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I get the sense that sourdough starters are starting to come back into fashion – for the most part, it’s the bakers and chefs who nurture their bubbling little jars, texting each other about feeding schedules and storage advice. I started some new starter earlier this summer – the batch I had, with a backup tucked away in the back of the freezer, finally gave up due to neglect. I got them going, and then left town – and on the way back from Tofino, we detoured through Edmonton, popping in to Prairie Gardens farm in Bon Accord, where chef Blair Lebsack and Caitlin Fulton of Rge Rd cook farm dinners, they teach classes using the wood-fired cobb oven – pizza, charred salads with tomatoes, arugula and beans and beans from the garden, things like charred greens, braised leeks and Brussels sprouts, roasted herbs, quick pickles, bannock, cooked on a stick over the fire, pastry for spiced apple empanadas and galettes. Christine Sandford is oneContinue reading

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Spring has been crazy early this year, and now so is asparagus – by like a month. They started picking mid-April at Edgar Farms by Innisfail, and the norm is around the middle of May. It’s a short window – they typically pick (by hand, from their own homemade motorized picking carts) from mid-May until the end of June, so at this time of year I eat as much asparagus as I can handle. Our sunny days and cool nights make for particularly sweet asparagus with purply tips – I know I’ve said it before, but just a reminder: thinner isn’t necessarily better. Thick stalks are every bit as sweet – you just don’t want the bendy and woody ones. And YES – they are fab on a pizza. You don’t even have to bother shaving them into thin ribbons, although that does look pretty. Toss them on whole!

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This! I ate it all. To be honest, I didn’t really have a clue what bar-style pizza was until I happened to see a tweet from Serious Eats, and I happened to be starving, and the tweet happened to have an embedded photo of an ultra thin-crusted, cheesy, crispy-edged pizza in it. So I deduced that a bar-style pizza was more appy-sized, with thin, small wedges that were more convenient to eat with a pint. Thin enough to maybe fold in half, like people do in movies set in New York. I thought I had a handle on pizza – I have my go-to crust recipe that I know by heart and like to make a day ahead to give the dough a chance to develop some flavour. I occasionally swap in a batch of chewy no-knead bread dough. I toss it on the grill sometimes, and I know the cast iron pan trick, and I’m down with pita pizzas – a staple of ourContinue reading

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People often ask me what pizza dough recipe I use. The truth is, most formulas for pizza dough are the same – flour, yeast, water, olive oil and salt. The key ingredient not many recipes call for is time. Yeast doughs are a lot like people – the longer it’s alive before it’s baked, the more character it develops. Which means mixing up a batch of dough on Thursday if Friday is pizza night will make all the difference in the world. Let it hang out in the counter, on the fridge – wherever it won’t get into any trouble. Punch it down when it needs taming. The next day, you’ll see its potential in the stretchy bubbles interspersed throughout the dough. Which I apparently took no photos of, I was so preoccupied with the stretching and the topping. And the chilling of the wine – do you know this trick? Wrap a bottle in wet paper towel and put it into the freezer toContinue reading

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