Truth: I haven’t been this excited about a new recipe for awhile. I’ve never been a bun-making person. Bread, yes – crusty sourdough, no-knead and W’s favourite Julia Child sandwich loaf (with or without beans), but I didn’t grow up with dinner rolls on dinner tables, so I never really got into it. So yesterday, Angela requested Parker House rolls for Thanksgiving – she said it was the one thing that always had to be on their table. I had made them before, but not for awhile… I poked around and came across several recipes that had more or less the same formula – Bon Appetit, King Arthur Flour… dough enriched with lard (I used butter, because of course) and an egg, brushed with melted butter before folding and again after baking, and sprinkled with flaky salt immediately upon exiting the oven. The fold, of course, is what makes it a Parker House roll.

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No, you don’t *have* to use crabapples for these – it’s officially apple season, and the markets abound with bins of crisp, flavourful apples – and just about any would do well here. But they do make good use of tart crabapples, which don’t need to be peeled – just slice off their cheeks, chop them a bit more if they’re big, and let the soft, sweet dough offset their tartness. It’s a delicious use for those apples that might otherwise compost themselves on your lawn.

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I haven’t made a batch of Phantom Rhubarb Muffins (from the Best of Bridge-so named because they’re so delicious they tend to disappear) for years, and keep meaning to. I love tart bits of rhubarb in my muffins, and this recipe doesn’t produce too big a batch – I know you can freeze them, but who ever needs 2 dozen muffins at a time? 8 is perfect. I made these one recent morning when we were packing up the car for a road trip, in order to avoid the mostly disappointing $2 highway muffins with our very necessary coffees. Note: because I was distracted (and am, in general, imperfect) I wasn’t thinking and used more butter and sugar in the simple crumble topping than necessary, which resulted only in more caramelly bits on top – nothing wrong with that. And though the recipe calls for pecans, I had almonds – use any nut you have in your baking cupboard, really.

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I have no shortage of ways to use the last of the sour cream or yogurt as it drifts past its expiry date (provided it’s not growing tiny Muppets on its surface, yes) – I stir it into pancake, waffle, muffin and banana bread batter, or make scones… I make green sauce or toss it in the freezer. But ladies and gents, we have a new contender… these tiny, tender fritters I came across in the great Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks (if you’re Canadian, you may remember it) – and though I didn’t think I needed a go-to fritter in my repertoire, it turns out I did.

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It’s unfortunate that the bialy has not achieved the same level of recognition as the bagel, as they are unquestionably as great. Originally from Bialystock, Poland, the soft rolls are made with a deep indent in the middle, rather than a hole, in which a small amount of filling (and sometimes a scattering of cheese) is added before baking – generally it’s caramelized onions and poppyseed. They’re regaining popularity at Jewish delis and bakeries in New York (particularly in the Lower East Side) and even Toronto, but I’ve never come across a bialy in Calgary. (Which isn’t to say they don’t exist… if you see some, let me know!) Fortunately, you can make your own – and if you have a veritable jungle of onions in your garden, this is a good way to attack them.

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Though my dad came to Canada from Belgium when he was a kid, I’m no expert on the Liège waffle, except to know what I like when I eat one. Liège waffles aren’t like other Belgian-style (thick? round?) waffles – they’re dense and chewy, yeast-raised, with a dough like brioche but studded with ultra-coarse pearl sugar that melts and caramelizes on the outside as they cook, creating a slightly crunchy exterior with plenty of crispy bits. (Depending on where you live, you can usually find it at gourmet shops and stores that carry more baking supplies than others. I got mine at Duchess Provisions in Edmonton, which is now closed, but it was only $3 – not pricey.)

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My three favourite ways to eat hot cross buns are as follows: 1) warm, straight from the oven, with butter. 2) pulled in half (not sliced, so you get the craggy edges) and toasted, with butter. 3) buttered and stuffed with aged cheddar or Gouda or whatever cheese you happen to be loving at the moment, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It occurred to me yesterday, when I realized it was a week from Easter and spontaneously decided to make a batch of hot cross buns, that there aren’t a huge number of recipes out there for them – it doesn’t seem to be a staple in baking books, so I went back to my old standby. They’re fairly simple to mix together, as yeast doughs go-it’s a nice buttery one, flavoured with orange zest and studded with currants or raisins. If you like candied peel, and can find some good stuff, go for it-I tend to leave it out and rely on lots of cinnamonContinue reading

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It’s a Christmas miracle! I’ve been talking about launching a podcast for years, and I finally did it – it’s done, it’s up! Anna Olson was in town promoting her new book, Set for the Holidays, last month, and I knew that she a) would be a perfect first conversation for the kind of podcast I had in mind, and b) totally up for sitting down for a chat with me. And! As a bonus, it was Christmas, which meant a self-imposed deadline: after recording it, I’d have to get it up before the holidays. It was a steeper learning curve than I thought – beyond the editing itself, which involves multiple tracks, smoothing out hot posts and awkward cuts, balancing the EQ and all that jazz, it weirdly enough is not as simple to upload a piece of audio as it is to post a video on YouTube. We talked to some pros who were far more elaborately set up than we are (GarageContinue reading

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I’m a bit ashamed to admit I didn’t realize what a big deal green onion cakes are, and have been for decades, in Edmonton. They’ve become the quintessential market and festival food, introduced to the city back in 1979 by restaurateur Siu To. I’ve been meaning to make a batch using the masses of green onions that nearly took over my garden, and when I finally harvested them all (and replanted the bulbs for next spring), I took his lead to make my own. Yes! If you’re not familiar with them, green onion cakes are these crispy, doughy savoury cakes cooked in a skillet, made by rolling dough out, sprinkling it with masses of chopped green onion, much like you’d spread cinnamon-sugar over dough for cinnamon buns, then rolling, twisting, squishing – there are as many techniques as there are cooks making them. The process seems complex, but is simple once you get the hang of it—roll, sprinkle, roll, cut, squish, roll—there’s no need forContinue reading

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