bureka with green harissa and eggs

bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery is a bit of Calgary institution, and for good reason: think dark-crusted loaves, immaculate pastries and Israeli cuisine. A few years ago I had tried the the cheese bureka (or boureka), flaky pastry around salty cheese, warmed and filled with sliced egg and a herbaceous green harissa. It was one of the most immediately delicious things I’ve had.

Not a hmm, it’s growing on me delicious or a hmm, acquired taste delicious or even a hmm, actually that’s quite delicious. It was a OH, very delicious sort of thing. No time to hmm. As you might imagine, between the butter, flake, salt, spice and herb there is almost no path except to very delicious.

bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs
bureka with green harissa and eggs

Most often burekas tend to be filled with cheese, spinach, potato or meat (read more about the history and origin of burekas here!). I like how simple cheese filling plays the additional fillings. Making them yourself is never going to be quite Sidewalk Citizen, but it’s hard for it not to be still rather good! I’ve brought these on picnics too, with sliced eggs and green harissa in separate containers for the splitting and filling.

I’ve made these a number of times now and I often seem to end up with some filling leakage (probably because I like an overly generous filling and can’t stop myself…). The browned and crisped cheese filling is actually quite yummy…but to minimize filling leakage, I found these steps help:

  1. Ensure the dough is rolled out large enough for each square to be 4.5 to 5″ squares, otherwise they’ll be overfilled!
  2. Also ensure the dough is fairly thin, about 3mm. Use the recommended quantity of dough rolled to recommended dimensions. Too thick and they can pop open as happened to me in one batch!
  3. Seal the dough well – ensure you have a border free of filling, brush the border with a bit of egg or water to help it seal, and press down
bureka with green harissa and eggs

bureka with green harissa and eggs

Puff pastry from Joe Pastry, filling from Epicurious, and shaping more so from Tori Avey. Green harissa recipe from bon appetit. Inspiration from Sidewalk Citizen Bakery.

bureka

  • 350g puff pastry (a bit over half recipe, see below)
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • sesame seeds

filling

  • 50g (1/2 c) grated old white cheddar
  • 65g (1/2 c) crumbled feta
  • 1 egg
  • 18g (1 spoonful) thick yoghurt
  • ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

For the filling, mix together all ingredients.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle 9 by 14.5″ or 10 by 15″ (dough will be around 3mm thick). To prevent the dough from springing back as you roll it, you may need to rest the dough in the fridge once partially rolled out. Trim the edges to make a clean rectangle. Cut into six 4.5 to 5″ squares.

Place a generous tablespoon of filling on each square (you’ll probably have a bit extra). Brush a bit of beaten egg along the border to help it seal, then fold half the dough over onto itself to form a triangle. Press to seal.  To ensure there’s no leakage, make sure you at least have a border of 1 cm to seal with. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, then turn down temperature to 350F for another 15-20 minutes or until very golden and puffed.

to serve

  • boiled eggs, sliced

green harissa

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely minced (use a small clove so garlic is not overwhelming)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c cilantro, chopped
  • juice from half a lemon (around 1.5 – 2 tbsp)
  • scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt

I won’t even attempt to provide instructions on boiling eggs! It’s is a very personal thing – in terms of preference, altitude, and stovetop, anyhow. For me, at a bit of a higher elevation, a creamy deeper yellow – but not runny – yolk takes 9 minutes of simmering, but at sea level it’s been closer to 7.5 minutes. Boil your eggs however it works for you!

To make the green harissa, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Taste and add lemon as needed.

To serve, open a warm bureka, spread with green harissa and top with sliced egg.

puff pastry

  • Servings: about 650g pastry
  • Print

From Joe Pastry – see here for recipe and here for lamination instructions. His lamination instructions are a gem – both for the instructive pictures, but also for the gleeful lines such as “when making pastry, violence is always the first resort.” Indeed. 

  • 250g a.p. flour
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 35g soft butter
  • 113g water
  • 1/4 tsp vinegar (which I’ve read elsewhere helps prevent discolouration of the dough – likely referring to the oxidation of the flour)

butter slab

  • 252g butter
  • 2 tbsp a.p. flour

Make the dough: whisk together/use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer to combine the flour and salt. Add in the butter, mixing into it’s fairly incorporated. Add the water and vinegar, mixing until a dough is beginning to be formed – at this point switch to the dough hook. Add a bit of water at a time if some dry flour remains until it is all incorporated. Knead just until a cohesive dough is formed. Wrap in plastic and chill at least a couple hours.

Once the dough is chilled, make the butter slab: Lay the butter on a double layer of plastic wrap, sprinkling over the flour. Cover with more plastic and use a rolling pin to smack the butter flat. Turn the butter over onto itself to help incorporate the butter and smack again, continuing as needed until the butter becomes soft and flexible, but still cool to the touch and not shiny or greasy appearing, at which point it would be too warm. As you do this, use the pin or a ruler as a straight edge to mold the butter into a tidy square shape.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a square a bit larger than the butter slab. Lay the butter slab on the square dough like a diamond, so the points of the butter slab point to, and nearly touch, the midpoint of each side. Pull each corner of the dough to the middle of the butter slab in order to seal in the butter slab. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal.

Smack with a rolling pin starting from the middle out in each direction to help distribute the butter into all the far reaches of the envelope. Once the butter has been distributed, start rolling out into a large rectangle – my dough may have been around 1 cm thick or so. I haven’t put in any specifics on dimensions because at this point I don’t think it matters too much – and I found that not worrying about measurements made the whole process less stressful and more enjoyable. Fold the dough into thirds along the largest dimension to form a new, smaller rectangle to complete the first fold. Wrap tightly in plastic to prevent the outside of the dough from drying out and chill for 1 hour.

For the second fold, lightly flour the counter and again roll out the dough into a large rectangle. Fold into thirds, then wrap tightly and chill for another hour. Repeat the process four times more for a total of six folds. The dough is then ready to use.

ispahan cream puff

ispahan cream puff
ispahan cream puff
ispahan cream puff
ispahan cream puff

I’ve always loved election nights as a kid. My family and I would watch the whole thing, starting from the first counts as polls closed on the East coast to a final declaration late in the evening. I would cheer on the underdog Green Party because, as a seven-year old, their platform was by far the easiest to grasp. It wasn’t so much the election itself, which at the time was blissfully meaningless to me, but that I loved any chance for an occasion.

These days my election-mania is tempered by plenty of stress. Alongside a climate crisis and a long-overdue commitment to reconciliation, if anything, the pandemic has solidified the immediacy and impact of government in our lives (though it’s mostly the provincial government in terms of public health). But yes, I am still excited at the prospect of watching the numbers slowly climb and listening to endless commentary on the leaders, campaigns and battleground ridings. Any chance for an occasion, I guess.

ispahan cream puff
ispahan cream puff

These cream puffs are based on Pierre Herme’s formidable flavour combination, ispahan – raspberry, rose and lychee. I filled choux au craquelin with lychee mousse, topped them with raspberry rosewater ganache and a ring of fresh raspberries. It really is a remarkably good combination – the floral aspects of lychee play off the rosewater, and all the sweetness balanced by the tartness of raspberry. (There is an ispahan roll cake on the blog too, by the way!)

I will warn you though: these cream puffs are definitely a bit more on the sweet side given that I used syrupy canned lychees in the mousse and a white chocolate whipped ganache!

ispahan cream puff

ispahan cream puff

  • Servings: about 10 puffs
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choux pastry

craquelin

  • 56g brown sugar
  • 50g whole wheat flour
  • 36g soft butter

choux pastry

  • 43g butter
  • 90g milk
  • pinch kosher salt
  • sprinkle of granulated sugar
  • 45g whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ eggs (may not use all)

For the craquelin, mix all ingredients together until it forms a cohesive dough. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll out to a thickness of 1-2mm. Slide onto a pan and freeze until firm.

For the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper – on the backside, trace twelve 4.5cm circles.

Place the butter, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the flour and quickly mix in with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat and continue to cook the mixture until it forms a ball. Remove the pastry from the heat and let cool a bit before adding the egg.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add a bit at a time to the pastry. Assess the consistency of the dough after each addition of egg and stop once you’ve achieved the right consistency. I find it easiest to begin beating in the eggs with a wire whisk and then transition back to stirring with a wooden spoon once the batter loosens. The dough should be shiny, but not fluid (if its something a bit new to you, look up a video or a more detailed tutorial for the right consistency – such as looking for the “triangle” of dough!). Importantly, you don’t need to use all the egg – or you may need a bit more or less! 

Transfer the pastry to a piping bag fitted with a medium (~1cm) round tip (I use Wilton 2A). Pipe mounds of pastry onto the 4.5cm circles. To make the size consistent, I position the piping bag a little ways above the pan (1-2cm or so – it will be quite natural!) and pipe until the mound of dough nearly fills out the circular guide drawn on the parchment. I avoid lifting the piping bag further up as I pipe – if you do that, you end up with a larger and taller mound of pastry and the size will not be as consistent.

Take the craquelin out of the freezer and cut 5cm circles from the dough. Top each puff with a round of the craquelin.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400F, then decrease temperature to 375F and bake about 30 minutes more or until well browned. You can rotate the puffs after they’ve been in the oven for 20-25 minutes or so, once there are no worries of them deflating. As soon as you can handle the puffs, cut a small slit on the bottom of each puff to let the steam release and let cool on on a wire rack.

rose raspberry whipped ganache

  • 50g white chocolate, chopped
  • small pinch kosher salt
  • 85g heavy cream
  • 15g strained raspberry puree (from about 40g raspberries)
  • 1/4 tsp rosewater, or to taste (may vary depending on the strength of your rosewater)

Place the chopped chocolate and salt in a heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the white chocolate. Allow to sit for a couple minutes for the chocolate to begin melting, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the raspberry puree and rosewater.

Cover and chill completely. Whip up the ganache when you’re ready to assemble the cream puffs (see assembly section below). 

lychee rose mousse

  • 120g strained lychee puree
  • 1 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin bloomed in 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp rosewater, or to taste (may vary depending on the strength of your rosewater)
  • 120g heavy cream

Heat the lychee puree (via stovetop or microwave) until warm to the touch. Microwave the bloomed gelatin until melted (about 10 seconds should suffice) and whisk into the puree. Set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (make sure it doesn’t cool enough to set though!).

Once cooled, stir the rosewater into the puree.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream. Add a of the whipped cream into the lychee puree and whisk in until smooth – this will lighten the puree slightly before adding the rest of the cream. Now add the remaining cream and gently fold in. As the lychee puree is quite liquidy, this a bit more challenging; I find it easiest begin by using a whisk. Draw the whisk from the bottom of the bowl up towards you, passing it through lumps of whipped cream. Repeat until the mixture is fairly cohesive, and that point you can do a final few gentle strokes with a rubber spatula. (This technique was inspired by this souffle cheesecake video – watch from 4:54-6:05 for a demonstration!)

Use the mousse right away, before it sets!  

assembly

  • about 25 raspberries (2.5 per puff), cut in half – the number needed may vary depending on the size of your raspberries and circumference of cream puffs

Slice the top off of each cream puff.

Fill the puffs with the freshly made lychee mousse by spooning it into each puff (you can also use a piping bag if you prefer, but as the mousse is quite liquidy before it sets, it’s easier to use a spoon). To make sure the entire puff is filled, tap the puffs on the work surface to settle the mousse. If the level drops, spoon more mousse into the puff and repeat the tapping and filling as needed until each puff is filled.

Place the puffs in the fridge for 1 hour to allow the mousse to set.

Once set, whip the rose raspberry ganache until thick and stiff. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (I used one about 1.7cm in diametre). Pipe a dollop of the whipped ganache on top of each puff. Arrange raspberry halves around the ganache. Finally, replace the top of each cream puff. If the edges of the cream puff lids are a bit rough, you can trim them to even out the edges and make the lids more circular. Serve right away!

saffron poached pear & pistachio tart

saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart

Recently I was discussing music preferences – something I always struggle to describe. For one, I’m terrible at recognizing genres and I still don’t understand what makes pop pop or rock rock or alternative alternative. (That last one especially…but being confused by genres may not be as silly as I think!)

“Okay, well, what songs do you listen to?” my friend asked as a second resort. I paused, pondered why I often forget song titles, and settled for mentioning a few artists that I listen to instead. In retrospect, and perhaps rather obviously, the easiest unit with which to describe what I listen to is albums. Definitely a bit more encompassing than a single song, and more specific than an artist – particularly as when it comes to an artist with varying style, I may like the style from one album more than another.

saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart

This all to say, we’re still fairly fresh into the new year which means that various 2020 listicles still make sense – right?! So this time: my favourite albums that I started listening to over the past year, though I never keep up with music so these are not particularly recent releases.

1. the ballad of the runaway girl (2018) – elisapie

This is no surprise since I already wrote a whole blog post on this album! My favourite album so far from Elisapie Isaac – and it makes me excited to see what she does next.

favourite tracks: una, wolves don’t live by the rules, rodeo

2. omoiyari (2019) – kishi bashi

Omoiyari was written about the Japanese Internment in the United States. For a reflection on a dark time, it sounds strange to say that this album is also charming, hopeful and a pleasure to listen to. But it is – and perhaps the ambiance of the album is best encapsulated by omoiyari which, as Kishi Bashi explains, “refers to the idea of creating compassion towards other people by thinking about them. I think the idea of omoiyari is the single biggest thing that can help us overcome aggression and conflict.” (Quote from Bandcamp album description.)

favourite tracks: penny rabbit and summer bear, summer of ’42

3. carrie & lowell (2015) – sufjan stevens

For the last several years, all I’ve listened of Sufjan Steven’s discography has been Illinois. I’m so glad I finally tried to listen to more – he’s dabbled in a variety of styles, and this album is beautiful, melancholy in parts, heartbreaking in others.

favourite tracks (slightly arbitrary as I love every single song): fourth of july, eugene, no shade in the shadow of the cross

4. dark arc (2014) – saintseneca

Even though saintseneca is new to me, this album would have especially fit right into the music I listened to 5-10 years ago – it sounds a bit like Chad van Gaalen’s Diaper Island with vocals that remind me of Neutral Milk Hotel, but in crisp focus.

favourite tracks: fed up with hunger, uppercutter

5. run river north (2014) – run river north

Run River North’s debut album plays like a cross between early Of Monsters and Men with the country-folk vibes of Head and the Heart. I have a weakness for lush tracks with expansive instrumentals and catchy lyrics sung in chorus…of which this album has plenty.

favourite tracks: beetle, foxbeard

saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart

This tart has saffron and cardamom poached pears baked over pistachio orange blossom frangipane. The pears are tender, the frangipane cakey and sweet, and the aromatic flavours are predictably wonderful – in particular, I love the orange blossom pistachio frangipane, a combination inspired by pistachio maamoul filling.

It’s essentially a riff on a classic pear and almond frangipane tart, but I love this particular combo enough that I’ve made this tart a few times now. Depending on the size of your pears, you’ll be able to fit more or less into the tart. I do prefer how it looks with smaller pears – but it will work with whatever you have!

SAM_1627saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart

saffron poached pear & pistachio tart

  • Servings: one 14 by 4 1/2 inch tart (36 by 12cm)
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pastry

  • 205g flour, half all-purpose, half whole wheat
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 113g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 room temperature large egg

saffron and cardamom poached pears

  • 3 small-medium Bartlett pears
  • 1/8 tsp saffron
  • 5 large green cardamom pods
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

pistachio orange blossom cream

  • 56g soft butter
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 15g almond meal
  • 50g pistachios, finely ground
  • 1 large egg
  • 12g flour (~2 tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

assembly

  • chopped pistachios

pastry

Place the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until incorporated and the mixture has the texture of fine crumbs. Finally, add the egg and process until the dough comes together – it will take about 30 seconds. Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill completely.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to around 1/8″ thick and into a rectangle larger than the tart pan. Drape the dough into the tart pan, press into all the corners and trim excess dough. Cover and chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Dock the bottom of the tart dough all over with a fork. Bake just for around 10 minutes or until the dough is dry. Cool.

poached pears

Peel, halve and core the pears. Place in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Add the saffron, cardamom and sugar. Bring to a boil and set on a quiet simmer until the pears are just tender, around 15 minutes depending on the size of the pears.

pistachio orange blossom cream

Cream the butter with the sugar until light. Add the ground pistachios and almond.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Add to the butter mixture in four additions, beating in each addition thoroughly before adding the next. Finally, mix in the flour, then the orange blossom water and vanilla extract. Store refrigerated.

assembly

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the pistachio cream evenly in the partially baked and cooled tart shell. Slice the pear halves and arrange overtop of the cream – depending on the size of your pears, you will be able to fit 5 or 6 halves. Sprinkle any patches of frangipane not covered by pear with chopped pistachios. 

Bake for around 40-45 minutes or until any frangipane on the surface is golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing.

beet green pasqualina

beet green pasqualina

I have, perhaps, lamented the annual fall beet harvest before, where we are routinely overwhelmed with a last minute deluge of beets prompted by the first frost. But the problem dubious blessing about growing your own beets is that you also end up with triple the volume in beet greens.

And so after we’ve had our fill of boiled beet greens, beet green goma ae, beet greens cooked with garlic, and beet greens cooked with dou ban jiang, I start to wonder what else we can do.

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potato & cheddar danishes

potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish
potato cheddar danish

This dreadful idea came to me a few years ago while I was preparing for a university club bakesale: a danish filled with thin layers of potato and cheese. And, even worse, in the form of a neat square-shaped danish which necessitates a neatly cut square-shaped filling.

What a horrendous idea. Each time I make these, I survey a work surface covered in bechamel and swear I will never make them again. Though, given that I’ve made these finicky danishes four times, perhaps they are worth it.

Continue reading “potato & cheddar danishes”

rhubarb danishes with lavender & cardamom pastry cream

rhubarb danish

Earlier in the spring during the pandemic I made a series of posts on bakes inspired by local businesses. Food industry profit margins are notoriously slim (for instance, this article cites an average of 3% over the whole industry) – and the current situation has certainly not helped. It reminds me to appreciate food businesses who work with these slim margins and few guarantees to bring their favourite flavours, creativity and skill to life. Here is one more post about one of my favourite bakeries (and luckily, one so thoroughly beloved in the city that we likely don’t need to worry too much about them) – and another reminder that if we have the means, to look into safe ways to support our local businesses.

Blackbird Baking Co. is tucked in the middle of Kensington Market. A wall of crusty breads, each loaf scored and oven-bloomed, sits along one wall; among them, the multigrain batard is a favourite. The display case in front is where things get most exciting on the dessert and butter front – there is always a sweet and savoury scone pair next to dense chocolate corks, beside which are the croissants and danishes with lamination so precise that the edges look like the splayed pages of a book.

Continue reading “rhubarb danishes with lavender & cardamom pastry cream”

yuzu kosho pissaladière danishes

yuzu kosho pissaladiere danishes yuzu kosho pissaladiere danishes

Certainly advocates are not a monolith, but some of the key advocacy organizations leading the current movement such as Black Lives Matter TO, have not recommended body cameras as a measure to reduce police violence. On the other hand, body cameras seem to be a popular proposal by governments, and a frequent recommendation in police service use of force reviews I’ve read. As I’ve explained before, I think it is best to follow the lead of advocates.

A recent discussion I had about body cameras has prompted me to write up my impressions on the debate in order to formalize my thoughts for any future discussions. In sum, I would characterize body cameras 1) a reform with a small potential benefit likely outweighed by a large cost, and 2) furthermore a measure that maintains/increases the scope of policing, which is the opposite of what the defund movement is pushing for.

Continue reading “yuzu kosho pissaladière danishes”

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.

Continue reading “pomelo, coconut & yuzu cream puffs”

caramelized nut and cranberry tart

caramel, nut & cranberry tart
caramel, nut & cranberry tart
caramel, nut & cranberry tart
caramel, nut & cranberry tart

(A cringe warning – this post is about self-consciousness, something I am well acquainted with! Do feel free to scroll very quickly past to the recipe.)

Dear future self,

There is one key piece of advice that emerged from the small group discussion we had that I think is rather important for you (and for me right now as well) to hear again (and again): no one else is going to remember your embarrassing moments.

The times that your answer is totally off in left field – or you don’t even have an answer. Or the times that you start to get nervous while presenting and you suspect that there may be a slightly audible tremor in your voice. Or the times that you respond lamely or laugh at the wrong moment or make a joke that falls flat.

Maybe if it happens all the time they will remember (I suppose the flat jokes are my only jokes), but the single fleeting moments will be forgotten because, to be quite honest, they are utterly inconsequential!

No one will remember them. Except you, that is. You who does tend to run these select memories over and over in your head like a mobius strip-cassette tape… all while liberally imagining other’s thoughts to feed the part of you that relishes feeling terribly bad about yourself. You remember way more than enough for everyone!

You know what? You can probably let it go. And embarrassing moments will continue happening so often as you go forwards that your only option will be to let it go – and if you can do so a bit faster, everything will go a bit easier as a result.

Continue reading “caramelized nut and cranberry tart”