Archive | August, 2011

Beer Biscuits

30 Aug

Let’s talk beer, shall we? I love the stuff. Most people love the stuff. Some hate it…that’s okay with me, there are things I dislike as well.

Know who loves it? My daddyo. If there’s one thing I never thought I’d have in common with my dad (and there are lots of things), it’s the love of beer. When I was growing up, he’d let me have a sip or two and I would make some pretty wretched faces as I choked with disgust. Side note: Did you know my dad is the coolest and owns a beer boot? Good times, drinking non-alcohol related beverages out it

College, naturally, was my second encounter with beer. My roommate tried to convince me that I should start drinking beer as it was cheaper and easier to drink than liquor (which I still do not care for….unless it’s gin….I like gin…but that’s a completely different story). She set me up with some Coors Light (BLEH!) at a party. It was not pretty. I still barely managed to get it down. I was a trooper though, and got through 1.25 beers. Yep.

I continued to snag some Budweisers from my buddies every now and then….and eventually, after a long battle, the taste grew on me. THANK. GOODNESS.

Now, I truly love beer. It has such wonderful flavours and there are so many great breweries out there. I’m glad I finally “hopped” on the bandwagon. (Oh I totally just went there)

Anyway, let’s get to the point here. My dad loves beer. I love bringing my dad home beers that I’ve recently discovered or fallen in love with.

I love Crazy Canuck from Great Lake Breweries: it’s hoppy, perfectly bitter, slightly malty, and so refreshing. When my BBF (Best Beer Friend) hooked me up with a couple of cans of it (along with their Devil’s Pale Ale), I knew it was time for a visit to my parents’ house. Continue reading

Nectarine, Blueberry and Fresh Ginger Galette

26 Aug

This is one of those times where I kinda just want to say….I’m awesome. One of those times where I want to pat myself on the back…give myself a thumbs up in the mirror….go out and buy some gold stars and stick one on my forehead like the good ol’ elementary school days. Want to know what I did to deserve this praise?

I made dessert.

I know, I know, impressive right? Your socks totally just got knocked off didn’t they (do people use that expression? I do.) Would it be more impressive if I told you that I had an hour from start to finish? How about if I told you that there was nothing to work with except for forgotten blueberries and nectarines? No recipe.

I had just gotten in from a long drive, when a dinner invitation presented itself. Obviously, I had to go. Obviously, I could not show up empty handed; my mother taught me this. Fact is, I had an hour until I had to leave and no ideas.

I did have some fruit. I had some flour. Butter was no problem because I’m a loser and I keep 5 pounds of butter in my fridge at all times.

The reason why a galette was such a perfect idea, was because they’re fast, they can be served warm (no cooling time necessary), and they can look awesome even when a little “rustic” looking. This is a “real life”- friendly dessert. A dessert that you don’t need to fuss over. It’s just awesome by its own accord. Kinda like me….

You make some dough, and chill it. I chilled my dough in the freezer as I had limited time. Make sure you chill it for at least an hour in the fridge before rolling it out. Trust me, the texture definitely benefits. I could tell that my dough hadn’t rested long enough.

Mix the fruit of your choice with a touch of sugar, spices, and flour.

Roll out the dough into a rough circle, place fruit in the centre, and fold the edges up slightly.

Bake until bubbling and yelling “eat me!”

Serve with homemade vanilla ice cream. Just saying.

Blueberry, Nectarine and Fresh Ginger Galette

1 1/4 cup flour

1 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cold and cut into cubes

1/3 cup ice water

4 small (or 3 large) nectarines, sliced

1 cup blueberries

1/4-1/2 cup sugar, depending on how sweet the fruit is

1 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp grated ginger, fresh.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until it is distributed through the flour, but still in large, pea-sized chunks. Add the ice water all at once and mix just until the dough starts to come together. Gather the dough in your hands, divide in half and shape each half into a disk – don’t worry if you see large streaks of butter – they are supposed to be there. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour before rolling out.

Cut each disk into 2 equal pieces. Roll out each disk of dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8-inch thick.  Settle each circle of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I was able to fit 2 per baking sheet.)

Mix the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Toss with the nectarines and blueberries until they’re coated. Divide the nectarines and blueberries amongst the dough rounds leaving about a 1/2 inch border. Fold the borders of dough up slightly over the filling, allowing it to pleat as you work your way around.

Bake at 375F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and crust is slightly browned.

p.s. You see that? Up there? Leakage. It’s real life baking. It’s gonna happen. But it’s also going to taste incredible….so…there you have it.

Mom’s Easy Cheese Muffins

23 Aug

My mom is pretty great. No. Pretty awesome. Ok, she’s the best there is.

She could bake me under the table. She could also sew me under the table; I am proof that being the daughter of a retired fashion designer does not automatically make you good at sewing or making good fashion choices..or avoiding looking like a hobo.

Considering how much of a perfectionist she is, I’m pretty grateful for her patience and understanding after seeing me perform baking no-no’s in her kitchen when I come to visit. I’m also pretty grateful for when she tells me I look bad in some recently purchased shorts….or when my hairband makes me look like a doofus. Thanks mom.

This is why I got her to bake these cheese muffins. I would never dare bake these in front of her. They’re her recipe. She makes them every Sunday morning for the family, along with scones (pronounced “scons” in her South African accent), and an amazing array of cheese, fruit, jam (she lives for her marmalade), and other brunch related goodies. I know. She’s awesome. She’s cute. She’s got spunk…and she’s all mine. Well….I share her with my brother but that’s IT. You can’t have her. You can have her muffin recipe though….I guess…

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London Fog Cookies

19 Aug

If there’s one guy I can always rely on to be there for me, it’s Earl.

He’s a pretty cool guy, this Earl. Well he’s actually pretty hot. I like him “au naturel” too.

I like him first thing in the morning. He makes my day….just by being himself.

Oh Earl Grey. The love of my life.

Seriously. I can’t get enough…

Months ago I tried two things I had never tried before: My dear friend Sherri’s Earl Grey tea cookies, and a London Fog. Also introduced to me by Sherri. I had never heard of a London Fog drink before…but as soon as I heard it involved Earl Grey tea, I was sold. Earl Grey tea, milk, vanilla….how can you go wrong? Seriously.

These cookies are what dreams are made of too. Sherri mastered them and I loved every minute of those cookies while they slipped into my mouth and down into my belly. Well they didn’t slip. I shoveled them into my mouth. In the most lady-like way that you can shovel food into your face.

I felt the need to combine my two favourite ways of enjoying Earl, so I made a cookie version of a London Fog: two Earl Grey tea cookies with vanilla mascarpone icing sandwiched in between. Ohhh yes, I totally went there.

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Blueberry Clafouti

17 Aug

A blueberry what?

That’s what I heard every time I offered someone a piece. Shall I spell it out phonetically?

Cla-foo-tee.

Sounds fancy right?

I feel fancy just thinking about it….think about how fancy you’d feel if you ate some.

When I worked elsewhere with my chef  Beth we would have raspberry or cherry clafouti on the menu sometimes. As far as I know, cherries are traditionally what you would use. To be honest, I never actually made clafouti. It was always made by someone else in the kitchen…and I had never tried it either.

A few weeks ago Beth made some pretty awesome emergency raspberry clafoutis for a last minute catering. I ate my first piece. MAGIC. It’s like a cross between a cake and a custard, and I regret having waited so long to try some.

So why blueberries? Why NOT blueberries. I don’t usually eat berries when they’re out of season (yucky out of season berries are so not worth eating) therefore it has been ages since I’ve had fresh blueberries. My friend picked some up for me from a reliable source. Oh so sweet and delicious, and laden with blueberry goodness! What else was I to do?

I got the recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine. Can I be honest? I loved this. To bits. But I was slightly disappointed with the result of the texture. The flavour was there, and it looked good but the texture was not like Beth’s; more custard-like than cakey. Oh well. Could have been the recipe, could have been the lack of Beth’s magic touch. It’s still amazing. I will bug Beth for her recipe, however, you should make this. It’s ultra-yum.

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Annual Cherry Pie

14 Aug

Fun Fabi Fact # 347: I make two cherry pies a year.

Why two? The first one is out of excitement; I go cherry picking, I pit hundreds and hundreds of cherries…what better way to reward myself and those around me who had to listen to my tales of cherry pitting. The second one is directly related to the fact that after baking a cherry pie I realize that I still have too many cherries, and the fact that more cherry pie is never a bad thing.

The first pie, is always a nerve racking experience for me. I always doubt my pie making abilities. I always second guess the crust recipe. I always fear that my filling will be too thick, or too runny. The second is always made with confidence; kinks are worked out, recipe perfected.

The cherries I used in this particular recipe are sour cherries. My friend and co-worker picked them herself and left them in a bucket in front of my car. It totally made my day. No…week. No…..pie.

Fun Fabi Fact# 61: Cherry pie is my favourite kind of pie. Next comes peach, then comes blueberry. At the bottom of the list? Apple…I actually dislike apple pie. YEAH I SAID IT! Shall we take this outside?

Let’s take a look at Cherry Pie the First.

The crust is a buttermilk-spelt pie dough. Why buttermilk? I needed to use it up. The expiry date was rapidly approaching. Why spelt flour? I ran out of all purpose. How does one who bakes so very often run out of all purpose flour? Don’t ask…I don’t know. All I know is that I hung my head in shame the whole time.

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Plain ol’ Applesauce

12 Aug

Um…so…I made applesauce.

I had some Lodi apples come into my possession recently. Don’t ask where they’re from….let’s just say I know people. I know people that can hook me up with some early season apples.

These apples are only good for one thing, really..

Applesauce.

Confession: I’ve never made applesauce before. Is that bad?

I felt this was the perfect opportunity to experience another cooking first. As it turns out, making applesauce is extremely easy. Obnoxiously so.

This post is mostly just to show off the fact that I had apples and I made applesauce. Not to give you a recipe for applesauce. No biggie.

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