Category Archives: Food

Pour-overs again :)

While our espresso machine is undergoing some maintenance, I’ve pulled out the Hario V-60 and an old electric President’s Choice (PC) burr grinder (about 20 years old).  I don’t like changing the grind setting much on my espresso grinder – a La Cimbali Jr. grinder, since the adjustment from espresso to a grind setting suitable for pour over requires a couple minutes of spinning the adjustment dial.

The PC grinder was a bargain  at only $19.99, but was fragile, and created a huge amount of static resulting in a mess every time it was used.  It does still work, but alignment pins in the hopper have broken, and the lids to hopper and the grinder prompted me to find an inexpensive non-manual replacement.  Main requirements were price (< $100 CDN), little to no static, and uses a burr grinder.

After some Googling, grinders such as the Baratza Encore come up – here that’s around $200 – so scratch that.  I ended up on Amazon, reading through reviews, and perhaps tossing the dice a bit, but ended up choosing this one – a Shardor Conical Burr Grinder (CG855B).  Thousands of ratings with an overall score of 4.4/5 stars.

It was only $79, and a $10 coupon was available on top of that!  There are a couple even less expensive ones, but I liked the grind adjustment setting, and the fact this model specifically includes mention of being anti-static.

Once I received it, I was amazed.  It’s noticeably quieter than my old one,  was easy to adjust, and no static at all!  And the uniformity of the grind was a huge surprise.  For fun I even tried grinding for espresso – and while it did the job and worked, it did bog down a bit while grinding.

We will see how long the grinder lasts, but so far it’s a winner.  Nice and uniform grind, easy to clean, and no static!

 

Canelés – they really aren’t that difficult – you just have to wait :)

After seeing these delicious looking pastries, I had to give them a try – apparently they are a challenge to make.  To get started, I bought a canelé pan on Amazon – one of the non-stick carbon steel varieties, and a bag of what was advertised on the Amazon site as food grade DIY beeswax pellets.  Printed right on the bag, yet not mentioned on the site was a warning, clearly stating the product is not edible.  Not sure how anyone could say something that is not edible could possibly be food grade.  Oh well – back to Amazon it goes (keeping the pan though!).  As I discovered, it doesn’t really seem the beeswax is even necessary.

So, after watching a number of different YouTube videos, and the recipe recommended by my future son-in-law, I mixed up the batter.  I simmered the milk with couple dried up vanilla pods, along with some real extract for 10 minutes or so as per the Taste of Artisan instructions – from there I deviated, mixing the flour, eggs, butter, sugar and rum all together, and then adding 1/3 of the simmered milk (pouring through a fine strainer), and whipping until smooth.  I then added the rest and continued stirring until mixed thoroughly.

The next evening I heated up the oven to 475 F, took the batter out of the fridge and gave it a good stir – being careful not to incorporate any air.   I then just melted some butter, and brushed the butter into 8 of the 12 pan cups, then ladled batter into each of the buttered cups – filling them to about 3/4 full.

Into the oven for 15 minutes at 475 F, after which I lowered the temperature to 375F, for another 45 minutes.

Afterwards, I took the pan out of the oven, let it cool for 5 minutes, then flipped the pan over – dumping the delectable delights onto a wire cooling rack – they all popped out perfectly, and none of the dreaded “white butts” commonly referenced on Youtube and various other websites.

 

 

 

The next evening I cooked up the rest of the batter, making 12 more pastries (a little smaller than the first ones – but cups were still about 2/3’s full).  Again, these popped out of the pan with no issues and no “white butts” as well.  Just nice and crispy on the outside, and nice and custardy on the inside!

Chef’s Plate experience

A few weeks ago, we decided to give Chef’s Plate a try.  As the primary cook for the household, I found it tiring trying to come up with ideas of what to make for dinner, and also the challenge of trying to get the appropriate groceries for the week.  As a result, we fell back on take out, and also found ourselves throwing out a lot of food gone bad.

After the initial trial period where you get a bunch of meals for really low prices, we get a two 4 serving meals a week.  Sometimes we just go with what they offer, other times we go into their website and pick our meals.

The quality of the ingredients has been great.  I find their meat quality to be better than anything I can get from our local grocery stores.

A couple times we ran into issues – one week they didn’t deliver until a couple days later, and another time they had omitted the primary ingredient (no salmon for a salmon chowder).  Both times their customer service was very responsive and resolved the issues to our satisfaction.

The box of 2 four serving meals costs around $70 – so each serving is around $9.  About half of what we would spend when ordering out.  The preparation times on the meal cards are reasonably accurate – and are usually around 30 minutes – so not far off from a typical wait time for a DoorDash order.

The meals come with a letter sized card that details what ingredients the meal includes (and qty), and step by step instructions for the preparation.  The cards are great – we save them (and save the repeats for family and friends).  I find them useful for meal ideas without a kit.  The one thing that can be a challenge is finding the appropriate spice blends they use in most of their meals.  These are often the ‘magic’ that makes their meals.  The do provide ingredient lists and recipes for many of their blends (but not all) over on their Facebook page.

The meals are packed in a medium sized  box with each meal individually packed in it’s own recyclable or biodegradable bag.  A third insulated bag contains a well sealed ice block along with any perishable ingredients from either of the meals.

I have a hard time throwing out the boxes – it doesn’t feel right.  Instead, we’ve been saving them.  Having a bunch of uniformly sized boxes is helpful to get things organized.

On a mission to make the best apple cake I can!

While spending time in Victoria, I discovered a delicious apple cake at a coffee shop called the Nest. Now that I’m home, I’m trying to find a recipe that comes close.

This one turned out very good – and is a little lighter than the Nest cake which is not a bad thing! I also had some zucchini that I wanted to use up. Next time I make this, I think I will use a full teaspoon of cloves, and maybe add a half teaspoon of ground ginger.

Zucchini Apple Spice Cake

Course Dessert
Keyword baking, cake, zucchini
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 2 c zucchini peeled and grated (I used one large zucchini)
  • 2 c Granny Smith apple peeled and grated (I used 2 apples)
  • 2 c light brown sugar
  • 2 each large eggs
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c walnuts toasted and coarsely crushed
  • 1 each Macintosh apple (optional) peeled, cored, and thinly sliced into wedges

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Lightly oil and flour baking dish.

  3. Peel, core and grate Granny Smith apples, and also peel and grate zucchini. Should have 2 cups of each.

  4. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until smooth.

  5. Slowly add oil to sugar and egg mixture while mixing thoroughly.

  6. Add remaining dry ingredients (spices, salt, baking soda and flour).

  7. Mix grated apple and zucchini into mixture.

  8. Add nuts and mix into batter.

  9. Pour batter into baking dish. Gently evenly spread batter.

  10. Arrange apple slices as desired onto top of batter.

  11. Bake for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

  12. Server warm or cooled, and enjoy!

Tasty Fruit and Butter Scones

This is a recipe from a friends mother – it’s pretty flexible and easy to make. So far I’ve used it to make Saskatoon Berry Scones as well as Blueberry Scones.

Blueberry Scones

Course Breakfast
Keyword baking, blueberry, scones
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 scones

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups berries
  • 1 cup milk add extra if necessary
  • 2 each eggs beaten, can reserve one yolk to wash tops if you like

Instructions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients, and then cut in butter with pastry cutter

  2. Wash and dry berries, then toss gently to get evenly distribute throughout mixture

  3. Add eggs and milk, and mix to combine and wet all of the flour/butter/berry mixture. Don't over mix or knead.

  4. Roll into a cylinder, approx. 3-4" in diameter. Can either cut discs approx 1.5 – 2" thick, or gently flatten cylinder and then cut triangles.

  5. Place pieces onto parchment lined baking sheet, keep pieces at least 1" apart.

  6. If desired, brush tops with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sugar.

  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes @ 425 degrees Farenheit, or until golden brown on top.

    Saskatoon scones

Recipe Notes

First time making this recipe I made the scones with Saskatoon berries.  I over mixed these a little – making them a bit dense.  The Blueberry scones I worked much less, and the result was much nicer 🙂