Thursday, August 31, 2006

Village Bakery......

It's rare that I actually buy baked goods, but I made an exception today because Christine raved about The Village Bakery in Mt. Forest, ON. My MIL and I took Chelsea( neice) to Robin's cousin's farm. Her cousin lives in a tiny town outside of Mt. Forest. We spent some time at the farm, and Chels got to feed Cousin's rescued fawn. We also saw resucued pot bellied pigs, shetland ponies,a huge Belgium horse, donkey's and other assorted farm animals. We stopped back in Mt. Forest on our way home. I picked up a couple of goodies for Robin. Two butter tarts( A Canadian tradition), A filled peanut butter, choc. chip cookie and a pecan square. I had a coconut cookie that was filled with a ginger creme. I felt the products were slightly pricey( the cookies were $1.10 each), but that's only because I know what it costs to make things. We ate lunch at The Queen's Bush cafe. We all had the special, Ham, goat cheese and green apple with grainy mustard. They adverstised it as a panini, but the sandwich wasnt grilled, rather the bread was just toasted. Everytime I eat at a cafe' here, I wish I had the money to open my own place because I know I could be really succesful.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Buttermilk cupcakes( Nigella Lawson)....

My neice Chelsea is here for a few days and she requested we make cupcakes and decorate them like dogs. The baking I can do, the decorating, I'm not so good at. LOL. We went up to the store and bought a handful( from the bulk bins) of raisinetts, reeces's peices and some natural fruit rollups. I thought about making a cake mix, but I've had this recipe bookmarked for awhile. I also had some buttermilk in the fridge so I pulled out the kitchen aid and went at it. Believe me when I tell you, its the last thing I wanted to do, as I am dog tired from trying to keep her entertained all day. I perservered though and we have wonderful, tender vanilla buttermilk cupcakes. It's an easy recipe and very moist and tender. I whipped up a simple buttercream icing to go with these. Nigella suggest a browned butter frosting, but I passed on that this time. She only decorated one tonight and we have another early day tomorrow and she needs to get her hyper butt in bed.

Buttermilk Cupcakes
Makes 12-14 cupcakes

1 2/3 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 c plus 2 T buttermilk
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c soft unsalted butter
3/4 c sugar( I used vanilla sugar)
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray, or line with paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Combine buttermilk and vanilla into a measuring cup. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating 30 seconds between additions. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternatively, blending well after each addition. Using an ice cream scoop, divide batter into preprared muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow cupcakes to cool on a wire rack before frosting.

Brown Butter Frosting
Makes enough for 12-14 cupcakes

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 2/3 c confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 t vanilla extract
2-4 T milk

Over medium heat, brown the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan. Stir to make sure the butter does not burn or stick. Continue for 10-15 minutes until deeply brown in color and slightly foamy. Strain through a cheesecloth into a bowl. A strainer will not work as well here to catch all the solids. Allow the brown butter to cool on the countertop until it forms a semisolid paste. Alternatively, refrigerate for about 30 minutes, watching carefully to make sure it doesnt solidify.

Beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, and cream until well combined. Add the vanilla. Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

Asian cucumber salad....

Another recipe served at the community kitchen BBQ. Sliced, seeded English cucumbers, sliced sweet onion, rice wine vinegar, evoo, asian chili sauce, sugar, chopped cilantro and peanuts. Tasty and simple and a great way to use up a glut of cucumbers.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Zesty Bean salad( cooking light).....

I've been such a bad foodblogger. I even missed this months sugar high friday and I'm so upset about it because I love to can. Last week was really busy for both Robin and I. The only day that I cooked was on Wednesday and that was for our community kitchen. We also went to Windsor, Ontario this weekend for a family wedding.

Now, back to the food. Last month was so hot that we decided to have a picnic for our August kitchen meeting. This bean salad was a very popular dish. Canned beans, green and wax beans, onions, peppers, corn and avocado are tossed with a zesty viniagrette. This was a popular dish and I wish I would have made it much earlier in the summer. I'm sad to say that corn season( and summer) is almost over. Chelsea is with us for the week so I'll be doing a lot more cooking this week. After eating out all weekend, I miss homecooking.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Carrot cupcakes.(everday food)....

These cupcakes are super easy to make and really delicious. I had some leftover cream cheese frosting from the big carrot cake I made for Robin's family BBQ so I threw these together. I've made them before and really liked them. They don't use as much oil as traditional carrot cake recipes do, but they are still moist. I didnt have OJ so I used apple. I also threw in some orange flavored cranberries and a bit more coconut.
For the Cupcakes:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
For the Icing:
8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Make the cupcakes: In a bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, orange juice, vanilla extract, and eggs.

2. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and salt. Add flour; mix. Stir in carrots, walnuts, and coconut.

3. Oil a standard muffin tin or line with paper cups; distribute batter evenly.

4. Bake until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 25 minutes. Let cool before frosting. Garnish with toasted shredded coconut.

5. Make the icing: In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Whole wheat foccacia......

There is no where in our town that makes good bread and the only foccacia I've been able to find is Cranberry. So, if I want foccacia, I have to make it myself. I looked on the King arthur flour website and found this. I used rosemary and grey salt. I made the dough in the bread machine. It was very simple and I loved the fact that it was whole wheat.

1 1/2 cups (7 3/8 ounces) 100% white whole wheat flour or traditional whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

all of the sponge
1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (4 7/8 ounces) King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour or King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) potato flour OR 1/2 cup potato flakes
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) brown sugar or honey
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast

2 teaspoons olive oil
coarse salt and dried herbs

Sponge: Four to six hours (or up to 12 hours) before you want to make the dough, mix the sponge ingredients together. Cover and allow to rise at warm room temperature (75°F to 85°F, if possible).

Manual/Mixer Method: Combine the sponge with the remaining dough ingredients and mix till cohesive. Knead the dough, by hand or mixer, till it's smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 5 to 10 minutes, adding additional water or all-purpose flour as needed. Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until it’s puffy though not necessarily doubled.

Bread Machine Method: Place the sponge and the remaining dough ingredients into the bucket of your bread machine. Program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Check the dough after about 15 minutes; it should be smooth looking, but still soft and somewhat sticky. Add additional water or flour as needed. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Shaping and Baking: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured or greased work surface. Knead it gently a few times to deflate it, then place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat and stretch the dough into an 11 x 15-inch rectangle. Brush it with oil, then sprinkle sparingly with salt and the dried or fresh herbs of your choice. Cover the focaccia (a proof cover works well here), and let it rise for 45 minutes, or until it’s very puffy looking.

Just before baking, dimple the surface of the focaccia with your fingers. Press down firmly; you don’t want to deflate it, but neither do you want these characteristic dimples to disappear. Bake the focaccia in a preheated 375°F oven for 22 to 25 minutes, until it’s a light, golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and immediately transfer it to a wire rack to cool; this will keep it crisp. When cool, cut the focaccia into 8 squares.

Postcards by Mail......

I''ve been a bad, bad foodblogger. I signed up for a postcard by mail thingie and I got the dates wrong. We had family stuff going on and then I went to Ann Arbor and I forgot to send the postcard. I also looked in our town and couldnt find anywhere that sold postcards. Robin and I went to a town-wide yard sale yesterday and we came across someone selling vintage postcards. We bought some and I picked one to send to my person in England. I'm going to mail it tomorrow when I go to Michigan.

The postcard is Loretto Abbey in Toronto. Loretto Abbey is a girls only catholic school( Kind of ironic that a Jewish lesbian is sending a postcard of an all girls catholic school). Anyway, I looked up the abbey today and it looks nothing like the postcard. I just wish I knew the date of the card.

Anyway, sorry I'm so late and it will go off in the mail tomorrow.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Marinara and Turkey Meatballs.....

Growing up in South Florida, I probably ate as much Italian food as I did Jewish Food. It seems like most everyone in Florida is from NY. When I go back to visit, I never fail to visit Mario the Baker in Sunrise, Florida and Mia Grill in Hollywood, Florida. The one thing that I judge all Italian restaurants on is their Marinara sauce. Its funny though, its not hard to make a good sauce, you just need a few simple ingredients. I've perfected my Marinara sauce and I dare say its as good as the two in Florida that I love. I continued the cooking spree today with Sauce and turkey meatballs. The sauce is simply EVOO, garlic( local), onion, a carrot, and 3 cans of SAN MARZANO tomatoes. These are the key. San Marzano's are grown in Italy in special soil. This makes a tomato that is very low in acid. No sugar is needed in this sauce.

The turkey meatballs are made entirely in the food processor. My recipe is based on one I took from Cooking Light years ago. They consist of ground turkey, zucchini, carrot, green onion, wheat bread, egg white, salt, pepper and parsely. I bake them instead of frying them and let them simmer in the flavorful sauce. Please don't top this with canned parmesean cheese, only reggiano will do. Mangia!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Stuffed pork tenderloin.....

Poor Robin, she has been eating leftovers and quick fix( read: frozen chicken wings) things while I was gone this weekend. She was very ready for some home cooking. I told her I was making dinner last night and she was very excited.

I had a package of pork tenderloin in the freezer and I decided to stuff them with a mixture of goat cheese and spinach( frozen). I added some fresh oregano and lemon zest to the filling. I made up a glaze of red wine( I freeze leftover wine and it works perfectly), red current jelly, fresh mint and black pepper. I grilled this with a foil packet of hickory chips. I grilled it on the flame side to get a nice char and then moved it off the heat for indirect cooking. For the potatoes, I microwaved them halfway, then sliced them and wrapped them in foil with some evoo and smoked paprika.

I had some great meals in Ann Arbor, but it was nice to have some home cooking( even if it was my cooking).

Monday, August 07, 2006

My sous chef....

This was my Sous chef Dylan Wiley. Her mom is Danielle. Dylan was so interested in helping with everything on Saturday. She helped season the fish, stuff it with thyme and lemon and she pushed in the skewers that are holding the bacon. She was fascinated with putting salt all over the fishies eyes. It really amazed me the interest she had in cooking and she's only 4yrs old.

Pasta Primavera......

Sorry I've been absent this week. I was blogging over on Egullet and on Thursday, my friend and I left for Ann Arbor for the Egullet Heartland Gathering. When you get a chance, check out the thread. We made some amazing food. I made pasta primavera and a fish dish. From 10am-10pm on Saturday, we had a non-stop foodfest. I was in pure heaven to be around 40 other foodies. We visited the Kerrytown Farmers market on Saturday morning and did most of the shopping for the food we would cook. I knew I wanted to make this pasta before I left for AA, it was just a matter of finding the right vegetables. The veggies are the market were incredible.

Some of the highlights of the gathering were the Culinary Archives at U of M, the charcuterie platter, the amazing cheeses from Zingerman's( I provided the fig jam), the amazing breads made by Egullet member Tino27, the fantastic peanut butter icecream and Trifle made by KichenChick and her hubby. Wow, it was hard to come back to Ontario and the food here after that wonderful food. I can't wait until next years event.