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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie - A BBC Original

Take me back! Where things are green and where there are real fireplaces (not just the one on channel 208)

Hey there handsome!

This recipe is one that I swear needs to be in your repertoire every year. It’s stupid good and makes the humble pumpkin pie into a very delicate, smooth, almost mousse-like dessert.

My Nana, who doesn't like pumpkin pie, had 3 pieces of this. It’s ridiculous.

This pie would be perfect for a Halloween bash (tartlettes maybe) or for any sort of fall family gathering you might be having. It’s also a great addition to your Christmas repertoire (pumpkins are always delicious).

Sidenote: normally my rolling is pretty stellar (or at least passable), but all I had at the cottage was a wine bottle and some knives for cutting, so it looks fairly... childlike. I hope you appreciate that sometimes things aren't perfect, but gosh darnit, they're delicious. Moreover, you don't need to have things look like the magazines for your family to appreciate how much love you put into a dish. 

Perfection isn't the goal! Yummy is! (remind me of this every day. thanks).

Stellar rolling job for only having a misshapen wine bottle as a pin and a dull knife to cut leaves with. 


Crust:

You’ll need a double recipe of crust, because this recipe makes two regular dish pies (aka not deep dish), and it warrants lots of little decorations (because pumpkin pie is a special kind of pie).

You can use your favourite pie crust recipe (or even a pre-made one, if you’re so inclined), but I’ve attached my favourite to this recipe in case you don’t have one.

I highly suggest this pie crust recipe – Canadian Living Classic Pie Crust, with about 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon added to the flour at the beginning.

Promise it's not product placement. 


Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (use the rest of the can to make pumpkin hummus, or pumpkin curry)
  • 1 ½ cups sweet potato puree (purchased, or made by cooking sweet potatoes and mashing)
  • 1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp whiskey or bourbon


You really do need a helper-dad that spins the filling at the speed of sound.

Instructions

Make pie dough according to instructions and leave it to chill in two discs in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This step helps to relax the gluten in the flour, making it easier to roll and less likely to crumble all over the place.

Roll out your discs and fit them to the pie shells, cutting around the edges to make them even. Don’t worry if they’re not perfect, we’re going to fix that with some cutouts. Pop them in the fridge while you do the other steps.

With the scraps from your bottom crusts, combine them and roll them out. Cut leaves, turkeys, squirrels or whatever else you fancy and place the cutouts on a plate. Stick that in the fridge too (this is a great step for kids to help with: they can make the pie their own!).

Combine all of the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and mix with a whisk until smooth.

Once the crusts have chilled for at least 20 minutes, cover them with tinfoil and fill them with pie weights (I use dry navy beans – they’re cheaper and last the same amount of time). Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, until the crusts are almost cooked. Take the crusts out and let them cool for 20 minutes.

Turn your oven down to 350 while you’re waiting.

Once your crusts have cooled, pour the filling in. Letting them cool is a key step, because if you don’t, your bottom crust will be soggy (and no one wants a soggy bottom).

Then! Whisk an egg in a little bowl and use your finger to “brush” egg onto the bottom of your crust cutouts. This is the glue that will hold them on. Glue them to the crust of the pie around the outside (to make a pretty edge) and stick one in the middle of the filling by gently setting it on top.

You’re now a pie artist!

Bake the pies for about 50 minutes to 1 hour at 350, watching them (because all ovens are different). They should be darker in the middle and cracking slightly when done. You will also be able to feel that they are solid in the middle by gently poking the filling with your finger.

If your crust browns too much during this hour, take the pies out and cover the edges with strips of tinfoil. This process is tricky and should be done with a helper and lots of curse words. It’s worth it.

Dear Santa, I want a pie crust saver for Christmas. Oh, and polysporin for my clumsy, burnt fingers. Kthanks.

Once the pies are out of the oven, let them cool for a few hours and serve with whipped cream (sweetened with sugar and vanilla or sugar and amaretto). Die of happiness.

Much love!

-BBC

I wish you were here now, Pie. You and I had a good thing going on.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It's Turkey Time!

Sunday afternoon farmstands with my grandma. Love it. 


I can’t really remember if I've told you about my mom’s pet turkey yet.

But I feel like it is an appropriate story for today. His name was Ted. He was a lady.

Long story short, one house ago (military family), my mom had a wild turkey that she fed outside of the kitchen window and that my dad constantly threatened to make into dinner. She named him Ted. He was a good turkey.

In the spring, Ted the Turkey came by with his/her babies for a snack. She became Tedette (originality is not one of my mother’s strong suits). Tedette had a limp and wasn’t seen too often in the following summer, perhaps she made her way to warmer pastures (for my mom’s sake).

Turkeys are graceful, lovely and delicious animals. Not the best pets, but great centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table.

I really do love thanksgiving; it’s one of the few holidays that don’t involve over-the-top gifts and massive commercialization. It’s all about family, food and coming together. I’m into that.

This year I’m having a family thanksgiving and a friends’ thanksgiving (two things I’m definitely thankful for this year). The family one was fairly standard (with a few upgraded twists) and the friends one is going to be Southern-themed (have to spice things up a bit).

Cottage thanksgivings are the best. A crackling fire makes everything more delicious


So here are my tips for thanksgiving this year, if you’re doing it on your own for the first time, or even if you’re a vet, there might be something helpful in here:

1.       Use a bag for your turkey. Holy moly does this ever make a difference. 17 lb turkey in 2.5 hours. No prob. Easy peasy gravy? Yes please. Juicy Bird? Of course.

2.       Elevate things just a little bit. Add garlic to your brussel sprouts, and roast them rather than boil them. Crazy good, and just a little different.

3.       Switch it up! This year I made a pie combining sweet potato and pumpkin (rather than straight pumpkin) and topped it with an amaretto whipped cream. It wasn’t crazy different, but it was unexpected. People love your pumpkin/apple/pecan pie, but maybe you’ll pleasantly surprise them with something new this year.

4.       Lighter options. Now, I’m not advocating a healthy thanksgiving dinner, at all, but something on the menu that doesn’t induce “the itits” (read: food coma), might be a good option. This year: green salad with bacon vinaigrette. (read again: bacon = better).

5.       Make a plan – plan your menu around a theme or family traditions (I’ll attach mine at the bottom if you need a direction), then where you need to buy things (by store, and even grocery section so you don’t forget), then when everything needs to be started, cooked or thawed. Don’t forget that it might take a day for your turkey to defrost.

6.       Get help! Cooking with family and friends is what the holiday is all about. Rock some sweet tunes and bond with the people you love. That’s what makes this holiday my #2.

Yeah. I got the drumstick. Whatup.


My thanksgiving menu (traditional and cottage-friendly)
  • Turkey with Venison sausage, fennel, apple and nut stuffing
  • Dark ale gravy
  • Homemade cranberry sauce (easy!)
  • Brussel Sprouts roasted on the barbecue with garlic and olive oil
  • Fresh corn  
  • Mashed potatoes with herb infused cream and gruyere cheese
  • Green salad with pecans, goat cheese, dried cranberries and bacon vinaigrette
  • Warm bread with compound butter (butter mixed with herbs and cream cheese)
  • Pumpkin and sweet potato pie with Amaretto Crème Anglaise (whipped cream with sugar and vanilla) (recipe tomorrow)


*note: infusing the milk/cream for the mashed potatoes is an easy way to make them a little fancier. Just head the cream until it steams (not to boiling) with some of your favourite herbs and let it steep for a bit while you make the potatoes. (I used bay leaves, sage, and thyme). 

I hope you have a family and food-filled Thanksgiving this year! Take a nap on the couch with your head on someone's shoulder. It's really the best way. 

Much love, 

-BBC

Obsessed with venison sausage stuffing. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Prince Edward County - Top 10 Things to See and Do

Munch. Munch.


Sometimes all you need is a vacation.

Alright, every morning at 7:00 (7:10 and oh! Crap! 7:40), I need a vacation.

Vacations, the planned and pined-for kind, are all fine and dandy, but an impromptu getaway can just as easily be what the doctor ordered. No plans, no google maps and most certainly no clouds or stormy skies to be seen (literal or metaphorical) make for a fabulous weekend jaunt.

Over Labour Day, my fabulous friend Julia and I headed off to Prince Edward County (henceforth called “the County” for those of you who didn’t grow up in Bay of Quinte Country) for a weekend of snacking, wine tasting and other girly pursuits.

The weather was beyond perfect and we had two days of no stress explorations that helped to ground me a bit, screeching me back to a reality that doesn’t exclusively revolve around work. A little bit of a break really helps your perspective.

Now, I’ve been to the County before, so I had a list of places that we just had to see, but with a little bit of “let’s just go that way” and “is this map the right way up?”, we found a few new gems that even a veteran like me didn’t know about.

I’m going to preface this list with a bold statement – fall is the best time to head to the county (even though there are great beaches). The crisp air is perfect for stopping at roadside stands to pick up apples, pumpkins or baked goods. Sitting by a fireplace in a century home, drinking hot apple cider and wine tastings are perfect fall activities. Plus, since you really need a car to get around, drives through the leaves make for the perfect backdrop for good conversation and a relaxed mind.

Doesn't this just relax you? Green makes me calm. I think it's the country, sneaking out of my subconscious.

 The Top 10 things you need to do in the County this year:

10.  Foodie Frenzy: Check out new restaurants/hotels cropping up in small towns all over the County. Toronto-based chefs and entrepreneurs are venturing out into the County to be closer to local produce and change their pace of life. You can get great value out here; prices are better than in the Big Smoke and the emphasis on local fare makes for a tasty dish. Check out Pomodoro in Wellington (Chef Matt DeMille of Enoteca Sociale fame) for some seriously good Italian food (http://www.pomodoropec.ca/ )

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homemade Burrito Fixings - Sunday Cooking Extravaganza


Grill-em for even more awesomeness. 

I need to talk to you about Sundays. And Burritos. And so many other things.

Sundays are probably my favourite day of the week (ssshhhh). Ok, well they’re my favourite if Saturday didn’t involve me peering through the bottom of a vodka soda glass, but still.

Sundays are the days that I cook and clean and read my book. Sometimes I take big walks that end in big bubble baths. There’s always ice cream.

Last Sunday my dad was in town and we capped off an amazing weekend visit with a stroll through Kensington Market and a big kitchen-trashin’ cooking session in the afternoon.

Look a GIF! technology is soo cool. 

 Burritos sound innocuous enough, but I promise there so much more than that. These ones were dad and boo burritos. (Yes. My parents call me Boo. And judge all you want. I’m into it). Burritos with real Mexican peppers and tortillas from a little latino grocery store that smelled like mole. Burritos that can only be made on Sundays.

But don’t fret about the time they might take, because they’ll last you all week at lunch. A week of burritos! (Ok, maybe switch it up a bit, or share with your loved ones, or do like I do, and burrito-fest your way through an otherwise kindof iffy week. Olé!).

Also: you could just make the Pineapple Habanero Salsa from this troupe, it’s a knockout on its own.

A fabulous idea for back to school too! Your kids will be the coolest with these babies. 


Burrito Fillings – BBC Style
Readdddyyyyy:
  • Triple Pepper Beer Braised Pork
  • Pineapple Habanero Salsa
  • Mexican Rice
  • Refried Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Cheese
  • Avocado


Monday, August 20, 2012

Peach Snacking Cake and a bit of Joy

Why yes, that plate is from a garage sale, thanks for asking.



Oh hi there!

This recipe was inspired by Joy. No, not the kind that comes over you on thanksgiving when you’re surrounded by your family and friends; the one that has the most fantastic food blog that I follow and read every word that pours out onto its pages.

This one

I pre-ordered her book and poured over the pages. I was inspired. I wanted a book. I wanted cinnamon rolls and bacon in my cookies.

I’m mostly just so incredibly impressed by the things that she puts out there; like this post, which almost made me break down in tears at work. For serious. She’s amazing.

This snacking cake uses part of her buttermilk skillet cake and some delicious summer peaches. Make it now before they’re gone.

And you're awesome too.. snacking cake. 


I have a little bit more of a moral to this story (hold on to your hats folks): it’s that it’s extremely easy to write down a few words, or pick up the phone and tell someone that they’re amazing. Try and do it when you think it, it never hurts. Telling someone they’re rocking at whatever they do best isn’t going to make you worse, or less awesome at whatever you’re best at, it’s just going to make the world a better place.

You’re awesome too you know. I know you think I’m just saying it, but I probably know you, and if you’re reading my little blog, I think you’re just peachy.

Peachy you say… what a great segue:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Astoria Soup


Yeah. Soup in the summer. Watchout.

It’s august folks.

Let’s keep that in mind.

Back in the day, when September signaled the beginning of fall (and so many new beginnings), august was the start of the end; the start of fall.  But now that we’re all adults and not allowed to go back to school, summer can just keep on keepin' on until that first leaf shudders a little and falls to the ground.

No more of this “ugh, can’t you feel summer ending” or “oh-em-gee, summer is almost over!” None. Of. It.

It’s august. Land of sunshine, less humidity, no skeeters at the campsites and patio beers. 

August is full of hope. Although, to be honest, I've never fallen in love in the summer. I'm a winter lady. Apparently wool socks are my thing.

When the sweater weather is upon us, I’ll get excited about it, but in this moment, I want to be excited about now. Summer is awesome! Summer is a little crazy, but we like her anyway.

Now. Let’s make some soup. (yep. I'm like that).

I know, those pitas don't look like unicorns and gumdrops, but I'm telling you.
Jamie Oliver’s Astoria Soup - makes lots!

This soup has been calling to me for years; ever since a cottage weekend where I first cracked the spine on my Jamie’s America book and discovered the magic that lied within. Ugh, it sounded delicious. But it had so many ingredients. Ones that I couldn’t get. So I pushed it aside and mended my broken heart.

Until! A few weeks ago I found myself in the Spice Trader and Olive Pit looking at the exact spices that I needed for this soup. Bells, whistles and alarms were going off in my head (my roommate thought I was crazzzyyy). I had pined for so long, and my love was finally coming around.

Now, Jamie uses bulgur wheat, which I didn’t have – you can really use any sort of grain in that shape category (I used barley!) and he called for canned tomatoes, but I would use fresh ones at this time of year.  I added a TON of veggies to mine, cut into thin strips (for texture) and they really fill you up.

Now, if you don’t have time to make the soup, but you do have a can of good ‘ol campbells in your cupboard, I suggest that you make the pitas that are outlined here. The spices, toasted with olive oil and crispy pitas are a teeny, tiny bit of heaven. Dip them in some juiced up tomato soup (with basil and cheese if you please) and you’ll have a great, easy dinner.

Muah!

-BBC

p.s. have you been to the Spice Trader and Olive Pit? It makes me happy. Browse there, grab some Macarons at Nadege and sit in the park with a beverage. Come find me! Chances are I’ll be there too. 

Fresh mint makes the world go round.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vegetarian Korean Tacos with Sweet Potatoes - a BBC Original


Who doesn't love tacos?

Some days are glorious and filled with sunshine. You have impromptu dance parties in inappropriate places and when you put your head on the pillow at night, you stare up at the ceiling and feel grateful for your life. The best.

Today was not one of those days.

Today was a hangover, wrapped in dehydration, wrapped in sleepiness. I was a bum.

It all turned around when I got to dinner though; I pulled my socks up, took a shower, drank 2 gallons of water and got to work.

This recipe is 100% me and I hope that you like it. It’s a great option for Meatless Monday or for you vegetarians out there that are missing out on the wonders that are Korean-Mexican fusion. I’m in love.

You can also make it vegan just by leaving out the cheese (maybe put more avocado in that case so you can amp up the creaminess. On second thought, add lots of avocado anyway. Cause it’s awesome).

So many delicious (and nutritious) things on one plate. Pretty sure these disappeared 0.1 seconds after this shot was taken. 


Sweet Potato and White Bean Korean Tacos – Makes enough for 3 hungry people

Ingredients
  • Your favourite flour tortillas (my recipe is here)

For the slaw
  • About 6 baby bok choi heads (or half of a napa cabbage)
  • 2 seedless mini cucumbers
  • 1/3 cup of chopped red onion
  • Handful of chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup of vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar)
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1 inch of grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 spicy chilis (I used five star) – chopped into thirds
  • Salt and pepper

For the Filling
  • 2 tablespoons of oil (vegetable oil or canola is best here)
  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 can of white kidney beans (or your favourite bean)
  • ½ cup of chopped red onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch of grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic chili paste – this stuff is best but you can substitute the Chinese version as well
  • 2 tablespoons of Soy sauce

Toppings
  • Avocado                                                       
  • Green onions
  • Goat cheese


Start by making the slaw: combine the vinegar, sugar, peppers, garlic and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil (to dissolve the sugar), turn off the heat and let it steep while you finish chopping the veggies. Shred (chop into ribbons) the cabbage or bok choi, and cut the rest of the veggies into a very fine dice. Mix them together in a large bowl.

Remove the chilis from the vinegar and throw them out. Pour the still hot vinegar mixture over the chopped veggies and stir to combine. Let this sit and get friendly while you make everything else.

If you’re making your tortillas, I’d start them at this point.

Get a frying pan screaming hot on the stove (almost high heat if it’s not Teflon). Heat up the oil and fry the onions for 1-2 minutes. Then add in the chopped sweet potato. At this point you can add the garlic, ginger and garlic chili paste (not before the potatoes, or they’ll burn).

Use a pot lid (or the lid of your frying pan if you’re fancier than me) to cover the potatoes while they fry. Covering them keeps the heat in so they cook before burning, and if you try and flip them every minute or so (not constantly) they’ll get nice crispy bits too.

Once they’re almost cooked (use a taste test), add in the beans and fry uncovered for another 2-3 minutes. Finally, turn down the heat, add the soy sauce and cook for another minute.

Make sure each taco gets a little bit of each topping and serve with cold beer and corn chips. Maybe rock some kimchi salsa if you’re feeling adventurous.

I’m so excited to have these for lunch tomorrow too! It’s the little things.

Xx

-BBC

p.s. I missed you. Let’s be friends again.

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