Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms, Eggplant & Sundried Tomato

While visiting our daughter Brianna at Valoroso Foods a few weeks ago, we were given a sample of this freshly cooked dish by Italian Chef Pietro. I’m very thankful he had the recipe printed out for clients to take. It is delicious and easy to prepare.

I have added a few notes  as he relayed them, and what I did different.

Porcini mushrooms are very “earthy”, and some consider them too strong. We really love the flavour and feel that they “make the dish”.

Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms & Eggplant

Italian name: Paccheri Al Profumi Di Terra (Rough translation: Paccheri Pasta and Perfume of the Earth.

This recipe calls for Paccheri pasta, but any will do. I used leftover linguine noodles.

Ingredients:

500g pasta
2 large eggplants
50g sundried tomato
100g fresh mushrooms
30g dried Porcini mushrooms (Soak them 20 min before –  I used fresh and did not soak them) 10g flour Salt & Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic and Parsley
100g smoked Provolone (I used smoked Havarti)
100 ml warm milk

Instructions:

1. Dice the eggplant and put it into a pan with oil, garlic and parsley – light fry.
2. Add the sliced sundried tomato (I minced them) and both types of mushrooms. Let it cook for 15 minutes on low heat.
3. Add the flour and lastly the milk. Cook over low heat, sirring occasionaly until flour is cooked and milk has thickened into a nice sauce.
4. Add the cooked pasta and the smoked cheese, either grated or shredded, and stir in to melt. 5. Serve with a salad or vegi tray.

A Twist on Hot Turkey Sandwiches

Lunch today was made easy by prep that happened at Christmas time. We put an appropriate mix of leftover Christmas turkey and gravy in freezer bags to enjoy at a later time, and it sure came in handy today! I took the bag out of the freezer yesterday morning, and thawed it in the fridge overnight..

Extra ingredients needed for the “twist”:

– Loaf of garlic bread
– Sliced ham (we love porscuito, westphalean or some other smoked ham)
– Swiss or a smoke cheese

Directions:

– Leaving or wrapping garlic bread in foil, place garlic bread in oven and heat to 350F. Turn off and let sit in oven while working on the rest of supper

– Reheat the turkey/gravy blend on the stove-top at medium-low heat, stirring now and then to prevent burning. Turn off burner when heated through. 

– Meanwhile, make a salad or vegi tray for a healthy side dish.

– When meat is heated through, remove garlic bread from oven, turn on broiler. Place bread on baking sheet. Open and spread on preferred mount of turkey/gravy mixture.

– Top with ham and cheese, then place under broiler for 2-3 minutes to melt cheese. Remove from oven, close up the bread to make sandwich, and slice as desired to serve.

Sorry there’s no picture, but I’m sure you get the picture. 🙂

Chocolate Chunk Brownies

I’ve had this recipe for close to 20 years now from recipe cards that came in the mail. It is a family and church favourite, and I don’t know what else to say about these other than, “YUMMY!” Enjoy!

Chocolate Chunk Brownies

 

I only use Dutch Cocoa, versus “Fry’s Cocoa”, as we find it is richer in flavour, and the darker colour is more appealing.

Chocolate Chunk Brownies

For One 8 by 8-inch pan of brownies you will need:

½ cup butter or margarine

½ cup all purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

½ tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

½ cup toasted almonds, pecans or walnuts

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. Vanilla

4 oz. sweet chocolate chips, or chocolate

1. Melt butter. Add the sugar, eggs, cocoa and vanilla. Combine the flour and baking powder. Stir into the chocolate mixture.

2. Toast the nuts by spreading in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake at 325F for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Add the chips or coarsely chop the chocolate squares, keeping in large chunks. Stir in the nuts and chocolate to batter. Spread batter in an 8 by 8 inch baking pan that is lightly greased.

4. Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out barely moist. Cool in pan on a rack. Cut into squares and serve.

Blender Hollandaise Sauce

I really enjoy Hollandaise Sauce (ie. sauce on Eggs Bennedict) but find it tedious to make with the double boiler on the stove-top. However, there is an easy way – with a blender. I found these recipes online on several sites and they are sooooo yummy! They have all the same ingredients as the classic, but no double boiler and no chance of the sauce separating.

Eggs Benedict-01

Blender Hollandaise Sauce:

Recipe #1

INGREDIENTS:

3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 dash hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
1/2 cup butter

DIRECTIONS:

1. In the blender container, combine the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. Cover, and blend for about 5 seconds.
2. Place the butter in a glass measuring cup. Heat butter in the microwave for about 1 minute, or until completely melted and hot.
3. Set the blender on high speed, and pour the butter into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. It should thicken almost immediately.
4. Keep the sauce warm until serving by placing the blender container in a pan of hot tap water.

Recipe #2

INGREDIENTS

1 large egg yoke
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions

1. Put the egg yolk, lemon juice, and cayenne in a blender. Pulse a couple times to combine.

2. Put the butter in a small microwave safe bowl and melt in a microwave until just melted.

3. With the blender running, gradually add the melted butter into the egg to make a smooth frothy sauce. If the sauce is very thick, blend in a teaspoon of lukewarm water loosen it up.

4. Season with the salt and serve immediately or keep warm in a small heat-proof bowl set over hot (but not simmering) water until ready to serve.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/blender-hollandaise-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

 

 

 

Apple & Skor Cream Cheese Dip

We tried this simply amazing dip at Arlo’s Honey Farm’s anual open house on May 26th, 2013. A big thanks to Ann for having the dip available to try, AND having the recipe all written out on recipe cards to hand out. When I make it in the next week, I will post the picture.

http://www.arloshoneyfarm.com/

1 – 8 oz pkg – Cream cheese
1/2 to 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
Caramel Sundae Sauce
4 Skor Bars or Bits
4-6 Granny Smith apples

Beat cream cheese & sugra until smooth. Spread in 9″ pie plate.

Drizzle caramel sauce over that layer.

Top with chopped Skor bars. The easiest way to chop them is in a food processor set to “pulse”.

Slice and core Granny Smith apples to desire size to use for dippers.

Serve at room temperature.

 

 

 

Organizing the Spice Cupboard: Step 1

I have been wanting to thoroughly organize our spice cupboard for a long time, but was at a loss on how to approach it. I’m thankful to our daughter Brianna for giving me the great idea of using small canning jars, as it lead me on a succesful search.

One of my favourite shop-stops – Dollarama – provided some nice options. I’ve always loved the spring clip lid bottles, and these were nicely priced at $2 each for the large, $1 each for the medium, and $1.25 for two of the small or extra small.

Their volumes are: large – 3 cups, medium – 1 cup, and small – 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup), extra small – 5 tablespoons. I mainly want the larger of the small ones because I prefer the octagon shape over the cylinder. I would have preferred all to be square, but there were only so many of each.

The Spice Jars

spice jars

For labelling, I choose the “invisible tape” used for wrapping presents because the tape sticks well, but can easily be removed by soaking in water a few minutes and leaves no residue; also, permanent marker doesn’t wipe off.

These neat step riser organizers are from Walmart at $10 each. The plastic coated wire shelves were pretty slippery, and jars were sliding off, so I put some shelf liner (as seen in the two top shelves, and another dollar store find) to keep bottles secure on the shelves.

 Riser Shelf

 

So this is the beginning of an ongoing project. Check out my follow up post, Step 2 – Organizing & Bottling.

Organizing the Spice Cupboard – Step 2

Sorting & Bottling

As talked about in my original post Organizing the Spice Cupboard – Step 1, I finally decided to tackle the dreaded re-organizing chore.

It took several hours of shopping at “The Dollar Tree” and “Dollarama” for jars, and “Walmart” for a small step shelf, and an entire day to sort & accomplish the bulk of the organizing, with still some left to do, but it’s looking pretty good.

This picture was taken right after the initial organizing. Before this all started, there were four blue baskets full of plastic bags of spices, but they’ve since been replaced with those cute little spring-lock cap jars which are sitting on the Walmart step riser shelf at left. (See previous post for pictures).

Spice Cupboard - First Go

 The First Go-Through

On the right side of the second shelf sits the larger containers I buy from Costco. These are typically mixed seasonings , like Greek salad dressing seasoning, or Spicy Pepper Medley (our obsolute favorite on steak!!!!) From the Club House Seasoning company.

On the right side way at the back of the first shelf, it is a bit hard to see, but there is a set of three small spice racks that hold 6 bottles each. I’ve never been very keen on them, but it was all I could find at the time. At the time of the first organizing, I figured I’d keep them for seasonings that I only keep small amounts of, but have since decided to just go with smaller, similar jars as the new snap lid ones.

The blue baskets are obviously still in that picture, but have recently been removed in the recent tweaking.

This next picture is what it looks like now. I actually ended up with a few bottles too many for the shelves, so I will have to sort that out.

Nicly Organized
Nicly Organized

The bottom left shelf still sports the same two step shelves, and some other odd shaped bottles, but I’ve added a third step shelf to the second cabinet shelf. I could not put it in the bottom shelf as a third one was just too wide.

Same items on right hand side of second shelf, but spice grinders and mortar and pestle have been moved into the middle.

Top shelf is my overflow shelf. I buy bigger bags of seasonings we use a lot like garlic and onion powder and sea salt, so I got those larger snap lid jars for that kind of stuff. The large plastic containers are my overflow of spelt, rye and buckwheat, which we buy in 20kg bags and we only have so much space for 5 gallon buckets to store the bulk of the bags. It also saves me lugging those large buckets and dealing with those nigh to impossible  to open bucket lid as much.

I certainly hope you get some ideas from this and the previous post for organizing the spice cupboard. 🙂

Paninis!

 Breakfast Paninis

image

Oops! Started working on this post before Christmas and forgot about it.

I was playing around with the family Christmas present a week or so early  🙂   It was the Christmas ‘season’ after all.

 

This is for 5 people.

Saute 1/2 of a large onion, then add 10 scrambled eggs seasoned with salt and pepper to the pan.

Cook till almost done. Shut the pan off and kept stirring to dry the eggs out a bit (we hate wet eggs);

Add 1 cup shredded pepper jack chess and stir it to melt.

Place 1/5 of mixture on one 1/2 of flatbread, fold flatbread in half and place on Panini press (set to high) for  3-5 minutes. We can fix 3 folded sandwiches at a time on this Cuisinart unit.

"She… worketh willingly with her hands." Proverbs 31:13