Archive for October 2014

A New Toy!

DSC_1180 nx2It was the spring of 1986 and I had a big income tax return in my hot little hands and I knew exactly where I was going to spend it!

Back in the day, Kitchen Aid stand mixers were not as easily found as they are now and once I did a bit of leg-work, found a kitchen appliance place that sold them…they weren’t cheap, let me tell you!

I have always loved the design of the stand mixer, so kind of ‘40’s or ‘50’s, even if they changed up the sizes of the bowl and that new paddle/ batter scraper attachment does not fit my bowls bought in the ‘90’s. Why did they do that anyway?? I know, they want me to buy new bowls!

Fast forward to a couple of months ago, when my sister decided it was time to retire her huge Bosch machine that pretty much did it all but was just too darned big and did not suit their needs…after doing her due diligence, she bought the “Artisan” model Kitchen Aid stand mixer which is pretty much the same as my first one. The only reason I upgraded to the “Professional” was that I got a very hot deal and I needed to knead 4 loaves of bread dough at a time and I was making over 100 pounds of fruitcake for the Christmas cake clients I had every year. My original baby is still going strong, first it became a welcome addition to the kitchen at the executive dining room where I worked and now it just keeps on giving in the kitchen of my assistant from that time! Pretty good recommendation I would say!

DSC_1191 nx2If the time comes that I need to replace my “Professional” model…I might just trade her in for the “Artisan.” After spending time with my sister’s machine the other night, I found myself really liking it again!

And now it’s time for a pasta lesson: along with her stand mixer, my sister also purchased a few attachments, one being the pasta rolling kit. I have one and my husband couldn’t live without it because until a few years ago he was the guy who did the hand cranking on the little Atlas machine we had and now I do it all by myself! Yay! She and I planned an afternoon where I would show her how to make her very first homemade pasta and that is what we did! To begin, she made a 4 egg dough using my recipe for Food Processor Stand Mixer Pasta Dough. Once the dough was rolled out and ready for cutting, using the tagliatelle/fettuccine head, she ran it through the cutter. I think she liked the results and next time when she gets her mojo happening, will really get into the Zen of Pasta Making!

We decided that I would make a sauce for the tagliatelle ahead of time so we didn’t have to worry about that bit. And I had wanted to “try out” Marcella Hazan’s recipe for Bolognese sauce, from my Essentials cookbook ,so now seemed the right time! I must say the sauce was very, very good and so far, the front runner of all the Bolognese sauces I have made to date!  I followed her advice and used 2 parts beef and 1 part pork and doubled the recipe!

DSC_1195 nx2Once the sauce was heated up, we cooked the tagliatelle for a couple of minutes, reserved some of the pasta cooking water, drained the pasta and tossed it with the sauce, added some pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce, a tablespoon or so of butter and voila…the tagliatelle were delicate and silky…perfect!

Buon Gusto!!

 

 

 

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The Fat Badger Pub – An English Style Pub

Reviews of local restaurants on this blog are something I don’t usually do, but the arrival of an English style “gastro-pub” or “pub” not far from home, is something we were really looking forward to because of our  great experiences in London! Just the name “The Fat Badger” had us hooked! And then if that was not enough, the food and beer programme is “British inspired” and we had very much enjoyed chef Neil Taylor’s cooking in the past. In other words, we went with every intention of loving this place!

DSCN0491 nx2It got even better for me as I have a bit of a “history” with the location, an old house where, during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s I spent a lot of time and money enjoying excellent French cuisine and wine at Le Gavroche restaurant! Jean Luc Bertrand, the owner, was an amazing host who introduced me to some delicious cooking from his country and I was half expecting to see his ghost there the night we went!

When we arrived at 7:30 the place was about 50% full and continued to be at least that during the evening with people coming and going, pretty good for a Tuesday night! I am sure The Fat Badger is a very welcome spot in a neighbourhood chock full of high-rise apartments.

The “décor” has been changed up with wood and dark walls. Unfortunately the original fireplace has been changed, a shame as it was a particularly nice focal point in the room. Both of us thought it seemed to lack that “English pub” character or feeling . You can see by clicking the following links what I am on about. The Harwood Arms, The Crown Tavern both in London and the Crow and Gate in Cedar, near Nanaimo.

Besides being presented with a daily sheet there are two chalkboards listing the menu items. We like to order a variety of things to share except this time we ordered different mains just to check them out and then tried what each other had ordered.

DSCN0495 nx2To begin with we had a Scotch egg. The sausage coating was tasty, nice and crisp with a slightly runny Yolk but the bed of HP sauce overwhelmed the egg with a heavy taste of cloves. Our preference would be to lose the HP with maybe just a sprinkling of coarse sea salt on top.

Next up was the slow roasted heirloom tomatoes with Wensleydale cheese. How can you go wrong with roasted tomatoes? It was basically a bruschetta made using thickly sliced toasted bread with shavings of cheese. The Wensleydale was pretty much overwhelmed by the tasty roasted tomatoes.

Then there were 3 mini-Yorkshire puddings with roast beef, gravy and horseradish sauce. Roast beef and horseradish is a pretty good combo in our books! The gravy was also quite decent. For our taste, the beef could have been a little less cooked but it was tender and tasty.

Our mains consisted of an order of crispy ox tongue on a pile of colcannon garnished with crispy fried onion rings that for some reason were pretty tasteless. The colcannon was great; unfortunately the crispy tongue had been a little too long in the pan and was overly crisp.

DSCN0498 nx2How can you pass up fish and chips in an “English style pub” so I didn’t! I was particularly interested in seeing how theirs compared to the awesome fish and chips we enjoyed in London and Canterbury. The chips were properly cut thick chips, and not greasy nor salty, a big plus! The traditional mushy peas were, well traditional, made with marrowfat peas; not my cup of tea. In the past, I have liked them but they were made with fresh peas. The batter was OK but the fish, unfortunately, was mushy. I really have to say we prefer the fish to be cut thicker and just one larger piece, instead of three thin long strips.

We avoided the “sticky toffee pudding” on the dessert menu and not because we don’t like it a lot but we make it at home, so we opted instead for the warm ginger pear pudding with whiskey custard. This was an excellent combination and I would not only order it again but would recommend it! There may have been a bit too much custard but then can there ever be too much custard??

DSCN0501 nx2The bar offerings include some “English” themed cocktails, ten beers on tap, a selection of bottled beer and a relatively short, uninspired white and red wine list, in other words, not much to be seen here! The draught beers were from large English producers like Fuller’s, Kilkenny, Smithwicks and Guinness. You can order either a half or full pint at a fair price. However, both the Fuller’s London Pride and I & G were nothing special! If you are looking for an introduction to unusual more artisanal English styled beer you probably wouldn’t find it here and that was a disappointment. My wine was white, cold and wet…with a 4 ounce pour being $9.00.

We would like to see The Fat Badger include in their beer programme great, locally made English style beer from craft breweries and there is a lot here to choose from!  And come to think of it…how about some “flights” of beer tastings??

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Why I Love Italian Packaging

Italians can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to packaging their products! It’s a design thing!

I promised myself when we were in Italy a few months ago, there was no way we were hauling home dried pasta! So…one day, near the end of our 2 week stay in Roma, we went to Romeo for lunch. It’s just a couple of blocks from the apartment we rented, so nice and handy if too much wine is involved enjoying a fantastic lunch!

benedetto pasta packaging 1After the fabulous lunch, while we are at the counter paying, we were studying all the products they have for sale. They have a bunch of counters selling baked goods, salumi, and all sorts of goodies on one side and on the side where you pay, there are a number of tinned and dry goods used in the restaurant. And that’s when I spotted the jaunty blue ribbons on the packages of Benedetto Cavalieri dried pasta! Having never seen this brand before, what can I say, we simply had to buy a package!

I’m a sucker for Italian packaging! I mean…wow!

The Cavalieri packages of pasta come with a “story” about the company being started in 1918 by Benedetto and how his family continues making “choice pasta;” how they make it, about the wheat used and so on.

This is followed by the Instruzioni per la Cottura (Cooking Directions).

“With your choice you are rewarding not only the care that we have taken, but also the toil of the farmer and the miller. We thank you but…the adventure is not yet over: YOUR COLLABORATION IS IMPORTANT for perfect cooking. Pour pasta into salted boiling water (l lt. per 100 g. pasta)? Stir occasionally and keep it boiling. Our pasta merits an attentive cook: only experience can tell you when it is “al dente”! Drain, season, and stir quickly to obtain a more fragrant and tasty blend with your best sauces. Then serve it up immediately…HER MAJESTY THE PASTA cannot wait! For any enquiry or advice please write.”

Talk about pressure!  Luckily I am an attentive cook because it turned out perfectly!

Il FruttetoEaster and Christmas are the best times to see Italian packaging at it’s best here! I got hooked on buying bath soaps made in Florence because the packaging is just so gorgeous!

Even if what’s inside is not expensive, it still gets the “full Italian treatment”…gotta love that!

 

 

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