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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s probably a bit of a different long weekend this year for everyone. Though given all the hot cross buns I’ve been seeing all over instagram (the series of blog/insta posts I just finished has given me a new instagram-checking routine so I am now super in the loop these days), all the time at home has meant baking is a-happening.
My favourite bakery bun growing up was the coconut (aka cocktail) bun, probably because the filling was very sweet and I was a depraved child who loved anything with sugar. First I would pick away at the surrounding bread, leaving behind just the bottom underlying the filling, and then slowly enjoy the sugary filling on its own. I still love cocktail buns, though these days my favourite bun tends to be custard.
These hot cross buns are essentially cocktail buns in round form. Soft milk bread, coconut filling, and with the cookie-like topping which normally forms two strips on either end of the bun (like strips on a football) refurbished into crosses. To add to the hot cross bun ethos, I mixed candied pomelo peel into the dough.
This is day 7 of a series celebrating local Toronto businesses! Recent events have put many local businesses in a difficult position and unfortunately, it’s not clear when this situation will come to an end. For ten days I’ll be posting recipes inspired by some of my favourite local businesses as my own way of celebrating what they bring to our communities. While we may not be able to visit our local bakeries, cafes and restaurants right now, this is a way of keeping them in mind, and a reminder to support them again once there is a chance.
Ave Maria Latin Cafe is a café that dominates the back of a tiny Latin grocery store. Small tables and vinyl chairs in pastel green cozy up alongside grocery shelves lined with imported coffee, flour and guava paste. It’s cluttered in the best sort of way, which is to say, with food. To order at the counter you peer between the empanada warming case, a tray of snacks, and propped up menus.
They serve sandwiches, tamales, empanadas, and a slate of arepas. The first time I tried the Columbian arepas, I was surprised – made of white corn, they are a bit denser and drier than their bready Venezuelan counterparts, but just as delicious. The lady at the counter, who I suspect is the owner, is a lovely advocate for her foods, helping me pronounce arepa de chocolo, the sweeter yellow arepa encasing more melted cheese, correctly. Another time I was in, she spent fifteen minutes helping a customer pick out candy for his Columbian girlfriend.
If I am in for a meal, I love the simplicity of a salty arepa folded onto melty white cheese – and it comes alive when eaten with spoonfuls of the small dish of acidic spicy sauce that accompanies it. But it comes to dessert, I was floored when I tried the tres leches cake. It’s a towering square of sponge cake that somehow manages to be light and structured, while still fully saturated with milk. It’s the furthest thing from sodden or soggy. I don’t usually think of a milk as being a dominant flavour, but in this cake, which yields easily against a fork and leaves a small pool of milk behind, it makes perfect sense.
This is day 6 of a series celebrating local Toronto businesses! Recent events have put many local businesses in a difficult position and unfortunately, it’s not clear when this situation will come to an end. For ten days I’ll be posting recipes inspired by some of my favourite local businesses as my own way of celebrating what they bring to our communities. While we may not be able to visit our local bakeries, cafes and restaurants right now, this is a way of keeping them in mind, and a reminder to support them again once there is a chance.
A friend and I found first ourselves in Simit and Chai on a winter day with an abnormal amount of snow for Toronto. It was crowded, but we found room on a bench tucked in front of the window and watched King street turn white (again, it was an abnormal amount of snow!) with hot Turkish tea and baked goods. The cafe is named for their simit, which look like sesame-coated Montreal-style bagels, but rolled thin and wide and surprisingly soft. Split in half, they’re filled with various fillings, or served with different dips and side dishes.
When I asked for a recommendation for a small snack the olive paste acma was unequivocally endorsed – a soft, oil-enriched dough, burnished with egg yolk and sesame seeds, and rolled around a salty black olive paste. With a generous filling-to-bread ratio, the olive paste is both gentle and immensely savoury, and the best savoury pastry I’ve had in a long time.
This is day 5 of a series celebrating local Toronto businesses! Recent events have put many local businesses in a difficult position and unfortunately, it’s not clear when this situation will come to an end. For ten days I’ll be posting recipes inspired by some of my favourite local businesses as my own way of celebrating what they bring to our communities. While we may not be able to visit our local bakeries, cafes and restaurants right now, this is a way of keeping them in mind, and a reminder to support them again once there is a chance.
Hodo Kwaja, a bakery located in one of Toronto’s Koreatowns, is an efficient bustle of activity in the morning. The small nut-brown walnut cakes that the bakery is named after trundle by on a conveyer-belt like waffle iron. Along the way they are methodically filled, either with red bean paste, or my favourite, sweet and milky mashed potato mixed with ground almond or walnut. Bought by the half dozen – or several dozen – they’re scooped from wire baskets into paper bags or boxes.
Next to the hodo kwaja, hotteok, brown sugar filled pancakes are smacked onto an oiled griddle and pressed flat with a large wooden-handled aluminum stamp. Thin, chewy dough surrounds a syrupy centre of molten brown sugar seeping with cinnamon and chopped walnuts.
I first tried the hotteok, years ago when I was just visiting Toronto. “They’re amazing,” my sister promised me. And they were – we shared it as we walked, ripping off pieces of pancake. Think cinnamon sticky bun pressed into a delightfully chewy pancake form – one big enough to hold with both hands and that burns if you bite into it too fast.