Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cookies 'n' Cream Hershey's Kiss Cookies (Part 3 of Christmas Cookies...)

A continuation of my love affair with Hershey's Kisses.....



When I discovered Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses in the grocery store, you can imagine how excited I was to find, sitting in the next display, Cookies 'n' Cream Hershey's Kisses (yay!).  They were begging to be bought and used...who was I to say 'no'?

I used a similar recipe as with the Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss Chocolate cookies...however instead of using peppermint extract, I finely chopped up some Oreo's, in order to tie the flavour of the Cookies 'n' Cream Hershey's Kiss into the cookie batter. 

And as I did with the Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kiss cookies and the Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss Chocolate Cookies, I baked these cookies in a mini muffin pan so they would retain a better shape when the Cookies 'n' Cream Hershey's Kiss was placed in the middle.

Here's the recipe....

Cookies 'n' Cream Hershey's Kiss Chocolate Cookies
(Makes 5-6 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup  unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
5-10 Oreo Cookies, finely chopped
1 bag Cookies 'n' Cream Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped

Directions:
(1) Place unwrapped Cookies 'n' Cream Hershey's Kisses in freezer (this ensures that they retain their 'Hershey's Kiss shape')
(2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
(3) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside
(4) With an electric mixer, on medium speed, cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until lightened in colour
(5) Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in dry ingredients until thoroughly combined
(6) Fold finely chopped Oreo's into batter
(7) (this is where it gets a little messy) Using two spoons, drop approx. 1/2 tablespoon of dough into a non-stick mini muffin pan (I do one mini muffin pan at a time, but if you have more then one pan, feel free to do more)
(8) Bake for 12-15 minutes (do not over-bake, otherwise cookies won't be chewy)
(9) Take Hershey's Kisses out of freezer; Remove baking pan from oven, immediately press Hershey's Kiss in middle of cookie
(10) Cool 10 minutes on baking pan; transfer to racks to cool completely.



I can't wait to continue with my discovery of new types of Hershey's Kisses.  I hear that there is a Hershey's Kiss filled with Cherry Cordial Creme...!

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss Chocolate Cookies (Part 2 of 'Christmas Cookies...')



So I realize that it might be a little late to be talking about Christmas cookies, seeing as how Christmas was 3 days ago, but better late than never, right?

To continue with my new found love affair for different types of Hershey's Kisses, I pleasantly happened across Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses during a trip to my local Loblaw's grocery store in early December.  For those of you who haven't tried them, they are kinda peppermint-y and not too sweet. 

Here's the thing...I love Peppermint Mocha's from Starbucks.  They give you that morning boost that is desperately required (because I am a procrastinator) on those December mornings when there is just not enough hours in the day to get ready for the holiday season (probably because of all the sugar that's in one of them, but that's a minor detail).
This is where the inspiration for these cookies came from  - and how Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss Chocolate Cookies were created.  (I really need to work on shortening the names of the cookies I come  up with)...I figured that a peppermint-y Hershey's Kiss embedded in a chewy chocolate cookie can only mean good things...

I modified a recipe for chewy chocolate cookies which I have been using for years...I have no idea where it came from as it was one of those recipes which started off as hand-written on a piece of paper...and added some peppermint extract, just to tie the peppermint flavour into the cookie...and then pressed a Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss into the middle of the cookie once it was baked...
As I did with the Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kiss cookies, I baked these cookies in a mini muffin pan so they would retain a better shape when the Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss was placed in the middle. 

Here we go....

Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss Chocolate Cookies
(approx. 5 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup  unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp peppermint extract
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 bag Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped

Directions:
(1) Place unwrapped Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses in freezer (this ensures that they retain their 'Hershey's Kiss shape')
(2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
(3) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside
(4) With an electric mixer, on medium speed, cream together butter, sugar, eggs , vanilla and peppermint extract until lightened in colour
(5) Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in dry ingredients until thoroughly combined
(6) (this is where it gets a little messy) Using two spoons, drop approx. 1/2 tablespoon of dough into a non-stick mini muffin pan (I only have one mini muffin pan, so I bake these one pan at a time until the dough runs out, but if you have more than one pan, feel free to do more)
(7) Bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges are firm (do not over-bake, otherwise cookies won't be chewy)
(8) Take Hershey's Kisses out of freezer; Remove baking pan from oven, immediately press Hershey's Kiss in middle of cookie
(9) Cool 10 minutes on baking pan; transfer to racks to cool completely.


FYI - This cookie is especially good with a cup of hot cocoa....

Happy Cooking!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cookies - Part 1 (of 5....yup, there is 5 parts to this...!)

For me, cookies inspire warm Christmas memories.  There is nothing like snuggling up beside a Christmas tree with a buttery shortbread and a hot cup of tea while watching 'The Sound of Music' to give me that 'festive' feeling. 

My love of Christmas cookies is how 'National Day of Baking' was founded in my world.  This is a day (usually close to Christmas day) where I bake until there is no butter left in the grocery store and my feet are throbbing and the entire house smells of warm-buttery-vanilla goodness.  These cookies are then given to family and friends so they too can share in the simple joys of the season.     

This year was no exception....the following was the result of my '2011 National Day of Baking'...

-Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies
-Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss Chocolate Cookies
-Cookies ‘n' Cream Hershey's Kiss Chocolate cookies
-Basic Shortbread
-Whipped Shortbread

This was my first attempt at making sugar cookies.  I didn't love them at first, but the day after they were decorated, I think all the flavours set in and I couldn't stop eating them....


(I've adapted the recipe below from one I found on the Food Network for Chewy Sugar Cookies...http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gale-gand/chewy-sugar-cookies-recipe/index.html)

Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies
(4 dozen medium sized cookies)

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks (salted) butter (1 cup), room temperature
1 egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract

Directions:
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
(2) In a small bowl, mix together flour and baking powder
(3) In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth (about 3 minutes)
(4) Beat in egg, vanilla and almond extract until combined
(5) Gradually blend in dry ingredients until combined
(6) Remove dough from mixing bowl;  On a floured surface, knead dough together with hands as it will be crumbly; press into a disk to prepare it for rolling
(7) Roll dough with rolling pin to about 1/4" thickness and cut into desired shapes (note: if dough is sticking to rolling pin, sprinkle dough with flour and continue rolling)
(8) Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes, to golden brown
(9) Remove from oven and let sit on cookie tray for a few minutes before transferring to a drying rack
(10) Allow to cool completely before decorating
(11) Decorate (Cream Cheese Icing Recipe below) and allow to dry overnight before packaging....this is the time to have fun with different nonpareils (as I clearly did from the picture below...haha!).

Cream Cheese Icing for Decorating
(A basic royal icing will work too...I personally like the flavour of cream cheese icing...)

Ingredients:
1 pound 9 ounces powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)

Directions:
In large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese. Mix in vanilla until combined. By hand, mix in powdered sugar.. 
***If icing is not stiff enough to decorate with, place in fridge for 1/2 hour or add more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. 
***Alternately, if icing is too stiff, add a tiny touch of water until desired consistency is reached. 





Next up....To continue my new found love affair with different types of Hershey's kisses...Candy Cane Hershey's Kiss Chocolate Cookies....

Happy Cooking!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tourtière - Quebec Style

I am not really sure what I did before I had a PVR.  I must have missed a lot of good TV.  (I know, you're probably wondering what the h*** the PVR has to do with Tourtière...Don’t worry, I am getting to that).  I love Chuck Hughes (he is a chef out of Montreal).  His Food Network Christmas special 'Chuckmas' happened to be on my PVR when I was looking for something to watch last night(YAY!)...On his Christmas special he made Tourtière (Yum)....which is what inspired me to stop procrastinating and get down to writing about Tourtière.... 
If you haven't gathered by now, I am a big fan of the Tourtière.  It's savoury, comforting and wonderful.  Below is the recipe which I've used a number of times to make Tourtière (or 'meat pie' as one of my friends would call it...he's thinks the word 'Tourtière' is too fancy for what it is). 

This is adapted from the Tourtière recipe provided in the George Brown Culinary Arts II manual.  I've increased the spices (cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, bay leaf) and the amount of garlic - because I like food that is über flavourful.  I've also added Sambal hot sauce, because I truly believe that hot sauce makes everything better.   And I've used a different pastry recipe as I have one that has worked for me for years...(below).

Ingredients:
560 g ground pork; or 2/3 ground pork and 1/3 ground beef
1 medium Onion (finely diced)
1 stalk Celery (finely diced)
1/2 Leek (1/2 of the white/light green part of the leek - finely diced)
1 medium Carrot (grated)
6 Garlic Cloves (minced)
1 tbsp Parsley
1/2 Potato (peel and submerge in water until ready to use)
1 oz Oil (for sautéing meat)
1 tsp Ground Cloves
1 tsp Freshly Ground Nutmeg
3/4 tsp Allspice
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1-2 Bay Leaves
2-3 tsp Sambal Hot Sauce (this is not authentic to the traditional Tourtière recipe, but adds an incredible kick of flavour - can find at most well stocked grocery stores)
4 oz Beef Stock (if not using homemade, try to find a Low Sodium Beef Stock at your local grocery store)
1 egg (for egg wash)
Pie pasty (recipe to follow).

Directions
(1) Make pastry (recipe below).  Put in fridge for at least 1/2 hour before ready to use. 
(2) Prepare vegetables: dice onion/celery/leek, grate carrot, mince garlic, peel potato and submerge in water.
(3) Heat oil in a large sauté pan or skillet, sauté meat until it's no longer pink (optional - season with salt and pepper while sautéing).
(4) Incorporate onion, celery, leek, carrot, garlic, parsley, spices (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, bay leaf), Sambal sauce and stock with the meat.  Simmer on medium, uncovered, for about an hour (can do for less if in a hurry, but this is one of those cases where the longer you simmer it, the better it's going to taste).  Stir occasionally
(5) Taste for salt and pepper, adjust spices.
(6) Grate 1/2 of the potato into meat mixture.  Stir to release the starch (This will help to thicken up meat mixture - Don't worry if it doesn't look thick while it's hot....it will thicken as it cools).
(7) Remove meat mixture from heat and let cool.
(8) Preheat oven to 375 degrees (if your oven takes a long time to warm up you might want to do this step a little earlier).
(9) Roll one half of the pie dough out to fit the bottom of your 9" pie pan, allowing a 1/2” over hang
(10) Remove bay leaf(s) from meat mixture; Pile meat mixture into pie pan.
(11) Roll out the second crust and decorate the top of the pie with a lattice top or any special way you like (if covering the top of your pie completely with the top crust, make sure to cut slits in the top to allow the steam to escape).  Decoratively crimp the edges.
(12) Mix egg yolk with 2 tsp water; lightly brush pastry with egg
(13) Bake on a tray for an hour at 375 degrees (You'll know it’s finished when the crust is golden brown and pie filling is sizzling). 

************************* 
Flakey Pastry  (makes 1 double crust 9" pie)
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups vegetable shortening
4-6 tablespoons ice water

Place flour and salt in a shallow mixing bowl and cut in shortening with dry clean fingers or pastry cutter until mixture resembles a coarse meal (large breadcrumbs).  Make a well in the middle of the mixture.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon in well and mix in lightly and quickly with fingertips, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time until pastry just holds together.  Shape gently into a ball.  Wrap with wax paper and place in fridge to chill for at least 1/2 hour before use.  Continue with step 2 above. 

************************



Once the Tourtière has completely cooled, it can be frozen.  To Reheat - Place in oven at 300 degrees until its heated through. 

I especially enjoy eating Tourtière with Heinz baked beans (Yup...the stuff from the can...why mess with a good thing?). 


Tourtiere + Baked Beans = Good


Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Culinary Arts II

This course reinforced the techniques learned in Culinary Arts I and helped to further my repertoire with it's variety of recipes.  It's a 10 week course, with the first and last class being demonstration-only.  The structure of the class was the same as Culinary Arts I in that a selection of recipes are demonstrated in the first half of the class.  This is followed by a hands-on lab in the second half of the class, where the students are given the opportunity to re-produce a couple of the recipes which were included in the demonstration.  The instructor was helpful in guiding us through the more complicated authentic recipes while demonstrating how to tweak certain recipes, in order to jump start our culinary creativity (insisting that we keep in mind that 'cooking isn't supposed to be a precise art').   Some of the highlights for me were getting to work with more of a variety of ingredients then Culinary Arts I and learning how to flambé without burning my eyebrows off (which is key information to know).

Week 1: Let's go to Germany
This was a demonstration only class.  As in the first class of Culinary Arts I, the expectations were set for the course, discussing any new tools that might be needed and uniform requirements.  Demonstrated was Turkey Schnitzel, Sauce Gribiche (a tartar-like sauce to eat with the Turkey Schnitzel), Mayonnaise (which was used to make the Sauce Gribiche) a warm German potato salad and braised cabbage.  I was pleasantly surprised by the content of this first class, as I love German/Austrian food (my favourite restaurant in the world is an Austrian restaurant - and at my favourite restaurant, breaded shrimp is my favourite thing to eat....go figure that Austria is landlocked....).  The warm German potato salad had bacon (and pickles), so I was a fan.  The cabbage had apples, bacon (bacon makes everything taste better - even cabbage) cloves, allspice, cinnamon, red wine vinegar and wine. 

Week 2: Tourtière - Quebec Style
This was the week that I was introduced to the wonderful world of ' The Tourtière'.  This is one of the things that I love the most about taking these courses.  It opens me up to the world of possibilities in the culinary universe!  Tourtière is delicious!  It's Awe-(wait for it)-Some ( I love 'How I Met Your Mother').  It's a savoury, clove-y, cinnamon-y, nutmeg-y meat-y pie (yum).  I'll include this recipe, which I've adapted to my own tastes (based on the one in the George Brown manual) in a subsequent post.   Cheese scones were also included in the demo.  I felt bad for the scones.  They were totally overshadowed by the wonder that was the Tourtière. 

Week 3: Flambé
I like to flambé things (this became extremely apparent because for the rest of the course I tried to light everything that had brandy or wine in it on fire).  After taking this class, I now fully understand that flambé-ing doesn't actually change the way anything tastes and that it's really just for show, but it's fun (as long as you don't burn your eyebrows off).  This week, Chicken Cordon Bleu and Chicken Breast Chasseur are demonstrated with the latter included in lab.  Chicken Breast Chasseur is one of those things that I don't know if I would ever make again (I didn't love the sauce espagnole and tomato combination) - but because you get to light stuff on fire - I might.  Green Bean Almondine is also demonstrated in this class.  Turns out that green beans and almonds taste good together.  Who knew?

Week 4: Salmon Coulibiac
So, I like horseradish, dill, mushrooms, salmon, egg, rice, onions and leeks.  But when they are all put together in a pastry, this is something that I do not like.  It was a flavourless assault on my senses (maybe I should have tried it with some hot sauce).  I am sure there are a lot of people out there who like Coulibiac (from what I understand, this is a Russian favourite).  I will never be one of those people.  
The other dishes that were included in the demo for this week are good, so it sort of makes up for the above.  These are Lobster Bisque, Sole Joinville and Creamed Horseradish (which is used in the aforementioned abomination - yup, I feel that strongly about it). 
 
Week  5: Odd Recipe Names...
Breast of Chicken Archduke (I guess this is one of the best things about making up a recipe....you get to name it, regardless of its relevance to the ingredients) is demonstrated in this class, as well as Fettuccini Alla Pesto (which is basically Fettuccine Alfredo with Pesto).  Breast of Chicken Niagara (as far as I could tell,  this recipe had nothing to do with Niagara Falls, Niagara-On-The-Lake, or even the Niagara Region) was part of the lab.  The ingredient list for this recipe included bacon, wine, rosemary and nutmeg...among other things.  It's good to have a few different recipes to use for a refrigerator staple like 'the chicken breast' - and when your dinner guests ask what the recipe is called, it has the possibility of being interesting dinner conversation! 

Week 6: Veal
I've never been a big fan of veal - mainly cause of the animal welfare issues.  It's just one of those things. 
And although I am glad I experienced it, I don't think that it's an ingredient  which I will be using excessively.  The instructor okay with the students who didn't want to have anything to do with the veal and provided them with chicken for the lab.  Veal Marsala and Roesti's were part of the demo in this class.  Paupiettes of Veal was included in the lab, which is basically veal stuffed with a gherkins and mustard in a tomato based sauce. 

Week 7: Lamb
This week, Rack of Lamb Persille and Stuffed Tomato's were demonstrated.  The lamb recipe was a good introduction of how to handle a rack of lamb and clean it for the purposes of cooking.  It was then covered in breadcrumbs seasoned with herbs.  The tomatoes were stuffed with a similar breadcrumb and herb mixture.  The lab for this week was Lamb Moroc.  This was basically a version of Moroccan Lamb - very tasty and flavourful. 

Week 8: Crustacean's
Seafood in soup is good - Maybe because seafood comes from water?  The lab this week included a yummy Seafood Newburg, which is a seafood stew with shrimp, scallops, lobster and cream (if you like chowder, you'll like this).  Spanish rice was also part of this lab.  Coquille St. Jacques Mornay (a fancy way of making scallops) was included in the demonstration portion of this class.  

Week 9: Make it Beef!
Beef Wellington is demonstrated this week.  The lab consists of taking that technique from making the Beef Wellington, but doing so for two separate servings - which they called Beef Stephanie (mini Beef Wellingtons).  Sauce Poivrade is also part of this lab which is supposed to be served with the beef.  The techniques used in these recipes served as a useful introduction to working with puffed pastry and making sauces.  Lyonnaise potatoes were also demonstrated in this class....which is basically potatoes and butter (Yum). 

Week 10: Desserts
This is a demo only class (Although, I hear that this has changed and the last class now includes a lab).  This week looks at desserts for-people-who-can't-make -desserts.  I am talking about desserts for people who never wanted to be part of the baking arts stream.  Demonstrated was a Blueberry and Pear Trifle, Tarte Tatin, Orange Bavarian Cream, Pastry Cream, and Fruit Crepes.  These were all lovely dinner party recipes which were fairly easy to make.  The Orange Bavarian Cream was especially delicious. 

I'd recommend this class for those looking to expand their knowledge of recipes and techniques. 

(Personally, I'd take this course just for the Tourtière!)

Happy Cooking!

Monday, December 5, 2011

C is for Cookie.....!!!

A tale of Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kiss Molasses Cookies....

Each year my wonderful Aunt organizes a cookie exchange, where a bunch of us get together, have a lovely breakfast and exchange cookies early in December (with the intention of reducing the amount of Christmas baking one has to do). 

It's typically held on the first Sunday of December, (which usually means that I am hungover from my annual work Christmas party from the night before).  My Mama and I work as a team - It's my job to select the type of cookie and bake, it's her job to come up with some inventive, environmentally friendly and festive way of wrapping the parcels of cookies.  We usually have about 2 months from being notified of the date of the cookie exchange to find a recipe, and test it out....however most of us (and by most of us, I mean 'me'...I am a bit of a procrastinator) wait until the very last minute to decide what kind of cookie to make. 

This year, inspiration hit me in earlier then usual.  In October, I discovered something wonderful -  'Pumpkin Spiced Hersey's Kisses'.  I love Pumpkin Spiced Lattes from Starbucks (it's one of my favourite things about Fall), and in my mind, (even before having tried them) I loved Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kisses.  I was extremely disappointed when I discovered that they were not available in Canada (sad).  So you can imagine my excitement when one of my darling friends from NYC sending me an entire box of Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kisses.  They were (as expected) lovely.  Kind of sweet, but unique in flavour.  This is when I had 'the epiphany' (the 'inspiration' I referred to above)....That they would taste great in molasses cookies!   
My next thought was to Google...(as I do when I don't know something).  And surprisingly there wasn't much in the way of Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kiss Cookies. 
So I invented (I am going to use the word 'invented' loosely here, as the inspiration for this cookie came from a Martha Stewart molasses cookie recipe....). 
And I came up with the Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kiss Molasses Cookie (yup, that's a mouthful).
I baked these cookies in a mini muffin pan so they would retain a better shape when the Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kiss was placed in the middle. 

The recipe....

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup molasses
1-2 bags Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped

Directions
  1. Place unwrapped Pumpkin Spiced Hershey's Kisses in freezer (this ensures that they retain their 'Hershey's Kiss shape')
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt. In a shallow bowl, keep 1/2 cup sugar; set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining cup of sugar until light, but not too fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla and then molasses until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in all dry ingredients, until a dough forms.
  4. Pinch off and roll dough into balls, each equal to 1/2 tablespoon. Roll balls in reserved sugar to coat.
  5. Arrange balls in mini muffin baking pan. Bake, until edges of cookies are just firm, 10 to 12 minutes
  6. Take Hershey's Kisses out of freezer; Remove baking pan from oven, immediately press Hershey's Kiss in middle of cookie
  7.  Cool 10 minutes on baking pan; transfer to racks to cool completely.




Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Makin' Bacon.

The intention for this post was to talk about the next Culinary Arts course I took, Culinary Arts II... 

...I am going to go out of sequence here a little and talk about Bacon.  I love Bacon.  All types of Bacon.  It makes me happy. 

A couple of weeks ago I started the newly offered Butchery and Charcuterie class at GBC.  I really had no idea what to expect.  I enrolled in it because butchery seemed like a good skill to have.   To my delight, I discovered that on the first day of class, (bright and early on a Saturday morning) we were 'makin' bacon'!  I was like a kid on Christmas.  I had a big goofy smile on my face for the whole class.  

First, we were given a pork belly and the ingredients to make a rub for the pork belly in order to 'dry cure' it.  After rinsing, drying and scoring the skin side of the pork belly with a knife, we massaged it with the rub and left it to cure for the week in GBC's industrial-sized fridges. 

Pork Belly Rub for Dry Curing
(for 6KL pork belly)
216g kosher salt
108g brown sugar
21g INSTA CURE NO.1

(look at that colour!  Perfection...)

The next week....
We massaged it once again with maple syrup (Mmmmm....maple syrup).  And then smoked it in an oven (@350 degrees for about 3 hours, skin side up) with wood chips. 



(see that brown stuff in the pan?  I totally stuck my finger in it....It tasted like maple-fatty-goodness)

I felt pure joy through the whole process of bacon making.  I have a feeling its because I love bacon so much.  (and no, I do not have a problem...lol)

One of the best things I found with 'makin' bacon' is that the method demonstrated in class is completely replicable at home (and after tasting the end product, I would say that it's definitely worth doing).  We soaked and heated the wood chips (in a foil pan) on a stove top until they began to smoke, at which point we covered them with a foil cover.  We then poked holes in the foil cover so all that yummy smoke could infuse the pork belly in the oven. 

When I attempt this at home, I think I will be using a backyard bbq as I (unfortunately) do not have the industrial fans that the George Brown kitchens do to suck all the smoke that is emitted out before everything (jackets, furniture, carpets, clothes, hair etc.) smells like smoking wood (don't get me wrong, eau de 'camp fire' is great, but only to a certain extent).

So far, the Butchery and Charcuterie course is getting a big *thumbs up* from me...and there is still a whole class on sausage making to come!

Happy Cooking!   



Friday, November 11, 2011

Epic Peach Pie

I thought this would be a good time to share the first of my very favourite recipes. 


Mmmmm....peach pie....

Epic Peach Pie. 

For my sisters engagement party a couple of months ago, she requested peach pie.  To this point in my life I have never made, let alone attempted, to make peach pie. 

So I did what I do when I don't know something...I walked over to my trusty laptop and I Googled 'Peach Pie'. 
However I did apply a little bit of my own logic (usually I just let Google do it all for me).  I knew that peach pie was a southern thing.  And who better to know about southern cooking then Paula Deen.  In this health conscious society (and yes, sadly because of the prevalence of heart disease and cancer in my family, I am one of the healthy-lemmings too - *most* of the time) it's nice to sit down and watch Paula Deen on the Food Network, knowing that if I were to eat that much butter as she cooks with everyday I'd look like one of the 'two fat ladies.'

And of course, Paula Deen didn't let me down.  She had a recipe for 'Peach Pie'.  Since I had never made peach pie before and it was my sister's engagement party, I decided to make a 'test pie' which turned into 3 separate attempts at the 'test pie'....and luckily all this practice made it 'Epic'.  I had so many compliments on the night of my sister's engagement party. 

The main things I changed were adding cinnamon, vanilla, reducing the amount of sugar and removing the juices that are given off during the 'stewing' process. 

Peach Pie
(yield = one 9" pie)