Pita Bread

It’s hard to come by a good pita wrap in the foggy city. In another effort to bridge cravings for wonderful international cuisine, I decided to try and make a respectable substitute at home.

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Traditional Greek Pita Bread

It sounds like it would be a pain in the a…but they’re really easy to make. A few minutes to bring together in the standing mixer, about an hour or so for rising, and then a quick cook in a hot iron skillet. While they didn’t give the traditional “pocket” (but I think that was due to rolling them too thin), they tasted great – soft and chewy.

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We used ours for falafel wraps, using the box mix for falafels, along with some tiny tomatoes, arugula and feta. I tried to make a garlic emulsion (toum), but that ended up an exercise in washing lots of dishes and having no results. It’s seen drizzled in the photo, but should have a mayo consistency. A challenge for another day – one where it isn’t post-party!

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Sunday Funday V: Southern Comfort

Five and a half years ago, I went to Atlanta for several days for a conference. The specific details of that conference have lost hold in my memory, but I remember two main for the real takeaways from the seminar:

1. These were the nicest people I’d ever met. (Friendly and warm – the complete stereotype of southern hospitality.)

2. This was the craziest, most delicious food I’d ever had at that point. (Any place that categorizes cinnamon buns as dinner rolls has to be okay? Check out STRIP at Atlantic Station and Mary Mac’s and prepare to drool.)

I had the southern feast from Mary Mac’s in my mind when I was thinking of this Sunday’s supper. Our little round table was completely cluttered with dishes – and we were modest in our order. Cheese grits, mac and cheese, collard greens, chicken-fried steak, various forms of bread product, iced tea…the long walk back to the hotel was welcome. Maybe not even long enough.

Although the food didn’t cover every square inch of the table tonight like it did that warm June night at Mary Mac’s, it held its own.

Buttermilk fried chicken from Pioneer Woman/Steamy Kitchen
Buttermilk waffles from Southern Living

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Danish Braid

This apple-filled danish braid took all day to make. (Pastry from America’s Test Kitchen; filling from Flourishing Foodie)

Well, the actual mixing and rolling and cooking? Probably a total of an hour.

The infinite rest periods in between the steps? 9 hours.

And I’d do it again, dammit.

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The assembled danish, in its final resting place before the oven.

 

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Post-oven and post-glaze. Stop teasing me, pastry!

 

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Enfin! The iced danish. I couldn’t take the picture fast enough.

 

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God bless Denmark. (Well, the Viennese chef who came up with this in Denmark.)

Birthday Steak

Last week’s Sunday Funday post – supper for Ben’s birthday: a steakhouse meal. The nice lady at NB Liquor helped me pick out a great red wine (Gnarly Head Zinfandel), and I used this recipe to create “steakhouse-style” steak: Amuse Bouche Restaurant-Style Steak. Accompanied by asparagus and garlic/caramelized onion mashed potatoes.

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Did you notice the little detail? Yes, that’s butter on the steak.

Bless her heart – what’s left of it.

 

Sunday Funday III: The Rebirth of Sushi Sundays

Sunday isn’t so much fun lately, as my Bears continue to break my weary heart. Sigh.

So we’ll focus on other things that make it fun – like sushi. It’s the meal that is really one of our trump cards – a supper that everyone devours. With five of us and wildly different sets of taste buds, you treasure those recipes. Keep them in the back pocket and only use sparingly.

Today called for Sushi Sunday.

Sushi Sunday!

The sushi we make is all cooked sushi: the kids only eat California rolls with the fake crab, and we don’t have the necessary know-how to procure good raw fish for the adults. What we’re making here is better than grocery store stuff. The really good (and raw) stuff, we go to EN Sushi Bar on Canterbury St.

First, make your rice and “sauce”: the vinegar/sugar blend that will be folded into your rice and coat the grains.

Rice with the dressing sauce, ready to be folded

Once that’s cool enough to handle, break out the nori (seaweed paper) and your fillings.

  • For the California rolls, we use matchstick carrots, thinly-sliced cucumber, mashed-up avocado that I put in a baggie and apply like a thin line of frosting, and the fake crab. All attainable at the grocery store! The fake crab goes a long way, too – the bags they sell would do us three suppers, so we freeze portions for next time.
  • For the grown-ups, we do cooked salmon rolls: same carrots and cucumbers, crumbled-up cooked salmon, and then I make a spicy mayo out of mayonnaise and rooster sauce.

To roll the sushi, here’s a great short video. (I have the mats but don’t use them, and don’t seem to have a problem with things sticking, either.) You want to keep the layer of filling relatively short, or you’re not going to be able to eat the gigantic pieces you create.

Doubling the rice recipe, I was able to make 10 rolls (or 80 pieces), which was pretty much demolished at supper, with enough for several pieces for each kids’ lunch. There was also rice and salmon left for the grown-up lunches, too.

Cutting the sushi rolls


California rolls

Cooked salmon rolls

St. George’s Day

Last year for St. George’s Day, fat from a failed Toad in the Hole recipe (sausages cooking in Yorkshire pudding) shorted the elements in the oven. It took a week of frustration and bad pizza before it was fixed.

Tons of fresh rosemary and red onions for this bad boy.

I was determined to do better justice to the English holiday. And, with the damp, cold weather that we had on April 23rd, a steak and stout pie was the remedy. No possible way to break the stove this time – pastry armour would keep everything in place.

Jamie Oliver’s Steak and Stout Pie

Substitutions made in the recipe were a few, mainly out of availability. I used  a local English-style dark ale for the gravy, because I wanted to give it a Canadian twist. I couldn’t source the cheese (used medium cheddar deli-style), some of the fresh herbs (dried herbs to the rescue), and the particular cut of meat requested (but that was okay, because roasts were on sale).

Indeed, it was a dark and stormy St. George’s night. 

Cooking down the onions and herbs in butter and oil, until they were nice and golden.

Adding the meat and mushrooms and gravy fixings to cook down for the long haul. (Yes, I hate mushrooms, but Ben doesn’t and they were big enough to pick out.)

All ready to be put in a pie!

It was REALLY good – that night and as leftovers for a couple of days’ lunches.

The finished pie and some beverages

Dark n’ Stormy Steak Pie

Beef Korma

The first time I had Indian food, I was visiting friends at university in Waterloo. Near the campus there was this strip mall curry house, and once I got my hands on some butter chicken, I was hooked. I can’t believe that I spent 19 years sans curry. Then again, I was a picky eater growing up (understatement) and likely would not have welcomed a plate of curry with open arms. (Plus, growing up in the 80s and 90s meant sauces largely came from Campbell’s Soup cans. Or suspended in animation by the miracle of Jell-O.)

Today’s supper did not come from a can – nope, I didn’t even cheat with one of the wide variety of jarred curry sauces (which are getting to be pretty good for quick suppers). But I had a day off and wanted to make homemade curry, going with my favourite: Beef Korma (really, any excuse for cow).

Stewing beef cubes, sitting for a couple hours in plain yogurt, which eventually becomes the cooking sauce.

 

The recipe calls for a can of diced tomatoes, but we had a fresh variety pack from a previous supper.

I deviated from the recipe in two ways:

  • Using a red vs. a green pepper (as I’m more partial to them, and figured the sweetness would help balance the spice)
  • Using fresh vs. canned tomatoes (bye, sodium city)

Overall, we were pretty happy with the flavours and the quantity – enough for supper and leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I wish it was a bit creamier (like I’ve had at restaurants), but maybe adding some more plain yogurt at the end would fix that.

Beef Korma and jasmine rice

Beef Korma and jasmine rice