Baking Chez Moi – The Rugelach That Won Over France

Rugelach

I’ve made rugelach before, over at The Family That Bakes Together with my nieces, so I was curious to see how this recipe compared to that one. Those rugelach were filled with rich apricot lekvar, lots of cinnamon sugar, and a mix of fruit and nuts. My nieces also inadvertently rolled them along the short end, creating pinwheels which were huge – and a huge hit with everyone that tasted them.

So, I was curious to try Dorie’s chocolate version. I used a semisweet chocolate that was a little darker than was called for and substituted dried cranberries for the cherries, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. The dough was surprisingly easy to work with for something that soft, though getting the rolls started needed a little gentle help from my bench scraper. I left three of the rolls in the freezer and sliced and baked the other.

The oven I used seems to run a touch hot, so the rugelach were a bit browner on the bottom than I’d like. Next time, I’ll turn down the heat a touch and perhaps take them out sooner, too.

I was a little disappointed with them when I first tasted them – they seemed a bit dry and the flavours didn’t meld very well. But, the next day the leftovers were terrific. The flavour of the cream cheese dough became more pronounced and the filling was moist and delicious.

I still love the version we made for Baking With Julia best, but I think I’d like to have rolls of both kinds of rugelach in the freezer, to serve together. I’ll just bake this version a day ahead.

A very happy Chanukah to everyone who observes it! I hope these eight days are filled with food, family, and friends.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here: The Rugelach That Won Over France.

Mme. Maman’s Chopped Liver – A French Fridays Catch Up

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Do you ever have one of those days? You know, the kind that finds you doing everything but the one thing you’d set as a goal?

Well, today was one of those days for me. I made succotash, and rugelach dough, a cranberry crackle tart and extra tart dough. But I didn’t manage to get the lamb stew that was today’s French Fridays assignment into the oven. The lamb languishes in the refrigerator, the apricots wait patiently on the counter. Tomorrow will be their day.

Today, I ate ribs coated with a sauce that my mother made up on the spot, which somehow paired perfectly with butternut squash roasted with cinnamon, nigella, pumpkin seeds, and cardamom. And I dug into this chopped liver, which is humble-looking, but delivers on flavour.

I think it’s the crispy onions and the quatre épices that really make this version of chopped liver special. The onions were almost crispy when they were done. I was worried they’d be too dry, but once mixed with the liver, hard-boiled egg, and some oil from the pan, and left to rest overnight, they melted into the mixture.

This was an unequivocal hit and will be showing up on my buffet table, humble-looking or not.

See how the Doristas fared with this recipe last year, when it came up on the rotation: Mme. Maman’s Chopped Liver. And here’s where you can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine.

A List of Lists for the Booklover

Old family photo

I’m not much for gift guides. I’d rather visit the multitude of craft fairs and art sales that happen this month. Keeping it local, supporting crafters and artisans, finding unique and special gifts – all those good things.

What I do fall for, every time, are book lists. And the end of the year is full of them.

The Big Picture

The New York Times has released their list of 100 Notable Books of 2014. Not to be left out, the Globe & Mail released their own list of 100. NPR and the CBC put out shorter lists, while the Guardian asked notable writers for their picks instead.

Publisher’s Weekly breaks their list down into categories. I’ve linked to their non-fiction list, because it starts with one of the best books I read this year, but you can click through to their other lists at the top.

Around the World

The Telegraph’s picks for the best travel books of 2014. And the Detroit Free Press’ picks. Shutterstock has a list of their favourite travel photography books and Longitude Books promises titles that will entice you to explore regions around the world.

In the Kitchen

If you’re a little obsessed with cookbooks, like me, there’ are a number of “best cookbooks of all time” lists. Here are a few, from:

Out in the Garden

A British list from Gardens Illustrated. An American one from the American Horticultural Society. One for Canadians from The Star. And finally, another British one that asks whether the subject of gardening has anything more left to be said.

Those should keep you busy, if you weren’t busy enough at this time of year. No shame if you use these lists only when shopping for yourself. Well, not much shame.

Patate Alpino

Patate Alpino - roasted creamer potatoes with Italian cheeses and Bresaola

The Little Potato Company provided me with the potatoes used in this recipe. The recipe and all opinions expressed in the post are my own.

I don’t care who knows it. I love potatoes. Roasted, mashed, boiled, smashed, simmered, braised, caked, or scalloped – bring ‘em on. So, when I got the opportunity to play around with The Little Potato Company‘s creamer potatoes, I was right on board.

It’s been fun experimenting with these tiny, tender, flavourful potatoes. The recipe I’m sharing with you today was inspired by thoughts of Swiss raclette, but it’s got an Italian twist, since my neighbourhood is famous for its Italian delis and coffee shops.

When I was tracking down ingredients for a dish I made recently with my cooking group, I ended up with quite a lot of Bresaola. Since raclette is often served with air-dried beef and roasted potatoes, it seemed a natural fit for the little red Blushing Belle potatoes I’d been working with. In keeping with the Italian theme, I chose a mix of Asiago and Parmesan cheeses to complete the recipe.

Patate Alpino - roasted creamer potatoes with Italian cheeses and Bresaola

Patate Alpino

Serves 4 as a side; 2 as an appetizer or small plate

12 Little Potato Company Blushing Belle potatoes
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves, unpeeled
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

15 grams of grated Asiago cheese
15 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
10-15 grams (1-2 very thin slices) Bresaola, shredded

Centre a rack in your oven and preheat to 400°F.

Toss the potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and thyme in the oil and then add several grinds of pepper. Salt lightly, or not at all, as Bresaola is quite salty enough. Roast the potatoes for 30 minutes, stirring around the 20 minute mark.

While the potatoes are roasting, grate the cheeses and mix them together. Shred the Bresaola and reserve separately.

When the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, remove them from the oven and preheat the broiler to 500°F. Discard the rosemary and thyme and remove the garlic from the roasting pan.

You have two choices with the garlic. You can keep the cloves warm and serve them with the potatoes, or (my favourite) you can squeeze the cloves out of their skins immediately and spread them on toasted rounds of baguette. (If you have leftovers, add them to your next batch of mashed potatoes.)

Gently crush each potato with a potato masher, taking care to leave them reasonably intact, then give them another grind or two of pepper. Sprinkle each potato with the cheese mixture and then place the potatoes under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Carefully move the potatoes to a serving platter, using a metal offset spatula, then top each with a mound of shredded Bresaola.

Patate Alpino - roasted creamer potatoes with Italian cheeses and Bresaola

This dish can serve as a side, but I think it really shines as a snack. With a glass of Italian red wine or a Belgian-style beer, it’s a satisfying way to warm up on a cold winter’s day.

If you’d like to take these potatoes back to the other side of the Alps, substitute Gruyère or Emmental cheese, with viande des Grisons (or Bündnerfleisch) as a topping. In that case, you might want to reach for a French vintage.

I didn’t stop there with my recipe experimentation with my stock of little potatoes. Come back next Thursday and I’ll have one more recipe for you. In the meantime, you can visit The Little Potato Company’s website for more recipes.

FFWD – Bresaola and Walnut Tartine

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Don’t you find this is a bittersweet time of year? The holidays are full of fun, friends, and family, but I also find my thoughts turning to those who are no longer here and the experiences that have passed. On melancholy nights like this one, I want comfort and simplicity from my kitchen.

Thank goodness for simple, delicious dishes like this week’s French Fridays selection. And thank goodness for miscalculating how much bresaola I needed to make it. The indescribably fragrant and delicious squash dish I made for supper ended up gracing the kitchen floor. Thank goodness I’ve had many years to become accustomed to my clumsiness.

The extra bresaola did not go to waste. I munched on tartines and another dish inspired by the Viande des Grisons that was the intended ingredient in this week’s French Fridays foray. If I can keep my clumsiness in check, I’ll tell you about that second meal on Monday.

As for the tartine, I toasted a light rye bread from a bakery down the street, slathered it with butter and covered it with thin slices of bresaola. I massaged, rather than drizzled, a little good olive oil into the dry meat, sliced it into soldiers, and arranged some walnut halves on each. Simple. Really good, too, although in future, I might sneak a thin spread of mustard onto the toast along with the butter.

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I didn’t go hunting for the Viande des Grisons, as my neighbourhood’s Italian roots meant that Bresaola was only a few blocks away. I’m curious to try it some time though, whether in this tartine or in one of the salads or raclettes that Dorie describes in the header note for this week’s recipe.

In the meantime, I’m going to raise my cup of tea to the past and leave the bustle of the holidays until tomorrow.

Find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Tartine de Viande des Grisons.

Eat Local: Kingfisher’s Waterfront Bar & Grill

Sean

Meet Chef Sean McCarthy. He’s the Executive Chef at Kingfisher’s Waterfront Bar & Grill. He also happens to be my little brother. In the photo above, Sean’s showing off some of the sunchokes the restaurant receives in their farm box of produce each week. He’d heard about the difficulties the Doristas had in sourcing this vegetable and wanted me at least to know that I should have talked to him before running around all over town looking for them. Lesson learned. Having trouble sourcing an ingredient? Ask a chef. They know where to find everything you might need.

Sean brought the sunchokes out to show me a couple of weeks ago when my mother and I stopped by Kingfisher’s for lunch after visiting the West Coast Christmas Show in Abbotsford. I don’t get the opportunity to visit the Fraser Valley often enough, so I wanted to make the most of my trip.

Views

You’re used to me extolling the virtues of farmers and local, seasonal food, so you shouldn’t be surprised that my brother shares those values, along with the owners of Kingfisher’s. They take every opportunity to showcase the local goodness around them, like the Gelderman Farms pork loin chop I chose for lunch, which Sean paired with roasted carrots and fig jus. I also got to try a draught from my own neighbourhood with my meal. One of Kingfisher’s rotating tap selections was Bomber Brewing’s Choqlette Porter, a variety I have a hard time passing up.

Food

Kingfisher’s menu is quite varied, so my mother was able to choose a favourite from farther afield, the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, then we finished with pumpkin crème brûlée. In general, though, you’ll find the menu dotted with the provenance of the products they’re using, both in the restaurant and behind the bar. It’s the kind of establishment that’s taking hold across our region, building community with its customers and suppliers and introducing eaters to producers.

Now, this can’t strictly be a restaurant review, since I’m the chef’s sister. But what I’d like to mention is that it’s Buy Local Week and that’s a perfect opportunity for you to seek out just this kind of restaurant in your own neck of the woods. You’ll be supporting a local business that supports local businesses in turn and you might just discover your new favourite butcher, farmer, or brewer along the way.

Baking Chez Moi – Cranberry Crackle Tart

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Our second Baking Chez Moi recipe is deceptively intricate looking. It’s a simple meringue tart on a pâte sablée base. It’s easy to put together, but the results are sophisticated in look and flavour. I made a gluten-free version of Dorie’s sweet tart dough for this one and as I’ve told you before, my gluten-free conversion of this dough needs a little refinement. The tender crust crumbled as I cut it, but it didn’t matter, because it tasted delicious. If I had been serving it for guests, I suppose I could have called it a cranberry meringue on sable cookie dirt and gotten bonus points for cheffiness. (Those of you who know me know I’d be too busy parsing my mistakes.)

I’ve got a disk of regular sweet tart dough in the freezer, so I’m going to make this again for the rest of my family during the holidays this year. In the meantime, Kevin and I are going to enjoy the leftovers of this one. The contrast between the tart cranberries and the sweet, melting meringue is wonderful, especially with the shards of cookie-ish crust.

If you’d like to try this tart for yourself, you can find the recipe on Dorie’s website. It’s a perfect, pretty dessert for the holiday table.

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You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this week’s recipe here: Cranberry Crackle Tart.