Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Matcha Almond Smoothie Made With Almond breeze




I think I have shared the fact that we don't drink cow's milk on the blog before. I mean, we put a splash in our coffee and I bake with it and eat ice cream but to pouring a big glass of cold cow's milk is just never going to happen around here. Nobody is lactose intolerant or allergic, although I have been tempted to lie about that over the years. Back when people would get all up in my grill about not giving my toddler huge glasses of icy cold cow's milk because it was going to cause him to never grow, I wish I had a picture of my future 6' 15 year old to waggle in their faces. When The Kid was little, he would act like you were trying to kill him if you tried to give him a glass of milk. Because of this, we have depended on alternate forms of milk type drinks to make our morning smoothies, put on cereal etc and our favourite is almond milk.

Soy milk leaves a weird, greasy film in my mouth that I don't like and I just prefer that almondy taste of almond milk. So, I guess my chance to wear a milk mustache is a about zero percent and the soy milk people won't be knocking down my door, but I y'am what I y'am.

I accepted the challenge to come up with a recipe using Almond Breeze because we already drink it on the regular but I have never tried to cook with it and welcomed the opportunity to force myself to use it in a new way. To start with, I used the non sweetened version in a smoothie which was actually new to me. and I am currently trying out some actual recipes using this stuff.  I always use the vanilla but since the whole point is to find new ways to use this product, I made one of our favourite morning drinks using the unsweetened almond milk, half expecting to find that it wasn't going to be sweet enough. This drink is certainly not the prettiest smoothie that ever was, but it's delicious.

This is what it looks like with half the amount of matcha powder if you think your kids will rebel against the greyish blue

I am happy to report that I think I preferred the original over the vanilla. I like adding my own honey so that I know exactly how much sugar is in my drink and without the vanilla component, I could really taste the matcha, which I love. Clearly, this is not a pretty drink. The matcha and blueberries combine to make a lovely shade of grey but it tastes great and the matcha is good for you and tastes way better than something like Greens Plus so we have learned to embrace the grey. 


I was also given this Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender to try out as well and it works just fine, even with the frozen fruit and for a unit that retails for less than $20, that was a concern but it had no trouble at all. Another plus is that you can just take it and go since the lid turns the blender container into a portable drink cup. That means less vessels to wash and that is always a good thing. A minus is that it only makes one drink at a time, so it's great for one or, maybe, two people but maybe not the right blender if you have more people to smoothie up in the morning.                                                    Now, if someone would just come up with an appliance to whip up single serve cheese omelets that you can just pick up and take out the door. A girl can dream.


This is clearly a sponsored post but, as you know, any opinion that come out of my fingers is absolutely my own.



Almond Matcha Smoothie


serves 2-3

2 cups original almond breeze
*1 frozen banana
1/3 cup frozen pineapple
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 heaping tbls matcha powder
2 tbls honey

*I freeze bananas whole, in the skin. The skin will turn dark in the freezer but the banana underneath is fine. Remove from the freezer and use a small knife to cut the skin away before chopping it into chunks


Throw all of the ingredients in a blender and puree on high until everything is completely smooth.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How To Use Up Leftovers so that they don't taste like leftovers - I Give You Risotto Cakes


If you do a search of my blog, you will see that we appear to eat a lot of risotto. As soon as the weather turns colder, risotto gets bumped up to the regular weekly rotation. If you have some stock, a glass of white wine or a bottle of beer laying around, a handful of leftover meat or seafood, some vegetables or maybe some dried mushrooms, a little chunk of parmesan and a pat of butter lying around, you have dinner.

Risotto gets a bad reputation as a difficult, time consuming, special occasion dish, but it's not. Sure, it requires 20 minutes of standing at the stove, stirring the rice while it cooks but that is also 20 well deserved moments of peace with a glass of wine - it's like kitchen meditation and it is a treasured event for me. I don't share all of the recipes because it's often just a handful of cauliflower, three green beans and a couple of dried mushrooms, but here are my favourites:

Risotto Al Nero di Seppia
Beet Risotto
Corn Risotto
Brown Butter Risotto with Lobster
Mushroom Prosecco Risotto
Clam Risotto
Shrimp and Arugula Risotto
Risotto with Fresh Peas
Prosecco Risotto with Seared Scallops
Mushroom Risotto

Best of all, leftover risotto means, risotto cakes although I have been known to make risotto just so we can turn it into oozing cakes the next day. This is more of a method than a recipe and I have given you amounts for 4 hamburger sized patties but if you have more risotto, adjust the amounts accordingly. You can make them smaller and serve as an appetizer or full sized with a big salad as your entree.

Risotto Cakes

makes 4 cakes


approx 2 cups leftover risotto (1/2 cup per cake is a good measure)
about 100g a good, melting cheese like mozzarella, smoked gouda etc
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Make a dredging station with three shallow bowls - one with flour and salt and pepper, the middle with the beaten egg and in the third combine the panko and parmesan.

I don't like making the cakes too huge or else they tend to fall apart when you are cooking them so I use about 1/2 cup in each. Form the cold risotto (Its easiest to work with straight from the fridge) into a ball and press and indent with your thumb. Insert a 1" square of cheese and then close the rice back over it until it's totally encased by the rice. Now make a little hamburger shaped patty out of it and dredge in the flour, then dip in the beaten egg and then, finally coat in the panko/parmesan/parsley.
Heat a fry pan over med to med high heat and add enough oil to completely coat the bottom of the pan.

Add your cakes to the hot pan and cook around 3 to 5 minutes before flipping to the other side. Keep an eye and make sure the bottom looks like it has formed a nice, nutty brown crust. Flip and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes on the other side and remove to a paper towel lined plate (you don't have to do that but I like to feel like I am making the effort to soak up the excess oil).

If you are making a large batch, you can preheat the oven to about 250 and keep them warm on a cookie sheet in there until you done making them all.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Chili with Chorizo


Winter is just around the corner and I find myself craving stuff like chili, stew and soup. Went I came to the blog looking for my chili, I was surprised to find that I didn't have a straight up recipe for my regular chili. I found a great recipe for Red Chili Pork and Beans, Lentil Chili, and a Chili Chicken Soup but no simple, meaty chili. I was sure that I had posted it at some point and after a search, I found it on No reEats, the blog that documented my year of never repeating a recipe. To be honest, that year was such a blur of stress and mental anguish, that I think I have blocked most of the meals from my memory in order to protect my fragile psyche. 

I made a batch of this stuff over the weekend and realized that I had to share it with you guys because it's too good to keep to myself. This fills my 5 quart heavy pot or my 5 quart crock pot. It freezes beautifully by the way.

Chili with Chorizo

makes approx 4-5 quarts
small glug olive oil
500 g ground beef
300 g mild chorizo sausage, removed from casing and broken up into chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
796 ml can kidney beans
2 tbls cumin
5-6 tbls chili powder
1 heaping tbls mexican oregano
341 ml bottle of beer
700 ml tomato puree
1 cup chicken stock
kosher salt

optional to serve: sour creme, grated sharp cheddar, cilantro, lime and tortilla chips

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over med heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes before adding the meats. Brown the meat until all the pink is gone. Add the cumin, chili powder, and a pinch of salt and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the beer, the stock, the beans, tomato puree and oregano. Stir well and bring to a light simmer, cover partially with the lid and let it cook like that for an hour. Taste after an hour and adjust seasonings if you need to, add more salt if it needs it. Keep cooking it until it has reduced to the consistency that you like at this point. We like our chill pretty thick so I usually have to cook it for another 45 minutes or an hour.

*to cook in a slow cooker, saute the onion, garlic and the meats through to the adding of the spices and then scrape the meat/spice mixture into your slow cooker, add the beer, the stock, beans, tomato puree and oregano and cook it for 6-8 hours on low.

We all eat it differently so I serve all of the condiments on the side - Shack likes it with sour cream and cheddar, I like a bit of cheddar, cilantro and a squeeze of lime  and The Kid likes it naked. We all like to eat it with some tortilla chips

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Week In Yum Sept 20-26 The WIndup Bird Cafe, MacKellar Farms, Almond Breeze, Lobster Mushrooms and What's Coming Up This Week


Last Saturday, I took The Kid to The Windup Bird Cafe for the first of two, free sushi making classes that Sang Kim is offering to bring awareness to about child poverty and food insecurity right here in our own backyard. It was a packed house with kids from the age of 6 up to 15 with the majority hovering around 11 years old  (my kid was the giant 15 year old of the bunch).

What I loved most about this afternoon class was not the facet that he learned to actually make a maki roll, although I am thrilled that he now has an appreciation of just how finicky these things are to make. No, what I loved was the sneaky way Sang uses making sushi as a sort of metaphor to make these kids think about something a little deeper. After each roll is finished, he makes sure that they all eat the roll they just made, even if it was terrible. After everyone has eaten their roll, they go on to the next and at the very end, they all say they are now full and can't eat any more. 

Sang asks them if they have noticed that, now that their bellies are full, they are all calmer and more focused, their rolls have vastly improved and they are all paying more attention to what they are doing? He then tells them that when a child is hungry, that child has trouble focusing on anything other than his/her grumbling tummy. Without fuel, our brains don't function properly, making school work and even just managing our behaviour a difficult task.

He then asks them who makes their breakfasts and lunches? All the hands shoot up to shouts of "my mom or my parents!"

Sang then tells them of his own childhood as one of many children of a poor, struggling single mom who often had trouble putting food on the table and how he, himself, usually went without breakfast and lunch most days. Imagine, he says, how difficult it must be for a child to do well at school on an empty stomach. He reminds them that they are very privileged to have parents who can provide them with tasty, nutritious food and that they must promise to thank their parents the minute they get home from class. There was not an eyeroll to be seen in the house.

Sometimes a sushi roll is not just a sushi roll.

There is one more class on October 4th, if it's not sold out already. Click here for more info

MacKellar Farms Edamame

It was a week of goody deliveries and the first of the bunch was a box of GMO free, all natural edamame from MacKellar Farms, right here in Ontario. I am really thrilled about this find because I have been shying away from buying edamame more and more and had no idea that buying good quality product grown locally was even an option. We ate the freshly picked soybeans boiled and salted and I made a couple of different dishes with the frozen. Needless to say, we are new fans.
recipe for edamame guacamole and ceviche tostadas coming soon
Recipe for Edamame Quinoa Cakes w Spicy Avocado Sauce click here

We finally painted the kitchen! We finally painted the kitchen!

I got something that I can't share yet because it's a surprise but I can tell you that I made smoothies all week with the first box of Almond Breeze that I was given to play with. We already use Almond Breeze all the time but  I usually buy the vanilla so it was good to be forced to try the unsweetened. I was pleasantly surprised to find that nobody complained and I liked controlling the amount of sweetener in the finished product. Be on the lookout for a couple of recipes in the next couple of weeks as I continue to play around.
this almond matcha smoothie is as delicious as it is unattractively grey! Recipe coming soon
I did something else that is a surprise - sooooo many secrets this week- and the next thing I knew, the week was over.


Oh yeah, I finally got my hands on some lobster mushrooms so I made a risotto with them. I threw in some dried morels and instead of using butter for the mantacare finish, I drizzled some porcini sage olive oil with the parmesan and then topped it off with a little pile of buttery, sauteed enoki mushrooms. Holy mother of god, it was delicious. The mushrooms, which are kind of not really mushrooms at all, really give off a lobstery smell and taste faintly of the sea. It's called a lobster mushroom because of it's bright orange colour and rather than being an actual mushroom, it's a parasitic ascomycete fungus that grows on certain species of mushrooms. YUMMY, right?





Shack and I spent Friday shopping to prepare for our BBQ feast on Saturday. As a birthday gift to a good friend, we are making dinner for his birthday party. We bought 20 lbs of ribs, almost 10 lbs of pork shoulder for Shack's pulled pork with mustard mop, I am making a couple pounds of buttermilk coleslaw, baked beans, grilled corn with thyme brown butter, skillet cornbread with maple jalapeno butter and a baked potato bar. It's been a very long time since we have put on a spread like this and it feels good. Hopefully it won't suck or make everyone sick, knock on wood while throwing salt over both shoulders and spitting like my friend, Shirley Meisels taught me. I will tell you all about it next week.

Phew Phew


Coming up:

The Delicious Food Show is quickly approaching but while you wait, why not enter their contest to win the dream kitchen that will be featured during the show? If it's good enough for Tyler Florence and Mario Batali, it's good enough for you, right?

The third year anniversary is also the date of the LAST TUM event ever this Saturday, Sept 27. Why not buy a ticket and go give them the send off they deserve since they truly were pioneers in the current food scene here in the city. Tickets are just $15 bucks and because I can't go, you have to go and eat for me. Get your tickets here 

On Sunday, Soupalicious takes over Wychwood Barns - click here to read up on the who, what, when, where and why of the whole thing. All I need to know is that there will be soup. Lots and lots of soup.

Canada's Baking and Sweets Show is coming up next weekend if dessert is your thang. It's a whole weekend of nothing but sugar, sugar and more sugar with lots of celebrity chefs and demos.



Pin of the week:  This might be happening and I am as excited as The Kid is terrified!

Instagram of the week: gorgeous feed from a Southern Ontario food writer

Facebook share of the week:


Coolest thing I saw all week:




'Green Marilyn' - John Malkovich recreates iconic photos

Tweet of the week:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

MacKellar Farms & Edamame Quinoa Cakes W Egg and Spicy Avocado Sauce



We love edamame. If you have ever eaten sushi, you have probably had steamed, salted edamame in the pod and might not even know what edamame is apart from the fact that it is a tasty snack. Let me give you quick answer: it is the preparation of immature soybean in the pod and it's packed with protein, fibre, folates, vitamin K and more. In North America, we just call the actual soybean edamame, regardless of how it's prepared or whether it's in the shelled or removed. One of my favourite, quick lunch bag items, we go through this stuff like an ape goes through bananas.

As much as we love the stuff, I am becoming increasingly wary of the soybeans coming from overseas because I can't really be sure about the quality. I keep reading all kinds of stuff about GMO's and other sketchy practices in production, never mind the fact that they are coming half way around the world to land in my freezer so who really knows how fresh they are? It is widely reported that 99% of our edamame is a GMO coming from either China , Thailand or some other East Asian country but even most of the American grown soybean is a GMO product, so what are we supposed to do?

I was told about an Ontario farm that is growing non GMO soybeans and set out to find some. A handsome young farmer, Jacob MacKellar, is the fourth generation running the show at MacKellar Farms and he is growing what I was looking for. He is the very first producer of 100% naturally grown, non GMO edamame in Canada, representing the mere 1% of edamame grown right here at home and he also happens to be in my Province. I got in touch and asked if I could sample some of the product and received a care package of freshly picked as well as bags of frozen in the out of the shell edamame to try.

We boiled and salted the fresh and ate them straight up because I wanted to really taste the soybean in it's natural state. They were delicious and fresh and I will be forever spoiled from now on. I tried the frozen, shelled edamame in two different recipes and again, the quality was excellent. No freezer burn, good colour, fresh taste and great texture and best of all, grown right here in Ontario, traceable, accountable, all natural and nutritious.
SOLD!

To find a store that sells MacKellar Farms edamame near you, click here

Clearly, I was given the edamame I used to make this recipe but my opinions are absolutely mine and this will now be my regular edamame in my home.



Edamame Quinoa Cakes with Egg and Spicy Avocado Sauce

this makes a great brunch dish or a light supper and between the quinoa, edamame and the egg, it's packed with protein 
serves 4-6


Edamame Quinoa Cakes:

1 cup cooked, cold quinoa
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 scallion, chopped
zest from 1/2 lime
1/3 cup cilantro
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko

Put the cold quinoa in a big bowl.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook your frozen edamame for about 3 minutes, drain under cold water and set aside.
Into your food processor: garlic, scallion, lime zest, cilantro, salt and the well drained, cooled edamame. Pulse until it's smooth but still a bit coarse with texture - don't puree it.
Scrape into a bowl with the quinoa and blend well, taste for salt and add more if needed.  Now add in the egg and stir again, mixing well and finally, add in the panko. After a final mix, put the mixture into the fridge while you get your sauce together.


Spicy Avocado Sauce

1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup water
7 canned tomatillos
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup cilantro
1 seeded jalapeno (or to taste)

Throw everything into the blender and blend until you have a smooth sauce. Taste, adjust salt and hot pepper if needed and set aside.

To make the cakes:


edamame quinoa cakes
olive oil to fry the cakes
*poached or fried eggs
spicy avocado sauce
feta cheese
arugula

Put a small handful of arugula down on each serving plate.


form the mixture into balls - you should be able to get 6 of them. Heat a bit of olive oil in a frying pan over med heat and add the balls, flattening them down a bit with a spatula to form little hamburger sized cakes. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned and crispy.

Remove and set on top of the arugula.

Top each cake with a poached egg, spoon some sauce over them and sprinkle some crumbled feta over the top.




*to poach soft eggs with runny yolk:
heat  at least 4" of water to a light simmer and add about a tsp of white vinegar to the water. Use a wooden spoon handle to create a cyclone inside the pot but stirring really fast in one direction. I like to crack the eggs, one at a time into a shallow bowl and slide them gently into the barely simmering water, right into the vortex of the swirl you created. Put up to four eggs in the pan and turn on your time for 3 minutes if they are straight from the fridge and 2 minutes if they are at room temperature. When the timer goes off, remove them gently with a slotted spoon and rest them on a plate lined with a piece of paper towel unless you really like wet eggs that make your food all soggy. I don't like soggy food so I let the slotted spoon rest on paper towel.

You can make the eggs a bit ahead of time and hold them in a bowl of very warm water while you get everything ready.



Saturday, September 20, 2014

The week in yum 13-19 Flavor Your Life, Danish Obsession, Paul Cunningham


Thrilling the Loblaws gang with my Cauliflower Fried Rice

This week was pretty busy, starting with our annual tomato canning session with Nonna , my September Cooking Demo at Loblaws, deliveries of Almond Breeze, Nanny Hudson's Homestyle Ketchup and a box of edamame from MacKellar Farms. This means that there is going to be a whole lot of cooking going on in the next couple of weeks and that means lots of new recipes coming on the blog. Except for our Friday night trip to The Wren, we didn't eat out much so there isn't a lot to report on that front. I did attend a couple of media events but otherwise, I stuck pretty close to home.

Flavor Your Life
delicious canapes and desserts, all made with EVOO at Brassaii

I bet you might think you know a lot about olive oil. I know I thought I knew how to choose a decent oil until this week, when I attended a presentation put on by the Flavor Your Life campaign. Jointly funded by the EU, the Italian Department for Agriculture and Unaprol, this campaign wants to increase awareness and, in turn, consumption of high quality olive oil. Unaprol, established back in the 60's, is the largest Italian association for olive growers and now represents more than 500,000 olive farms and works tirelessly to promote European production of quality olive oil.


Anthropologist and food journalist, Robert Beauchemin, schooled us for a good hour on the facts and the the frustration of navigating the world of olive oils while we snacked on various appetizers made with, of course, olive oil. He told us how to choose a quality oil, what to look for on the label, when to use it (you should use it within one year of the date of production on the label if you want to enjoy the health benefits of the oil but the taste will last for two years) and where to buy it. The sad reality here in Canada is that the oils that most of us buy at the grocery store and use in our kitchens that are not what they say they are - for instance, what is the point of saying that an extra virgin oil is cold pressed when ALL olive oil is cold pressed. It's like bragging that your chicken nuggets are COOKED! The majority of "extra virgin olive oils" sold in the grocery store are adulterated blends of oils, not all olive and from various countries and in the worst cases, containing scary additives that lower  the acidity in order to "look" like it's extra virgin.   A "made in Italy" on the label means nothing without the EU seal of approval unless, perhaps, the label was made in Italy. If you are paying less than $13 for a 500ml bottle of extra virgin, you can be assured that it's fake.

they say we eat with our eyes....food bloggers eat with their phones

The evening ended with a couple of Chef Marcus Monteiro's desserts made with olive oil while he answered questions about baking and confectionary using oil instead of butter. We were sent home with a really good bottle of Bellucci EVOO from Tuscany (and I know it's from Tuscany because it says so on the label, which has both the EU stamp and is certified by the IOC (the International Oil Council) AND it's also a traceable bottle so that I can actually trace this exact it back to the groves it came from and the farm that produced it.

I have been inspired to make a dessert using my gifted bottle of olive oil so be on the lookout for that.

 Bloggers on couches snapping pics , me, @DragonsKitchen , @AphroditeCooks@ATasteofWorld

A big thank you to Brassaii restaurant for hosting the evening in their lovely space and to Mary Luz Mejia for inviting me to this event.


Danish Design Obsessed at The Bay

are all British men charming and funny with Rickey Gervais' teeth? I am starting to think so

The next day, I got to meet Chef Paul Cunningham, formerly of the michelin starred The Paul in Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens. When the stress and pressure of maintaining that star (awarded only 9 months after opening) landed him in the hospital for over a month, this transplanted Brit closed down The Paul, moved his family to the wild and wooly west coast of Denmark and he opened a lovely Inn, The Henne Kirkeby Kro, where he and his band of merry cooks run amok in the huge gardens and surrounding environs, working with what he calls a local kitchen as a base but using spices he brings back from his world travels.

He has written a whack of cookbooks, both in Danish and in English and is a very funny, engaging guy. For the occasion, he made a deconstructed lemon meringue pie which also happens to be my favourite dessert in the entire world. A dollop of tart lemon curd cosied up to a mound of torched, soft meringue and a spoonful of wild blueberries. Crushed cookie crumbs dusted over the top was then pushed just over the top with a drizzle of......
what?????


EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

After spending the evening learning not just about olive oil, but focusing on the use of olive oil in desserts, I get to taste a dessert that depends on the addition of olive oil to , as Cunningham put it "add an adult feel to what could be a childish dish and waken the taste buds"

If I wasn't already fired up about making a sweet of some kind using olive oil, I was after tasting this lemon dessert that was basically designed just for me.

So, if I hadn't been invited to come and check this event out, I wouldn't even know it was happening and even some intense googling on my part has revealed very little information about it. What I know is that for the next couple of weeks The Bay will be featuring Danish design and food. You can wander around the store and check out some fresh, new design lines like Whiite and then go down to the basement and order the Danish menu while this promotion is going on. We tried some very nice Danish ale and cheeses and then proceeded to the hot table for lunch.
There was a tasty roast pork served with mashed potatoes, red cabbage and gravy for $10.89 , a selection of smorrebrod (2 for $10.99 or 3 for $13.49) and a rhubarb and berry compote with whipped cream for dessert ($5.00) It's kind of expensive if you want to actually try it all but the two pieces of smorrebrod that I tried were delicious, especially the vegetarian version with Havarti, beets and remoulade.



The Crown Princess of Denmark was on hand briefly to torch some meringue and pose for pictures before moving off to perform more royal duties elsewhere in the store. She was everything you would expect a Danish Princess to be - poised, lovely, slim, dressed tastefully and gracious with good hair.

The Danish Obsession event will be going on until October 6th at the Queen St Store.

We ended the week with dinner at The Wren with The Neighbours, which is always a great way to end the week.
a trio of apps from their $5-$6 app menu


Coming up:

The Toronto Garlic Festival this Sunday at the Brickworks



Monday, September 15, 2014

Canning Tomatoes with Nonna and Shack's Favourite Rigatoni with Tomato and Sausage




It's tomato time! 

 2011  was the last time we spent the day with Nonna and the gang, washing, blanching, grinding, skinning, boiling and jarring bushels of juicy plum tomatoes. Looking at those pictures, I can't believe how much The Kid and his friend, Patricia have grown and wonder how it is possible that as everyone else gets older, Nonna keeps looking younger all the time!

Guardians of the future

If you have never done this before, you might wonder why anyone would work from the crack of dawn until suppertime just to come away with 20 litre bottles of tomato puree? At $20 a bushel for the tomatoes, approx $1 a jar for jars and lids, surely you can just buy cans of decent San Marzanos for a couple bucks and save your lower back and shoulders?

three teens, three adult women plus Nonna and one strong man to tighten the lids and it still takes over 7 hours to process a dozen bushels
As I have said many times, I didn't grow up with any sort of strong, cultural family traditions. We were kind of Irishish, my mom was very far removed from her French Canadian roots and we lived a pretty white bread, 70's existence. We certainly enjoyed a big turkey dinner at Christmas and Thanksgiving, baked ham at Easter and big, family Sunday dinners until I was a teen but nothing that even comes close to the yearly wine making extravaganza, tomato canning or the making of 4 million tamales that other families joined forces to undertake year after year.


Soon, it will be these kids who will take the reigns and grow up to share this family tradition with their own children.

Because our children are now teenagers, they have taken over the more laborious aspects of tomato preserving as they operate the machine that skins and grinds the tomatoes, bringing up the cases of clean jars from the basement and dragging around the heavy buckets of tomatoes in their various states of being. For them, it's time to laugh and gossip and tease and the time passes unnoticed. They are also starting to take turns stirring the bubbling, red mulch as Nonna walks back and forth, adjusting the flame of the propane burner, tidying this and that, bringing espresso, apple cake and cannelloni, gently barking "Sotto, sotto!" when the person wielding what looks like a giant canoe paddle starts to get lazy. You have to stir in a figure 8 or the tomato in the middle of the huge pot will stick and burn and it's the most stressful part of the entire operation.

By dinner time, shoulders are aching, lower backs are twitching and our dogs are barking, everyone is covered in splatters of pulp and the garage looks like a crime scene but our reward lies inside of those ten cases of jars, sitting upside down under heavy blankets where they will rest for the week until we get the call to come and claim our booty.


After it was all jarred,  was just enough sauce to fill 3/4 of a small jar and Nonna told us to take it home, along with another 750ml jar so that I could make Shack some pasta for supper because he must have really worked up an appetite with all of that strenuous lid tightening. You know, I used ot think that I was Nonna's favourite but there is no longer any doubt that it is Shack, our big, strong, jar putter onner, that has won her heart. 

should I be worried? They look pretty cosy together, don't they?

We will be forever grateful to the Altobello family for sharing their knowledge, traditions and, most importantly,  their wonderful Nonna with us.
Oh, and the tomatoes are pretty good too.

it's hungry work and Nonna makes sure that you never lose steam


Shack's Favourite Tomato Sausage Sauce

if I let him, this is what Shack would eat every night for dinner, 7 nights a week. It's important that the tomatoes are smoothly pureed so if you are using canned San Marzano tomatoes, puree them in the blender or with an immersion blender before adding them to the pot


serves approx 6 main course servings or 8 as a first course or 3 if one of your dinner guests is Shack

ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 sweet italian sausages
*1 tsp #5 umami paste (leave out if you can't find it but it really enhances the flavour so look for it)
5 cups tomato puree
2 tsp salt (if tomato puree is unsalted - otherwise start with 1 tsp and then to taste)
1 heaping tsp dried oregano
1 handful roughly chopped, fresh basil

Rigatoni, freshly grated romano cheese

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot until shimmering and then add in the onion. Saute the onion, stirring from time to time, until softened but not browning at all, about 4 or 5 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, remove the sausage from the casings, discard the casings and set aside.

Add in the garlic, saute for another minute and then add in the sausage. You want to break the sausage up so you can keep smashing it down with a wooden spoon as you brown it or even use a potato masher to break it up as it cooks. When no more pink remains, stir in the umami paste, mix well and then pour in the tomatoes. Bring to a light simmer, add in the salt and the oregano and let it cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Add the basil right at the end and take the pot off of the heat.

Cook a heavy pasta (we like rigatoni with meat sauce) until al dente, drain it and then return it to the empty pasta pot. Ladle in just enough sauce to coat the pasta as you toss it around in the sauce.

Divide the pasta between bowls, ladle more sauce on top and sprinkle with freshly grated cheese.

*Umami paste is a paste made of concentrated anchovy, porcinis and a bunch of other stuff. Loblaws sell PC #5 umami paste. You can order it online at Amazon, Dean and Deluca. It's called a flavour bomb and can be added to just about anything



LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...