Shrimp Linguine in a Garlic White Wine Sauce

This post should really be called: “How to Win Friends and Influence People Through Shrimp and Wine”. ¬†Because if you want to impress someone special, make this dish. It’s the kind of meal that takes minimal effort to prepare for maximum class and sophistication- it’s pasta’s little black dress. I would prepare this dish for my husband if he wasn’t severely allergic to shellfish. Instead, he gets the canned tuna version, still delicious and great for any occasion, but more like a tuxedo t-shirt than a cocktail dress ūüėČ

But I digress.

Start by sauteing a couple of cloves of garlic and half a red onion in 2 tbsp of olive oil and tbsp of margarine or butter, for about two minutes or until onion becomes soft. Add salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (optional). Add 1/2 cup of white wine and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until wine reduces slightly. Add shrimp. I used uncooked, frozen tiger shrimp and half a bag of frozen seafood medley. Squeeze in a quarter of a lemon, 1 tsp of caper juice, 1 tbsp of capers and let simmer until shrimp is pink, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, boil water and add a package of fresh linguine noodles (or any kind of fresh pasta you prefer. Fettucine would also be excellent). The pasta doesn’t take long to cook. ¬†If it is finished before your sauce is ready, drain and place in serving dish with a tbsp of olive oil so the noodles don’t stick together.

When the alcohol has been cooked out of the sauce, add it to your pasta, tossing to coat all the noodles.  Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, chopped green onion, grated lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and fresh cracked pepper.  Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

Note, I often will add a cup of chicken stock to the sauce at the same time I add my wine, if I’m wanting more liquid in my sauce. The chicken stock adds another layer of flavour and pairs well with the wine.


Classic Beef Stew

I’m craving comfort food these days. ¬†I find myself gravitating towards dishes that have rich flavours and hearty textures, providing warmth to both my stomach and my heart. ¬†It’s definitely fall and I can feel winter slowly creeping in. The sky is grey and overcast, the air is crisp and the wind is sharp. ¬†It’s days like these where I just want to be wrapped up in a hug all day long. (sigh)

And nothing warms me up like a bowl of stew.

Stew is an ultimate comfort food. Simmering all day in the crock pot, filling my house with delicious aromas.  I like waiting in anticipation to see the transformation of carrots, potatoes and beef turn into tender morsels and a thick flavourful gravy; a perfect accompaniment to a warm biscuit.

The other day I made a very simple classic beef stew. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different broths, herbs and vegetables in my stew like wine, tarragon and fennel (of course). But that particular day I wanted a very minimalistic dish. I dredged stew beef in flour, salt and pepper and browned it in on the stove in canola oil. ¬†I added the beef to my crock pot with potatoes, carrots, diced onions, and celery. ¬†I added a cup of water, two tbsp of beef oxo and a bay leaf, and let it simmer on low for 6 hours. ¬†When it was done, the vegetables were tender, the beef cooked to perfection and the flavours were divine.

Simple, classic, delicious.

What’s your go-to comfort food?

Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea and Apricot Tagine

Do you remember the 1980’s cartoon, the Care Bears? I loved the Care Bears. I mean I LOVED them. When I was five I had all things Care Bears, like books and pyjama’s (but oddly enough, I never did own an actual Care Bear doll. ¬†But that old wound is another story for another day.) Do you remember the Care Bear stare? At the end of every episode, the Care Bears would band together, hold hands, and save the day by focussing all their belly goodness on destroying the bad guys with love and sunshine and rainbows.

That is what I wanted to eat the other night. Something sweet, colourful and flavourful. If the Care Bear stare was going to be in a dish, it would taste like this Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea and Apricot Tagine. ¬†Seriously. ¬†This dish screamed with flavour from the cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, and chili powder but the tomato, chickpea’s and apricots made it hearty and comforting.

The original recipe, which you can get here, instructed it to be cooked in a slow cooker. But I didn’t get home from the grocery store in time, so I improvised by cooking it on the stovetop instead. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts because I like the more meatier flavour of the thigh. I ¬†browned them first in a little olive oil and then set them aside while preparing the other ingredients.

I followed the rest of the instructions pretty much as written. I actually got out the measuring spoons and not just for the baby to play with, but to actually measure out the ingredients (must have been the influence of cooking in my mother’s kitchen). I let it simmer on the stove for the time it takes to feed, bathe and change the baby, as well as play with my super cute nephew. It was about 1.5 hours in total.

We served the dish with rice and garnished it with cilantro.


Sauerkraut Soup, Part 2: The Recipe

I received this email from Catherine the morning that the post was published. Due to the outpouring of requests for the recipe, I decided to share it with you. (Okay, so maybe three requests isn’t necessarily an outpouring, but my grandma Noonie said “Carlie wants that recipe so you should give it to her.” I never say no to my Noonie.)

From Catherine:

“When I checked my email at 5:30 am (trying to keep myself calm because for the third time in two weeks I was positive the baby was making its move!) and saw your soup post it warmed me right up. I’m glad a little sauerkraut therapy could help you feel better! I have a huge interest in learning the traditional recipes from both sides of my family (all of which seem to call for potatoes, maybe that’s why we’re all so tall?) and sauerkraut soup is one of my favorites. There is a ‘recipe’ for it in our family cookbook, but to be honest I think the measurements are guesses. The most wonderful things that come out of the kitchen are made by granny and have this much of this and a hand full of that.. So here is sauerkraut soup:

*1 ham bone (or 1 pkg bacon, cube and brown in the soup pot first)
*Water (to cover the bone)
*1 large onion
*2-3Garlic cloves
*S & P
*1 28oz jar sauerkraut
*4 potatoes diced

for dumplings:
*3 eggs

Simmer the first 5 ingredients in a large soup pot for 2-3 hours, then add the sauerkraut and simmer for another hour.(You can also add half the sauerkraut now and half with the potatoes. The longer it simmers the more mild it tastes, so if you love the sourness adding some later will help keep that kick) Add the potatoes and simmer while making dumplings.

Make a well out of flour on the counter big enough to hold the eggs. With a fork, incorperate the flour into the eggs to form a stiff dough.Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add 1/2 tsp sized globs of dough one at a time. Cook for 5-10 minutes. The dumplings will float when they’re done. Drain, rinse and add to the soup.

Continue simmering the soup until potatoes are done, remove the hame bone and return any meat to the pot.

This is an important recipe to have in your cookbook! Mine is written on the back of some directions my dad had written down for a tow call, much like most of my best recipes ūüôā ”

Well said, Catherine!

Sauerkraut Soup

When I was growing up, it was a fact that there were two things that cured all ails. According to my mother and aunt, all bad days, illnesses and broken hearts could be remedied by taking two Tylenol and going to bed.  In addition to that, a steaming bowl of  sauerkraut soup would cure the rest.

Until I was about 19, I seriously thought that sauerkraut soup cured the common cold.

(Much to my husband’s disapproval, I still think that Tylenol makes everything else better).

As this is a food blog and not a pharmaceuticals blog, I will expand on the soup. Recently my cousin Catherine, gorgeous and 9 months pregnant, lovingly crafted up a pot of sauerkraut soup to bring comfort on a cold day. To be honest, I’ve never personally made this soup and am not sure what all exactly goes into the making of this magical brew. I do know you need a ham bone. And a jar of sauerkraut. And lots of garlic. The home-made dumplings have always been my favourite part; thick and chewy, balancing out the tart flavour of the sauerkraut.

When I eat a bowl of this soup, I always close my eyes with the first spoonful and breathe in the steam from the rich broth. Whether it be a cold, fever or broken heart, I always feel a little better.

Thank you, Catherine, for making me feel better, one bowl at a time.

*Author’s note: My brother Jordan helped edit this post. He does not like sauerkraut soup.

Fennel and Sausage Pasta

I am no longer intimidated by fennel!

Fennel used to intimidate me. It was one of those “exotic” vegetables that only the Food Network superstars Chef Michael Smith and Mario Batali cooked with. ¬†Fennel looked good on the television but was so far from entering my every day repertoire. ¬†I would pass the fennel in the grocery store, staring at it longingly, wanting to cook with it but at a loss of what I would do with it.

Well those days are over!

I’ve cooked with it several times in the past couple of months and love the subtle licorice flavour it adds to dishes. The other night, I was short on time and craving something hearty. I threw together this sausage and fennel pasta dish which was inspired by a Rachael Ray recipe. ¬†I substituted the pernod for red wine, the cream for tomatoes and the penne for spegghetini. So mine was pretty much a completely different dish.

I browned hot italian sausage and then sauteed fennel, red onion, and garlic. To that I generously poured a cup or so of red wine and let it reduce before adding a can of diced tomatoes. ¬†It simmered on the stove until Todd got home from work and took the baby from me, about 20 minutes or so. I then I added it all to spegghetini, topping it with parsley and fennel fronds. We served it with grated mozzerella and some box o’wine.