food

Stacked Cucumber Tofu Salad

Practice drizzle, fo-shizzle.

Practice drizzle, fo-shizzle.

Ingredients 

-1 small block of extra firm tofu(I only needed half)

-Balsamic glaze(make sure not to just use the vinegar or you’ll end up with a plate of soupy catastrophe)

-1 tiny cucumber

-Sea salt

-Sesame seeds

-Baby spinach

 Instructions

This salad makes a great snack and is stupidly easy to prepare. It looks way too impressive for the amount of time needed to whip it up. I think in total it must have taken me no more than 5 minutes(and I was being extremely sloth-like).

It’s so simple it hurts me to even write instructions. Which is why I will say this. Cut the ingredients, stack them, drizzle some of that sticky black fanciness on top and sit the #@&! down.

stacked salad

Word to the perfectionists- wipe the moisture off the cucumber so that the balsamic beads nicely.

Looks real purdy.

I have a nasty cold, so I figured since I wouldn’t really taste and enjoy my creation that I might as well share with my golden friend.

Three seconds. Maybe four.

Three seconds. Maybe four.

Which Dried Pasta Reigns Supreme?

pastaA couple of months ago I had a crisis of faith.

Staring at my plate of spaghetti and meatballs I realized that I had overlooked one of my favourite staples, pasta.

I always have put the utmost care and consideration into even the most minute aspects of my tomato sauce, but little thought ever went into the selection of dried pasta. I had always thought of the pasta as a delivery method- a medium through which I could receive the higher pleasures of meats, vegetable and sauces.

Sitting there in front of my dinner, I pledged to venture forth and change the starchy foundations of my pasta dishes forevermore.

My goal was to find a reliable brand which was both readily available(in most supermarkets) and  better tasting than its noodley peers.

Bring forth the contenders!

  1. Barilla
  2. De Cecco
  3. Delverde
  4. Primo
  5. Lancia

Barilla

Truly a classic. Barilla has been a centre-piece of family dinners since the 1800’s and there’s a reason why. Dependable, versatile, and an absolute knockout when it comes to short pasta, Barilla is always a solid choice for your after-work pasta fix.

De Cecco 

After a few dinners back and forth between our two heavy-weights, De Cecco and Barilla, it became very clear that the former was far superior when it comes to spaghetti. The texture and mouthfeel of the De Cecco brand seems to be cleaner and less gritty.

A side by side taste comparison confirms that De Cecco has what it takes to rule the long-pasta category. Never a bad choice.

Delverde

Here’s where it gets interesting.

When I brought home my packages of Delverde spagetti and fusilli, I expected a similar taste and quality to the two previous brands I had experimented with. I was blown away,

Delverde not only beats out it’s larger comercial competitors in texture, but it adds a depth of flavour to my pasta dishes that I have never experienced. This is what I was looking for when I started out, something to prove to me that dried pasta could be just as interesting as its accoutrements.

Primo

Before I began my pasta adventure, Primo had always been my go-to brand. Why? Mostly because it’s sometimes on promotion and it’s what my mum used to get when I was a child(she’s since switched to barilla).

I expected Primo to land somewhere in the middle of the pack. I was used to the flavour(or so I thought) and I never really saw it as something either amazing or dreadful. However, now that my observance of what makes good dried pasta has sharpened, Primo is rather awful.

Overly-starchy and a little grey in colour, Primo is the least impressive dried pasta brand I have tried to-date.

Lancia

Another solid choice. I couldn’t find to much wrong with Lancia pasta- both taste and texture didn’t disappoint, and the noodles looked fresh and delicious when cooked.

It is also worth mentioning that Lancia’s egg noodles are far superior to its competitors. Not something I personally cook with too often, but worth a special mention for all you eggheads out there.

Conclusion

Out of the brands that I sampled, Delverde was best in almost every category. Of course it is a little bit more pricy, but certainly not in the range of specialty artisan brands. As a readily available everyday go-to pasta, Delverde takes the cake.

It’s worth mentioning that although dried pasta is convenient, it simply can not compare to fresh. So if you’re into pasta in a big way, I urge you to shed your fears and try pressing some yourself!

Coffee-Making Methods: The War of the Bean

It’s a dangerous world out there, folks.

Coffee is a touchy subject for most self-declared foodies. Everybody has their preferred method, and everyone swears that theirs is the unquestionably best source of that delicious black liquid. “It’s smoother.”-“It’s burnt!”-“Fine grinds only.” It seems that if you don’t have an opinion on coffee, that you must be the lowliest piece of filth on planet earth; as unsophisticated and out-of-place as Larry the Cable Guy in Downton Abbey.

It’s ok. Breathe. Just read this simple guide and you will have enough knowledge about coffee and how to make it to barely get by in a room full of uber-caffeinated hipster people. You might also find a preferable brewing method that fits your lifestyle, which I guess the whole point of this thing. Anywho, follow me!

The French Press

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Not a medieval torture device. Not without some serious creativity.

For the purpose of this post I will be highlighting the various strengths and weaknesses of several of the most popular ways to brew coffee nowadays, and first up is the french press.

You’ve seen it at your artsy friends house, you may have even gotten one in a gift basket, but it’s an inherently odd machine and it looks nice on a shelf, so it is most often seen as a decoration rather than a kitchen appliance.

Here are some strong words for you. Make coffee with a french press, and then drink that coffee. You will either:

1)Enjoy it.

2)Not Enjoy it.

This is almost certainly a result of the type of grinds that you are using. French presses require very course grinds. The metal strainer which separates the coffee grinds from the delicious drink you know and love lacks the inherent keep-out power of your traditional coffee filter, causing small grinds to slip through the cracks and leave you with a rather clumpy cup’ o ’joe.

The Espresso Pot

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A tiny siege tower for tiny robots.

 If you have older european relatives, then you already know all about this next one. The espresso pot is the steam-punk looking metal contraption found rusting on just about every italian uncle’s stove-top.

This hunk of metal might resemble a piece of shrapnel from the millennium falcon, but I assure you it is capable of making some pretty damn decent espresso(without having to sell your organs to afford a top-notch machine).

The espresso pot uses extremely hot water vapour to release the delicious flavour of the coffee bean. This is very different from the direct hot water contact of the French press. This creates a deeper, distinctly more bitter flavour that can be enjoyed in its concentrated form or diluted into an Americano.

If you do decide to ask uncle Luigi for a whirl on his espresso pot, be warned, use an extremely low stove-top heat setting! Nothing tastes worse than sour, burnt-black espresso tar.

The Drip. The Good Old Drip. 

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*Do not remove pot and replace with forehead.

 Ah, the much-maligned auto-drip coffee maker. Your likely source of that morning java. You shutter at the thought of mentioning its use among you literary pals, and you feel the need to preface its serving with “It’s just normal coffee, you want one?”, or “I’m usually in a rush so I just press a button and go.”.

Fear not. Stand your ground! Who ever said that the auto-drip produced sub-par coffee can go back to hell where they belong!

Find a decent coffee maker, make sure it has a manual option for setting the brew temperature, buy some good beans, get bamboo filters, and brew away.

Set your brew temperature to just below boiling! Many off the rack, cheaper machines will sacrifice time for temperature. Set an automatic timer so that your coffee is ready in the morning and you don’t have to do that dirty little deed.

Oh, and no salt. Just don’t do that.

In conclusion, every method of brewing coffee has its own set of advantages and annoyances. Don’t be afraid to experiment, try as many methods as you can, only then will you truly be sure which best suits your tastes and lifestyle.