Archive | September, 2011

Sugar

16 Sep

Once again, it’s been a busy week, my real job is taxing, and I have to get up early (5:30am) which means for me, I need to be in bed by 9pm.  This kind of limits what fun things I am able to do in the evenings, baking is now a weekend thing.  Which is ok, because I’ve decided to give up sugar for a month. Today I was reading another blog writer who had also decided to give up the white stuff , it seems like a good idea so I’ll give it a try.   Just not right now. I’ve just finished a crisp new crop apple, a Silkin, dipped in warm salted caramel sauce.  And this weekend I plan on making a real meal, three courses;  maybe roast chicken, maybe braised lamb, I’ll have to see what’s at the market on Saturday.  I do know that I want to make a killer dessert, I’ve been craving cake (I always crave cake) but I was thinking maybe something with plums or pears.  So my sugar diet will have to wait until Monday, I have nothing sugar related planned for Monday.

I’ve just signed up for an online blogging course.  I”m excited about this,  my goal is to get better and more focused.  In the meantime, I’ll keep cooking and baking and taking crazy dog pictures.

Here's what Piggy does best...

Sunday September 11, 2011

12 Sep

Mini Vanilla Bean Scones

It was a busy week, with a few sleepless nights.  Saturday was hectic, I had a catering (my part time job) as well as my usual Saturday things to do; laundry, house stuff, pet wrangling, errands, a coffee date with my cousin Laura, all of the things that account for a glorious mundane life, my life.  I’m good with that, because today I was able to get up early and make these scones for the people that I love.  And we were fortunate to watch the 9/11 tenth anniversary memorial from the comfort of our very safe living room.

I admire the American people; their spirit, their courage and their determination to never give up or give in. My favorite quote of the day today, ” They tried to break us, they did not.”  Americans are resilient and tough, and I’m glad they’re on our side.

After we turned off the TV and went about our lives on a quiet Sunday, I was filled with gratitude and peace.  I have an ordinary life filled with extraordinary moments, and I am  happy for it.

My heart goes out to all of those who were so touched by the misery of that day.

 

Now the recipe.  I found this recipe on the Pioneer Woman Blog, I did change it a little, I am a serious scone maker and consumer; I increased the heavy cream in the scone recipe and decreased both the icing sugar and the cream in the glaze recipe, and the scones were amazing.  Make these for a special occasion or make these for the people that you love.  I believe that every day that we are here to laugh  or even to feel loss and cry is a special occasion.

Mini Vanilla Bean Scones  Adapted from Pioneer Woman Blog

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Scones:

3 cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached organic)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

5 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

4 ounces cold (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (don’t panic if your butter is salted, just reduce the above salt to 1/4 tsp.) cut into small pieces.

1 large egg

1 cup heavy cream (35%)

2 whole vanilla beans, cut lengthwise down the middle, scrape out the precious black seeds with the blade of a knife.  (save the actual pods to either make your own vanilla extract OR add to your sugar jar to flavour the sugar.)

Glaze:

2 cups icing sugar sifted into a medium bowl

1/2 cup milk

pinch of salt

1 whole vanilla bean, scraped as above, add the seeds to the milk

For the scones; using a large bowl,combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Give the mixture a good stir with a fork.  then using your finger tips, (or a pastry blender if you have one, I don’t, I never have) cut in the butter until it looks like uncooked oatmeal.

In a small bowl, combine the egg, milk and vanilla bean seeds, mix with a fork to break up the egg and kinda disperse the seeds.  Add to the flour mixture and mix with your hands until the mixture comes together, this should only take 3 to 4 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, pat the scone mixture into a rectangle, 12 inches by 6 inches (approx.) by 3/4 inch thick.  Cut into 12 symmetrical squares, then cut the squares in half.  Place on a parchment lined baking tray and bake until golden brown and your kitchen smells like an English tea room, about 18 minutes (depending on the size of your scones, mine were mini mini,)  Cool on a rack and make the glaze.

For the glaze, in a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and stir with a fork until combined.  Dip the top of each scone into the glaze and transfer to a baking tray or cooling rack pr parchment paper or a combination of all three.

My scones were tiny, so for me, this recipe made 36.  They will keep well, in a plastic container for approx. 3 days.

 

 

A delicious thing, at 1 am

9 Sep

I can’t sleep, well, actually, I was sleeping and then I woke up and now I can’t get back to sleep… wide awake.  I got up to pay bills, online, but the money isn’t in my account yet…I thought that in the amazing world that is online, direct deposit banking, the money simply appeared after midnight on the appointed day.  I was wrong.  So, instead I surf  the net, read various food blogs and then I’m kinda hungry. I head downstairs for a glass of warm soy chai.  So delicious and comforting and I know that it will help me sleep.  But no, apparently someone else in my house got to the soy chai first.  I opt for a warm glass of plain vanilla soy instead.    Ohhhhhh, so yucky!!! Kinda like drinking dirty water flavoured with an even dirtier copper penny that had been melted down with a dash of cinnamon on top.  Beyond disgusting, I immediately look in the fridge for something to put in my mouth to replace the dirty water flavour.  And then, I remember, there it is, my salted caramel spread that  had made a few weeks ago, a miracle, there was actually some left;  only because the bowl had been relegated (not by me) to the bottom shelf and then pushed to the back of the fridge where  the ratty box of baking soda lives.  Because I am NOT a double dipper, I grab two spoons and dig in.  The texture is thick like peanut butter, but the flavour is one that peanut butter can only envy; butterscotch/caramel with a hint of salt at the end as it melts in your mouth and slides down your throat to fill your one o’clock in the morning tummy with happiness.  So I grab two more spoons (did I mention they were tablespoons?)  After my seventh, I’m happy, and jacked on sugar(surprised?) so instead of going back to bed and tossing about, I’m going to post this recipe.  It is a bit tricky, the golden brown caramel mixture in your pan will go from golden brown to burnt brown in a matter of two minutes.  So don’t leave your pan on the stove to let the cat out, no matter how much she’s whining at the time.  But other than that, go for it.  It’s also delicious on pound cake, ice cream, toast, pancakes, scones,tea spoons, and fingers, really, pretty much anything.

I first saw this recipe on the blog Apartment Therapy, it was from a German blog site and the recipe was in grams, I’ve converted it into Imperial and it worked really well.  Making this is way more fun than paying bills.

Salted Caramel Spread

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 1/2 tbsp. cold water

8 1/2 ounces cold butter (salted or unsalted, if you use unsalted butter, you may want to increase the salt by a large pinch), cut into chunks

3/4 tsp. sea salt

7 ounces heavy cream (35%), warmed in the microwave for 1 minute

Place the sugar and the water in a heavy saucepan over high heat, swirl the pan to melt the sugar evenly, but then stop and cook until the mixture is the colour of a warm butterscotch.

Using a long handled heavy wooden spoon, add butter one piece at a time.  Be careful, the mixture will sizzle and splatter.  Cook, stirring for an additional 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat, and add the warmed cream, stirring to combine.  Pour into clean jars and let cool.  this spread should keep for at least two months in your fridge.  Mine never actually lasts that long, unless it ends up on the bottom shelf in the fridge beside the box of baking soda that needs replacing, in which case, it’s mine for the taking, even at 1 am.

In the beginning...

The middle...

The delicious end. (It will thicken to spreading consistency in the fridge)

 

 

(it’s 1:45 am, and I’m finally tired, the money is finally in my account, but the bills can wait until morning, Good night everyone.)

What I’m cooking today.

5 Sep

I cook for a number of reasons; to nourish, to sustain, to fuel my creative drive, and today, to keep busy.  Tomorrow is the first Tuesday after Labour Day and I start back to school, I am a teacher, my real job.  This means that I start commuting again, 130km a day, five days a week.  This is in itself no fun.  Also, going back to work signals the end of summer (my favorite season) and the obvious beginning of fall, my least favorite season.  I know it could be worse, I’m grateful to have a good job etc. etc. but already the weather is cooler  and the ski is grey.   I feel this way every Labour Day Monday, so to cope with my mini dip in my mood I have kept been busy today.   I have been cooking  nourishing and comforting foods; I made my brown bread, pickled red onions, curried butternut squash and red lentil soup, for a supper of grilled cheese and soup,  and then for dessert and to make myself feel even more comforted, like a big hug from your Nana, milk chocolate pudding.  This is like everything I cook,” Monday-night easy” to cook and delicious.  And really, on a day like today, when I’m a bit nervous, anxious and chilly; this pudding makes me and everyone who eats it feel so much better.

Milk Chocolate Pudding (Gourmet Quick Kitchen Fall 2010)

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch

pinch of salt

2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1  1/2 cups whole milk (I usually use 1% as that’s what we normally have in our house)

1/2 cup heavy cream (35%)

7 oz. fine-quality milk chocolate (the Gourmet recipe calls for 6 oz. but I LOVE milk chocolate, also, today, I used a combination of milk and bittersweet as I ran out of milk, and the pudding is still super delicious.), chopped fine.

1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a 2 litre saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa powder and a pinch of salt, slowly whisk in the milk and the cream.  Bring to a boil of moderately high heat, whisking constantly, reduce heat slightly to prevent scorching, then boil for two minutes.  The pudding will be thick.  remove from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate, whisk to melt, then add vanilla extract.

Transfer to a bowl and chill.  Cover the surface with waxed paper to prevent skin from forming if you don’t like the skin. I don’t bother.

There, really easy, you can make on any day after work, or on a day like today when it’s cool and dull.  You may even want to share it, or not.  But whenever you make it, and however you’re feeling, this little pudding will make you feel better. I’m speaking from personal experience, and my second bowl.

 

Happiness

Bliss

Don’t quit my day job.

2 Sep

It’s been a super fun summer, and soon Tuesday in fact, it’s back to my day job.

I’m going to  engage is some indulgent self reflection, which is the essence of personal blogs anyway;  I’ve returned from New Brunswick and an epic drive home (22 hours total, with some amazing food on the way, great noodle house in Burlington Vermont , and the BEST sandwich EVER in Saranec New York).  I didn’t have access to any much technology while I was there, so I was able to spend time hanging out and experiencing the beauty and friendliness that is the East Coast.  (Hi Emma, awesome apartment and kitty Kyle is rock star gorgeous).  Also, my camera battery died on my second day, so I was forced to see things with my own eyes instead of a camera lens.  I love the Maritimes; the people, the landscape, the water, the food, architecture, beach combing, the food, even the morning fog.  I would move there, if I could figure out how to; I’d have to quit my day job, I’m not quite ready for that.

I’ve had a lot of fun and have experienced a lot of happiness thus summer; lots of good food, trips to the beach, picnics, thrifting, Chicago, Toronto, St. Andrews NB, my happy list for the summer is full, but now I’m looking forward and what’s on my happy list for the fall?

Keep writing, I missed not writing while I was away.

Pears, apples, pumpkins and warm spices.  I like the way my kitchen smells in the fall, squash soup on the stove and apple crisp in the oven.

Walks in the country on cool fall afternoons,

New York with the cousins at the end of October.  I am so excited and so grateful that I have been given permission by my day job folks so that I can do this.  I need to go into dietary training to go there as there are so many places that I need to eat at; The Doughnut Plant, City Bakery, Peter Lugers, hopefully Momofuku and Milk bar.

Dinners with friends and a return to chocolate and caramel desserts.

Stews and Braises.

My guilty pleasure, football, college ball on Saturdays, and the Saints on Sunday (on those rare Sundays that a Saints game is on TV).

My goal this fall is to stay creatively busy to stay happy.  I’ll be cooking, traveling, writing, and still working my day job.  That’s OK, it affords me so many more opportunities, I still like it, and I’m just not ready to quit, yet.

Some pictures of New Brunswick, until my camera died.

Ossies for fish and chips.

St. Andrews in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deb, a St. Andrew's Princess.