Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Brownie Brittle

I am a "brownie edge" person. Don't get me wrong - give me a pan of fudgy, dense brownies and it will disappear entirely without complaints - but if it's a choice between the soft centre and the crisp-chewy borders of a freshly baked pan, I'm going for the trimmings. My dad and I share the same love for that slightly overbaked texture, and while we don't like teeth-shattering crunch, we'll gladly take the bits most people wouldn't serve.

Brownie Brittle
Serving them in a coffee can is a great way to tie in the mocha flavour!

It was my search for this "golden medium" that landed me at this recipe. A relatively basic, Kamut-flour brownie got a little built-in "chew" from egg whites and custard powder, plus a "grown up" boost from brewed coffee and espresso powder. They're double-baked (a la biscotti) and left to cool in the oven, ensuring that they dry out enough to store safely at room temperature while staying ever-so-slightly yielding to chewing. Brittle really isn't the right name for these, but both "brewies" and "chettle" sound weird, so the original name for the treats I've seen in store it is!

I left out nuts and chocolate chips from the batter (they make spreading evenly tricky!) but couldn't resist a handful of bittersweet beauties scattered overtop. I might try making a batch soon with one of my favourite combinations - peanut butter and chocolate - by using a little peanut flour instead of the custard powder and a mix of peanut butter and chocolate chips overtop. The door is open for possibilities!!

How do you like your brownies? Soft, cakey, dense, fudgy... as much chocolate as you can stand?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Maple Pecan Blueberry Bread

Well, another Olympics is in the books, and (to toot our own horn) Canada did respectably - 22 medals, 4 more than the London Games and only 3 shy of the last Winter Olympics. While I admittedly didn't watch most of the Games (not a sports person in the least), I am still immensely proud of my country and how our athletes represented the values of our nation and the Games as a whole. 

Maple Pecan Blueberry Bread

In celebration, I decided to capitalize on a few hallmarks of Canadian cuisine to make our weekly loaf of bread. First, I infused some locally made butter with a mixture of Jakemans Pure Maple Syrup and my go-to Grade B (which is now apparently called "Dark Colour and Robust Taste"). Then came the Canadian-grown whole wheat and soy flours as well as a handful of flax seed for texture. To add some fruitiness, home-dried wild blueberries peppered the dough. While not Canadian, I added some pecans to the loaf as well. My mom loves pecan butter tarts, and the occasional buttery crunch just adds extra decadence to morning toast.

Sliced, toasted and topped with butter (or almost any Toast Topper), the loaf was delicious and hearty... and just Canadian enough to be "I am Canadian" cliche. Time to break out the plaid, Mountie gear and canoes!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

Now that the CNE is on (along with it's wonderfully weird mystical food building), I know that the end of Summer is nigh. It's a rather bitter-sweet moment, since these past few months have been filled with great times with family, chances to get to the gym and even enjoying the (occasionally frustrating) forays into the garden. Of course, I've been playing with the produce I've been able to pick and procure from the farmer's markets, and since my herbs have finally decided to play ball in their boxes I've been using them in both sweet and savoury things any time I get a chance.

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

One of the great things I've rediscovered with my herbs is infusing - both salt and sugar this year have been herb-ified in my garden. A jar of cheap Kosher salt met up with a few of my rosemary sprigs for a gourmet-tasting pantry staple ready for Fall or Winter roast chicken, while nasturtium blossoms and lemon balm have made some fantastic (and beautiful) jars of sugar. It was the lemon balm sugar, along with a lemonade mix that a student of mine had gifted me, that inspired these carnival-sized, summer sunny yellow cookies. Inspired by Averie's recipe, I added fresh lemon balm to the mixture of infused sugar and strawberry lemonade mix for a pop of fresher "what could this be?" flavour. Tons of lemon zest followed suit, along with a shot of lemon extract and even lemon juice for kicks (and leavening!). I opted for a tiny touch of yellow food colouring to make the Kamut flour's natural golden hue pop, but of course it's optional!

How do you celebrate Summer (or it's swan song)? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mango - Raspberry Jam Toast Topper #72

When it comes to summery-tasting Toast Toppers, my favourites are always those with a blend of seasonal Ontario fruit and a hint of tropical flair. Our summers are not always the nicest (although this year has been gloriously hot - which I love but others detest) and adding that little bit of "guaranteed sunshine" livens up even the most pallid fruit at our local markets.

Mango - Raspberry Jam

Usually, making blends like this also involved a bit of finesse and planning - the tropical fruit is at its peak during the winter here, so that's when I buy, process and freeze it. Not only do I get great flavour this way, but I save money too (and leftovers make great smoothies in February!). Once the Ontario fruit begins appearing in the stores, I pick up baskets here and there, bulk-buying when they're on sale or hitting up the orchard and market that IQFs part of their harvest if I need more than a pint or so. By far, the best fruit I've procured this year have been raspberries and peaches, and this past winter mangoes were (almost literally) a dime a dozen. When I found myself with a freezer bag of each a few weeks ago - and no jam in the freezer - I took the opportunity to throw both fruits into a pot with a few packets of instant honey-ginger crystals and a pinch of cardamom, cooking them into a chunky semi-puree. A pinch of fresh lemon balm brightened up the flavours just enough so that even when thickened with pectin and stashed for a week or so, it tasted fresh and summery - not at all sugar-laden, which can often happen with "tropical" type preserves.

After watching the Jamaica-Canada Olympic battle this past week, I've been wishing I made more of this spread! My mom commented it was a great representation of the Islands and Canada, so if you're hosting any sort of (belated) Olympic brunch this would be great spread to break out too. For me? I simply find it perfect for eating!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"Almost Famous" Coating Mix

If you live in North America, you've very likely tried the infamous KFC. Even if you don't, God knows that the name, logo and "11 secret herbs and spices" tagline have graced your eyes and ears more than once (apparently there are over 15,000 restaurants in more than 125 countries right now). The mixture is a closely-guarded secret, and while lots of people have attempted to crack the code, I can only find varying reports as to authenticity.

"Almost Famous" Chicken Breading Mix

So, when I was looking to create a recipe for a seasoned "coating" mix for the kids at school to give as Father's Day gifts, I took inspiration from the various sources Google provided me and essentially meshed them all together. I tried out a few batches on my thankfully understanding family, who declared this final round a winner - spicy but not hot, not too salty, perfectly crispifying and - ironically - tasting nothing like the classic. We're not big on deep-fried anything in general, and my parents and I always eschewed the restaurant versions of fried chicken as being far too salty (fish n' chips, on the other hand, we love - especially with beer batter!).

Non-frying aside, the mixture of my 12(!) flavourings, flour and breadcrumbs provided the perfect balance to buttermilk-soaked chicken, as well as pork chops and potato wedges. For a hotter kick, I'd toss in some jalapeno or chipotle powder, which would make for some killer curly fries. It's just as easy to whip up a huge batch of this and portion it into 1 1/2 cup -filled baggies as it is to make a single portion, which is a good thing - who knows what else we'll find to crust!