Crumbliest Scones

My office is starting some new initiatives to help with work/life balance during this ever-so-stressful time of year.  Crafty lunch hours, walking groups, and starting tomorrow, potluck Friday morning meetings!

I offered to start things off by baking some scones. This led to colleagues offering to bring clotted cream, mascarpone cheese, English preserves and an assortment of David’s Tea!  We’re going to have a downright proper tea party tomorrow morning!

These scones are a recipe from my Jaime Oliver cookbook.  He calls these ‘Crumbliest Scones’ and they certainly live up to their namesake.
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The key to making these scones is to keep the butter cold… I actually start by freezing the butter for an hour beforehand.

Also? Don’t cheat by using a mixer.  This is a hands-on recipe that will not turn out as well if you use a mixer (you’ll overwork the dough with a mixer)

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup cold unsalted butter

  • 3 1/4 cup self-raising flour, plus a little extra for dusting

  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 heaped teaspoons golden caster sugar

  • sea salt

  • 2 large free-range eggs

  • 4 tablespoons milk, plus a little extra for brushing

Here’s the instructions from the book, with  my pictures for your visual reference:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. First and foremost, brilliant scones are about having the confidence to do as little as possible, so do what I say and they’ll be really great; and the second and third time you make them you’ll get the dough into a solid mass even quicker, even better.

Put your butter, flour, baking powder, sugar and a good pinch of sea salt into a mixing bowl and use your thumbs and forefingers to break up the butter and rub it into the flour so you get little cornflake – sized pieces. Make a well in the middle of the dough, add the eggs and milk, and stir it up with a spatula.  Add a tiny splash of milk if needed, until you have a soft, dry dough. Move it around as little as possible to get it looking like a scruffy mass – at this point, you’re done. Sprinkle over some flour, cover the bowl with cling film and pop it into the fridge for 15 minutes.
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Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 3/4″ thick. With a 6cm round cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out circles from the dough and place them upside down on a baking sheet – they will rise better that way (so they say). Re-roll any offcuts to use up the dough. Brush the top of each scone with the extra milk or some melted butter and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until risen and golden.

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At that point, take them out of the oven and leave them to cool down a little.

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*disclaimer* – my first batch of these didn’t rise and i figured out I had rolled them out too thin.  Make sure its a generous 3/4″ – 1″, otherwise, they’re more like scone cookies than big fluffy proper scones.

Makes 16 to 20 scones

Serve with your favourite accompaniments!

Original recipe, can be found here

Meegs’ Apple Crisp

After a bone-chilling weekend (-41 with the windchill!), I was looking for something that would warm me up.

To me, nothing says warmth like a freshly baked apple crisp.  The tartness of the apples and lemon.  The sweetness of the crumbly topping. You really can’t go wrong with it.

I had the joy of introducing this recipe to my new UK family while we were over on our honeymoon this past fall.  Stephen’s grandparents have an apple tree in their yard, and we were there at the peak of the apples falling from the tree.  In my aunt’s kitchen, we put together the other ingredients and whipped up an apple crisp using the apples from Granny and Grandpa’s apple tree!

My recipe has been adapted from a few different ones that i’ve tried over the years.  I’ve found this one suits my tastes (not punch-you-in-the-face sweet) and it works, no matter what kind of apple you’re using.  My favourites are Honey Crisp or Granny Smith.  They both have a nice firm flesh and a tartness that plays well with the other ingredients.

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And don’t forget the scoop of your favourite ice cream or a dollop of clotted cream to accompany it!

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^ My apple crisp with a scoop of pralines and cream ice cream

Meegs’ Apple Crisp

(makes about 10 servings)

  • 8-10 large apples (I prefer honey crisp or granny smith), cored and cut into thick pieces
  • 2 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 cup of  unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes 
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Cut butter into flour, using your hands until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats, and mix (again, with your hands) until large, crumbly lumps form.

In another large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, cinnamon, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Put apples into a baking dish (a shallow pyrex works best) , and sprinkle with topping mixture, covering all apples.  Bake until golden and bubbling, about an hour.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Snowy Sunday baking – Chocolate chunk muffins

With the weather encouraging me to take a break this weekend (Downton Abbey marathon!), it also encouraged me to bake something.

Looking at the pantry ingredients at hand, I decided some Chocolate chunk muffins would be easiest and delicious.

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It’s a pretty standard recipe, so I changed it a little to suit my taste and preferred texture.

I upped the milk to 2/3 cup to 3/4 cup skim milk, and also added 2 tbsp of cream cheese.  I know, cream cheese doesn’t normally go with a muffin recipe, but i find it helps to keep them moist and a nice fluffy texture.

Recipe is as follows:

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light-brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 tbsp light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • eggs, lightly beaten
  • teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 package of PC chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease muffin tin (or use muffin cups) In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, stir together milk, eggs, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until blended. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir just to combine. Stir in chocolate chunks. It’s ok if it’s a bit lumpy (it doesn’t have to be smooth)

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups (about 2/3 full)
Bake for 18 minutes or until a successful toothpick test.  Remove muffin tin to wire rack.  Cool for 5 minutes. Remove from tins to finish cooling. Serve warm or completely cool.
Original recipe can be found here
Do you have a ‘go-to’ recipe for a snowy afternoon?

fries? good. gravy? good. curds? good.

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In honour of La Poutine Week here in Toronto, I decided to dedicate a post to one of my favourite dishes.

Poutine (/pˈtn/French: [putin]Quebec French:[put͡sɪn] is a dish originating in QuebecCanada, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds.

To say I like poutine is an understatement.  i LOVE poutine. (I even served it as a late night snack at my wedding!)

Now, this dish is the furthest thing from healthy and is really a once-in-a-while delicacy.  So when you have it every once-in-a-while, make sure its a great one.

What makes a great poutine?  There are 4 key ingredients.

  1. Fries.  I like my poutine with a medium sized fry or even a potato wedge.  Something strong enough to stand up to the gravy and curds.  Nothing worse than broken fries swimming in a sad pool of gravy at the bottom of your dish.
  2. Gravy. This is where you can get creative.  Beef gravy? Chicken gravy? Veggie gravy?  So many options!  It can really change the taste of the dish.
  3. Curds*.  Delicious, squeaky, curds. If you want Quebecois authentic poutine, you have to go with the curd.
  4. Seasoning.  A poutine should have a good bite of salt to it.  You can also add pepper or other herbs/spices to really enhance the flavour.  I like a sea salt and a 5 peppercorn grind when i’m making it at home.

*Sometimes it can be hard to get a proper cheese curd.  Some grocery stores sell a mediocre curd, but there’s no squeak.  In Ontario, your best bet is St. Albert.  You can sometimes get lucky and find it here in Toronto, but for the most part, this is an Eastern Ontario product.   When you’re lucky enough to live in Quebec (or very close to it) you have a vast selection of curds to choose from.  Whenever I get the chance, I head to Gatineau to a store called La trappe à fromage. They have the best curds around, and sell them in bulk.  I can buy a large quantity, bring them home, portion them into bags and then freeze them until needed.

Here in Toronto there are several places to get the real deal poutine.  Here are some of my faves:

  • Lou Dawgs – While they have the classic version, my favourite is the Angry Loutine (fries, chicken gravy,  curds, bbq pulled pork, crispy onions, jalapeños, spicy mayo)
  • Smokes – Lots of different locations across the city (plus a truck at BMO field)  Their veggie-friendly mushroom gravy is delish!
  • Poutineville – a direct from Quebec chain that serves many variations on the classic.
  • Caplansky’s Deli – Fries, curds and a ridiculous smoked meat gravy.

What are your favourite poutine haunts?  Have you ever tried an outrageous poutine combination and lived to tell the tale?  Leave your recommendations and experiences in the comment section below.

Cheers to Canada’s dish!

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SUPER BOWL! Here’s how things went down…

i feel like this picture sums up everyone’s reaction to the worst play ever:

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Thankfully, we were enjoying some good eats while the Super Bowl went down.

The spread looked like this:

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Highlights of the table included

  • Ginger Molasses Football cookies
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  • Beer-Cheddar hot dip
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  • Onion-Ranch dip
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  • Pretzel buns
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In addition to what’s featured above, we served honey garlic meatballs, a cheese board (Lancashire, Brie and a cheese ball), carrots and celery with a blue cheese dip and various breads and crackers. Our guests also brought some yummy chicken wings and another brought a delightful chocolate-shortbread square.

We had hosted a Grey Cup party in November, so I thankfully still had some football themed napkins about.

I have recipes to share for all of the featured foods above.  Comment on the post or send me a DM and I’d be happy to share them with you.

And now for my favourite plays of the game:

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and

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(Yes MISSY!)