Who needs a recipe! Sort-of braised garlic pasta

20181021_175941.jpg

By Corinne

This is one of my go-to pasta recipes. I’ve never posted it because I’ve never measured anything and I really do use whatever I happen to have handy in terms of herbs. In the summer I use a generous amount of fresh herbs and sometimes omit the dried ones entirely.

This recipe is a great chance to experiment with flavoured oils or vinegars as well as with herbs. If substituting a flavoured oil, I recommend only substituting 1-2 tbsp rather than the whole 1/4 cup. I also like using a full 1/4 cup of balsamic, but it really does depend on the balsamic you are using- start with the smaller amount and increase according to taste.

What is Braising? 

Braising is a combination cooking method where both dry and moist cooking techniques are used. Usually it involves browning meat in a pan with a bit of oil (dry cooking) and then cooking in a broth, or wine for a long time over a low temperature (moist cooking). You CAN actually braise garlic- you saute it first and then usually finish it by cooking in cream until garlic is tender. Garlic prepared this way is usually used for soups, creamy sauces or mashed potatoes. Technically, the garlic in this recipe isn’t braised, because there’s no ‘moist cooking’ component, but it borrows from the ‘low and slow’ technique used in braising. 

Time: about 20 minutes start to finish – everything should be done by the time your pasta water has boiled and your pasta has cooked (unless you have a crazy induction cooktop and your water boils in 2 minutes)

Serves: 2 people who like pasta 🙂

You will need:

  • 2 cups (uncooked) of your favourite smallish pasta that will hold onto the minimal ingredients for this recipe. I love conchiglie (small shells) or cappelletti (little hats)
  • ¼ cup of olive oil, or a mix of olive and canola, or a mix of a flavoured olive oil and regular
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp each dried oregano, basil, thyme – or any mix of herbs you like
  • About 1 ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  •  2 -4 tbsp, depending on the flavour of the balsamic being used
  • Additional generous handful of fresh herbs to finish-flat leaf parsley, basil, whatever you have from the garden!

Over low heat, braise the garlic in the oil. DO NOT brown the garlic. You want this cooked over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Garlic should be soft, mild flavoured and fragrant.

Grate cheese and set aside.

While garlic is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions(remember to season your water!)

About 1 minute before the pasta is cooked, add the dried herbs to the garlic and oil.

**This part you need to work fast! The heat from the pasta is what melts the cheese.

Drain the pasta, add the garlic, oil and herbs, fresh herbs to the pasta and give a quick stir. Sprinkle the grated cheese in, stirring as you do so you don’t end up with a big ‘clump’.

When cheese has melted, add the vinegar.

Sprinkle with additional fresh herbs.

 

 

Advertisements

Tabbouleh

20180225_154338.jpg

By Corinne

Tabbouleh is a delightfully simple and filling salad. It is traditionally made with just bulgur, but can be made with cous cous or can be made gluten free by using just quinoa.

I am a bit in love with this little box of quinoa and bulgur mix from Presidents Choice- though I recommend using vegetable (or chicken) broth to cook the bulgur/quinoa, and only using 2 cups of liquid rather than the 2 1/4 cups recommended on the box.

Serves: makes about 4 1/2 cups of salad

Time: about 20 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 box President’s Choice Blue Menu Bulgur and Quinoa Blend (225g) or 1 cup red quinoa or bulgur or cous cous- cook as needed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 1/2  cup fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley, minced (about half of a large bunch)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, minced
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red onion, small dice or minced
  • 2 large clove minced garlic
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or sunflower oil)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Bring 2 cups of vegetable broth(or water) to boil and add quinoa and bulgur. Return to boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until tender. Allow to cool.

Mince parsley, mint, garlic, and onion. Add to large bowl. Quarter cherry tomatoes and add to bowl. Add the juice of three lemons and the 1/4 cup of olive oil to bowl. Season generously with pepper. If you used just water to cook the bulgur/quinoa rather than vegetable broth, also season with salt.

When bulgur/quinoa mix has cooled, add to the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Good served immediately, or can be made the day before serving.

 

Pomegranate and Blood Orange Salad with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

20180220_173713.jpg

By Corinne

I didn’t realize that eating pomegranates was something people struggled with until I started seeing various videos being posted about the ‘right’ way to peel them, or how to eat them without making a mess. Even still, a shocking number of these videos called for you doing this in a bowl of water? I feel like that seems like more trouble then it needs to be.  I use this method, and always have- though I’ve never really thought of it as being a ‘method’ exactly.

Pomegranates are often a bit pricy, but they are SO pretty and tasty and make such a pretty addition to dinner salads, fruit salads and drinks that I feel they are totally worth it. I also love that they are a bit of work to eat. They also keep amazingly well in the fridge. And even when the outside starts to look a little dried and sad, they are usually still perfect and bright on the inside! They are a good sort of picking at snack… for when you’re not *really* hungry, but looking for a little something.

At least around here, you can generally only find pomegranates in the winter, so they are something I associate with winter salads rather than summer ones.

Time: about 10 minutes

Serves: 2 as a very generous side

Dressing– makes about 1/3 cup of dressing (more than you need for 2 servings)

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup of pomegranate arils
  • 1 blood orange(or regular orange)
  • about 4 cups salad greens
  • a few shavings of a hard sharp aged cheese (parmesan, pecorino, romano, asiago – anything aged and sharp)

Dressing 

  • juice of one or two fresh lemons – you want about 1/4 cup of juice, so it will depend on the juiciness of your lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • several generous grinds of fresh pepper
  • *1 tsp apple cider vinegar if you feel it needs a bit more acid

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Taste your dressing. If you feel like it needs a bit more of an acidic punch, add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar.  Mix greens and dressing (you probably don’t need all of it, but it depends on how dressed you like your salad)

Add dressed greens to bowls and top with pomegranate arils, blood orange slices, a few curls of a sharp salty cheese of your choice and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

20180220_173937.jpg

Broccoli Stuffed Baked Potatoes

By Corinne

Who would have thought a twice baked potato without cheese or bacon would be so good? I mean, technically these aren’t twice baked potatoes since I cheat and microwave them whole and then bake them once they’re stuffed. Time is money as they say, and sure, if you have time to bake your potatoes for an hour and THEN do the rest, go right ahead.

Time: 35 min (or possibly faster depending on your microwave)

Makes: 4 servings

Oven: 450F

You will need:

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 3/4 cup broccoli- in tiny florets
  • 1 shallot- finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic- finely minced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted, divided
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper- several generous grinds

Give potatoes a good scrub. Microwave them whole on high heat until tender (if you gently squeeze them they will squish). I drape them in a damp paper towel, as I find it keeps the skin from getting tough. In my microwave, this takes 15 minutes. I have the smallest, cheapest microwave because I mostly use it to reheat tea (which takes 1 1/2 minutes). In your microwave it may take considerably less time.

While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 450F. Mince onion and garlic and set aside. Cut broccoli into tiny florets and return to measuring cup, add water until broccoli is just covered. Melt butter and set aside.

When potatoes are cooked, remove from microwave. You can let them cool a bit until they are easier to handle if desired. Cut potatoes in half and carefully remove the majority of the flesh, placing in a medium bowl. Brush the outside of the potato skin with butter.

Microwave broccoli until hot, bright green and just tender crisp (2 minutes in my microwave). Drain.

Combine potato with broccoli, 1 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 cup sour cream, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix together until combined.

Gently spoon mixture back into potato skins. Brush the top with remaining butter.

Bake for 20 minutes at 450F until potatoes have little golden peaks. Eat as a side with whatever else you happen to be making.

20180214_175713.jpg

Easy Beer and Panko Fried Pickles

By Corinne

I like to use the pickles that are already sliced for sandwiches to make these to save a step- you can of course slice whole dills, or even slice them into little rounds if you prefer.

If you’ve never used panko crumbs, they are NOT the same as regular Italian style bread crumbs. They are lighter and cook up much crispier than regular crumbs. Panko style crumbs are made by cooking bread using an electric current rather than heat- so the loaf has no brown outside crust. This video from Upper Crust Enterprises doesn’t have the most engaging narration, but does take you on a factory tour and through the panko making process if you’re interested.

You will need:

  • 10 large slices of pickle
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1 tbsp snipped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • several grinds fresh pepper
  • Vegetable, canola, safflower or sunflower oil for frying
  • salt if desired

Dip

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp snipped fresh dill

Heat oil over medium heat. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, mix flour and beer. Stir in snipped fresh dill. In another shallow bowl or pie plate, add panko crumbs.

Dip pickle slices into beer batter, then transfer to panko crumbs, pressing crumbs in slightly. Set aside on a plate. Repeat until all pickle slices have been breaded.

Use a few sacrificial crumbs and place them in the oil- they should vigorously bubble. If the oil is too hot and starts to smoke, remove immediately from heat. If the oil is too cold, your breading will absorb more oil then necessary.

Stir together sour cream, 1-2 cloves minced garlic and snipped fresh dill. Set aside.

Fry battered pickles in batches, one to two minutes on each side, placing on a piece of paper towel to cool until all are finished. Serve with sour cream dip.

** if you are making a larger quantity, you can keep them warm in the oven while you’re cooking the next batch, but place them on a wire rack on a cookie sheet to keep them from getting soggy bottoms.

20180120_172525.jpg

 

Baked Harissa and Honey Chicken Wings

 

20170923_193853By Corinne

I love chicken wings. They are one of those things that I can somehow manage to keep eating far past the point where I should have stopped. These wings are spicy and a bit sweet. Both the spiciness and the sticky sweetness can be easily altered to taste.

Time: 1 hour

Makes: 2lbs chicken wings

You will need:

  • 2lbs chicken wings
  • 1 tbsp harissa spice*
  • 2 tbsp honey

Lay wings in a single layer on a stoneware baking pan, or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle harissa spice over top, then flip wings and sprinkle remainder of harissa spice on the other side.

Bake in a 400F oven for 45-55 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and drizzle 1 tbsp honey over wings, flip and drizzle with remaining honey. If you like them sweeter and stickier, use more honey. Return to oven for 5 more minutes.

*I’ve been using the PC brand Harissa Spice Blend. I would say it’s fairy spicy, but 1 tbsp over 2lbs of wings results in no more than sort of a ‘medium’ spice level. You can of course increase this to taste!

Layered Zucchini Bake

20170816_184629

By Corinne

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that I only eat in the summer when it’s in season. It’s called summer squash for a reason!

I like to use yellow and green zucchini for this as I just think it looks prettier 🙂 You can of course use whatever colour you happen to have on hand, it makes little difference in taste.

I usually do this in the amount listed below, however, in the photos I had halved the recipe since I only had 2 zucchini.

Serves: 4-6 as a side

Time: 15 min prep, about 35-45 minutes cook

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 10 slices of prosciutto
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary minced
  • 3/4 cup chardonay
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parmesan or asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until softened- about 5 minutes. Add the chardonnay and reduce by half. Add the minced garlic and rosemary.  Add half of this to a 9 inch baking dish.

Cut the ends off of the zucchini and slice lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick.

If using both green and yellow zucchini, place a slice of each, and then half a slice of prosciutto. Continue in this manner until all zucchini and prosciutto are used and your pan is full. Put the rest of the onion/wine/herb mixture on top.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, remove from oven, testing doneness with a fork. I like my zucchini to stay fairly firm, but you may wish to bake for an additional 10 minutes before adding the cheese. Add the cheese for the last 10 minutes of cooking, if needed you can put the oven on broil for the last minute or two to brown them up.

20170816_210021