I joined Jann and Adam on this weekend’s Jann Arden Podcast! We talked about how we went on a guerilla potato planting spree a few weeks ago…
I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’m a lazy pie maker. I don’t strive for perfection, or elaborately styled tops (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but more ease – of both assembly and eating. I do get a lot of satisfaction out of a proper crimped double crust pie, but I make galettes more often. Because they’re not as deep they bake more quickly and are easier to eat out of hand, which makes them ideal breakfast pastries and perfect for afternoon snacking.
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Gnocchi is one of those dishes that can feel fancy and intimidating until you learn how to make it – and if you grew up with your family making it from scratch on the regular, and perhaps your job was to sit at the counter and roll little nubs of dough into gnocchi like it was for my good friend Emily Richards, it’s not intimidating at all, but a meal you can make quickly on any regular night.
Emily is truly one of the best people I know.. and also one of the most knowledgeable when it comes to cooking. She comes from an Italian family, and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to pastas and sauces and gnocchi, which she mastered at the side of her mom, aunts and grandmas.
Fava beans are here! They are some of spring’s first arrivals, along with asparagus and fiddleheads, and are well worth seeking out in their fresh state while you can find them. If you’re not familiar with the fava (or faba, or broad) bean, they’re the big, spongy, cartoon-like beans you see in farmers’ markets in the late spring, and they require a little more effort to access their buttery goodness, but are well worth the effort. I kind of like food you have to work at, or can sit around outside and peel + eat.
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I’ve been making focaccia a lot this year… OK, I’ve been making all kids of bread a lot this year, but often it’s a quick dough I make in the morning, not knowing if it will be pizza or focaccia at dinnertime, but that I’ll be prepared for both. (Or naan, even, with balls of dough pulled off and rolled thin on the countertop, then cooked in a hot skillet.) This dough is pretty universal.
Here, I’ll show you how to turn it into focaccia. This dough requires no strict rising time – you can leave it on the countertop all day, until dinner, or stick it in the fridge to slow it down overnight if you don’t get around to baking it. (Breakfast focaccia is divine, by the way.) I love how oily it is… you drizzle a generous pour of olive oil into a large skillet or 9×13-inch baking pan, push the dough in and flip it to coat, then press deep into the soft dough with your fingers to make divots that will catch the oil, salt, herbs or whatever you decide to top your focaccia with. I stuck with just oil and flaky salt for this one, but often stir some garlic, chopped rosemary or za’atar into the oil beforehand. (Warning: garlic bits burn easily – often I’ll just infuse a ramekin of oil with a crushed clove of garlic, then pour it into the pan, leaving the garlic behind.)
I’ve been getting a lot of requests for this pavlova recipe – it’s one I’ve been making for years, and I often teach it in classes and use it as a base recipe for other pavlovas, but this is my go-to, with lemon curd made out of the egg yolks you’ll have left after you make the meringue. It’s perfect – you need something sweet-tart to go with the crunchy-chewy-marshmallowy meringue and creamy-sweet whipped cream. Pavlova truly is the ultimate dessert. This makes a relatively small one, but you could scale it up – I often double the recipe (6 egg whites + 1 1/2 cups sugar) to make a larger pavlova, or two, or one large and a bunch of small ones, or just straight-up meringues. It’s a very versatile formula.
And if you’re at all nervous about the meringue turning out, or if it doesn’t look perfect (who cares though!), you could bash it up and layer it in glasses or a trifle dish to make Eton mess – my other favourite dessert!
Friends!! I’ve been working on a sort of experimental project. It’s been super fun.
It’s Hip to be Square is my first digital recipe download! It’s a collection of a bakers’ dozen (13!) of my favourite recipes for squares (and a few bars!), from Nanaimo bars to butter tart squares to Sweet Maureens, to download and/or print for your holiday – or year-round – baking pleasure. Cookies get all the attention at this time of year, but a pan of squares is perfect for packaging up to do door drops.
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I make a lot of galettes – which sound fancy, but are really free form pies you assemble and bake on a sheet without needing to trim or crimp – and in the fall and winter, they’re often apple ones. Sometimes, I spread some jam onto the bottom of the crust before I pile on the apples, but a couple weeks ago I had a jar of mincemeat on the counter and inspiration struck. It turned out to be a very good idea.
I adore mincemeat – a thick sort of preserve of fresh and dried fruits, citrus, brown sugar, booze (if you want it) and spices you can simmer on the stovetop until your house smells fantastic (it only takes 20 minutes, really) or buy in the jar without shame. (The smell of a jar of Robertson’s all-fruit mincemeat reminds me so much of my grandma, I nearly tear up when I take off the lid.) You don’t need suet (which is beef fat) – I grate in some butter once the mince has cooled down, so that it’s evenly distributed as it hangs out in the fridge or freezer.
I’ve been in rugelach mode all weekend, making batches of sweet versions (dark chocolate-tahini! apricot-pecan! apricot-chocolate! Nutella! pistachio paste! cinnamon-sugar! for a couple virtual cooking classes (these ones were fundraisers for the CBC Calgary Food Bank Drive), and then doing a shortbread Instagram live bake with Amy, she mentioned having made everything bagel rugelach… and thus the seed was planted.