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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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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Quarantine Meatballs

meatball ingredients

This post is by Matt, the Beer Baron

When she isn’t being awesome in the kitchen, the Clockwatching Tart actually works for a local health unit, which means she is incredibly busy at the moment. Between that and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cooking has been a bit of a challenge lately. 

One thing that has definitely helped us out has been a delivery service from one of our favourite local restaurants, Grace. Rather than deliver actual meals, Grace has rebranded as Grace Pantry during this time of physical distancing and is using their connections in the food industry to deliver an amazing selection of locally sourced meats, produce and other tasty treats. You can check out their online store here.

When I was unpacking our very first order from Grace Pantry, I was blown away by how beautiful the ground pork from Stonecroft Farms looked. I wanted to do something special with it, so I decided to try a variation of my favourite recipe for meatballs from Anne Burrell. 

ground pork and ground beef

I don’t normally refer to ground pork as “pretty”, but there’s the evidence. For my version of the recipe above, I just omitted the veal, substituted dried parsley for fresh (we are in a pandemic, after all), and used more than a cup of parmigiano (pandemic or not, I like what I like). 


Another interesting note about cooking in the age of a pandemic is the absolutely bonkers number of onions I go through in a week. I suppose it is because I have all the time in the world, so I’m making everything from scratch, which often includes onions in one form or another. Luckily, I love dicing onions. I find it soothing and the OCD part of my brain enjoys the symmetry of the process.


While I love garlic, I wouldn’t call the process of smashing it with the flat blade of a knife soothing, but it is certainly satisfying.

making meatballs

When I have the luxury of time, prep work is my absolute favourite part of cooking. It’s obviously the OCD thing, but having nicely diced ingredients all out in their own little bowls or own their own little plates is a very satisfying feeling. 

meatballs

While the Clockwatching Tart tends to individually weigh her meatballs on a kitchen scale, I opted to just eyeball it and am pretty proud of how they all turned out. I suppose I missed my true calling in meatball forming. C’est la vie.

meatballs

Apart from quality ingredients, it is how you cook them that really brings out the flavour in these meatballs. Searing each side as best you can in the frying pan before they get finished off in the oven adds so much flavour.

meatballs

These photos are about two weeks old as I write this post and oddly enough, we had some store bought meatballs for lunch today and I was so disappointed with them that I wanted to throw them out. That is how good these homemade meatballs are in comparison.

spaghetti & meatballs

Cheers to wonderful comfort food and finding the silver lining during strange times. (And a shout out to Grace Pantry for their awesome, contact-free delivery.)




Saturday, April 11, 2020

Homemade Bagels


I see so many people posting online about getting into baking and I love it!  The circumstances are unfortunate, but there's no better time to bake. I've always found baking so relaxing and satisfying. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, and delicious smells and tastes to enjoy. 

I've been extremely busy with work lately, so Matt has been doing all the cooking.  We've had some wonderful meals and I'm able to focus on work without worrying about planning and shopping. 


I finally had a real day off and decided to make these bagels. It's actually a 2-day process.  Make and shape the dough the first day, let it rise in the fridge for 24 hours, then boil and bake the second day.  


Warm fresh bagels just out of the oven are well worth the wait!  



We had them with plain cream cheese, but next time I'll add fresh chives or minced red onion.  


To make bagels you need a few special ingredients and items that may not be in everyone's kitchen.  They use bread flour (hard flour) not All-Purpose flour.  They also need instant yeast, not active dry or rapid rise yeast.  The recipe also calls for barley malt syrup.  I found one jar on Amazon.  It was expensive but I was going to go for it.  Unfortunately it was sold out by the time I tried to check out.  I used brown sugar instead and had a dark, crunchy crust on my bagels.

The recipe I used is from Serious Eats, by Stella Parks at BraveTart.  The method uses a Yukone, flour and water cooked on the stove to make the bagels brown and crisp. It's then added to flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a food processor with water to make a very stiff dough.  My food processor struggled a little because the dough was so stiff, but it came together in the end. 

The most challenging part for me was rolling out the dough balls. I had a hard time getting them smooth without seams. But the final bagels turned out ok.  

Poking the hole in the dough to make the bagel shape was the fun part.  The bagels then sit overnight in the fridge. 

Boiling and baking is quick and easy.  My bagels were dark golden brown after only 23 minutes in the oven. I also added Everything Bagel Seasoning to two of the bagels, and left the rest plain. 

The recipe makes just 8 small-ish bagels, which was perfect for us. The bagels turned out nicely.  I would like to try again with the barley malt syrup to see if it makes a difference.  

I recommend reading the whole story on Serious Eats before making the bagels. There's also a video.  But this was a very simple, satisfying baking project!