Monday, November 30, 2015

Brioche Guest post by HB


Every Christmas I make a Challah loaf; it has become an expected tradition. This year I decided I also wanted to make a loaf that was more festive so I searched my Bread Alone book by Daniel Leader and found Candied Orange Brioche. Never having made Brioche but wanting to and the added candied fruit seemed perfect for a festive bread. So I thought I should do a test run before the holidays to ensure I know what I am doing.

I won’t repeat the recipe here as you can find it in the book (which I highly recommend) or look it up on line, but it involves candied orange peel, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla and organic white flour.

First I candied the orange peel which starts with boiling the strips of peel in 1 inch of water for 4 minutes, draining them and then repeating the 4 minute boiling and draining twice more. This gets the bitterness out of peel. Next ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup water and the peels are simmered until they boil, stirring them occasionally. Once they boil the temperature is reduced to medium low and they simmer for 20 minutes. Never stir the solution during the 20 minutes or the sugar will crystalize. Occasionally swirl the pan in order to prevent any scorching.
  The peel strips should be soft and translucent at the end. It took mine 25 minutes to get there but it depends on your strip size. (Mine were ¼ in by 2 to 3 inches.
Lay the strips on a wire grill with a tray below and let them dry for 12 hours. The final step is to cut them into ¼ in by ¼ in segments.

Now you can make the bread which really needs a mixer with a dough hook as this dough starts out very sticky. I searched for a proper brioche pan but didn’t find one so I just used a regular 8 inch loaf pan and it worked fine.

The result was fantastic. The dough rose magnificently.
When baked it had a beautiful deep golden crust.
Best of all was the taste; sweet, buttery and rich with a hint of vanilla, yet very light. My only improvement would be to dice up the peels even smaller so they were distributed more throughout the bread.

To all the bakers out there; may your dough always rise perfectly!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

santa Claus parade Prep

Today is our town's Santa parade.
It is in the evening and our downtown streets are twinkling with lots of lights and smiling lil faces.
our town employees have been busy for the past month getting lights up and filling the planters that are lining the bridge. Hanging Christmas themed planters....
Here at 44 I like to have my front decorating finished for this day.

We are very lucky in that we only have to walk to the end of our street ---- maybe 2 minutes
The parade goes right by and we are at the very start of it.
People park their cars up and down the street so I feel we should look like part of the festivities.
I almost think we could set up a hot chocolate station on the front yard and do a roaring business.
its chilly standing still for the ole fella
Oh yes and he brings the Mrs too
This year my outdoor theme is white and silver.
Hands up if you adore the Dollar Store ----- especially when it comes to the holidays.

I found a silver tinsel wreath for $3 glued extra silver balls I had from around the house a package of snowflakes for $1,25 and a "W" at Walmart for $2.99 that I painted white (not "W" for Walmart "W" for our last name LOL ). Hung it on my door.      

An old toboggan that has seen lots of sled hills painted it white. Wrapped white lights around it. Hung evergreen boughs from my backyard. A little pair of baby boots I picked up last year from Joe Fresh on sale for $3.99.

Stuck white silk flowers from ... yes ... the Dollar store in my front step urn. A white lantern from Ikea hanging from a mini plant hanger and a silver bow to tie ----- HAHAHA ---- it all together.

HB had already trimmed the house with white lights a couple weeks ago.
I think it looks quite nice.....
I am also thinking of setting up an old CD player to play Christmas music for the Parade duration.

Time to start the inside.

Tree is up so I guess it is started .....
Happy decorating.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Rooting Violets

My father in law grew the most beautiful violets.
I think part of his success was neglect --- pure and simple
They did have a lovely bright window to live in
Unfortunately when he was in the hospital before his death my brother in law did his best to keep them going......
he loved them too much with watering
When my father in law died I grabbed them up.
I really really tried to keep them alive but well maybe they missed his caring for them and they were a wee bit water logged :-(.
I have purchased violets for myself and have had a lot of luck with them.
They reward me with lovely little flowers and when they drop their sweet velvety leaves I root them up.
Right now I have about 7 little leaves that are almost ready to be potted up
I cut the leaves with about an inch stem ---- dip them in rooting hormone

----- plant them in violet soil ---- place the pot in a bowl of water and let them drink some up

---- slip them into their own little baggy greenhouse -----

and wait , checking regulary.

After a couple weeks give the plantling a little tug. If there is resistance they are rooting. I sometimes wait til I see a little tiny secondary leaf popping thru. Then again sometimes I get too impatient and plant up the sprouting leaf....

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Christmas Knitting

I always like to do a few knitted projects for the G Kids for Christmas prezzies.
Altho this year I seem to have lots going on the needles I don't seem to have a lot to show for it.

When my girls were wee I always did the same and they were gifts to them especially made from Mrs Santa Claus.
Now I give them to the G Kids ---- a special gift just from Nona.
Just in case my girls are reading my blog I am not going to post what I am doing this year so here are a few from the past ...


The projects this year may be a January or February gift

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sock Knitting

I want to like knitting socks I really do.
I start them and I start them and I start them.....
I have knit some but it's more of a "Holy shit I have started these effin things now I gotta finish them"
I don't know what it is about socks but I cannot get excited about knitting them..
Give me a hat pattern and off I go or mittens yes yes I can do that.

I love all the sock yarns out there and I have lots of it .....
I am thinking maybe its the heel part that is holding me back ... but I'm not easily discouraged by much
Ask HB --- he has seen me pull out more stitches .... and I have made my fair share of mobias starts for sweaters
I have been thinking of trying heelless socks and see if that really is it.
I am thinking of trying yoga socks too ----- absolutely no heel whatsoever in them

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Busy Busy Weekend

Bapa and I had another sleepover with our Miss D
It is becoming almost a weekly or ten dayish thing altho the next couple of weeks may be disrupted by doctor appointments and Santa Claus parades
We landed in Arnprior at our regular 11 ish o'clock on Friday
Had a bit of a visit with Mommy
Packed up Miss D and off to Herriott Street
It is so much fun having her here
She loves to chalk up a storm on her chalkboard table
Colour pictures in her book
Build lots of towers with her Mega Blocks
Read her favourite stories over and over and over
Bapa loves taking her shopping
Our nephew and his kiddlys came Saturday afternoon for a visit
His wife Brandy was doing a show in our town that day
Check out her website
She makes jewellery from vintage pieces
Lots of playing ensued

Darla helped Uncle Iain make pizza dough

She would have loved to stay for pizza and "stay for a sleepover" she told us
It was great having them here and I know Miss D loved the company
This is Marlo -- look at those big baby blues

Siobhan and Will arrived later Saturday and we had pizza
Played a great game of Scrabble ---- closest game yet
More friends dropped by on Sunday to visit us BUT I really think they were here to get a Miss D fix

And then everyone was gone .... HB and I sipped on a glass of red wine and
reflected on how lucky we are

Then I looked at my window this morning

..... just a last little handprint so I wouldn't forget her LOL 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Soups On .......

Now that our weather has turned into definite fall weather it's time to put away my salad recipes
and start delving into the comforting part of the recipe box.
I have been making a lot of soup.
Here are a couple of great recipes that are quick and very daaahlicious.....
One is made with chicken and store bought gnocchi

4 boneless chicken breast
1 TBSP veg oil
1 onion diced
1 orange pepper diced (0r 1 carrot diced---- I am not a fan of cooked carrots)
1 stalk celery diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 TBSP oregano
pinch of S and P
900 ml chicken broth
500g store bought gnocchi
Cut chicken in cubes --- Saute chicken and veggies in veg oil ---Add broth and 1 cup water --- Bring to boil --- Simmer 10 mins --- Taste and adjust seasoning --- Add gnocchi --- Simmer 5 to 10 mins

Make sure you go the extra step and make this Spinach Remolada.

1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic finely minced
Mix together and top each bowl

It for sure is a huge flavor in this soup

And this one with Chorizo, White Beans, and Kale

30 g Spanish smoked chorizo
1 cup chopped onion
6 cloves minced garlic
3 cups chicken broth
2 - 425g cans cannellini (or white kidney) beans
4 cups chopped Kale
Saute sausage with onion and garlic about 5 mins
Add broth --- bring to boil
Add beans
Stir in Kale
As always taste and adjust your seasonining
I added a couple teaspons of organo and a teaspoon of red chili flakes to mine
Cook 5 to 10 mins
Sprinke each bowl with cracked black pepper
Serve with crusty buns

My plan for the first part of fall is to make one new soup recipe a week.

What's for supper at your place tonight?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Pizza Guest post by HB

Saturday Night Pizza
Almost every Saturday night for over 30 years Susan and I have been making pizza!  It is one of the many bonds between us.  Over the years we have made many changes to try and perfect the pizza, but it will always be a work in process.    This is my first contribution to P & P so I decided to share one of our recipes with you and pass on some of our ideas about what a homemade pizza great!
“Ginger Pepper and Mushroom Pizza with Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce”
One of the most important parts of any recipes is to start with fresh ingredients.
Red and orange peppers
Fresh Mozzarella cheese (the soft white one)
Roma tomatoes
Garlic and ginger root
Organic flour
The dough for 1 pizza!  It is essential to make your own dough and it is easy. Start with organic hard white flour and ½ tsp salt well mixed.  Mix ½ tsp of Dry Active Yeast (not the quick active kind as more time always makes a better dough  and hence a crust which is both for flavourful and crispy), with 2/3 cups spring water, ½ tsp sugar and ½ tbsp. of olive oil. 
 Mix the wet into the dry until a wet ball is formed.  Now comes a very important step when it comes to a fabulous crust; Kneading!  This sticky mass needs to be kneaded for 7 to 10 minutes at a minimum in order to develop the dough and make it strong and elastic.  Resist adding a lot of flour if it starts out really sticky, rather use a dough scraper and occasionally coat your hands with some flour.  After 3 to 5 minutes the sticky mass will start to form a ball and by the end of kneading it will be a smooth slightly sticky ball that will push back when poked and spring back when pulled and let go.  It will only take a few tries before this becomes easy.  Just out any online videos on kneading techniques.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl covered in plastic wrap and place the bowl in a place with a steady temperature between 74F and 80F.  Temperature is also critical so take the time to measure your location.  I use the oven with the door open and the light on as it sits at 77F.    It typically takes 2 hours to rise once to double the size.  What is important is not the time rather that it doubles in size.
First roast 4 sliced Roma tomatoes (1/4” min) and all of the cloves from a whole garlic head on a baking sheet coated with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, fennel seeds, pinch of cumin, and chili powder on each tomato slice.  425F for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool when done.
Next fry the sliced mushrooms and peppers in a small amount of olive oil to drive off the water in them and caramelize their exteriors.  Once done set them aside to cool.  Once cooled add 1 Tbsp finely chopped ginger to the vegetables.
Take the fresh mozzarella out of the fridge and let it come to room temp.
The Pizza

When the dough has risen, gently push down the center and pull it from the sides of the bowl.  On a lightly floured surface briefly knead the dough and form it into a tight ball.  Cover with a bowl and leave for 30 minutes minimum.
Get the oven ready by setting the rack near the bottom and place a pizza stone on the rack.  Set the oven to 480F.  The stone and oven need at least 20 minutes before the pizza is placed on it.
Roll out the dough to roughly 14” diameter and place on parchment paper either on a pizza paddle or the bottom side of a baking sheet.  Cover the surface with plastic wrap and then place a light cotton dish towel over that.  The dough needs at least 15 minutes resting before any toppings
 are added in order to let the dough start to rise again which ensures a light crisp crust.
Once the oven and pizza dough has had enough time then put on the toppings.  Start with the roasted tomato slices and garlic.  Then rip up the cheese in blobs and place evenly on top leaving a space of ½” of uncovered dough at the edge.  Finally add the peppers and mushrooms on top.
Use the paddle or baking sheet to slide the pizza on the parchment paper onto to the stone.    Bake for 3 minutes then open the oven and pull the paper out from under the pizza.  Continue to bake for roughly another 14 minutes.  Depending on the oven it could be a little more or less time so look for the bottom crust to be brown.   Place the pizza on a wooden board to rest for 2 minutes before slicing.



Sunday, November 1, 2015

happy halloween

Hope you all had a ghoulishly spooktacular night.
We were in the Prior (what the locals affectionately call Arnprior Ontario)
I must advise you that this post is very Daphne as a flying unicorn heavy  ---- a Nona perogative

We had a wee chat with the gang in Alberta

Then it was time to go Trick or Treating

Well .. Miss D doesn't really get it yet but she loves putting on those walkin or should I say runnin shoes and go up and down the front side walk

Which is what we did ..... LOVED it!!!

Coming inside was a completely other story ...
HATED it!!

Just look at that face
But once inside all toasty and warm and the house smelling deliciously like Bapa's pizza all was

A piece of pizza and a couple lil chocolate bars its was time for bed

Unfortunately there were only 5 little T and Treaters
Oh well there are lots of treats leftover.
I think Will may be taking a few for his lunches this week :-)

Once Miss D was in bed we "played" a new board game ----Settlers of Catan
I think once we get the hang of it it will be a lot of fun..
Drank too many apple martinis and stayed up a little late.
But as usual it was a fun night

And today is Will's birthday so we had a coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
HB and I left soon after breakfast.
Got a dinner party to rest up for...