Simple, white sandwich buns.

First I’d like to tell everyone that my brother and I have been watching, and talking about 90’s and early 2000’s cartoons lately…You know the ones people got up on Saturday mornings to watch.  They don’t compare to the really BAD ones you see on television these days.  Some of them include: Johnny Bravo, Teen Titans, T.M.N.T, and Ruby Gloom.  In fact, I just finished watching an episode of Ruby Gloom and I smiled through the whole thing.  It’s so dark, yet so happy!  I highly recommend taking a trip down memory lane via old cartoons, you wont regret it.
Alright so here we go!
Bread, something nobody bakes anymore.  It’s a lost art because of how easy to buy it at the grocery store.  I’ll be honest with you all, I even buy my bread at the store.  However every once in a while I’ll roll up my sleeves, cover myself head to toe in flour, and think to myself “how come I don’t do this more often”.  The smell is what gets me, there’s nothing better than baking your own bread and having that mouth-watering smell waft through your home.  Now add your Saturday morning cartoons and you’re having the best weekend of your life.

Yields: 6-8 buns.    Prep time: 3ish hours.    Baking time: 20 minutes (or until golden).

Equipment:
Stand mixer with hook attachment (Or knead by hand).
Measuring cups and spoons.
Medium/large bowl.
Baking pan.
Dish cloth or plastic wrap.
Pastry brush.
Small bowl.
…and of course an oven.

Ingredients:
3 3/4 cups bread flour (all-purpose can be used).
1 1/4 teaspoon yeast.
2 teaspoons fine salt (I used fine sea salt)
1 teaspoon white sugar.
13 fluid oz warm water. (You can find fluid ounces on a liquid measuring cup)
Butter or coating the pan.
1 egg for brushing buns before going into the oven.

Method:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350/400 degrees.
2. Combine warm water, yeast and sugar together.  Let sit till yeast creates a foamy looking texture on top.
3. In stand mixer bowl combine flour and salt.  Add the water/yeast mixture to the flour on the lowest speed for about 2 minutes.
4. Continue to mix on the second lowest speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough comes together and is smooth.
5. Knead on counter surface (no flour needed) to create a ball shape. Oil your medium-sized bowl and place dough ball inside.  Place on top of the oven(or in a warm area) to rise, placing a dish cloth on top or wrapping bowl with plastic wrap.
6. Once dough is double in size punch the dough down and knead for a minute or two.
7. Cut dough into even sections and tightly roll into smaller balls.
8. Place small dough balls in a buttered baking pan.  Slightly and gently press each one down (this creates that flatter appearance you need for a sandwich bun).  Cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap again and let rise till double its size (about 20 minutes).  Brushing butter on top of each roll before you put it to rise a second time will help the dough stay moist.
9. Once double in size brush each roll with egg wash, this will help the rolls turn that nice golden colour.
10. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes OR until golden.  Let rest till cool enough to handle.
11. ENJOY!!

**Note, I did not brush mine with egg wash, that is why they look so pale.

Glazed, spiced orange cheesecake.

Remember about a month ago I went through a preserving obsession?  Well it’s time to use those preserved items.  Don’t worry though, it wont be one right after another;  I’ll keep it random.  I’ve been contemplating what to do with each preserved citrus fruit, and I’m positive everyone could enjoy a spiced orange cheese cake.
A little slice of heaven can go a long way in cheering any person up.  When I mean a little slice of heaven, I really mean some form of dessert that tastes so gosh darn delicious you melt.  Which is what this cheesecake is, something so delicious I melted after consuming the first bite.

This is going to be an extra long read, because of all the different recipes and steps you have to go through.  So I’m sorry if it seems like an eternity.

**The post was delayed because my cheesecake was not cold enough to cut till after midnight!  So I thought the best thing to do was to wait till Monday.  This way I could take some photos for everyone to enjoy.

Equipment:
Stand mixer with paddle attachment (Or a bowl, whisk and rubber spatula).
Measuring cups and spoons.
Wooden spoon/rubber spatula.
A spring form pan OR whatever you can bake a cake in.
Baking pan for water bath.
Small/Medium pot.
Whisk.
Spoons for tasting.
Knife.
Cutting board.
Something for straining, such as a small colander.
2 small bowls.
Food processor/blender.
Aluminum foil, and parchment paper.

Ingredients: (Filling)
2 bricks of cream cheese (about 16oz).
2 tbsp sour cream.
1/2 cup of white sugar.
4 eggs.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
1/2 cup pickled, spiced oranges (JUST THE FLESH/no peel, finely chopped or pureed; Keep the liquid)
Zest of 2 oranges.
1 tsp cinnamon.

Ingredients: (Crust)
1/4 cup granola (Plain or honey).
1 3/4 cups Graham crackers (Plain or honey, I used honey).
1/4 cup unsalted butter (More if needed).

Ingredients: (Spiced, orange caramel glaze)
1/2- 3/4 cup juice from spiced oranges.
1/2 cup water.
1 cup white sugar.
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter.

Method:
1. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.
2.Open your pickled, spiced oranges, strain making sure to save the juice (Set juice aside for later).
3. Peel the oranges flesh from the peels and finely chop or puree. You won’t need the peels so you may toss them in the compost.
4. Soften cream cheese by mixing in stand mixer with paddle attachment.
5. Combine sour cream and sugar.  Continue to mix on a lower speed.
6. Mix in eggs, vanilla, chopped spiced oranges, orange zest and cinnamon.  Quickly combine together being careful not to over mix.
7. Place mixture in fridge till ready to use.
8. In a food processor or blender chop granola till roughly fine. If your graham crackers are also whole do the same thing. ( I just bought graham cracker crumbs.) Combine the two ingredients.
9. Soften or melt the butter and mix with the crust mixture.
10. Butter your spring form or cake pan, place a piece of parchment on the bottom that nicely fits it.
11. Evenly spread crust mixture on the bottom of the pan, making sure to pack it tightly.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until it looks golden.  Once done, let cool.
12. If using a spring form pan wrap the bottom and up around the sides with aluminum foil.  This will keep batter from either leaking out and/or, stop the water from entering;  If you choose to directly put the pan in a water bath.
13. Pour cheesecake batter into pan.  Lightly tap the pan on the counter to release any air trapped inside.  Place a water bath in the oven to keep the cheese cake from cracking.  This method can be done by placing the two on different racks OR, by placing the cake pan directly into a water bath; Where the water is no higher than 1/2 of the cake pan.  Bake in oven at 350 degree for 20-30 minutes, or when knife/toothpick comes out clean.  Once done let cool at room temperature.
14. Combine juice from spiced oranges, water and sugar in a pot.  Bring up to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
15. Stirring occasionally letting it reduce till it becomes thicker (About 20 minutes).  Whisk in butter.  Let cool till slightly warm.  (Keep an eye on it, it will bubble over!!)
16. Cut cheesecake and pour glaze over each piece and serve, OR over entire cake before cutting.  Add whipped cream if desired! ENJOY!!

Squash- Tips and tricks.

Squash, often overlooked in grocery stores or only used during the holidays.  A lot of the time when I do see a squash in people’s fridges it has been there for weeks maybe months on end looking pretty; Till of course it gets to mouldy and needs to be thrown away.  Even though I love squash, I even find myself passing by the brightly coloured display next to the onions and potatoes.  Why? because they take FOREVER to cook.  You don’t need to keep a constant eye on them, and it surely takes no effort.  However for some reason it taking over an hour to roast seems painful; When I can just eat something at that very moment, or at least sooner.
Lately I’ve been buying squash though.  I’m starting to make myself eat more of a variety while I am at home, instead of waiting till I go to work.

In this entry I’ll be posting: different ways you can cook a squash, different types of squash, and different ways to enjoy it.

There are many types of squash, most can be prepared the same way.  However there is one in mind where roasting seems to be the only way.  The squash I’m talking about is the spaghetti Squash! When cooked it creates a stringy texture which gives it the “spaghetti” appearance.  The best way to cook it I find is by roasting.  Once cooked you can do whatever you want with it.  Saute in a pan with butter and seasonings, put it in a salad…you name it.
A list of some other squash are: Butternut, acorn, buttercup, red kuri, turban, etc..  The list could go on but I think you get the hint there are many.

For roasting you could cut the squash in half, take the seeds out and rub flesh with salt, pepper (whatever seasoning you like) and some oil…sometimes I like to use maple syrup.  Place them on a baking sheet flesh facing down and roast in oven at 350 degrees till somewhat soft. Then turn squash over so flesh is facing upwards.  Place back in often till finished cooking, this will give it a nice flavour and should be slightly golden.
Another way you could roast is by peeling and cutting the squash into chunks, and boiling the pieces in salted water like you would a potato. Once almost cooked, strain water.  Coat in oil and seasonings, place on baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees till golden.
To saute and caramelize them in a pan you would first have to boil it the same way as you were to roast them.

**Tip** By placing flesh face down first it gives a “steaming” effect.  This will allow it to cook before it starts to burn, same goes for boiling first.

There are many things you can put squash into, including desserts and lattes!  One of my favourite ways to enjoy squash is in pasta. A creamy non tomato based lasagna is so delicious when squash is involved, same goes with ravioli. Another way to enjoy it is in salad, caramelized squash with a fantastic vinaigrette based salad can be to die for.  How about a vegetarian sandwich? Soup, everyone loves a butternut squash soup.  It’s also really enjoyable stuffed inside some pork tenderloin with cranberries.   Heck, I even enjoy squash on its own. In fact I ate spaghetti squash today for lunch, with just some salt and cracked black pepper on top. Sometimes it’s nice keeping it simple, that’s for sure.

Well there’s my rant about squash, I hope you learned something from it!

Oh and to everyone in Nova Scotia right now, hope you’re enjoying the blizzard!  …Because I’m not.

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Some squash for you!

 

How to- Stocks and broths.

As I sit here writing, sipping on my Baileys tainted coffee I contemplate whether or not stock and both are the same.  A stock, often used in many sauces, soups and bases for countless dishes.  A broth, used to make soups and so many timeless culinary experiments.  It also sounds well, better; On a menu you would say, poached with “spiced pork broth” not “spiced pork stock”. These words are interchangeable, making food items and menus sound more tasteful and more desirable to eye when read.
If you think about it both stocks and broths start off the same, slowly simmering on the stove for hours with a variety of items such as; bones, vegetables, meats, some herbs and peppercorns.  However there are slight differences to consider when being technical about something.
The definition of a stock is bones/seafood shells(and meat if you want), vegetables, and maybe some herbs/spices simmered on the stove for hours. The definition of a broth is meat or vegetables and maybe some herbs/spices simmered on the stove for hours.
What’s the difference?  It’s the bones, broth contains no bones at all, meaning there will be no gelatin.  This gives a lighter taste, and colour.  Now does this mean someone will be angry at you when you do say “spiced pork broth” yet you used bones to make it?  NO! I would never not use bones unless I was making a vegetable broth, to me it taste a heck of a lot better.  Also like I stated before, these words are interchangeable…and no one follows the definition strictly anyways.

SO, with the stock and broth lesson over here is how you make a delicious stock or broth.  You’ll never have to buy the salty boxed stuff ever again for all your soup and sauce needs.  Also, did I mention it’s super easy to do, takes little effort, and extremely cheap to make?
Scraps can be used to make any stock or broth, such as carrot or onion peelings.  Even though they are normally thrown in the compost they provide plenty of flavouring and can be used instead of using whole items. Saving you money and time.

In the photos I provide I am making a shrimp stock, using shells from the shrimp I peeled at work.  Which turned out to be very delicious and, made an awesome soup for my supper that night.

Equipment:
1 large pot.
Cutting board.
Knife.
Container (for storage).
Colander or strainer of sorts.
Ladle.

Ingredients: (for stocks)
Enough bones/shells to fill your pot almost 3/4 full. (you may use some scarp meat if you like)
A bunch of herbs.  Such as: thyme, parsley or rosemary. (If desired)
Onions/leeks. (peels are welcomed)
Carrots. (peels welcomed)
Celery. (washed)
Some whole peppercorns.
Tomato paste is optional if making a veal/beef stock.
Ingredients: (for broth)
Enough meat and vegetables 3/4 full. (no meat if making vegetable broth)
Herbs if desired.
Whole peppercorns.

Method:
**Because both are made the same way there will only be one method.
1. If you desire a different taste, roast bones and/or vegetables till slightly golden at 350 degrees or higher.   If you are making a veal/beef stock and are using tomato paste, roast bones and vegetables till golden.  Once golden spread paste all over and roast again for about 10 minutes.  You do not have to roast.
2. Place all items in a large pot (including drippings and small bits left on pan!!) and fill with water till just over your ingredients.  Bring up to a boil and quickly bring down to a simmer.  DO NO STIR AT ALL!! How long it simmers depends on what type of stock/broth you are making so here is a list of times.
Chicken stock/broth– No less than 1.5 hours.
Veal/beef stock/broth– No less than 8 hours.
Fish/shellfish stock– 1- 1.5 hours.  No more, no less. (less will be watery, more will be bitter and foggy)
Vegetable broth– at least 1 hour.
3. While simmering and depending on the type of stock/broth you’ll want to skim the fat off the top.  Using a ladle grab the fat the floats on top throughout the whole time it’s simmering. By doing this it will become less bitter and of course less fatty.
4. Take off heat and strain into your desired container, leaving no small bits.  Let cool.  End product should be clear and have plenty of flavour.
5. ENJOY!!

Iced ginger green tea.

Lately I’ve been cutting out as many sugary drinks as possible.  I knew that I couldn’t just drink coffee all day, I would be so dehydrated (as much as I would love to). I also knew that drinking water all day could be boring, even though I actually like the taste of water.  So I decided to make my own healthy versions of iced tea.  Green tea is really good for you;  It has antioxidants in it which keep you looking young and fresh, it speeds up your metabolism and helps with your heart.  Ginger is also great for you by helping with stress, has anti inflammatory effects, boosts the immune system and helps with nausea.  Both of these ingredients have way more health benefits and are extremely healthy.  So it just made sense that I would make an iced tea out of them for a refreshing beverage.
Now this doesn’t mean I’ll never enjoy a Dr.Pepper ever again. It’s all in moderation right?

This weeks post as you can see is a little simple and that’s okay.  Every once in a while it’s okay to take it easy and enjoy the little things life has to offer.  Plus I’ve been so busy planning my big move, making sure everything is perfect!  I’ve also been working a lot to save up those dollars.  I’m such a procrastinator that if I don’t go crazy with lists and planning there’s a good chance I will wait till right before I leave.  So whoever is reading this I hope you enjoy it, because this drink has defiantly helped me this past week.

Ingredients:
5-6 bags of green tea.
About 3 ounces of ginger, or whatever your taste buds call for.
Two table spoons of honey. More or less depending on your taste

Equipment:
1 juice jug.
A spoon for stirring.
1 medium pot.
Knife.
Cutting board.
A spoon for peeling the ginger.

Method:
1. Peel ginger and cut into slices.  Combine with 5-6 cups of water in a medium-sized pot.
2. Bring water and ginger to a boil, turn temperature down and let simmer for several minutes; Until ginger is nicely infused with water.
3. Let the water cool just a little, about 5 minutes.  Combine ginger water and tea bags in a juice jug.  Let steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Take tea bags and ginger pieces out and compost it.  Place tea in fridge to completely cool.
5. ENJOY!!

**I accidentally used the wrong tea when I made it again, being tired and all….so the colour is a little off in this photo.

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Preserved lemons.

I never liked tartar sauce, it always seemed disgusting to me for some reason…and same with fish sticks.  It might have something to do with always encountering them from a jar or box.  Recently that all changed, I had finally tried a tartar sauce that was made by hand and to my surprise it was delicious;  Same goes for fish sticks.  Who knew making something could taste so much better….well I did, but for some reason I never wanted to give this sauce any type of chance.  After that experience I had tried and tested all sorts of recipes.  The one that stood out the most was one that had preserved lemons in it.
So here it is, the last preserved citrus fruit post….for now.  This week post is on preserved lemons and they are very delicious to add to any savoury food such as, tartar sauce.   You will be directed to the canning post I wrote several weeks ago once you get to the method section.

Equipment:
Large pot.
Mason jars
Cutting board.
Knife.
Medium bowl.
Measuring cups.
Wooden spoon/normal spoon.
Dish cloth.
Grinder (for salt).

Ingredients:
5-6 lemons.
A lot of coarse salt. (I used a pink rock salt)
Cloves.
Bay leaves.

Method:
1. Cut lemons into wedges leaving 2 for juicing. Juice the lemons.
2. Crush salt, rub a bunch directly into lemons.  Combine juice, cloves, bay leaves and more salt.
3. Place the mixture into the mason jars and sprinkle a little more salt on top.
4. Follow the canning method I posted several weeks ago by clicking the following link.  How to- Canning method.
5. Every once in a while give it a shake to mix up all the salt and liquid.

Preserved, “mojito” limes.

Last week I was having some troubles with my creativity, you know like any other person who expresses them selves.  This week however is a completely different story; My writers block is gone and I’m ready to post!   Like I mentioned two weeks ago several of my upcoming posts will be on preserving.  I’ll be posting three different recipes with three different citrus fruits, following the preserving method I posted first.  This is citrus fruit number two!  I will link you to the canning post when we arrive at the method section.

Mojitos, a popular drink indeed.  A drink that in my 21 years of life and the 3 years of “legal” drinking, I have yet to try.  So you ask, what is so awesome and delicious about this drink anyways? And how would you know that it is if you have never tried it?  Well you see I have had these flavours in other things before, and well it is very much so delicious.  I don’t need alcohol to know that a combination of flavours is either a magical elixir, or some witches brew you should probably avoid.
Now wouldn’t it be fantastic if this combination was blended, mixed into some cream, and frozen to make one heck of an ice cream?  Oh boy would it ever be refreshing on a hot summer’s day.  What if you did bake it into a cheesecake, I bet hundreds of people would line up just for a sample…actually I might be exaggerating, it doesn’t hurt to dream big right?
This weeks citrus fruit is, you guessed it. Limes; preserved mojito limes to be exact.

Equipment:
Large pot.
Mason jars
Cutting board.
Knife.
Medium bowl.
Measuring cups.
Wooden spoon/normal spoon.
Dish cloth

Ingredients:
6 limes. (depending on size of mason jar)
Lots of brown sugar, probably a cup- packed.
A bunch of mint.
Pinch or two of ground coarse salt for flavour.

Method:
1. Cut 4 limes into wedges or slices, Juice the remaining two and set juice aside.
2. Roughly chop mint.
3. Combine sugar, salt, mint, juice, and limes in a bowl.  Squish limes and mint together making them soft. Set aside.
4. Follow the link to the canning method I previously posted. How to- Preserving, canning method.