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Posts Tagged ‘General’

I am a fatalist, which means I believe in fate. There are too many things in this world that seem like coincidences but were totally intended by the universe. Case in point: on more than one occasion, I have decided to make something with the intent of searching for a recipe and before I can even open Google, up pops a recipe a blogging friend has posted on Facebook or Instagram! The very thing I had decided I would make! Coincidence? I think not, it’s fate!

That is my story of the English Muffins. I was walking back from getting a mani-pedi in our hood, thinking about the upcoming weekend visit with our dear friends from Wisconsin/Arizona (they have two homes) and I realized that I didn’t have a breakfast planned for one of the days and I remember wanting to try baking English Muffins, so on my walk home, I decided that I would bake English Muffins!

Upon my return, I sat down at my kitchen desk to catch up on Facebook and low and behold, dear Lorraine has reposted her recipe for…wait for it…English Muffins! That is fate! I was destined to bake English Muffins that afternoon.

Home Made English Muffins

Makes 6-8 English Muffins.

Please click here for the original recipe.

Please click here to print this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 200 mL (7 oz) milk
  • 5 g (1 tsp) sugar
  • 3 g (1 tsp) instant dry yeast
  • 20 g (1 oz) butter
  • 320 g (2  1/2 cups) AP unbleached flour
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) baking powder
  • 1 small egg
  • cornmeal for dusting

Directions:

  1. Heat the milk to 37° C (100° F), sprinkle in the sugar and yeast and mix well. Allow to proof for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  2. Melt the butter and set aside to cool a bit. Add the butter to the milky yeast (once proofed) stir in the egg and mix well and set aside.
  3. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in the large bowl of your stand mixer, add the liquid all at once and beat/knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and silky.
  4. Lightly cover with oil and set aside in a draft free spot for about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325° F (160° C).
  6. On a lightly floured board, turn out the dough and roll out to about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thickness. Cut 8-10 cm (3 1/4″ to 4″) rounds. Dust with cornmeal (brush off any excess) and cook over a low heat in a cast iron frying pan for about 3 minutes each side (do not oil). Finish baking in the preheated oven 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 199° F (93° C). Allow to cool slightly, and then separate each into two using a fork to maximize the nooks and crannies!

The top one is perfect!

Notes:

  • If you cannot get small eggs, then take 1 large egg and whisk it to incorporate both yolk and whites, weigh it and divide by 2. Use half in this recipe and save the other half for something else.
  • In hindsight, my English Muffins pictured puffed up way too tall, so I have modified the instruction to roll out to half of the original thickness. Plus you should get a few more that way.

Like Lorraine, I like a little English Muffin with my butter.

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ChoppedLogoLast summer I received a most welcome email from my dear blogger friend, Lorraine Elliot of the famed Not Quite Nigella blog. She was coming to Canada as a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourism Yukon and she wondered would I be available to meet if she could arrange a slight diversion to Toronto! I was absolutely thrilled! Of course, I wrote back, who wouldn’t want to meet with one of their blogger heroes? I kept having to pinch myself! No, really!

I suspect that there were many arrangements to make/and subsequently change with the Canadian Tourism Commission so that Lorraine could be in TO for a couple of days. They booked her solid so it was a bit whirl-wind, but Lorraine made sure we had at least a half a day and it was awesome! (You can read about Lorraine’s Toronto experience here, here, here, here, and here). I had asked Lorraine to email me her Toronto schedule so that I could a) make the most of her time, and b) choose something to do that wasn’t on the Tourism Commission’s itinerary. I wanted to show her something unique.

Lorraine_Eva

I’m not too good at taking selfies.

I am very fortunate to know or be acquainted personally with many culinary giants in Toronto, mostly through my past life as a Client Service Rep for a design firm that specializes in Food Packaging, but some because of my current vocation, so I got out my address book. I called Claudia Bianchi, a very close friend of a friend, and an accomplished chef, food stylist and producer of several Food Network Canada shows. I knew Claudia was in the midst of the taping of Season 3 of Chopped Canada and I wondered if there might be an opportunity for us to visit the set and even stay a bit to check out the taping. Claudia very generously put me in touch with Cary Mignault, the PR guy for Chopped Canada, Season 3. It was such an amazing experience, Cary was open and more than happy to make the set visit happen. And such perfect timing too, because as it turned out, the day we visited the set was the LAST DAY of taping the show! Can you believe our fortuitousness? Had Lorraine made arrangements for the day after, it simply could not have happened and I would have been up the creek without a paddle!

I picked Lorraine up at the hotel at 7:30 am and we drove across town to Leslieville where they were taping Chopped Canada, Season 3. As soon as she stepped into the car, we talked and talked and talked, it was as if we were long lost friends! I can attest that Lorraine is as lovely, kind and sweet in person as she is on Social Media. Cary met us in the parking lot and we entered the building. To say this is a huge production is an understatement, there is even an enormous refrigerator/prep room filled with full-size refrigerators! And the set is outstanding, sparkly and new, filled with the latest gadgets and appliances, it is a cook’s dream!

FridgeRoom

The Fridge and Prep room

Fridge_PrepRoom

The off set Prep area.

Claudia met us on set and took us for a little tour, this little slide show includes some of the photos sent to me by Cary. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to chat with Claudia about the show, so here are some insights:

There are a total of ten judges who participate on the show, but there are only 3 seats actually on the show, the judges alternate depending on availability (read about the judges here). The judges are not just there to assess and evaluate the participants but their interaction also provide mentorship to each culinary participant. I enquired how the secret basket of ingredients are determined and Claudia said that she gets her inspiration from many places…it could be a trip to the market, a weekend at their cottage or perhaps her husband’s restaurant (Actinolite) or even some of the judges! And the ingredients need not be Canadian! I asked what ingredient was sourced from the furthest place, sadly she could not mention it as the show had not aired! As you can see from the slide show below, the on stage pantry is exceptionally stocked (here is a link to some great pantry photos (BTW, my friend the designer Kim Sewell, designed most of the labels because they were not permitted to have branded product on set!)).

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We survived another Paul & T weekend!

Paul & T did a marathon drive, starting at 4am Chicago time. They made great time and arrived around 2pm! Then we packed up the car and drove another 4 hours to the cottage.

Let me just say, we survived! 1.75L of Gooseco (Costco’s version of Grey Goose) and about a dozen bottles of wine with little to no fog. I’m not bragging, just relieved! Cocktails begun promptly at 4 (on Sunday it was more like 5 because someone was napping!!!) Weather was fantastic and food was yum! We laughed so much. It’s always such a blast with our good friends Paul and T.

Here is the menu:

Friday Lunch: Quickie salami pizza with mixed cheese (I just used soft fajita shells (flax seed fajitas) drizzled with olive oil, some Italian tomato paste, home mixed grated cheese and of course, salami)

Cocktails: Home made Eva’s Flatbreads with black bean dip and guacamole (home made too!!)

Dinner: Grilled chicken and mango salad with a lime dressing; almond and cranberry sugar tart.

Saturday Breakfast: Anna Olson’s Heuvos Rancheros – it was delicious – however, I would recommend poaching the eggs instead of baking them, you have more control over how well or runny they are!

Saturday Lunch: the LCBO’s Mushroom and Leek tart with a side salad (they haven’t posted the recipe on-line yet)

Saturday Dinner: Epicurious’s Braised Beef and Onions (slow cooker) I added potatoes to make it a bit heartier! Crepes Suzette

Sunday Breakfast: Goat’s cheese, spinach and sundried tomato frittata’s with homebaked walnut bread (from Anna and Michael Olson’s cookbook from On the Twenty!)

Sunday Lunch: Hungarian Lecso (cubanello pepper with sausage stew)

Sunday Dinner: Slow cooked BBQ’d ribs (I make my own rub and BBQ sauce as I am not fond of sweet) with German Potato Salad, Madeleines (really really easy) with Grand Marnier macerated strawberries.

Monday Breakfast: Chocolate Croissants (not home made, but from a French bakery). Note to self, croissants don’t freeze well. Next time it will be Montreal bagels and cream cheese.

The weather was phenomenal, lots of sun, not too hot, just perfect! A bit of paddle boating, a long walk up to our lookout at the top of our property and lots and lots of laughing. It was a fantastic time.

Looking forward to our next visit! Hopefully soon as we’ve already gotten into the Gooseco!

Luv you guys!

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My Pantry

I thought it would be fun to write about what I generally have in my pantry – that way I am able to come up with something for any occasion.

Baking:

  • Unbleached all purpose flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Cake and pastry flour
  • 12-grain (or multi grain) cereal
  • Bran cereal
  • Flax seed
  • Wheat bran
  • Rice flour (for my gluten free friend)
  • Custard powder
  • Baking powder
  • Yeast (kept in the fridge)
  • Baking Soda
  • Vanilla (bean, preferably) and a multitude of other flavorings
  • Chocolate chips (good quality, semi sweet)
  • Good quality Coco powder
  • Unsweetened baking chocolate (for my sugar free relatives)
  • Unsweetened coconut
  • Walnuts (I keep nuts in a zip lock bag in the freezer to keep them fresher longer).
  • Pine nuts
  • Almonds
  • White sesame seeds
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Icing/superfine sugar
  • Sugar in the raw
  • Regular sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Splenda (for my sugar free relatives)
  • Spenda brown sugar
  • marshmallows
  • Puffed rice cereal
  • Caramel shards
  • Peppermint candies
  • Variety of cookie decorations (red, green sparkles, etc)

Refrigerator:

  • Eggs
  • Egg whites
  • Milk
  • Buttermilk (about 1/2 the time)
  • No fat yogurt
  • Miso paste
  • PC chicken stock concentrate (no msg)
  • PC beef stock concentrate (no msg)
  • Hungarian sweet paprika paste (in a tube)
  • Italian tomato paste (in a tube)
  • Sweet butter
  • Olivina
  • Marjarine (for baking)
  • Yeast
  • Jamacan hot sauce
  • Green curry paste
  • Asian chillis
  • PC Chimichurra sauce
  • PC Thai sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Dijon mustard
  • Ketchup (for the kiddies)
  • Sweet & hot red chili jelly
  • Sweet & hot green chili jelly
  • Citrus marmalade
  • Just fruit berry only jam
  • Peanuts only peanut butter
  • Tahini
  • Sesame oil
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Fish sauce
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Rosa lime cordial
  • Maple syrup
  • Pickles
  • Olives (for martini’s)
  • Black olives
  • Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • Dried fruit (mix)
  • Dried prunes
  • 2 seltzer bottles on the go all the time
  • Parmesan Cheese (whole, not grated)
  • Another type of cheese – depends on when

Fresh Vegetables:

  • Arugula
  • Spinach or mix greens
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers (I prefer the mini english)
  • Tomatoes
  • Broculi
  • Cauliflower
  • Vidallia Onions
  • Herbs (usually cilantro because I dont’ grow that)
  • Radishes
  • Whatever is in season

Dry Pantry:

  • Risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli or vialone or a good quality risotto rice)
  • Basmati rice (for Indian Food)
  • Jasmin rice(for Thai Food)
  • Sushi rice
  • Wild rice
  • Brown rice
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Variety of dried mushrooms
  • Barley
  • Dried and canned garbanzo beans (for hummus)
  • Dried beans (for soups)
  • Canned crab meat
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned salmon
  • Whole wheat pasta (variety of shapes and sizes)
  • Rice pasta (mainly vermicelli and fettuccine)

Freezer:

  • Bag of single portioned fish (generally cod, tilapia, salmon)
  • Bag of single portioned skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Bag of 3 dinner portioned beef for stewing
  • Pork roast (when on sale)
  • Beef tenderloin (when on sale)
  • Bag of extra large scallops (frozen when caught)
  • Bag of large uncooked shrimp
  • Bag of large cooked shrimp
  • Individually bagged turkey sausages
  • Bag of chopped vidallia onions (this is usually only in winter when I cannot get them fresh)
  • Bag of sliced brown mushrooms
  • Mini tart cups
  • Phyllo pastry (I usually separate sheets into about 5 portions and freeze)
  • Home made pizza dough (I usually make 2 batches and freeze one)
  • Home made onion confit (this is delicious on pizza)
  • Home made beef & veal reduction in ice cubes
  • Crumbled sausage
  • Pancetta (individually wrapped for easy separation)
  • Croutons
  • Shredded sharp cheeses (freeze very well)
  • Goats cheese (I buy the 500g portion and cut into 4, bag individually and freeze)
  • Crumbled blue cheese (because I buy the large pack, it’s always too much and it freezes beautifully)
  • Individually frozen mini boconcinni balls (freeze on a cookie sheet and put back into plastic jar without its brine)
  • Frozen berries (from costco)
  • Bag of mixed vegetables (just in case)
  • Home made soups (this time it’s butternut squash and some celery root)

Ready made Hors D’oeuvres in the Freezer:

  • Home made cheese puffs
  • Home made Chinese style dumplings
  • Home made cheese sticks
  • Home made bacon wrapped dates
  • Asian spring rolls (not home made, left over from shoot)

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It’s been a while

We’ve been busy…a trip to Europe from May 2-19 took us from Vienna, Budapest, Venice, Verenna (Lake Como), Province and Paris! Check out our photos – 345 of them! Enjoy.

Highlights of the trip: Venice was wonderful, we were there 1.5 days and could have used about 2 more to really explore. Verenna in Lake Como was lovely, very picturesque – we were there 3.5 days and likely could have cut it down to 2. Paris was fantastic, as usual we stayed in the latin quarter where it was very lively. Next time we’ll find an apartment for a week! Lots of eating, walking and shopping! I didn’t put on any weight, mainly due to the walking!

My favorite dishes: Caprese Salad (tomato and fresh mozzarella cheese!), Salade Nicoise (tuna and salad stuff, YUM), Steak Tartar (yep, that’s raw meat!) and Snails. We also had a crepe in Paris that was fantastic (ham and cheese!) JT and I took it across the street and had it in a lovely park.

Best buys: Milan skirt (brown dotted skirt), brown capris from Paris, and a couple of really sexy bras from Venice (those Italians know how to make lingerie).

Best Adventures: Venice – the Valporettos (water buses) went on strike on the morning we were leaving…we ended up having to walk about 1 hour with luggage in tow. The bridges in Venice are stepped, never ramped! The roads are cobblestone or brick…thump thump thump. We could have taken a water taxi for $80 and as a good friend put it “you cheap bastards” but then we wouldn’t have had the adventure.

The car: the car that we would be spending about 15 hours in (7 at once, then various day trips) would have cost us an additional $500 to drop in a different country than where we picked it up…ended up not costing the drop off fee because we got a France origin car. A teeny tiny little Mercedes. The boys filled it with luggage (see photos) packed so tight. T and I couldn’t see each other in the back!

Manifestation, Paris: Upon arrival from Avignon TGV we could not get a cab because of some Manifestation (Protest) whereby the protestors blocked all bridges to car traffic. When I went back into the train station to buy a map (because we didn’t have any maps because we had Garmin) I noticed army guys in fatigues with machine guns – which kind of freaked me out. John and T had noted that there were some bad guys convicted in France the day before so we figured it was related to that…so we didn’t want to be stuck in the subway, so we walked to our hotel…about 1 hour!!!! That glass of wine was well deserved!

A few shots:


This little movie is taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe one weekday afternoon. It seems that a bunch of students got together to protest something or such, and blocked traffic for about an hour. The dark blue area on the left are the cops, very systematically walking after the students. They didn’t really seem interested in catching anyone!

This little video is the speed of the TGV from Avignon to Paris (about 800 km in 2.5 hours!!!!)

And last but not least, this little video is a street entertainer on Montmartre directly on the steps to the Sacred Heart Church.

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It just won’t stop…

Last weekend we had about 30cm (1 foot) of snow. It’s March for god’s sake. A foot of snow in March? Damn lying groundhog!

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, I just forget to take photos!

Check out our snow photos:

Our lovely little Japanese Maple is buried under this pile, which is to my shoulders (by Sunday it was up to my head!)

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This photo was taken right in the thick of it. It was pretty ugly. Snow plow came twice and deposited a mountain of thick, wet, heavy, icy, muddy snow at the end of our driveway. It was pretty ugly!!!!

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We got about 10cm of snow (don’t know what planet The Weather Network was measuring on, but I do know I had to shovel TWICE!). It was bone chilling too!

Saturday turned out to be a lovely and much warmer day. We caught this squirrel catching a few Z’s just outside our kitchen window:

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