I found myself experimenting with sourdough starter yesterday – more specifically, the discard you typically toss when you feed your starter, to prevent it from turning into sourzilla and taking over your kitchen. Sourdough loaves are generally baked at a specific point in the feeding cycle, when the starter is at its most robust, but often when you’re discarding half, you’re not necessarily ready to bake bread, or it may be too weak and not have the leavening power to leaven a whole loaf. It still seems like a waste to throw it away though – and it has all the sour tang of sourdough, so I thought I’d stir some into a batch of biscuits. Not to rely on for their lift, but to add flavour and make use of the discard, which has the same consistency as buttermilk or cream. Verdict: I’m calling it a win.

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It’s the season for long, lazy breakfasts – one of my favourite things about December, and a big reason I hope for plenty of snow. Pancakes and waffles of all kinds, perhaps some cinnamon buns or æbleskiver – I skew toward things I don’t make on an average weekend, but still don’t always have the gumption to make cinnamon buns from scratch, even if I do plan ahead and have them ready to bake from the fridge or freezer. Enter Kaiserschmarrn – a torn or shredded pancake, also known as an Emperor’s Mess (see how it fits here?) – a puffy, eggy pancake you cook in a skillet on the stovetop or in the oven, chop or tear apart and then kind of scramble in the hot skillet with some butter, so they wind up crispy-edged and custardy in the middle. Because it’s one big pancake, it’s perfect to stick on a platter with a dish of preserves (or a drizzle of maple syrup), giveContinue reading

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Pizza dough is one of those things I make on autopilot… it’s so quick to do, especially with the dough hook of the stand mixer, and it gets better with time – I always try to anticipate our pizza needs at least 24 hours in advance. This is the secret of pizzeria pizza dough – it always gets at least a day to hang out, sometimes more. I see fresh pizza dough at so many grocery stores and Italian markets, too – so it’s easy enough to pick up for a few dollars. Either way, it’s a great way to get fresh bread on the table, in the form of a nubbly focaccia! Which can be topped with all kinds of things – fresh rosemary and olive oil, garlic and olive oil, crushed olives and olive oil…. or everything bagel seasoning. Yes!!

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May as well hop onto the pumpkin muffin bandwagon… though pumpkin pie isn’t my favourite (and I don’t enjoy squash in my latte), I do like a spiced pumpkin muffin. And a batch in the oven makes the house smell fantastic. Despite the fancy-sounding name, you don’t need roasted squash per se to make these – so long as enough heat has been applied to your squash of choice to soften it (it could be microwaved, or steamed, or baked) it will work just fine, as will canned pumpkin purée. But I posted on Instagram a few days ago that you could, while the oven is on to bake cookies or a lasagna, stick a whole winter squash directly on the oven rack and just let it bake. Which requires literally zero prep, and makes them infinitely easier to handle. Over the weekend, as I baked batch after batch of cookies for book signings (thanks for coming!) I tossed in a smallish kabocha – oneContinue reading

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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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