salted dark chocolate and almond bars

SAM_1243
SAM_1192

Homemade granola bars and I have had a long sordid and crumbly history. Recipes that I came across often relied on honey as an important binder which meant that it was used in quantities that semi-obviated why I wanted to make my own granola bars in the first place – I wanted to make something much less sweet! When I tried to reduce the sweetness, the recipes I made trembled at the sight of a knife, crumbling into pieces once I tried to cut them into bars.

A couple of years ago I thought that I had finally come across a granola bar that didn’t crumble and wasn’t too sweet, as it used more nut butter as a binder. But when I tried to make them a second time, full of confidence, huzzah for hubris! as they too crumbled on me.

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pomelo, coconut & yuzu cream puffs

pomelo coconut yuzu cream puffpomelo coconut yuzu cream puff

Growing up, I always ate pomelo with my grandpa because he was the only one willing to peel them. We’d score the top – always needing to cut deeper than expected to get through the pith – and then wrestle out the fruit from the centre (you can find some photos of the pomelo peeling process here) keeping the peel in one piece. My grandpa would then put a plate on top of the peel to help it dry flat into a flower, and thereafter it would spend a couple months dangling somewhere in the kitchen.

Nowadays I can peel my own pomelos (and I sometimes even cut my own pineapple! how I have grown), though I still look forwards the arrival of pomelos every winter.

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white cheddar & za’atar scones

cheddar za'atar sconescheddar za'atar scones

My introduction to Bouchon Bakery  by Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel began with my sister waxing poetic on everything she had made from the book. Even the chocolate chip cookies were probably the best cookies she had ever made.

This scone recipe is a riff off of their savoury bacon cheddar scones, and they are probably the best scones I’ve ever made.

What’s that – a good scone? Yes – a good scone: i.e. the perennial struggle! There are many things that I tend to make terribly over and over again, scones one amongst them. There have been tough scones, flat scones, scones that are just straight up proper paperweights.

These scones are actually, like, good scones – baking up light while tasting like blocks of butter and browned cheese and herbs.

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olive paste & feta babka

olive paste & feta babka
olive paste & feta babka
olive paste & feta babka

For me, part of hashtag-quarantine-cuisine is reacquainting myself with the contents of my parents’ cupboards.  Such as a tin of black olives with a best before date of Feb 9, 2011 (or perhaps Aug 2, 2011 – I never remember whether the day or month comes first – but either way we can assume 11 refers to the year). I asked someone to try an olive for me. Surprisingly, or rather unsurprisingly, the olives tasted fine.

After meeting my family’s approval for consumption, I still had some reservations of eating them straight. Or perhaps more accurately, I don’t often eat canned olives as a snack, so they ended up being chopped into a paste via food processor. Spread onto a butter-enriched bread dough with crumbled feta produced this savoury babka.

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my (current) favourite hands-off whole wheat sourdough

whole wheat sourdoughwhole wheat sourdough

this loaf in several words: 67% whole wheat, 80% hydration and minimal interaction

I had put together this post over the summer as I was getting very consistent results with my usual sourdough loaf (though not the loose craggy crumb I dream of!). And if I’m to continue following along current pandemic-baking trends, sourdough is up next, given that many have trouble finding yeast plus newfound time to nurse slow-growing loaves of bread.

But this is a, hmm, casual sourdough, shall we say? It was something I developed when facilitating my inattentiveness and impatience was a priority. The features: single rise and some cheating with the shaping. I really mean the “minimal interaction” part.

I titled this post, “my (current) favourite” back in the summer when I wrote it. I revived my sourdough starter recently (hello again Barty!), and the loaves that I’m making now are not this bread. I’m taking a slower pace, and a renewed interest in techniques that I generally avoided. Like practicing shaping without deflating. Oh and kneading, something I dumped as soon as I was able to in my rather tenuous and unimpressive bread-making journey.

So, my go-to loaf from a different time and a bit of a different world. Not ardently whole wheat (67%) and definitely not too serious.

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almond pear cake

pear almond cake
pear almond cake

I realise that by now much of the Northern hemisphere is well into spring, but my sense of the seasons is arrested back in winter… probably because I’ve barely spent any time outside. The windows are open to get a bit of fresh air in, but I’m still craving heavy warm foods.

This almond pear cake is more definitely a winter-y/fall cake.

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coconut & grapefruit marmalade tarts

grapefruit coconut tarts

What is food blogging like in a pandemic? My blog oscillates between the asinine and, occasionally, trying to be a bit of something else. Today is another trying-to-be-a-bit-of-something-else sort of day.

You’ve probably noticed that there is a theme strung throughout the constant inundation of pandemic updates. While each individual headline isn’t a surprise, it is remarkable how clearly COVID-19 has broadly articulated inequities. Which is to say that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the more vulnerable and marginalized.

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