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This one is a real show stopper!  It comes from my fave Canadian cook – Ricardo Larrrivee, again.  When I say exquisite, I really mean it.  It’s not one of those thrown together jobs.  Not that those aren’t good, come on, I love pizza.  This one is just wow!  Plus it makes you look like you know what you’re doing in the kitchen, but it’s all pretty easy.  I must warn you, like most of Ricardo’s recipes, we’ll be getting a few pots dirty and there are a few steps, but when this baby comes together you won’t be looking at the kitchen sink.  Trust me.

My respect and love for brunch has been brewing over the years of my life.  When I was young, my mom would yell down the stairwell, to us kids watching cartoons, “Anyone want an egger?”  Ah….yeah!  A fried egg, a slice of back bacon and a cheese slice sandwiched between an english muffin.  Sound familiar?  We didn’t have a MacDonald’s in my small town in Saskatchewan, so my mom would be creative.

Now that I am older I go attend Brunch.  My friend Shannon, aka Sibs, began holding brunches on Sunday mornings.  That was the only day we had off from training and people wanted to just relax, hangout for hours and eat some great food.  We dubbed ourselves “the brunchers” and had a solid group going that would show every Sunday.  THis is where the “respect” part comes in.  There are rules – no bringing random dates, one must bring something even if you are hungover, mamosa’s count, juice doesn’t, you can’t opt out if you are in town or you get booted, etc.  We’re so mean  official.  We even did some themed brunches:  Christmas, Olympics send-off, well you get the idea. 

After a while the same old stuff was getting boring.  That is where this pizza comes in.  Thank you Ricardo!  I had people requesting this every weekend.  Not only does it look good, it tastes rich and delicious. 

Last weekend I attended one of my last Brunches (it deserves a capital letter I think!) before I am off to the Netherlands for 4 years.  I am excited to share new recipes with all you food lovas out there.  I’ll probably be cookin’ all things Canadian once I get home sick, though.  It may be a while until my next post, but I might sneak one in while visiting my mom and dad.  They have some good ones that I should really let you in on…

Quilt Breakfast Pizza – adapted from Ricardo Larrivee

400 g box of puff pastry dough

1 big onion, thinly sliced

200 g Black Forest ham, chopped

0.5 cup sour cream

1/4 cup hot mustard (Dijon or grainy is good)

2 bunches of asparagus (try to get them thin.  you can get both green or one green and one white)

6 eggs

salt and pepper

Line a 12×17 pan with parchement paper.  I invested in parchement paper on the advice of my friend Andrea and I will forever be using it now.  If you are not sure – just buy it, you will love it! 

Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface.  There will probably be 2 squares.  Do not separate them and roll them out together.  They will merge and make a large sheet.  Roll it out until it is a bit larger than the pan.  Transfer it to the pan and fold over the edges to make a crust.

For the “sauce,” saute up the onion in some oil.  When they are translucent and slightly browned, in a medium bowl, mix the onion, chopped ham, sour cream, mustard and salt and pepper.  Spread on the pastry with a spatula.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.  We are going to blanch the asparagus.  Trim the woody ends off and try to make them all the same length.  Drop into the boiling water for a few minute.  I just wait until they turn a very brilliant green.  Remove and cover with cold water to stop the cooking process.  No one wants brown asparagus!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit.

Now, do some math…don’t worry it’s easy!  Separate the asparagus in to 6 groups.  Now lay them in alternating ways on the pastry.  I like to point the tips out.  It’s a little hard to explain so just check out the pics for a map of how to lay them out. 

Place in the oven for 25 minute, remove and crack one egg on each “square” of the quilt and then return to the oven for 10 minutes.  This will leave the eggs runny.  If you are into harder eggs (like me) just subtract 5 minutes from the first part and add it to the second.  Whoa – more math!  In other words – 20 minutes – crack eggs – 15 minutes.

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Yum, yum, YUM!  What can I say about this dish?  Whenever I see paella on a menu I think the explanation looks so tasty.  Sausage, seafood, veggies and rice.  How could this not be yum?  Well, when they bring it over, I usually can only fish out 1-2 shrimp, maybe 2 mussels and the same goes for the sausage.  When I get to the taste, I am so disappointed if it is bland.  If it’s dry, it’s even worse.  Needless to say, I have not ordered it on a regular basis.

Then I received my Ricardo Magazine.  I curl up on the couch and start flipping through the colourful pages.  Ooh that is good, wow, that is a good one and so on…  I’m sorry to say that this mag has stopped being published (Booo!), but I still have the ones that came and this recipe is from a winter issue.

I think it is a really cool twist on paella.  Using spaghetti squash brings the carbs down and boosts up the veg factor.  Arne and I usually cook this one up after eating a few nights of pasta or heavy cheezy dishes.  It’s really fresh in the winter and squash is in season.  Ricardo uses ingredients that are easily found.  I normally end up using a sink-full of dishes, but I have never been disappointed by one of his creations.  It’s not bland and you can even make it spicy with a little extra rep pepper flakes.   If you’ve never had spaghetti squash, I recommend trying it – big time.  It is so neat and has a nice flavour.  You could even try tricking your kids into eating it if they think it is spaghetti.  Wait a minute – that doesn’t really work does it?

Another reason that this recipe is so now is because of the use of curly parsley.  If your thinking that I am totally wrong:  “Hello Kerry, it’s italian/flat leaf parsley that is the it thing.”  Well, a couple weeks ago I would have completely agreed, until I read a Maclean’s article (that’s a little mag about current issues printed in Canada and I have been known to spew a few interesting facts unto uninterested ears).  Well, they had a pop-culture article all about the comeback of the previously uncool herb.  It was touted as having a bold fresh taste, leaving flat leaf in the dust.  Well, all that is old is new again.  Let the curly parsley fly and let me know if the culinary world is right!

On a presentation note – this dish looks awesome in the middle of the table.  People are going to be impressed!

Paella with Spaghetti Squash and Curly Parsley – adapted from Ricardo Larrivee

1 medium sized spaghetti squash

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper

1 chorizo sausage, diced

0.5 cup white wine

1 can diced tomatoes, drained (save 1/2 cup liquid)

1 lb fresh mussels

1 cup frozen peas

1 lb peeled shrimp, thawed

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp red pepper flakes or more if you like

0.25 cup curly parsley, chopped

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Take you squash and pierce it all over.  A knife works best for this.  Be careful the skin is very tough.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until it feels tender to the touch.  Remove and let cool.  I use oven mitts to handle the squash and I recommend you do the same.  Cut in half lengthwise.  Scrape out the seeds with a spoon and discard.  With a fork, begin to scrape out the flesh.  It will come out in strings like spaghetti.  Try not to break the strings into small bits and also try to separate the strings.  Place in a large serving platter. 

In a large skillet, brown the chorizo, onion, and red pepper in some oil.   Add the garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes.  I used about 3 tsp of red pepper flakes and it was spicy but not overly hot for my taste.  Season with salt and pepper.  Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Add the tomatoes and the 1/2 cup of reserved tomato liquid.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add the mussels and peas and cook for another couple minutes.  Add the shrimp.  Cover and cook, stirring frequently.  It will be done when the mussels are open and the shrimp are pink.  Adjust the seasoning – meaning:  add more salt it will make a difference. 

 Pour mixture over the spaghetti squash.  Arrange the mussels and such so it looks nice.  Sprinkle that curly parsley over top.  Bring to table and hear your guests’ or family’s stomachs’ growl! 

–> Ricardo adds a fish, haddock or cod, at the same time that he adds the shrimp.  It is traditional to add it in paella, but I always think it is too much.  Now that you know, it is up to you to decide: fish or no fish…

Does anyone know what this is?  I sure didn’t, until I ate mexican down in the States.  Now I dream about it.  It’s a rice based drink that is sweet and has a cinnamon twist.  Every summer my team would go down to California at least once.  The weather is more fair than Calgary in the spring and every back road you can think of is paved.  Let me just go on a side bar here – picture a gravel road climbing up a mountain in Kananaskis, this is paved in the States.  Picture a gravel road in the country – replace wheat field with cacti – paved.  I could go on and on.  It’s a rider’s dream.  Ok, back to mexican….

The first time I tried it, I wouldn’t even buy it.  My husband,  my friend Shannon and I were doing a major road trip to Moab for a friend’s wedding.  We had been driving for about 14 hours and began to scour the areas along the way for an out-of-the-way traditional Mexican restaurant.  Finally we saw one.  We pulled into the parking lot and stepped into the restaurant.  Actually, I think we moaned and hobbled into the restaurant.  Three things that made me very happy:  there were mexican people eating there, it was run by a mexican family and the menu was not in English.  Jackpot! 

So, we ordered up our fancy and sat down to wait.  Along the side they had a salsa bar.  Of course!  We moseyed over and noticed that there was a very large , I want to say about 5 gallons, tub filled with a milky liquid.  It looked suspect.  We asked what it was and of course Arne ordered up a glass.  He was handed a glass and instructed to ladle out the horchata.  The what?!  We asked about 10 times how to pronounce it, but the lady’s speech was so fast that we gave up. 

We were served our chimichangas and such and Arne began to rave about this drink.  I was very wary of it.  It came from a tub!  Finally he talked me into a taste.  Once it hit my lips, it was so good (movie anyone?).  Since then I have been dying for more.  This was not available in Calgary.  My apologies to the mexican restaurants in Cowtown, but the food does not compare.  I wait for the summer to get down to the States to drink the thirst quenching, fire dulling, sweet beverage.

With urging from my friend Shannon , who is a master baker I might add, I decided to try it myself.  It turned out just how I had hoped.  I now urge you to try this out.  It goes perfect with spicy heavy foods or just by itself. 

Horchata – adapted from allrecipes online

4 cups warm water

1 cup long grain white rice

1 cinnamon stick

0.5 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

4 cups water

ice

In a blender, blend the dry rice,  warm water (hot tap water), and cinnamon stick.  Hold a t-towel over the lid because my mixture spurted everywhere.  Oops.  No need to liquify, just get it to look cornmeal-esque.  Put in the fridge over night.  If you make this part in the morning, you could probably just leave it in the fridge the whole work day.

Remove from fridge and blend once more, just to mix it up and make the rice chunks a bit smaller.  Hold a wire mesh strainer lined with 4 layers of cheesecloth over a pitcher.  Strain slowly, using a spoon or small spatula to help it through.  When all of it is through, lift up the cheese cloth and squeeze the rice to get every drop out.

Finally, add the rest of the water, vanilla and sugar and stir until incorporated.  Serve over ice.  This recipe makes about 4 large glasses.  If you want to drink a lot you will probably need to double the recipe or more.  That’s when the multiple gallon tubs come into play.  Looks sketchy, but tastes incredible!  Store in the fridge.  It never lasts long enough for it to go bad at our house, but I’m guessing it would last a week?   ¡buen provecho (that’s enjoy!)

Hello!  We are back from our vacation in Hawaii.  I can’t believe I just said that!  I’ve dreamed my whole life of running into the ocean.  I spent my years growing up at Crooked Lake, Saskatchewan.  It is a “crooked” (ie. lots of bays) lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley – the gem of SK.  I love the water and swimming in waves.  I dreamed of looking out into the water and never seeing anything on the other side.  The ocean was what I wanted to see.  My first time was on the coast of Vancouver island.  I ran (ok, that was a lie.  I carefully tip-toed over the rocky shore) and bust into a freezing cold wave that rolled me up the afore-mentioned rocky shore.  Not really like my dream…. I had to rewrite that dream in my head.  Picture running on a silky sanded beach, into a warm salty clear turquoise wavy ocean.  There’s all the descriptive words I was missing.  That is what I was really dreamin’ about!  Well, I just checked that off my list at Makelawena Beach on the big island.  Thank you Hawaii!

Back to the real world, I was anxious to post something new.  Gentle readers, I know I have left you hanging here for a while, but this chocolate cake might be my ticket out of the doghouse.  I made it for the engagement dinner for my sis and her beau.  I wanted to make a flourless chocolate cake to top off the fancy dinner (see engagement dinner).  I grabbed a cookbook that my Mom had bought us, that we hadn’t made a single thing from yet.   I didn’t find a flourless cake, but I found this one.  Saying the words, “Yes, I made a chocolate cake from that cookbook” trumped the flourless detail.

It is moist, dense, very chocolat-y and a flat platform for the monogram.  I didn’t have any great completely over the top letters (like I wanted), but I did have some modern lowercase ones.  In the end I think it fit the couple, so just go with what you got or get some that would fit who you are making it for.  Icing sugar (that’s powdered sugar/confectioner’s sugar for all you non-Canadians) looks good for a big contrast, but using cocoa would give that monotone look that is oh-so-very chic as well.

So there was a fold in the parchment paper and it left a line.  Oops!  Try your best to keep it flat.

Chic Chocolate Cake – adapted from Berries (it’s supposed to have raspberries in it…)

9 squares bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter

1 tbsp strong dark coffee (espresso works perfectly)

5 eggs

0.5 cup sugar

0.5 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

icing sugar or cocoa for dusting

optional  – 175 g fresh raspberries

I couldn’t find bittersweet chocolate, but to be honest I didn’t try that hard 🙂  I used semi-sweet.  Might be the same thing, but I’m not sure. 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch round cake pan and line the base with parchment paper.

Put an inch or two of water in a saucepan and place a heatproof bowl on top (ie. double-boiler) making sure the bowl does not touch the water.  Put the chocolate, butter and coffee in the bowl and bring the water to just a simmer.  Stir occasionally until melted.  Set aside.

While the chocolate is melting, beat the eggs and sugar in another bowl until it’s pale and thick.  Then, fold the chocolate into the egg mixture.  Tip – put in a little of the chocolate at a time so that the eggs get warmed up.  Do not add the chocolate when it is burning hot.  That will make egg chunks – gross!

Stir  in the flour and cinnamon and then pour into the prepared pan.  If you decide to use the raspberries, sprinkle them evenly over the top now.  Set aside bowl.

Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  My oven was maybe even a little under 35min.  Let cool in pan for about  15 minutes before you turn over onto a plate.  Place stencils on and sprinkle dusting ingredient of your choice through a mesh strainer.  I always think “let it snow!” in my head when I am doing this – FUN.

Remember how I said, set aside bowl?  Now lick every bit of leftover batter our of the bowl.  Yum!  (there are raw eggs in it so don’t blame me for an upset stomach, but this is a risk my husband and I are willing to take).

Foodlova

I'm an ex-Olympian and I have a serious passion for food. I guess you could call me a food lova! What about you?

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