Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rose's Roundup: The Allure of the Simple Dish

Nutella Cookies - Writing a food blog is wonderful because more often than not it encourages me to try new recipes, but the downside is I often forget to look back on some of my favourites. Giada de Laurentiis' recipe for Nutella Cookies was one of the first recipes I ever posted on my blog almost five years ago! I love this recipe for having that sweet chocolate and hazelnut pairing that we all know and love, but also for its slight bitterness, which keeps you coming back for more! Hot out of the oven these cookies are warm and gooey, but give them some time to cool and they become nice and crunchy, begging to be dunked into a glass of milk or even crumbled over an ice cream sundae. During the holidays I whipped up a batch of Giada's Nutella cookies (adjusting it slightly by adding some chocolate chips) intending to bring them to my friend Martha-In-Training's annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. It was just as the cookies came out of the oven that we began to get warning signs about a possible ice storm. Yes folks, I am talking about the ice storm of 2013. With a late and icy night ahead of us, and not the easiest commute to the party, we sadly abandoned our plans for ugly Christmas sweater party fun, and played it safe with a movie night on the couch. The upside? Nutella cookies ALL FOR ME!
Christmas Breakfast - Everyone celebrates Christmas with their own family a little bit different. For my family we like to do our big celebration with all of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on Christmas eve, eating and drinking until fairly late into the night. Come Christmas morning things get a lot more relaxing, as we leisurely open gifts with just my mom, my sister, and I...and often my honorary brother D, my sisters boyfriend. With so much rush leading up to Christmas, I didn't have time to make a dish of my own to contribute to our Christmas Eve festivities, so for Christmas morning I wanted to treat my family to something special of my own. For months now my boyfriend Chris and I have been obsessing over the southern "poor-mans-food" grits, having it for breakfast on an almost weekly basis. Never having tried grits before, my mom and my sister didn't understand my newfound obsession with the seemingly bland mush. Christmas morning was my chance to get them aboard the grits train! Creamy grits filled with sharp aged cheddar is topped with crispy and salty pancetta, a runny-yolk fried egg, caramelized onions, and chopped parsley. Needless to say, all it took was one bite to get them just as hooked on grits as me! They loved it!!
Spaghetti Aglio E Olio - Why is it that some of the simplest of foods always seem to find a way into my heart? Spaghetti Aglio E Olio is one of those extremely simple, yet wonderfully alluring dishes for me. Its the comfort of the dish that grabs my attention, as well as those simple familiar flavours. I guess it's that same simplicity that drew me to grits. I find those very plain and simple dishes to be so attractive for me, because there is so much room for play and improvement. For a long time I have been making my Pasta Aglio E Olio by simply tossing my pasta with a bunch of garlic infused olive oil, a bit of red pepper flakes, and lots and lots of parmesan cheese. As much as I enjoyed that simple combination, I knew I could make it better. I knew that the flavours could be amplified and I wanted to find a way of keeping that saucy feel to the dish, without having to use such an excessive amount of oil.

Being Italian, my boyfriend Chris grew up eating Aglio E Olio, with himself and many of his friends playing around with different variations on the European classic...often after midnight, with several drinks in their system. Of course it took the Italian boyfriend to discover what may be one of the best methods of making Aglio E Olio. Chris discovered Ina Garten's recipe for Spaghetti Aglio E Olio, which utilizes the starchy pasta water to extend the olive oil and cook the garlic slices so that by the time you add your pasta to the mix, the garlic has become creamy and mixes right in with the sauce. To amp up those flavours even more, we followed Ina's recipe, but began with our own addition, salty pancetta, rendered down to crispy perfection! With Ina's method of making the perfect garlic and olive oil sauce, combined with Chris and I's pancetta addition, I think we are on our way to perfecting one of the worlds most simplest dishes!
The Great Cream Challenge: Creamy Mac & Cheese - Every year for the past few years I have had the pleasure of taking part in the Real Cream Anyday Magic Great Cream Challenge! The challenge brings together different food bloggers from all over Canada, inviting them to choose a monthly theme and create a recipe of their choice that fits that particular theme, and utilizes the extremely versatile ingredient, cream! Three bloggers each month submit their recipes to share and invite the wold to vote on which recipe they like best. This year I am very excited to be taking part in three different themes throughout the challenge, the first being the Creamy Mac & Cheese challenge.

When coming up with a creamy mac & cheese recipe of my own, I first began by brainstorming all my favourite ways to eat cheese. I wanted to create a hybrid dish that would incorporate two of my favourite cheese dishes into one. After writing out an extremely long list of yummy cheese dishes (while snacking on cheese, of course!) I came up with the idea of a French Onion Mac & Cheese, incorporating those savory, comforting flavours we know and love from a classic french onion soup, with very basic mac & cheese recipe. My French Onion Mac & Cheese features red wine caramelized onions, beef broth, and, the best part of french onion soup, that cheesy gruyere and crouton topping, all served in individual soup bowls to give the full effect. I was so incredibly happy with how my French Onion Mac & Cheese turned out and cannot wait to share my recipe with you on February 3rd, when the Creamy Mac & Cheese Challenge goes live on the Dairy Farmers of Canada site!

Magical Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - ...enough said.

On My Mind:
Rethinking the humble carrot.

You have to check out one of my favoruite pinners Beth Kirby from Local Milk. The girl has an awesome eye for all things beautiful, and I repeatedly find myself pinning her gorgeous photos inspiring great style and delicious food!

Oh how children's toys have changed. This nostalgic look at old toys from the 80's is a great reminder that the "gendering" of children's toys is absolutely bananas! 

The only thing helping me survive this horrible, horrible polar vortex is my Little Hotties hand and foot warmers. Do yourself a favour and scoop up as many of these babies as you can get your hands on! 

Chris and I booked our plane tickets to London, England last night! Europe, here I come!!

This week in my Nutrition & Lifestyle class we learned about the incredible benefits of adding coconut oil to your diet, and it's ability to speed up your metabolism. Is coconut oil part of your diet?

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Listening To:
Phosphorescent - Tomorrow Is A Long Time (Bob Dylan Cover)

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