recipe

I almost want to hide the fact that the theme of this post is “Gluten Free”

Let’s not get into a big debate about gluten hype. You all know I adore the stuff. But my daughter, who I love more than bread, has recently become (thanks to a nasty virus), gluten intolerant. We are all hoping it is temporary, but in the meantime, life, and a delicious one, must go on.

My baking adaptations have been…uneven. I have determined that the best two “all-purpose” gluten-free flours are Bob’s Red Mill BLUE LABEL (the red label one is pretty icky), and Maison Canelle All-Purpose.

So far, I can say that both flours can be used exactly as my regular wheat AP, and things turn out ok. Anything cakey is perfect the first day, but gets gritty if it sits around. Cookies are fine.

This week I have decided to make Gluten Free Hamentashen, Challah, and Sticky Toffee Cake. The cookies and cake are regular recipes, and the “Challah” is one specifically for Gluten Free flours.

I am intrigued to see how restaurants adapt to this food restriction. Whether it is to beat wheat bellies, or to accommodate true allergies and intolerances, many restaurants and bakeries are offering “glutard” options (no, it isn’t politically correct, but come on, it is kinda funny).  A few weekends ago in NYC, we noticed Les Halles offers a gluten-free (I will just use GF, ok?) menu. Great – we sat down, and looked at the breakfast selections. Eggs and toast. French toast. Um, server, are we missing something? “You can have a fruit cup”. NEXT…

Friedman’s Lunch (one in Chelsea Market and one on W. 31st.) does it right. Can you say chicken and waffles? Pancakes? GF reuben sandwich (yes, the toast did crumble).

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Want something a little less sinful? Bistango offers a full selection of Italian-esque GF deliciousness. Meatballs without breadcrumbs, great GF pastas, and yes, desserts. All choices were seriously good, on their own merits, and not just because they had GF options.

Perfect GF pasta

Perfect GF pasta

If budget is not a concern (to put it mildly) , 11 Madison Park (3 Michelin stars) makes GF adaptations of everything they serve.

One of these things is NOT like the other...

One of these things is NOT like the other…

my baking report: the hamentashen were ok, but not easy to fold. Nice thought, not worth redoing. Or taking a photo!

The sticky pudding cake recipe is a winner – gluten free or not. Here is the original recipe from Bonnie Stern:

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING WITH BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE

3/4 lb pitted dates (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3  eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (regular or gluten-free)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Butterscotch sauce:

3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed

The recipe mentions serving it with additional whipped cream, but I never do!

Butter a 9″ springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, or bake individual cakes in 12 muffin pans

  1. Combine dates and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add baking soda and let rest 5 minutes. Puree. Let it cool.
  2. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs one at a time. Whisk flour with baking powder and salt. Gently fold into batter alternately with dates, starting and ending with the flour. Transfer to prepared pan.
  3. Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. (Muffin sized ones usually take about 25 -30 minutes.)
  4. Meanwhile, while cake is in the oven, make the sauce by combining sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer gently 5 minutes until slightly thickened.
  5. When the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, then prick holes and drizzle half the sauce over the top
  6. When serving,  drizzle with remaining butterscotch sauce and if you want to, some whipped cream.

 

Makes 10 to 12 servings

and now…..

GLUTEN-FREE CHALLAH

The following recipe is courtesy of www.glutenfreegirls.blogspot.ca so thank you.

The Challah is worth tweaking – next time I will replace some of the sugar and water with honey, just so it tastes a bit more like my “standard”.  That said, it is probably the tastiest “white bread” I have eaten in a long time. It is delicious toasted, and incredibly, it is NOT crumbly!

seriously rising

seriously rising

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2 cups rice flour (I used almost half and half brown and white rice flours)

1 3/4 cups tapioca flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons sugar

3 teaspoons xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup lukewarm water

1 cup lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

4 tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

4 eggs

sesame seeds, poppy seeds or my favourite, pearl sugar (optional)

 

  1. In mixer, combine the flours, 1/4 c sugar, xantham gum, and salt.
  2. Dissolve the 2 tsp sugar in the 2/3 cup of water and mix in the yeast. In a separate bowl combine the butter with the additional 1 cup water and vinegar.
  3. With mixer on low speed, blend the dry ingredients. Slowly add the butter/water mixture. Blend in the eggs, 1 at a time. The dough should feel slightly warm. Pour the yeast mixture into the ingredients in the bowl and beat at the highest speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Place the bowl in a warm spot, cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel, and let rise approximately 1 hour.
  5. Return the dough to the mixer and beat on high for 3 minutes. Spoon the dough into a greased, floured loaf pan. Fill 2/3 full, you may bake the remainder in greased muffin tins, etc. (or make all rolls~about 18). Sprinkle tops with sesame seeds. Let the dough rise until it is slightly above the tops of the pans, about 45-60 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 F and bake the large loaf for approximately 1 hour. Bake the rolls 25 minutes.

Personally, I think the bigger loaves taste much better, but try it out and see!

 

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Place + People + Vision = MAGIC

I have had the privilege of a wonderful summer of travel. To celebrate a momentous anniversary, we planned 2 trips. One to Italy to “re-live” our honeymoon, but with our grown kids this time, and the second to Fogo Island with dear friends.

Italy was wonderful. The Art. The Food (simple is really the best if simple is perfect, which of course it is, even if simple can be difficult since there is no hiding behind fancy cover-ups). The Wines. The Architecture. Positano. I am sincere in my love for that country and its people. My husband jokes that I must have been Italian in a past life.

Next…I have looked forward to visiting Fogo Island since I heard about it in 2008. Initially I saw images of artist studios and heard that a woman who grew up there was behind the project. I added it onto a list of places I’d like to visit. I was enamored by the idea, and the images. Fast forward to last year, when we were travel-planning with friends and all completed the sentence “Next Fall, let’s go to….” with “Fogo Island!”

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Travel planning was simple enough. Fly, rent a car, and get there. Stay at the recently completed Fogo Island Inn, again a product of “the woman who left and went back.” As our trip approached, I started reading a bit more about our upcoming trip. I realized we were in for a treat. This was more than a beautiful hotel on an island that appreciates art. This project is a model for getting it right, on so many levels.

My life will never be the same. I am now a Canadian who understands my country differently, and am the quickest to say that the nicest people in our country of nice people are Newfoundlanders, and the nicest Newfoundlanders are those from Fogo Island!

I was going to start this part of the story with the basics. How Fogo Island sits off the Northeastern coast of Newfoundland, has a population today of 2800 which is less than half of what it was in the 1950’s when the cod fishery still existed. No, that isn’t a typo. Once the “big boats” came from all over the world and emptied the ocean of fish in international waters, and decimated the inland cod stocks, local fishermen came in with empty nets. The story has a formal end with a moratorium in 1992, directly or indirectly impacting every resident of Fogo Island.

Instead, I am going to quote the Fogo Island Inn’s website, where the following is explained:

Somewhere in-between land and sea is where you’ll find our vision for a better future. More than a place, the Fogo Island Inn is part of a groundbreaking model for community innovation and cultural resilience.

Somewhere in-between this home and its people, is where our strength of character resides. Every decision we make is imbued with integrity.

Every stranger we meet is a welcome guest in our home. Every challenge we face is a source of creative inspiration. This is who we are.

We have a way of doing things here. We find new ways with deep-rooted traditions. We lead with the arts. We seek out new ways of thinking. We are making ourselves home to a new generation.

It continues,

The Fogo Island Inn has many things to feel good about. It is a gem of contemporary architecture and at the same time is a place that is “made of us”; made of the traditions and lived experiences of the island. It is a place that was created with deep sensitivity to the natural and social ecology of the island; a place that offers guests an exquisite nest from which to feel the harmonizing power of the North Atlantic; a nest with fine linens, creative local cuisine, wood burning fireplaces, a wood fired sauna, a cinema and all of the touches – big and small – for solace, comfort and profound ease. It is a place for adventure; a place from which to explore the rich and varied cultural and natural world of Fogo Island during its seven seasons.

But perhaps the most important thing to feel good about the Inn is its social purpose. The Fogo Island Inn is a trust whose beneficiary is the Shorefast Foundation, a federally registered charity whose mandate is the economic well-being of the local community. All surpluses from the Inn will flow through to the charity and be reinvested back into the community. There are no investors seeking a return on their investment.

 This innovative and progressive business model is our interpretation of social entrepreneurship, using business minded ways to create social good. It is a structure that is not-just-for-profit. Money spent at the Fogo Island Inn is money spent for the wellbeing of one of Canada’s oldest rural communities.

Now what I have to say will make more sense.

We arrived at the Inn, pulling up to a building I wasn’t convinced about. We had passed one of the four studios on our drive, and it was magical. The “road side” façade of the inn is not particularly attractive. It looks…big. And kinda institutional. Hmm…what are we in for this week?

But then, we entered through the doors with circles painted on them (more on that later), and it began. The charming hand-hooked cushion (designed by Lilian Dwyer and hooked by AnnMarie Newman) on the bench inside the door.

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The luggage carts designed to reflect the wood piles that support the fish-houses known as stages. This same metaphor is successfully used on one end of the inn– it is the most impressive structural detail.

 

photo courtesy of the Fogo Island Inn website

photo courtesy of the Fogo Island Inn website

 

We enter the building and are warmly greeted. We find it hard to concentrate, because the view from the public areas are dominated by the coastline just feet away. We check in and get our keys – each of the 29 rooms has a unique key fob. Relics – fishing knots, bird skulls, tools, rocks… have been beautifully crafted into bronze artifacts.

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Walking to our room with one of the lovely desk staff (a non-practicing nurse whose sister runs a great café featuring her mom’s epic tart – recipe ahead – keep reading- and whose father fires an antique musket at weddings) felt like we were on a boat.

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Each room faces the ocean. The long hallway has narrow windows looking inland giving glimpses of rugged rocks and sky. Our room… oh, it is hard writing about it from afar. I want to be there. Now! Our view of the ocean and sky. IMG_0072

The brilliant cross-ventilation system that allowed me (for those of you who know me will understand this part) to sleep and sleep and sleep. The furniture was designed by international designers for the inn, and is produced onsite. The quilts were made by women at the craft collective, and each one is signed. The organic mattresses are made in Ontario. The custom wallpaper is one of 4 ( I think) used throughout the Inn. The shower tiles feature tone-on-tone words of a poem used by fishermen to navigate into harbor. The heated toilet seat is just… a treat. Local first, then Newfoundland, then the rest of Canada, then a wider cast. Nothing in the Inn comes from a country without fair labour laws. Books about, or written by Newfoundlanders are on the bookshelf. A warm scarf awaits on a hook. Think it can’t get better? At 6:30 every morning, a box with a thermos of seriously good, hot coffee and freshly baked goodies are placed silently outside the door. Oh yes, re-entry after our visit was painful.

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Our first afternoon was spent reading and snoozing. That in itself was a new experience! The food at the Inn is remarkable. Not only for what is on the plate (traditional fare done with haut-cuisine finesse), but for how it has positively impacted the island and appreciation of its offerings. Locals now have, and tend, vegetable gardens to supply the Inn. Guests are wowed by foraged plants and berries. They eat fresh when there IS fresh, and pickles when there isn’t!

Local musicians play in the bar every night. Normally not a huge fan of maritime folk, I adored each of the entertainers. They felt right. One of the desk staff commented to me that one singer was a school friend’s dad and that she grew up hearing these same songs. She said it in passing. It made me choke up and my eyes watered. How fabulous to both have that kind of childhood, and to be able to take it for granted.

Mornings offer nature walks with a guide from the Inn. Mona is a forager, runs a small museum on the island, sells jam, has recently learned that she likes building, and sews quilts. She has also taken on a project of marking a walking path around the Inn with stones. Obvious in some places, but Herculean in others. Mona showed us oyster leaf (tastes like a mouthful of oysters), all of the different berries (it is was impossible to walk more than a few paces in September without stopping to take a handful of blueberries) and taught us a bit about mosses and lichens.

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At the end of our visit, when I asked if I could pass by to pick up some jam, she agreed. A few hours later, I was stunned to buy warm jam. When asked, she explained that she had been low, but had asked her husband to break into her mom’s freezer to get the last of the partridgeberries so she could put up a fresh batch. Calling islanders hospitable is an understatement!

Locals are available to Inn guests to give them an “orientation”. Clem Dwyer drove us around the Island answering questions, and teaching us local history and customs. Remember the dots on the doors I mentioned earlier? They are on every fishing stage (otherwise known as fish houses, where cod were processed on the water’s edge when they came in). The white circles served to mark the doors when it was dark out! One door? One dot. Two doors? You walk towards the 2 dots! Clem explained that his wife is a nurse who had been the mayor of (my favorite town) Tilting, and was an expert rug hooker who had made the cushions at the Inn. Are you starting to see why this place is so cool? My head was doing a family tree/venn diagram thing constantly. Fogo Island is surprisingly complex for such a small place. There are 5 towns in as many bays, each with a slightly different culture. Families with 5 to 10 children live in tiny, cherished salt box homes. These homes have withstood storms, frozen morning blankets, and are alive with generations of memories. So treasured are the homes that families sooner move a house than buy an existing building in a location they want.

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Remember my comment about epic tart? So – Nicole’s Café in Joe Batt’s Arm (yes, that is the name of one of the towns) is a very popular spot, with good reason. Guests of the Inn on the full-board plan are welcome to eat at Nicole’s and it is considered as a meal at the Inn. Nice touch and a good break from “formal” dining. Food at Nicole’s is very good. But the thing that stopped time and made the room go silent for me was “Margaret’s Molasses Partridgeberry Tart”. The crust was similar to a gingerbread cookie. Who needs flaky when you can have this kind of spicy yumminess? The jam was indeed partridgeberry – I know them as lingonberries (at Ikea) – that grow everywhere! One of the best desserts I have EVER tasted.

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There’s more, but I will save the one last anecdote for a bit. How does this place happen in the way that it does? How does a place and culture that is destined for eventual extinction become a model of community innovation? The simple answer is vision and leadership. Once again, it isn’t “good government” that saves the day. It is a remarkable person who cares.

Zita Cobb (my new hero) grew up on Fogo Island and watched as her fisherman father became a broken man – a symbol of his time. Like many, she left the island to go to University. Unlike many, she became incredibly successful as the CFO of a tech company, in the good days. And again, unlike many people anywhere, she left and ultimately decided to do something for her birthplace. Zita’s model is centered on art. She recognizes it as a “way of knowing” that mirrors islanders’ “ways of knowing”. She started there, continued by building an Inn that was in fact built by and is staffed by locals and has put the Island onto the world stage of geo-tourism, and has a foundation that offers microloans to local businesses. The model of not JUST for profit” is astounding and simple. There are very few people on the island who have not been touched by Zita’s vision. The amazing thing we realized, is that there is no resentment. People often dislike change, even if it is good for them. Zita’s visual statement was not subtle – it says “Here I am. I am proud and different, but I come from this place”. There have been so many articles written about the project, and Zita, but I really think that hearing directly from Zita gives the best understanding. Watch one of her many Youtube clips. I particularly like this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF9AmFkG_b0

“Nature and culture are the garments of human life,” says Cobb, “and business and technology exist to serve human life. Somewhere along the way, we got it backward.”

check out  the Shorefast Foundation and Fogo Island Inn to learn more.

And now for my last little story. Our last evening on the island coincided with an annual Irish Festival in Tilting. We were invited to the shed crawl. The WHAT? So – many homes on the island have sheds. Places to keep the ski-doo and workbench and “stuff”. Ok, but they are also decked out with Christmas lights, sofas and decorations. Friday nights they become “the spot” to hang out, have a few drinks and listen to one of the MANY locals sing and play an instrument! It was simply amazing. What a way to lock Fogo Island into our hearts.

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I can’t wait to return. In the meantime, I’m planning to “put up” a few of these pies…

Margaret’s Molasses Partridgeberry Tart (found in the Memorial University archives – how cool!)

Recipe_for_molasses_tarts_from_Margaret_Deckers_cookbook_Joe_Batts_Arm

You will need:

A pie’s worth of partridgeberry (lingonberry) jam

Other ingredients and method:

Cream 1 cup butter (softened)

¾ cup molasses

mix in:

2 tsp. baking soda

¼ cup tea

Stir in:

4 cups flour

2 ½ tsp. cloves

2 ½ tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

Roll onto a floured board. Place into pie plate and fill with jam. Bake 20 minutes in a moderate oven

(I will save some crust to put on top, and my idea of a moderate oven is 350)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Asian-Fusion New Year

I am Addicted. It is as simple as that.
A few years ago I ate something at David Chang’s Momofuku that has lodged itself in my brain and will not leave. That isn’t a bad thing, but I can’t eat there very often, and so, I had to figure it out and make it at home.
I read a bunch of recipes online and tried a few. Below you will find the combination that, to my taste buds/brain really does it right.
Roasted Rice Cake Noodles

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Nian Gao (the Chinese version) is normally eaten for Chinese New Year, as a symbol of good fortune for the upcoming year.

I found them in the freezer section of my Korean/Chinese/Japanese grocer.
After making them the first time, I read that the key is soaking them.
So, defrost them on the counter or in the fridge, cut them into pieces about ¾” long, then soak them in cold water for a few hours.
This recipe serves 4 as a side dish. We never have leftovers, regardless of how many people we are….
OK, here goes – read through before starting.

For the caramelized onions:

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced ( I really love my mandolin!)
pinch of kosher salt

For the Red Dragon sauce (that I now like on just about anything):

1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup chicken broth
— (this is separated for a reason…keep reading)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
⅓ cup ssamjang (fermented bean and chile sauce – I trusted the woman at the local Korean market to point me to the right section – there is NO English on the labels)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

For the roasted rice cakes:

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound rice cake sticks

To serve:

1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 scallions, ends trimmed, green parts thinly sliced

How to make this deliciousness:

Heat oil in 12-inch cast-ion skillet (if you have one – otherwise use your heaviest pan) over medium-high heat until lightly smoking. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until richly caramelized, about 30 minutes longer. Adjust heat as needed to prevent burning. Transfer cooked onions to bowl.

Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Pour mirin and broth into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-high and cook until lightly thickened, about two minutes. (Pour into a bowl if you want to save using an extra pot. In that case, wipe out the pot, and then…)
Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved then remove from heat. Let cool for a minute, then stir in ssamjang until dissolved. Add soy, sherry vinegar, and sesame oil.

Add back the reduced mirin and broth, reduce heat to medium, and cook until glossy and thick, about six minutes. Add  onions and stir well.
(if you are prepping this in advance, store the sauce and onions separately, the combine when heating just before serving)

Meanwhile, clean out iron skillet, and return to stove. Add two tablespoons of canola oil and heat over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Drain the rice cakes and towel dry. Add rice cakes to pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook until light brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.

Toss rice cakes with sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.

Please tell me if this isn’t one of the yummiest things you have eaten.  I need to go and make more this minute!

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Longwinded Blueberry Cake

Looking for one of Bonnie Stern’s recipes this morning, to tell you how I adapted it to deal with my overzealous blueberry shopping, I found the recipe below, which was published in the National Post.  It isn’t what I was looking for, but I can’t resist posting it.  Reading it, I am thinking it will be an apple pudding chomeur.  I am LOVING summer, but if fall means apples, it won’t be all bad.

APPLE PUDDING CAKE WITH MAPLE SYRUP
This is an old-fashioned pudding cake made with apples and maple syrup.  You can also make this in individual ramekins.

photo reposted from theNational Post

photo re-posted from the National Post

1⁄2 cup sugar
2 tbs water
3⁄4 cup maple syrup
3 tbs unsalted butter
6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges

Cake:
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter
3⁄4 cup sugar
2  eggs
1 tbs vanilla paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp baking soda
1⁄4 tsp kosher salt
3⁄4 cup buttermilk

Vanilla ice cream, and maple syrup.

Stir sugar and water together in a deep skillet. Bring to a boil and, without stirring, cook until sugar turns golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Standing back, add maple syrup and butter. Mixture will bubble up a bit.  Add apple slices and cook gently about 10 minutes until tender. Cool.

For the cake, cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add mixture alternatively to batter with buttermilk to make a batter.

Place apple mixture in the bottom of a 9-inch baking dish. Spread cooled apple mixture with batter.

Bake in preheated 350F oven until firm in the centre, about 30 to 40 minutes until centre of cake is cooked.

Serve with ice cream and maple syrup.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Now, just for reference, here is the recipe for the best Pouding Chômeur (unemployment pudding), anywhere.

It is from Pied de Cochon, of course (adapted a bit by, and from, House and Home Magazine). This makes 6 individual ramekins, or you can make it in a casserole (may need a touch longer in the oven)

Can you smell it?

Can you smell it?

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whipping cream (35%)
pinch of salt1 cup (Quebec of course) maple syrup – do NOT use light, clear, or heaven forbid maple-flavoured syrup!

Vanilla ice cream to serve – optional, but if you are going down, go in flames…

In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars, and blend until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until completely incorporated.

Add flour and baking powder, and stir until dough is well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This is the dough part.

In a saucepan, bring syrup and cream to a boil, stirring often. As soon as it reaches a boil, remove from heat, add salt and let cool until tepid, then refrigerate for 1 hour. This is the syrup mixture.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Place 6 oven safe, 5 oz. ramekins on a foil lined baking sheet and spoon a some of the cooled maple syrup mixture into the bottom of each. Divide dough evenly among ramekins by loosely packed tablespoons. Slowly pour remaining maple mixture over dough. It will sink into the nooks and crannies.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Let it cool for a few minutes, and then serve!

Top with ice cream at the table if you want it to look really great.

BUT I DIGRESS.

After making blueberry sauce for our morning oatmeal, and not having the heart to tackle another round of jam making after doing strawberry this week, I decided to go to my trusty Bonnie Stern HeartSmart Quick Apple Cake recipe.  Here it is, with the apple OR blueberry option. Bonnie’s recipe calls for half the batter, but I find it better when it is doubled. I have taken the liberty of doubling the batter in the recipe below.

I also use the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture as a drizzle instead of tossing it with the fruit.

Quick Apple (or blueberry) Cake (my way)

2 eggs (or 1 egg plus 2 whites)
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil (I use a bit less and make up with orange juice)
6 tbs. OR orange juice

Note: Bonnie uses apple juice, but I like the freshness that orange offers. 6 tbs. is 3/8 of a cup, so I use ½ cup and reduce the oil. Not exact, but it is fast.
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt

3 apples, peeled and sliced thinly OR 3 (or so) cups of blueberries, tossed in flour or cornstarch

Drizzle:

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

This is the only part that I haven’t doubled. I find it enough, but double as you like.

In a large(ish) bowl, beat eggs with sugar until thick and light. Beat in oil, juice and vanilla.
In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into egg mixture and combine only until blended.
Combine brown sugar, cinnamon and enough water to make a pourable drizzle. Set aside.
Arrange apples in bottom of oiled 9″ square baking dish. Smooth batter on top.  I sometimes make 2 layers, but the layers are pretty thin.

Drizzle the top with the brown sugar mixture.
Bake in preheated 350F/180C oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake comes away from sides of pan slightly and a cake tester comes out clean.

If you choose to use blueberries, it will take a bit longer to bake.  Check that the middle is baked. It won’t over-bake easily with blueberries because the juice keeps it moist.

Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

This cake looks best when served from the pan, rather than inverting it onto a serving plate.  The drizzle also stays nicely crunchy that way.

We had to try it. Not a fail, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked on TV!

A quick quiz for all of you fellow Food Network junkies:

What is the one food you keep seeing, and every once in a while think “Mmm. I should try making that.”

For me, the sight of a brisket on a bbq is intriguing.  Slightly scary, and very tempting.  Normally, I make my mom’s famous recipe:

1 brisket (lean part only, but that is a personal thing)

yellow mustard

ketchup

Goodman’s onion soup mix (really, it is the best)

Dried prunes, pears and apricots.

Pickling spice and/or bay leaves if desired.

Carrots

Smear the brisket with the ketchup and mustard. Sprinkle on the soup mix – be generous.  Cover the top with the dried fruit and carrots.

Cover the whole thing REALLY tightly. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes, then turn down to 275 or even 250 and let it cook… a really long time.  I’m talking 6 or 8 hours.

You can add potatoes around the outside, but in that case add a cup of water.

ANYHOW…back to my bbq brisket.

I braved it.  I gave it a rub (any dry rub will do – I used garlic, paprika, smoked paprika, pepper, brown sugar, dry mustard), let it sit in the fridge for a day, let it come to room temperature, then…

My husband (the grill-master) put it on a 225 degree BBQ for 10 hours, brushing it every few hours with some BBQ sauce (we are partial to Rufus Teagues).

an hour or so into cooking

an hour or so into cooking

getting there

getting there

10 hours later, it was gorgeous

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But hard.

So we went to plan B. Had cheese and crackers for dinner, put the brisket in the fridge overnight, and the next day put it into a 250 degree oven for 6 hours.

Then it was awesome!  We pulled it apart and make mythical sandwiches.

Was it worth it?  Probably not.  Oh well, I guess there’s a reason to keep watching my foodie friends on TV.

It is THAT easy

After reading a post about Il Buco Alimentari’s easy way of making homemade ricotta, the kit for cheese-making I saw on the shelf at Willams Sonoma practically put itself into my cart.  Stupid price aside, it seemed an easy way to start. Citric acid, rennet, instructions for ricotta and mozarella…ok, let’s do it.  Or rather, let’s consider doing it, chicken out for a few months, finally buy 4 litres of whole milk, and… Make cheese!

All it takes

All it takes

The whole experiment took 20 minutes and a pot.

at the right temperature, the curds and whey separate!

at the right temperature, the curds and whey separate!

almost there....

almost there….

let it sit for a bit

let it sit for a bit

My first mozarella was…..delicious, and so easy that I am now hooked!

flip it on a plate, and dig in!

flip it on a plate, and dig in!

My next mozarella will have some goodies inside. I’m thinking a few chopped olives, sundried tomatoes and basil.  I will keep you all posted!

Making ricotta was so easy that it didn’t even merit a photo.  If you even LIKE regular ricotta, you will love eating it fresh, at home.

Moroccan Fairy Dust

Umami.  The new black.  Is it hype?  Sometimes.

But sometimes, that word captures what makes us do the “happy dance” when we taste something.  You know what I am talking about.  We have all caught ourselves doing the awkward “that is SO good” boogie.  So, what does the wizard behind the curtain look like?

Read the label on the front right hand barrel.  It is not that.

The label reads "berber viagra"

The label reads “berber viagra”

In this post’s case, here is a hint……

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What fish sauce is to Asian cuisine (seems, and smells iffy, but if it isn’t there, you have a sense something is missing), so argan oil and orange blossom water are to all things Moroccan.

When I was in Morocco, I thought the whole argan oil thing was overrated. Now I am not so sure.

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On a(nother) rainy day this week I found myself craving the feeling of Morocco.  The heat, the smells, and of course, the tastes!

Seeing the argan oil in my pantry, I recalled my favourite breakfasts – sliced oranges sprinkled with cinnamon and orange blossom water, and crepes with Amlou.  Amlou is Morocco’s answer to peanut butter. It is a paste made of almonds, honey, and argan oil.  After reading several recipes, making it and quickly saying “bleh”, I realized that none of the recipes were right.  None of them had orange blossom water!  Whether it is an intentional omission, or if it unnecessary in the land that has it wafting in the air, I am not sure.

When I rejigged the recipe and asked my family what it smelled like, their response was immediate.  “Morocco”.

Amlou  (this is a compilation of recipes)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almonds
  • 3/4 cup argan oil ( I like with much less, but traditionally it is very runny)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons (or so) orange blossom water

Method:

Preheat an oven to 350° F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, or until the almonds are crunchy and darkened but make sure not to burn them.

Allow the almonds to cool a bit, then grind the toasted almonds into a paste in a food processor on high speed. Try to get the paste as smooth as possible.

Next, add the oil, warm honey, sugar and salt with the food processor running. Taste and adjust the sweetness if desired.

Add the orange blossom water when you remove the paste from the processor bowl.  Stir in by hand.

Serve on warm bread or crepes, or gently warm the amlou and serve with bread.

Amlou will keep for two months in cool, dark cupboard. Store amlou tightly covered in a jar, and shake or stir before serving.

Close your eyes. Take a bite.