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Shove a pie in his face*

By October 20, 2016 Recipes

Who is this Donald freak who speaks like the kids who once wandered into my kitchen and told me of some teacher they detested, or test coming up,

It’s really big league!

I’d suggest a drinking game for every time he said it, but drinking games won’t drown him out, however great the exertion. In times like these, those of us who live elsewhere without a vote—those of us cringing in horror— I suggest making up some pastry dough. Roll over that ugly mug. Imagination is free.
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Here’s a simple and very big league pie, a recipe from my food memoir, with love and sugar (two words clearly unknown to The Donald).

*Kidding: This is too tasty a pie for wasting on acrimony.  A pie is peace on a plate.

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Big League Apple Pie

What you need:

For pastry:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening, cut into small cubes

  • 6-8 tablespoons ice water

for apple filling:

  • 8 cups tart apples, peeled, cored, cut into chunks

  • 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

  • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

For pastry glaze:

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

What you do

To make pastry:
1.Put diced butter in freezer for 15 minutes.

2. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Add frozen butter and pulse a few times

3. Sprinkle ice water over flour mixture and pulse a few times until dough begins to come together: pinch between your fingers to see if it holds. Don’t add too much water or your dough will be tough.

4. Dump dough out onto floured surface and gently bring it together into a disc. Divide into 2 and dust each lightly with flour before wrapping in plastic. Keep chilled for up to 2 days, or at least an hour before rolling. Let it sit out about 10 minutes before rolling if it has chilled overnight.
To make pie filling:
1. While crust is ready to be rolled, cut up apples into medium size chunks. Don’t slice too thinly or you will end up with applesauce. Toss apples with lemon juice in large bowl.
2. Sprinkle with flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Fold mixture together with spatula.

To assemble:

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1.Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove one ball of dough from fridge and roll out with floured rolling pin onto clean surface. I like to use my silicone pastry mat for this. When it is a large enough circle to fit around 9-inch pie plate, gently fold it in half and place in the pie plate, gently opening it up to fit other half in place. Don’t stretch the dough but carefully press into place.

2. Dump in the apple mixture-it should make a nice mound in the centre. Remove other ball of dough and roll out as the first, making it a slightly larger circle. Carefully lift over apples and pinch together the sides with your fingers to lock in the juice sure to bubble over in one big excited mess. You can try different sealing methods for scalloped edges if you’re into fancy trimming. I just pinch it together.

3. Whisk together egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and brush sides and top of pastry with the egg wash. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Cut vents in the centre of top of pastry for steam to escape.

4. Bake for 15 minutes in bottom third of oven. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake for another 40 minutes until filling is bubbling up and pastry is golden. If you’re worried about crust burning, use a pie crust guard or wrap foil around edges.

Always let a fruit pie cool on a baking rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. This requires hiding it from pie thieves.
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CHECK BACK SOON AS WE HAVE OUR HANDS IN FLOUR

 

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A modest promposal

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Rhubarb Curd

By May 24, 2016 Recipes

Rhubarb thrills me when I see it (finally) in the grocery aisles.

Ok full confession: I stalk the fruit stocker. Find them wherever they are working in the store and ask, do you have rhubarb in yet? even if I’m really saying, look missy/buddy, my spring depends on it and my mood will darken considerably if you say no.  If they say yes, and point me in the direction, I’m whipping up concoctions already in my head. Clear the aisles. I’m coming for you, you gorgeous pink stalks.  Sometimes they say no in that way you know they’ve never heard of the fruit. Those days I slump and mumble away, just to confirm his crazy-lady-up-ahead theories.

I found some last week. What do you do with it?*

Try making an easy compote for meringue shells. Or a muffin that pops with fruity bites.

If you have strawberries in your freezer, and a worthy companion ready, you are picnic-primed! Make it rhubarb-themed.  Yes, you will be the most popular person in the park.

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(yes, I’m cheating. That’s not me, but Kerry, our dog’s BFF—ssssh, don’t tell my girls— with her pooch posse. Yes, she deserves that adulation, as do the folks who make my life easier every week.)

 

If all else fails, make up a rhubarb curd. Think of it like applesauce, only pink and richer in flavour. Gorgeous on toast, tea cakes, or fluffy buttermilk pancakes. Don’t judge me for the wonky shapes. Their buttermilk fluffiness allows for misshapen forms. So there.

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Rhubarb Curd

What you need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb, ½-inch dice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into chunks

What you do:

  1. Place rhubarb and ¼ cup sugar in medium pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Simmer until rhubarb is soft. This should take only about 8 minutes, but check it with a  fork. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice.IMG_7523
  2. Whisk eggs and remaining ¾ cup sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. Add cooked rhubarb mixture into the eggs, whisking slowly. Dump it all back into the pot and return to heat, cooking it until the mixture is thickened, about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and add in the butter cubes one at a time. Stir until combined well. Chill in fridge for at least 2 hours before use.

 

We love it served over a double vanilla cake. Go crazy. Think of ways you can incorporate this awesome treat into your spring menus.

 

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Speaking of cake, the kitchen here at Wit’s End was the scene last week for a promposal via a serious baking endeavour. Don’t know what that is?  I’ll catch you up tomorrow.

 

*Subscribers: Look for a silky rhubarb ice cream in your upcoming newsletter. Not signed up yet? What are you waiting for? See Anne’s Circle.

 

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Maple for Mom

By May 6, 2016 Life, Recipes

It’s hardly a secret. Gather a group of girlfriends for a weekend away and witness true chore chick equality. Each of us cooks a meal and the others clean-up. You’re on prep? I’ll set the table then. All present understand what should be universal: no one likes being stuck in a kitchen for the whole shebang. And there’s a sweet upside: sitting down at the table to enjoy a friend’s cooking is up there with foot massages by Idris Elba.

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Among my recipe collection of treats are several from shindigs of this variety. This maple-drizzled Baked French Toast was on the menu earlier this year at an annual find sanity escape with cherished friends. Imagine the sighs of pleasure to have a coffee cup handed as you shuffle sleepily into a kitchen that smells of heaven.

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Rules exist on these hedonistic hen parties. Carry it forward.  And so it came to be that this breakfast-for-the-gods was on my to-do list this month for a few birthday pals who are no slouches in whipping up treats themselves.

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This recipe, from talented baker Joanna MacDougall, is big on the ease factor. I’m for that.  And yes, it’s on the decadent side for the maple lovers in the house.

Baked Maple French Toast

Serves 6

Do steps 1 through 3 the night before you plan to serve this for breakfast.

       What you need:

  • 1 challah bread, crust removed and cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons good quality maple syrup

       What you do:

  1. Spray lasagna pan with baking spray. Spread cubed challah bread in bottom of a casserole dish.
  2. Mix eggs, milk and vanilla and pour evenly over bread cubes.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Mix melted butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup, and drizzle evenly over bread and egg mixture.
  5. Bake 350F for 40-45 minutes.

Serve warm with extra maple syrup on the side for maple addicts. Fruit and yogurt are good sidekicks. And don’t forget lessons from chore chick: share the labour.

For all those hunting around for weekend treats for Mom this weekend, here’s a tip: she doesn’t need fancy. A steaming coffee mug is a good start… and a side order of snuggles.

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From one year ago: Kiss Your Mom

Other weekend reading:

“Oh yeah,” she said. “Oh my God, yeah. If Mother Teresa is propelled to do good works because she believes in God, I am propelled to do good works because of how bad I feel about myself. It’s the first place I go. ‘Oh, what did I do wrong?’”

In any relationship, patience and honest communication is the key. No one person holds the ability to be right. Humility and empathy are essential.

-Greg Taylor, Steam Whistle Brewing

Happy Weekend. Happy Mother’s Day to my mother who inspires me, my mother-in-law who spoils me, and all my mom peers who keep me afloat.

 

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In defense of vanilla

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Chocoholics are fierce. I know several who would give up a limb for just one tiny bite, I promise.  This time of year, spring fever provokes a wandering eye over to the vanilla camp where sweet is not so showy. There find a cake so simple it’s ridiculous.
Unadorned, maybe this leans a bit boring. The testers in this house didn’t think so-they went at the cake before I could even try any embellishment, like one to use up some  frozen wild blueberries lurking around in the freezer. Heart of the smoothie, these berries cooked up in a sauce are all about kicking winter’s rear right on out the door.

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While you wait, make eggs. Read poetry.

By April 7, 2016 Recipes

Forget our mannered ways. Canadians may say sorry too often, or not. What cannot be disputed is our patience. We mumble and rumble around for the driveway salt, and yank on the boots once more. Like puppies, socks are slowly losing their wooly charms. When can we be barefoot again?

Tick, tick, tick. I can hear the bulbs moving.

I told you earlier this week to remember poetry. April is your friend after all.

Call me anything you like. Today at least, let me be useful with a poem while you wait on spring.

The Stolen Branch

( La Rama Robada)

In the night we shall go in

to steal

a flowering branch.

We shall climb over the wall

in the darkness of a private garden,

two shadows in the shadow.

Winter is not yet gone,

and the apple tree appears

suddenly changed

into a cascade of fragrant stars.

In the night we shall go in

up to its trembling firmament,

and your little hands and mine

will steal the stars.

And silently,

to our house,

in the night and the shadow,

with your steps will enter

perfume’s silent step

and with starry feet

the clear body of spring.

-̶Pablo Neruda

 

A poem can feel like a locked safe in which the combination is hidden inside. In other words, it’s okay if you don’t understand a poem. Sometimes it takes dozens of readings to come to the slightest understanding. And sometimes understanding never comes. It’s the same with being alive: Wonder and confusion mostly prevail.

-Mark Yakich

For more on how to read poetry, here’s 20 modest proposals toward rethinking the act of reading a poem. My favourite is #11.

And now how about an easy dinner?

Now you’re talking.

 

Classic Skillet Frittata

Serves 6

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Leftover fondue cheese for weeks now has been calling my name. Caramelize some onions, throw in whatever is lingering in the fridge and call it an easy and delicious weeknight dinner. If you don’t have the Emmental, use cheddar. Add in any other veggies to make your own twist on a classic. If you want a creamier version, use cream. Don’t skip the onions though.

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • pinch kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup diced cooked ham
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • I cup grated Emmental cheese

What you do:

  1. Melt butter and add onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, until onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Transfer to bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. While onions are cooking, whisk eggs and milk together. Add ham, parsley and cheese. Stir in onions.
  3. Heat a non-stick skillet and dump in the whole mixture. Stir over medium heat for a few minutes to get cooking started. Then leave it on the heat for 5 more minutes without stirring to let the bottom set.
  4. Transfer to oven and broil for 5 minutes just until the eggs are set and it turns a nice golden brown on top. Watch it carefully as it won’t take long to overbake this.
  5. Let it cool for a few minutes then invert on a pizza board and cut into wedges.

Serve this warm with a big bunch of your favourite greens on the side. It is also excellent cold as a quick breakfast-on-the-go the next morning.

 

Psst: baseball fever doesn’t wait on snow thawing.  You know what I’ll be doing tomorrow night.

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