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Chanterelle Mushrooms with Pasta

chanterelles with pastaThe glorious golden child of the mushroom world, chanterelles, have a short growing cycle and are only available July through to September.  Their deep yellow color (think apricot), a trumpet-like shape, and hints of sweetness can be easily enjoyed simply by sautéing in butter and dressed with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  I did not know this but chanterelle mushrooms are picked in the wild – which explains why they’re expensive – and are usually found growing around trees and shrubs.  But before you go out there looking for these golden beauties, take along a knowledgeable forager.  They’ll help you to identify the real deal and keep you from getting food poison if you happen to choose what you think ‘look’s like a chanterelle mushroom. Continue Reading →

Roasted Cauliflower with Linguine

roasted cauliflower with linguineIt seems like a such long time since we last had linguine.  The cauliflower in the fridge had been carefully selected for another dish but I wasn’t in the mood and decided last minute to make this.  I always have a bottle of capers and anchovies in the fridge so all that was needed was a bit of spice.  Dried chili pepper flakes are a perfect companion for this recipe.   Capers are an often overlooked garnish, but they make a tasty addition to Italian dishes of all types – used as a seasoning in pasta and salads.  Capers are a good source of protein, fiber and iron.  Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as a good source for folate, vitamin K and dietary fiber.  An easy vegetarian meal to throw together in 30 minutes.

Serves 4
small head of cauliflower, trimmed & cut into florets
olive oil
2 tablespoons capers
4 anchovy fillets, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes (or more if you like it hot)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
500g linguine

Preheat oven to 400f. In a bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until cauliflower is al dente and bits of brown starting to show. Remove from oven and set aside. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. While pasta is cooking, in a large sauté pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add anchovies and allow to dissolve in the oil then add garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until fragrant – keep an eye on this to make sure garlic does not brown. Remove from heat and add cauliflower, toss to combine.

When pasta is cooked, drain all but half a cup of the liquid. You may need to add this liquid to the pasta. Place sauté pan with cauliflower over medium heat and add drained linguine. Toss to combine and add pasta water if it looks a bit dry. Season and finish off with a splash of olive oil. Serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Adjust ingredients accordingly…I love the flavor of anchovies so I end up using more in this recipe as well as a bit more chili pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Enjoy!

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

Lobster Macaroni & CheeseIs it possible to improve the flavor of a family classic dish such as macaroni and cheese?   I didn’t think it was.  I’m a Martimer through and through and love seafood.  Boiled lobster dinners were a family tradition where I grew up…fresh lobster boiled, cut opened and gorgeous chunks of heavenly meat dunked in hot melted butter – bliss.  So simple and yet so incredibly indulgent.  The thing is, I’m not a big fan of lobster prepared other ways, it seems a sacrilege to do so.  I’m not usually so closed-minded about my food but there are some things that should remain traditional.  However, sometimes breaking with tradition once in a while is a good thing.   WOW!  That pretty much sums up how I felt after taking my first bite.

Serves 4
1 lb. penne (or favorite short tubed pasta)
2 to 3 cups whole milk, warmed up
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
2 cups extra-sharp cheddar, grated
1 1/2 lbs cooked lobster meat, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 350f.

Add pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook according to the directions. Drain well. In a large pot, melt butter and add the flour. Cook and stir using a whisk over medium heat for 2 minutes – watch and make sure the roux does not burn. While whisking, add 2 cups of milk and cook until thickened and smooth.  If the sauce is too thick, add more milk.  Remove from heat and add the grated cheeses.  Season with salt and pepper, if needed.   Add the cooked pasta and lobster and stir until combined. Place the mixture in individual gratin dishes, or one larger gratin dish. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and golden brown on the top.

lobster CollageThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  I like the sauce to be pourable and not too thick.  This way, when you combine the lobster meat and bake in the oven, the end result is a creamy consistency.  To save time, have your local fishmonger steam the lobster for you.  In grocery stores, this usually is a free service.  If you go this route, ask them to steam the lobster for 8 minutes for two pounds.  It will finish cooking in the oven and will come out moist and tender.  Enjoy!

My Husband’s Bolognese Sauce

bolognese sauce with penneWhere to begin?  When John and I were dating, the first meal he ever cooked for me was his bolognese sauce tossed with penne.  I remember to this day how wonderful his condo smelled and how neat it was!  My husband was and still is a neat freak…not that I am at all complaining.  For a bachelor, his place was immaculate – even the cupboards were tidy!  He had the dining room table all laid out: candles lit, music playing and red wine decanted.

We’ve been together 17 years and on the eve of our marriage, he made his bolognese sauce for our family.  The kids love this sauce and he always makes enough for seconds.  Whatever is leftover gets placed in the freezer.  He has no recipe, just puts it in a pot, in sequence of course.  I think fundamentally this recipe captures the essence of how to recreate this yummy dish even though John cooks like his mom, a little bit of this or a pinch of that.  You may need to increase or decrease an ingredient to suit your palate.

Serves 6 to 8

1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped or sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped or sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon Italian herb mix
large can Italian plum tomatoes
olive oil
1 lb. penne or other favorite pasta
Parmesan, grated

jb prep workIn a large pot over medium heat add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add Italian herbs and cook until fragrant then add garlic slices.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add ground beef, stir and cook until done (about 10 minutes or until no pink is showing). Spoon canned tomatoes into the meat sauce and add some of the juice. Stir until combined and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.  When the sauce begins to bubble, add a couple squirts of ketchup.  Stir occasionally to break up the tomatoes.  Once the tomatoes have broken up, add bell peppers.  Simmer 20 minutes or until peppers are al dente.  John usually lets this sit for an hour or so.

When ready to serve, cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain and add to bolognese sauce.  When thoroughly mixed, serve in bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan.
JB relaxing
The Culinary Chase’s Note:
  Many years ago John was told by an Italian friend to add ketchup to the sauce.   If you let the sauce sit, reheat before adding pasta.  Bolognese sauce in Italian is known as ragù alla bolognese (a meat-based sauce from Bologna, Italy).

Buon Appetito!