Fresh Pasta

I’ve been making fresh pasta on and off for about two years now. It’s been a long, steep learning curve with a lot of lumpy, feathery or overly-elastic balls of dough destined for the trash bin. Many weekends I would despair that the process is too arcane to be learned from a book and that the tactile magic required to make it like some Piedmontese nona would require a bankrupting trip to the motherland, or at the very least a couple of weeks worth of classes.

But I kept at it, spurred on by the near-pornographic descriptions of fresh pasta making and eating found in audiobooks like Bill Buford’s Heat and Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding. Little by little I got better, mostly by scaling back my efforts to just the simplest recipes and easiest shapes and focusing on my technique, checking at every stage to make sure the texture of my dough matched the descriptions I would read in The Pasta Bible or the fantastic Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertolli.

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Oatmeal Bread

Despite years of being the “guy who never ever gets sick” I contracted something at the beginning of December which caused my immune system to completely collapse and left me a physical and mental gong-show for the entire month. A month, I might add, in which I was Executive Chef and couldn’t miss a moment of work.

I got vertigo, chest pains, the shakes, heart pounding, random numbness in my extremities and oh yeah, I couldn’t sleep. The few doctors that were available during the holidays couldn’t fix me, hell they couldn’t even tell me what was wrong inside…  So, I just sucked it up and suffered through Merry-‘Freakin Christmas and into the New Year.

Perhaps due to all the Zen breathing exercises that I employed back in December to get my heart rate under control I cracked open my long-neglected copy of The Tassajara Bread Book during a particularly sleepless night and started down Edward Espe Brown’s rabbit hole of sponge-fed Buddhist bread making… It was just something to do at 2:00am. (more…)

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Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

Blueberry Muffins 1If I had to list my favourite summer food experiences, eating blueberries right off the bush would definitely be in my top five. It’s right up there with the smell of fresh peaches and backyard BBQs, the taste of a good saison and picnicking amongst goats. Yes my friends, the only thing better than a blueberry is a blueberry baked into a muffin… And the only thing better than that is a muffin that I didn’t have to make.

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