Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Every time I make a creamy pasta, everybody rushes to the table and happily digs in. I was supposed to make this pasta with corn, bacon and basil a few weeks ago, but I didn't have any parmesan in the fridge. Then I let the bacon go bad (what a waste!). So this pasta was back on the menu this week after we were given some bacon, and miraculously, I had all the ingredients on hand. It's a very simple, but very rich dish, one of my husband's favorite.

Corn, Bacon & Basil Spaghetti
Adapted from Bitchin Camero

1 lb. spaghetti

4 slices bacon, cut into strips
2 cup corn, kernels removed
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
black pepper and parmesan cheese to serve

Set a large pot of water to boil and cook your pasta until almost al dente.

Set a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until the fat renders and begins to turn golden. Remove with a slotted spatula to paper towels and set aside.

Add the corn kernels to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are just tender. Remove from heat and place half of the corn in a food processor or blender. Add the cream, cheese and salt and pulse until smooth. Return the creamed corn to the pan and mix with whole kernels.

When the pasta is almost al dente, transfer it directly from the pot into the skillet, allowing some pasta water to transfer with the noodles. Add the bacon and pepper and toss the spaghetti with the corn until evenly coated. If the sauce is too thick, add some pasta water and toss again until everything is nice and creamy.

Sprinkle with the basil leaves and serve.

A small serving of this goes a long way. And don't forget the black pepper. You need some heat to counter the sweetness of the corn and the creaminess of the pasta. This is a perfect dish for summer, when corn is in season, and basil is plentiful in the garden!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I just had the best sandwich ever! Every time I've made a variation of this, I just can't get over how amazing a sandwich can taste! It's savory, and crunchy, and creamy, and nutty, sweet and salty, with a touch of acidity... Oh you must make this now!

chicken sandwich with brie, walnuts and peaches
makes one sandwich

Salt and pepper one small chicken breast, and cook it in a small skillet lightly coated with olive oil. Let cool a bit, then slice.

Spruce up store bought mayo with a bit of garlic powder and lemon juice, until it tastes just right to you. Slice up a peach, or whatever ripe fruit that you have on hand (pears are awesome too, I've made this with plums...). Gather lettuce or some kind of greenery from the garden. Tear up some brie in smallish pieces (I've given up on trying to slice that cleanly). Get some walnuts out of the pantry, and some honey.

Toast your choice of bread, be it a bagel, or a ciabatta, and rub it with the cut side of half a clove of garlic.

Spread generously with mayo, and top with brie, walnuts, fruit, chicken, honey and lettuce...

... and enjoy.

The only thing I regret is the bread. An ordinary bagel is so not worthy of this sandwich. It's just not good enough. A nice ciabatta would have been perfect, but I wasn't planning on making this sandwich. I was cooking some chicken breasts to feed the baby, and realized that I had all the components on hand to make this happen. So the bagel was just going to have to do! And it did. But next time... ciabatta!

Monday, June 20, 2011


Father's day is not something we heavily celebrated growing up, as my dad is not the celebrated type. He doesn't like his birthday either, and usually escapes to the cottage, as is the case this year. My husband also doesn't get the concept, so, after a very healthy breakfast of buttermilk donuts, in lieu of a father's day cake for my husband and father of my two beautiful daughters, we celebrated the dads in his family with a BBQ at my in-laws.

I was in charge of the potato salad. Unfortunately, I'm very, very picky about "traditional" potato salad. The only one I like comes from Walmart and is full of MSG and other heavily processed, nasty things. So whenever I make potato salad, I make this non traditional, yet, super yummy, creamy grilled potato and mushroom salad.

I'm not very good at making potatoes, but for this salad, I always grab a bag of pre washed teeny tiny yellow fleshed potatoes. For this recipe, they are boiled until tender, then tossed with mushrooms, oil, barbeque sauce, salt and pepper. From there, you can grill it on the bbq, but I usually just toss the potatoes and mushrooms in a pan and let the mushrooms cook, and the potatoes get golden. Once that's cool, you add a chopped red pepper, 3 green onions and 3 cups baby spinach, and toss the whole thing with a mixture of mayo, bbq sauce and chopped parsley.

Creamy Grilled Potato and Mushroom Salad
recipe source: Diana Sauce

2 lb baby potatoes, halved
1 lb button mushrooms, trimmed
1/2 cup Diana® Sauce, Original flavour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander or parsley
1 red pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
3 cups baby spinach leaves

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until just fork tender. Drain and rinse under cold, running water. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the mushrooms.
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Stir 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the sauce with the vegetable oil. Gently toss the potatoes and mushrooms with the oil mixture, salt and pepper. Transfer to a grilling basket or line the grate with perforated grilling foil. Grill for 20 minutes, turning often until well marked. Cool to room temperature.
Stir the remaining sauce with the mayonnaise and coriander. Toss the potatoes, mushrooms, red pepper, onions and spinach with the mayonnaise mixture. Serve at room temperature or cool.

I love this salad because it's no fuss. It doesn't wilt and turn to mush easily. You can serve it warm, cold or a room temperature. It's really a perfect side for any BBQ. I always have leftover sauce, so I leave it out so people who want a creamier salad can help themselves. It's also awesome as a dipping sauce for grilled meat. I mean it's mayo and bbq sauce. How can you go wrong?!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Now I realize that this isn't the most attractive looking dish. I mean it's poutine, not meant to be pretty. But this guy sure did make it delicious looking. When I saw this picture on one of the food galleries, and then read the caption, my jaw dropped. Must. Make. That. Now. But, I was a good girl and waited until the short rib was on special. A buck off regular price isn't that big of a deal I guess, but still.

In any case, this recipe is a direct knockoff of his recipe, with really minor changes. It's so good, we had it two nights in a row. Usually, I try to re-invent leftovers, but I needed to have this dish again in it's original form.

It a short rib ragu, basically a beef stew, cooked in the oven for three hours. The beef is then shredded, and the sauce puréed in the blender to get more of a gravy consistency. Then the beef is added back into the sauce and kept hot until the gnocchi is cooked.

I know what goes on poutine is really a matter of personal preference. I like it with shredded cheese, for that melty stringy factor, and with curds, for that squeaky salty goodness. So I topped the cooked gnocchi with a mix of shredded cheese meant for pizza. Then, I topped that with saucy beef, then added curds. Room temperature, made-that-morning-20-minutes-away-from-my-house curds. Very important. Then added big chunks of beef on top.

Kevin, the guy behind this recipe added gremolata to the top of the dish. Usually, I would have decided that it was only needed to pretty up the dish, and wouldn't have made it, but I just got a new microplane zester thing, and I wanted to try it out. Plus I had parsley in the fridge, so might as well use it. So I was really surprised that when I brought that first bite to my mouth, the gremolata did really wonderful things to brighten the dish up. So I'm glad I tried it. And next time it's added on a dish, I might not dismiss it so quickly!

Braised Short Rib Ragu
recipe slightly adapted from closet cooking

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds short ribs, 2-3 inches long
2 cups onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1 cup grape/cranberry juice
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
3 cups beef stock (more to thin the sauce, if needed)

Soak the mushrooms in 1/2 cup boiling water.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
Sear the short ribs until brown on all sides and set aside.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the oil and fat from the pan and reduce to medium heat.
Add the onions, celery and carrots and saute until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Add the garlic and anchovy paste and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
Add the fruit juice and deglaze the pan.
Add the ribs, the mushrooms and their liquid, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper and enough beef stock to cover the ribs.
Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to a preheated 350F oven and cook until the meet is falling off the bones, about 3 hours.
Remove the beef from the pan, set aside to cool
Spoon off as much fat from the top of the sauce as possible. Puree the sauce in a blender.
Pull the beef from the bones, shred it, return it to the sauce and simmer to thicken if desired.

recipe slightly adapted from closet cooking

Combine 1/4 cup chopped parsley, the zest of 1/2 a lemon and one grated clove of garlic.