Meals in Minutes: Tomato Soup. Image from the cookbook.
1. This soup is everything a tomato soup should be: warm, roasted, with hints of basil and completely rustic. The tomatoes taste as if they were freshly picked off the vine by Nonna. It is hearty, healthy and full of vegetables.
2. We paired this soup with grilled cheese made using caramelized onion cheddar. It was delicate, creamy and with perfect hints of onion. I opt for using flavoured cheeses when making the basic grilled cheese in lieu of adding other ingredients (have a mentioned that April is apparently grilled cheese month? More on that later).
3. Add a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream if you don’t want to be quite as decadent. Any soup that I can add sour cream for I am totally game for.
4. I also recent made Potato Leek soup using the recipe found here. It turned out extremely green on account of using too much of the leafy bit of the leek. It was ok, but not great. Next time I will have to bust out my Julie Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the first time and try her version of it. It uses heavy cream so of course it’s going to be infinitely better.
Meals in Minutes: Chicken Pot Pie. Photo from cookbook.
1. Chicken pot pie is yums. I don’t think I need to say anything further to convenience to make or eat it.
2. I love the filling of this pot pie. It is buttery, creamy and is spiced perfectly with thyme. The only thing it is missing is peas or some other vegetable. I like pot pie to be filled with veggies like peas, carrots and celery to give it an even heartier weight in my stomach.
3. Pot pie should be topped with actual pie crust, not puff pastry. Puff pastry is used in order to make this a quick, week night meal. The puff pastry does not hold up as well and becomes very gummy rather than staying crispy. I have another recipe for chicken pot pie that does use real pie crust so I will have to give that a try. I want to be one of those people who always has ready made pie crust in their freezer. There is currently a ball of sugar cookie dough in my fridge so I am on my way to becoming one of those people.
Meals in Minutes: Rogan Josh Curry. Photo courtesy of the cookbook.
1. I have officially come to terms with curry. For the longest time I could not stand it – the spice, the texture, the smell and the foods that are typically curried, particularly chick peas. Since experimenting with my own cooking and food choices I have developed a palate for curry. It is warm, inviting and completely comforting.
2. I love the combination of vegetables in this: onion, butternut squash, cauliflower and chick peas. It is hearty and the perfect recipe for fall. The chick peas were enough protein for me to find this feeling but unfortunately, GC was not satisfied by them. I have to make him curry with actual meat he said. Because of that, I will not be making this again. It is way too much food for me to eat and I don’t think it would freeze well. But if you love curry and you are cooking for someone who also loves vegetarian curry, you should make this recipe!
3. I liked that the basmati rice was infused with the flavour of the cloves. However, basmati rice is not my rice of choice. It’s texture is too granular for me.
4. Curry does not photograph well and I need a new camera.
Everyone should have a homemade pizza dough in their arsenal. The problem with that is, pizza dough typically takes too long to make. Who has time to wait for yeast to rise? Or more accurately, the foresight to predict tonight’s dinner cravings while eating breakfast? I like the idea of a recipe that at the spur of the moment I can make when the craving for pizza hits me. Luckily, Jamie Oliver has a recipe for that:
1 1/2 cups of self rising flour
1/2 cup of water
A lug of olive oil
Put the above ingredients in a bowl and mix until it comes together into a ball. Stretch the dough out onto a prepared baking sheet and top how you like your pizza.
1. I would consider this more of a breakfast/brunch type pie but hey, breakfast for dinner is also a thing. It is the use of egg that makes this more of a brunch item than a dinner food. Next time I make this dish, I would serve it for brunch.
2. This is rich, dense and has a slight decadence to it, even though it is simple, fresh ingredients of eggs, spinach and cheese. It is the buttery quality of the filo pastry that elevates this from the blandness of an simple quiche to pillowy deliciousness fit for brunch. The use of lemon with the spinach brought back vivid memories of my visit to the southern coast of Italy in March 2006 and even though it was chilly, the scent of fresh lemons still filled the air in Sorrento.
3. I did not enjoy the use of cayenne pepper between the sheets of filo pastry. It add another level that created tastebud chaos rather than cohesion. The use of nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg rather than whole, it works just as well) added the little something extra that made the use of cayenne completely unnecessary and excessive.
4. I didn’t use pine nuts (obviously) and the dish was not remotely lacking! If you have a nut allergy or you just don’t like them, don’t worry! It will still be delicious!
A hint of spice, a hint of freshness, the perfect brunch pie for a March weekend just on the cusp of spring.
1. Risotto is one of those things I had resigned myself to only eating in restaurants. I was under the impression it was too complicated and time consuming for the average cook to make at home. When I saw it in this cookbook, I was overwhelmed and nervous but I thought to myself, “This is a new challenge and I should give it a shot. If It tastes terribly then I will never make it again.” Not even remotely the case.
2. Risotto, as it turns out, isn’t hard to make, it just takes patience and a lot of stirring. It is a fairly easy recipe to follow that will lead people to believe that you are more talented then you actually are! Sounds like the perfect recipe to me.
3. I love the rich, earthiness of this dish. From the various mushrooms, the broth and the thyme and rosemary it is extremely aromatic. The flavour is so deep and consuming, it just fills you with a warmth that spreads throughout your body. The mushrooms add a fleshy and meaty quality to the dish that replaces the need for actual meat.
4. This is the dish that caused GC’s grandmother, an 83 year old Italian woman to exclaim, “Fuck, where did you learn to cook like this?” If that’s not a good enough reason for you to try it, I won’t be able to find a reason for you.
1. In Italian, Puttanesca literally means “whore’s style.’ Italian has an amazing way of making something dirty and crass sound exotic and beautiful. The pasta is called as such because it used a mixture of cheap, pantry items that anyone would have lying in their home.
2. I love how fishy (think whore’s style pasta…) this pasta is. The tuna and the anchovies are salty, but lean with subtle flavours that are highlighted by the fruitiness of the tomato and the olives.
3. This is a quick and easy pasta that if you love tuna you should give it a try.
1. As a rule, I don’t trust vegetarian lasagna. Lasagna is supposed to have meat in it and anything without is a waste of time. But in order to be true and say I cooked my way through this cookbook (without sides and somewhat in order) I had to make this lasagna. And thank goodness I did – it was delicious! This veggie lasagna will change your mind about veggies lasagna.
2. I loved the combination of veggies – peas, asparagus and edamame. Make sure your edamame is shelled – he claims that you can put them in whole but that’s a blatant lie. The vegetables are so sweet, fresh, crisp and green – a total bite of summer. Lasagna is one of those heavy meals you often associate with a cold winter’s day, but this is a fun, summer spin on a classic.
3. The cottage cheese and cream make this lasagna ridiculously creamy and luscious. It adds the fatty content that is missing from the meat. Next time I would add mozzarella to the top of the lasagna, well, because, why not?
4. I used dry lasagna noodles, cooked them first and them assembled my casserole. The dry noodles worked just as well (I can imagine) as fresh pasta would and it’s slightly cheaper!
A lighter, fresher lasagna that is worth checking out. The recipe is below the cut and happy munching!
1. This is a simple and fresh pasta. The sauce tastes like a summer garden and is tossed and lightly coats the pasta. I didn’t use the almonds in my sauce which caused the sauce to be slightly lighter and not as thick. I loved the pesto quality of this sauce and how quickly it came together. I made the sauce using my immersion blender, rather than a food processor (no, I still do not have one!) and it worked perfectly. I love that the sauce is completely infused with the flavours of garlic, tomato and basil and then the pasta is dotted with chunks of these veggies.
2. Rigatoni is not my favourite pasta. It is too thick and bulky to eat in this way. Next time I make this pasta I will use penne instead. Shells or rotini would work great as well.
3. This pasta is going to become a staple in the summer – using fresh basil and tomatoes from the garden. Quick, easy, and fresh – a great recipe for summer. I think this pasta would even taste great served cold as a side for a barbecue.
1. I LOVE THIS. I think this is a great alternative to your traditional mac and cheese. The cauliflower adds a wonderful vegetable component which makes you feel okay about eating something so rich, creamy and fattening. Cauliflower is such a hearty vegetable, and can withstand all the cream and cheese without being lost in the pasta I didn’t macerate my cauliflower too much, so there were gorgeous florets dotting the pasta. The pancetta rosemary crumble on top is salt, earthy, and sweet – the perfect topping for mac and cheese. It is another fun alternative to breadcrumbs that adds crispiness but with actual flavour.
2. This recipe is also extremely easy to make. I love that the cauliflower and the pasta cook silmultaneously in one pot and that the pancetta is crisped up in the oven in the dish that you will later use to cook the pasta. Simple and very little clean up which makes it my kind of meal.
3. This casserole reheats beautifully. Because of all cream and cheese it becomes a gooey mess all over again, as if it was just pulled from the oven. Perfect for leftovers and for making your coworkers jealous. It’s aroma will fill the entire office and have people drooling over your desk.
4. This recipe doesn’t use my key ingredient of mustard but that’s okay. The sharpness of the cheddar, and the pine-tree taste from the rosemary do more than enough to flavour this pasta.
I know you are probably all thinking, “No. I love my traditional mac and cheese and I don’t want to change the recipe I use.” But I insist you try this recipe, even just once.