Basil Carbonara

Basil Carbonara 1

I am not providing a formal recipe for today’s post as I hadn’t intended to do a post at all. Rather, I bought some Whole-wheat paste to try for the first time and I decided on a ‘Carbonara’ sort of dish. I had some fresh Basil on hand and I thought it might be an interesting addition. It certainly turned out to be just, and so I decided to share…

Basically, I prepared the spaghetti is usual. While it was boiling I sautéed some bacon and, before it started to become crisp, I added a little slivered onion and let it brown. I made the basic Carbonara ‘sauce’ by beating an egg with a good helping of coarsely ground black pepper, and some grated Parmesan Cheese. I also shredded some of my fresh basil.

Once the onions were nicely golden, I added the drained pasta and sautéed for a minute or so. Finally, I took the pan from the heat, added the egg mix and the basil, tossing quickly to coat all the pasta. I served it hot with a little extra cheese. I really enjoyed this and, next time, I will likely use a bit more basil…

Ratatouille Bruschetta

Ratatouille Bruschetta

Today, I am illustrating a use for home-made Ratatouille that is a something of an Italian-Provencal fusion. Quite simply, it is little more than the delicious Provencal relish piled atop Italian Bruschetta.

Usually, Bruschetta is drizzled with olive oil (and it can be delicious with nothing more than this other than ‘scrubbing’ the grilled bread with a piece of raw garlic). Here, though, after grilling my slices of Baguette style bread in a ridged grill pan, I spread them with butter and it allowed it to melt before adding the Ratatouille. This made for a lovely snack and would also be a terrific Antipasto as part of a larger meal…

Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva 2013

Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva 2013

This Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon (actually a blend) is classified as a ‘Gran Reserva’ from the Maipo DO in the Valle Central wine region. The Gran Reserva classification is meant to denote a wine of superior quality, and, for the price, this particular product and vintage certainly merits the distinction. I purchased it at our local beer and wine store and was told, when I placed my order, that it was a very good wine. I am happy to say that the recommendation was more than just sales pitch… Continue reading “Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva 2013”

Foodstuff: Turmeric Puree

Turmeric Puree 1

Generally, the Turmeric in my kitchen pantry is the dried ground variety.  I have had the whole dried root before, but it is a pain to grind, and the fresh root, which I have used a few times, is quite hard to come by. I just saw this commercially pureed version the other day and I snagged a jar to test it out… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Turmeric Puree”

Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Shiraz

Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Shiraz 2015

I like Shiraz based wines from Australia generally. This one is drinkable, to be sure but it is a bit blunt as far as complexity goes, and a little too sweet for my taste.

  • Winery: Rosemount Estate
  • Price: $15.85 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Sugar: 5.5 g/L
  • Blend: Gamay 90% – Pinot Noir 10%

The color is a dark cherry and the body thick and quite silky. The nose is moderately aromatic and rich with red fruits and berries, notably raspberry and red-currant. There is also a pleasant highlight of straw along with touches of wood. The primary flavor is a mix of dark fruit and red-berries but the highlights are limited  to some woody notes. All in all, the effect is rather flat. This wine is pleasantly drinkable, if a bit sweetish, but not overly complex overall.

Taiwanese Pickle

Taiwanese Pickle 1

This little appetizer is my take on a dish I had a while ago at a Dim Sum restaurant in Ottawa. It was described on the menu as ‘Taiwan Pickled Vegetable’ and was chiefly cucumber with just a little red bell pepper and slivered ginger. I am not sure about the ‘dressing’… these were obviously salt-macerated ‘quick pickles’ and they were quite sweet, only a little sour, and had just a faint touch of chili heat… Continue reading “Taiwanese Pickle”

Dim Sum- Mushroom Dumpling (素粉果)

Mushroom Dumpling 1

These little dumpling preparations are ‘Fun Gor’ (or  fěnguǒ  in Mandarin) as is indicated by the last two characters in the Chinese name. This type of dumpling is characterized by the semi-translucent wrapper that is made using a combination of starches like cornstarch, or tapioca starch, and non-glutinous Wheat flour. The English name on the menu just calls them ‘mushroom dumplings’, but the first character does not translate as ‘mushroom’ but rather, in this context, as ‘vegetarian’.

One of the classic Fun Gor is the Teochew Fun Gor, which contains ground pork and peanuts. These, however, appear to have been called ‘vegetarian’ as the filling rather mimics the Teochow variety by replacing the ground pork with mushrooms, chopped to leave a texture like ground meat, plus water chestnut in place of peanuts. There was also some celery in the mix along with, I am fairly sure, just a little bit of cilantro.

The size of the dumplings could have been a little smaller as these were a little unwieldy with chopsticks, but the taste and texture were excellent. I am still not very proficient at making the dough for this type of dumpling (as opposed to the basic wheat flour type), but I should very much like to give these a try at home…

Lindeman’s Bin 50 Shiraz 2015

Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz 2015

Today’s selection is a table wine from Australia’s South Eastern wine-making region. I happened to try the 2014 vintage a year or so ago and gave it a three star rating. This vintage is a bit better in my opinion, and, having regard to the very decent price, I awarded it another star…

  • Winery: Lindeman’s Wines
  • Price: $12 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13%
  • Sugar: 8.2 g/L

This Shiraz is a dark cherry color with a slight purplish tint.  It has a somewhat muted yet aromatic nose with dark berries, some floral notes, a slight woodiness and even a very faint spicy hit of liquorice. It is quite full bodied with a creamy texture and is quite dry. Acidity is moderate to high and impacts quickly with robust tannins developing only a moment later. Sour cherry and blackcurrant dominate and the faint floral quality of the nose is much more noticeable. There is a faint earthiness and nice notes of pepper. The finish is decently long but the acidity near the end breaks the more rounded effect earlier on. It is a very decent wine for the price.

Chili Basil Squid

Chili Basil Squid 1

Not long ago, I posted about a lovely appetizer I had in an Indian restaurant called ‘Calamari Manko’, and I mentioned I wanted to try and reproduce it at home. I also said that I would be unable to employ the fresh curry leaf used in the original, but I mused that Thai Basil might work. Unfortunately no fresh Basil has been available around these parts of late but, as per another post, I thought that a little Thai Chili Paste with Holy Basil might work nicely. I gave it a try and the result was pretty darned decent … Continue reading “Chili Basil Squid”