swiss chard, herb and allspice pastries

flaky pastries filled with swiss chard and herbs – and the addition of allspice which seems to do wonders in making the pastries taste like more than a wad of chard.

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The problem of making pastries when you have a great deal of aging chard to consume is that generally you’re increasing the final mass – from what could be a manageable pile of boiled chard, water squeezed out and compressed into a block, sliced and served in no more than 15 large swallows – to potential piles of pastries. Though admittedly, pastries can be given away and shared, as they may hold more appeal than a compacted slice of boiled chard leaves. (Perhaps we can salt the boiled chard actually – after all, that surely adds no more than a few pinches of mass.)

To circumvent the issue of piled plates of potential pastries appearing, you can make some very large pastries so that surface area (i.e. pastry) to volume (i.e. filling) ratio is reduced. And you can compact the filling down as well. And suddenly, a bagful of chard that would surely last a couple of dinners, surprisingly seems like less and fits quite neatly into four well-filled pastries.

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gougères with chestnut, mushroom and ricotta cream

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Today, instead of writing a blog post, I bring you an excerpt from the world-renowned and very insightful website, Blog Tropes. Is this the equivalency of submitting a Wikipedia page for an assignment? Well yes, you can certainly see the state of inspiration that I am in.

Writing about How Hard It Is to Think of Something to Write About

A staple in the blog post topic repertoire, Writing about How Hard It Is to Think of Something to Write About, uses the body of the blog post, ideally reserved for witty anecdotes or relevant tips and advice, to describe how the author is struggling to write said blog post. When phrased that way, Writing about How Hard It Is to Think of Something to Write About sounds almost clever and meta, but this lowbrow technique may be employed as a desperate method of getting out of needing to think of something actually engaging, original, or interesting.

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pecorino and parsley pancake with arugula

SAM_5847More is almost always better. More whole grain flours, more herbs and more flavour… until it becomes too much. This was a lesson in moderation. Too much and your pancake will be flat!

I was in awe when my sister first made a puffy Dutch baby pancake–it rose to an incredible height in the oven, but then as soon as we pulled it out, it collapsed before my mum could see how tall it rose. Subsequently covering it with fruit and maple syrup, it didn’t matter.

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steamed vegetable and mushroom buns

SAM_5964SAM_5880Growing up, the only the bread on the counter was 100% whole wheat. Whole wheat bread can be delicious and nutty, but this whole wheat bread was as delicious and nutty as mildewed sawdust. When chewed it collapsed into a gummy mass that clung to one’s teeth. I much preferred eating it frozen, where the slices of bread were actually quite crisp and refreshing.

So there was this 100% whole wheat glue, a hideously poor excuse for a bread, palatable only when slathered with butter and sugar and cinnamon, and far more useful for stopping up the corners of drafty windows. And then there was steamed bread.

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tarte tartiflette

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tarte tartiflette

I recently spent some time in Saskatoon. It was a bit like revisiting an old album (or for a less poetic example, rewatching the first season of Digimon on Youtube) where you discover that you remember so much. There is so much familiar, and maybe it’s a particular exchange (and if we’re talking English-dubbed Digimon, almost certainly some terrible puns) or a particular street or shop, but some of it is in fact crystalline in its clarity. And some of it was not even the recall of memories that had been slightly out of reach–I realised a number of childhood memories that I had falsely attributed to Victoria were in fact Saskatoon. Despite the drastically different location–one on an island, and one in the prairies–there is something similar about the feeling between the two cities, perhaps to do with the size and the people and this trajectory of gentle growth. It’s perhaps a strange comparison to make, but there is also the architecture of a smaller downtown packed with beautiful older buildings.

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zucchini with mint and lemon on biscuits

zucchini, mint & lemon on biscuitszucchini, mint & lemon on biscuits

I’ve been feeling a bit like: go away biscuits!  They keep on showing up where they are not exactly necessary…and they’re still not very good! These biscuits may have turned out quite a bit better, but are still not there.

Luckily there are vegetables and yoghurt to pick up the slack. While I’ve only bemoaned the excess of Swiss chard and beets thus far, the zucchini is also prolific. Thus, in the latest biscuit pairing, we have zucchini, mint, yoghurt, feta, and preserved lemon.

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biscuits & creamed swiss chard

biscuit and creamed swiss chardswiss chardWe all sometimes end up playing detective. Not just in school and work, but it’s for the little things, like, as I recently commiserated with an aunt, the source of strangely consistent patterns of holes or stains on shirts.

This time, it was when I was going to make a cake and I reached for the pickle jar containing what I thought was the spelt flour. Then, for some strange reason (I must have been possessed), I decided to read the label. (Read the label? Me?)

It was the whole wheat bread flour. Pushed to the very back was where I found the jar of spelt flour.

“Ah,” I said.

Maybe that explains some things about these stumpy little biscuits–the use of bread flour instead of spelt flour (what I thought I was using). It’s not just my awe-inspiring bread-creation powder resurfacing.

Maybe one day I will make a nice scone or biscuit. One day. And then there will actually be a nice scone or biscuit post on the blog.

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kimbap

Kimbap makes me think of a few things: a perfect sort of balance, generously filled and filling enough to be a whole meal, and of course the fragrance of roasted sesame oil. Roasted sesame oil could be a perfume or cologne, and would keep the wearer, and everyone within whiffing distance, perpetually hungry.

No recipe to share for this–it’s up to you, but for reference, I’ll direct you to the wonderful Maangchi. Otherwise, enjoy an excessively excessive quantity of photos.

(Contents: Egg seasoned and cooked with sesame oil, blanched spinach with soy and sesame oil, imitation crab, cucumber, green onion, pickled daikon, carrot cooked until it just tender. Rice is flavoured with sugar, salt, sesame oil and vinegar. Don’t be afraid when filling–it holds more than you expect!)

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eggplant, feta and chermoula pasties

So I’m a bit worried that these pasties are a bit too buzzwordy. Like “innovation” and “community engagement”, I have combined

  • the eggplant (the ever lovely eggplant)
  • with feta (okay, so maybe not quite a buzzword),
  • and then even chermoula (gah!),
  • and lastly with pasty (which may be a buzzword only to me).

The nice thing about food buzzwords is that they are a bit easier to taste for yourself. I made these 10 months ago actually, and they still seem to be awfully relevant.

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