Friday, June 28, 2013

Panna Cotta with Berry Coulis

This is an amazingly easy dessert, perfect for entertaining because it can be prepared in advance.

It is fantastic with blackberries but any berry or a mixture or berries would work. Mango would also be a great option.

Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon, serves four to six


3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 vanilla beans or 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
6 sheets gelatin or 2 envelopes powdered gelatin or 4 1/2 teaspoons

2 cups berries of choice, blackberries, strawberries or blueberries


Place the gelatin in a small bowl with 5 1/2 tablespoons cold water. Set aside.

If using vanilla beans, split the pods and scrape out the contents.

In a medium pot over medium heat, stir together the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla, both bean pods and contents. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar dissolves fully, about 7 to 10 minutes, remove from heat. Remove the vanilla bean pods.

Transfer the mixture into a large bowl. Stir the softened gelatine into the mixture and stir to incorporate.
once gelatin has completely dissolved, ladle mixture into small jars or cups.

Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 4 to 6 hours.

For the berry coulis, place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add sugar or honey as necessary if the berries are too tart.

Once the panna cottas have set, spoon the coulis over the top of each cup.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with berries, lemon rind or mint leaves.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fresh Homemade Pasta

As I mentioned in my last post, a group of girlfriends from work have recently started a tradition of pasta nights. 

Despite owning the pasta attachments for my Kitchenaid mixer for several years, we have rarely used them. I never appreciated how easy and simple it really is to make fresh pasta. Or how fun it is to make with a group of friends.

Now there is no going back... 

Makes approximately 2 pounds of pasta, enough to serve 6 to 8


600 g flour
6 eggs


Add the flour and eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix together with the paddle or dough hook attachment until well mixed. The dough will be very crumbly and dry.

With the dough hook, knead the dough for about three minutes, until the dough is very smooth. The dough should not feel sticky and should still be on the dry side. If the dough is too wet, it will tear apart when rolled. Add a little flour or water as required to get the right consistency.

Most recipes recommend wrapping the dough in plastic wrap and allowing it to rest in the refrigerator for one hour. I am too impatient (and typically too hungry) for this step.

Cut the dough into four pieces. One piece at a time, mould into a rough flat rectangle. Pass the piece through the pasta roller attachment on the widest setting, setting #1. Fold the dough in half or thirds and pass it through again. Fold and pass it through one more time.

Continue passing the dough through the machine, reducing the setting each time, until you have reached the desired thickness. On my roller attachment, setting #3 produces thick, chunky pasta and setting #4 is perfect for fettuccine and spaghetti.

The flat sheets can be used to make lasagne or manicotti-style stuffed rolls. If you wish to make fettuccine or spaghetti, use the pasta cutter attachment to cut the sheets into the desired shape.

Dust the pasta lightly with flour to keep it from sticking. Drape the pasta over a suspended rolling pin or pasta drying rack until ready to cook. If you do not have a drying rack, a coat hanger works really well!

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until el dente. Serve hot with your favourite pasta sauce and garnishes.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Arrabiata Sauce

A group of girlfriends from work have recently started a tradition of pasta nights where we get together to make homemade pasta and sauce as an excuse to drink wine and gossip.
This is the sauce I made for the first of such events. Sorry no photos... we were too distracted...
Adapted from Una Mamma Italiana, serves six to eight


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar, optional but recommended!
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, plus additional for garnish if desired
6 oz can tomato paste
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the wine, sugar, basil, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.

Serve over homemade pasta with parmesan cheese and extra basil to garnish.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Southwestern Avocado Chili Lime Dressing

The other night I was trying to make a Southwestern Salad, when I realized our yogurt had gone bad. Unable to find a recipe for a southwestern style dressing without yogurt or sour cream or mayonnaise, I decided to throw what we did have, an avocado, into the blender and see what I could come up with.

The result was a light, tangy dressing that I will definitely be making again! As an added bonus, it is dairy-free and paleo-friendly!

Makes approximately 1 cup


1 avocado
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
4 tablespoons olive oil
Water, optional


Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add water as necessary to reach the desired consistency.

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