Category Archives: Bread

2010 – A Year in Food & Food Trends for 2011

What are your favourite food-related items of 2010?

As I realized my blog is just over a year old (December 23, 2009 was my first post), I decided to jump on the bandwagon with my own year-in-review.  This post is on 2010’s top posts, photos, and favourites, plus trends for 2011.

IslandEAT‘s Most-read Posts

According to site stats, my most popular posts are unexpected – at least, by me.

5.  My adaptation of Peter Reinhart’s Multi-grain Bread.

4. No-bake Whipped Cream Mocha Ice-box Zebra “Pie”

3.  Thick and Chewy Brown-Sugar-Beurre-Noisette Cookies

2.  Thick Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies

For my most popular post in 2010, Five Food Trends, and Top Food Pictures…

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Double Your Fight Against the Dreaded Green Squash’s Invasion: Zucchini Bread – Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Loaves

When I think of zucchini, I think of other foods, which have super-powers.  For instance, the classic “B” movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes comes to mind.  Then there was the “Eggplant That Ate Chicago.”  Or else I think of the Blancmange which ate Wimbledon, on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  As with the tomatoes, eggplant, or blancmange, zucchini will take over, if you give it half a chance.  Do not turn your back or  close your eyes for a millisecond.  Be afraid…very  afraid of this green garden menace.

I do not grow my own zucchini, as I know that I will benefit from others, whose gardens are overflowing with the squash.  On my island within a matter of days, I received one zucchini as a party favour, if you will, at the end of a dinner party (how can one say “no, thank you”?) and then a phone call from a neighbour who was trying to unload her excess.  I accepted the second offer, too, as there were a couple of cucumbers thrown in to make it irresistible.

Now I know to wait until August for the largesse of zucchini.  This year, however, was the first when I finally decided to finally try zucchini bread.

In addition to using two of the three aforementioned squash I received, I wanted to finish up some light sour cream in the fridge.  America’s Test Kitchen’s New Best Recipe (ATK) had an attractive option for zucchini bread.  The ATK version makes one loaf, though it uses yogurt instead of sour cream.  Despite their warning that sour cream made their loaves too heavy and rich, I went ahead with it anyway.  ATK – like the zucchini-zombies – could not scare me away.

I always appreciate ATK’s rigourous experimentation with ingredients, technique, cooking times, pans, etc.  Their recipe stated that the subtlety of the zucchini can be lost, when many other spices are used, e.g., cinnamon or nutmeg, so they limit flavour-boosters to lemon juice to brighten the taste.  This approach works well, so I give them credit for their thoroughness, as always.

The only drawback, perhaps, is that it is rather time-consuming to shred/grate the zucchini, before draining in a strainer and drying it in paper towels after 30 minutes.  Even using a food processor, this is a bit of a long recipe – another reason to double the quantities and bake two loaves.  I strongly advise doing two at once, as the bread freezes well or lasts three days, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

The bread has a fine crumb.  This is attributable to the yogurt, or sour cream, and the lemon juice.  I found the zucchini flavour to come through in a distinctive and pleasant manner, but it was definitely not over-powering.  The toasted walnuts add a crunchy textural counterpoint to the rich body of the bread, which really is more like cake.

For the doubled-up recipe…

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Soufflé Sandwiches – a Simple, Quick, Retro Brunch: What Would Jessie Dish? Week 9

My first impression of the title on the 3” x 5” recipe card was bewilderment.  Soufflé sandwiches?  I could not recall my grandmother, Jessie, ever making such a thing or trucking with soufflés.   Among the recipes of hers, which I had come across, this one really stood out.

First, there is the question of American cheese.  I do admit to being a tiny bit of a food snob.  American cheese processed food product?!?  Are you crazy?  I could only recall having purchased this once, at the behest of my aunt who was going to be in Vancouver, when we still had our house there,  en route to a cruise to Alaska.  My aunt demanded that I stock the American cheese – for calcium, she claimed, to prevent osteoporosis – and a bag of frozen peas, the latter of which were to be applied to her bad knee.

However, I do embrace certain very artificial candies, as childhood favourites, generally seasonal ones:  Peeps at Easter time, candy corn at Halloween, spearmint leaves and cherry sour candies often in December – you get the idea.  Many people I know are appalled by my weakness for this stuff.   Hence, I am not a major food snob.  But do I feel guilty about these things?  Not really.

As for guilt, Jessie was very adept at its practice.  Jessie’s oldest granddaughter, my cousin, sent me a recipe she had received with a letter from our grandmother.  At the time, my cousin was living in Paris:

How can you beat that last line, “Yankee, enough already, COME HOME!” for guilt?  Good thing a decade later, I lived for only a year in Paris or else I might have gotten such strongly worded epistles, too.  In case you were wondering, Jessie lived nearly 19 years after she wrote the piece above.

Guilt works, as Jessie and I attended my cousin's wedding in Chicago three years after the letter.

A guilty pleasure could be the soufflé sandwiches, when made with white bread and American cheese.  My first inclination was to substitute fontina or provolone, or the wonderful Canadian Oka cheese; they would melt well with some aged cheddar.  This would have made a creamy yet full-flavoured sandwich.  I also thought about doing a whole-grain bread.  However, I wanted to remain true to the spirit of Jessie’s recipe and avoid guilt.  I could imagine the kind of remark she might have made, e.g., “What?  You’re too good for American cheese now, Mr. Fancy-Pants?” (Jessie might never have used “fancy-pants”, but you get the idea).  Here is a link I discovered for a tempting fancy-pants version of this, if you prefer, from the always reliable and charming Sara Moulton.

Jessie enjoying a cigarette, guilt-free, on Rome's Via Veneto, in the mid-1950s.

For the soufflé sandwich critique and the recipe…

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Fast Low-Fat French Toast with Fresh Strawberries: Necessity is the Mother of Invention with Stale Challah

Want a quick brunch dish when you have a bunch of leftovers?

I found myself with the ends of a nice sesame challah, an egg white (left from the yolk I needed for the chewy brown sugar cookies), local strawberries which needed to be used up, and some milk which had just gone sour – I know, you probably will utter “eeew yuck!” or something to that effect.  However, I find sour milk to be a great baking medium, especially when I do not have buttermilk on hand.  Its taste is not distinguishable at all in the French toast.

Challah is a wonderful base for French toast.   I love the actual French expression for French toast:  “pain perdu”, or “lost bread”.   (No, there is no “pain français,” just like there is no “Canadian bacon” in Canada – it is “pea-meal” or “back” bacon, here in the Great White North, eh?)   “Pain perdu” always makes me think of a lonely baguette wandering the streets of Paris, not knowing its way – but maybe that says more about me and how I often felt when I lived there.  This dish is known as,  in French, “pain doré” – or golden bread, ” which is quite evocative; perhaps that expression is more of a Québecois thing.  Anyone out there know more about this?

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A Toothsome, Wholesome, and Whole-Grain Loaf: Peter Reinhart’s Multigrain Bread

Multi-grain bread with rasberry-tayberry jam and peanut butter

I was a strange child. When I was 12, I decided to become a vegetarian. I read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation. I did not like the idea of eating animals, nor did I particularly enjoy meat, other than the occasional hamburger. So it was not much of a culinary sacrifice for me for the next ten years of vegetarianism.

Just sliced multi-grain bread

As I mentioned in earlier posts, we ate out often as a family. Back in the early 1970s, this presented challenges, with my self-imposed dietary restrictions. If my grandmother were along, she immediately – and loudly – would ask the wait person, “Young man {or “young lady”}, my grandson won’t eat meat. What do you have for him on your menu?” She made this declaration, as if I were unable to read the menu or ask myself about what I could eat. Often the response was “the house salad”.

The “house salad” was indeed a vegetarian option. However, it was never the sort of colourful, nutritious, and satisfying salad one can find at many restaurants today. The salad consisted of a wedge of the definitely not trendy iceberg lettuce, with a few slices of anemic-looking “cello” tomatoes. (The “cello” referred to the cellophane, which encased a trio of perfectly shaped medium-sized tomatoes sitting in a open-weave plastic basket, similar to the baskets for cherry tomatoes or berries today; this terminology always confused me in supermarkets, as my brother took cello lessons back then, but this “cello” was pronounced differently and had nothing to do with music.)

On such house salads, there might have been a slice or two of soggy cucumber or even a few rounds of carrot. If it were a better restaurant, sometimes a handful of very salty croutons decorated the dish. Often the salad had a thick layer of gloppy Green Goddess dressing, poured liberally from an industrial-sized jug of commercial dressing, no doubt.

Learning to bake bread and Peter Reinhart’s whole-grain bread recipe Continue reading