Days are getting shorter, nights are getting colder. Autumn is that perfect time of year for taking that extra bit of time to cook something soothing for the soul. I love the change in season which brings all the abundance of the harvest vegetables! In our house, we have been trying to eat as locally as possible. In Italy, that is not difficult because every quartiere (neighbourhood) has a weekly local market! Fresh fruit, vegetables, and my favourite one: the cheese stall. My husband says that I spend more money on cheese than shoes... I haven't done the math!
Slow food for me is not specifically food that takes a long time to prepare, but food that is wholesome, nutrient-rich, and makes you feel at home. For me, this is an eclectic blend of recipes that come from my birthplace (England), my family (Canada), and my present home (Italy). Different recipes contain different memories, and more me, food has always been such an integral part of my childhood, and present-day life.
So I wanted to share three recipes, each from my different 'homes', that I hope will feed your soul as much as they do mine.
For when you need an 'old friend' in a jiffy...
Welsh Rarebit (Posh Cheese on Toast)
Makes approximately 3-4 slices (double as necessary!)
3-4 slices of bread (I prefer something crusty, but whatever you have on hand)
1-2 eggs (depends on how small/large they are)
1-2 tablespoons mustard (whole grain if possible - add more if you like a hotter)
1/2 cup of strong cheese (preferably cheddar... however, in Italy you cannot find cheddar, therefore I have found a good alternative for this is altissimo)
What to do
Put the toast in the toaster, and turn the broiler on. You toast the bread so that you don't have a soggy bottom... no one likes that!
Mix the egg, cheese, and mustard in a bowl
When the toast is lightly browned, place the slices on a baking sheet and spoon the egg mixture on top. Make sure that all the top is covered, otherwise, you may end up with some blackened toast!
Put under the broiler for about 5 minutes (keep an eye on it, the eggy-cheese mixture should be bubbling and just browned)!
Enjoy by itself or with some warm soup!
For when you need to warm your soul...
Candian French Onion Soup
2 tbs olive oil
3/4 pound of red onions
1 pound of Spanish onions
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 cup of red wine
2 tbs of tomato paste
8 cups of beef broth
crusty baguette, toasted
Gruyere cheese, grated
What to do
Chop all those onions into thin slices. It is a wonderful thing to do if you need for some reason to have a good cry. Or, a food processor is your friend. Not diced, sliced.
Saute them until softened in the olive oil, and they start to turn translucent
Add the herbs, and red wine - simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stock, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.
This makes a big batch. So, it can freeze very well, let cool completely before transferring it.
If you are ready it eat it immediately, transfer them to bowls (these need to be ceramic and that can withstand the oven broiler for a few minutes)
Place the crusty bread on top, and then follow with a good serving of grated cheese! broil, and then enjoy!
For when you just need pasta...
Orecchiette con salsiccia e Funghi
Makes for 2
200g of orecchiette (or any type of pasta that has a shell-like shape)
2 sausages, casing removed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, sliced
2 cups of chestnut mushrooms sliced or diced, as you prefer
1 tbs of dried oregano
1/2-2/3 cup of cream
salt and pepper
What to do
In a pan, brown the sausage meat, breaking it up as it browns. In the same pan, add and saute the onions and garlic with the olive oil and sausage meat.
Add the mushrooms, oregano, and season with some salt and pepper. Let cook for about 5-10 minutes on medium heat.
When the mushrooms have cooked, add the cream and reduce the heat to a low simmer.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil, add a good pinch of salt. Cook your pasta until al dente. drain, and add to the pan with the sauce. Mix well and then serve, with some freshly grated parmesan on top!
Written by Lucy Bidgood-Lund