Monthly Archives: May 2012

Toast Post: A Girl’s First Cheese Fridge

Transporting some cheese at 11pm.

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  Last night at 9:45 pm I had to go buy a fridge for my cheese.

My husband had been “suggesting” this idea for months as out fridge space was being taken over by fromage.  With a stack of fresh cheeses for an upcoming Queso Fresco piece,  a dozen leftovers from my “best cheese burger topping” experiment ( The Spread article here if you missed) and gloriously large wedges of raspberry, balsamic, espresso and Merlot BellaVitano to store I knew it was time.

I zipped over to Home Depot and bought myself a little beer fridge (the gentleman helping was equally disappointed –no bevvies?–and fascinated –all cheese?—at its future use).

We set it up, plugged it in and the first item I reached for was:

Mainly to get rid of “new fridge smell” and to aid “new cheese smell” to take over.  (Why isn’t that an air freshener scent?)

And now just a few dangerous steps away, down our creaky stairs with no rail and into the basement you can find stinky treasure.

Sorry–the lighting was not great in the basement residence of the fridge.

Many years ago I wrote a little textbook called “30 Days in the Life of an Animation Producer” (being an animation producer at the time).   At the end of my bio the editors added a line which still makes me laugh and I would never have written, except in a storybook.  It was, “Sometimes I feel like the luckiest girl in the world”.

But today, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

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When the moon hits your eye like a no knead pizza pie….

No knead pizza dough was a revelation and a roaring success—say I, the only one eating the hot pizza yesterday afternoon at 1pm.  A lone witness to my own spectacular creation.

But it really was amazing, the crust was flavourful (the point of the 18 hour ferment) and chewy on the inside, but crisp on the exterior.  And I didn’t even use a pizza stone, mine cracked a while back and I have yet to replace it, but now I want to replace it ASAP.  So much pizza potential in my future!

For some background, here is a good piece on the no-knead recipe (with a video) created by Jim Lahey.   You must try this pizza dough at least once.  Throwing the dough together takes about 45 seconds (give or take a minute) and after an overnight ferment you can have pizza on the table way sooner than delivery can get to you.  Sooner than you can bake a frozen pizza in fact.  And waaaaaaaaaaay better.

If you can, try and use your scale for the measurements as it will be more accurate than cups/measuring spoons.  (Scales are not expensive, invest when you can, it will change your baking for the better.)

Ina  large bowl mix 500g AP flour (3 3/4 cups), 1 gram active dry yeast (1/4 tsp), 16 grams fine sea salt (2 tsp).  Now add 350g water (1 1/2 cups).

*make sure you have the right yeast–not instant and not pizza yeast.

Mix everything with a spatula til the dough comes together and then use your hands to pick up any excess flour with the still sticky parts of the dough.

I ended up with the above.  And then I threw a tea towel over it (or just use saran wrap) and let it sit in a warm part of the house for 18 hours.

And that part is done.  See?  Easy–I barely had enough instructions to go with the pictures.

18 hours later it should have doubled.  (Mine also kind of “splatted” a bit.  Made itself comfortable in the bowl. )  The “doubling” may go slower in a cooler room and faster in a warmer one.

Once doubled, I dumped the dough onto a well floured counter and using a serrated knife cut it into four pieces.  Then you take each piece individually and pull in the edges towards the center…

It doesn’t matter which corner you start with, just pull it forward like you’re folding a handkerchief….(we all still use handkerchiefs right?)

Until you have something like the above.  Then flip your dough over, seam on the bottom, and using your hands mold the dough into a neat ball.

And you will end up with something very satisfactory, like the above.  The dough will feel loose and silky in your hands, it is less stiff than other pizza dough recipes sometimes are.

Since I was not ready to make my pizza, I saran-wrapped my dough balls and put them in the fridge.  They can sit for up to three days.

You bring the dough out of the fridge a couple hours before you want to use it.  Just to get it to room temperature.  (Yes, I probably could have used a bigger plate.)   Also, my dough was a bit damp under the saran wrap, so I just dusted it with a bit of flour once out of the wrap.  Then covered with a tea towel and let warm up.

Let’s summarize: on your actual pizza making day all you have to 1. take dough out of the fridge and 2. form it into a pizza.

Also preheat the oven to 500°F.

The forming is the fun part.  Handle the dough very gently–you want some of the gas/bubbles to remain.  First stretch it lightly with your hands on the work surface to form a small disk.  Then you can pick it up and “pizza guy” style, use your knuckles to pull it out to about 10-12″.  You should also sing the East Side Mario’s theme song while you do this.

My pizzas were about 10″ average.  Before topping move your dough onto a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet (to avoid the edges) before topping.  Dust the back of the dough well with flour.  (You do not want to try and lift your raw dough once it has toppings on it.  It will be disaster and you will then truly hate pizza making.)

I had some tomato sauce in the fridge, a ball of mozzarella and some prosciutto.  My pizza was born.

Ideally you have a pizza stone in the oven that is heating up and you can slide your pizza off the peel, or off the back of your cookie sheet, onto the stone which will instantly start crisping and cooking the dough.  I just put the pizza in oven on the same cold cookie sheet it started out on–and crossed my fingers.  Bake 6-7 minutes.

Success!  I added some sweet red onion and baby kale leaves and sliced.

Chewy, crispy and delicious.  There will be no crusts left behind when you make this dough.  They may even get eaten first.

(If you love this recipe, you may decide to love Jim Lahey and buy his pizza book My Pizza: The Easy No Knead Way to Make Pizza At Home)

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Congrats Emily-you’re going to the fair! The cheese fair I mean.

Hi everyone who entered the draw for the Cheese Festival tickets.  We have a winner–the lovely Emily Fox of Toronto.

Just wanted to thank everyone who put their name in the hat, it was a lot of fun and hopefully I can do some more giveaways soon.

Eventually I want the excitement of winning a giveaway on cheeseandtoast to rival the excitement of being called down on The Price is Right.  Please go buy some tube tops everyone.

And perhaps you’ll still be tempted to go to Prince Edward County next weekend–cheese, wine and gourmet goodies.  Plus antique stores along the way.

Have a great weekend!

Sue

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Art of the Danforth: Feast in the East (and no knead pizza dough)

If you’re already thinking about the weekend (yes, that started Tuesday I know) you might want to check out some of the Art of the Danforth activities.  On Saturday night is an event called Feast in the East which will combine music, art and culinary art.  There are three such events over the course of the festival.  Last week the theme was British/Scottish.  This Saturday, May 26 is Italian and (I am excited about this one) June 9 is Ethiopia.

Meanwhile I am going to finally try the no-knead pizza dough recipe by Jim Lahey, owner of the Sullivan Street Bakery.  It ferments overnight so I will let you know how it goes, but I find pizza is the perfect quick dinner for a Friday night.  Especially if I can whip together the dough today.  I have an easy, favourite recipe but this will apparently “exceed my wildest expectations”.  We shall see.

If you want to do this along with me (in fact, can you do this and I’ll come over and pick up half of the dough tomorrow) here is a link to the recipe from Bon Appetit.

Also, if you make this and then tomorrow on the drive home you’re like, “screw it, I’m ordering Thai” the dough can sit for three days.   A procrastinator’s dream.

Otherwise we can compare notes bright and early Saturday morning.  No, of course not, Saturday is for sleeping in until your spouse does not get up when your toddler is clearly making loud wake-up noises from his bedroom at 7am and someone needs to go get him….

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Sauce on the Danforth: Craft Beer, 1920′s Cocktails and Music

I’ve been walking by the old location of Classy Nails wondering why they couldn’t stay classy (oh Ron Burgundy!) and what the little teeny sign above the liquor license application meant, “sauce” it said.

Now it is a a HUGE sign.  Which seems like good progress.  Something to be excited about.  I found the LinkedIn page for “MichelleB” who is supposedly opening the lounge and here is what it described our new east end bar as:

An East-End Toronto Lounge with a Victorian-Goth Bordello-Chic Design.
We offer:
– fresh hand made pasta with your choice of Sauce
– a vast selection of Craft Beer on Tap and in Bottle
– an array of 1920′s inspired cocktail offerings
– Top shelf Tequilas, Bourbons, Scotches & Vodkas
– music, music, music… you never know who you’ll hear

Conveniently located steps from Greenwood Station.

(which it is, it’s between Greenwood and Monarch Park, just east from Bomb Wellness and west of Gerry’s grocery).  For those not in the hood, it is between Greenwood and Coxwell subway.

This comment on Chowhound cracked me up:

“Ha, I think there’s a few places on the Danforth doing the Victorian-Goth-Bordello thing without knowing it! “

Still–craft beer, top-shelf tequila?  1920′s cocktails?  Bring on bordello-chic.  Opening in August.   www.sauceonthedanforth.com

Here are the latest photos!  http://www.sauceondanforth.com/pictures.htm

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Joanne Kate’s First Column for The Globe- April 22, 1974

Monday, April 22, 1974

If you read the Globe this Saturday you’ll know that Joanne Kates will be retiring from her position and the restaurant critic.  Her final column will run next Saturday May 26.

If you were following the buzz on Twitter you heard the rumours days before.

I thought that if you hadn’t seen the update in Toronto Life you might enjoy reading this scan of her very first piece (or you can download it from the Toronto Life page).

And if you hadn’t heard the news (being sheltered from food critics over the long weekend)  you’d want to look for her last column next Saturday, May 26.

Joanne is passing the critical eating gig to Chris Nuttall-Smith, they will be part of a live on-line chat this coming Monday.

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Last chance to enter the draw for Artisanal Cheese and Fine Food Fair

Hi everyone

Happy Victoria Day– sorry to repeat myself–but in case you meant to enter the draw or were suddenly free to head to Prince Edward County June 1-3  I thought I’d send out a quick, “last chance” reminder.

CLICK HERE–for more details, this will take you to the full contest post.

Thanks to everyone who has entered so far and I will draw the winner at some point tomorrow.  I’m getting excited about the festival myself!

Sue

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Into every garden a little chives should fall

I was thinking about our little garden as the weather has hottened and long weekend arrived.  We have a little patch of dirt amongst the flowers where I’d plant some tomatoes and herbs–usually basil and rosemary and then last year I planted some arugula which thrived despite my lack of attention.

This year that patch of dirt has been flattened by a sand box for Felix and I will have to dig out another part of the garden if I want to continue planting.  Which I have been feeling laissez-faire about (lazy, pronounced with a french accent).

Until my friend Lisa snipped some chives for me from her front garden on Thursday.  They’ve been coming up on their own year after year.

Aren’t they beautiful?  But they also smelled fragrant when chopped.  I have already used some in an omelette and with salty butter on baby potatoes.

It reminded me how awesome it is to be able to have something you grew yourself, on hand and ready to customize your own cooking.

I also love dill so now am thinking I will plant dill, the chives and maybe some mint (mojitos 24/7  or…. maybe just 18/7).   Also the tomatoes and arugula.   And some green beans.

(See, once you start you can’t stop)

So even if you have a small patch, or just some pots, plant something.

Even if it’s just for the ability to cut some herbs,  pop them into a glass on the window sill and feel very Martha Stewart.

So Happy Long Weekend.   Don’t forget to have ice cream, my current favourite is the apple ice cream (is it gelato? can’t remember) from Ed’s Real Scoop.

But after a bike ride (or in the middle of?) a fudgesicle and oh….a creamsicle!

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Ticket Giveaway for The Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair June 2/3

I’m very excited to be have two passes (courtesy of the The Great Canadian Cheese Festival) to give away for their Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair which takes place in Prince Edward County on June 2 and 3.   This is the second annual event and numbers for the Food Fair will be capped each day so these are hot little tamales.

Monforte Dairy’s triple-cream Bliss and hand-churned butter will be available at the event.

If like me, the above cheese board is your perfect meal, you won’t want to miss the Food Fair where you will find over thirty artisanal and farmstead cheese makers from across Canada plus a dairy farm for the kids (I  plan to leave my son in the care of a responsible–but fun-loving–goat), a food court and 80 exhibitors in total showcasing their wares.

These two tickets are worth $80 and with admission you get:

-10 tasting tickets

-a souvenir Festival cooler bag for cheese purchases  (this is much better than a leather purse, trust me)

-free parking at the Crystal Palace where the event is being held

-and you can sit in on the All You Need is Cheese seminars being put on by Dairy Farmer’s of Canada  (and taught by Deborah Levy who is fantastic and very knowledgeable)

Here is a link to FEATURED WINERIES, CRAFT BREWERS and ARTISAN FOODS.

Sandbanks Winery, PEC image from About.Com

And if you’ve never been to Prince Edward County, you really must try to see it.  It is a perfect weekend away.

There is also a COOKS AND CURDS gala on the evening of June 2 which features Canadian chefs cooking with Canadian cheese, paired with local brews and wine.  The first sitting is sold out but the second sitting is still open.

Information about getting tickets to everything (but obviously you’re going to win these) is available on the festival site as is accommodation information.  See you there!

HOW TO WIN:

If you think you’d like to attend simply email me at thespread@globeandmail.com with the subject heading CHEESE FESTIVAL GIVEAWAY and I will do a draw next Tuesday, May 22 and mail you the tickets if you win.

Good luck and please spread the word, forward this, tell your friends to pass on information about this amazing event.   Much appreciated.

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Kick-Ass Mother’s Day Breakfast in 10 minutes (I timed it)

Simple can be phenomenal.  The thought of  perfect soft-boiled egg ( runny, rich yolk,  sea salt) and generously buttered toast makes my shoulders relax and my mouth water.    Relaxation, pleasure and fun (dipping toast into your yolk is fun after all) can be delivered to mom in 10 minutes.  Best of all, no clanging pots to wake her from her sleep and barely a dish to find “soaking” in the sink when she finally comes downstairs.

But the key word for soft-boiled egg heaven is “perfect”. Not too loose, not too firm.  Let me, soft-boiled egg fanatic, give you the inside scoop.

Take the eggs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature before cooking them.  This helps prevent cracking (less shock of a cold egg hitting hot water).

I  never remember to take the eggs out of the fridge in advance, so I put them into a bowl of warm water while I bring a small pot of water to a boil.

Using a pin (a safety-pin from your dry cleaning hanger will work just fine) make a small hole in the bottom of the egg to relieve some of the pressure when it goes into the hot water (another trick to prevent cracking).  I admit to skipping this step on regular days but–come on—it’s an occasion.

When your water is boiling add your egg(s) and keep the water at a gentle simmer.  You want some bubbles still breaking the top.

Water should cover the whole egg. Do as I say not as I do.

Now set your time for 5 minutes (6 minutes if you want the yolk slightly firming at the edges) and go to work on getting the toast into the toaster (don’t toast it yet though) and butter at ready.

When the timer goes off, drop the eggs into a bowl of cold water to stop their cooking.  NOW press the toast down.  When done, butter the toast, cut the cap off your egg (be confident with the knife to make the first crack and then gently slide the knife through to the other side, turning the egg upright fast for fear of losing any of the runny yolk.).  Sprinkle  sea salt on the egg and the toast.  Tad-ah!  Done.

Bring directly up to mom with a little spoon and a napkin.

Garnish with good coffee.

And gild the lily with a bar of sea salt chocolate.  (yes, kind of cliché yet kind of genius at the same time).

Bring it all up, allow for a quick kiss and thank you and then leave her the hell alone.

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