Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chorizo Pesto Pasta




I can hardly believe that this is week #140 of Presto Pasta Nights . This week's host is Kait of Pots and Plots I'm amazed that the Grand Pubah, Ruth of Once Upon a Feast has been able to find the energy to keep this event going each and every week (even with help). You still have time - until Friday to submit your entry. One can never have too many pasta recipes.


Since I'm leaving to spend some time with Psychgrad and "R" and their new home, I've been working on not buying any groceries until I get back and using up everything in my fridge.
This pasta looked rather interesting so why not. OK, what's in the fridge - hmmm...some sausage, mushrooms - yup, we can do this.

Chorizo Pesto Pasta

Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pkg 375 g Pesto Rotini Pasta
2 links chorizo sausage (Italian would work too)
1/2 large or 1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
red wine to deglaze (optional)
1 tin (398 ml/14oz) tomato sauce
cherry tomatoes, as desired

Heat olive oil in fry pan and add onions just until they begin to be translucent. Add garlic and stir but don't burn.
Cut up 2 links of chorizo sausage; brown with onions and garlic, add mushrooms.
Deglaze with wine, add tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes

Optional: I added a mix of dried herbs and some chili peppers.


The one thing I most appreciate about pasta is its resiliency. You can throw together anything and always (well...nearly always) end up with something. StumbleUpon

Monday, November 16, 2009

Louisiana Banana Bread


This is the time of year that I go through the freezer and think about what I need to clear out to make room for the mass quantity of holiday baking that will need a spot for holiday giving. Oh look, only a gazillion bananas in zip lock freezer bags that need to get used. As I combed the internet looking for a fresh new (to me) recipe I happened upon this Louisiana Banana Bread that looked promising.




Louisiana Banana Bread

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice
4 eggs
2 cups bananas, mashed (about 4 medium)
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream the butter with the sugar, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, then add bananas. Sift all dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients, alternately with sour cream; fold in nuts.
Bake in two greased (or spray with nonstick coating) loaf pans at 350 F for 50-55 minutes.



Makes 2 loaves
I made 1 loaf and 8 mini loaves. The mini loaves were about 40 minutes bake time.

Verdict: No disappointments here. I'd never made a banana bread with sour cream before and the consistency that resulted was terrific. I think this is going to be my new "go to" recipe from here on in. It's light, nutty and very flavourful. StumbleUpon

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Celebrations


There are so many good things happening - lots of celebrations to share.

Firstly
, the BloggerAid Cook Book is available for purchase on Create Space, an arm of Amazon.com. If you go to amazon.com, you won't find the book so follow the link below the picture of the cover to get there.




After nearly a year of very hard work by so many, this 224 page book that contains approximately 140 unique recipes from over 60 countries is finally completed. 100% of the royalties have been assigned to School Meals with the World Food Programme.

We're incredibly impressed with the international efforts of so many who made this happen. A world can indeed come together with purpose.

Secondly

Psychgrad is on the move - I mean literally moving. She and "R" just got the keys to their new home. It's a celebration on two fronts. Firstly and most importantly, this is their first home. Visualize paint cans, ladders, moving trucks, boxes...more boxes, bread and salt on the kitchen counter (baba is superstitious about having this in a new home). I can hear lots of sighs as the paint rollers glide across the walls transforming the house into their own. Secondly and pretty exciting is that mom gets to go on a road trip - yipeeeee!!! With dogs in tow, we'll set out to help (read: supervise) the moving process and hope that I don't get clobbered within the first 24 hours of arrival. So, there's a very real chance that you may just get stuck with me until Psychgrad can find her way back to her computer.

Thirdly

Keeping with the theme of celebrations, last night we went out to celebrate!! My brother is one of the producers for the revival of the Broadway musical Ragtime

If you happen to be in the New York City area, Ragtime opens at the Neil Simon Theatre on Sunday, November 15th. We took baba out for dinner to share in the excitement. We went to our favourite local Italian restaurant; one we hadn't been to in a long while.

I loved the presentation on the appetizer so of course the camera had to come out. I asked about a source for these long handled spoons that come in two sizes - this is the small size. Apparently they're from Mexico.

I had shrimp diablo that was incredibly tasty with a pretty good kick.



followed by roast chicken



and tiramisu for dessert


They say things come in 3's - I'm pretty happy with these three good things :) StumbleUpon

Friday, November 13, 2009

President's Choice Kicking off the Holiday Season


The Halloween goodies are off the shelves in the supermarkets. Canadians usually see this as the switch in thinking directly to the Holiday Season and the countdown begins. Entertainment plans are being made and decadent cakes and cookies move to the front burner. I'm already seeing the glitz and glitter everywhere and soon the Santa Claus parade will be making its serpentine run to delight children and adults alike.

This week I was one of the invitees to the President's Choice kick off for the holidays. An Insider's Report is created and mass mailed to give families a look at what's new for the 2009 season.


The event was held in a well appointed home converted to a holiday theme to showcase both foods and decorating ideas. This year, we'll see 8 ft. PC Christmas Trees in the stores. For me, a tree is a tree so no great hype but what did impress me was that Loblaws has taken a responsible stand on tree sales. For every tree that's sold, another is planted. I'm liking this philosophy.


Many decorating ideas created from moderate cost items available in the stores.





Generally, I'm more inclined to "do it from scratch". But, I'm also aware that this coming time of year can be more than just stressful for many families who just don't have the time. In between school concerts, hockey tournaments, dance and gymnastics it just doesn't make sense to take sleep out of your daily repetoire.

Here's a look at some of the things that impressed me the most. They are not even closely indicative of everything available.



These shrimp wontons are a hit. I wouldn't hesitate to serve them in my home. They're delicious and each portion has a good sized shrimp on the inside.





I have such little experience cooking with Indian flavours. If you like appetizers with a kick, these are the ones (another one I'll be stocking)



At the risk of sounding like a commercial I'll just say that I'm pretty impressed with the gravlax salmon appetizers. For me it takes President's Choice to Progressive Culinary. Apart from my foodie friends, not many would even know what gravlax is.





For those who prefer not to embibe, a non alcoholic sparkling drink bottled to look like champagne.



A large series of mocktail mixes that include mojito, mulled sparkling cider and my favourite Sicilian lemon.



After sampling the lamb, which has not been one of my most successful dishes to prepare, I realized I can be a hero with this one that tastes pretty amazing and looks great to serve to the table.




and let's not forget about dessert. The plate is a cool thing - it's actually a shadow box and you can change the inside with whatever theme you like.


I don't think I can allow myself to keep the almonds or truffles in the house - yep, they're that good.


It was fun to see what's new. This is a small sampling but definitely falls into the category of some of my favourite things (hmmm...isn't that an Oprahism??) StumbleUpon

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

First Annual Foodbuzz Festival




A Canadian from the east taking a trip to the west is something to look forward to on the list of "great things to do". Taking a trip to San Francisco for the first annual Foodbuzz Festival was more than a great thing to do - it had huge big WOW factor. From the minute the plane landed each hour had something very special to offer.



I arrived a day early to just do some sightseeing and see things I hadn't seen in previous visits to SF. So here's a question. How many of you that went to the festival found yourself singing the song "Candlestick Park" on the way from the airport? How many don't know the song? Am I really aging myself?

After checking into the hotel I finally got to meet Val from More Than Burnt Toast. Can you even believe it? We've been co-administrators of BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine and working together all this time and this is the first time we've actually met in person.

We went out for dinner and found that we both like chicken. Val had the lemon chicken

and I had the cashew chicken

From my previous post, you probably already gathered that I get a kick out of the quirky things in life. Now, honestly...how many restaurants can you go to where the guy at the next table is staff and he's shelling peas for dinner?


Let's not forget a short jaunt over to Little Italy to visit the Italian French Bakery (that one confused me a little) for one of their gigantic macaroons


Maybe Zoe from Zoe Bakes can teach us all how to create these lovely breads that we found at the Boudin Cafe.





and no trip to Fisherman's Wharf is complete without a visit with the ever entertaining sea lions



Day 1 was a registration day followed by a cocktail reception well managed by our new BFF, Brian the bartender.

After a bit of getting to know you filled with "so you're so and so" and "oh I've been following your blog forever" and watching everyone, camera in hand doing everything you've been doing for so long. The real difference was that you didn't have your family around you telling you "you're not taking another picture are you"... we were all just doing what we do naturally and it was all okay. Whew!!! I'm not crazy afterall.

Then it was on to experience the street food of San Francisco and you enjoyed everything from burritos to pizzas;

to pork sandwiches

(by the way - these were to die for)
and fungi vol au vente


and, of course - doesn't every city have oyster street food?



Day 2
A visit to the market, olive oil tasting and becoming an expert in sparkling wines from the inside out, followed by a salon filled with 60 purveyors and a ton of samples.











Day 2 - Evening - Outstanding in the Field

Entering, we were greeted by an outstanding display of local produce


and a series of tables that snaked from one end of the warehouse to the other

The Menu










Let's not forget our incredible chefs!!!



To all our friends, new and seasoned - we were so happy to meet you and spend such precious time with you. From Canada - A Bientot!!! (See Y'all Soon)

To all the hard working folks at FoodBuzz - This first annual festival was incredibly well put together. You worked very hard at making it happen and you did it with style, flair and made everyone feel welcome. Thank you so very much. Can't wait until next year!!!

Note to Psychgrad - You're coming next year!!!!! StumbleUpon
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