Category Archives: Ruminations on the Edible

Food inspired writing

Forget the a.m. cream cheese, go for chevre.

Memories.  Since it is the weekend and time for languid, lazy breakfasts, I was remembering the cheese and coffee pairings I did awhile back.

And how the chevre and black coffee was a brilliant match.  So I thought I would repost the reminder.  Buy some chevre and make a really good cup of coffee (or hell, buy that too) then sit back and watch someone else slave over the waffles and bacon.  And make sure they promise to do their own breakfast dishes.

And if you’ve promised someone breakfast in bed just add fresh fruit to the menu and you will be the best ever bed chum in as much time as it takes you to grind coffee beans and wash strawberries.

Have a good one!

PS–I just remembered this Ginger Melon salad (see bottom of post) that would step up the chevre/coffee thing and  would totally earn you foot massage (at least in this house).

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Filed under All Recipes, Cheese/Cheese Related, Ruminations on the Edible, Uncategorized

Hot Cross Buns (cuz it’s Easter don’t ya know)

“Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns, One-a-penny, Two a-penny, Hot Cross Buns!”

Am I evoking childhood memories?  Apparently this was a popular song and even “street-cry” according to Wikipedia.  I have never encountered it in my childhood but would love to hear people yelling out about sweet, spiced buns all day Good Friday.  And yes, the cross is the cross as in crucifix.  (Not Horcrux, that’s Harry Potter)

And look what other lore I discovered, “If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.”

All to say is that probably someone on the Titanic should have packed some HCB’s in their trunk, and it is a relief to know that if you’re going to hang these buns if your kitchen, it’s a once a year event kind of like cleaning the crumbs out of the little toaster tray I always forget is there (maybe that explains the fires?).

I haven’t even eaten many hot-cross buns in my time but seeing them in the bakeries made me crave them.  They’re slightly sweet, yeast-leavened buns which have raisins or dried fruit in them and are scented with spices like cloves and cinnamon.   And since I knew nothing from a HCB, I turned to Nigella and her recipe.

NOTE: These have to rise in the fridge overnight, so plan ahead!  (also, this recipe uses weight measures and you’ll need a scale, Martha’s recipe looked good to if you want to go “cups”)

Start by infusing 150ml of milk with the zest of an orange, 1 clove and 2 cardamom pods.   Add 50g butter and heat on medium-low until the butter melts and then pull the pot off the stove and set aside.

Now measure 400g bread flour, 1 pack (8g) active dry yeast and 125g mixed dried fruit (I only had raisins) into a bowl.  Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg and 1/4 tsp ground ginger.  Whisk together.  (I had some medium shredded unsweetened coconut on hand so added only 110g raisins and 20g coconut.  To be honest I couldn’t taste it in the final bun).

Now remove the cloves and cardamom from your milk and whisk in 1 egg (the milk should only be body temperature by now–or BLOOD temperature as Nigella says– hello Sookie!)

Pour the milk/egg mixture into the flour and I mixed it in a stand mixer using the bread hook until it was shiny and smooth. I did find the dough dry and probably added 1/8 cup extra milk when it started combining and needed more moisture.  (You can just add water as well).

Pop this baby into a buttered bowl and seal well with saran-wrap. Do not leave a gap or it will dry out (it happened to me, grrr).  Now it goes into your fridge overnight.

DAY 2:

You’re going to take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature (give it at least 30 minutes).  Then punch it down and knead it again until it is smooth and elastic.  (I brought in some help–those small hands really are good workers.)

Then cut up the dough into 12-16 buns (Nigella likes them smaller, I went bigger).  Just cut the dough in half and then half again ect, until you have enough pieces approximately the same size.  Now roll them into smooth, round buns.

Put the buns on your parchment-lined cookie sheet and score them with the “cross” using a table knife.  Nigella suggests using the dull side, but even with the cutting edge I could barely make the cross visible.  You want the buns quite close together on the sheet, almost touching but not quite.  PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 425°F (220°C).  Throw a clean tea towel over them and let them rise on top of the stove for about 45 min-1 hr.

While these are rising you can prepare an egg wash (just beat 1 egg with a little milk) and your “cross”mixture which is 3 tbsp AP flour, 1/2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp water mixed til thick.

When the buns have risen,  they should be touching each other, brush them with your egg wash and then use the “cross” mixture and a teaspoon to drizzle  a cross shape in the scored area (if it still exists as mine had all but disappeared).

POP INTO OVEN for 15-20 minutes.  I left mine about 20 (I had fewer, but larger buns).   Remove from the oven and mix 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp boiling water and then brush the buns to sweeten and glaze them.   Let cool, then eat immediately (right after you utter your “street-cry”).

I found these best when still warm, but am still happily eating them two days later and all I do is give each bun about 20 seconds in the microwave to revive it slightly and then they’re great with a cup of tea.

Have Easter everyone.  Have a chocolate-filled  long weekend!

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Filed under All Recipes, Ruminations on the Edible, Uncategorized

My iPhone is still sticky from Donut Plant (but it was worth it)

This blueberry glaze is made fresh from real fruit.

Donut Plant. I know, you’re drooling.  Yet you’re thinking, no, it’s too much that donut!  Too sweet, too dense, too purple.  But it was gold, until I took a bite of my Tres Leche (super-gold).

Which ruined my strategy of “only taking one bite “.  My theory was that since we were going to Momofuko Ko that night I could not be eating donuts all morning (especially since I had just eaten a bagel on our walk over and had a lot of cheese to finish back at our apartment).

Apparently I could, and did.  My one-bite plan was quickly abandoned at first taste of the Tres Leche.  This thing is filled with evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream.  PEOPLE, go to New York right now.

I barely had the willpower to remove the above donut from my mouth and take its picture.  My hands were so sticky that the HOME button on my iPhone may never recover.

“My iPhone for a donut!” I may have yelled.

Donut Plant’s Crème brûlée donut has been called a “Boston Cream on crack” by Maxim magazine and I am sure they know their crack.

There are two types of donuts available; the denser “cake” donut and the fluffier, chewier “yeast” donut.  I am cake all the way.  Owner Mark Isreal uses his grandfather’s recipes but spent years perfecting his cake donuts.  The man even invented A square jelly-filled donut so that the filling is evenly distributed between the dough.

Donut Dedication. Checkout the whole history on their website.

Here’s what we saw inside when we finally found Donut Plant which is in the Lower East Side.

I did not go in with a plan and then I panicked.  Luckily my trusty donut instincts drew me to the Tres Leche.  But why did I did not also get a Vanilla Bean or Valrhona chocolate I cannot explain.  Questions that may plague me til my dying day.

(Here is a little review from NY magazine for more info).

And though Momofuko Ko was amazing (more later) this was hard to beat.

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Filed under Restaurants and Products, Ruminations on the Edible, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

What Am I? Need Help Identifying Mystery Kitchen Tool!

My friend Johanne (of fashioninmotion fame— would add fortune but not sure if fortune has happened yet) emailed me with this photo.

This ceramic beauty was abandoned with some great plates in a box behind a now defunct Leslieville kitchen store.  It now has a home but no identity.

So I ask for your help–do you know what this is?  Please pass on, or PIN on Pinterest and together we can Nancy Drew ourselves out of this mystery.

It’s two pieces btw, and Johanne says  it makes the most awful screeching sound of ceramic on ceramic when you move the top piece along the shaped ridges,  quite horrific,  so the idea that maybe it is used for grinding spices/pesto/herbs makes Johanne shudder.

Here are a few other photos or our ear-piercing, door knobbish friend-

I don’t know why the pictures are uploading crooked and it is 4 am so I am just not worrying about it.

(4am is when all mysteries become so mind-boggling that they must be posted right away)

This is over $20 bucks worth of something useful.  Potentially.

Nice manicure Johanne.

Any and all guesses are welcome!

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Filed under Ruminations on the Edible, Strange but Tasty

It Doesn’t Get More Local Than This

We often drive by Strickland’s Choice Meat (Greenwood and Gerrard) on our way south to Queen Street.  Recently we noticed it was closed until March 21.

Why?  Well, let’s take a closer look:

Len is having surgery.  Basically the sign is saying, “the whole neighborhood knows who Len is and knows him well enough to be privy to the fact that he’s having surgery.  And to care.”

And I bet if you stopped someone in the neighborhood they could tell you what kind of surgery poor Len needs.

I hope Len is OK.   I’ve driven by the sign enough times that I’m starting to wonder if he’s in good hands, if the surgery went well and is it too soon to expect him back in a mere 3 weeks?

Get well soon Len!

May 3, 2012:  Here is a bit of history about Stricklands (thanks Lisa!) :   from the Beach Metro news

One feature for history buffs is a butcher and meat shop called Stricklands Butcher Shop. This shop was located at different locations on the Danforth and other places for close to 80 years. The current shop on Greenwood Avenue is still run by two jovial Strickland brothers, who also happen to carry the Beach Metro News in their store.

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Filed under Ruminations on the Edible, Strange but Tasty

Supernatural Brownies still Supernatural after 5 years in drawer

I had offered to bring a dessert to a friend’s house this weekend (she was making dinner) and needed something that was both adult and kid friendly.  In my drawer of recipes I rediscovered this one for “Supernatural Brownies” clipped from the New York Times in 2007.  I  made them many times in 2007 and then kind of forgot about them (either that or I’ve been in a chocolate coma and just woke up in 2012).  Other than the fact that they’re not dairy-free (my friend Meredith can’t eat dairy–and I totally forgot that too) they seemed perfect.

To avoid being a total dessert jerk I brought Meredith some Mango Gelato from Ed’s Real Scoop (I know a pretty feeble gesture) while the rest of us enjoyed these brownies which turned out as moist, chewy and chocolatey as I remembered them.  So I thought I would share the recipe or rekindle your memories of it if you too had once loved–and lost– it.

This recipe originally come from a piece in the New York Time by Julia Moskin  which included 3 brownie recipes (French Chocolate Brownies and New Classic Brownies).  I stopped trying alternate recipes after I tried the Supernatural recipe as it seemed there was no point in exploring further.

This is the NYT’s recipe, as adapted from “Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers,” by Nick Malgieri (Morrow Cookbooks, 1998).

I got chocolate on the dish. Messy picture. Sorry!

1. You need to butter a 9 x 13 ” pan and then line the bottom with parchment, and butter that.  Now preheat the oven to 350 °F.

2. In a double boiler or a stainless steel bowl set over a wide pot, melt 8 oz bittersweet chocolate with 2 sticks of unsalted butter.  You can give it a stir once in a while. then  when melted and combined set aside to cool slightly.  (you can melt theses  in the microwave as well)

3. Now you’re going to put your eggs in a large bowl and whisk them lightly with a hand blender and then add in 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tsp vanilla.

4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg batter and whisk the two until combined.

Brownie worlds collide.


5. Now add 1 cup all-purpose flour and gently fold it in with a spatula until just combined.  Don’t over mix.

6. Pour the batter into the greased dish and bake for about 35-40 minutes.  Until the top is just cracking and becoming glossy.   Remove and allow to cool before slicing.

I prefer to cut the pieces smaller as they are very rich.  And it sounds better to allow your self two rather than one, or a dozen rather than just six. (Once you eat more than 6 you should consider it a meal.)

The final brownies will be shiny and cracking on top with a rich, mist and chewy middle.

And here is your shopping list of ingredients:

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, plus extra for greasing pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour

Other than the baking and cooling, preparing this is fast and simple.  A good one for potlucks, birthday parties or Apocalypse planning sessions.

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

Lemon Icebox Pie Recipe (nope, there’s nothing better)

I wish I could post this bigger, please CLICK on it to really get your mouth-watering.

Have I mentioned how much I love whipped cream and lemon and pie and being frozen?

Actually I hate being frozen, ask my toes, they where frozen on many a Vermont ski lift in – 25 C° when my dad would insist the weather (howling wind, sleet) was perfect for a full day of skiing.

ANYWAY, I now know how to ski thanks to my dad.  And I  know how to make Lemon Icebox Pie thanks to the  SAVEUR 100 2012 issue which I downloaded on the iPad— and will continue to do so-love how easy it was to access everything.  (Fromage Fort is in the top 100 by the way, recipe and blog here.)

Amongst the many recipes included in the magazine was a picture of the above dessert.  How could I refrain from making it?  It’s billowy and loaded sky-high with luscious whipped cream and dense lemon filling all situated on a thick buttery graham crust.

You start by combining melted butter, graham crumbs and sugar in a food processor and pack that  into a 9″ deep dish pie dish.

Once this is done you can set it aside and begin juicing your lemons.  About 8-10 lemons make for 2 cups fresh juice. I find the easiest way to juice lemons is by twisting the lemon around a fork, gets as much juice out as possible.

You then combine the lemon juice with 2 cans sweetened condensed milk and 2 egg yolks.  Best of all–you get to scrape out and lick the remaining condensed milk off your fingers.

Then beat til frothy, about 5 minutes.

And pour into your graham crust after many tastes to ensure everything is A-OK.  You are a perfectionist after all.

The pie now goes into the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 F°.

Admission: I altered the recipe as this pie dish was the only one we had and was obviously not deep enough for all the lemon filling.  So I halved the lemon filling in the version I made.  I then only baked it for 10 minutes to adjust for the thinner lemon layer.  You want to just set the filling and get the crust golden.  It will finish setting in the freezer.

Once out of the oven settle the vanilla wafers around the edge and in the dense filling.  Allow to cool completely.

Now into the freezer.  The recipe says minimum 2 hours or overnight.  We had it in there for about 6 hours.  It was quite frozen when we removed it but softened quickly–maintaining a great CHILL in the mouth.

in freezer in case it looked like it was in a giant, metal press

Once out of the freezer add your whipped cream (3/4 cup).  You can serve immediately or put the pie in the fridge until you can’t stand to be without it any longer.

While whipping the cream,  I questioned the lack of even a teeny bit of sugar but held back and only add the suggested vanilla.  Ultimately, the creamy naked whipped cream top was perfect with the sweet lemony basement layer.

And if you do spill some sugar during this whole process….be creative with it.  Especially if you’re almost three and this is your birthday pie….

Happy Birthday Will!!!

Here is the link to the actual recipe for Lemon Icebox Pie, it’s ridiculously simple to make and people will be Mmm, Mmm, Mmming like mad.

THANKS to my brother Dave for taking all these pictures.  Check out his macro photography.  It’s unbelievable.

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