Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Grown Close to Home - Preserving Ontario Tomatoes!

Woohoo! In these dog days of summer, Ontario produce is plentiful and beautiful. Charles brought home a gorgeous bushel of Roma tomatoes and I have been canning my little heart out. We have a relatively short growing season in Canada and I love to preserve the bounty for those long winter months. What's better than opening up a glistening jar of homemade preserves in the dead of winter? It's like capturing sunshine in a jar.

I am thrilled that our national grocery chain has recommitted to supporting local produce and producers and is even promoting home preserving of the local bounty.
"Loblaw proudly offers a selection of up to 180 different varieties of high-quality, fresh and affordable Canadian-grown produce that in some instances are in store within 24 hours of harvest," says Mike Venton, senior vice president, Produce, Loblaw Companies Limited. "We have excellent relationships with more than 400 Canadian growers - some more than 40-years strong - which allows us to offer customers outstanding products with the convenience of shopping at their Loblaw banner store."

As a part of Loblaw's Source with Integrity corporate social responsibility pillar, Loblaw works with vendors to provide customers with quality products, while considering the economic, environmental and social impact of those products. The Grown Close to Home™ event puts area growers front and centre during the months of July and August, with approximately 40 per cent of produce found in stores during this time sourced from Canadian growers.

By putting a spotlight on local fresh produce during harvest season, Loblaw customers responded positively evidenced by a 16 per cent increase in produce sales during the Grown Close to Home™ event over the past two years. Complementary to this event, fresh, seasonal, Canadian-grown produce is available all year long at Loblaw banner stores. In fact, approximately 27 per cent of Loblaw's year-round produce purchases are Canadian.


· Use crisp, blemish-free, fresh produce

· Wash thoroughly in running water

· Refrigerate unused produce immediately


· Use fresh pickling cucumbers, not salad cucumbers. Don’t use waxed cucumbers; wax stops pickling liquid from penetrating the cucumber. Don’t use bruised or damaged cucumbers

· Cucumbers go bad quickly, particularly at room temperature

· Remove any blossoms and stems, and cut about 1/16-inch off the blossom end. The blossom releases enzymes that soften a cucumber

· Wash cucumbers thoroughly and scrub with a soft vegetable brush to remove dirt or sand granules


· Always use salt indicated for pickling, not table salt. Table salt contains iodine – a chemical that can darken pickles. Anti-caking agents in table salt can cause cloudiness in your brine


· Use commercial white vinegar with at least five per cent acidity. While cider and malt vinegars can add flavor subtleties, they also darken light-colored vegetables

· You can also use "pickling vinegar" (seven per cent acidity) to make pickles more sour


· Use only soft water (water with low levels of minerals and chlorine). Hard water (water with high mineral levels) can lower brine acidity, possibly affecting food safety


· Use fresh spices (whole, crushed or ground.) Avoid spices stored in your pantry for more than a year

· Powdered spices can turn pickling liquid dark and cloudy

· Tie whole spices in a spice bag, made from a large square of cheesecloth. Avoid using coloured cloth

· If you want to make your own pickling mix, the possibilities are endless! Just a few options include cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, chili peppers, black peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds, fennel seeds, whole allspice, whole cloves, whole coriander, dill seeds, turmeric, fresh or dried ginger, and garlic


· Use stainless-steel, glass or ceramic bowls. For pots and pans, use stainless steel, heatproof glass or hard-anodized aluminum

· Avoid containers and utensils made of copper, iron, zinc or brass (these materials may react poorly with acid and salt)

Preserving Whole or Halved Tomatoes
Bernardin Recipes

Use fresh tomatoes that are free of blemishes and cracks. Always keep in mind to keep them as fresh as possible to best quality.
I did the variation without the juice, the rest of the instructions are the same.

(Hot Pack with Tomato Juice)
Tomato Juice
Lemon juice or citric acid
Salt, optional

• Place the required number of clean 500 ml or 1 L mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Heat SNAP LID® sealing discs in hot water, not boiling (180°F/82°C). Keep jars and sealing discs hot until ready to use.

• Wash and blanch tomatoes. Slip off skins; remove cores and any bruised or discoloured portions. Leave whole or halve.

• Place tomatoes in a large stainless steel saucepan. Add enough tomato juice to cover; bring to a boil; boil gently for 5 minutes.

• Add quantity of lemon juice or citric acid specified below to each hot mason jar before packing tomatoes. If using, add salt to jar prior to filling.

Jar size Lemon juice or Citric acid Salt, optional

500 ml 1 tbsp (15 ml) or 1/4 tsp (1 ml) 1/2 tsp (2 ml)

1 L 2 tbsp (30 ml) or 1/2 tsp (2 ml) 1 tsp (5 ml)

1.5 L 3 tbsp (45 ml) or 3/4 tsp (4 ml) 1- 1/4 tsp (7 ml)

• Pack tomatoes into a hot jar to within 3/4 inch (2 cm) of top rim. Add hot juice to cover tomatoes to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more tomatoes and hot liquid. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing discs on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining tomatoes and hot liquid.

• When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process–boil filled jars-

Jar size Processing time*
500 ml 85 minutes
1 L 85 minutes

• When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.

• After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.

Next on the agenda - homemade ketchup! Oh! And Bruschetta in a Jar, that sounds cool..

This is the perfect time of year for great Ontario produce, perfect for preserving!

Cute little Galen Weston, surveying the fields. I have actually run into Galen in the grocery store one town over. Nice to know he is so hands-on. I didn't introduce myself though, as, like any other time I have run into a celebrity, I looked like I just rolled out of bed. Galen isn't even the first famous person that I have run into in a grocery store. Several years ago I ran into Colin Mochrie (Whose Line is it Anyway?) while shopping. (l am pretty sure I startled him, I gave a big hello! as I had known that I knew him but had forgotten where from - I figured he was a neighbour or something until it dawned on me). In summary - Galen seemed really down to earth, and I should really shower and put on make-up before grocery shopping.

How will you preserve your local bounty?

Monday, 30 August 2010

Caramel Corn!

No, there is nothing remotely good for you about caramel corn. The popcorn is just a vehicle for almost pure sugar. But what a delicious vehicle it is!
Alarmingly, the grocery stores are all stocked up for Halloween, I say alarmingly as it is still August and we are having yet another heatwave. The Halloween decor and sauna-like air are making me crave fall flavours; pumpkin, apples and of course bite-sized chocolate bars.
In anticipation of fall, my son and I made caramel corn. And then ate all of it within 24 hours. That's just the way we roll.

Illinois Caramel Corn
From Martha Stewart Living, July 2010
Makes 12 cups


* 12 cups popped popcorn (from 1/2 cup kernels)
* 1 1/2 cups Beer Nuts or shelled salted peanuts
* 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
* 1/3 cup light corn syrup
* Coarse salt
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda


1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place popcorn and nuts in a large bowl. Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Raise heat to high; bring to a boil without stirring. Cook until mixture reaches 248 degrees on a candy thermometer, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda.
2. Add caramel to popcorn, and stir to coat. Transfer mixture to a rimmed baking sheet.
3. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring twice. Remove from oven, and immediately sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let cool. Break into clusters.

Storage: Cooled caramel corn can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Goi Cuon in my Lunchbox

It's back to school season, or back to work for the teachers, however you want to look at it. And there are lunch boxes to be packed. No longer can you send in a PB&J sammie, you've got to get creative. Why not some Thai salad rolls? They are cute and portable and really you can sub in just about anything. No peanuts? Use toasted sesame seeds. No meat? Use grilled tofu or eggplant, drizzled with hoisin or sesame oil. The Nam Prik sauce below is pretty fishy, especially if you add the dried shrimp, but you can always sub in for good old soy sauce with a splash of lime and sesame oil. Easy peasy, lime squeezy.

Goi Cuon
Rice Paper Spring Rolls

Mark Bittman, The Best Recipes in the World
online recipe sourced from GoodCooking.com
makes about 8 large spring rolls

MB - I learned how to make "summer rolls" in a tiny village in the Mekong Delta. I was not only the only non Vietnamese at the table; I was also the only male. My pathetic technique was laughable to my co-workers, but I quickly got the hang of it. So will you.

Rice paper wrappers, sold in Asian markets, keep forever. Their flexibility is truly amazing, and the simple variation will give you an idea of the different directions in which you can go. This is just a basic outline; these rolls can be filled with infinite variations of vegetables, meat, and even fruit, so don't worry if you don't have one or two of the ingredients here. You can cover these with a moist towel or plastic wrap and keep them for about an hour, no longer, before serving.

8 rice paper sheets, 10 or 12 inches in diameter
1/2 pound cooked pork or chicken, cut into thin strips
12 medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, and split in half lengthwise
One 4-ounce bundle dried rice vermicelli, soaked in hot water until softened (about 10 minutes) and drained
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (preferably Thai), roughly chopped
2 scallions, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces, and sliced lengthwise
2 carrots, grated or shredded
4 red-leaf lettuce leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Peanut Sauce, Nam Prik, or lime wedges

1. Set up a workstation: lay out a damp kitchen paper towel on the counter and a large bowl of h water (110-120°F, which is about what it measure from most taps). Dip a sheet of the rice paper the hot water, turning once, until soft, about I seconds. Lay it flat on the towel.

2. On the bottom third of the rice paper, spread eighth of each of the remaining ingredients, except the sauce, in a line. Fold in the bottom edge an both sides and then roll tightly into a cylinder. The rice paper will adhere to itself. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients.

3. Serve with either of the dipping sauces or the lime wedges.

Nam Prik Dipping Sauce

2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp minced hot fresh chile (Thai or jalapeno); cayenne or hot pepper flakes; or to taste
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp finely shredded carrot (optional)
1 tbsp finely minced dried shrimp (optional)

Combine all ingredients, let flavours marry for 1 hour or up to a day in the fridge.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Vegan Lemon-Berry Tarts from Sweet Utopia

These are by far my most popular vegan desserts - my guys can't stop eating them - including my very picky, decidedly non-vegan teenage son.
The filling is made the cornstarch method- I have used this before with puddings and pie fillings and it is great for vegan style desserts as you can bypass the need for eggs as a stabilizer.
The recipe calls for one 9-inch tart but I made it in my mini cheese-cake moulds, any other little tart moulds would be great too. If you have never made vegan dessert before, this would be the perfect one to start with. The recipe is very straight forward and the results are delicious.
The author guarantees "Sweet Success" with her recipes, and has a beautiful range of treats from rum balls to ice creams to decadent cakes, brownies, cookies and custards. She even offers an ingredient substitution chart that includes non-vegan alternatives if you wish.
I would say that you could find pretty much all of the ingredients in a well-stocked supermarket - with the possible exception of vegan butter substitute. (Sharon recommends Earth Balance, which I can't find, but vegan margarine will do - sticks are best)
So c'mon, get your vegan on! And have a lemon tart!

Sweet Utopia
Simply Stunning Vegan Desserts
Sharon Valencik
with photos by Milan Valencik
Softcover, 184 pages

Graham Cracker Crust *nut free

1½ cups graham cracker pieces or crumbs (about 1 sleeve of graham crackers)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and oil and flour a 9-inch pie pan or springform pan. Process the graham crackers in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Add the oil, sugar, and water and process until combined. Press into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool before filling.

Lemon-Berry Tart *nut free

1 Graham Cracker Crust (above) prepared in a 9-inch tart or pie pan (or minis, as I have done)

Lemon Filling
¼ cup cornstarch
2 cups vanilla soy milk
2/3 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp lemon juice
1½ tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
1½ teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 to 3 cups sliced strawberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries

To make the filling, combine the cornstarch with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the soymilk in a medium saucepan and whisk until there are no lumps. Place on medium heat and whisk in the remainder of the soymilk and all of the sugar. Cook, whisking often, for about 7 minutes, or until the mixture thickens but does not boil. Whisk vigorously as it thickens to that the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl. Immediately whisk in the lemon juice, lemon peel, and extracts. Whisk rapidly until the mixture is smooth with no lumps. Pour into the cooled crust. Cool, cover loosely, and refrigerate for 3 to 5 hours before serving.
To garnish, top with the strawberries arrange in a spiral just before serving. Store leftovers loosely covered in the refrigerator.
Serves 8

Three cute little vegan lemon tarts are we...!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Delicious Deli Panini on Pain au Levain

I know, autumn is coming and soon we will be taking out the crock pots and dutch ovens but for now I am running around trying to use up my garden herbs before the season ends. Even in sandwiches!

What's better than a beautiful loaf of homemade sourdough bread? Delicious panini on that very same bread! Chef Michael Symon piles fabulous deli meats with red onions, garden basil, fresh mozzarella, a fried egg and his signature Shasha hot sauce for a decadent sammie that I have turned into a panino imbottito (stuffed little bread). What? You didn't know that panini was plural? It is. Yep, finally my Latin pays off. Panino for one, panini for many.
You can, of course, use store-bought bread for this panino - but if you have a healthy sourdough starter on the go - you might as well make your own!

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Pain au Levain
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman, Bread

The night before:

4.6 oz bread flour
0.3 oz rye flour
3 oz water that has been left out, uncovered, overnight
1 oz mature, active, sourdough culture

Mix all of the above up and let it sit, covered, overnight to brew up some fabulous yeasties.

The next day:

1 lb, 9.8 oz bread flour
1.3 oz rye flour
1 lb, 1.8 oz water (same treatment as above)

1 Tbsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp instant yeast
all of the preferment from the night before

Mix the flours and water in you stand mixer on low until combined. (Dough will be shaggy)
Let sit, covered, for 20-60 minutes.
Sprinkle on the sea salt, instant yeast, and the levain in chunks.
Mix on med-low until combined, about 2 minutes.
Let rise 2½ hours, folding the dough twice in that time. (Envelope fold)

Shape and bake:

Divide the dough into two, shape into loaves or boules.
Need shaping help? Click here for a great tutorial.
Let rise 2½ hours. More if you kitchen is cool.
Bake in a preheated oven at 440° for 40 minutes.
Cool before slicing, as difficult as that may seem!

Soppressata Panini with Fried Egg and Shasha Sauce
adapted from Michael Symon, Live to Cook

Take your delicious sourdough bread, above and create perfect pairs of slices.
On one slice of each pair, place some thinly sliced soppressata, prosciutto, paper-thin slices of red onion that have been soaked in ice water and pat dry, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and a fried egg (sunny-side up or over-easy, depending on how runny you want your yolk - it will get pressed!) Spread Shasha sauce* on the second slice of delicious sourdough bread and top the glorious sandwich.
Press in your panini press until satisfied that it is toasty and melty.
Eat with lusty abandon.

Shasha Sauce
adapted from Michael Symon, Live to Cook

2 hot banana peppers
3 garlic cloves
½ cup yellow mustard
½ cup white wine vinegar
6 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp flour

Slice the tops off the peppers and chop coarsely. Purée in food processor with the garlic, mustard, and vinegar.

Pour into a pan, add sugar, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Mix flour with ¼ cup water and make a paste. Whisk it into the simmering liquid and return to simmer stirring regularly, until thickened. Let cool and refrigerate for up to a month.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Homemade Cultured Butter!

For every dairy product there is a season; churn, churn, churn.

This month our industrious Forgers joined in with Phyl Divine and made Cultured Butter!
Cultured butter is inoculated with the good flora and fauna of natural yogurt to make a delicious, sweet/tart spread just perfect for slathering on homemade bread.
This is actually my first time making butter and I love how simple it is with a stand mixer. The butter is so gloriously fresh and the by-product, buttermilk, is thick and delicious and just waiting to be made into some muffins or something delicious.
So why not try your hand at making butter this weekend!

Cultured Butter


* One quart heavy cream Not ultra-pasteurized
* 1/3 cup whole milk yogurt (Dannon is a good brand; make sure whatever you use doesn’t contain any gums or stabilizers) I used my own, homemade yogurt
* Salt, to taste I used fleur de sel, in half


1. Mix the cream and yogurt in a clean glass or ceramic bowl. Avoid plastic, which can harbor bacteria in any scratches or imperfections. Cover and let rest for 12 -18 hours, until the mixture has thickened slightly and tastes somewhat tangy. If your room is cool (i.e., less than the mid-70s), it may take longer to culture.

2. Once the mixture has cultured, cool it slightly by placing in the refrigerator for an hour or so, or by submerging the bowl in a sinkful of ice water for a minute or two. The ideal temperature is around 60° F.

3. Prepare a bowl of ice water, which you will use to clean the butter.

4. Put the cream mixture in a mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on high until stiff peaks form, then reduce the speed to low. Watch closely at this point, as the cream mixture will soon break, separating into butter and buttermilk. If you have a splash guard on your mixer, you might want to use it so you don’t have buttermilk flying everywhere. Once the mixture breaks, turn off the mixer.

5. Pour the buttermilk into a clean container. You can use this just as you would commercial buttermilk for drinking or baking. If you aren’t going to use it within a week or so, it can be frozen and used later for baking.

6. Press the butter with a spatula, spoon, or your hand to remove as much buttermilk as possible.

7. Pour water from the bowl of ice water over the butter to cover. Rinse the butter by kneading it under the water, then dump off the water. Continue to add water and rinse until the water you pour off is clear. It is necessary to remove all the residual buttermilk in order to keep the butter from spoiling too quickly.

8. Once the butter has been cleaned thoroughly, knead it on the counter for a minute. If you want to salt the butter, press the butter out on the counter, sprinkle lightly with salt, then knead it in. To store the butter, you can press it into ramekins or, as I prefer, roll it into logs. Cover the ramekins or wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap. If you make two butter rolls, you can freeze one for later use.

Yields two cups buttermilk and about 12 ounces butter.

New Forgers are always welcome!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Armchair Book Review - The Disappearing Spoon

The Disappearing Spoon
and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world
From the Periodic Table of Elements
Sam Kean
Hardcover, 400 pages

Well, I don't know how he pulled it off, but Sam Kean - Washington D.C. writer for Science magazine, with a background in English, Science, and Library Sciences - made the periodic table of elements sexy.
He takes the reader through the table and through history, near and far, sharing nuggets of information, intrigue and interest about each kind of element and the effects they have had on mankind - especially those who discovered them.
Mad scientists, politics, warfare and the creation of the universe are all handled with ease and humour by this young man you just wish had been your high school science teacher.
I confess I was not science-minded when in school, but Sam Kean has made the entire subject seem so fascinating that I was frequently wishing that I knew a science teacher personally to ask them more questions. Oh sure, there were times when I knew I wasn't absorbing the information when it got technical, but that didn't interfere with the narrative and I am quite pleased to have read the book. I will definitely look out for more of his work. My interest in science has now been awakened.. beyond CSI.

For more information about Sam Kean, The Periodic Table of Elements, and The Disappearing Spoon, check out his website here http://samkean.com/

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Caraway Rye

Rye is actually.. well, I would say my favourite kind of bread but I am kinda slutty when it comes to picking a favourite. Just when I decide on one, another turns my head. So okay, I have a lot of favourites - but rye is definitely up there. Especially with caraway. I know that caraway is a polarizing ingredient, you either like it or you don't. And much of what people associate with the flavour of rye bread is actually the taste of caraway.
Not being a member of the wheat family, rye is not very glutinous and responds best with a good support system of bread flour to give it loft and chewiness. This is a delicious and classic recipe for caraway rye, all you need is a healthy sourdough starter in your fridge and you are ready to go!

40% Caraway Rye
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman, Bread

The night before:

12.8 oz whole-rye flour
10.6 oz room temperature water, that has sat out for 12 hours to let the chlorine dissipate
0.6 oz mature sourdough culture, whatever one you have going

Mix all that up and let sit, covered with plastic wrap, overnight. Have a good sleep!

The next day:

1lb, 3.2 oz bread flour
11.2 oz water, same condition as above
0.6 oz caraway seeds
0.6 oz salt
0.13 oz instant yeast (1 tsp)
All of your pre-ferment, less 2 tbsp

Mix everything in a stand mixer on low until combined, 3 minutes. Then at medium speed for 4 minutes. Finish by hand to get a nice, smooth ball. Cover and let rest one hour.
Divide into two and shape into loaves, let rest one hour. Preheat oven to 460°F
Bake for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 440°F and bake for 20-25 more minutes.
Let cool 2 hours. Slather with butter and munch happily.

This Caraway Rye has been Yeastspotted!


Monday, 23 August 2010

Great Fun and Great Flavours - The Harrow Fair Cookbook

The Harrow Fair Cookbook
Prize-Winning Recipes Inspired by Canada's Favourite Country Fair
by Moira Sanders and Lori Elstone
with Beth Goslin Maloney
Softcover, 256 pages

Harrow, Ontario is the southernmost tip of the province and has been the site of the famous Harrow Fair every Labour Day weekend for over 150 years. People gather from all over to celebrate the growing season with wonderful food; local, natural, and hand-made. Sisters Moira Sanders and Lori Elstone, both with culinary educations, have compiled a book of 150 recipes straight from, and inspired from, this great tradition.
From pickles and preserves to cocktails, starters, soups, salads, sides and mains - and don't forget dessert! - the authors cover every delicious aspect of great fair fare.
We couldn't wait to dive in and try our hand at the delicious offerings, and started out with the Apple Dumplings. Living in apple country, we were delighted to wrap delicious Ontario apples with flaky pastry, baked until tender perfection with a caramel sauce. They were perfect with melty vanilla ice cream while still warm, and also cold out-of-hand the next day. Yum!
apple dumplings
In 155 years of the Harrow Fair, Brenda Anger is the only woman to have been president of the Harrow Fair Board. She and her family have been involved in the organization of the fair for more than three decades. This is Brenda’s recipe for apple dumplings. Whole apples are filled with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, then wrapped in a flaky pastry and basted with sweet syrup. They’re divine.
Makes 8 dumplings.

2 2/3 cups (660 mL) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1½ tsp (7 mL) fine sea salt
1 cup + 8 tsp (250 mL + 40 mL) cold unsalted butter, cubed, divided
2/3 cup (160 mL) milk
8 medium Empire apples
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups (310 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup (185 mL) water
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Working quickly and with a light touch, incorporate the 1 cup (250 mL) butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Stir in the milk. Toss the dough with a fork until it comes together. (Add a little more milk, if needed.)

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape into small discs. Cover the discs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°f (180°c). Butter a 9- × 13-inch (23 × 33 cm) baking pan.

Peel and core the apples, leaving each apple in one piece. On a well-floured surface, roll each portion of dough into a 7-inch (18 cm) square. Place 1 apple on each square.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. Place 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of the cinnamon-sugar in the centre of each apple. Top each apple with 1 tsp (5 mL) of the 8 tsp (40 mL) butter.

For each apple, bring the 4 corners of pastry up to the top of the apple and pinch together to seal. Place the dumplings in the prepared pan.

Bake for 15 minutes while you make the basting sauce.

While the dumplings are baking, make the sauce by combining the brown sugar, water, and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring often, over medium-high heat.

After the dumplings have been in the oven for 15 minutes, pour the sauce over the dumplings. Bake the dumplings for an additional 40 minutes. While the dumplings are baking, spoon the sauce over the dumplings twice. (This gives the dumplings a shiny glaze and moistens the dough.)

Serve warm
Next we made the Barbecue Sauce, delicious sweet tomato heat that's a real family pleaser and just perfect for the Pulled Barbecue Chicken on a Bun. Does that sound delicious or what? We loved the sweet and savoury nature of the sammies and the fact that the beer flavour stands out. Very Canadian, eh?
barbecue sauce
This recipe is the creation of Lori’s husband, Jake, who takes grilling very seriously. He made it everything a good barbecue sauce should be . . . smoky, spicy, tangy, and saucy.
Makes four 16 oz (500 mL) jars.

¼ cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
2 cups (500 mL) chopped yellow onion
6 garlic cloves, chopped
8 cups (2 L) chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tsp (5 mL) red chili flakes
4 tsp (20 mL) smoked paprika
1 cup (250 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard
2 cups (500 mL) Heinz ketchup
½ cup (125 mL) apple cider vinegar
2 tsp (10 mL) fine sea salt
1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper

Prepare four 16 oz (500 mL) jars, lids, and rings for canning. Hold the sterilized jars in the boiling water canner until needed.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring the sauce to a boil then simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Blend the sauce in a food processor until smooth. Return the sauce to the stockpot, and bring the sauce back up to a boil. Remove from heat.

Fill and seal the hot jars one at a time, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Process the jars in the boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

storage Enjoy at any point, but use within 1 year.

This sauce can also be frozen (instead of canned) in convenient 2-cup (500 mL) portions for up to 6 months (the perfect amount for barbecued ribs, page 123).

pulled barbecue chicken on a bun
This is the perfect sandwich to serve on a hot afternoon after going for a big swim in Lake Erie. (We suggest eating after a swim because once you eat this sandwich you’ll be too full and happy to contemplate a dip.)
Serves 4.

1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1 cup (250 mL) barbecue sauce
1 cup (250 mL) Walkerville Brewing Company’s Classic Amber beer
4 large crusty rolls
¾ cup (185 mL) shredded aged Canadian cheddar cheese
¼ cup (60 mL) sliced green onions

Combine the chicken, barbecue sauce, and beer in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the sauce and place it in a large bowl. Continue to simmer the sauce over low heat. Using 2 forks, shred (or “pull”) the chicken. Mix the pulled chicken back into the sauce and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

Slice the rolls in half. Divide the pulled barbecue chicken between the 4 bottom halves. Sprinkle with cheese and green onions. Assemble the sandwiches.

Serve immediately.
And last but not least, I made myself (yes, I said myself) a Peaches & Cream Pie. I have been thinking about what to make myself for my birthday this year and it was a toss-up between peach pie and cheesecake. When I saw this recipe I decided to give it a go - and I am so glad I did! The recipe for Favourite Pie Crust turned out perfectly and the peaches and cream pie was divine. So creamy, it didn't need anything to accompany it. This is by far my favourite pie now.
I have the Double-Double Chocolate Cake bookmarked for my daughter's birthday - and have seen that the lovely and talented Monica Bhide was treated to the same cake for her birthday. Serendipity!

Some other recipes that I have bookmarked are:
Sweet Corn Fritters with Peameal Bacon
Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
Soft Pretzels with Honey Mustard Sauce
Great Lakes Chowder
Maple Baked Beans
Smoked Trout Dip
Cheddar Loonies
Colchester Fried Chicken
Beer-Battered Onion Rings
Strawberries & Cream Roll
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream