Chicken

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I liked this article QZ: Rotisserie chicken but I took exception to some of its claims. For instance, it says

“the modern-day rotisserie renaissance—cheap birds in take-home containers at supermarkets and big-box stores—can be traced back to the early ‘90s”.

Now wait a minute. I remember salivating over rotisserie chicken at Monty’s Inn in Kingston, Jamaica in the early 70’s. My mother refused to buy it, saying that it was tasteless and overpriced.  That never stopped me from sniffing and wishing for it.

And what about Swiss Chalet chicken?! In Toronto, it’s the family friendly food chain restaurant that’s been the favorite of every kid growing up since 1954.   It serves luscious rotisserie baked chicken with perfect fries and dunk-addictive ‘chalet sauce.’  There’s nothing remotely Swiss on the menu but no one even questions that anymore. Swiss Chalet is just is.

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Hmm. Swiss Chalet Festive Special: Chicken, Stuffing AND Chocolate!

But maybe the salient word is ‘cheap.‘  In Costco (the #1 seller of rotisserie chicken) a cooked 1.2kg bird is  $7.99 CAD ($4.99 for my US neighbors.)

Silly me, I thought the Costco chicken was my personal bargain budget find. Who knew that it was just a ploy and that the extra large, 2L bucket of potato salad and 1kg of Cesar salad was what Mr Costco actually wanted me to buy!

 

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Bread update

I have been busy.

Whole Grain Breads

Buttermilk WW and Spelt

Get ready to be bored by a weekly barrage of bread. I’m back to school at George Brown College learning all about Whole Grain Artisan Bread.

This being the first of twelve weeks of classes, I was embarrassingly unprepared. I remembered the essentials of my uniform (pants, jacket, apron and hat)  but I had to re-assemble my kit. This being a bread making class I packed the minimum (scale and scrapers) and removed the unnecessary (scissors and knives.)   Or so I thought.  After all, we were  going to make flat bread and pan loaves in Week #1. For what would we need scissors and knives?

Lesson #1:  Scissors are absolutely necessary.  Many whole grain and specialty flours are vacuum packed in one kilo packages.  Ripping them open with your teeth is not allowed.

Lesson #2:  Flatbread flavored with a whole head of garlic and two hanks of fresh herbs requires chopping.  A lot of chopping.

Luckily my bench partner and I were a complementary pair.   She had all the tools I hadn’t packed and I had all the items she’d forgot.

Here’s a look at the bread we made:  Stone ground whole wheat bread made with buttermilk and honey.   Flatbread made from spelt flour and flavored with garlic and herb infused olive oil.

Both were tasty, especially  the WW bread which was dense, chewy and slightly sweet.  These were hearty, European style  breads, perfect for open faced sandwiches, teamed up with steaming bowls of soup.

The Evolution of Zuke

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The zucchini looked big in Cody’s box.  It looked even bigger on its own.  I weighed the monster on my Iron Man scale (so called because … isn’t it obvious?)

What do you do with a 1.675 kg Zuke and his 536g younger brother? It’s going to take many meals to find out.

King Arthur had some interesting ideas.  Roasted veggie pizza for instance.  Actually, the King suggested a galette but I had pizza dough in the fridge.  The recipe said to roast sliced zucchini and tomatoes in a 425F oven for 15-20 minutes.  It also talked about making a ricotta cheese base but I don’t like fresh cheese.

For the pizza which should have been a galette – I rolled out the dough, dressed it with olive oil and fresh basil and layered it with a scant topping of roasted tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms and onions.  To maintain it’s integrity as pizza, I sprinkled on a bit of cheese.  It was very good.

For dessert, King Arthur had an eye catching suggestion: Chocolate Zucchini Bread.  Now that’s a puzzle. Are vegetables allowed in dessert?

Based on stuff on hand and personal preference, I made a few adjustments to King Arthur’s recipe.  The bread came out nice except it didn’t taste like bread.  It tasted like a lovely moist chocolate cake.  It was not too sweet and was excellent with a cup of tea.

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For my version of Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread Cake, here you go.

 

 

 

 

 

Cody’s Box

The Sandy Chronicles

Cody's Veggie Box Cody’s Veggie Box

Cody is an organic farmer who sells veggie boxes every other week or so.

In olden days people would push carts of fruit and vegetables around and call out what they had to sell. Housewives would poke their heads through the window, flag them down and buy the makings for dinner.

In new-present day, Cody pushes out a Facebook post:  He’s coming through town with boxes to sell!   I message him and he comes directly to the front door. First to Message, First to be Served.

The model doesn’t  work for big cities but it scales just right for Ucluelet.

So here’s my box of vegetables.

Gigantic Zucchini’s.  I’d heard that zucchinis can get big but this is ridiculous.

Kale.  Lots and lots of Kale. Much too much. I’m still trying to figure out why Kale is so popular.  I think it falls in the category…

View original post 210 more words

Giving Rye a(nother) Try

The last time I made Rye bread it was at the King Arthur Flour Baking School in Washington. It was a 100% rye brick. It was so hard I could not cut it with a knife.  Since I didn’t have an axe on hand, I threw it into the garbage bin where it landed with a thump and a din.

Since then I’ve only used rye in very small quantities in my sourdoughs. However at 30g a batch, it’s going to take a while to work through my 5kg bag. I decided to give Rye another try.

Paging through my Gisslen’s “Professional Baking” book, I chose his version of Pain de Campagne. This is a straight dough made with a rye poolish. Overall it’s 30% rye-70% wheat combination with 65% hydration. It is very sticky dough to start (now I remember) but it firms up nicely when developed.

I couldn’t resist cutting it soon after cooling. The crumb is fine & even (which I think is typical) and the crust chewy & nutty. I had it with a slash of cold butter and it was good. I could imagine this with as an open faced sandwich: cream cheese and smoked salmon or grilled cheese with tomatoes or smoked meat with honey mustard.  Hmmm. I  could make this again.

Campagne Rye 2

Campagne Rye

Ucluelet, BC. August 2018

Hong Kong style Buns

A recent article on Tangzhong breads got me yearning for Hong Kong style buns.

In Hong Kong and Singapore it’s hard to find a bakery not selling these pillowy soft breads.  They are slightly sweet, tender and chewy with a butter slicked soft crust.  Fillings tend towards sweet – red bean paste, coconut and custard – and salty sweet – cha sui buns, curry beef and onions, ham, cheese and onions. My kids favorite were hot dog buns – unadorned sausages wrapped in a spiral of bread.  In Singapore, variations included bright green pandan, light brown gula melaka and brilliant yellow mango flavored buns.

Nice though it was, this sweet bread was the ONLY style of bread available in Singapore bakeries.  Good on its own for snacks,  they are less than satisfying with soups, meats and meals.  Eating them at dinner was like eating Twinkies with your roast beef.   The unavailability of ‘regular’ bread was the reason I started making artisan breads at home.

Now that I’m back in Canada and living in remote British Columbia, the situation is reversed.  In my little town, there is no bakery.  There is a supermarket with an in-store bakery.   It does passably well with white and whole grain pan breads. Their  danishes and croissants are of the pre-made, mass produced variety.  Their Hong Kong buns?  Nonexistent.  My solution? Start making it at home.

Here’s my first batch. Shaping is not as good as it could be and it’s a bit too brown on top but the taste – it’s just as it should be.    Want to give it a try? Here’s a recipe.

Ucluelet, B.C.  August 2018

 

 

West Coast Healthy

I’m going whole hog with the West Coast lifestyle thing.

Well, maybe not ‘whole hog’, that’s not vegan. But I may be going ‘loco.’

I’m buying local anyways.  I joined the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild (TUCG) which provides locally sourced food and vegetables to Vancouver Island’s restaurants and foodies.

Aside from ordering a la carte, I can buy a Food Lovers box featuring the best veg and fruits of the week. Sometimes it’ll include an unusual but not too weird item. Exactly what’s in the box is a mystery until pickup.

Here’s what my first box looked like.

FoodLoversBox2

Fruits included raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries and first of the season peaches.

Veggies were french beans, fresh picked bib lettuce, cauliflower and purple kale. The kale was the not too weird vegetable. And carrots – lots and lots of carrots – a whole layer of them was hidden beneath the kale. An additional bonus was a swag of fresh sage and bay leaves, complements of a nearby restaurateur.

Cherries are my favorite summer fruit, so I started into those as soon as I got home. Peaches are my second favorite but I had to wait a day for them to ripen.  They were juicy and flavorful.

Kale was the challenge item.  I’d signed up for the box because I wanted to try at least one new item a week; something I’d never cooked before.  This week it was kale.

I decided to start small. I picked a few leaves from the bunch, discarded the hard spines and chopped them into bite size pieces. In a medium hot saute pan I browned sliced garlic then added the kale. I expected it to cook down like spinach but apparently this leafy veg is different.  Unlike spinach which breaks down into a soft mess of greens, kale renders no water and goes crispy in the pan. The leaves tasted a bit bitter, so I decided to chopped them finely, season it heartily and add to eggs and Parmesan cheese for an omelette.

Kale Breakfast 2

The kale omelette didn’t taste awful. I felt nutritionally virtuous eating it.  Honestly though, I think it was much improved by the accompanying baked beans and crusty hearth bread.

Problem is … I used only one tenth of the bunch of kale received.

What am I going to do with the rest of it?

I guess that’s the challenge for the rest of the week.

Ucluelet, BC.  July 2018

First Breads

First Bread

I am settling in to a new home on the Pacific West Coast of British Columbia.

The trek from middle Ontario was a long and eventful, even if by air rather than wagon trail.  Just like the old time pioneers, I packed  my sourdough starter in my trunk. Unlike the pioneers, liquids are not allowed in carry-on and I had to figure out how to store my starter for travel.

King Arthur had the recommendation to dehydrate and pulverize it into SD starter shards.

Toronto starter (1)

However, now I’m trying to bring the starter back to life.

That is not going so well.

Three days after re-hydration and two feedings later, this is what my Toronto starter looks like.

Toronto starter day3

I’m going to give it a few more feedings and a couple more days.

But if it doesn’t liven up soon, I’ll have to give up and catch some wild Pacific yeasties to make a brand new, West Coast starter.

In the meantime, I’ve been missing my bread.

One cannot survive on store ‘boughten’ loaves alone.

I don’t have all of my bread making gear in place but I decided to give my kitchen oven a try. These are my First Breads.  They are poolish based, made with Western Canada AP flour, whole wheat and rye.

There was a pretty nice bloom from my un-trained oven.  As to be expected, regulating the temperature was a problem but it’ll figure itself out.    The bread itself tasted lovely and it had a good, hearty chew.  Yum.  Nothing says Home like a slice of warm bread and a slash of cold melting butter.

Ucluelet, British Columbia.  July 2018