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Archive for the ‘compote’ Category

The Hiatus, so to speak, that I’ve taken over the last four months is hopefully on the wane.  That ever ambitious and itchy-footed Mr P hooked a big fish in a rather different pond last year and I found myself, in the middle of the Christmas festivities, sorting through our life’s material goods; deciding which to keep, which to give away/sell and which would end up in the land fill (very, very little, I assure you) in preparation for a move to a new country.  Then, once the glorious feasting of another fantastic Canadian Christmas and the exuberant celebrating-in of a New Year had fattened us all up enough; the cookies all eaten; the champagne bottles had been recycled and the tree dismantled and put out in the snow it was time to get down to the hard work of packing.

One of the most difficult tasks in the move was saying goodbye to my wonderful, extensive and hard earned pantry.  I spent most of the Summer last year in a frenzy of pickling, jamming and preserving the amazing bounty of the Ontario growing season.  I’d amassed an extraordinary array of beautiful preserves in a tower of glass jars that couldn’t be shipped and had to be parted with.  What heartache!  Not to mention the the eclectic collection of sugars, flours, spices, pastes and seasonings one accretes over time that wouldn’t be allowed over the border.  Eh bien, c’est la vie. Tant pis

In the first week of January four burly men arrived with a large truck and proceeded to wrap, package and cart off everything we owned, destined for a new adventure across the Atlantic Ocean.  It was a horridly emotional time, having to uproot to the life we’d taken such pains to plant, water and nurture to such beautiful fruitfulness.  Our little home in Toronto had been a haven from storms, a cozy bubble of hospitality and love and fabulous cooking.  Oh, Toronto, how you’d gotten under my skin!

It takes time to settle in to a new environment.  It takes time to find the right markets, the right ingredients, the right oven temperature.  It takes time to figure out how to fit mustard, the rice, the pots, the baking tins into a new and smaller kitchen.  It takes time to adjust to a new way of life.

But here we are, the intrepid Mr P and I, four months into our new lives in Londontown, and slowly starting to sink into that glorious, feathered bed called Routine.  I’ve pumped up the tires on Storm, my trusty two-wheeled steed and roamed the streets of this crazy, manic city (getting lost most of the time in the organic warren of highways and byways) searching for goodies and treats.  I’ve traveled the roads on the top of  giant red buses to spy on delicatessen and bakeries from above.  I’ve taken long and hypnotic underground routes in search of the perfect coffee beans, the finest Rose Jam.  And I’ve worn a good layer of rubber off my sneakers trekking my own little neighbourhood from Baker to Butcher to Bonbonerie.  Still, I’ve managed to uncover and wheedle from hiding but a tiny portion of the cornucopia of goodies lying in wait in the nooks and crannies of this fantastical Town.  There is so much here, such dense collage of cultures and cuisines that it is an impossible, inexhaustible territory to map and charter.

Finally, however, I begin again to cook.  Like a bear coming out of hibernation; slow, awkward first steps into a light too bright for such sleepy eyes.  But I’m getting the hang of it again, bit by bit, stretching the cooking muscles; limbering up.

An army marches on it’s stomach and so while I’m pouring over new recipes and dabbling in this and that on the stove, I thought I’d better have a little something to snack on.

Cauliflower has never been my favourite of favourite veggies.  It’s not something I dislike, per se, but usually I can take it or leave it, really.  Cauliflowers, however, are bang on in season here and they looked so amazing sitting all plumped up and voluptuous at the farmers market that I just couldn’t resist.  Now to find something wonderful to do to them; something to bring out their flavour and inspire me to greater things.  I decided to make a spread.  It’s a wonderful, deeply flavoursome, nutty and complex spread that is just perfect spread thickly on a chunky slice of freshly baked loaf.  Mmmm.  Or try mixing a large spoon of it into mashed potatoes; adding it to some veg stock for a good soup; braising it with some good bacon and cabbage for a scrumptious side dish to a roast.

*Note: The garlic I used in the recipe was very special Oak Smoked garlic made by an enthusiastic garlic grower.  The smell and flavour are amazing, but I’m betting you won’t find it in a grocery store very easily, so use regular garlic instead.  The roasting will mellow the flavour sufficiently.

Roasted Cauliflower Paste

Ingredients:
½ cup Olive Oil
2 tsp Baharat
½ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Salt
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
½ cup walnuts, toasted
¼ tsp mustard powder
2 tsp – 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

method:
– pre-heat a small roasting pan in the oven to 400˚F

– mix the oil, baharat, nutmeg and salt in a medium sized bowl

– add the cauliflower and garlic and toss to coat with oil/spice mix

-Place in the hot roasting pan, in the oven, and roast for 20 minutes, stirring and basting every 10 minutes.

– Turn the temperature down to 325˚F and continue roasting for a further 30 minutes until the cauliflower is very tender.

– Remove from oven and allow to cool.

– In a medium sized bowl (or a food processor) blend the cauliflower with the walnuts and mu
stard powder until smooth.

– Add pomegranate molasses bit by bit according to taste.

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Muslie pancrepes

We’ve all heard it a thousand times before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We’ve heard it from our mothers and fathers, from our doctors, our teachers, our newspapers and magazines. I had to learn the hard way to start the day off right. I used to wake up late, being a committed fan of Club Duvet, rush through my morning routine of showering, dressing and general cleanliness and then dash out the door and head off straight to work. “I’ll grab something at work” I used to tell myself, but apart from a cup of tea or coffee, I very often would get so absorbed and distracted by work that I’d look up, famished, at 3 0’clock and wonder why I felt so tired and lack-luster. Now I know: if I skip a meal, I won’t make it through the day without needing to put my head down. And while I love a nap now and then on a rainy Sunday, there’s really just so much I’d rather be doing. During the week, as a rule, I usually start the day with a lovely bowl of muesli, which I custom make from my little jars of grains, seeds, nuts and fruit, with a dollop of yoghurt and a generous mug of fresh Cafetiere-style coffee. Weekends, when the ever delightful Mr P is around, is when the fun happens. So what do you do when you’ve had a long weekend full of the fun and you’re somewhat fed up (so to speak) with eggs over easy and blueberry pancakes; but your husband wants something a bit more elaborate than a bowl of cereal? Well, a wise woman would tell you, marriages are all about compromise, non?

Voila.

*note: due to the lack of plain flour gluten (I’m guessing here) these Pancrepes don’t hold together as well as ordinary crepes, so they’re somewhere between Crepes and all-American breakfast pancakes. Hence the name. Get it?

Muesli PanCrepes with Berry Compote and Cream Cheese

for the pancakes:
½ cup + 2 Tbsp Quinoa flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp ground oatbran
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp ground cornmeal (not corn starch, but finer than Polenta)
1 Tbsp ground Almonds
1 tsp baking powder
½ Tbsp maple sugar (or use caster sugar)
pinch salt
1 cup rice milk (or cows milk)
2 eggs, beaten

for the compote:
1 cup berries of your choice (I used wild blueberries and blackberries)
¼ cup water
½ Tbsp maple sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

cream cheese to serve

1: make the batter

– combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a whisk

– combine eggs and milk. Add to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

– leave to stand for 20 mins or so, while you make the compote.

2: make the compote

– combine fruit, water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins. Keep warm while you make the pancakes.

3: make the pancakes and serve

– put a plate on the lowest rung of your oven and turn the oven onto it’s lowest setting. Put a small dollop of butter onto the plate.

– heat a non stick skillet or frying pan or griddle on a medium to high heat

– using a soup ladle, drop one ladle of batter onto the hot surface at a time, swirling the mixture around the pan a little to spread it out. The end pancake should be somewhere between crepe and pancake thickness.

– when bubbles begin to pop on the surface, carefully turn the cake over using an egg lifter and cook the other side.

– when the pancake is cooked, put it in the oven on the plate while you cook the rest. If you’re feeling indulgent, plop a little piece of butter onto the top of each crepe while it waits for its neighbour.

– serve with fruit compote, cream cheese and plenty of Maple syrup.

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