the taste space

Pizza margarita – A classic

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by amuse-bouche on November 25, 2009

Pizza never goes out of style. In fact, it’s making somewhat of a comeback these days. What with real neapolitan pizzerias sprouting up in Toronto and Ottawa, it seems that the unbeatable idea of a crisp circle of dough covered in any choice of toppings and perhaps, some cheese, is edging back to fan favourite. Gone are the greasy, gooey slices of heavy dough, and maybe we should be thankful for that. These restaurants are opting for wood-fired ovens imported directly from Italy to bake their creations. The result? A crust that is light but never too thin or cardboard-like because it does most of its rising right in the super hot oven (Libretto claims theirs reaches 900 degrees on their website…imagine!). The dough puffs up, sometimes makes little bubbles, but doesn’t dry out. It’s wonderful.

That being said, it’s not everyday that I feel like pluncking down an average of 15$-17$ for what amounts to a medium sized pizza at any of these two haunts, especially since I found a recipe for pizza that gives rather good results. Minus the wood burning oven (hard to come by in rented apartments), I can get pretty reasonable results with a regular oven (at 450 degrees) and fairly basic ingredients. Tonight, I made the unbeatable classic, the most basic of all pizzas: Pizza Margarita. The combination of a simply seasoned tomato sauce, some fresh mozzarella (regular, not di Bufala) and some basil is a winner – and it also matches the colours of the Italian flag! The result tonight was hugely satisfying.

I found the recipe last year on this site. Scroll down a bit for the dough recipe. It literally takes 15 minutes to make and you let it rest about 1 hour, then shape it, top it and bake it. The sauce was my own. I just kept it simple and used the rest of a can of puréed tomatoes (Italian) and some orange zest and pepper. The mozzarella was not very interesting – just a log of fresh that I cut in rounds. When I am melting the cheese, I don’t feel compelled to always use top of the line…unless it’s going to be the feature of the pizza. Also, there are some schools of thought who feel that Mozzarella di Bufala, which is decidedly more milky, does not belong on a pizza…I leave it up to you. I’ve done a fabulous pizza with slivered red onion, oregano and Mozzarella di Bufala, so I like it either way.

The pizza all ready to be baked

Golden and ready to eat

A remedy against the cold: Pumpkin curry

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by amuse-bouche on October 15, 2009

Last year, when I was reviewing restaurants for Voir in Ottawa/Gatineau I went to Coconut Lagoon, a good South Indian restaurant on Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Ottawa. I had a pumpkin curry there that I really enjoyed and it has stayed in my mind. Recently, the idea of doing it sprang up again when I spotted a lonely butternut squash in my kitchen. A few nights ago, I tried out a recipe which I borrowed from someone else’s blog, Vividha Ruchulu. I don’t know anything about her, but the recipe worked and I thoroughly enjoyed that curry! I ate it with store bough chapatis which fried up with a bit of butter to make them even better (right Pomelo? ;-)). Anyway, I am no expert in Indian cooking, but the sauce turned out really rich and creamy in this recipe and there is only a few teaspoons of oil…not bad! I think processing the onions to almost a pulp really gave some yummy body to this sauce, but have to explore more recipes to ascertain this claim. You can find the recipe on Ms. Ruchulu’s blog (link above). Below is my finished product, sans chapatis. This is the last serving and I hope it doesn’t look to baleful in that bowl…however, the little amount left is a testimony to its deliciousness!

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Blackened salmon with cajun spices

Posted in Mains (Fish) by amuse-bouche on October 9, 2009

I saw this super easy recipe for cajun spiced salmon in Real Simple magazine (paper copy). Take a filet of salmon (I used wild, but Atlantic farmed would be fine also), shake on some cajun spices (I just used a President’s Choice grinder mix – I had to grind it rather than take a pinch and press it in, but it was ok anyway) and 10  minutes later you have a salmon dinner. I ate it with steamed swiss chard which I doused with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice also. It was quite good and tied me over for well over 5 hours.

Here are some pics, before and after:

Salmon with cajun spices

Salmon with cajun spices

Blackened salmon with cajun spices and a side of swiss chard

Blackened salmon with cajun spices and a side of swiss chard