When I say bread pudding “as God intended it,” I mean using actual, stale, left-over bread heels. Buying fresh bread just to tear it up and dry it out is like using striploin to make sausage, or rolling a torchon of foie gras just to melt it into cooking fat.
To make bread pudding stale bread is soaked in milk, cream, eggs, and sugar, then pressed into a casserole and baked.
There is a continuum of bread pudding textures, ranging from the dense and eggy (the well-known Jack’s Grill (RIP) bread pudding was a good example) to the light and ethereal.
I want to take a paragraph to describe an interesting style of bread pudding that chef Nigel Weber taught … Continue reading.
Even once I had a handle on basic techniques like dough-shaping, I found that the bread I made at home wasn’t as good as the bread I made at NAIT, where they have commerical equipment like proofing boxes and deck ovens.
Here are some quick notes on using household kitchen items to replicate the equipment in professional bakeries and bake better bread.
I’ve always felt that my bread doesn’t proof as well at home as it does at school. At first I thought this was a temperature issue, so I tried fermenting and proofing my bread in increasingly warmer corners of the house. Turns out humidity was the more important factor.
In commercial kitchens bread is proofed in proofing … Continue reading.
This is the single most useful preparation that I learned in Austria. It’s invaluable to establishments that use a lot of cured meat, but also a good trick to have in the home kitchen. It’s called Fleischknödel (approximately: “FL-EYE-SH KNUH-dl”). Fleisch just means meat, while Knödel is a type of dumpling that is popular in Austria and Bavaria. Fleischknödel is a fantastic way to use up leftover meat, whether cooked or cured.
Most cooks are familiar with how to use scraps of raw meat. When butchering a side of pork, for instance, you reserve the miscellaneous bits of meat and fat so they can be ground and used in sausages and forcemeat.
There’s also leftover trim when cutting cooked and … Continue reading.
This is one of my favourite ways to showcase my maple syrup. A simple oat cake is baked, then cut into squares and cooled. The baking dish is then filled with hot maple syrup, which the cake soaks up like a sponge. Essentially a lazy man’s pouding chômeur (a lazy man’s poor man’s pudding?)
Oat Cake in Maple Syrup
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
For the soaking syrup:
- 2 cups maple syrup
- 2 cups
… Continue reading.
Some would think this is the inside of my compost bin, but it’s actually the inside of my stockpot: roasted lamb bones and vegetables, as well as all the darkly caramelized bits scraped from the bottom of the roasting tray. These flavours formed the soul of the Burns Supper, as the resulting stock was used not only in the soup, but also in the haggis and the clapshot. They were the mellow, earthy foundation of the entire meal.
Making a pot of stock the night before a large meal has become a very fond tradition. The house fills with the aroma first of roasting bones, then of the simmering stock, while excitement for the coming meal slowly accrues.
Some specifics … Continue reading.
I don’t cook rice very often, but I used to work at a restaurant that let me take home large amounts of leftover rice, and over the years I have developed a taste for rice pudding. My favourite version is made with a blend of brown and wild rice (which adds a satisfying chew to the dish), and dried saskatoons.
Lately I’ve been wondering if I could make a similar dish with a starch that is more common in my kitchen. Take that fifty pound bag of wheat berries in my closet, for instance. The one that I keep threatening to grind into flour if it doesn’t make itself more useful.
I was wary of trying to adapt wheat to … Continue reading.
This post is about simple potatoes dumplings, served in an interesting potato broth.
Conversations about potato dishes usually focus on texture (the ideal French fry has a crisp exterior and fluffy interior, the ideal mashed potatoes are smooth but not gummy…) I love this broth because it makes you think about how potatoes taste. Potato skins are used to infuse a vegetable broth with potato flavour, without any of the thick starchiness we associate with potato soups.
Let’s start with the dumplings. The key to pillow-like potato dumplings is to have very little moisture in the potatoes. This way the milled potatoes will require less flour to form a dough, and there will be accordingly less gluten in the finished … Continue reading.
Today Judy showed up with a bag of Canada Goose wild rice from Fort Assiniboine. Wild “rice” is actually a misnomer: it’s the seed of zizania grasses, which are not part of the rice family, though they are closely related. Anyways, it’s indigenous to lakes across Canada and the northern United States.
The harvesting of wild rice is a pretty interesting affair. Here’s a video of some hippies in Maine taking a canoe into the rice marsh.
Because of the high moisture content of the grain, wild rice actually goes through a good deal more processing than its true-rice cousins. After harvest wild rice is left in large, damp piles to mature for about a week, then dried over a … Continue reading.
In the last few days I have learned a lot about oats. For example: whole oats are called groats. Not impressed? Fine. Here are the main “styles” of processed oats:
- Rolled oats: steam-rolled flat. I think the most popular style.
- Steel-cut oats: each groat is cut (by steel, I guess) into a few pieces. Sometimes called Irish oats.
- Quick Oats: the oats are steel cut and then steam-rolled, even flatter than rolled oats, reducing cooking time (hence the name).
Why have I become a scholar of oats? This week Judy brought us a 20 kg bag of rolled oats and a 20 kg bag of quick oats, both from the Can-Oat mill in Manola, and each costing about $25. While … Continue reading.