archives: food & recipes
These days I eat less bread than I used to.
Not no bread, but less.
And I try to stick to the good stuff when I do.
Like brioche, I love brioche.
So when I found out my friend Tara was going to include a recipe for bostocks in her new book, I knew I had to try it.
She’s a bit of a magician in the kitchen and we have a history of searching out bostocks together.
Plus I’ve made her chocolate chip cookies and they’re fantastic.
Same goes for her fried chicken, her pickled strawberry preserves and her house burger sauce.
All without surprise, excellent.
Anyway, brioche (and bostocks) come with a fair bit of nostalgia for me.
They remind me of my first days working in a pastry kitchen.
You learn brioche (the foundation of bostocks) early on,
it’s one of those basic recipes you have to master, like pâte à choux or crème pâtissiére.
It’s also really versatile as far as application goes.
Perfect the day you make it, but equally great days later.
If you haven’t made (or had) bostocks before,
they’re essentially thick pieces of brioche,
soaked in simple syrup (Tara’s has orange blossom water and citrus rind)
and spread with almond cream (often garnished with sliced almonds or even dried fruit).
In Tara’s recipe, the almond cream puffs up around the almonds themselves and melds into the soaked bread.
The result is a centre that is someplace between bread,
custard and a slice of cake, with the edges feeling crispy like a piece of toast.
They’re fragrant, but not overpowering, and perfect in hand on the way out the door.
From the Seven Spoons Cookbook, Ten Speed Press, 2015. I've used both a traditionally shaped loaf as well as a round and prefer the texture of bostocks made of round slices. If you're making your own brioche try using a coffee tin for baking.
- 150 g granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
- 180 ml water (3/4 cup)
- 1 t orange blossom water
- 4-6 strips citrus zest (lemon, orange, yuzu), each 2.5 cm (1") thick
- 115 g unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
- 115 g confectioners' sugar (1 cup)
- 100 g almond meal (1 cup)
- 1 T all-purpose flour
- Seeds scraped from a vanilla bean
- 2 t rum or brandy (optional)
- Scant 1/4 t almond extract
- 1/4 t fine-grain sea salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 8 to 10 slices of stale brioche, each around 2.5cm thick (1")
- Sliced almonds, for sprinkling (optional)
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- To make the syrup, stir together the granulated sugar, water, orange flower water, and zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 week. Remove the zest before using.
- To make the almond cream, beat the butter in a bowl with a silicone spatula or a hand mixer until the butter holds a peak when the spatula is lifted. Sift in the confectioners' sugar, then fold to incorporate. Beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and sides of bowl. Sift in half the almond meal, stir to incorporate, then sift in the rest with the flour. Mix again then stir in the vanilla, rum, almond extract, and salt. Pour in the egg and stir until creamy. Transfer to a bowl, then press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent it from drying out. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours, or up to 3 days ahead.
- To assemble the bostocks, preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then arrange the brioche on top. Brush syrup all over the slices until saturated. If any syrup remains, wait until the first soaking is absorbed , then brush again. Spread one cut side with almond cream, all the way to the edges, then sprinkle with almonds. Bake until the cream is puffed and brown, and the brioche is deeply toasted, 18 to 22 minutes. Let the bostocks cool for 5 minutes on their tray. Sift a light flurry of confectioners' sugar over all, then all that's left is the eating.
+ some things I like:
This rug, this rug and this one
I just ordered this book
I can’t wait to try these
My baking board
I think we should get this for our patio/garden
And Rosebud Multi-Use Oil
PHOTOS: Nikole Herriott
We took a few days off recently and went to our family cabin on Qualicum Beach.
We drank piña coladas, ate oysters and kind of lazed around in the sun.
It was surprisingly hot when we were there,
weather I feel like I haven’t felt in BC since I was a kid.
I cut a pile of rhubarb from my parent’s backyard
before making the drive up island.
I brought along the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book (shot by the super talented Gentl & Hyers)
for the task of making a rhubarb pie and was SO pleased with the result!
I love that the Elsen sisters suggest to freeze the chopped rhubarb
and then thaw and drain before making the pie.
Such a great tip to get a little extra juice to drain from the stalks.
It’s late in the season for rhubarb I’m told, but there was no shortage at my parents place.
I noticed only afterward that the recipe is quite similar to the one Jen Causey
made for my, For the Love of Pie series back in 2012,
also by the Elsen sisters, but I’m including the recipe here
just because I think it’s worth mentioning again.
And if you don’t have it already, go buy the book, it’s great.
THE FOUR & TWENTY BLACKBIRDS RHUBARB PIE
This recipe came from, THE FOUR & TWENTY BLACKBIRDS PIE BOOK by Emily Elsen & Melissa Elsen published by Grand Central. It makes one 9-inch pie that serves 8-10 people. While it's perfect just as it is, I prefer to omit the allspice and ground ginger in favour of the contents of a vanilla bean or a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I think it's best served at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but a spoonful of crème fraîche would be nice too.
- FOR THE CRUST
- Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend).
- Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time using the bench scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow. Divide the dough in half before shaping each portion into flat discs.
- Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
- Have ready and refrigerated one pastry-lined 9-inch pan and pastry top.
- Combine the rhubarb, brown and granulated sugars, allspice, cardomom, ginger, salt, and arrowroot in a large bowl and mix throuroghly. Stir in the lemon juice, egg, and bitters. Pour the filling into the refrigerated pie shell, arrange the lattice or pastry round on top, and crimp as desired.
- Chill the pie in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to set the pastry. Meanwhile, position the oven racks in the bottom rack, and preheat the oven to 425˚F.
- Brush the pastry with the egg wash to coat; if your pie has a lattice top, be careful not to drag the filling onto the pastry (it will burn). Sprinkle the pastry with the desired amount of demerara sugar.
- Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375˚F, move the pie to the centre oven rack, and continue to until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 30 to 35 minutes longer.
- Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or not at room temperature.
- The pie will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days or at room temperature for 2 days.
I can’t wait for this chocolate chip cookie recipe from Tara’s book.
Michael and I shot the new Bon Appétit Cover, find it on newsstands now!
This place looks amazing.
The design and photos in this story from the current print issue of Afar Magazine are beautiful.
Michael snapped this in NYC the other day, I love it.
This place looks nice.
And we updated the shop last week, have a look.
Photos: Nikole Herriott
We have a small strawberry patch in our garden.
So small that it’s not really a patch at all,
more like a few strawberry plants in mismatched pots
on a small deck to the side of our place.
We don’t get an abundance of berries,
but enough that we can eat one or two a day
or if we wait, enough to have with breakfast on the weekend.
That works as I’ve been thinking of breakfast a lot lately.
We have new maple syrup over in the shop (something we’re pretty excited about!)
so I’ve been fitting it into cooking and baking whenever I can.
From that came the idea of these sweet crêpes with strawberries and maple syrup.
I’m sort of a traditionalist when it comes to sweet crêpes,
but I like that this recipe has beer, something I hadn’t tried before.
The result is really nice texture and a pretty sort of lacy feel (you can see it well in this photo).
And they’re simple to make.
I found that 1/3 of a cup of mix worked well
when cooked on an 11″ cast crêpe pan.
If you don’t have one, I recommend this one.
On the crêpes in the photo,
I topped with fresh cut strawberries,
a little sour cream and a generous pour of maple syrup.
You should try it, it’s so delicious.
This recipe is by Jehnee Rains but I came to it via The Kitchn. I've made it several times now and found that I like the crêpes a little sweeter than the recipe calls for (I increased the sugar from a 1/2 teaspoon to 2-3 tablespoons and added a teaspoon of vanilla).
- 2 cups warm milk
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (I used 3T instead)
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup beer (any light lager beer will work)
- Melt the butter and heat the milk to warm, over the stove or in a microwave. Meanwhile, mix flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a large bowl with a whisk ready). Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour eggs and oil into the well and beat on medium speed with whisk using the mixer, or vigorously with your hand-held whisk. Slowly add the melted butter and milk mixture until batter becomes uniform in texture.
- Now pour batter over a fine-toothed sieve into another medium-sized bowl, pressing any lumps through with your fingers. Stir in beer, until just evenly incorporated (don't overmix). Refrigerate the batter, covered with plastic, for 8 hours or overnight, if you can.
- Pour about 1/4 to 1/3 cup batter onto a smoking-hot pan, swirling the batter to create an even surface. Add a little more batter if needed. Little holes are okay while crêpe cooks — just 2 minutes on the first side (peek to see if golden brown color is there), then about 30 seconds on other side. Keep warm with sheets of parchment paper in between each crêpe, in a low oven, about 200 degrees until serving.
I love a good sandwich.
I especially love a good sandwich with some sort of pickle.
But until recently I hadn’t made my own.
I found the inspiration to give them a try
when I was walking through Toronto’s Chinatown a few saturdays ago.
It’s a brilliant place on weekend mornings.
The streets are full and bustling then,
the shops feel like they’re overflowing with produce.
The woman I bought my onions from said she had grown them in her backyard.
They were tiny and pink and sort of beautiful I thought.
I like that she and other vendors form a long line up Spadina where Dundas crosses.
They sell houseplants they’ve propagated, vegetables from their backyards and other little things.
It’s a hodgepodge row of tables and upside-down milk crates
that runs up the curb toward College.
There’s something about that row of them for me,
something that’s kind of awesome.
All that said, try the onions.
They’re simple and pretty and super tasty.
A bit of history on Toronto’s Chinatowns
I love how simple these pickled onions are. The recipe is actually for quick pickled shallots but it's great for these small spring onions. It's from the Gramercy Tavern Cookbook but I came to it via the, Leite's Culinaria blog. As Michael Anthony mentions, it's a great place to start with pickles and will work well for a variety of vegetables.
- 5 shallots
- 3/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (I like it with a little less sugar)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1. Halve each shallot lengthwise and pull apart the layers to form petals. You should have about 2 cups. Place the shallots in a medium bowl.
- 2. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the pickling liquid over the shallots and cover them with a plate to keep them submerged. [Editor's Note: The shallots may not be completely submerged, but that's okay.] Let cool to room temperature.
- 3. Cover the bowl (as well as the plate) with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Transfer the pickles and liquid to a container, cover, and refrigerate for up to several weeks.
, plus some old visuals
PHOTOS: Nikole Herriott
A bowl of orange sherbet always felt special to me as a kid.
Maybe it was because of the way the container seemed frostier,
or the way the lid sort of stuck before you could pull it off.
Or maybe it was because it was just easier to scoop.
I don’t know exactly, maybe it was because it tasted like a creamsicle.
Either way, all the leftover citrus in our studio fridge made me want to give it a try.
The recipe I used was from the NYT via Alice Waters and was super simple and delicious.
I did make grapefruit ice cream as well (pictured here), but it had nothing on that sherbet.
umbrellas and shadows
this instagram, especially this, so many peonies
sue’s bowls over on aran’s site. find them here
our feather and cloud cookie cutters are back in stock
+ NEW tea towels with lisa rupp!
and this side plate is in bon appétit this month
PHOTOS: Nikole Herriott
I’ve always loved a cake that travels well.
For lots of reasons but mostly because I like to send cake to my Dad.
It’s a trade we’ve made for about five years now–
he sends me things he’s made from wood
and I send things I’ve made from butter and sugar and eggs.
That got Tara and me to talking about cakes suited specifically for travel.
Cakes that make our journeys that little bit better. This one is definitely the sort and it’s delicious!
Find the recipe below.
tara’s cherry pecan picnic cake
Elvis Presley’s favourite pound cake called for seven eggs and a full cup of heavy cream. It is one of those recipes that I’ve long wanted to try, like the lemon meringue pie from Toast, for no other reason than its pedigree. The King’s pound cake would have to be a good one, and while that pie was created for looks over taste, what a looker it is.
Now this cake delivers admirably on both those fronts, even if more modestly so. It is sturdily handsome, hinting at richness, and with a dense crumb. The cherries create dark, juicy pockets as they’re baked, and the pecans contribute a subtle, waxy crunch. It is a cake suited for coffee in the morning, and whipped crème fraîche come at night. But really, this is a cake that’s made for for road trips, and plane rides, to be cut in thick slices and wrapped in wax paper. It’s a cake for picnics.
In other words, just the kind of cake Nikole and I like very much.
Makes 2 round cakes, 6-inches each
For the cake
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (256 g) cake flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups (275 g) granulated sugar, plus extra if not using the glaze
- 4 eggs
- Seeds scraped from a vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons thick yogurt or sour cream (not nonfat)
- 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
- 1 cup pitted dark cherries, fresh or frozen
For the glaze (optional)
- 1 1/4 cups (142 g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- A pinch of fine sea salt
- Preheat an oven to 300°F/150°C with a rack in the middle. Butter two 6-inch round cake tins, and line with parchment, on bottoms and sides. Butter the parchment.
- Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl, then set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream butter and sugar for a full 8 minutes on medium-high, scraping down the bowl and beater with a silicone spatula regularly. Knock the speed down to medium, and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the beater after each, and beating well. The batter may look to curdle, but it’ll be fine. Add the vanilla. With the mixer on low, stir in the flour in two additions, alternating with the yogurt. Do not overmix. Fold in the nuts by hand, making sure to get all the way down to the bottom of the bowl. Dollop one-quarter of the batter between the prepared pans, then scatter with cherries. Continue to layer spoonfuls of batter with cherries until finished. Gently smooth the tops, then sprinkle with granulated sugar if not planning to glaze the cakes later.
- Bake cakes in the hot oven, rotating halfway through, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, 60 minutes or so. Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes in their tins, then unmold. Place, right side up, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to cool completely.
- If making the glaze, whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. The glaze should be fluid enough to fall smoothly and slowly from a spoon. If it doesn’t, add more cream, a teaspoon at a time. If it is too thin, stir in more confectioners sugar. Spoon the glaze over the cakes as desired. Let set for at least an hour before cutting.
- The cakes can be kept at room temperature for 3 days, loosely covered or under a dome.
PS: There’s no picture of it here, but I like to decorate this cake with a single maraschino cherry (that you’ve patted dry) in the centre just before the icing is completely set.
PHOTOS: Nikole Herriott
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