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Happy New Year! Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, spoiling your loved ones! Wishing you a new year filled with joy, good health, good friends and good food! Love from Éva

I do apologize for not being more present with my blogging buddies, but we’ve only just returned from our month-long sojourn in Arizona. We had three sets of dear friends visit us for 5-6 days each during our stay; it was a fun-packed time away, also enjoying our dear friends who currently live in Arizona.

I made this delicious winter stew for friends just before we left for Arizona. It was a perfect way to begin winter. The stew was filled with succulent seafood drenched in a creamy béchamel. And if you’re super hungry, you can eat the bowl, or part of it!

Seafood Stew in Sourdough Bread Bowls

Please click here for the original recipe.

Serves 4-6 depending on size of bowls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 a sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 8 mini potatoes
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 500 g mixed firm seafood — peeled shrimp, scallops, lobster meat, mussels, calamari or white fish (cubbed)
  • 1 cup shredded flavourful white cheese, like Gruyère and Asiago
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 4 sourdough bread bowls

Directions:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil and sauté the onions until translucent.
  2. Add the potatoes and carrots and sauté until about half-cooked. Add the celery and sauté for about 2-4 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat and add the butter and allow it to melt. Sprinkle the flour into the vegetables and mix well. Cook for a minute or so. Add the dried herbs. Slowly add the milk, stirring to mix into the floured vegetables and bring to a slow simmer, stirring and allowing the mixture to thicken. You may bring this to room temperature and refrigerate until required.
  4. If you have refrigerated the vegetable mixture, simmer on low until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked through. Add the seafood with the longest cooking first (shrimp, scallops, calamari and lastly, mussels). Cook the seafood through.
  5. Add the shredded cheese, mix well and taste for seasoning. Serve piping hot in hollowed out sourdough bread bowls.

Here is that gorgeous winter light again.

Notes:

  • I like to spend as much time with our guests instead of stuck in the kitchen cooking dinner so I try to make as much of the dishes in advance as possible so that my time spent in the kitchen is minimal while we have guests. Because I cooked most of the stew earlier that day, I was able to reheat it and cook the raw seafood quickly without missing too much of the evening.
  • I gently warmed the sourdough bread bowls so that they kept the stew warm a little longer, things cool down so quickly in the winter.
  • I used a mixture of Wild Argentinian Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Mussels, and Chopped Calamari for this dish but white fish would also work beautifully.
  • If the thought of adding cheese to a fish dish offends you, please omit it. The original recipe called for cheddar but I did not wish to add red cheese to discolour the sauce. The cheese adds a nice background flavour with a little body, it’s really not enough to make it stringy.
  • The smooth béchamel flavoured with the tarragon and thyme made a lovely background for the seafood. Our guests loved it, the homemade sourdough bread bowls helped! 😉
  • It’s a really heavy meal, I hollowed out the bread bowls so that there was only about 1 cm of the bowl all around, even so, most of us couldn’t finish it!

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I have had a love/hate relationship with sour dough starters. We start off loving each other, fully enjoying the dependant relationship but soon after I get bored and lose interest and the poor blob starves to death. Yes, I’ve tried putting it into the fridge to hold but it eventually dries up and I’ve a horrible mess to clean. Sour dough starters and I just don’t work. Until now!

I started this starter about a month ago. My first bread was a flop. The bread I made with it did rise but not much. But I wanted to give the starter another chance so I put it into the fridge to think about its incompetence. Then about a week or so later, I pulled it out of the fridge and within hours it overflowed the jar into a bubbling, beautiful mess! I danced with glee! My starter was alive, and not just alive, it was a living, breathing, blob of natural, yeasty, goo! We will have sour dough bread on the weekend!

As many of you have experienced, it’s not difficult to make a starter, it just takes patience. Finally, I achieved undeniable success! And the bread was awesome!

This is the recipe I used. My version was much shaggier than that in the video, so I might add a bit more flour into the mix next time (I used the weight measurements), but the bread had an awesome chewiness that was extremely moreish, so I may just leave it be. I can’t wait to try this again using an older starter, hopefully it will be a bit more sour. Bottom line is that I loved it!!

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

Makes one 25 cm boule or 4 personal-size sourdough bread bowls. Please click here for the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 50 g live, bubbling starter
  • 350 g water at about 110F
  • 500 g AP flour
  • 9 g sea salt, finely ground

Directions:

  1. Follow your regular directions to bring your starter to life (if refrigerated), about 2-4 days before you need the bread.
  2. The day before you wish to bake the bread, make the dough by mixing the starter with the water, then slowly add the flour and salt mixing with a wooden spoon and then your hand, until it comes together like a shaggy dough. It will be sticky, very sticky.
  3. Return it to the bowl and cover it with a clean, damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm spot overnight (until it doubles in size).
  4. The next day, scrap the ball onto a lightly floured surface and fold the dough onto itself, a few times, tightening up the boule. Flip the boule onto the folded side and cover with the bowl and allow to rest for about an hour (should rise a bit again but not a whole lot).
  5. About 30 minutes into the rise, preheat the oven to 450 F with a cast iron Dutch oven (including the lid). Keep the Dutch oven in heating up for 20 minutes after the oven has reached 450F
  6. Remove the Dutch oven and sprinkle inside it with cornmeal. Carefully cut the boule across the top. Then gently lift it and carefully roll it into the Dutch oven. Place the lid on and bake for 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake for 30 minutes until golden. Cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • The covered Dutch oven steams the bread at first, giving it the gorgeous, chewy texture.
  • Make sure the knob on your Dutch oven can handle the high temperature, we had to get a special Le Creuset knob.
  • This has the traditional chewy texture of sourdough bread.

Here’s a little peek of what I served in personal-size sourdough bread bowls!

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Why do the cold temperatures always surprise me? I’ve been doing this fall thing for a long time and yet, every year when the temperatures plummet, it’s like a cold, hard, slap in the face! It happens from one day to the next; on Saturday, we are lavishing in the sun, cocktailing on the back deck and enjoying al fresco meals and then on Sunday, we are dawning our socks and woolly sweaters to avoid the chill INSIDE, let alone outside! JT and I are typical Canadians, we are stubborn about admitting that its fall and winter is coming; we delay turning on the furnace at all costs because that would mean defeat, we have acknowledged the cold and succumbed to it! But eventually, we give in. I like to rebel and I generally continue to wear sandals until I can no longer feel my toes. My feet understand they don’t like to be encased in socks and shoes…they were meant to be free in flip flops and sandals!

It was on one such day that I needed a little heat-help in my chilly kitchen that I decided to make scones, and to use up some figs that were leftover from a shoot (what can I say, no one wanted them!), so I came up with this tasty treat. This recipe is very delicate and light. They are best eaten right away with sweet butter but freezing them also works. Use the oven to reheat them, the microwave doesn’t do it justice.

Fresh Fig Scones

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 10 scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cold butter, cut into small bits
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 160 g fresh figs (chopped)
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or yogurt for brushing the tops.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in the large bowl of your food processor and pulse to mix.
  3. Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Slowly pour in the buttermilk while pulsing until the dough comes together. Remove and pour into a large bowl.
  5. Fold in the chopped figs carefully.
  6. Place largish spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the tops with yogurt. Bake for 15-17 minutes.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes and serve with sweet butter.

The light was still good when I shot them.

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When the reno finished, we had a couple of weekends of non-stop entertaining! We were excited to show off our new space and our friends were excited to see it. On one such weekend we had dinner guests on Friday, brunch guests on Saturday and cocktail guests on Sunday! Fortunately, I was able to gang up some gluten-intolerant friends so I made a small batch of Gluten-free English muffins. They are a bit denser than their glutenated cousin but they are not bad.

Although I did split them using a fork, they don’t have the same traditional nooks and crannies as the glutenated versions do.

Gluten-free English Muffins

Makes 4 regular-size English Muffins. The original recipe came from Bob’s Red Mill here.

Ingredients:

  • 4 g quick yeast
  • 15 mL Honey or Sugar
  • 60 mL Water (about 110°F)
  • 180 g Bob’s Red Mill, 1 to 1 GF flour, divided
  • 30 g tapioca flour
  • 12 g finely ground Psyllium husk
  • 12 g Baking Powder
  • 380 mL water (110°F)
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 30 mL white vinegar
  • cornmeal for dusting

Directions:

  1. Combine the yeast, honey and water and whisk. Allow to stand for 3-5 minutes or until frothy.
  2. Combine 150 g gluten-free flour with the tapioca, ground psyllium husk and baking powder, whisk to combine.
  3. In a tall measuring cup, combine 30 g of gluten-free flour, water, egg and vinegar and blend until smooth.
  4. To the flour/tapioca mixture, add the yeast and the flour slurry and knead until combined. Knead for an additional 5 minutes. It should look like super thick cookie batter.
  5. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Measure the dough and divide into 4, (mine were 116 g each). Roll into rounds and flatten with your palm until the size of a standard English muffin. Lay each muffin on the baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly on both flat sides with the cornmeal. Cover with a clean tea-towel and allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours in a warm, draft-free place (I use my oven with the light on). Cross your fingers that they will rise a little!
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 325° F. Using a cast iron skillet on medium heat, cook the muffins on each flat side until golden. Place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 205°F. Allow to cool before splitting.

They toast beautifully.

Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for gluten-free sourdough starter which I did not have on hand so I improvised and made a slurry instead.
  • Gluten-free breads never quite double in size during proofing, so even 20-30% is a gift, which is what happened with this dough after about 2-3 hours!
  • You may use English muffin rings but I did not see much need for them.

 

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On March 30, we woke up to snow. Not much, just a light covering, but it still was distressing. Throughout the day, it snowed some more, not enough to shovel, but enough to put a damper on the last Sunday of March. Believe me, we were in dire need of Spring.

Since it was such a gloomy day, I decided to bake tanzghong brioche burger buns after being inspired by my dear Aussy friend, Lorraine, who was also experiencing some gloom on a rainy fall day in Australia. Hopefully, these buns will inspire the weather to begin behaving as it should in the springtime and not like February.

It’s May 6 today and we’ve finally had a spring-ish day. Temperatures were around 17C (62F) which is a far cry better than we’ve had. Garden cleanup has begun. Planting in these parts must wait until the Victoria Day weekend (traditionally known as May two-four weekend, which will be May 18-20 this year). It’ll be the official beginning of spring! Roll out the barbecues and burgers! Patio season has begun!

Tanzghong Brioche Hamburger Buns

For the recipe inspiration, please click here.

Makes 8 burgers buns (for 125 g burgers)

Ingredients:

  • 300 g unbleached, all-purpose flour, divided
  • 125 g water
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 g quick yeast
  • 25 g superfine sugar
  • 5 g sea salt
  • 125 g butter, softened
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • xx g Sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Combine 50 g of the flour with the water and cook over low heat until a smooth paste is formed. Allow to cool for a bit. Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, combine the remaining 250 g flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Pour in the flour paste/egg liquid and knead until the dough comes together. Add the softened butter and knead on medium-high for 30 minutes or until the dough is no longer sticky and comes away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Grease a bowl and add the dough, cover and set in a warm, dark place for about 1 hour.
  4. Shape into 8 buns (about 93 g each) and set on a baking sheet covered with a clean cloth for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  6. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is about 185° F to 190° F.
  7. Allow to cool before cutting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was recently awed by some wonderful buns made by my Canadian friend A-Boleyn. Of course, I have seen these beauties on my Australian friend’s blog, Not Quite Nigella, too! I have been wanting to bake these bad boys for a while but have not had an opportunity since we’ve been trying to reduce our carb intake. But, during a particularly grey day in March, with an upcoming brunch ahead, I decided to go for it.

They don’t take much more effort than a normal bun but OMG, they are so light and fluffy and ever-so-tasty! Many-a-bloggers have indicated that converting a normal bread recipe just takes it to a higher level, so next time I’m looking for a high-carb treat, I’m going to Tangzhong the recipe (is that a thing?).

Tangzhong Dinner Rolls

For the original recipe, please click here.

Makes one 10 rolls about 71 g each (before baking)(see notes)

Ingredients for the Tangzhong:

  • 20 g “00” flour
  • 100 mL water

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 350 g “00” flour
  • 7 g rapid rise yeast
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk powder
  • 125 mL milk (I used 3%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 50 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg for glaze
  • Sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and water in a small saucepan to make the Tangzong and cook stirring often until thickened like wallpaper paste. Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the milk, egg and Tangzong and whisk until smooth. In the bowl of your stand mixer, sift together the flour, yeast, sugar and milk powder. Add the milk mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
  3. Add the room temperature butter and knead on high speed until the dough becomes stretchy and separates from the sides (it is seriously, about 15 minutes).
  4. Lightly oil another bowl and transfer the dough into it. Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rest in a warm, dark area for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Shape the dough into 10 equal portions, rounding them out like dinner rolls (mine were an even 71 g each, see notes for next time). Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rest another hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Brush the dough balls with the whisked egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds if using.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until deep golden in colour (internal temperature should be 200° F). Transfer to a wire rack and cool slightly before serving. Store in an airtight container for a day or two or the freezer if storing longer.

Notes:

  • I will definitely make these significantly smaller next time, even though the original recipe made 8 and I made 10, these rolls are HUGE, perfect for burgers! For dinner rolls, I think I would make them 50-60 g instead of the 71 g each.

 

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We’ve been making a huge effort to cut out carbs from our diet. The one thing I have been really missing is bread. Not that we ate that much bread, but a sandwich every now and again is a nice treat so I have been trying to make carb-free bread and failing miserably until I came across a delicious keto bun at a local craft sale. It had a similar texture and crumb as flour bread, but made with almond flour and coconut flour. At the time, the lady would not share her recipe, so I made every recipe on the net trying to find her secret, sadly failing. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I get an email from her out of the blue sharing her recipe! How serendipitous! It turned out that it was one of the first recipes I tried but obviously did not get it right so I had abandoned it. She had made a few adjustments to the original recipe and shared them with me, and I made further adjustments to make it my own. It’s easier to make than normal yeasted bread (really is more like quick-bread as you make it) and the result is quite surprising. It’s a lot more expensive to make this bread than it is to make regular flour bread (the recipe below is about $12 for 8 buns).

Those nooks and crannies are like real bread!

Most flour-free buns are usually eggy and super dense because of the nut flours used and the lack of leavening, but these buns are light and have a great spongy texture and fantastic crumb, they never disappoint, time after time! The original recipe had great texture but lacked the flavour that yeast imparts in real bread so I experimented and came up with this augmentation. If you don’t feel like messing with the yeast, just omit it along with the granules of sugar but keep the water the same. You will not be disappointed.

How many would you like?

The Worlds BEST Low Carb Buns

Makes 6 medium-sized buns. For the original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g Almond flour (see notes)
  • 30 g Coconut Flour
  • 33 g Psyllium Husk Powder, finely ground (see notes)
  • 10 g Baking Powder
  • 6 g Sea salt
  • 10 g Cider vinegar
  • 100 g Egg whites
  • 8 g Instant Yeast
  • a few granules of sugar
  • 280 g Boiling Water, divided
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Sesame Seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (170° C). Prep a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Prepare a hand mixer ready to use and a timer.
  2. Combine the yeast with the sugar in 57 g of warm water (about 43° C or 100° F) and allow to froth.
  3. To a large bowl, add almond flour, coconut flour, psyllium husk powder, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the cider vinegar, egg whites and proofed yeast and mix on low speed, for a short time, to combine evenly.
  5. Boil the remaining water (223 g). Pour the water all at once into the almond flour mixture and blend for 30 seconds to make a smooth dough (do not over blend).
  6. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions (mine worked out to be about 94 g) and roll into a smooth ball with generously wet hands. Slightly flatten each roll so it’s more like the shape of an English muffin (don’t worry, they rise enormously).
  7. Brush each bun with the egg yolk and top with sesame seeds and bake for about 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is 95° C (200° F).
  8. Cool completely on a wire rack, before slicing. Serve toasted or plain with your favourite topping.

Notes:

  • I use Anthony’s Premium Blanched Almond Flour which may be purchased on Amazon. I have heard that the Costco Kirkland brand also works, but I haven’t tried it. I will eventually try the finely ground almond flour Bulk Barn sells because Anthony’s is pretty expensive.
  • I use psyllium husk powder from Bulk Barn, but I grind it to a super fine consistency with my coffee/spice grinder.
  • 100 g of egg whites is more or less 3 large egg whites.
  • Many of these recipes call for room temperature ingredients, I have done both room temperature and right out of the refrigerator and they resulted in more or less the same buns.
  • When working with the dough, generously wet hands are imperative for a nice smooth crust.
  • Mixing the boiling water into the batter with a hand mixer for 30 seconds ensures that it’s entirely blended but not overworked.
  • For Christmas, I received a bottle of Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning and it is awesome on these buns!

Nutritional Breakdown:

Per 1 piece

  • Calories: 178
  • Net Carbs: 5 g
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Fat: 12 g

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