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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


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Monday, August 14, 2017

Fougasse - Herbed Bread


I've been enjoying The Great British Baking Show for a few years now.  It is such a lovely, calming competition show - basically the opposite of shows where contestants back-stab and sabotage each other. 

I have a decent baking vocabulary, but I'd never heard of Fougasse until I saw it on this season's botanical baking episode.  

Fougasse is a french flatbread, filled and topped with herbs, and shaped to look like a leaf.  


I really love baking bread and wish I did it more often. It can be a little warm to bake bread in the summertime, but this bread is so quick and easy, it's not going to make you sweat. There's no kneading, it can all be done in a mixer with a bread hook.

I used the recipe directly from the PBS Great British Baking Show website


I divided the dough in two and baked only one loaf to start.  


I tried to stretch and shape the dough by hand, like a pizza, but it ended up too thin in the middle and too thick on the outside, so it burned a bit in the oven.  The unburnt parts still tasted amazing though!


Since the dough is similar to pizza dough, I figured it would hold the same way in the fridge, so I refrigerated the second half of the dough for a few days until I was ready to try again.  


This time I used a rolling pin to roll out the dough evenly, and it worked perfectly.

We ate our fougasse with a simple soup and salad dinner, but it is amazing dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar as an appetizer.  It would also be a lovely gift to bring to a dinner party, to serve or for the hosts to enjoy on their own. 



Here's the recipe from the PBS website, with slight adaptations: 

Ingredients
500 g all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
10 g table salt
7 g package instant yeast
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing and drizzling
350 ml warm water
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
½ tsp dried oregano
flaky sea salt

Directions

Place the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. 

Add the olive oil and three-quarters of the water. 

Begin mixing on low speed. As the dough starts to come together, add the remaining water very slowly. Mix for another 8 minutes on a medium speed. 

Add the rosemary, sage and thyme and mix for a minute until the herbs are evenly distributed in the dough. 

Place the dough in a large bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place until at least doubled in size – about an hour. 

Dust the work surface with flour. Pour the dough onto the floured surface and divide the dough in half.  You can shape and bake both loaves now, or refrigerate half the dough in a zip-top bag for up to five days. 

On parchment paper, roll each dough half into a flat oval. Using a pizza cutter make two cuts in a line down the middle of the ovals with a gap between them. Make 12 diagonal cuts in the dough, 6 either side of the central cuts, forming a leaf design, then stretch the dough out slightly to emphasize the holes.

Lift the dough on the parchment and place onto a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet inside a large plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 430F.
Spray or drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the loaf.  Sprinkle with oregano and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the fougasse sounds hollow when tapped on the base. 

Remove from the oven and while still hot, brush with more olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.



Friday, August 4, 2017

The Beer Baron Presents - Craft Beer Road Trip: The Big Dipper


On the advice of a friend from the fabulous Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium, the Clockwatching Tart and I decided to check out Arabella Park Beer Bar in nearby Kitchener, Ontario. Rather than just blasting down the 401 and making a quick trip of it, we fired up our faithful Subaru and took to the country roads in search of food, drink and adventure.



Being the crafty Google Maps user, researcher and spreadsheet planner she is, the Clockwatching Tart planned a route taking us to breweries and bars both new and familiar and in the process created a route I’ve christened “The Big Dipper”. Basically a smaller version of the Waterloo Region Craft Ale Trail with some local sights thrown in for good measure, The Big Dipper started off with the Bitte Schön Brauhaus, a lovely little microbrewery in the comically lovely little hamlet of New Hamburg.


Bitte Schön was small but inviting with a nice set up and friendly staff. Having never tried their beer, we settled on a flight of four tasters and were impressed with their Alder Creek Altbier (which was dark and smooth and had kind of a lightly spiced caramel apple thing going on) and their Huron Street Hefeweizen (which was light and floral with wonderful citrus notes). We picked up some to share with friends and continued on our merry way.


Our next stop was one of those pleasant surprises that happens when you are out exploring. We noticed a park as we were crossing the bridge into New Hamburg so we went to check it out. Not only did we discover a stone pathway across the Nith River in Scott Park, we also stumbled upon the New Hamburg Heritage Waterwheel. Billed as the largest working waterwheel in North America and built in 1990, the waterwheel was awesome to see and made the day all the more special.


Next up was Arabella Park Beer Bar for lunch. With 18 taps primarily focused on regional craft beers and ciders, an impressive bottle list and locally sourced food rooted in Canadian cuisine, Arabella Park was perfect for us.


The Clockwatching Tart and I both found something unique to try from their tap list, with Revel Violent Delights (a spontaneously fermented cider with cherries and vanilla from the always wonderful Revel Cider Co.) and Left Field Brewery’s Lolly Mango Lassi IPA (a cloudy, creamy IPA brewed with mango, lactose sugar, cardamom and bright, citrus-forward hops). 


I had a hot dog and some fantastic fresh-cut fries...


And the Clockwatching Tart had fish and chips with a funky Vermont cider. The service, drinks and food were all fantastic, so I suppose the moral of the story is that when someone from Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium recommends a place, do yourself a favour and go.


Next up was Abe Erb Brewing Company, a more traditional looking dark wood and brass brewpub that was a nice place to get out of the summer heat. I had a Canada Day IPA with a nice balance of Red X malt and Citra and Centennial hops.


Our next stop was Descendants Beer & Beverage Co., where we made another fun, unplanned discovery. This time, it wasn’t a waterwheel but something equally unexpected:


A great folk band! Specifically, Onion Honey, who were having a CD-release party and were absolutely fantastic, talented and fun; so much so that we bought their CD to listen to on the drive home, making for a wonderful end to a wonderful day.


P.S. There is also a shuffleboard table at Grand River Brewing, in case you like things that are awesome.

This post comes from Matt, the Beer Baron. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @geekcanuck 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sour Cherry & Saskatoon Berry Tart


Summer fruits are here and I love it!  At the farmers market the other day I saw two things I can't find too often around here: Saskatoon berries and sour cherries.


Saskatoon berries look a lot like blueberries, but they taste completely different. When they're raw they are a little bitter, but baked in this tart they taste nutty and delicious, and go great with the sour cherries.  They also keep their shape really well when cooked.


Sour cherries are amazing. I love sweet cherries but I've never used sour cherries before.  They are bright red on the outside but their juice is clear, not dark like sweet cherries.  They need to be sweetened but they have such a great cherry flavour.  I can't wait to bake more with them!


This is a super easy puff-pastry galette, but you can use the filling for a regular pie if you prefer.

I have a cherry pitter to pit the cherries, but you can use a knife if you don't have a pitter, and it's a lot less messy with sour cherries than sweet. 




Ingredients:
1.5 cups Saskatoon berries
1.5 cups sour cherries, pitted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 sheet frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (raw sugar) or granulated sugar

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the berries, cherries, sugars, lemon juice and corn starch in a large bowl until well combined. 

Roll out the puff pastry on a sheet of parchment on a baking tray and poke it with a fork all over.

Mound the berry mixture in the middle of the pastry and fold the edges roughly up over the filling.

Brush the outside of the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and crisp.  If juices leak from the tart, that's ok! 

Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Instant Pot Risotto


After months of wanting one, I bought myself an Instant Pot on Amazon Prime Day! 

I've never, ever used a pressure cooker before so I was really eager to give it a try.  

For my first test run, I decided to work with this recipe from Serious Eats for Miso Risotto in a pressure cooker.  I adapted it a bit with the ingredients I had on hand.  And, although the recipe is written for an electric or standard pressure cooker, I didn't find the instructions intuitive for my first time using the Instant Pot. But the results were fantastic.  



I would never make risotto the traditional way in the middle of summer.  It just makes the kitchen too darn hot.  But this method makes it very quick and easy, and doesn't heat up the kitchen!

The first thing I learned about the Instant Pot is that the actual cooking time can increase and even double when you add time to preheat and release the steam.  In this case, the risotto was still very quick and worth the effort.  



The second thing I learned, which was a big surprise, was that the saute feature gets very hot!  Never having used an electric pressure cooker, I was very surprised how hot it got.  You'd need to keep a close eye on it not to burn your garlic.


Ingredients

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cup dry sake or sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup miso paste
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt
chives or green onions



Directions for Instant Pot

Have all ingredients measured, prepped and ready to go before turning on the Instant Pot. 

Press the "Saute" button and wait until preheated (less than a minute).  Add the oil, then the onion and saute about 2 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and saute one minute more.  The pot insert will move around, but you can hold on to the edge with a kitchen towel to keep it steady. 

Add the rice and cook, stirring for about 4 minutes until the rice is toasted and coated in oil.

Add the sake or sherry and cook, stirring until mostly dry. Stir in soy sauce and miso paste. 

Add stock.  Make sure all ingredients are submerged and there are no grains of rice or pieces of onion stuck to the sides of the pot, and make sure the rim of the pot is clean.  

Put the lid on the Instant Pot and click it closed.  A little tune will play to indicate it is properly closed. 

Push the "Manual" button. Push the "Pressure" button until the Low Pressure light is on. The timer will default to 30 minutes.  Press the minus - button until the timer says 5 minutes. 

After 10 seconds, the program will start.  It took about 5 minutes to come up to pressure, then the timer started counting down.  Once 5 minutes was up, the pot went into "Keep Warm" mode.  To quick-release the steam, press "Cancel" and turn the steam nozzle to "Vent". Depressurizing took about 2 minutes for this recipe. 

Once the pressure is released, open the lid, being careful to turn your face away from the steam.  Stir the risotto a few times until it thickens.  Add salt to taste if desired.  Mine didn't need it. 

Serve the risotto in shallow bowls, topped with chopped chives or green onions. 






Thursday, July 13, 2017

Instant Pot Duo Unboxing




I finally got something I've been wanting for a while.  The Instant Pot was on sale for Amazon Prime Day and I snapped one up.  

I got the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, 8 Quart 1200W

Check out the video for the grand unveiling.  I plan to make lots of delicious things with this! 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Happy Hour: Themyscira Wonder Punch

This post comes from Matt, the Beer Baron, who likes craft beer and creating superhero-themed cocktails.  Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @geekcanuck


Even before we went to see Wonder Woman, I was toying with the idea of coming up with a cocktail to celebrate her big screen solo debut (and director Patty Jenkins becoming the first woman to direct a superhero blockbuster). I’d had some fun ideas about rimming the glass with sugar to represent a tiara and using lemon curls as the Golden Lasso of Truth but I hadn’t quite cracked the concept for the actual cocktail -- until a quick trip to Toronto before the movie.



The Clockwatching Tart and I were meeting an old friend for lunch and enjoyed some truly fantastic D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) pizza, whose ingredients all come from specific regions of Italy. While the food and service at Pizzeria Libretto were wonderful, my eureka moment came when I spotted Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers Cherry Gin in a cocktail on the menu.

I’d been toying with the idea of starting off with a base similar to an Aperol Spritz, which is something the Clockwatching Tart had recently tried and enjoyed. An Aperol Spritz combines brut (dry) prosecco with bitter-sweet Aperol and club soda. To even come close to doing Wonder Woman justice, I decided to do away with the club soda entirely and add in the Dillon’s Cherry Gin.

                                           

Between my original garnish ideas, the addition of blueberries to match the colour scheme of her outfit, and the Dillon’s Cherry Gin to make the whole thing fittingly stronger and more powerful, the ingredients are as follows:

  • 4 ounces dry sparkling wine
  • 3/4 ounce Aperol or Luxardo Aperitivo
  • 3/4 ounce Dillon’s Cherry Gin
  • Yellow sanding sugar
  • Lemon curl
  • Blueberries



We used Canadian brut from Nova Scotia but any dry sparkling wine would do.


Add the Aperol or Aperitivo and gin and give it a good stir.


Garnish to bring out the Wonder Woman in your drink and then enjoy! We felt the Themyscira Wonder Punch turned out wonderfully well. It was herbaceous, lightly floral and not overly sweet, while also being alluring, balanced, approachable and strong but not overbearing, all of which seemed fitting for Wonder Woman.


As for the movie, [spoiler alert] it was awesome and unabashedly positive and inspiring. It was one of my favourite theatrical experiences of the year and I loved that there were women dressed up as Wonder Woman there and that the movie seemed to live up to their expectations. Go enjoy the movie and then follow it up with a Themyscira Wonder Punch!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Happy Hour - Homemade Gin Smash


Last year a terrific new pre-made cocktail hit the shelves of the LCBO, Georgian Bay Gin Smash.  We tried it at a food & wine show and fell in love with the fruity but not-too-sweet flavour.  We weren't the only ones.  It was extremely popular in Ontario and very hard to find for a lot of the summer.  At one point we came across a full case of 24 at the LCBO and grabbed it to stock up.  


But when it wasn't available, and we were craving the flavour, I decided I could make my own Gin Smash.  I used Bulldog gin, but it would be even more authentic with Georgian Bay gin


All you need is gin, club soda, limes, lemons, tangerines and mint. 


Muddle the mint and fruit with a shot of gin. Muddling just means to crush the fruit and herbs together to get their juice and essence into the gin.  The peels add a lot of flavour as well.  If you don't have a muddler, use a wooden spoon.  


I made the smash two ways.  One was muddled in a cocktail shaker and strained, the other was muddled directly in the glass so all the fruit remained in the cocktail when served.  Both were topped with club soda.


I think I liked the strained version slightly better, for ease of sipping, but both were delicious! 

You can be creative and add different fruits and herbs to make your own smash.  I am heading to Georgian Bay for a girls weekend soon, and I'll be bringing both the pre-made Gin Smash, and ingredients to make my own. 

Cheers!