food amongst family and friends

Pork Sugo with Cavatappi and parmigiano curls November 29, 2011

Filed under: Mains,Pasta,Pork,Sauces — blisteringlydrunk @ 9:33 am
Tags: , ,

I was in the market for a good, cook all day, warm you up, Sunday type dinner when I came across this recipe, which more than got the job done. This is a nice combo of simple ingredients and simple flavours that beautifully compliment each other, and because of that, you want to make sure you are using good quality ingredients; make sure you are using a cut of pork that will break down with slow cooking, butt or shoulder cuts are ideal; use good parmigiano reggiano and slice it off with a vegetable peeler to get long, thin curls that you really taste on top of the pasta, instead of grating it; use a red wine that you really like (you get to drink the rest of the bottle while you are eating this, after all), not something that’s just cheap; fresh thyme, not dried if you can swing it. Oh, and this really does need to be salted to bring out the flavours, so don’t be afraid to add that in here. Should serve 4-6 adults depending on how hungry everyone is.

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 lb pork butt or shoulder roast

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

2/3 cup dry red wine (think big and bold)

3 cups of tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (good quality canned tomatoes would probably work here, but I used frozen ones from my garden)

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb cavatappi or other short, thick pasta (fresh if you can get it)

parmigiano reggiano for serving

1. Generously salt and pepper the pork. Heat oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot just big enough to hold the roast (I used my 2L enameled cast iron casserole). Add pork and cook until golden brown on all sides.

2. Remove pork to a plate and drain off all but 1 Tbsp of oil. Add garlic, onions, and carrots (I chopped all of mine in the food processor) and cook, stirring, until they have started to brown; this will bring out the sweetness of them, and add to the flavour.

3. Add the red wine and deglaze the pot. Bring to a boil to burn off the alcohol, then add the tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme, along with the pork.

4. Make sure the pork is as submerged as possible, then cover with a lid slightly ajar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer for 3 hours, turning pork every 45 minutes if it’s not completely submerged.

5. Remove pork from pot and use two forks to shred the meat; it should come apart fairly easily at this point. Use a spoon to take any excess fat off the top of the sauce (I removed a couple of tablespoons, but my meat wasn’t overly fatty, some cuts might require more), leaving a little behind for flavour. Add the pork back to the sauce and, if necessary, reduce to desired thickness, adding salt and pepper to taste at this point.

6. Meanwhile, cook your pasta accordingly to just shy of al dente. Drain and add to sauce (in my case I added the sauce to the pasta pot) and heat through, allowing the pasta to cook the rest of the way in the sauce.

7. Serve with big curls of parmesan and that lovely red wine you bought for yourself!




Trail mix cookies November 23, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cookies — blisteringlydrunk @ 12:09 pm
Tags: , ,

I can’t believe this hasn’t been posted yet. Easily my all time favourite cookie recipe, plus the only one I can truly claim as my own. I’ve made it and tweaked it and made it and tweaked it what feels like thousands of times, but I think the recipe has finally reached its pinnacle. I made them this time in an effort to use up some Halloween candy (they’re not usually this colorful), so they are a little less healthy than usual, but mostly, these are cookies, but not terrible for you cookies. Plus they have a long shelf life; they will be fine in a cookie jar on the counter for a couple of weeks, which is a nice change from the cookies that need to be eaten or frozen within 12 hours of coming out of the oven. These are always a hit with adults and children alike and please personalize the trail mix part of the cookie to suit your preferences, that’s what really makes the cookie.

Makes 3 dozen good sized cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter or tahini (for a nut free version)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 cups oats (or 2 1/2 cups oats and 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ)

1/3 cup coconut (toasted or not, to your preference)

1/2 cup dried fruit (cherries or cranberries are my favourite)

1/2 cup seeds or nuts of your choice (I usually use pepitas, walnuts, or pecans)

1 heaping cup of chocolate chunks or smarties or a combination of both

1. Preheat oven to 325 and line your cookie sheets with parchment or silicone.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together (I use my electric mixer) butter and peanut butter/tahini until smooth and slightly fluffy. Beat in sugars until fluffy again, then beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon.

3. In a small bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture, stirring with a large wooden spoon now. Stir in oats, coconut, fruit, seeds, and chocolate.

4. At this point I usually grab a big hunk of dough and make a ‘snake’ with it, then break off in chunks (about 1 Tbsp each) to put on the cookie sheet. Flatten slightly.

5. Bake for about 13 minutes or until just starting to get golden on the bottom edge of the cookie. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.




Creamy potato, sausage and kale soup November 18, 2011

Filed under: Sausage,Soups — blisteringlydrunk @ 2:49 pm
Tags: , ,

I happened upon this recipe while taking a quick look at a site Meagan had recommended to me (based entirely on the amazing kitchen this women has) and knew that I would be making it soon, as it seemed somewhat fated considering I had just received two cases of sausage from a friend’s fundraiser. It was late and dark by the time I took this picture, so don’t judge this entirely on that; this was spicy and rich, with an earthy balance in the potatoes and kale. All round a lovely soup, and I’m not usually inclined towards creamy soups. That said, I could not bring myself to use the sheer amount of cream in the original recipe, and opted for whole milk instead, which is how I’ve written it here. Also, choose your sausage carefully, as it’s flavour will permeate and define the whole soup. I used Spolumbo’s spicy Italian, which turned out to be a little too spicy for my children, but perfect for me. I think I will probably go for half spicy Italian and half chicken apple in the future. Unless you know of a nice, sweet mild Italian sausage (Missing Link at the Calgary Farmer’s Market makes an excellent chicken one), which would be perfect for a not so spicy version of this soup. Whatever you choose, just make sure you like the sausage. This should serve 6, heartily, with a sweet bread to tame the spiciness, we had this one.

1 bunch kale, cleaned and torn or chopped into bite sized pieces

5 medium to large potatoes (red would be best), thinly sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 big Italian sausages (see suggestions above)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (not chili flakes, unless you are really looking for some heat)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 1/2 cups whole milk

a large glug of coffee cream (for richness, at the end)

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until just soft. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a stock pot, remove sausage from casings and cook over medium heat, making sure to break up the sausage quite fine. About halfway to cooked, add the onions. Cook, stirring, until onions are soft and the sausage is cooked through.

3. Add red pepper flakes, oregano, broth and milk. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

4. Taste here, and add salt and pepper as needed. Add potatoes and cream, then stir in the kale. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until kale is cooked and potatoes are heated through.




Walnut Gorgonzola shortbread November 17, 2011

Filed under: Appetizers,Baking,Cookies,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:28 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Simple, easy, delicious, pairs perfectly with red wine; need I say more?

Oh, and you can freeze the dough to take out, slice and bake whenever you feel like it.


1/2 cup butter, room temp

1 cup crumbled gorgonzola (or other blue cheese of your choice)

1 cup flour (I think you could do half spelt, half all purpose here, though I tried it with all AP. Just depends on how rich you want it)

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (again, feel free to mix it up with the nuts)

1. Beat butter and cheese together until well blended, but lumps of cheese are good, so don’t go for perfectly smooth. Stir in flour and nuts.

2. Shape into a log, then wrap in plastic and put in fridge for an hour or so to firm up, or place log in a ziploc and freeze it.

3. Slice log into 1/4 inch slices and bake on parchment lined cookie sheets at 350 for 10 minutes or until the bottom edge of the cookies are just starting to turn golden. If you have frozen the log, you are going to want to thaw it a bit before slicing.




Homemade Perogies – easier than you think November 14, 2011

Filed under: Mains,Make Ahead,Sides,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 3:47 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s been a while since I’ve made these and I kept thinking it was going to be a ton of work. Apparently I had forgotten the fact that the last few times we made these, a bunch of us got together and made something like 48 dozen perogies. Turns out, when you are only making 4 or 5 dozen, and you have a few extra hands, its really easy and fun. Plus it made for an excellent dinner party theme, where you put all of your guests to work and then feast on the results at the end. This time, I went with a simple filling of potato, bacon bits, onion, and romano cheese, but there really are no rules here. I have made butternut squash and chili honey perogies, cottage cheese and dill, sauerkraut is great mixed in with any potato filling, and berries and cream cheese mixed together make amazing dessert perogies. So mostly this is a recipe for the dough and the method and you get to go from there. Have fun!

4-5 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

1 1/2 cups warm potato water

2 Tbsp olive oil

1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 4 cups of flour and salt. In another bowl, combine egg, water, and olive oil. Add wet to dry and stir until a shaggy dough comes together. Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead, adding flour as necessary until dough is smooth and elastic, but still a little sticky.

2. Cut dough into 3 or 4 smaller pieces. Grab a piece and roll out until quite thin; this will take some work, so be patient and eat your spinach before you start. Using a wide mouthed cup (or a round cookie cutter), cut circles out of dough.

3. Add about 1 heaping teaspoon of filling to each circle and fold dough over, pinching edges to seal. Set on a cookie sheet or platter until ready to cook. Repeat with remaining dough until finished. (The dough is very easy to work with, and it won’t hurt it to be rolled and re rolled a bunch of times). At this point, the perogies can be frozen on their trays and then transferred to freezer bags. They will stay good for a month or two in the freezer, but the older they get, the tougher the dough becomes, so don’t leave them too long.

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the perogies. Meanwhile melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium low heat (add onions to this if you want, just make sure to slowly soften them in the butter, don’t fry them up crispy. Or, for dessert perogies, add a little brown sugar and cinnamon). As the perogies float, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the skillet. Cook perogies in the butter for another 5 -10 minutes and then serve with sour cream or yogurt.

Notes on filling:

I filled my 3.8 L pot with peeled chopped potatoes (about 6-8 big ones), which I boiled until soft, then drained and mashed. I then added 6 strips of crisply fried and crumbled bacon, about 2 small chopped and lightly fried onions, and 1 to 1 1/2 cups of shredded romano cheese, plus salt and pepper to taste. We ended up using about 2 1/2 batches of dough to use up our filling, which made approximately 8-9 dozen perogies. I know these aren’t exact measurements, but I’ve never made perogies using any measurements, so this is really narrowing it down for me.

Also, if you want to try the dessert perogies, I usually start with a couple cups of berries and a quarter cup – ish (depending on the sweetness of the berries) of sugar and a Tbsp or so of cornstartch. Heat the berries and sugar in a saucepan until hot with the juices cooking out, then stir in the cornstarch and heat until thickened. You can just use this as filling or you can cool that down and add in some cream cheese (my favourite). The dessert perogies would also be awesome served with Totally Evil Drunken Sauce and maybe some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.





Parmesan Orzo November 7, 2011

Filed under: Pasta,Quick and easy,Sides — blisteringlydrunk @ 9:20 am
Tags: ,

Parmesan orzoLooks like rice, tastes like heaven.  And my husband claims he doesn’t like pasta (I think it’s just peer pressure), and so I can fool him into thinking it isn’t…  I’ve made this as a side very often, and it’s a great “under” dish (see Greek prawns over orzo).  Here’s where this came from.

The basics

1 c orzo, uncooked
1 T butter
2 1/2 c liquid (I use half chicken stock, half water)
¼ c grated parmesan cheese
2 T fresh torn basil leaves, or a couple of shakes of freeze dried
pinch salt
fresh ground black pepper

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium sized saucepan. Add the orzo, and stir around until coated with butter and slightly brown. Add the liquid, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes, stirring frequently. When the liquid is mostly absorbed, turn the heat off and add the parmesan, basil, salt and pepper.  Serves 4 as a side dish, or two as a main (um, in my world.  Perhaps it serves 4 as a main if you aren’t as into cheesy pasta goodness as I am).  Cheers!  Ren


Greek prawns over orzo

Filed under: Fish and Seafood,Mains,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 9:10 am
Tags: ,

Prawn and orzoOne of my undergrad go-to meals was prawns sautéed in lots of butter and garlic thrown over Rice-a-Roni.  This is basically the grown-up version.  The gal at alwaysinthekitchen has convinced me that orzo is also my new best friend, and I’ll post that separately, ’cause I know you’re going to want to access it a lot…

The topping

2 c of frozen, peeled prawns (I just used a whole bag – you really can’t go wrong with too many prawns…)
1 c of halved grape tomatoes
1 crushed garlic clove
4 T of Greek-style vinaigrette (I used Renée’s Greek Feta dressing), divided
6 kalamata olives, diced (yes, 6.  I found them to be a very powerful flavour, so I would keep them to a minimum)
1/4 c torn basil, or a couple of shakes of freeze-dried basil
1/4 c crumbled feta

Thaw prawns under cold water, strain and pat dry with paper towel.  Mix with 1 T of the vinaigrette.

Throw prawns in an oiled skillet on high heat and sauté for about 3 min., or until prawns have just turned pink (don’t overcook).  Remove prawns and set aside, and combine in the skillet the tomatoes through olives.  Cook until heated through, about two minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the prawns back in the mix, combine it all together and serve it over the orzo, topping with the basil and feta.  Dig in!  Ren