Friday, September 23, 2011

Tomato Sauce with Garlic Basil Olive Oil


One of my fondest pasta memoires is when I was a wee one in elementary school. I had an Italian friend who's parents always made the best pasta dishes. Sometimes I would go to her house at lunch, and if I was lucky, her mom would have made her delicious penne with tomato bacon sauce.

For awhile, whenever I made pasta, I always used the ready made tomato sauce. And every time I ate the pasta, I always thought, why doesn't it taste like that amazing tomato sauce I had as a child?


Not until last summer did I realize making pasta with your own sauce made all the difference. I don't know why I never bothered with making my own sauce before. I probably thought there were special Italian grandmother techniques that were involved and if I didn't use them my sauce would not turn out. I've realized that the only technique required is to have patiences like a grandmother. The sauce needs to simmer slowly, so it can develop rich and complex flavours. The water from the tomatoes also cooks off which results in a thick homemade tomato sauce.


The ingredients are also important. If you don't have access to fresh tomatos, try and find canned San Marzano tomatoes. However, if tomatoes are in season, like right now, then any variety of plum tomatoes will do. I used roma tomatoes in this recipe. Plum tomatoes have thicker walls and less water than most types of tomatoes, which will result in a rich homemade tomato sauce.

The olive oil infused with garlic and basil really is the secret ingredient for this sauce. It turns this simple tomato sauce into a delicate and flavourful sauce that you will not want to mess with, except for adding a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano at the end. If you add anything else, like ground beef, it truly distracts you from experiencing the simple flavours of this sauce.


Tomato Sauce with Garlic Basil Olive Oil
Serves 4
  • 9 ripe plum tomatoes

  • red pepper flakes

  • salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • handfull of basil leaves, leave a few leaves for garnish at the end
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 lb of spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  1. To prepare the sauce, bring a large pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl of ice water on the side.
  2. Cut a small x on the bottom of each tomato and blanch them in the boiling water for 30 seconds or until you start to see the tomato skins peeling. Quickly transfer the tomatoes from the boiling water to the ice water. When cool, peel the skin off the tomatoes.
  3. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and cut out the core. Use your fingers to scoop out the seeds inside. Reserve the seeds and juices in a bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large sauce pan heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot transfer the tomatoes to the pan. Add a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes.
  5. Allow the tomatoes to cook for a few minutes. Once they have softened, use a potato smasher and smash the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes for 45 minutes, smashing and stirring occasionally. If the sauce seems to thick, strain the reseved juices from the seeds into the tomatoes.
  6. While the tomatoes cook, prepare the basil and garlic olive oil. In a small sauce pan add 1/3 cup of olive oil, sliced garlic, pinch of chili flakes and basil (remember to leave some for garnish at the end). Let the oil slowly cook on low heat so the flavours can transfer to the oil. When the garlic is lightly browned, remove from heat and let cool down for 5 minutes. Strain the oil and combine with tomato sauce.
  7. When you've cooked the tomatoes for 30 minutes prepare your pasta. Bring a large pot of water to boil and heavily salt. Add enough salt so the water tastes as salty as a broth would. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Reserve half a cup of pasta water.
  8. Once the tomato sauce is at your desired consistency add in the pasta, a bit of the pasta water, Parmigiano Reggiano, butter and the rest of the basil thinly sliced. If you feel the tomato sauce is still too dry, add in the remaining pasta water.
  9. Mix the sauce and pasta together so the combination is one cohesive dish. The sauce should stick to the pasta. Serve this dish immediately and garnish with more Parmigiano Reggiano if desired.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Rosé Apple Parfait


    Summer is slowly starting to slip away. The cooler weather, earlier sun sets and the lack of wasp that swarm around you while you try to eat a nice meal outside. It's always a little sad when you realize summer is over and life seems to get a little more hectic.

    But do not fret, I have found the perfect dessert to help you transition smoothly from summer to autumn.
    A rosé apple parfait.

    The rosé is the summer part. This wine truly reminds me of summer and all the great times I have drinking it with friends. The apples are the autumn part. Apple picking season! There are so many different varieties of apples during this season, and this is your chance to take advantage of that. This recipe calls for Jonagold apples, but Pink Lady, Cortland or Mutsu are all fine as well. Also, if you are not super keen on very sweet desserts, use ginger cookies instead of amaretti.


    Rosé Apple Parfait
    Serves 4
    • 2 cups rosé wine
    • 2 cups apple juice
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 4 star anise
    • 3 slices ginger, smashed
    • 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
    • 4 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
    • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
    • 1 cup whipping cream
    • 1 cup crushed amaretti or ginger cookies
    • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
    1. Combine wine, apple juice, sugar, star anise, ginger and cinnamon stick in a pot large enough to hold apples in 1 layer.
    2. Bring to boil over high heat stirring to make sure sugar is dissolved. Boil for 2 minutes until well combined.
    3. Reduce heat to medium-low, add apples, and cover with a circle of parchment to help them stay submerged. Poach for 15-20 minutes or until soft and saturated with flavour. Remove with a slotted spoon. appleparfait4.jpg
    4. Return heat to high and bring juice to boil. Boil until reduced to a thick syrupy texture, about 15-20 minutes. There will be about 3/4 cup left. Return apples to pot to coat with syrup.
    5. Combine mascarpone with 1/4 cup syrup. beat whipping cream until soft peaks form and stir half of whipped cream into mascarpone.
    6. appleparfait5.jpg

    7. Layer cookies, mascarpone cream and 2 quartered pieces of apple in a parfait glass and repeat the layers. Top with remaining whipped cream and drizzle with a little syrup. Scatter over toasted almonds.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Medici's Gelateria and Coffee Shop, Oliver BC


    September is here, school has started, and the fall weather still has not arrived. So if you are in the Okanagan area picking apples you need to stop at Medici's. From the outside it looks like a church or some sort of mini castle, but on the inside is this lovely gelateria and coffee shop where you can get the best gelato you will ever have, without trekking all the way to Italy.

    And just because I worked there this summer doesn't mean I'm biased...


    But seriously, the owners of Medici's make all the gelato and sorbretto in house, which makes it fresh and local. They also puree their own fruit from local farmers for the sorbretto. So everything taste exactly how you would expect it to taste. The blueberry taste exactly like you are eating blueberries, strawberries, exactly like strawberries and lemon, wow, is the lemon ever good.





    Not only do they have the best gelato in Canada but they've got a great lunch special that they serve daily from 11am-2pm. Home made deli sandwiches, paninis and daily soups that are so delicious, you will never want to go near another Campbell's soup can ever again.


    Along with your lunch you can also enjoy a cappuccino, espresso, Italian soda, fruit tea smoothie, ice coffee, matcha green tea lemonade (one of my favourites) and so much more! There really is something for everyone here.


    Silvia Badger, who owns Medici's with her husband David Badger.


    This mural was painted by a local artist. In the corner of the mural is Silvia herself, reading a book in Italy.


    So please, if you are interested in experience a little taste of heaven and a little taste of Italy, you need to stop and get gelato here. If Silvia has black chocolate made you must try it. It is like nothing you have ever tasted before and probably my favourite. But I do also love her peanut butter and chocolate... oh and her coconut is also to die for! But so is the pistachio! Oh and the hazel nut and chocolate.... oh wait, and I can't forget the salty caramel... Oh! And the...


    Medici's Gelateria and Coffee Shop
    9932 – 350th Ave. (Fairview Rd.)
    Oliver, BC
    (250) 498-2228

    Le Petit Ogre British Columbia restaurants

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Peach Crumble


    You know what is weird?

    Having to buy fruit at the market when I had free access to it all summer. If I was craving a peach, it was as simple as stepping out into the backyard and picking a peach off the tree. There is nothing quite like picking fresh fruit off a tree and eating it right then and there.

    Mmm.... just thinking about that warm, sweet, juicy, fresh peach is making me really upset that I now have to pay for not as warm, sweet, juicy fresh peaches.

    Something I did realize when I was purchasing the peaches was how I never really bake anything "healthy" with fruit. In fact, it seems that I've only used them to make pies and pastries this summer. So I decided this time that I should make a healthy version of a peach crumble, cobbler, crisp... whatever you want to call it. What actually makes this crumble good for you is this incredibility healthy cereal mix that I put into it.


    It's called Holy Crap and it is probably the healthiest cereal you will ever eat. This wonder cereal contains the magical chia seed, hulled hemp hearts, buckwheat, cranberries, raisins, apple bits and cinnamon. And what's even better is that it's all organic and made in BC Canada!

    Anyway, I have this cereal in the morning with yogurt sometimes and thought I would try and add it into this peach crumble. It will be the most delicious and healthy peach crumble you will ever make. Well, that is if you decide to exclude the ice cream. But it's so healthy.... so you might as well add the ice cream to balance it out.

    Enjoy this healthy peach crumble.

    Peach Crumble feat. Holy Crap
    • 4-5 medium peaches, peeled and sliced
    • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup of oatmeal
    • 1/4 cup of cold butter
    • 2 tbsp of Holy Crap
    • 1 tsp of cinnamon
    • pinch of salt
    1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
    2. Grease the sides of a 9" square pan and set aside.
    3. In a large bowl whisk the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon and salt.
    4. Using a pastry blender or fork, mix in the cold butter and break up the butter until it is no bigger than small peas. Mix in the Holy Crap cereal. Set asidepeachcrumble.jpg
    5. In the greased pan, layer the peaches into the pan and make sure to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
    6. Pour the crumble mixture over the peaches and smooth it out, making sure you cover all the peaches in the pan. peachcrumble2.jpg
    7. Place the pan in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm and with vanilla ice cream (optional).

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