Monthly Archives: April 2011

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.


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.


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


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