Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ultimate Lobster Lover's Pasta

Two weeks ago, I stumbled upon a lobster & ricotta filled agnolotti  at the Whole Foods Market in downtown Toronto.  For those of you who have never been toWhole Foods, it is a food store specializing in high quality natural and organic products.  They sell locally grown produce, which in turn supports our local farmers, which is awesome in itself!  I just love peeking in when I am in the neighborhood.  I can find many specialty items there, that I wouldn't be able to find anywhere else, such as clotted cream, rosewater, etc.  An afternoon at Whole Foods is like bliss for any foodie.  So, like I said, I found lobster & ricotta filled agnolotti (a kind of ravioli type pasta) in the frozen aisle section, as I knew this could be inspiration for a delicious meal. Last week, I decided to cook something special for Nuno (my husband) and I and this is what I came up with:

Sliced bella mushrooms, heavy cream, butter, garlic, lobster meat (you can buy frozen, canned lobster meat, all the work is done for you - all you have to do is thaw and drain the liquid) 

Melt butter over medium heat, saute garlic for 2 minutes.  Add sliced mushrooms, saute for 2-3 minutes.

In the meantime, cook your pasta according to directions on the package.  By the way, any plain pasta will work just as well here.  I try to time it so the pasta is done at the same time as the sauce.

Add cream, salt, pepper, and half a cup of shredded Gruyere cheese.  And finally, stir in your lobster meat just until heated through. 

And finally, garnish with fresh, finely chopped parsley!

The ultimate lobster lover's pasta!

I love how a simple box of frozen agnolotti inspired such a delicious and romantic meal.  This recipe can serve four, but since my girls haven't appreciated the taste of lobster yet, we had leftovers!!  The wonderful thing about this meal is that it tastes just as good, if not better, when it is reheated, which is usually the case with pasta.

I do hope you enjoyed this post.  I'm wondering if everyone is a lobster lover out there?  I just love seafood, but lobster has to be one of my favorites.  What about you?  I would love to hear your feedback.  Thanks for stopping in and enjoy the rest of your day! xo

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Recipe for Succulent Baby Back Ribs

The weather is finally warming up and it's feeling more and more Spring-like each day.  Summer is also fast approaching and you know what that means - Barbecue Season!  What better way to take advantage of the warm weather, than to cook up some tender fall-off the bone back ribs!  The secret is to cook them at a low temperature for a few hours.  Slow and steady wins the race here.

First, remove the clear membrane on the back of the rib rack.  This helps keep the ribs tender.  Use a sharp knife to lift the corner of the membrane and then pull out in one entire piece.  Wash & pat dry.

Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. 

Wrap ribs in heavy duty aluminum foil, sealing tightly, so juices don't escape.  Place in a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet lined with foil and bake in a preheated 300 degree F oven for 2-3 hours (more or less, depending on the size and thickness of the ribs)

In the meantime, you can cook some corn on the cob in a large pot of boiling, salted water.  It only takes 5-8 minutes.  Turn off the heat, cover with lid, until ready to serve.

After 2-3 hours, remove ribs from the oven.  Open sealed packets and drain the juices, being very careful not to burn yourself with the hot liquid!

Next, baste with your favorite BBQ sauce. Here is my husband, Nuno, basting the ribs.  He is the grill king and loves to BBQ. 

I wish you could smell these!  Alternatively, you can finish cooking them in your oven.  Just turn the broiler on, place the ribs on a foil-lined cookie sheet and broil the tops for 3-5 minutes, watching carefully, so you don't burn them.  

I served corn on the cob and baked sweet potatoes with the ribs.

Mmm!  It was scrumptious!  

Hoping everyone has a wonderful weekend!  Happy Memorial Day weekend to my friends in the US and happy Spring bank holiday to my friends in the UK!  Thank you for stopping by my kitchen. xo

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Simply Delicious Tuna Salad with Quail Eggs

I remember my mother making this simple tuna salad many times when I was a child. It is very simple to put together - especially for a hard-working Mom, who worked all day, and didn't have the luxury of time to cook a big, fancy meal.  My version is made with quail eggs, instead of regular, sliced eggs. For those of you who have never tried quail eggs, you can find them in many Asian or Portuguese food markets.  They are pretty much identical in taste to chicken eggs, except these possess the cute factor! Kids will love these, due to their tiny size; they can just "pop" them in their mouth!

Quail eggs

Cover eggs with cold water, bring to a boil. Turn off heat.  Cover pan with lid & allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Peeled quail eggs

Once you have cooked and peeled the quail eggs, set them aside.  For four servings, you can use 20 quail eggs, more or less. Next step is to boil your potatoes.

Peel, cube and boil 2 pounds of red potatoes.  Drain and set aside.

Now that you have your eggs, and potatoes cooked,  it is time to put together the salad.   Use a large serving bowl or dish.  You will need:
  • 3 cans flaked, drained tuna
  • 1 can chick peas, divided
  • 1 can black pitted olives, divided
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped, divided
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
First, start with one layer of tuna, potatoes, eggs, chick peas, olives, and parsley.  Continue to layer twice more.  Drizzle olive oil over over each layer.  It is extremely simple to make, but makes for a very satisfying meal.  Here is what it looks like...

Just set your serving dish in the center of your table, with a large serving spoon and allow guests to serve themselves.  I like to serve some crusty bread on the side along with some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.  Hope you enjoyed reading this post.  Happy Tuesday everyone!

Please leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Excite The Senses With Bread Pudding

I have always had a passion for food.  I love the flavors, the smells, the textures, the colors, even the sounds - like the sound of a wooden spoon stirring the sides of a pot, the sound of onions being sauteed in olive oil, the sound of my favorite soup bubbling on the stove, even the clatter of dishes being set on the table.   What about the smell of apple pie baking in the oven?  And the smell of lasagna wafting through the house, you can smell the cheese melting!  Our most recognized senses are sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.  What more can excite our senses, than the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of food?


This is a picture of a wonderful restaurant in Montague, Prince Edward Island, Canada.  It is called "Windows on the Water".  I had the pleasure of dining here on a family trip to PEI in the summer of  2009.  It was highly recommended in one of our travel guides and we jumped at the chance to eat here.  We had a delicious meal and excellent service, but what did it for me, was the magnificent bread pudding!  Before we flew back home, we went out of our way to visit this restaurant again.  I believe we drove 1 1/2 hours just to eat there.  That's how much we loved it! 

This is a picture of my husband holding a plate of the sinfully delicious bread pudding!  I swore I would not rest until I came up with something just as good.  That, or I would have to visit PEI more often for a fix of this delectable dessert! 

My Bread Pudding

Remove crust from french bread loaf, cut into one inch cubes.  Should be day-old.  

Drizzle melted butter over bread cubes and sprinkle plumped sultana raisins over top.

 In a large bowl, add eggs, milk, cinnamon, and a few other ingredients ;)      
Pour your mixture over the bread, pushing down with whisk, making sure everything is soaked
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.  I love the smell bread pudding leaves in the house! 
Ingredients for making the brown sugar sauce
This is the sauce cooling in a glass bowl

A slice of heaven and a feast for the senses!

I am so very proud of this recipe, as I managed to recreate the delicious dessert I so enjoyed in PEI.  Thank you to Windows On The Water for the inspiration!  This is definitely a favorite of mine and will be in my cookbook!  Hope you enjoyed reading this post.  I would love to hear from you!  All comments are appreciated.  Have a wonderful day! xo

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Friday Night Stuffed Bell Peppers

Usually, I decide what we will be having for dinner early in the morning.  This way, if anything needs to be defrosted, there will be more than enough time for it.  This past Friday, I looked in the freezer and saw some lean ground beef and thought, "What could I make with this tonight?".  The idea of stuffed peppers came to mind.  I immediately took out the ground beef to defrost.  I went to the grocery store and picked up some fresh green and red bell peppers.  I just love the bright color and taste of these!

I bought 3 red and 3 green bell peppers.  I cut the tops off and reserved them.  Next, I removed the seeds and washed the peppers under water.  Make sure when you buy bell peppers for stuffing, that they sit flat on the bottom, so they do not topple over when you fill them! 

Put your bell peppers and reserved tops in a large pot of boiling, salted water.  I added 3 at a time, in 2 batches.  Boil them for approximately 4 minutes.  This significantly reduces the time they have to cook in the oven.  Remove from the water and set them aside to cool. 

If you don't have a food processor, I really recommend buying one.  It is such a handy appliance.  You can use it to chop and crush veggies, make sauces, even make pie crust!  It really is an essential in my kitchen.  Here, as you can see, I chopped up one whole onion and 4 garlic cloves. 

Saute onion and garlic in 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.

Add 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef. Stir and crush beef with wooden spoon until fully cooked.  Add salt, pepper, and seasoning.  


Add 1 cup of cooked long-grain rice.  I used basmati rice.

Next, I added 1 1/2 cups of my homemade tomato sauce and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.  Stir until sauce is heated through and cheese has melted.

Now, take your cooled peppers and fill them to the top with the delicious ground beef and rice mixture.

Place the bell peppers flat in a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Fill the bottom of the dish with 1 cup of hot water.  Bake uncovered, in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle tops with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.  Return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.  You won't believe how gorgeous your house will smell at this point!

Remove from the oven and place bell peppers on a serving dish.  You can serve with tops on or off!

Isn't it wonderful how you can turn a simple vegetable into an edible treasure chest?  Each one hiding it's own little treasure inside!

I really hope you enjoyed this post.  The next time you have some ground beef lying around, and you're not sure what to do with it, maybe you can make some yummy stuffed peppers.  Thank you for stopping by my kitchen and I hope to see you again real soon!  I would love to hear your comments!  Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Love Affair with Pasta

There is something truly special and unique about pasta.  I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but for me, pasta exudes a certain kind of comfort.  I find many pasta dishes are comfort foods- whether it's spaghetti and meatballs or fettucine alfredo. When I eat them, they make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  Do you feel the same?  What I do know, is that I LOVE pasta and Italian food overall!  Today, I want to share with you, one of my  favorites - Chicken-stuffed Pasta Shells!

First, I cook a whole 3 pound chicken in a large pot of boiling, salted water. 

Once chicken is cooked, I drain the water and allow it to cool.  Then, I remove the skin and bones and shred all the yummy chicken meat.  Next, I throw the shredded chicken in a food processor and pulse 3-5 times.  You will have beautiful ground chicken, that looks and smells delicious! This can be made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight until you are ready to use it.

Next step is to make the tomato sauce.  You will need 3 cups. I like to make my sauce at home, but if you like, you can purchase canned tomato sauce.  However, once you make your own, you will never go back to the canned stuff.  My sauce consists of tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and fresh basil.  This can also be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated over night.  

Now you take your ground chicken and season it.  I use sauteed onion, garlic, parmesan cheese, ricotta, sour cream, parsley, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.  Stir everything until well combined in a large bowl.

Next, grab your package of shells and boil them according to directions on the package.  Once shells are cooked, you can fill them with your mixture.  I use 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture for each shell.  When all the shells are filled, add 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Arrange the shells on top of the sauce and cover with another 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over top and cover baking dish with aluminum foil.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes and


I like to serve this dish with some crusty, cheesy garlic bread and a nice glass of white wine!  Thank you for stopping over.  Hope you can visit again soon! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Taste of Portugal

As some of you may already know, I was born on the Island of Sao Miguel, the largest Island in the Portuguese Azores Archipelago. I came to Canada with my parents at sixteen months of age, as my parents were looking for a better life and a good place to work and raise a family.  Six years later, at the age of seven, I became a Canadian Citizen, along with my parents.  I have been back to Sao Miguel and Portugal several times in my life.  Although I feel more Canadian than Portuguese, Sao Miguel holds a special place in my heart.  It is where my roots are, my family, my history, it all began there.  And with that, comes my love for traditional Portuguese food.  At our house, on our table, the influence is always there, in the ingredients, the spices, even the tableware.
Fish is eaten regularly in Portugal and among the most popular is bacalhau (cod fish).  In Portugal, cod is always sold dry and salted. This is how they keep the fish fresh without needing refrigeration. We can find the same dry, salted fish here in many supermarkets. I would like to share with you my recipe for a typical Portuguese dish I made last week, while my Mom was staying with us. 

Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa (serves 4-6)

2 pounds deboned salt-cod (soaked in water for 24-36 hrs prior, making sure to change the water 3-4 times)
8 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 eggs
2 large onions, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 extra virgin olive oil (divided)
black olives, pitted
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
salt to taste

First cook cod in a large pot of boiling water for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool and flake into small pieces.  While cod is cooling, you can boil potatoes (1/4 inch thickness) and eggs in a separate pot.

Boil potatoes
 Flaked cod

Once cooked, drain water from the potatoes.  Set aside.  Peel hard-boiled eggs and slice for garnish.  Set aside. 

 Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil into large skillet.  Saute onions and garlic until golden, over medium heat. 

In a large baking dish, brush bottom with olive oil.  Add half of your potatoes, half the cod fish, half the onions, potatoes again, cod again, and top with onions.  Drizzle the leftover half cup of olive oil over the entire dish. ( I also sprinkle a little salt over the potatoes, after each layer)

 Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove.  Decorate with sliced eggs, black olives, and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
And here you have it, Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa.  I hope you can try my recipe some day and tell me what you think!  Thank you for visiting my kitchen! Have a wonderful day!