Food for Thought

Wedding (cup)Cake Tests

My brother Sam is getting married to the wonderful and beautiful Adèle later this month, and I have the honour of (helping) make the wedding cake. I am very excited about this. As well as the wedding.

Tonight, they were coming for dinner, and I decided this would be the perfect day to make a few test cakes to decide on the frosting for the big day. They would be dessert! Of course, my lovely mother had already made a pie, but she (very graciously) let me commandeer dessert and take over the kitchen for a few hours to pump out buttermilk cupcakes, lemon butter, white chocolate ganache, and vanilla buttercream while using almost every bowl we own. But don’t worry, the pie was not forgotten and will certainly be devoured tomorrow. Thanks, Mum!

I was quite happy with the results, so I thought I would share them (visually only, sorry) with you. No recipe this time, though—it still needs some tweaking, anyway. But it’s going to be a vanilla buttermilk cake filled with lemon butter, which is like a creamy lemon curd, and homemade raspberry jam. I would eat this mixture by the spoonful.

Wait, sorry, I do eat that mixture by the spoonful.

Oh, and the verdict on the frosting: Buttercream! But more vanilla. And also vanilla bean. And also some cute little meringues along the sides. There will be more pictures!

Yogurt and Strawberry Tarts

So I was sitting around pretending to write a paper, when suddenly I looked to my left. There stood (lay) a brand new cookbook, Company’s Coming: The Canadian Prairie Cookbook, (almost) never before opened. It’s not even in bookstores yet! (I have some connections in the cookbook industry…Exciting stuff.) Anyway, it seemed a much more interesting pastime to flip through this crisp, new book full of appetizing pictures than to discuss Augustine’s theory on the nature of human being.

I found a recipe for raspberry tarts with mascarpone filling, and thought that sounded pretttttty good. But I didn’t have any raspberries. But I had strawberries! But I didn’t have any mascarpone. But I didn’t really want mascarpone anyway! All this recipe really made me do was wish it called for fromage blanc, a fresh, tart cheese with a consistency a bit thicker than yogurt. Don’t get me wrong, mascarpone is delicious. But as the sole filling in a delicate, little fruit tart—well, it’s just too much. Too rich. Too thick. And honestly, too bland.

Unfortunately, fromage blanc is rather hard to come by in Edmonton, and God knows I wasn’t going out to the grocery store for anything, so I started scrounging around in the fridge hoping maybe, somehow, for some (perhaps mystical) reason there was some hiding in there. No luck. But I did find whipping cream and the best, creamiest yogurt you’ll ever try: Bles Wold. (It’s made just outside of Calgary! Eating-local brownie points!) I figured that was good enough.

Boy, was it. Now, this filling doesn’t have the fresh cheesy texture of fromage blanc, but it’s got the tang. And maybe it has less fat? I don’t know. Stop keeping score and feed your darned soul:

Recipe:

Yogurt and Strawberry Tarts

Very loosely inspired by the Raspberry Tart recipe in Company’s Coming: The Canadian Prairie Cookbook.

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Boston Brown Bread

I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for a while. I found it in my local newspaper earlier this month, in the food section. The food section is about the only section of that paper I find worth reading regularly, and even then it’s only really worth reading the recipes. Every now and again there’s a nice story about a local restaurant or the farmer’s market, but generally the writing doesn’t manage to hold my attention. Maybe it’s because I read the paper in the morning, when my attention span is severely diminished. Maybe it’s because I don’t enjoy reading food media. Am I being hypocritical?

Oh well.

The article that this recipe is from was called “Molasses in February.” Besides the brown bread, it gave me some other tasty recipes for molasses-based treats: pumpernickel (!), molasses baked beans (!!!)—a stellar accompaniment to Boston Brown Bread—and pulled molasses taffy (like that stuff at halloween)!!!! All of these recipes are on my to-do list, though not for February as the article suggests. Lately, times been slipping by like molasses in… July?

But this morning I woke up to find a nice, new carton of cooking molasses on my counter, and I knew: today was the day for Boston Brown Bread.

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Buckwheat Walnut Loaf

Buckwheat. Did you know it’s related to rhubarb? Totally weird. Wikipedia tells me that it is a gluten-free pseudocereal rich in iron, zinc, and selenium that can be used for anything from pancakes to beer to stuffing your sofa.

Now, my experience with buckwheat is limited. I don’t know how comfortable a buckwheat sofa is, or what a buckwheat beer tastes like, but I can assure you that it’s delicious in pastas and breads (both quick and yeast-risen), and I’ve been told it’s a great substitute for barley or quinoa in salads, soups and whatever else you want to do with it. It’s just good. Trust me.

What about the Walnuts? Well gee-whiz! They’re just packed full of anti-oxidants and a bunch of other stuff that—despite my inability to pronounce them—sound pretty darned healthy. Yum!

So, as I said before, buckwheat is gluten-free, which means it’s pretty darned hard to make it rise without yeast. Which is why this is NOT a gluten-free bread. Sorry, celiac friends. It will be next time. But for the time being, this loaf is totally delicious and totally full of wheat flour.

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Chome for the Cholidays: Challah.

Now, I don’t associate myself with any religion, but when December 25th rolls around you can definitely find me celebrating Christmas. Ask anyone who knows me—total Christmas freak over here. Why? ISN’T IT OBVIOUS?

At Christmas, you get to disregard modern medicine and eat like your arteries will never clog and your hips will never expand. You get to put your stomach-capacity to the test. In my family, that means Stolen every morning, often followed by brunch, often followed by afternoon snacking, often followed by turkey/turkey leftover dinner. For days and days in a row. If you’re trying to stick to a diet, please please don’t ever visit my family during Christmas.

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