Thursday, 30 June 2011

Roasted Garlic Levain Buns

Garlic goes with everything. Garlic bread makes all sandwiches even better, with the possible exception of peanut butter and jelly.

Roasting your garlic gives it a mellow, savoury flavour that sits happily in the background making life just all that much sweeter. And since you are roasting some garlic for these delicious buns, you might as well make some extra for salad dressings, flavoured mayo for dipping your pizza crusts into, and other important things.

Roasting garlic also makes your house smell awesome. It's a win-win-win, really.

Roasted Garlic Levain Buns
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for the Mellow Bakers

The night before:

Stiff Levain
Bread flour - 6.4 oz
Water - 3.8 oz
Mature sourdough culture - 1.3 oz

Combine the ingredients for the stiff levain thoroughly. Add a couple of drops of water if needed. Let sit, covered, overnight. (12 hours)

The next day:

Roast some garlic!
1 bulb garlic, halved across the equator and drizzled with olive oil and s&p. Roast at 350°F for a half hour, in foil or a small covered dish. Make extra!

Bread flour - 1lb, 6.4 oz
Whole wheat flour - 3.2 oz
Water - 1lb, 1 oz
Olive oil - 1.6 oz
Salt - 1 Tbsp
Dry instant yeast - 1 tsp
Levain - all
Garlic - 1 bulb, roasted and cooled.

Everyone into the pool! Combine all the dough ingredients in the stand mixer, with the dough hook, on low for 3 minutes. Adjust hydration if necessary. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 more minutes. Finish kneading on lightly floured board and form into a ball.
Cover and let rise 2 hours, folding after one hour.
Divide into 12 pieces and shape into rolls.
Let rise, covered, on lined baking sheets, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 440°F. Score buns, if desired.
Bake for 20-35 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
Let cool on wire racks.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Pie Contest in a Box!

Pie Contest in a Box
Everything You Need to Host a Pie Contest
by Gina Hyams

Who says parties have to revolve around cocktails or grilled burgers? Why not host a pie party this summer?
I posed this question to my university-student daughter and her friends and they loved the idea. With box in hand, they hosted the ultimate party - a pie party! They divided into teams of two and baked up (okay, one was bought) some delicious party treats.
Pie Contest in a Box is for farmers' market foodies, retro cocktail party lovers, competitive-cooking-show fans, block partiers, and just about everyone else who shares a hankering for good times and good pie. In the blue-ribbon tradition of county fairs, community cook-offs, and competitive cooking shows such as Iron Chef America, Top Chef, and Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Pie Contest in a Box represents a fun and inexpensive way to entertain.
And students definitely love a fun and inexpensive way to entertain!

Tweet from one of my daughter's friends on baking day:
baking competition. Getting competitive with Melody is down.

 The kit features:

    A Pie Contest Handbook, which orients judges to the history of pie, discusses why pie matters, outlines different categories of pie and official judging criteria, and includes prize-winning recipes
    Pie Contest Judge Badges
    Numbered Pie Toppers on Toothpicks
    Pie Contest Scorecards
    Pie Contest Prize Ribbons

Pie Contest in a Box will have guests clamoring for a slice of blueberry or strawberry rhubarb, along with their scorecard and fork.

All the pretty pies, lined up for judging. Since my daughter's pie is in front, I imagine she took this photo.

Time to bake a peach pie!
My daughter used this recipe for her peach pie:

Peach Pie the Old Fashioned Two Crust Way
from (and using only one crust)


    1 (15 ounce) package pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
    1 egg, beaten
    5 cups sliced peeled peaches
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup white sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons butter


    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C).
    Line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate with one of the pie crusts. Brush with some of the beaten egg to keep the dough from becoming soggy later.
    Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the peaches, and mix gently. Pour into the pie crust, and dot with butter. Cover with the other pie crust, and fold the edges under. Flute the edges to seal or press the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in egg. Brush the remaining egg over the top crust. Cut several slits in the top crust to vent steam.
    Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the vents. If the edges brown to fast, cover them with strips of aluminum foil about halfway through baking. Cool before serving. This tastes better warm than hot.

And this crust:

Butter Flaky Pie Crust


    1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
    1/4 cup ice water


    In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
    Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.

Delicious reason for a party!
Myra's Strawberry Pie:

Strawberry Pie II


    1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
    1 quart fresh strawberries
    1 cup white sugar
    3 tablespoons cornstarch
    3/4 cup water
    1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


    Arrange half of strawberries in baked pastry shell. Mash remaining berries and combine with sugar in a medium saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
    In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into boiling strawberry mixture. Reduce heat and simmer mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture over berries in pastry shell. Chill for several hours before serving. In a small bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Serve each slice of pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

and this crust:

Pie Crust

from Cook Like Your Grandmother

1 1/3 cups flour
1½ tablespoons sugar
¼ pound (one stick, eight tablespoons, ½ cup) butter
1 dash salt
3 tablespoons cold water

Sift the flour, sugar and salt together. Cut the butter into small chunks. Make sure it's nice
and cold or it will stick to your knife. Cut the butter into the flour and sugar until coarse
crumbs form.
Add the cold water and quickly form it into a dough. Transfer it to a one gallon zip-top bag
and put in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. Remove from the fridge and roll out into a
circle, still in the bag.
Cut the bag open and use immediately, or return to the fridge for two to three days, or freeze
for several weeks.

Very serious judging
Flerida's pie:

    my recipe:
    Metro Grocery Store

    1. Go to Metro
    2. Make your way to the baked goods section and find "Lemon Meringue". (They still haven't taken my suggestion to change the name.)
    4. With "Lemon Meringue" in hand, go to the cashier and buy that award-winning pie!

And a good time was had by all!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Moosewood Mondays: Indian Chickpea Spread

This spread makes a lovely veggie filling for wraps, just pair it with some crunchy greens or julienned summer veggies and serve some raita or Indian pickles on the side.

Or, thin it out a bit to serve as a tasty dip for pita wedges or fresh veggies.

We are going with tortillas for this filling, sort of an Indian bean burrito. Hooray for global cuisine! 

Indian Chickpea Spread
from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

    1/2 cup minced onions
    1 teaspoon canola or other vegetable oil
    2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon garam masala
    1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    1 cup diced tomatoes
    1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (16 ounce can)
    2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
    1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
    salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy or nonstick skillet, saute the onions in the oil on low heat for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and cayenne and saute for another minute, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.

Stir in the tomatoes, cover, and gently simmer for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid (or water) to make a smooth puree.

Stir the puree into the simmering tomato mixture, add the lime juice and cilantro, and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve hot or cold.


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Jamie Oliver's Dressed Asparagus

Easy-peasy, fresh and green.
 That's what we need for this time of year and, fortunately, what's in season tends to be those quick-cooking fruits and veggies that need a minimum of fussing to bring out their inherent deliciousness.
A spring/early summer favourite is asparagus, and this simple preparation goes just as nicely with your grilled steak as it does with your scrambled eggs.
Hooray for versatility!
Also, I find that asparagus spears taste much better when eaten with your hands. Don't believe me? Just try it!

Jamie Oliver's Dressed Asparagus
adapted from the recipe published by Chatelaine on 6/1/2009


    1 lb (500 g) pencil-thin asparagus
    1 tsp (5 mL) salt
    3 tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil
    1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
    1 tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
    Pinch of chopped parsley
    Pinch of salt and pepper

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. In the meantime, cut off the woody ends of the asparagus stems.
Prepare a medium bowl of ice water.
Add a teaspoon of salt to the boiling water and toss the asparagus in gently.
Cook for exactly one minute and, with tongs, gently move asparagus out of the boiling water and into the ice water to stop the cooking process.
When cold, drain asparagus thoroughly.
Whisk together all the marinade ingredients and toss with the asparagus.
Serve on a bed of greens, with tomato wedges if you desire.


Saturday, 25 June 2011

Giant M&M Cookies!

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.
Barbara Jordan

And I for one could use a designated cookie break. How about you?

These extra large cookies are studded with colourful M&Ms for a sweet and crunchy sumpin sumpin to get you through the afternoon slump.

You go ahead and get baking, I feel a nap coming on. ☺

Giant M&M Cookies
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book

Preheat oven to 375°F


½ cup shortening
½ cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2½ cups AP flour
2 huge handfuls M&Ms, mix of peanut and chocolate

In a large mixing bowl beat the shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Beat mixture until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour with wooden spoon. Stir in M&Ms.

Drop dough by level ice cream size disher scoops, 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree F oven 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes 20 cookies.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Semolina Baguettes. Saving the world, one sandwich at a time.

I think we can all agree that every type of bread pretty much tastes best in baguette form. Okay, maybe not bagels, but you get my point. And mini baguettes make great sausage buns.

Yes, this is the second time this month I have done sausage buns, what's your point? It's grill season, and our butcher makes great sausages. Which I go on to smother with wonderful things like peppers and onions. You need a sturdy bun for such bounty, this is just such a bun.

Very Italian, very delicious. And able to stand up to the drippiest of toppings. And I like toppings. Check out a PSA from Hellmann's at the end, to see how your favourite topping can give back to the community.

And get baking!
Kissing cousins
Semolina Baguettes
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for the Mellow Bakers

The night before:

Bread flour - 4.8 oz
Water - 6 oz
Mature sourdough culture - 2 Tbsp

Mix the pre-ferment together in a small/medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave out to ferment overnight (12-16 hours)

Somewhere in there is a sausage
The next day:

Bread flour - 8 oz
Durum flour/semolina - 1 lb, 3.2 oz
Water - 15.4 oz
Salt - 1 Tbsp
Dry, instant yeast - 1 tsp
Sesame seeds, toasted - 1.6 oz
Pre-ferment - all

Everyone into the pool! Add all ingredients to your stand mixer and mix on low, with the dough hook, for 3 minutes until combined. Adjust hydration if necessary. Mix on second speed for a couple more minutes, turn out onto lightly floured board and form into a ball. Let rest, covered, in a clean bowl, for one hour. Fold into itself and let rest another hour.
Divide into dough for 3 baguettes or 6 mini baguettes, or some combination if you wish.
Shape your baguettes and let rise, covered, for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 440°F.
Score the baguettes and bake (I used a Chicago Metallic baguette pan) for about 25 minutes, or until nicely golden and glorious.
Let cool on racks.

*let your water sit out overnight so that any chlorine has a chance to dissipate.
This bread has been Yeastspotted!
And what goes better on bread than some mayo?

Even better, how about mayo that also helps the community?

This year, Hellmann’s is continuing to demonstrate its commitment to real food and real ingredients with the continuation of the Real Food Grant Program as well as providing Canadians with:
  •     Quick and easy real food recipes developed by Hellmann’s and Chuck Hughes
  •     An at-home real food toolkit that includes tips to help Canadian families easily incorporate real food into their daily meals
  •     The Hellmann's Canada Facebook page where they can become part of the real food conversation and learn more about how to eat real
In 2010, Hellmann’s awarded $100,000 to 23 grassroots real food initiatives across Canada, including a mobile greenhouse laboratory and an after-school junior chef program. Once again, Hellmann’s will be awarding up to $100,000 in Real Food Grants to Canadians who are passionate about real food.

Canadians can apply for a Real Food Grant by visiting or the Hellmann’s Canada facebook page. Also, for every “Like” Hellmann’s Canada receives, in 2011, Hellmann’s will donate an additional $1 to real food initiatives to a maximum of $10,000.
Finally we are being rewarded for eating delicious sandwiches! 
Eat good, do good. Repeat.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Make it Tonight

Canadian Living: Make It Tonight
Delicious, no-fuss dinner solutions for every cook 
Updated Edition
by Canadian Living Test Kitchen
Paperback, 240 pages

One of the best, and healthiest things you can do for yourself and your family is to make your own food. I know, not everyone has time to spend hours in the kitchen, or even one hour in the kitchen. Help is on its way.

Canadian Living Magazine, Canada's number one lifestyle magazine, has come out with an updated version of their 2007 classic, Make it Tonight. It features 55 new recipes as well as the fan-favourite Tested Till Perfect fare. Lots of full-coloured photos and handy tips make the book lively and easy to follow.

Make it Tonight is perfect for the beginner to intermediate cook, and those with busy lifestyles who still want to get a good dinner on the table.

Ingenious cooking methods and timetables make feeding your family a snap. Make it Tonight!

Chapters Include:

1. Make It Tonight…in 15 to 20 Minutes
2. Make It Tonight…in 30 Minutes
3. Make It Tonight…with Five or So Ingredients
4. Make It Tonight…in One Pot
5. Make It Tonight…from the Pantry
6. Make It Tonight…in the Toaster Oven
7. Make It Tonight…in the Slow Cooker
8. Make It Tonight…and Freeze for Later
9. Make It Tonight…on the Barbecue
10. Make It Tonight…for Company
11. Make It Tonight…Breakfast for Dinner
12. Make It Tonight…Side Dishes and Salads
13. Make It Tonight…Sweets and Treats

In our KitchenPuppy test kitchen, we whipped up:

Blueberry Streusel Muffins from the Sweets and Treats chapter. Canadians are huge blueberry fans, especially the ones in my house. And if there is a crunchy, sweet topping on those cakey muffins? All the better!

And the Herbed Feta Dip from the For Company chapter. Simple to whip up, this creamy dip is just perfect for crudités to go with your grilled dinner or to serve up for appies and snacks. It'll take you longer to venture out into your herb garden for the oregano and parsley than it will to make this delicious dip.

And, because I can't help but get a little bready.. I baked up this Simple Soda Bread from the Breakfast for Dinner chapter. Soda bread falls in the category of quick bread as it doesn't require yeast and rising times. Bake this wholesome loaf, cleverly seasoned with caraway and currants, in under an hour!

And of course it's grill season, so we fired up these delicious Grilled Pork Chops with Apple Rings from the On the Barbecue chapter.
Sweet, smokey spices are rubbed on the chops and grilled to perfection. Accenting the dish is grilled apple rings, brushed with maple syrup. Delicious!

Last but not least, and carrying on with our apple theme, we had the Baked Apples with Figs and Almonds for dessert last night, with a dollop of creamy yogurt on top. I am a huge fan of baked apples, and also find that it is a great way to use up any apples that are starting to soften. This recipe has an almost granola-ish filling set off beautifully with some Amaretto.

Monday, 20 June 2011


Pissaladière is, one might say, the pizza of Southern France. This is possibly where the "pissa" part of its stems from. It has no tomato sauce or cheese, however, and uses instead aromatics and deep flavours from sauteed onions and garlic, fresh thyme, anchovies and black Niçoise olive slices. - Paul, Yumarama

Pissaladière also embodies two of my very favourite elements - salt and bread. Jewish tradition brings salt and bread, (sometimes wine too), to a new home as a welcome - so that the inhabitants may always be nourished. I think this is a wonderful idea, who can imagine a world without salt and bread? Or wine for that matter?

The crust on this flatbread is super crunchy, and the whole thing is entirely addicting. The recipe makes two, but you can tell people that it made one - so they won't realize you ate the first one all by yourself. Same goes for the first bottle of wine.. ;-)

adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for the Mellow Bakers

The night before:

Paté fermentée
Bread flour - 3.7 oz
Water - 2.4 oz
Salt - ¼ tsp
Dry instant yeast - pinch

Mix all the pâté fermentée ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave out on the counter overnight (12-16 hours)

The next day:

Bread flour - 11.1 oz
Whole wheat flour - 3.7 oz
Water - 9.6 oz
Salt - 1 tsp
Instant dry yeast - ¾ tsp
Extra-virgin olive oil - 2 Tbsp
Pâté fermentée - all

Add all the dough ingredients to your stand mixer bowl, except for the olive oil and the pâté fermentée. Mix on low for 3 minutes with your dough hook. Start adding in the Pâté fermentée in chunks. Turn to second speed and drizzle in the olive oil. Mix for another 5 minutes on second until well incorporated.
Let rest, covered, for one hour. Fold dough in onto itself and let rest another hour, covered.

Make the toppings:
3 medium purple onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or more to taste
2 tins anchovies
2 big handfuls niçoise olives, or kalamata, pitted

Sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium-low heat for about 25 minutes, seasoning to taste with kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
Let cool and add in thyme leaves to taste.
(optionally, season the onions with Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar)
Slice the anchovies in half, lengthwise.

Back to the dough: 
After the 2 hours of rising are over, divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball and set out on a lightly floured surface for rolling out. Cover with a cloth to let them rest 10 minutes before stretching/rolling them out, so that they don't snap back to their original shape.
Roll each crust (or press out) to about ¼-½ an inch. About 12x16.
Transfer crusts to a pizza peel that has been liberally sprinkled with coarse cornmeal or semolina. Or, parchment paper.
Preheat your oven, with a pizza/bread stone on the middle rack, to 500°F.
For each flatbread: spread out half the onion mixture evenly, to within one inch of the edge. Make a criss-cross pattern with the anchovy halves and place an olive in the middle of each square. Beautiful!
Let rise, uncovered, for 20 minutes while your oven gets nice and hot.
Bake directly on the stone for about 17 minutes or until nicely browned on the crust and crunchy.
Let cool somewhat and eat! Also good cold. And room temperature. And in the middle of the night. And for breakfast..

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

And that's a crying shame really, as what is more inspiring in the kitchen than cheese? Oozy, melty, crispy, salty cheese lovingly draped over a burger, between layers of noodles, or, in this case, layers of grilled eggplant.

Cheese takes a humble batch of veggies and turns them into food for the gods. Or, you know, food for my cheese-loving family.

This version of melanzane alla Parmigiana, eggplant Parmesan, is layered in a large pan like lasagna. And it is so deliciously savoury and cheesy, that you won't miss having meat on your plate. Of course, there's nothing to stop you from having a little grilled something-something on the side. It is Father's Day, after all.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana
Aubergine Parmigiana, Eggplant Parmesan
servings 6

adapted from Jamie's Italy,


• 3 large firm aubergines
• olive oil
• 1 large or 2 smaller onions, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 or more bulbs of spring garlic, if you can get it, or 6 cloves of regular garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
• 2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes or 1kg fresh ripe tomatoes
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a little wine vinegar
• a large handful of fresh basil
• 4 large handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 handfuls of dried breadcrumbs - Panko
• a little fresh oregano, leaves chopped

• 1 x 150g ball of buffalo mozzarella 


This classic northern Italian recipe is a great way to serve aubergines. By layering them with Parmesan and tomatoes and then baking them you get an absolutely moreish, scrumptious vegetable dish. Great served with all sorts of roasted meats and with roasted fish as well.

First things first: remove the stalks from the aubergines, slice them up into 1cm thick slices, and put to one side. Whether you’re using a griddle pan or a barbecue, get it really hot. Meanwhile, put 2 or 3 glugs of olive oil into a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and dried oregano and cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic has a tiny bit of colour. If you’re using tinned tomatoes, break them up, and if you’re using fresh tomatoes (which will obviously taste sweeter and more delicious, if they’re in season), very quickly prick each one and put them into a big pan of boiling water for 40 seconds. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put them into a bowl of cold water for 30 seconds, then remove the skins, carefully squeeze out the pips and cut up the flesh. Add the tomato flesh or tinned tomatoes to the onion, garlic and oregano. Give the mixture a good stir, then put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, oil, season and grill the aubergines on both sides until lightly charred – you may have to do them in batches, as they probably won’t all fit into your griddle pan in one go. As each batch is finished, remove them to a tray and carry on grilling the rest until they’re all nicely done. When the tomato sauce is reduced and sweet, season it carefully with salt, pepper and a tiny swig of wine vinegar, and add the basil. You can leave the sauce chunky or you can purée it.

Get yourself an earthenware type dish (25 x 12–15cm). Put in a small layer of tomato sauce, then a thin scattering of Parmesan, followed by a single layer of aubergines. Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little sauce and another good sprinkling of Parmesan. I like to toss the breadcrumbs in olive oil with a little freshly chopped oregano and sprinkle them on top of the Parmesan. Sometimes the dish is served with torn-up mozzarella on top, which is nice too.

Place the dish in the oven and bake at 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for half an hour until golden, crisp and bubbly. It’s best eaten straight away, but it can also be served cold. You can use the same method substituting courgettes or fennel for the aubergines – both are delicious. But do try making it with aubergines – you’ll love it!