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.

Dorie’s Cookies – “Corked” Breton Galettes

"Corked" Breton Galettes

Have you been following this year’s Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks, over at Food52? It’s one of my favourite events of the year and it’s unfailingly entertaining.

Today, Dorie’s Cookies made it into the semi-final round, courtesy of a beautifully written, well-considered judgement by New York Times literary critic, Dwight Garner. I allow myself to get quite worked up about the reviews in the competition, all in good fun. My favourite ones don’t necessarily jibe with my choices for the winners of each round. For me, it’s the quality of the writer’s voice, the wholeheartedness of their explorations of each book, and the clarity of their reasoning that win me over. In this case, the winner was exactly the one I would have chosen myself.

I especially like Garner’s description of his wife and daughter’s devotion to Dorie. They sound like wise and discerning women. I read the review early this morning and thought about it again while I was making the dough for these galettes. Dorie’s books are all full of careful guidance and clever techniques. This dough comes together exactly as she describes, needs to be frozen only for an hour, and shapes itself perfectly using Dorie’s muffin tin trick.

I baked one log’s worth of cookies, leaving the other in the freezer for future cookie emergencies. I used jam that my mother’s friend Marianna made and I’m going to deliver some of the cookies to her mother, returning the kindness. Some will most certainly be eaten as I read through the rest of this week’s Piglet judgements, which inevitably make me hungry.

Who do you think will take this year’s Piglet trophy? I’m rooting for Dorie, but this competition is notoriously difficult to predict.

The first round of Dorie’s Cookies goodness for this month can be found here, at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Cook the Book Fridays – Wheat Berry Salad

Wheat Berry Salad

The full title of this recipe is Wheat Berry Salad with Radicchio, Root Vegetables, and Pomegranate and it’s really hard to single out a component that’s the star of the show in this salad. They all work together so beautifully and chase away any end-of-winter ennui that root vegetables may hold at this time of year. I especially loved the dressing of olive oil, lemon, Dijon mustard, and pomegranate molasses. This salad is going to fuel me for a few days.

It was a good recipe to jump back into the group with, after a short post-Christmas blog break. I so appreciate connecting with the other bloggers in this group, something that I’ve been particularly aware of this week.

Many of us cooked through Around My French Table together and we heard the sad news that one of our friends from that project has passed away. Kathy of Bakeaway with Me would have made a gorgeous version of this salad and showed it off with her beautiful photography. She’ll be missed, as a kind and generous cornerstone of our Dorista community; as a talented blogger, recipe developer, and photographer; and of course, as a mother, grandmother, and friend. My thoughts are with her family and community.

Wheat Berry Salad

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 – February 2017

River Cottage Everyday & Love Your Leftovers

The Cottage Cooking Club is back, for a six-month journey through two more River Cottage cookbooks, River Cottage Everyday and River Cottage: Love Your Leftovers. Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness is taking a more free-wheeling approach to this iteration of the club, asking members to choose whichever recipes strike their fancy and post about them on the 28th of each month.

River Cottage Veg is one of my go to cookbooks for simple weeknight eating, so I was happy to add River Cottage Everyday to my collection. And I fell in love with Love Your Leftovers when I reviewed it just before the holidays.

I hope to cook a little more from both books over the next few months, but for this month, I’m starting with a snack that is cheaper and better for you than its supermarket counterparts.

Honey and Peanut Butter Booster Bars

Honey and Peanut Butter Booster Bars

I couldn’t wait until these were cooled completely to cut a couple of tester squares. If I’d waited until they were completely cool, they would have had straighter edges, but it was worth it. These bars are a perfect snack, warm or cold. They have a fair amount of sugar and butter in them, but they’re also full of dried fruit and seeds. I chose dried cranberries, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. Along with the chunky peanut butter and oats, I’d say they make these bars a healthy choice.

They’re naturally gluten-free (as long as you use gluten-free safe oats) and they’d be easy to make vegan, with golden syrup in place of honey and a healthy-ish margarine standing in for the butter.

I love this kind of recipe, because the results can be as varied as the contents of your pantry and you can customize them as much as you like. I’ve found this to be a hallmark of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipes, one of the many things that brings me back to his cookbooks so frequently. I’m sure I’ll find a host of new favourites while working through this round of the club.

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.