The Pleasures of Still Learning to Cook

Per La Famiglia by Emily Richards: Cookbook Spotlight & Giveaway

Family friendly Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta

Family friendly Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta – recipe is available in Emily Richard’s book Per La Famiglia

It seems as though I’ve been learning to cook my whole life, including now. I remember making pancakes with my Grandma and her telling me that they were ready to flip when you saw the bubbles on top. I have no recollection on whether she used a mix or it was from scratch but it didn’t matter one bit. I remember making a sweet and faintly lemon flavoured bread with my mom and her showing me how the yeast foams up. I most keenly remember the most beautiful of all baking fragrances, freshly baking bread. My mom would cut the bread into slices and spread butter on it for us that would melt with the heat of the bake still deep within the bread.

As I got older, I had more hands on cooking experience. My mom was very trusting and let me use the big knife when I felt ready. She would leave a simple recipe for spaghetti sauce that I would make after school all on my own. There weren’t a lot of details as she knew I would just get it done. I forever appreciate that faith she had in me to cook a full family meal at age 11.

I loved watching cooking shows for as long as I can remember. The introduction of the Food Network was a real boon for my beloved cooking show addiction. The year I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) was also the year Food Network Canada replaced the American version on cable. This was the year that I discovered Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver. It was also the year that Canadian Living Cooks graced my television and I first met Emily Richards through the tv screen. She was part of a trio of cooks on the show who greatly impacted my home cooking education by showing me how to make many dishes that were ambitious for me at the time.

I never would have imagined when I was sat in my apartment living room watching her on a 13″ tv that I would be in Emily Richard’s kitchen years later with her personally teach me and my friends how to make her family’s recipes for ricotta gnocchi. Emily invited a group of us over to her house where I not only met her lovely family, but her dad showed us how to make the most delicious sausages. Both the gnocchi recipe and the sausage recipe are in her new book, Per La Famiglia. 

Photo Credit: Libby Roach Learning to make gnocchi with Heather

Photo Credit: Libby Roach
Learning to make gnocchi with Heather, aka The Tasty Gardener, in Emily Richard’s kitchen.

I had made a rather pathetic attempt to make gnocchi years ago but with Emily’s guidance and recipe I was able to make gnocchi at home that were not only light as pillows, but they contained a whole tub of spinach that my both my sons ate! Yes, my Captain Pickypants son Timothy ate spinach and asked for more.

Gnocchi Rolled out before cutting

Photo Credit: Libby Roach
The gnocchi is rolled out to the right circumference by Emily. It is ready to be cut into delicious gnocchi.

From her book I have also made the Egg and Raisin Bread, the Prosciutto and Ricotta Chicken Roll Ups, and the Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta. All of the recipes that I’ve made have been absolutely delicious. The whole family has enjoyed every one.

The Egg and Raisin Bread is calling my name again to be made this weekend. The recipe contains a good amount of sugar, eggs, and butter which makes it a bit of a tricky dough. If you haven’t made bread before, I don’t recommend that it be your first ever bread. Eggs, sugar, and butter all add some challenges with rising, kneading, and gluten development. If you are familiar with the quirks of enriched breads then go for it. You will love the sweetness, gentle orange flavour from the orange zest, and the beauty of braided, burnished loaves gracing your kitchen counter.

I am highlighting the Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta today as part of a cookbook spotlight/blog hop with a slew of my blogger friends. I made it the other day. It was such a pleasure to put together and it was a great weeknight meal. The hands on time was pretty quick and while it baked in the oven, I could do most of the washing up. In my view, if a dish can be called a weeknight meal it must have a low clean-up level in addition to getting on the table in a reasonable amount of time. I made the sauce in my cast iron enamelled sauté pan, so I didn’t transfer it to a casserole dish for baking which lessened the number of dishes to wash up.

When I learned that Emily was coming out with another cookbook, I put it on my Christmas list. My husband knows me well, and made sure to get me a copy. This book was lovingly written by Emily, as evidenced by the charming stories about her family history that introduce many chapters and recipes.

This cookbook spotlight is to give a grateful nod to a woman who has been teaching me to cook unbeknownst to her for more years than we’d both care to acknowledge. Learning from cooking shows and cookbooks are as important a part of my culinary education as learning to cook from my mom. Now that cooking shows have all but gone the way of the dodo, cookbooks and the cooking tips that my mom keeps in her back pocket and divvies out now and then just to keep me on my toes are how I keep learning.

My compatriots have made a variety of the recipes in the book, including several which the recipe has been released for republication by the publisher. I have noted the posts that include the recipes. Be sure to visit every post and read about each recipe so that you get as complete a review of the book as possible. I encourage you to buy the book but I do feel it is important to know whether you will cook many recipes from a book you buy. As part of the blog hop there is the very attractive bonus of a prize pack if you enter the Rafflecopter giveaway (below). There is only one giveaway but you increase your chance of winning by visiting each participating blogger.

Amanda of Once Upon A Recipe made Balsamic Roasted Pear Wedges with Prosciutto
Brittany of My Daily Randomness made Tiramisu
Carole of Yum Yum Factor made Pickled Eggplant
Chrissie of The Busy Baker made Amaretti Cookies (recipe included)
Gwen of Devour and Conquer made Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter
Heather of The Tasty Gardener made Squash and Hazelnut Rotelle/Polenta with Sausage and Rapini
Julie of Dinner With Julie made Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi (recipe included)
Kelly of made Roasted Tomatoes
Kristy of She Eats made Egg and Raisin Bread (recipe included)
Libby of Libby Roach Photography made Nonna Ortenzia’s Meatballs
Nancy of Gotta Get Baked made Hazelnut Chocolate Filled Cookies
Nicole of Culinary Cool made Spinach Ricotta Cannelloni
Tiffany of Eating Niagara made Potato Doughnuts

Jenny of The Brunette Baker made Ricotta Cannoli (recipe included)


We are giving away a copy of Emily’s book Per La Famiglia, three Microplane graters, and a gnocchi board. Enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below. 

Disclosure: I received Emily’s book Per La Famiglia as a Christmas gift from my husband. If I didn’t have a copy already I would have gladly taken up White Cap Books on their offer of a copy of the book. 

To enter the contest leave a comment with your favourite cooking show, old or new. Then be sure to go to the widget to click on the required buttons and enter the info needed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to all legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside. 

Void in Quebec. 
No purchase necessary to enter. 
Giveaway will run from Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 12:01am to end on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 11:59pm. Winner is chosen at random via Rafflecopter. Winner will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to respond.  If not, a new winner will be chosen. Winner selected MUST correctly answer a skill-testing mathematical question. Winner’s name will be displayed on Rafflecopter widget. Email address will never be given out to any third party or anyone for that matter. 
Prize value is approximately $75CDN.

Careful, Canning is Addictive


  1. says

    I used to watch Canadian Living Cooks all the time too! This pasta looks incredible, and I'm glad Captain is enjoying the recipes from the book as well!
  2. says

    An enjoyable read. The first cooking show that I watched was "The Galloping Gourmet" with Graham Kerr. He always had a glass of white wine on the go. Pretty out there that long ago on TV. I am certainly dating myself. haha
  3. says

    I love this story. Funny how things come full circle. On that note, I think some gnocchi is in order tonight. No spinach but maybe I can use up the kale in my fridge.
  4. says

    The Food Network was always on when I had cable. Sadly I don't anymore and I really miss watching all of those shows! This recipe sounds and looks awesome! Looks like the perfect weeknight meal!
  5. says

    (I'm having trouble posting a comment, so you'll have to excuse me if you get multiple ones, sorry! :( ) I don't really watch much TV but I do enjoy MasterChef Junior .. that's a cooking show, right? ;)


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