Friday, July 29, 2011

The Beauty of a Local Brew

I'm a bit of a Lucy-Come-Lately to the beer scene, but I've really been enjoying the process of finding out what I like (and, no, not just because I get buzzed when I try to figure out what I like...). Being international makes it all that much more fun as I get to try local brews that aren't exported and that others may not get the opportunity to try. I can say that I enjoy a Japanese Asahi beer with Japanese food... a Korean Cass beer with their version of fried chicken... a Chinese Tsingtao beer on occassion... a Thai Singha beer with my green curry... a Turkish Efes on a hot day... and the list can go on. Currently, I'm at home and we have a fantastic local brewery called Granville Island Brewing and they have some fantastic beers... my favourite is the Robson Street Hefeweizen. Let me know what local brews you like best... I'd love to give them a try!

Take that, Cinnabon!!

So I found this great recipe online for a cinnabon styled cinnamon roll recipe and I decided to give it a try. I followed it pretty much to a tee, except that I have a theory that all sweet baked goods are better with vanilla and since this recipe didn't call for any, I took the liberty of putting in about 1 1/2 teaspoons into the dough and because it is a cinnamon roll, I also put some cinnamon into the dough (didn't call for that either, but it was a good move... trust me on that one). I guess I used about 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon.

The rolls were light, fluffy, flavourful and simply tasty. I highly recommend the linked recipe above... it's just good.
This is immediately post oven, pre-icing... yum yum!!

Happy Eating!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Garlic Cheddar Buns

MMMMMMMMmmmmmmm!!! That's just to indicate how good they taste!! As I said previously, I felt like I was cursed when it came to baking. Cooking? No problem... baking? Uh... yea, that was another story. But I think I may have broken the curse with a little help from my mom and a new container of yeast.

Our family reunion is fast approaching and my mom makes a killer spaghetti sauce (the recipe is in my archives, but if you click the work "spaghetti" above, you'll go there directly) and we decided it would be the best opening meal to the weekend. It wouldn't matter what time people got there, it could be ready to put on a plate with some Caesar salad and some garlic bread. But then I got to thinking and some garlic cheddar buns might be a nice answer to the traditional garlic bread. I tried to make them the other day and failed miserably, but found out that the yeast had gone bad, so we got some new yeast and I gave it another try.... SUCCESS!!!

Here is how I did it (by the way, this was my FIRST TIME EVER making homemade bread):


4 1/3 cups of flour (I used all purpose)
2 tbsp salt
4 1/2 tsp yeast
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp powdered garlic
1 tbsp parsley flakes
1 tbsp dill
(I might try oregano instead of the dill next time)

The first thing you need to do is check that your yeast is active. So warm up your water to about 38 degrees Celsius or 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir in the sugar and then drop in your yeast after the sugar is all dissolved. The yeast will take 10 minutes to reach it's active state, but you will know that it is active once you see it bubble and rise into a foam on top of the water.

While you wait on the yeast, you can put all your dry ingredients (about half of the flour to start with and NONE of the cheddar) into a large bowl and mix well. Add the yeast mixture and continue to add the flour (you need to work it in with your hands now) until the dough is no longer sticky on your fingers. Now work the cheese into the dough, always folding the dough into the centre. Punch it down, form it into a ball and place it into a buttered, metal bowl or container. Place a tea towel over the top and pop it into your oven (you just need to warm the oven, then turn it off and leave the door open a crack). Pop that bowl in there and let it rise for about an hour. It should be double the size.

Once it's risen, remove it from the oven, and set your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and you can either form buns (I made 45 little buns) or 2 loaves. Put it on greased pans and then pop it in your hot oven. If you are making buns, they should be ready in 15-20 minutes (they sound hollow when you tap the tops) and a loaf of bread should be ready in 30-40 minutes.

When they are done, brush them with a little unsalted butter. These are a little on the salty side, so you might want to reduce the salt or use a less salty cheese.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Case of the Cursed Baker

That's what I've felt like for the last year... a cursed baker. I can cook and cook well! You can throw just about anything at me in the kitchen and ask me to make something tasty and I can do it, but for the last year, I've felt like I couldn't bake a thing. I didn't bake too much the year before it (when you have a roommate like I did, who is clearly gifted in baking, there was just no need) and so at first I thought I was out of practice. Then I thought it was because I struggled to read and translate the Turkish instructions (which was hard but, with the help of a dictionary and Google Translate, not impossible). Then I thought it was the elevation of the city of Ankara (I wasn't used to baking at high elevations and people said it could be problematic). Then I thought it was the experimentation with the gluten-free flour (which was part of the problem for me... I need to figure that stuff out!!). But finally, I began to think that these things were just excuses and it was ME... I couldn't bake. I'd lost the baking groove (a terrible thing to lose, let me tell you). This was further confirmed here in Canada a few days ago when I tried to make homemade, yummy garlic/cheddar buns and cinnamon rolls. I followed the recipe and the instructions but the dough didn't rise and all I got were some amazing smelling hockey pucks. It put PMSing me over the edge and I nearly lost my mind. That is, until my mom and dad discussed the yeast and figured out that it was no longer active.... so, I may or may not still be a cursed baker, but I know that the last baking mishap was NOT my fault. I will try both recipes again tomorrow and hopefully have some gorgeous pictures of yummy treats to show you. Stay tuned and HAPPY EATING!!