Roasted Tomatoes With Fresh Chopped Herbs

Jenny Jack, aka The Brunette Baker, gets me. Not only is she one of the friendliest and funniest food blogger connections I have made in my travels, but, when she sent me an email if I'd like to participate in a blog hop for Emily Richards new Italian cookbook 'Per La Famiglia', I mean COME ON. She KNEW I couldn't / wouldn't say no. With my 10+ year experience working in and managing Halifax's (and arguably the Maritimes) best Italian restaurants (il Mercato, Ristorante a Mano and da Maurizio), it was a no brainer to add me to the #PerLaFamigliaBloggers list. 

When my copy of Per La Famiglia arrived, I immediately sat down at flipped through the pages - pages filled with gorgeous warm photography that made me want to make every. single. thing (because let's be honest, I buy and collect cookbooks for the photography - everything else is a bonus). Between the recipes for gnocchi, cannoli, doughnuts and many many other amazing sounding dishes, it was the roasted tomatoes that caught my eye. I looooovvvvveeeeee slow roasted tomatoes. The complexity and depth of flavour that roasting brings out in a tomato is one of the wonderments of cooking to me. I love to eat them by themselves, on polenta, in pasta or rice, on crostini, in salad - the list goes on and on. I have my own method of roasting tomatoes but I was eager to try Emily's version because her recipe calls to slice the tomatoes in halves where I normally do slices. Brushed with good olive oil and fresh chopped herbs, the tomatoes were fantastic and as Emily mentions in the book, freeze well.

Please take a moment and check out the incredible recipes the other #PerLaFamigliaBloggers are making

Jenny from The Brunette Baker is making Ricotta Cannoli

Julie from Dinner With Julie is making Ricotta Spinach Gnocchi

Chrissie from The Busy Baker is making Amaretti Cookies

Heather from The Tasty Gardener is making Squash Hazelnut Rotelle

Britt from My Daily Randomness is making Tiramisu

Libby from Libby Roach is making Nonna Ortenzia's Meatballs

Kristy from She Eats is making Egg and Raisin Bread

Gwen from Devour and Conquer is making Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter

Tiffany from Eating Niagara is making Potato Doughnuts

Nancy from Gotta Get Baked is making Hazelnut Chocolate-filled Cookies

Amanda from Once Upon A Recipe is making Balsamic Roasted Pear Wedges with Prosciutto

Nicole from Culinary Cool is making Spinach Ricotta Canneloni

Carole from Yum Yum Factor is making Pickled Eggplant

Christina from Strawberries for Supper is making Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta

We're giving away a sweet prize of a signed copy of Per La Famiglia, a gnocchi board and a 3-piece Microplane Elite Grater/Zester set - enter below for your chance to win! (please note - leaving me a blog comment is mandatory to open Raffle Copter) - 

This giveaway is open to all legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside. Void in Quebec. No purchase necessary to enter. Giveaway will run from Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 12:01am to end on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 11:59pm. Winner is chosen at random via Rafflecopter. Winner will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to respond.  If not, a new winner will be chosen. Winner selected MUST correctly answer a skill-testing mathematical question. Winner's name will be displayed on Rafflecopter widget. Email address will never be given out to any third party or anyone for that matter. Prize value is approximately $75CDN.

I received a free copy of Per La Famiglia and was asked to share my thoughts in exchange. Thank you very much to Whitecap Publishing for the complimentary book and Microplane for the contest gift set!

Sesame Noodles

My latest obsession.

My friend Carlo brought these to a holiday party and they were amazing - I ate practically the whole bowl by myself.

When Carlo gave me the recipe, I was surprised that it was by Rachael Ray. Not that I have anything against Rachael Ray, it's just that back when we still had the Food Network, her show was never on my 'must watch' list.

Carlo made the recipe with Rooster brand noodles - do you know them? They're sold in the international aisle and have a little red rooster on the front. When you open the package there are six Mr. Noodle-style pats of noodles inside. They're SO GOOD and they're only $0.99!! 

I use Kikkoman brand soya sauce, which I love, but find really salty, so I adapted the original recipe to my own taste (which I think gives more balance to the salty soya sauce, pungent sesame oil, creamy peanut butter, fresh ginger, garlic and spices). The original recipe calls for tahini, but Sean and I agree, we prefer peanut butter.

I've been eating these sesame noodles every day since January 1st - seriously, ask Sean - and I promise you, once you try them, you'll want to eat them every day too. 

Sesame Noodles (adapted from Rachael Ray)

1 x 400g package Rooster brand instant noodles

1/2 C sesame oil

1/2 C soya sauce

1/2 C peanut butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp fresh minced ginger (or 3 Tbsp minced ginger from a tube/jar)

2-6 pinches cayenne pepper (to suit your taste)

2-6 pinches chili flakes (to suit your taste)

two handfuls grated carrot

toasted sesame seeds for garnish

*3 green onions, chopped (I usually include chopped green onion, but I forgot to buy some this time around. Oops.)

- bring a large pot of salted water to a boil - cook Rooster noodles 6-7 minutes until al dente - drain and rinse under cold water until cool - drain and set aside

- in a large bowl, whisk sesame oil, soya sauce, peanut butter, minced garlic, minced ginger, cayenne pepper and chill flakes - add cold drained noodles and toss - mix in grated carrot and chopped green onion

- in a dry frying pan, toast sesame seeds over medium heat until golden and fragrant - remove from heat and once cool, store in a container with a lid

- serve noodles cold or hot, garnished with toasted sesame seeds

I wasn't kidding when I said I'd been eating them every day.

Bacon-Fat Roasted Beets with Double Smoked Bacon, Shallots, And Aged Balsamic

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Bacon-fat Roasted Beets with Double Smoked Bacon, Shallots, Aged Balsamic and Old Growler - side dish for 4-6 people

8 strips Pete's Double Smoked Bacon

3 shallots

1 large golden beet

3 small-medium red beets

2 Tbsp aged Balsamic vinegar

kosher salt

That Dutchman's Old Growler Gouda-style cheese

- preheat oven to 350º - line a baking sheet with foil - lay out strips of bacon and bake until almost crispy 30-35 minutes - remove bacon from sheet and set aside - pour bacon fat* into medium-large heat proof bowl - set sheet aside

- while bacon is in oven peel and cut shallots and beets - I cut my shallots in half lengthwise and then into segments, again cutting lengthwise - I cut my beets into 1-inch bite sized pieces

- add 2 Tbsp aged Balsamic vinegar to bacon fat - mix with a fork to emulsify (blend) - toss shallots in bacon fat-vinegar mixture and lay out on the same sheet you cooked the bacon on - toss the golden beet next in the bacon-fat vinegar and lay out on sheet - finish with red beets (see picture below) - sprinkle shallots and beets with kosher salt and bake 30-35 minutes - check shallots at the 25 minute mark and remove from oven if they're brown around the edges - at the 30 minute mark, tear 4 strips of cooked bacon by hand and add to baking sheet to warm - when beets are cooked to your liking** remove baking sheet from oven - toss ingredients together on sheet - spoon onto serving platter and top with shaved Old Growler - serve immediately

 *I cooked 8 strips of bacon but only use 4 in the recipe because I wanted the extra bacon fat for the dressing - I'm sure you can guess the other 4 pieces of bacon did not go to waste.

**I like my beets tender but not mushy so 30-35 minutes keeps then slightly firm in the center - if you like your beets softer, roast longer and test every 5 minutes for doneness. Add torn bacon pieces for the last 5 minutes of roasting to warm up.

Toss the shallots in the dressing first, then follow with the golden beets, so they don't get stained by the red beets. Once all three are roasted, you can toss together without much staining. 

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