Genesis of a Recipe: Brioche

There are some recipes that every serious baker should have.  Pie dough, for example. Or a good chocolate chip cookie.  A cake to bring to parties is also useful to have on hand.  The recipe I’ve been giving thought to lately is Brioche, a rich, buttery bread.  Brioche is versatile, being commonly used in a variety of sweet and savoury applications.  Useful and delicious. Continue reading

Angel Food of Blackberries

Blackberry season has sprung up once more.  Late August is when they finally ripen to perfection and this seems to be a damn fine year for them.  Seriously, they’re huge.  Something must be done with them, something delicious.  Like Cake.  Angel food cake specifically.  It’s simple to make, guaranteed to make a splash at parties and with lots of room to add ingenuity.DSCF2619

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Bread Around the World: Injera

To most, the cuisine in the so called “Dark Continent” is something of a mystery.  I fondly remember my first true foray into African food in a little cafe off main street.  Sadly it’s gone now, partially because I think Vancouverites are a little lost in this region.  I know I was at first.  I had a leg up, though, in the form of a boisterous and jovial fellow at the next table over who was all to happy to show me how best to enjoy my experience.  The key was Injera, an Ethiopian flat bread that served as the edible utensil.  The man showed me how to use it to eat the strange (but tasty) cassava paste and delicious goat stew. Continue reading

Ingredient In Depth: Pineapple

If ever there was an intimidating fruit, it is the pineapple.  I think a lot of people are lost when it comes to this semi-exotic treat.  I keep hearing how they’re hard to pick, difficult to choose and baffling to use as anything other than an offensive weapon.  Fear not gentle traveler, there are answers to be found and paths we can take to greater pineapple understanding.  Anything here can be done with canned pineapple, but fresh is far better. Continue reading

Freestyling Bread, Made Easy

Bread is a wonderful thing loaded with symbolism, metaphor and history.  I think it’s intimidating for a lot of people, though.  It’s seen as a strange and unstable alchemical thing or a mythic beast waiting to attack.  It doesn’t have to be though.  Bread isn’t a monster.  It’s cuddly and warm and just wants to be your friend.  One thing they do say is that you should never freestyle bread.  Thankfully, as with most things they say, this isn’t at all the case.DSCF2008 Continue reading

Son in Law Cheesecake

Back when I first started teaching myself to cook, when I first lived away from my folks and grew so very sick of pasta I bought a cookbook.  It was a thin little thing called “Quick and Simple Chinese” and I got it at Oscars Art Books for about $4.99.  Contained within was a recipe for something called Son in Law Eggs.  The idea is that a prospective son in law would make these apparently quite complex but actually very simple eggs to impress the parents of his lady love.  For a while now I’ve been toying with the thought of stealing this idea and applying it to dessert.  All I needed was a foolproof dessert that anyone could make with very little actual effort or skill involved.  I think I have it, too.  A simple cheesecake with some fun flavours that really isn’t as hard to make as you might think.  A Son in Law Cake, if you will. Continue reading

Let’s Make it (My Way): Locals Restaurant

Locals Restaurant in Courtnay is one of the best places I have dined.  Even on my last visit, when I went in with a highly critical eye, the whole experience was damn near flawless.  So let me get this out of the way right now.  The title of this piece refers to my plan to recreate one of the desserts from Locals with a mind towards my style and preferences.  However, and I can’t stress this enough, Locals does everything well, in fact I will do a quick review of the whole place first so as to make it clear that my intentions are to neither bash their desserts nor claim that I could do better than their own patisserie. Rather I wish to put my own spin on a dessert that I truly enjoyed.  Think of it as a loving homage. Continue reading

Cookies With Your Breakfast?

How many folk, do you think, made a new years resolution to eat better?  And how many of them do you think have thus far failed to do anything about it?  Most would be my guess.  So, for the sole purpose of teasing these poor saps, let’s introduce a perfect accompaniment to our morning coffee.  Now me, I have always enjoyed dipping cookies in my coffee regardless of the time of day.  What?  I’m an adult, I can have cookies when I want.  There is a cookie that is particularly well suited to this exact purpose.  The Biscotti.

I once heard it joked that “biscotti” is Italian for “stale cookie” and in all honesty that’s not far off from the truth.  Biscotti are baked twice, the second time at a lower temperature for the purpose of drying them out which, in a sense, makes them stale.  Fortunately they are all the more delicious for it.

IngredientsDSCF1234

400g All Purpose Flour
150g Sugar
15g Baking Powder
3 Eggs
100g Sliced Almonds
120g Canola Oil

Method

Mix all the ingredients together until a dense dough forms.  Roll said dough into a log and flatten somewhat.  Bake at 350° for half an hour then allow to cool.  Slice about 3/4 of an inch thick, lay on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake again at 300° for ten minutes, flip the biscotti and bake for another ten minutes.

So enjoy your breakfast cookies.  Just don’t tell your mother I gave you permission.DSCF1251

Le Pain by Numbers

Home bakers are more than common.  There is after all a reason why every house I have ever been in has an oven.  The lucky ones even have two.  Nevertheless a person can go their whole lives making chocolate chip cookies out of a package and never know the divine pleasure of home baked bread.  To this end I thought I provide a step by step guide to making almost every kind of bread.  First know that truly excellent bread is not easy.  Secondly, it is of the utmost importance that this doesn’t discourage you.  Though it can take a while to develop a feel for bread and its dough, the journey is more than worth the time and energy required.  Please keep in mind that the difference between mediocre bread and excellent bread is the experience of the baker.  So, without any more ado, great and simple hamburger buns in 7 simple steps. Continue reading