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Pasta and beans (pronounced pasta fazh-e-ohl-eh, and sometimes referred to as pasta fazool) is a classic Italian dish that couldn’t be much faster, easier or more inexpensive; it can also be made without precision, and you can take liberties with the ingredients: a bit of sausage with the onion, carrot and celery is delicious, you could add some thyme, rosemary or Italian seasoning to the pot, and though small pasta shapes are traditional, a diced potato or even some rice or other grain would be tasty as well. With more stock, tomato juice or other liquid, it’s more like minestrone; with less it’s a thicker, stewier pasta dish. If you happen to save your Parmesan rinds, this is a good use for it.

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I recently came across food writer Julia Turshen’s simple lasagna — what she calls “a nice lasagna”, and was instantly drawn to its simplicity—there’s no meat, no layers of roasted veg or ricotta, just a rosé tomato sauce and fresh basil, and plenty of cheese. Best of all, it utilizes fresh pasta sheets, which you can mix up and roll with a rolling pin—no pasta machine required! (Though they are a lot of fun.) And then you just go ahead and layer the rolled-out pasta dough directly in the pan with the sauce and cheese, no need to boil it first, which is ridiculously satisfying. You could, of course, add all manner of meat and veg sauce, or ricotta, or anything else you like, but I love that this is not at all over the top- a big spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream turns the sauce into a rosé that takes care of my craving for tomato and cheese that ricotta usually satisfies.

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Dill pickle soup seems to me a dish that came about out of necessity—perhaps in the bleak prairie midwinter, when someone out on a farm in a snow-driven landscape looked in their pantry and decided to turn the pint jars of dill pickles into soup—but it’s no longer made merely out of necessity because it’s completely delicious. And yes, it’s just as it sounds-made with dill pickles, chopped and/or grated, along with a healthy pour of the pickle brine. At its base, there are basic veggies (onion, celery, carrot, potato), but a sausage sliced or crumbled in at the start is also common, and it would also be delicious with wintry beets or cabbage. Sometimes it’s finished with cream, or a dollop of sour cream on top-that’s the beauty of soup… rarely do you need to follow a specific recipe.

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I’ve been at two events in the past two weeks that served plates of this whipped feta topped with roasted beets and dukkah – both were celebrating the launch of the new Calgary Eats cookbook, a collaboration between 40 Calgary restaurants including Ten Foot Henry, whose chef, Steve Smee, contributed this recipe. I have a bowl of roasted beets in my fridge (you can do them in the slow cooker!) and is there a better combo than beets and feta or creamy goat cheese? Wait – how about whipped feta you can drag through with soft flatbread instead of relying on a green salad as delivery vehicle? This is going directly into my regular repertoire.

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I could live on potatoes and cheese, I think—or bread and cheese, pasta and cheese… anything and cheese, provided it’s the buttery, meltable kind. So when the folks from Jarlsberg asked if I’d be wiling to come up with another way to use their creamy, nutty cheese, I was more than happy to oblige. This is one of the best parts of my job. Since Jarlsberg is a Swiss style cheese, I thought I’d make a rösti—a substantial potato pancake, crispy on the top and bottom, and in this case stuffed with melty Jarlsberg. If you’re not familiar with it, you may recognize the yellow patterned rind—Jarlsberg came to be in a small Norwegian village called Ås in the fifties, as a group of students conducted experiments using various cheesemaking techniques typically used with Gouda and Emmental. Because it’s so creamy and meltable, it’s fantastic in fondue and mac & cheese, and really anything you’d like to be a bit gooey. It’s fab on aContinue reading

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Confession: I’m one of those odd people who loves leftover salad. Yes, salad from the night before, that has already been tossed in dressing, so it gets all wilty in the fridge. It’s like a more condensed version of its original self, and I’ve always wondered why we don’t wilt lettuce the same way we do spinach. If you follow along on Instagram stories, you’ll know I had a bumper crop of lettuce this year. I’ve been plucking leafy greens straight from the garden all summer – which never gets old – but even in July and August, you can get too much salad. And now, finally, my immaculate and bountiful lettuce row is beginning to wane, and I’m scrambling to add it to things before it winds up in the compost bin. But look: it’s tasty tossed with warm pasta, which wilts it slightly, and it has a delicate, lettuce-y flavour compared to hardy spinach, chard or kale, that goes so well with butterContinue reading

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I’ve been loving the charred cabbage dishes I’ve had at restaurants lately (try the charred hakka cabbage at Two Penny, charred cabbage with walnut vinaigrette and manchego at Ten Foot Henry, and the charred cabbage with Mimolette cheese and jalapeño cream at Pigeonhole), and figured it’s about as easy as it gets to make at home. I use thick wedges or inch-thick cross-sections of green cabbage and cook them in oil or ghee in a very hot cast iron skillet until they’re charred on both sides and tender all the way through (cover the pan for a few minutes if you need to, and you could even add a splash of stock or water to create some steam), but you could also drizzle it with oil and roast in a hot oven until tender and charred on the edges.

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I’m a bit ashamed to admit I didn’t realize what a big deal green onion cakes are, and have been for decades, in Edmonton. They’ve become the quintessential market and festival food, introduced to the city back in 1979 by restaurateur Siu To. I’ve been meaning to make a batch using the masses of green onions that nearly took over my garden, and when I finally harvested them all (and replanted the bulbs for next spring), I took his lead to make my own. Yes! If you’re not familiar with them, green onion cakes are these crispy, doughy savoury cakes cooked in a skillet, made by rolling dough out, sprinkling it with masses of chopped green onion, much like you’d spread cinnamon-sugar over dough for cinnamon buns, then rolling, twisting, squishing – there are as many techniques as there are cooks making them. The process seems complex, but is simple once you get the hang of it—roll, sprinkle, roll, cut, squish, roll—there’s no need forContinue reading

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If you’re not familiar with papdi chaat, I’d like to put it forth as the ideal snack food, and one of my hands-down favourite things to eat. Chaat is a blanket term used to describe a wide range of snacky, savoury Indian street foods, and papdi (or papri) are the crisp fried crackers used as a base for (or served alongside) diced potatoes and chickpeas tossed with chaat masala (a spice blend customized specifically for this purpose, which you can make yourself or buy pre-mixed), minced onion, fresh mint-cilantro chutney, and a drizzle of sweet-tart tamarind chutney and cool spiced yogurt. Papdi chaat is everything you want in a snack—salty, sweet, sour, tangy, crunchy, spicy and soft. Layers of interesting colours, flavours and textures. It’s all served in one bowl, and you can eat it with your fingers. It’s typically something I order at a restaurant, or have had friends make for me, but I’ve been meaning to give it a go myself for years,Continue reading

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