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December simple pasta - Aglio e Olio · Wednesday December 8, 2021 by colin newell

Aglio e Olio - quick as a wink pasta

I love pasta. You love pasta. And this dish is as easy as it gets. After a hard day, when you are too tired to even think about fixing dinner, this is what you whip up.

At a mere handful of ingredients, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is a big bowl of comfort food that is simple and quick to prepare.

The hardest part, perhaps, is waiting for the salted pasta water to come up to a boil!

Pasta Aglio e Olio

Made with the pasta of your choice; spaghetti, linguini, etc… sauteed garlic, olive oil, crushed hot red pepper flakes, and chopped Italian parsley. Add your own discretionary amount (1 cup give or take) of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – which can be sprinkled on the top and mixed in to add a creamier texture.


Bring 3-4L of water to a boil over high heat in your favourite pasta pot.
Add a generous amount of salt to pot. “As salty as the sea!”
Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Cook your pasta according to package instructions.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil [5 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon of butter (optional)] in your favourite pan over medium heat. Add sliced garlic and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, watching carefully so the garlic doesn’t burn. Once the garlic is softened, remove from heat and add red chili pepper flakes.

Reserve or capture 1 1/2 cups of pasta water. This water is salty and starchy and adds flavor to the sauce.

Once pasta is cooked, drain, and then toss into garlic and olive oil mixture. Add reserved pasta water.
Toss with parsley and most of your freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Salt according to taste. If you like it hot, add a touch more red pepper flakes. Garnish with remaining Parmigiano Reggiano.

Serve with a big glass of red wine and some of my sourdough focaccia

Colin is a Victoria area resident and long time food guy, drinker of coffee, mixer of cocktails, baker of treats. He has written stuff since the early 1990’s.


Sky Valley Nutella Pie - Created and perfected by Mike Cherry · Monday November 29, 2021 by colin newell

This delicious, rich dessert is for lovers of Nutella & has a slight hint of peanut butter and chocolate. Although intended as a topping for toast, pancakes, waffles or bagels, Nutella makes the perfect ingredient to base a pie upon & I’ve spent the past 5 years perfecting this easy, no-bake recipe.

To compliment this decadent dessert with the ultimate companion beverage, we at CoffeCrew suggest a steaming, hot cup of coffee + Kahlua liqueur. Enjoy!


—makes two pies

500 grams softened Cream Cheese
16 oz Nutella
1 cup ultra-smooth peanut butter
1 cup Dark Chocolate Milk*
1 – 1 litre tub Cool Whip frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 – 9 inch/23 cm chocolate Graham wafer crumb crusts or baked pastry pie crusts


Real Whipping Cream
Cleaned & chopped strawberries OR shaved dark chocolate curls or sprinkles


1. Soften cream cheese to room temperature
2. Divide all ingredients into two mixing bowls – one for each pie
3. Spoon Nutella into 2 measuring cups with measured recipe amounts for each mixing bowl. Soften Nutella by microwaving for 30 seconds, remove & stir. Microwave another 30 secs, remove & stir. DO NOT microwave Nutella longer than 60 secs. Pour into mixing bowls. Beat until smooth with electric hand mixer.
4. Add cream cheese into Nutella & blend thoroughly.
5. Add peanut butter to mix & blend until smooth. NOTE: Do not use ‘natural’ style peanut butter. This must be a commercial product such as JIF, Planter’s or Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter.
6. Add Dark Chocolate Milk. *Substitute whilte milk mixed with 1/4 cup/60 ml Nestle Quick Chocolate Drink Powder. Blend until smooth
7. Add Cool Whip whipped topping, fold into pie filling with a wooden spoon, then mix with blender until smooth.
8. Spoon into two 9 inch pie shells; Spoon remainder into a pudding bowl. Cover and freeze a minimum of 2 hours until firm. Remove from freezer & refrigerate until serving.

Garnish with whipped cream & chopped strawberries. Alternately, top with shaved dark chocolate curls or sprinkles.

Mike Cherry is a Salt Spring Island resident, now retired from an incredible career in broadcasting. An avid baker, he often pulls out divine ideas for dessert concepts out of thin air, cream, graham wafers and love.


2021 update to Alton Brown's Texas Chili - Instant Pot Chapter · Sunday November 28, 2021 by colin newell

Alton Brown's Texas beef Chili with some variationsHere is a another subtle variation on Alton Brown’s classic – it is not vegetarian but you can easily take out the sirloin and pitch in some firm tofu (grilled in advance of course…) or beans.

Use a 6-quart stock Instant Pot minimum

2 pounds Sirloin tip or lesser grade of beef (any grade of ground beef or pork… or Tofu)
4 tablespoons Canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 bottle of beer, medium pale ale (you can sub in 2 cups of beef or vegetable broth)
1-2 (16-ounce) container medium or hot salsa
60 tortilla chips (really! 60… not 59 or 61!)
(option) 1/2 cup chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce, chopped
2 medium onions – chopped
1 Yellow pepper chopped
1 Red pepper chopped
1 small Zucchini chopped
1 large Pablano pepper chopped
2 Anaheim peppers chopped
1 chopped Habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers (be VERY, VERY careful with these peppers! There is a real risk of burning or blistering if your skin comes in direct contact with the seeds or chopped pepper flesh.)
2 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the chipotle peppers in adobo)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin

Heat your Instant pot on saute high and toss/brown meat with the Canola oil and salt/pepper in smallish batches. Add the meat in 6 to 8 batches and brown on all sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per batch. Once each batch is browned, place the meat in a clean large bowl or plate.

Once all of the meat is browned and set aside, add several tablespoons of beer or broth to deglaze the pot.

Depending on how dry your Instant pot is, add a tablespoon or two of your preferred canola oil.

Put in onions, yellow and red peppers, zucchini and carrots to brown for around 5 to 7 minutes.
Add Pablano and Anaheim chopped peppers – cooking an additional 5 minutes
Add Chipotle peppers and adobo sauce – stir in well.

Add bottled salsa (1 bottle at a time) and beer/broth gradually.
Add tomato paste and ground spices

Return meat to the mix.

Set Instant Pot to high pressure 20 minutes.

Depending upon how hot your Habanero, salsa and chilpotle chilis are will dictate how much of a sweat you will work up – add sour cream to serving for the more delicate among you! Be warned: Habanero chili’s are among the hottest chili peppers on the planet – they are easily hundreds if not thousands of times hotter than the lowly jalapeno pepper. Use extreme caution with these orange peppers. If you are not prepared to assume the risk, leave this pepper out.

Pressure cooked chili gets tamed quite substantially.

Serve with ice cold beer, corn chips and a cotton napkin for wiping your brow.

This batch would easily serve 12 to 16 hungry folks – I freeze the chili in plastic containers for frugal hot lunches!


Saanich Spinach Artichoke Cheesy Dip - Fall Fun and Food Series · Sunday November 21, 2021 by colin newell

Saanich Spinach and Artichoke Dip - it's hot!

On a dreary Saturday night, in the midst of fuel shortages, a stubborn pandemic, civic unrest and rivers of atmosphere… or is it the other way around? It is nice to quaff a glass of red wine with a simple hot dip made with basic and nourishing ingredients. Enter the Spinach and Artichoke Cheese dip. It’s hot. It’s cheesy. It comes out of the oven bubbling like the Big Island volcano we miss so much! – You can serve it on (or with) bread, a baguette, pita, corn chips or you can spoon it right out of the glowing casserole dish into your asbestos lined mouth.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch fresh spinach
8 ounces (or 250G) softened (room temperature) cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
14 oz (about 2 cups) drained artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
1 package pita bread


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large saute pan over medium low heat, add oil, garlic and pepper flakes and slowly saute for about five minutes or just until the garlic starts to brown.

Add dry fresh spinach, toss around and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes over medium heat until wilted and cooked. Remove to your cutting board, dab dry with paper towel and coarsely chop.

In a large bowl place cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup Parm-Reg, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Depending on how soft the cream cheese is, there will be a bit of muscle involved here. Spend 3 minutes or so – but don’t overly mix or blend as you will lose some of the texture of this dip.

Fold in the cooked spinach, artichokes and 1 and 1/2 cups of the Mozzarella cheese and scrape into a flame-proof / high temperature baking dish that is 8 × 8 × 2 inches.

Sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan and 1/2 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese and bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until hot, bubbling and slightly browned on top.

While the mixture is baking, heat a grill pan on high and once hot, place one whole pita round on at a time. Cook for a minute or two on one side, flip and cook again on the other side. Remove to a cutting board and cut into wedges and serve on the side of the dip.

If you are hungry or in a hurry, crack open a bag of low salt corn (nacho) chips and toss them in a bowl. The upside is, the cooler chips will absorb some of the Earth mantle heat of the molten cheese dip reducing the risk of scalding or life altering burns. The dip pairs well with wine or beer.

Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident who loves his food and his coffee and is constantly on the prowl for tasty recipes ready for home preparation


Movember in the fast lane - year 12 Movember Captain · Tuesday November 16, 2021 by colin newell

Colin Newell as Movember Captain - all these years

12 years. It is easy to dedicate yourself to a cause that you believe in. A cause that has touched you and your friends and your family in so many ways.

Movember has been here for a while. What is it? It is the month of November dedicated to not shaving and thinking about and talking about the perils of silence and isolation.

Wellness. It comes in many forms. Physical and mental well being. I have not met a single person who has not struggled with one of these. And the difference between not coping and thriving can often come down to a conversation.
I have been having those conversations for over a decade.

And what is fascinating for me is that it was almost 10 years ago that my doctor tapped me on the shoulder to say, “Hey, Colin, maybe we need to have a closer look at this…” I was lucky. Numerous tests, blood work, MRI and an immensely uncomfortable biopsy later… and I was cleared for take off – to return to my normally scheduled life.

In that time, 10 years, several friends have battled cancer all the way to the win column – with bravery and sacrifice. Others, like me, have suffered their share of mental turmoil as crises have come and gone. But what set these experiences apart was having extra arrows in our toolkit – conversation, dialog, resources, support, solidarity. The one thing I preach over and over again is; Do not face any crises alone if you can at all avoid it. Sadness, anxiety, depression and strife love the cold darkness of isolation. Do not try and go it alone. I tell everyone. I am here, 24/7, if you need to talk. If you need a shoulder – even a social distanced shoulder, or a virtual hug.

In most cases, with professional help and guidance and the loyalty and listening skills of friends, most dark periods in our life can be overcome. I always say, the sun will come out again. It is a bit of a platitude, but it is true. For most of us, we have known good times. The good times do come again. It takes work.

Please support the cause. Movember in Canada raises millions of dollars and supports upwards of 1000 different programs.

My Movember Space

Sean McCool and Colin perform Hallelujah

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