Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cherry Pie

M's favourite dessert is cherry pie so I decided that K and I would make one for his birthday.  We had fresh cherries from the Farmer's Market and I was determined to conquer my fear of pie crust.  Now that I've mad it I really wonder what it was I was afraid of.  It was the most delicious and flaky pie crust I've ever eaten.  How's that for modest?  I'm not really a pie lover though so there really haven't been that many pie crusts in my life.

Not quite sure where to begin I turned to the ever reliable Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.  If you haven't guessed by now it is one of my absolute favourite cookbooks.  I still remember getting it.  My paternal grandmother, from whom I got my love of cooking, baking and cookbook obsession, gave it to me.  To this day I remember her telling me that I asked for this particular cookbook so she bought it for me.  I couldn't have though; I'd never heard of Mark Bittman (Sorry about that Mr. Bittman.). 

Back to the pie crust.  The essence of Mark Bittman's pie crust is to make it in the food processor and be sure to use butter.  Easy enough.  I made a double batch of the dough but could have gotten away with only a single batch.  I have enough dough to make another pie shell.  It's sitting happily in the freezer waiting for me to come up with something.  Maybe a quiche.  Or blueberry pie.  I'm not really sure.

I was really hoping for just a little bit of extra dough so that I could make pets de soeurs.  The literal translation is Nun's Farts.  Nice, eh?  When I was growing up these were a Christmas time treat.  My mom would make them with the leftover pie crust after making the season's tourtières.  Pie crust rolled thinly, smeared with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  Rolled up and then cut into thinish rounds and baked.  So delicious.  Unfortunately for M, K, P and me, I just couldn't bring myself to make pets de soeurs with that much leftover pie crust.  However delectable they may be, they are not the healthiest of treats.

I probably should have been fancier with the top of the pie crust but really I was just happy to have assembled everything!

K and I used fresh cherries for the filling.  Again, Mr. Bittman's book helped me through.  K thought my pitting the cherries was absolutely hilarious.  I changed out of my white t-shirt into one of M's dark t-shirts.  What a site!  By the time I had pitted enough cherries the cookbook, counter and I were covered in cherry juice.  There must be a way to be more delicate about it.  I even used a cherry pitter.  Oh well.  Next time.

The only change I would make, should I attempt this pie again, is to use more sugar for the filling.  I'm not sure if the cherries were sub par or I have a very sweet tooth.  When I asked M what he thought of the pie he said that it was good.  Very good.  But he's not sure when he last had a cherry pie where the filling didn't come from a can.  

Guest Posts

I have exciting news!!  Well, it's exciting to me if nobody else.  I'm a guest blogger on Notes from the Cookie Jar and Recipes from the Cookie Jar.  The first post is up today and there's a second one going up tomorrow.  I'm still in a bit of shock that Scattered Mom chose me to be one of her guest bloggers.

Please please please check them out.  Maybe even come back and tell me what you think.

Thanks again Scattered Mom!

Monday, June 28, 2010

More posts coming soon

It's been a while since my last post, I know.  It's just that, well, life has gotten very very busy.  Nice weather + preschooler + toddler = a lot more time outside.  So be it.  And really, that's one of the reasons I'm staying home with the kids.  I've still been cooking a lot but haven't had the time or the energy to write about it.

I've got a few posts in mind and I'm going to try to get them written and posted before the long weekends: Canada Day and Independence Day.

In the mean time, get outside and enjoy the sunshine!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another Day, Another Farmer's Market

I've been reading about Glo bars on Oh She Glows for a while now and thinking that I should give them a try.  I'm not sure why I haven't ordered some online but, well, I haven't.  On and off for the last few weeks Angela of Oh She Glows has been chronicalling her preparations for the Oakville Organic Market.  This piqued my interest.  Oakville isn't that far from home and the kids and I don't have any plans post K's dance class.  It didn't take me long to decide:  Farmer's Market it is!

I didn't think to take my camera to the market so I don't have a picture of that.  I do have a picture of my purchases:

Apricot something biscuits from Cobb Bakery (they weren't at the market but a short distance away), 10 Glo bars: 2 Chi Glo Bars, 3 Empower Glo Bars, 2 Refresh Glo Bars, 2 Adore Glo Bars and 1 Endure Glow Bar, and 1 half eaten Glo Dough.  The Glo Dough was a ball of dough that tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough. I bought three! K ate his up very quickly as did I.  P took one bite and decided it was more fun to play with the wrapper.  Not unusual for her.

I want to eat each kind of Glo Bar right now.  Instead I'll use some restraint and only eat one for lunch followed by some fresh fruit from yesterday's farmer's market.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Farmer's Market Friday

Today is Friday so after dropping the older two off at school the rest of us headed to the Farmer's Market.

As usual we overloaded on the fruit.  Clockwise from the top: bagels - 6 sesame & 6 cinnamon raisin, blueberries, nectarines, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini, mini cucumbers, asparagus (there's a second bundle just out of view), dark and white cherries (I'm thinking of pitting and freezing some), garlic scapes and plums.

Garlic Scapes.  I've never tried them before but am intrigued after reading this post on Oh She Glows.  Should be interesting.  I'll let you know.

Can't wait to eat these.  While at the market K was obsessed with the white cherries.  He was gravitating toward them and insisted we buy some.  I wanted to buy the dark cherries too so we compromised on a mixed basket.  

We can't get enough of these mini cukes.  My kids could eat them by the truck full.  Yum!

White fleshed nectarines and black plums.  They haven't ripened enough for the kids and I yet but M loves them like this.  I'm going to have to hide some for the rest of us.

So much appealing produce.  Can't wait for next week!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Food Revolution Friday - Farmer's Market Edition

I was trying to come up with something for supper that didn't involve defrosting any meat from the freezer.  I have an awesome microwave that actually defrosts without cooking the meat at the same time so that wasn't the problem.  Really I was just too lazy to choose a meat and decide what to do with it.

I decided to flip through Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book and see if anything caught my attention.  About four pages from the most used recipe in the cookbook I saw Jaw-Droppingly Delicious Asparagus Penne.  Since one of the many things we picked up at the Farmer's Market this morning was a pound of skinny asparagus this seemed like a perfect fit.  The only ingredient I was missing was the whole wheat pasta.  Oh well, work with what you've got, right?  I actually had half-and-half, otherwise known as 10% creamy goodness, in the fridge.  This almost never happens.  I took it as a sign.  Not really.  I would have used P's whole milk if I hadn't had the half-and-half.  You can pretend I didn't mention that last part.  It kind of ruins the story.

RR recommends blanching the asparagus whole and then chopping into pieces.  I chose to ignore her and cut mine up first.  It would seem that she may know of what she speaks; I spent longer than I should have fishing out 1 inch pieces of asparagus from the boiling water.  Please follow her instructions.  I know that I could have just drained the water but then I would have had to bring a new pot of water to boil to cook the pasta and that seemed like more work than necessary.  I'm not saying it would have been more work but it seemed like a waste of time.

I made the sauce in the microwave so that I dirtied a measuring cup and not another pot.  I think the measuring cup is more easily cleaned in the dishwasher than the pot.  Not that I don't put pots in the dishwasher.  I do.  But they don't always clean as nicely as when they are washed by hand.  Aren't you glad I shared that bit of information?  Me too.

I cooked approximately 0.75 pounds of pasta rather than the fully pound she suggests.  Mostly I didn't want to deal with too many leftovers.  P won't eat the same food more than two meals in a row.  There are times when she needs at least one if not two different meals in between before she'll eat leftovers.  Sigh.  I'm sure she's glad I shared that with you.

Neither P or K agreed were thrilled with their dinner. It took quite a while before either of them would eat it.  P first ate half an apple and then ate all of her pasta and then a little bit more.  K eventually ate his whole serving but it was a long and drawn out affair.  I suspect the strong taste, and tang, of the lemon is to blame.  I quite enjoyed it but I may cut back on the lemon juice next time for the kidlets.


Famer's Market

Second week in a row we made it to the Farmer's Market.  Yay for us!

Prince Albert apples.  I was intrigued by the name.

Blueberries.  Because we can never have enough blueberries.  A quarter of the container was inhaled, mostly by P, at lunch.

Nectarines and apricots.  Half in the fruit bowl, half in the fridge for later in the week.

We also bought a flat of strawberries, asparagus, and cherries.  In our haste to get the kids fed and Farmer's Market goodies put away I didn't get any other photos taken.  Maybe I'll manage to take pictures as I'm cooking.  I can always hope.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lunch for One

P's lunch today: cucumber, chickpeas and leftover corn casserole.  She ate everything but the corn casserole.  What a girl!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Orzo Risotto

It's a dreary and rainy day here so I wanted something warm and comforting for lunch.  I still had the entire batch of my roasted chicken stock in the fridge and I really wanted pasta.  Then I remembered Mark Bittman's Orzo Risotto.  Orzo is rice shaped pasta and in this recipe it's cooked in just enough stock; no need to drain it.  This is one dish where the quality of the stock used makes a HUGE difference.  The better the stock, the better the resulting dish tastes.

Start by finely chopping an onion.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Cook the onion until softened and translucent.  Forgot to take a picture of the cooked onion but imagine it's there in the foamy goodness of the butter.

Heat up 3 cups of stock in another pan or in the microwave.  I was too lazy to do either.  As a result this took a little longer to make than it should have.
Add 1.5 cups of orzo to the cooked onions and mix.  Add the heated stock and cook, covered, over medium low heat for approximately 15 minutes.
When the pasta is cooked, stir in 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and some finely chopped parsley.  Note the absence of parsley in mine.  Again, I was too lazy to chop it.

Serve with more Parmesan and parsley.

Mr. Bittman suggests serving this as a side dish.  Sometimes I serve it as an accompaniment BBQ meats, sometimes I eat it straight out of the pot.  Hard to say.  Today I ate it alongside a salad.  P and K ate it on it's own.  P, the hardy eater that she is, had 3 helpings.  I love that girl!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Perfect White Bread

Dear Bread,

I love you.

My parents gave me this cookbook when they were downsizing.  Prior to today I've only ever used it to make our family favourite pancakes.

This book is going to fall apart on me.  I've reinforced a number of pages already.

I don't think I've ever taken so many pictures while making something.  Even so, I missed the one of my stand mixer kneading the dough.  Just imagine it's here.  This is the next step: form the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl to rise for approximately 1.5 hours.  

I let the dough rise for almost 3 hours because the kids and I had to go out.  I don't think it hurt anything.

Oh, just remembered another picture I forgot to take.  After punching down the dough, I divided into two and let it rest for 10 min.  Sorry, no picture.  Please use your imagination.  Each ball was rolled out and rolled up, a la jelly roll, into a loaf.  Once in the loaf pan I left the dough to rise until it doubled in bulk.

After about an hour the loaves had at least doubled in size.

Thirty minutes in a 400F oven yielded these beauties.  The black marks on the top of the loaves are from the rack above the one I baked them on.  Guess I should have taken it out.  Oops.


K was double checking that the loaves were indeed as hot as I said they were.

And there is is.  The perfect white bread.

I slathered the first piece, still piping hot, with butter.  K and I shared it.  P refused.  She's a little weird about bread.  Some days she likes it, other days not a chance!

Perfect White Bread
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Makes 2 loaves

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4t)
1/4 c warm water
2 c milk, scalded
2 T sugar
2 t salt
1 T butter
5 3/4 to 6 1/4 c sifted all-purpose flour

  1. Soften active dry yeast in warm water (110F).
  2. Combine hot milk, sugar, salt and butter.  Cool to lukewarm.
  3. Stir in 2 c of the flour; beat well.  Add the softened yeast; mix.
  4. Add enough of remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and satiny (8 to 10 min).  Or, use the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer and knead on the second lowest speed for 5 - 6 min.
  6. Shape into a ball; place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.
  7. Cover; let rise in warm place until double (about 1.5 hours - or 3 if you need to run out).
  8. Punch down.  So much fun.
  9. Cut dough into 2 portions.  Shape each into smooth ball; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Shape into loaves: With rolling pin, flatten dough to 15x7 inch rectangle.  Roll up like a jelly roll starting at narrow side.  Seal at each turn with fingers.  Press down on ends of loaf with sides of hands to make 2 thin sealed strips.  Fold strips under loaf as it is put into loaf pan so bread will have smooth crusts at both ends.
  11. Cover and let rise till double (45 to 60 min).  Bake in hot oven (400F) 30 - 35 min or till done.  If tops brown to fast, cover loosely with foil for the last 15 minutes.

Busy morning in the kitchen

This is what I've been up to this morning:

My rhubarb from the Farmer's Market ready to be stewed.

Roast chicken stock simmering away in the crock pot.  After twelve hours it's absolutely the best chicken stock I've ever had.  If I do say so myself.

Homemade white bread.  I haven't made bread in decades but thought I'd try it again.  Can't be bad, right?

Pioneer Woman's Pot of Beans.  I love these and make them every couple of weeks.

Dishes.  Lots and lots of dishes.

I've also done laundry, done errands, played with the kids and fed them lunch but you don't really care about any of that.  Just another day in the life of this stay at home mom.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lunch for the kidlets

Roast chicken salad with celery and green onions and spinach on the new PC slider buns with cucumber, baby carrots and avocado on the side.

K got two sandwiches and ate every last bite.

P wasn't terribly impressed with her sandwich but ate most of the pieces.  She left half a bun and no veggies.  What more can a mum ask for?

Farmer's Market

I took the kids to the local Farmer's Market for the first time this year.  I'm not sure they were terribly impressed.  K quickly zeroed in on the booth with the bread.  In fact, he spent the rest of the time at the market asking if we could buy some bread.  P was happy enough riding in the stroller. 

There was tons of produce and most of it was local.  I bought as much as I could with the money I brought.

I bought, clockwise from the top, 2 basil plants, parsley, thyme, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries, peaches, cherries, green beans, fiddleheads (which we're having for supper tonight), apricots and zucchini.  

After walking around the market twice and choosing our produce, I caved about bought the kids a doughnut to split.  K asked why I didn't buy bread.  :S

Food Revolution Friday - BBQ

I've been having a hankering for grilled pork for almost two weeks.  We went to a friend's house for BBQ Victoria Day weekend, the weekend before Memorial Day for any American readers, and had the most amazing pork grilled on the barbecue.  I was moist and had a sweet crunchy exterior.  Why did it take me two weeks to get organized I have no idea but it worked out.  While shopping at my beloved Costco this week I finally picked up some pork loin chops.  And they were even on sale.  Excellent!  I took them home and got to work.

The big secret to the pork: coleslaw dressing.  The moist and delicious pork was marinated overnight in coleslaw dressing.  Who would have thunk it?!  I've long known that salad dressings can make wonderful marinades but it never ever would have occurred to me to use coleslaw dressing.  For starters, it's not usually one I have in the house.

I used NoName coleslaw dressing but will experiment with a homemade version over the course of the summer.  I used a generous amount of dressing, covered both sides of the pork really well and then stuck it in the fridge.  I flipped the pork pieces over about halfway through the marinating.  I have a Tupperware Season-Serve® Container which made it very easy.  After putting the pork and the dressing in the container I didn't have to touch it again.  Until it was time to grill that is.

To accompany the pork I sliced potatoes on a mandolin and and prepared tin foil packets.  In one of them I used olive oil margarine and salt and in the other olive oil margarine and bread dipping spice.

To assemble the packets:
  1. Place a large piece, about 2 feet or so, of tin foil on the counter.  I think Jamie Oliver suggests using two pieces of foil or a double layer just in case there's some tearing.  I'm sure he's right.  I only used a single layer.
  2. Spread some butter, margarine or olive oil on the bottom.
  3. Make 3 or 4 rows of potatoes, overlapping slightly.  Salt and or spice the layer and repeat.  I wouldn't make more than 3 or 4 layers.
  4. Dot the final layer with butter or margarine or drizzle with a little olive oil.
  5. Take the two short sides and bring them together.  Start folding them over in approximately 1 cm folds.  Make sure the folds are tight and sealed well.  
  6. Seal the ends with the same 1 cm folds.  Again, make sure the folds are tight.
  7. Place them on a barbecue at low to medium-low heat.  I started on low and then increased it a little because the pork cooked so quickly.

The olive oil margarine and salt potatoes after the kids had dug in.

Sliced potatoes with olive oil margarine and bread dipping seasoning - Sicilian blend.  I forgot to take a picture of these before digging in.  My bad.
Between my camera and Blogger this poor picture just would not right itself.

The aforementioned bread dipping spices.

K's plate - again my camera, computer software and Blogger were conspiring against me.  One day I will rectify the problem.

P about to dive at her potatoes or grab the camera.  I don't remember which.