This is a long way to tell a very short story… so brace yourselves.
I went to a very small private high school called the Halifax Grammar School in the south end, right beside Saint Mary’s University. I had an amazing high school experience with an eclectic mix of brains, athletes, and partyers. One of the reasons it was so fun was because there were only 150 people in my high school, and 49 in my graduating class.
In a class that small, you get to know everyone pretty well. We were pretty tight, and most of my friends felt like family. A lot of us commuted to school, so we spent more time together than the average high school kids. So when university applications rolled around in the fall of grade 12, it was no surprise that a lot of us were interested in the same schools.
As it turned out, eight people from my graduating class at HGS came to Carleton University in Ottawa (myself included). Eight out of 49… almost 20 per cent. And all eight of those people were my close friends.
Consequently, I didn’t make too many new friends when I came to Carleton – I already had friends! Eventually I made a lot of friends, but to start, the Grammar School kids kinda stuck together. After all, we were all in the same boat. Over time we branched off, made our own circles of friends, and met new people. But it was really nice to move away for the first time in my life and be surrounded with people I thought of as family.
One of the greatest friends I eventually made was a girl I met during the first week of classes. Her name was Kacie and I was convinced she was a model. We had a similar schedule as were both taking journalism. Over the past four years, we became very close. I’d say it’s because we had a lot in common. Like me, Kacie was always a bit of a domestic. She kept a clean house, enjoyed cooking and entertaining, and generally cared about life beyond being a student. We saw each other through some big ups and downs and she grew very special to me.
But Kacie was from Calgary and wanted to pursue sports broadcasting. She didn’t really have any reason to stay in Ottawa, so she packed up and moved home when we graduated. She’s now doing amazing things with her life, but it was a super sad day to see her go. I went over to her house and helped her re-pack her suitcases, cleaned, organized, and willingly adopted some of her things she didn’t or couldn’t take back to Calgary with her.
That’s how I got my amazing Bon Appétit cookbook. It was always laying around Kacie’s house, and I was very jealous. It was thick and beautiful with very few pictures, but with gourmet and interesting recipes. She had used it to cook for me before, and I always coveted the cookbook. So when Kacie declared she couldn’t fit in it her bags back to Calgary, I instantly became a charity case.
I have now made several recipes from the cookbook, including the following pastas, and they all turn out perfectly. I have scribbled in the margins, so that when and if Kacie ever gets her cookbook back, she’ll know what I’ve tried and what I thought. Although I love it, sometimes there are expensive ingredients (like Gruyere cheese) and sometimes there’s a lot of work involved, but it’s delicious food in a refined sort of way.
My Other Half loves pasta dishes – or any old casserole – that are baked with lots of crispy cheese on top. Naturally I tried the following recipe (which is vegetarian) for supper one night. However, it was way too much work, and although it was good, I doubt I’d make it again:
Spicy Penne with Tomato, Olives and Two Cheeses
Adapted from Bon Appétit
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 C chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
2 C canned low-salt chicken broth
1 pound penne or rigatoni
2 1/2 C packed grated Havarti cheese
1/3 C sliced pitted brine-cured olives (such as Kalamata)
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C finely chopped fresh basil
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, dried basil and crushed red pepper. Bring to boil, breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer and mixture thickens to chunky sauce and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain well. Return pasta to same pot. Toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Pour sauce over and toss to blend. Mix in Havarti cheese. Transfer pasta to 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with olives, then Parmesan. Bake until pasta is heated through, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with basil.
This next pasta dish is excruciatingly easy and delicious. I adore prosciutto, so I tried it for my girlfriend Kelsey another night:
Fettuccine with Prosciutto, Peas and Lemon-Chive Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appétit
6 oz fettuccine
1 C frozen petite peas
1/2 C whipping cream
1/2 C chopped fresh chives or green onion tops
3 tbsps fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp grated lemon peel
2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into slivers
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Add peas; cook 30 seconds. Drain, reserving 1/2 C pasta cooking water. Return pasta and peas to pot. Add cream, chives, lemon juice and lemon peel to pasta. Toss over medium heat to coat, adding reserved pasta water by tablespoonfuls if dry, about 1 minute. Mix in prosciutto; season with salt and pepper.
As an end note, Kacie is currently a finalist in Gillette Drafted 2 on The Score. Tune in every Tuesday night at 10pm EST to watch her, or check out the website to watch what you’ve missed!