Halloween Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin & Cured Epidermis

The makings of a grown up halloween dish: seasonal squash, homemade squid Ink Pasta and “cured epideris”.

Well this year Halloween was not going to get away with just once post apparently. When I was hunting for black food coloring I came close to using squid ink in a sweet out of desperation to get my black color. My pastry chef friend Karyn saved that day … but now I really wanted to use the squid ink to. Fresh made Squid Ink Pasta to the rescue. Throw in some pumpkin for color and atmosphere, and a little bit of suspicious meat: Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin and Cured Epidermis.

Happy Halloween buaaahahahaha!

Squid Ink Pasta with Pumpkin and proscuitto

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Remembering the Daring Lis

The food blogging world suffered a big loss this week. It was no celebrity chef, cookbook author or writter, it was someone much more special than that. Lisa Cifelli, co-founder of The Daring Kitchen, passed away suddenly this week. Many food bloggers around the world will be posting a tribute to Lis on November 15th. I send my condelences to all of her family and close friends, particularly to Ivonne, Lis’ partner in crime in the Daring Kitchen adventure.

The Daring Kitchen was my first experience ever with a food group organizing monthly challenges and I particiapted for just over 2 years. It was my first real contact with other people like me, passionate about cooking and tangibly sharing the experience together. I had the pleasure of exchanging on quite a few occasions messages with Lis. During my time with the group I wrote a few articles and hosted 2 challenges. Lis was always there with encouragement and help, a joke, friendly words, a genuine kindness and a passion for this great group. I got to know her for a relatively short amount of time but she left quite a mark on me. I am sure there are hundreds of food bloggers who can retell the exact same story as me. She was a big influence and a mentor. It was a shock to hear of her passing.

Lis happily accepted my request for a guest post in the summer of 2010 when I went away on a holiday. I cannot think of a more fitting tribute than to repost her words and her recipe for Lasagna Rolls. I am glad there is a little piece of her here forever.

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Blueberry and Shaker Lemon Pie

The Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge is all about baking and making sweets. Every month we are given two required ingredients to work with. This month it was Blueberries and Lemon. Two awesome fruits that pair so well. Lemon desserts are so summery and refreshing. Blueberries are gorgeous little blue gems that I adore. I wanted to showcase them separately but in one dessert. So I did sort of a half-half stacked pie with my creation: a Blueberry and Shaker Lemon Pie.

lemon bluebryy pie 047

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Ariosto Italian Seasoning

I enjoying writing the occasional product review because it give me an chance to try foods or spices I would probably never discover otherwise. Often the items I get are not even available in Canada yet which is kind of funny. Most companies who contact me are located in the US even if the item is prepared on another continent. But this time it was an international company that sought me out directly…really cool. I received an email by the Ariosto company which is located in Italy. Ariosto seasonings, apparently one of the top selling spice brands in Italy, have been harnessing their craft for over 47 years.

Ah Italy, it is one of those countries that influenced me the most in my travels. If I could just pick up and go I would be looking for the best holiday deals right now and fly off to to this enchanting country.

Ξ  Tomato and Meat sauce Ξ

7gr tomato based pasta sauces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 17oz can of tomatoes, whole
1 pd ground beef

In a skillet heat olive oil and spices together for a minute until fragrant. Add ground beef and brown meat well until there is no more pink. Add canned tomatoes, bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer 20 min. Serve over pasta and sprinkle some freshly shaved Parmesan.

The flavor of the sauce was simple but good. I modified the suggested recipe of 1/4 pd of beef because I like my sauce meaty, and oh boy it was. Happy carnivore.

There are several mixes of the Italian seasoning spices to choose from. I tested the following:

  • Seasoning for tomato based pasta sauces: salt, garlic, basil, onion, carrot, parsley, leek, laurel, mint, caper.
  • Seasoning for roasted and fried potatoes: Salt, garlic, rosemary, sage, juniper, basil, marjoram, oregano, laurel, coriander, parsley.
  • Seasoning for roasted meats grilled chicken: Salt, rosemary, garlic, sage, juniper, laurel, oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil.
  • Also available seasoning for oven cooked or Barbequed Fish, Garlic and dry chilli, and for stewed Meat.

The potato seasoning was really excellent and flavorful. I par boiled the potatoes and fried them in a pan with lots of butter. The meat mix I used with a mild sausage that I removed from the casing and browned in a skillet with tons of sliced leeks. I found the sausage mix over salted but I may have used to much seasoning.

Homemade Pasta

Being part of a wonderful online community can be so rewarding. I have met online and some in real is many wonderful people from all over the world. Often you follow your new friend’s blogs regularly and comments are always mutually left. It can be quite inspiring.

But there is a dark side too! Oh yes you have to beware! A blog you follow can one day post a recipe that will become your obsession. You will not rest until you make this recipe yourself. Days can go by and you remain always haunted by the craving of replicating and tasting that recipe you read on XYZ’s blog. This post is dedicated to such a situation.

Homemade pasta! It was actually the second time Joumana posted a recipe about pasta in a relatively short period of time. I have made pasta in the past a few times but always thought it was so much trouble. But her two posts planted a deep rooted seed into my foodie subconscious: I wanted homemade pasta and I wanted it NOW! So I made my first batch at home and love it so much I called Stef and told him we were making homemade pasta that weekend. Turns out our friend Gege was in town too so she brought a long a rolling pin. No fancy pasta machines for us! The only condition was Stef asked if he could be in charge of making the sauce as well!

What attracted me to this recipe was the easy of making the dough. Three ingredients at minimum and a food processor. Unfortunately I did not keep track of Stef’s pasta sauce but I can assure you it was absolutely delicious. And he got to prepare it in his brand new Chef’s coat, a belated birthday gift he got from Gege that very day.

Easy Homemade Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces or 250 g. of all-purpose flour (if you have Flour 00, great!)
  • 2 eggs (large)
  • water
  • 1 ounce of steamed greens(spinach, frozen veggies, arugula, etc)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor place the steamed greens and the eggs; chop in the processor for 1 minute.
  2. Add the flour and process until the dough holds together. You may need to add water at this stage, try adding 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Knead briefly on the counter, cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  4. With a rolling pin and flour roll out as thin as possible and cut into your desired shape.
  5. Place in boiling water to cook for a few minutes. If not using the pasta right away let them air dry properly.

I found the trick to get your pasta thin with a rolling pin (and to save some energy) is to cut large strips when you feel there is no more stretch happening. Keep rolling and cutting down until you get it paper thin. It’s really worth the effort to get it as thin as possible. It’s a great group activity too, we had a manufacturing line going practically with 3 rolling pins.

We had so much fun preparing this dinner, especially with a cocktail or two in hand. And mishaps and silliness was on the menu too. The flour bag went flying off the counter onto to the flour and then we were just being plain silly goofing of with a black top and flour dusted hands. I debated on whether I should post that pic but you know what, cooking is also about having fun and not having to take yourself to seriously…so you get to see me in a silly moment.