Tuesday, October 28, 2008
It was only another week before the "Opening Soon" signs were replaced with "We're Open!" signs. So I immediately called my friend Tiffany (who, if you haven't noticed yet, is now my go-to person for all foodie-related excursions in Calgary) to set a date to check the place out. We brought along our friend Adam, who brought his new girlfriend Jenn.
Farm is owned by Janice Beaton, who also owns Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, which just opened a branch right behind Farm, and also has her finger in Caffe Beano, a mod little coffee shop in the same building as the aforementioned establishments. (Thanks John Gilchrist!) You can definitely see Janice's hand in the menu, as it features dishes like goat cheese fritters, mac & cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and "cutting boards", where you get to choose various cheeses and meats served with a sliced baguette to have a bistro-style meal.
The fact that Farm doesn't take reservations for groups less than 8 was a bit of a bummer because the place was bustling with activity on Saturday night even though we tried to arrive early. The kind hostess told us the wait would only be "15 minutes", but we probably had to wait closer to 45 minutes before we were seated at the bar next to the open kitchen.
These made for great seats as every once in a while you'd look up and see a chef tossing a salad with her hands, pulling some fresh baked cookies out of the oven, or slicing some meat using the big meat slicer. The kitchen itself was very modern and sleek looking, and I thought the fact that they served condiments in little sake cup-like dishes was a cute touch. Despite the modern kitchen, the global theme at Farm is "rustic". The menu is simple, with the daily specials (soup, small main, salad, and a "pairing whimsy") written in chalk on one of the walls. There are simple, antique-looking pieces in the tiny space and one of the tables celebrating a birthday got a cake decorated with fresh flowers. The hostess kept on dimming the lights though, which made for pretty crappy photos.
The four of us decided to split a cutting board appetizer and a bottle of wine, then get our own mains. I decided to splurge and get the soup as well, because seriously, who can resist curried apple and squash with toasted pumpkin seeds?
The soup was really good; nice and thick with a generous dollop of sour cream. There could have been more curry flavour, but I appreciated that it didn't overpower the sweetness of the apple and squash. The pumpkin seeds were (obviously) a fantastic touch.
We had a bit of trouble deciding what we wanted on our cutting board; for a while we'd only progressed as far as no blue cheese (Tiffany doesn't like it, and neither do I, really) and no goat/sheep cheeses if possible (I'm not a fan.) Finally Adam, an Italophile, told us that Piave, a hard Italian cheese was good, and that it would pair really well with prosciutto. (We also ended up sharing a bottle of 2003 Taurino Salice Salentino, a negroamaro from Italy, was nice and mild, and quite good for being the cheapest red wine on the menu.) Jenn then stepped up and she'd be up for trying the venison salami, and I checked off the brie as a safe choice that everyone would be familiar with and liked. I noticed on the list too that there were peppercorn terrines and rabbit terrines from La Maison du Gibier, which I swore was at Marché Atwater (they do have a seller there, plus a few at Marché Jean-Talon), which made me reminisce about Montreal a little. *sniff*
All of the meat and cheese came in nice little portions, each paired with its own condiment. The server was nice enough to point out what everything was. Everything on the board that I tried was good; the piave was a nice, milder version of parmesan, the prosciutto and venison salami were good (though nothing really made the latter stand out as venison) and the brie was nice and creamy. I really loved the golden beet relish as it brought out the sweetness of the beets. The pickles looked intriguing, but they were kind of out of my reach before I could get to them, and of course, I do not like olives.
I thoroughly enjoyed my braised Devliew(?) lamb shoulder, which was very tender (though the aspiring dietitian in me was just a little turned off by how fatty it was). I had hoped to dip my baguette into the sauce, but I quickly found out it was too salty for me to do that. I had also hoped I would get more horseradish too, although the server did mention that I could ask for more, so it was my fault, really. Adam and Jenn were satisfied with their mac & cheeses and Tiffany seemed to enjoy her salad.
While Chowhounders have complained about the portion sizes in the past, I personally appreciated the size of the portions (there's that aspiring dietitian again!) and filled up on everything I ate. The dessert menus were cutely typed out on index cards (there was a crème brûlée, some other dessert, and $5 for 5 freshly baked cookies), but we were too full (and our wallets were emptying a little too quickly) for any. I hope like their other menus the desserts will be rotating too.
I would definitely love to go back because even though their menu *looks* tiny, I feel like there's going to be a new thing to try every time. Maybe one day I'll have the guts to take a photo of that chef working the meat slicer!
1006 17 Ave SW
Monday, October 27, 2008
My friend Tiffany and I went to the Scotch and Chocolate Tasting at Nectar Desserts where I had the opportunity to taste not one, but two single malt whiskies worth >$120. I didn't have the chance to whip out my camera, but I assure you that the clean lines that all our scotch and chocolate were presented in would've made for great visuals. More on that when I don't have to study for my internship (so that I look like I know what I'm talking about and get a good review) plus I'll also tell you about when I went to Farm.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
So I shouldn't be allowed to handle cupcakes.
After a week of getting to work half an hour earlier than the week prior and getting off work half an hour to an hour later than I should be, I managed to get off work early as everyone was getting ready to move next door to the shiny Sheldon Chumir building (where I'll get my own student cubicle!)
Instead of heading home right away, I decided to enjoy the sunny weather and walk the few blocks to 17th Ave to do something I've always wanted to do—a side-by-side comparison of Crave and Buttercream Bake Shoppe cupcakes.
I knew I couldn't finish two full cupcakes on my own, so I bought a mini (or "baby", in Buttercream Bake Shoppe's case) cupcake of a flavour that I knew both would have. I chose Crave's "signature flavour", Crave-o-licious, a chocolate cupcake with blue vanilla buttercream icing, and tucked it under the coat on my arm to walk the 2½ blocks to Buttercream to make my purchase there. It started off fine because the icing had hardened a little to the point where it didn't smear on my coat, but once the little bit of body heat kicked in I'd wrecked the beautiful baby blue swirl (and the inside of my jacket.)
In retrospect I guess I should've waited right before I went in to tuck it under my coat.
I was happy (and unsurprised) that Buttercream Bake Shoppe had their own version of the cupcake called Dreamy Blue. As I exited the shop, just as I felt bad that I was giving Dreamy Blue an unfair advantage appearance-wise, it slipped from my grasp, falling sideways onto the pavement.
So that's how I came about stuffing my face with these two smushed mini-cupcakes as I walked to the bus stop to head home after quickly snapping a few photos on the patio of Buttercream (their chairs were all chained to the fence for the winter). And how did the two fare? Well let's see...
Price: Both of my mini-cupcakes cost $1.75, and regular cupcakes cost $2.95 at both places. Once you start buying half-dozens, dozens, or multiples of dozens, Crave will start hurting your wallet a little more. Winner - Buttercream Bake Shoppe
Appearance: Ignoring what they looked like after being mishandled by yours truly, I must admit I was a little disappointed that while the regular versions of these cupcakes had chocolate shavings, the small ones did not. (The little "sprinkles" you see on the Dreamy Blue cupcake is dirt from me dropping it, not chocolate) Seriously, the chocolate shavings are not so huge that you can't fit them on a mini cupcake. That being said, I loved the colour of the Crave-o-Licious icing more; the blue of the Dreamy Blue cupcake was not dreamy, but off-putting, and I had to read the little sign to make sure that my icing was going to be vanilla-flavoured. Winner - Crave
Icing-to-Cake Ratio: As you can see in the photo (and considering any losses left on my jacket), Crave-o-Licious had way more icing than Dreamy Blue. While some people like that, I thought it was a little too much and made things messier than they could've been. Winner - Buttercream Bake Shoppe
Taste - Icing: I ate Crave-o-Licious first and was prepared to declare it the loser for having sickly sweet icing until I tasted Dreamy Blue, which was equally sweet with a strange flavour undertone. After some consideration, I decided the difference was that the Dreamy Blue icing was less "creamy" and less vanilla-y. Winner - Crave
Taste - Cupcake: What I learned yesterday is that all that sweet, pretty icing is hiding some crappy bases. Though I'll have to give credit to the fact that both of the cupcakes were nice and moist (as opposed to dry and muffin-y), they're disgusting taste-wise. Alone, the cupcakes have barely any sugar. If they're going for a "dark chocolate" sort of idea, the chocolate is not coming through and the cakes are bitter and bland with a touch of salt. If they're going for the fact that they know their icing has shit-tons of sugar, then fine, but wouldn't it be better if you took some of the sugar out of the icing and into the cake? Tie
Considering just the cupcake itself, it looks like Crave wins, but if you also consider price for multiple purchases, then it's a tie. To be honest, I was cheering for the underdog, and in that spirit, here are two advantages of Buttercream Bake Shoppe over Crave you should keep in mind:
- Crave closes shop when it runs out of product, so even though they supposedly don't close till 5, you'll sometimes come back emptyhanded even if you try going at 4.
- Buttercream Bake Shoppe has a four week cycle of 32 flavours (eight per week), plus the basic four and the monthly special. I SO want to go for their pumpkin spice before the month is up (even though they put a gross-looking Jack-O-Lantern sugar candy on top). Crave only has nine flavours, and not all of them were available when I went yesterday. Plus, although the I ♥ Crave Cupcakes Facebook group claimed that the Craving of the Month" is also pumpkin spice, the glass dome with the "Craving of the Month" sign had nothing under it.
Crave Cookies and Cupcakes
120 815 17 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2T 0A1
120 815 17 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2T 0A1
1170 Kensington Rd NW
Calgary AB T2N 3P2
Calgary AB T2N 3P2
Buttercream Bake Shoppe
103 1019 17 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2T 0A7
103 1019 17 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2T 0A7
Friday, October 17, 2008
I'm sorry it's taken me almost a week to finally post my Thanksgiving photos and recipes. Work has been a little draining, but I'm sure I'll be able to play a little bit of catch up over the weekend :)
I knew there was a reason why I don't cook in Calgary often, and I was reminded of that last Sunday. My mom was in the kitchen the whole time, criticizing this and that:
"Are your pumpkin tarts supposed to be so full like that?"
"Why didn't the filling in your pumpkin tarts flatten?" "Why is the pastry not browned?"
"Why are you stuffing the bird so full? Now it's going to take longer to cook."
"Why are you making that? (Kugel) Everyone likes mashed potatoes!"
"Why are you making it in such a big pan? Is it supposed to be thin like that?"
"Why would you want to steam the broccoli and cauliflower? I usually blanch them."
"Why did you buy such a big bag of Brussels sprouts? [Despite the fact that no one's ever eaten them before], nobody likes them."
"Why would you even think of not peeling your sweet potatoes before you mash them?".
It doesn't work when I try it.
"Um... You've been boiling that spaghetti for a really long time. Isn't it going to get mushy?"
"We like it that way."
I hate mushy spaghetti.
The fact is, like how I have a bit of a formula when it comes to hosting a Chinese feast, I get the impression my mom has her own formula when it comes to making "western" food which includes meat (steak and/or turkey), mashed potatoes from a box (because "everybody likes it", but I usually get a baked potato) and vegetables (blanched broccoli/cauliflower OR frozen vegetables OR zucchini and mushrooms) and since I was trying to tweak her formula a little, she freaked out (if you're wondering where I get *my* freakouts from, this is it)
Now do you wonder why I can't get her to change her diet?
Anyway, although it ended up being a bit of a team effort, which was nice, my mom gave me more credit than that at the dinner table. This is the way that my mom's always worked—insult me to no end to my face, and then brag about me around others.
Now do you understand why I'm so messed up?
So back to the topic at hand, our menu this year consisted of a non-bread stuffed turkey with potato kugel, mashed yams, plain spaghetti, blanched broccoli and cauliflower and roasted Brussels sprouts as sides, and pumpkin tarts for dessert.
The turkey recipe was a reprise of the first Thanksgiving turkey I'd ever made. However, I skipped the brining step because the turkey took a long time to defrost, and we all know what happened LAST time I tried to brine a turkey...
I was saddened to learn that summer savory appears to be an eastern Canada herb, as it was so easy to find last year and it makes me think of my friend Jess.
My mom approved of the turkey because "nobody likes stuffing"; there are no photos of the finished turkey though, because it met my mom's carver quicker than I could wash my hands and run upstairs and back, and I'm sure my mom would've been all, "Why are you taking pictures?" anyway.
Turkey for People Who Don't Like Stuffing
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
- 1 large (7-10 kg/15-20 lb) turkey, neck and giblets removed
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 125 mL (½ cup) butter, melted
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- Fresh sage
- ½ bottle dry white wine
- Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Rinse and dry the turkey inside and out. Rub with salt, pepper and garlic cloves. Place the garlic cloves inside the turkey's cavity.
- Brush the turkey with ½ the melted butter. Place breast side down on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan. Stuff the turkey cavity with 1 onion, ½ the carrots, ½ the celery and a few sprigs of sage. If possible push your finger between the skin and the meat next to the cavity and stuff the sage in there. Scatter the remaining vegetables and sage around the bottom of the roasting pan, and cover with the white wine.
- Roast uncovered 3½ to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 85°C (180°F). Carefully turn the turkey breast side up about ⅔ through the roasting time, and brush with the remaining butter. Allow the bird to stand about 30 minutes before carving.
I insisted on making a potato kugel just because I didn't want to have two types of mashed potato, and because I wanted to try my hand at it after my boyfriend made such a delicious version for Rosh Hashanah. When I asked him for his recipe, he only told me that he Googled it, so I was left to my own devices.
Potato KugelI don't know if it's because I wasn't watching the clock when I made the kugel (and I'd stuck it into a 350° oven with the turkey) or if it's because of my overzealous squeezing of the potatoes and onions, but my kugel ended up being pretty tough and it wasn't very popular. I suppose I should leave the kugel making to my boyfriend for now. If I were to do it again though, I find onions are a bitch to grate so I would rather mince them finely than wrestle with the grater.
Adapted from Chow
Makes 1 7" x 12" or 9" square pan
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled
- ½ onion, peeled
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- 60 mL (¼ cup) vegetable oil
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) flour or matzoh meal
- 5 mL (1 tsp) baking powder
- 5 mL (1 tsp) salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Peel potatoes, submerge (uncut!) in cold water until all have been grated.
- Grate potatoes and onions with a hand grater (or electric meat grinder) into a colander.
- Using a clean, lint-free dishtowel (or paper towels if you hate trees), press on the potato/onion mixture to squeeze out liquid. Stop squeezing when water begins to drip rather than stream.
- Place grated potato/onion mixture in a large bowl; stir in all other ingredients. Mix well.
- Transfer to lightly oiled 7×12 or 9" square pyrex baking dish.
- Bake for one hour or until well browned.
Nutrition Info (per 1/12 recipe): 148 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 52 mg cholesterol, 21 g carbohydrate (2 g fibre, 1 g sugar), 4 g protein, 257 mg sodium. A good source of potassium.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts Adapted from AllRecipes.com
- 680 g (1½ lb) Brussels sprouts, trimmed with yellow leaves removed
- 45 mL (3 tbsp) olive oil
- 5 mL (1 tsp) salt
- 2 mL (½ tsp) black pepper
- Preheat oven to 205°C (400°F).
- Toss ingredients together in a large Pyrex dish.
- Roast in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, shaking pan every 5 to 7 minutes for even browning. Reduce heat when necessary to prevent burning. Brussels sprouts should be darkest brown, almost black, when done, but if you don't like them that dark you can reduce the heat/pull them out sooner. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.Nutrition Info (per cup): 81 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 8 g carbohydrate (3 g fibre, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein, 311 mg sodium. An excellent source of vitamins C and K. A good source of folate.
Pumpkin Tarts Adapted from Forks.ca Makes about 3 dozen
- 2 eggs
- 1 798 mL (28 oz) can of pumpkin
- 250 - 300 mL (1 - 1¼ cup) brown sugar, packed
- 5 mL (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
- 2 mL (½ tsp) ground nutmeg
- 1 mL (¼ tsp) ginger
- 1 mL (¼ tsp) cloves (optional)
- 1 mL (¼ tsp) allspice (optional)
- 1 mL (¼ tsp) salt
- 1 370 mL (12 oz) can of evaporated milk
- 36 3" tart shells
- Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
- Lightly beat eggs in a bowl. Add pumpkin, spices and salt. Combine.
- Mix in milk.
- Place about 30 mL (2 tbsp) of filling into each shell.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or when a cake tester inserted into the centre of a tart comes out clean.
- Cool before serving with whipped cream (or "whipped topping").
Nutrition Info (per tart): 115 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated), 19 mg cholesterol, 2 g protein, 74 mg sodium. An excellent source of vitamins A and E.
Monday, October 13, 2008
In honour of Canadian Thanksgiving, and in an effort to get to bed at a more reasonable hour (Ha!) Instead of sharing my Thanksgiving experiences with you this evening, I'll leave you instead with yet another meme. This one comes from Maple Syrup and Poutine, and it's called 100 Canadian Foods to Consume! (Who knew there were that many?)
Maple Syrup & Poutine's 100 Canadian Foods to Consume
1. Arctic Char
2. Ketchup flavoured chips
3. Wild Rice Pilaf
4. Caribou Steak
5. Gourmet Poutine
7. Beaver Tails - I've heard so many good things about them, but I've never had any. I know, scandal.
8. Maple Baked Beans
9. Bison Burger
10. Bumbleberry pie
11. Nanaimo bar
12. Butter Tarts
13. Cedar Planked B.C. Salmon
14. Wild Blueberries
15. Pure Local Cranberry Juice
16. Chocolate from Ganong or Purdy’s - Just Purdy's, but Bernard Callebaut is much better, though it's more of a western Canadian thing right now.
17. A cup of warm cider from your local orchard
19. 4 of the following types of apples (Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Spartan, Greensleeves, Liberty, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Golden Russet, Idared, Gala - I've had Cortland, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Gala. Galas are my favourite right now because since I've moved out of Ste-Anne I haven't been able to find honeycrisp ANYWHERE.
20. Freshly foraged mushrooms - My former roommate "foraged" an oyster mushroom from her lab once...
21. Dinner cooked by Michael Smith, Susur Lee or Rob Feenie
22. Fondue Chinoise
23. Dish created from a Canadian Living Magazine recipe (See Thanksgiving '07)
24. Peameal Bacon Sandwich from St. Lawrence Market in Toronto
25. Lobster bought directly from a boat in a Maritime harbour
26. Handmade perogies from your local church or market
27. Alberta Beef at an Alberta Steakhouse
28. Leamington Tomatoes
29. Roasted Pheasant
30. Wild Game hunted by someone you know - What is this, Alaska?
31. Ice Wine
32. Habitant Pea Soup
33. Any Canadian Artisanal Cheese - I've been to two Fêtes des Fromages d'ici in Montreal. So good.
36. Flapper Pie
37. Jellied Moose Nose - Who thinks of these things?
38. Saskatoon Berries - They have it in various forms at the Calgary Farmers' Market
39. Fish and Brewis
40. Screech Pie
42. Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich
43. Flipper Pie
44. Montreal Bagels with Smoked Salmon
46. Jam Busters
47. Bakeapple Pie - Have no idea what this is, and Google won't tell me.
48. Bridge Mixture
49. Canadian Style Pizza - I also don't know what makes a pizza "Canadian-style"
50. Shreddies - I went through a phase where I had this mixed with chocolate chips as a snack. Yummy! My favourite part of Bits & Bites.
51. A cone from Cow’s Ice Cream
52. Lumberjack or Logger’s Breakfast
53. Jigg’s Dinner
54. Rappie Pie
56. Lake Erie Sturgeon Caviar
57. Belon Oysters
58. Brome Lake Duck
59. Beer from a stubby bottle
60. A beer from Unibroue or Phillips Brewery. - I think I've had a sip of La Fin du Monde and was disgusted. There are so many other great microbrews in Canada!
61. Salt Spring Island Lamb
62. Fry’s Cocoa - Did not know this was Canadian! It's the only kind of cocoa I buy!
63. A bag of Old Dutch Potato Chips
64. Every Flavour of Laura Secord Suckers
65. Chicken Dinner from St Hubert’s or Swiss Chalet - Swiss Chalet, definitely. Didn't try St-Hubert's for the four years I lived in Quebec.
66. Hickory Sticks
67. An entire box of Kraft Dinner - Straight out of the pot... I ate disgusting amounts in Freshman.
68. Candy Apples
69. Corn from a roadside stand
70. A meal at Eigensenn Farm
71. Okanagan Peaches
72. Berkshire Pork
73. PEI Potatoes
74. Something cooked in Canola oil - I only buy canola oil and olive oil
75. Figgy Duff
76. Blueberry Grunt
77. High Tea at the Empress Hotel
78. Fresh maple syrup hardened on the snow - So good... Mmm sugaring off at the Arboretum
79. Oreilles de Christ
80. Nova Scotia Beer Warmer
81. A cheese plate containing Bleu Bénédictin, Friulano, St. Maure and Oka.
82. Black or red currant jam
83. Maple glazed Doughnut from Tim Horton’s with a Large “Double Double” - Just the donut. I'm more of a small "single single" kinda girl.
84. A glass of Mission Hill’s “Oculus”
85. Alberta Pure Vodka - I think we have a bottle in our basement
87. Canada Day Cake
89. Canadian Iced Tea - i.e. sweetened, lemon-flavoured iced tea
93. Local honey - You can buy jars from the Macdonald campus bookstore with the phone number of the family that makes it.
94. Creton on toast
95. Glen Breton Rare
96. A whole box of Smarties, where the empty box is then used as a kazoo - Smarties are gross. I definitely can't eat a whole box.
97. Grilled cheese made with Canadian Cheddar
98. A meal from Harvey’s
99. Lake Erie Perch
100. Red Rose Tea
29/100! That is sad. Things I'd add: Ginger beef, Mini donuts from the Calgary Stampede, Red River cereal...
Remember when I said I used up all the white flour that could've gone in the honey cake? Well, this is where it went.
As someone without much of a sweet tooth, I rarely bake without a purpose, so when I do, it's usually something new and different. Like the last time I made cupcakes, the purpose this time around was the Tribune. It was my turn to read the paper cover to cover, draw all over it with my Authoritative Red Pen, then translate my drawings for the entire ed-board.
And provide food, of course.
I got this recipe from the now-defunct Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit, thinking that I had a glut of coconut in my pantry (I had just enough for the recipe) and wanting to use up some more of my 1 kg bag of baking chocolate that I bought last year for my birthday.
The recipe does make an "old-fashioned" chocolate cupcake, and it was only after eating it that I realize I prefer the richer, fudgier, and denser brownie. Still, this cake was moist and light (aka not muffin-y) and baked up beautifully to act as a base for the coconut frosting.
As we learned last Christmas, frosting is certainly not my forte, and it didn't help that I baked these babies in the middle of the night and thus couldn't use an electric mixer for fear of rousing my slumbering roommates. The frosting ended up being a little thin, and with the coconut added in, it had the consistency of oatmeal. As I frosted through the night, the icing even separated at one point! It also doesn't help that I'm a sloppy froster.
But boy - who cares when the frosting itself gets so coconutty? The shredded coconut really works its magic in the frosting and makes this cupcake great.
Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit
Makes 24 regular cupcakes
- 185 mL (¾ cup) butter, softened
- 375 mL (1½ cups) sugar
- 3 eggs
- 500 mL (2 cups) flour
- 5 mL (1 tsp) baking soda
- 2 mL (½ tsp) salt
- 185 mL (¾ cup) cocoa
- 375 mL (1½ cups) milk
- 10 mL (2 tsp) vanilla
Coconut Buttercream Frosting
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each addition.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa.
- Pour milk and vanilla into measuring cup.
- Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about half of the liquid ingredients into the batter and beat to combine. Continue alternating with the dry/liquid ingredients, finishing with the dry.
- Scoop batter into cupcake cups (or muffin tin lined with papers) until about ¾ full. Bake at 175°C (350°F) for about 25-30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.
- 185 mL (¾ cup) butter, room temperature
- 60 mL (¼ cup) milk
- 5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla
- 500 mL (2 cups) icing sugar, sifted
- 375 mL (1½ cup) shredded coconut (both sweetened and unsweetened work fine)
Nutrition Info (per cupcake with frosting): 279 calories, 14 g fat (10 g saturated), 57 mg cholesterol, 36 g carbohydrate (1 g fibre, 25 g sugar), 3 g protein, 214 mg sodium. A good source of manganese.
- Beat butter briefly, scrape bowl.
- Add icing sugar and milk. Beat until smooth.
- Add in coconut and mixed until combined.
- Top cupcakes with frosting and chocolate shavings.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Back in Montreal, just to keep up a little activity (in addition to my 30-minute walks to and from work), I took tap dancing lessons once a week. The class was from 6-8 p.m, which meant I could have a quick dinner at 5, or wait until I finished tap and eat dinner at around 8:30, 9ish, with a snack during our break at around 7. I decided instead of getting to bed too late, I would choose the former.
While most people might grab some takeout or reach for a frozen dinner, it is possible to whip up a dinner in half an hour for less. Fish, couscous, and vegetable is the trio that I usually go for.
I usually unhealthily slather my salmon or trout with light Miracle Whip and then sprinkle some dill on top when it comes out, or just sprinkle it with salt and pepper then squeeze on a bit of lemon, but in this particular case, I wanted to try a new recipe. Enter EatingWell, a magazine/website where I often pulled recipes for my clients to use. The honey-soy broiled salmon recipe allowed me to use the ginger and green onions that I had leftover from Mid-Autumn Festival, and the rice vinegar I'd found lurking on our "communal shelf".
The couscous and asparagus, on the other hand, are hardly recipes. I think couscous is the most wonderful thing and should be a staple grain in every kitchen. I'd obviously recommend whole wheat, but I was busy finishing a bag of regular that was left to me by a former subletter. All you have to do is measure out some couscous (¼ cup makes a nice big portion for one), measure out the same amount of boiling water (or broth if you have it), pour the liquid on the couscous, cover for about 5 minutes or so, then fluff with a fork. In this case, to add a little bit of flavour, I stirred in some of the sauce for the fish that didn't make it on the fish.
The asparagus was easy too—I just gave it a quick steam before throwing on some salt, pepper, and squeezing on some lime juice (I usually use lemon, but again, subletters.) Any other vegetables can be steamed, like sliced carrots or broccoli and cauliflower florets; zucchini and mushroom makes a strangely awesome combination for a quick sauté.
So, this is how I would go about my half-hour:
- Preheat broiler
- Make sauce for fish, marinate or spread on fish (see recipe below)
- Prep vegetables
- Put water in pan and heat to boil for steaming
- Turn on kettle for water for couscous
- Put vegetables in steamer
- Put fish in oven/broiler
- Measure out couscous
- Put boiling water on couscous and cover
- Check vegetables and fish for doneness and serve when ready
- Fluff couscous and serve
Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon or Trout Adapted from EatingWell Serves 2
- ½ green onion (scallion), minced
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) sodium-reduced soy sauce
- 7 mL (½ tbsp) rice vinegar
- 7 mL (½ tbsp) honey
- 2 mL (½ tsp) minced ginger
- 200ish grams (½ pound-ish) salmon or trout fillet, cut in half length-wise, skinned if desired
Nutrition Info (per serving):258 calories, 12 g fat (3 g saturated), 62 mg cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrate (0 g fibre, 5 g sugar), 24 g protein, 333 mg sodium. An excellent source of thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6) and selenium. A good source of potassium.
- Whisk green onion, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and ginger in a small bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place salmon in a resealable plastic bag, add 22 mL (1½ tbsp) of the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 15 minutes and reserve the remaining sauce. Alternatively, if you don't want to use/have a resealable plastic bag, you can just spoon the sauce right on the fish and spread it around before going about your business.
- Preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Alternatively, you can skip this step and feel guilty as you watch your boyfriend try to scrub off trout skin with steel wool when dinner is over
- Transfer the salmon to the pan, skin/skinned-side down. (Discard the marinade.) Broil the salmon 4 to 6 inches from the heat source until cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with the reserved sauce.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
For Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to eat sweet foods to symbolize the wish for a sweet coming year and a sweet life overall. Apples dipped in honey are the stereotypical symbol of Rosh Hashanah, but there are other details as well—the challah is dotted with raisins and dipped in honey, other sweet fruits, like pomegranate, are eaten, and of course, there's honey cake.
According to Deb of Smitten Kitchen, honey cakes have a bad rap; they're "dry and never sweet enough". And it's no wonder; while passing by a little Jewish store/deli on St-Laurent en route to Schwartz's last Friday, I noticed a package cake sitting there on special by the windowsill and it reminded me of a Christmas fruitcake. Hardly appetizing.
Deb promised that her "majestic and moist honey cake" would change all the old misconceptions about honey cake, and for people like me, leave a good first impression.
The cake *did* come out very moist, and the combination of spices reminded me a little bit of carrot cake. And there's definitely no worry about it not being sweet enough; it wasn't until I was mixing the ingredients together that I realized how much sugar is in the recipe! One cup of honey... 1½ cups of sugar... ½ cup brown sugar... It actually made me feel glad that I'd used mostly whole wheat flour in the recipe—and it was still moist!—just because I'd used up most of the white flour making cupcakes earlier in the week! (More on that in a later post)
Though it's ridiculously good, this recipe makes a LOT of honey cake. It will make you three loaf cakes, two 9" square or round cakes, one 9" or 10" bundt/tube cake, or in my case, one 9" x 13" cake. Unless you're expecting to serve this to a big crowd, I would strongly suggest halving the recipe.
Majestic and Moist Honey Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 875 mL (3½ cups) mix of whole-wheat and white flour
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) baking powder
- 5 mL (1 tsp) baking soda
- 2 mL (½ tsp) kosher salt
- 20 mL (4 tsp) ground cinnamon
- 2 mL (½ tsp) ground cloves (I didn't have any so I used nutmeg instead)
- 2 mL (½ tsp) ground allspice
- 250 mL (1 cup) vegetable oil
- 250 mL (1 cup) honey
- 375 mL (1½ cups) granulated sugar
- 125 mL (½ cup) brown sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla extract
- 250 mL (1 cup) warm coffee or strong tea
- 125 mL (½ cup) fresh orange juice (I mixed mine from the frozen concentrate that my boyfriend bought for his chicken, and it was fine)
- 60 mL (¼ cup) rye or whiskey (Assure your alcoholic boyfriend that this is just 2 oz, so there will be more than enough for guests to take a shot between every course of the meal)
- Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. For tube or angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, orange juice and rye or whiskey, if using. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)
- Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). If you're worried about the cakes baking evenly, you can place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together, but I skipped this step and even lost track of how long the cake was in the oven, but things turned out ok.
- Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake centre and/or a cake tester stuck in the middle comes out clean. For angel and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.
- Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
"On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your level of offence if I made a whole wheat challah."
"4," replied the Yeshiva Dropout.
Fortunately, my Observant Orthodox friend Sarah said that she had whole wheat challah all the time, so as long as it was dotted with raisins and braided in a circle for the holiday, I was good to go.
I scanned my Google Reader for challah recipes and originally came up with two. One linked out of Miche Mâche (they're not updating that often any more, but drop by and say hi because Dina is pregnant!) and another one from the always-beautiful 101 Cookbooks. The latter was a little too laborious for someone who was also doing an internship, so the Honey Vanilla Challah had temporarily won over until Deb posted her challah recipe.
I was a little hesitant at first, because I was already set on using her honey cake recipe. Would I be letting Smitten Kitchen run my part of the show?
Well, all I can say is, I'm glad my answer was yes.
Eggs are what separate challah from your typical bread; this recipe called for five - two for each of the two loaves that this recipe yields (according to Sarah, it's tradition to make two) and one for the egg wash which gives it its distinctive sheen.
The dough rises twice before you braid it, though I guess you can't tell from my "artistic" camera angles.
With the recipe's help, I tackled six-stranded braiding for the first time.
I then called it a night and threw it in the freezer to be baked right before the dinner. My boyfriend's Nikon D40 also ran out of batteries (and he'd forgotten to bring his charger), so the quality of the photos will now rapidly deteriorate.
My boyfriend was kind enough to take it out of the freezer to thaw and go for its final rising while I was at work; when I got back, it was time for the egg wash and to sprinkle some of my favourite ingredient—poppy seeds.
Then it's into the oven for about 30-40 minutes.
It's good eaten straight up, but more than one foodie has sung the virtues of challah French toast, so I couldn't resist.
Usually I'd post the recipe here, but I'm surprisingly exhausted despite dodging homework for the last two evenings and relatively adequate sleep (7 hours) last night. Also, Deb does a great job with the recipe (despite the lack of "helpful" metric measures, those Americans!) and describing the six-strand braiding technique. The only change I made was to use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, and I'm sure I wouldn't let myself throw in a whole teaspoon of salt.
Instead, I'll let the Spice Girls make you "challah".