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Penne Pasta with Bigeye tuna, anchovy and garlic · Tuesday April 26, 2022 by colin newell

Penne Pasta with garlic, anchovy and tuna

Umami. You live for it. You love for it. This is the zest and flavour of life. This dish is packed with all those things you long for.

It’s yummy and nutritious with every bite.

Click on the photo for the big view

It pairs well with a blustery red wine – like a Malbec or Syrah… and you can even tease yourself with a Negroni beforehand.

The Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced or crushed in a garlic press
  • 1 (6 oz) can imported Tuna in Olive oil (see footnotes)
  • 2 ounces (or more) Anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red Chili flakes, or to taste
  • 1 (28 oz) can Whole Tomatoes, pureed (roasted for extra zest)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Pasta preferably Penne to serve two

Let’s do this

Heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet or non-stick pan.
Saute the garlic cloves very briefly just until aromatic.

Add the tuna and a suitable serving of anchovies.
As indicated above, not all tinned tuna are created equal. We found an ocean wise, lightly smoked Portuguese Bigeye Tuna at a local organic market. Get the best. You’ll be glad you did.

Stir to break up the tuna and anchovy fillets. Anchovy requires very little effort to integrate into most dishes – they practically melt… and where Umami is your goal, these little salty fillets are your best friend!

Cook for a couple of minutes. Season with the dried herbs and add the chili flakes, if using.

Add the pureed Tomatoes and then simmer for 10 minutes (while the pasta cooks). Season with a little salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour in the heavy cream and cook until heated up. Add 3/4 of your Parm-Reg cheese and continue to cook until the sauce thickens.

When the pasta is cooked, mix with the sauce. Serve with more cheese on top, if desired. Garnish with flat leaf parsley for an extra zing of green flavour – and you can also add a twist of fresh lemon juice or a small palm full of capers – the acid from this addition will balance the big Umami experience here.

This serves up two large servings with enough left over for a next day lunch. Alternately, you can invite 2 more people over and celebrate life, the Universe and everything.

Closing thoughts

This dish is an example of cooking where small tweaks of the ingredients can make a big difference. There are lots of opportunities to use your imagination. Find your local gourmet markets and spin for quality components. Here in Victoria we have so many great little stores that carry hard to find ingredients. Yes, they might be a couple bucks more but the proof is in the eating. Put a smile on someones face – cook thoughtfully – drink heartily… and enjoy each day like there is no tomorrow.
Victoria resident and guy with a shopping basket permanently attached to his right hand, Colin Newell, has been writing about food and drink for decades. He believes that a dish is only as good as the things that go into it and the wine you wash it down with…


Pan-fried Sesame Garlic Tofu · Wednesday April 20, 2022 by colin newell

Your sesame Garlic Tofu

Tofu. You love it or hate it. It’s your kryptonite. Your weekend friend. Your arch nemesis.

At best, I have struck an uneasy allegiance with Tofu – but it might be a case of “getting to know you better…” Give it time.

This inning, for whatever reason, the combination of condiments and grilled additions (asparagus) lead a siren song that had me quickly hooked.


  • Refrigerated 14 oz Tofu, extra firm


  • 1 tsp Garlic paste
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce, low-sodium

Baking & Spices

  • 3 tbsp Cornstarch

Oils & Vinegars

  • 1/2 tsp Rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil


  • 1/4 cup Water


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek
  • There are legion other options for dressings, applications, sprinkles and salves for this dish – I mean really. Hot sauces… just getting started. We noted that perhaps touch more honey might have been in order to sweeten this bad girl. 2 TSP of honey was very light – and just barely achieved a balance with the other savouries. You be the judge. This is your dish,


Place two paper towels on a plate then place the entire block of tofu (drained from its packaging liquid) onto the plate.
Place two more paper towels on top of the tofu then put a heavy item on top. Not TOO heavy that it would completely crush the tofu but heavy enough that it can squeeze out liquid.

Tools: I like using a cast iron skillet…. but a good non-stick is fine.

The Tofu press: Leave for 30 minutes and halfway through, change out the paper towels.

ALTERNATIVELY and more eco-friendly: place a wire baking rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Place tofu on top and then put a heavy object on top and let drain for 30 minutes.
Once the tofu has drained, slice in half then into cubes and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch on top and gently toss with your hands to ensure all tofu pieces are covered.

In your large skillet, add sesame oil and vegetable oil then bring up to medium-high heat.

Once oil is heated up, add the tofu to the skillet and let brown on all sides.
In the meantime, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.

Once the tofu has browned and crisped up on all sides, add the sauce to the skillet and it should start to thicken immediately. Toss the tofu around to coat then remove from heat.

Serve on Jasmine rice – garnish with raw scallions, toasted sesame or pan seared asparagus – the sky is the limit on toppings so sit back and enjoy!

Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident, long time writer on the subject of cafe culture and trends in food. His musing on the subject of good eating have decorated the internet since 1995.


Next level chocolate chip date cookies · Monday April 18, 2022 by colin newell

I love the occasional chocolate chip cookie – and I have dabbled with a variety of recipes and approaches but have never really knocked it out of the park.

After catching a Bon Appetit YouTube video on the subject, I realized that maybe I have found what I was looking for. I was. These cookies use Olive Oil and Tahini and no butter. They are graced with sliced date and flaked sea salt. Honestly, one cookie could feed a sweet tooth for a week.

Let’s get to it.

The Dry Ingredients…

  • 280G White flour
  • 1 TSP Baking Soda
  • 1 TSP Kosher Salt
  • 1 TSP Cornstarch

Add ons…

  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Flaked salt – Sel de Mar

Wet stuff…

  • 1/2 Cup Olive oil (120G)
  • 1/4 Cup Tahini (80G)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 TSP Vanilla
  • 3/4 Cup White sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Brown sugar


Great cookies from the geniuses at Bon Appetit

In a medium sized bowl add your flour, baking soda, kosher salt and cornstarch. Lightly whisk until these ingredients get to know each other.

In a bigger bowl, add Olive Oil, Tahini and 2 chilled eggs. Use electric blender and mix on medium-high speed for around 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla. Add sugars. Blend for 3 minutes more (give or take) or until the mixture is creamy with no sugary lumps.

Add dry to wet in two steps (add one half of the dry mix to the wet – and mix until 50-70% incorporated…)
Add the rest of the dry and mix until around 70% incorporated. Explanation to follow.

Add 1/2 cup of your preferred chocolate (seriously you can go crazy here with anything; light, dairy milk, dark, unsweetened… sky is the limit…)
Add 1/4 cup thinly sliced (and pitted dates…) or figs.

Mix until all the dry is absorbed and chill in the covered bowl for a minimum of 3 hours – ideally overnight or 12 hours.

Let’s bake…

Cookie sheets should (must) have a layer of parchment paper between the cookie dough and the pans!
I used an ice cream scoop to dose out the dough and this yields jumbo cookies – you have been warned!

You can dress the ready to bake formed dough with flake salt and a slice of date, fig or a lump of chocolate!

Bake for 16 – 18 minutes at 375 degrees (F) or 365 degrees (F) in convection mode.
Pay attention. Cookies are easy to burn.
Transfer to a drying grid as soon as you can handle them – the centre of the cookie may appear a bit “fluid” right out of the oven – but they set when they cool. You can eat them directly out of the oven but be aware of the fact that they are super hot and the chocolate is molten at this point. You have been warned.

Tech notes…

The cornstarch helps keep gluten strands from developing, yielding a chewier cookie.
All olive oils are not equal. I suggest starting with a milder all purpose olive oil.
Chilling overnight is almost a must — for the ingredients to get acquainted and the flavours to develop.


I have made a lot of cookies over the years. These are the closest to Pure gourmet to my taste buds and give me a great template for experimentation. Do watch the video above. There may be some tips I missed.


Vitamix Vegan Avocado and Cacao Pudding · Monday January 31, 2022 by colin newell

Easy dessert - avocado and cocoa pudding

There are few things more fun than the simplicity of a great recipe that whips up quick and satisfies unconditionally.

And for those of you that say, “…hang on! Avocado in a dessert, are you crazy?”

Avocado is a tasty and healthy way to add incredible texture to a pudding or dessert. Trust me.

This dessert comes together quickly with the Vitamix – its texture is Bistro quality and the taste is out of this World!

Let’s go!

Count them – 5 ingredients

2 Avocados, ripe (of course!)

Refrigerated 1/2 cup Almond (or Soy or Oat milk, unsweetened…)

1/2 cup Maple syrup
1/2 cup Cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Garnish – Mint, Chocolate shavings, fresh fruit… Use you imagination.

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend on high until the ingredients have broken down.

Give the pudding a good stir and continue blending until very smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust according to personal preference.

Garnish with shredded dark chocolate, a sprig of mint or a fresh strawberry.

Serves 4 people

Short and sweet – you are welcome!

Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and writer of words, recipes, kitchen inspirations and adult libations. His treatise on the edible and drinkable have populated these parts since the mid-1990’s. Dig in and enjoy.


Gorgonzola and peas in penne pasta - winter home cooking for the holidays · Monday January 3, 2022 by colin newell

Peas, Gogonzola and cream pasts

We have some fav local eateries in Victoria like Cafe BrioIl Covo Trattoria and Zambri’s – they are hard to beat for pure romance on date night. We have been doing a date night for 25+ years and put it down to the love for each other, the love of food and wine or the lack of children — I don’t know. It is a recipe that works for us.

And in this classic and massively tasty recipe (tried here for the first time!) we venture into the world of creamy, herbaceous, lightly seasoned and hugely tasty!

Sidebar on Gorgonzola over here – 100% Worth your time.

The basics

Pasta: We used Penne for this recipe, a tubular pasta that the creamy gorgonzola sauce clings to.
Oil and butter: For cooking. You can just use oil, but butter adds a nice richness.
Onion and garlic: For a nice base layer of flavour. Dice finely so that it mixes in well with the sauce.
Gorgonzola: This is a soft and creamy Italian blue cheese. It is milder in flavor than a hard blue cheese.
Whipping Cream: Use a heavy or whipping thick cream for a thick and rich sauce.
Peas: They add a nutty and herbaceous tang to the dish – as well as fresh parsley
Optional: Walnuts: Walnuts add a great flavor and texture to this pasta recipe, as well as some plant based protein.

Exact Ingredients

6 ounces Penne dried pasta
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion finely diced
2 garlic cloves minced
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces gorgonzola (85g)
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
Optional – 1 cup walnut pieces (125g)
1 cup green peas
Fresh parsley to garnish


Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions.
Cook the peas in the last 2 minutes of the pasta cooking – yes, in the pasts pot! Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, you can start on the blue cheese sauce.
Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet on pot on a medium high heat.
Add in the onion and cook til soft.
Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add in the salt and pepper, pour in the cream and crumble in the gorgonzola.
Simmer at a very low heat, for around 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened.
Add the cooked pasta (and peas) and optional walnuts to the sauce. Toss to combine and coat the pasta.
Serve with a garnish of fresh parsley and serve with some of my legendary focaccia bread

Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and food writer. His blogs go back to 2007 and as always, this food blog has no click bait, crap, ads or amazon links. We respect our readers so we only offer what you are looking for – recipes and no B.S.


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