Homemade pasta

pasta bowl

Yes – I made that bucatini pasta from scratch!

Recently I went on a culinary trip to Italy. I knew before I stepped foot on the plane that the food there would be amazing, and it was. What I wasn’t prepared for was the beauty in the sheer simplicity of Italian eating. Dishes focused on great ingredients that are not complicated by additions to the plate. Fresh, seasonal produce that speaks for itself in flavour and freshness. It really reminded me a lot of why it is that I’m on this food journey to begin with.

Sure I love making and eating delicious food. But it’s about so much more than that. It’s learning about where our food comes from and what food I put in front of my family. It’s about food that doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. It’s about knowing how to pronounce everything we eat, knowing what season our food is available locally, and understanding the relationship we as Canadians have with this bountiful country of ours. It’s about sharing that knowledge with my readers.

It’s why I threw my kids in a car a few years ago and made off for the east coast for a month. Stopping at farms, fields, fromageries and fisheries along the way.

In Italy I had the opportunity to stop at an organic wheat mill and meet a family who proudly continues their family tradition in Val d’Orcia, Tuscany. The pride the family members all had in the products really struck home with me (not to mention the overflowing bowls of pasta they kept putting in front of us.) Passion & simple ingredients. Flour, eggs and water. No magic. I knew that one of my gifts for my kids from Italy would have to be some ’00’ flour to make them some fresh pasta at home.


I’ve never made pasta before so I turned to my friends at KitchenAid for some help with this. They sent me their Gourmet Pasta Press which took a lot of the pressure off. There was enough worry about making pasta for the first time for my three kids without having to be concerned about forming the pasta too! It just pops on the end of my stand mixer and forms the pasta dough into fun shapes.


Making pasta from scratch really isn’t that difficult, and if you’ve got a mixer to get the dough started then it’s strikingly simple. Easy. Simple. Delicious. Right up my alley. You don’t need a pasta press to form the pasta but it will make it incredibly easy to create complex shapes like bucatini or rigatoni that would be impossible with a simple pasta roller.

I decided to throw one of my favourite recipes for a ragu of shredded beef short ribs in the slow cooker that morning so that I could focus on just making the pasta for dinner. I got my kids involved helping me knead the dough and feed the pasta press. Everything turned out perfectly – I great homage to my visit to Italy and a great eye opener for my kids who just assumed pasta was born in plastic bags at the grocery store.

KitchenAid and I would love to give one of my Canadian readers a pasta press. A chance for you to give homemade pasta a try at home. Simply tweet out your family’s favourite shape of pasta and be sure to include @gavmartell and @kitchenaid_ca

Winner will be chosen by random number generator on March 20, 2015

Contest winner: Kat Inokai. Congrats!


Sometimes You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

I’ve been grilling for about as long as I can remember. Every time I think I have figured out my earliest grilling experience I can remember with tongs and hamburger spatula in-hand, I think of an even earlier one before that. I’ve grilled, I’ve smoked, I’ve rotisseried. I’ve used chunk wood, chips, lump charcoal, gas, and briquettes. I’ve grilled in backyards, snowstorms, parking lots, dense forests, and once in the back of a family station wagon (which sublimely smelled of grilled meats and smoke for years to follow…). I’ve grilled meats, seafood, vegetables, soups, desserts, cheeses and an entire Thanksgiving dinner. So, to call me an ‘old dog’ of the grill would hardly be an insult. However, the magical thing about cooking food is that you can never stop learning. There is always more information, better technique, and more inspiring dishes out there. So when I was invited to check out Weber Canada’s new Weber Grill Academy with a group of bloggers I was all too thrilled to make sure I cleared my calendar to attend.

Visiting Weber’s new facility in Vaughan was a little bit like sending a kid into a candy shop. A big giant candy shop for this big giant kid…


Weber has been reaching out to Canadians this past year. After storming onto the the backyard grilling scene over 60 years ago, Weber-Stephen Products LLC, recently expanded its global operations and opened the first Weber-Stephen Canada office in Vaughan, Ontario. In addition, the company proudly debuted the Weber Grill Academy, Canada’s first and only cooking school dedicated to the art and skill of grilling. As I walked through the doors I felt like I’d walked into my second home. Visitor’s can either sign up for a pre-scheduled class or book the Weber Grilling Academy for corporate events. Grillers of any level can take part in one of Weber’s scheduled classes such as their beginner’s couples class all the way up to more challenging grilling adventures such as smoking and desserts! As Weber Grill Specialist Chef Michael P. Clive will proudly tell you “If you can cook it in your oven, you can grill it.”

Chef Michael clearly has a passion for all things grilled and his smile and ease with guests make the entire experience a real treat. Presented with a slew of recipes at various complexities guests are challenged to stretch their use of the grill and really make full use of the array of Weber products in pulling together delicious dishes during the course of the class.


For this experienced griller it was a great chance to talk with Chef Michael about our shared passion and hear his thoughts on grilling, smoking and their endless possibilities. The versatility of the grill as a mixed-use cooking device is limitless. There are not many appliances that mix conduction, convection and radiation cooking all at one time. The perfect reason for grillers of all levels to head to the Weber Grilling Academy to help hone their skills. It’s not everyday you get to watch dessert slide perfectly out of its pan, still hot off the grill!

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If you want to expand beyond burgers and hot dogs, try out this recipe I learned on my visit to the Weber Grilling Academy for Asparagus and Potato Napoleons with Tarragon Vinaigrette. They were grilled perfection!

Weber’s Asparagus and Potato Napoleans

I had the chance to make this dish with Grill Specialist, Chef Michael P. Clive on a recent trip to the Weber Grill Academy. It’s a great dish with fresh vibrant flavours and colours. And a real eye-opener for guests who are used to only getting protein off the grill. A great recipe to try out as we head towards spring!

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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Grilling Time: 6 to 8 minutes


3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound asparagus
4 large russet potatoes, peeled
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon nonpareil capers, rinsed


1. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F).

2. In a medium bowl whisk the lemon juice, tarragon, mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. While whisking, gradually add ½ cup oil to make a smooth emulsion.

3. Remove and discard the tough bottom of each asparagus spear by grasping at each end and bending it gently until it snaps at its natural point of tenderness, usually about two-thirds of the way down the spear.

4. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the bottom off one end of each potato so it can stand vertically on the cutting board without rolling. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into ¼-inch slices. Reserve the twelve largest slices, and discard the remainder or save for another use. Add the potato slices to the water and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer just until almost tender, about 3 minutes (do not overcook). Drain carefully, rinse the potato slices under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil on a sheet pan. Add the potatoes and asparagus to the pan and turn to coat them with the oil; season with salt.

5. Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the potatoes and asparagus over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until the asparagus is browned in spots but not charred and the potatoes are golden brown and tender, 6 to 8 minutes, turning once after about 4 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the grill as they are done.
Cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces.

6. Place one potato slice on each of six dinner plates and build the Napoleons evenly with half of the asparagus, another potato slice, the remaining asparagus, cheese, and capers. Whisk the vinaigrette again and drizzle about 1½ tablespoons on and around each Napoleon. Serve warm.

©2011 Weber-Stephen Products LLC. Recipe from Weber’s Time To Grill™ by Jamie Purviance. Used with permission

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