Category Archives: Brunch

Popovers

a bunch of popovers 2Just saying the word “Popover” makes me happy. These are so much fun to make. I turned on my oven light and watched them rise up and pop right over the rim of the pan. It’s like magic! (Do not ever open the oven door while they are baking!)gorgeous popoversI somehow managed to keep my popover virginity for the first 50 years of my life. I had my first  one a few years ago at my cottage.  My sister Bonnie came to visit and brought her popover pans with her. (Doesn’t everyone travel with popover pans?) I promptly ate two, right out of the oven, slathered with butter. Why had I waited so long?

I have been meaning to make them myself and blog about them, to share the popover love, but life got in the way, and I got sidetracked. A family holiday to Aruba, over the winter break, brought me right back on track again. We had dinner one night at the Aruba outpost of BLT Steak.

Our entire dinner was delicious, but it was the popovers that will keep me coming back again and again. I was thrilled to see that they arrived at the table with soft butter and a copy of the recipe!2 popoversPopover batter consists of nothing more than milk, eggs, flour and salt. I also added some cheese, because cheese makes everything better.what you'll need Making perfect popovers is not really all that magical or mysterious if you understand about the science behind them. The website, bite-sizedbiology does a brilliant job explaining this.   Popovers are like little balloons. An elastic network of egg, milk, and flour proteins (particularly gluten) forms as the popover batter is mixed. This rubbery network then “inflates” as air trapped inside the batter expands during baking. 

Beat your eggs well.whisking eggsWhisk in some warm (120°F) whole milk.adding warm milk Gradually add the flour and salt, stirring well after each addition. It is not critical to get it totally smooth. A few little lumps are ok.

Place your muffin or popover tins in the oven, on the lowest rack, while it is preheating to 400°F. A hot pan will assist in giving your popovers a head start in rising. While popovers can certainly be made in a muffin tin, they will not be nearly as tall and dramatic as ones made in a popover pan. The main difference between muffin and popover pans is the shape of the cups. Popover pans have tall narrow-straight sided cups, while muffin tins are squatter and narrower at the base. The taller straighter sides of the popover pan gives the batter more vertical room to expand and build a bigger steam pocket.filling hot pansEach popover got a generous topping of Gruyere cheese before heading into the oven. adding gruyereServe as soon as they come out of the oven, with butter, if that makes you happy. The top and sides are a deep mahogany colour. Pop off the crunchy cheesy top to reveal a hollow custardy cavity inside.2 popovers cropped close

Click here to print recipe for Popovers.

popover with butter 625 sqI’m thinking I need a mini popover pan now. Tiny ones would be so perfect to serve with cocktails!

Cauliflower Cake

a slice with saladHappy New Year! Have you made any resolutions? Let me know what you’re determined to change or accomplish this year. Personally, I’m not big on goal setting. It makes me very uncomfortable. I fear the inevitable disappointment if I fall short of my target.

A good friend of mine resolved to express more gratitude this year. She wrote me a beautiful note, letting me know how grateful she is for our friendship. I was so touched. Yet, a small part of me felt like crap! Maybe I should be resolving to be a better person too. Or maybe I’ll just bake a cake, a vegetable cake. That counts as virtuous, doesn’t it?baked

with salad 625 sqThis lovely cauliflower cake is very slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty More.what you'll needcooking cauliflower and onionsRoastedmashed, or thinly sliced in a slaw, cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. In this rendition, cauliflower gets boiled until soft and tender. Then it gets folded into a gossamer light cake batter, made with eggs, flour and baking powder. Basil and rosemary add a herbal freshness. Parmesan and Gruyere cheese add some gooey, nutty saltiness and the addition of turmeric makes this cake positively sunny. assembling 2ready to bake 2Topped with thinly sliced tomatoes and shallots, this is a very pretty golden cake indeed. on white plates

Click here to print recipe for Cauliflower Cake.on stripe plates

 

Rhubarb Coconut Scones

with butter and jam 2f

on lace 625 sq 1Upon waking each morning, I peek through the drapes to see if any buds have appeared on the  bare limbs of the Norway maple tree outside my bedroom window. Seeing none, I am overcome with the urge to burrow right back into my hole (or under my covers). Mother nature has a perverse sense of humour this year. This long cruel “polar vortex” winter seems to have segued into a particularly nasty spring.

When I finally saw the first buds materialize, followed by a thatch of chives popping through through the earth, I knew that local rhubarb was not far behind. I’m not a rhubarb fanatic, but I do like to create with it at least once a year to celebrate the season. Last year it was this gorgeous tart. This year, I had had my heart set on rhubarb scones. I was inspired by Midge over at Food 52. When I told my husband about my plans, he frowned and grumbled, “What a way to ruin scones.” Clearly I am married to a Spring Grinch. Blueberry scones would make him purr, but those come in July. Get with the program honey.rhubarbMy favourite scone recipe is from the bible Baking Illustrated, created by the same geniuses over at Cook’s Illustrated. These scones use heavy cream which contributes to a rich and tender crumb that  buttermilk or whole milk would never achieve. They are not overly sweet, just 3 tablespoons of sugar are called for in the recipe. Knowing that rhubarb is super tart, I decided to add an additional few tablespoons of sugar to macerate with the sliced rhubarb, before adding it to the dough. adding sugarWhen I went to make them, I discovered that I didn’t have quite enough heavy cream. Feeling too lazy to run to the store, I topped up the measuring cup with a bit of coconut milk.  To ramp up the coconut flavour I added about 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut. butter in food processorin bowlkneadingThe dough gets pressed into an 8 inch cake pan to give you a perfectly round circle for dividing into triangular scones. A bench scraper or sharp knife work well for cutting the scones.pat into round pancuttingA final brush of heavy cream before they hit the oven gives the finished scones a lovely glossy surface. brushing with creamThey were the height of scone perfection. Moist and flaky with a lightly crisped exterior. Even the Spring Grinch enjoyed one with butter and jam.sliced 1

Click here to print recipe for Rhubarb Coconut Scones.with butter and jam 1

 

Rye Galette

When I started this blog over two years ago, I never imagined that it would be read by college and university students. Yet, somehow, I seem to have garnered a following among the 20 something crowd. It started with the daughters of my friends. One young woman, my god-daughter, has set my blog as her home page and was worried about me when I went 10 days without blogging.  She actually called her mom to ask if everything was ok with me . How sweet is that?

Then it grew to include my daughter’s friends. She was quite proud of her mom and told her friends about my blog. I am sure they checked it out, just to be polite, because they are such nice young women!

However, I think they kept returning to the blog because they loved to read stories about my daughter and then tease and embarrass her. This was when they were in high school. Over the past 2 years they have moved onto university and have just recently moved out of residence and into their own apartments. Now they are interested in cooking, so they read the blog for recipes. And they have told their friends about it. So a big shout out to all my girls at McGill, Queens, Emerson and Ryerson!

My daughter’s best friend, spent many hours at our home when they were in high school. She loved eating at our house, especially when I made peanut butter bark, as her brother has a peanut allergy, so she couldn’t have it at home. Once she moved into her own apartment, she began asking me for recipes. She has turned out to be a wonderful cook (one minor mishap with vegetarian chili – but we won’t talk about that). She became obsessed with my galettes (free form tarts) and in May she made a Roasted Tomato and Gruyère Galette for her mom for Mother’s day and told me it was one of her proudest moments! It makes me so happy to see the next generation taking an interest in cooking and baking.

My sons, by the way, do not tell anyone their mother is a blogger. The oldest, probably for fear that his friends will read something humiliating about him, and the youngest because he can’t imagine his mother has time for anything but him!

Flushed with success at my recent venture into whole grains baking, I decided to try Kim Boyce’s Rustic Rye Dough and create a galette with that. In her book, “Good to the Grain”, Kim gives a lyrical description of this dough.

“The method for making this dough is similar to that for a rough puff pastry, a method I learned while working with Sherry Yard at Spago. It calls for letting a rough dough, made from chunks of butter and moist clumps of flour, rest in the refrigerator to give the gluten time to relax and the flour time to absorb the water. After an hour, the dough is rolled and folded a few times to create long “laminated” layers of butter throughout the dough, which give it its flakiness.”

Of course I waited to make the galette until my daughter’s galette obsessed friend was coming for a visit to the cottage. I filled the tart with spinach, corn, Asiago and provolone cheese and sliced tomatoes. The nutty flavour of the rye dough was perfect with that filling. Now of course my daughter’s friend wants to know how to make this, so here is a step by step tutorial, with video, to help her on her way.

Click here to print the recipe for Rustic Rye Dough .

Click here to print recipe for Asiago, Spinach, Corn and Tomato Galette

Multi-Grain Corn Cakes

Sometimes when I finish a book,I have a very hard time starting a new one. With certain books, the characters stay with you for a long time and you are reluctant to begin a new book, because you aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to the old one. This happened to me after finishing “The Faith Club”, a true story written shortly after the horror of 9/11.

“Welcome to the Faith Club. We’re three mothers from three faiths—Islam, Christianity, and Judaism—who got together to write a picture book for our children that would highlight the connections between our religions. But no sooner had we started talking about our beliefs and how to explain them to our children than our differences led to misunderstandings. Our project nearly fell apart.”

At this point, you may be wondering if you missed something here. When did Salt and Serenity stop writing about food, and start reviewing books, and what about those multi-grain corn cakes? I actually came to make these corn cakes because I couldn’t pick up another novel quite yet. You see, I took “Good to the Grain” (Kim Boyce’s new book about baking with whole grains) to bed with me to read last week.

I have made several things from the book, and enjoyed them very much, but then I somehow got sidetracked and forgot about it. I stayed up very late reading, and in the morning I was raring to go to bake with whole grains.

In the multigrain chapter of the book, Kim gives a recipe for a multigrain flour mix  consisting of whole wheat flour, oat flour, barley flour,millet flour and rye flour. I headed out to my local bulk food store and stocked up. She says to mix up a batch of these flours and keep it in the jar on the counter to use in all sorts of recipes.

I decided to adapt my regular corn cakes recipe and substitute the all-purpose flour in the recipe with this mixture.

They looked good, but the taste was bitter and the texture was leaden. Had to toss that batch. I decided to take a step back and add whole grains a bit more slowly. I played around a bit more and threw out a few more corn cakes until I finally hit upon this combination of grains:

As I was cutting the corn off the cob, I pondered the milk decision, buttermilk or whole milk?

I decided to mix up a batch of each, The buttermilk mixture (on the left) looked so much more promising, thicker and all bubbly. I had high hopes for it!

By this time, it was getting close to lunch, so I threw in a diced jalapeno pepper.

The buttermilk batch did indeed cook up higher and a bit fluffier, but I found the taste of the whole milk one have a purer corn flavour. The buttermilk seemed to subdue the corn flavour and overpower it.

At last, I found the perfect combination. This final batch, had the goodness of whole grains, the crunch from corn meal and fresh corn, the heat of jalapenos and the fresh dairy taste from whole milk. Fried in a little bit of butter, these corn cakes were crispy around the edges and soft on the inside. They disappeared very quickly.

All that was left was the mess!

To print this recipe click Multi-Grain Corn Cakes