Category Archives: Evil Events & Holidays

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I have been making this Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce every holiday season, for many years now.  I like to make this before or after Christmas and keep it stocked in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner.  This deliciously rich and meaty pasta keeps me going throughout the busy holiday season.  All the baking and cooking burns a lot of calories!  (Or, at least I’d like to thinks so…).  This dish is definitely an indulgence, which is why I only make it for special occasions.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I like to use rigatoni for this recipe because this type of pasta soaks up a lot of sauce, so you can really pile on the bolognese!  Packed with five types of meat, this recipe is dedicated to the carnivore lover.  Cooking the sweet Italian sausage in the rendered pancetta fat is simply divine, and is the heavenly base for this sauce.  Resist the urge to snack on all the crispy bits while cooking this recipe!  The sweetness from the balsamic, sausage, nutmeg and fennel helps to balance out the salty meats.  I really love adding balsamic vinegar to this dish, because the acidity adds another level of richness to the sauce.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I also like to the opportunity to use homemade ingredients when I make this recipe.  Earlier this year I canned tomatoes for the first time.  I love to use them in sauces and they taste so much better than store bought ones.  Fresh tomatoes are really the key to a tasty, light sauce.  I also started to make my own stock in my slow cooker after reading a lot about the health benefits of bone broth.  Making your own stock is so easy and I freeze them in 250 ml freezer containers for easy use.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

When I need to refuel over the holidays, I rely on this protein packed pasta dish.  This Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce is sinfully delicious and is packed full of salty meats balanced with a bit of sweetness.  Another rich indulgence for the holiday season!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

51

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 large servings

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • sea salt
  • 1 pound (500g) rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages, links split open, casing removed
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground veal
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • coarse black pepper
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock*
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes*
  • 5 tablespoons (or half a 156ml can) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 good balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water to taste and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot to keep warm. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, and the sausage to the other. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and toss together for another minute.
  4. Remove sausage and pancetta with a slotted spoon. Add the pork, beef and veal. Brown and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes until soft.
  6. Add sausage and pancetta back to the pan. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up all the good bits with a wooden spoon.
  7. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes into smaller pieces.
  8. Add tomato paste, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes to taste.
  9. Simmer over medium low heat until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish with balsamic vinegar, and check seasoning. Simmer for a few minutes more.
  11. Divide pasta into four large bowls and generously top with sauce. Mix the sauce with the pasta to coat evenly.
  12. Top with freshly ground pepper, parsely and parmesan cheese.

Notes

*I use my own homemade beef broth

*or one 28 ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes. I can my own tomatoes so I use the whole quart. I like my sauce on the chunky side so I find the whole tomatoes break down in the sauce and there's no need to dice them, but with your preference!

*the thicker (more expensive) balsamic vinegar, the richer your sauce will be!

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/12/12/rigatoni-balsamic-bolognese-sauce/

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

What is your favourite pasta sauce to serve over rigatoni?  Did you like the addition of balsamic vinegar in this bolognese sauce?

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

One of my most popular recipes on my blog is my review of Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Pudding. I had never tasted sticky toffee pudding before but now I actually prefer this to plum pudding.   This recipe has become one of my favourite desserts over the holidays and has since become an annual tradition.

The original post was written the first year I had my blog, and has consistently done well.   When I look back at the photos from this post, I laugh at how bad they are, I’ve come a long way! Since this dessert is one of my favourite recipes, I wanted to do the post justice and decided to reshoot the sticky toffee pudding this year.

I also modified the recipe a bit, as my current boyfriend is lactose intolerant.  I substituted the double cream with coconut milk and it worked out very well. The coconut milk adds a light, creaminess to the sauce, but needs to simmer a little longer to reduce and thicken.  I also omitted the cocoa for this version, because my taste buds have changed over the years and don’t like sweet desserts as much as I used to.

I’m still a big Gordon Ramsay fan and have blogged a few of his recipes throughout the years like his deliciously fluffy scrambled eggs.  These days I’m busy creating my own recipes and look to him more for tips and techniques.  But I still love how easy this recipe is, and his sticky toffee pudding continues to impress my friends and family.  Light and fluffy, this slightly bittersweet pudding soaks up the lightly salted toffee sauce perfectly, and is a delightful dessert to indulge in over the holidays.

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ingredients

    For the pudding:
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp espresso, cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • For the toffee sauce:
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

    For the pudding:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a sponge cake mold and line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper as well, ensuring that all the sides are properly covered. Instead of a sponge cake mold, 8 x 175ml-200ml pudding basins can be used as well.
  2. Place the dates, sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the dates are soft.
  3. Leave to cool, then blend in a Magic Bullet or similar food processor until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the dates, butter, vanilla and espresso. Add eggs and whisk again until well blended.
  5. In a separate small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In two batches, fold into the wet mixture with a spatula until just combined.
  6. Carefully pour into the prepared baking dish of choice and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick emerges fairly clean when inserted in the thickest part.
  7. For the toffee sauce:
  8. Place all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and simmer, stirring frequently, until the butter and sugar have dissolved and the sauce is smooth. Reduce sauce until thickened, about 10 minutes. Keep warm and give it a stir every once in a while to prevent a skin from forming on top.
  9. When the pudding is cool enough to handle, but still warm, run a small knife along the sides, then invert onto a serving plate. Peel off the baking parchment. Pour a generous drizzle of warm toffee sauce over the puddings and serve immediately.
http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/12/05/gordon-ramsays-dairy-free-sticky-toffee-pudding/

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

What dairy free desserts do you like to make over the holidays?  Did you like this dairy-free version of Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Toffee Pudding?  Let me know!

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

Over the years tourtière has become a New Year’s Eve tradition.  A nice break from turkey, a spiced meat pie on a chilly winter’s night is the ultimate comfort food.  I decided to change it up this year and include my new fave vegetable: fennel.  Fennel and pork are a popular Italian combination, that I thought my half Italian boyfriend would enjoy.  The licorice flavour pairs nicely with the pork, and adds to the festive seasoning of the filling.  Flaky, rich and hearty, this French Canadian Fennel Tourtière will keep you fed for days!

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

I have always been intimidated by crust, and I’ve tried many different recipes with mixed results. A few years ago I took a culinary course at George Brown College where I finally learned how to make the perfect crust.  This is a sure-fire recipe and the secret is to make sure your dough stays very cold.  What is great about this recipe is that the dough can be used almost immediately and doesn’t need to chill for an hour like most doughs.  I also read somewhere that using vodka instead of water makes for a crispier crust, and I swear by this trick now.

Originating from Canada, immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century introduced this dish to Quebec and since then, has become a French Canadian Christmas or New Year’s Eve tradition.  The filling varies depending on the region.  For instance, the tourtières of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area and Eastern Quebec are made with potatoes and cubed pieces of meat, while in Montreal the pies are made with ground pork only, spiced with cloves and cinnamon and served with maple syrup, ketchup, chutneys or preserves.  In St. Boniface, Manitoba, similar herbs are used as well as celery salt, nutmeg and dry mustard and the pies are served with mustards and relishes, while an Acadian tourtière is made with pork and may also contain beef, chicken or hare.

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

My tourtière is influenced by both the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Montreal tourtières.  I like using ground pork and beef instead of cubes, and the mashed potatoes help to bind the filling (and I also love mashed potato).  Spicing the meat is essential for that festive aroma, and I like my meat pie more on the savory side so I prefer a combination of marjoram, thyme, sage, cloves and now, fennel.  Finally, I serve my tourtière with some homemade ketchup, gerkins or beet chutney to balance out the richness.  I’d love to try serving with some relishes and mustards, I think a maple mustard or a cranberry relish would be really tasty.

With this recipe you can either make two medium thick pies, or one thick pie.  I usually make one large pie, however the tourtière tradition is to make a whole lot to give away during the holidays.  So if you need a last minute gift, making the second meat pie is always an option!  Either way, your home will be filled with the wonderful aroma of fennel, cloves and sage.

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

51

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Makes two 9-inch (23-cm) meat pies or one thick 11-inch (27 cm) pie

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • 6 peeled Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup finely chopped fennel, including stems
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 2 Tbsp water
  • For the crust:
  • 750 grams pastry flour
  • 500 grams shortening (chilled)
  • 250ml chilled vodka
  • 15 grams salt

Instructions

  1. Boil water in a large pot and add potatoes. Cook until soft, then push through a potato ricer*.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the fennel and garlic for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Crumble the ground pork and beef into the pan and cook until the meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add fennel seeds, marjoram, thyme, sage, cloves and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the wine and cover the pan. Lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Combine flour and shortening in large bowl and cut with pastry cutter until reduced to irregular pea sized crumbs.
  7. Dissolve salt in vodka and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix just enough to combine without overmixing.
  8. Transfer dough to floured surface and shape into four discs (or just two if making only one pie). Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge until ready for use*.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Grease either 2 x 9-inch pie pans or 1 x 11-inch pie pan.
  10. Once the filling has finished simmering, stir in the mashed potatoes and parsley. Set aside to cool.
  11. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface into four (or two) thin rounds.
  12. Fill each pie chell with 1/2 of the cooled meat mixture and top with the remaining pastry, sealing and fluting the edges with your fingers to form a ruffled border.
  13. Cut small steam vents in the tops of the pies using the tip of a sharp knife and brush the pies with the egg yolk glaze
  14. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

Notes

*a ricer is a utensil that pushes the potato through small holes, resulting in fluffly mashed potatoes. A potato masher can be used as well but can result in over mashing, making the potato too gluey.

*if making only one pie, use the extra dough to make a few mini meat pies or to add additional crust decor

*always keep your dough cold, this will "firm-up" the shortening which in turn makes the dough easier to handle

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/11/28/french-canadian-fennel-tourtiere/

Do you have a New Year’s Eve tradition?  What would you add to your French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere filling?

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere

French Canadian Fennel Tourtiere