Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunny Days, Sunny Thoughts

Once in a while I'll be at a grocery check-out line and a girl with scars on her forearms will give me this knowing look of solidarity and I realize my food scars are being mistaken for self-mutilation. It's an awkward situation. I feel like saying no no that's actually from the convection oven at this one place I worked at, where everyone was taller, and this is from that time I left the tongs on the gas range and forgot they were hot, and that one... the list goes on. Anyway, I don't say any of these things. I just smile and hope she won't hurt herself anymore. I'm baking biscotti in my ridiculously sunny kitchen today with a breeze so nice I have to stop and acknowledge it every few minutes, and I'm wishing I could pack up a little cookie package for all the people I've met who ever needed to be comforted and weren't. Here is a biscotti recipe that will never fail. You must dunk these in coffee or wine, though, as they are of the tougher persuasion.

Spiced Chocolate & Espresso Biscotti
250 g flour
250 g sugar (I use half caster, half brown)
2 beaten eggs
75g chopped dark chocolate
75g chopped nuts
50g crushed espresso beans
pinch each of
chili pepper

Preheat the oven to 375

Mix everything together, except the eggs, which you will beat in a separate bowl with a bit of orange zest or vanilla extract, whichever you have or prefer.

Use your hands to bring it all together and form a dough. Try to distribute the nuts and chocolate evenly (but no fuss). If you have a hard time with the dough, put a few tablespoons of olive oil on your hands or in the mix.

Divide your dough, shaping two logs on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Your logs should be about an inch thick. Brush them with a little bit of milk and sprinkle an little extra sugar on top.

Bake the logs for 15 minutes letting them spread, but they should still be soft in the middle. Take them out and lower the oven to 325. Let them cool a little so you can handle them and cut them to your desired size. Arrange them all on the baking sheet again and bake for 10-15minutes more on each side. Watch them though, some ovens will burn your biscotti really fast.

I'm taking a plate down for the ladies working at the hair salon I live above. There's always a pot of coffee on down there...

Post Script: I went over to Sarah's to hang out with the little ones and look what I came home to! I feed the stylists, they hook me up with hair products. This is a functional relationship...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Why Not?

Why not get off the bus and go see a show you know you'd regret missing? Why not tell that old friend exactly what it was that hurt you? Learn the words to a song in a language you don't speak? Eat pasta at 10pm because you were working till 7 and it takes a while to get dinner going? I did all of those things in the last 72 hours and i still managed to make it through most of my to-do list as well. What's more, I'm gonna make a blog post even though I don't have very good pictures. I highly recommend you go for it as well, whatever it is you feel like doing. What's the worse thing that could happen? At least you'll learn something, right? That's a pretty good deal if you ask me! Here's a delicious work-week pasta dish that goes really well with an episode of your favorite food-network show. So check dinner off your list and put your feet up. Life is good.

Monday Night Rigatoni

450g dry rigatoni

400g ground beef
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
10 crackers
1 egg
olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp each of:
ground ginger
ground mustard
chili powder

Food process the crackers, onion and garlic together. In a medium bowl, using your hands, knead together the beef, cracker mix, beaten egg and all dry spices for a few minutes until mixture looks homogeneous. Then wet your fingers and shape as many meatballs as the mix will allow. Freeze however much you don't want to cook.

Fry meatballs in olive or canola oil until browned all around and add a can of chopped tomatoes (or half depending on how much of your meat you froze) and cook on medium high until the tomato juice reduces a bit to sauce consistency. If you've got an open can of tomato paste you can use a bit of that to thicken the sauce, too.

Boil pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Throw it all together, add a hand-full of your favorite fresh green (mine is arugula), some shaved parmigiano, and press play.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


This is Pipp. He is the newest addition to my family. he started out really small and has just moved into his bigger tin can. I have a feeling he's gonna need even more space soon. I've been trying to incorporate a lot of herbs into what I cook these days just to keep up with the ones I have in my kitchen. Soon I'm gonna have to resort to pesto-making, but it's still under control. Sweet basil in a savory crepe with cracked pepper and pecorino romano, which the cheese lady didn't let me pay for? So I went home for lunch today, you can probably tell. It was indulgent and brilliant.

All Purpose Crepes

2 eggs (get real farm eggs they're delicious)
1 1/4c good milk
1c sifted flour (a.p. or pastry will do)
pincha salt
1tsp sugar
2 tbsp melted butter or other oil you like

Mix the above ingredients really really well. If you feel like cleaning a blender, you could use that but I just used my big big whisk and burned some calories. The consistency should ideally be like heavy cream. If it's like custard, you need more milk. You want a runny batter with no clumps.

Chill covered for about an hour. I made mine in the morning before I went to work and used it at lunch. That worked just fine.

In a non-stick crepe pan/frying pan that has been lightly oiled on medium heat, cook 1/4c batter at a time. Swirl the pan to get a thin and even(ish) crepe but don't fuss. You'll wreck a few and get the hang of it. cook for a minutes or so per side, and use your own judgment for doneness, pans and batters vary, of course. If you're like me and you cooked way too many crepes, cook the ones you're not eating a little less and wrap and refrigerate them. Then when you want to eat one, you can heat it on the same pan and it won't brown too much.
So so good. I promise.

I couldn't resist. I had a sweet one with brown sugar and lemon, too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Short Shorts and White Wine

I'm still digesting this meal. It was good. It was really really good. Is that bragging? I don't mean it that way. Considering how long it's been since my last post, I'm surprised at my ambition for thinking I can manage to bang this out before heading out to watch the Canucks game (but between us, I really only care about the final quarter so we still have time to hang out here). It's been so lovely and beautiful here these days. Sun, wind, just enough of everything. My life (other than work) has been filled with music. In fact I noticed as I squeezed a lemon on this fish that I have guitar blisters. Stinging but sweet. What can I say about this dish, other than the honest truth, which is that I came up with the idea while drinking an after-work glass of pinot grigio, some of which I spilled on my shorts... It was an experiment and it worked out. What more could I ask for?

Tilapia Turbans with Chorizo and Sweet Pepper Filling

2 fillets of tilapia
3" piece of chorizo sausage
1/2 red bell pepper
2 fresh lemon (juice and zest of)
4 tbsp white wine
salt pepper dill
olive and garlic oil

Clean and pat dry the fillets of tilapia and with a super sharp knife, cut each fillet first in half and then slice lengthwise to make thin sheets of tilapia. These will roll more easily than whole chubby pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, dill, and lemon zest. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350degrees.

Food-process chorizo and red bell pepper with juice and zest of half of your lemon, until you have a course meal. Quickly saute this in a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes, just to marry the flavors.

Drizzle a bit of garlic oil (or olive oil) in a small cast iron pan. Roll each piece of fish into a turban and fill the middle with the chorizo mixture. Tie each roll with a piece of twine or a long toothpick and arrange in the oiled pan. Pour white wine around the rolls and cover with a piece of foil.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and looks cooked. Finish uncovered for a few minutes, just to get a little bit of colour.

Serve with wild rice or a green salad and whatever white wine you were drinking while you were cooking! I'm off to watch the game!