Wednesday, June 2, 2010

DIY Crumpets

Just For Fun : A Crumpet Is Not A Musical Instrument

  Some of us were discussing our love for one of life's perfect foods and we were met with confused reactions from several folks. It seems that most Americans have never heard of the slice of heaven called a crumpet, and if they have they have no idea what the hell it is.  I told my mother this and she is laughing hysterically. Her initial response was "well, they're not something you play music on". After you have fished with this article, you should have an understanding of what a crumpet is and even how to make them. Unless you can't cook and you'll find yourself confused.


First Question: What the f*$% is a crumpet?

   Some of you may be thinking that they are similar to English muffins. I mean they are both round and white, but so is Rosanne Barr and she's not a breakfast food. (I hope)

  The obvious difference is that a crumpet is not split like an English muffin. (insert Freudian joke here) Also, the top has vast craters and a spongy texture which permit the absorption of butter, jelly or whatever yummy spread is on them. They are also less like a bread and more like a blandish superthick pancake. This is because crumpets are made with a batter and not dough like their McCousins.

Why Can't I Find Them? 

  Crumpets, like good tea and chocolate that is actually edible are vestiges of British occupation. Because Americans hate everything British, you are more likely going to find such delights in more recently occupied and poorly dressed countries like Canada. (along with dandy thing like Mint Aero bars and HP Sauce) I'm not sure why English muffins are everywhere in the US, but I think it has to do with the fact that some McDude decided they were faboo stuffed with 4 different animal products.

How Can I get my paws on these things? 

   If you cannot find a British grocer or amazon is sold out, you can make your own. Sweet. If you have a heat source and can read, you should be able to enjoy some for yourself with very little problem. This would be the time to pay attention. Yes, I'm talking to you.

Step One : get out a glass vessel and combine one tablespoon of yeast with a half-cup of warm (NOT hot) water and a teaspoon of sugar and let it chillax for around 10 minutes to proof. If it doesn't look like it has expanded or foamed, the water is the wrong temperature or the yeast is dead. Start over.

If you didn't screw up, proceed.

Add 1 1/2 cups of warm buttermilk or almond/soy/hemp stuff to the brew along with 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 1/2 cups of your favourite flour. ( have to stir it now) Take the bowl and cover it with a dish towel. Let it sit in a warm spot like the window (but not the top of the dryer unless you want your food to smell like Spring Sneeze Bounce) for an hour or so. The batter will rise and then fall in on itself. This is normal.

Now to the fun part. Oil a griddle or large cast iron skillet and arrange crumpet rings on it. Heat to mediumish.  Since I know that no sane person owns crumpet rings, raid your recycle box for tin cans and cut both ends off.  Scoop batter into the ring things and pray for about 10 minutes or until they set. The top will look all bubbly and pretty and hopefully the bottom will not burn. Repeat. Get ready to nom out. These also freeze well.

Serve to your sweetie with a smug look on your face butter or something else yummo.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Mum's Spaghetti Sauce of the Week

  My mum makes huge batches of this stuff for topping pasta, but it's also just good almost like a chili with a big hunk of bread. Add beans and a couple serranos and this becomes chili. I recall it being awesome, and it's uber-simple. It cans and freezes well and serves about 15 hungry folks. It's also probably the least vegan thing on the planet.

Here she flies.

Get out the biggest pot you own and simmer 5 pounds of ground beef for about 35 minutes, until much of the fat has rendered. Drain all but a touch. (You could also use 3 1/2 pounds of veggie-burger or TVP-type stuff with 3 tablespoons oil to make it vegan too).

Chop 2 yellow onions , 3-5 stalks celery and 1 pound mushrooms and add to the brew. Simmer a few minutes and add one entire bulb of chopped garlic.

Quickly add 1 28oz (800ml) can of diced tomatoes and either 2 large jars of quality tomato sauce (Mum always uses Ragu if she uses bottled) or 1 1/2 litres homemade.

Add 1 teaspoon celery seed, 3 chili peppers (crush em) 1 tablespoon each parsley and basil and simmer the whole works for about an hour.

Like everything else your mum makes, it is awesome at once and BEYOND the next day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Heart-Smart Pilaf

Everyone wants to eat a little healthier in our fast-food instant gratification society . We feel the need to atone for sometimes decades of questionable behaviours with a change. A lot of people seem to be terrified of carbs , which are the energy source for our active bodies . Here's a guilt-free starch-based dish that can be used as a side , a base for a protein , or a meal in itself. It is low-fat , rich in manganese and a host of antioxidants , and lowers cholesterol . Oh yeah , you can find it in any grocery store .

the beautiful beast that is the crux of this dish is long-grain BROWN rice , and you NEED this in your life . you can eat this at any time of day . Forget eggs and bacon - go for some fragrant , delicious rice pudding and you will have a bounty of energy. As for the recipe , this was lunch .

Fragrant Brown Rice Pilaf

Get a saucepot warm and add a touch of canola oil . Add the following finely chopped veg :

1 stalk celery
1/2 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic

allow to sweat and add 6 chopped black olives , 1 tablespoon Ras el Hanout (or Garam masala) , and a teaspoon or so Dill weed. You are bringing out the smokiness in the herbs and spices.

Deglaze with a touch of dark beer or coffee and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Add 1 cup long-grain brown rice and 2 and a half cups water . Allow to boil, covered for 5 minutes.
Reduce to very low simmer and stire. Leave it alone for 25 minutes .

Uncover and enjoy!

The Lord of the Rings

EVERYONE has a recipe for the breaded coating for those glorious rings of oniony amazingness , and they are never gonna be low in fat , but mine IS vegan . It works on onions , zucchini, mushrooms , potatoes or anything else you can imagine.
If you are anal retentive about the stickiness and think eggs are the natural solution , try very fine (blending or gravy) flour . It will stick to the onions and allow the battery yummo to adhere to perfection.

Dunk and repeat.

Get out a bowl and fire in
1/3 cup corn meal (fine please)
1/2 cup Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Basil
1/2 tea each salt , pepper , and hot paprika
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teasppon Maggi or Worcestershire
2/3 cup (adjust for altitude) Dark Beer

Mix and allow to sit for 15 minutes before you get the onions in the pool. Fry like yo mama would. Enjoy!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Football Food : the Dunkable Mess

  It's time for the NFL playoffs , and that means FOOD! I came up with this tortillas-and-dip combo last weekend and it ROCKS. The tortillas are a lower-fat break away from the eyeryday . I'm not sure if the dip is salsa or matbucha , or something else , but it's wicked . Enjoy!

The Chips

1 package corn tortillas. Cut into wedge shapes and toss into a bowl containing :

1/4 C Olive or Canola Oil
1 tablespoon dill weed
1 tea black pepper
salt to your liking

Bake in 400F oven for 7-10 minutes. The edges will curl. Salt immediately after you yank them out of the oven. Oh , and wear oven mitts.

The Dunkable Mess

Get out a deep skillet and warm to medium . In order add :

3 Roma tomatoes , chopped
1 Bay Leaf
2/3 Cup Finely chopped celery
1/2 Green Pepper , chopped
1/2 cup Celery Leaves (they're usually in the middle) , chopped
3 Spring Onions
2 Clove Garlic
1/2 Tea ground black pepper
1 tea Basil , dried
1 tea Dill Weed
1/4 Cup Ketchup
Juice of Half Lemon , rind optional

Make this happy until it gets somewhat soft . Add the ketchup in the middle and end of the cooking process , and deglaze frequently with Apple Juice. It will take 10-15 minutes for the dip/salad to get where you want it to be. Turn off heat and add a splash of Apple juice or white wine . Stir and dive in! Warm or chilly , this is addictive.

Enjoy the game! Go Vikes!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Play With Your Dessert

There are a TON of festive sweet recipes , mostly cookies and pies , so this is a little off the beaten path . My sister used to love to steal the neighbours' grounder apples for crisp and here's my offshoot for your perusal . It's awesome a la mode for dessert , but also works as breakfast when mixed and served hot with or without a bit of cream . Either way , it's delish and a good way to clean fruit from the bowl since it works so well with a wide variety of larger fruits as well as berries .

Today's Yummy Fruit Crisp

Fruit Blend

6 cups assorted sliced fruit - today it is Gala Apples and Ripe Anjou and Ya Pears
1/4 cup Vanilla or Plain Sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
mix in a bowl and spead out into a casserole dish while you preheat the oven to 400F/200C

The Crunchy Stuff

1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Oats
1 Cup Brown (I'm using Demerrara) Sugar
1/2 cup Margarine

Mix all of the dry ingredients with your paws . Cut in margarine with a pastry blender or a couple of forks until it resembles gravel . You are not trying to make pastry , so perfection is not an issue . Spead over the fruit and bake for 35-50 minutes until bubbly and yummy looking . Do not even look at the oven for at least 25 minutes . I went for a shower since I have a tendency to babysit my food.
Let sit for a few and enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What I'm Eating Right Now

  I'm not hungry but my blood sugar went southbound and I was starting to feel odd so this staple stir-fry saved my day . Yummy and good for you . Let's Eat!

Get a wok nice and hot with a touch of oil if you don't have non stick and add :

1/4 LB pressed (firm) Tofu (yes , I KNOW , it's scary . Trust ME.)
1 Tsp Maggi Liquid Seasoning (Worcestershire will work too in a pinch)
1 TBL Soy Sauce
1/ Cup Beer
1 Tsp Ras El Hanout (or somthing like it)
1/2 Tsp Rosemary

Saute until the liquid evaporates and the tofu starts to get a bit of a sear on it . Then add (in order if you can)

1/2 TBL Margarine or Oil (optional)
3-5 Mushrooms , Sliced
1/2 Zucchini , sliced
2 Stalks Bok Choy , sliced\
A couple of handfuls fresh Spinach
3 Sliced Radishes
1 Scallion , sliced
1/2 Tsp Chili Paste
Enough wine to deglaze

And Tada ! Din din in 15 or less. High in iron , will fill belly . Serve on it's own or over rice . Serves 2 as a main.