Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dough: Spent Grain Sourdough Bread

I have been playing with homebrew as of late and by 'playing' I mean failing at making beer! It's because I started with an all grain invented recipe but, I swear, the next time it will work out. I am learning a ton about beer though so that's a plus. Another plus is that I have had a lot of spent grains to deal with as of late. I made my standard multigrain sourdough bread but used spent grains exclusivly. It worked fantastically! 

Submitted to Yeastspotting

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Vintage Kitchen: Christmas Cookie Cutters

What is it?
I am a sucker for original packaging so when I saw this cute box of Christmas cookie cutters I had to have it
Where did I get it?
A local Toronto thrift store.
Do I use it? 
I haven't yet but Christmas cookies have not been baked yet! I wouldn't use the santa cutter as it doesn't look true to form but the Christmas tree and the star have a certain cuteness to them!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Holiday Slow Cooker by Jonnie Downing

Sixteen holidays are covered in this cookbook and as expected the traditional holidays (New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) are well covered. The holidays are overwhelmingly American in character with the inclusion of President's Day and the Fourth of July. However, lesser known holidays such as Cinco De Mayo and Mardi Gras are included. The slow cooker has risen and fallen in popularity since its hey-day of the 1970's. The slow cooker enjoys a resurgence during the holiday season because it remains an easy, stress-free way to cook during an otherwise hectic time.
Over the winter months I enjoy making a huge batch of a warming winter drinks. While we do not host many holiday parties we enjoy causal Saturday afternoons filled with Hot Chocolate (page 24) or Apple Cider (page 98).

The small print: This cookbook was received free of cost. I did not promise a review or receive any financial compensation. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Foraging: Rose-hips

While researching the best time to forage for rose-hips I came across various time frames. Some sites said January or February while others claimed that early fall was appropriate. Most sites claimed that post-frost was the best time to forage for rose-hips. I decided that early November in Toronto would classify as post-frost (based on absolutely no evidence). Growing up in Saskatchewan, where it always snows before Halloween has really messed up my ability to determine weather patterns in the much warmer Southern Ontario! We headed out to my SECRET rose-hip foraging location on a whim one afternoon and I tossed ruby rose-hips into my shoulder bag. As this was my first time foraging for rose-hips so I did not know how much to pick or whether I would like the jam I planned on making with the rose-hips. 

I came home with about six cups of rose-hips which made one 250mL jar of jam. The recipe I used required me to seed the hips and boil them. They were then sieved. Sugar is added at a ratio of 2 cups puree and 1 cup sugar and cooked again. Then I water-processed the jam for 15 minutes.
I found the end result of this to be too cooked in flavor. The next time I make jam from rose-hips I will boil the seeded hips, sugar and water together. Pass through a strainer and test for jell. This is the same process with which I make grape jam. I find this process gives a final result that is fresh, light, and not overcooked.
Rose-hips are very high in vitamin C but do not eat the seeds! They are covered in tiny hairs that will (apparently) negatively affect your digestive tract!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Response: "Not Young. Not Restless. Still Killing it" The Grid, 1-7 Nov 2012

Response: “Not Young. Not Restless. Still Killing it” The Grid, 1-7 Nov 2012 
Read it HERE

The article, written by David Sax, highlights Keith Froggett, who has cooked at Scaramouche for 29 years, been it's executive chef for 27, and it's co-owner for 17. Sax intends to contrast the cult of the celebrity chef with Froggett, who stands in for a bygone era of chefs focused exclusively on technique. Sax believes that “hot young chefs have become akin to rock stars, complete with tattoos, devoted followers (both the diner and the Twitter varieties), and the attitude that nobody over 30 is doing anything interesting in this town.” After expressing claiming that no one cares about chefs over thirty, a few sentence later Sax claims that Froggett is “one of the best-respected chefs in this city, admired by the old guard and the young upstarts alike as a mentor, challenging leader, and one hell of a cook.” 
Froggett's “...long-term, low-key success, and the sheer quality and consistency of his kitchen, make a strong case for the virtues of experience and longevity over flash-in-the-pan talent...” Interestingly, Froggett “rarely mentions flavours or inspiration when he talks about food. What he loves more than anything is technique, execution, and consistency, three of the attributes many young chefs helming their own restaurants often lack.” Young chefs have the knowledge and ideas but not the skills and experience to back it up. Young chefs, perhaps, lack the patience to properly execute dishes night after night.
Sax intends Froggett to stand as the prime example of the old guard of chefs. Chefs focused exclusively, and perhaps rightly, on the execution of technique. However, when Froggett was young, I believe, that he would have exhibited many of the same qualities that Sax finds negative in young chefs today. Froggett entered chef's college at 16 and started working at Scaramouche at 24. At 26 Froggett was running the kitchen at Scaramouche. These are the same age ranges that describe many young chef's career's today. Additionally, the chef Froggett worked under allowed “everyone in the kitchen ... enough freedom to take risks, but only if their skills were sufficient.” This could, perhaps, describe many of the freedoms justifiably given to young chefs today.
The article does not present Froggett as having worked in many restaurants. From 1979 to 1983 he worked in a number of unnamed kitchens but since 1983 he has worked almost exclusively at Scaramouche. The young chefs of today appear to both work and own a number of restaurants of various cooking styles, seating numbers, and locations. This appears to offer young chefs a variety of experience and opportunity. The depth and breath of knowledge that this type of education offers is something that the older guard of chefs may lack.
While Sax wants to pit the old guard against the young I view Froggett as the young guard, aged. He was very young when he started cooking at Scaramouche and while he may have the benefit of focusing on technique (which young chefs may not) young chefs of today have the benefit of a breadth of food knowledge that chefs such as Froggett may not. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Five ways to deal with a grape glut

Grapes ripen in one fell swoop so one has buckets and buckets of grapes to be processed at the same time. People think that grapes are destined to be either jam, juice, or wine but here are five slightly more unique things to do with those grapes.

1. Pickled Grapes: Pickling creates an entirely new phenomena. They are sweet and delicate.

2. Grape pie: Grapes are easy to bake into a fruit pie. Simply slice grapes in half, add some sugar and thickener of your choice. Bake as you would a fruit pie.

3. Raisins: Used a skewer to poke holes in the grapes. Place on dehydrator racks. Dehydrate until they are raisins.

4. Roasted Grapes: Unique but with the flavors of a classic picnic dish roasted grapes are easy to make. Simply drizzle some grapes with olive oil and bake at 425 for approximately 20 minutes.

5. Jam: Grape jam was my first foray into canning. It was successful with this easy recipe!
What are your unique recipes for using up a grape glut?


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Review: Atelier

Graduate school deadlines regularly made me break into stress related health crises (real or imagined). I had yet to defend or even submit the final draft of my thesis but still, celebrating my looming graduation with an expensive dinner – a little taste of what the glorified (but never achieved) post-graduate lifestyle would regularly allow seemed like a good idea. The reservation for Atelier was made.

I arrived at the romantically lit, elegantly decorated dining establishment wearing jeans and my “cereal killer” t-shirt. Graduate student. The staff took no notice of my improper attire as we were warmly greeted. The course of the evening was explained – twelve molecular gastronomy dishes would be presented. We decided to go balls-to-the-walls and signed on for the accompanying wine list.

The first course was set before us, and the waiter issues forth a stream of words with very little independent meaning but I understood his language. Sous-vide. Anti-griddle. Dust. Dirt. As I picked apart the first few courses I complained that this dish finishes too acidic and that the mouth feel is off on that dish. My husband queries me, concerned, was I really complaining or was I fun complaining? I was having fun. A lot of fun.

The staff's love for food and for molecular gastronomy translates into the consumer's experience of the restaurant. Atelier is staffed by foodies and as foodies, they clearly appreciate when a customer appreciates the detail of their plates. Between courses, I was explaining to my husband the basis and motivation behind sous-vide. The server overheard me and allowed me to continue. Apparently my knowledge of molecular gastronomy was up to snuff!

Atelier is a splurge at $95 per person with an additional $65 for the wine pairing but the food and the experience are worth every penny. The courses were interesting, complex, and fun to eat. They readily accommodated my vegetarianism and my husband's dislike of fish. The 12 courses took us over four hours to complete. We were the last customers in the restaurant and the wait staff offered us coffee, and a tour of the kitchen. It was the perfect way to complete a fabulous meal and to celebrate completing my masters degree.
Atelier: 540 Rochester Street, Ottawa ON

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Favorite Ottawa Eats

I moved to Ottawa under false pretences as I was lead to believe that I was moving to an idyllic small town. Instead I have had to endure a town with a crazy bus system, an O-train that goes nowhere, and a bunch of cyclists that love to look fast and go slow. There are many things I will not miss about this town but Ottawa has some amazing culinary experiences to offer.

The Clocktower Brew Pub: 575 Bank Street
The Clocktower was the first bar I wandered into upon moving to Ottawa and it immediately became a fixture in my life. I have spent many happy hours at the various locations around Ottawa but the Bank location was my first, and will always remain my favourite. I recommend sitting directly at the bar as this offers plenty of face time with the bartender, quick service, and interaction with the regulars. The Westboro (418 Richmond Road) location is the most aesthetically pleasing due primarily to the large framed posters of the Clocktower beer labels. I am ashamed to admit that it took me two years to realize that the Cyrillic on the Clocktower Red label was simply 'tower' spelt backwards. I will crave the Pumpkin Ale (available in October) for many years to come but my 'regular' order at Clocktower was always the Cask Brown and a Black and Blue Burger.

Atelier: 540 Rochester Street
Atelier is a splurge at $95 per person with an additional $65 for the wine pairing but the food and the experience are worth every penny. The first course was set before us, and the waiter sets forth a stream of words with very little independent meaning but I understood his language. Sous vide. Anti-griddle. Dust. Dirt. As I picked apart the first few courses... This dish finishes too strong. The mouth feel is off on this one... my husband queries me, concerned, is this real complaining? or fun complaining? I was having fun. A lot of fun.
The courses were interesting, complex, and fun to eat. The servers were friendly and invested in our experience and pleasure. Their love for food and for the experience translated into our experience of the restaurant. They readily accommodated my vegetarianism and my husband's dislike of fish. The 12 courses took us over four hours to complete so we were there until 1:30am. We were the last customers in the restaurant and the wait staff offered us coffee, and a tour of the kitchen. It was the perfect way to complete a fabulous meal and to celebrate completing my masters degree.

Cafe my House: 1729 Bank Street
As a vegetarian in a long term bi-culinary relationship, I appreciate this restaurant for its diversity. I have a plethora of delicious vegan food to choose from as does my husband. The location is difficult as there is very little parking. However, for a brunch location that serves everyone's need while gently introducing meat eaters to alternative choices, it can't be beat. Try the Coconut-Banana French Toast with a Cocoa Latte.

Sweetgrass: (now closed)
Ottawa lost one of it's most unique restaurants when Sweetgrass closed. This restaurant served traditional Native American foods so instead of the bread plate the tables held bowls of popcorn. This was a unique and entertaining touch. As someone who enjoys cooking, I am overly critical of meals prepared by restaurants but Sweetgrass served me the best vegan meal that I have ever had in a restaurant. Sweetgrass was an amazing affordable restaurant with impeccable service. It's closure is a lost to the food community of Ottawa.

Isobel's Cupcakes: 1018 Wellington Street West
To many cupcakes are nothing more than a frosting delivery system. I used to be that disenchanted and disillusioned. That is until I stepped into the confectionery sugar palace that is Isobel's. The icing is sweet, fluffy, and magical with none of the shortening aftertaste common with cupcakes. The cake itself is moist and crumbly but not overly dry. As an added bonus, Isobel's is close to a very causal Bridgehead and one of the Clocktower locations.

Ottawa's idyllic small town reputation may have tricked me into moving here but thankfully, the food managed to allow me to live here.