Monday, 31 October 2011

Simply Fresh: Casual Dining at Home

Simply Fresh 
Casual Dining at Home 
by Jeff Morgan
Ruby Tuesday
Hardcover, 216 pages

Good Friends, Good Food

America's iconic restaurant Ruby Tuesday has been a celebration of simple and fun for almost 40 years with the mantra Good Friends, Good Food. Now Jeff Morgan, gourmet food writer, cookbook author and wine writer, shares the essence of Ruby Tuesday's founder Sandy Beall's food philosophy and some of the most popular dishes from the restaurant so that you can create this atmosphere in your own home. Or backyard.. or potluck... or any get-together with friends, loved-ones and family. 

There are over 100 delicious and simple recipes from brunch to dessert, with corresponding full-colour (stunning!) photos. Jeff even includes beverage recommendations for each dish, many from Ruby Tuesday's famous bar drinks selection. 

Chapters include:
* Drinks * Appetizers & Side Dishes * Brunch * Salads & Soups * Pasta * Seafood * Beef, Pork, & Poultry * Desserts *

We enjoyed Ruby Tuesday's Classic Burger on the grill. A delicious way to wrap up grill season before the snow flies. For those of you who got the early taste of winter - I'm sure it won't last. There'll still be a chance to get out there and do some late-seasons grilling before we wrap it up. 

Some other delicious dishes to look forward to in Simply Fresh - Tai Phoon Shrimp, Saffron Tomato Soup, or Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice and Cucumber Raita, and Ruby Tuesday's famous Mac 'n Cheese.

Time to invite a couple of good friends over for some good food!

The Classic Burger­
—From Simply Fresh

It’s no accident that we take our burgers seriously. Nearly one out of every five diners at Ruby Tuesday orders one. That adds up to some 13 million burgers each year. A great burger should be plump, juicy, and flavor filled. At the restaurant, our burgers are prepared simply—seasoned only with salt and pepper—to showcase the rich, natural taste of the meat. They are typically dressed with roasted garlic mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuce, onion slices, and dill pickles. We hold back on the ketchup, however, which is served on the side. Of course, we love ketchup as much as anyone, but we prefer to leave it up to our guests whether they want to add it. The same is true for mustard.

Serves 4

This burger is all about the beef. You can use any ground cut you like, but we recommend freshly ground beef chuck—the hamburger gold standard for most butchers. With about 20 percent fat content, chuck is still juicy and flavorful when it comes off the fire.

Roasted garlic mayonnaise (page 195) adds a special touch. But if you don’t have time to make it from scratch, any top-notch commercial mayonnaise will yield excellent results, with or without the garlic.
And if you’re enjoying your burgers with wine, look for a fruit-forward red like Zinfandel or Malbec. Rosé is a fine match for burgers, too. It has bright acidity and fruit flavors that can stand up to onion, mayonnaise, and ketchup. By extension, fruity Sangria (page 12) is also an excellent choice for your glass.


2 pounds ground beef (preferably chuck)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon canola oil, if cooking on the stovetop
Roasted garlic mayonnaise (page 195) or mayonnaise (page 194), or store-bought, for spreading
4 hamburger buns (such as ciabatta, potato, or English muffin), split and toasted
4 to 8 leaves butter or other green leaf lettuce
4 tomato slices
4 onion slices
8 round dill pickle slices (optional)
Ketchup, for serving (optional)

Prepare an outdoor charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat grilling over medium-high heat. Or, have ready a large, heavy skillet.

Place the beef in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and add several grinds of pepper. Using your hands, mix together thoroughly. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Gently shape each portion into a ball, then toss the ball back and forth between your hands a few times to eliminate any air pockets. Gently flatten each ball into a patty about 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

If not using an outdoor grill, coat the surface of the skillet with the canola oil and heat on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Place the patties on the grill rack or in the skillet and cook, turning once, for about 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare or about 7 minutes on each side for medium. Remove from the grill or pan.

Spread a dollop of mayonnaise on the bottom half of each bun. Place a leaf or two of lettuce on top of the mayonnaise. Set the burger on top of the lettuce. Layer 1 tomato slice, 1 onion slice, and 2 pickle slices on top of the burger. Cover with the top half of the bun. If desired, cut the burgers in half for ease of eating. Pass the ketchup at the table.

­Tips for Backyard Barbecues
When hosting a casual backyard barbecue, the more you plan in advance, the more free time you’ll have to enjoy with friends and family. The following tips will help ensure you’re having as much fun as your guests.

1. Check your fuel source. It’s no fun running out of propane gas or charcoal briquettes with hungry guests waiting to eat.

2. Ready any other dishes in advance, such as salads, side dishes, and desserts, and set them aside in a cool place or refrigerate them. It’s a good idea to plan a menu that includes as many dishes as possible that require no heating.

3. If your party is on a hot summer day, make sure there is plenty of available shade. If it is an evening get-together, provide enough light to allow your guests to move about safely.

4. Have plenty of ice on hand and an ice chest for cold drinks. White wines need to be kept cold, and red wines should be stored out of the sun. Warm red wine will taste “hot,” or alcoholic.

5. And speaking of alcohol, not everyone drinks it. Remember to provide plenty of nonalcoholic drinks as well.

6. With finger food, napkins are required. Don’t be caught short!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Risotto di Zucca

Some dishes have a reputation for being difficult. Risotto is one of those dishes, and the rep is totally undeserved. Sure, it requires some babysitting. And you can't make super labour-intensive sides for it while you are cooking it. But that's okay. A good risotto can be the star of the table.

And risotto is infinitely variable. The soft, creamy rice is a great vehicle for flavors and additions. Like today's risotto - butternut squash. Perfect for the season and a nice nutritional boost for your dish.

All risotto asks of you is time. And wine. Some for the risotto, some for the chef.

Set up your mise en place (get your sh$t together) first, and take it low and slow. Keep stirring and tasting and adding and drinking. What? The chef needs her rewards too.

Risotto di Zucca
adapted from Venizia by Tessa Kiros
for IHCC Harvest Moon

1¾ lbs butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1 inch peices
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 oz thick cut bacon, chopped
1 sprig of fresh sage
pinch hot pepper flakes
1 cup Arborio rice (I have a couple of tbsps of red rice in mine too)
¾ cup white wine
5 cups hot chicken or veggie stock, approximately
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

Heat olive oil and butter in a large heavy pot. An enamel-coated cast iron pot works nicely here.
Add onions and cook on medium until they are golden.
Add in bacon and continue to cook until is is crispy. Stir often.
Add sage and pepper flakes and squash chunks. Salt and pepper.
Turn heat down a touch and let cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes - until squash starts to soften. Stir once in a while so it doesn't stick to the bottom.
Add rice. Stir to coat the grains of rice and cook one minute.
Add in wine and cook, stirring, until much of it is absorbed.
Add stock, one ladle-full at a time. Let the risotto slowly absorb the small batches of liquid and get creamy as you stir leisurely and sexy-like.
Keep tasting as you go. Risotto is all about stirring and tasting. Make sure you have your wine handy- both for you and your dish - you never know when either will call for a little extra vino.
When the risotto is at the right texture and flavour to please you - add in the cheese and parsley.
Serve hot with extra cheese on top.

IHCC IHCC Tessa Kiros Button

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Sunflower Seed Bread

This is a very satisfying nutty and chewy bread. It is given a bit of a tang via a two-day process and the addition of rye.

And the crust is wonderful!

I'll give you a tip on preserving a great crust - keep it away from plastic.

Start collecting heavy-duty paper bags. Wrap your loaves in the paper and you will still have great crust the next day. Wrap it in plastic and you will have a mealy crust the next day. It really does make a huge difference.(And paper bags can be re-used until you deem them ready for the recycling bin)

I get my heavy paper bags from the liquor store. If I mention that I use them for bread - quite often they will throw a couple extras in. And friends and neighbours collect them for me too. Everyone loves to help a bread baker. ☺

Sunflower Seed Bread with Pâte Fermentée
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for the Mellow Bakers

The night before

Rye chops - 6.4 oz
Water - 8 oz

Combine soaker ingredients in a bowl, cover and let sit overnight.

Pâte Fermentée
Bread flour - 6.4 oz
Water - 4.2 oz
Salt - ½ tsp
Dry instant yeast - 1/8 tsp

Combine pate fermentée ingredients in a bowl, cover and let sit overnight.

The next day

Final dough
Bread flour - 1 lb, 9.6 oz
Water - 13.4 oz
Salt - 1 Tbsp
Dry instant yeast - 1½ tsp
Malt syrup - 2 tsp
Sunflower seeds - 6.4 oz
Soaker - all
Pâte fermentée - all

Put all the ingredients, except the pâte fermentée, into the stand mixer bowl. Mix on low for 2 minutes, scraping down or re-adjusting if necessary along the way.
Tear the pâte fermentée into chunks and add to the mixer.
Mix another 3 minutes, until you have a thoroughly mixed dough, and then dump out onto a lightly floured board.
Knead for a few minutes, then shape into a ball and place in a clean bowl.
Cover and let rest 1 hour.
Fold dough into itself and let rest another hour.
Divide into two equal pieces and shape into French bread loaf logs.
Let rise about 1½ hours, depending on how cool your kitchen is.
Preheat oven to 460°F.
Score your loaves and bake 30-40 minutes, depending on your shaping.
Turn the oven down by 20° if loaves are colouring too fast. 
Internal temperature should be over 200°F.
Let cool on racks.

Goes great with Dofino Havarti Cheese!
Seriously, we have been living on this bread with jalapeño havarti all week and love it!

Bread Tips
I made my chops in my blender. Rye berries, pulsed a few times until they are all broken.
I used a Chicago Metallic French bread baking form for these loaves.
Always use an instant read thermometer for your bread. The insides can be hard to gauge otherwise.
Always use water that has sat out all night for your starters - so the chlorine has dissipated. I use my (room temp) kettle water.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Nadia G's Bitchin Kitchen Cookin' for Trouble!

Cookin' for Trouble
by Nadia G

Foreword by Guy Fieri
Paperback, 224 pages
Also available as an eBook 

I am a big fan of cooking shows in general. You know, the ones that don't have anyone voted off the island or being yelled at, or tearing up for any reason. But some are a little um.. too sweet. The antidote for the saccharin headache of hyper-happy or anxiety-producing television shows? Nadia G!

This gal who looks like a playboy bunny and talks like a trucker cracks me up every time. I've watched her go from Youtube star to having her own show on the Canadian Food Network to America's Cooking Channel and I couldn't be more proud. I love her Italian/French Canadian accent and attitude, her blistering and laugh-out-loud humour and, most importantly, her cooking. Yep, the gal can cook. She has great imagination and everything I have made of hers has been absolutely delicious.

Her new book, Cookin' for Trouble, is glossy and colourful and fun to read just on its own, but of course is also filled with delicious and inspired recipes.

Chapters include:
* (Dysfunctional) Family Pizza Night * Student Schkoff-Fest * Veg-Head Extravaganza * Bitchin' Booty Camp Xtreme * Hi-Speed Suppers * Turkey Time * Nonna Recipe Showdown * Proposal for a Proposal * Bitchin' Party Guide * Depression Desserts * Happiness=Bacon * Girls' Night Out * Makeover Meals * Back of the Fridge Bachelorfest * and the Community Chapter *

There's even an Italian Slang Dictionary for Nadia-isms!

Check out more Nadia G here:

I whipped up her Crazy Rich Linguine Alfredo for my husband. He's still talking about it. Alfredo definitely equals love. Try it yourself!

Crazy Rich Linguine Alfredo

This is one of the first dishes I ever learned to make. Alfredo sauce is ridiculously simple. Think about it — with that much cream, butter, and cheese, how can you go wrong?

Servings: 4 to 6 - Easy

Grocery List:
1 lb linguine (1 package) I had fettuccine on hand
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup good chardonnay wine
1 1/2 cups half & half
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano
1/4 cup minced  at-leaf parsley
+ extra for garnish
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Large pot
Large saucepan

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.

Heat the unsalted butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Sauté the garlic in the butter for 1 minute, until golden and fragrant. Deglaze the saucepan with the chardonnay, and cook off the liquid for a few minutes until it’s almost dry. Add the half-and-half, and reduce the heat to medium low. Stir often, making sure the half-and-half doesn’t boil. If it looks like it’s about to start boiling, take the pan off the heat for a few seconds and lower the temperature. Cook the half-and-half for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add the Parmigiano, and stir until the cheese has completely melted. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the sauce is thick, creamy, and smooth. Again, be careful not to boil the sauce. Once the sauce is done, remove it from the heat, and add the minced parsley, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Mix and cover.


Toss the linguine with the alfredo sauce. Garnish with more minced parsley. Serve immediately.

Excerpted from Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble by Nadia G Copyright © 2011 by Nadia G. Photographs Copyright © 2011 by Ryan Szulc. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

And on my to-make list.....

This Habañero Cheesecake! Seriously, doesn't it look delicious? Why have I never thought of this before? Why is it not my birthday? If you bake it up, email me and let me know how it was. Better yet, email me a slice.

Habañero Cheesecake

This is one of the best desserts I ever created. What I love most about it is that it’s a fantastic basic recipe for any kind of cheesecake. Replace the key lime juice with melted chocolate, espresso, or keep it simple with just vanilla bean seeds, then top it with fresh berries…

Servings: 8 - Easy

Grocery List:
1 1/2 cups chocolate wafers
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup water
1 3/4 cups raw sugar
1/2  cup key lime juice
1/3 cup candied hibiscus flowers (or dried cranberries as alternative)
5 egg yolks
1 tbsp grated key lime zest
1/2 red habañero pepper, minced, no seeds
 2 cups whipped cream cheese, softened
1 cup mascarpone cheese
5 egg whites
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp white vinegar

Resealable plastic bag
Medium mixing bowl
Springform pan
Small pot
2 large mixing bowls
Hand-held electric beater
Large roasting pan

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put the chocolate wafers in a resealable bag and crush them into fine crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a medium sized bowl and add the melted unsalted butter; mix. Mold the crust onto the bottom of a springform pan, about 1/4 inch thick. Bring it up the sides a little bit, about 1/2 inch. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let it cool on the counter in the springform pan.

Bring the water and 3/4 cup of raw sugar to a boil in a small pot over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of key lime juice and the candied hibiscus flowers; stir. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes, until slightly reduced.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl combine the egg yolks, 1 cup of raw sugar, 1/4 cup of key lime juice, key lime zest, and habañero, and whisk together. Add the cream cheese and mascarpone; then mix with an electric beater for another 15 seconds. Set aside. In another large mixing bowl, using clean blades, whip the egg whites with the granulated sugar and the white vinegar until stiff peaks form. Delicately fold the meringue into the cheese mixture for 15 to 20 seconds. Don’t overmix. Pour evenly into the springform pan, over the chocolate crust.

Place 2 layers of aluminum foil in a large roasting pan. Place the cheesecake in the middle of the foil. Bring the foil up the sides of cheesecake to create a barrier wall around the cake; do not cover the top of the cheesecake. Pour water into the roasting pan, halfway up the sides of the cake (hence the impermeable foil barrier). Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Allow the cake to cool completely on your countertop; then refrigerate overnight. Serve each slice of this cheesecake drizzled with a tablespoon or two of key lime syrup.

Excerpted from Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble by Nadia G Copyright © 2011 by Nadia G. Photographs Copyright © 2011 by Ryan Szulc. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Momofuku's Crack Pie Recipe!

Need a delicious project for the weekend? Try out Momofuku's world famous Crack Pie recipe! (And then invite me over...)

A sneak peek from the new and highly anticipated desserts cookbook - Momofuku Milk Bar.

Crack Pie
This recipe makes two pies (two pies are always better than one), but you can always keep the second pie frozen if need be!

Makes 2 (10-inch) pies; Each Serves 8 to 10

1 recipe Oat Cookie (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon tightly packed
1 tablespoon tightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted, or as needed
1 recipe Crack Pie Filling (recipe follows)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1.    Heat the oven to 350°F.

2.    Put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. If you don’t have a food processor, you can fake it till you make it and crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)

3.    Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and knead it in.

4.    Divide the oat crust evenly between 2 (10-inch) pie tins. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the oat cookie crust firmly into each pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are evenly covered. Use the pie shells immediately, or wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

5.    Put both pie shells on a sheet pan. Divide the crack pie filling evenly between the crusts; the filling should fill them three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes only. The pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly.

6.    Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven reaches 325°F, close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. The pies should still be jiggly in the bull’s-eye center but not around the outer edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so.

7.    Gently take the pan of crack pies out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. (You can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry.) Then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product—freezing is the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie.

8.    If not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. In the fridge, they will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month. Transfer the pie(s) from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to get in there.

9.    Serve your crack pie cold! Decorate your pie(s) with confectioners’ sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.

Oat Cookie Recipe

Makes 2 (10-inch) pies; Each Serves 8 to 10

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)

1.    Heat the oven to 350°F.

2.    Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, add the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white.

3.    On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix for a minute, until your dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. The dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4.    Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment, or just line the pan with a Silpat. Plop the cookie dough in the center of the pan and, with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4 inch thick. The dough won’t end up covering the entire pan; this is OK.

5.    Bake for 15 minutes, or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie —caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. Cool completely before using. Wrapped well in plastic, the oat cookie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Crack Pie Filling

Makes enough for 2 (10-inch) Crack Pies

You must use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to make this filling. It only takes a minute, but it makes all the difference in the homogenization and smooth, silky final product. I repeat: a hand whisk and a bowl or a granny hand mixer will not produce the same results. Also, keep the mixer on low speed through the entire mixing process. If you try to mix the filling on higher speed, you will incorporate too much air and your pie will not be dense and gooey—the essence of crack pie.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk powder
1/4 cup corn powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks

1.    Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended.

2.    Add the melted butter and paddle for 2 to 3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.

3.    Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disappeared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

4.    Add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous. Mix on low speed until it is.

5.    Use the filling right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

It will be the death of your wildly dense pie filling if there is any bit of egg white in the mixture. I believe the easiest, and best, way to separate an egg is to do so in your hands. You may also use the two half-shells to separate the eggs, but the cracked shells can tear the yolk open, and you may not totally separate all the white. If you do this by hand, you can feel when you get every last bit of white away from the yolk. Remember to wash your hands under warm soapy water for 30 seconds or more before and after you handle raw eggs!

Excerpted from Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi. Copyright © 2011 by Christina Tosi. Photographs Copyright © 2011 by Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Momofuku Milk Bar
by Christina Tosi

Foreword by David Chang
Hardcover, 256 pages

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Berne Brot

Okay. I think I have found the perfect bread for peanut butter and honey.

There are some loaves that you think, "this would be perfect for peanut butter and honey". But then again they would also be good with cheese, or ham, or cucumber sandwiches.

But this loaf, rich in milk and butter and eggs and all good things - calls out for peanut butter. And not the organic stuff either. But good old processed smooth peanut butter, slathered in honey squozen (yes, it's a word) from a bear.

And if you are left with nothing but crumbs, peanut butter stains, and an empty bear? Don't say I didn't warn you.

Berne Brot
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for the Mellow Bakers

Bread flour - 2 lbs
Milk, room temp - 14.4 oz
Egg yolks - 2
Whole eggs - 2
Butter, room temp - 4.8 oz
Sugar - 3½ Tbsp
Salt - 1 Tbsp
Instant dry yeast - 3 tsp

This bread has been YeastSpotted!
  • Everyone into the pool!
  • Place all the ingredients into the stand mixer and mix on low for 3 minutes.
  • Turn to med and mix for another 3 minutes.
  • Turn out on board and shape into a nice boule. (Round)
  • Place in a clean bowl, cover, and let rise 1 hour.
  • Fold the dough in onto itself and let rise another hour.
  • Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and each of those into 3. (9 total)
  • Create 3 braids using this method in the video.

(Notice that I watched the video after making my braid - but I love her idea of tapering the ends.)

  • Cover your braids and let rise 2 hours. 
  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Beat 1 egg in a cup with a fork and brush the egg wash over the loaves. 
  • Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.
  • Bake about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf. Keep an eye on them. 
  • You want colour but not black! 
  • If you do larger loaves and they are getting too dark, you can tent them lightly with foil until they are done. 
  • Internal temp should be at least 185°F
  • Let cool on racks.

I got a little fancy with my first Winston Knot (6 strands). Tutorial here.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Brisket Book: A Love Story With Recipes

The Brisket Book
A Love Story with Recipes
by Stephanie Pierson
Hardcover, 224 pages

"Some foods will improve your meal, your mood, your day, your buttered noodles. Brisket will improve your life."
Stephanie Pierson

And so began the year-long journey of food writer and cookbook author Stephanie Pierson- in search of the best in brisket.
Brisket is family food, it is comforting and meltingly tender when cooked right. And, although Jewish bubbys have long held the title of masters of the brisket- it actually has quite a multicultural appeal.

The Brisket Book has recipes from many cultures, including some award-winning BBQ recipes and the recipes of celebrated chefs like John Besh and Anita Lo. 

The book is also filled with humourous anectdotes and asides- and one picture of a cute-patootie and his, er, cutie-patootie.

Chapters include:
1. Every Brisket Tells a Story
2. The Amazing Adventures of Brisket
3. Meet the Cow, Meet the Meat, Meet the Butcher
4. Basic Training
5. Do I Have a Brisket Recipe for You!
6. Me. Joan Nathan. A Brisket. Me. Nach Waxman. A Brisket.
7. Pro Brisket
8. In Which Chris Kimball Interrogates a Brisket (Christ Wins)
9. Brisket Has Many Sides. What Goes with It
10. Cheers! What to Drink with Brisket
11. The Amorous Brisket
12. Brisket Doesn't Stand Still


Temple Emanu El Brisket
—From The Brisket Book

Serves 8–10

Quivering cranberry slices that melt into the meat and slowly caramelize give this brisket its lovely character. Even better, it takes so little effort for this sweet alchemy to work. Roberta Greenberg, the long-time assistant to the rabbis at this well-known New York City synagogue and the keeper of this recipe, suggests reducing the sauce on the stove after reheating it if you prefer it thicker. It is good enough to make you convert.

1 (4- to 5-pound) beef brisket
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large onions, peeled and cut into eighths
2 (14-ounce) cans jellied cranberry sauce, sliced

Sprinkle both sides of the brisket with the garlic powder, paprika, and salt and pepper. Tightly cover the brisket with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days.

When you’re ready to finish the dish, preheat the oven to 500°F.

Unwrap the brisket, place it in a roasting pan, and roast for 20 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from the oven and decrease the temperature to 350°F. Place the onions under and around the brisket, then cover the top of the meat with the cranberry sauce slices. Tightly cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and cook until fork-tender, about 3 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow the brisket to cool. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, trim the fat, then slice the meat against the grain to the desired thickness. Return the slices to the pan, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice, cover the pan with foil, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove any congealed fat from the top of the sauce. Heat the brisket, covered, at 350°F for 20 minutes, then, uncovered, for another 20 to 30 minutes, until hot and the sauce has reduced a bit. Serve with the sauce.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Moosewood Mondays: Swiss Cheese and Onion Soup. And - Meet Natalie MacLean!

If some is good, more must be better - right?
I am often of that opinion at the grocery store. This is the reasoning that has me bringing home ten pound bags of onions - the simple fact that they were only fifty cents more than the three pound bags I normally buy.
And by "normally buy" you can assume that the three pound bag is, in fact, the appropriate size bag of onions for our small family. But I can't help myself.

So, what to do with ten pounds of onions? Well, onion soup is a good start. I was going to go with a classic French onion when I found this beauty - Swiss cheese and onion soup. The cheese is made into a creamy mixture and added right in to the oniony soup base. The results are thick and creamy and oh so soothing.

My husband called it "French onion soup without the work of digging for the cheese".

It really is delicious, and goes great with a nice loaf of bread or even garlic bread if you are into doubling up further on the alliums. I am. ☺

Swiss Cheese and Onion Soup
adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen

4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups finely sliced onion
5 Tbsp butter, divided
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups water, stock, or water with bouillon
1½ cups whole milk, warmed
1½ cups grated Swiss cheese
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 Tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp prepared horseradish
1½ tsp salt (more or less, to taste - if using bouillon, reduce salt)
black pepper
1 tsp tamari
shake or two Tabasco
shake of Worcestershire sauce

In large enamel-coated cast iron pot, heat 2 Tbsp butter, onion, and garlic on medium heat. Stir frequently and let slowly soften together. Add in the mustard powder and some salt. Stir.
Pour in water, stock or water with bouillon. Let come to a gentle simmer, turn to low and start in on the cheese sauce.

In second pot (small/med and heavy bottomed), let 3 Tbsp butter melt on med/low. Add in the flour and whisk for a minute, until starting to colour. Add in milk slowly, whisking all the time. When thickened nicely (after 5-8 mins), add in horseradish, sherry, and cheese. Let melt together and remove from heat.

Scrape cheese mixture into soup and season to taste with the tamari, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Let cook another 5 or so minutes to meld. Serve hot.

If you have a Moosewood dish you would like to show off this month, link it up here:

Meet Bestselling Author Natalie MacLean in Toronto or Niagara for the Launch of her New Wine Book!
Join Natalie MacLean for an unforgettable evening of wine, laughter and story-telling to celebrate the launch of her second wine book, Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines.

Natalie will be hosting a multi-course gourmet dinner and matching wines at Grano Restaurant in Toronto and hosting a wine tasting in Niagara:

Niagara-Grimsby: November 22

Author Series & Wine Tasting Tickets:

Toronto Grano Restaurant: November 23

Multi-Course Wine Dinner Tickets: 416-361-0032 or

Named the World’s Best Drink Writer at the World food Media Awards, the Canadian journalist and sommelier Natalie is just back from a whirlwind trip to uncover the world’s best bargain wines and share them with you.

She’ll also share stories about fascinating winemakers and gorgeous, remote vineyards with her quirky humour and insider smarts that made her first book, Red, White and Drunk All Over, the only wine book ever to get on the national bestseller list. The Globe & Mail also named it one of the best books of the year.

Space is limited for these exclusive events. Reserve your tickets online now. Your ticket price includes a personally signed copy of Natalie’s new book, Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wine plus a multi-course meal with wine in Toronto or wine tasting in Niagara. Following the session, you can purchase additional copies of the book as holiday gifts and Natalie will sign them. Natalie's tour will include 14 cities across Canada:

For more information about the book and an amusing video trailer about it, please visit

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Armchair Novel Review: A Red Herring Without Mustard

A Red Herring Without Mustard
by Alan Bradley

Paperback, 416 pages
Also available as an unabridged audio CD, unabridged audiobook download, eBook and a hardcover.

In this third book of Alan Bradley's wildly popular Flavia de Luce series, our precocious eleven year-old detective visits a Gypsy woman to have her fortune told. After hearing frightening and mysterious messages about her own mother, and accidentally burning down the Gypsy's tent, Flavia decides that she must take care of the woman herself.
But soon after Flavia stows her away on the rambling property of Bishop's Lacey, the Gypsy is beaten almost to death. It is up to Flavia (with modest help from the police) to find out who attacked the Gypsy and what deeper mysteries are plaguing her otherwise pastoral country home.

I love this series, Flavia reminds me of Sherlock Holmes- as an eleven year old girl. She of the bubbling potions, plotting sisters, trusty bicycle, and intense curiosity. Once you let Flavia into your life - you will be hooked!

Flavia de Luce books in order:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag
A Red Herring Without Mustard
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows -coming soon! 

Also by Alan Bradley:
A Study in Sherlock (contributor)

Join the Flavia de Luce fan club here:

Browse and Search
A Red Herring Without Mustard here:

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Versatility of the Slow Cooker

photo credit
Did you know that you can use your slow cooker for more than beef stew and chicken stock? True story. I wouldn't lie to you.

Don't get me wrong, stew is awesome. And warming. And versatile. And, although you will find some delicious stews in the 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, you will also find that this new edition reflects the changes in our cooking and dining habits: more worldly and more figure-friendly.

The book also shows you how to use the slow cooker in unison with other kitchen tools, most especially- the delicious effects of browning your meats and veggies in a skillet before slow cooking them to perfection. These little details turn a good dish into a great one.

So grab your slow cooker and expand your repertoire this year. Recipes include: Sizzling Shrimp and Dill Pickle Dip, Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup, Poached Eggs on Spicy Lentils, Pork Roast with Chile-Orange Sauce, French-Country Chicken with Olives, Portuguese Sausage and Shellfish Stew, Braised Halibut on a Bed of Creamy Leeks, Greek Bean Sauce with Feta, Steamed Brown Bread, New Potato Curry, Orange-Spiked Carrots Braised in Vermouth, Lemon Cheesecake, and Indian Banana Pudding.

Try out these recipes for Mushroom and Artichoke Lasagna, Short Ribs with Orange Gremolata, or Delectable Apple-Cranberry Coconut Crisp! (below)

The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes
Second Edition
Revised and Expanded for Today's Kitchen

Judith Finlayson

Softcover, 288 pages

Chapters include:
Appetizers and Fondues
Beans, Lentils and Chilies
Beef and Veal
Pork and Lamb
Fish, Seafood and Vegetarian Favorites
Grains and Sides

Mushroom and Artichoke Lasagna
Serves 6 to 8

I love the unusual combination of flavors in this lasagna, which reminds me of a Provençal gratin. In addition to adding flavor and color, the baby spinach is a great time saver as it doesn’t require pre-cooking.
  • Large (minimum 5 quart) oval slow cooker, greased
2 tbsp    butter    30 mL
1    onion, finely chopped    1
1 lb    mushrooms, trimmed and sliced    500 g
4    cloves garlic, minced    4
31⁄2 cups    quartered artichoke hearts, packed in water,    875 mL
    drained, or thawed if frozen
3⁄4 cup    dry white wine or vegetable broth    175 mL
12    oven-ready lasagna noodles    12
21⁄2 cups     ricotta cheese    625 mL
2 cups    baby spinach    500 mL
21⁄2 cups    shredded mozzarella cheese    625 mL
1⁄2 cup    freshly grated Parmesan cheese    125 mL
    Extra virgin olive oil, optional (see Tips, left)

1.    In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring, until mushrooms begin to release their liquid. Stir in artichokes and wine and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until liquid reduces slightly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
2.    Cover bottom of slow cooker stoneware with 4 noodles, breaking to fit where necessary. Spread with half of the ricotta, half of the mushroom mixture, half of the spinach, one-third each of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat. Arrange final layer of noodles over cheeses. Pour any liquid remaining from mushroom mixture over noodles (see Tip, left). If top still seems dry, sprinkle with a little vegetable broth or water. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until hot and bubbly.

v Vegetarian Friendly (pg 214)
v Entertaining Worthy

Unlike many recipes for lasagna, this one is not terribly saucy. As a result, the noodles on the top layer tend to dry out. Leave a small amount of the cooking liquid from the mushroom mixture behind in the pan, after adding to the slow cooker. Pour that over the top layer of noodles, particularly around the edges, where they are most likely to dry out. If it still seems dry, drizzle with a little olive oil.

Make Ahead
This dish can be assembled the night before it is cooked. Refrigerate overnight in slow cooker stoneware and cook as directed.

Excerpted from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson
Photographs by Colin Erricson © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Short Ribs with Orange Gremolata
Serves 4 to 6

These delicious Italian-inspired ribs are classy enough for the most discriminating guest yet homey enough for a family dinner. Serve with creamy polenta and steamed broccoli spears or rapini for a scrumptious Italian-themed meal.
  • Large (minimum 5 quart) slow cooker
  • Preheat broiler
4 to 5 lbs    beef short ribs (see Tip, left)    2 to 2.5 kg
1 tbsp    oil    15 mL
2    onions, finely chopped    2
2    large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced    2
4    stalks celery, thinly sliced    4
4    cloves garlic, minced    4
1 tsp    salt    5 mL
1 tsp    cracked black peppercorns    5 mL
2    whole sprigs fresh thyme or 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL)     2
    dried thyme
2 tbsp    all-purpose flour    30 mL
1 tbsp    tomato paste    15 mL
1⁄2 cup    dry red wine    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    beef broth    125 mL

Orange Gremolata
1⁄2 cup    Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped    125 mL
1    clove garlic, minced    1
    Zest of 1 orange, finely chopped

1.    Position broiler rack 6 inches (15 cm) from heat source. Broil ribs on both sides, turning once, until well browned, about 10 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Separate ribs if in strips and place in slow cooker stoneware.
2.    In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, salt, peppercorns and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and wine, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in broth.
3.    Pour sauce over ribs and stir to combine. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until ribs are tender and falling off the bone.
4.    Orange Gremolata: Combine parsley, garlic and orange zest in a small bowl just before serving and pass at the table.

v Entertaining Worthy (pg 112)
v Can Be Halved
    (see Tips, page 108)

I love short ribs but they are very fatty. Browning them under the broiler before cooking renders much of the fat.

Make Ahead
This dish can be partially prepared before it is cooked.
Complete Step 2. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, brown the ribs (Step 1) and continue with the recipe.

Excerpted from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson
Photographs by Colin Erricson © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Delectable Apple-Cranberry Coconut Crisp
Serves 6 to 8

I love to make this delicious dessert in the fall when apples and cranberries are in season. This version is a little tart, which suits my taste, but if you have a sweet tooth, add more sugar to the cranberry mixture.
  • Medium (approx. 31⁄2 quart) slow cooker, lightly greased
4 cups    sliced, peeled apples    1 L
2 cups    cranberries, thawed if frozen    500 mL
1⁄2 cup    granulated sugar    125 mL
1 tbsp    cornstarch    15 mL
1⁄2 tsp    ground cinnamon    2 mL
2 tbsp    freshly squeezed lemon juice or port wine    30 mL
Coconut Topping
1⁄2 cup    packed brown sugar    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    rolled oats    125 mL
1⁄4 cup    flaked sweetened coconut    60 mL
1⁄4 cup    butter    60 mL

1.    In a bowl, combine apples, cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice or port. Mix well and transfer to prepared stoneware.
2.    Coconut Topping: In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, rolled oats, coconut and butter. Using two forks or your fingers, combine until crumbly. Spread over apple mixture.
3.    Place a clean tea towel, folded in half (so you will have two layers), over top of stoneware. Cover and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours, until crisp is hot and bubbly. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Apple-Coconut Crisp: Use 6 cups (1.5 L) sliced apples, omit cranberries, reduce sugar to 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) and use lemon juice rather than port wine.

v Vegetarian Friendly
v Entertaining Worthy
v Can Be Halved
    (see Tip, below)

If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (approx. 11⁄2 to 3 quart) slow cooker.

Excerpted from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson
Photographs by Colin Erricson © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Rice Pudding

The theme for this week's cooking club is peasant food. This connotates simple, inexpensive foods - generally slowly cooked for maximum flavour and tenderness.

My mind immediately went to my favourite - rice pudding. If you have rice (short to medium grain is best), and milk (whole, if possible), and some sort of sweetening agent (I like good old sugar) - then you can make rice pudding!

Rice pudding is the only dish I remember my father making. I went to visit him in his cabin in the middle of nowhere in the Canadian north and he made me rice pudding with cinnamon and raisins. To this day it is my favourite way of having it, but I do like to switch it up from time to time.

The trick is to take your time. Think of it as sweet risotto. You cook up your rice in some water first, to get it close to tender. Then add your milk, bit by bit, sweetening to taste along the way. Keep stirring and tasting and adding. It can be very therapeutic, almost meditative, to slowly cook your rice to creamy perfection. Or else it would be if you were not watching Vampire Diaries at the same time. Ahem. 

In Falling Cloudberries, Tessa Kiros talks about her grandfather slowly cooking rice pudding for her. He would give her such directions as, "Add one flat woodenspoonful of sugar and cook it until it is ready."
I heartily agree. You can have measurements and directions, but the pudding itself will tell you when it is ready.

How you flavour rice pudding is up to you. As I mentioned, my favourite is cinnamon and raisin. Tessa likes just cinnamon or, for a treat, rose water (which would be awesome with some pistachios on top).
But I was swayed by my good friend Jamie's post about Café Latte Riz au Lait. For some reason, in all my years as a rice pudding lover, it never occurred to me to add espresso powder to it. Brilliant! So of course we had to serve them in coffee cups. With a dollop of whipped cream and a little cocoa powder on top. Okay, it's not looking so peasant-ish anymore. But these were all things we had on hand, and the basic idea of rice pudding is in fact quite humble. That's my story and I am sticking to it.

Rice Pudding 
adapted from Falling Cloudberries, Tessa Kiros

1¼ cups medium grain rice
8 cups (approx) whole milk
sugar to taste
flavourings - cinnamon, cinnamon&raisins, rosewater&pistachios, or espresso powder. Or use your imagination!

Cook the rice in enough water to cover generously. When fairly tender and the water is pretty much absorbed, add the milk bit by bit, stirring. Start adding sugar to taste, adding more milk when it gets thick. Bring in your seasonings and keep stirring and adding until the rice pudding is done. Serve hot, warm, or cold. If you are going to refrigerate it, add a little more milk.

IHCC Tessa Kiros Button IHCC