Monday, June 30, 2008

Classic Strawberry Jam with Lemon Scones

This is a picture of the Canadian parliament. July 1st is Canada Day. July 1 marks the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada. This occured in 1867. Happy 141st birthday Canada! You don't look a day over 140. Actually, it sounds pretty young considering the B&B I am currently staying at in France is older than Canada.

I have several France posts in the works that I'm excited to share with you...but in the meantime, I must return to drinking wine. The rest of the post is brought to you by Giz, who's doing a great job picking up my slack this past week. Thanks Giz!

Anna Olson,one of our Canadian chefs, has two shows on Food Network Canada. Anna is not only an accomplished pastry chef with a daily show called Sugar, but has now added yet a second show called Fresh that highlights her ability to put together more than just sweet goods. Nope, this lady is not just another pretty face.

Not wanting to lose the momentum of the strawberry season,and wanting Canada Day to start with something fabulous I thought it might be fun to recreate one of Anna Olson's recipes that's been staring at me for days. Never one to just simplify my life I thought I would try making the strawberry jam two ways. I stopped at the organic market and picked up four (4) pints of organic strawberries....

and then went to the supermarket to get four (4) pints of locally grown regular strawberries.

From a price perspective, the organic strawberries were $4.99/pint while the grocery store strawberries were $2.99/pint. In terms of taste - absolutely no comparison. The organic strawberries win hands down. Having said that, the caveat is that the organic strawberries were riper than the grocery store ones. They were also smaller. Since strawberries don't ripen once they've been picked, I would pay the extra to get the completely ripened and sweeter ones.

Classic Stawberry Jam

3 lb. fresh strawberries (about 9 cups), washed and hulled
4 cups sugar (this is a common amount but I would cut the sugar in half)
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)

Lemon Scones

3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1 cup half and half cream
1 tsp vanilla extract


Classic Stawberry Jam

1. In a large saucepot, bring strawberries up to a simmer over medium-low heat, mashing roughly with a potato masher or flat spoon. Add sugar and lemon juice, stir, and bring up to a simmer for 2 minutes.

2. Add butter and bring to a vigorous boil, stirring often and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, periodically measuring the viscosity of the jam by dabbing a spoonful onto a plate and tipping the plate. Once the jam slows its drip down the plate (it should no longer run like a syrup), remove from heat and skim off foam.

3. Fill jars that have been washed, rinsed, dried and boiled in a pot of water for 3minutes to ¼ -inch from the top.

4. Fasten lids securely and boil jars in a vat of water (be sure jars are completely submerged) for 15 minutes.

5. Remove jars with tongs and let cool upright. Check for secure seals on jars (lid should not spring when touched) and store in a cool place away from light for up to a year. Any jars that do not achieve a proper seal should be refrigerated.

Note: 4 pints of strawberries yields 3 - 500 ml jars of jam. (if 250 ml is 1 cup then the jars hold 2 cups - brilliant huh?...or as we Canucks say .. brilliant eh?

Classic Strawberry Jam with Lemon Scones

1. Preheat oven to 375 °F. Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

2. Cut butter into dry ingredients until it resembles coarse meal. Stir together ¾ cup cream and vanilla and add to dough. Mix just until dough comes together.

3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough twice to an inch thick, each time folding in half (this is the secret to a flaky scone). Roll dough to ¾-1 inch thick and cut desired shapes. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with remaining milk.

4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until tops are nicely browned.

A bit more Canadian content:

It's a patriotic version of this.

The national anthem (minus words):

Click on image to enlarge:


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - Danish Braid

This month's challenge, hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cooking was a fun one. I'd never made a Danish braid or any laminated dough before so the learning was entirely valuable. It was also fun to think about fillings and combinations of flavours.

My Danish braid is filled with a combination of ricotta cheese, cream cheese lemon zest and juice and raisins masserated in Creme de Cassis (a blackberry liquor that's totally fragrant)

Some History:
• According to many sources, “Danish” was born when Danish bakers went on strike, and Viennese bakers were brought in to replace them, creating what is referred to as Vienna Bread.
• Conversely, it is also said that Danish bakers went to Vienna to learn the techniques Viennese bakers employed, and Danish dough was created there.
• In the early 1800’s, C.L. Olsen spent time in Germany, believing in the idea of gaining inspiration from bakers of other countries. He brought knowledge back to Denmark to introduce “foreign” breads to his country, also hiring people of other nationalities to bake in his family bakery.

• Laminated dough – is layered dough created by sandwiching butter between layers of dough
• Detrempe – ball of dough
• Beurrage – butter block
• Turn – each “fold & roll” of the dough produces a single turn in a 3-step process where the dough is folded exactly like a business letter in 3 columns. Each single turn creates 3 layers with this method.

For Your Consideration:
• This recipe calls for a standing mixer with fitted attachments, but it can easily be made without one. Ben says, “Do not fear if you don’t own a standing mixer. I have been making puff pastry by hand for many years and the technique for Danish pastry is very similar and not too difficult.” Look for the alternate directions in the recipe as appropriate.
Yard recommends the following:
• Use well-chilled ingredients. This includes flour if your kitchen temperature is above 70 degrees F (~ 21 degrees C).
• It is recommended that long, continuous strokes be used to roll the dough rather than short, jerky strokes to make sure the butter block is evenly distributed.
• The 30-minute rest/cooling period for the dough between turns is crucial to re-chill the butter and allow the gluten in the dough to relax.
• Excess flour accumulated on the surface of the dough after turns should be brushed off as pockets of flour can interfere with the rise.
• Yard calls for a “controlled 90 degree F environment” for proofing the constructed braid. Please refer to this chart to assist you in this stage of the challenge:

Proofing Temperature For Fresh Dough
(room temp) For Refrigerated Dough
Degrees F Degrees C
70 ~ 21 1-1/2 to 2 hrs. 2-1/2 to 3 hrs.
75 ~ 24 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hrs. 2 to 2-1/2 hrs.
80 ~ 27 1 to 1-1/4 hrs. 1-1/2 to 2 hrs.
85 ~ 29 45 min. to 1 hr. 1 to 1-1/2 hrs.
90 ~ 32 45 min. 1 hr.

• When making cuts in the dough for the braid, make sure they are not too long and provide a solid base for the filling.

Danish Dough

Makes 2 1/2 lbs dough


For the dough (Detrempe)
1 oz. fresh yeast or 1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the butter block (Beurrage)

1/2 lb (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour


1. Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.

2. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well.

3. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated.

4. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer:
1. Combine yeast and milk in a bowl and mix with hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.
2. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.
3. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the "walls" of your fountain are thick and even.
4. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain.
5. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated, start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with - around 5-7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky. (careful here not to add too much)

Butter Block

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.

2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
filling of your choice

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.

3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.

2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Verdict: This is one of those recipes that although it has several steps to it, I would make it again without hesitation.

Thanks Kelly and Ben - this was fun!! StumbleUpon

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Barley Pilaf with Toasted Garlic (a la Christine Cushing)

Here's another of Christine Cushing's recipes that you can find on Food TV Canada. Although I tried to load the link, it seems it has been archived but available through a search on the site.

Pilaf is a dish in which a grain, such as rice or cracked wheat, is generally first browned in oil, and then cooked in a seasoned broth. Depending on the local cuisine it may also contain a variety of meat and vegetables. Pilaf and similar dishes are common to Middle Eastern, Central, South Asian, Latin American and Caribbean cuisine.


Toasted Garlic

3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil (45 ml)

Barley Pilaf

1 small onion
3 Tbsp of toasted garlic oil (from the toasting garlic) 45 ml
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 cup pearl barley (250 ml)
several sprigs of thyme, chopped
1/4 cup white wine (60 ml)
2 3/4 cup chicken stock (675 ml)
1 bay leaf
coarse salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
handful chopped fresh parsley


Toasted Garlic

1. Add olive oil to a saute pan over low heat. When oil is warm, add garlic slivers and cook carlic until just golden, about 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure the oil doesn't get too hot or else the garlic will brown too much and turn bitter. Set aside to use in barley. Reserve the toasted garlic oil to cook the barley.

Barley Pilaf

1. Add 2 Tbsp. oil from the toasted garlic to a mediu saucepan over medium heat.

2. Saute onions for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft.

3. Add carrot and celery, saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add 1 Tbsp oil from the toasted garlic, if needed. Add the barley, thyme and cook for 1 minute.

5. Stir in and coat the barley in the oil. Add wine and let reduce for 2 minutes.

6. Add stock and season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil and stir.

7. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer on low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, or until barley is tender.

8. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir in parsley. Garnish with toasted garlic and serve.

This is an extremely aromatic dish just packed with flavour that I will most certainly be making over and over again. It's easy to make and each flavour is entirely distinguishable. Better than very good.

We're at the half way mark and it's getting even more exciting seeing some of the submissions that are coming in. Remember, it doesn't necessarily have to be low fat, it should be reduced fat dishes to make it healthier. Submission deadline is July 21st. StumbleUpon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Thank you to everyone who gave suggestions on this post. I ended up making a chicken in wine sauce and rice pilaf. Not too shabby for residence food.


Guacamole was the original reason that I bought cilantro. The Cilantro Pesto I made a couple of weeks ago was just a wise afterthought.

There were a couple of guacamole recipes that I was considering, like Jenyu's, Kristen's and Diet, Dessert & Dog's.

In the end, I went with a slight variation on Kristen from Dine and Dash's recipe. Kristen has a really nice food blog that is beautifully organized, featuring lovely pictures, feasible recipes and a fair number of give-aways. Check out her blog here.


3 Avacados, pitted, peeled and chopped (I used two)
2 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I didn't seed)
Season Salt to taste
1 dash cumin (to taste)
Juice of half a lemon or lime
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Take the avacado and mash with a fork to desired consistency. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together with a spoon until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Serve with chips.


Also, do note the link I've put up at the top of the sidebar that will bring you directly the Tried, Tested and True Two event post. The deadline is July 24th! Oh...and if you happened to notice a roundup of the submissions in your readers, just ignore that. I've officially cut Giz off from late night foodblogging. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, all the better.


Travel foodblogging to resume in my next post. StumbleUpon

Monday, June 23, 2008

Peanut Butter and Jelly Filled Cupcakes

WOW - It's hard to believe that we're on another Peanut Butter Exhibition. The Peanut Butter Boy and Foodaphillia have put out the call to all peanut butter junkies to join in once again for the Peanut Butter Exhibition #3 that brings us together around cupcakes and/or cake. Since it's already a well known fact that peanut butter is one of my favourite food groups, how could I not be part of these festivities. I know I saw this recipe somewhere and hand wrote it, but for the life of me, I can't remember where. All I know is that it's a total "kid" pleaser.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, softenedd
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

Yield: Makes about 24 standard cupcakes


1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Line standard muffin pan with baking cups
3. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4. In large bowl, cream butter, sugar and peanut butter with electric mixer until smooth.
5. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well
6. Altlernately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, mix well
7. Spoon into baking cups
8. Bake 22-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
9. Cool cupcakes in pan on cooking rck for 5-6 minutes
10. Remove cupcakes from pan, cool completely

Jelly Filling

I used 1/2 jar of seedless raspberry jam and piped in with infusor tip

Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing


1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

Note: If the icing is too stiff, just add 1 Tbsp of milk at a time until desired consistency is reach.

Psychgrad's comment: This video was not my idea. I apologize.

Giz's comment: Clearly we have an issue about who the mother is and who the daughter is here. Psychgrad doesn't share the same whacky sense of humour as her mother. Can you just see her rolling her eyes? StumbleUpon

Challenge....PLEASE HELP!

Imagine this is your kitchen:

and this is what you have to work with (plus a smaller sauce pan, a collander and most of the necessary plates/cutlery). Do note that there is no oven and only two elements.:

You will only be in this location for the next 5 nights, so you do not want to make large purchases that will result in waste. You've also already made/eaten pasta with meat sauce, fajitas, and omlettes. Also consider that you do not want to resort to much pre-packaged food.


A real post to follow later this evening. StumbleUpon

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Guest Blogging: R in France

I arrived in France yesterday. R has been here for about three weeks now and....HE HAS BEEN TAKING PICTURES OF FOOD! It hasn't taken long at all for him to go from making fun of me for taking pictures of food to taking pictures himself, by his own volition. So...I have convinced him to write a guest post, talking about some of his culinary-oriented experience in France, so far. Without further ado... In the words of Neen and Do, I pass the baton.

This was the main course that I had a cocktail reception in the champagne region. It was very flavourful, but it had a bit too much olive oil. I also had some nice champagne that night.

This was the dessert from the cocktail reception. The lady that I was sitting by didn't want her dessert, so I dominated it for her. She's a big coffee fan, so I gave her my coffee as a thank you.

I visited two champagne houses and the first one was Pommery. This is a picture of a cheesy decoration in one of the tunnels. Champagne is kept in tunnels underneath the ground where the temperature is always around 12 degrees Celsius. Making champagne is a very complicated process. The bottles are slowly rotated and tilted upside. Eventually, a sediment forms in the bottom of the bottle (the neck when it is upside down) and then the neck is dipped into a solution that is about 25 degrees below Celsius so that the sediment freezes. Then, the bottle is opened and the pressure pops the frozen sediment out of the bottle. Because the sediment is removed, champagne does not improve with age like wine.

The second champagne house I visited was Moet & Chandon. The tour was very similar to the tour at Pommery, but I found it a bit pretentious. This is a statue of Dom Perignon, the monk that invented champagne.

This is a view of one of the buildings at Moet & Chandon. Obviously, the company isn't hurting for cash.

This is a macaron. My friend in Paris told me I had to have a macaron. Apparently, people line up outside some of the nice pastry shops in Paris, especially around Christmas time to buy macarons. It was good, but it wasn't cheap.

Psychgrad's note: You can check out a recent round up of macarons here.

In the Montmartre region of Paris, we stopped at a cafe for lunch. I was a feeling a bit deprived of fruits and vegetables, so I ordered a salad. It was dynamite. I really enjoyed the "lardons", which are sort of like little pieces of salty bacon.

Here's another view of the salad. The cheese is parmesan.

I spent one night in Paris and went to a restaurant called "L'ardoise", which was recommended by the concierge. For 33 euros, I had a wonderful three-course meal.

This is the appetizer. There was a lot of dill, which I loved.

This is the main course: lamb and peas. The sauce was amazing.

Voici le dessert. Il y avait beaucoup de canelle. I loved the cinnamon!

Psychgrad grabs the baton back...

Wow...I'm surprised at how factual R's guest post was. He's usually a big joker. I think organizing the pictures stressed him out.

Stay tuned...We'll definitely have more posts about our next couple of weeks in France. StumbleUpon
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