1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 13.5 oz can Scarpone’s Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 cup water
1 TBSP tomato paste
2 TSP cane sugar
1 TSP lemon juice
2 TBSP greek yogurt
salt and pepper
1/2 yellow onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 cups kale (stems removed, finely chopped)
1 lb ground pork
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 TBSP fresh rosemary (chopped)
2 TSP soy sauce
2 TSP worcestershire sauce
1 TSP cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 TBSP grapeseed oil (for browning meatballs)
When it’s cold outside, I want comfort god damn it! Italian fare always hits the spot for me on an inappropriately chilly winter evening (although, as I’m typing this I am aware that it is getting nicer out now…) and that’s where this meatball and tomato sauce dish comes in. Give me a plate of this deliciousness and nice, big glass of red wine and I am A-OK with whatever snowy weather comes my way!
The fire roasted tomatoes I used in this recipe can be found fairly easily around Calgary. Calgary Co-op regularly stocked them, as does the Cookbook Co. Cooks and a few other specialty food markets. Trust me, these canned tomatoes are the bomb and make all the difference in this recipe Try them out once and I promise you will never go back to another canned variety. I, myself, am definitely smitten!
Starting off with the tomato sauce, cook down the onions and garlic on medium-high heat in a medium pan with some olive oil. Once onions soften, about 5 minutes, add the vinegar to the pan and let cook for another 5 minutes. Now, pour in the canned tomatoes, paste, water, sugar and lemon juice. Once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce to medium heat and let simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, place the contents of the pan into a food processor with the yogurt and puree until smooth. Return to pan, season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm until ready to serve.
**This simple tomato sauce is great in a simple pasta and also makes a great base for homemade pizzas!
2 cups cauliflower florets (loosely chopped)
1 red potato (1/2″ cubed)
5 cups vegetable broth
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 TSP chili powder
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 yellow onion (thinly sliced)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3 white mushrooms (finely chopped)
1 jalapeño (seeds removed, finely chopped)
2 cups kale (loosely chopped)
salt and pepper
Well, it’s 2013 now. If you’re anything like me and have gained a couple (or more than a couple) pounds from excessive consumption of last month’s festive food and drink, it’s time to dial it back. I always love making risotto because it is, essentially, a blank slate. You start with some rice and hot broth and add whatever flavours you fancy. I kept things healthy with this version, using some hearty vegetables, making for a filling, and surprisingly filling, vegan dish.
Roasted cauliflower mixture:
2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (loosely chopped)
1/2 cup pancetta (thinly sliced)
1/2 red onion (chopped)
1 TSP lemon juice
2 TSP sugar
salt and pepper
Pasta and sauce:
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP flour
2 cups cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
2 TSP tomato paste
2 cups red swiss chard (chopped and blanched)
4 cups cooked gnocchi
2 TSP balsamic vinegar
So, I finally got a ‘real’ camera, a ‘big boy’ camera, if you will. Thank you for the golf claps (I imagined golf claps after the first sentence). It was an expensive purchase, slightly scary, but, I find, pricey times like these seem less real when you just close your eyes and hand someone your credit card. I approach the majority of life’s situations like this…Anyway, five days later, here I am with this ‘big’ camera and a couple different lenses that I don’t know how to deal with and all I’m thinking is: ‘Is this what puberty was like?’. Yes, yes it was. Except it didn’t cost me $1000.
I do realize that this recipe is going up on Valentine’s Day and, although, gnocchi doesn’t necessary lend itself to ‘romance’, I think eating this for dinner could be, at the very least, chalked up to a fun foodie fling.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the first 5 ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Put the cauliflower mixture into a prepared baking dish and let bake in oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, give the dish a quick stir, turn heat to high broil, and let cook for another 10 minutes or until the cauliflower and pancetta really start to caramelize and crisp up. Remove from oven and set aside for now.
For the sauce, melt the butter in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add in the flour and whisk to form a rue. Pour in the cream. Once the liquid begins to simmer and thicken, stir in the grated cheese, sun dried tomatoes and tomato paste. Reduce to medium heat and let cook for 10 minutes.
Now you can add the cauliflower/pancetta mixture to the pan as well as the chard and cooked gnocchi. Toss a few times to coat everything in the sauce. Finally, add the balsamic vinegar and give the pan one last, solid toss.
Serve nice and hot to hungry dinner-mates!
Total cook time…40 min
It seems like we’ve been getting a lot of new restaurants popping up in Calgary this past little while, and that is a good thing! Similar to my excitement for Ox And Angela, the massive sign for Borgo Trattoria caught my eye repeatedly for weeks prior to it’s opening in early September.
My friends and I popped into Borgo on a very busy Friday night. The interior of the space is amazing. Really fantastic light fixtures (On a side note, I’m so sick of those ‘vintage’ light bulbs lounges/restaurants are overusing these days…(*cough* Local 510/522 *cough*), great bench seating in the back half of the restaurant by their open kitchen, with a central bar area.
They start the day off as an espresso bar, serving the standard drinks (illy espresso of course, pictured), as well as home-made pastries. Turning into a lunch spot at 11:30 a.m., afternoon snack spot from 3-5, and a full-service dinner destination from 5 p.m. on. Wow, that was a lot to say…
The menu here has a lot of options. Small bites, Pastas (both half and full orders are offered), as well as different cuts of meats. Since there was four if us, we decided to order every item from the evening’s Cicheti (small bites) section. Some items were available by the piece, while others were a set price per plate. The Cicheti offerings change frequently, so you might not be able to enjoy the exact same dishes we did on this particular night.
Here were some of the highlights from the small plates that we ordered…
The veal and pork meatballs (ordered by the piece) were nice and tender. There was a very simple marinara sauce on top and just a sprinkling on parmesan cheese.
On this board, sat some crispy little crostini, proscuitto, and a melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella. Topped with some micro-basil as a finishing touch. Classic pairing here, I love a mild mozzarella, this did not disappoint.
We were all fighting over the last few bites of this mushroom dish. Sauteed wild mushrooms in a rich sauce, topped with parsley and some bread on the side to soak up all of the sauce. Which we did.
Saving the best for last, these beauties would be Borgo’s eggplant ‘fritta’ with a little pail (cute, hey?) of fennel yogurt dip. Eggplant can get mushy easily, so it was fantastic to enjoy the vegetable in crispy ‘french fry’ shape. I will always order this dish every time I’m in the restaurant. Even an eggplant hater would succumb to the tastiness of this dish. No joke!
After digesting the entire small bites menu, we were still a tad hungry, so decided to order some gnocchi to share, as well as some swordfish (fish option changes daily), followed by their dessert platter which featured four Italian desserts including a chocolate-dipped cannoli and a heavenly sweet panna cotta.
As far as drinks go here, Borgo offers a solid selection of wines and cocktails, but what I found most interesting is that the restaurant has three Italian beers that are imported directly from Italy (like the Birra Moretti, pictured) and are exclusive to the restaurant, well, in Calgary anyway.
Lastly, I just want to mention that the price point of the menu here is absolutely amazing. The most expensive dish we ordered was the gnocchi, which was only $16. Small bites ranged from $2-$8. If the IKEA ‘Start the car!’ commercial pops into your head when you get the bill, that’s ok…it happened to me too!
5 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock for vegetarians)
2 TBSP butter
1 yellow onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 TBSP honey
1/2 bulb roasted garlic (chopped)
1/2 blue cheese (cubed)
2 bunches scallions (trimmed)
salt and pepper
I used to be afraid of risotto. Maybe it was the risotto disaster of 2007, an emotionally scarring event that left me with a pan of mush, and three unhappy dinner guests. I try not to bring it up anymore…too painful. Anyway, after significant culinary counselling, I have conquered my rice demons. My first risotto venture for this site was this one, which I made last summer. A bit odd, I admit, but tasty nonetheless. I enjoy a good risotto once in awhile, when I have the time to focus and stir. The time you put into this dish is always worth the wait when you finally put it on the table. If you’re wondering about the blue cheese/honey combo…trust me…it works!
Start by preheating your oven to high broil. Then, place the chicken stock in a small pot and let come to a simmer on medium-high heat. Once it starts to bubble, turn to low heat so the broth stays nice and hot! Next, melt the butter in a large pan. Add-in the onion and garlic to let cook on medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until the onions start to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Now, add the arborio rice, again, stirring regularly, and let cook for a few minutes.
Time for the liquid additions…Pour in the white wine. Stir frequently, and once the wine is almost completely absorbed, you can start ladling in the broth, what until the liquid is absorbed, then repeating the process, all the while stirring like a crazy man/woman. This process will last approximately 20 minutes.
Amidst your busy schedule stirring, we’re going to quickly roast some scallions. Place the greens into a small, prepared baking dish. Drizzle with some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, then pop into the oven for 12-15 minutes. Turning once halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside.
Once your risotto rice has reached that nice al dente bite (again, about 20 minutes or so), add the honey, blue cheese, and roasted garlic to the pan. Still stirring, always stirring, until the cheese has melted and blended into the mixture. Finally, add a good helping of ground black pepper, and salt if you think you need some, but you probably won’t.
Scoop the risotto onto the plate, top with some of those roasted scallions, and serve. I recommend that you also suggest to your dinner guests that a round of golf claps are in order for making a successful batch of risotto. Enjoy!
Total cook time…30-35 min
3 large tomatoes (ripe!)
3 cloves garlic
1 TBSP dried basil
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
1/2 cup fresh basil
salt & pepper
2 packs of gnocchi (store-bought, or click here for an easy gnocchi recipe)
Making your own pasta sauce is so easy and so worth it. This is not a revolutionary recipe by any means, but instead, let it serve as a reminder that sometimes the simplest things can be the tastiest!
Place some olive oil in a large-sized pan and set it to medium-high heat. Chop your onion, garlic, and tomatoes then place them into the pan. Let them cook, the onions will soften and the tomatoes will start to release their juices, stir the mixture occasionally. After about 15 minutes, the sauce will have thickened, add in the cup of vegetable stock and the dried herbs, salt & pepper to taste. Let simmer for another 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. Why not chop your fresh basil while you’re waiting?
Gnocchi only takes a few minutes in boiling water to be ready (they’ll float to the top) so you can get them going when your sauce is just about ready. I add in the cheese right at the end, give the sauce a final stir, then you’re ready to plate. Strain the gnocchi, top with sauce and finish with the fresh basil! Italy would be so proud!
Total cook time…30 min
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