Monday, February 23, 2015

Near Misses #1: Frittata and an attempt at Garlic Bread?

One of the comments I hear from people when they are listening to me talk about making supper or cooking something new is that they could never do it. Behind that is an assumption that somehow, cooking is a talent rather than something to work at and explore. It also doesn't help that there is always an idea that to make a good meal, it takes a lot of time.

So, going to start breaking down some of those myths by sharing my near misses and failures. It is only in the failures that you learn something. We had two near misses in my household this weekend; the first was a frittata that used goat cheese and the second was... interesting.


Frittata is just an Italian word shortcut for puffy omelet. Take some eggs and milk or cream. Beat them together. Put them in hot pan that can be put in the oven. Put in some carbs and other tasty things. Wait for a bit of setting and then put it in the oven. I generally put it in at 350 for until it's set and then broil it for browning or cheese melting.

We always make extra pasta and serve our sauce on the side so as to have enough leftovers to make this omelet. This time there was butter sauce on it. That's just plain butter and a little salt. The filling this time was adding a little goat cheese. Also, had a little leftover mushroom soup that I flicked on. The kids did not like it. Even though, they both have had soft goat cheese before, this time it did not go over well. A couple reasons other than that the only substantial flavour was the tang from the cheese could have been the all day sucker that they finished only hours before. Trying something out of the box at the end of the day is always risky but even worse when you have tired and strung out boys. But we did agree to try a better grade of cheese sometime in a different manner to make sure it wasn't the cheese.

Something Else

At the cheese shop, the kids tried Lankaaster cheese and really liked it. So much that they wanted to do something with it for supper. The intention was to try Mark II on the Frittata and serve it with baguette. Somewhere along the way, the plan morphed.

We got this.

This is a baguette smeared with bacon fat, topped with pasta and cheese. The kids loved it. It didn't hurt that my eldest came up with idea. It was quite rich and should have been served with fresh veggies or something to cut the fat. It wasn't. As the meal went on, there were some concessions after the initial chowdown that maybe some garlic could have been used and yes, maybe a sauce would make it better. Regardless, there is a good germ of an idea here that merits exploration.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Recipes: Family Day Sandwiches

We had bologna sandwiches and chocolate bar sandwiches for Family Day. I'm going to blame David Chang and Quebec for the first and Food & Wine for the second. 

This is a straight up recipe post with only a bit of setup. I've been messing around with bologna sandwiches for quite a while. One of my favourites is to grab mortadella which is the original bologna from, well, Bologna in Italy. It looks like our favourite except with specks of black pepper and spackled with fat nodules. My son requested this sandwich after watching an episode of In The Mind of a Chef.


Fry some thinly sliced mortadella and reserve any grease. Place on bread with provolone cheese, Italy's favourite processed cheese. I like rye bread for the bread, as it gives it that Montreal flare. Smother with mustard. Hot mustard helps cut the fat. Take sandwiches and fry them until cheese is melted or bread is at desired colour. Take it out and eat 'em. Serve them with ketchup if you must.

Now, about that chocolate bar sandwich... A friend talked about his Scottish childhood and how he would go to school with candy bar sandwiches and trade for fresh veggies and regular sandwiches. I'm beginning to question my choice to limit my kids' intake of sugar right about now. Also, in January's Food & Wine there is a recipe for Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches with Caramel Sauce. So, I tried two takes on that: one with Laura Secord's nutella homage (Nutella is better but next time) and another with a Caramilk bar. 


Put ingredients on bread. Toast them in a frying pan. Serve them with another set of liquid sugar such as caramel sauce or Mapo Spread. That's what I used. It is an incredibly sweet, maple flavoured spread. Pretty freaking awesome. The kids preferred the candy bar one as the caramel and chocolate had seeped into the bread. This is an easy dessert but you will have to have candy bars on hand. In some houses, this is an impossible task.

That was lunchtime for Family Day...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Potluck

Two weeks ago, work decided it was putting on a Valentine's brunch but we had to tie our food to Valentine's with colour or something. The first thought that passed through my head was to do up some beef heart in some fashion - tartar or a stew.

I didn't do that. Maybe some Texas red with heart shaped biscuits? Beet sandwiches cut into hearts? These gimmicky things are both a nuisance and a time to shine. I just couldn't figure it out. Part of it is that I'm just not into this holiday this year. With the dissolution of my marriage last year, it seems more hokey than normal. So many sites talk about food to get you in the mood or romantic food.

The thing is that aside from heavy meals, I find that any meals can a bit of eroticism to them. In turns watching someone eat can be disgusting or evocative. A lot of that is, of course, the meal companion. If you find someone attractive, there are so many things that you can forgive and overlook. So, the idea that red food somehow shows more love than a well cooked and intentional meal is a little hollow.

Any meal cooked with love and explicitly for someone is sexy.

But back to what to bring to a potluck. I'm making a beet, coconut and lime soup with a blue cheese cream. The soup base has beer and coconut milk stirred into sweating onions where guajillo chili, cinnamon, chili powder and turmeric have been added. Then the beets were added and cooked until tender. The soup was blended with vegetable stock as needed.

Blue cheese was whipped with whipping cream.

This will be served chilled in a small cup with a dollop of whipped blue cream and a toothpick dragged through to make a white heart on top.