Archive for July 20th, 2010

Biscuits for a (Big) Crowd and Chili with a Fried Egg

I made a couple hundred biscuits today for the Slow Food Calgary booth at the Calgary Folk Festival this weekend (which I sadly won’t be attending, because I’ll, with any luck, be in Tofino). Yesterday Kris, Jenn, Maxwell and I made a few vats of chili (using beef from Tim Hoven), organic beans and other tasty stuff (including sweet marjoram and summer savoury from Kris’ farm) – but who wants a plain old bowl of chili with no carbs to dip in?

So today I holed up in the downstairs kitchen of the Cookbook Company and lost count at about 20 batches. That’s a lot of biscuits. I made an enormous mess. I took a picture. You don’t want to see it.

But – good news! Aviv is back. He came by to visit. He’s freshly back in Calgary after spending four months in Kathmandu-Tel Aviv-Paris-Montréal – he baked bread at Tangboche and at Everest base camp and worked with one of the best bread bakers in a city full of bakers and boulangeries. I sweated a little bit when he checked out the flour (from Kris and Highwood Crossing), then picked up a biscuit and bit into it. He liked them. Or at least he was being nice about it.

And lucky us-he’s going to stay right here in Calgary. He has decided to call his new bakery (for which he has plenty of cool ideas, but I’m not sure he’s ready to share them) –Sidewalk Citizen. How cool is that? So very cool. Just like his shoes.

Large-Batch Biscuits

Use any ratio of all-purpose to whole wheat flour you like, so long as you wind up with 3 cups. (Keeping some all-purpose flour in there will ensure you get some lightness and lift.) If you like, toss a handful of chopped fresh chives, parsley or green onion (or a bit of each) into the dry ingredients, or whiz them up in the food processor with the butter to finely chop and disperse them.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3-1 cup butter, cut into chunks (I used roughly a third to a half a pound of butter – it doesn’t have to be exact)
1 cup milk or half & half, plus a little extra for brushing on top

In the bowl of a food processor (or a large bowl), combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and pulse or work with a pastry cutter, fork or your fingers until the mixture is well combined and crumbly, with bits of butter no bigger than a pea – you want to leave some larger bits, rather than blending it completely – the larger chunks are what will make them flaky.

If you used a food processor (this is my favourite way) – dump the mixture into a bowl. Add the milk and stir just until you have a soft dough (you may need to use your hands). Pat the dough out about 3/4″ thick and cut into small rounds with a biscuit cutter, glass or open can rim, or a knife, or if you really want to streamline things, pat it into a circle and cut into 8 wedges. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray, spacing them a bit apart. If you like, brush the tops lightly with milk. (I do this to the whole circle of dough before cutting it.)

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Makes 8 large or 2 dozen small biscuits.

Wanna hear about dinner? Ironically the day before yesterday, in a state of panic, I made room in the freezer for all the stuff that will likely go stinky if left to its own devices in the fridge for the next couple weeks, which of course displaced much of the frozen stuff. I lobbed bags of cooked beans (white, red, black), six whole frozen tomatoes (which melt right into soups, stews, chilis and curries in the slow cooker), a bag of frozen cooked ground meat I couldn’t identify but turned out to contain zucchini, frozen diced tomatoes and peppers into the pot, plus a chunk of frozen chipotle pepper, and shook over some chili powder and cumin and let it go (on low) for 6 hours.

It was fab over new potatoes, cooked in a hot pan with a bit of canola oil, then topped with cheddar. W suggested we add a fried egg, so I obliged. It was actually pretty damn tasty.

Tomorrow: Tofino.

July 20 2010 | bread | 17 Comments »

Blueberry Cobbler Cookie Bars


It would have made sense to post this recipe on the weekend, since this is what I made approximately a dozen batches of between Friday night and Sunday. I was on the kitchen stage all weekend, and this year the canola producers asked if I’d do a demo for them. I was happy to, since I tend to extol the virtues of canola oil while up there on my soapbox anyway. It really is great stuff.

They ran a recipe contest, and wanted me to make one of the winning recipes – a recipe called Saskatoon Bars. It turned out to be one of those great versatile recipes that come in such handy in summer, when depending on the week you might have rhubarb or apricots or blueberries or blackberries to use up. This makes a big batch of cookie-like bars that with the dough patted on the bottom (sounds like it’s getting a spanking) and then dropped on top, reminded me of a cobbler. So I renamed them Blueberry Cobbler Cookie Bars. It’s all in the branding, don’t you think?

And because the saskatoons aren’t quite ready yet, I used blueberries. Also, the original recipe called for almond extract, but I’m not a fan. It does pair well with blueberries or saskatoons though, so feel free to add it back in.

Blueberry Cobbler Bars

Adapted from the third place recipe submission (Saskatoon Bars) by Sharlene from Regina, Saskatchewan. Thanks to the folks at Canola Info for the recipe! If you like, whisk together a cup of icing sugar with a capful of vanilla or almond extract and a tablespoon or two of milk until you have a drizzling consistency, and drizzle the icing over the bars.

1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 cups blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, Saskatoon berries or sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen (don’t thaw them)

Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray large 10.5 x 15” jelly roll pan or rimmed cookie sheet (I used a half bun pan) with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, cream together canola oil, butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add the flours and baking soda and stir just until the batter comes together.

Spread 2/3 of the batter in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with berries or sliced fruit, then drop the remaining dough in spoonfuls over the fruit – it will spread as it bakes, and you don’t need to cover it all.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch.

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July 20 2010 | cookies & squares | 22 Comments »