Monday, April 11, 2011

First Day of Spring

This weekend was delicious. Saturday greeted us with the possibility of strolling outdoors sans jacket, and strolled we did, up to Jean Talon market to get some goodies.
Can't wait for summer salads!

I'll take the kitty and the french bulldog.

I baked some amazing fresh sea bass marinated in miso. The recipe is meant for black cod, but any flaky white fish will do. Here's the recipe.
Doctored the recipe with some ginger and garlic. Pourquoi pas?

I made some more no-knead bread. This time with sunflower seeds!

Procrastinating meant I made some mini cheesecakes. What a revelation. Take your favorite cheesecake recipe, make the batter, pour into muffin papers and bake for 20 minutes. Who knew?
Start checking them after 15 minutes...mine were a little overdone. You want them to still be wobbly when you take them out of the oven.

Guess where I am going with this mess of berries?
What did you make this weekend?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

famous family cheese ball

It's cheese ball time, people! Get ready for one of the tastiest appetizers ever known. I have so many memories of the mighty cheese ball. Every celebrated holiday and family get-together warranted a cheese ball when I was growing up. There are even contested versions in my family and heated discussions about which version tastes the best. Here's my version. Why don't you try making one for your next potluck party?

What you will need:

-250g cream cheese
-250g grated cheese (This recipe is great for getting rid of those random stumps of leftover cheese. I used old cheddar and an aged gouda, ja!)
-the juice of 1/2 an orange
-2 to 4 cloves of garlic, depending on how much of a vampire you are
-2 to 4 shakes of worcester sauce, or bragg amino liquid
-optional: 1 tsp dill and 6 chopped olives
-ground walnuts, pecans or almonds (I used pecans)

Grate your cheese into a bowl.

Chop that garlic up real good.

Sprinkle your dill over the cheese. You could use any herb you fancy.

BAM! All the ingredients pre-ball. Note the squeeze of Siracha sauce, my special spicy touch.

Wash those hands, you filthy human and then mush everything up into a ball. I tried with a spoon but this cheese needs manual stimulation.

Roll that beautiful cheese ball in some chopped nuts.

Wrap in parchment paper and stick in the fridge. This ball needs time to marinate. Make it the day before you want to serve it for optimal taste sensations. To serve, cut the cheese ball in half and serve with crackers and veggies. Spread that cheese on thick! Mmmmm.

Monday, April 4, 2011

no-knead bread

After seeing this attempted by a friend on facebook and looking at the beautiful result, I thought I'd give this a try. I was in the middle of writing papers, which is what my life is all about at the moment, I needed a bit of procrastination in carbohydrate form. The dough took less than 3 minutes to prepare. All you need is time for it to rise and for the yeast to do its thing, and a 2 hour window of opportunity to let it proof and bake. This bread is so easy and the results taste like you spent hours slaving away. This one's a keeper, and I plan on making more of this in the near future.

You'll need:

3 cups of flour (i used 2 c. organic all purpose wheat, and 1 c. organic spelt)
1 1/2 cups of warm water (you'll need 1/4 c more if you use spelt or other alternative grain flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon instant yeast

Combine the ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. The dough should look "shaggy" and "piecey".

Here's what my dough looked like after mixing. Now all you need to do is cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours.

My specimen after a nice long sleep. Way to go yeast, you did your thing!

The next step: you might need to wet your hands to turn over the dough a couple of times to form a nice smooth ball. Nestle it into a tallish bowl for it to rise for another 2 hours. 30 minutes before you want to bake it, heat the oven to 450 degrees and pop in a heat resistant pot with a lid, such as a cast iron casserole. When the oven and pan are nice and hot, place your dough into the pan and give it a few shakes to distribute the dough nicely. Cover the pan with your lid. This creates steam while the bread bakes and results in a wonderfully crispy crunchy crust.

After 30 minutes of baking, remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. You can tell your bread is ready when it sounds hollow when you tap it.

Straight out of the oven. Note the parchment paper at the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.

I love baking. I am always amazed by how beautiful it can be. Is this the end of store-bought bread for me?

The spelt flour added a sweet nutiness to the bread. All that resting for 12-18 hours imparts a complex flavor to the bread with a dense and chewy crumb and a crusty outer shell. Amazing.
I scarfed down two slices with butter while it was still hot. The next day it got slathered with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers.