Monthly Archives: August 2014

French Toast and Farmer’s Markets

I woke up this morning and asked the DH what he’d like for breakfast, oatmeal pancakes or sour milk pancakes. He said oatmeal. Then I looked at what I had in the kitchen and decided we were having French toast. Executive decisions. I make them.

I went to a farmer’s market yesterday with a friend and picked up a lovely loaf of egg bread. I think it may have been somewhat mislabelled, because it was really more of a brioche loaf than egg bread. I realized this when I made myself a sandwich with some smoked mozzarella that I had picked up on the same shopping trip, and then also tried to make myself an open-faced bocconcini and grape tomato sandwich. (It was a successful shopping trip for a foodie, can you tell?) But the bread was just a tad too sweet for a hearty sandwich.

My friend said it would make a great bread pudding, and she’s right, but I’m not much of a bread pudding person, so French toast it is! Les ingredients, mes amis:

Ingredients! I have them.

Ingredients! I have them.

French Toast

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 slices bread (whatever is in the house)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Butter (It’s a Good Thing)

Mix up eggs, milk, and vanilla. Melt butter in a frying pan on medium to medium-high heat. Dip bread in the mixture and fry until each side is golden brown. Sprinkle with icing sugar and sliced fruit, or whatever you have lying around. Impress family. Eat.

Frying me up some French toast!

Frying me up some French toast!

After I cooked it all up, I thought that adding a bit of zested citrus might have been a nice touch, so I recommend that. The DH decided that melted smoked mozzarella would be a nice touch, so he enjoyed that, while I looked on, askance at the mixing of sweet and hearty. Do you have any French toast variations that you like? Let me know in the comments!

Et voila! It's breakfast, baby!

Et voila! It’s breakfast, baby!

Next Post: Pie Odyssey. Really! Truly! If we buy more peaches. (I ate them all. Again.)

Memories of Meals Past: Berry Crostada with Vanilla Ice Cream

Ok, so I want to try a different sort of throwback Thursday thingy. I’m going to post a picture of a dish that I’ve made, along with a link to the recipe (if I can find the recipe!) so you can make it too. And if I don’t have a link, I’ll ask for yays or nays in the comments on whether to make a post about how to make that particular dish a blog post in itself.

Today’s picture: Berry Crostada with Vanilla Ice Cream! Sooo good! I used this recipe as a starting point, for the crust, and then just added whatever fruit I had in my freezer. I had blueberries and strawberries, so berry crostada it was! And it’s in keeping with the recent Pie Crust Odyssey theme!

I sometimes notice that when I take fruit out of the freezer, it seems to get extra liquidy when I cook it. I’m not entirely sure why. Does the water from washing them before freezing, unless I towel dry them, make for extra liquid when cooking? Whatever the reason, that was the case here. It was just too liquidy a filling, so I added a bunch more cornstarch. And flour. I didn’t realize that cooking the cornstarch/flour would make it thicker, so I made a filling I thought was properly thick, and then added it to the crust and baked it.

A  filling that was a tad gelatinous was my result! Ah well, it’s always an experiment. Still super delicious! The cornmeal in the crust made for a particularly flaky pie. You can even see the flakiness in the photo. Was soooo good!

Want! Pie! Now! Also ice cream.

Want! Pie! Now! Also ice cream.

If you guys try this recipe out, let me know in the comments! Also tell me why frozen berries get extra watery when defrosted. Thanking you in advance,

I remain,

Chief Cook and Bottlewasher

Next Post: Pie Odyssey continues, for realz this time.

Easiest Pizza Dough Recipe in the History of Ever

You thought I was going to post a pie recipe? Bwahahaha! No! Well, actually, yes, but pizza pie, not pie crust pie. I like to switch things up like that. Also, I didn’t have the peaches that I wanted to use to make peach pie, because…I ate them. The DH did not believe me, but eat them I did. All of them. They were delicious. Reminds me of that William Carlos Williams poem.

Today, dear readers, I have the easiest pizza dough recipe ever. I cannot emphasize this enough. Think you’ve got a great old standby? I dare you to try this one. It’s better! No kneading and no (gasp!) waiting for the dough to rise, if you can believe it. You can make this with regular flour or whole wheat flour or some combination thereof (you use what you’ve got!). You can make pizzas or empanadas with the dough (I’ve done both), you can freeze the dough and let it thaw and use it, and you can make the pizza and freeze it and then thaw it and bake it. In other words, it’s a super-easy, super-flexible recipe. So let’s make us some dough!

Mise en place(-ish)

Mise en place(-ish)

Basically, you just mix up all the ingredients and let the dough sit for 5 minutes. Or not. If you like a thinner crust, don’t let it sit, and if you like thick crust pizza, let it sit until puffy. I just let it sit while I turn on the oven and prepare the toppings, so really I let it sit for 5 minutes.

The Official Recipe:

Easiest Pizza Dough Ever

  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) quick active dry yeast
  • 1 c warm water
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (or veg. oil. You use what you’ve got!)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add rest of ingredients. Mix it up in a mixer (or hand mix. I’ve done both). Let sit for 5 minutes, while you prep your toppings. Oil a pizza tray and sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on it before you spread out the dough, for that super-fancy pants look. Spread tomato sauce on dough, and add whatever toppings your heart desires (or, as I do, whatever toppings are in the fridge), and pop in a 425 degree oven until the crust is golden and the cheese melted. Eat. Burp in contentment.

Cheesy goodness! (I couldn't resist)

Cheesy goodness! (I couldn’t resist)

Was that not the easiest pizza dough in the history of ever? I made a hamburger pizza recently, using leftover crumbled breakfast sausage (veg, of course) and black olives (I had it in the fridge so I tossed it on). So. Good. *drools remembering that epic pizza*

In my family, it’s a tradition that the birthday person gets to choose a special dinner menu on their birthday. My mum always used to choose this pizza, but Mediterranean-style, with sliced zucchini, crumbled ground beef, black olives, crumbled feta cheese, and a lot of basil. No tomato sauce, but a chopped tomato instead. It’s healthy, and really delicious!

Try out the recipe and let me your variation in the comments!

Next Post:Pie Odyssey, 2014′ continues, and where I find recipes.

A Pie Crust Odyssey: Meatpies! (Vegetarian-Style)

I’ve been in search of a good pie crust recipe for a long time now, one that’s just flaky enough, is buttery, and still holds together when you try to take a slice out of a pie plate. As I’m sure you all know, shortening makes for a very flaky crust, butter makes for a very tasty crust, and vodka makes for a very…wait, back it up a minute, vodka?!?

Yup! The classic pie dough recipe has a pretty set ratio of flour to fat to liquid. Vodka, because it helps hold the fat and flour together, but doesn’t affect the gluten and evaporates when baking, helps make for a very flaky crust. So, let’s make a vodka pie crust! I’ll be trying different crust recipes in later posts, to try and find the best tasting but still flaky one. For today though, bring on the vodka!

The recipe, m’dears:

Vodka Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 6 tbsp. butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 c. shortening, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp. cold water
  • 2 tbsp. cold vodka

Mix 3/4 cup flour with the salt and sugar in a mixer. Add in the butter and shortening and mix until the fat is in small chunks and there is no loose flour. Add remaining flour and mix until just mixed — don’t over-mix it, or the dough will become tough when cooked. Add in the water and vodka (perhaps take a swig yourself?), and mix until just mixed — again, be careful not to over-mix it.  Shape it into a ball, flatten it slightly, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 45 minutes min. (Chilling the dough makes for a flakier crust. Do I always chill it? No. But it does make it flakier!)

Roll it on out, baby!

Roll it on out, baby!

I once had a pie party. Quoi, you ask? A party, where it’s all about the pies! I made apple pies and stuck a happy birthday pick into one to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Today though, we’re making individual meat pies! Or more correctly, vegetarian meat pies. I had some dried TVP (textured vegetable protein) lying around the house that I had bought from Bulk Barn one time, and I added it to a brown gravy packet (I know! It’s not from scratch! But given that I use a gravy mix packet about once a year, I’m ok with that.) and voila, vegetarian meat pie filling! You’ll be hard pressed to differentiate it from a real meat pie.

Meat Pie Filling

  • 1/2 c TVP (easily found at bulk stores)
  • water to reconstitute the TVP
  • Knorr Gravy Packet (or whatever gravy packet you find)

Reconstitute the TVP according to the instructions (basically, pour boiling water over it and let it sit). While it’s soaking up that water, make the gravy (basically, add water to packet and put in microwave for a few minutes, stirring every minute). Mix TVP and gravy together. Ta da! Filling is done.

Fill 'er up!

Fill ‘er up!

Vegetarian Meat Pies

  • 1 recipe vodka pie crust
  • 1 recipe meat pie filling

Take the pie dough from the fridge and cut it into six pieces. Take one piece out and put the rest back in the fridge. Roll out that one piece to about 1/8 inch thick. Use a mug turned upside down to cut out a circle. Take that circle and press it into a muffin pan. Add a scoop of meat pie filling. Take the pie dough scraps from the same first piece of dough, and roll it out into a circle. Add that to the top of your pie-in-a-muffin-cup, and pinch the edges together. Cut a cross in the top to let the steam escape. Repeat with remaining 5 pie dough pieces. Bake in a 450 degree oven until the tops are golden brown. Cool on a rack and remove. Eat. Sigh in ecstasy. Accept accolades as your due.  Makes 6 mini meat pies.

Buttery, meaty goodness!

Buttery, meaty goodness!

I love these pies, guys! They’re so freaking adorable! And sooooo delicious! I’ve packed two up for lunch for the DH and I for tomorrow, and stuck two in the freezer for lunches some other time, and the remaining two…have been happily consumed by me. 🙂 I did let the DH have a bite though. I’m sweet like that.

Oh, one last tip, as you take out the pies from the oven, it’s crucial to let them sit and cool before removing them. The tops of the crust may separate from the bottom because the filling is bubbling away, but as it cools, the gravy will act as glue and stick them back together again. This dough holds together really well, and you can even cut the meat pies in half once they’re cold, and the pastry won’t fall apart.

Try these pies out — people will be super-impressed and you’ll love the flavour. Let me know in the comments what you think!

Next PostThe Pie Odyssey Continues, and why mentoring is A Good Thing.

Poundcake Smackdown: The winner is…

Last night after work I came home and started on the second of the pound cake recipes, the one that I found on the back of a notecard. I followed the recipe pretty closely, although I was a bit surprised at the amount of sugar it asked for,  2 1/4 cups.

I did make one “mistake” though, and that was to microwave the butter to make it soft. I forgot that about 15 seconds is all the butter from the fridge needs in order to make it room temperature (sometimes 20 seconds) and left it in there for 30 seconds. Well. Puddle o’ butter! I know that once butter is melted, it doesn’t solidify back into butter, it’s sort of more like ghee, but I thought, eh, good enough, and dumped it in the mixer.

 Land o' buttery lakes!


Land o’ buttery lakes!

The recipe called for “the grated zest of 1 orange, 1 lemon, and 1 lime”. I zested a lime and a giant clementine, after thoroughly washing them (ideally, zested fruit should be organic. Who wants zested pesticides?) and then juiced them and saved the juice for the glaze. I dumped the zest in with the rest of the ingredients and mixed it all up! I tasted the batter…so good! The clementine zest was a great idea, making it more citrusy and less all.about.the.lemon. I ignored the recipe calling for 1 teaspoon of lemon extract, because I don’t have any, so whatevs.

Still Life in Citrus

Still Life in Citrus

Before I tell you how the recipe turned out, let me give you the recipe! This recipe is adapted from one from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (which one, I don’t know, am copying that right off the notecard).  The recipe, m’dears:

Sour Cream Lemon & Clementine Pound Cake with Glaze

  • 1 cup butter (the recipe called for unsalted butter, but eh. I don’t care.)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt, baking powder, and baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • grated zest of 2-3 citrus fruits (you use what you have!)

Cream the butter and sugar together, and when all fluffy and yellow looking, add the eggs one at a time. Mix the wet ingredients together in one bowl and the dry ingredients together in another and add them to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, alternating between the two. Pour into a greased 6-cup Bundt cake pan and bake for about 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

When cool, glaze.

Glaze

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 c citrus juice (from your zested fruit)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix it all up. Pour over top of cooled cake.

You know how the recipe said to use a Bundt cake pan? Well, I wanted to make this for the DH to take to work but I needed to taste-test it myself and I can’t exactly take a slice out of a Bundt cake and then send the rest in with the hubby (“Here’s a cake. Minus a slice. Enjoy!”) so I used a loaf pan and a half-pan of mini Bundt cake shapes, thinking I’ll eat the mini Bundts and the DH’s office can have a nice, big loaf.

Well. Do NOT do that. The recipe really makes at least two loaves, so when I poured most of the batter into one loaf pan, it baked up. And over. And onto the oven grating. And piled up in a crispy baked pile of dripped  batter on the bottom of the oven. (Which reminds me, I should clean that up. Eh. Tomorrow!) And to make it worse, the centre didn’t set! I don’t think it was the just that I put too much batter in the loaf pan, I really think the recipe was not the best to start with. So I had a loaf that was liquid in the centre, crispy on the edges, and stuck in the pan everywhere.

But did I fret? Did I despair? No! (Actually, I kind of did fret.) I let it sit in the pan to cool, thinking it would firm up a bit. And it did, although I still had to spoon out the uncooked batter from the centre! Then I couldn’t get it out of the pan. Until I sort of sawed off the edges and ran a plastic knife around the loaf before turning it out onto a cooling rack. I looked at it. I asked myself, can this cake be saved? I thought…trifle! So I tore up the cake into small chunks, stuck in the fridge and went to bed. I was tired. It was midnight. And this baker needs her beauty sleep.

Today after work, I bounced home and started to make the trifle. Or at least, a version of it, using whatever I had lying around in the kitchen. Which is sort of how I cook. (What’s on sale? What do I have in my kitchen? Let’s get cooking!) I don’t have a glass trifle container so I used chunky wine glasses, parfait-style, used some of the strawberry-peach jam that I wrote about in my previous post, some berries, and some whipping cream, and voila! Fresh Fruit Poundcake Parfait!

So deliciously chilled!

So deliciously chilled!

The DH thoroughly enjoyed his, which made me happy, and I was glad that the cake didn’t go to waste. I hate wasting food. There’s still some pound cake left and I shall probably freeze that to make cake pops sometime.  Waste not, want not! Also cake pops = delicious. And easy to stick in the freezer to pull out for company. Bonus!

The verdict: So. Who was the winner? I didn’t expect this (you all probably did), but…Martha! I loved the flavour and the moistness and although it seemed like a bit more work to add in the syrup step, it was definitely worth it for the added moistness. The candied lemon slices I’d skip, though. The recipe that I tried today was too egg-y for my taste and just…not the best, despite appearing light and fluffy. I also think the glaze recipe makes too much. So if you want to make a lemon pound cake, definitely use Martha’s recipe! Don’t expect it to last long, though, as people will gobble it up!

Next Post: In search of the perfect pie crust! Or, meaty adventures.