Baking Chez Moi – Streusel-Topped Rhubarb Lime Tart

Streusel-Topped Rhubarb Lime Tart

I know I was extolling the virtues of sharing all over Instagram last week, but I realized today that for all the baking I did last week, I didn’t have any treats (savoury or sweet) left in the house. I remedied that by picking up a pint of strawberries this afternoon and am now battling the urge to re-purpose the goat’s cheese I’ve got saved for Cook the Book Fridays – there’s nothing nicer than a goat cheese and strawberry tartine at this time of year. Except maybe fresh summer strawberries all on their own. So, the goat cheese is safe for now.

I do admit to hanging on to more of this rhubarb tart than I usually do for the baked goods I make. Rhubarb is one of my favourite things in the garden and my estimation of my fair share of a rhubarb dish may be a little skewed. This was wonderful the day it was baked and it was still good for breakfast the next day (or so). Its base is Dorie’s sweet tart dough, cookie-ish without being overly sweet. The filling is rhubarb brightened with lime juice and zest and covered in custard, then topped with streusel.

I could eat variations of this tart with whatever happens to be in season and enjoy them very much, but I’d always be counting down the months to when it’s time to harvest the rhubarb from the garden.

Luckily, there’s still some rhubarb to be had, though I rarely make the same thing twice with it in the same season – my rhubarb recipe file is ridiculously large. Once it’s gone, I’ll console myself with all the other berries and stone fruits to come.

I’ll also start getting to know my new friend – a very kind Co-op neighbour gave me some sourdough starter at a meeting tonight. So, if you have any sourdough advice, let me know. I’m determined not to let it die!

Sourdough starter

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes here.

Dorie’s Cookies – My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate chip cookies with a hint of nutmeg and coriander.

I found out recently that some of my neighbours think that my diet consists mostly of dessert. So much so that I’ve been told that one of my housing co-op neighbours was dumbfounded when a very healthy vegan meal I made was described to her. I guess between my Instagram feed and my fondness for bringing treats to meetings and gatherings, people may be thinking of staging an intervention. (In East Van, this would look like a gentle redirection in the food co-op toward the alternative flours and sweeteners.)

I suppose I should start posting my everyday eating a little more often, but I’m not starting today. I got a new oven this morning and what better way to test it than to bake up some chocolate chip cookies? One of this month’s Tuesdays with Dorie choices is her Newest Chocolate Chip Cookie, which I’ve been wanting to try ever since I vehemently disagreed with the judgement that put Dorie out of this year’s Piglet competition. Personally, I love adding chopped chocolate dust to cookies and I was especially intrigued by the hints of nutmeg and coriander in the cookie.

A whole lot of chocolate chopping going on.

Of course, my timing isn’t perfect. These are the kind of chocolate chippers that benefit from a night’s rest. I gave the dough an hour in the fridge and popped in a test batch. My research so far tells me I have nothing to regret in having made that decision. I am curious to know if I’ll think they’re even better when I bake the rest of the cookies tomorrow, though. Right now I can tell you that they’re a little soft, a little chewy, a little crisp, and very delicious. For an even better description of these cookies, head over to Sarah Jampel’s Food52 article, which has links to this recipe and to Dorie’s Classic Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, too.

June’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Cook the Book Fridays – Hummus

Hummus garnished with dukkah, smoked paprika, and olive oil

I find that it’s in warmer weather than my refrigerator fills with dips, sauces, and condiments. In colder months, it’s filled with soups and stews, one pot meals that need no additional seasoning, save for a quick gremolata or a dusting of seasoned breadcrumbs. I might find myself thinking I should whip up some romesco or chimichurri, but I rarely do.

This seasonal shift might be because mix-and-match buffets are perfect for outdoor eating; or that tartines showcasing summer produce need just a swipe of something flavourful to complete them; or that hot weather saps my will to cook and suppresses my appetite, so it’s best to fill the fridge with quick and tempting food. It’s probably the last one, if I’m being honest. The others are simply collateral benefits.

Irises

In any case, June is a great time to perfect your house hummus recipe, before it gets too hot and in time for all those picnics you’re going to organize in July and August. This hummus is a great place to start. There aren’t any flavourings incorporated into the hummus itself, save for lemon, garlic and tahini, making it a blank canvas for whatever you choose to garnish it with. I used dukkah and smoked paprika, as suggested, along with a drizzle of olive oil and it went nicely with the rye crackers I had on hand.

I made a full batch, which is at least enough for the weekend. I think I might make some flat breads tomorrow and fill them with hummus and fresh vegetables, for a bit of Eighties nostalgia and some easy weekend eating.

Hummus

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Cook the Book Fridays – Multigrain Bread

Multigrain Bread

I can’t believe that it’s been more than a month since I shared a meal with my Cook the Book Fridays friends. I’ve missed checking in on everyone’s blog and telling everyone else about another one of My Paris Kitchen‘s terrific recipes.

This week, I couldn’t miss out. Baking bread is one of my favourite meditative occupations and it’s one I don’t do often enough. This recipe might help me with that – here’s a bulleted list to prove it:

  • The only preparation needed is a starter that’s mixed the night before and left to bubble away in a warmish place (which is easier now that the weather is finally warming up).
  • It’s kneaded in the stand mixer, but the dough isn’t taxing on my KitchenAid’s motor.
  • It uses items I regularly stock, like bread flour and a variety of seeds, requiring only one addition to my pantry – a $3.00 bag of whole wheat pastry flour.
  • It’s a great excuse to break out my Dutch oven, which gives it a perfectly chewy, crisp crust.
  • The crumb is tender and almost uniform, making this a candidate for all-time favourite sandwich bread.
  • It’s much more flavourful than any grocery store multigrain and it’s not that far removed from a good bakery loaf.
  • It’s easily adaptable to whatever add-ins your pantry can provide.

If that hasn’t convinced you to try this bread, perhaps the recipe itself might. You can find it over on Fine Cooking. It’s a perfect weekend bread. You only have to attend to it for a few minutes at a time, over the course of a morning or afternoon, while you get on with chores, cooking, or crosswords. (Or the much more exciting things you may be getting up to on Saturday – I choose comfort and alliteration, for this weekend at least.)

Multigrain Bread, from starter to finish.

I didn’t have any issues making the bread, save for needing to bake it about ten minutes longer than the recipe called for. Some of the other cooks in our group needed to adjust the temperature, timing, or hydration a little for their loaves. I took Betsy‘s advice and added the seeds partway through the initial knead, wrapping a kitchen towel around my stand mixer to avoid flying flax seeds.

Multigrain Bread, full of seeds

The only other problem I had was patience. I cut into it before it was cool, slightly munching the edge of the cut loaf, as you can see in the photo above. The good news is that when it was truly cool, it cut like a dream. And I don’t regret my impatience, because there are few pleasures like warm, fresh bread slathered with butter. It’s certainly worth one minorly crumpled crust.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Cottage Cooking Club – April 2017

Black pepper, rosemary, & smoked paprika cornbread

April was a whirlwind for me, so I’m only just posting my contribution to the Cottage Cooking Club now.

I’ve been trying a lot of cornbread recipes lately, both savoury and sweet, trying to find one that’s a good fit for some of the soups and stews I’ve been making this rainy spring season. The cornbread from River Cottage Everyday bridges the gap between savoury and sweet nicely for me and it just may become the house favourite here.

There’s only a tablespoon of honey in this bread, but it’s enough for me, especially for the variation I improvised with rosemary, black pepper and smoked Paprika. I also substituted some bacon fat for half the butter in this recipe, which made it even smokier. This recipe is infinitely variable, I used yogurt, but buttermilk is also an option. Add-ins include grated cheese or fresh corn, minced jalapeño or green onion, all sorts of spices and herbs – whatever piques your interest or suits your menu.

It paired well with the soup I keep making (and changing) this spring, a smoky turkey and green split pea soup that’s thick and rich, perfect for rainy day eating. I’m going to share the “recipe” with you, but it’s really just a jumping off point. This soup changes based on what’s in my fridge – my latest version included a quick stock made from the leftovers of a rotisserie chicken, some diced turkey, and (brilliantly) some diced leftover roasted sweet potato that had been seasoned with rosemary and chili flakes. The sweet potato would carry a vegan version of this soup very well.

Smoky Turkey and Green Split Pea Soup

Smoky Turkey & Green Split Pea Soup

  • 2 tbsp. butter, oil, and/or bacon fat
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tsp. dried basil (or 1 tbsp. fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or 1-2 tsp. fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups turkey or chicken stock and/or water
  • 2 cups green split peas, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • a rind from some smoked Parmesan
  • 1 cup diced cooked turkey
  • a dash of pomegranate molasses or the juice of half a lemon (optional)
  • a few slices of cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
  • grated smoked Parmesan (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the fat in a large soup pot over medium heat, add the onion, then turn heat to low. Add the onions with a little salt. Stir occasionally, until they are starting to brown a little. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes translucent. Turn the heat to medium and add the leek, carrots, and celery, then cook until they begin to soften. Add the herbs and spices, with a few grinds of pepper and a little more salt, then stir them around a little to help release their flavour.

Add the stock and/or water and split peas, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat until the soup is at a simmer. Drop in the smoked Parmesan rind, then cook until the split peas start to become tender. If the soup starts to become too thick at any point, add more water or stock as needed.

Add the diced turkey and continue to simmer the soup until the split peas are soft – usually 30-40 minutes, but it may take longer. Check for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, if necessary.

When ready to serve, stir in a dash of pomegranate molasses or the juice of half a lemon, if desired. Garnish with chopped, cooked bacon and/or grated smoked Parmesan, if desired.

This soup is adaptable to whatever you’ve got on hand, but here are a few ideas:

  • Use diced chicken in place of the turkey
  • Add diced roasted sweet potato with the turkey
  • Use a rind of Gruyère in place of the smoked Parmesan and season with thyme and rosemary
  • Skip the animal products and use a touch more smoked paprika, for a hearty vegan soup

You can find the rest of the group’s posts, here. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers while creating some wonderful meals.

Dorie’s Cookies – ANZAC Biscuits

ANZAC Biscuits

These cookies bring me back to my Girl Guides days, when one of the requirements for camp was to bring three dozen sturdy cookies along for snack times. There were always some of these, along with Ranger cookies, oatmeal raisin, and good old chocolate chip. I’ve made them myself on a number of occasions, but not for many years.

That’s a shame, because these cookies are the perfect cookie jar cookies – they never get tooth-breakingly hard or deplorably dry and they’re just as good for a snack on a hike as they are for an unfussy dessert.

This version of the cookie (or biscuit, as they’re called in Australia and New Zealand) is particularly special for the Tuesdays with Dorie crowd, because it was provided to Dorie by one of our own, Mardi of eat. live. travel. write. (Mardi is also about to join the ranks of cookbook authors, with a cookbook due to come out in Fall, 2018.)

She made hers to mark ANZAC Day, which takes place on April 25th. If you’d like to try your hand at these this year, you can pick up a copy of Dorie’s Cookies, or try Mardi’s version.

April’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Cook the Book Fridays – Green Beans with Snail Butter

Green Beans with Snail Butter

Some of my earliest restaurant memories involve escargots. My parents wanted their children to be comfortable in establishments ranging from hamburger joints to fine dining rooms, and they also wanted us to be willing to try anything on the menu. It helped that escargots are a favourite of my mother’s, so we were exposed to them early and often. It helped, even more, that they were drowned in delicious, garlicky, lemony butter. You haven’t lived until you’ve had that butter running down your chin. (You weren’t raised by my parents if that happened more than once.)

These days, I appreciate a version that doesn’t involve the fuss of making escargots at home, appeals to vegetarians, and can even be veganized in a pinch. Green beans are chameleons in the kitchen and take to lashings of lemony garlic butter beautifully. In this recipe, they’re steamed before being finished in the pan, but they could just as easily be blanched, if that works better for you.

All the minced garlic!

I was tempted to pick up a baguette to soak up the butter, but I decided to add it to some red sauce, instead. It’s the time of year when winter pantry staples start to feel very tired. Adding this butter gave the sauce a richness and freshness of flavour that made me forget that fresh tomatoes are still months away.

Lemony garlic butter on green beans.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Cottage Cooking Club – March 2017

Ten Minute Chocolate Chip Cookies

This month hasn’t been one for cooking very much from cookbooks for me. There have been a lot of improvised meals and dishes that I cook from memory and adjust to what I have on hand. The list of dishes that I can rely on that way has grown year-by-year and I have my love of cookbooks to thank for that, along with the guidance of many good cooks, starting with my mother.

I include chocolate chip cookies on the list of foods I can make without reference to a recipe, but I’m always interested in trying new recipes for them. I don’t have a Platonic ideal recipe for these cookies – I am happy whether they’re chewy, crispy, cakey, or barely there between chunks of chocolate. I’ve enjoyed them with all sorts of flour combinations, add ins, and variations. So I’m open to any new twist or trick I can add to my chocolate chip cookie repertoire.

This recipe promised a crispy cookie, but I ended up with one that was fluffier, instead. I’m not sure if it was the addition of oats (a variation on the oatmeal raisin variation given in the recipe), if it was my conversion of the recipe from weights to cups, or if it was a misinterpretation of a British ingredient. I suspect it was the conversion. No matter, though, because the cookies were delicious, even if they looked nothing like their inspiration.

I added a little more salt, along with some cardamom and nutmeg, to the recipe, otherwise I think they’d have been under-seasoned. That might be my North American palate speaking, or the garden-variety butter I used.

I expect I’ll cook a little more from cookbooks next month, especially as spring has begun in earnest here and early local produce will soon appear. I’ve got some River Cottage recipes bookmarked for just that reason.

You can find the rest of the group’s posts, here. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers while creating some wonderful meals.

Dorie’s Cookies – Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars

Julia Child quotation apron

Last week, when I needed a little inspiration, I ran into a friend from my housing co-operative. She told me to stop by her house on my way home from walking the dog, because she had a little present for me. It turned out to be the apron you can see at the top of the post, featuring one of my favourite Julia Child quotations. I like to bring baked goods to meetings, both because it gives me an excuse to bake more often and because I believe sharing food helps build community. (I also believe sharing sugar helps get us through our agendas faster, but that part may not be supported by science.)

The third week of each month is meeting-heavy for me, and the meetings tend to be busy ones. I brought the rest of the Breton galettes to one meeting, pulling out the second log of dough a little late in the day and having to bring the cookies freshly filled and still cooling on the pan. But, at least they made it there.

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars

Later that week, I baked Dorie’s salted chocolate-caramel bars, intending to bring them to another meeting. Though the shortbread baked up beautifully and the caramel topping came together exactly as described, the topping didn’t set by the time I had to leave for my meeting. I was afraid to bring them, as I didn’t want strings of caramel spread across our board table. So, I cut them into squares, still in the pan, and left them on the counter to finish setting.

When I returned, the topping was still quite soft, so I put the whole pan in the refrigerator and hoped for the best. By morning, the bars were easy to pull apart and the topping was set (if still a little soft). For the purposes of scientific research, I tried them straight out of the refrigerator and then again when they’d come to room temperature. They’re excellent either way, but I recommend exercising a little patience. When they’re at room temperature, the caramel becomes ooey-gooey in that way that every child delights in and every adult of good character should, too.

The best part is that they keep well in the fridge, so I was able to share these over several days, making sure to partake in a respectable number myself. I’ll definitely be making these again, but a day ahead if I plan to share them. I can’t think of a better way to turn a meeting into a party.

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars

March’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here and here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Those Old-Fashioned Favourites


Lately, I’ve been returning to the kind of cooking I did when I was a kid, the sorts of recipes that my mother taught me to get started for her when I got home from school, or the baking projects that I learned from the cookbooks that lived on the shelf above the telephone table in the kitchen.

Today, I improvised a clean-out-the fridge beef stew and it was reminiscent of the seventies-style stews of my childhood, rather than the French bistro classic style I adopted as an adult.

For dessert, I pulled out a very old recipe for applesauce cookies and was pleased to discover that it didn’t need any adjustment at all. It was rich with old school apple spices, with a party trick half cup of cold coffee thrown in for a little depth. Raisins and walnuts made for a nice textural contrast to the softness of the cookie. There’s something to be said for dipping back into one’s culinary past.

 
My favourite throwback recipe of the last little while was the soup I threw together last week. Homemade chicken stock, chopped leftover chicken, green split peas, smoked paprika, a rind from some smoked Parmesan, and a bunch of veggies and herbs – I may write it out as a real recipe at some point or just accept it as one of an infinite number of variations, rarely repeated. This iteration was so well balanced, I might have to try to recreate it, after all.

There are more sophisticated dishes that I can whip up without reference to a recipe, but humble, homely, ancient ones like these have a special satisfaction. It’s returning to the source so that, refreshed, we can regain our appetite for exploration and experimentation.