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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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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ham & Cheese Scones

Ham and cheese scones

I like scones, but I haven't made them in the past because they don't keep very well and it's hard for just the two of us to get through a batch before they're stale. 

Ham and cheese scones

These scones are essentially a meal.  They are large, and filled with ham and cheese, making them filling, savoury and delicious!

scones - butter and flour

Making the scones isn't difficult.  The hardest part is working the butter into the flour, but it's not that tricky.  Just rub it together with your fingers until it's all incorporated.  

diced ham

If you have leftover roast ham, it would be great in this!  Country ham would be fantastic.  I didn't so I just bought a ham steak from the grocery store and diced it up. You'll want a thick piece of ham for a nice dice.  

baking scones

The dough has plenty of cream in it and is quite wet.  Pat it down on parchment into a round.

cheesy scones

The dough gets cut into triangles and topped with lots of cheese before baking.

ham and cheese scone

The finished scones are great warm or at room temperature.  If you can't finish them the day they're made, pop them in the freezer and thaw before eating, or warm them in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes. 

Here's the recipe, enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups flour plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons cold butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup cold cooked ham, diced
2 green onions, chopped
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup milk3/4 cup 18% table cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter and rub each cube between your fingers into the flour until it dissolves and the flour resembles coarse meal. 

Add the ham, onions and 1/4 cup of the cheese to the flour mixture and toss to combine.  Add the milk and cream and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined into a shaggy dough. 

On a floured work surface, pat the dough into a 7-inch circle, about 1 inch thick.  Cut into 6 wedges and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle each wedge with the remaining shredded cheese.  

Bake 25 minutes until golden and eat these for breakfast, lunch or snacks.  Great with soup too! 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Road Trip - Ottawa

ottawa parliament buildings

We recently had a quick weekend away in Ottawa.  The main purpose of the trip was to see a concert, but we decided to make a weekend out of it! 


Empire Ontario Craft Cider

As we drove the 401 East of Toronto, I started looking for interesting craft beer and cider stops along the way.  We were lucky to find Empire Cider Co. just off the highway near Trenton. 

This is a tiny operation out of a garage, but they make lovely cider.  We tasted all the varieties and grabbed some bottles to take home.  


Signal Brewery Belleville Ontario Craft Beer

Next, we wanted to stop for lunch and found Signal Brewery near Belleville.  This is a brand new brewery in the old Corbyville Distillery, and it's gorgeous!  


Signal Brewery Belleville Ontario Craft Beer

They were out of a few of their beers, but the ones we tried were tasty.  They have a huge, beautiful patio overlooking the Moira river, and plenty of seating indoors.  


Pork Belly Bao Buns Signal Brewery

The food was great too! We had chicken and waffles and pork belly bao buns. 


Tooth and Nail Ottawa


Once we arrived in Ottawa we wanted to check out some more craft beer.  We headed to Tooth and Nail Brewing in the Hintonburg area of Ottawa. It's a great little brew pub in a fun neighbourhood.


Pastrami Sandwich at Tooth and Nail, Ottawa

They have their own beer on tap, which Matt really enjoyed, plus craft beer and cider from other breweries, and a nice menu of tasty sandwiches.   


Andaz Ottawa Byward Market

We checked in to our hotel, the Andaz Ottawa Byward Market.  We really loved this hotel.  It is right in the centre of the best neighbourhood in Ottawa for restaurants and bars, and easy walking distance to Parliament and other attractions. 


Royal Canadian Mint, Ottawa

We walked around Byward Market and took a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint, which was really interesting!  They don't produce currency at this location, but they do make collector coins out of gold and silver.  They have a great gift shop too!


Fortissimo at Brothers Beer Bistro, Ottawa

For dinner, we headed to one of the top craft beer destinations in Ottawa, which also happened to be across the street from our hotel in Byward Market, Brothers Beer Bistro.   The beer selection, cocktails, food and service were awesome!


Rainbow Trout at Brothers Beer Bistro

I had rainbow trout with Israeli couscous, romesco, rapini and preserved lemon. It was delicious!  Matt had pulled duck poutine and he loved it.  


The King Eddy, Byward Market, Ottawa

The next morning we had brunch at the King Eddy in Byward Market. 


Chicken and Waffles at The King Eddy, Byward Market, Ottawa

Matt had chicken & waffles and I had a great burger. 


MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017

Before heading home, we crossed the bridge to Gatineau, Quebec, where there is an amazing horticultural sculpture exhibit that's free to the public until October 15, 2017. 


MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017

Part of Canada150 celebrations, MosaiCanada fills a public park with huge plant sculptures depicting Canadian history and culture.  


MosaiCanada 150 Gatineau

It's really amazing! 

We had a wonderful time in the Ottawa region and it left us wondering why we don't visit more often.  We'll definitely be back!  


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blueberry Peach Buckle


I can't believe I've never shared this recipe. It is so simple and delicious! You can have it for breakfast, a snack, or dessert.  It keeps well and freezes wonderfully. You can use fresh or frozen fruit and the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples. 



A buckle is essentially a cake filled with fruit and (optionally) topped with a crumble topping. Buckles, along with similar evocatively-named desserts like grunts, slumps and cobblers, are a great way to use an abundance of fresh fruit before it goers bad. 



At this time of year we still have a lot of fresh berries and stone fruits in the local markets. This recipe uses peaches and blueberries, but you could use any berries you like, or even plums. 



This recipe comes from The Joy of Cooking, and I've been making it for years.  I like to add oats to the crumble topping, but you can leave them out or skip the topping altogether (but I recommend it!)




Recipe (slightly adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

Buckle
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 medium peaches, pitted and diced
1/2 cups blueberries

Crumble Topping
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons butter

For the buckle, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl mix together the butter, sugar and egg until fluffy.  Add the milk slowly and mix until combined. Stir in the dry ingredients until just mixed. The batter will be quite thick. Carefully fold in the peaches and blueberries. 

Spread the batter evenly in a greased 9-inch square baking pan.  

Mix the crumble topping ingredients together until combined and sprinkle over the buckle batter. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Cool 20 minutes before serving. 





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.