Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Lately, I've been modifying recipes to suit my mood. I know that seems so obvious, but it wasn't very long ago that I was completely unwilling to make a recipe without a measuring cup and measuring spoons at the ready. The only time my new found flexibility becomes a problem now is when I'm intending to blog about a recipe later.

On the other hand, when you're making pasta, concrete measurements don't seem to be that important, at least not to me. "A splash" of something is specific enough for me. I'm hoping you feel the same way, because I adapted G. Garvin's Super Simple Garlic Shrimp into Lemon-Garlic Shrimp Pasta, and you know what? I didn't measure a thing. Luckily, G. Garvin did, so I can still provide precise measurements for what he did. My contributions? Not so much (other than the pasta).

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp Pasta
Adapted from Make It Super Simple with G. Garvin
Serves 4

1.5 lbs. fresh (raw) shrimp
Salt and pepper
1/4 c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Crushed red pepper
3/4 c white wine
2 tsp lemon juice
1 lb. spaghetti or other "stringy" noodle
Chopped fresh parsley
Heavy cream (35% m.f.)
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1. Clean shrimp, peel and devein. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. When done, drain and set aside.

3. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper to hot oil. Saute just until garlic is beginning to brown. Add shrimp. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes or until shrimp is done (orange in colour).

4. Reduce heat to low. Stir in wine and lemon juice. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add a splash of heavy cream to taste--about 1/4 cup, in my case. Add cooked, drained pasta and stir to combine. Continue to heat on low until heated through. Sprinkle grated Parmigiano Reggiano over pasta to taste. Add extra salt and pepper to taste if desired.

5. Serve immediately, with extra Parmigiano Reggiano on top to taste.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Winning Wednesday: July 30, 2008

This Winning Wednesday has great timing. It's time for another Bloggy Giveaways, and that means a lot of generous bloggers are giving away a lot of cooking stuff!

I wish I was participating, but for some reason I thought the giveaway wasn't until the end of August, and I don't have a prize in order, unfortunately. I want to participate next time, though. Here's hoping I'll be more on top of things then.

Attention GTA readers: Longo's is giving away a KitchenAid stand mixer in a pie recipe contest.

My Wooden Spoon is finishing off its 3 months of giveaways with a bang: $100s in gift certificates and PayPal money.

Frantic Home Cook is giving away some Country Bob's products. This one may be US only.

Ramblin' Roads is giving away a family cookbook and some cute homemade kitchen items, like pot scrubbers and dish cloths.

Chocolate Bytes is giving away a copy of The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook. Sorry though, it's US only.

Pensieve is giving away some fun Paula Deen prizes! You're gonna need more butter.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Martha Stewart's Key Lime Tart

One of the benefits to skipping out on this week's round of Tuesdays With Dorie is that it's given me a chance to catch up on some of the other recipes I've been dying to try this summer. I just bought my first tart pan last weekend from Cayne's, and it's a 9", non-stick Wilton beauty. I just had to put it to use. I've also had a ton of limes hanging around in my fridge for mojitos that just never materialized, so it seemed only natural to make a Key Lime Tart.

That other baking guru, Martha Stewart, had the perfect recipe. Although my tart didn't slice as cleanly as hers, I loved the flavour. It was perfectly tangy, but not so sour that it was pucker-inducing. Next time I'll use the leftover egg whites to make a nice meringue on top, which will help to camouflage any imperfections in the serving.

Luckily, it was just for me and my boyfriend, and neither of us are ever very concerned about a dish's appearance when it tastes good.

My favourite sweetened condensed milk trick -- letting it thin out a little in a bowl of boiling water.

My imperfect but tasty little slice.

In case you missed the link earlier, click here for the recipe.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Winning Wednesday: July 23, 2008

A quick post before I head out for some Vietnamese food with a friend.

Hurry! My Sweet & Saucy is giving away a copy of Sweet & Simple Party Cakes, but the contest ends tonight.

Over at My Wooden Spoon, you could win one of two New West Knives. This is particularly exciting news to me because my boyfriend wants a good chef's knife for his birthday, and I'm still comparison shopping.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

For this week's Tuesdays With Dorie event, Amanda from Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake selected Dorie's Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler. Although the cherry tree in my landlords' backyard has reached the end of its yield for the year, I was excited to use some of the rhubarb in my freezer, especially in a combination I've never tried before. Cherry and rhubarb sounded like an enticing mixture. It seems lucky that I had some rhubarb frozen, since a lot of TWD-ers couldn't find any in their local grocery stores. Now that I think about it, I don't think I've seen some in a grocery store for awhile, either. Lucky me for having an ever-so-rare dash of foresight.

The homey cobbler topping was wonderful, and all of the ground ginger in the topping and the filling added an unexpected zing that I loved. But the rhubarb made the filling way too tart, in my opinion. I may even double the amount of sugar next time. The rhubarb and cherry flavour combination, though, sugar issues aside, totally made up for it. Yum. Not exactly a home run for my sweet tooth, but I'm looking forward to making this one again.

These aren't my finest photos; unfortunately most of them turned out atrociously blurry but looked perfectly sharp on my camera's viewfinder.

That's it for me. Head over to Tuesdays With Dorie to check out the full list of TWD bloggers!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fusilli in a Garlic Pancetta and Mushroom Cream Sauce

I had planned on blogging last Thursday night, but I came home to an unexpected surprise.

I probably don't have to tell you that gluing a walk-in closet's shelves to the walls and then reinforcing them with a few thin nails would probably be a bad idea. I guess my landlords didn't get that particular message, though, because when I got home, my closet looked like this:

My poor cookbooks! I expected to see a ton of screw holes in the wall... uh, no. Just a bunch of paint ripped off from the dried glue that, obviously, was never supposed to be used to hold up closet shelves. The closet has been repaired (sort of), so now I'm back in my bedroom and ready to blog.

My boyfriend bought me an early birthday present this weekend: a Cuisinart Chef's Classic 3-qt saucepan. Other than my cast iron dutch oven, I don't have a heavy-bottomed or non-stick pan, so this was sorely needed. Since he's so wonderful, he gave it to me almost two months early. We put it to good use right away and made a yummy pasta dish for dinner tonight.

Since I started blogging, I've been more inclined to cook without a recipe, and this pasta is probably my favourite invention so far. It's sort of like a carbonara sauce, but without the egg yolk.

Pasta in a Garlic, Pancetta and Mushroom Cream Sauce
Serves 2 (big portions)
250g pasta (we just used up what I had on hand, but anything that catches the sauce is perfect -- fusilli, penne, rotini, etc.)

1/3 cup diced pancetta
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup heavy cream (you can always add more or less)
1 tbsp minced garlic (we love garlic, but feel free to use less)
1/2 cup white wine
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp reserved pasta cooking water

Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. When draining pasta, reserve 2 tbsp. of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add pancetta and mushrooms and saute until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and shallots and cook 2-3 minutes more, until the garlic is slightly browned and the shallots are tender. Pour in white wine and bring to a low boil. Cook until the alcohol has evaporated and the sauce has thickened slightly--about 5 minutes. Add reserved 2 tbsp. of pasta cooking water to pan and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in cream.

Stir in salt, pepper, and Parmiggiano-Reggiano to taste. Add pasta to sauce and toss to combine. Serve with extra Parmiggiano-Reggiano.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Winning Wednesday: July 16, 2008

Just a quick post today--I'm off to make next week's Tuesdays With Dorie selection (cherry rhubarb cobbler).

This month, is giving away a cookbook a day to its members. I actually won one the other day and didn't realize til I logged on this morning. I don't even know what I won, strangely enough.

If you hurry, you can catch this one: Julia at Dozen Flours is having a brownie naming contest. If she picks your entry, you can win a Wilton baking pan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Pudding

I am so very happy that I joined Tuesdays With Dorie. For the second week in a row, I've made a recipe that I probably would've skipped on my own but ended up completely thrilled by. And in just two weeks I've made two things I'd never attempted before: homemade pie crust and now, homemade pudding. I'm not much of pudding kind of girl (yet I love custard and creme brulee, go figure), but I was quite impressed by this recipe. So too was my boyfriend, who was more than happy to polish off the leftovers. He's a chocolate dessert fiend, to be sure.

I thought I might have some issues in assembling this dessert since I don't own a food processor or a regular blender, but my immersion blender actually worked perfectly and, I have a hunch, greatly reduced the clean-up effort. The pudding was really smooth and it set perfectly. Although I didn't have any whipped cream available at the boyfriend's house, I did bring home a box of amaretti cookies as a garnish. I thought it added a nice contrast in textures and enhanced the flavour of the pudding, too. My boyfriend, on the other hand, could've done without the cookies. To each their own.

A big thank you to Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen for helping me expand my baking repertoire! And don't forget to check out the rest of the Tuesdays With Dorie bakers.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Baked eggs with cream and herbs

Sometimes it's hard to find the energy to cook. Even when you're passionate about cooking (and eating!), there will always be that night that makes it seem impossible to make something nutritional and homemade. For me, that night occurs every other Sunday, when I return from a weekend visit with the boyfriend at around 9pm, just in between bedtime and dinner time. I'm too tired to really cook, but too hungry to settle for a little snack.

One fast dinner option I never get tired of is the ultimate comfort food: eggs. Especially when they're drizzled with heavy cream and speared with slivers of buttered toast. Nigella Lawson and Laura Calder introduced me to the concept, and the beauty of it is that it's so customizable. When I got home last night, I wanted my eggs really rich: I wanted them with cheese and chives, too.

The method is simple. Heat your oven to 375F. Then boil a kettle of water. Meanwhile, for each egg you're planning on making, butter one ramekin. Sprinkle the ingredients you're craving in the bottom of the ramekins --no more than a couple of tablespoons per ramekin. Pick any cheese, herbs, meat, or veggies you'd like. Crack one egg in each ramekin, on top of the ingredients. Then spoon about 1 tbsp of heavy cream (a.k.a. whipping cream, 35% m.f.) on each egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the ramekins in a casserole dish and pour the boiling water into the casserole until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 15 minutes (for soft-baked eggs). Serve with toast.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A belated Canada Day photo post

The day after Canada day, my boyfriend's Italian grandparents left for a trip to visit their family back home. The rest of his family (parents, brothers, aunt, uncle, cousin, and him, too) will be following next month. His family threw a "Bon Voyage" party so everyone could get together one last time before the trip, and in typical fashion, they marched out the big guns: their army of homemade barbecues. My boyfriend's family (and friends) are quite handy. Not a single store-bought barbecue was used that day.

As hardcore carnivores, they even roasted a whole lamb. Alright, technically they're still omnivores, but you'll have a hard time believing it after these photos. PETA members: you have been warned.

This used to be a tank, until family friend Brian got a hold of it. Now it's a propane-powered lamb death trap. In the lower-right corner, you can see a homemade charcoal grill, made out of... um.. something metallic.

The poor, delicious lamb.

The lamb, all carved and ready to be devoured.

Lamb kebabs, now. Lots of lamb that day.

Sausages and chicken, cooked on a stainless steel sink-turned charcoal barbecue. We used this same one on Father's Day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Winning Wednesday: July 9, 2008

Katy of Sugarlaws is giving away a copy of The Man Who Ate the World.

Food Connect is giving you a chance to win a copy of Bistros and Brasseries if you submit a recipe.

Food Network Canada is giving away a copy of Bobby Flay's Grill It! Sweet! Pretty sure this is for Canadians only.

Vegan Soapbox is giving away a vegan cookbook! Although I'm definitely not a vegan, I used to be a vegetarian and dabbled in vegan cooking at the time. Vegan recipes can be damn tasty.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie

Alright, this post is seriously photo-heavy--sorry. But I couldn't help it; I'm excited. It's my first week as a Tuesdays With Dorie baker and I couldn't be happier about my decision to join the group, or this week's recipe: Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie. Kudos to Amy of South in Your Mouth, who chose the recipe.

To be honest, most of my photos were taken of the one lonely single-crusted blueberry pie I made with leftover crust -- I just couldn't get over how gorgeous the filling looked spilling out of the ramekin. But despite my usual aversion to pie crust (it's weird, I know), I went for the full double-crust, and I'm so glad I did.

Dorie Greenspan made me a crust convert. Not just me, but the boyfriend, too. We're both die-hard crust haters and yet this one had us drooling. Go figure. Boyfriend (side note: one of these days I'll come up with a more clever nickname or go for the classier first initial) swears it's the sugar, but I have my doubts. I'm pretty sure Dorie Greenspan is just a magician.

And I felt like a magician too when I turned this:

Into this:

Using only these two handy dandy tools:

I didn't know if I could make the crust successfully without a food processor, but it wasn't even that hard with a basic pastry cutter, and I felt way more accomplished than if I had just pressed a few buttons. With that said, I still wouldn't have minded to have been able to use a food processor. Convenience is a beautiful thing.

More food porn below!

Visit Tuesdays With Dorie to find the full list of food bloggers participating in this week's event. Have fun!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nigella Lawson's Ham in Coca-Cola

I have a confession: one of my favourite past times is downright trashy. I don't hunt 'coons or go cow tipping, so I suppose it could be worse. But I do have this nasty obsession with celebrity gossip, to the point that I read Lainey Gossip and Perez Hilton multiple times a day. It's definitely trashy, but it's fun.

Sort of like Nigella Lawson's Ham in Coca Cola. Lawson herself even dubbed the ham trashy in Nigella Bites.

The technique is simple and very unexpected, but the result is delicious. Braise ham in a ton of Coke, then apply a sticky-sweet brown sugar, mustard and molasses glaze, and broil the beast til it's browned and bubbly.

I've been meaning to try this recipe since I snagged a copy of Nigella Bites from a thrift store for only $3 about 5 years ago. Even though it took me 5 years to finally make it, it was definitely worth the wait. Although I overcooked the meat (I was working with a smaller ham than the recipe called for and my estimation skills were lacking that day, apparently), the sweetness and spiciness of the molasses and cloves really complemented the Coke. Big time.

I've never cooked with cola before, but I definitely will again.

Click here for the recipe.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Trish Magwood's Chocolate Upside Down Cake

This cake is every bit as good as it sounds. I made it when I was at the "in-laws" last weekend. They were kind enough to let me warm up the house a bit in order to bake this, but it was cold and rainy outside, so I didn't feel that guilty. I managed to sneak a piece before it disappeared -- two teenage sons, not including the boyfriend, and a wild pack of their equally hungry friends tend to make baked goods disappear pretty quickly.

Especially when it's chocolate upside down cake. Trish Magwood is a culinary genius. It seems so obvious and simple, and yet I hadn't even considered that a chocolate upside down cake was even possible. Magwood's cookbook, Dish Entertains, which I got the recipe from, is fantastic, and it's got the James Beard award to prove it.

I can't find the recipe online, which for me means that I probably shouldn't publish it. But this recipe from is very close to Magwood's recipe. The only real differences are that no actual chocolate is used in Trish's recipe (it's all cocoa powder), and the ingredients for the chocolate sauce are boiled together to form a syrup before being poured over the batter. Well, have at it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A very compact Winning Wednesday: July 2, 2008

Maybe I'm just suffering from post-long weekend fatigue, but I just couldn't find many contests for this week. Sorry!

Although it's July and no longer her birthday month, Sarah from The Delicious Life still has a few cookbook giveaways currently open. Check 'em out.

If you're interested in a challenge, Canadians (at least, I think it's only for Canadians) can participate in Food Network Canada's monthly cooking club challenge. Every month, Catherine of the Food Network blog, Food for Thought, awards a handful of participants cookbooks. This month's recipe is Anna Olson's Field Berry parcels. I wish I was participating--the recipes are always so yummy--but I'm all berried out. I made that blueberry clafoutis last weekend, and for my first ever round of Tuesdays With Dorie, I'm making blueberry pie. I don't want to put myself off of berries (if that's possible!), so I'm sitting this one out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Seasonal Ontario Food's Fruit Clafoutis

Ed. Note: I sort of goofed this post up. I originally wrote it Thursday but wanted to post my Mmm...Canada entry first. But I forgot to change some of the words in the post to reflect the change! I've changed the wording now, but wanted to be ethical and let you know.

Happy Canada Day!

I picked up a pint of blueberries from the grocery store last week, and since then they've just been sitting in the fridge, completely useless. I needed them when I saw them -- had to have them -- but didn't know what to do with them. So Thursday night, with the long weekend fast approaching, and knowing the fruit was likely to spoil over the weekend, I found the perfect recipe: Ferdzy of Season Ontario Food's Fruit Clafoutis.

What I loved about this recipe was its flexibility; you can use a variety of fruits. In my case, I had one lonely pear sitting in the fridge, so I made a blueberry-pear clafoutis. I also didn't have the lemon zest the recipe calls for, so I added a bit of vanilla extract instead to make up for the loss of flavour. The result was wonderful -- sort of like a baked apple pancake (one of my mom's best dishes; you can find a similar recipe here). I've never made clafoutis before and based on the name thought it would be complicated, but I was wrong.

You can check out Ferdzy's lovely recipe here.

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