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Natty bakes Breakfast- part 1

January 4, 2010

 

Oh, just a regular breafast chez bakes

Oh, just a regular breakfast chez Bakes

 

Pancakes are a luxury, like smoking marijuana or having sex. That’s why I came up with the names Ho Cakes and Slutty Cakes. These are extra decadent, but in a way, every pancake is a Ho Cake.

-Kenny Shopsin

Some mornings you wake up all grumpy. You’re in a rush, put on a pot of coffee and that’s your breakfast. Other mornings you rise up singing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and find yourself craving some morning delights (it’s probably the weekend, yay!). You decide to make sweet love or pancakes and maybe if you’re extremely lucky, both.

People just love pancakes, there’s no doubt about it. They seem to be present in some form or another in most parts of the world. Kind of on that topic, in the past year or so I have been loving on these savoury Korean Pancakes or “Jeon”…mmm are they ever good! But I mustn’t get too sidetracked because today I am going to be talking about the good ol’ familiar North American style pancakes. They may not be new or exotic but the combination of fluffy, buttery pancakes soaked in a bit of pure maple syrup is pretty damn heavenly & for that reason they are a beloved comfort breakfast food around these parts and as a bonus maple syrup is one of Canada’s few national foods! Woo!

Before I get to the recipe for the pancakes that I make some mornings, I want to tell you a bit about this guy Kenny Shopsin who I quoted at the beginning of this post…

 

Kenny Shopsin

Kenny Shopsin

 

Last April this guy (who is now “my guy”) took me to an amazing place hidden in a small corner of Essex Street Market in New York City. It’s called Shopsins and going there was a really awesome eating experience. It was also slightly crazy/funny due to the unique ambiance in the restaurant…

We arrived at this tiny place to find that the menu was the exact opposite of tiny: there were over 900 items listed on this psychotic piece of paper! (FYI: the menu can be viewed on their wacky website). Kenny Shopsin is the owner & cook and his kids all work in the place. We found out later on that he is very hot-tempered & opinionated and will often ask customers to leave his restaurant for various reasons, for example, you can’t come in parties of more than four people, you’re gabbing away on your cellphone or you’re just irritating him for an unspecified reason. I’d say he’s what you would call a real character.

Many people have taken notice of this and Kenny’s had a profile written about him in the New Yorker, a documentary based around him, many many blog posts about his delicious eats (and now count one more!) and quite recently a really entertaining cookbook/scrapbook/memoir entitled: Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin. Anyways, back to our experience at Shopsins…

Kenny’s son was cleaning the place as we were waiting for a table and kept on muttering & swearing to himself. To our surprise he actually threw a broom near my guy’s head “by accident” at one point! This incident fizzled out nicely though as one of the Shopsin daughters (who was our waitress) was sweet & apologized profusely on behalf of her angsty teen brother.

After becoming pretty overwhelmed by all the amazing sounding comfort foods on the menu we somehow settled on our dishes: this spicy bbqed pulled pork sandwich, freshly squeezed juice & a dish named “Blisters on my Sisters” (I think?) or maybe it was the “Shopsin’s Special”? What I know for sure is that it was some sort of intense concoction of eggs, rice, beans, tortillas and cheese. It was all just SO DELICIOUS. Throughout our meal we kept on hearing swearing from the kitchen (probably Kenny) along with rocking hits from the 70s. We had an amazing time.

Anyways, the reason I’m bringing up Shopsins is that there are many creative pancake-based recipes in his cookbook. There’s a creation called “mac and cheese pancakes” (you can watch Kenny make them here), then there are the famous “slutty cakes” which are basically pancakes filled with a special reeses peanut butter cup type filling (which is apparently achieved with pumpkin puree, peanut butter and the pumpkin pie spices) and there are also many instances where Kenny uses plain pancake batter in his crazy good breakfast dishes. It is here where Kenny makes his big cooking confession: he uses frozen pre-prepared Aunt Jemima pancake batter. He claims that using boxed or frozen batter is perfectly fine. He goes on to explain that it’s a big time-saver and that when it comes to pancakes it’s really more about how you cook them than what’s in them as they’re all really just the same thing, flour mixed with a bit of this and that.

Well sorry K-shops but I disagree! I have made Nigella’s pancakes (from my fave of course: How to be a Domestic Goddess) and I think they taste extra excellent homemade. I would also like to try her lemon ricotta hotcakes (or Kenny’s version) and the Pioneer Woman’s sour cream pancakes. Here is the recipe for the perfect basic pancake:

American Breakfast Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • butter for frying

Directions

  • Nigella says: “The easiest way to make these is to put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz.”
  • Alternatively, if you choose to mix the batter by hand in a bowl:
  • Make a well in the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar, beat in the eggs, melted butter, and milk, and transfer to a pitcher (if you want an easier time pouring the batter onto the pan vs. spooning it on the pan)
  • For best results leave the batter for  20 minutes before using it
  • Nigella says: ” When you cook the pancakes, all you need to remember is that when the upper side of the pancake is blistering and bubbling it’s time to cook the second side, and this needs only about 1 minute, if that.  1 get 11 blini-sized pancakes out of this, maybe 16 silver-dollar sized ones on the griddle.”
  • Serve with syrup, fruit or whatever else you fancy & enjoy!

 

cute

Cute

 

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Natty bakes Mocha Five-Spice Loaf

November 18, 2009

Warning: So deliciously dense that centre may sink

The food network has often been referred to as the porn channel for fat & food-obsessed people. I wholeheartedly agree. Though I don’t really watch TV anymore, when I do watch it, the food network functions as one of my default channels to flip to if nothing else is on or if I just want to have a delicious relaxation & zone out session. Through the years some of my favourite shows to watch are (not including the obvious ones like Nigella and Jaimie Oliver which of course I love…oooh and speaking of foodie Brits, does anyone remember “Two Fat Ladies” ?):

  • The Surreal GourmetIt lasted for 5 seasons but this show doesn’t exist anymore (though now the kinda quirky Montreal Jew host Bob Blumer apparently has another show named “Glutton for Punishment”). On the SG Bob would would try wacky experiments like trying to cook salmon in a dishwasher for example, or make cauliflower popcorn for an episode entitled: “Here’s cooking for you, kid”.
  • Iron Chef- When I was in high school I discovered this show one night after I had gone out. If I didn’t sleep over at a friend’s place after a party or a downtown outing, my ritual was to come back home, make a snack & watch random things on late, late, late night TV. Sometimes I would watch obscure programs on TLC or the Discovery channel, other times I would watch movies on TMN which were already halfway done (this is why sometimes someone will mention a movie & I’ll be like  “I’ve kind of seen it” or “I think I remember that!”) and as I have already mentioned I would always use the food network as an old standby for some enjoyable zone-out entertainment. Well late one night at around 2 or 3 am when I was probably 17 or 18 I found the Iron Chef. It had the tone of a sporting event but it was a cooking competition in “Kitchen Stadium”! Hahaha, I loved it. Besides watching world-renowned chefs making elaborate feasts out of the featured ingredient of the show I think the best part was the english dubbing. The commentary was so elaborate & fast-paced and the translations from Japanese to English were pretty hilarious sounding (and sometimes sexist!)
  • Good Eats- My friend from McGill & I loved this show. I especially enjoy Alton Brown’s very fun & dorky science-oriented Bill Nye vibe. This show has been running for ten years now and he has built up quite the impressive archive of shows which are very helpful to introduce beginners to the fundamentals of cooking or baking vis-a-vis the history and science behind the particular dish or ingredient of focus.
  • Unwrapped- This is a painfully corny and annoying trivia-type show that I would also watch late at night. It is mostly about American junk food.
  • Sugar- Quite a dull show to be honest, but it’s about baking (features Canadian pastry chef Anna Olson, who I noticed a few weeks ago was at The Market kitchen teaching a class) & features some very delicious recipes.

The recipe I have featured today is something I once saw on Sugar. It is really divine and I have baked it a few times in the last year. I’ve also made some straight-up chocolate loaves (including an amazing one by Nigella which can be found in  “How to Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking & The Art of Comfort Cooking”, a previous nattybakes cookbook recommendation) but this one has a couple of twists. First of all, it features instant coffee granules which is always nice for a coffee lover like myself. Secondly, it calls for an interesting spice blend named “Chinese Five Spice” or “Five-spice powder”. This is basically a blend of star anise, fennel seeds, cassia or cinnamon, szechwan pepper and cloves, though there are some variations depending on where you get it from (my particular blend has fennel, anise, ginger, licorice root, cinnamon and cloves). According to a random-looking online encyclopedia of spices:

This spice blend is a staple in Chinese cooking, and is often used in a technique called ‘flavour potting’, where meat is steeped in a rich sauce and cooked for long hours. The spices included here are the most commonly used in five-spice powder, with the sweet tones of star anise, cloves and cinnamon with the bite of Szechwan pepper, all married together wtih ground fennel seeds. Some recipes use them in equal proportions, others use more of one to heighten a specific flavor. Generally though, Chinese five spice is dominated by the aroma and flavour of star anise. It is used in many Asian recipes, its sweet tangy flavour goes well with greasy meats like pork and duck. Stir-fried vegetables are enhanced by sprinkling about a teaspoon of Chinese five-spice over them when cooking. Add a little salt and it makes an excellent spice rub for chicken, duck, pork and seafood.

Wiki also tells me that: “The formulae are based on the Chinese philosophy of balancing the yin and yang in food” which makes sense because I read elsewhere that five-spice powder encompasses all five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. Anyways, this recipe is a treat, very rich and I like the creative idea of using this aromatic spice blend to bake with.

mmm great smells

mmm...great smells

Mocha Five Spice Loaf

Ingredients

  • 4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp instant coffee granules (can use a bit more)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (can use slightly less but nahh)
  • 1 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 x large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder (can use a bit more)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup boiling hot water

Mocha Chocolate Cream (OPTIONAL! I do not make this)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 oz milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee crystal

Directions

Mocha five-spice Loaf

  • Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Use a seriously large loaf pan or else bake two smaller loaves (and keep an eye on them because baking times may vary)
  • Melt chocolate over a pot of gently simmering water, stirring constantly (or melt in microwave on medium heat stiriing frequently so it doesn’t burn) Stir in coffee granules and set aside to cool.
  • Cream butter and sugar with electric beaters or by hand until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and stir in vanilla. Stir in chocolate and blend well.
  • In a separate bowl, sift flour with baking soda, five-spice powder and salt.
  • Add flour alternately with boiling water, mixing gently after each addition and starting and ending with the flour. The batter will be very wet.
  • Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes at 375. Reduce oven temperature to 325 °F and cook another 20 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from pan.
Mocha Chocolate Cream (I enjoy the loaf by itself but this seems decadently delicious if you’re in the mood or making the loaf for a more special occasion)

  • Heat cream to just below a simmer. Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate and instant coffee and whisk until chocolate is melted and evenly blended. Chill completely.
  • Whip chocolate cream with electric beaters until cream holds a peak when whisk is lifted. Serve a dollop of cream on the side of a slice of loaf cake.

Natty bakes Sweet & Savoury Pumpkin Pie

October 16, 2009
Cute, but I don't think it can top "wonderfall"

Cute, but I don't think it can top "wonderfall"

The leaves changing colour, good smells in the air, a sense of nostalgia,  the coziness setting in, harvest food: it is the most wonderFALL season right now!! Ok, I will quickly move on from that terrible pun (…I love it) & share a recipe for a beloved fall recipe: pumpkin pie.

It was just thanksgiving and though I did sample a piece this past weekend, I am not experiencing a pumpkin pie OD whatsoever….in fact this weekend was just a teaser for me. At my friend’s thanksgiving dinner there were brownies served with pumpkin spice ice cream (yum!) and at my family’s meal on Monday there was a delicious pumpkin pie from St. Lawrence market but I didn’t go wild because in that moment I was quite satisfied with all of the good eats that I had just enjoyed. The thing is that now I have all of this pumpkin leftover (I made a pumpkin loaf last week), it’s soo autumn-y  andddd ok ok, I’ll quit making all of these excuses, I just want pumpkin pie ok!? Is that such a crime!?

I know that I have already talked about my love of all things pumpkin in a previous post, but did I mention that I love ALL thanksgiving food? I seriously do. It’s a cliché to groan about being so sick of turkey the week after thanksgiving (turkey sandwiches, heated up leftovers for days etc.) but I do not join in on this complaining. I do not get sick of turkey, roasted root veggies/squash/sweet potatoes, delicious seasonal soups, cranberry sauce, STUFFING and definitely not pumpkin pie… I give thanks!

I have made the standard back of the pumpkin can recipe before which is pretty classic & can be found in most recipe books. Then for a richer pie, I have replaced the evaporated milk with cream. There are also many other popular tweaks such as pumpkin pie cheesecake, pumpkin pecan pie, adding a bit of molasses, adding caramel, adding maple etc. I am a big fan of condensed milk for easy baking and was curious to try this instead of evaporated milk. I figured I would then have to omit the sugar component and perhaps add something to compliment the sweet nature of condensed milk. I had seen a few recipes for sour cream pumpkin pie before and this intrigued me and so I decided to incorporate it into my recipe.

This recipe yielded a lot more than one pie & so I ended up bringing one to Devon’s for dinner this week. The rest I made into mini pumpkin pie tarts. I served the pies with a special improvised topping composed of some leftover ingredients.

One of the mini-pies with topping

One of the mini-pies with topping


Sweet & Savory Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen 9-inch deep-dish pie crust, thawed, pierced all over with fork or make your own with this perfect pie crust recipe
  • About 2 cups of canned pure pumpkin
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 eggs

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Bake crust until browned, pressing bottom and sides of crust occasionally with back of fork, until done (check package or follow perfect pie crust recipe directions) .
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
  • Whisk pumpkin, condensed milk, sour cream, spices and vanilla in large bowl to blend.
  • Whisk in eggs.
  • Pour into crust(s). There is probably enough batter for 2 small pies
  • Bake for about an hour
  • Extra step: I made a topping out of sour cream and sweetened condensed milk. I mixed equal parts together and then chilled the topping. Try it, ’twas very delish!
Cooling on the counter

Cooling on the counter

Natty bakes Honey Cakes

September 29, 2009
Not your Bubbie's Honey Cake

Not your bubbie's honey cake

As the high holidays conclude I thought that I would quickly share a honey cake recipe that I found last year on epicurious and baked again this Rosh Hashanah: the Jew year, i.e. a non-stop food fest for most families.

It is traditional to eat foods like apples, honey, tzimmes, raisin challah, and pomegranates during your meal to symbolize wishes of a sweet year to come. Of course it is the easiest to feature sweet and seasonal treats during dessert. At my family dinners there are always such great dessert spreads and usually everything from decadent homemade mousses to amazing creations from Phipps or Dufflets show up in the mix. Although honey cake is a tradition and always makes an appearance at Rosh, it rarely steals the show and typically sits there untouched or maybe at its peak looks like this.

Many people who have tried honey cake may recall it tasting a tad dull and dry—something you could maybe tolerate at a solo tea time session but wouldn’t really dream of serving if you had guests over. Wow. This sooooooo isn’t that. When I made this honey cake last year I was delighted & surprised by the yummy results. This is not your bubbie’s honey cake! This cake is quite rich & flavourful and includes some pretty exciting ingredients such as: coffee, orange juice and WHISKEY. I’m not lying, I think that it tastes the best when it’s been sitting around for a week or so. All the honey-ness and spiciness seem to come out and it becomes very moist. Here’s to a sweet (and boozy!) new year!

Majestic and Moist New Year’s Honey Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup rye or whisky
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)

Directions

  • Can be baked in an angel food cake pan, but you can also make it in a 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan, a 9 by 13-inch sheetpan, or three 8 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.(last year I made mini loaves and this year I made 2 angel food cake shaped honey cakes)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the pan(s)
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice, and rye or whisky.
  • Using a strong wire whisk or an electric mixer on slow speed, combine the ingredients well to make a thick batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) and sprinkle the top of the cake(s) evenly with the almonds.
  • Place the cake pan(s) in oven and bake until the cake springs back when you touch it in the centre
  • For angel and tube cake pans, bake for 60-70 minutes; loaf cakes, 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet-style cakes, the baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. This is a liquidy batter and, depending on your oven, it may need extra time.
Bought this one to a Rosh dinner

Brought this one to a Rosh dinner

Natty bakes Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

August 25, 2009

nigella129

So, I’ve got a food-girl crush. Actually I’ve had it for quite some time now…it’s Nigella Lawson. I know, not that surprising/original, but seriously, what isn’t there to like about her? For one thing she is beautiful and has a wonderful-sounding voice. But most of all what I love is her warm comfort-based, sensual approach to food (check out her easy caramel croissant pudding recipe…um? yum!) & also her charming style of presenting. In both her food writing and on her cooking shows, she always seems to have this friendly, flirty and sometimes cheeky vibe which I really find enjoyable to watch & read.

How to be a domestic goddess

My mom bought me “How To Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking & The Art Of Comfort Cooking ” a while ago and I just LOVE it. Every recipe I have tried so far has been scrumdiddlyumptious and today I’m going to share my adaptation of her deliciously moist banana bread recipe. At this point, I have baked it many times—for family, friends, a work meeting, a special boy and a couple times for another special person whose name rhymes with “bratty taker” and “fatty maker”…

The first time I made it, I followed Nigella’s version pretty faithfully and it was the best banana bread I had ever made (I’ve tried at least handful in my lifetime ok? Not too too shabby). The next time I made it though, I changed & added many things to the original recipe and this is the version I now stick too.  A warning to all readers: this isn’t the wholesome & healthy banana bread that you may be thinking you can eat for breakfast every morning (though feel free to do so if you desire! I definitely do this with my pumpkin loaf when it’s in my kitchen). Instead, this is the nigella ‘n natty bakes sweet & decadent banana bread that may make you moan. I do substitute some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour though & so perhaps I can make some kind of health claim in that respect… No? I didn’t think so either. I can make a yummy claim though, especially if you follow these three tips:

1) Use 4 medium bananas, 2 can be regular ripe but 2 must be very VERY ripe, like to the point of blackness

2) In addition to chocolate chips, add some butterscotch chips, this adds a certain maple-y, rich flavour that makes it even yummier in my opinion

3) I use half whole wheat flour & half all purpose flour or sometimes a mixture of different flours ( e.g. 1/4 cake flour, 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all purpose flour)

Nigella’s Banana Bread (Natty Bakes REMIXXX)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar (can use less of you’re going to be putting in a lot of choco chips, I use all brown sugar or a half/half combo)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed (See tip #1)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain flour ( See tip #3)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (or more!) of chocolate chips or a mixture of butterscotch chips and chocolate chips (sounds a bit gross/too sweet maybe but trust me, in a way this is the special or “secret” ingredient that give it that je ne sais quoi/ups the ante on the deliciousness factor–See tip #2)
  • Nigella calls for 6 tablespoons of bourbon or dark rum as well as 1/2 cup of golden raisins & 1/4 cup of walnuts but I don’t include these ingredients and use my additions instead. Feel free to try her version though. They are basically two totally different kinds of banana breads (mine being the less sophisticated version I guess!)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 Fº
  • Grease loaf tin
  • Beat butter and sugar until blended
  • Beat in eggs one at a time, then bananas. Stir in vanilla.
  • In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Add flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  • Gently mix in chocolate & butterscotch chips
  • Pour into tin and bake for 1 – 1 1/4 hours (or when you insert a toothpick into it & it comes out clean–not going to lie though, I like my banana bread very moist/maybe even a slight slight tad undercooked)
  • Enjoy!

bananabread1-main_Full

Natty (& Devon!) bake Back of the Package Fruit Crumbles

August 18, 2009
Yum

Good things come in pairs

Well, well, well, it’s been quite a while since my last post, hasn’t it? I am glad to be back & maintaining impressively high standards with my stolen package recipe.

I originally baked this in university (hence the frozen fruit back of the package factor) probably for no good reason except for that I was studying for a mid-term, writing a paper or perhaps going to a friends house (sorry that one is probably last on the list—I never said I don’t know how to be greedy!! ) I’ve been making this crumble for years now & I’ve only made really minor adaptations to the original “Europe’s Best” recipe. Side note: I would call them “crisps”  but as I’m writing the word I just keep on thinking about chips.

ALL MINE!!!

ALL MINE!!!

I mostly tweak the spices but also the fruit; I tend to go for whatever I have, is in season or just whatever happens to tickle my fancy in my state of pre-comfort baking contemplation/inspiration. Devon came over one night and we decided to bake something using what I had in the house. This particular week I happened to have a lot of fruit lying around.

You see, I had just about gotten back from New Orleans and so I was kind of in a rich food coma. I had just for a week straight, consumed such gloriously nurturing & delicious food that my body was now asking for water, fruits, vegetables, beans, and maybe some grains.  As another side note, I would really like to do a future post based on my great nola food experience and include a recipe for the delicious beignets that I enjoyed at Café du Monde and maybe also some other sweet nola treats like bananas foster, sweet potato pie and pecan pie… AHHHH!! Now I’m all in a tizzy from reminiscing…stay focused Natty, back to the crumbles… So, yeah, I had been making myself corn/grain-based salads, bean & veg curries, frequenting the Asian markets for those amazing small mango deals (I got 10 for 5 bucks)  and also this small market that’s sometimes in front of sickkids to pick up some berries and/or boxes of peaches. I had a surplus of peaches and blueberries when Devon arrived and so we thought it would be a nice fruit combination in a crumble. It’s a pretty sweet tasting recipe and so the blueberries added a nice complementary tart flavour to the dessert (these were not the amazingly sweet wild blueberries that I always associate with the Muskoka area but kind of the bigger sometimes sweet/sour ones…yeah, the worse ones).

BUTTER?!?!

THAT much?!

Devon was aghast at how much butter this recipe called for and I proceeded to share one of the key taste secrets of baking…more butter!!!  In the end though, dearest Devon was kind of right and we ended up using way less of the crumble topping than we could have, there really was tons. We decided to double the recipe and use 2/3rds of the topping on the two pie plates—the lonely other third sits in my freezer waiting to get busy with some hot fruit. We enjoyed some of the crumble while laughing & watching a few eps of Freaks & Geeks. Oh what a night!

Blueberry & Peach Crumble à la Europe’s Best

Ingredients

Filling

  • As many sliced peaches and whole blueberries as it takes to fit your pie dish
  • 1/2 cup  brown sugar, lightly packed (can use far less, really just depends on how sweet or tart you like things and which kind of fruits you’re using)
  • 3 tbsp  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon (I put more)
  • 1/4 tsp  ground nutmeg (I put more)

Topping

  • 2/3 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup  rolled oats or quick oats
  • 1/2 cup  brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp  ground nutmeg (I put slightly more in)
  • 1/4 tsp  ground cinnamon (more more!!)
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter (can use less)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to  350 F
  • Mix and pour the fruit with the brown sugar, flour and spices into a buttered ovenproof dish(es).
  • To make the topping, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and spices in a bowl. Add the butter.
  • Sprinkle the oat mixture over the fruit and press to make it even.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes (check, every oven is a bit different). Serve warm with ice cream if you want.
  • Eat. Wooooooooo!

Natty makes Easy like Sunday Morning French Toast

January 13, 2009
This was for me

This was for me

When I was at McGill I adored going out for lazy breakfasts and lingering brunches. I loved everything: the food, the endless cups of coffee, and the laughs/ hot goss of last night’s events. I always tended to go for the classic fried breakfasts —eggs: over easy, toast: whole-wheat, sometimes dry sometimes not, bacon: extra crispy, coffee: with milk, maybe a bit of sweetner/sugar if I was feeling wild…and if I went to Dustys I would say yes to the baked beans (I always thought it was weird that they asked if you wanted the beans when you were ordering! Do people usually display feelings of prejudice towards beans or something? I do not relate to this! After spending four years in Quebec where they like them with maple syrup and one year in England where they like them on toast, I have come to almost expect them with a fried breakfast.) Anyways, yes, so I’m a big fan of the classic breakfast and would also occasionally order more brunchy type food like eggs benedict or bagels with cream cheese, lox  and capers (mmm heaven ), but I never seemed to choose the sweeter items on the breakfast menu such as pancakes or French toast.

These days I’m apparently a changed woman because I’ve made a tradition of weekend morning French toast. There is typically a Friday night Shabbat dinner in my family which of course includes a challah bread. While my friend and I learned how to make a delicious sweet challah this past fall (perhaps I’ll write a future post including challah/brisket/other traditional Shabbat recipes) and my great aunt often bakes a delicious one we all love, my family usually just buys one, often from a bakery like Harbord or Open Window. We always have a lot left over and I have found that it’s perfect for French toast the following Saturday or Sunday morning. I have not looked into the etymology or anything, but I imagine that French toast is called that because bread a bit on the stale side soaks up egg much more efficiently than fresh bread and baguette goes stale virtually the next day. That, or maybe the French invented it first. They call it ‘pain perdu” or lost bread, again referring to the resourceful conversion of what could have been stale bread gone to waste into a new dish. The Brits sometimes call it “eggy bread”. I call my recipe “Easy like Sunday morning French toast”.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of bread (challah, brioche, raisin bread etc)
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of milk or cream
  • Drop of vanilla
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Half of a sliced banana and blueberries if seasonal
  • A handful of crushed walnuts or pecans
  • Pure maple syrup
  • A tablespoon or two of butter

Instructions:

  • Beat eggs together and add dash of cream or milk, vanilla and salt
  • Soak pieces of bread in mixture
  • Heat butter in skillet and fry bread until cooked golden to medium brown
  • Put onto plate and sprinkle with cinnamon
  • Drizzle a bit of maple syrup and then spread bananas and nuts
  • Pour more maple syrup (to whatever your taste preference may be)

Another suggestion:

  • If you still have leftover bread try this easy & delicious recipe for vanilla bread pudding courtesy of NYTimes‘ Mark Bittman, otherwise known as”The Minimalist”. When I tried this recipe I added raisins, cinnamon and shredded coconut; if you’re looking for an easy winter comfort food indulgence this is perfect.  I have Bittman’s book How to Cook Everything and I use it constantly. It’s akin to The Joy of Cooking or other all-purpose, extensive, but pretty basic (in the best sense of the word) type cookbooks.
good morning & at times, afternoon

good morning & at times, afternoon