Archive for Fall Harvest – Page 4

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes

Oh yum…it’s pumpkin time again! These pancakes will definitely fit the bill on Thanksgiving morning!  You can easily cut the recipe in half if you only want 8 pancakes.

DSC_5360 nx2Makes Approximately 16 Pancakes

2 cups unbleached flour (you can use 1/2 cup wholewheat flour)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground coriander seeds
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup tinned pumpkin, or homemade pumpkin puree**
½ cup melted butter
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Vegetable oil for brushing the griddle

Note:  sometimes I change up the spices using 1 tsp. ground allspice & 2 tsp. ground cinnamon instead of the coriander seeds and tablespoon cinnamon.

Either warmed or room temperature, pure maple syrup

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt & coriander seeds. In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients, except the oil, until well combined. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.

Preheat the oven to 180 F. Place a platter in the oven when it reaches temperature.

Heat an electric griddle on medium heat; if yours goes over the stove burners, heat it over moderate heat. Heat  griddle until hot enough to make drops of water scatter over the surface, then lightly brush with some oil. Working in batches, pour scant ¼ cups of batter onto the griddle, forming 4” rounds & cook the pancakes until golden, 1 – 2 minutes, or slightly longer, per side. Transfer the pancakes as they are cooked to the platter & keep warm in the preheated oven. Serve the pancakes with the syrup.

If you would like to make your own pumpkin puree, click Making Pumpkin Puree.

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Phyllis’ Leek & Pancetta Tagliatelle

My “take” on a Lorenza de’Medici recipe. We think the addition of pancetta and a splash of white wine to the sauce makes it even more delicious.  I often make half the recipe for our primo which goes especially well with lamb marinated in my go to marinade for lamb.  And I hone in on local leeks, which are so sweet and delicious, to make this tasty, light sauce.

DSC_6712 nx2Makes 4 Servings

3 Tbsp. EVOO (or a combination of EVOO & unsalted butter)
2 lbs. leeks, cleaned & thinly sliced**
4 oz. pancetta cut ¼” thick & cut into cubes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chicken stock
Pinch of grated nutmeg
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 egg pasta dough** or 12 – 16 oz. dried egg tagliatelle

Heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the pancetta cubes to the pan & sauté until lightly browned, but not crisp, remove & set aside.

If there is more than 1 Tbsp. oil left in the pan, remove the excess. Add the remaining oil or a combination of oil & butter to the pan, adding the leeks when the oil is hot. Sauté, stirring for a few minutes, until they are translucent; season with salt & pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup water, lower the heat & simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil & warm a large pasta serving bowl.

When the leeks are done, add the cream, white wine, stock & nutmeg to the pan. Heat through; cover and keep warm on very low heat until ready to toss with the pasta.

Cook the pasta until al dente; reserve ½ cup or so of the cooking water. Drain the pasta in a colander. Add 3 Tbsp. Parmigiano to the sauce & stir to combine. Add the pasta to the sauce in the pan, tossing & adding pasta cooking water if it appears too dry. Toss for about 1 minute; season with salt & pepper if required. Place the pasta into the warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, passing the remaining Parmigiano.

If you would like to make tagliatelle/fettuccine, click Food Processor or Stand Mixer Pasta Dough.
To see how to clean leeks, click How To Trim Wild (Ramps) And Regular Leeks.

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A Canadian Thanksgiving

2008 was our first Thanksgiving away from home!   We had travelled to Italy with two friends and our plan was to celebrate Thanksgiving by cooking dinner in the “villa” near Lago Trasimeno in Umbria.


My husband and I had  grocery shopped in Tuscany and Umbria two years earlier and knew beforehand that Italians eat turkey but not the whole, roasted, browned beauties we were used to. What to do? Luckily, one of us spoke some French because the owner of the villa and his wife spoke no English, only Italian and French!  At that time my Italian was even more sketchy than it is now and it’s not wonderful now! So we fumbled along with the French using lots of  hand  signals somehow getting the message across that we wanted to buy a fresh whole turkey. He said he “had a friend” who he could get one for from.

Sure enough, the day before Thanksgiving, Giorgio appears with promised turkey! It looked great, weighed about 18 pounds and seemed perfect, with all the giblets intact for making gravy. Mille grazie Giorgio! How much do we owe you? Without blinking, Giorgio said 90€! We four were a little taken aback at the cost but heck…we are celebrating Thanksgiving in Italy! By the way 90€ at that time equaled approximately $130.00! (This included 15€ delivery charge). It better be damned good!

On Thanksgiving Day the guys got wood burning outdoor oven lessons from Giorgio.  I made stock from the neck, gizzards and other bits which ultimately became a lovely gravy. The bread stuffing was made from local pears that were given to us, Italian sausage and a few fennel seeds, all piled into into a greased dish and into the wood burning oven it went.  (Link to recipe below).

We all agreed…this is the best damned turkey any of us had ever eaten!

Even though we were in Rome last year at Thanksgiving, spent time wandering around the Jewish Ghetto, ate lunch at Da Giggetto, that turkey dinner in Umbria was a hard act to follow!  Ah…memories.

To make the turkey stuffing, please see Italian Sausage, Bread Stuffing With Pears.

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Basil Ricotta “Cavatelli” With Tomato Sausage Sauce

When the garden puts forth wonderful basil each summer, there are so many delicious choices of things to be made!  This version of cavatelli has ricotta cheese in the dough is not quite as soft as potato gnocchi.  This “pasta” is another end of summer, last of the basil, dinner in our house!  If you have some “OO” flour in the cupboard, you might like to try using it in combination with unbleached flour.  If you have a cavatelli maker, feel free to use it, making sure the dough is floured enough so it won’t stick when going through the machine.  When I am feeling lazy, I simply cut the raw sausages into 1″ pieces, brown in the EVOO and then continue with the sauce.  You could even grill the sausages on the barbecue, cool then cut them up into pieces and reheat in the sauce.

DSC_1088 nx2Makes 3 – 4 Servings

For the Cavetelli

2 eggs
10 fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese (not skim or low-fat)
2 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano
1 to 1 1/2 cups flour (approximate), I use Italian “00” flour & unbleached flour

In a food processor, with the motor running, drop the garlic through the feed tube. Scrape down bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs, torn basil leaves, & pepper to the bowl; process until mixed; add the ricotta & cheese; process until blended. Add ½ cup of flour at a time, process using on/off turns, just until incorporated, before adding more flour, until the mixture forms a soft, slightly dough. It will be sticky but you don’t want to add too much flour. Remove from the processor onto a flour dusted surface & gently shape into a ball. Place on a flour dusted shallow bowl, cover & chill for 1 ½ hrs.

To shape the Cavetelli:

Remove dough from the fridge & divide into 4 pieces. On a very lightly floured surface, roll each into a long tube, approximately 1/2” in diameter. Continue rolling the other 3 pieces of dough. With a sharp knife, cut the ropes into ½” pieces.

Place the cut cavatelli onto a lightly floured rimmed baking pan, cover & place in the fridge until ready to cook them.

Make the Tomato-Sausage Sauce:

2 – 4 Tbsp. EVOO
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) tin Italian tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tsp. dried oregano
3-4 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 Tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
2 or 3  (6” long) Italian sausages, either with fennel or not (or Italian turkey sausages)

(opt.) pepperoncino (chili flakes) to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, brown the sausages on all sides. Remove & reserve. Heat the EVOO in a saucepan over medium heat & cook the garlic in the oil for a minute or so without the garlic taking on any colour; add the chili flakes & dried oregano (if using); add the tomatoes & bring to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the sausages into chunks & add to the sauce. Reduce the  heat & simmer the sauce about 25 minutes (until thickened), add the fresh oregano, basil & parsley, simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt & pepper, keep warm.

While the sauce is simmering, remove the cavatelli from the fridge & bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 Tbsp. salt. Place the cavatelli onto a flat tray in one layer, leaving behind any excess flour & slide them into the boiling water. Give them a stir& in a minute or so they will begin to float to the surface. Cook the cavatelli for a total of approximately 7 – 8 minutes. Have ready a warm serving bowl. With a slotted spoon remove the cooked cavatelli to the bowl; ladle the sauce over &  gently give them a stir using a spatula. Serve hot, passing either Pecorino or Parmigiano!

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Fall – What’s In Season??

There’s just a few short days left until…I know, I know.   Summer is coming to an end and we move towards the end of the year.  But it’s not all bad news!

 If you check out the list below of the goodies making their appearances at our Farmer’s Markets, we can actually jump for joy!

There is nothing to pine for when we can make an apple-pear pie, or tummy-warming soups and stews.  Our potted apple trees in the back yard have all been picked and a few will make it into a salad with local hazelnuts from Agazziz.  Oh, and then there’s quince.  Quince tarte tatin anybody?  When cooked they not only smell like roses but take on the colour of roses I think!  And then there’s winter squash like butternut and acorn, perhaps turned into ravioli or gnocchi.  Doesn’t sound too shabby does it?

Enjoy yourself, carve a pumpkin, bake an apple crisp!  Can’t you just smell that cinnamon!


  • Apples, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, grapes, hazelnuts, herbs, kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, pears, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, quince, winter squash, turnips, walnuts, chanterelles and other wild mushrooms.  Like I said earlier…not too shabby!

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There’s Something About Canning

It’s the season once again to haul out our jars and get canning and preserving! And I am so glad to see a resurgence of interest in people taking it up!  Domenica Marchetti has recently published a new book “Preserving Italy” that’s filled with delicious recipes.

DSC_4424 nx2The household I grew up in had a pantry stocked full of  Mom’s labours; all kinds of jam, bread and butter pickles, pickled beets (with beets from our garden), relishes, mustard pickles (Dad’s favourite), canned cherries from our trees in the backyard, tomatoes, apricots, peaches, pears, applesauce and so on. For some reason all this work had to take place on the hottest days of the year! It seemed that there was always loads of produce and fruit showing up, people had fruit trees in their yard they were giving away, or  friends and neighbours who would bring back stuff from the Okanagan that had to be put up for the winter, right now! Then, of course, there was the salmon canning every year…I don’t like salmon…couldn’t stand the smell and couldn’t be in the house when it was being processed in that huge pressure cooker!

I  remember Mom and I staying up all night peeling those little silver-skin onions for pickling later that day!

So, you can imagine, when I left home to be on my own, I really missed all the wonderful treasures stored in our basement storage room (aka the cooler). It seemed to me that if I wanted some jam I had better damned well learn how to make it! I worked in a fruit cannery for a couple of summers when I was in my teens and I wasn’t about to eat bought jam!

DSC_3296 nx2I don’t do much canning anymore and I kind of miss it, especially when I see all the wonderful produce and fruit at the Farmer’s Market each week. Memories of sitting on the back steps on a sunny morning, peeling a big bag of pears someone had given us, about to be turned into spicy pear chutney or trying to come up with something clever to do with that big bunch of Italian prune plums a friend left at the back door, other than jam; not that I don’t love plum jam. In the end they became a star anise flavoured Asian plum dipping sauce!

A sight to behold and what a sense of accomplishment…all those glorious sparkling colours of jams and jellies in their cute little jars, dill pickles resting for 6 weeks, relishes and dark, spicy chutneys to serve with meat pies or on a sandwich or with cheeses…yum! Yes, there really is something about canning!

If you would like the recipe for the relish, click Mary’s Green Tomato Relish.  For the recipe for the Zucchini Marmalade, click here. For the recipe for my Dill Pickles, click here.

If you are looking for a recipe, send me a comment and I will get right back to you!

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3 Mediterranean Dips

I just crave these dips in the summer. Transports me straight to the Mediterranean! Good pita and some great wine; just about perfect. I think dips are a wonderful thing to take to a party or get-together in the summer. Great with my Greek lemon-oregano chicken or marinated lamb. You might want to drain the yogurt the night before for a nice thick Tzatziki.

Phyllis’ Tzatziki

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

_DSC2041 resize2 cups Plain Yogurt (I like Liberte Mediterranean, but a good thick Greek yogurt would also be great)
½ English cucumber
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. EVOO
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

Take a large piece of well rinsed cheesecloth (Julia Child always recommended rinsing to remove the medicinal aroma of cheesecloth). Line a metal sieve with the cheesecloth. Place the yogurt in the sieve; place over a bowl and cover. Allow to drain in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Grate the cucumber and place in a sieve over a bowl; salt the cucumber & allow to drain for about 20 minutes. Remove yogurt and place in a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as possible, using your hands, and add to the yogurt. Smash the garlic and sprinkle with a little sea salt. By pressing & spreading with the back of a chef’s knife, puree the garlic & add to the yogurt mixture. Add the lemon juice, EVOO, Dijon mustard and dill. Blend well. Place in the fridge for an hour or so to blend the flavours. Season with salt if required and serve with pita bread or as a dip for kebabs or anything else that takes your fancy! Tzatziki will keep for a few days in the fridge.


This is another wonderful dip from the Mediterranean. It is not only delicious with warm pita bread but I also use it for sandwiches & wraps.

Makes about 3 cups

1 19oz tin chick-peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed & drained
½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste), well-stirred
1/3 cup EVOO
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cumin
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup cold water
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Tahini can be found at most grocery stores, usually in the ethnic section, or at any Greek grocery store.

Place chick-peas, tahini, oil, lemon juice, coriander & cumin in the bowl of a food processor; puree until smooth; transfer to a bowl. Stir in garlic, parsley, water, season with salt & pepper. Hummus is a good keeper and will last a number of days in the fridge.

Baba Ghanouj

Boy do I love this! It just screams summer. Serve either with warm pita or as a spread on a wrap. Try and get some fresh, local eggplant for this if possible.

Makes about 3 cups

2 large eggplants (2 ½ lbs. total)
¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste), well-stirred
2 – 3 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with ½ tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 – 1 ½ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. EVO
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Garnish: Smoked paprika and a drizzle of EVOO

Tahini can be found at most grocery stores, usually in the ethnic section, or at any Greek grocery store.

Turn oven to broil. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and broil 6” from heat, until very soft, turning occasionally. Cool 20 – 35 minutes. Cut eggplants in half and remove the flesh, discarding the skin. (I usually strain the cooked eggplant pulp for 30 minutes to remove excess liquid). Place in food processor with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin & salt until combined well. Season with salt if necessary. Transfer to a serving plate or shallow bowl, drizzle with EVO, sprinkle with a few pinches of smoked paprika and then scatter on the parsley.

If you would like to make the chicken to have with the tzatziki, click Greek Lemon Chicken.

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It’s Russian Soul Food!

Borscht is a part of my family heritage. During the year there are times when “I just gotta have some”. When I eat borscht, my Husband says it’s like I am having a religious experience!

DSC_1695 nx2The version in  my recipe section is not the purple, beety one, it is more of a vegetable soup. Both my Mom and her Sister made it for their families and with some good crusty bread and a bit of cheese, it made not only a nutritious meal but a fairly inexpensive way to feed a family. No meat, just veggies. Funny thing was, they both made a different version. My aunt put tons of butter & cream into hers, it was good but not like Mom’s!

My first job in the Executive Dining Room kitchen, was as assistant to Anne, who ran the place.   One day she said, “I am going to make borscht for tomorrow’s luncheon”. My first thought was “oh no…this is quite a rustic soup and how in the world does this fit in with an Executive Dining Room?” The next day, when I arrived at work, she had the big soup pot going. Now, I had never sampled her borscht before, but when we finally sat down to eat once the luncheon was over, one spoonful and I was immediately transported back to my childhood. Her borscht was everything I remembered; vegetarian and oh so good, just like my Mom’s used to be before Dad coerced her into putting some meat into the soup.

The recipe I have been making ever since is the one I got from Anne and I am so grateful for having the opportunity to share it with her! It is one of the recipes I have of hers that I will always treasure.  Better go and make some!

If you would like to be transported to a Russian childhood experience, click Borscht.

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Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Meyer lemons were something we never saw in our markets here in Vancouver…but thankfully all that’s changed! Heck, even Costco sells them now!  This dressing is excellent and I make it often.  Whenever I find Meyer lemons, I pick up a bunch, squeeze them and freeze the juice for later use.

Makes Approximately 1 Cup

¼ cup Meyer lemon juice
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed
½ tsp. stoneground Dijon mustard
1/8 – ¼ tsp. each of dried marjoram, oregano & basil (fresh herbs are wonderful if you have them, simply use 1/2 tsp. of each one)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 ½ tsp. sugar
Salt to taste
¾ cup EVOO

Put everything, except the oil, in the blender & blend until well combined; slowly drizzle in the EVOO until dressing is emulsified or all ingredients are well blended. Taste, adjust seasoning to your taste & enjoy.

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Anne’s Anchovy-less Caesar Salad Dressing

This one is for all of you who hate anchovies as much as I do!  I’ve sampled really fresh, marinated ones in Italy, sorry, they still taste like anchovies!  It’s OK though, my husband adores the little morsels!  The garlic gives it a really good punch. Anne gave me her recipe a really long time ago and we make the dressing often as you can tell from the stained, well-used recipe in the photo. Get out the romaine, parmesan and homemade croutons.

Makes approximately 1 cup

1 egg
2 garlic, coarsely crushed
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
9 Tbsp. EVOO
Dash of salt to taste
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
2-4 drops of Tabasco
2-4 drops of Worcestershire sauce

Combine everything but the oil in a blender. Blend well. Slowly drizzle in the oil until well emulsified. Pour into a jar & keep chilled for up to 3 or 4 days.

Toss with romaine lettuce leaves, a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese & croutons, toss again.  Enjoy!

If you would like to make your own croutons, please go to Homemade Croutons.  Featured image shows salad with toasted Italian bread drizzled with EVOO…also fabulous!

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