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.

 

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.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom and Brie Sandwich

Mushrooms, Brie and Arugula

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow canucks!  You will have to forgive my somewhat lackluster display of holiday spirit.  There is not a single Thanksgiving recipe on my blog.  There are some that would be most welcome at any holiday table, but none that exclusively scream Turkey Day.

Mushrooms

To make me feel truly ashamed of myself, the good people over at Tasty Kitchen wrote up a lovely piece on the Canadians on their site and included yours truly. Such a wonderful gesture bestowed on a lazy blogger that has basically been MIA since September. I am trying to adjust to a different lifestyle and juggling two jobs and this blog is an exhausting endeavor, but bare with me, I’ll get this sorted out if it kills me.

Brie

I know I’ve been a horrible tease. I leave, announce I’m back and then I leave again. I realize it will take sometime to rebuild the trust between us dear reader, but I think, in time, we can move past this thoughtlessness and be stronger for it.

Multi-Grain Bread

The first step towards healing is this Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich. If anyone crossed me and then offered me this tasty treat I would definitely rethink excommunicating them.

Mushrooms, Basil

These days I find myself strapped for time. I often have to hit the kitchen running. Lately, grilled cheese has been a favorite of mine. Easy, quick and wonderfully cost effective.  Give me a bowl of hot tomato soup and gooey grilled cheese on a rainy day and I am one happy camper. This open-faced number is riff on this foul weather classic.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

This sandwich is not grilled, instead the cheese melts into freshly toasted bread.  It liquifies further still when the cheese is crowned with an avalanche of freshly sautéed mushrooms and garlic. If this weren’t heavenly enough, this gorgeous concoction is completed with a halo of peppery arugula. Serve this bad boy up with a hot bowl of soup and consume with a knife and fork.

Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

Simple, satisfying and ready to eat in fifteen minutes flat, this sandwich is the perfect treat after a long draining day. Let’s face it; you’ve clocked way too many hours in the kitchen this weekend. After the excitement of Thanksgiving the Warm Open-Face Mushroom Brie Sandwich is just what the doctor ordered.

Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich: Serves 2

2 slices of Multi grain Bread

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade

6 slices brie cheese

2 handfuls of arugula

Directions:

Turn your oven to broil.

Brush 2 tbsp of olive oil on both sides of the bread and broil until golden brown flipping halfway through.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté until browned and fragrant.

Remove bread from the oven and immediately place brie on top.

Split the mushrooms amongst the two slices of bread.

Sprinkle with basil.

Top with arugula.

Serve with a piping hot bowl of your favorite soup.