Ratatouille with Pancetta Wrapped Prawns

Ratatouille with Pancetta Wrapped Prawns

This is the third recipe I have presented using  my home-made Ratatouille as a focal point. Her, the Ratatouille is served warmed, rather than at room temperature, as a ‘bed’ for some large shrimp wrapped in Pancetta. Bacon could also be used, but the pancetta is more delicate and goes nicely with the shrimp. As a single Antipasto, a bit of buttered fresh bread, or oil-drizzled grilled bread would be a great accompaniment…  Some lemon slices on the side would be nice too.

Pesto Piccante

Pesto Piccante 1

As I had some nice fresh Basil on hand, I wanted to put together a Pesto, primarily for use as a pasta sauce. I also wanted to do something a little different than the usual Genoese style with garlic and pine-nuts and I decided to use green olives and green Jalapeno for a tangier, spicier result. The name I came up with, Pesto Piccante, has, it turns out already been used before and , when  I searched the name on line I found  some (mainly commercial) productions that are tomato based, and look very much to me like Italian variations of Salsa.

Well, screw it … I am going to use the name anyway … Continue reading “Pesto Piccante”

Spicy Red-Braised Pork Belly

Spicy Red-braised Pork Belly 1

In her book Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A sweet-sour memoir of eating in China, Fuchsia Dunlop devotes part of her book to her travels in Hunan province, the birthplace of Mao Xedong, and she presents us with a recipe for a dish said to be a favorite of the Chairman himself, and which she calls ‘Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork-Belly’.

I have discussed the Chinese cookery technique of ‘red cooking’ (or ‘red-braising’)before,  and have even posted several recipes in that style over the years. Today, I am presenting a dish that is inspired by Ms. Dunlop’s recipe, but which departs from it through the use of different seasonings. In addition to dried chilies, Ms. Dunlop uses Star Anise and Cinnamon…  I have replaced the dried chili with a Chinese Chili Paste and then omitted the other two spices for Fennel Seed and Black Cardamom, along with some dried orange peel, thus giving the dish a bit more of a slant towards Sichuan, rather than the Hunanese original … Continue reading “Spicy Red-Braised Pork Belly”

Notable Nosh: Pakora Shrimp

Pakora Shrimp

I had this interesting little appetizer at an Indian restaurant in Ottawa not long ago. Normally, when I order a Pakora, I expect a small fritter type affair where the main ingredient is chopped into small pieces along with other things (onion, etc.), and then mixed into batter before being deep-fried by the spoon full to make small ‘bites’.

Here however, the shrimp was cooked whole with a batter coating and this might have been boring except that the batter (made with ‘Besan’, or chick pea flour), was nicely spiced. I am not sure of the blend, but I believe I could detect paprika, some chili, and possibly a bit of ground coriander seed).

The shrimp were served with a Tamarind based sweet sauce (very nice) and a mint chutney (which might have been nice but was a bit stale) and overall, I thought the preparation was very good except for the fact that the batter ‘shell’ tended to slip away from the meat as one bit into it. If I try this at home (and I will), I think I will butterfly the shrimp, make the batter thinner, and likely try some other dipping sauces than the ones given here ….

Stoneleight Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016

Stoneleight Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016

Today’s selection is a table wine from New Zealand’s South Island that I purchased at Iqaluit’s local beer and wine store. I wasn’t terribly taken with it, given the price, but it is still eminently drinkable…

  • Winery: Stoneleigh Vineyards
  • Price: $18.95 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Sugar: 3 g/L

This Pinot Noir is light ruby in color and slightly effervescent on decanting. The nose is aromatic but the fruit is indistinct and almost matched by a vegetal, and also somewhat meaty quality. There are some woody notes and an ephemeral hint of spice. The body is medium light and the effect is dry with a high acidity that impacts immediately. The tannins assert themselves only near the end and, though not strong, have a noticeable astringency. Sour red fruit dominates, but this is matched by a strong forest mushroom presence. There is some woodiness, but not a great deal else in the way of highlights. It is not bad, but not especially interesting.

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”