Monday, June 29, 2015

martini rosso

This past weekend, we had the kind of summer weather where all you can do is tape old sheets over your unadorned windows and sit, panting and sipping sun tea, because you are just too exhausted from all that effort.

Luckily, on Sunday, we managed to escape our dark sauna (that is, otherwise lovely 103-year-old home where most windows are painted shut) to visit our friends and sit in their shady backyard while they plied us with drinks and flourless chocolate cake with saskatoon berry compote and ice cream.

When we arrived, Niall had the drinks set out on the counter, and even a little list of all our options.

Megan pointed out the Martini Rosso bottle and said how her German friend had introduced her to it years ago. It was a simple, squat bottle that looked unmistakably Italian. Who was I to resist?

Niall mixed it with 7UP, dropped in a few ice cubes, and my drink was ready.

It was beguiling. I thought I could taste herbs and maybe fruit. Even with the 7UP, it wasn't too sweet, just cool and refreshing. This, I thought, would certainly help me survive the sauna that is our home.

It turns out that Martini Rosso is a sweet vermouth that has been made in Turin, Italy since at least 1863. (So at least history is on my side, although I'm not sure if 7UP has such an illustrious pedigree.) It's a kind of fortified wine with herbs and barks and spices to flavour it. The nice thing for a hot day is that it also only has 15% alcohol content. Mixed with a good amount of 7UP, that means it's refreshing instead of walloping.

I'm now on the look out for my own bottle. We often have ginger ale at home, so I think I'll try mixing that in next. I hope you, too, can have many cool drinks on hot summer days.

one year ago: quick zucchini sauté and summer salad template: warm asparagus kale salad
two years ago: chewy granola bars and longest day link love
three years ago: hop & go fetch it: pacific rim edition and penne with sausage and greens
four years ago: tomato cheddar soufflé with asparagus and kathleen claiborne's hot cakes
five years ago: chocolate peanut butter oatcakes and chilli pasta

martini rosso
this is an idea for a rough outline of a recipe   just pour and you'll be fine

1 part Martini Rosso
4 parts 7UP or ginger ale
ice cubes

Stir the Martini Rosso and 7UP together. Taste and adjust if necessary. Add ice. Sit under a tree in the backyard and take a long sip.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

pasta with yogurt, peas, and chile

Here's what I like about this recipe. You blend some peas  and hold some peas back  with yogurt, olive oil and garlic until it makes a smooth, pale-green sauce. Which is something I never would have thought of.

Later, you add coarsely-crumbled feta cheese and ripped basil leaves. Which, frankly, make everything better.

At the end, you spoon little dribbles of red-chiled-olive oil and golden pine nuts over your pasta.

And that's it. You eat it, and you thank Orangette and Jerusalem for both creating it and letting you know about it.

one year ago: buttermilk cookies en route to calgary and pasta with smoked trout and asparagus
two years ago: asparagus and cheese sauce on toast
three years ago: mango love on oahu and chinese-canadian lettuce wraps
four years ago: dutch marzipan cookies and oregon hazelnut salad
five years ago: chocolate nut balls and ripe bean soup

pasta with yogurt, peas, and chile
slightly adapted from Orangette and Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
makes six servings

500 g. (1 1/2 c.) whole-milk Greek yogurt
150 ml. (2/3 c.) olive oil, separated to 90 ml + 60 ml.
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
500 g. (1 lb.) fresh or frozen peas, thawed
kosher salt
450  500 g. pasta shapes
50  60 g. (1/3  scant 1/2 c.) pine nuts
2 tsp. Korean, Turkish, or Syrian chile flakes, or red pepper flakes
1/2 c.  1 2/3 c. basil leaves, coarsely torn*
240 g. (8 oz.) feta cheese, coarsely crumbled

Get out your food processor. Blend the yogurt, 90 ml. (6 tbsp.) olive oil, the garlic and 100 g. (2/3 c.) peas. Process until it's a consistent pale green and pour into a large mixing bowl.

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Cook until just al dente. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Warm the remaining olive oil, then add the pine nuts and chile flakes. Cook for about 4 minutes  keep an eye on it to make sure neither the nuts nor the chile flakes burns. When the pine nuts are golden, take the pan off the heat.

Cook the remaining peas in water for a couple minutes in the microwave until they're not raw, but just slightly cooked. Drain.

Pour a bit of the drained pasta into the big bowl with the green sauce and mix. (If you add it all at once, the sauce could separate.) Repeat with the rest of the pasta. Stir in the warm peas, basil, feta and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Gently toss. Put into serving dishes, and spoon a bit of oil and pine nuts over top. Serve.

* This is a huge variation. If you've got tons of basil growing in your garden, do use the higher amount. But if you have to buy very expensive basil at the grocery store, it's still very good with the smaller amount.