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Verses from my Kitchen: October 2010

October 31, 2010

The Dinner Party: A Bit of Luxury

Back in the day when I was just a kid my parents would host dinner parties and gatherings. I was a child of the 70's and grew up in the 80's but I always thought they were so sophisticated for hosting dinner parties. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't the 50's when guests would come over in black tie and gown but it might as well have been. I looked up to them and, when I first started playing around in the kitchen, dreamed of having my own dinner get together. I was a kid with a big imagination and I would sit in my room and imagine the future and all of the Saturday night events at my very own place.

It's been a long time since those days but I still have the same affinity for creating a dinner party menu and executing it. There's something special and rewarding about having people over and giving them an escape from their daily life and a night away from the responsibility of being a parent. It's a chance for some luxe in our everyday lives. It's a chance to be sophisticated from time to time.

I woke up yesterday and, for the first time, didn't have a clue what I was going to make for dinner. We were hosting dinner for the first people who welcomed us to the neighbourhood. Over these last 6 months they've become good friends and we thought this was the perfect chance to say thank you. So without a menu planned I grabbed a piece of paper, scrolled through my 70 odd recipes and started putting the pieces together. A few old favourites and some new ideas where the flavours just fit. It took a bit of time but before I knew it the menu was:

The Fall of Luxury

Appetizer:

 Crostini with Goat Cheese, Fig Jam and Prosciutto

First Course:

Two Potato Bisque with Lime-Infused Sour Cream and Parmesan Crisp

Entrée:

Beef Tenderloin Steak with Cabernet Shallot Sauce, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes,
Steamed Asparagus with Brown Butter Sauce

Dessert:

Pumpkin Loaf Bars with Cream Cheese Icing



After I returned from the market and picked up the goods I was straight at it in the kitchen. The more that can be done beforehand, the better. I try and do everything I can so that the time can be spent with my guests.  The more time you spend doing the work before, the more time you have to spend with your guests during the night. I try to stay busy and, just as importantly, organized.

I start the appetizer minutes before they arrive. I cut the baguette into thin slices on the bias and brush each one with oil and season with sea salt and pepper. At a low temperature, about 325 degrees, I put them in the oven on a baking sheet and cook until they begin to brown. At the same temperature I add the goat cheese to the oven and wait until it gets soft so that it's easier to spread.  I take out the crostini and spread the goat cheese over top. I then spoon on a small dollop of fig jam and top with a sliver of prosciutto with a one turn of my pepper mill. The result is fantastic and a must-do in the future.

Goat Cheese Crostini with Fig Jam and Prosciutto
I always make my soup up early in the afternoon so that the only thing left to do when they arrive and we're ready to eat is put the pot on the stove and warm it up. This time I made my soup recipe with a pinch of cayenne pepper which followed through to the bowl with the slightest bit of heat. I find that the buttermilk and heavy cream tone it down just enough to be noticeable. I also made Parmesan crisps early in the day by grating fresh Parmesan onto a baking sheet in rounds and baking them in a 325 degree oven for 8 minutes. It's just enough time to get them bubbly and not enough time for them to burn. I take them out and, using a spatula, immediately transfer them to paper towels. When they begin to harden up I shape them and store them so that I can use the Parmesan crisps as a garnish with my lime-infused sour cream.

Two Potato Bisque with Parmesan Crisp
I picked up four great looking tenderloin steaks at the market. Each one had some nice marbling to it and because the cut is so good I like to keep it as simple as possible. I rub on some olive oil and rub in some fresh sea salt and pepper. That's it. I sear it in a pan over high heat and then continue the cooking process in the oven. I take the pan the steaks were seared in and create a sauce using the brown bits on the pan. I prefer beef broth, wine and shallots and cook the liquid over high heat until it reduces by half . I add some butter off the heat and I'm left with a nice syrupy consistency for my steak. 

Beef Tenderloin with Shallot Sauce, Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Asparagus
For the dessert I wanted to make something that screamed Autumn and honed in on pumpkin. I've made the pie countless times before so I went down a different alley altogether. I decided to go with a loaf/cake that I could slather an icing on and cut up into manageable size pieces. So I made a Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and cut it up into bars. This was the process.


This was my dinner party. The food was great but the company made the evening what it was.


























October 28, 2010

Lime Vinaigrette on Baby Arugula, Apple and Prosciutto Salad

My wife loves salad. She loves the taste combinations and the fresh, cool greens with a sweet and savoury dressing. Quite often she'll pass on something more substantial for a salad stacked with fresh seasonal flavours and topped with shaved Parmigiana Reggiano. And she'll definitely suggest salad whenever we're hosting a dinner party. I'm sure you get the point.

Over the years I've made countless variations on the standard "American" salad. I've also attempted new recipes and flavour pairings. It doesn't always work but when it does, it's like hitting gold. I've made the following, plus more: Red Leaf with Tarragon Vinaigrette, Heirloom Tomato, Classic Caeser, Avocado and Mango with Shrimp, Summer Citrus Chickpea, Frisee with Pears, Goat Cheese and Pecans, Shaved Carrot and Raisin.

I love making salads and building flavour from the bottom-up and, particularly, grabbing my whisk and making the dressing. My wife craves homemade dressing, and, at home, food is about simple and fresh. Luckily, I had just the right thing up my sleeve. My take on the stantard pork and apple pairing.  A Sweet Lime Vinaigrette on Baby Arugula, Apple and Prosciutto Salad.

This salad is quick and easy and balanced. It incorporates the sweetness in the dressing, the salty texture of prosciutto, the crisp acidic and sharp flavour of the Granny Smith apple and the spicy, peppery tones of the arugula. This salad is harmony in a bowl.






Apple and Prosciutto Salad:


Yields: 4

The Goods:
4 Prosciutto slices, rolled and sliced into ribbons
2 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced and cut into sticks
Arugula
1 lime, juice only
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Extra-Virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. honey
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

The Prep:
1. Combine mustard and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk to create an emulsion. Stir in honey and and season with salt and pepper. Give it another good whisk to mix all the ingredients.
2. Wash the Arugula leaves. Place a handful in each bowl and top with prosciutto and apple sticks. Pour in a light coating of the dressing. Fold to combine.





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October 27, 2010

Mac and Cheese

Soul food. Heaven in a bowl. Southern classic. These are just some of the ways I describe my favourite childhood food that has grown up over the years. This isn't your grandma's macaroni and cheese we're talking about. It doesn't come out of a stiff cardboard box with faux-powdered cheese in a package. In Canada, Kraft Dinner is a household name, and for many, many years it fed my journey through adolescence and into my college days. Those days are gone.

I have grown up since then and so has my palette, but I still seek out comfort food for those colder days and longer nights. I need something that will feed my soul and appease my taste buds. What I really need is a new spin on an old staple and a recipe to pull on the cozy nostalgia of my younger days. Mac and Cheese fits all that criteria. The one thing I love about this dish is how simple and comforting it is. It's my lunchbox revival on an iconic classic.

These days making Mac and Cheese is like an after-school project. Each time I make it I'm trying to do it with more flavour, more comfort and more cheese. It's rich, smooth and velvety, and I can spend hours experimenting. I try different types of cheese, the addition of bacon or pancetta, onion or lobster and play with creating a crunchy golden-brown crumb and cheese topping. It's a perfectly reasonable way to spend an afternoon.

I've tried several variations over the years but I've finally come to the version I love best. To me it's about the cheese sauce first and foremost and it starts with butter, flour and milk, thyme and grated sharp cheddar added in. It's also very important to make it in stages. Butter melted in a pan and flour added in to make a paste. Milk and garlic and thyme heated up and left to infuse, eventually strained and added to the roux and cooked until thickened. Adding the cheese and making a sauce so rich and delicious that you'll want to sip it. Believe me.

This is the way I like to make it. It's the perfect medicine for whatever your ailment happens to be that day.

Golden delicious Mac n' Cheese



Mac and Cheese

Yields: 4

The Goods:
Kosher salt
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. mustard powder
1 tsp. cayenne
2 cups milk, heated
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar (optional-1 cup white Cheddar and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack)
2 white bread slices, large breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Cheddar

The Prep:
1. Preheat oven to 375. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and reserve for later.
2. In a heavy pot, heat the milk with the thyme and garlic. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour and cook for a minute, stirring often, to prevent lumps from forming.
3. Strain out the solids from the milk and whisk milk into the flour mixture. Whisk often and cook until the mixture is smooth and lump-free and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 6 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne and 1 1/2 cups of cheddar and continue to cook and stir until cheese is melted. Season with kosher salt.
4. Toss in the pasta and fold until completely coated with cheese. Transfer to a baking dish and set aside.
5. In a food processor, pulse bread until large crumbs are formed. Toss with the 1/2 cup of cheese and top pasta with the breadcrumb mixture. Baked until top is golden-brown, about 30 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and serve.

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October 26, 2010

Blueberry Fritters with Powdered Sugar

I have a sweet tooth that pushes and prods me and almost takes my mind hostage until I succumb and give in. Only after I take a bite out of a chocolate cake or eclair or anything sweet and savoury will my sweet tooth rest. I have to be honest and let the truth be known: I love almost anything sweet, sticky and scrumptious. However, the same does not apply to doughnuts. No matter how many times I've tried, I just can't profess to being a big doughnut fan. I don't get any real pleasure from a chocolate dipped or sweet glaze or walnut crunch.

With all that being said there's one variety that, although labelled as such, I see more as a dessert than a doughnut. Maybe it's the size, maybe the texture or maybe it comes down to the shape. Every once in a while I like a fresh and hot fritter on a plate with my favourite knife and fork. I treat it like dessert and respect it as such. Although apple fritters are probably the more well known variety of fritter, I prefer the taste of a Blueberry Fritter with Icing Sugar. Sun-drenched blueberries that offer a burst of flavour and a wee juice explosion.

I know fritters aren't the most appealing option because, let's face it, they aren't very good for you and today people are more concerned than ever about the food they put in their body. It's coated and battered and deep fried.  But the reason I like them more than doughnuts is the fact that the fritter needs a different element besides just the dough itself. And like every other great tasting food available, everything is ok to eat from time to time and in moderation. Sit down and enjoy this with a cup of coffee. Don't inhale the entire batch out of the oven. Two easy requests. Simple enough, no?

This is the recipe to make a batch for your next sweet tooth craving. Think it won't happen? It will.

Blueberry Fritters with Powdered Sugar:

The Goods:
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp. vanilla
1-2 cups blueberries
Oil, for frying
Powdered Sugar, for rolling

 Prep:
1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Once mixed, add to the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in the blueberries. (Don't worry if some break up)
3. Heat an inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it's 375 degrees. Drop dough 1/2 cup at a time and cook for 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Flip over and cook another 3 minutes.
4. Drain on a paper towel and roll in powdered sugar. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve.


Blueberry Fritters with Powdered Sugar


October 25, 2010

Chicken Wings with Bourbon BBQ Sauce and Lime-Cilantro Yogurt

I love sitting down with pen to paper and creating a new recipe. Something decadent, delicious and gourmet. I'll play around with the recipe until it's just right and then throw it at the wall and hope it sticks. The wall in this case usually happens to be friends or family and often it's while hosting a dinner party. It's a great multi-step process that encourages and, hopefully, elicits a few oohs and aahs.

Those types of meals and occasions are great for what they are. It's about special events, memorable moments and food to share and not extract from the true limelight. Like everything else, there's a time and place for it and it's usually on weekends when we have extra time on our hands and we're prepared to spend more time than usual in the kitchen.

There are other moments in life when the food required is the exact opposite. Times when the food needs to be fast, easy but still tasty enough to knock your socks off. The game on Saturday night or the guys getting together for some stories and finger foods. Times like these call for simpler foods with way less fuss involved. For these moments I like to bring out my chicken wings. Baked Chicken Wings with Bourbon BBQ Sauce and Lime-Cilantro Yogurt.

I try to stick with baking my wings to limit some of the adverse effects associated with the normally greasy foods. I also think I'm able to accomplish my need for a crunchy, crispy exterior without losing that soft, juicy texture inside. Once they're nice and golden brown I spoon on my Bourbon BBQ sauce which gives gives the wings a sweet, spicy and sticky sauce wrapped all around them. Since the wings have a kick to them I like to make a yogurt dipping sauce that's both cool and refreshing and fights back some of the spice.

When the football games is on during a Sunday afternoon I bring out a few dozen of these saucy wings and I find it helps calm down the masses and keep them quiet for a bit. Well, just as long as it takes until they've vanished.


Baked Wings with BBQ Sauce and Yogurt Dipping Sauce


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October 23, 2010

Eggs Benedict with Crispy Prosciutto

I love the smell of fresh Autumn air pushing through my window early on a Saturday morning. I roll over and look at my wife and realize that life is pretty fantastic. I'm blessed with so many things and the only way to I can show my appreciation and love for this woman is by whipping up something in the kitchen that tells her taste buds just how I really feel.

The pattern is there and before we know it we slip into a trance of rituals and routines. I wake up and brew a pot of coffee and get to work on an omelette or eggs or french toast and home fries.  Depending on the season I may add in some fresh cut fruit with a splash of lime juice and pinch of sugar or add vanilla to my ricotta cakes for a new infusion of flavour. No matter what, the routine doesn't change all that much. It merely varies.

Today was different. I wanted a new way to tell her just how I feel and what better way than making a classic French dish. After all, France is the motherland of romance. A dish that is so decadent it eats like dessert. It eats that way because of the sauce. Eggs Benedict, as all foodies know, is all about the hollandaise sauce.

Hollandaise is one of the five foundation sauces in the French repertoire. It's basic yet so good that it fits with so many dishes, however none better than Eggs Benedict. It's a simple emulsion of egg yolks and butter, seasoned with lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper. The sauce is rich, buttery and tangy. It transforms eggs from an ordinary state to a classic level.

The classic Eggs Benedict is a combination of poached eggs, either runny or stiff, peameal bacon, English muffins and hollandaise sauce. I prefer a different version. I like my English muffins toasted and browned, crispy prosciutto, poached eggs with runny yolks and a creamy hollandaise sauce that finishes the dish. I also like putting together Eggs Benedict with Crispy Prosciutto and Herb Roasted Potatoes. Potatoes roasted with garlic, oil and parsley and rosemary. Crunchy and soft and loaded with that herb flavour goodness.

I hadn't made Eggs Bendedict in quite some time but I'll be adding it to my repertoire now. It's rich and delicious and, most of all, it make my wife happy. That's what it's all about. Sitting down at the table with family and enjoying life together.

This post made Foodbuzz.com Top 9!!!















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October 22, 2010

Steak Frites

It's Friday night and that often entails something very simple to make for dinner. It's been a long week and the idea is to get in and out of the kitchen as quick as possible. Simple and fast meals means exactly that. It doesn't mean you have to skimp on flavour to get those results.

As a matter of fact, sometimes when we go back to the basics and stick with fresh products and just a few simple but tasty ingredients it lets the food do that talking. When we have too much time we sometimes over think a dish and end up muddling the results by having too many flavours competing for the spotlight. You won't have to make that mistake with this meal.

I love Steak Frites because it's both simple to make and incredibly good to eat. Sometimes nothing is better than a juicy seared steak seasoned well with a plate of fries cooked until brown and crispy with a splash of olive oil and some fresh sea salt. A few really simple ingredients that enhance the flavour of the meat and potatoes and let the quality of the beef stand up and be heard. It takes a few minutes of prep work and a bit of waiting for the fries, but the end result is a sure-fire, can't-miss dinner that you'll be rushing to the table to eat!

There are a few keys to a great dinner of steak frites. The first is a great crispy french fry and it starts after cutting them. Once cut, allow them to sit in a bowl of cold water to remove the starch. I recommend letting it sit for at least an hour, but if you don't have the time 20 minutes should remove a good portion of the starch from the potatoes. This is the starting process and will allow the fry to get nice and crispy, a must if you want flavourful, tasty fries.
Soaking in cold water to release the starch
Tossed with a splash of olive oil and a generous amount of sea salt

The second is a great cut of meat only needs a good rub with salt & pepper to help bring out all those intense flavours and the juiciness from within. I like throwing the steaks in a pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and searing and browning all over. Depending on the thickness of the steak, 8-10 minutes should be the perfect time elapsed for a medium-rare steak. As far as I'm concerned there's no other way to cook a steak. Maybe that's just me. I'd rather a steak slightly undercooked to my liking than overcooked.

Rib Eye with salt & pepper

I like the steak right out of the pan with the small window to let them set up and the juices to redistribute. Also, I like tossing my potato fries with fresh cut parsley and a pinch grated Parmesan. It is so bloody good!
Rib Eye with fresh Potato Wedges

Cooked just like the way I like it

Try this meal on for size the next time you're thinking about dinner on a Friday night and you're in a pinch for time.






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October 21, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Muffiins

It's mid-October and my mind starts to wander and dream about Halloween, candies and pumpkins. In a couple of short weeks my front porch will be adorned with a giant orange pumpkin where two towering flower pots once stood. I'm starting to think about the pumpkin carving and the new ways I'll tackle the seeds for a different take on snack food. I'm also thinking about using pumpkin as the main ingredient.

I've professed my love of scones on at least one occasion and nothing tastes better with a piping hot cup of tea than a scone fresh out of the oven.  The same love applies to a pumpkin muffin and the way it kind of settles in on you with a fresh-pressed cup of coffee. It's the spiciness in the aroma and the earthiness of the crumbs that run off your fingers when you first pick it up.

I'm taking pumpkin to a different place this year with my Pumpkin Spice Muffin recipe. A pinch of ground clove and a dash of ground cardamom add a depth of spice. Nothing matches up better with pumpkin than fresh cinnamon, ground ginger and vanilla extract, which gives a base to the flavour and allows the spice to take on a whole new direction and profile. The pumpkin seeds sit atop the muffin and add some crunchiness and an infusion of last-bite pumpkin flavour. Then end result is a muffin both  fluffy in texture and moist throughout. It's also guaranteed to be satisfying to the last bite.

The only difference I'd make next time is creating a vanilla cream cheese frosting to slather on top. The creaminess and richness would be the perfect date for these Autumn treats. That being said, if you want a seasonal snack or breakfast goody to have with your morning paper and cup of coffee, try this one on for size. Throw it together or pick one up at your nearest bakery. Either way, it should quench all those fall-time cravings.

My pumpkin spice muffin.

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October 20, 2010

Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce

With Thanksgiving still in our rear-view mirror it's the perfect time to acknowledge and show my appreciation for the fall harvest that is taking place right now. With an abundance of incredible fruits and vegetables at our disposal and those same offerings at their peak in terms of flavour, it's the perfect time to take notice of an annual ritual that usually slips by unnoticed.

Harvest is commonly an agricultural word where the farmers and cultivators collect all the ripe crops from the fields. Thankfully we are the ones who reap those brilliant rewards. The produce newly picked and part of the harvest ranges from butternut squash, pears, pomegranate and sweet potatoes to pumpkins and apples.

Apples are the ultimate fall harvest fruit. Different varieties, different flavour profiles and the same delicious taste.  The key to a great apple is an unbruised, firm apple with unbroken and shiny skin. This is the time of year for apples to pop-up in pies, salads and alongside your favourite pork dishes. It's also the season when I start making my own applesauce and baked apple dishes.

I love making and devouring baked apples with that delicious syrup created inside, especially this time of year. The apples undergo an incredible transformation once they hit the oven and soak up the aroma from the spices sprinkled on its flesh. The shiny skin blistering from the heat of the oven and the crunchy texture now soft and juicy and enveloped with flavour that sets the tone for dessert.

As far as i'm concerned nothing goes better with baked apples than ice cold vanilla ice cream. That is unless you make a delicious thick and creamy caramel sauce to enhance the flavours of the apple. And that's exactly what I did here.

Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce

Yields: 2

The Goods:
2 Royal Gala apples
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 full tbsp. butter
pinch of salt
pinch cayenne pepper

1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
1 tsp. lemon juice

The Prep:
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Wash and dry the apples. Set aside. Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and cayenne in a medium bowl.
3. Remove the top 1/2" around the apple to create a lid. Core the apples, but make sure not to puncture the bottom of the apples so that the juices will remain inside and the apple will act as a cup. Fill each apple cavity with the mixture. Top each apple with 1 tbsp. of butter. Place the 'lid' back on the top of each apple.
4. Place the apples in a baking dish and cook for roughly 30 minutes, until the flesh is tender and the apples are bubbly.
5. While the apples are baking make your caramel sauce. Fill a large bowl with ice cold water. Place the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over low heat and stir until sugar has melted. Brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water if any crystals appear.
6. Bring to a boil and allow to cook, without stirring, until the caramel turns golden brown. Swirl the pan to keep the colour even all the way through. Remove from the heat as soon as this happens and place the base of the pan into the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.
7. Once it has cooled, gently pour in the cream. Careful, it will foam up. When the foaming dissipates, add the lemon juice and stir until the sauce is smooth and warm.

The four steps of a juicy, syrupy baked apple.











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October 18, 2010

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I remember making my wife sweet potato fries for the first time a couple of years ago.  It's such a simple and easy alternative to potatoes and fries and yet the occasion was like discovering plutonium. The juicy and tender sweetness inside a crispy and almost charred skin. It's was the perfect marriage of good-for-you food and bad-for-you taste. Only, in this case, there's nothing really bad about it.

I've made this simple snack and side dish so many times since but it never loses that same desired reaction. I try to mix it up and try new spice combinations that fluctuate between sweet and savoury and spicy and smokey. You really can't go wrong with your preferred combination of spices.

Over the years we've agreed on a few things. One is that the inherit sweetness of the potatoes allows me to create a smokey and spicy dusting for the fries that doesn't detract from the overall flavour. I love the outcome and it's fantastic with either a simple aoili or even a yogurt dip studded with cilantro and lime juice.

I love using smoked paprika with these fries and it can be found in varying intensities from sweet to spicy. I prefer one that is both sweet and smokey in aroma and mix it up with a pinch of cayenne for my heat intensity. So here it is, my simple Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika and Cayenne.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

The Goods:
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 lime, juiced
Kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Prep:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine sweet potato fries, olive oil, cayenne, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Toss until well combined.
2. Arrange on a baking sheet and cook, turning once halfway trough, until cooked through and golden brown, about 35-40 minutes.
3. Squeeze lime juice over the fries and season immediately, to taste. This allows the salt and pepper to stick to the fries. Serve.

Smokey& Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

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October 17, 2010

The Recipes: Mayonnaise And Variations

I'm a flavour junkie in life and mayonnaise is right up my alley. The first time I tasted it was as a spread on my school lunch sandwiches. Since that time I've seen it, tasted it or heard about it being used in recipes for fry sauce, ranch dressing, tartar sauce and countless other variations. I was addicted way back then and that love for mayonnaise has only grown throughout the years.

In these days I prefer to make my own mayo. My Basic Mayonnaise. If I'm in a rush I will resort to using a really good store-bought variety but nothing comes close to the taste you get when you make it yourself. It's simple, creamy, tangy and a really outstanding flavour. It's very easy to make and when you know how, and I'll show you how in this blog, you will never turn back.  It's an emulsion of oil, egg yolk and either vinegar or lemon juice and once you've mastered the art of making it yourself, you can move on and try other varieties and spin off of that.

I love making sauces based on mayonnaise and the one thing you'll quickly discover is that this sauce is not just a sandwich spread anymore. You'll be doing yourself a disservice if you limit it to that and stick with tradition.You can turn this into a sauce for meats and crisp steamed vegetables and it's a fantastic sauce with crispy roasted potato fries. You can dress it up and in no time you have an outstanding sauce jammed with flavour.

I often use my basic mayonnaise recipe and turn it into a mayonnaise studded with fresh lime juice and a handful of herbs--my classic Lime and Herb Mayonnaise. I also take my basic recipe and with a few other additions I have my take on a quick Spicy Aoili Sauce. You can do so many great things and it all starts with mayonnaise. Every country has their take on this classic recipe but we all owe a debt of gratitude to France, particularly food famous for Mayo and Hollandaise.

These are the gems that you should add to your kitchen repertoire.

My Basic Mayonnaise:

Yields: 2 cups

The Goods:
4 large eggs
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup Extra-Virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. hot water
kosher salt and cracked fresh pepper

Prep:
1. Using a food processor, combine the egg yolks, mustard and salt & pepper. Pulse just until you break up the yolks.
2. Drizzle in the oil in a thin stream while the machine is still on pulse. Add in the lemon juice and the water.
3. Remove and taste for salt & pepper. Season accordingly.

The ingredients, the yolks broken and the finished Mayo!
Lime and Herb Mayonnaise

Yields: 1 cup

The Goods:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. lime juice plus zest
1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs, finely chopped (any combination of chives, basil, parsley, mint, cilantro)
Kosher salt & cracked fresh pepper

Prep:
1. In a large mixing bowl, add your mayonnaise. Throw in your chopped herbs and sour cream. Add lime juice and zest.
2. Taste for salt & pepper.

The top picture is Mayo. The bottom is my lime-herb Mayo.
Spicy Aoili Sauce:

Yields: 1 cup

The Goods:
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
5 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, chopped and made into paste
3 tbsp. Extra-Virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & cracked fresh pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Prep:
1. Add all ingredients, except oil, to a small mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Slowly add oil while whisking until fully combined. Season to taste.

From Mayo up top to Spicy Aioli Sauce below.
On a Sunday afternoon while watching the game I love to make some roasted potato fries. Crispy and salty and delicious. Nothing goes better with my fries than two small ramekins filled with my Spicy Aoili and Lime-Herb Mayo. Enjoy! I know I am.

My Sunday answer to a snack.


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October 16, 2010

Lemon-Garlic Potato Salad

I love a great tasting potato salad. Creamy, vibrant and utterly delicious. It is the perfect side and pairing for a summer picnic and barbecue. It's often paired with a crispy BBQ chicken or equally welcome with a stay-at-home sandwich. Comforting and pleasing. There are countless recipes and flavour options available and you can't go wrong whichever way you choose. Let me add one more to the argument.

I love adding a big spoonful of this recipe to the side of a plate and a sandwich on a weekend afternoon but I've always been known to throw a bowl of this on the table when I'm grilling up something zesty and spicy. I can make a bowlful and snack on this, which I do when I have a big bag of beautiful potatoes sitting around that are urging me to get to work.

The best thing about this recipe is the time it takes to bring it all together. If you have 30 minutes to spare, you can make this salad. 30 minutes and someone will be singing your praises and patting you on the back. Not bad at all. Just remember these three key points:
  1. The kind of potato you use matters. Use high-moisture varieties like Russets or Red potatoes. 
  2. Cook the potatoes carefully. Fork-tender and take it off the heat and drain right away.
  3. Dress the potatoes while they're still nice and hot.

Whisk together the ingredients in a one bowl and pour off the tender potatoes in another. The real secret to a great potato salad is dressing the potatoes when they're hot. Potatoes are most-absorbent when they're hot, so season immediately and dress right away. After that, you're good to go. If you want warm potato salad you can serve it immediately, but you can cover and put it in the fridge to cool it down as well. Two options, both winners. The people you serve this to will demand you email them the recipe. They'll also make sure you bring this to every gathering in the future.

Lemon-Garlic Potato Salad

Yields: 4-6

The Goods:
1 lb. Russet potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 lemons, juice and zest
3 eggs, hard-boiled
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 tbsp. capers, drained
Kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper
4 cloves garlic, roasted and finely chopped

The Prep:
1. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and cover by 1-2 inches with cold water. Add 1 tbsp. of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until fork-tender, about 12 minutes. Drain well.
2. Combine all other ingredients in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the hot potatoes and mix well until fully coated.
3. Season again to taste before serving.

A hint of spice and crazy flavour!

 

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October 13, 2010

Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Apple with Basil Butter

Hot Melted Sandwiches. I just can't get enough of the combination of crispy bread, soft melted cheese and a delicious spread. The most common variety is Grilled Cheese but with the panini press has come countless other pressed and hot melted sandwich options. I've seen a Fig and Brie Panini, Mortadella and Cheese, Pressed Tuna Melt, Ham and Gruyere Panino and varieties too many to name at different cafes and restaurants I've visited.

One of my favourite sandwich fillers is prosciutto. My wife and I love dry-cured ham and I almost always grab it for the house whenever I'm out shopping. It has a natural saltiness and a buttery texture and the rich flavour is perfect on a pressed hot sandwich. I particularly like it with brie but also like the tart flavour that goat cheese has to offer. Crisp and sour and slightly bitter Granny Smith apples is perfect with both the salty ham and the tartness of goat cheese which softens when exposed to the heat of a panini. I also use basil here and mix it with butter for a spread that has both a sweet and pungent aroma and carries well with the cheese.

The resulting sandwich is fantastic! I have a strong feeling that my wife will want this substituted for future weekend lunch meals. I  know I won't complain because nothing is easier on a weekend at lunch or weeknight for dinner than throwing some terrific flavours on some fresh baked bread and grilling it on a panini press until you have a hot melted sandwich. Yum!

Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Apple with Basil Butter Panini

The Goods:
4 tbsp. softened unsalted butter
2 tbsp. basil, finely chopped
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Grainy mustard
4 Ciabatta rolls
3/4 lb. Prosciutto, thinly sliced
4 tbsp. Goat Cheese
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp. olive oil for brushing

Prep:
1. In a small bowl mix 4 tablespoons of butter until creamy and smooth and stir in the basil, lemon juice and grainy mustard until well mixed.
2. Preheat Panini press. Spread the basil butter on the cut part of the rolls. Lay the prosciutto on the bottom halves and top with cheddar cheese and the apple slices and close up the sandwiches. Brush the outside of the rolls with olive oil.
3. Place on the Panini grill and close. Cook until toasted and the cheese has melted. Cut in half and serve.


October 11, 2010

Sirloin Roast with Crispy Potato Cakes, Arugula and Goat Cheese Crumble

This was my take on the family holiday dinner. Dinner at the holidays for my wife and I. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to meet up with the full extended family for the usual dinner of turkey, stuffing and all the good stuff you get to chow down on once a year in October. I was under the weather and missed out on turkey and the leftover dishes I get to play and experiment with. Once a year skipped by this time.

Monday rolled around and since my wife missed out on the dinner and comfort food we're so used to I figured it was only fair to make it up and make something for the two of us. I love turkey, don't get me wrong, but my take on Thanksgiving varies a bit. It's about delicious food but doesn't have to follow traditional methods and ways. I break away from it and create our own traditions. A holiday dinner for two.

From a recent grocery shop I had everything I needed at my disposal. A top sirloin beef roast, a 10lb. bag of potatoes, arugula and all kinds of vinegars and oils to make a fresh dressing with. The ingredients stir me and the kitchen is my canvas. What a better way to spend a holiday Monday than wrapped up in the kitchen creating our own special unique memories.

Since this is our first year in our new house we have so many chances to experience firsts. Today was no different. I decided to make a Herb-Crusted Sirloin Roast with Crispy Potato Cake, Arugula Salad with Mustard Dressing and Goat Cheese Crumble. Medium-rare beef with a crispy potato fritter and a soft and delicate arugula mix. The crumbed goat cheese is soft and creamy and perfect with the textures on this plate. Alike and dissimilar all in one dish.

The next time you have a chance to make your wife or husband a holiday dinner for two, make it special and make it memorable. It could be the first of many new moments created and born together. Food memories and life memories.

Tyler Florence's California Bacon And Eggs

I've always meant to try this dish but often settle for the weekend breakfast standards of omelettes or bacon and eggs or something else tried and tested and true. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to ditch the usual and give this recipe a shot. From his book "Stirring The Pot" Tyler creates this recipe which he says was one of the first dishes he came up with when he moved to California. I can see why he goes back to it again and again.

This is layered with flavour and each level words off of the previous one. First, a delicious celery pesto spoonful that combines celery, parsley, olive oil, walnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano that turns into a creamy and smooth celery pesto that screams with aroma and taste. On top of that is a crispy Yukon gold potato cake that's fried until golden brown and is equal parts crispy and savoury. The Ontario organic egg is both local and fresh whereas the bacon is smoky, crispy and a salty goodness that balances everything else on the plate.

This is an easy and friendly recipe that is sure to bounce around in your mouth with flavours unique and common. Give it a shot, it's too good not to try.

Crispy Potato Pancake 

The Goods:

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 egg whites
3 tbsp. rice flour (all-purpose flour will suffice)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Prep:
1. Peel and shred potatoes using a grater. Place shreds in a kitchen towel and squeeze out any moisture. In a large bowl combine potato, onion, egg whites and rice flour. Mix well and season.
2. In a large nonstick pan heat 3 tbsp. of oil over medium-high heat. Add spoonfuls of potato mixture to make free-form cakes about 4 inches in diameter. Fry until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towel and keep warm.


Celery Pesto

The Goods:
2 celery ribs, peeled
1/2 cup celery leaves
1/2 cup fresh  Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prep:
1. In a blender combine celery ribs, celery leaves, parsley, garlic, walnuts and the 1/4 cup of olive oil and process until well combined. Add Parmesan and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Assembly:
Place a spoonful of Celery Pesto on each plate. Top with a Crispy Potato Pancake and a fried egg, sunny-side up. Season with a little salt and pepper. Top with bacon and garnish.



Ontario Bacon and Eggs.
 Publish Post

October 9, 2010

Sautéed Field Mushrooms and Poached Egg on Grilled Brioche

Today is a great day for Verses From My Kitchen. It's the first day where all my food photographs will now be taken with a Digital SLR camera. Hopefully with the pictures to come today and in the future you'll notice a difference.  Food shots that are more vibrant, impactful and speak their own story.

Today I had to head over to the market to try and find some sugar-free cupcakes for my father. We're meeting up tomorrow for Thanksgiving and my mom suggested trying the market. She had luck there once before, about six months ago. Unfortunately, none of the bakeries represented there carried anything sugar-free and a few mentioned it required ordering a few weeks in advance. Shame.

While I was there I hopped over to my favourite vendor from Simcoe. I've said it before but he always has the best selection of locally-grown fruits and vegetables and I never leave without picking up yellow tomatoes. This time I grabbed some field and wild mushrooms. I knew I had a loaf of Brioche at home and farm-fresh eggs, so I had everything I needed for one of my favourite quick-fix breakfast meals. I also haven't made it in quite some time so I figured I was due.

The first time I made Sautéed Field Mushrooms and Grilled Brioche with a Poached Egg I was blown away. It was about four years ago when I had my mom visiting me in Toronto. We were both hungry, but not starving. We were looking for something light and filling at the same time. I made this then and it not only hit the spot but the flavours resonated with me ever since. Today was no different. The mushrooms were perfectly seasoned and the crunchy toast played perfectly with the soft and delicate poached egg. I'll make this again and again.


Sautéed Mushrooms and Poached Egg on Grilled Brioche


Yields: 2

The Goods:
200 grams field mushrooms, sliced (portabella, cremini, button, etc.)
2 slices of Brioche
2 organic eggs
1 oz. butter
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 small garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
kosher salt & cracked pepper


The Prep:
1. Place a medium-sized high-sided pot over medium-high heat and fill to within two inches of the top with water. Add white wine vinegar and bring to a boil.
2. Place a large sauté pan over medium to high heat and add butter add shallots and garlic for 2 minutes, to sweat.
3. Add mushrooms and season with salt & pepper.
4. While mushrooms are sweating, break eggs one at a time into a small bowl and transfer gently to the boiling water. Poach for 2 minutes.
5. Add in the parsley and toss with the mushrooms.
6. On a grill, place brioche with a drizzle of olive oil and toast. Place on a plate.
7. Top the bread with mushrooms and the poached egg.


Grilled Toast with Sautéed Mushrooms and Poached Egg



October 7, 2010

The Best Thing I ever Ate: Between Bread

There's a great Food Network show that's featured on Food Network Canada and revolves around the best chefs and biggest food stars and what they eat in their free time. It's a guide around the country and the best meals and eats and treats. The stories are told by people who obsess about food and always remember the great meals they've experienced. Each episode changes but the point remains the same.

 One week focuses on "Grilled" or "Sauced" or "Sweet Tooth." The show is highly addictive, just like the foods that are discovered and featured. The one episode I'm expanding on was "Between Bread" and focuses on more than your average sandwiches, like cheese steaks or polish boy sandwich or pastrami sandwich and the list keeps going. 9 chefs, 9 different responses. Each one has a different experience and different reason for choosing what they did and where they first noshed on the food.

The best thing I ever ate that was between bread is a Veal Parm Panino I had for the first time three years ago. I still remember the first time I tried it, as if it happened last week. A former co-worker told me about this hidden gem in Kitchener and this sandwich in particular. He took me there for lunch one day when we stopped for a break. It came out wrapped up and looked big. I was so anxious to see what it looked like and, more importantly, what it tasted like. It`s easy to remember moments in life when people build something up so much that you`re left disappointed when you might not have been so otherwise. Not this time.

The Italian bun was warm and soft and the sauce was dripping down the sandwich. The cheese was oozing out and the sandwich filling was bursting open. The anticipation was too much and I took my first bite. I will always remember that moment in time. It was everything I expected and so so much more. A lightly breaded and super-tender veal cutlet, hot macina and roasted peppers, sauteed mushrooms, sweet caramelized red onions and a homemade sauce that was tangy and spicy and sweet. The provolone cheese married so well with the sauce and veal and melted perfectly over the hot sandwich and caused a bonding with the bread and veal. I drool just thinking about it. Luckily, I experience it every single time I take the first bite. And the second bite, third bite and on and on.

If you ever make a trip to or through Kitchener, take a drive to this great place. Two fantastic personalities and a selection of great fresh food. No matter what you have to try this sandwich, or as they refer to it ``The Love.`` All right here at Nostra Cucina.

The best sandwich I ever ate!

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October 6, 2010

Beef Chili + Cheddar and Chive Biscuits

It's time to bunker down and bundle up. The reality is the weather isn't going to get better for a long time. Pack away the swimsuits, the short-sleeve shirts and the dreams of a hot day strolling the market or the beach. Don't worry, the news isn't all bad. We get to enjoy things only meant for times like these.

There are certain foods that I long for when the weather takes this turn and my bones get cold. One in particular is so satisfying and few can match it when it comes to depth of flavour, taste and aesthetic. Slow-cooked beef chili. The answer to the changes we're experiencing right now.

There's no denying the great taste of a slow-cooked chili. But there's so much more than the taste that draws me in. It's the entire process that I love. It's the deliberate and planned adding of ingredients, layer after layer until you've achieved the desired consistency and texture. It's the combination of sweet and spicy and the playing smooth and silky with chunky texture. Th.e aesthetic pulls you in. The flavour wins you over. 

When you slow-cook the chili it allows the flavours to envelope each other and the beef to tenderize. The vegetables absorb all the richness and spiciness. The cumin and chili powder adding a little heat burst and the paprika enriching the flavour and adding a vibrant colour. Most people use regular paprika but I prefer smoked paprika for that great smokey flavour. We all know that the flavour is what we're looking for in any great dish and this holds up to that measuring stick.

People serve chili with chips or personal favourites they grew up with. I personally love my chili with homemade biscuits. These Butter & Chive Biscuits are the perfect companion for my Spicy Beef Chili. The biscuits are buttery and soft and help subdue the spice of the chili and sip into the rich sauce.

Spicy Beef Chili

Yields: 6

 The Goods:
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic, minced
3 lbs. ground beef (or cubed beef shoulder or beef chuck)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 can whole tomatoes (hand-crushed)
1 1/4 cup beef broth
1 can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro 
Biscuits (recipe below)


The Prep:
1. Season the beef with a generous amount of salt and black pepper. Make a mix of chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, cinnamon and brown sugar. Over medium-high heat place a large heavy-bottomed pot and add the oil. Once the pot is very hot add the onion and carrots until soft and tender. Add in the beef and garlic, cayenne pepper
and stir in the chili powder mixture. Then add the tomato paste and the liquid from the can of tomatoes. Hand-crush the tomatoes and add to the pot along with the beef broth and kidney beans.
2. Simmer, uncovered, until the meat is tender, roughly 60 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
3. Serve with sour cream and a biscuit.

Chili Grind.
Garlic and Onions. Chili step 1.

Chili simmering away.

Spicy Chili, Cheddar-Chive Biscuits with a dollop of créme fraiche



Cheddar & Chive Biscuits

Yields: 8-10 biscuits

The Goods:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 heaping tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 sticks butter
2 tbsp. chives, chopped
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar


The Prep:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Whisk the flour, powder and salt in a large bowl until fully mixed. Grate the butter into the dry ingredients. Toss easily with your fingers until the butter is spread evenly around.
3. Pour in the milk and stir gently with a butter knife. Fold the dough a few times.
4. Pat down onto a lightly floured surface to form a round shape. Cut into pie-shaped wedges.
5. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes until golden-brown.

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October 4, 2010

Now That's The Spirit

It wasn't that long ago that I bartended for a living. A mixologist, a fluid flavour maker, whatever you want to call it. One of the best parts of my job was creating cocktails for nightly specials or to match up with the featured entree that night. Adding like ingredients and flavours. And there's no question that bartending and cocktails have come a long way, much like the chef at your favourite restaurant. Instead of relying on the old fashioned drinks, bartenders today may be stirring fresh sage into margaritas and topping whiskey smashes with mint. Fresh, simple and brilliant flavours in your glass.

It was on my trip to London, England a few years ago to visit a friend when I first tasted Pimm's in a can, Pimm's and Lemonade to be exact. This was a ready-made cocktail mixed with a lemonade unlike our variety here in North America. It wasn't sweet, almost gingerale-like. Either way, it was a flavour that I loved. I was more moved the next day at the local pub when my friend ordered a pitcher of it. It came to the table with fizzy lemonade and this time I saw the beautiful amber colour in front of me, not hidden behind a metal can. It was packed with slices of cukes, lemon and berries floating on top with a few large sprigs of mint dancing alongside. It was the greatest and most refreshing drink I've ever experienced. I will always associate a Pimm's cocktail with my first and only trip to England.

Whenever people ask me about it and how to describe it I say this: It's a gin-based aperitif. It's packed with gin, quinine and various herbs and other ingredients, although knowing which ones is a guess. It's a secret mix made in 1840 by James Pimm. It's a drink best served mixed but there are so many varieties that you can't go wrong with experimenting. The potency mellows dramatically when mixed and allows all the flavours to blend into a drink so refreshing it's as popular in summer as tea is in England. Luckily for us, it's also available here in Canada and at your local LCBO store in Ontario. Although British lemonade isn't available here, most people drink it with 7-up or Sprite. It can also be made with ginger beer or ginger ale, although those drinks are too pronounced and may take away from the star of the show.


The most traditional cocktail and method is Tradition Pimms No. 1 which takes one slice of orange, lemon, apple, cucumber per person and one sprig of mint and add to two parts lemonade to one part Pimms. Simple. Brilliant. If you want to find countless other ideas, check Pimm's official website.

Here is my idea of the perfect Pimm's Cocktail My Way:

Yields: 1

The Goods:
2 oz. Pimm's No. 1
3 oz. 7-up
5 slices cucumbers
4 strawberries, sliced
lemon twist
2 sprigs mint, for garnish

The Prep:
Mix all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and strain into a large cocktail glass packed with ice and add 2 sprigs of mint long enough to stand outside the glass.
(Optional, increase appropriate quantities and add to a large pitcher for serving)


Classic Pimm's Cocktail



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October 3, 2010

Simple Scones

We used to have this Sunday routine. When my wife and I lived in our old city and closer to my mom, she would drop by on a Sunday, late morning, and we'd sit and enjoy coffee and tea and something to nosh on.  I'd almost always choose scones, if I had an option. Store-bought or homemade, it didn't matter. As long as they were buttery and soft and delicious.

Scones are more of a U.K. thing and something eaten often with afternoon tea. Luckily for me they are also quite popular here in Canada.  I say luckily, because I have this fascination with them. It doesn't matter if it's with morning tea or an afternoon break or plain or one of the many other variations that exist. Although I love a seasonal variation like pumpkin or a decadent white chocolate raspberry or another, I prefer old-fashioned plain scones. Simple yet delicious.

A really well-made scone is buttery and soft and light, yet firm enough to maintain it's texture and shape. It's also something wonderful and decadent and savoury. They are sweet or savoury and flaky. Now I prefer plain scones because I enjoy them with fresh whipped cream and homemade jam, or the best variety I can buy at a store. (The key to the whipped cream is not to over whip. It should be soft and wet, not entirely firm and dry.) When these flavours are combined I'm left without words and I lose myself in the moment. I'm taken away to a different place, a different time. Maybe a simpler time.

The best recipe I've come across to date is the formidable Australian chef Bill Granger, famous in Australia for his breakfasts, but not to forget his restaurants and cookbooks. The best thing about these scones is I can indulge whenever I wish and it takes but a few minutes to prep and bake. Brilliant!

Plain butter scones with Jam and Cream

Simple Scones
Adapted from Bill Granger's book: Bills Food


Yields: 8 scones

The Goods:
1 tbsp. icing sugar
2 1/2 cups plain all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 cup of milk
1 oz. butter, melted

Prep:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sift the icing sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the milk and butter and stir to combine with a knife. Knead quickly and lightly until smooth and then press out onto a floured surface.

Use a glass to cut out rounds roughly 2 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches deep and place them close together on a greased baking sheet. Gather the scraps together, lightly knead again, then cut out out more rounds.

Cook for 8-10 minutes, until puffed and golden.  Serve plain or with jam and lightly whipped cream.





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