food amongst family and friends

Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Orange April 14, 2013

Filed under: Mains,Pasta,Pork,Quick and easy,Thrifty — blisteringlydrunk @ 11:45 am
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Pasta is the ultimate treat-night meal to me. I gravitate to pastas that use simple ingredients and are light on the sauce, but big on flavour. Don’t get me wrong, I like a big bowl of saucy spaghetti and meatballs as much as the next person, but I most often seek out recipes that come together quickly and rely on one or two key ingredients to make the meal sing.

I came across this Bon Appetit recipe a couple years ago, bookmarked it, and finally made it last night. It sounds a bit unusual – the two key flavours are orange and prosciutto – but fear not, the result is a salty and ever-so-sweet pasta that tastes interesting rather than unusual.

My tips are this: (1) Go to your nearest Italian market and buy a great quality, egg based tagliatelle. It doesn’t need to be expensive – mine was $2. (2) Find a super ripe, fragrant orange. (3) You want to serve this as soon as it’s ready. Once you get to the last step, call your husband/wife/kids/guests to plant around the table and fill their plates the minute the pasta is done.

Did I mention this is really easy? There’s hardly any chopping, the sauce only cooks for about 5 minutes and all the ingredients are easily sourced. You can have dinner on the table in the time it takes to boil your pasta. Hope you love it!


serves 4

12 oz egg tagliatelle or fettuccine (fresh or dry will work, just get a great quality pasta)
2 T butter
2 oz prosciutto OR 3 stips of bacon, sliced/torn into small pieces
zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup whipping cream
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt, add pasta and cook until 1 minute before al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto/bacon; sauté until browned, about 3 minutes.
To the saute pan, add half the reserved pasta water, orange juice, half of zest and cream; bring to a boil. (Now it’s time to get everyone gathered around the table.) Add pasta and cook, stirring, until the sauce coats the pasta and the pasta is al dente, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Working quickly, stir in cheese and taste – add more salt and pepper as desired. You can add more pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. Divide among warm bowls and sprinkle with remaining orange zest.

Pasta with Prosciutto and Orange

close up


Dark Chocolate and Brandy Pots de Creme April 7, 2013

pot de creme This is your fast track to a rich, silky dessert tonight. It took me all of about 5 minutes to whip these up.

Pots de creme are a custard of sorts, traditionally composed of eggs and cream, then baked in a water bath.  This recipe ditches the cream and opts for hot coffee, which you blend with the chocolate and eggs. The heat from the coffee thickens the eggs, giving you the same result you would get whisking the eggs and cream over heat. Did that make any sense? What I’m trying to say is that this is even less work than a traditional pot de creme and the result is still silky smooth deliciousness.

I grabbed the recipe from Pioneer Woman, where you can find step by step photos of the process. I adapted the recipe to suit my preferences – more booze, brandy instead of Grand Marnier, a little more salt and a smaller batch (because it’s dangerous for me to have 12 of these sitting in the fridge). I hope you love them!


makes 6 reasonable sized servings or 4 indulgent ones

6 oz good dark chocolate (I used Lindt), chopped
2 whole eggs
1 T Brandy (or Grand Marnier or whatever you feel like), possibly more to taste
generous pinch salt
1/2 cup HOT strong coffee
unsweetened whipped cream, for serving
optional: candied orange peel or thinly sliced fresh orange peel, for serving

Place the chocolate in your blender. Crack in the eggs, then pour in the Brandy and salt. Blend for a few seconds until the chocolate is busted up and everything is thoroughly mixed.

With the blender running, slowly pour your super hot coffee in a thin stream through the blender lid until it’s all added. Blend another few seconds until smooth. Taste and add more Brandy or salt if desired.

Pour mixture into small cups or jars. Throw them in the fridge until set – it will take about 2 hours. You can easily make these ahead and keep them in the fridge for a day or two.

Top with a big dollop of whipped cream and garnish with sliced orange peel. Dig in!

Tip: I like making these in jars so that I can easily screw on a lid and store them for a few days. Even the whipping cream will stay fresh stored like this for 2 days.



Fresh Spring Rolls and Peanut Dipping Sauce March 7, 2013

Filed under: Appetizers,Mains,Quick and easy,Thrifty,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:34 pm
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My weeknight meal requirement checklist looks something like this: healthy, delicious, packed with veggies, quick to throw together, cheap enough to make often. I give bonous points to recipes that are vegetarian or feel super treaty. For me, this meal checks off all the requirements while getting bonous points for being both meat-free AND treaty.

I have made these spring rolls in the past, but I’ve always treated them as a side dish and I was never crazy about the idea of packing them full of noodles. This time, I left out the noodles, loaded them with my favourite carrots and cukes from the farmer’s market and served them with what is now my go-to peanut sauce. (Seriously, the sauce is incredible. At first bite, I thought it was okay. As I continued to eat, I fell more and more in love with it. The red curry paste gives it a nice warmth while the toasted peanuts and caramelized sugar make it rich and complex. I want to eat some right now…) The result is a light and crunchy spring roll with a rich, filling, addictive dip.

Four to five rolls make a large and satisfying meal, or you could serve these as an appetizer with this tasty treat and trick your family into thinking you ordered take out. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Spring Rolls Close UpFresh Spring RollsPeanut Sauce, adapted from Fine Cooking:
yeilds 1.5 cups, or roughly 6 servings

1 T peanut oil
1 T Thai red curry paste (this is where all the heat comes from, so be aware of how spicy your paste is)
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, finely ground in a food processor
2 T packed light brown sugar (palm sugar could be used here, but go with the granulated variety, not the solid variety)
1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3 T fresh lime juice
2 T hoisin sauce
1 1/2 T fish sauce
8 fresh basil leaves, minced

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry paste, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the peanuts and stir until they’re just a shade darker, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue to stir and cook until melted and lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, broth, lime juice, hoisin and fish sauce. Whisk until smooth and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1-1/2 cups. This will take roughly 45 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the basil, and cool to room temperature.

Fresh Spring Rolls:
yeilds 10 medium spring rolls

4-5 small cucumbers, julienne
4-5 medium carrots, julienne
1/2 an avodaco, sliced
handful fresh basil
10 rice paper wrappers
green or red leaf lettuce (optional)
bean sprouts (optional)
fresh mint (optional)
shredded chicken or pork (optional)

Get a wide, shallow bowl filled halfway with warm water. Setup a work space with a cutting board,   all your prepped ingredients, the bowl of water, a plate to hold the spring rolls and a damp paper towel to cover the finished spring rolls.

Dip one rice paper in the water for 15-30 seconds until soft and pliable, then place it on your cutting board. On the top 1/3 of the wrapper, place carrots and cucumber (about 1/4 cup total), then add a slice of avocado, a big basil leaf and any other ingredients you are using. Tuck the top of the wrapper tightly over the filling, then roll away, folding in the sides about halfway. (For more thorough instructions, look here.) Place the finished spring roll on your plate and cover with the damp paper towel. Repeat with remaining rice paper wrappers.

Serve 5 rolls with 1/4 cup of the sauce. Dip and enjoy!


Korean style pork medallions with Napa slaw February 27, 2013

Filed under: Mains,Pork,Quick and easy,Salads,Thrifty — blisteringlydrunk @ 3:03 pm
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IMG_7674This was last night’s supper; so good, so fast, so easy and everyone ate it (even the cabbage, which is a miracle around here). I really can’t ask for anything more. Plus it felt like good take out from a Korean or Vietnamese place, which my family usually won’t be talked into, so it was a treat for me. The recipe was found in Fine Cooking’s Make it Tonight cookbook, which I borrowed from the library and sadly had to return yesterday. I have yet to try a Fine Cooking recipe that isn’t both complexly delicious and a crowd pleaser. I plan on putting this one into the regular rotation of easy weeknight suppers, and you should consider the same!


1 large pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 lbs)

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

3 Tbsp brown sugar

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp Sriracha

1 lb Napa cabbage, thinly sliced

1 cup grated carrot

4 green onions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)

4 Tbsp canola oil

1/2 tsp coarse (Kosher) salt

Hot, steamed jasmine rice for serving


1. Slice the pork into 1/2″ thick medallions and place in a medium bowl.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, garlic, ginger, 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil, and 2 tsp Sriracha (I cut this by about 1/2 tsp to avoid over spicing my kids and it was perfect, so if you like things really spicy, you may want to consider increasing the Sriracha). Add half a cup of this mixture to the pork medallions, stir well and set aside at room temperature for 1/2 hour or in the fridge for 2 hours.

3. Meanwhile, stir together 1 Tbsp canola oil, salt and remaining rice vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil and Sriracha. Toss with cabbage, carrots, and green onions. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving, tossing once more before dishing up.

4. Remove pork medallions from marinade, shaking off excess and discarding the marinade. Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Arrange half the pork medallions in a single layer in pan and cook for 2 minutes a side (at which point the pork should be cooked through, but cut through a big one to make sure). Heat remaining oil and repeat with remaining medallions (I had a big pan and was able to do it all in one batch).

5. To serve place 1/2 cup or so of rice in the bottom of a big bowl, layer a cup or so of slaw and top with pork medallions. Drizzle reserved sauce overtop. Makes 4-6 rice bowls, depending on how hungry you are.




This worked out to be about $2/serving, but if you have to go buy all of the ingredients it will feel like more; I had most of this in my house!




Odds and Ends Pasta January 4, 2013

Filed under: Mains,Pasta,Quick and easy,Thrifty,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 8:48 am
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20130101_132427I’m a sucker for pasta. And for recipes that help me make use of things like stale bread and about-to-go-bad coffee cream. And especially for recipes so comforting and delicious that you’re looking for an excuse to make them again. So for me, this recipe is a win.

It’s not exactly a recipe, more of a guideline, so I’ll just talk you through it. The result is a steaming bowl of pasta that’s gooey, crunchy and fresh all at the same time. It’s exactly what you want to eat when you have the house and a movie to yourself on a Friday night.


makes 1 hearty bowl of pasta

Gather up all your nearly-empty bags of pasta  and throw 2 handfuls of dried/frozen/fresh pasta into a pot of boiling water. While the pasta cooks, melt a spoonful of bacon drippings or butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Finely tear/chop 1 stale piece of bread and add it to the now hot bacon drippings. (You could also cook up 1-2 strips of bacon and crumble it instead of, or in addition to, the breadcrumbs.) Cook and stir the bread until nicely browned and crispy, then remove from heat. When the pasta is 2 minutes from al dente, add a handful of fresh or frozen veggies (peas, edamame, asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower would all work well) to the pot. Cook until pasta is al dente, then strain, reserving 1/2 C of the cooking water. Transfer the pasta back into the pot. Drizzle in 2-4 T of cream, stir, then add a handful of grated sharp cheese, a generous pinch of sea salt and hammer it with freshly ground pepper. Give it a good stir and add some of the reserved cooking water to loosen it, if necessary. Mix in the bread crumbs, being sure to use all the nice bacon drippings from the pan. Taste the pasta and add more cheese, salt and pepper as desired. Because this is a bowl of starch and cream, I find you need to give it a good hit of salt.


Enjoy with a blanket, a movie and glass of wine!



The best way to eat a sweet potato August 22, 2012

Filed under: Quick and easy,Sides,Thrifty,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 8:43 pm
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I realize there are several delicious ways to cook sweet potatoes. Roasted, mashed, made into yam fries, sliced and baked with apples (that’s my Grandma’s famous method)…I love them all. This just happens to be my all-time favourite way to eat sweet potatoes. You cut them into wedges or rounds before tossing them with a salty/sweet concoction and throwing them on the barbecue to get soft in the centre and crispy on the edges. I make these at least once a week in the summer and nearly as often in the winter. Try them with burgers, sandwiches, pork loin and almost anything. Enjoy!


1 large sweet potato
1 T dark brown sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
A good grind of pepper
1 small pinch dried red chili flakes
A good glug of olive oil
1 t fresh grated ginger (optional) (a shake of dried ginger will work in a pinch)

Toss everything together, then put the wedges onto a hot grill and cook 4 minutes per side, or until crispy on the edges.


Huevos Rancheros – my new easy egg dinner August 20, 2012

I’ve been attempting to hit the gym this summer for the first time since I was about 16, which was when I established that gyms just weren’t for me. Then I had kids, and gyms have babysitting, which yoga and running don’t have, so gym it is, at least while school’s out. The upside of the gym (one of them; it turns out the gym is not as bad as I remember, probably due to a long winded explanation I could provide about a creepy and lecherous gym owner in Sylvan), is that I have had a chance to watch a little Food Network while on the treadmill. Now this particular day, I did not remember my headphones, so I was watching a recipe in progress without actually hearing anything, but this is what I got out of it. Also, not having sound and not knowing any of the celebrity chef’s du jour, I don’t know who to credit for this, but she was blonde and looked like she was from the South, but maybe that was just the Mexican food. Anyway, I think I always thought that huevos rancheros was a great thing to make for yourself, but too much work to get 4 (or more) servings on the table at the same time. This changed that, as it’s done in the oven and you can make as many as you want at once, limited only by how many muffin tins you own. Not to mention, it’s pretty enough to serve to guests, fast and easy enough for an on the run weeknight dinner, and delicious enough to make me a convert my first time ever eating huevos rancheros. Try it!

For 6 servings

6 small tortillas, edges trimmed (I used flour, but if you had access to some good corn tortillas, that would work well here)

3/4 cup black beans, cooked (I used canned)

2 Tbsp salsa, plus extra for topping

salt and pepper to taste

6 large eggs

1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (I used a pepper jack which was good for me, but too spicy for the girls, cheddar would work here as well)

sour cream and fresh chopped tomatoes or salsa, for topping

1. Preheat your oven to 4oo and spray a six cup muffin tin, with cooking spray. Slice a line into each tortilla from the edge, about 3/4 of the way into the centre. This makes it easier to form them into nests in the muffin tin. Either brush the tortillas with oil, or spray with cooking spray on both sides, them place in tins, forming nests, or cups.

2. Stir 2 Tbsp of salsa into the black beans, along with plenty of salt and pepper. This is the only seasoning you are adding, so be generous. Place about 2 Tbsp of beans in the bottom of each tortilla cup.

3. Crack an egg into each cup and pop it in the oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the tortilla are nicely browned and the egg is just starting to set.

4. Take out, top each egg with a Tbsp or so of cheese, then cover the whole thing with tinfoil to prevent over browning the tortillas and pop it back in the oven for another 8 – 13 minutes, depending on how you want your eggs done. You should be able to press on the top of an egg to get a feel for how done the yolk is. We like ours medium, which took a total of about 20 – 22 minutes.

5. Remove from oven when egg is set to your liking and serve with sour cream and salsa or fresh chopped tomatoes (the kids preferred this option).



PS I didn’t price this out, but beans and eggs are always cheap. I would estimate under $7 for the whole meal, and that’s using free range eggs.