Saturday, 27 September 2014

Beer Brownies

I love baking with beer.  They are one of the best ingredients to add to any chocolate cake or brownie recipe.  Plus, you only use half a can, so you get to drink the rest while it's baking! These just might be the best brownies I have ever made.

 A light crust, fudgey, and firm. Not dry or cakey - this is everything a good brownie should be.  And say no to frosting - a superior brownie just doesn't need it. I am always suspicious of frosted brownies - they probably came from a box.  (Having said that, I have never been known to turn one down).

These were the recipe of choice for a Saturday night get together with friends to eat, drink, and watch bad movies.  Yes, watch bad movies on purpose.  Beer + beer brownies + Flash Gordon = awesome.

Beer Brownies
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup stout beer
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips and butter in a small pan over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in the stout.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and both sugars.  Add the chocolate mixture and stir.  Add the chocolate/egg/sugar mixture to the flour/cocoa mixture and stir until all of the ingredients are well combined.  Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Let cool before slicing (if you can).

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Brown Butter Peach Coffee Cake with Streusel

This happy accident was the result of a bucket of overripe peaches on the brink of going bad.  What to do with them all?  Crisp?  Pie?  I like to combine peaches with other fruits for crisps and pies... well, really just blueberries.  I can't recall ever using any other kind of fruit. Blueberries and peaches, in case you couldn't tell by this mini crisp , this pie, or this big crisp, is one of my favourite combos. But, I digress.  What am I to do with all these peaches in my fridge?

This is adapted from a peach muffin recipe.  I did make these muffins last summer, but I wasn't totally blown away by them so it never made it onto the blog.  I wanted to use at least 3 peaches up, so I made a cake.   And, I was blown away.  So here it is, absolutely delicious, and worth a spot on here.

Brown Butter Peach Coffee Cake with Streusel
makes 1 loaf
adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 peaches, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease one loaf pan or line with parchment.
1. Brown the butter. Remove from heat, pour into a small bowl, and let cool to room temperature.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Mix together eggs, milk, and vanilla in a medium sized bowl. Gradually mix in the browned butter
4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, and gently fold in the diced peaches. Pour into loaf pan.
5. To make the streusel topping, combine the butter, flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and use your fingers to break it down into small flakes and pea-sized bits. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.
6. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Mini Blueberry Peach Crisps

I have a confession to make.  My husband and I ate an entire family size peach crisp recently in two days.  Now that is pure gluttony.  We kept coming back for just one more spoonful, and then one more, until it was at that point (and I know that you know what I mean) where we just figured, what the hey, let's just finish the dang thing.

Here is the solution - mini blueberry peach crisps!  Just enough for two small servings.  When you get to the bottom of that ramekin, that's it, that's all.  Pure satisfaction - no guilt.

On a side note - today marks two years that I have been blogging : )

Mini Blueberry Peach Crisps

1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oats
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 peach
1/3 cup blueberries

Combine the oats, flour, sugar and butter in a small bowl.  Using your fingers, incorporate the butter into the oats, flour, and sugar until it resembles small flakes.  Set aside.
Peel and dice a peach. Divide the peach and the blueberries evenly between two ramekins. Spoon the topping over the fruit and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Blueberry Scones

These were supposed to be raspberry scones.  But, locally grown raspberries were not to be found on the days preceding this attempt, and I just can't buy fruit from the US in August, of all months of the year. It should be outlawed.  So, I missed the boat when it comes to locally grown raspberries, but blueberries were an excellent substitution, and no less enjoyable (I am not ashamed to admit that I inhaled three of these in one day).

These are deliciously soft and fluffy and not dry and crumbly like so many homemade scones.  These are not tea biscuits.  A scone has three essential ingredients - cream, sugar, and butter.  The original recipe calls for heavy cream and 1 tbsp of orange zest.  I used half and half and omitted the orange zest and I think they turned out perfectly. 

Blueberry Scones
slightly adapted from Ina Garten's recipe and Le Petit Brioche

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold cream
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
extra cream for brushing the tops
raw sugar for sprinkling the tops

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and mix together using a pastry cutter or your hands until butter is blended in small flakes or pea sized chunks.  Combine the egg and cream and slowly add to the flour and butter mixture.  Continue mixing until just blended. Its ok if there are butter bits - you want to keep those.  It's important that the mixture remain as cold as possible. Add the blueberries to the dough gently - some will smush, that's ok.

After sprinkling flour on your rolling surface, start kneading the dough into a ball.  Roll the dough out until is it about 3/4 inch thick.  You can shape it however you like - round like me, or properly square like professionals.  Cut into quarters once, and then once more - to make 8 triangles.

Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sweet Finale: Blueberry Galette

Our third and final pastry of the evening (a savoury tourtiere was first, followed by this flaky butter crust peach pie) was a blueberry galette.  My first attempt as you can see, leaked blueberry juice everywhere, as I didn't reinforce the overlapping edges enough.  It was still delicious - you could really taste the lemon in the crust - and the crust was so good.

It was so good that we demolished it that evening.   The recipe makes enough for two small galettes, so the next day (not kidding) I made a fresh peach version with the rest of the dough and the our last two fresh peaches. 

Pate Sucrée 
Makes 1 large or 2 small galettes

2 cups all-purpose flour 
2/3 cup icing sugar 
1/2 cup   unsalted butter, diced 
Grated zest of one lemon
1 egg, beaten

1.Sift together flour and icing sugar
2.Work in butter; form a well in the center of the flour
3.Add lemon zest and vanilla bean scrapings to well
4.Add beaten egg to well and 1-2 tablespoons of ice water to start
5.Using your fingers, blend mixture together until a disc is formed
6. Wrap in plastic, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
7. Roll out carefully on a floured surface
8. Add filling in the centre, and fold up sides of the dough to form galette
9. Sprinkle sugar over top. 
10. Bake in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for a further 20 minutes until deep golden brown. 

for one small galette

1 ½ cups blueberries or 2 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

   Gently toss ingredients together in a bowl. Fill galette.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Sweet and Savoury Pie Class: Peach Pie with Flaky Butter Pastry

Our second attempt at pastry-making of the evening was a flaky butter crust.   I learned a few tips and techniques:

- Try grating butter instead of dicing or using a pastry cutter
- Refrigerate the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt)
- Keep ice cubes in a glass of water to keep it absolutely chilled
- Stainless steel counter tops are amazing
- Rolling tips:  Roll out and back, turn, roll out and back, turn and so on to avoid your dough sticking to the surface
- When ready to move your rolled out pastry into the pan, roll the pastry up onto the rolling pin, then roll it out onto the pie plate

I wasn't pleased with this dough when it went into the fridge to rest.  I was trying to follow the instructors directions, which were different then what I would normally do when making pastry.  But what is the point of taking a class if not to learn something new?  My pastry dough was dry and crumbly when I finally got it into a sort of disc-like shape.  Not enough water, I think.  Anyways, the instructor came over and said it was over-worked and to leave it.  Oh well.  Once it had chilled in the fridge,  I was careful to not use too much flour in the process of rolling it out.  To my great surprise, this was the flakiest pastry I have ever made - you could see the layers as you cut into it - and it was delicious as well.  A winner.  I must have done something right, after all.

Pastry (Flaky) (used for Peach Pie)
Recipe from The Culinary Studio

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 cup cold, unsalted butter
¼ to ½ cup ice water

In a bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar.
Using a box grater, grate butter into the flour mixture
Toss together lightly, using your fingers
Add water, first ¼ cup, and then more, few tablespoons at a time, lightly kneading until the dough comes together
On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half and shape into disks
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour

Peach Filling
Recipe from The Culinary Studio

6 cups of sliced peaches
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
Juice and zest of one lemon
¼ tsp of cinnamon

Toss all of the ingredients together and fill a 9” unbaked pie crust. Cover with top crust. Egg wash and create steam holes.

Bake in a 425°F oven for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F for a further 30-40 minutes until the crust is a deep golden brown. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Sweet and Savoury Pie Class...the savoury: Tourtière

Last week I attended a pie-making class at a local place called the Culinary Studio.

A hands-on class, we learned to make three types of pastry - one with lard, another with butter, and a pâte sucrée as the third. 

First up - a savoury meat tart, or une tourtière.

Une tourtière is a traditional French Canadian dish, usually made with minced or ground pork, veal, or beef. It is often served on Christmas Eve, which is a tradition in my own family, something I always look forward to. This recipe includes a home-made tomato chutney type sauce - try mango or peach chutney or apple sauce as an accompaniment.

I have never used lard before - but it functions virtually identically to vegetable shortening.  I have also never added this much fat in order to create anything before....and I asked, just to be sure "So, we throw in the entire package of lard, then?"....."okaaaay..." Of course, I have also never made such a large amount of pastry before, either.  The pastry recipe makes quite a bit more than you need. I may make some small adjustments when I try it at home, or set the extra aside for a quiche. 

This was absolutely delicious - don't change a thing - I will be making this for the holiday season this year, for sure.

My apologies for the quality of the photo - I was limited to my vintage blackberry as we made and then enjoyed this in class.

Savoury Meat Tart 
Recipe from The Culinary Studio

1 lb ground pork
1 medium potato, peeled
1 lg onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried sage (optional)
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup water

1. Boil potato gently, whole, until just cooked.
2. Add all other ingredients to a large frying pan. Using a spoon, or a spatula, break apart any chunks of meat. The key to a good meat tart is the stirring and chopping during cooking so that the meat and vegetables are not lumpy and as fine as possible.
3. This should simmer covered,at least 1/2 an hour but the 'breaking down' process may take 20 minutes or so.
4. Remove bay leaves and grate cooked and cooled potato into the mixture
5. Taste for seasoning
6. Fill raw pastry shell, cover with top shell. Egg wash and create steam holes.
7. Bake pies at 425°F for 20 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350°F for a further 30-40 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.

Flaky Lard Crust:
Recipe from The Culinary Studio
(makes enough for 2 large crusts)

4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups shortening, diced
2 eggs
4 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp vinegar

1. Blend together flour and salt. Quickly work in shortening with your hands.
2. Mix together eggs, water and vinegar. Incorporate into flour until just combined.
3. Turn out onto a floured work surface, divide in half, shape into discs, wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.
4. Roll out as required

Homemade Ketchup:
Recipe from The Culinary Studio

1-32oz can of tomatoes, pureed
2 medium onion, small dice
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup soft brown sugar
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 tsp dry mustard

1. Saute onion in a small amount to oil until golden brown. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.
2. Add tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and mustard. Simmer until thick. Season with salt. Cool and place in glass jar. Keep refrigerated.