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Apologies for the uninspired portrait of this lasagna; it was taken in haste as it came out of the oven and sat for a few minutes while we gathered plates and forks and tore off paper towels in lieu of napkins for everyone around the table who had come to celebrate Mike’s birthday. W chose lasagna for dinner, and the next day my friend Emily Richards’ beautiful new cookbook arrived in the mail – a book of recipes from the kitchens of her extended Italian family. When I make a lasagna – not that I have for ages – I generally make a big pot of meaty tomato sauce, grate piles of mozzarella and then wing it, starting with tomato sauce spooned over the bottom of the pan, then noodles, more sauce, spoonfuls of ricotta, grated cheese, and so on. I used fresh lasagna sheets this time, which are as inexpensive as dried noodles if not as convenient to keep stashed in your cupboard, butContinue reading

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This is shorter and sweeter than I intended to be tonight, but I need to share my new favourite thing before too much time passes and I forget – it’s instant ramen with a bit of butter, egg poached right in the broth, and melty cheese. Cheese (the processed, wrapped in plastic kind) is a Korean thing, and far more delicious than it sounds – unless you think it sounds delicious, in which case you’re bang-on. LA food truck chef Roy Choi shared his recipe for doctored-up ramen with the New York Times last year – it’s his staple, his grilled cheese, his bowl of cereal. And although packaged ramen has never particularly been my thing, it kind of is now – I want to go out and stay out late and have too many gin and tonics just so I can come home and make a bowl of this – I imagine it tastes even better at two in the morning. The processed cheeseContinue reading

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We spent a chunk of time out in Tofino again this summer, something you may have noticed we do every year. (For those who’ve asked, it’s because my parents have property out there.) Their place has turned into something of a second home, one we can settle into for as much time as we can possibly manage at one go. We’re starting to leave shampoo and toothbrushes behind, as if we were in a new relationship that has comfortably evolved to the next level. And because we’ve been coming out for so long, we’ve gotten to know the locals, so to speak. We now have Tofino friends we see a couple times a year, and friends from home have started coming to visit while we’re out there. So really it’s like being home and away, the best of both worlds, which means we often invite friends over for dinner while on vacation. And when we don’t have the house to ourselves, it’s full to overflowingContinue reading

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I may be spoiled for pasta now. On the first morning of our first day in Italy, we walked to the Academia Barilla, an institute in Parma dedicated to the preservation of Italian food culture. (And to that end, the Academia Barilla Gastronomic Library houses a collection of over 11,000 cookbooks dating back to the 16th century – it’s open to the public and can be accessed online. More on that later, because WOW.) We were set up with little piles of flour and dark-yolked eggs, and mixed up dough the way you see them do it on TV – not in a bowl, but by making a little volcano out of the flour and cracking the eggs in, then stirring/corralling the eggs as they try to escape from ditches in the flour until it all comes together into a smooth, yellow dough that’s oh-so satisfying to run through a pasta machine into smooth, thin sheets, then cut into piles of ribbons or fill withContinue reading

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We’re taking turns catching colds around here. As I write this I’m wrapped in a blanket with a stiff neck (my mom keeps telling me to wrap a wool sock around it, like my grandad did, and I just might) and a mug of warm lemonade (yes!), sneezing approximately every 3 minutes, my face fixed with that expression you get when you’re just about to sneeze. (This cold is such a cliché.) We’re anticipating a high of -19 tomorrow, not that we’ll likely leave the house anyway after getting up at 5 to watch the gold medal hockey game. My ambitious plan is to make doughnuts and bellinis – or perhaps fizzy wine smoothies – and plenty of coffee. But later in the day, when everyone is cold and sleepy and huddled on the couch to catch the last of the Olympics, a batch of mac & cheese will be in the slow cooker. Oh yes it will. I wish it was in there now.

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A couple weeks before Christmas, W and I made a cooking video together. We cooked Penne with Pancetta, Grape Tomatoes, Peas and Romano in my Mom’s kitchen (sadly, mine is not this nice – more on that later), and although I’m not super keen on seeing myself on TV these days (more on that later too) I agreed to share. W had a great time, his cousins showed up to watch (they’re off camera, giggling under the lights and occasionally behind the counter) and we all ate the pasta afterwards, and have made it once or twice since. W knows how now. (And here’s the recipe again, in case you missed it.)

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Barilla 1
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I’m officially ready for a long winters’ nap. This past weekend was the official start of the season of leftover party food, mince tarts, cheese balls and Christmas crack for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks between – however, I am responsible for the care and feeding of another human, and feel like I should give him the occasional proper meal. Also: I find we all get a little squirrelly when we subsist on shortbread and Toffifee. W and I just taped a cooking segment together in my mom’s kitchen, cooking with Barilla pasta – and I tried a recipe I likely wouldn’t have otherwise made, and the results were devoured by everyone present, including W and his cousins, who were still there from a sleepover and watched, giggling, from under the camera stand and lights. W hadn’t slept and intermittently burst into tears, but was excited to get to be in the kitchen with me – he wanted to call it the crazy pirateContinue reading

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It’s pasta time. Also: wooly sock time and turning-on-the-furnace time. I saw my very first bin of pumpkins at the grocery store. We discussed Thanksgiving plans at dinner tonight (and ate roasted turkey, in fact). It was dark by 8:00. I’m fine with it. Really. I’m OK with pushing aside fragile greens in favour of beets and Brussels sprouts. I’m ready. Summer is lovely, but at some point you have to stop making the most of brilliantly warm and sunny days or you’ll never get anything done. I’ve had enough of it being too hot to sleep. Bring on the seasons.

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The other day, as we were driving somewhere or other, W announced that he had an Idea. “You should teach cooking, mom!” he said excitedly. “Like you should be a teacher, and show people how to cook!” I explained that I did this already, at a few cooking schools. “I know you teach grown-ups,” he said with an eye roll, “I mean kids. You should teach kids how to cook.” Not a bad idea, I told him. “You should teach me how to cook,” he added. “You haven’t taught me yet.” Which took me by surprise – I’ve been cooking with him, showing him how to chop and flip pancakes and make over-easy eggs and whatever else happens to come along, since he was so little he had to sit on the countertop to knead pizza dough. But what he had in mind was a more structured cooking class, where the students sit and listen and the teacher demonstrates. I told him I’d teach himContinue reading

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