Eye Spy with My Little Eye Ontario Tomatoes – Time for a BLT
Eye spy with my little eye Ontario Tomatoes and Strawberries! This is the best time of the year for such things. Lovely to taste and behold. Sigh…as a visual person I am constantly on the lookout for eye porn This leads me to a topic so important that I feel compelled to share. Over the years I have neglected my eyes, taking their health for granted. Near-sighted with a marginal need for glasses while driving, I let eye appointments lapse, assuming this was a cost I could afford to put on the back burner.
This year all of that changed. The optometrist performed an eye pressure test, you know the one with the puff of air? The results determined mine was elevated, which can be an indicator of the onset of glaucoma. With a history of eye issues in my family, this hit like a ton of bricks. The doctor recommended having digital retinal imaging to provide a baseline to make sure there was no deterioration of the optic nerve.
Preserving my eyesight is the goal. He said had I waited years to come in, they would not have had the opportunity to get a baseline and it would be difficult to pinpoint the progression of any damage. So, while this was not amazing news – I am happy to report that today my eyes are healthy and I am in a great position to target any future changes and undergo treatment before loss of sight becomes an issue.
We live in a world of such beauty and magnificence I don’t want to miss a minute of it. Don’t skip your eye appointments and get baseline retinal imaging of your eyes. We all hear about heart disease, cancer and strokes – but eye health is sadly under represented. Wish more people were aware of the importance of this issue. Over 2.3 million Americans have glaucoma! Sight loss is preventable with treatment. Live each moment with awareness and appreciation for the many gifts we have and don’t forget that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
With that being said, I am sharing my all time favourite sannie. The one and only BLT. A feast for all of the senses. A good BLT uses tomatoes – A GREAT BLT uses seasonal, local tomatoes. I don’t eat BLTs in the winter. They are simply not the same.
Secrets for a Simply Great BLT:
* Use good quality bread – some of my favourite choices are: seeded flat bagels, challah or pumpernickel. I love it lightly toasted.
* Use good quality double thick bacon and don’t skimp. Nothing worse than a BLT that runs out of bacon crunch! We are lucky to have access to Perth Pork Products. They raise Tamworth pigs which are particularly tasty for smoked meat. Fry bacon until it’s super crisp. No chewy bits for me!
* Use room temperature, thick cut, local, seasonal tomatoes – I love the worn looking heirlooms. There’s nothin’ better.
* Use iceberg lettuce. I’m super old fashioned – the taste – crunch and resilience of iceberg can’t be beat
* Use lots and lots of homemade mayo. Epicurious has a terrific recipe here. If you must use store bought – nothing better than Hellmann’s IMHO.
Chasing the Buzz, Ontario Cherry Cheese Danishes
The buzz – you know that warm feeling you get when something is just too good and your senses are overwhelmed. Maybe it was your first crush or the day you tried something so scrumptious that you were lost of words…or possibly it was that moment when you heard your first opera and the hair stood up on the back of your arms because the beauty of it all was just so….so…….indescribable. Physical reactions where there are plain just no words. These occasions are addictive, so much so that we seek fixes through love, food, music, art, booze and many other means. The irony is – you can’t manufacture those feelings. They are elusive – the perfect storm of emotions and personal experience. It’s hard to believe that these fleeting impulses may have even played a part in altering the course of your life! I know they have mine.
Jack n James Lake Shore Sepia
There are little ways we chase the buzz. You know what I mean…you’re out with friends and have two glasses of that fantastic Amarone. Your feeling toasty and loved. The server comes back and asks “Mam, would you like another glass of wine?” You brain quickly flips through your options – whose he calling mam??!! Hmmm…..Mmmmm more wine, more buzz…no more wine, no more buzz. “More wine please!” Well, we all know how this story ends. There is no getting that initial warm feeling back, yet we will endure the hangover the next day chasing the buzz.
In our family the buzz quite often comes in the form of food, and boy do we have food stories that have reached mythical proportions! Every Sunday my Dad would bring home a selection of danishes from the Viking Bakery in Denville, New Jersey. Oh how I loved that square cardboard box tied up with a red and white string. We all knew that the Cherry Danish was in there somewhere and my brother and I would hover over the top waiting to indulge.
The question I pose – was it the cherry danish or the memory? Sundays were the best and my Dad sure loved those pastries, so I would say it is all about the experience.
In keeping with my predilection for chasing the buzz, I’m baking Ontario Cherry Cheese Danishes. It may not be the Viking Bakery in the late 70′s, but they sure are amazing!
Ontario Cherry Cheese Danish
Rough Puff Pastry Ingredients Per BBC Good Food, Gordon Ramsay:
2 cups white flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup butter (just over) cool to the tough.
1/2 cup ice cold water (just over) – this is an approximate measurement
You can use store bought (in fact that is exactly what I did this weekend! – see below) although I firmly believe that from scratch is almost always superior. Admittedly, this is one of the only areas that I will buy something from the store rather than make my own if pinched for time (the only other exception is phyllo dough). A great way to make your own is to stick to rough puff pastry a la Gordon Ramsay. It’s a great compromise between time consuming puff pastry and store bought sheets.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Break the butter up into small chunks, toss them into the dry ingredients and cut them in. You should see sizable pieces of butter that have not been incorporated.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour 2/3 of the cold water in (add more only if necessary). The dough will be firm and rough. Do not overwork and don’t be fooled. Crumbly is where it’s at! Adding more water will only make it tough. The dough should barely come together. Cover with saran wrap and leave to chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Turn the dough out on a floured board and form into a rectangle. Roll put the dough (in one direction only) until it measures approx. 8 x 20 inches. The rolling and folding process will help the dough come together and become smooth (the dough should be marbled and streaked with the butter pieces). Fold the top 1/3 down to the centre and the bottom third up over that like an envelope, it still might be a bit crumbly don’t worry! Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out to 8 x 20 once again (keeping edges as straight and even as possible and fold once again. Chill for 30 minutes and roll out to use. You could repeat this process with another period of chilling if you want it to be more layered.
1/2 lb softened cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 large egg yolk (save the white for the egg wash)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth.
No Recipe Cherry Jam Per David Lebovitz
3 lbs Cherries pitted (cut some and leave some whole)
2 lemons juiced and zested
I love this jam recipe, but you will only you a fraction of it for these danishes if you opt for 3 pounds of cherries. Having cherry jam on hand is well worth the extra pitting. BTW invest in a pitter! It makes life so much easier.
In a large non reactive pan add the cherries, lemon juice and zest and cook over medium heat until they are soft. This process may take up to 20 minutes. Add the sugar (3/4 of the amount of cherries you have in the pan). So if you have 4 cups of wilted cherries add 3 cups of sugar. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook until jam thickens. If your spatula is coated it means you are getting close. David recommends freezing a white plate and when you think the jam is done spoon on some of the juice, return the freezer. A few minutes later if the juice wrinkles the jam is done.
Putting together the Danishes:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry dough on a lightly floured surface (I used two sheets of store bought). You can make any number of shapes. Use your imagination. For me, a simple square cut pastry with the edges brought into centre worked best. I was left with 8 largish Danishes after using two sheets of puff pastry. Before you bring the corners into the middle add a dallop of cream cheese filling and followed by a dallop of cherry preserves. How much you use really depends on taste and the size of the danish. Bring the corners of pastry in. Wash with reserved egg white and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes or until pastry is light golden brown.
On the Road to Normal – Rhubarb, Strawberry & Red Wine Marang Tarta
What is normal anyway? “Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”. Uhrm well can’t say I have ever fit into those 8 words. In fact challenging norms has been the name of the game for decades. I always held the belief that lurking somewhere in the dark recesses of every town there lies some sort undiscovered perfection. Families that thrive in the world of light. You know the ones where the Mom and Dad speak softly with authority and the pristine children glow with inner warmth and understanding that there are lessons to be learned through the utterance of pearls of wisdom. The house sparkles, you can eat off the floors and of course guests are always welcome, treated to home cooked meals and lilting conversations that inevitably end in peals of laughter.
Road to Normal
Well THIS is most definitely not my area of expertise. For many years I have tried to figure out how my own twisted path through the woods would dovetail into the Road to Normal. Hey don’t get me wrong, I love a challenging hike, but I kinda think I missed something along the way looking for that damned mythical road. The holy gosh darned grail. When you get there you will of course just know. Happily freaking ever after. Oh yeah, and then you actually live a real life full of love, hate, kindness, brutality, fidelity, infidelity, balance and imbalance, black, white, yin & yang. The summits we climb are death defying, literally and figuratively. The valleys we fall into can be full of thorny brush or fragrant flowers, but through it all we live an incredible life that has nothing to with fairy tales.
I am pissed at Walt Disney, the after school specials and Julia Roberts. Hey man, this is a hell of a lot harder than I was led to believe and I want my money back All joking aside, if I accomplish one thing in my life it will be to let my kids know that you don’t need fairy tales or the Road to Normal to be happy. Life is meant to be unreasonable and we are meant to grab it by the bollocks. It’s the only way to squeeze out every last drop of your all too short experience.
Peace, love and good food.
PS: Let’s get unreasonable with some seasonal Rhubarb and Strawberry Tarta
Rhubarb, Strawberry & Red Wine Marang Tarta
Rhubarb, Strawberry & Red Wine Compote Ingredients inspired by David Lebovitz
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cups full bodied red wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 lbs rhubarb
1 lb strawberries quartered
This will provide way too much compote for your purposes but I highly suggest making the whole batch and indulging in this wonderful treat throughout the week. Spread it on toast, swirl it into yogurt….it’s one of those things that is too good not to make too much. Prepare your rhubarb by trimming and cutting into 3 inch long pieces. The width should relatively uniform and is suggested at 1/2 inch.
Strawberries, Rhubarb, Red Wine & Marang
Bring the water, wine, sugar and honey to a simmer in a large saucepan, then add the rhubarb and cook until just softened. Mine too about 12 minutes (this can vary – so eep an eye on it). I then add the strawberries – stir until all of the fruit is covered in syrup. Put the compote in the fridge overnight to chill. If you find the compote is too runny – which I did (but only just slightly) you can drain a bit of the fluid off.
Marang Tarta as inspired by the Swede and Sour Kitchen
Yellow Cake Ingredients:
1/2 cup of butter (just shy), softened
1/2 cup of sugar (just over)
5 egg yolks
1/4 scant cup milk
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5 egg whites
1 cup (just shy) sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 cups heavy organic cream
Rhubarb & Strawberry Red Wine Compote to taste
Prepare a cookie sheet by buttering and lining with parchment paper. Be sure to do this in advance as you don’t want this cake to stick. It will never come out. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Yellow Cake Instructions:
In a medium bowl cream the butter and sugar until light. Add yolks one at a time beating well after each addition and then add milk and almond extract. Sift flour baking powder and salt together. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Spread the batter even over the cookie sheet. I found this to be a little tough as the batter is super thin. Be sure to spread it as evenly as possible – going to the edges of the pan.
Cake in a Sea of Marang
In a clean metal bowl (I like to wipe mine out with lemon juice to make sure there is no residual oil) whip eggs whites 1/2 of the sugar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the rest of the sugar as you beat on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form. Smooth the marang on the top of yellow cake batter and top with the flaked almonds. I love to make it swirly but don’t go too crazy because the layers will have to be stacked. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Be careful where you place the rack. You don’t want to burn the bottom so I chose a higher placement. Cool the Marang on a wire rack and cut in half. Tae first layer and place it marang side down and spread with the whipped cream and strawberry, rhubarb & red wine compote. Cover with second layer marang side up. Serve immediately.
Slice of Marang Tarta
Drowning Sadness in Maple Syrup Goodness – Pancakes
“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
It’s a beautifully brutal world. I hesitated before writing this post. Our dog Stella died this week and it sucked. There seems to be an unspoken aversion to dealing with sadness in our society. It’s bizarre because we are immersed and steeped in unspeakable images and news. Bombarded with stories of tragedy, war, hunger and global warming. Yet in our daily lives we are awash with sanitized gestures and pictures. “Have a nice day!” is uttered almost mindlessly and the question “how are you?” is answered with an pre-programmed “Fine”, “Good” or “Great”. I always wondered what people would do if you answered honesty – “Well I actually my day sucked, my dog died.”…or… “I am so incredibly bored by this conversation and just want to go home and have a glass of that wine you just sold me…so hurry up with that receipt.”
magnolia leaves on grass
These interactions are indicative of the overriding fact our society is becoming increasingly unwoven. The threads picked apart by our dependence on social media and handheld devices instead of community. One of the most wonderful things that happened to our family all week came from neighbors we hardly knew. Upon finding out about Stella’s death they sent my kids a poem on loss. A beautiful, simple acknowledgment of our sadness.
When did happiness become so gosh darned important? Success! Love! Smiles and kittens! I call BS. Life is so much more complicated, thank God. Surrounding those momentary glimpses of happiness is real life. Monotony, indifference, exhaustion, sadness, depression, insecurity, frailty, frustration and anger. All valid and important ingredients. Without these feelings there would be no poetry, art, music, food, introspection or forward momentum. Just a world of automatic responses, photoshopped images, happy tweets and vapid Facebook postings covering up a world of alienation .
Why are we encouraged to share only the sweetest moments? Births are celebrated, beginnings and youth. What about the endings, aging and **gasp** sadness? No one wants to be Debbie Downer – but why is this something that even occurred to me? My dog died this week and our hearts are broken. The end of a 12 year life that added so much more to our family than we could ever acknowledge and the loss of her is a painful and difficult thing. The world is peppered and punctuated by such endings. By far the hardest part of a life well lived is allowing yourself the freedom to love with total abandon with full disclosure that one day you will have to say “Good-Bye”. Everyone leaves in the end. Is this such a bad thing? If nothing else it’s real.
So in a nutshell I’m super sad. So what to do? Make pancakes. It’s as simple as that. I will drown my sadness in maple syrup goodness.
Some with Buckwheat some without
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c buckwheat flour
2 cups milk (just over)
3 Tbsp butter (melted and cooled)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 free range egg
Sift together dry ingredients. In a cast iron pan on medium heat melt some additional butter. When it starts to sizzle just a bit you are ready to mix the wet ingredients together with a whisk and then quickly combine with the dry ingredients. I try to stir the batter minimally – and I don’t mind if there are a few lumps. Ladle into the waiting pan. When bubbles rise and break the surface you are read to flip the pancakes. I personally add a bit of butter to the pan each time I make a pancake. This may not be the healthiest option but it gives the exterior of the pancake a nice crisp buttery flavor. Serve immediately with pure maple syrup – or if you are Simon add some chocolate chips (I personally like fruit).
I make these pancakes without a recipe so this is me trying to put it together for the internet. We play with combinations of flours and thickness, you should do the same! It’s fun to experiment. Frankly we like ours on the flatter side and I have a tendency to add more milk depending on the feel of the batter. I used to associate fluffy pancakes with success but my son Simon told me quite frankly that he prefers the thinner lighter version. Anyway in my house these equal love. Plus Stella enjoyed getting the scraps Jack would jettison from his highchair.
Takin’ the Choke Out of Artichoke – Creamed Artichokes & Potatoes
High Park In the Spring
CHOKE. We’ve all done it. That moment in time when you’re struggling with an uphill battle and there are no guarantees. Suddenly it hits you like a ton of bricks…you are taking on a nearly impossible task. Obstacles to be transcended, burning muscles to work through – insecurities to absorb, accept and free. Yet deep in your heart you know you can’t get to the good stuff by skipping the hard work.
Ugh. Many moons ago I was a singer in a band. Singing was a lifelong dream and it seemed finally I had overcome the fears that had held me back from belting it out on stage. After months of practice, song writing and sweat…and with the aid of a couple of pints downed moments before a gig (??) I was perfectly fine….ummmm yeah that’s it…puuuurrrrfectly fine…or not! My last gig was at the Hotel Utah in San Francisco. It was the largest venue I had ever played and quite simply I CHOKED. Yup. Just stopped singing and stood gaping at the crowd. Luckily that second pint set in and I managed to limp through the rest of the show. But that was it, I quit singing then and there. Sigh.
My biggest hurdle was comparison. There are singers out there who can blow your socks off without a second thought. Sound and soul that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. My point of reference was always Mahalia Jackson. Surely if you cannot evoke that sort of reaction in people you don’t belong up on a stage. Well let me tell you that is complete and utter bollocks! After 44 years I finally know and accept that my gifts are completely unique and cannot be replicated or offered by anyone other than me! Which is super special. The good news is I’ve gotten back to my music and have decided to share it on MMH this year. It’s never too late
This revelation took a long time but accepting the fact that there is no such thing as perfection has taken the pressure off nearly everything. Am I the best singer, photographer, baker, writer, mom, friend, partner, sister or daughter? Nope. Not possible – and you know what those sure are a lot of hats to wear. It would be exhausting to even try. I’ve just accepted that the best things in life are hard to get to and very far from what your expectations might be.
Artichokes – case in point. They are a pain in the arse. We are in the middle of artichoke season right now. Is it worthwhile to take the choke out of the artichoke? It sure is. Those prickly tough little suckers offer up one of the seasons finest flavours. Do the work and don’t let the choke stop ya!
How to Take the Choke Outta the Artichoke
Artichokes are delicate little creatures. After you bring them home they can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Taking the choke out of the artichoke and trimming them takes quite a bit of work, but it’s worth it. Make sure you have a large bowl filled with cold water and the juice of a lemon next to you before embarking on this process. Artichokes turn brown at record speed. As soon as you start to peel them they will start to change colour. In order to avoid this you need to put the artichoke hearts in water as soon as possible.
Start this process by pulling off the green spiny outer leaves to expose the paler yellow leaves. Then take a sharp knife and cut the top off the artichoke (about one inch in). Trim the end off the stem and with a paring knife trim the tough outside layer off the stem and underside of the artichoke heart. For this recipe I did not use the leaves, only the heart so it was easier for me to take the choke out (you can just cut it off with a knife). If you prefer to use the tender leaves cut the artichoke in half and scoop the choke out with a melon baller or spoon. There are some terrific illustrated directions on BonAppetit.com
Creamed Artichoke Hearts and Potato with Tarragon
4 large artichokes
1/4 C fresh tarragon leaves (you can use dried)
1 large onion sliced chopped
2 cups white potatoes cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces
2 cloves garlic
1 cup white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
3 Tbsp chicken schmaltz (fat) – You can substitute butter but it’s not as good
Preheat oven to 425F.
Taking the Choke Out of the Artichoke
Prepare the artichoke as I direct above.
In a cast iron pan heat chicken schmaltz. When fat is shimmering add the onions, garlic, sliced artichokes and potatoes. Saute on medium heat until the onions and artichokes are lightly golden or about 10-15 minutes. Set the artichokes mixture aside and deglaze the pan with white wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Then add the cream, stock, tarragon and salt. Add the artichoke mixture and and roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until the potatoes and artichokes are golden and liquid has been mostly absorbed.
Creamed Artichoke Hearts and Potatoes with Tarragon
Stevia is the New Sugar
Do you guys watch Orange is the New Black? There are only a few made for TV shows I like: Breaking Bad, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. I love that show and can’t wait for Season 2! It’s a little confection that spins very human stories in a jailhouse setting. It’s uber compulsive watching. Anyway I diverge as usual from the food at hand. For MMH this spring season – sugar is the new Stevia. Sugar is ubiquitous. Even if you think you are not indulging you may be surprised by the unexpected Trojan horses that carry that little bugger.
Spring is Here!
For the past month and two weeks I have been completely sugar free, although fruit sources have not been eliminated entirely. This is the first time I have managed to do this for such a prolonged period and to be completely honest with you…falling off the wagon became a reality whilst creating a passover dessert. I cut a small slice of a dark chocolate ganache tart and quickly devoured it. The next day after a raging headache I decided that going back to my evil ways is most definitely not an option.
Chocolate Tart Hell
Over the past few weeks I have been experimenting to see if it is possible to make super tasty desserts without my friend “Mr. White’. Eating clean does not have to be boring, bland or lacking. Unfortunately it’s been pounded into our heads that sugar, dairy and refined flours need to be part of an exciting and thrilling menu. Cookies, cakes cheeses cream sauces the list goes on. So far I have managed to develop six weeks of amazingly diverse dinner, lunch and brekkie recipes without using any of these things. Do I miss sugar, dairy, coffee and refined flours? Sure. Do I feel better after not having them for prolonged period – a resounding yes!
Over the past year I suffered from headaches, bloating and joint pain that inspired this decision – most of these symptoms are now gone. I am fitter and have more energy. This period has permanently changed my culinary leanings. Does that mean no more chocolate fudge? Certainly not, all work and no play makes MMH dull. But it becomes more and more difficult to promote a lifestyle that makes many people, including myself, feel less than well.
Here is my first attempt at creating a dessert where refined sugar is absolutely NOT missed. If you have friends or family members that have diabetes, autoimmune issues, gluten egg and/or dairy sensitivity this may be a go to dessert for you. It does have a nut topping that contains coconut nectar that can eliminated, although it does add something special to this dessert as a whole. I am interested in your input. Let me know what you think about sugar and its prevalence in our culture. I personally think it needs to be put in its place and Stevia is a great start.
Aduki Bean Brownies with Cashew Coconut Fondant
1 can Eden Brand Organic Azkui Beans
drained and rinsed (this saves making bean paste from scratch)
2 ripe bananas
4 sachets of organic non bitter stevia (you could use up to 6)
1/3 cup cocoa
5 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup of gluten free oat flour
3/4 cup dairy free dark chocolate chips
If you have been following MMH you know there is already a bean brownie recipe. This is an improvement on the original. I wanted something without refined sugar that was super chocolatey and moist. The original recipe was developed because my son has a dairy sensitivity. Over the past month I got to thinking – what about a recipe that contains minimal sugar….is it possible to make something that the kids will adore? Over the past year I have tried this recipe with eggs, without eggs, switching flour and sweetening methods. As you can see down below on test recipes one and two two the results varies considerably in terms of taste and texture. After a few misstep we finally have a winner. Stevia does not suit everything and I have found it tastes much better if supported by a natural sugar like banana. This recipe is super quick and easy and the results are magic.
We just got a vitamix but you can use a standard blender. Add beans, bananas, coconut oil, cocoa, salt and vanilla. Whip until uniform and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and fold in oat flour, baking powder and chocolate chips. Scoop into an 8 x 8 pan lined with parchment and bake at 350 degrees until the batter looks dry (about 20 – 25 minutes). Do not over cook. Cool and remove parchment.
Cashew and Coconut Fondant inspired by Detoxinista
1/2 cup cashew nut butter
1/2 cup coconut butter
5 tbsp coconut nectar
I got this recipe from a friend on the internet for faux cadbury cream eggs (Detoxinista used maple syrup). It was soooo delicious that I knew it would make the perfect frosting for these brownies. Coconut nectar is amazing it has a glycemic index value of of 35 (low) as opposed to sugar at 60 , Agave at 42 and honey at 55. It retains much of its nutritional value. It is high in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron and is a natural source of the vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. Sugar is sugar and I wanted to minimize it period – so I kept it light. Whip the ingredients together with an immersion blender. Spread on top of the brownies. You may have to pat the fondant down a bit to achieve a smooth look. Cut and serve knowing you have done your best to provide a healthy and nutritious treat. xo mmh
Cashew Butter Coconut Fondant Made w. Coconut Nectar
I’m a Bitch and I Kinda Like It, Farinata with Olives, Onions & Sage
Jesus, Mary & Joseph. You are probably scratching your heads and wondering what’s up with the title to this post. Well I am officially a bitch – and I kinda like it – dare I say it aloud? Meredith Brooks said it best in “Nothing in Between”:
I’m a bitch, I’m a lover
I’m a child, I’m a mother
I’m a sinner, I’m a saint
I do not feel ashamed
After feeling sluggish, run down and basically gray after a very long and stressful winter I opted to do a cleanse. This diet eliminates all the fun in life: no coffee, no sugar, no gluten, no dairy, no potatoes NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOO!!!! It’s all for the greater good but right now it feels like a bit of a slog to be frank.
Being a foodie this is extraordinarily difficult. Organic, local, sustainable are all buzzwords – and we do our best to eat healthy but the ugly truth is I love gluten, dairy, sugar and coffee. Giving up these aspects of food has been crazy hard. Headaches, exhaustion and cravings for the first week. Not to mention becoming a crazy beeeyotch. Have sympathy for anyone living under this roof. However I found some solace in raging moodiness. Being a bitch isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are positives that come with the territory. You will NOT cut in front of me in line! Oh no you won’t! and I will let you know what I think, whether you like it or not! Bwhahahahaha. It’s been just a wee bit liberating
So this bitch is bringing you Farinata with Olives, Onions & Sage. Gluten and Dairy free but full of taste. Cleanse or no cleanse this is on my permanent menu.
Farinata with Sage Olives and Onions
Farinata with Olives, Sage & Onions
adapted from David Lebovitz Socca Recipe
with inspiration from the Rose Pistola’s Farinata Recipe
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil,batter
1 tablespoon olive oil, onions
2 tablespoons olive oil, frying
1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
30 pitted Niçoise olives
30 sage leaves
Additional sea salt and olive oil for serving
In a medium bowl whisk together the chickpea flower, water, salt and 2 tablespoons of oil. Let batter rest for 2 hours. Do not refrigerate – best to keep the bowl covered at room temperature.
Thinly slice onion. Bring a cast iron pan to medium heat and fry until lightly golden and tender. Halve the olives. When you are ready to make the farinata turn the broiler on with a 10 inch cast iron pan inside. Use about 1 tablespoon of oil to grease the pan. When the pan is sizzling hot take it out of the oven and ladle enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Quickly toss on about 1/2 the onions olives and sage (1/3 if you can make thin pancakes). Return to the oven and cook for about 5 minutes or until the farinata starts to blister and brown. I was only able to get 2, 10 inch slightly thicker pancakes but I imagine if you were good at making them you would get more. Toss w. salt and a sprinkling of olive oil. Serve immediately.
Farinata with Olives, Sage & Onions
Maturity Is Completely Overrated…? Asparagus & Lemon Zest
Cherry Blossom Weather
I love old things – wine, cheese, pictures, houses etc. Nothing in this abode is new except a couch…oh yes and a coffee table that sits upended in my bedroom because dangerous edges and 2 year olds don’t mix. Anywho, “old” and I get along famously, and at 44 that’s a good thing;) Consider but for a moment Julia Child – she was in her late 40’s??! when a lifetime of food, recipes and personality hit the world stage. She changed the face of food in North America forever. In 1949 she enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu. Oh yes, she was 37 back in the days when that was ancient. Oh how I love to page through From Julia Child’s Kitchen and actually see her lovely strong, weathered hands on the pages. No models, no photoshop, just the lady and her food.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published in 1961 making her nearly 50. Go Julia!
Julia Child’s Hands – Via Julia Child’s Kitchen $%^# Photoshop
Love that fact. Truly. Bah humbug to those of you who say one should age gracefully. What the hell does that mean anyway? Anyone who says that clearly doesn’t understand the art of staying young. You are what you think. If you think you are old and mid life is a time for winding down then you will do just that. Throw out those sensible shoes (unless you truly need ‘em), outdated ideas and embrace that inner kid.
Not Quite There Yet
My Grandma once said that she passed by her hall mirror and wondered who the hell that old lady was in her house – upon second glance she realized it was her. Ahaha. Grandma being Grandma said “Well I always feel 20 something so it was a bit if a shock.” It is my full intention to remain responsibly immature. Pay yer bills, floss yer teeth (and yes keeping your teeth helps) and take care of yer business but NEVER, EVER grow up. You never know what amazing things are just around the corner.
In light of all that is spring and in honour of all that ageless MMH is making Julia’s Asparagus and Lemon Zest. Bon Appetit!
Aspargus, EVOO & Lemon Zest
Asparagus, EVOO and Lemon Zest – Adapted from “From Julia Child’s Kitchen”
24 thin asparagus spears
1/3 cup good quality olive oil
1 zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon peppercorn
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh minced parsley
The original recipe is much more complicated and requires marination and substantial cooking. I wanted to keep this super simple and springy – I also really like my asparagus quite firm. In a large cast iron skillet add olive oil and bring heat to medium. You do not want to cook olive oil on high heat. Place asparagus spears in pan and lightly sautee for 5 – 7 minutes. Salt, pepper and then sprinkle on lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley. Easy, healthy and very tasty.
Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/julia-childs-asparagus-simmered-in-onions-garlic-and-lemon-403650?oc=linkback
White Lines – Budwig Cottage Cheese Flax Seed Oil Cream
Ice n’ Stuff
Grrrrrr! As a devoted winter lovin’ gal – I’ve hit a wall. Another -15C day here in Toronto and our icy sidewalk is once again in need of a shoveling. It’s been one of those strange winters. Colds, flu, croup, ice storms, power outages, burst water tanks, sick pets, exploding engines and windshields. Not necessarily a period in time that will be missed here on Beresford Avenue. Maybe things would be different if we had access to powdery slopes and expendable money to enjoy some serious apres ski. The reality – there is white as far as the eyes can see and cabin fever has set in – along with a serious hankerin’ for the deliciously succulent fresh fruit and veg delivered courtesy of Ontario’s sultry summers. I’m dreaming of a ripe heirloom tomata’….Do you think a song has ever been written about that? Hmmmmm
This brings me to hibernation and the heavy fare winter brings. Not sure about you – but when the cold weather arrives the first thing I do is reach for a glass of red wine, rich stew and a quilt. What’s more romantic that snuggling in front of a wood burning stove and watching the snow fall outside the window? Hell, it’s March and that time has passed – although you wouldn’t know it.
Cold has a way of seeping into ‘yer bones. To warm up – many of us opt for all those yummy things that may not be so healthy. Spring is a natural time for cleansing – preparation for those sleeveless – bathing suited summers. Ayurveda encourages one to embark on cleansing eating and living when the seasons change – so Spring is the ideal time for a healthy switch. Over the next few months MMH will be delivering some lighter options that don’t include my little white demons – refined sugar and flour. In fact I am banning all sugar items for one full month
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate of balance. There will be no juice fasting on these pages! Frankly I don’t believe in them. Just some good old fashioned healthy eating. I could go on about the dangers of sugar – and I for one am guilty of pushing it, being foodblogger with a propensity to whip up little confections that are in no way. shape or form good for you. **Sigh** Food. It’s my weakness. As Grandmaster Flash would say:
“Twice as sweet as sugar, twice as bitter as salt
And if you get hooked, baby, it’s nobody else’s fault, so don’t do it!”
But let’s include one last white dish as an ode to the Winter of 2014 – and guess what? It’s healthy so not all white food is bad!:
Cottage Cheese and Flax Oil
Budwig Cottage Cheese Flax Seed Oil Cream
6 Tbsp Lowfat Organic Cottage Cheese (I prefer pressed)
3 Tbsp Flax Seed Oil (Cold Pressed Organic)
1 Tbsp Organic Flax Seeds Ground
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tsp Raw Local Honey
Handful of fruit
With an immersion blender emulsify the cottage cheese and flax oil. Add banana, honey and vanilla. The result will be a lovely rich cream. It truly is deeeeelicious. Warning: if you use regular cottage cheese it will be thinner and saltier. Pressed cottage cheese is divine and will look like the cream below. You can play around with this recipe. Sometimes I add blueberries or strawberries instead of banana. You could also try almond extract or any number of other ingredients. Then top with freshly ground flax seed. One thing to remember – flax seeds when ground retain their positive attributes for a very short time. Do not pre-grind them and try to eat within 10 minutes of grinding them for optimum results. This emulsion allows the flax seed to be easily absorbed by your system. The Budwig protocol is said to be an anti-cancer diet. Dr. Budwig, a German biochemist, found that the blood of cancer patients was deficient in phosphatides and lipoproteins. She created a diet that included this cream to address this issue. No matter what you believe Budwig Cottage Cheese Flax Seed Oil Cream is a wonderful way to incorporate flax seed oil into your diet.
Pressed Cottage Cheese Budwig Cream
Magic, Toronto Blueberry Buns & The Harbord Bakery
Magic – it’s everywhere. Those moments that cannot be captured with words, food, photographs or paint. The things that just are. For me it’s all too easy to rush through mornings overlooking the twinkle of golden that is over almost as quickly as it began. With a million little fires to put out, slowing down can seem like a pain in the arse. BUT – there is nothing quite like becoming part of this beautiful – rugged – messy – tough old world.
Recently my momma and I compiled all of my old addresses for a Canadian citizenship application. It’s hard to believe but I resided in over 30 various houses, apartments and couches in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Indiana, California, London – England and Toronto – Ontario?! hahahaha I was wondering what the hell the government employee that got my application thought?? Maybe I don’t want to know…as a matter of fact I still have not heard from them…hmmmm. Gypsy life is instinctive as I have no idea what it would be like to have a hometown. It must be nice to have that security, a high school reunion that is unmissable and local spots you can call your own. For me new places – the taste of the water and the smell of the air is addictive. To this day MLS holds the key to treasures and possibilities yet unexplored.
Finding magic in each and every new place helps make big transitions easier. Kids get that in a way that adults unfortunately “unlearn” over the years. They live in a world where everything is possible. We all need a dose of that! Toronto holds many such treasures for me and the Harbord Bakery is particularly golden. It was established in 1945 by the Kosower family who run it as a family business to this day. Rafi and Susan still adhere to the original recipes and welcome each and every customer like a member of their own family. When we lived on Borden Street, my son Simon and I would grab a loaf of Challah, a cherry danish, a tuna sandwich and if we were very, very lucky – and it ’twas the season – a Toronto blueberry bun. We still trek all the way to the Annex to catch up with them. Here is my ode the Harbord Bakery. If you are ever in the area it’s not to be missed.
The Harbord Bakery
Toronto Blueberry Buns (schritzlach) with Frangelico adapted from the Joy of Kosher by Jamie Geller
Toronto Wild Blueberry Buns With Frangelico
1 (1 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour (the original recipe calls for 1/2 all purpose and 1/2 wheat – I did not do this)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter (the original asked for margarine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups frozen wild blueberries (we are out of season and I am not a fan of the blueberries that resemble grapes!)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water (I preferred my filling thicker than the original recipe)
2 Tbsp of Frangelico
1/4 teaspoon salt
Bun Glaze Ingredients
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1/4 cup maple sugar
* Preheat oven to 375 degrees
The key to these buns is thinly rolled out dough. If you don’t take time with this – they will turn out “bready”. Also, just to warn you – the directions make more blueberry filling that you will need. This is NOT a bad thing as it tastes great on toast! I prepared the filling first so it is cooled and ready for the dough.
In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and add the sugar, dissolved corn starch, Frangelico, salt and blueberries. Simmer on a medium low heat until the mixture thickens. Let cool before you fill the buns. The Frangelico adds a subtle toasted hazelnut flavour that goes really well with the blueberries in my humble opinion.
Toronto Blueberry Buns
In a small bowl mix the yeast and water together, wait until the mixture activates (or bubbles). This should take about 5 minutes. In a Kitchenaid mixer add the sifted dry ingredient, then add the butter, yeast/water mixture, eggs and vanilla. Beat the dough until it is satiny. Let the dough stand for about 30 minutes before rolling it out.
Turn the dough out on to a well floured area and roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. NO THICKER! The dough should be cut into 5 inch squares. Put 1 tbsp of filling in the centre of each square. Warning – do not overfill no matter how tempted you may be. The buns will split open and make a burned mess. Fold the squares in half and pinch closed with the tines of a fork. Be diligent when you do this – again this will seal the filling in to prevent spillage. Cover the buns with a tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Before you bake them – brush with the egg glaze and sprinkle with maple sugar. Bake until golden about 15 minutes.
Toronto Blueberry Buns
I Should Have Been a Homesteader…Sort of….
Homesteader Wanna Be?
Have you ever seen Alaska: The Last Frontier? If you haven’t – check it out. When I first started watching it I had no idea that it was Jewel Kilcher’s family. The show documents a year in the life of Alaskan homesteaders, graphically illustrating what it takes to live in a brutal climate with few mod-cons. It’s riveting – or at least the first season was. The dedication it takes to be self-sufficient in a world that is increasingly detached from its roots is fascinating. By the end of the first three episodes I had decided that it was time to pack up and move to Alaska!
13 years ago I decided to move to Vermont to start an organic farm. My Mom’s side of the family started out as farmers in rural upstate New York so the idea has always appealed. There is nothing like hard work and long hours to make for good sleep! The fantasy included a colonial farmhouse with enough land for some sheep, a few cows, chickens and a horse. That same year a move did happen – but I ended up in New York City instead!….and that detail alone illustrates in a nutshell why my organic farming ambitions never came to fruition.
Ahaha. Do you ever feel like a split personality? On the one hand a hankering to commune with nature, toil in the fields and reap what you sow: fresh food that you have grown, clean air, plenty of space to run and play…and on the other hand a love for all that is man-made culture: restaurants, museums, the energy exuded from the unknown faces of passing strangers and fruit and veg from distant shores? How to reconcile this dichotomy? There are times as a city dweller that the need to reach out for the that big hard sun becomes overwhelming.
Big Hard Sun
…but without mod-cons I would miss out some pretty amazing things – like the bright, crispness of seasonal lemons in the middle of a super bleak winter. A conundrum indeed. In honour of my current life as a city dweller – I am sending you thoughts of sunshine and far away beaches. I love the fact that in North America, February is still citrus season. It comes at a time when there is a dearth of fresh fruit and veg. It’s so wonderful to be able to cut into a lemon and have the juice shower over your skin. Such a quick and easy way to clear up the cold and clouds. My favourite lemon treat in the winter is lemon curd cheesecake.
Lemon Curd Cheesecake
Lemon Curd Cheesecake Recipe Based on My Adaptation of Lindy’s Cheesecake
My fave cheesecake of all time is Lindy’s. Is there anything better than a NYC cheesecake? The details of this recipe are on a Springtime post located here: MMH’s Lindy’s Cheesecake. In terms of timing I would prepare the curd first – then the crust and finally the batter.
Ina Garten’s Lemon Curd, Courtesy of the Food Network
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
I used a zester to remove the zest of 4 lemons. Add the zest and sugar to a food processor and pulse until the zest is completely pulverized. Put the butter, sugar/lemon mixture into a Kitchen Aid bowl and cream until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the lemon juice and salt. In a 2 quart saucepan warm the mixture over low heat until it thickens. Be careful. If you don’t stir the sauce constantly it will turn into lemon scrambled eggs. You can use a thermometer to determine when the curd is done (170 degrees). Refrigerate until cool. I love this stuff. You can use it in so many different ways! How ’bout on toast w. a cup of tea?
Lemon Curd Marbled
Lemon Cheesecake Directions
After you make the curd and the crust. Mix the cheesecake ingredients together. When you are done marble 2/3 of the curd mixture into the cheesecake batter. I marbled it in the middle – added a layer of batter and then marbled more on the top. Looking back it may be better to stick to marbling in the middle as it can cause you cake to crack a bit more w. the curd on top. This wasn’t too much of an issue as most of the cracking went away after the cake cooled. Finally take the final 1/3 of curd and glaze the top of the cake before serving. The small cracks in the top of the cheesecake in fact allowed the curd to penetrate a bit more. Decorate with candied lemon slices. Add a little zing to your cold winter days. You can’t go wrong!
Slice of Lemon Curd Cheesecake
* I used candied lemons to decorate this cheesecake. They add nothing to the flavour for me personally (shhhhh, in fact I take them off)…but they sure are purty Here is the recipe if you are a fan of sweet and bitter candies. There are a lot of different ways to do this on the web. I personally like this method best. Boiling the slices gets rid of some of the bitterness. Remember these babies need some time to rest. They will not be crispy and will retain a bit of moisture. If you want, you could bake them in an oven on low heat for a few minutes to dry them a bit. I recommend making them 24 hours in advance.
The Grid That Stole Christmas – Ribs en Papillote
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Jack Frost had his 15 minutes of fame this Christmas. 2013 will go down as one of the worst ice storms to hit Ontario. Like many significant events it started inauspiciously. Have you ever noticed that the things you worry about rarely come to fruition? It’s those strange, out of the blue occurrences that hit you like a ton of bricks. It all started with the sound of snow shovels at midnight and a flickering of the lights. In a matter of hours we went from mundane normalcy to uprooting everyone to keep from freezing in sub-zero temperatures. With no gas or wood burning fire staying at home with a 22 month old was not fathomable.
Stella Ward Lloyd – My Great Grandmother
Our holiday food went bad – our plans fell flat. This storm was a b!tch but it forced us to think about just how unprepared we actually were. In my great, great grandmother’s era a storm like this would not have packed such a wallop. Why? Because they were better prepared: wood and coal burning fireplaces, preserved foods and a lack of dependence on the grid empowered them to help themselves. Climate change and increasingly lethal storms make it SO important for us to reassess our readiness for events like this. Hand crank radios and flash lights, bottled water, sleeping bags, nonperishable food items and most importantly a plan to connect with your own personal grid – family, friends and neighbours. The only grid that you really can depend on at the end of the day. This will not be the last time something like this happens. It should serve as a wake up call to each and everyone of us. Preparedness is key – especially if you have dependents. Bug out bags are not just for survivalists.
It’s Not Just Ribbons and Wrapping
Ahahaha the look on Jack’s face is classic. He is over it! The holidays are about so much more than the tinsel, trimmings, gift giving and feasting. Our time together this Christmas was stressful – but we connected in ways we might not have if the power stayed on. When our neighbours called with the news that power had been restored – we greeted the them with a resounding cheer! Every morning since the blackout I marvel at the luxury of a warm house, the sweet joy of my morning coffee and the amazing abilities of the internet….Now to figure out how we can make a difference with our power consumption. The sustainability of our lifestyle and getting off the grid has taken on new meaning.
Keeping Busy After the Storm
All in all, this Christmas was most certainly different for us – but it emphasized the importance of the simple things we take for granted daily. A warm room, fresh clean water to drink, the occasional glass of wine, healthy food and most importantly friends and family. We are ever so thankful to our family for helping us manage 72 hours of lights out – and of course to the men and women at Toronto Hydro (and those who made the trip to assist) who gave up their holiday celebrations to make sure that the majority of Toronto had lights and heat before Christmas Day. As I write this one week later 6,000! Torontonians are still without power. We send out heartfelt well wishes to them.
May 2014 bring each and every one of you a newly restored connection to your personal grid!
Now back to the food! We planned to have an unorthodox dinner on Christmas Day as my sister-in-law was preparing a traditional turkey on Christmas Eve. Little did we know just how unorthodox our meals would be. After days of eating greasy take away, store bought cookies and – cringe – sour cream and onion potato chips – and my dirty little secret – radioactive Doritos (hey you take what you can get)! Our holiday climaxed with some glow in the dark sweet and sour pork from the only place open in our neighbourhood SO I will share with you the planned dinner! Back to homemade fare.
Barbequed Ribs en Papillote
2 sides of pork ribs
Barbeque sauce of choice (everyone has there own idea of what they like!)
This recipe is the result of running out of tin foil! Now it is the only way I make oven cooked ribs. They turn out perfect – moist and tender – every single time. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the ribs on an oven broiler tray. Baste them liberally with your sauce of choice. My family likes tomato ketchup spiked with vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, molasses and red pepper flakes which I cook until thick. Enclose the removable top portion of the tray with parchment paper, using the edge of the tray to seal it. Cook for just over 2 hours. My oven is completely out of whack so this can fluctuate by 30 mins in our house. You do not have to take off the parchment paper to test for readiness – just push your finger into the meat towards the thickest section. If it feels tender the ribs are done. Let stand for 10 minutes after you remove them from the oven. Then baste with additional sauce before serving.
We like to serve the ribs with homemade coleslaw and Dill Fingerling Potato Salad. These recipes will be forthcoming when the weather warms up a bit.
Moist and Tender with Fingerling Potato Salad
Happy 1st Birthday MMH – Parmesan, Rosemary Eggs in a Hole
A Little Bit of This a Little Bit of That
At the end of December we take an accounting of what the prior 12 months have doled out. Losses, gains, happiness, sadness, hilarity, enlightenment, fear and contentment? But one thing holds true – the universe has an objective for each and everyone one of us – and we are simply not invited to the planning session Most posts at this time of the year are about holiday celebrations. This posting is about reflection. 2013 has been that sort of year for us.
A Day In Our Life
Every day presents opportunities where we personally can make a difference – as fortune cookie cutter as that may sound – it’s something I deeply believe. This December Nelson Mandela moved on from our world to another. His death made me think about the loss of the people, places and things that move us. As a 43, almost 44 year old woman my legacy becomes increasingly important. Honouring those who have imprinted themselves on my being, people who have helped to shape my thoughts and actions has taken on new meaning. The process of trying to create something of substance in my tiny microcosm is equal parts terrifying and inspiring.
James, Jack n Sy
This brings me to a quote that is often attributed to Nelson Mandela (It is actually by Marianne Williamson – A Return to Love). We should all pin up on our bedroom doors. Her words hit a chord and every time I read them there is something more.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson – A Return to Love
Thank you so much each and everyone of you for sharing your light and beauty with me. I say !&*?*!?$ it. Dance in your kitchen, sing in the market, own your beauty and make 2014 the best year ever! No matter what the universe has in store we have the strength to make our personal journey special in every way. Now on w. the food! Parmesan, Rosemary Eggs in a Hole.
Parmesan, Rosemary Eggs in a Hole
4 Thick Cut Slices of Bread
4 Free Range Eggs
1/2 Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
1 Sprig Rosemary
2 Tablespoons Butter
Salt to taste
Homemade Bread Parmesan Rosemary Eggs in a Hole
Melt butter in cast iron skillet heated on a medium flame. Make sure your pan in good and hot. Cut an egg size hole in the centre of your slice of bread (approximately 2 inches in diameter depending on thickness of bread). The bread is of importance in this recipe. I make my own so it is yeasty and super tasty. Generic store bought bread simply does not yield the results I am looking for w. this dish.
I use a cookie cutter to make cute shapes for the kids.Place the four slices down on the buttered skillet and fry for 1 minute. Crack an egg and fill the hole. Fry until the lower part of the white is opaque. You will still have some uncooked white and the yolk should still be runny. This will take just under 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of Parmesan and flip carefully. This gives the toast a wonderful cheesy texture and flavour. Leave the toast for 1 minute and 1/2 before lifting out of the skillet. You can cook longer if you like a firmer yolk. Toss one tablespoon of parmesan studded with chopped fresh rosemary on each slice before serving.
Easy, flavourful and fun.
Parmesan Rosemary Eggs in Hole
Tartine Croissants , Some Things are Perfect Just the Way They Are
Jack in Fall Leaves
Winter has arrived in Toronto! I am so excited, snow white days and icy crisp air are my fave. There is nothing like jumping into a cold bed covered in quilts and snuggling down for a good night sleep. Ahhhh. The only thing missing in our house is a wood burning fireplace – to have a glass of red wine and read a good book by of course. Sigh, maybe one day. Unbelievably December has arrived, bringing with it the festive and joyful spirit of the holidays. Our family is multicultural so we get to celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas. The festival of lights and Santa Claus? It doesn’t get better than that. Join MMH as we cook up all kinds of holiday goodies from fudge to mandelbrot!
Icy River in Ancaster
Tartine Croissants – The Perfect Treat
Speaking of food….have you ever noticed that some things are just perfect the way they are? If you have been reading my blog for any period of time you will have noticed my penchant for innovation when it comes to recipes, but there are some exceptions to my experimental kitchen. Croissants are one of them. I am not sure why people don’t make them more often as there is nothing like eating a croissant fresh out of the oven. Health-wise I would not recommend doing this more than a few times a year. The amount of butter required to achieve those achingly thin, flaky, browned layers is criminal. BUT. It is well worth making them from scratch if you are going to indulge – unless you have a bakery like Patisserie 27 around the corner that can make you a super good one without the time and effort
My mind is cluttered with food related memories, so it would be impossible and impractical to record them all on my blog. Stand out moments, for me, consist of a few common elements: Happiness, taste bud thrilling vittles and a memorable person, place or thing. One of the finest food memories I have involves croissants from Tartine in San Francisco. These croissants were so scrumptious that I walked 4 miles (round trip) for three days in a row to enjoy a Tartine croissant and coffee in Dolorus Park. Sublime.
So this posting is an ode to Tartine croissants. There are simply perfect. You can find the recipe in their cookbook or there are some great directions online @ Apt.2B. They are not as difficult to make as one is led to believe. These babies need time and patience aplenty though. I allocate 2 days to the process and it’s worth it! Enjoy:)
Croissant Making Tips:
1. Use weight not volume in terms of measurements. DO NOT convert into cups. Get a scale.
2. The quality of your butter MATTERS (they are not all created equally). Plugra is a great choice.
3. Make sure the butter is malleable but not soft. You should be able to work with it without having it shatter but it should remain COLD during the lamination process. You can roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper and measure to fit your dough if you feel nervous about doing it free hand. I used a spatula to help me layer it on the dough. This is a good video on how to laminate the dough.
4. Roll the croissants tightly.
4. Proof the dough between 78 – 80 degrees. If the croissants get too hot the butter will melt between the layers ruining the final result. This process will take about 2 – 2 1/2 hours and the croissants should double and look puffy. If you do not proof long enough the butter will run out of the dough in the cooking process.
5. Trim the edges of the dough when you make your turns. Makes for better layers.
6. I do a double egg wash. The croissants can dry out during the proofing process humidity is important. If you brush them when they are formed this will help keep the dough retain its moisture – you can do a second wash when you bake.
7. Make sure the oven is hot and ready for the croissants.
Regret Nothing! Brown Sugar Tahini Cookies with Rosemary
This guy missed the cut – left him in the toaster for too long;)
Regrets are for the birds. I regret nothing as a rule. Does that sound unapologetic? If so, then good;) It’s not an easy stance to take living in such a guilt riddled world. There are entire industries based on regret….lalalalalalala. I am virtually clapping my hands over my ears. hahaha. Anyway this week I am taking a page out of the Edith Piaf handbook, “Je ne regrette rein”.
Mistakes. They are wonderful. They lead to amazing discoveries and adventures. Marching to the beat of the same drummer translates into absolutely nothing interesting happening. What a bland, vanilla world it would be – and anyway who would determine what tune to march to? That little detail is scary as hell. If Rob Ford has a 40% approval rating then clearly we don’t all see things in the same light. Ahhhh Mr. Rob Ford comes up yet again. Promise no more mentions of him in the future….unless of course something even more scintillating inspires me. Let’s hope not!
So here’s to falling off the wagon. Here’s to making mistakes. Here’s to embracing our differences. Here’s to learning, growing and evolving.
Jack Frost Nipping @ My Windshield
So back to food. This week my family unanimously rejected my cookie experiment. Me? Not so much. I loved ‘em. There is a cookbook called Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. They share a recipe for tahini cookies. You can check out the New York Times article about the cookbook here. I changed it up a bit by introducing Rosemary and replacing white superfine sugar with organic brown. Anyway, long story short, these are terrific cookies. In their original or amended form. *word of advice if you don’t like Rosemary or herby, sweet confections, stick to flavouring them with orange zest, almond extract, nutmeg or the original cinnamon!
Brown Sugar Tahini Cookies with Rosemary
Brown Sugar Tahini Cookies with Rosemary (as adapted from Eating from the Ground Up (using recipe from Jerusalem)
2/3 cup organic brown sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup tahini paste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 teaspoons heavy cream
2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Yes it’s a high temperature…and yes this means you will have to watch the cookies to make sure they do not burn. Using a Kitchen Aid (or whatever you have handy) on medium speed mix together the butter and sugar until well blended. This should take about a minute. I erred on the side of beating this mixture more rather than less as it lightened a bit with time. Then add the vanilla, cream, rosemary and tahini paste. This is where I went off course. I misread the recipe and also did not have heavy cream. So I added 4 tablespoons of half and half. Because I cook mainly by feel and rely less on measurement I added a bit more flour to compensate. To be frank I am not at all sure whether this changed the texture of these cookies. I will make another test batch today to see and will update this recipe with the results. When in doubt refer to the original recipe I included above.
Brown Sugar Tahini Cookies with Rosemary
Add the flour and knead the dough until it is smooth on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 of an inch thickness and cut with your choice of cookie cutter. I lined the cookie sheet with parchment and baked for a little less than the recommended time. approximately 10 minutes. If you are looking for something a little different and enjoy shortbread”esque” cookies – then this is the recipe for you.