I didn't make in time this year otherwise the compilation of my favourite Halloween recipes would have been available for purchase on Lulu.com. Truth be told, I could have made it, cutting it close, if I had had the time and especially patience to figure out how to upload my text to their site. Oh well, perhaps next year.
I myself am lactose intolerant and I admit that I push the envelope quite a bit by popping lactase capsules, but every now and then I go a little too far. Currently I am experiencing a little body flare-up resulting in round the clock heartburn. Therefore I've had to cut the dairy right out. This does not preclude me from knowing that the following is a very nice recipe. Simple, balanced, comfort food.
APPLE CHEESE SPREAD
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. grated cheddar cheese (I love extra-old cheddar. Roquefort is a nice twist instead of cheddar as well. Use whatever you like!)
1/4 c. sour cream
dash of sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of black pepper
1 c. chopped apple with peel
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. diced red onion
Mix together the cream cheese and cheddar cheese until well blended. I like using my Kitchen Aid mixer and paddle attachment for this. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve with crackers and fresh vegetables.
The following is one of my favourite Rachael Ray recipes. She is much maligned lately and frankly I just think that's fucked up. If it weren't for Rachael Ray I never would have figured out how to make my favourite Italian comfort dishes in 30 minutes or less. The average Italian comfort food, say a Bolognese sauce takes a minimum of 4 hours to simmer to perfection. This is not counting the near hour of prep! This is the perfect dish to warm and comfort you on a cold, wet, Autumn evening:
PASTA WITH PUMPKIN AND SAUSAGE -Rachael Ray
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating
Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.
Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.
Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.
Serve pumpkin sausage pasta with pumpernickel or whole grain bread and Spinach Salad with Apple and Red Onion.
There are days when only Thai will do. Below is the recipe that inspires me everytime I need re-balancing. You know what I mean. Too much eat out, too much take out, too many frozen dinners, too many 'snack' dinners. No matter how discombobulated you're feeling whether spiritually, mentally or physically, Thai flavours will set everything straight. I've even had the experience that it hastens recovery time from a head cold, I kid you not. I prefer tofu and really mainly use this recipe as a guide. Which is exactly what Michael Smith intended!
A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise. It cannot pretend to replace the practiced hand and telling glance of a watchful cook. For that reason, this is also an account of what happens when I make this dish, so you’ll understand each step. Of course when you cook it once, it becomes yours, so personalize it a bit. Add more of an ingredient you like or less of something you don’t like. Try substituting one ingredient for another. Remember words have no flavour, you have to add your own!
I love being a culinary tourist in my own kitchen! The flavours of Thailand are easy to cook with when you understand that they’re just the ingredients that surround Thai cooks. They may seem exotic – and may take some hunting to find – but use them a few times and they’ll be as familiar to you as anything else in your kitchen.
Red Thai Curry Noodles
* 2 x 398 ml cans of coconut milk
* 2 tbsp of red curry paste
* 1 bunch of cilantro, roots and leaves chopped separately
* 2 x boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
* 3 cups of chicken stock
* 6 x lime leaves
* 1 x small ginger root, frozen
* 3 tbsp of fish sauce
* 2 stalks of lemon grass, tops cut off and the bottoms split open
* 1 x 227 gram package of rice noodles
* 1 cup bean sprouts
* 4 x green onions, minced
Red Thai Curry Noodles
1. Preheat a large saucepan over medium-high heat then scoop the thick coconut cream from the top of one of the cans into it. Add the red curry paste as the cream melts into coconut oil. The mixture will start to sizzle as the oil then heats up. Add the cilantro roots and chicken and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the coconut juice from the first can as well as the entire contents of the second can of coconut milk, chicken stock, lime leaves, fish sauce and lemon grass. Grate the frozen ginger into the broth - noting how much easier it is to work with when it's frozen! Use a microplane grater if you have one or the side of a box grater. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the broth has begun to thicken slightly. Add the bean sprouts and simmer another minute or 2. Remove from the heat.
3. Place the rice noodles into the broth where they will quickly soften in about 5 minutes. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the cilantro leaves and stir gently.
4. Ladle into large bowls and garnish with the green onions and the remaining cilantro.
I'm only half-way through this book and I already know I will read it many more times once I'm done.
My favourite book by Sonia Choquette is The Psychic Pathway. I picked it up 11 years ago this month. I was perusing the best occult shop/metaphysical book store in Montreal with my friend Maria when the manager at the time, Kris, approached me and asked if he could help me find something. I looked up and said: "I need help. I've been psychic my whole life and I've 'lost touch' it's 6 years now". Out of what appeared to be thin air he produced The Psychic Pathway. I read it in a day, and began the twelve-week program the next. Within six months I was out of a loveless marriage and met my soul mate -not to mention I was back to feeling like myself. The Psychic Pathway remains my favourite book on the subject and I have recommended it to dozens of people over the years.
There's a lot of people out there who would be thrilled with your old baby things. Try contacting a local shelter for domestic violence victims, or a local homeless shelter. They often have women in desperate need of baby items. Your family and friends might not appreciate them, but a poor mother with nothing will think they are treasures!
“A philosopher once wrote you need three things to have a good life. One, a meaningful relationship, two, a decent job of work, and three, to make a difference. And it was always that third one that stressed me, to make a difference. And I realise that I do. Every day, we all do. It’s how we interact, with our fellow man.”