Risotto is my go-to dinner on a fairly regular basis. It’s the kind of dish that you can make for 2, or 4, or even 8 people (pan size permitting) without a lot of stress. I’m also kind of a strange guy and like to eat cold food as midnight snacks and I think risotto is particularly tasty fresh out of the fridge in the middle of the night. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it…
This dinner definitely falls under the category of ‘Hm, what can I make with these leftover ingredients in my fridge’. Since my love for kale seems to be undying this year, I happily tossed some into this dinner as well. Barley is a great substitute for arborio rice when it comes to risotto. Especially if risotto intimidates you, I find barley to be way more forgiving. This was the first time I had ever tried to put mascarpone cheese into the rice dish as well. It added a rich, creaminess that was pretty fantastic.
It’s officially the first of August. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but it made me realise that fall is just a few weeks away – as is my birthday, if you feel like getting me a gift. With fall comes the retirement of gazpacho and the return of hot, comforting soups on my dinner table! See, fall’s not all bad. Although, I will be a little sad to see my summer tan slowly fade away.
Kale is one of my very favourite vegetables. I think it kicks the asses of all the other type of leafy greens. I’m not saying spinach is for chumps, but it can get a little boring sometimes. Anyway, cream, kale, sweet and salty pancetta…what more could you want in a soup?
I think I’ve said this before, but I love kale. It tastes good year-round. Whether I’m sautéing it in some butter with garlic, baking it into ‘chips’ – which is one of the most oddly delicious things you’ll ever try, I assure you – or just chopping it up for a salad, the leafy green never lets me down. I wish I could say the same for some of the people I’ve dated. Kidding, kidding…Well, half kidding.
Lately, I’ve also been debating whether or not to have a summer fling with barley. It doesn’t sound quite as cool as kale (obviously), but it’s a great grain that’s easy to cook and awesome in a fresh salad. Cooking it until it’s, more or less, el dente will give it a nice texture and let it hold up against salad dressings without getting mushy like some types of rice.
Alright, so I don’t normally cook on the road, but sometimes life just doesn’t go your way. As luck would have it, I had to jet set off to Toronto for a national food bloggers conference this past weekend which happened to coincide to my Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home cooking days. I wasn’t quite sure where I would end up cooking, but knew I had to find a space somehow. Traveling with produce was definitely a first for me, which may seem a bit strange, but it would have been even stranger had I chosen to travel across Canada with cuts of meat in my suitcase.
I went by The Calgary Farmers’ Market and secured the heartiest greens and fresh vegetables I could find that would make a trip safely to Ontario and last a few days while I figured out a location to whip up my recreation, Rory’s Corn Fricassee. My weekend conference was actually located just outside of Toronto at the Hockley Valley Resort where, oddly enough, Top Chef Canada season one filmed its finale. The more you know.
Even on the coldest days, a salad can be perfectly satisfying. I’m in California now, set to head off to Australia this Sunday and I have not quite obtained that amazing beach body I was looking to arrive down under with. Oh well, such is life! In a last ditch effort to get slim and trim for the warm weather, I’m sticking with salads for the rest of the week. Well…maybe not ALL week, but I shall try my best. Hm…maybe this is why my beach body never materialized…
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!
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- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home
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