No-power-necessary strawberry, goat cheese and pesto bruschetta

Apparently Mother Nature does not like bruschetta.

Defying Mother Nature's wishes, I went ahead with dinner (and I'm certainly glad I did)

In the course of 15 minutes, yesterday night changed from a fairly sunny paradise to a Hollywood-action-flick worthy hellhole.  Most of you out-of-towners probably heard about the freak weather in the form of news reports about a little incident that happened at Bluesfest.

Anyways, the storm that wreaked havoc to the Bluesfest stage was the same one that kindly decided to knock the power out on my small, Old Ottawa South street block.  This put a kink in my evening plans. All day long I had been planning to make two types of bruschetta, using this amazing Parisian baguette I bought earlier in the day at Art-is-in Bakery (post to come in a few days).

I arrived home from a photo shoot with Anne from Hello Ottawa, only to find my kitchen engulfed in darkness.  I could have cried.  My bread was at its optimum freshness and needed to be used.

Then I made a decision: no man, beast or freak power outage was going to keep me from my bruschetta.

The oven was still warm from when my roommate and her boyfriend cooked a huge pot roast, so I decided to heat my bread in there.  It wasn’t toasted, but I figured the baguette was chewy and crusty enough already that it would suffice.

After about 10 minutes in the oven I took it out and, by the glow of a small tea light, spread pesto and goat cheese over my barely-visible pieces of baguette.  Thank heavens my strawberries were pre-cut, otherwise it’s highly likely I would have lost a digit.  I tossed the strawberries with a bit of balsamic vinegar and carefully added them on top of the goat cheese.

Taking the bruschetta outside into the 8:30 p.m. light, I could finally see the fruits of my labour.  Yes, the end product looked a little messy, but it was completely delicious.  I ate six pieces.  In minutes.  It was that good.

Our power just went back on a few hours ago.  To celebrate, I made my second type of bruschetta.  My life = officially made.

PS: since my power had been off for 12+ hours this morning when I left for work, I packed up all my cheese and frozen meat and biked them into the office to put in the fridge. Take that unholy lack-of-refrigeration diseases!
PPS: Even though I saw the original recipe that inspired this bruschetta on Tastespotting, it was also partially inspired by this amazing flatbread I had at the Ottawa restaurant Mambo the other week when I reviewed their patio scene for Local Tourist Ottawa.
PPPS: My new camera is leading to me taking even more pictures than before. I’m averaging about 50 per meal.  This is bad news.

Depth of field - you do exist! (even though you're looking a little sharp right here...)

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Portobello pesto pizza (and a new start)

Today I am taking a defibrillator to my blog.

As you can see, blogging inactivity has become the norm for the past week or so.  Sure, sure, I have plenty of excuses.  Whether it was my flu/summer cold showdown, visits from my family and boyfriend, or trying out some new Ottawa restaurants, I’ve been rather busy.

I’ve also been uninspired.  The second half of June left me in a slump, and it was only two days ago that I decided to finally start journeying out of my rut.  Now that I have less than a month left in Canada before my big European adventure, I figured I should probably food blog all I can.  Before I know it, this blog will be transformed into a storybook of my travels and lofty international tales.  To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

Anyways, what better way to kickstart my July blog posts than with foods that I love?  Pesto, portobello mushrooms and so much cheese.  It was impossible to go wrong.  Oh right, and the crust was also infused with the garlic oil Brittany got me for my birthday.  All in all, this vegetarian, Natalie-friendly pizza is probably one of the best things I have ever made.

And who better to share it with than my future travel companion himself, Gord?

My handsome travel and dinner companion.

We gorged on this pizza, since we’re blissfully naïve and under the impression that we’ll somehow lose weight in Europe.  Hah. Good one, right?

Like I said above, this pizza was amazing.  Even when it was in the oven it smelt delicious.  Seriously, I thought I was going to have to take it out early and eat it in a cavewoman-like manner.  It was painful enough having to take my usual two dozen pictures pre-meal eating.  Gord had already shovelled half a piece into his mouth while I was still plating.  I can’t say that I blame him.

In the end, is there really anything more beautiful than portobello mushrooms?  I think I cried a bit when I was cutting these.  They’re just such a wonderful, meaty vegetable.  Okay, it’s happened – I’m officially romantically involved with a vegetable.

An iPhone picture I took in the midst of making the pizza. Please take a moment appreciate the pesto and portobello mushroom concealed beneath the cheese.

PS: I splurged on REAL Parmesan cheese to make this pizza.  I found a small, fairly inexpensive block and snatched it up before anyone could find it.  There is still half in the fridge.  Happy times will be had in future meals.
PPS: I couldn’t find any actual provolone cheese, so I used the slices that were packaged for sandwiches.  That’s okay, right?

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Linguine with a creamy pesto, yogurt and zucchini sauce

Earlier this week I had the most uncontrollable pesto craving.

I don’t know what happened.  I was just sitting in the office one day when it struck me.  It was like tiny pesto gods had inception-ed my mind.

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, the zucchini gods were plotting a similar plan.

The incident occurred shortly after the pesto episode.  I had no choice.  Zucchini and pesto for supper it was.

The result of my afternoon cravings

As soon as the workday ended, I biked promptly to the nearest grocery store, eager to get these two foods in my stomach as fast as I could.  Pesto and zucchini were purchased and happiness was almost within my grasp.  I was going to buy fresh Parmesan to load on top of my pasta, before realizing that a small block cost approximately one hour’s worth of pay.  One day my cheese purchases will put me in the poorhouse, but that day has not yet come.

Aside: Let me take a quick moment to discuss a very serious health condition.  People with PSGSBS (painfully slow grocery store browsing syndrome) should be avoided at all costs.  Those stricken with this condition tend to come out immediately during post-office work hours and insist on standing in the middle of aisles, in front of the bananas, and in the baking section.  Seriously, I have no patience for grocery store pondering, and dodge the PSGSBS’ as fast as I can.  I still have my helmet on from biking, so if any of them get rabid I can escape unharmed.

ANYWAYS

Since the grocery store sold out of bowtie pasta (I saw a PSGSBS carrying three bags in her cart…), I settled on making my dish with linguine.  I had a whole pile of it lying around and decided it was time it made its dinner debut.

This was another one of those infamous “Hilary doesn’t really know what she’s doing” meals, hence the inclusion of plain yogurt in the sauce.  It was a miracle that it worked out (to be fair, a quick Google search showed that I wasn’t completely crazy.. apparently pesto and yogurt sauce is a thing).

Dinner ended with an incredibly happy Hilary and a completely satisfied pestocchini craving.  Major omnomnoms.

PS: seriously, this was so good and was so fast to make!!
PPS: I am THE WORST at estimating how much pasta I need.  I made enough pasta to feed an Italian army.  There is still some in the fridge that I have been picking at for snacks.  Yes, I eat cold pasta as a snack.  Resume head shaking.
PPPS: I really love these pictures.

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