New Site ~ UNASSAGGIO.COM

Hi Friends,

I’m pleased to finally share with you that my blog is getting a new home!

Because I have the best followers and friends, my little blog has outgrown this current platform, and is moving over a bigger, shiny new home at:

www.unassaggio.com

All content and subscriptions have been moved over.  So all you need to do is update your bookmarks. Easy!

It has been a journey and a learning process… Thank you to everyone who has helped along the way (you know who you are!) and to all my faithful readers🙂

The new site has everything you have loved so far and some nice new features like a Recipe Index to easily find inspiration for your next meal and new recipe posts will be very user-friendly with easy print and display options.

Come check out the new site, let me know what you think.. Hope you enjoy!!

Cheers,

Meaghan

A Day in Reims

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Out of the city, over the hills, and through the trees and vines early one morning we traveled to Reims…

Reims lies just north-east of Paris in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. Once a major city in France and Europe, it was the site of the crowning of the French monarchy, a textile producer and liberal arts educator in the middle ages, and of course the home of champagne.

Reims is connected to Paris by a high-speed train, an easy one hour journey, making this the ideal day trip from the French capital. Although after a day you will wish you were spending a few days in this beautiful region!

Arriving in Reims just after 9 am, the city was slowly greeting the day. Along Place Drouet d’Erlon, Reims main pedestrian street, the cafes were coming to life, with shop keepers sweeping and opening the windows. The quite grey morning was a romantic, welcomed change from the hustle and noise of Paris.

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Walking along the quite streets and galleries, past the Opera House, we made our way towards the towers of the imposing Reims Cathedral.

Notre-Dame of Reims is an impressive example of Gothic architecture.  First erected between 1211-1516 the Reims Cathedral served as the coronation site of French kings.  Its’ tragic history and subsequent rebuilds has seen this beautiful Cathedral occupied by foreign forces, burned, and damaged during war. Words can not convey the beauty and majestic nature of this Cathedral.

 

From the Cathedral we walked through the city centre’s narrow streets, through the Square de la Porte de Mars, to the House of GH Mumm – our first tour of the day. Our small tour guided us through the cellars of Mumm, learning about the process of producing champagne and history of this famed House.  The scale of the House and tour was much smaller than one might expect from this producer, it was charming and intimate.  We were warmly welcomed, our guide was professional, knowledgable and engaging.  The tasting that concluded the tour included a glass of the Rose and the 2006 Vintage Champagne.

Our second tour of the day was at the House of Pommery. This tour was completely different to our tour at Mumm. The property of Pommery is a beautiful fantasy land. Arriving through the tall gates you are greeted by blue evergreens, neon lights, and the castle like exteriors of the buildings. Pommery has a rich history of supporting the arts, which was well reflected in our tour – The Art of Champagne. I would recommend approaching this tour as you are touring an art gallery with a champagne tasting at the end. With that approach it was an interesting juxtaposition of French modern art housed in the dusty cellars that once produced champagne.

After a full day of history sites and champagne tasting we sleepily and a little sadly boarded the train to return to Paris. It was just enough time to glimpse at this famed region of France. A prefect day trip, that left you wanting more and eager to return!

Photo101 – Week 1 ReCap

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This past week was week one of Photography 101 part of the WordPress Blogging University series.

It is photograph a day course that I’m hoping will make me a better photographer (fingers crossed!). For the month of November each weekend I will post a recap of weeks photos, the individual posts can be found here. The assignments this week: solitude, bliss, water, street, and home.

Feel free to comment and share any photography tips! Thanks🙂

Friday Favorites – November 7, 2014

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What I’ve loved this week… 

Kitchen Cheat Sheet. This comprehensive cheat sheet should be printed off and stuck on every home chefs fridge. Conversations (temp & measurement), butchery tips, food storage guidelines… something for everyone.

23 Ways to Eat a Baked Potato. Easy and creative dinner ideas on how to dress up a baked potato perfect when you are cooking for one!

Wine Suitcase. Dangerous or genius? I haven’t decided.

It’s pretty clear the Holiday season is upon us. Perhaps a little early but none the less I did love the holiday movie info graphic in the New York Times last Sunday.

NY times

Lovely recipe collection of Autumn Comfort Foods from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary (including my Fava Bean & Bacon Pasta). All recipes focus on shopping local. Thanks Elizabeth!

Mixed feelings about this one, but the top whisky in the World Whisky Bible 2015 is from… Japan. That’s right. Scotland doesn’t even capture second and third those spots go to American bourbons.

Just started to read Mermaids In Paradise by Lydia Millet. Definitely taking some turns I wasn’t expecting, but so far a delightful read.

What I’ve been drinking this week… 

My delightful Darjeeling Gin Gimlet cocktail.

Otherwise it has been a wine detox week after my week in France😉 But I am off to check out a new local wine store later today, so this section should be more interesting next week!!

What Coco & Tom have loved this week…

After both having good check ups and behaving for the vet, I picked up a treat from their absolute favorite Wild Bites. Wild Bites is a Canadian company that focuses on healthy, high quality ingredients but also on creating tasty treats your dogs will love!

What have you loved this week?? I’d love to hear!

Have a great weekend🙂

 

Check out my new Facebook page and ‘Like’ Thanks! 

Un Assaggio on Facebook.

Italian Wedding Soup

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Oh Fall. You are probably my favorite season. The changing leaves that are crisp under your feet, sweaters and boots, tea on cozy afternoons, whisky on a brisk evening and my true favorite the return of soups and stews to dinner time. Really what is not to love?! It is a magical time where you get to enjoy all the good things about chilly weather, without that nasty four letter word that I dare not name out of fear it will appear – I do live in Alberta after all!

For a chilly week night soup is such a great dinner option – healthy, inexpensive, can be put together quickly, and is almost always guaranteed to taste better the next day (yay left overs!).

But if I’m being honest when I eat a vegetable soup for dinner I kind of feel cheated and slightly unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong I really enjoy them – curried cauliflower soup delicious! I just miss the meat and carbs. Which is probably why I enjoy Italian Wedding Soup so much. Tasty little meatballs, beans, bits of pasta and the goodness of vegetables for a well balanced meal.

My Italian Wedding Soup is an amalgamation of a few recipes, that is hearty and healthy. Added in lots of vegetables, used pork as a lean meat, and low sodium broth. The soup keeps well for a few days in the fridge and freezes well but for no more than 3 months.

Enjoy!

soup, dinner, italian, wedding, meatballs, pasta

Italian Wedding Soup

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • salt & pepper

Soup:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small bunch of kale, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup of orecchiette pasta
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Directions

  1. To prepare meatballs: Combine pork, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, parsley, oregano, garlic, Worcestershire, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm up. With damp hands, shape the mixture into small 1-inch meatballs (about 1 small tablespoon each).
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. To prepare soup: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in broth, beans, pasta and the meatballs and any juice. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer.  Add kale and stir occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. To serve top each portion with 1 tablespoon grated cheese.

 

Do you have any favorite fall soup recipes? Feel free to comment and share. Thanks🙂

Darjeeling Gin Gimlet

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I’m not sure about you but I always feel a bit sad returning home from a holiday. The adventure is over and it is back to reality. Don’t get me wrong I love coming home to the fur children, but I can’t help but want a few more days away.

The one silver lining to coming home after an extended time away is catching up on your favorite television shows. It sounds kind of shameful, but we all do it… And enjoy it!

Last night I decided to dedicate some time to catching up on the recent series of Downton Abbey. And what goes better with this historical drama than a gin gimlet?!

A gin gimlet with tea that’s what…

Since my delightful green tea hot toddy I’ve been thinking about experimenting with cocktails, especially tea based cocktails, a little more. A few weeks ago I came across a recipe for Darjeeling Gimlet on the Telegraph website that sounded exactly like the experimenting I wanted to do!

After a few tries I settled on a balance and a new recipe that suited my taste a bit better. The original recipe was a bit to sweet for my taste. Cocktail tasting.. it’s a tough job but someone had to do it😉

Hope you all enjoy this lovely cocktail just in time for the holiday season.

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Darjeeling Gimlet

  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 2 oz Darjeeling tea, steeped and cooled
  • fresh juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white sugar
  • ice
  • lime peel for garnish
  1. Shake all ingredients in a cocktail mixer
  2. Pour into a martini glass or something similar and garnish with a lime peel

Oxley Gin, Gin Gimlet david's tea darjeeling tea lime sugar

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I used David’s Tea Second Flush Darjeeling tea in making the cocktail, however any high quality loose darjeeling will work.

Red Wine Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs + Cooking Tip

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I have to say the hardest bit about blogging for me is the photography.

Personally my least favourite phrase is “Let’s take a photo”. I can proudly say I’ve never taken a ‘selfie’ and have no intention to EVER.  My first reaction or thought is never to take a photo. Point of reference I had to be talked into having a photographer at my wedding. True story. Not my thing.

Since I started blogging I have to consciously think about taking photos while cooking, it just isn’t an action (or reaction) that comes naturally to me. I often forget to take photos (oops). And frustratingly more often than not it’s the final snap of the plated meal that I forget to take. Which is exactly what happened recently while braising beef short ribs for a non-traditional, turkey-free Thanksgiving dinner with friends. In the confusion of thinking about how to safely transport my dutch oven full of delicious braised meat to my friends’ place who were hosting dinner I forgot to take one last snap of the finished product. Sigh. Slight failure.

Luckily though I do have photos of what I was really excited to share.. A new cooking tip for braising meat. I must give full credit to Jamie Oliver for this tip, which (as only he could) he referred to as “tucking in the meat”.

The idea is to place a piece of parchment paper on top of the liquid to trap or seal in the flavours while braising. It’s really a simple idea, but I thought I would give it a try to see if it improved the flavours that developed during braising. So how exactly do you ‘tuck in’ meat??

Well according to Jamie once the meat, veg, and broth is ready to be placed in the oven..

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You place a layer of parchment paper on top. AKA “the sheet”

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Then you finish tucking in the meat with a layer of foil and the tight fitting lid. The meat is now ready for a long, warm nap😉

Kudos to Jamie I was pleasantly surprised – the meat was very tender as usual, but was incredibly flavourful and the braising liquid that I turned into a sauce had more complexity than my previous attempts at this recipe. I will definitely be using this pro tip again when braising and friends, I highly recommend. Thanks Jamie!!

Braised Red Wine Boneless Beef Short Ribs

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 6 x 8-10 oz. pieces boneless beef short ribs (ask your butcher to prepare)
  • 1/8 olive oil
  • 3 strips of bacon cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 carrots cut into 1 “ chunks
  • 2 celery into 1 “ chunks
  • 1 onion cut into 1 “ chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic lightly smashed
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 cup of red wine **
  • 900 ml beef stock

Directions

  1. Cut bacon into strips and cook in large dutch over medium heat. Once brown remove.IMG_1332
  2. Add olive oil, heat until nearly smoking. Season ribs with salt and pepper. Sear ribs till brown on all sides. IMG_1336IMG_1337
  3. Add butter to pan and cook vegetables over medium low heat until golden.IMG_1339
  4. Add the garlic, and thyme stir well. Then add the red wine and reduce till almost dry, add the tomato paste and beef stock stir well until the tomato paste is completely incorporated.IMG_1341IMG_1342
  5. Add bay leaf and ‘tuck in’ meat.IMG_1343
  6. Place into oven and cook at 275F for 3.5/4 hours. Until the meat in tender and looks something like….

Oh ya I forgot to take a photo of the braised ribs😦 Please use your imagination!

 

** This could be increased to 2 cups but I was cooking for a new Mum and wanted to keep the alcohol low in the recipe.

 

Friday Favorites – October 31, 2014

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What I’ve loved this week… 

Old time watering holes like Gordon’s Wine Bar in London and Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Places that transport you and make think if only these walls could talk.. Now if only those walls wouldn’t fall into your wine, but I guess that is the accepted hazard of drinking in a wine cellar😉

Market stalls full of fresh produce, cheese, fish, and everything in between. Whether the more formal markets like Rue Mouffetard, Paris and Borough Market, London or the small collect of stalls along the boulevards in Paris all were offering up fresh, vibrant food to passersby. I couldn’t help but day-dream how wonderful that would be not to be reliant on a large grocery day to day.

IMG_0303Luxury foodie heavens on both sides on the Chanel – Fortnum & Mason and Laduree. Both a little over the top, but magical in their own historic right.

Our day trip to Reims. Aside from the champagne houses, with three UNESCO World Heritage sites this small city is not to be missed! The gothic cathedral is stunning. No description can fully capture the imposing nature of this architectural gem.

Magic in the Moonlight. This latest Woody Allen film will just leave you happy. It was bright, delightful, and beautifully filmed. If you enjoy Allen’s movie this one will not disappoint.

What I’ve been drinking this week… 

Yikes so many good options to choose from! My favorites were probably more about where and who I was drinking it with. The standouts were Mumm 2006 Vintage we tasted on our tour, Champagne Robert Desbrosse Brut Vintage we shared with our friends upon arriving in London, or the 2010 Chateau Tour Prignac, Medoc on our first night in Paris at a small family run restaurant in the 5th arr. IMG_0228

What Coco & Tom have loved this week…

It was Bark Box week in our house – everyone’s favorite! Nice treat (literally) for them to come home to🙂 They are loving Bakers’ Best Maple Glazed Salmon with Blueberries. Best part these treats are Canadian made. Otherwise they are just exhausted from a long week of playing with new and old friends at the sitters.

What they won’t be loving is Halloween tonight… Any tips on how you manage nervous puppies and trick or treaters would be great!! 

What have you loved this week?? I’d love to hear!

Hope you enjoyed a little sampling of our trip I will be posting more over the next few weeks.

Have a great weekend🙂

Friday Favorites – Champagne Day Edition

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 “Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great read on the strong women who pioneered the champagne industry as we know it today. Iron Ladies of Champagne via Wine Spectator.

Just a bit more history if you like. Champagne during WW2: From vines to victory via Decanter.com

Champagne wine route: top 10 guide via The Guardian. To help with future trip planning.

Food & Wine offer a very comprehensive guide to all things champagne.

Share the champagne love and toast friends with a free ecard

What I’ve been drinking this week… 

Well it has to be champagne of course! Check out my twitter and instagram for updates on our travels and tipples this week.

 

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What Coco & Tom have loved this week…

They are happily with their dog sitter while Mommy and Daddy are gallivanting in Europe. But to show them a little extra love before we left they were treated to wet food – Merrick’s Chunky Big Texas Steak Tips. Cause every is bigger and better in Texas!!

What have you loved this week?? I’d love to hear!

Have a great weekend and Happy Champagne Day!🙂

A Pasta Sauce for Dad Round 2 – Olive Oil Sauce

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As some of my regular readers may recall I recently provided a little cooking guidance to my dear Dad to hopefully save him from his cheese whiz cooking sauce… I still shudder at the thought!

Well the easy cream sauce recipe was such a hit, he asked me how to make pasta with olive oil as his attempts were not terribly successful. Pasta with olive oil seems fairly intuitive – pasta, garlic, oil, herbs – BUT then again I haven’t been proudly cooking with mayonnaise and cheese whiz.

Regardless this was a task I was happy to help with since I also love a simple dinner of pasta with olive oil, few herbs and garlic. It is something I started making for myself when I first was living on my own in university. So easy, inexpensive and even as an undergrad you always have the ingredients in your cupboard! Top with a few sprigs of fresh parsley and this simple dish can look surprisingly elegant if you have guests.

Back to the intuitive nature of this dish..  It maybe isn’t completely fair to say since if you just mix pasta, oil, garlic, and herbs it probably won’t come together great. The step that most people miss (I believe) is mixing in a little bit of the starchy pasta water with the oil. It helps to bind everything together and the sauce to coat the pasta better. I also generally don’t rinse my pasta when cooking this dish leaving all the starchy goodness intact.

To help my Dad along in his cooking adventures, I decided to send along the recipe with a care package consisting of some high quality olive oil from Evoolution, and spices from Silk Road Spice Merchant. Both are local shops, but do offer shipping (anywhere I believe). With a simple dish like this the ingredients have no where to hide, so it is important to use good quality ingredients to get great flavor into your dish. And while fresh herbs are great they aren’t always on hand, or practical for bachelors!

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Pasta with Garlic, Olive Oil and Herbs

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound dried pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons pasta cooking water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoon dried herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary, oregano – your choice)
  • Salt & Pepper, to season

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions in salted water. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cooking water.
  2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium/low heat. Add the garlic, herbs and cook, stirring, making sure it doesn’t brown but until garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat.
  3. Toss with the cooked pasta with the oil mixture. Season with pepper, top with grated cheese if you so desire🙂

 

Do you have a simple recipe that’s a treasured favourite? I’d love for you to share it!🙂