Bacon and Orange Tagliatelle

Lazy days.

Most of the time when I’m in the kitchen, ready to cook a meal, I don’t use recipes. I tend to skim through them, look at the photos and use them more as inspiration than anything else. I like to experiment. Try new things. Explore new flavours and textures. Develop new creations.

Most of the time. Sometimes, however, the inspiration is just not there. I can look around in the pantry, take a peak in the fridge, poke my head in the freezer but the inspiration is gone. Poof.

There are days when you feel like doing as absolutely as little as possible. Lounging on the sofa, listening to some good tunes or reading a good book seem perfectly reasonable. Days when the brain is not really working, when the idea of making something to eat seem too much of a task. These days happen to all of us, and it’s totally alright!

A while back I had one of those days and I went online to randomly pick a dish to make for dinner. A recipe from Epicurious caught my attention: Tagliatelle, one of my favourite pastas, tossed with crisp prosciutto and fresh orange. As I was reading the recipe I started salivating. Orange and prosciutto. What a beautiful combination. The wheels started turning and before the dish was ready to be enjoyed around the table, I had adapted the recipe slightly. Being a bacon fanatic, I felt prosciutto alone wasn’t enough. And ginger, well, I put ginger in almost everything I make. My twist to the recipe is below. You can find the original recipe here.

Jens

450g egg tagliatelle pasta

125g thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in 1/2″ strips

375g bacon

1 onion

1” piece fresh ginger

Zest & juice of 2 oranges

1-2 tbsp sambal oelek

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chicken broth

Salt & pepper

4 green onions

Shaved or grated parmesan cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 500F.

Spread out the bacon on a large baking pan lined with parchment paper. Place in the upper part of the oven for about 10-15 min, until bacon is crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towel and let dry off and cool. Save the leftover bacon fat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile, finely dice the onion, jalapeño and ginger. Separately, slice green onions. Set aside.

Add the bacon fat to a large heavy cast iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, jalapeño and ginger to the butter and sauté for 3-4 minutes until onions become translucent. Add the prosciutto and sauté another 3 minutes. Add reserved pasta water, orange juice, half of zest, and cream; bring to a boil.

Roughly chop the bacon. Add it to the sauce along with the pasta. While stirring, let it simmer, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is cooked, about 1-2 minutes.

Season with pepper. I find the bacon and Prosciutto gives the dish enough salt. Stir in green onions. Serve immediately on a bed of arugula and sprinkled parmesan on top.

Vegetarian Lasagna

bestvegetarianlasagna 7

bestvegetarianlasagna3A few nights ago we had some friends over for dinner. One of the guests was a vegetarian and the other ones loves meat.  It was a pretty cold and chilly night, so I thought lasagna would be lovely. To please everyone around the table I decided to split things up. Instead of your traditional meat lasagna, I made this vegetarian version filled with mushrooms, spinach, ginger and nutmeg. For the meat lovers I slow cooked a beautiful prime rib in red wine, beef stock, a couple of chopped onions and carrots along with a few bay leaves. The lasagna itself however, is filling enough and is perfect as a meal on its own.

bestvegetarianlasagna 4

Filling:

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp truffle oil

One medium size fennel

Fresh ginger, about a 2″ piece

4 cloves of garlic

15 sage leaves

200g shiitake mushrooms 

200g crimini mushrooms

4 baby bok choy

350g fresh spinach

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1-2 tsp sambal oelek (hot chili paste)

pinch of tarragon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Salt & Pepper

Béchamel Sauce:

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

3 cups milk

White pepper

Salt

3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups grated gruyère cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Thinly slice the fennel and finely chop the ginger, garlic, sage leaves and mushrooms. Roughly chop the book choy. In a large cast iron pot, heat up the truffle oil until hot but not burning. Turn the heat down slightly and add the fennel and ginger. Sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic sage and mushrooms. Sauté for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bok choy to the pot along with the spinach and the rest of the ingredients. Make sure everything is well combined, and let it simmer until the liquid is almost gone. Turn the heat off and let cool.

Béchamel:

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium sized sauce pan. When melted, lower the temperature and start adding the flour. Whisk constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Cook the butter/flour for a couple of minutes, whisking non stop. Add the milk, a little bit at a time. Keep stirring! Raise the temperature back to medium. As the sauce thickens add more milk. The sauce is ready when coating the back of a spoon. Season with salt & pepper.

In a large oven proof dish, start putting the lasagna together. Coat the bottom of the dish with the béchamel, cover with sheets of pasta and sprinkle some of the vegetable filling on top. Drizzle béchamel over filling. Repeat layers twice. Place the sliced tomatoes on top of the third vegetable layer before putting down one last layer of pasta. Sprinkle the cheese. Cover with the rest of the béchamel sauce. 

Bake in the middle of the oven for 45-60 min, or until golden brown and pasta is soft.

bestvegetarianlasagna 10 bestvegetarianlasagna 13 bestvegetarianlasagna9

Orecchiette with Pork and Fresh Vegetables

p4I adore pasta. Perhaps I was Italian in a previous life? Who knows. Something I would bring to a deserted island? Definitely. It’s convenient. Something to fall back on when peeling a pot of potatoes seem like an enormous task. It comes in a large varietal of shapes and forms. I have my favourites of course. Orecchiette is being one of them. Bruno gets his fair share of pasta when I’m cooking although he is not as fond of it as I am. Don’t take me wrong, he likes it. I love it. In this recipe I use ground pork rather than ground beef. The more subtle flavours of the pork allows the other ingredients to pop. A great dish whether it’s snowing or sweltering outside. It  goes amazingly well with our Golden Russet Apple Cider!

p2

2 stalks celery

3 shallots

3 green onions

2 radishes

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

1000g ground pork

4 tbsp soya sauce

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 cup creme fraiche

2 tsp sambal oelek (chili paste)

Ground pepper

500g pasta of your choice

Finely chop the vegetables and put aside.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil for the pasta.

In a frying pan, heat up the butter and olive oil. Fry the ground pork on medium heat until cooked. Add the soya and Worcestershire sauce along with the vinegar. Let simmer until liquid is reduced by half.

In the meantime cook the pasta until Al Dente. Drain.

Add the creme fraiche and sambal oelek along with some ground pepper to the pork and stir well. Toss with pasta, or serve separate. Sprinkle celery, radishes and green onions on top. Serves 4.p1p3p5