

Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined.

Place all salad ingredients (except the cashews) in a large bowl and pour in the dressing.

Toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed and coated with dressing.

Serve salad sprinkled with cashews.

Epic Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup

Finally, I am back to share the rest of that epic recipe I hinted at in my previous post.  Thank you for your patience.

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I’ve been playing hooky all week.

I realize that most of the recipes I post on this blog reference some fond childhood memory.  Now, either I didn’t frown until I was fourteen or I have a tendency to glaze over the less desirable parts of my early years.  Since I photographic proof that I was an excellent pouter before the age of two, I’ll blame it on rosy nostalgia.  But this soup is my childhood, or it at least occupies a very happy corner of it.

Mushrooms steaming

Whenever my mother and I miraculously found ourselves home alone we would steal away to a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant up the street from my childhood home.  There we would indulge in an order of Shanghai Noodles and a bowl of wonton soup.  Their wontons were deliciously meaty, bursting with filling and flavored to perfection.  Sadly, their food has gone downhill.  Instead of providing their costumers with amazing food on the cheap, they are now, quite simply cheap.  But that’s okay, because now that I can conduct myself in the kitchen without trying to sample raw meat (I was a weird child) I can make it myself.  So my mother and I rolled up our sleeves and set about making this rather epic wonton soup.

Mushrooms

Now, it’s difficult to provide an accurate recipe, as my mother does not measure or weight any of her ingredients.  The magic of her cooking is in her intuition.  To my mother cooking is a creative endeavor and who has time to be bogged down by numbers when you’re in the midst of creating a masterpiece?

This may be why my mother has never been much of a baker.

Black Fungus (More delicious than it sounds)

Also, my mother has an extensive collection of fancy dried fungi.  This is black fungus. You don’t have to use all the varieties I have listed.  A medley of dried mushrooms, which you can find easily in your local supermarket, should do the trick.

Wonton Filling

Anyway, here’s the recipe as best I can recall.  Follow these steps and I’m sure you’ll get something delicious.  The broth is a hybrid of several different Asian soups, so if you want something authentic please look elsewhere.

Wonton

It may look like a lot of work, but if you’re smart about it (we weren’t) it’s not so bad.  Make the wontons several days before, freeze them and you’ll be miles ahead of the pack.  We garnished our soups with slices of this tenderloin and steamed Chinese broccoli, but feel free to change them up.  I think bok choy would be lovely.

Epic Wonton Soup

Enjoy our zippy little concoction.

Epic Wonton Soup: Serves 8-12 or a small army

For The Wontons:

800g wonton wrappers

¼ pound ground pork

¼ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 stalks green onion, cut into thirds

½ cup of water chestnuts

2 eggs, divided

1 tbsp water

2 tbsp ginger

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 ½ tsp five spice powder

2 tbsp sherry

¼ cup soy sauce

4 tsp sesame oil

For the Broth:

2 cups boiling water

1 cup dried mushroom medley (try to get one with shitake mushrooms)

25g black fungus (more delicious than it sounds)

25g yellow fungus

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp ginger, minced

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce

1 cup dry white wine

2 tbsp soy sauce or to taste

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

8 cups chicken stock

1 red sweet pepper

2 stalks green onion, sliced

1 cup water chestnuts

1 egg, beaten

Directions:

WONTONS:

Place pork, shrimp, onion, water chestnuts, one egg, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, five-spice-powder, sherry, soy sauce and sesame oil in a food processor.

Pulse until all ingredients come together and are evenly distributed throughout.

In a small bowl whisk together the remaining egg and water and set aside.

Place a wonton wrapper on a dry, clean cutting board.

Dip you finger in the egg mixture and trace one corner of the wonton.

Place one teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper.

Fold wrapper corner to corner so it forms a triangle.

Seal wonton by pressing the edges.  Be sure to remove as much air from the center of the wonton as possible.

Place a small amount of the egg mixture on the bottom corners of your wrapper and fold the corners toward the center, hugging the encased filling.

Repeat until you run out of wrappers.  Set aside until ready to cook.

BROTH:

In a large bowl place dried mushrooms and black and yellow fungi.

Douse with boiling water.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

While you’re waiting, heat peanut and sesame oil over medium high heat in a large stockpot.

Once the oil begins to shimmer, add onion, ginger, and garlic.  Sauté until the onion is slightly translucent.  About five minutes.

Add white wine, sriracha sauce, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.

Bring mixture to a boil then add chicken stock.

Once the mushrooms are soft, drain them using a fine mesh strainer.  Reserve the water.

Add mushroom broth to the chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 -20 minutes.

Chop reserved mushrooms and add them to the broth along with the water chestnuts.

Bring the soup back up to a boil and slowly pour beaten egg into the soup.  Add wontons.

Once the wontons start to rise to the top, add green onions and red pepper.

Cook for three minutes, then remove from heat and serve.

Garnish with steamed Chinese broccoli and slices of Asian BBQ pork tenderloin.

*Be sure not to over cook the wontons or you’ll never forgive yourself.

Asian BBQ Pork Tenderloin

BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

I’ve been back in Nova Scotia for a week now and I am happy to report I have been cooking up a storm. We’ve been in Halifax for just a few days and my mother and I have already developed a lovely daily ritual. It starts with a run in the morning (to combat all we’ve been eating), shopping in the afternoon (consequently, I’m broke) and an evening of white wine and cooking. The success of our cooking is often dependent on the amount of wine we drink, but for the most part our culinary exploits have yielded some amazing results. I’m sorry to keep so many wonderful recipes from you, but I’ve been too busy catching up and bonding with my mom to be incessantly snapping photos. My ravenous family also seems to object to waiting for their food while I try to get a glamour shot out of it.
Ginger, garlic, green onion

This pork tenderloin, on the other hand, was just too good! I felt obligated to share it with you. It’s actually apart of a much larger recipe but, you’ll have to wait on that, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

Marinade

My mother cooked a lot of Asian-inspired dishes while I was growing up. How a woman from PEI managed to accumulate such an impressive repertoire of Asian recipes is beyond me, but this book may have something to do with it.

Many of my childhood favorites were adapted from this book and I’m pretty sure this picture is responsible for my melon ball obsession.

 

My mother never strove for authenticity, she strove for flavor. I’ve never seen someone so fearless in the kitchen. A quick taste and she knows exactly what to do. There is no second-guessing or thinking out loud, just a swift movement to the fridge or cabinet to track down exactly what the recipe needs.
Marinaded Pork Tenderloin

This pork tenderloin was intended to be char sui, despite being the wrong cut of meat for such an occupation. That intent quickly went out the window. My mother’s fridge is always stocked with any Asian condiment you could think of, so like a kid in candy store I let my taste be my guide and this is what I came up with. My mother ensured it was BBQ’d to perfection and it was easily the most beautifully cooked piece of pork I’ve had in a long time.
Asian BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

While it’s certainly not authentic Chinese fare, it’s exactly like most of the food I grew up on. It’s no wonder I have such a love for fusion cuisine. Be sure to give it a try before BBQ season is over.
BBQ'd Pork Tenderloin

Enjoy!

Asian Inspired BBQ Pork Tenderloin: Serves 4
1 ¼ pound pork tenderloin
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp sriracha sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except pork in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Place tenderloin in a large zip-lock bag and pour marinade over the meat.
Let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is better.
When ready to cook turn your BBQ to high heat.
Remove pork from marinade and pat dry.
Reserve the marinade for basting.
Sear the tenderloin on all sides. About three minutes a side for a total of 12 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and cook for an additional 12 minutes. Continue to rotate the meat every three minutes, basting often.
Remove meat from heat and tent with tin foil and leave to rest for ten minutes.
Slice and serve.

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

It was my brother’s birthday last weekend and I was lucky enough to spend it at my family’s cottage.  Every year we celebrate my bro’s birthday by consuming a few pigs and whole lotta beer.  We call it Pig Fest (my family is ever so refined).  Sausages, ribs, pulled pork, bacon, pork chops; you name it and we’ve probably served it to mark the occasion.   Clearly the movie Babe never really got to my brother; then again no animal related movie ever does.  The first time I ever ate venison my brother told me it was Bambi’s mother… I was four and yes, I’m still scared from the experience, although it was infinitely less painful than the time he convinced me that Keens Hot Mustard was butterscotch pudding.

Gotta love siblings, they’re so friendly.

Garlic

This was the first time we served pulled pork at our annual family pig out and I was left in charge of the preparation.  The pressure was on!  I knew I had a lot to live up to.  We’ve been throwing these shindigs since my brother’s fifteenth birthday and that was… well; I feel like I shouldn’t say or I may find myself being force fed spicy mustard all over again.  Anyway, it was a touch risky to add a new item to the menu of such a legendary event, but I persevered and wound up with the deliciousness you see before you now.

Mango

I knew going in that the ribs (the pièce de résistance of every pig fest to date) would win out, but I think I gave it my best effort and although I may be slightly biased, I favored the pulled pork over the ribs, but don’t tell my mom.  Since the ribs were slathered in Phil’s (an a amazing BBQ joint in San Diego) BBQ sauce, I wanted the pulled pork to be completely different, so I wouldn’t invite anyone to compare the two.   I chose to contrast the smoky sweetness of the Phil’s sauce with a vaguely Asian concoction that was sweet, tangy and spicy but in a very different way.

Pureed mango with jalapenos and green onion

Since pork and fruit of any kind get along like a house on fire, I grabbed a sad little mango languishing in the crisper and went from there.  For a touch of spice I threw in some jalapenos and fresh ginger.  I added a healthy dose of soy sauce to balance the sweet and enhanced the overall taste with a burst of citrus, courtesy of some lemongrass, a touch of marmalade and a splash of lime juice.  Then I simply doused the pork shoulder in this lovely blend and cooked the hell out of it.

Pork shoulder and marinade

Many of my family members ate it all on it’s own, but that was not enough for me.  Oh no, I had to take it to the next level.  I served this delectable treat in a bun (sadly, this was the only half-way decent bun I could find out in the boonies) and topped it with this coleslaw, which you’ve already met.  The creaminess of the coleslaw melted into the saucy pork and the crunch of the pepitas definitely added something special.  If at all possible consume both these recipes together… unless you’re not a fan of citrus in which case I wouldn’t make either.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

But if you happen to have won a lemon-eating contest at the tender age of fourteen (you may want to forget that tidbit of information) then welcome home!  This sandwich was made for you!

Enjoy!

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork: Serves 8

6-8 pound bone-in boston butt

1 mango, cubed

5 cloves of garlic

1/8 cup lime juice

2 tbsp pureed lemongrass

3 tbsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped

3 tbsp sweet chili sauce (I used President’s Choice)

2 tbsp marmalade

2 jalapenos, divided

2 stalks of green onions, sliced

1/8 cup soy sauce (or to taste)

2 tsp sesame oil

2 cups of water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°

In a food processor place mango, garlic, lime juice, lemongrass, ginger, chili sauce, marmalade and one intact jalapeno.

Blend until smooth.

Deseed and dice the second jalapeno.

Pour puree into a medium sized bowl and stir in soy sauce, green onions, diced jalapeno and sesame oil.

Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towel and place it in a large dutch oven.

Pour mango mixture over the meat making sure to get it in every nook and cranny.  Add water.

Cover the pot and place it in the center of the oven.

Cook for one hour then turn the pork and spoon the juices over the top.

Repeat for six hours or until the meat comes easily off the bone.

Remove the fat and bone and shred the pork using two forks.

You can serve it right away, but I let mine cool and popped it in the fridge over night and reheated it the next day.

Serve it on it’s own or in a sandwich.

Smoked Gouda Fusilli

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This recipe was the result of a shopping trip I took to St Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto.  While I would love to be virtuous and say I frequent the Market for its fantastic produce, that would be a downright lie.  It’s not that the produce at the market is bad, far from it, I just happen to find the Peameal Bacon Sandwiches and the stinky cheeses much more alluring.

Mushrooms

Every market is magical in it’s own way, whether it be large or small, but St. Lawrence Market is remarkable in it’s variety; you can find just about anything there.  One shop had well over thirty kinds of flour.

Mushrooms and Rosemary

There is nothing quite like wandering past shops offering up products that were so lovingly crafted; something as simple as a handmade croissant represents years of training, trial and error and passionate perseverance.  Each product tells a personal story.  Try getting something like that from your local grocery store.

Smoked Gouda

I wandered past my favorite cheese shop to pick up a little smoked Gouda and that’s when inspiration hit.  I ran home and made this Smoked Gouda Fusilli with little hesitation and I’m so glad I did; it garnered rave reviews from my beau.  This dish was as comforting as macaroni and cheese, but twice as flavorful.  The addition of sautéed mushrooms brought a new level of decadence to the dish and the red pepper gave the meal a sweet counterbalance to the salty, smokiness of the sauce.  The smoked Gouda melted smoothly into the silky white sauce and coated each piece of Fusilli beautifully.  The smokiness of the cheese was even more apparent after it had melted into the sauce.   Oh, and please don’t skimp on the black pepper; it gives the dish a certain something.

Smoked Gouda Fusilli

Smoky and seductive, this pasta dish is familiar enough to be comforting, but unique enough to raise a few eyebrows. For this recipe I got my inspiration from Victor’s cooking blog.

Smoked Gouda Fusilli: Serves 4

375g dried whole wheat Fusilli

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced

½ red bell pepper, diced

1 ½ tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 cup smoked Gouda, shredded

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 ½ tbsp whole grain mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Liberally salt the water and add pasta.

Cook according to package directions or until al dente.

Drain and toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Set aside.

In a large skillet heat the rest of the olive oil over medium heat.

Add mushrooms, red pepper and rosemary.  Sauté until tender.

Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan melt butter over moderate heat.

Whisk in the flour until it forms a paste.

Slowly whisk in milk until combined.

Cook until slightly thickened.

Reduce heat and whisk in cheese, stirring constantly until melted and fully incorporated.

Add mushrooms, pepper and rosemary to the sauce and stir to combine.

Pour over pasta and toss until coated.

Serve immediately with extra Gouda.

 

Tomato Sauce with Tuna and Capers

Tomato Sauce with Tuna and Capers

I know you guys are probably getting tired of all this ‘resourceful in the kitchen’ nonsense.   You’re probably asking yourself, “Man, does this chick ever have food in her kitchen?”

onion skin

Well, I do buy groceries, I promise, but without fail by the end of the week I’m scrounging.   Oddly enough the meals I don’t plan to make often turn out the most blog worthy (go figure).  But, I do have a personal mission to be as resourceful in the kitchen as possible.  I want to be able to make something amazing out of a ridiculous hodgepodge of ingredients like it ‘aint no thang!  What it really comes down to is I hate waste, I love creativity and can’t abide bad food.  Simple really.

Last night, I almost didn’t pull it off.  I was feeling creatively drained and since the beau’s birthday is tomorrow I knew I had a lot of cooking and baking ahead of me (not that that’s a hardship), so I was considering conserving my energy by ordering a pizza.  But then I thought of dear Audrey in Sabrina, and I managed pulled this little number together.

Tuna, zucchini, capers, lemon

Have you ever seen the movie Sabrina, the original with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart?  Well do remember the part where Sabrina somehow makes dinner for Linus out of maraschino cherries, stale crackers, tomato juice, puffed rice and sardines?  Of course we never see the finished product, but I spent a large portion of my adolescence trying to figure what she could’ve concocted and I still have nothing.  Anyway, for some reason that part of the movie stuck with me (clearly I was born to be a food nerd) and out of that simple scene my life long ambition to make something out of nothing took root.

zucchini

So here is my riff on Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with butter and onion that has been floating around the blogisphere for sometime now.  I of course ignored the simplistic beauty of the recipe by adding a bunch of other stuff (I always take things a step too far), but I was quite pleased with the results.  My beau said it was his new favorite pasta sauce.  I nodded and smiled stoically, while I did back flips of joy in my head!  My love is a man of few words, so when I get a compliment I know he means it!

lemon, capers

In the recipe they suggest you discard the onion, but why waste something so delicious.  I served it atop the pasta, but I think placing it on garlic bread would be unbelievable as well.  So many options, so little stomach space.

Onion

So, so yummy and relatively summer friendly!

Tomato Sauce with Tuna and Capers: Serves 4-6

Loosely adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan via Steamy Kitchen

1 can crushed tomatoes

5 tbsp salted butter

1 medium sized onion, peeled and halved

1 can flaked tuna, drained

2 tbsp capers, drained

1 zucchini, shredded

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

Zest of half a lemon

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Splash of balsamic vinegar

Garnish:

Splash of balsamic

Fresh parsley

Fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Place tomatoes, butter and onion in a heavy bottom pot over medium high heat.

Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low and cook for 35 minutes.

Place shredded zucchini in a small bowl and toss with salt (the salt will extract moisture). Set aside for ten minutes.

Transfer the zucchini to cheesecloth and squeeze out excess moisture.  Set Aside.

When the 35 minutes is up check the sauce. Remove onion.

Add sugar and balsamic and stir to combine.

Stir in tuna, zucchini, capers and lemon zest and cook for an additional ten minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Serve over cooked pasta of your choice (I used bucatini) and top with onion.

Serve with fresh parsley, ground pepper and a drizzle of balsamic.

Thin Crust Genoa Salami Pizza

Whenever I ask my beau what he would like for dinner the answer is inevitably pizza and I can honestly say I am not always happy to oblige.  If this surprises you I challenge you to try eating an unreasonable amount of pizza for the next three years and see how you feel about it. Every now and then, however, my beau and I are on the same page and experience a mutual craving for that classic Italian pie.

Red Pepper

To me, Friday is the perfect pizza night. As a child my family never really ate takeout that much, but on the odd Friday, and it was always a Friday for some reason, my parents would spring for a pizza and it would be like Christmas came early.

Genoa Salami

In honor of this beloved childhood tradition I whipped up a pizza last Friday night. I came across an astounding recipe for a no-rise crust (yes, such a thing does exist) and in mere moments the pizza was dressed and bubbling in the oven.

Pizza

I selected a decadent outfit of chewy Genoa salami, juicy red pepper, bitter-sweet red onions, lush basil leaves and, of course, a hefty helping of shredded mozzarella cheese. After a brief 15-minute stint in the oven dinner was served and I was chowing down on a sumptuous slice in my sock feet in front of Netflix.

Thin Crust Genoa Salami Pizza

The perfect kick-off to a stellar weekend, this thin crust Genoa salami pizza will more than fit the bill.

Pizza Slice

Thin Crust Genoa Salami Pizza: Serves 4

FOR THE CRUST: Adapted from here.

1 package of yeast

1 cup warm water

2 ½ cup all purpose flour

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

TOPPINGS:

1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

6 slices Genoa salami

½ red bell pepper, sliced

¼ red onion, diced

I cup pizza sauce

6-10 Basil leaves

Sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°

Place water and yeast in a mixing bowl and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until frothy.

Add olive oil to the water yeast combo.

Shift together salt, sugar and flour in a separate bowl.

Using a dough hook attachment, add dry mixture to wet in ½ cup increments until the dough comes together to form a slightly tacky ball.

Remove dough from mixer and lightly knead.

Leave to rest covered by a clean tea towel for ten minutes.

Divide dough in two and stretch one half to fit an 11-inch pizza pan.

Place other half in the fridge for another time or form into a second pizza.

Spread pizza sauce over the dough and sprinkle with chili pepper flakes and ½ the red onion.

Sprinkle with cheese and arrange the salami so it is evenly distributed over the entire pizza.

Top with remaining red onion, red pepper and basil leaves.

Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes rotating halfway through.

When golden and bubbling, remove from the oven and let stand for ten minutes before slicing.

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh ground pepper and a nice cold beer.

Apple Sausage Galette

Apple Sausage Galette

One of the first things I learned how to make in the kitchen was pastry. In truth cinnamon rolls may have been first, but pastry was definitely a close second.

Whole-wheat Pastry

Pastry may be an odd place to start out, but at the tender age of… some point before ten I was already well versed in carefully adding flour to our temperamental Kitchen Aid mixer.  I was ready for a challenge.

Apples

From the time I patched the last hole in my first of many awkwardly rolled out pastries, I had embarked on a nearly twenty year long love affair with all things wrapped in butter and baked with love.

Cored, Sliced Apples

Pies are my specialty. If I get invited to a potluck, I arrive with fresh pie in hand. If I’m heading over to a friend’s for a low-key birthday celebration, you bet I have her favorite pie waiting in the wings.

Red Onion

Pie is fairly universal. You don’t encounter many people who would say no to a slice of pie. Regardless of taste and temperament everyone has a type of pie they would gladly eat any day of the week. Even if you were born without a sweet tooth (is that even possible?) I doubt you could resist the charms of a gorgeously golden Chicken Pot Pie.

Apple Sausage Galette

Whether you live for this flakey indulgence or you approach pie with a hesitant fork this week’s recipe is bound to catch your eye. Prepared to be amazed by this enticing salty-sweet Apple Sausage Galette. At the center of this tawny, homey treat is a generous layer of spiced Cortland apples, which sit atop of a bed of sautéed red onions. The whole mess is enveloped in a rich nutty whole-wheat pastry crust and, to up the naughty factor further, sprinkled with a crumbling of honey garlic sausage. With so many winning attributes, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason not to invite this crisp buttery guest to your next get together.

Apple Sausage Galette

Soulfully rustic and an intriguing compilation of contrasting tastes and textures, this Apple Sausage Galette is a pastry fanatic’s dream come true.

Apple Sausage Galette: Serves 4

PASTRY:

¾ cup pastry flour

½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour

½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

½ tsp salt

¼ cup cold water

FILLING:

½ red onion, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

2 honey garlic sausages, castings removed

3 Cortland apples, cored and sliced

¼ brown sugar

1/8 cup pastry flour

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp cinnamon

Pinch of cloves

Pinch of nutmeg

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1/8 cup milk

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425°

For the Pastry: Combine flours, and salt in a large bowl.

Add butter and cut it into the dry mixture using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Add water and stir until the dough starts to come together.

Touching the pastry as little as possible, form the mixture into a ball and flatten into a disc.

Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a minimum of a half an hour or up to 48 hours.

When ready to use, remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Place on a cool well-floured surface.

Using a floured rolling, pin roll out pastry in a circular shape until it is 1/8 of an inch thick.

For the Filling: In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.

Add onion and sprinkle liberally with salt.

Sautee for approximately 10 minutes until translucent.

Remove from heat and set aside.

If necessary add more oil to the pan and add the sausage.

Cook until browned then remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine apples, spices, sugar and flour.

To Assemble: Place a layer of onion onto the waiting pastry leaving a 1 ½ inch border along the edge.

Top with ½ of the sausage and ½ of the rosemary.

Add apples and sprinkle with the remaining sausage and rosemary.

Wrap the edges towards the center.

Brush pastry with milk.

Slide onto a pizza pan and place in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 350° and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Cheesy Mexican Penne

Cheesy Mexican Penne

A hefty bowl of Macaroni and Cheese may just be the quintessential comfort food. Equipped with the non-confrontational taste kids go for, it’s hard to argue with Macaroni and Cheese.  Like grilled cheese sandwiches, which I can’t seem to stop talking about lately, Macaroni and Cheese is very simplistic in its requirements. All this soothing dish entails is pasta, cheese, butter, milk, breadcrumbs and a few odds and ends. As with anything minimalistic, the room for embellishment is seemingly endless.

Red Pepper

Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a big fan of macaroni. I prefer a larger, meatier piece of pasta. The three times my mother actually made Macaroni and Cheese for my siblings and I (my mother is a very health conscious lady and I think she found it difficult to put that much butter and cheese into a single dish) she used penne instead of macaroni and crushed saltines instead of breadcrumbs. To me this will always be Macaroni and Cheese, despite the absence of one of the dish’s headliners.

Jalapeno

Like the Mac and Cheese of my youth, this week’s recipe is mac-less. It may not look like a take on Macaroni and Cheese, but trust me it is. I took the predictable pasta dish and transformed into a creamy inferno called Cheesy Mexican Penne. I was hopelessly hungry while I was fixing this so I opted to keep it stove top and not bake it, but if you possess that virtue called patience, by all means pop it in the oven.

Diced Vegetables

This Cheesy Mexican Penne follows all the usual steps of it predecessor, but the addition of tomatoes, jalapenos, red pepper and onion lend a zesty complex flavor to the dish. A few heaping spoonfuls of habanero salsa ups the spice factor without over powering the velvety cheesy sauce.  This dish is endlessly satisfying and the picture of spicy decadence.

Cheddar Cheese

The perfect pick-me-up as the temperatures continue to drop, this Cheesy Mexican Penne will have you feeling like you’re south of the border.

Cheesy Mexican Penne

 

Cheesy Mexican Penne: Serves 6

450g dried penne

4 tbsp flour

4 tbsp butter

2 cups half and half

1 ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

¼ red onion, diced

½ red pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

1 Roma tomato, diced

1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard

4 tbsp habanero salsa

Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh cilantro

Directions:

Place a large pot of water to boil over high heat.

Once boiling, salt the water liberally and add pasta.

Cook until al dente and drain and rinse the pasta and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk in flour to form a paste.

Slowly add half and half, whisking after each addition until sauce is creamy and smooth.

Season with salt and pepper and add cheese.

Stir mixture until the cheese is completely melted.

Reduce heat and add veggies, mustard and salsa.

Allow to cook for five minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened.

Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.

Pour sauce over waiting pasta and stir to combine.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Ah, cheese and bread!  Is there anything better? Nothing can rival the simplicity and the level of comfort a buttery, crisp and gooey grilled cheese affords.  I realize I’ve already sung the praises of this simple snack over the equally glorious Open-Faced Warm Mushroom and Brie sandwich, but I cannot contain my love and admiration for this humble slice of culinary bliss.

Pineapple

When cheese, bread, butter and a hot pan come together magical things happen. Since these simple ingredients and implements are all that is required to make a knock out grilled cheese sandwich, the adaptations are endless. One such creation is this sweet, spicy and sharp number that I like to call the Hawaiian Grilled Cheese.

Caramelized Pineapple

You may remember me telling you my beau discovered a love for pineapple this summer. It all started with this Hawaiian pizza. Then, to break the endless and somewhat daunting parade of Hawaiian pizzas I was badgered to prepare, I created this fruitful take on a plate of nachos. Stir-fries studded with pineapple followed and the fruit has since become a staple in our refrigerator; in fact, we gage how badly we need to go to the grocery store based on our pineapple supply.

Jalapenos

After enduring a day that felt like three, I stumbled home horrifically hangry only to find that my beau was in the same state.  The situation was dire so, I knew I had to pull a rabbit out of my hat and fast. Grilled cheese sandwiches (even fancy ones) require less than 15 minutes prep work and less than 10 minutes cook time; in other words, they are weekday perfection.

Pineapple, Cheese, Ham

I caramelized the last bit of pineapple we had in the fridge, grabbed some ham, cheddar cheese and a jalapeno. I placed the whole mess between two pieces of nutty bread and introduced the happy bundle to buttered hot pan. In mere moments I was declared a hero as the golden brown sandwiches found their way to the table. If only all victories could come this easy and taste as sweet.

Pineapple, Cheese, Ham, Jalapeno

Throw some butter and pan and prepare to rid the world of hangriness one Hawaiian Grilled Cheese at a time

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese: Serves 4

8 slices of multigrain bread

¼ pineapple, sliced

2 tbsp brown sugar

4 tbsp butter, divided

1 tbsp olive oil

1 jalapeno, deseeded and sliced

8 slices of deli ham

1-cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a small pan over medium heat.

Add pineapple and brown sugar and sauté until golden turning once – about 3 minutes per side.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble sandwiches by placing dividing cheese amongst four slices of bread.

Next stack some ham followed by a roughly three slices of pineapple and top with a few jalapeno slices.

Close the sandwich with another slice of bread.

In a large pan heat the rest of the butter and olive oil over medium heat.

Add sandwiches to the pan and fry until golden brown – about 3 minutes per side.

Slide onto a plate and slice diagonally.

Serve immediately with a bowl of piping hot soup.