Chocolate Chip Ricotta Cheesecake

(From the archives.)

Ricotta cheese pies are a favourite pastime of mine to make. If you’re like me, and you can’t stand the chalky taste of cream cheese based cheesecakes, ricotta cheese pie recipes are for you. I made this recipe a few months back and forgot to add the cream cheese. I didn’t realise my mistake till it was done baking, so I was nervous when I served it up at the in-laws. Much to my surprise, not only did it turn out really well, the texture was silky smooth and no one missed the taste of cream cheese!

choco chip ricotta pie

The secret to this particular presentation is a chocolate readymade pie crust and adding two small handfuls of chocolate chips on top just before you slip it in the oven. The middle is the plain vanilla ricotta filling. It’s based off of the original Danone Cheesecake recipe I found online years ago.

This entry was posted on May 25, 2008.

Stuffed My Face Veggie Delight

Catered Grub

(From the archives.)

This is why I loved working in the food industry — leftovers from a catering gig. I got to take all the fabulous veggies I can fit into a takeout container and call that dinner at the end of each one I work. Yum!

Here we have a stack of widely cut veggies that include eggplant, three pepper colours, zucchini and portabella mushroom – all pre-soaked in balsamic and extra virgin olive oil and then baked in rich tomato sauce, some delicious asparagus stalks drizzled with unknown ingredients and steamed to perfection. One of two stuffed tomatoes (I ate the other before I thought of taking a photo – please forgive!) that was hollowed out and stuffed using the guts mixed with all kinds of yummy goodness before being baked to the perfect softness to dig into with a fork without the risk of it falling apart.… This was the best dinner! I got full after a bit of it so I have some leftovers from the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Yee-haw!

This entry was posted on April 19, 2007.

Nick’s Greek Potatoes

(From the archives)

We have the loveliest Greek customer who comes in from time to time – even from miles away now that he’s recently moved to a difference city. Every time he comes in, we visit. And every time I hear his accent and the cadence of his old world Greek accent, I instantly crave Greek potatoes in the worst way.

I guess I’ve wore Nick down over the last few visits because today he gave me his secrets to making the best Greek Potatoes ever. Can you get any better than a Greek telling you how they make potatoes in the oven at home?! I think not!

Greek Potatoes:
* 1+ lbs Yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into sections of your choice (halves, quarters or eights), dried with a kitchen towel really well
* 2 tablespoons olive oil (regular not virgin)
* S&P to taste
* 1/2 – 1 teaspoon each: oregano and thyme (or just thyme), pinched to release flavours
* Lemon juice from one lemon freshly squeezed
* Small dabs or brush strokes of garlic butter on top of each potato

Bake covered in the oven at 350 for 75 minutes. Remove the cover every so often and stir potatoes so they don’t stick to pan and burn. There’s no need to babysit them, so once or twice is fine. Each time, dab or brush a bit of the butter on the potato tops. Cook until fork tender. Uncover the pan and continue cooking the potatoes in the oven for the next 15 minutes on broiler setting to crisp up the edges.

Serve with rice, salad, and meat dish of your choice. Popular Greek meals include tender meats like lamb.

These potatoes will be a home run every time as long as you’re patient while they slow cook. The smells coming from your oven will be so delicious and overwhelming, you’ll be tempted to eat them half way through the cooking cycle. I’ve been there, done that. Heh.

This entry was posted on July 7, 2011.

Smack & Cheese

(From the archives.)

My husband’s favourite pasta dish is my Smack & Cheese. I call it that in jest, but when you get this dish just right, you won’t stop eating it, It’s a fantastically horrible addiction.

Very basic ingredients were used like bacon, pasta, onions, butter, diced red peppers, milk, and grated cheddar cheese. Half the bacon went into the creamy roux sauce along with the red peppers as the milk was thickening, and it was all blended with the cheese in a bowl off the heat before serving. That’s it! No magic involved, but it tasted like there was some alchemy involved.

The main thrust of this dish is the bechemel sauce with cheddar cheese added at the very end over pasta. That’s it. Very simple, but very tasty when all is said and done.

Note: I don’t use much in the way of salt for this dish. I let all of the salt that is already present in the cheese, butter and cooked pasta do all the heavy flavour lifting while adding some freshly cracked pepper on top at the table. I also use fresh herbs when my herb garden is flourishing during the summer months.

Makes 4.

1. Cook 2C Rotini or any other similar shaped pasta like penne in salted boiling water.

2. Cut 3 Bacon strips in half for frying. Chop coarsely after it cooked and cooled off.

3. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pot. When it foams up, add about 1 tbsp of oil; swirl it around. Dump in 1/2 C diced white onions and cook down for about five minutes.

Add 2 tbsp flour; whisk in until the butter and onions clump up and the colour starts to turn brown somewhat and the flour cooks a bit.

Add one pile of bacon bits + 1/2 of diced red. Stir to coat a bit. Add 1 1/2C of milk. Whisk to combine the flour and dairy. Stir the pot so the milk doesn’t get scalded or burn on the bottom as it thickens. Taste test. Add a small pinch of salt if needed.

4. Scoop out about 1/3 C of the pasta water for your sauce; set aside. Drain the pasta about 1 minute before it hits al dente. Return the pasta to the same pot off the heat.

5.Grate 2 C of any cheese(s) you have; set it aside.

6. After the milk thickens and coats the back of a spoon, pour the bechamel sauce into the bowl over top of the waiting pasta noodles.

7. Dump the cheese in over the pasta + bechemel. Stir quickly until the cheddar is fully melted and coats the pasta in a lovely amber colour. Use any or all of the reserved pasta starch water to aid the coating process should the bechamel be too thick.

8. Plate your pasta into serving dishes and top with the second pile of bacon bits and some freshly washed and chopped herb of your choice. I love fresh basil or cilantro over my pasta, but go nuts. DH loves to add a few cracks of pepper over his pasta, as well.


This entry was posted on July 8, 2011.

Spicy Chickpea Stew

Spicy Chickpeas

Spicy Chickpeas

I love this recipe! I can’t wait to make it again this week.

(From the archives)

Spicy Chickpea Stew:
1 glug Olive Oil
1/2 C Onion, fine diced
1/2 tea Cumin
1 tea Yellow Curry
16 oz Diced Tomatoes, fresh or canned
16 oz Chickpeas, dried or canned
2 tea Dried Parsley

Sweat onions and seasoning in olive oil for five minutes. Add drained diced tomatoes; cook another 5-8 minutes. Add the chickpeas and parsley. Cook another ten minutes till the beans are soft but not mushy. Serve over rice of your choice. (optional)

This entry was posted on July 14, 2011.

I can’t be trusted

Fugly Artisan Bread

Fugly Artisan Bread

(From the archives back when our store had a bread slicer customers could use.)

I sliced this loaf at the grocery store using their big slicer machine. Everything was going well till, like an a**h**e, the high top of the bread got stuck in the feed.

I think it turned out all right despite that little mishap, though. *ahem*

This entry was posted on July 14, 2011.

Bowtie Ballsagna

(From the archives.)

Here is a dish I have been wanting to update for awhile now.

Bowtie Ballsagna:
2-3 C bowtie noodles
2-3 C fresh spinach
3 C homemade pasta sauce + 12oz of tomato puree
24-36 mini meatballs
6-8 fresh Thai basil leaves
2 C ricotta cheese with S&P to taste
2 C grated mozzarella and parmesan cheeses
2 C toasted breadcrumbs (optional)

Bowtime Ballsagna layering, from the bottom up:
Thin coating of pasta sauce (no meatballs)
Cooked bowtie pasta noodles
Pasta sauce with meatballs
Wilted spinach (in a thin covering)
Ricotta cheese
Cooked bowtie pasta noodles
Pasta sauce with meatballs
Wilted spinach (in a thin covering)
Ricotta cheese
Pasta sauce (no meatballs)
Mix of grated parmesan and mozzarella cheeses
Breadcrumbs (toasted, and optional)

Start by cooking your bowtie noodles in water that’s been generously salted. In a large non-stick pan, start wilting down the spinach with a small pinch of salt and a teaspoon of oil; set aside to cool when it’s all cooked down.

As you cook the pasta and wilt the spinach, reheat your prepared or jarred pasta sauce in a deep sauce pot. To this, add your freshly cooked (if you had time to make any, of course) or frozen meatballs, the tomato puree, some freshly picked and cleaned Thai hot basil (if using dry leaves, half the called for amount; whole or chiffonade) and freshly cracked black pepper. Let that cook long enough to heat the meatballs all the way through.

Note: If you don’t have fresh or dried out Thai hot basil leaves, fresh sweet basil will be fine in the sauce. We like a bit of zing in our lasagna sauce, so that’s why I grow Thai hot basil in my garden.

Scoop out a bit of the pasta sauce to spread all over the bottom of your lasagna pan thinly. Scoop out a few more spoonfuls of just the pasta sauce and set aside (this is for the topping). When your pasta is done cooking, drain it well. Layer more or less than half of the cooked pasta over the sauce in the lasagna dish. (Only use enough to cover the sauce, otherwise this lasagna will become very bulky.) Over the pasta, place a generous amount of sauce with half of the meatballs to cover the pasta noodles, but not much more.

Over the sauce and meatballs layer, lay half of your wilted spinach all over and top that with a few blobs of ricotta cheese; (I use a medium size offset spatula to) spread the ricotta over the spinach in an almost opaque layer. Top the ricotta with the second half of your pasta noodles and top them with the last of the sauce and meatballs. Top those with the last of the wilted spinach, and then top the spinach with the last few blobs of ricotta spread out and the reserved pasta sauce before finishing the lasagna with your two grated cheeses (and toasted breadcrumbs if you like).

Lovely Pumpkin Ice Cream

My gorgeous Pumpkin Ice Cream

2 eggs, beaten
1 C canned pumpkin puree (or pumpkin pie filling)
1 C packed brown sugar (if not using pie filling)
2 tsp pumpkin spices (if not using pie filling)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C evaporated milk
2 C heavy cream (at least 18%, 35% if you can score it)

In mixer, lightly beat eggs before adding pie filling or puree, sugar, spices, salt and milk. Mix thoroughly in mixer.

Transfer to sauce pan and heat to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and sit sauce pan in bowl filled with cold water or ice to cool down for ten minutes. Stir in heavy cream when mixture isn’t hot anymore. If you don’t wait, the cream will curdle.

Put cooled mixture in fridge to chill for at least an hour. When ready, set up ice cream maker and turn it on. Pour the mixture into the machine according to instructions and let it freeze from 20 to 40 minutes (depending upon how heavy the cream you use is).

Transfer the mix into a freezer safe container with lid and freeze at least a half hour before serving for softer serve ice cream all the way up to 2 hours to let it set and get that nice hard yet creamy texture shown in this photo.


Pasta Carbonara

Using the rule of five, you too can dive into a bowl of silky, luscious bacon pasta.

Pasta Carbonara:
5 oz Spaghetti
5 Bacon Strips
5 Egg Yolks
5 Cracks Black Pepper
.05 oz Parmesan Grate (the good stuff only)

As your water boils, pan fry the bacon and separate the yolks. Reserve the egg whites for something else, like adding a bit to oatmeal to up your protein intake, or use them to make some meringue cookies.

Add two teaspoons of salt to the boiling water and dump your pasta in. Immediately start to stir it around so it falls under the water line and it doesn’t stick together.

When the bacon is to your liking, remove to rest on paper towels for chopping when you can touch the strips without burning your fingerprints off. Keep stirring the spaghetti so it doesn’t clump up.

When the pasta is close to el dente, add a tablespoon or two to the yolks in a large bowl and whisk into the yolks quickly so the eggs don’t scramble. What you should have is a silky, shiny liquid egg custard. Add the cooked pasta in the bowl, top with the cheese, pepper, and bacon chops.

Toss it all together and add a bit more pasta water to loosen up the noodles as needed. As you twirl the spaghetti when you eat it, the strands should glide apart from each other because the sauce coats all of the noodles evenly and properly, not stick together like they were crazy glued together by all the cheese. Test it before you plate the noodles.

Serve with more cracks of fresh black pepper and a bit more parm on the side.