Monthly Archives: April 2011

Toast Post: Bothwell Horseradish Cheddar

Horseradish zing on South Dakota Loaf.

Like the first stiff drink of the day, Bothwell Horseradish cheddar is more of a midday or “after 11am” cheese.  It’s certainly not meek.  But it does taste of real, bright, fresh horseradish and would be a champion on a sandwich or melted on a roast beef sub (mmmmm mmmm, the taste buds are rallying).

The South Dakota bread (post to come) toasts really nicely–the crust gets crisp and all the seeds inside warm up.  You’d nibble on this cheddar while waiting for your toast and think, “This cheddar is so damn pungent I’m breathing it out my nose-like a big hit of wasabi hidden under tender sushi.  Man!  I finally  feel alive-let’s do an extreme sport.  I would totally serve this to my arch-enemy who hated horseradish.”

Bothwell Cheddar in 11 words or more: Bothwell hails from Manitoba and the company has been making cheese since 1936–no preservatives, no MMIs.  Dairy farmers still deliver the local milk to Bothwell themselves.  I am curious about the horseradish flavour itself–does it come from fresh horseradish root?  I have sent in an inquiry and will keep you updated. (FYI: Horseradish is the 2011 herb of the year.  Keep on rockin’ in the herb world little horseradish.)

April 19- Got a response about the horseradish from Bothwell:

Hello Sue,

It is always exciting to hear feedback from our customers.  The
horseradish that we use for our horseradish cheddar is a highly
concentrated liquid horseradish extract.  It is added during the make
process to give the desired flavor that you enjoy.

If you have any further questions just let me know.

Regards,

Pauline Doerksen
Bothwell Cheese Inc.

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Top Chef Canada: Episode 1:

Voila, my  Top Chef Canada observations:

1. I loved the Filet-O-Fish challenge.  What happened to all those fish afterward– staff meal?

2. Tarragon +Hollandaise = Béarnaise.  I have to ask, “What were you thinking chefs who added tarragon in the “Hollandaise challenge”?”  (though I do prefer a Béarnaise sauce and understand that if you’re hungry and craving steak frites your impulses might get the better of you.)

3. Go Chef Connie DeSousa.  She is my fave.  Did you see how calm she was during the challenges?  Calm and deceptively fast I bet.  And the woman MADE a sausage for the first cooking challenge.  I think if you’ve made a sausage you should win the whole show automatically. (Plus she can butcher a pig’s head in 4 minutes.  Hello!)

4. Most heart-wrenching moment–when Francois Gagnon‘s spoon hovered over his plate and the timer went off and he was not allowed to sauce his dish.  No sauce?  Quelle horreur!  Luckily–he kicked ass anyway.  (WHAT WAS THE SAUCE!  I missed it.)

5. Moment of deflated elation:  When Rob Rossi won the elimination challenge and $2500 worth of Le Creuset cookware.  But then I realized that $2500 worth of Le Creuset only buys you about 2 large Dutch ovens (cassoulet for everyone!) and then a bunch of those little oven-safe pots that you think you’ll use to serve individual souffles or hot artichoke dip in but never do–eventually relegating them to paperclip or raisin storage.

See you next week (oh, except for Chef Michael Stauffer (he was the one that served the “vomit sauce” with his lamb–I would have eaten the lamb that rare (raw-re?) by the way Michael…..)

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Let them eat cake…at your funeral.

I find it harder to have your cake and not eat it.

Sometimes things just click. When your babysitter brings a Stubbe’s Lemon Torte to your house you know you chose the right caregiver. We picked Donna to babysit Felix after a rigorous vetting process investigating which dessert shops she frequented in Toronto.

Cake fits any occasion–a quick lunch, after a bikini wax or as a sympathy gift.  No one will know who sent what bunch of smelly lilies to a funeral but your chocolate cake gift basket will stand out like the beacon of plastic-wrapped comfort food that is is.

And let’s face it,  attendance would soar.  Next time I fantasize about who’s coming to my funeral I’m going to imagine myself in an open coffin with my hands  arranged to hold a large chocolate Krispy Bunny.  I think it will get more kids motivated to participate.  Nibbles encouraged.

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Filed under Restaurants and Products, Ruminations on the Edible, Strange but Tasty

It’s Sandwich Day!

Immediate Impulse Buy

I unknowingly woke up into sandwich day.  It started when I was walking by a store window where the new Saveur magazine was on display.   Saveur is probably my favourite food magazine–I love the feeling that if I read a full years subscription I would be the savviest foodie on the block. I haven’t yet subscribed because I fear a pile up of unread issues will trigger massive foodie-anxiety.  (Only a subscription to The New Yorker is more terrifying in potentially magnifying my ignorance….of everything.)

BTW Canadians–the last issue had a great piece on Quebec and the maple syrup tradition (The Sweet Life) by Sasha Chapman.  And the sap is now running so get out there and lick it up.

Memories of my old sandwich stomping ground

Back to sandwich serendipity:  on my way home I stumbled across the Yorkville Sandwich Box location.  I have not eaten at Sandwich Box since it was a little store inside a strange little food strip at McCaul and Queen.  But man–the memories!   Grilled, hot, crispy, gooey, savoury, sweet, grilled, spicy…..oh the land of sandwiches.  I went with white panini  (sometimes whole grain is not the right choice) smoky grilled eggplant, crisp pancetta, bocconcini and curried apple spread.  I think I ripped the box in my excitement to get to the food.  And as after any great sandwich, I simply felt…happy.

So sandwich it up today people!  It’s meant to be.

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Filed under Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Restaurants and Products

Toast Post: Riopelle

Riopelle: Butter on Butter on sunflower seed rye.

A pleasant surprise greeted me in the cheese drawer–there was just enough Riopelle left from Saturday’s cheese plate for a toast run.  (Usually my husband sniffs out a crumb of Riopelle faster than a racoon hunting down a green bin.)  I like this triple-creamer on a lean piece of toast that gets nice and crunchy so that the contrast of  crisp and buttery are in perfect harmony.

As you lean against the counter and wait for the toast to pop you might nibble on some Riopelle thinking, “Mmmmm, hit me baby one more time!  oh oh.  Now that song is in my head.  I wish I didn’t kind of like it……also I hope no one can read my mind.  Unless it’s when I’m thinking about a cool band like Arcade Fire.  Like now.”

Riopelle in 11 words or more: soft, bloomy rind, triple cream from Fromagerie de l’Île-aux-Grues in Quebec.  The Fromagerie began as a co-operative of 14 local dairy farmers in 1977 when its first cheese, Cheddar de l’Ile-aux-Grues, was born. Today, the milk is sourced from the island’s six remaining dairy farms. The cows are fed in part on hay that grows naturally on the local mud flats.  Riopelle is made from thermalized milk.  The label may say “unpasteurized” which is true in theory, but this does not mean raw milk.  Thermalization is a gentler heating process than pasteurization which  kills potentially harmful bacteria while keeping some of the milk’s beneficial microbes.

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Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Ruminations on the Edible, Toast Posts

You and Your Stupid pie crust Mario Batali

Stupid Lemon Tart with Gooseberries

“You are such a jerk,” I yelled out at Mario Batali’s cookbook photo (but with more use of the word asshole)  as the almond crust dough from his lemon tart recipe crumbled in my hands.  I actually love this recipe for its lemon filling.  It’s like making a lemon curd but then you lighten in with whipped egg whites. But whenever I go to make it I have that little “itch” in the back of my mind reminding me that something is going to make me livid.   For one thing, the quantity of crust is way too big for the 9″ tart pan (in my opinion) and secondly, it never comes together–if you x-rayed this dessert-you’d find a patchwork quilt of dough pieces which would mirror the fragmented state of my pie sanity.

And what’s up with ambiguous instructions like, “the juice of three lemons”?  Big lemons, little lemons?   I guess he means “just right” lemons.   Sorry.  This pie crust makes me angry.  It’s not the lemons, it’s me.

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Filed under All Recipes, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Ruminations on the Edible

I need a smoke (pt2)

Smoked salmon, lemon mayo and limey-minty-cucumbery salad

So it’s not wild salmon season yet.  Right.  I was so excited about the smoking portion of the experiment that I did not think of the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get wild salmon at this time of year (what goodness is there in life before May?).  I wanted the rich flavour you get from wild salmon so ended up with frozen (sustainably caught) sockeye  filets.

In the end I couldn’t get the smoking done Friday as I was already squeezed for time (which now  included defrosting).  Since I’d already built up anticipation levels previously reserved for Momofuku‘s arrival in Toronto it seemed best not to rush.  Do it right.  Or screw it up with plenty of time.

So here’s how it went down:

Earl Grey tea, muscovado and caster sugar smoking mixture

Saturday:

8:00 am: mixed the muscovado (dark brown) sugar, caster sugar and Earl Gray tea together.  Handily constructed two little trays from tin foil and divided up the mixture between them.  My estimate of what was “7-8 cm” wide was actually more like 13 cm.  Luckily tin foil is very squashable.

8:43 am  so many things could go wrong. Like that aside from no extractor hood, I don’t have a “tight-fitting lid” for my smoking dish.  Am going with the heavy-duty tinfoil.  Like duct tape in the cooking world, right?

Sockeye Salmon ready for a smoke

8:45  unplugged smoke detector and opened all the windows.  Put salmon on rack in roasting pan.  Covered the roasting pan and put it across two burners over med-high.  Stood there watching it.  Nothing happened.

8:55 10 minutes later the smell of caramelizing sugar and bergamot from the tea was wafting through the kitchen.  It was really lovely and mellow–I almost closed the windows to seal it in. (I could totally see “tea-smoked ” as a Body Shop perfume)

8:58  Conundrum. The recipe is broken into two parts: the general “how to” tea smoke section and then the recipe for the salmon specifically. In the salmon recipe it says to leave the salmon smoking for 3 minutes with the heat on and then turn off the heat and leave it another 3-4 minutes. Yet, as the “how to” instructions mentioned, it took about 10 minutes for the smoke to get going and begin infusing the fish.  So I was a bit confused–do the 3 minutes start after the 10 minutes?

I ended up doing two batches so as not to crowd the pan.  The first one which I left the initial 10 minutes (then 3 minutes on heat, 3 minutes off) was a bit overdone for my taste and I kicked myself for not checking it sooner.  The second round I actually put in right after I took out the first batch, heat was off, I quickly put the cover (foil) back on and left it five minutes.  Checked it and let it cook a little more, til tender and flaky.  Much better results.

Salmon under smoke tent-Round 2

The “being smoked out of house and home”  I was so prepared for never transpired.  In fact, all went very smoothly.  I admit, slightly disappointing.   I thought this post would be more dramatic with at least one neighbor coming over to see if we were OK.

I removed the salmon and let it cool.  The smoky tea flavour was there,  subtle and delicate–the wild salmon itself was amazing.

I will do this again and next time I think I will try letting the smoking pan heat up for 10 minutes before I add the salmon so that the fish is really being “smoked” rather than just cooked from the initial  trapped heat.

I served the salmon flaked and made lemon mayonnaise to go with it and an amazingly fresh, lime/mint/cilantro cucumber salad (Skye Gyngell’s recipe again).  Plus baguette.

(I kept a piece of salmon whole for the top photo.)

***Next time I promise kitchen disaster it will be bad, very bad.  I will make up for this.

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