Monday, August 31, 2009

pâtes à la guillaume

guillaume was my roommate. the best roommate there was.
he had also worked in restaurants so i sometimes had the pleasure to have a meal cooked for me.

one day he invited his father to our apartment and made this pasta.
well, i think i changed it a bit over the years, but what i mostly remember is sundried tomatoes, red and green peppers, garlic and flat leaf parsley. he used tortellini and i stuck to that too. another key thing that i remembered: it was quick, cheap and easy.

simon and i do it on evenings that are super busy.
tonight was band practice for simon, so that means that i get home, we make dinner and he flies out the door when he's done eating. then i sit down and get to work too.

i usually start by putting the water on to boil, it is exactly the time i need to cut all my ingredients.

1 pkg of cheese stuffed pasta
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 red onion, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
olive oil
pine nuts if desired

once the pasta is cooked, heat some olive oil in a large pan.
drop the pasta in and crisp them up in the oil by sauteeing for a few minutes, they should be golden.
add the pine nuts, i like them toasted.
add the onion, peppers and sundried tomatoes. cook for a few minutes.
add the garlic, cook for a few more minutes, then toss in the flat leaf parley.
season with a lot of pepper and some salt. top with grated parmesan.

this was particularly cheap to make...
the tomatoes came from the garden, i roasted some this weekend

and we had parsley and green pepper in the garden too.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

full oven

some things you can be sure of in our house.
the freezer is full.
on any given day off, the oven is full.

full, like this

i decided to roast all the yellow tomatoes from the garden, will keep those in oil for a sauce.
i also roasted some roma tomatoes from the garden, these will be preserved in oil, garlic and basil. one pot will surely go to my favorite florist... i feed her and she makes my home pretty. the deal of the century.

another little something that will go in the florist basket is some cauliflower soup.
i was given a cauliflower on the market last week. i guess i bought so much and it must have been the end of the day...
cauliflowers are so big! i get tired of eating it raw or eating a big old salad of it.

into the soup it goes!

it was delicious and exactly what we needed. we both felt on the verge of a cold, so the soup really hit the spot, warm & comforting. the addition of little chunks of jalapeno and bbq roasted corn were the best part, sweet and spicy.

1 cauliflower, roasted
2 sweet onions (like vidalia)
1 head garlic, roasted
2 ribs celery
1 carrot
1 large potato
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp yellow curry powder
2 tsp cumin, toasted, crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted, crushed
1 Tbsp black pepper, crushed
2 tsp siracha

4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup 18% cream

3 jalapeno (ours were very small as they are from the garden, 2 store bought ones would do)
1 1/2 cups of corn (a leftover from a bbq we had, cut from the cob, frozen on a tray and packaged for further enjoyment!!)
1 lime leaf, cut into thin strips ( i buy them fresh and freeze what i don't initially use)

Cook the onions in butter (or oil if you prefer) until golden in color. Then add the spices, celery, carrot, potato. cook a bit to bring out the flavors. Add the cauliflower, stock and enough water to cover. When the veggies are cooked through, puree in a blender. Add the cream, adjust the seasonings and thin out with more water if necessary.

Add the jalapeno, corn and lime leaf to finish. Some corn chips and fresh cilantro would have been perfect... we were just too lazy to walk over to the grocery store. and it was better for us this way too!

we enjoyed with a huge plate of fresh cut veggies.

Monday, August 24, 2009

start with fish...

well, actually, start with what is available at the market. not much is available.

i really felt like fresh herbs today, the only fresh i could find was basil.
so it was fish (sole) + basil.

and then, see what is in the fridge.

we found some beautiful beets.
i am having a love affair with beets lately.

these i bought on the byward market this weekend.
i initially thought they were way too expensive and that this lady was ripping me off.
it doesn't help that i once served her at a party, she was completely drunk and grabbing food from my platter... well, running after my platter.

but they were delicious and beautiful and worth every penny. so were her carrots.

the fillets of fish were laid on slices of lime, cooked with this wine also.

it was recommended by a friend of ours. Simon liked it, i though it was too 'foresty' i gave it to the fish.

i prepared some yellow beans with prosciutto. yes, Prosciutto. heaven!!!!
then a little cucumber-strawberry-red onion salsa with roasted almonds on top.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

arctic char

it had been awhile since i had had the chance to go at Byward Market...
we used to live so close that i went at least twice a week - i am not used to the weekend crowds anymore!!!

i love my little parkdale market.

but i do miss La Bottega.
it was full as always and the lineup for sandwiches was insane.
they just have the best service of all Nicastros... I know that they are not related, but someone who does not know would really question the difference in service and quality.

the one near my work is the worst. the service is extremely slow and indifferent. they have served me bad cheese and tried slipping me some very gooey meat.

the one on Bank i am unsure of. i've had a really good experience (I think the owner served me though...) and a really bad one (Simon was holding me back as I was really losing patience...)


we had tomatoes (of course... i collected 3 litres of tiny ones yesterday morning!!!) with buffalo mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil, basil, garlic, black olives, capers. more of that lovely salami and some prosciutto.

and we had some arctic char.
one thing i keep forgetting about the byward market is how shitty Lapointe is.
I got great service (this time, i would rate the service 4/10... they never seem to want to serve you and when they do, they question your quantities and want to sell you more), the young lad gave me the most beautiful piece of char.

when i took it out and looked closely though... it still had most of it's bones! For heaven's sake, if some people should be able to take a fish apart and clean it, it should be them.

anywhoo, see, i am getting impatient again.

it was delicious.

we coated it with coriander, cumin, black pepper, mustard seed, chili flakes.
served with a squirt of lime, limey yellow beans and a kohlrabi salad.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

discoveries... 2 minutes away from our house.

i came back from Toronto to a pretty empty fridge.

i popped some chinese eggplants in the oven and then
we went to the grocery store just a few minutes from the house.
some great discoveries...

this very satisfying salami.

and this really really good cheese.

simon is a big fan of aged cheddar. need a birthday gift suggestion for him? A big chunk of 10 year old cheddar...

did a quick baba ganoush

3 chinese eggplant, roasted
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
juice of half a lemon
2 Tbsp tahini
smoked paprika
caramelized onions

let the mixer do it's thing and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

we ate it with our first roma tomatoes from the garden of the season, capers, parmesan slivers, toasted naan.

no waste

on sunday, it seemed like i was going away for a week, but it was just two days...
i raided the fridge for all the food that could waste and got into cooking mode.

i made a (very yellow) sauce with our garden tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil, parmesan rind, red pepper flakes, olive oil.

then, hopped on the peaches.
sadly, they were still hard (after 3-4 days) and starting to brown in some spots.
pie time.

i mixed in about 10 peaches with 1 litres of blueberries (that simon's mom picked herself), 2 Tbsp of brown sugar, 1 Tbsp of tapioca, 2 Tbsp butter.

I pretty much always have pie dough frozen in handy batches. I do a huge quantity at a time and freeze. I love doing the top crust all pretty, this was a really easy one - I remember copying that pattern from a Martha Stewart book years ago when I started working in pastry...

My evening was full of fun with corn (blanched, frozen!), broccoli (made into a salad with soaked raisins and red onion for Simon lunch) and strawberries (frozen for smoothies!).

a beautiful afternoon...

a little late posting this but i have been so busy.
insane busy.
trying to draw as much as i possibly can for an upcoming art show, pulling some kitchen shifts for staff that are on vacation, doing my best to interview as many people for positions to fill for the busy season to come, and answering work emails... from home.

but still makin' time for bloggin' and yummy pictures!

so, we had a jolly old time this saturday.
three tables lined up for a fun corn roast with friends.
all these couples called up to do something with us, so we thought, why not combine all of them?

before people arrived, simon and i had a nice glass of sparkling.

i stuck to that all night, it was really delightful. bubbles straight to the brain.

we all walked around the garden , made some polite chit-chat and sipped drinks, the drink of choice seemed to be homemade sangria. I've always loved the sight of wine soaked fruit and ice cubes in the sun.

Then...things got serious.

croquet. doesn't isabel look like a natural? she had quite the pose...

I totally zoned out and forgot to take pictures of the rest of the evening. Although I thought I could share was a quick and easy butter for corn + fun dessert for summer.

lime and cilantro butter

1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 bunch coriander, chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp coarse salt
juice and zest of one lime

we left extra cayenne on the table so that people could adjust to their liking.
all brought side salads, i was a sucker for a tasty mango and tomato one.

and we finished the evening with some strawberry concoction that i had done the night before

2 pints strawberries
1 lebanese cucumber
1 cup ice wine
2 cups rose wine
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
1 lime, juiced

put all ingredients in a blender, freeze in a large glass roasting pan.
you can play with the quantities, i used what i had on hand...add water if the taste is a bit too intense.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

going into the weekend...and then it's over

time flies.
i am insanely busy and try to squeeze in home made food and a social life.
i totally admit that this morning, i crave the restaurant eggs and bacon. must resist.

one thing i can't resist is buying beautiful veggies.
these beets called me on Thursday. i was walking from my office to my other workplace.
poor me, i have to pass by the market every.single.time.

they were beautiful cooked.

then, i had to walk back.
again, a calling.
i bought carrots and peaches.

got home and marinated some pork chops.
grainy mustard
chili garlic sauce (a chunky sauce that you can buy in the asian markets)
finely chopped onions
canola oil

heated up the grill, made a smoke pouch, put the smoke pouch in.
grilled the chops, some peaches and made some caramelized onions (butter, s&p, balsamic vinegar) + yellow beans with butter and lemon.

all was deliciously smokey. we basted the meat and peaches as they cooked. then, in the final stages we basted with some maple syrup.

the next day we had yummy salads of leftovers.
curried carrot salad with raisins and mint.
honey and cider vinegar beets.
spicy cucumber and smoked peaches.

next up... some yummy icy strawberry creation and flavored butter for corn.
we had a lovely croquet afternoon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


i was lucky enough to be able to take the day off from work today (but actually having worked those hours in the past few days...)

it was so nice to be able to eat outside, sitting in the stairs that give way to our yard.

quick pickles

for a little side for 2 people:
2 lebanese cucumbers (yep, still trying to eat all we grow!)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 dashes of togarashi (or more if you like spicy)
maldon salt

bean sprout salad

4 handfulls of sprouts
12 sweet peas, cut on a thin bias
1/2 red pepper, sliced thinly
small handfull of vietnamese basil, chopped
cilantro leaves, chopped
1 green onion, sliced thinly on the bias

1 lime, juiced
3 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce (i prefer light)
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, microplaned

sesame seeds would have been a nice addition but i couldn't find any...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

one day to rest and then...

the crazy week has begun.

i am at work this afternoon baking off the pavlovas for the big dinner monday night, anxiously awaiting an email from whichever staff that could take over the day shift tomorrow - if none can, i am stuck working in the kitchen, and a part of the evening kitchen shift also, as the group is too big for the staff that was planned... then tuesday is insane. then, well, my life spins out of control for at least three weeks.

result: you will see some simon food posts.

yesterday was the last day to rest.
i started the morning with a yummy crumble.

we had leftover strawberries and forever growing rhubarb in the garden.
i like mixing my fruit with a bit of white sugar, cinnamon and tapioca as the thickener.
the crumble was a mix of flour and oats (about half and half), butter, raw sugar and pecans.

and dinner was a 'tribute' to the V7.
V7 is the number of a dish at Pheonix du Vietnam that we used to order when we lived in Hull.
It was a simple vermicelli dish with an imitation chicken. yes, imitation chicken. it was awesome.

tonight, real chicken.

thinly sliced chicken (i slice it partially frozen, it helps), cooked in lemongrass, garlic and ginger.
I then added sweet onions, and sweet peas.
we sliced some cucumber, mint, coriander.
the sauce was a mixture of rice vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, water, bird eye chili, soy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

beans and hazelnuts

no picture of dinner today, but rather lunch.

a nice crisp bean salad.

walnut oil, a tad of white balsamic, hazelnuts, salt.

dinner was inspired by:
**the summer impression of the day (which i couldn't really grasp as i was in the office, in my car, in the studio, in a room on the second floor at home... ),
**gourmet magazine
**rachelle eats food blog - burgers. and as she said: you've seen a burger, you've seen them all. no need for a picture.

we tried though, some tricks from gourmet:
a small indent made with a spoon in the middle of the patty - makes it even as it cooks. no rounded patty.
i kept it simpler than usual with an addition of only 4 ingredients in the patty, simple was good.
chives, egg yolk, siracha, dijon. oh, and a surprise middle of jalapenos and havarti.
(hmmm, and bacon, cream cheese, onion, lettuce, more havarti, pickles... hey, i got a flat on my bike and had to walk for long - i was hungry!!!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

pink, purple, magenta, red...

our food has been these colors lately.

iced tea
-i mixed half and half of apple-cranberry tisane and prince of wales tea, some honey, lemon, sugar. and mint leaves as garnish.

beet salad
-that was a delicious lunch...
6 beets, roasted, cubed
2 stalks rhubarb, roasted, chopped into small pieces
goat cheese (to your liking, crumbled on top)
a dressing made of:
olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, apple cider, chives, pepper.

and tonight's dinner...
duck with rhubarb compote, mashed potato fried in duck fat, a nice salad of strawberries, cucumber, red onion, slivered almonds + yoghurt dressing.

the picture sucks.
look at the little pile'o'potatoes in the back, look closely.
it is a little creature eating at the large pile of strawberries and cucumber tumbling down.

the funny thing is looking at that

Sunday, August 2, 2009

so many tomatoes and cucumbers...

i spent a few hours this morning in the garden.
it was raining a tiny bit, completely peaceful.

we have so many cucumbers. it seems every single meal includes cucumbers.
news flash.
every single meal will now include cucumbers and tomatoes.

i've not always loved cucumbers.
i am fond of them in certain ways:
in cocktails. (pims. oh pims. one sad wedding when i drank only pims...)
in vietnamese food.
in plain old vinegar with crunchy salt.
-but these days, i need be creative.

tonight we did some satay chicken.
i marinated the chicken (2 breasts) for the afternoon in:
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
i knob ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic
2 red bird eye chilies
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar

here it is cooking away

and simon regularly put some lime juice on it.

as sides, we had:

a lovely tomato salad.
i think at first simon questioned my mix, then he really enjoyed...

about 1 1/2 cups tomatoes (from our garden, so exciting!!!)
3 big basil leaves
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1/2 lime
1 bird's eye chili, no seeds

and also a very simple cucumber salad...
simon peeled 3 lebanase cucumbers, 2 heaping tablespoons high fat content yoghurt, 8 big leaves mint, 1/2 lemon,juiced, 2 cloves garlic, salt.

and i ate the skewers with peanut sauce. i like peanut sauce.
i made a whole jar, stay tuned for rice wraps - i'm sure i will be tempted soon.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

it doesn't get much better than this...

it is so nice and sunny out - what a treat.
we went for a bike ride and brought our lunch.
found a picnic table... in the water. could it get any better than this?

i made a quick lunch with soba noodles.
these were a bit more expensive than the usual that i buy, but totally worth it. the texture was delightful, they were just a bit salty...

i tossed in a mango salsa leftover from the night before, sambal, lime juice, sesame oil, cucumber, green pepper, coriander, mint, and a chili pepper.

oddly enough, the stars of the previous meal were the sides.
the large tuna chunk that we grilled just wasn't tasty.
the peas were awesome (fresh with mint and lemon) and the potatoes were just perfect crunchy (i boiled them, gave them a heavy 'banging' in the pot, roasted in olive oil, coriander, lime juice) and the chutney... well, i ate the salsa on its own - forget the tuna!

1 mango ( i prefer alphonso)
1/4 cup red onion
1-2 bird's eye chili (to taste, keep the seeds if you like it extra spicy)
juice and zest of one big lime (or two if they are small)
3 tiny tomatoes
1 lebanese cucumber
fresh coriander and mint

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