Friday, March 27, 2015

the simple five: anchovy infused orecchiette with broccoli

Orecchiette is a uniquely disc shaped pasta that originates from Southern Italy.  Once cooked, this pasta creates little "bowls", making it ideal for light sauces, as most of the flavour is retained within the hollows of the pasta.

This recipe is an easy adaptation a traditional Italian dish, but as usual, uses only five ingredients (and easy to find ingredients).  Tuna would work well with this dish, but I chose anchovies to add flavourful depth, as the saltiness of the anchovies are balanced out with the broccoli. Anchovies are an acquired taste, but if you like food that with has a salty "bite" in flavour, this is your dish.


Anchovy Infused Orecchiette with Broccoli 
(makes approximately 4-8 servings)

  • 450g box of orecchiette pasta
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 anchovy fillets in oil, chopped (reserve 1 tbsp oil)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tbsp (about ½ of a lemon, juiced)
  • 1 small broccoli, cut into florets
  • Cook the orecchiette according to the package. 
  • Mince/chop the anchovy.  Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil and 1 tbsp of the oil from the anchovies in saute pan/pot. 
  • Add the garlic until the garlic is slightly golden. 
  • Add the anchovies and lemon juice, and cook for 1-2 mins more until the anchovies "dissolve" and become part of the sauce.
  • Toss with the pasta.
  • Add the broccoli and toss with the pasta until the broccoli is bright green.
  • Season with salt, pepper or parmesan (if desired), and serve.

Friday, March 20, 2015

the simple five: grilled gouda and smoked salmon baguette

While we approach the finish line of March Break and school lunches are on the back of my mind (very back), here's a really lovely grilled cheese sandwich geared for adults (although my kids love this too) that slowly gets us back to making sandwiches.

Enjoy the remainder of March Break.

Grilled Gouda and Smoked Salmon Baguette
(Makes 2 sandwiches)

  • 4 slices of french baguette bread
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon chunks and allowed to soften
  • 150g package of smoked salmon
  • 4 oz Gouda, thinly sliced
  • Extra butter for the pan; if needed

  • Heat a large pan or griddle over medium-heat. 
  • Place bread on a clean surface
  • Layer 1/2 of the cheese on one side, and 1/2 of the salmon on the other side
  • Repeat for all the slices of bread.
  • Spread each side of bread with one tablespoon of butter.
  • Place sandwich in the prepared grill and heat on each side for about 3 minutes each, or until the bread has crisped and the cheese has melted.

Friday, March 13, 2015

the simple five: garlic roasted eggplant dip

I usually make this eggplant dip at the spur of the moment (when eggplant is on sale or when it looks so appetizing in the store), and I end up trying to recollect the recipe as I put the eggplant in my grocery cart.  Tahini is the ingredient that I forget the most often.

This recipe is a slight modification on the traditional "Baba Ghanoush", a middle eastern
dish, but I replaced tahini with general pantry staples.  Makes a great vegetarian dip for pita breads, crackers or crudites.  Perfect for healthy snacks over the March Break.

Happy March Break!

Garlic Roasted Eggplant Dip 
Makes approximately 1 ½ cups

  • 1 eggplant, large
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seed oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, roasted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  • Place eggplant on baking sheet, and make holes in the skin with a fork. 
  • Take the whole garlic and wrap it in tin foil.
  • Roast both the eggplant and garlic for 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, or until soft. 
  • Remove from oven.
  • With a knife, slice the eggplant down the middle and scoop the contents in a bowl.
  • Place eggplant, lemon juice, sesame oil, and garlic (amount of cloves to taste) in an electric blender, and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Transfer eggplant mixture to a medium size mixing bowl, and slowly mix in olive oil. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

the good from the bad

I recently read an article about a 90 year old widow in China who had sadly lost all of her children and spouses and has lived on her own without any surviving family for the past 30 years. (read the article, here) While planning for her final days, she had a simple request when she was planning her funeral...for people to come to it.  This request was published in her local paper, and a heartwarming response ensued from readers, giving her a glimmer of happiness as they decided to spend some time with her now while she was alive, instead of waiting for her death.  .

It is a lesson I've tried to teach the kids as we go through life on dealing with the ups and downs of it. With trials and tribulations, the obstacles and disappointments that greet us only can make us stronger and help us strive for and appreciate, when the good times come.  Our son recently said that he noticed how light seems to glows brighter when it's dark, like it's showing you the path out of darkness, toward the light. Understanding this metaphor, a light seemed to really shine as he realized that sometimes he might not win a game (or a swim meet) but the lessons he learns when he doesn't win only makes winning later on, much sweeter.

It's a fine art to balance the emotions between the two and to remind ourselves that there are lessons in our mistakes.  Sometimes falling can only make you stronger, and that's where the "good" comes from the "bad".  

Bacon, Spinach and Mushroom Pasta
(makes approximately 4 servings)

This pasta has elements that are both good and "bad" for you...I tried to reduce the amount of the "bad"  (bacon) by using organic, reduced fat bacon.  The spinach provides a good balance of nutrition, and makes this dish "good".

  • 1 cup low sodium, organic bacon, sliced (about 8 slices)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced 
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped and removing stems
  • 1 ½  cups 2% milk (or cream if you wish for a creamier sauce)
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • Pepper to taste (I don't add salt to this dish as most of it derives from the bacon and parmesan cheese, so I don't usually add to the sodium content).
  • 450g pasta (penne or linguine works nice here).
  • In a cast iron skillet, sautè the onion & bacon together until the onion is translucent and the bacon is cooked.  Drain the oil/fat. (no butter is necessary in this dish as the oil from the bacon, even when drained, is enough to coat the cast iron skillet to do the job!).
  • In the meantime, cook the pasta according to directions.
  • Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the garlic is browned.
  • Add the spinach, and sautè until the spinach is wilted.
  • Add the milk then top with parmesan and simmer, stirring until the sauce is thickened. 
  • Toss with cooked pasta.