Classic Carbonara

I know what you’re thinking.  Ribbons of fresh pasta piled high on your plate, embraced by a silky cream sauce with a surprisingly bright citrus note.  A forkful of perfectly al dente noodle and a couple of generous chunks of salty bacon stabbed through the tines.  You slurp the last strand of pasta into your mouth, licking away the yolky cream left on your lips.  Maybe you’ve made your carbonara maritime-style, with giant chunks of steamed lobster and spring peas.  Maybe tossed with sauteed slices of local sausage and caramelized onion.


Have I jump-started your imagination?  Carbonara, while awesome on its’ own, can be the base for so many variations on a theme.  It’s much easier to make from scratch than you’d think:  no pre-packaged cream sauce is needed here.


Also, as I learned during my cooking class in Mexico, you can make this dish without cream, and with the whole egg instead of just the yolk.  The rest of the process is the same.  AND!  And it’s super-great with homemade pasta too.  Give it a try!

Classic Carbonara
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  1. 4 large egg yolks
  2. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  3. 3 1/2 oz. grated Parmesan
  4. Zest of 1 lemon
  5. Ground black pepper, to taste
  6. Pasta
  7. (any other ingredients you'd like to throw in! Classic carbonara has bacon in it, so you can start there. You'll never go wrong with bacon!)
  1. Start a pot of water boiling on high heat for the pasta. In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks, cream, cheese and lemon zest. Once the pasta is cooked, drain off most of the water and return the pasta to the pot (just a few tablespoons of the boiling water should remain). Stirring constantly, slowly add the egg mixture into the pasta pot (at this point, the pot is OFF the stove). You need to do this step slowly while stirring because the heat from the pasta can cook your eggs too quickly, leaving you with a pile of scrambled eggs with pasta in it. But don't worry - if you take your time and stir it lovingly, the pasta will cook the egg mixture just enough to create a beautiful, creamy sauce.
  2. Serve with a generous crackling of ground black pepper (the reason they call it carbonara is because of the black it?)
Adapted from Adapted from Jamie's Italian
Adapted from Adapted from Jamie's Italian
Purple House Café

…on being a prairie girl…

Last summer, I brought my baby girl home to Manitoba to show her what being a prairie girl is all about.  Every year, lots of folks who grew up in my home town return for the town’s birthday party.  There’s a parade, and fireworks, and a big beach games event on the lake.  There’s a woman in town who makes these perogies.  She’s pretty much a perogy legend at home.  In Manitoba, we totally have perogy legends.  Anyways.  Mrs. Krampetz sells her perogies at a kiosk at the beach games.

With Ada in her sun hat perched happily in her baby carrier, I bought a plate of Mrs. K’s perogies.  The pale potato dumplings were boiled and served with translucent onions, a big dollop of sour cream, and they were swimming in melted butter.  Six bites of Ukranian heaven.

Here in Nova Scotia, I can get frozen perogies at the grocery store.  If served with a significant quantity of bacon, they’re passable.  But, everything’s better with bacon.  I decided that it was time to make my own perogies.  I admit, mine still don’t compare to Mrs. K’s, and they did look a little…shall we say…rustic?  But it wasn’t bad for a first attempt.  They still tasted amazing.


Here’s what you need:

For the dough –

2 eggs

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tbsp. cold water

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling

For the filling – 

2 cups boiled and mashed potatoes (I used sweet potatoes in mine and they were awesome!)

1/2 cup diced white onion

1 tbsp. each butter and olive oil

1 cup grated cheddar

1 green onion, finely chopped

Cooked bacon, optional (what?  Is bacon ever really an option?)

salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you do:

Mix the dough ingredients together with a spoon until just mixed.  You should have a relatively stiff dough.  Turn it out onto a floured countertop and knead until smooth and fully combined.  Return the dough to the bowl and place in the refrigerator while you make up the filling.

Boil the potatoes until very soft.  Meanwhile, add the butter and olive oil to a pan.  Over medium heat, melt the butter and add the white onion.  Saute until translucent.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain off the water and mash well.  Add the cooked white onion, grated cheddar, green onion and bacon.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Take the dough out of the refrigerator and turn out onto a well floured countertop.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about 1/4″ thick.

My dough-rollin' hubby!

My dough-rollin’ hubby!

To cut the perogy shapes, I used my handy dandy empanada maker (I ended up with some monstrously huge perogies, BUT, they were easier to fill and seal.


So.  You could use a drinking glass or cookie cutter, depending on the size of perogies you want).

This is where having a willing and able perogy-making buddy can make life a little easier.  Dollop a spoonful of filling into each round of dough, fold over, and pinch shut.  Make sure that none of the filling peeks out of your closed-up perogy – if it does it will surely break open when you boil it and you’ll end up with a potato-y mess.


Once you have all your perogies shaped, add salt and a glug of olive oil to a large pot of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat and boil your perogies, a few at a time so they don’t stick together, just until they float up to the surface of the water.

Meanwhile, heat up a frying pan, add some olive oil and/or onions and/or bacon to saute.  As your perogies finish boiling, remove them from the water using a slotted spoon, transfer to the hot frying pan and saute until golden brown.  Serve with sour cream (and maybe a pool of melted butter?).


(if you want to save your perogies for another time, just boil them, remove them from the water and let them cool.  They can be frozen and then sauteed at your convenience).


Recipe source unknown.

Coffee Bacon Sandwiches with Date Goat Cheese spread

I have wanted to make these sandwiches for forever!  In fact, many months ago, I devised a scheme whereby I would host a brunch and serve these sandwiches and this little Pinterest project that I simply could not get out of my mind:


They’re white chocolate with a yellow Smartie and two pretzels…irresistably cute brunch party favours.

But then my wee daughter and I needed to go off dairy because she turned out to be allergic to cow’s milk protein and I couldn’t conceive of hosting a breakfast without cheese and so the idea lived in my brain for months and months.

Then, the stars aligned and goat’s milk became an option and St. Patrick’s Day was coming up and the brunch idea was resurrected.  Finally, the coffee bacon sandwiches and tiny little bacon and egg favours would become a reality.


And what a beautiful reality.  Coffee bacon is my newest, favouritest thing in the world.  Oh my, these sandwiches were delicious.  And once the homemade bread was gone and the last of the whipped cream had been dropped onto Bailey’s sweetened coffees, people were still eating this bacon off the tray like it was candy. (also, I had a bunch of the spread left over, and it has been divine in my lunch this week, spread on a homemade tortilla with roasted red peppers).


(oh yeah, and you know what else we ate?  Vanilla Bean Sticky Buns with Bailey’s Caramel Sauce.  Stay tuned for THAT recipe….)

Here’s what you need:

For the bacon –

8 slices uncooked bacon (enough for 4 sammies…cook more if you’re feeding more)

1/4 cup freshly ground coffee

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon water

For the goat cheese spread –

4 ounces goat cheese

4 medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Here’s what you do:

Lay the bacon, overlapping each other with the fatty side facing up, on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap.  In a bowl, mix together the coffee, chili powder, brown sugar, molasses and water.  Spread this mixture on top of the bacon.  The coffee will mostly rest on the fatty top of the bacon.  Cover the bacon with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.



Meanwhile, add all the spread ingredients to a bowl and mash together using a fork until well incorporated.  While you could certainly do this right before cooking the bacon and preparing your sandwiches, I did it the night before when setting the bacon to marinate and found that the flavours had incorporated into the cheese beautifully by the next day.



When you want to make your sammies, preheat your oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or tin foil and place the bacon on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake until browned and crisp.  Remove from the oven and pat any extra grease off with a paper towel.

To make the sandwiches, layer some of the goat cheese bread on fresh bread (toasted and buttered if you prefer), slap some bacon on there, and top with fresh spinach.




Recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker.

Baileys, Bacon, Chocolate, Marshmallow, Caramel…..

Baileys, Bacon, Chocolate, Marshmallow, Caramel…..

Let me reject the notion of New Years Resolutions for a minute here and talk about Baileys, bacon, chocolate, marshmallow and caramel.

I know, you’re all about salads right now.  Too many shortbreads over the holidays; too much butter, too many turkeys.

But this is Baileys, bacon, chocolate, marshmallow and caramel.  All in the same bite.

I know that you, like me, won’t be able to resist making this.  If anything, it’s just about tasting this unusual mash-up of favourites blended together into an awesome dessert, just to say you did.  This is the kind of food you stand in front of the open fridge in your flannels digging into with your fingers.  Not that I would do that kind of thing…


Here’s what you need:

Main square –

16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

4 cups mini marshmallows

1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream liquor

1 cup caramel (ingredients below)

1 cup bacon crumble (ingredients below)

Caramel ingredients –

1 cup white sugar

4 tbsp. water

4 tbsp. butter

7 tbsp. heavy cream

Bacon crumble ingredients –

16 oz. bacon

1/4 cup sugar

4 tbsp water

1 egg white

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne

Here’s what you do:

Bacon Crumble

Cook bacon in a frying pan until nice and crispy and set aside to cool completely.  Once it’s cool, crumble the bacon into coarse chunks.

Preheat your oven to 300 F.

Place sugar and water in a pot and heat on the stove until the sugar is dissolved.  Toss the crumbled bacon in the syrup to coat, and then strain of the excess syrup.

In a bowl, whisk the egg white until fluffy and foamy.  Throw in the pepper and cayenne, whisk to combine and add in the bacon, tossing to coat the bacon in the egg white mixture.

Spread the bacon on a parchment-lined sheet to bake for 30 minutes.  As a note:  my bacon wasn’t fatty enough after cooking to keep it from sticking to the parchment, so I would recommend spreading the parchment with a thin coat of butter first.  After removing from the oven, let it cool, and crumble again.


Melt the butter in the microwave and whisk in the cream.  Set aside.  Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle, give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving (don’t stir it directly). The mixture will start to bubble and then darken to a medium amber colour after approximately 5-7 minutes.  At this point, add the butter and heavy cream to saucepan.  I’m going to stop you right there:  if you’ve never made caramel before, here’s some tips from the girl with the scalded fingertips and hard lump of toffee in a pot of cream.  Add the cream and butter veeeerrrrryyy slowly, whisking constantly while adding.  The mixture will bubble and steam like crazy when you add the cream, so go easy.  Take ‘er cool, as they say.  Once the mixture starts to cool and the cream begins to incorporate, it will just become nice and caramel-y:  no scary steam and bubbles.  Set aside to cool.

Main square

Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper.

Place chocolate in a double boiler (or make your own with a bowl set over a pot of water on the stove) and heat on low until the chocolate is melted.  Pour half of the chocolate in your prepared pan, smooth with a spoon or spatula and place in the freezer to harden.

Place the marshmallows in a saucepan and heat until they just start to melt and adhere together.  Remove from the heat and add the Baileys, stirring to combine fully.  Spread the marshmallow mixture over the hardened chocolate.
Pour caramel over the marshmallow layer, smooth with a spoon or spatula, and put in the freezer again to harden.  Pour the rest of the chocolate over the caramel, sprinkle the bacon over (pressing it into the chocolate a little so it stays put) and return the fully assembled square to the fridge to harden.
To serve, bring the square to almost room temperature and cut.  Enjoy!
Note:  if this square is left at room temperature, the caramel will get quite runny!
Recipe adapted from Endless Simmer blog.