Tepache with Vanilla Bean and Ginger + Tepache Margarita

Vanilla Bean Tepache Margarita
I have to preface this post with – I am neither scientest nor doctor. I use my kitchen as a science lab and have yet to die or blow anything up, so I think things are going well, but if you’re not comfortable fermenting at home please feel free to reach out to a professional for all the scientific know-how.

I recently caught an episode (after episode, after episode) of It’s Alive! from Bon Appetit’s Brad Leone (and Vin, of course) where he was demo’ing how to make Tepache, a fermented and lightly carbonated drink made from the juice and rind of pineapple.  It sounded refreshing and light, and a great alternative to an alcoholic beverage (though it does contain trace amounts of alcohol the same way Kombucha does). Plus, it meant I could get into a new fermentation experiment and dangit if I don’t love having a scientific project to babysit (because a 2.5 year old, apparently, is not enough).

TEPACHE WITH VANILLA BEAN AND GINGER + TEPACHE MARGARITAVanilla Bean Tepache Margarita
Tepache
dates back to pre-Coloumbian Mexico where it became a popular drink among the Nahua people of Central Mexico. It translates roughly, in the náhuatl language, to “drink made from corn” as maize originally made up the base for the fermented beverage, making it more of a beer than a wine, which is made from fruit. Also not to be confused with Tejuino which is a thick, stodgy brew made from fermented corn, generally sold by street vendors in Mexico. More modern tepache recipes use pineapple, giving it a tart and fruity flavour that makes an incredible base for beer shandys or, as I made here, margaritas! Yes, I realize that adding tequila completely negates my idea of using it as an alternative to alcoholic drinks… whatever, man.

The two most important ingredients in Tepache are (you guessed it!) pineapple and piloncillo, a cone-shaped unrefined cane sugar made from the boiling and evaporating of sugarcane juice and typical of Mexico, Central and Latin America. It’s flavour is more smoky, caramelly and earthy than brown sugar, so while I mention it’s possible to substitute in the recipe below, it won’t be the same as if you take a bit of time to seek out the piloncillo at your Mexican or Latin market.  And if you do head there, be sure to give yourself some time to really explore the aisles (dried chilies! hominy! chicharron! spices!).

The recipe I’m sharing today is a bit of a venture from the authetic tepache you’ll find street vendors selling in Mexico. I’ve always loved the way pineapple and vanilla play together, so I decided to add half a bean to one batch and none to the other. Let’s get this straight – they were both delicious. I liked the more authentic one for sipping on it’s own, but for the boozy margaritas made with aged tequila I really loved the addition of vanilla bean. It made it taste almost creamy and luscious against the tart, earthiness of the tepache. If you’re thinking “ew, gross. I hate vanilla”, then by all means feel free to make the recipe without it (but also, wtf – who doesn’t like vanilla?).  Also optional is the habanero pepper, but I loved how zippy and warming this made the drink along with the ginger which tends to hit you in the back of the throat and linger a little like a spicy hug. Because this is a fermented drink, it’s contains probiotics and is great for maintaining a healthy gut flora… just in case you need another reason to make up a batch.

Tepache with Vanilla Bean and GingerTepache with Vanilla Bean and Ginger

Tepache with Vanilla Bean and Ginger + Tepache Margarita
 
Fermented Pineapple Soda with Vanilla Bean and Ginger + Tepache Margarita Author: Kelly Brisson Serves: 2L I made a batch of this with pureed pineapple and one with chunks of pineapple. I found the puree, of course, offered a stronger tropical flavour. Neither fermented better or worse, it was just a flavour thing. Feel free to do whichever you prefer.
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE TEPACHE
  • 1 large very ripe pineapple, unwashed
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, smashed
  • ½ vanilla bean, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2" chunk of ginger, rough chopped
  • 1 habanero pepper (optional), sliced in half
  • 2 piloncillo or 2 cups brown sugar, divided
  • Special Equipment: 2 litre glass vessel, muddler, cheesecloth

  • FOR THE MARGARITA
  • 4 oz aged tequila
  • 1 oz orange liquer
  • Juice from 3 limes, extra for garnish
  • ½ oz agave nectar
  • 1 cup Vanilla Bean Tepache
  • crushed ice
  • flaky sea salt, optional
Instructions
  1. FOR THE TEPACHE
  2. Carefully cut the rind off your pineapple and set aside, DO NOT discard.
  3. Cut the pineapple into manageable chunks and place in the food processor or blender and process until it's all broken down into pineapple puree.
  4. Dump into your 2 litre glass jug along with the pineapple rind, cut into chunks, cloves, vanilla, ginger and habanero (if using).
  5. Use the muddler or a large wooden spoon to smash and smoosh everything together.
  6. Grate in one of the piloncillo or add 1 cup of brown sugar. Keep in mind the fementation will eat a lot of the sugar, so it may seem heavy at this point but it won't be sickly sweet in the end.
  7. Top off with 6 cups cool water or enough to fill the 2 litre jar up to an inch under the top.
  8. Cover with a clean towel secured with an elastic band to keep debris from falling in.
  9. Set on the counter at room temperature for 3-4 days.
  10. After 3-4 days, you should notice tiny bubbles and an earthy, sour smell.
  11. Strain liquid into a cheesecloth-lined seive.
  12. Squeeze the solids to release any extra liquid.
  13. If there are still some solids, strain again.
  14. Re-cover with a clean towel and place in the fridge for another 3 days.
  15. Once the second ferment is done, it's ready to serve.
  16. Pour over ice and enjoy as is or keep reading for the Tepache Margarita
  17. It will keep in the fridge in a pitcher for up to 5 days.

  18. FOR THE MARGARITA
  19. Pour a few tablespoons of flaky sea salt on a small plate. Run a sliced lime around the rim of 2 short glasses and press the rims of the glasses into the flaky sea salt. Fill each glass with some crushed ice.
  20. In a large jar or pitcher, shake the tequila, orange liquer, lime juice and agave nectar.
  21. Pour into the prepared glasses and top with the tepache. Enjoy!

 

 

Porcini & Peppercorn Rubbed Beef Tenderloin with Bourbon Cream Sauce

Reverse Seared Porcini & Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin with Bourbon Cream Sauce

As a family of humble means, we don’t often eat buy premium cuts of beef like deliciously fat-marbled  rib roasts or melt-in-your-mouth tenderloin. We opt for chuck or sirloin, confident that a long, slow braise will break them down into the succulent, meaty heaven we’re after. But every so often we splurge on something special… as a meal for a celebration or just because it’s the weekend and we want to pat ourselves on the back for another hard fought week with something that feels congratulatory.

Working with Sterling Silver Premium Meats has afforded me the opportunity to work with incredible cuts of premium quality beef and now that we’ve spoiled ourselves, I’ll have a hard time returning to lesser cuts when we’re craving a succulent roast beef. I mean, can we talk about this tenderloin? Rosy pink and slow-roasted then seared to perfection, it’s coated in crushed peppercorns and dried porcini mushrooms, giving it incredible umami flavour that will have your mouth watering from the second you get that earthy, funky whiff from the bag. I’ve served it with a totally indulgent bourbon cream sauce with just the right amount of lemon to lift the heaviness of the beef and cream. If you’re planning on cooking for someone special, a lover or otherwise, this Valentine’s Day, may I suggest splurging on something truly celebratory and making them this elegant but entirely simple-to-make roast? I don’t know many better ways to show someone how much you appreciate them.

Reverse Seared Porcini & Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin with Bourbon Cream SauceReverse Seared Porcini & Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin with Bourbon Cream Sauce

I did some research on cooking Beef Tenderloin since it’s not something I make often enough to just know what the best method it. If asked a week ago, I would have said that searing it off and finishing in the oven would likely produce a near-perfect roast… which is not a lie. It seems it’s the method used most by homecooks and one that is simple enough for anyone to try. But when I’m looking for the science behind cooking, I turn to Kenji Lopez-Alt, chief culinary consultant of the inspiring Serious Eats and author of the James Beard Award–nominated column The Food Lab. He unravels the mysteries of food using good old fashioned science and explains things in a way that makes sense, even to the not-so-science-minded folks (like me). From Kenji, I learned that when it comes to tender meats with little fat, “the faster a piece of meat cooks, the larger the temperature gradient within that piece of meat. This means that with a lean tenderloin, it’s very easy to end up with a roast that is well-done in the outer layers while the center barely hits medium-rare”. So with that little tidbit in mind, I took his advice to cook the tenderloin low and slow to an inner temp of 120 degrees followed by a quick sear in herb and garlic infused butter for colour and flavour. I feel like my sear wasn’t quite hot enough so I ended up a little deeper golden around the edges than what I was hoping for, but it was just freaking delicious anyways! Rosy pink from the center to the edges with a little crispy seared meat around the outside. I’m definitely going to experiment more with this method for roasts with minimal fat marbling.

If you’re feeling fancy, treat yourself to something special and give this ultra savory, shroomy beef tenderloin a go. It makes killer dinner and if you happen to have leftovers, slice the meat thin and make THE GREATEST ROAST BEEF SANDWICHES EVER.  🤤

Reverse Seared Porcini & Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin with Bourbon Cream SaucePorcini & Peppercorn Rubbed Beef Tenderloin with Bourbon Cream Sauce
You can find Sterling Silver Meats at Sobey’s/Safeway across Canada and buying is easy as anything. Look for their products in the meat department, but if you’re unable to find the cut or size you’re looking for you can simply chat with the butcher and have them cut one fresh in whatever size you need. A 3 pound beef tenderloin will feed 4 with leftovers…and you’re gonna want some leftovers, believe you me!

 

Porcini & Peppercorn Rubbed Beef Tenderloin with Bourbon Cream Sauce
 
Cooking method for the Beef Tenderloin adapted from Serious Eats.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course, Beef
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • BEEF TENDERLOIN
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 (2lb) center-cut Sterling Silver Premium Meats
  • ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms, rough chopped
  • 1½ tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • few sprigs of thyme, whole

  • CREAM SAUCE
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp parsley, minced
Instructions
  1. MAKE AHEAD
  2. One day before you plan to serve your roast, sprinkle and press the salt all over the roast so it's coated well and let it sit on a rack in the fridge (uncovered). This will help dehydrate the top layer so the roast will brown quicker. If you can't manage a whole day, an overnight rest in the fridge will do, too.

  3. FOR THE TENDERLOIN
  4. Preheat oven to 225 and adjust your oven rack to the centre.
  5. In a spice mill/food processor, add the mushrooms and whole peppercorns and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  6. Rub down the whole tenderloin with the mushroom rub, pressing it into the meat so it sticks. Place your tenderloin on a rack and place into your 225 preheated oven. Cook until internal temperature registers 120°-125°F (49 to 52°C), 2-3 hours. I typically start checking the temp after 2 hours to get an idea of how much more time, if any, is needed. Remove from oven and let rest while you get your skillet prepared.
  7. Place 2 tbsp of butter in a heavy skillet over med-high heat. Once the butter is melted and starting to brown lightly, add in your thyme and let it flavour the butter for a minute. Remove the thyme and add your cooked roast to the skillet. Let it cook about 30 seconds on each side trying not to leave it too long or it can overcook. Turn and Remove from pan and let rest, tented in tin foil, for 5 minutes.

  8. FOR THE CREAM SAUCE
  9. Wipe out the pan you used for the roast, and place over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt and start to bubble. Add the shallot and cook until very soft, 2 minutes. Add the bourbon and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Pour in the cream, lemon zest and a few pinches of salt and pepper to taste and let simmer until sauce coats the back of a spoon, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon and parsley.


DisclaimerI am part of a Holiday Campaign sponsored by Sterling Silver Premium Meats and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

Creamy Instant-Pot White Beans with Spicy Coconut Herb Sauce

CREAMY INSTANT-POT WHITE BEANS WITH SPICY COCONUT HERB SAUCE
Knowing we have cooked beans handy has always been a source of comfort for me during busy times. Whether it’s serving them on their own with a drizzle of olive oil, some salt and aleppo pepper or adding them to a pot of simmering soup, beans bulk up the simplest of meals and add the sort of creamy, rich texture you’re craving in the colder months.

Since buying an Instant Pot (no affiliation), it’s become my greatest ally for fixing up large batches of perfectly cooked beans – fast! Buying dried beans is more cost effective, saves space in our pantry and offers more variety to choose from when we’re shopping for beans, which it seems we always are lately. White beans pack 15g of protein for a 1 cup serving and contain a wealth of B vitamins, including B12. They also provide iron, potassium, zinc, and other essential minerals. Whenever I can’t seem to find time to cook a nutritionally dense meal, I reach for my jar of beans, caress them lovingly and breath a deep sigh of relief that they exist. It helps that my toddler also loves them, otherwise she’d live on blueberries and croutons.

Spicy Coconut and Herb Sauce
This recipe is nothing fancy, but often it sustains us through the winter and fills our tummies with goodness when we’re too lazy to cook and don’t feel like ordering in. The coconut and herb sauce is one I make often – it’s tangy and savory and loaded up with whatever herbs and baby greens I happen to have on hand, and the fatty coconut milk helps to give it a luscious mouthfeel. We use it on grilled meats and salads, beans and grains, stirred into soups when serving or drizzled over pasta dishes to brighten them up. It’s versatile and comes together in a matter of minutes.

Creamy Instant-Pot White Beans with Spicy Coconut Herb Sauce

Creamy Instant-Pot White Beans with Spicy Coconut Herb Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This sauce is my go-to for expiring herbs and greens. I toss whatever is looking sad in the crisper into it, but my favourites are parsley, basil, mint, baby kale, scallions, oregano and cilantro. I use them in different quantities and the sauce is always a little bit different which keeps things interesting.
If you don't have a pressure cooker, feel free to use a can of beans (they won't have exactly the same texture as freshly cooked beans, but will work in a pinch!) or cook however you like your beans.This makes a large serving of beans so feel free to eat half now and save the rest for another meal, like this crostini.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course, Snacks and Appetizers
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • CREAMY WHITE BEANS
  • 1 pound white/cannellini beans
  • 8 cups water/low sodium stock
  • 2 bay leaves/
  • 2 smashed cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp sea/kosher salt

  • COCONUT HERB SAUCE
  • 2 cups mixed herbs and baby greens
  • ½ cup coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp rice wine viegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • lemon wedges, to serve
Instructions
  1. FOR THE BEANS
  2. Add ingredients to the instant pot (or other pressure cooker), place the lid on and turn the valve to seal. Cook for 35 minutes.
  3. I prefer to do a natural release of the steam, meaning I wait for the pressure to come down on it's own rather than turning the pressure valve to "venting" (quick-release). Feel free to do either, but BE CAREFUL when doing a quick release as the steam comes out fast and furious and you need to be sure it's pointing away from your skin/face.
  4. Strain beans, divide into 2 portions and save half for another use. Allow the half you're using now to cool to room temperature and toss with ¼ cup of the sauce. Add more if desired.
  5. For the other portion of beans, let them cool and then keep in the fridge for 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.


  6. FOR THE SAUCE
  7. Hand chop or pulse greens/herbs in a food processor until fine. Dump into a small bowl and add the coconut milk, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, lemon zest and vinegar.
  8. Use a microplane to grate the garlic into the sauce and stir everything together.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. I like to make this a few hours ahead of when I plan to eat so the sauce can sit and mingle, but it's still delicious right away.
  11. Toss the sauce with your cooled beans and serve with some garlic/olive oil rubbed grilled/broiled toast and a zingy squeeze of fresh lemon.

 

Creamy Spiced Oats with Cinnamon-Maple Whiskey Figs

in partnership with PC Black Label Collection

Creamy Spiced Oats with Cinnamon-Maple Whiskey Figs
With one last day of 2017 lingering, we’re taking our morning slow to reflect on the joys, the frustrations, the sadness and the good times this last year has brought while we graze over a bowl of these Creamy Spiced Oats with Cinnamon-Maple Whiskey Figs.

While many spend their day coming up with rules to abide by over the next year (er…month), we generally choose to forgo the resolutions in place of reflections and lessons learned, of which there were many. Years past, I followed the crowd and decided on how I’d change myself for the better in the upcoming year. How could I be the best me? The best friend, the most loving partner, the kindest parent, the most diligent worker… the pressure that brought into my life was all but soul-crushing.  It leveled me and made me feel a deep sense of failure in just about every area in my life. I promised myself that I’d no longer give-in to the BE THE BEST YOU THIS YEAR hype. (more…)

Rosemary-Horseradish Prime Rib with Salt and Malt Potatoes

Made in partnership with Sterling Silver Premium Meats

Rosemary-Horseradish Prime Rib with Salt and Malt Potatoes
I don’t know how we got here, but Christmas is mere sleeps away and I find myself in that same scramble I hit around December 21-22nd every year. Though I’ve prepped, cleaned, shopped and cooked I have a nagging feeling that I’m forgetting…well, everything. Tell me you’re in the nuthouse with me!

If I’m thankful and patting myself on the back for one thing, it’s having our Christmas Night dinner game in the bag.  I’ve been so thrilled to work with these roasts from Sterling Silver Premium Meats in the past couple weeks and it’s really opened my eyes to how uncomplicated they are to cook and what huge payoff I’m rewarded with after. With a little prep, and I mean minimal work, you’re popping a roast in the oven to do it’s thing, untouched, while you prep a side or two (like these Salt and Malt Smashed Potaoes!) and set the table. For some reason, I always thought making a Prime Rib would be complicated and fussy. Well, friends, I’m here to say they are anything but.

Prime Rib Roast on a PlatterPrime rib Roast on Plate
Prime Rib, the undisputed flavour-king of the beef world thanks to all that succulent marbling, tends to cost a bit more than other cuts (aside from the tender filet Mignon which we’ll talk about in January), but when you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply want something with incredible flavour, it is worth it every time and will never disappoint… unless you overcook it, so go ahead and buy yourself a meat thermometer to ensure that doesn’t happen. It’s a few bucks and will save your buns time and time again in the kitchen.

You can find Sterling Silver Meats at Sobey’s/Safeway across Canada and buying is easy as anything. Look for their products in the meat department, but if you’re unable to find the cut or size you’re looking for you can simply chat with the butcher and have them cut one fresh in whatever size you need. I wasn’t sure what size would be best for 4 adults so I inquired ith the butcher and he cut me a two rib roast, which will feed 4-6… or, in my case, 4 with leftovers for roast beef sandwiches (with pickles and dijon on brioche buns – droooool).

This roast is coated in some of my favourite BIG flavours, like sinus-clearing horseradish and salty anchovy paste. The rosemary adds an earthy aromatic flavour that I just love with beef. Don’t buy prepared horseradish here, get the jar of the straight stuff, no extra ingredients, just horseradish.

Smashed Potatoes

Rosemary-Horseradish Prime Rib with Salt and Malt Potatoes
 
I added anchovy paste to the mix here because it adds incredible depth of flavour. If you think you don't like anchovies, I, with all due respect, think you're wrong. They don't add any fishiness to the flavour, just a big salty umami bomb! Give it a whirl, I think you'll agree they make most things better.
Serves: 4-6 serings
Ingredients
  • 1 (two-rib) Sterling Silver Premium Meats Prime Rib Roast (approx. 4-5lbs)
  • ½ cup rosemary leaves
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 2 heaping tbsp horseradish
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • ½ tsp anchovy paste
  • .
  • SALT AND MALT POTATOES
  • 2 lbs baby yellow potatoes
  • 1 cup malt vinegar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. FOR THE ROAST
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. In a food processor, add the rosemary leaves and garlic and pulse to chop them up fine. Add in the horseradish, olive oil, salt, pepper and anchovy paste. Pulse a few more times to get everyone acquinted.
  4. Rub the prime rib all over with the mixture and let sit out for 30 minutes to reach room temperature.
  5. Set roast, fat side up, on wire rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and roast meat until probe thermometer or an instant-read thermometer registers 118° for medium-rare, 2-3 hours. I usually check after 1.5-2 hours to see where I'm at. Let cool tented in foil for 30-40 minutes. The internal temperature will rise to 130° which is perfect. Slice into half inch pieces and serve.
  6. FOR THE POTATOES
  7. Preheat oven to 400 (I like to do this while the roast rests as the oven will already be at 400)
  8. Pour the whole baby potatoes into a medium size sauce pot, add the vinegar, ½ of the salt and enough water to cover the potatoes by 1". Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and let cook until fork-tender, 15-20 minutes.
  9. Melt the butter in the empty pot off the heat and add the potatoes back in.
  10. Toss to coat.
  11. Ling a baking sheet with foil and one at a time, place a potato down and smoosh it with the base of a large drinking glass. Repeat until you've smashed all your potatoes.
  12. Sprinkle them with the remaining salt and drizzle with olive oil and fresh ground pepper.
  13. Pop in the oven for until the edges start to crisp and brown, about 15-20 minute.
  14. Take out of the oven, flip all the potatoes over and roast for another 10-15 minute or until they're a beautiful golden brown.


DisclaimerI am part of a Holiday Campaign sponsored by Sterling Silver Premium Meats and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

Smokey Espresso Rubbed Striploin Roast with Chimichurri Sauce

made in Partnership with Sterling Silver Premium Meats

Smokey Espresso Rubbed Striploin Roast with Chimichurri Sauce
Does your family celebrate the holidays with turkey in some form? There’s definitely no shortage of it from Thanksgiving to Christmas in our celebrations and the past few years I’ve found myself growing tired of the classic holiday bird.

This year, to combat the inevitable turkey fatigue, I decided to try adding a truly unforgettable Roast Beef to our annual holiday table. Perhaps not the roast beef you may recall from your childhood table, the one that was overcooked and dry-as-a-bone, but one that’s rich with flavour, juicy and savory and has has guests asking for the recipe and family demanding it be new tradition in the holiday kitchen. This week on The Gouda Life we’re exploring just that, two recipes that offer a modern take on the classic roast so if you, too, are fatigued with your meat options over the holidays you can add something new to the spread that will have your guests taste buds weeping with joy.  Not to mention, the leftovers make the greatest sandwiches so there is no loss there, either. (more…)

Charcuterie & Pickle Skewers + Apple Shallot & Apricot Chutney

Charcuterie Pickle Skewers
The Holiday snacking table is one of my very favourite spots to hang out. It’s where the action happens – the good conversation, the sparkly cocktails and of course, the food.  I can spot a charcuterie or cheese board from a mile away – it draws me in like a laser beam. When all else fails and I feel that pang of hunger hit at a party, I know a few crumbles of cheese, some crackers and a salty slice of salumi will take care of it in a pinch.

The one thing I hold against a meat and cheese board is how handsy people get with the ingredients. Some of it’s unavoidable, like when you’ve got paper thin sliced meats, like prosciutto, and don’t want to take 5 slices in one shot. On the other hand some of it is just bad manners, like deciding you don’t want to first piece you picked up so placing it back on the board. Among friends and family it’s not such a big deal, you have a general idea of where their hands have been 😬 but at a more formal event it can be a little icky.  Enter the charcuterie skewer. (more…)

Crispy Prosciutto with Figs, Roasted Hazelnuts and Parmesan Mousse

Crispy Prosciutto with Figs, Roasted Hazelnuts and Parmesan Mousse

Whoaaaaa. As December gets into it’s groove, our calendars are already filling up with Holiday gatherings and events and I don’t feel nearly ready.  It’s the same story every year; October hits and I smugly congratulate myself on realizing how imminent the Holidays are  and vow to get planning early. December hits and here I am, no plans! No freezer full of cookies! No lists or dog-eared recipes! Cue the annual panic.

Thankfully we don’t do a whole lot of the hosting around the Holidays and, instead, stick to bringing dishes with us to gatherings with friends and family. I do like to have some fun cocktail-style recipes in the back of my head in case company comes or we decide to host a last minute party (also an annual occurrence), so of all the things I didn’t do this year, I did manage to create a recipe worthy of the wonderful people I’ll be sharing the Holidays with and for once, I’ll let that be enough. Life is hard enough without the Holiday pressure, right? (more…)

Homemade Orechiette with Wild Mushrooms, Sage & Pancetta

HOMEMADE ORECHIETTE WITH WILD MUSHROOMS, SAGE & PANCETTA
Nothing says cozy like a bowl full of pasta. And if that pasta happens to be homemade… all the better! And if it’s Homemade Orechiette with Wild Mushrooms & Pancetta then things about to get real cozy, real fast. We have been working on some recipes to share with family over the holidays and this one is at the top of the list. It’s impressive, making your family think you’ve slaved for days and days (you won’t!), as well as hearty and stick-to-your-ribs delicious. Serve with some crusty bread and red wine and your Holiday hosting duties are done like dinner.

It’s taken me a very long time to work up the courage to attempt homemade pasta. Like bread and pastries, pasta has daunted me for years, scaring me into believing it was a task saved only for Nonnas and professional chefs. Well guess what, I am neither (though being a Nonna seems like a sweet gig) and somehow, someway I managed to mix, knead, cut, shape and cook a batch of delicious, toothsome, pillowy orecchiette in little more than 1.5hours. And now I feel like a real butthead for not having tried earlier. (more…)

Fried Hot Genoa & Egg Scramble

Fried Hot Genoa & Egg Scramble

I used to be a really great host; dreaming up themes and excuses to entertain, planning and executing seamlessly without a detail missed. Tables set with style and glasses never empty. Then I birthed a 10lb child that brought utter joy and complete chaos into our lives.

If you have children, I don’t have to explain why I am no longer a skilled host. I can hardly finish a sentence without forgetting what I want to say and I don’t know if I’ve finished a hot meal, uninterrupted, let alone cooked one without leaving something unattended to for far too long, in 2 years. We do generally host family dinner at our house, since it’s easier with all Ruthie’s “things” here to keep her entertained, but whenever possible we get the heck outta here and let someone else, someone far more competent, handle the hosting details. I can’t say I miss it all that much, if I can be honest with you. I’d rather bring an offering of food and a nice bottle of wine (potentially already sipped from – whoops!) (more…)