Success! My Dobos Torte was a success. Phew! Let me just say, the process is a long one that doesn't always seem to be yielding the best results. When creating the thin layers of cake, I was sure that a) I wouldn't be able to separate them from the parchment paper (I used parchment instead of just greasing and flouring) and b) that the level of stickiness that they had was not going to taste very good. Ultimately, I was able to use all but one of the layers and the stickiness was a non-issue. I am not going to say this is the most amazing looking Dobos Torte, and the taste was not really for me, but the Hungarians around the table all agreed that it was authentic and tasty, so I feel pretty pleased with the results. Oh, one thing about this Anna Olson. She LOVES to use this caramelized sugar in many of her recipes. It is definitely NOT something I love to do and I'm not sure that the taste benefits that much from it? But she's the professional, so I will stick with her. Pro tip: If you don't have a candy thermometer and you're creating the caramelized sugar, you're basically waiting for the edges to bubble and turn a light amber colour. From that point, the colour quickly darkens and spreads to the centre of the pot. I like to take it off the heat sometime before the colour reaches the centre of the pot. Anyway, this was a fun experiment and I'm glad it worked out!
When did life get so busy anyway?? I made this claim that I was going to bake my way through Anna Olson's Back to Basics this summer and I literally haven't even made one thing since that post. I'd been feeling too busy to bake lately when random grocery shop at Walmart of all places found me buying two bags of key limes that were calling my name. Have you ever seen key limes? I hadn't and it turns out they're teeny-tiny. Naive, I set out to bake some delicious key lime bars which required the juice of twenty four key limes (actual=35). Key limes are so hard to juice! Pro-tip: don't juice key limes :) ... I mean, focus on the key limes that are more brown in colour, as they tend to juice easier than pretty bright green ones. In the end, these bars actually turned out quite well. If I were to make them again, I would add a touch of brown sugar to the crust, and bake for slightly longer than indicated. Always bake to the touch/smell/sight though as most ovens are not created equal (ours runs hot). Enjoy!
After baking the key lime bars, I had the itch to bake again and woke up early to make some strawberry muffins for Rick's work and chocolate chip muffins for mine. The chocolate chip muffin recipe comes from a family favourite recipe book called Muffin Mania that I remember my mom using when I was little and the strawberry muffin recipe came from the good ol' Internet. I'm excited to report that at this point I no longer need to measure most ingredients! I know what a tablespoon of baking soda looks like, a cup of milk, 1/4 cup of butter, 2 eggs ;) etc. It's kind of thrilling for me! Anyway, both muffins worked out pretty well, but I would add a hit of fresh basil and a sprinkling of rock sugar to the top of the strawberry muffins if I made them again.
Lastly, baking at the cottage is a snap thanks to a clever idea from my mom. We recently took a week long holiday at a cottage and knowing how much I needed and wanted to relax, she sent us on our way with pre-measured and pre-packaged ingredients with which to bake anything from pancakes to scones to cookies. On each bag she wrote any ingredients (ie. eggs) that needed to be added as well as the recipes. Good one, mom! (more on the cottage in a later post.)
Oops, okay now I'm on 'lastly'. Rick's dad is celebrating his birthday next weekend and I have decided to do something special that also just happens to be in Anna Olson's Back to Basics. It's called Dobos Torte and it's an Hungarian classic. It's also notoriously tedious... stay tuned!
When Hayley said she wanted to try grilling pizza I have to admit I didn't really see the draw... perhaps it's some sort of carnal grill=meat instinct or something. Anyway, now that we've worked out the kinks, I am borderline obsessed with the technique and more importantly the results! We've learned some tricks along the way and decided a slideshow would be the best way to illustrate the process. Click through the below pics are read the captions for some 'pro tips' that'll allow you to take a short-cut to pizza perfection. Also don't miss the recipe at the very bottom... this combo is my favourite yet and screams SUMMER.
brie, apple & arugula pizza
Miso is one of those ingredients that I've heard a lot about but haven't ever cooked with it. We ended up with some pork tenderloins and I figured this is my opportunity... so after sourcing some "Red Bean Paste" I got to work. Miso is one of those tricky ingredients where tasting it on its own doesn't give you much to work with. It's fermented and heavily salted, so as with one of my favourite ingredients, anchovies, it doesn't take much to elevate the dish's flavours to the next level.
I figured citrus would be a great counterpart to the richness of the miso, so I added orange as the other main flavour. Honey rounded things out with some sweetness, and I figured rice wine vinegar would be a safe way to bring the sourness given the Asian influences.
Like fools, we drove past this place about 3000 times over the course of 4 years. I'm not sure what prompted us to finally take note, but we're thankful we did!
Without a doubt, the hardest part about eating locally/sustainably/whatever you want to call it is actually sourcing the food. There's a reason grocery stores were invented. As much as we'd like to go from farm to farm collecting our items like a scavenger hunt, the time just isn't there. Located in Ayr, Faul Farms is a family-run beef producer who are committed to doing things the right way- no matter what. But they are also so much more than that. Their country store (open 6 days a week!) acts as a hub for the local foods movement. Alongside their incredible beef they offer chicken, eggs, lamb, pork, turkey, fish, as well as various prepared and preserved foods, all from local producers who take the same pride and care as the Faul family do. They are currently wrapping up construction on an expanded store, and we will update this post with pictures once it's done.
Going to "the farm" is always a fun outing for our family. Besides the ethical and nutritional reasons that led us to pursuing naturally produced foods, we love being able to directly support our neighbours, and hope that these values will be instilled in our daughter by growing up in this food culture. If you're from the area you owe it to yourself to check out Faul Farms and meet the wonderful family behind it. We're willing to bet if you do it won't be your last visit!
To learn more about the Faul Farm philosophies and the goods available in their country store check out their website!
I made this milk chocolate silk tart the other day thanks to a great recipe from Anna Olson's book Back to Baking. Very easy and very delicious! My goal is to try to make all of the recipes in this book by the end of summer. Rick is sitting here beside me saying that it is mathematically impossible. He is correct, so I amend my deadline to next summer!
Fish is always a household favourite. It offers a huge variety of options, good health benefits, and perhaps above all, typically a very short prep time! If your house is anything like ours cooking a roast dinner is a luxury reserved for the weekend, so picking up a fresh piece of fish on the way home from work is a popular option.
Steelhead trout is a great alternative to salmon. It offers that "meaty" property while giving up a bit of the oiliness. Good news is it can still stand up to robust flavours so you don't have to pussyfoot around when it comes to cooking it.
I adapted this recipe from a holiday snack favourite of ours, The Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts. It turns out this rich, warm flavour profile pairs perfectly with the fish! This is now my go-to recipe when we get a nice piece of steelhead.
Oh Jamie, how I love you. People under estimate Jamie Oliver. He’s a powerful force. Not only is he an amazing chef, but he is an ambassador for our children and we don’t give him nearly enough credit for it. Have you seen his show ‘Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners’? What about ‘Food Revolution’?? They’re both on my must watch list. Clearly, getting our kids to eat healthfully starts in the home with parents who are educated about food and Jamie seems to be working tirelessly to this end.
Before this gets too preachy, I am by no means a model eater, but I’m working on it. My daughter is pretty much a model eater, however. I don’t want her to struggle with sugar addiction, early physical development, learning disabilities, obesity – all the things that come along with poor eating habits and processed food. We practice farm to table eating for our family as much as possible, but we’re not perfect.
Anyway, back to Jamie. I’m in love with his enthusiasm and genuine caring nature. I hope that we get to see him succeed in his mission to make school lunches healthy and solve the childhood obesity epidemic. I love to watch him ‘waz’ this and that in his beloved food processor and plate his dishes in that wonderful rustic style of his.
Anyway, I’ve just got a love on for Jamie Oliver today and I wanted to share. Check out all of his many shows and beautiful books . I know you’ll be inspired too.
(Yes, we may’ve been a bit overly inspired...we did steal one of his daughters names for ours... and I do still have all of his Christmas specials PVR’d now 4 months later... and I may or may not keep the book jacket from his most recent book in my desk just so I can have a gander at his lovely face every so often...)