I will surrender counter space for a Panini Press

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The Hamilton Beach Panini Press

It just hit me–I really would use a panini press!  I mean I would right?  I love grilled panini, when I’m out and about and hungry, what is a better crisp, oozy and portable meal that a panini?  You can easily sneak them into movies–or keep them in your purse in a pinch (just while you text or create genius Instagram photos).  Even Tim Horton’s can do a half-decent job (I discovered this after finding only chip and burger stands to eat from when driving around PEI).

So I’m wondering-anyone have one and use it?? Or perhaps you can tell me I’m disillusioned, it will have the same fate as my George Forman grill…which wait a second–couldn’t that press panini?   Excuse while I go dig around in my basement.

Meanwhile check out these “18 Surprising Things You Can Make in a Panini Press” from BuzzFeed.

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Curds and Eh: Is it cheating to make cheese with pre-pasteurized milk?

Harvest Moon, Tiger Blue, Naramata Bench Blue and Okanagan Double Cream

Harvest Moon, Tiger Blue, Naramata Bench Blue and Okanagan Double Cream

CHEESE FOR THOUGHT–ANOTHER POST FROM KELSIE.  PLEASE LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS!

One of my favourite blogs that I follow is Much To Do About Cheese. It’s written by Ian Treuer a home-cheesemaker from Edmonton, Alberta who maintains an honest and uncommon look into the world of a DIY cheesemaker. Recently he posed a question on his Facebook  page.  He asked, “Can a Cheese Maker be considered an Artisan Cheese Maker if they use pre-pasteurised milk? Why or Why Not?”

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Purchasing pre-pasteurized milk is a cost saving option for many small producers as High-Temperature Short-Time (HTST) pasteurizers cost a ton of money and even vat pasteurizers can be time consuming. Heating milk to 162F and holding it there for 16 seconds (or 145F for 30min) isn’t where the art of cheesemaking comes into play.

There are three small-scale professional cheesemakers that I know of in Canada that use pre-pasteurized milk. The cheesemaker at each factory produces every cheese by hand, adjusts the recipe according to the weather, the feel of the curds, and the taste and smell of the milk. Their cheeses are all unique. Not only do I consider them all to be artisans but they are also some of this country’s best.

The Stove-top where magic happens at Five Brothers

The Stove-top where magic happens at Five Brothers

Surrounded by vineyards in Penticton’s wine region are two cheese companies – Poplar Grove Cheese and Upper Bench Creamery. Both purchase jugs of pre-pasteurized milk and also cream from D Dutchmen Dairy, which is located 190km north in Sicamous on Shuswap Lake.  This isn’t a secret – Upper Bench proudly states the source of their milk on their website. D Dutchmen Dairy is known for their high-quality milk, flavoured cheeses, and their ice cream, which causes lineups that extend to the parking lot on a hot day. Their milk comes from their own herd of cows.

Adam Blanchard of Five Brothers

Adam Blanchard of Five Brothers

Five Brothers Artisan Cheese is the only artisan cheese company in Newfoundland. Cheesemaker Adam Blanchard actually purchases cartons of milk from his local Sobeys grocery store and then transforms it into cheese in stock pots on the stove-top. He started by making cheese in a friend’s kitchen but then decided to make a living doing it. He rented a commercial kitchen and the rest is history. There’s no way he could have afforded a pasteurizer when he started. Why give up on a dream if you can’t afford a $12,000 piece of equipment?

Perhaps several decades ago we could have asked whether cheese makers that use commercially available cultures instead of a mother culture could be artisanal. The industry has changed so much and now using mass produced culture is the norm. The basic ingredients have changed over the years too but as long as the figurative ‘hand of the cheesemaker’ is present in the cheese then I believe they deserve the title of artisan.

I’m not fond of debating the semantics of a term but I feel that labelling a producer as an artisan or not also suggests level of respect for producing a handmade product. Cheesemakers that use pre-pasteurized milk work incredibly hard, just like those that pasteurize on-site. I believe both deserve respect for labouring for long hours and transforming milk into my favourite food.

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For some reason I feel many people also associate a certain level of quality with the term artisan. That’s one aspect that is usually not debated when it comes to defining the term but it is just as possible for ‘artisan’ cheese makers to produce poor quality products as much as it’s possible for them to create extraordinary ones. What really matters, is not the label ‘artisan’ but the story of the cheese company (is it something that excites the customer and the owner is proud of?) and the quality of the products.

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Abandoned House or Trendy New Toronto Resto?

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The Edison bulb….

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Aaah yes, our menu–it’s hand scrawled on our blackboard far, far across the room.

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No, we don’t take reservations, but we can seat 2-6 people.

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Minimalist pine tree to remind our guests we’re green…. (you can eat it for dessert)

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Everything is local.

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And please don’t forget your foraged leg braces after you’ve had one too many of our hand crafted cocktails.

My husband photographs abandoned houses as a hobby and they are fascinating.  Things are just left as if people had walked out minutes before.  I became fascinated with the list of items in the kitchen cupboard in this house (Campbellford, Ontario) and it just got silly from there….click on any picture to enlarge.  Thanks to Tad Seaborn for sharing his photos.  

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Puff Pastry + Whipped Cream + Red Currants = you rock bringing dessert to the BBQ

Berry Tart Whipped Cream

So you buy the puff pastry, roll it and bake it.  Whip cream. Stir in icing sugar.  Spread. Top with summer bounty.   Kick dessert ass.

Really, that’s it.

(Loving Tad’s photo.)

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The Family Sweet Marie Bar recipe (you will love me so much)

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When I say “family” I don’t mean this is some sort of East European treat– this I claim as my own though it is truly a Seaborn classic.  I feel that I have eaten enough of them over 17 years to have some ownership.

We are going camping this weekend and I made a batch of these.  The step-by-step is posted her at the foodnetwork.ca blog but here’s the basic recipe.   Takes no time.  You must make it.  Trust me on this one.  (and also– just go with the corn syrup and margarine, don’t screw with perfection.)

SWEET MARIE BARS

makes about 20-25
Ingredients:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup salted peanuts
1 package real chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat peanut butter, sugar, corn syrup and butter over low heat until mixture starts to boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add Rice Krispies and peanuts. Mix well.
  3. Press into a greased 8- or 9-inch square pan.
  4. Cover with chocolate chips while hot. As chips melt (give it a couple minutes) spread over the top.
  5. Let cool until chocolate solidifies and cut into squares.  If the chocolate is a little soft it’s ok, but if cut when still melted you will have quite a mess on your hands! (my mother-in law pops the pan into the freezer for 10-15 minutes to speed up the process)

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Fried Chicken for the Masses: It’s the Fried Chicken Battle Royale at the Drake

Fried Chicken Battle

Well, the above just about says it all.  But, Ivy Knight, organizer-Royale has more to say about this lip smacking event where I get to be a judge.  A judge of fried chicken… I picture myself with a drumstick gavel and greasy paperwork.  Can Monday night come fast enough?

Here is what Ivy has to say about how and why she pulled together this first (annual) fried fiasco.

I have been wanting to do a fried chicken battle ever since watching David Chang go head to head against Questlove on Jimmy Fallon. I just really wanted to fill a room with people eating lots and lots of free fried chicken. Unfortunately I don’t have a budget to buy a bunch of chickens so I got in touch with my old friend Peter Sanagan and asked if he’d be willing to donate the birds. I barely got my request out before he said of course. So then I talked to some of my chef friends, Matty at Parts & Labour, Fan at Happy Child, Teddy at the Drake, the girls who run SNACKS (famous for their food at the Junction Flea) and Brandon at Bar Isabel, we picked a date and I started thinking about judges.

I didn’t want to have  chefs come in to compete and be judged by their peers, I wanted the judges to come from outside of the peer group – so I often look to cookbook authors and media. The guys at Munchies were an obvious choice, they suggested Bad Day Magazine and since I know and love you I figured we’d bring you in to add a little class to the panel (Ivy knows how easily I fall for sweet talk–don’t worry, I’ll never bring a lot of class, perhaps just a cufflinks’ worth SR)And of course, Peter is a judge since he’s the reason we’re able to pull this off.

This is the first of what I hope will become a yearly tradition where I give away five hundred pieces of fried chicken to the masses.
So… friends, foes and people who accidentally got to this page and are thinking WHAT?  THANK GOD I FOUND IT, don’t wait til next year.  Come on down next week!
And no, I’m not sharing my chicken.  Get your own damn chicken.  8pm, Monday night.  It’s FREE y’all.

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Momofuko Bo Ssam and Au Revoir Andy Hoffman

Bo Ssam 1

This is the story of pork butt.  It is also the story of friends (Jenn and Andy) who are moving to place of “the fountain”,  Geneva actually.  Certainly known for things other than “the fountain” but Google Geneva and the Jet d’Eau is all over the Image pages (followed closely by the flower clock).  Don’t ever try to say the words “Jet d’Eau” out loud if you do not speak French, it’s just embarrassing, trust me…

The pork butt portion of the story is sweet and savoury, the friends moving part is more bitter and sweet— though we want to have pals to visit in Geneva (and to tour the fountain with) we also are very sad to have them so far away (they eased us in un-gently by moving to Vancouver first).  We like to get together to eat with Andy and Jenn, a lot of meat, a lot of cheese and a lot of wine.  (Andy could throw around wine terms like “flabby” and “grippy tannins” before Sideways had people hating Merlot.)  Jenn makes mean guacamole.  And cocktails.  (Jenn’s cocktails are so good she should be an anesthesiologist.)

All I have left...and btw..the cayenne one is now gone.

All I have left…and btw..the cayenne one is now gone after the photoshoot.

But this blog is sparked by Andy (not that we do not love Jenn-we do–and she brings chocolate from BC–which I am running short of and desperate for…) because when I last saw him he had his arm twisted into giving me the Momofuko cookbook for my birthday.  He came over to visit and had the book in a bag and then I might have said something like “Is that for me?” and then suddenly it was.  Which I feel bad about…but not a lot.

Cook book momofuko

Especially now that I finally made the Bo Ssam that every blogger every has already posted about, the book is on my “featured” bookshelf (also because it is great reading).   The Bo Ssam recipe came to me at the perfect time as we were having a BBQ (planned for a weekend of torrential downpour–so trying to feature meat but not on the grill) and aside from having delicious, easy food, I wanted to do something fun.  I haven’t had a “cooking day” in a while, and hurriedly making dinner for the family does not count ever.  (Almost ever.)   So meat that would be in the oven for hours, making the house smell inviting with it’s with potentially fantastic results seemed like a great idea… Andy said it would be the best.

Andy

And so I called Cumbrae’s and ordered 14 pds of bone-in pork butt (which the woman helping me seemed to think was a lot for 12 people) but I feared would barely be enough (no need to trust the experts Sue!).  To be fair to my own gluttonous judgement, I really was not sure how many people would show up and how can a person have a BBQ and bear the thought of running low on meat???

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Fourteen pounds of pork butt

Essentially you’re just slow cooking the butt, so this recipe is incredibly simple.  The night before you rub the meat with a mixture of salt and sugar and let it cure overnight in the fridge.  Then you drain off any liquid and cook for 6 hours-ish at 300 F til tender and yielding.  I think ours went 7 hours.

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At that point, when you’re drooling and ready to eat you rub the exterior with a bit of salt and a lot of brown sugar, and fire the oven up to 500° F.  Then in goes the meat for about 10 minutes until the exterior is sweet and crusty (David Chang calls it a “pig shoulder encrusted in Pig Candy”  in the book).

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Finally you bring it outside (under the tarp your husband spent 3 hours putting up for a storm that would pass before the guests arrived) and you hesitate…..where to start?  All the guests, expected to eat at least 1 pd of eat each, hovered.  We also had an emergency as the steamed rice I had picked up from the Chinese food place was actually discovered to be fried rice.  Which was not going to work with my lettuce wrap plan.  (luckily the problem, a bike ride away was resolved though I admit I may have panicked and slightly overreacted when I saw the fried rice–possibly freaked out just a little?)

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Finally, crisis managed, I dug in (we had Boston lettuce for wraps, steamed rice, condiments and cucumber and strawberry salad and red cabbage salad to go with–(the  recipe for the slaw is one  I was seduced by in California (red cabbage is very sexy) made by my brother and sister-in-law’s friend Traci.  Recipe at bottom.  AWESOME.).

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Condiment wise I made the ginger-scallion sauce reco’d in the Momofuko book, we had Kimchi, pickled onions and a beet horseradish spread I had made for burgers and was nice and earthy with some bite.

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This is not Andy (Andy who sparked the whole idea was back in BC planning what to wear to his first fountain visit), it is my friend Terry (meat consultant), and yes my face melted when I realized we had the wrong rice.  It was horrifying.  Luckily Terry took it in stride and just kept pulling meat.

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You must all try this.  Here is a link to Sam Sifton’s piece in the New York Times Magazine that provides the recipe.

Andy and Jenn-  wish you were here (but Geneva also good)  xo Sue

Red Cabbage Salad (based on a the slaw recipe from a The Northwoods in southern California.)

  • 1/2 head red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
Shred half of the cabbage finely and the other half coarsely. Place in a large bowl.
Whisk together vegetable oil, red win vinegar , sugar, salt, seasoned salt, black pepper, and onion powder.
Toss the dressing with the cabbage. Scrape the salad with the dressing into a zip-top bag or covered container and refrigerate. Let marinate for a 5  hours until cabbage turns deep red, softens a bit, and flavors meld. It’s even better after a few days.   (IT REALLY REALLY IS!)
AND THE CHEESE BOARD–I almost forgot– we had Albert’s Leap ripened goat cheese (ON), Bleu D’Elizabeth (QC) and Mountain Oak Wild Nettle Gouda (ON)
 

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