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Posts Tagged ‘pastry’

HomeMadePhyllo_First

Growing up, one of our family favourites was Rétes (Hungarian Strudel) and my dear Mom made Hungarian delicacies like Káposztás Rétes (Savoury Cabbage Strudel) and Túrós Rétes (sweet Cottage Cheese Strudel) and even sometimes but not often, Almás Rétes (Apple Strudel). Mom’s favourite was Káposztás Rétes (Cabbage Strudel) and although as kids we couldn’t stand it, I often find myself craving the savoury flavours of this treat.

My dear Mom always told stories as she was cooking or baking, stories about food, of course! The one story that has resonated with me all these years is that Grandma (Nagymama) made her own Rétes dough! The story goes that Nagymama laid a clean, white sheet on the dining room table, dusted it with flour and stretched and stretched and stretched her homemade dough until you could read newsprint through it. I always imagined an enormous dough (like this) on the table! Mom never made strudel dough that I recall, by the time she was a homemaker, ready made, frozen dough was already available and so much easier than making it yourself. I have used ready made Phyllo more times than I can count on all my fingers and toes, but I’d never made it myself. So you can well imagine why homemade phyllo dough is on my bucket list.

Recently, we invited dear friends to the cottage and I thought homemade Baklava would be a lovely dessert over the weekend and a great excuse to make homemade phyllo dough. I chose Baklava because if the Phyllo didn’t work out as well, the syrup would ‘hide’ its flaws, unlike Rétes. The recipe I followed is here (why reinvent the wheel?) but I can tell you right now that using the pasta maker is not nearly as satisfying as rolling by hand. A marble rolling pin (or something really heavy) would be helpful…I had a rolling pin made by one of my dear Mom’s friends many years ago and I paid the price by bruising my palms and fingers!

Bucket List

Homemade Phyllo Dough

This recipe makes 25 sheets approx. 25 cm x  41 cm (10″ x 16″)

I allowed the dough to rest overnight.

The recipe instructions indicate to take the dough to #9 on the pasta maker (mine is a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with attachments) but I recommend to take it to #8 and do the rest by hand. I also tried rolling it entirely by hand (see photos below – only took about 12 minutes each) and it wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated but it did bruise my hands badly). Between each number of stretching the dough by pasta machine, keep rubbing a little flour to both sides of the flattened dough, this is how the correct texture is achieved. Believe me, you will know when you feel it.

I also found that rolling the dough through each pass on the pasta maker a couple of times instead of just once results in a finer dough.

Baklava

Yields:

  • 17 (4-sheet) baklavas
  • 11 (2-sheet) baklavas
  • 4 left over sheets (freeze for later).

Ingredients:

  • 21 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 120 g hazelnuts
  • 200 g almonds
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Roast both nuts on 163° C (325° F) for 18 minutes or until most of the skins have separated from the hazelnuts (almonds may or may not separate).
  2. Using a clean tea towel, rub the hot nuts until most of the skins come off. Separate skins from nuts.
  3. Chop both hazelnuts and almonds roughly and combine with sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.

Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Combine  first three ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir well, set aside.

Baklava assembly:

  1. Preheat the oven to 163° C (325° F).
  2. Divide the dough into 40 g dough portions.
  3. Lightly flour a large, clean surface and roll out to approximately 25 cm x 41 cm or 10″ x 16″ sheets. Continue to roll all of the dough like this until you have rolled it all out. Cover with a lightly damp cloth and a jelly roll pan to protect it from drying out.
  4. Take one sheet of phyllo and lay it length-wise in front of you. Brush generously with the melted butter. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the nut mixture per sheet. Continue for 2-3 sheets.
  5. Taking the long end, begin to roll the phyllo tightly. Brush the finished roll with melted butter.
  6. Cut into 5 cm or 2.5″ lengths (or smaller equal lengths). Place cut side up into a lightly buttered pan, it doesn’t matter if they touch. Continue until all the dough and nut mixture is exhausted.
  7. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool completely and then pour the syrup over The rolls and allow to rest for a few hours.
Phyllo40g

I found that 40 g made the perfect sheet size.

Phyllo_1

A relatively damp and somewhat elastic dough (not nearly as elastic as pizza dough)

Phyllo_2

You can roll to 9 in your pasta maker, but honestly I did not find rolling by hand difficult.

Phyllo_3

OK. By saying “I did not find the rolling difficult”, what I meant was “not difficult as I was rolling” but the next day, my palms were bruised from the shear pressure I had to put onto the rolling pin. You may wish to roll with a marble rolling pin.

Phyllo_4

For some reason, my Nagymama (grandma) always said the dough has to be thin enough to read a newspaper through it, I figured a nut panel would suffice!

Phyllo_5

This is one of the rolls of Baklava.

Phyllo_6

Cut rolls into 16-17 equal lengths and place into a greased pan. It’s OK if they touch because the dough has been greased sufficiently so they won’t stick.

Baklava_Beauty

The finished product, with a little extra honey drizzled on. PS, that silver tray comes from my Dad’s side of the family, it’s probably over 100 years old!

 

Notes:

This is quite a damp dough and it’s a bit sticky but don’t worry, you’ll be stretching and rolling additional flour into it to give it the correct wet/dry ratio.

The dough only becomes difficult to work with (breaking, cracking) when it dries out; make sure you have a lightly damp tea towel to cover any rolls or sheets. I also used a 10″ x 16″ jelly roll pan to cover it.

In hindsight, I should have used only 2 or 3 (not 4) sheets per roll. Next time I think I’ll sprinkle the nut mixture on each sheet and not just the end — I have adjusted the recipe above.

I was 100% sure I would not be making this recipe again because it’s so inexpensive to buy ready made, but in reviewing the ingredient list I may have to resort to making it myself as there is one or two ingredients that gross me out.

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Macarons

Strike one off the bucket list: French Macarons

 

 

 

Updated May 2016.

Do you have a cooking bucket list? I’ve had an informal (read: in my head) bucket list for quite some time; on it you’ll find duck, szalonczukor (a Hungarian fondant candy), spun sugar, puff pastry, phyllo pastry and last but not least, French Macarons! This post is about Macarons.

I was first introduced to these French Macarons a few years ago, a friend had brought a few back for me from Ladurée in Paris. My first bite experience was INCREDIBLE: crunchy, airy, lightly sweet, slightly chewy, fragrant, creamy, buttery. It was an awakening! It’s what you Aussie’s would call moreish and I would even go further to say needish, wantish, must-haveish!

The flavour combinations are limitless and I’ve even seen some savoury versions floating about the web-o-sphere (I must admit, a savoury version makes me cringe a bit). Today, I will share with you my second attempt recipe even though my first version turned out wonderfully, they were rather irregular in size and therefore not blog worthy. I used a Martha Stewart recipe for the meringue bit and a standard custard-based butter cream for the filling. The flavours I chose were: attempt 1 was lemon, attempt 2 were ice wine and pomegranate, chocolate and hazelnut. All were really delicious but my favourite was the lemon.

I will begin by saying that making Macarons are not as difficult as you might think; you need patience, a little know how and perseverance. The ingredients are simple and few. It makes me wonder why they charge so much for them, it must be the pomp and circumstance because it isn’t the cost of ingredients!

This blog post is an excellent reference; the professional baker did all the time-consuming comparisons and experimentation and documented it. My advice: Go with confidence and you WILL rock the recipe.

Bucket List

Macarons

Original Martha Stewart recipe can be found here.

Ingredients for basic Macaron:

  • 35 g blanched almond meal or flour
  • 58 g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 25 g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp gel food colouring (I used Christmas red)

Ingredients for Favoured Macarons:

  • 35 g blanched almond meal or flour
  • 53 g icing sugar
  • 5 g flavour such as unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted) or espresso powder
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 25 g granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (177° C). Place the rack in lower part of the oven.
  2. Prepare your macaron template using your computer to draw 2.5 cm or 1″ circles about 2.5cm or 1″ apart. Print two sheets. Put the two sheets under your UNSTICK™ baking sheet liner to use as your circle templates.

    MacaronTemplate

    This is the circle template under the UNSTICK liner.

  3. In a coffee grinder, grind the almond flour in batches to a fine consistency (being careful not to make paste (marzipan) out of it). Omit if you can purchase extra finely ground almond flour.
  4. Transfer ground almonds to a food processor and add the icing sugar; process until combined, about 1 minute.
  5. Press the almond/sugar mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the larger bits. You should have no more than 1 tbsp left, if you do, grind in coffee grinder again and press through fine sieve until you have no more than 1 tbsp left (save larger almond bits for something else).
  6. Whisk egg whites and granulated sugar by hand to combine. Then beat on medium speed (#4 on a KitchenAid) for about 2 minutes, then increase speed to medium-high (#6) and beat 2 additional minutes. Then beat on high (#8) for 2 minutes more. The beaten egg whites will hold very stiff, glossy peaks when you lift the whisk out of the bowl. DO NOT OVER WHIP.
  7. Add your choice of flavourings and food colourings and beat on the highest speed for about 1 minute. Just a drop if using flavouring or colour.
  8. Then add dry ingredients ALL at ONCE (yes, I know many recipes say to fold in gingerly, but you really don’t have to), then fold with a spatula from bottom of bowl upward and end by pressing the flat side of the spatula firmly through centre of mixture. Repeat this process until all of the almond/sugar mixture has been incorporated and the ‘batter’ flows like lava (I counted about 35 complete strokes).
  9. Prepare you pastry bag fitted with a 1 cm or 3/8″ round tip. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag.
  10. Begin piping the batter onto the prepared UNSTICK™ baking sheet liner directly over the circles you’ve previously prepared. I found starting at the outer edge and piping into the centre to the easiest way to keep the Macarons uniform, repeat until you’ve used up your batter. Martha suggests you pipe about 1 cm or 1/2″ above the pan, whatever you do, you must be consistent to keep the batter even (so your circles are all the same size). Gently slide out the template paper from beneath the UNSTICK™ baking sheet liner.
  11. Allow the pan to rest for 15 minutes, by doing this you give the peaks time to even out so your Macarons are beautiful and flat on top. Some suggest that you gently bang the pan a few time to remove air bubbles, I found I didn’t have many bubbles.
  12. Bake each sheet separately for 13 minutes, rotating halfway through if your oven doesn’t bake evenly. Gently slide the liner off the baking sheet and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. The UNSTICK™ baking sheet liner allows you to  pry off each macaron half easily onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. You may freeze the Macaron halves at this point in a well sealed, air-tight container.
  13. Prepare your butter cream.
MacaronFlavours

Great flavours to make macarons with.

Basic Butter Cream Recipe:

Ingredients:

    • 3 egg yolks
    • 35 g granulated sugar
    • 3 1/2 tablespoons milk
    • 105 g unsalted butter, softened
    • 62 g icing sugar

Ingredients for Ice Wine and Pomegranate Butter Cream:

    • 5 g ice wine syrup
    • 1 g pomegranate molasses
    • 2 drops generic red icing colour

Ingredients for Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cream:

    • 2 tbsp Nutella or hazelnut chocolate spread

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the egg yolks, milk and granulated sugar and whisk. Cook over medium heat until the egg thickens to coat the back of a spoon (like pudding). Remove from heat and allow to cool COMPLETELY.
  2. When cool, beat the butter with the icing sugar until light and fluffy and add the cooked egg mixture and beat on high until very fluffy.
  3. To make two flavours, divide the buttercream in half (roughly) and to each half add the flavourings.
  4. Pair each Macaron half to a half that is more or less is the same size and shape, set aside.
  5. Onto one-half of each Macaron pair, pipe the buttercream but not to the edge. Take the other half and gently squeeze the to side together so the buttercream squishes almost to the edge. Set aside. When you have filled all the halves, set on a clean baking sheet and refrigerate until buttercream is set. Store in an air-tight container on their sides until ready to serve. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

A few notes:

    • I prefer weight measures over volume because it’s more accurate.
    • I ground my almonds in a coffee grinder because it results in a finer grind and apparently the grind is very important. Update May 2016: a fine grind almond meal is now available at my Bulk Barn so I no longer require to grind it in the coffee grinder.
    • I used Wilton’s paste food colouring for the ice wine Macaron cookies.
    • I ruined a batch using the convection setting in my oven; they didn’t spread nor did they rise or develop feet.
    • Over the years, I have made quite a few batches of these treats (the latest May 2016 was 146 macarons for our anniversary party). Two observations: Do not over beat the egg whites or they will not form feat and they will crack. Also, I found that they will crack if you do not fold the almond meal into the egg whites enough, the batter really needs to behave like lava, a slow moving thick batter.
    • Update May 5, 2016: I have also used this recipe from the very lovely Lorraine over at Not Quite Nigella and it is excellent. Her recipe makes 461 g of buttercream and by my estimation, each macaron takes about 14 g of buttercream (or if you make small macarons, only about 7 g of buttercream).
Macarons_2

Tender, delicious, delicate cookies

Macarons_4

Betcha can’t eat just one!

Macarons_1

Yes, I did get carried away with the photos!

FirstMacarons_2

For my first attempt, I didn’t grind the almonds quite fine enough and that’s why the macaron is not smooth.

FirstMacarons_1

This is my first attempt, it’s lemon flavoured.

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Greetings fellow bloggers and readers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for following my blog, it has been an enormous enjoyment. As you may recall, my life has taken a bit of a turn and I’ve been working hard to get into the food styling arena but it’s a long process so I’ve been considering other opportunities along the way. You may not know but I have been sewing for many years and have even sewed a girlfriends wedding dress once! I have opened an Etsy store called Cozy Casuals and hope that you will be able to drop by and take a look. I’m sewing hand made, comfortable tunics for women and I will be expanding my line to include girl’s tunics as well as bathing suit cover ups! I will continue to to follow my dream of becoming a food stylist, but I’ll be sewing in my down times!

Fruit pies have always been JT’s family’s favourite so, I usually make a fruit pie for them. When we had this group over in January for our Re-Do Christmas dinner I had made a lovely apple pie and JTs 90-year old father loved it so much he asked for seconds, so I decided to make the same pie again. The original recipe is from my trusty Five Roses Cookbook.

ApplePie_2490

A delicious, flaky crust.

Traditional Deep Dish Apple Pie

Makes 1 double crust, deep dish pie.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups AP Flour 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, very cold
  • 8-9 tbsp ice cold water
  • 8 apples, washed, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp all spice (omit if you prefer)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves (omit if you prefer)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Add the flour, salt and baking powder to a large food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse a few seconds to mix well.
  2. Cut the butter and shortening into small cubes and add to the flour mixture, pulse until you achieve a coarse texture. Add the ice cold water little by little until the pastry forms a ball.
  3. If your home is warm you may wish to refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes, if not then divide it into two portions and roll out the top and bottom of the pie.  If desired, cut shapes out of the top crust with a decorative cookie cutter, I used flowers for spring!
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F.
  5. In a large bowl add the apple cubes and toss with the lemon juice.
  6. In another bowl, add the brown sugar, flour and spices and mix well (I do this in my mini food processor). Sprinkle over the apples and toss to coat evenly.
  7. Add the apples to the bottom of the pie crust and spread out. Top with the top pastry and trim off excess edges. Use these trimmings to make your decorative edging on the pie, or not.
  8. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until apples are skewer soft. You may need to cover the crust edges with foil if it’s getting too brown as it bakes.
  9. Serve warm.

ApplePie_2488

Notes:

  • Cut a small triangle of parchment paper that you will slide under the bottom crust (between the pan and the crust), making sure a little is sticking out at the edge. This parchment will be your first piece of pie. When you cut your first piece of pie, make sure you cut where you put the parchment triangle is and use the parchment triangle to help lift the first piece out. Works like a charm!
  • Always bake your pie on a parchment lined cookie sheet so when it bubbles over, it won’t make a mess of your oven or your cookie sheet.
  • You may need to cover the pie edges with foil to prevent burning.
  • You can add raisins or currants to make this even more festive.
  • This pastry is very rich so I have intentionally omitted putting little pats of butter under the top crust, but be my guest and add it if you prefer.
  • We love to serve this pie with some extra old Balderson Cheddar Cheese.

 

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Hope all the Canadians reading this post are having a Happy Thanksgiving this weekend! The second Monday of October has been designated as Canadian Thanksgiving, not sure why, but we’ll take a holiday in October any day of the week!

We used to spend Thanksgiving at the cottage, often inviting my dear Mom and her hubby Geo, but since her passing in 2005, we’ve been invited to my brother’s cottage in the Muskoka. It’s quite a different life-style than ours to have a cottage in Muskoka. For example, you needn’t do much grocery shopping in the city because you can get everything and anything you need for the weekend in one of the well stocked grocery stores; in comparison, last time I forgot Parmesan Cheese and I was even going to settle for the powdered prepackaged cheese but our little shop didn’t even have that, so we had to drive an hour to find it! You might wonder why it’s so different in the Land of the Thousand Lakes (our cottage area) and Muskoka. Well, let me tell you. It’s because Hollywood has descended on Muskoka and while we have 1,000-2,000 square foot cottages (93-186 square metres) (ours is about 600 square feet), Muskoka boasts 10,000 and 20,000 square foot cottages (930-1860 square metres) with helipads and landing strips!  There is name dropping in Muskoka whereas we just talk about the dear we may have seen on the back road driving in. Goldie Hawn has a sprawling cottage on the same lake as my brother. We’ve never really been close to it, but apparently people think it’s ok to moor their boat and hop out to look around. She has security. My SIL spotted her in their local grocery store, where you could order Sushi grade tuna for the weekend (I’m lucky to get mac and cheese at ours). Steve Martin visits Martin Short who also has a nice place down the road on my brother’s lake. I heard that Steve Martin is very kind and hands out business cards that prove you’ve met him: “this  certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny” and of course he signs it. Martin Short’s wife once ran after my brother while he jogged down the road in front of their place to warn him that there have been bears seen that very morning! So you see, while we hob nob with the dear, chipmunks, bunnies and beavers, the folks in the Muskoka’s hob nob with the rich and famous.

My brother’s family is down to earth and their cottage is much more modest than those around them. They are generous to a fault and we always eat well and drink copious amounts of wine when we visit. We’ve had balmy 24°C days and on the very same weekend, we’ve had snow flurries! But it’s always a relaxing weekend to connect with family and take long quiet walks around the lake.

Snow flurries a few years ago. View from the dining room and kitchen.

Snow flurries a few years ago. View from the dining room and kitchen.

Although I didn’t make this galette for the Thanksgiving weekend, it dawned on me that it would be the perfect sweet for afternoon tea or dessert after a big turkey dinner. I used the lavender sugar that my dear friend Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) brought up when they visited us at the cottage this summer. It just made this dessert that much fancier! Thanks Barb.

AppleRhubarbGalette_0961

The Lavender Sugar was a gift from my friend Barb from Profiteroles and Ponytails

Apple Rhubarb Galette with Lavender Sugar

Serves 6-8

The Galette Pastry Recipe comes from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Galette pastry
  • 1/2 c Rhubarb
  • 3 Apples, chopped into equal-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp egg white for brushing pastry
  • 1 tbsp Lavender Sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine the apples and rhubarb and dust with the spices, sugar and flour, coating evenly
  2. Roll out the galette pastry to about 10cm or 3 inches larger than required. Fill centre with the fruit and turn up the sides to form the galette.
  3. Brush pastry with egg white and bake for 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown and fruit is soft.
  4. Remove from the oven and dust with 1 tbsp Lavender Sugar.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.
AppleRhubarbGalette_0962

The Rhubarb was the perfect foil for this sweet dessert

The rhubarb came from our dear friend’s Monica and Rae’s garden in Toronto. I still have some in the freezer, it will be a welcome taste of summer in mid-winter!

AppleRhubarbGalette_0963

Can you see the little Lavender Flowers?

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ButtermilkCheddarScones_0906

Rich and flaky, just as it should be.

You may have noticed that I’m not around much lately and I do apologize. In fact, I missed posting on Monday! Can you believe it? In the 7 years I’ve been blogging and have had a schedule to post, this was my first unintentional miss. What have I been doing? Well, some of the time I’m at the cottage but that’s mainly weekends, mostly I’m in the city scouring the internet, networking and such to find something new to do. It’s not that easy selling yourself when you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing for so long, it’s more instinct and natural reaction and to put that into words and make yourself sound amazing is more difficult than I thought. I can sell you someone else, or something else, I can always find the words to make it look and sound amazing, but to have to weave the words about one’s self is another story. So I’ve been putting off creating a new post because I thought my words had had it and that my stories had dried up, but au contraire, there are stories galore and the words are now flowing, I just need to find the time to write them down.

Would you care for one or two?

Would you care for one or two?

We are expecting our good friends Paul and T up from Illinois for a weekend to frolic at the cottage. Our weather has been fall-like but yesterday was unseasonably hot (not warm but hot) and in another unlikely change the weekend is expected to return to the autumn temperatures and we’re expected to pull on our boots and sweaters and enjoy the chill. Bah humbug. I’m not ready for boots. My pedicured toes are holding out for the sandals and flip flops! So for this menu plan for the weekend is based on comfort food with a lot of soups, chowders and a roast chicken which will turn into another delightful meal. Most of the meals have been recycled blog posts so I won’t be sharing them again, but I have made a few things in the last week or so that are new to the blog, so I thought I would share them with you, starting with these delicious scones.

These cheese biscuits were created to pair with a split pea soup with ham that will be served for our very first lunch. I treated myself to a slow cooker that lives at the cottage so this baby is getting assembled in the morning and will slow cook until lunch time. I’ll reheat the biscuits and if it’s sunny, we’ll eat with sweaters and long pants on the porch (but no boots), otherwise we’ll turn up the heat and eat at the dining room table wearing flip flops! Either way, I’m sure we’ll be laughing and enjoying each other company.

The recipe is adapted from Jean Pare’s, Company’s Coming Cookbook

Melty butter is the icing on the scone!

Melty butter is the icing on the scone!

Flakey Buttermilk Cheese Scones

Makes 12 8 cm or 3 in biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, 1 2 tbsp for top

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Cut in the cold butter and the cheese until it resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Add the buttermilk and stir just to combine.
  5. If it’s really warm in your kitchen, it’s best to refrigerate the dough. Roll into 1 cm thickness (half inch) and use your favourite cutter to cut even shapes.
  6. Place each round onto a silpat® or non-stick surface and brush tops with buttermilk.
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
  8. Serve warm.

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Recently we opened our cottage for the summer. It was a busy weekend made even busier by someone’s hair-brained idea to redecorate (paint the wood paneling, new flooring, update kitchen upper cupboards, etc)! And that doesn’t stop me from complicating things by making an entire menu for the weekend home-made.
I’ve mentioned that our cottage is remote, so everything has to be brought in because even a 45 minute trip to the closest largest city doesn’t guarantee that one can find what one is looking for. So preparing a Menu Plan is essential as is the List of what needs to be brought up to execute said Menu Plan.
The list is key, here’s how I organize the list:
Menu Plan, Shopping List; things to be brought from home: the Pantry, the Freezer and the Refrigerator. As we pack for the weekend, things get checked off The List. The Menu Plan is followed to a T. If I bring four eggs, it means I’ll use four eggs. The trick is to end up with less than what we came up with, which usually works well. The Menu Plan also allows for left overs to be utilized in some sort of wrap for our return drive home, guaranteeing a healthier lunch than the truck stops on the road. Over the last twenty years I’ve only forgotten one thing and that was before The List was implemented, we were young and lived dangerously. If you’d like to download my template, feel free to use this one May 24 2013 Cottage Menu. The other essential thing is the running list once we get to the cottage — things that need to be brought the next time (toilet paper, paper towel, hand soap etc, you get the picture!)
JTs sister uses my FIL’s cottage about 15 metres (50 feet) from our place, so we generally get together at least once for cocktails during the weekend. I usually make something for cocktails because I like to cook! I came up with the idea of spinach and feta tartlets using my friend Zsuzsa’s cottage cheese pastry after seeing Sawsan’s post of Fatayer. They can be baked and then reheated to serve. I like them because they are full of flavour and small (portion control or eat them ALL!). This recipe makes 36 mini tarts using mini muffin tins with lots of pastry left over which can be frozen for future use. My lovely niece Laura (soon to be a full-fledged Lawyer) made Spanakopita, a delicious Weight Watchers recipe…great minds! This recipe isn’t for the dieter even though the serving is small, there is a lot of butter in the pastry. An alternative to the buttery pastry would be using wonton shells like my lovely friend Sissi has done here!

Spanakopita Tartlets

A single bite portion packing great flavours

A single bite portion packing great flavours

Makes 36 mini 2.5 cm or 1″ tarts

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 Zsuzsa’s cottage cheese pastry dough
  • 200 g (7 oz) baby spinach
  • 50 g (2 oz) finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dill weed100 g (3.5 oz) crumbled Greek Feta

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Sweat the onions until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and sauté until you can smell its aroma, add the spinach and cook down until spinach has wilted.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  5. Add to a food processor and pulse a few times, you don’t want paste, just smaller bits.
  6. Add the oregano, dill and the crumbled Greek Feta and stir well.
  7. Roll the dough to about 2mm (a hair more than 1/8th inch) thick and cut with a 5 cm (2 inch) scalloped cookie cutter.
  8. Press each round into the bottom of an ungreased mini muffin tin.
  9. Fill with about 1 tbsp of the spinach filling.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Serve warm. Can be frozen and reheated for 10-12 minutes at 350F.
The pastry is crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside.

The pastry is crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside.

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My friend Charles of Five Euro Food posted a lovely recipe for lemon curd and it got me thinking about lemons. Once I get lemons on my mind, I usually have to do something about it. Our good friends Paul and T were visiting for the weekend and I knew I had to make a lemony dessert for one of the nights we were eating in. Plus it was Earth Day and we would be dining by candle light during Lights Out (so exciting) so I wanted a dessert that would be easy and not too heavy as I was making Paella for dinner! Thanks Charles for the lovely lemony inspiration.

Classic Shaker Lemon Tarts

A dollop of whipping cream would have made this dessert so tasty.

Makes four small 3 inch tarts (a Martha Stewart Recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large lemon, sliced very thinly
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Viennese Pastry (see below)

Directions:

  1. Cut lemons crosswise into paper-thin rounds using a mandoline or a very sharp knife; discard ends and seeds.
  2. Place lemon slices in a medium nonreactive bowl, and add sugar; toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature overnight.
  3. Divide the dough into four equal balls. With the heel of your hand, flatten out the balls into a small disk. Place in the centre of each spring form tart pan and press out to the edges with your fingers. Roll the top to get a nice scalloped edge.
  4. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 450°F, with rack in lower third. Add lightly beaten eggs to lemon mixture, and stir to combine.
  6. Pour through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Divide liquid among tart shells, then top with the lemon slices, arranging decoratively.
  7. Bake tarts on baking sheet 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F, bake until filling is set and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove tarts from pans, and allow to cool completely on wire racks.
  8. Serve with a dollop of whipping cream.

Viennese Pastry

Originally from the Five Roses Flour Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 small egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, add all of the ingredients except the egg yolk and vanilla, process until the butter is incorporated and it resembles corn meal. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and process until it becomes a ball. If it is very soft, you may want to refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. Follow directions above.

So tell me, did you honour Lights Out for Earth Hour? We had our dinner party by candle light and cooked everything on gas or the BBQ by candle light. It was a chilly night so we even had a wood fire in the fire place.

Lemon Viennese Tarts

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