January 29, 2008

Waffles + Maple Syrup + Bacon = Yum

Date: Approximately 2 weeks ago.

Time: Morning.

Scene: In the kitchen at my parent’s home. Dad is making coffee. I’m trying to gather ingredients to make waffles.

One More Reason to Love My Dad:

Me: "We don’t have buttermilk or enough eggs to make Alton Brown’s waffles."

Dad: "Just make Dorie’s waffles. I’ll put some bacon on."


January 28, 2008

All Challenges Should Involve A Torch

Jen, The Canadian Baker chose Lemon Meringue Pie as this month’s Daring Baker Challenge. I’ve been getting quite a few requests for lemon meringue pie lately so it seemed only fitting that I make mini pies so that I could dole them out to everyone who had asked for some. For late comers though, there was nothing. I had two people ask me a week later for lemon meringue pie, completely unaware that I had just made some. I told them to blame Kmac for stealing them all and to pick something else, I don’t like repeats.

Kmac, (previously of Happy Random Pie Day fame) got most of the pies, but that’s only fair as she helped make them. And by ‘help make them’, I mean she came over and brought butter, eggs, lemons and sour keys, (hey, we needed some snacks) and then sat on the couch and read a trashy gossip magazine, while I made the pies. She provided valuable entertainment and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the best kind of help. And the groceries. If anyone buys me groceries I’ll make whatever they want, repeat or no. So Kmac bought the groceries and I made the pie and we were both happy with that until the end of the pie making process when Kmac’s interest perked up. You see, that’s when I brought out my pretty blue torch and then she wanted to play in the kitchen too. Luckily, I had extra meringue so I let Kmac torch the meringue that was not going to leave my house and be seen by the world at large. It’s a good thing I had leftovers because unlike myself who was trying to make pretty designs on the meringue, Kmac’s goal seemed to be to create black lumps of coal. She had lots of fun doing it too.

When I was done making the pies, I gave them to Kmac in a plastic dome topped tray and sent her off into a cold and wintry night. I told her to message me when she got home to make sure that the tarts survived the trip. The message that I got was priceless:

“The pies made it fine, however... the pie top flew off around Bloor St and Bathurst St, damn wind tunnel. So I put the pies on the sidewalk and ran after the lid. I retrieved it and no one ate the pies :)”

I love that she just set a tray of lemon meringue pies down on the slushy sidewalk and ran off to fetch the flyaway lid. I almost wish someone had stolen her pies, just because it would have made for a better story. I guess this way I got to hear about what everyone thought of their pie. I’ve become convinced though that most people are simply happy to receive something homemade so it doesn’t really matter if it’s all that great. I’m much more critical. The pies were well received by all who had them but I had some reservations about the filling. It was tasty, but if the pie sat for any length of time, a layer of water developed on top of the lemon. I suppose if you ate them immediately after assembling, that wouldn’t be a problem. I ate my pie in stages though and every time I went back to have some more there was another layer of watery stuff on top of the lemon. I’ve heard that I’m not the only person who had this problem and that extra cornstarch might be a possible solution. I probably won’t ever know, cause like I said, I don’t like repeats.

Hopefully you don’t mind seeing repeats as much as I mind making them because there’s going to be a whole lot of Lemon Meringue Pie out there. If you want to know exactly where to find it, check the Daring Bakers Blogroll.

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January 26, 2008

This Is What's Cooking

It always amazes me that anyone should have a difficult time buying me a present. Then again, it also amazes me that I’m not showered with presents on a daily basis. I’m sure there are enough cookbooks out there that I could get a new one everyday and never have any repeats. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that other people don’t realize this. How else can you explain the fact that What’s Cooking: Baking, by Emma Patmore is the only cookbook I received for Christmas? Unbelievable, but true.

I suppose What’s Cooking should consider itself lucky to have been my one and only Christmas cookbook as it’s meant I’ve spent a copious amount of time getting to know it. Allow me to tell you a little about the book that claims to be a step by step collection of baked dishes. It certainly is an eclectic mix of recipes. Chapters are divided into Puddings & Pastries, Breads & Side Dishes, Vegetarian Baking, and Cakes and Cookies. As an added bonus every single recipe has a picture of the final product as well as step by step photos. The chapter on Vegetarian Baking somewhat baffles me as I think it should perhaps be renamed Vegan Baking. Regardless, it has both sweet and savoury recipes that call for predominantly whole wheat flour as opposed to all purpose. I have yet to attempt any recipes from that chapter. I have, however, tried out the Chocolate Bread, Cheese and Onion Pies and Oat and Raisin Cookies.

The Chocolate Bread gave off a wonderful aroma while baking but had a very subtle chocolate flavour and only a faint hint of sweetness. I baked it with the intent of making Chocolate French Toast and it was certainly good as such. It would also work for PB & J or PB & Banana sandwiches.

The Cheese and Onion Pies were a surprise hit for me. After making them I decided I wanted to try a little nibble and that little nibble turned into me devouring a whole pie… This book seems to have an abundance of onion recipes, including: Celery and Onion Pies, Mini Cheese and Onion Tarts and Red Onion Tart Tatin to name a few.

My favourite recipe of the three that I tried though, were the Oat and Raisin cookies. They were soft and chewy, homey and just plain good!

Final verdict? This book contains an interesting mixture of sweet and savoury baked goods. Some of the recipes seem like an odd choice, but hey, I’m a little weird myself, so I guess that’s alright. I’m actually curious to try out some of the vegan recipes as those are something that I’m not at all familiar with, but it’s going to be awfully hard for me not to throw in a handful of bacon. The photos of every recipe are certainly a bonus and the Oat and Raisin cookies are going to become a regular in my kitchen.

Oat and Raisin Cookies, (Adapted slightly from What’s Cooking: Baking by Emma Patmore)

4 T butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

½ cup all purpose flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats

¾ cup plump raisins

2 T sunflower seeds

Line 2 cookies sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the beaten egg gradually and beat until well combined.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into the creamed mixture. Mix well

Add the oats, raisins, sunflower seeds and mix together thoroughly.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture well apart on the prepared cookie sheets and flatten them slightly with the back of a spoon.

Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 350F for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.

Let the cookies coo slightly on the cookie sheets.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely before serving.

Makes 16-18 cookies.

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January 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is Dad’s birthday and unfortunately I will not be there to celebrate with him. I did get home last weekend though and while I was there I made this Chocolate Mousse Cake from Fine Cooking magazine. Chocolate mousse is actually Dad’s specialty dessert. He rarely makes sweets, but when he does, it’s usually in the form of a rich chocolate mousse. I switched things up by making it in cake form but as good as this cake was though, it’s got nothing on Dad.

To start with, Dad is funny. Really funny. I don’t think everyone gets his sense of humour, (or mine) but then again, some people are dumb. I happen to think he’s hilarious. Who else would name their two turkeys, Licious and De? Or answer the phone in a Seinfeld voice when my friends call? (Tell me you’ve all seen the episode where Jerry does a voice for his girlfriend’s belly button and makes it say “helllloooooo la la la!”) Or position carved gnomes outside my window looking in, to scare the bejesus out of me? The thought of Mr. Smiles still creeps me out but at least now I can laugh at him too. Dad’s jokes never get old for me.

It’s partly because he’s so funny that I like hanging out with my Dad so much, but it’s also because we enjoy the same things. In the summer we go on bike rides and play tennis together, (he even lets me win sometimes…). Then in the winter we go snowshoeing and cross country skiing, (and he races to the top of the hills faster than I’ll ever get there). Regardless of the season, on weeknights we compete against each other in Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and on Sunday nights we always watch Iron Chef. Oh yeah- this is a food blog, did I mention Dad loves to cook? Not only does he love to cook but he loves to try new things and experiment in the kitchen and as a result we have made some amazing things, like bacon! It was after I read a few of Michael Ruhlman’s books and told Dad about them that he promptly read some Ruhlman books of his own and ordered Charcuterie so that we could make bacon, chorizo sausage and smoked salmon, (among other things).

Dad has certainly encouraged my love of playing in the kitchen and for that I’m grateful. I’m also very lucky that we share a love of gadgets. All it takes is one of us to mention a new kitchen toy and the other will be on the bandwagon immediately. That’s the only way I can explain how I ended up with my Kitchenaid, ice cream machine, BlendTec and pasta machine. And the best part is that we didn’t pay full price for any of them! A man of many talents, Dad is also the master of a good deal and always knows just where to go to find what you’re looking for. To top it all off, he’s a talented artist who carves in wood and stone. He’s a handyman who can find a solution to any problem. And most importantly, he’s extremely supportive of everything I do.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and I sure hope that’s true because if I become even half as awesome as my Dad is, I’ll be doing just fine.

Happy Birthday Dad!

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January 22, 2008

Challah that Won't Let You Down

I hate being letdown. Well really, who doesn’t? But there is some news that I take worse than others. This morning, for example, I was hopeful that I would have some wonderful news to share, some news that would mean my quality of life would be increasing ten fold. What could that news possibly be? Why that my shower would finally be fixed, of course! Oh I’m sorry, was that disappointing for you? Were you expecting some legitimately exciting news like that I had won the lottery and would be treating all of my readers, (my vast sea of readers, or is it more like a kiddie pool of readers?) to unimaginable treasure? My apologies, that’s not the case. But at least now you know how I felt this morning when Landlord and Bathfitter Guy showed up at my door, (unannounced) and informed me today would be the day for my new shower and then left 15 minutes later!

Apparently when Bathfitter Guy had been at my house two weeks ago, he measured incorrectly and so the custom made shower did not fit and would have to be re-ordered. Re-ordering means waiting another 2 weeks before anything gets done and a big letdown for what started out to be such a promising day. At first I was mildly annoyed at being woken up by the sound of pounding at the door, but that went away when I realized that it was Bathfitter Guy, here to save the day. My calm lasted a mere quarter of an hour before Bathfitter Guy, (after making me move everything away from the shower) announced that there was nothing he could do, the measurements were wrong, see you later. Calm was replaced by exasperation. Was he serious? How dare he get my hopes up only to dash them again! Once Bathfitter Guy and Landlord had gone however, my mood switched from exasperated to sleepy and I realized that at least I could go back to bed, where I promptly forgot that anything was the matter. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

I wouldn’t want to let you down without bringing you back up again and so allow me to present to you the greatest thing since No Knead Bread: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. Jaden of my favourite Steamy Kitchen, brought this book to my attention when she made No Knead Sticky Pecan Caramel Cinnamon Rolls and gave a stellar review of the book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. This book takes the concept of no knead bread, expands it to include over 100 recipes and simplifies it to boot. What more could you ask for? I was sold on the book after seeing that first recipe, but then Jaden went ahead and made No Knead Nutella and Roasted Hazelnut Challah. That was enough to inspire me to make it immediately. And I was not letdown by the results, in fact, it was so good that it was almost as though Bathfitter Guy had returned and said “Just joshing, I’ll install your shower now.” Sadly, that wasn’t the case. But the Nutella and Hazelnut Challah is one of the prettiest loaves of bread I’ve ever made. I almost didn’t want to eat it because I wanted to spend more time basking in its beauty. Then I took one bite and realized that the beauty was doomed to be devoured in seconds. For a moment afterwards, I began to feel letdown again, this time because it was all gone. Then I remembered that the Master Challah Dough recipe makes enough dough for multiple loaves of bread and there was still a large chunk of it resting in the fridge. Will the wonders of this bread never end?! Back to the kitchen I went to create my own recipe for Maple Sugar and Nut Butterflies.

Why did I shape them into deformed butterflies? Because Bread Baking Day #6, (a monthly event that was started by Zorra) is being hosted by Eva of Sweet Sins and she’s chosen Shaped Bread as the theme for this round. I think the braided loaf and butterfly buns certainly qualify. There’s no limit to what you can do with this No Knead Master Challah Dough recipe, so have fun playing around with it. I know I’ll continue to do so. New shower or not, life must go on.

Master Challah Dough (From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois)

1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbl instant yeast
1 1/2 tbl kosher salt (1 1/2 tsp table salt)
4 lg eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, water, honey, melted butter, yeast and salt. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add in the flour. Stir until you don't see any more dry bits of flour. Cover (not airtight) and stick it in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 4 days. The longer you let it sit in the refrigerator, the better tasting the dough will be.

If you want, you can let it rise for 2 hours on the counter, pinch off the dough that you need to make your Challah. However, with only a 2-hour rise, the bread isn't very flavorful. Still good, but definitely not as good as if you had let it sit 1-4 days in the refrigerator.

To see the amazing and simple recipe for the No Knead Nutella and Roasted Hazelnut Challah, visit Jaden’s blog. To make the Maple Sugar and Nut Butterflies, simply roll out a chunk of the Master Challah Dough, spread it with butter and top with maple sugar and nuts, (I used almonds and hazelnuts). See this post on Gattina’s blog, Kitchen Unplugged for shaping instructions, (her recipe is different, but I got the shaping inspiration from her, even though hers turned out much more like butterflies).

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January 21, 2008

Steak & Gorgonzola: Drool.

This is one of the best pizzas I’ve ever made. Seriously. While some people may find themselves daydreaming about traveling to exotic locations or a hot date, I’ve been thinking about this pizza and when I’ll get to taste it again. The day after making it I was sitting in class, doing my best to stay awake, (note- Business Communications is not very entertaining) and all I could think about was the fact that I had leftover Steak & Gorgonzola pizza sitting in my fridge and how much I wanted to be at home eating it. I even envisioned heating it up in the oven instead of nuking it in order to preserve the perfect crust and bubbling cheese. I actually had to wipe the drool away from my mouth and try to force myself to think of other things because if I didn’t get that pizza soon I was going to go into withdrawal, complete with the shakes. It was just that good.

Now I know all you savvy food enthusiasts out there love blue cheese, but in case you’re trying to convince a wary friend that mold is worth eating, gorgonzola is a good place to start. It’s a milder blue cheese, creamy and delicious, but still full of flavour. And what better a time to try this pizza than now as Joey of 80 Breakfasts has chosen Pizza as this month’s theme for Hay Hay it’s Donna Day, which was originally started by Barbara of Winos and Foodies.

My amazing Steak & Gorgonzola pizza comes from Food & Drink magazine, an awesome free publication put out by the LCBO. I decided to try a different crust than the one offered in Food & Drink and who to turn to but a fellow blogger? I’ve seen Joe, of Culinary in the Country, make countless dishes using his favourite pizza dough and they all look amazing. If he’s gone back to that same recipe again and again there has to be a good reason for it and I assure you, there is. This dough comes together in seconds in the food processor, is easy to work with and freezes well too if you feel like making a double batch, (I did!).

Steak & Gorgonzola Pizza, ( From Food & Drink, Winter 2008)

1 recipe of your favourite pizza dough, about a pound (I recommend Joe’s)


1 T butter

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 T all purpose flour

1 cup cold whole milk

½ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese, about 3 oz, (I used close to 4, I like cheese)

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper


12-16 oz striploin steak, preferably 1 inch thick

1 tsp peanut oil

1 sweet red pepper

1 large or 2 medium portabello mushrooms

¾ cup freshly grated hard cheese, (blend of your choice)

3 cups cubed soft cheese blend, (I didn’t use this much)

1 cup thinly sliced sweet red or white onion

2 tsp finely chopped fresh or dry rosemary

1. Pat out dough in two 12 inch oiled pizza pans for thin crusts or a half sheet for a medium thick crust. If using a jelly roll pan for a thick crust, reduce topping quantities by a third. Form a rim around edges. (I made one 12 inch and 4 mini pizzas.)

2. To make sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Mix in flour; cool 1 minute, stirring frequently. Slowly whisk in milk; cook, stirring often, for 5-8 minutes or until mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in Gorgonzola, salt and pepper. If sauce seems very thick, stir in splashes of additional milk until consistency is that of pasta sauce. (Sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days)

3. Heat a dry heavy frying pan, preferably cast iron or a grill pan, over med-high heat until very hot. Rub both sides of steak with oil. Place steak in hot pan; sear 1 min per side. Remove to plate while still very rare; immediately refrigerate. (Cover when cold if making up to a day ahead.) Slice cold steak into bite-sized ¼ inch thick slices just before using. Seed and very thinly slice red pepper. Remove stem from mushroom. Scrape out and discard black gills and stem. Thinly slice remaining mushrooms.

4. Arrange oven racks with one on lowest level and one on upper level.

5. Preheat oven to 475F at least 15min before baking.

6. Spread dough with sauce; then sprinkle with grated hard cheese and steak. Scatter top evenly with cheese cubes; top with red pepper, mushroom and onion slices. Let rise, uncovered for 10-20 minutes until dough has almost doubled.

7. Place pizza on lowest rack. Bake 5-10 minutes. Use a spatula to turn up one corner of dough to check for browning. When nicely browned, move pizza to top rack for 5-8 minutes or until top is golden. Scatter rosemary overtop of hot pizza. To preserve crispy bottom, slide onto a cooling rack.

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January 16, 2008

Yogurt Covered Raisins Are Dangerous

In my last post I mentioned that I’ve been craving brownies. That craving grew and grew and got to the point where something bad was going to happen if I didn’t make brownies. I even started to get mad at the other dishes I was making because they weren’t brownies. I made soup and hated it. It wasn’t brownies. I made muffins and hated them. They weren’t brownies. I made hot chocolate and… didn’t hate it entirely, at least there was chocolate. But it still wasn’t brownies. Then I found out that CandyRecapper was hosting this month’s Sugar High Friday and had chosen the theme of baking with candy. Bingo! I figured I could throw some candy into a brownie recipe and kill two birds with one stone. Then I would be making brownies with a greater purpose than simply to satisfy my irrational cravings.

I typed ‘brownies’ into the Epicurious.com search bar and saw a recipe for Brownies with Chocolate Covered Raisins. Chocolate covered raisins are all well and good, but I immediately knew I would be swapping them out for yogurt covered raisins, even though I knew this was a potentially bad idea. You see, I have a problem with yogurt covered raisins. I like them so much that I eat them until I feel sick and then vow to never eat them again. This resolution is futile and I inevitably end up overdosing the little devils again at a later date. It’s not even like yogurt covered raisins are that good. The yogurt coating is kind of waxy and artificial tasting but for some reason I’m drawn to them and never stop eating them when I know I should. I blame the fact that they’re predominantly sold in bulk form and that I have a very heavy scooping hand. Or possibly it’s the fault of the gnomes. They seem like they could be at the root of this evil… Uh yeah, gnomes. Anyways, I tried to curtail my snacking habit by throwing all of the yogurt raisins into the brownie batter so I wouldn’t have any leftovers but this only encouraged me to overdose on the brownies instead. Curses! I never win!

Brownies with Yogurt Covered Raisins, (Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 1995)

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup yogurt-covered raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8-inch square pan with 2-inch-high sides. Stir butter and both chocolates in medium saucepan over low heat until melted. Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in medium bowl until very thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Stir in melted chocolate mixture and vanilla. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in another medium bowl. Stir into chocolate mixture. Mix in chocolate-covered raisins.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and top cracks in places, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool in pan. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and let stand at room temperature.)

Cut brownies into squares.

Servings: Serves 12.

January 14, 2008

Granola? More like Fantastanola!

Granola is seriously addictive. The dangerous part though, is that it’s inconspicuously addictive. When I make it, I put it in a tupperware container in the cupboard and somehow it just disappears. I pretend like I don’t know how it happens, but I do. Every time I go into the kitchen I grab a handful of granola and munch away. Soon enough, there’s no more granola. This makes me sad because I really like granola with yogurt and fresh fruit but I rarely get around to eating it that way. You’d think the solution would be to make more granola, but that doesn’t help, I still plunder the cupboard until it’s bare of granola. Even the temptation to save some so that I can eat it with thick Greek yogurt and tart, juicy kiwi can’t stop me from demolishing my granola reserve.

I took a whole bunch of pictures of kiwi without even realizing it at the time, then when I was going through my pics I noticed an abundance of kiwi and a lack of my subject; granola. Possibly because I ate all the granola and there was none left to take pictures of, but possibly because kiwi’s just so photogenic. I remember thinking it should hang out with pomegranate because the two of them would be the most photogenic couple ever. Like Brangelina in fruit form.

The bonus photo today is of my Alsatian Apple Tart, (from Baking, naturally) which I chose to glaze with cassis jelly instead of apple, hence the purple. And as you can probably tell from all of my photos, I'm still struggling without a light in my kitchen. Damn you Landlord!

In other random thoughts, I've really been craving brownies lately. That is all.

Bri’s Addictive Granola, (Based on Dorie Greenspan’s Oatmeal, Honey and Nut Granola)

2 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats

½ cup sunflower seeds

1 cup almonds, roughly chopped

1/3 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

Pinch cinnamon

½ cup pear puree

½ cup dried pineapple chunks

½ cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and have ready two large rimmed baking sheets lined with nonstick aluminum foil.

Mix all the ingredients together, except the dried fruit, in a big bowl. Keep turning the ingredients around so that the honey and pear puree coats everything. Divide the mix between the two baking sheets and spread it out so that you've got even layers.

Bake the granola for 40 to 50 minutes, turning it with a wooden spoon every 10 minutes or so. The turning is extremely important because you want to evenly toast and dry out the granola. If you find that the granola is browning unevenly, rotate your baking sheets front to back and top to bottom (if you're working on two shelves).

I can't give you an exact baking time, you have to keep looking at it. You want the color to be dark -the cereal won't have much taste or crunch if it's not - and you might have to sacrifice a few burnt nuts to get it. Just keep watching, particularly once the color starts to deepen. The granola may not seem completely dry when you take it out of the oven, but it will crisp up once it cools.

Cool the granola on the baking sheets, turning it often as it comes to room temperature. Stir in the dried fruits and store the granola in a covered container away from moisture.

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January 12, 2008

Kensington Market

Kensington Market. The name alone brings a smile to my face. It was the first area of Toronto that I got to know in my second year of University when I moved off campus and into the heart of the market. And what a market! Kensington is certainly a place that can be described as having character. Rain, snow or shine, the market is open year round and has everything you need to make any meal and then some. Each little shop specializes in something; from fruits and veggies to spices, meat, fish, cheese, chocolate, bread and eggs.

Sundays are for pedestrians only but no matter what day of the week you’re there, the market area is filled with shoppers and cars have to wait. If you like to people watch, there’s no place better than Luis Coffee Shop. Grab a coffee, pull up a stool and enjoy the scenery. Kensington is a place where diversity reigns. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of the Cat Man who walks around with two seemingly content cats on his shoulder, (I couldn’t make this up if I tried…) or the Bird Lady, (same deal, but with birds).

On my most recent trip I picked up some pomegranate molasses and garam masala from House of Spice, parmesan and smoked gouda from Global Cheese, a baguette from My Market Bakery, enormous fuji apples from Oxford Fruit and some ground beef from European Meats. You tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll tell you where to find it in Kensington. Looking for satsuma mandarins? Go to Oxford Fruit. Got a craving for some goat roti? Go to Patty King. Need a chocolate fix? Go to Chocolate Addict. Feeling like a specialty brie with truffles? Go to Global Cheese. Looking for vintage clothing? Yes, that’s right, the market has more than just food, with Kensington Ave devoted to all things vintage.

I mainly make my trips to Kensington for groceries to make my own meals but if you don’t feel like doing the cooking yourself, Kensington is also filled with an eclectic mix of restaurants and cafes. From snacks to full out meals, with dishes from South America to the Caribbean to Portugal to Thailand, the market has what you want.

As if all of this weren’t amazing enough, it’s the low prices and lack of pretentiousness I love about Kensington Market. Shopping in regular grocery stores leads me to drive people crazy saying things like “you can get this cheaper in Kensington.” Not only can you get it cheaper in Kensington, but it’s more fun to get it from a market that has people and food from around the world that exist together in a laid back, comfortable atmosphere. Kensington Market is my kind of place.

January 11, 2008

Hey Look! A Vegetable!

It’s been ages since I’ve participated in a blogging event, especially Blog Party hosted by Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness. I always have such good intentions but lately it just hasn’t happened. But when I heard Stephanie was hosting yet another round of Blogging By Mail, I knew that I had to get back into participating. I signed up immediately for BBM, (which has the theme of ‘Little Things Mean A Lot’) and then decided that I would also participate in this month’s Blog Party, which is vegetarian themed. Anyone who knows me, knows I love meat, (especially bacon) but that doesn’t mean I don’t eat my veggies. I actually really like vegetables but they don’t have the same show stopping appeal that bacon does, (ok, maybe I’m biased) so they don’t make it onto my blog as often as I eat them.

Apparently the veggies resent my lack of blogging about them because as I was slicing the celery, I sliced my thumb too. Cutting myself in the kitchen always makes me feel like such a failure. And then the bandaid gets in the way of future cutting and gets all soggy when dishwashing and generally serves as a mocking reminder of my inability to wield a knife. Sigh. To compensate for my lack of knife skills, I used my food processor and blender to complete the rest of the required tasks. Screw learning how to do things properly, I’ll just buy expensive machines to do my work for me! And somehow acquire a Lifesponsor so that I’m able to afford said expensive machines…

Bri’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

2 red peppers

1 can chic peas

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Roast the peppers whole in a 450F oven until the skin begins to turn black. Remove from the oven and place immediately in a plastic bag. Let the peppers sit for ten minutes in the bag and then remove the skin and discard along with the inside of the peppers.

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve with fresh cut veggies.

Bri’s Kiwi Banana Smoothie Shots

1 ½ frozen bananas

1 kiwi

½ cup vanilla yogurt

Splash of milk

Drizzle of honey

Blend and serve. Garnish with a clementine slice if you feel so inclined.

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January 09, 2008

Score One for the Good Guys

As I’ve mentioned previously my new apartment leaves much to be desired and my landlord is something of a nutcase. I’m slowly trying to get the necessary changes made though and since I see my landlord almost on a daily basis, (not by choice) I have plenty of opportunities to pester him about what needs to be done. I have no clue why he’s around here so often other than that he’s a bumbling, nosey man who likes to have people to complain to. Every day, EVERY DAY, he tells me how expensive things are and how the electricity is run by the mafia and how I need to turn off all the lights when I’m not using them, (why? Because it’s so expensive… the mafia… so expensive!). I generally just nod my head and try to have an excuse on hand about why I can’t stay and chat with him for hours on end, like I have to go dig a hole and sit in it.

Last time I blogged about my apartment situation, I was complaining about my cave of a kitchen and the lack of light, (this being the reason for my dark and funny coloured photos of late). First there were Christmas lights on the ceiling but ever since I got him to take those down there has been nothing but darkness. I put a standing floor lamp up so that I would have something, (Landlord constantly tells me to remember to turn it off) and remind him daily that I need a real light in my kitchen. Last week he brought me a light and promised to put it up next time, (he’s seen me no less than 7 times since then). The light remains in a box on top of my refrigerator. Forget finding a Life Sponsor, I just need someone who knows how to fix things…

Ahh! He’s knocking on my door right now… I can’t believe he came to my door while I was writing this post. But really, it should come as no surprise, I see him every day. But for once it was good to see him, I can’t believe the amazing news I just received! No, there’s still no light in my kitchen, but my shower is going to be fixed!!! I didn’t mention the state of my shower before because I thought it was too gruesome for a food blog. Suffice to say, it needs to be fully replaced and I’ve been wearing flip flops in my own shower. Yes, flip flops. And I don’t ever touch the walls. After over a month of pestering Landlord to do something, I decided to take matters into my own hands and called Bathfitter to come give me a free in home estimate, (I sound like their TV ad, apparently it worked on me). The nice Bathfitter man came, was appalled at the state of my shower, handed me an estimate and wished me the best of luck with Landlord. I consider myself lucky that Landlord did not have a heart attack and die at my feet when I gave him the estimate and demanded that something be done. Although he didn’t keel over, there were some tears and he told me, (again) how he’s a sick old man and it’s so expensive, the mafia, so expensive…

As Landlord hobbled off, head in his hands, I thought that was the end of any hope for a new shower. Then, a few days ago, Landlord showed up on my doorstep with a Shower-Fixing-Guy of his own, who fortunately sided with me and backed me up when I said the whole shower needed replacing. Once again, Landlord left with tears in his eyes and head in his hands. Fastforward to today when I just heard today a knock on my door that actually made me happy, (and glad I didn’t pretend not to be home). It was Landlord accompanied by Bathfitter Guy! Wooohooooooo!!!! I’m getting a whole new shower!!! It will take a couple weeks to happen, but I’ve waited this long, a couple more weeks won’t hurt. I’m still in disbelief.

In celebration, I thought I’d showcase a few more Dorie recipes. It’s been a while since my last Dorie post and I don’t want you to think I’ve stopped using my favourite Baking book, so here are some more amazing Dorie goodies: Madeleines, Chocolate Madeleines, (with lime zest!) Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbread and Lennox Bicotti, (I’ve already made the original almond version so this time I substituted cranberries and pistachios for the almonds).

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January 07, 2008

Sweet Linky Love

In my last post I featured two blogger recipes; Ivonne’s Tiramisu and Anne’s Swedish Meatballs but those are only a couple of the blogger recipes I’ve made so I thought I’d share a couple more of them with you today.

First off we have Rum Balls from Baking Bites. I brought these to a couple Christmas parties and according to Mom “They pack a punch!” They’re rum balls, what do you expect? Nicole gives the option of making them with vanilla wafers or animal crackers, I chose animal crackers because even though they’re crushed up and unrecognizable as animals once they’re in the rum balls, I feel like they add a bit of jungle pizzazz to the end product. Plus they’re fun to play with before you pulverize them.

Next up we have Fleur de Sel Caramels from Cookworm. Caramel has long been a nemesis of mine and not much has changed. Despite the fact that I bought myself a brand new candy thermometer I still managed to slightly overcook these. This resulted in caramels that were a little hard on the outside but they softened up with a smidgen of jaw power. That didn't stop me from devouring them though, the taste was still great! And I’m sure anyone who’s more adept at dealing with hot sugar than I am, would have no problem with the recipe. This was also an opportunity for me to use the lemon fleur de sel I bought a long time ago with the intention of using it in World Peace Cookies, and have yet to do so, (but will one day…).

If you’ve ever made any of the recipes you’ve seen here, let me know!

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January 06, 2008

Who Says Meat Doesn't Go With Dessert?

I’ve been reading food blogs for about a year and a half now and over that time I have come across tons of recipes that I’ve made mental notes to try but never do. Occasionally though, I will go back and search through archives in order to find a recipe I had seen and thought I should make. Usually this happens when someone else mentions a particular dish and a light bulb goes off in my head, reminding me that I had seen a recipe for that dish that I wanted to make. The only problem is that I forget that the people around me have not read the blogs that I have and I blurt out something like, “Oh yeah, Tartelette or What’s for Lunch Honey? just recently made that, I really want to give it a try.” When I’m met with blank or confused stares I mumble something about blogging and run away.

This was the case last week when my friend Jls was visiting and mentioned that she’d like to have tiramisu on New Years. Immediately I knew where to go for the recipe as I had seen the same one pop up twice, first on La Mia Cucina and then on Cream Puffs in Venice and when those two bloggers back a recipe, it’s guaranteed to be good. This particular recipe is special because it’s Ivonne’s family’s tiramisu recipe. She says it’s completely adaptable but the only changes I made were to use Bailey’s as the liquor and to make my own lady fingers, (instead of using store bought). I had never made lady fingers or tiramisu before so I figured I should kill two birds with one stone and forgo the store bought cakes for homemade, (I used this recipe from Joy of Baking). However, that recipe did not make quite enough ladyfingers for my purposes and I didn't really feel like making a second batch so I had to get a little creative. I looked in the freezer and found half a dozen chocolate madeleines that were looking to be eaten so I cut each one in half, soaked them like I did the lady fingers and layered them in the middle of my tiramisu.

I think it turned out pretty well because after finishing off her first piece Jls asked if she could have some more. I told her it was in the fridge and she should help herself to as much as she wanted. While getting the tiramisu out of the fridge, she noticed some leftover Swedish meatballs, (another blogger recipe! This one from Anne’s Food) from the night before and grabbed a few of those too. Upon seeing Jls sitting on the coach with a meatball in one hand and tiramisu in the other it made me think of the Friends episode where Rachel decides to make an English Trifle for Thanksgiving dessert but she manages to make a combination English Trifle and Shepard's Pie as the recipe pages were stuck together. The rest of the group realizes her mistake and is horrified at the thought of having to eat her dessert comprised of meat, potatoes, jam and custard, so as not to hurt her feelings. Joey is the first one to try it and to everyone’s surprise, he likes it. When they question him on this, Joey’s response is, “What’s not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Gooooood.” Or in Jls’ case it would be, “What’s not to like? Mascarpone? Good. Espresso? Good. Meatballs? Gooooood.

If you’d like to try your hand at tiramisu check out Ivonne’s blog for her family’s recipe.

If you’re so inclined to try the tiramisu with a side of Swedish meatballs, check out Anne’s blog for the recipe.

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January 04, 2008

Whole Wheat Goodness

My past experiences with baking 100% whole wheat bread have generally yielded loaves that are good for little more than doorstops; dense and heavy. That’s why I was eager to read bread guru Peter Reinhart’s new book Whole Grain Breads. Reinhart is also the author of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice which is a go to book for countless home bread bakers. His latest book begins by recounting how he came to develop the idea and recipes for the book and proceeds to give us an explanation of the science behind making bread with whole wheat. This is followed by the recipes he developed, using entirely new techniques and perfected with the help of 350 testers. The result is a wealth of whole grain bread recipes that range from sandwich bread to brioche to naan.

Reinhart suggests beginning with the sandwich loaf to get a feel for a technique that is unlike any you’ve probably used before and to try a recipe a couple times before giving up on it entirely. This is sound advice as the recipes are quite lengthy. You shouldn’t be intimidated by the length though as the recipes are very clear and come complete with photographs to guide you. The other reason for the length is that these recipes are not quick. Each one is at least a two day affair although much of that time is not hands on.

The secret to an excellent whole wheat loaf lies in the process of delayed fermentation which Reinhart does a wonderful job of explaining in highly accessible language. I’ve already made the sandwich loaf twice and it has been my most successful whole wheat bread to date. Granted, pretty much anything would have been an improvement over my previous attempts but this bread goes beyond being simply edible to actually being enjoyable! And miracle of miracles, it rose too! If you or someone you know is an avid bread baker, this book is a must have. My third loaf of sandwich bread is on the go and I have plans to make some awesome roasted chicken and sprout sandwiches very soon.

***This post can also be seen on Paper Palate.

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