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 ūüė¨ 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…)

Za’atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce

Za'atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce

Pizza night is a fairly regular thing around here. It’s quick to make if you plan properly and can be made with literally¬†anything¬†we have in the kitchen and be guaranteed to be delicious. From a pie topped with sauteed greens and a few fried eggs to a slice with hot peppers and pineapple (a personal fave – don’t even get me started on pineapple haters!), there is pretty much always a way to make pizza work in a crunch. When I opened my PC Black Label Black Box this month to find some 00 Farina Fine Wheat Flour and a jar of Pizza Sauce I knew pizza was in the works. But in the spirit of the #PlayWithYourFood campaign, I felt that pizza was a little too common and predictable. This campaign is all about getting creative and experimenting. (more…)

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones
From the second my eyes pop open in the morning, my stomach is growling, ready to book it to the kitchen and fuel up. But, with a 2 year old to think about first, I often miss my hunger window and then settle for barely room temperature coffee and table scraps from said 2 year old (spoiler alert: sad mushed bananas and soggy toast with the PB licked off).  I needed to add an in-between that would just fill me up enough until I had a few minutes to make a smoothie or a bowl of yogurt/granola.

Now, before you tell me that crispy butter-rich, cheese swirled scones aren’t a suitable substitution for a healthy breakfast, I¬†know.¬† Lord help me, I¬†KNOW.¬†¬†But waking up and popping one of these super-savory scones in the oven for a few minutes and then, hold on to your horses, slicking it with just a bit more hot butter makes waking up a TREAT.¬† I know I’ll be able to pack vegetables and grains into the rest of my day, so I’m here for morning indulgence if it means heading into the day with a happy belly. (more…)

Bacony Baked Beans with The Works

Bacony Baked Beans with the Works

If you’ve ever read the blog¬†Smitten Kitchen, you’re familiar with Deb Perelman’s particular style of effortless but soul-satisfying recipes, and they don’t come without a healthy dose of humour either. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to come out from whatever rock you’ve been living under and get with the program, man.

Over the years I’ve come to trust her recipes the same way you might a well-loved family cookbook passed down through generations. They’ve weaved themselves into our every day, providing warm comfort on cold days¬†(baked potatoes with wild mushroom¬†rag√Ļ), inspiration when you’ve shot yourself in the foot by promising a wedding cake (hazelnut brown butter cake), or a salad that goes the distance in 30 degree heat (skirt steak salad with blue cheese). Reading her entries on the blog feel akin to sitting down for coffee with an old friend. (more…)

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie
I am a big fan of contrasting flavours, finding that¬†perfect¬†balance between salty and sweet, vinegar and salt, fat and acid. When you bite into somthing that hits that harmony, all the tastes aligned, it’s heaven. If something is just sweet, I generally decline. But if it’s sweet with some acid or salt, I’m definitely going in for a bite.

I made these Crostini with that in mind. Creamy, lucious brie drapped over a salted crostini and topped with sweet & herbal honey/thyme roasted pears, fatty pine nuts and the ingredient that truly brings it all home, the Borettane Onions.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie

Borettane onions (from Boretto, Italy) are similar to a pearl onion and known for their flat, saucer-like shape. Often pickled in aged balsamic, they are juicy with an incredible sweet/sour flavour that -pop- when added to cheese boards, sandwiches, charcuterie or pizza.  They make a killer topping or addition to a host of fatty/creamy dishes, cutting through the richness with their tangy sweetness and would be hella good with grilled beef or portabello dishes. When I opened the jar, my mouth started watering immediately. They smelled savory and rich at first, but on first bite they are sweet/sour heaven.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie

I received these Borettane onions from President’s Choice Black Label Collection as a part of their #PlayWithYourFood campaign. For the next few months they’ll be sending me two fun ingredients to play with each month and I’m tasked with experimenting and coming up with a fun recipe to share with you all. This month I recieved both the onions and the Hot Cherry Peppers. Both would make an enticing addition to a cheese board, but these peppers have plans for a pasta dish with lots of lemon, pepper, basil and Parmesan.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie
Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie
serves 6-8 as an appetizer

2 large pears, sliced in half & cored
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 small baguette, sliced thin (about 15-20 pieces)
olive oil
sea salt
1 200g wheel brie
6-8 President’s Choice Black Label¬†Borettane Onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
honey, for garnish
fresh thyme, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.
In a small dish whisk together the olive oil, honey, salt/pepper and thyme leaves. Whisk well to combine. Rub down the pear halves with the honey-thyme mixture. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until browned and soft.¬† Let them cool until yoou can comfortably handle them, then slice into 1/2″ strips lengthwise.

Once pears come out, place baguette slices on a clean cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until golden and crisp. Watch closely so you don’t burn the bread.

Top crostini with a slice of the brie and follow with 1-2 pear slices, a few thin onions and a sprinkle of pine nuts. If you like, a drizzle of honey and some fresh thyme on top make them extra special. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.


Disclaimer: I am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

 

Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies

from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh

Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies
There is a reason you don’t see a whole lotta baking on The Gouda Life. Sure, maybe a yeasted bun here or a galette there, but for me baking requires great concentration and even greater restraint. Two skills I am sorely lacking in.

Recently¬†a blog I helped co-found in 2014 with 4 other Canadian food bloggers, BAKED, has relaunched with an updated crew of contributors¬†and a mess of new and drool-worthy recipes. Taking part in BAKED has always proven challenging for me as a non-baker, but each new recipe pushes me to learn more, work harder and reach new goals in the kitchen. Though the recipes on the blog are savory and sweet, I like to try and challenge myself with the latter as it’s something I shy away from if left to my own devices.

Sweet by Ottolenghi & Helen Goh
If you catch me getting down with a cookie or a slice of cake, it is likely a very good cookie or slice of cake. And if I happened to, by the grace of someone holy, bake it myself, I probably followed along with a cookbook or blog that gave clear and concise instructions. Otherwise you would probably find me in a dark corner holding on to my block of cheese and shaker of salt, crying like a scared child.

This is why I am perfectly smitten with Sweet, the latest cookbook from famed Ottolenghi & longtime friend and contributor Helen Goh.¬†¬†Sweet¬†features simple treats such as Chocolate Banana and Pecan cookies and Rosemary Olive Oil Orange Cake, alongside recipes for showstopping sweet treats like Cinnamon Pavlova with Praline Cream and Fresh Figs and Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee, Walnut, and Rosewater. The exotic flavour profiles that Ottolenghi has become celebrated for are present still, but this time with a sweet twist that transforms them into something alltogether new. I appreciate that it has a little bit of something for every type of baker, those who burn toast and those who build magnificent structures out of sugar. Aside from that fact, it is quite simply a¬†stunning¬†piece of work to have in your collection of coffee table/cookbooks. I’m so looking forward to cooking my way through some of the more advanced recipes to challenge myself (deep breaths).

Chocolate, Banana, and Pecan cookies

I wanted to start somewhere simple so I decided to go with the decadent and gooey Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies from the book. The cocoa and dark chocolate chips provide a hit of bitterness against the sugar that’s both in the cookie batter and hugging the cookies themselves (giving them a thin crispy sugar coating. yuuuu-hum!).

Truly, I¬†love¬†this recipe; when the cookies are baked properly they are just barely set in the centre so still a bit oozy when fresh from the oven – begging for a hot cuppa something to wash them down with.¬† The banana and nutty pecans that toast lightly during baking scented the air like banana bread and daaaang, I wish I could have bottled it up for a rainy cold day and spritzed it all over myself. All in all, these cookies are W I N N E R S and I’ll be making them again and again and again.

Chocolate, Banana, and Pecan cookies

Sweet by Ottolenghi & Helen Goh

Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies
makes approx. 2 dozen

8 tbsp room temperature butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup + 2 tsp granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 1/2 tbsp Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or 3 1/2oz dark chocolate, chopped
2oz (1/2 small) ripe banana
1 1/3 cups pecan halves, finely chopped
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachement (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer). beat on medium speed until the butter and sugar and light and fluffy. Add the gently beaten egg little-by-little until incorporated.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt and then add to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed for 15 seconds. Beat in the chocolate chips and banana and then place the bowl in the fridge to firm up for at least 2 hours (I left mine overnight).

When it’s firm, use your hands to roll the mixture into 1″ balls. You may have to wash your hands a few times during this process as some of the chocolate will stick to them and start to build up. Place the finely chopped pecans in a small bowl and roll the dough balls in them, pressing so the pecans stick into the dough. They should be completely coated in pecans.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the dough balls on there, no need to space out, before placing in the fridge for an hour. They can stay like this until you’re ready to bake (for up to 2 days in fridge, 3 months in freezer).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 and line two baking sheets with parchment.¬† Place the confectioners sugar in a small bowl and roll the cookie balls in the sugar, rolling around and pressing gently so it sticks.¬† Place on your lined cookie sheet 1″ apart. Flatted the cookie balls to 1/3″ and bake for 10 minutes in your preheated oven. Gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool, they will be soft to the touch and are best eaten warm so dive in after they’ve had a few minutes to cool down.

 



Copyright ¬©2017 by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. Photographs copyright ¬©Peden+Munk. All rights reserved. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House¬ģ, a division of Random House LCC.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip
Since having our daughter, we spend¬† a whole lot more time at home. Friends and family, gratiously so, almost exclusively come to us and the days of “hmmm…let’s just go out to eat and see a movie” are not as simple as they used to be.

We’re lucky that we love to host and luckier that our friends and family don’t mind schlepping out here to come to us. When they do, we try to greet them with a good time and even better food. Homemade snacks and cocktails and a pile of good board games usually does it.

Caramelized Onion Dip

The snacks I tend towards for game nights are often a tip-of-the-hat to the chemically-based, boxed and powdered delicacies of my youth. Something about a bowl of gelatinous, gritty, sour-creamy french onion dip comforts me in a way only nostaligic food can. But as a home cook and someone very aware of  that fact that real ingredients make far superior dishes, I know that we can do better than that box of sodium-laden soup mix to pump up a tangy, creamy base full of flavour. The secret lies in all those delicious sugars that come out when you caramelize a humble onion.

While not what I would call healthy per se, it is pure comfort and nostalgia while remaining simple enough to throw together at any given time. Whether you’re hosting game night or just looking for a smooth and creamy dip to serve with a bag of chips or crostini, give this updated Caramelized Onion Dip a whirl. I dare you to tell me it doesn’t take you back to the 80s/90s living room table with a bag of Ruffles.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip
serves 8-10 as a snack

Notes:
-I opted to slice the onions thin as I like a big bite of onion in each bite. If you have little ones or someone that doesn’t LOVE onions, I would suggest dicing them small prior to caramelizing. It will create a more uniform dip consistency.

-You want a really creamy base for this dip so don’t skimp on the fat in the sour cream. I used Gay Lea’s 14%mf version because it’s got a great tanginess and creaminess to it.¬†

2 tbsp olive oil
3 small (2 large) red onions, sliced thin or diced
1 1/2 cups Gay Lea Original sour cream
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
kettle chips, to serve*

In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, start to sweat the onions down with a few piches of salt and pepper. Stir every 5 minutes or so, giving them a few really good turns so the ones on top make it to the bottom. Don’t stir them too often, you want them to get lots of colour without burning. If you notice them starting to char or get too brown too quickly, turn the heat down. Cook the onions until they have significantly, almost 50%, reduced in volume and are deep golden brown and sweet, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Reserve 1/4 of the onions for garnish if you like.

Fold together the cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl until smooth. Add the garlic powder and 3/4 of the onion mixture and fold together. Spoon into a large serving dish and smooth out. Top with remaining onion mixture.

Serve with chips or baguette.

*I like to pour the bag of chips onto a baking sheet and cook at 300 for 5-6 minutes until they are warmed. It’s not a necessary step, it just takes things up a notch with the warmed chips.


PTPA & Gay Lea Pie Face
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Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.