Fresh Caprese!

What’s not to love!? Earthy, flavour-packed heirloom tomatoes, salty bocconcini, and Thai basil. Same aged balsamic and fresh olive oil as last week… why mess with a good thing?

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Abate fetel.

Another new pear I found this week, the abate fetel pear. I had to try it and take a picture because I was so surprised by the name. Italian in origin, so it seemsand very light in flavour, with an almost citrusy flavoured skin. Hints of lemon, I swear!

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Sweet and Savoury with Pears and Cheese

This combination is delightfully simple and doubly impressive. Those BC Liquor Store magazines are full of surprises.

I found fragrant pears at the Granville Island market. They’re a little lighter in flavour from Bosc, but similar texture.

2 Bosc pears (cored and sliced lengthwise in 8 pieces)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
Add sugar to water and heat until dissolved. Add pears and let simmer about 5 min, until soft.

Frozen puffed pastry, thawed. Slice one square into 4. Roll thin.
200g+ cambazola cheese
1/8 cup pecans
1 tbsp brown sugar
In the centre of each pastry, place up to four pear slices. Top with slice of cambazola, pecans and sprinkle of brown sugar. Bake at 400F until browned and cheese is melted.
Serve with balsamic reduction and vanilla ice cream.

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Surf and Turf.

Fresh Digby scallops are a real treat. I’ll always find a way to get a little more decadent, so throw in some applewood smoked bacon and schinkenspeck from Oyama, and now we’re talking 😉

Start by wrapping scallops in schinkenspeck.
Fry the bacon (sliced thick like lardon and chopped) and set aside.
Sear scallops and set aside.
Deglaze with white wine, if it’s on hand, or juice of one or half an orange (depends on the strength and flavour of your orange – start small).
Add 1 cup cream and zest of one orange. Reduce a bit, if you wish.

Pour sauce on fresh pappardelle noodles. The zest gives a fresh spring lightness to all that decadent flavour. I also tossed in a handful of asparagus for some variety. Yum.

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Mac ‘n Cheese

Mom’s basic recipe for homemade Mac and cheese. Warm, comforting and oh, so cheesy. Good reheated but I wouldn’t try freezing it.
Portions are approximate. I always estimate when I make it.

2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups grated cheddar
Make a roux and add 3 cups of milk. Don’t let milk boil but med-heat should allow it to thicken in about 5-10 min. Stir constantly. Also wait for it to cool a bit before adding cheese (or it will curdle) but still hot enough to melt cheese.

Cook 4 cups dry macaroni.
Mix.

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Belly in my belly.

A foodie trip to East Van promised to delight and delighted, I am.

Linner at the Red Wagon at Nanaimo and Hastings was indulgence. Crispy pork belly confit, grilled tomato, salsa verde, home fried potatoes and a few slices of rye. Just be prepared to wait up to an hour to get your foot in the door. Totally worth it – and besides, a few doors down, you’ll find Moccia.

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Featuring local, artisan meats, sausage and salami, Moccia Urbani makes a killer bacon and a salami sliced so thin, you can eat them like potato chips. Tonight, I got to try out the Sicilian (fennel and lemon) and the Toscano fig. Both delicious (especially accompanied by a gin martini), if not so different, but so fresh and crispy.

Next, it was off to Italiabakery at Hastings and Renfrew. Tastings of Colomba de Pasqua (sweet italian easter bread in the shape of a dove), fresh olive oil, balsamic reduction, and St. Honore soaked in rum, with vanilla custard… crazy yum. Limoncello puff and raspberry ricotta cannoli await for dessert tonight. Bosa at Boundary and Kootenay also had a few fresh ingredients in store, including gorgonzola walnut ravioli, cherry bocconcini and focaccia. A little basil, heirloom tomatoes, French olive oil from my summer trip to Paris, a drizzle of Italia’s balsamic reduction, and a bit of spicy thai basil and a simple, fresh dinner.

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Black beans and rice

You know how “they” always say that beans are so good for you, all that fibre and protein and whatnot? Hrm, maybe that’s just my mom, but I suppose they are and after all, they are a really good vegetarian alternative (as much as I like tofu, soy is too often GMO or farmed in Brazilian rainforests, or other evils). And so, this brings me to a black bean recipe that was actually yummy. I made this with a roast chicken, the apple slaw, and some brown rice. Great combination for leftovers in lunches too.

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, divided
1/3 cup finely chopped bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon (or more) fresh lime juice (definitely more)
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
s & p

Combine onion, bell pepper, garlic and spices and saute with a bit of olive oil on medium heat for about 6-7 minutes. Stir in broth, lime juice and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Season with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired.

Source: Modified from Bon Appetit Jan 2012

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Kitchen porn

Welcoming my new pan into my repertoire, I have to share my excitement.

Thermolon™ ceramic, non-stick coating, PTFE- and PFOA-free (that’s the ugly stuff in teflon), heat-proof up to 450°C, “highly” scratch-resistant (whatever that means), smooth satin finish surface with ideal heat distribution and 3-ply SIGMA Clad material, magnetic stainless steel 18/0 with aluminum core. Zing!

For those interested:
PTFE = Polytetrafluoroethylene
PFOA = Perfluorooctanoic acid

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Nom nom

A piece of Paris at Faubourg in Kerrisdale. While neither the coffee, nor the decor, are very authentic, the pain au chocolat is delightful. Crispy on the outside with a soft middle and likely real Belgian chocolate. Devine 🙂

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