Tag: chef

Foodie Swellness: From Italy with Amore at Loblaws

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Can’t we all use #moreamore in our lives? More specifically, more Italian cuisine made with authentic Italian ingredients?

I say sì! And I recently had the chance to learn to learn how to make some dishes from Chef Massimo Bruno at Loblaws. Bruno is from Puglia, and has lived in Toronto for about 16 years, and he said that when he first moved to Canada, it was hard for him to find the Italian ingredients he needed to make his dishes. This is not the case anymore because Loblaws carries more than 350 authentically Italian — they’re certified by the Italian Trade Commission — including many of Bruno’s favourites such as Lupa cheese.

Chef Massimo Bruno at More Amore

It was such a treat to get to learn from Bruno; I’ve been keen to go to one of his monthly supper clubs for ages but now I was getting to learn to cook alongside him. We made a few dishes: fettuccini with tuna and lemon, and a fresh pasta with tomatoes and garlic.

I learned a lot from Bruno over the course of the evening about Italian cooking:

  • When cooking with pecorino romano, be careful with how much salt you add to your dish as the cheese itself is quite salty, so add salt sparingly (if at all).
  • Don’t cheap out; spend the extra $5 on authentic pecorino romano (he likes the romano lupa) as it’ll really make your dish sing. When you buy a bottle of olive oil, go for a quality one, such as the President’s Choice Extra Virgin Olive Oil From Tuscany.
  • When making a sauce using ingredients like fresh tomatoes and garlic like the one we made, prepare it and let it sit so that the flavours come together.
  • There are two types of gorgonzola, dolce and piccante. Dolce is sweeter. Bruno recommends using Dolce if you’re cooking since many people find gorgonzola to be quite strong, so Dolce is a safer choice given it is more subtle.
  • There is no such thing as too much parmigiano reggiano.
  • There is also no such thing as too much fresh basil. Pile it on, says Bruno. He says you’ll never get a complaint, “Oh there’s too much basil in this.”
  • When using tomato purée to make your pasta sauce, add a little bit of water. If you don’t, your passata will cook off and become too thick and paste-like.
  • A quality dried pasta will have a slightly rough texture to it before you throw it into the pot of salted boiling water. (And don’t be shy when salting the water, Bruno threw handfuls into the water; he says it’s essential to cooking the noodles that the water be well salted).
  • You can trust in the imported Italian food products with the DOP label. This label is the product’s certification, which means you can be confident the product has been locally grown and packaged in Italy using traditional methods. DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, which translates to Protected Designation of Origin.

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Besides all of these foodie lessons, we ate so well (above is a beef dish Massimo prepared for us) and that fettucine we all helped prepare? It’s so simple to make and you can be eating in about 10 minutes, which is exactly the kind of recipe we all need when we get home and it’s late and we’re too tired to cook, right? Here’s the recipe:

Fettucine with tuna, lemon and basil

Fettuccini with tuna, lemon and basil

In a large bowl, add one can of Rio Mare tuna, drizzle with olive oil. Add the zest and then the juice of one lemon. Add some fresh basil (you can just tear the leaves with your fingers) and season with pepper. In the meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted boiling water as per the package. Take about a half cup of the starchy water the pasta has been cooked in and add to your tuna mixture (this will make the sauce easier to mix with your noodles). Drain the pasta and add the noodles to the tuna sauce and mix to combine.

And you’re done! Dinner is on the table. So simple yet so good.

Here’s to more amoré in your life! Buon appetito!

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Leave a Comment November 3, 2017

Foodie Swellness: DROM Kampot pepper

DROM grinders and pepper

So here’s the truth: I was sent these DROM peppers and two of the beautiful grinders almost six months ago (!) to try out, and I completely forgot about them. I tucked them away and besides was out of town so often last year that I was barely cooking proper meals anyhow. Then I stumbled upon them a few months ago when attempting to organize a little bit of the chaos at home. And I’m so glad I did.

I’ve been cooking more often, thanks to being home for a good solid chunk of time the past month, and it’s been wonderful. I do enjoy cooking (just not the cleaning up) and I definitely enjoy eating! And I’ve gone into full-on nesting mode, which I very much needed. So I finally have had a chance to use these peppers and grinders from DROM.

The DROM pepper is Kampot pepper (as in Kampot, Cambodia) and, much like Champagne and Parma Ham, they have a Protected Geographical Indication. And their flavour (and the fragrance when you freshly grind them!) is incredible. They’re single-origin peppers (meaning that they come from one producer in a specific region — in this case, Kampot, Cambodia). I can tell you that this only deepens my interest in traveling to Cambodia.

Just as good as the pepper itself, though, are the beautiful minimalist design of the grinders. With limited storage space in my kitchen (and way too many small appliances and ingredients in my cupboards!), I have to keep some items on my kitchen island, and these beauties are lovely to have on display (or to go straight from the kitchen to the dining table when people are over). Although you can use the grinder for salt, the pair is actually meant so that one is used for black pepper and the other red pepper (the DROM red pepper is a bit mellower).

Pepper, which you may or may not know, can do your health some good. It’s a rich source of vitamins, can boost mood and research has shown it to have disease-fighting properties. So even more reason to rise and grind! What’s life without a little spice?!

You can order DROM online (and it’s available in some retailers — more info on where to find it is on the website).

 

Leave a Comment March 1, 2017

Foodie Swellness: Chef’s Plate

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“What’re you doing here?”

People keep asking me this because they’re surprised to see me in Toronto. And yes, it’s true, the past few months I have had quite a few trips with little time spent at home. I think my poor cats are plotting to disown me.

Besides some lonely cats, my condo also has a very bare fridge and empty cupboards; since I haven’t been home for several weeks in a row, it’s been ages since I’ve come home from the grocery store with fresh goods to make several meals. I’ve been using the Ritual app for the occasional takeout meal, or just getting a handful of ingredients to make a really basic meal (ham and cheese sandwich day after day gets really boring, though, not to mention the fact that I’m missing important vitamins and minerals eating like this).

A solution I enjoyed is Chef’s Plate. Much like Mealspirations, this meal delivery service sets you up with the recipe and key ingredients for a tasty well-rounded meal. Rather than pore through recipes and grocery shop, Chef’s Plate sets me up with just what I need for the dish, meaning I get to eat a good home cooked meal (so welcome after eating often rich meals when I travel). It’s great for anyone who’s short on time or who maybe needs help with meal ideas or who simply isn’t a fan of going to the supermarket. It also works out well for me as I’m often reluctant to buy fresh produce if I’m only home for a couple of days since I won’t have a chance to eat everything and use up all the fresh ingredients. Since Chef’s Plate just provides the amount you need, I had less waste going in the garbage.

At $10.95 per plate it’s not unreasonable in price, and there are a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian plates that change each week, and you can order two to three meals, for two people or four people. One thing I think would make my life easier though is if you could choose the delivery day, currently orders placed by midnight on Thursday are delivered on Monday. My schedule is such that I might not be cooking until Thursday, for example, so an option of delivery dates would work better for me personally.

I chose the kale and tofu salad (above), which was very simple to make and one I’d happily make again, and the veal schnitzel, which took a little longer but was a comforting meal (it’s one I picture mom’s making for their kids).

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Have you tried a meal planning service? Have they been a time-saver or do you prefer to do your own grocery shopping and menu planning?

 

Leave a Comment November 11, 2015

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