Monday, November 22, 2010

That's Amore

kale, garlic oil, red pepper, havarti, sun dried tomato, fig balsamic

So fitting that this post comes after another about pizza....we really do eat pizza that much! The pizza addiction started years ago with Brent's attempt at recreating Pizza Hut dough. (He has some love affair with the hut!) So, for years we piled the toppings high on his thick yet tasty dough. Toppings such as sundried tomatoes, garlic, spinach, mushrooms, pesto, zucchini, olives, fresh herbs, feta and the list goes on. No pepperoni and cheese here!

We continued this way until recently when one evening we needed a quicker, easier dough recipe. To the internet! In a few short minutes, Brent had the dough set to rise (oh, the joys of a food processor!) and no sooner were the pizzas ready to eat. Brent had suddely discovered one of the easiest and most delicious thin crust recipes out there! With a few modifications, this recipe has quickly become our fav.  Now, weekly we throw whatever we have on two pizzas. Last night it was balsamic roasted asparagus, red pepper, onion, garlic, and eggplant with goat cheese on one, and mushrooms, four cheeses, and garlic oil on the other. Amazing!

Try it out for yourself. Trust me, nothing is better than getting your pizza exactly how you like it (unless of course you love all that generic cardboard junk!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sunday dinner at Morris East

This past Sunday some friends (regulars I might add!) and I headed down to the southend to dine at Morris East, a small restaurant offering wood fired pizzas made with locally sourced products. Yumm already! We were especially excited since we haven`t had wood fired pizza since Brent worked at the Northern in Auz. We settled in, ordered our drinks (of which there is a great selection of beers, some local, wine and inventive cocktails), and began to read over the menu. I have come to love small menus; not only do they make it easier for this indecisive woman to choose her meal, but they also generally signify that everything on it is delicious. The ol' better to be great at a few things than only good at many.

To start, we ordered the fall warm vegetable salad and our friends, the starter of "butter poached squash, shortrib meatballs and leek puree". We were intrigued. The salad, unfortunately, consisted solely of very tiny diced vegetables with a drizzle of balsamic reduction, leaving the microgreens and tete de maine cheese nowhere to be found. Sad I know. Perhaps these neglected ingredients would have taken this salad from boring and bland to interesting and delicious. Our friends starter, on the other hand, was artfully presented and designed, allowing for an interesting fusion of both flavours and textures. So perhaps our salad was some crazy mistake...

Soon all was forgotten as we dined on some amazing wood fired pizzas. Brent ordered a pizza of lamb, spiced tomato sauce, goat cheese, charred onions, and apricots. While I never would have gone for anything with lamb (a bit too meaty for my tastes), I admit this pizza was delicious. The combination of the sweet dried apricots, the spice of the sauce and the richness of the lamb really worked. These people know what they`re doing! Furthermore, my roasted vegetable pizza was everything I would expect: oven roasted veggies, fresh basil, and creamy goat cheese (and on a crispy whole wheat crust I might add). Perfect. Our friends had ordered the Thai green curry pizza consisting of chicken, a green curry sauce in place of the traditional marinara, cilantro, and peanuts. While again not a choice I would make, the flavours were perfectly balanced without the green curry being too spicy or overpowering.  It seems these people love pizza as much as we do!

Even though Brent makes pizza regularly, it`s pretty clear no other pizza in the city will ever measure up. Furthermore, the inventive flavour combinations, great service, and the goal to produce exceptional food with local products will make Morris East a perfect model to emulate.

Go get some tonight....

Morris East on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When you want gourmet.....stay home!

A few weeks ago, Brent and I along with two of our foodie friends decided to start making dinner together. This past weekend the theme was Italian so Brent and I decided to try our hands at homemade roasted squash ravioli with sage butter and walnuts. Not only had we never tried this dish, but we have never attempted making our own pasta despite owning a pasta press! While labour intensive, the ravioli was actually not so hard to make. We were surprised at how easy it was to make the pasta: simply mix flour, salt and eggs, knead til soft, then press in a pasta maker til the desired thickness is achieved.  Not so hard right? And the filling was even easier, especially since we make a roasted squash lasagna quite often. The most time consuming part was assembling the ravioli but with two people it took less than an hour. We packed up the ravioli, the rest of the ingredients, and, let's not forget two bottles of wine, and headed for our friends'.

After a glass (or two!) of wine, the meal started with a caprese salad consisting of fresh Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella, and a dressing of olive oil, balsamic, and basil. Simple yet so delicious!

Next, the ravioli. After boiling the pasta for about 3 minutes, I sauteed it with butter, sage, freshly ground black pepper and walnuts. Topped with a four cheese blend of parmigiana, provolone, asiago and fontina, the ravioli was nothing short of incredible. Since the ravioli was not served in a heavy sauce, the flavors were able to stand out, each complimenting the next. The sweet roasted squash, the savoury sage, the slight saltiness of the mouth is watering just remembering!

Finally, we completed our meal with a third course of rainbow pasta sauteed with olive oil, garlic, panchetta, scallops, sundried tomatoes, and shaved parmigiana, Another wow! The flavor combination of the crisp panchetta and the buttery scallops was, as our friend said, magical! And anything with sundried tomatoes is already delicious in my books!

Three amazing course of Italian food and my belly was full. We all agreed that our meal was perhaps one of the best any of us had ever had. Certainly cheaper and there really is something special about eating the food that you have made yourself. So when you want gourmet folks, stay home and make it yourself!

Here are two recipes we had used as a reference for the ravioli although we certainly did not follow either exactly.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Perfect coffee and rich, buttery delights!

eat butter
A trip to the new Halifax Seaport Market wasn't complete without a stop to pick up some heavenly croissants and coffee from Two If By Sea Cafe in Dartmouth, NS. Living in Dartmouth, or rather the Darkside as it is so favorably referred, means we can enjoy a perfect cappuccino whenever we like. Yes, perfect cappuccinos in Dartmouth! This small but comfortable cafe offers all things coffee, from scratch muffins and cookies, Montreal bagels, and, last but not least, the best croissants this side of Quebec! I would even say their chocolate croissants are better than any pain au chocolat I've had in Montreal! (And I was addicted for awhile!) But beware, these indulgences are huge and rich so you may want to consider splitting one.

Two If By Sea recently won best barrista, best muffin/cookie and best cafe in The Coast (there must not have been a category for best croissant!) and with the consistent line up at their counter and packed house, it is easy to see why. While I am planning my cafe on the other side of the harbour, it is great to have a community centered cafe down the street. Yes, "I love Dartmouth" too!

Two If By Sea Cafe on Urbanspoon