Cute Little Pies

Well I have finished my employment at Wimpy’s.

I really am going to miss working with such a great group of people. There was days that the shift would fly by as we readied the fridges and cooked the dishes, just because we were chatting so happily. It will be a very fond memory.
Right now though I am free and felt like baking. Gathering a few ingredients with the help of my mother, and by help of my mother I mean she bought everything, I started up a quick project.

First off was mixed berry pie. I always make the dough first when I am making any sort of shell recipe, it’s great to get it prepared then chill in the fridge so the butter isn’t in too soft a state when you begin rolling it out. Next was the filling. We had grabbed mixed berries with cherries, I’ve always wanted to make a straight cherry pie with fresh cherries but they are very expensive even on sale. Anyway, using the frozen blueberry pie filling recipe from the textbook, I converted it down from needing 2000 grams of fruit to just 600. I’ve actually gotten very used to making fillings like this that require boiling the juice and thickening it with cornstarch so this process only took a few minutes to complete.
From there I mixed the thickened syrup in with the berries and popped it into the fridge to cool while I rolled out the pie dough. I had left over 6″ pie tins from Christmas, they’re very dinky, I mean these things make a two person pie. So to start I rolled out four shells with lids and proceeded to fill them with the berries, which was actually a great estimate since it was an exact fit.
My next concern after adding the lids was if I should cook the pies as long as a 9″ pie requires. I put it in the oven for the required 30 minutes and constantly checked through the glass while I rolled out shells for later use. Once the 30 minutes was up I was pleased to see it came out fine, then added a little icing sugar to the lid for decoration.


BerryPie Mixed berry pie complete.


I ended up with four of these little guys, and tried out the completed product once it had cooled down a little, I’ve burned my tongue way too many times. The pastry was flaky and soft, so I knew I hadn’t cooked it past the point that it would become hard and crunchy. Now I cannot say enough about the filling. I’m not a huge pie fan, give me cake any day. I find some fillings for pie are just too sweet, but this one came out beautifully. The berries gave the needed sweetness, but the combination of lemon juice and cherries helped add a tartness that complimented the dessert very well. I was quite pleased how it came out and proceeded to my next project.

By now my mother had come home from work and I proceeded to make cabbage rolls for supper. At Wimpy’s they had decided to make them for the Sunday special a few times just because the roast beef was losing popularity, so I asked my boss if she could show me how to make them next time and being an awesome lady she proceeded to show me the next week. It was actually a very simple recipe; cabbage, ground beef, cooked rice, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and pasta sauce.
What she had shown me and what I did this time, was boil the cabbage until the leaves were pliable to come off. And carefully using tongs take a leaf off at a time, when you come across a leaf that won’t budge, just let it simmer for a while longer until it can.
It ended up being a very quick process, and half a dozen cutely wrapped cabbage rolls later I was playing Euro Truck Simulator while they cooked in the oven for an hour. I myself am not a cabbage fan, but my mother said they tasted good and proceeded to eat three, with coleslaw..
Way too much cabbage.


CabbageRI apologize for the photo, I didn’t realize it was blurry till I uploaded it. Just don’t click for a better view.


Since I had pie shells leftover I went about making a lemon meringue pie. I’ve never done it before, not even the meringue, but felt quite confident I could pull it off.
Using the lemon filling recipe I found online I quickly went about making the pies. By now it was probably 10 p.m, but I was determined to get it done before going to bed.
Like the berry pie filling, it was a matter of boiling and thickening, the longest part was just zesting the two lemons. After the pie shells were done baking I filled them with the lemon which also was only going to make four. My assumption from now on that a recipe for one 9″ pie will make four 4″ pies.
Next came the meringue. I’ve done plenty of recipes that require constant whipping but I was quite surprised at how long it took to get the egg whites to foam to a hard peak. My mother even came over to give me some tips about when she had made meringue from scratch. Once it was finally complete with the added sugar I proceeded to spread the mixture over the pies. At first I was a little worried that the warm lemon mixture might melt the egg, but after completing one I realize it wasn’t going to happen and happily finished up.
So into the oven it went for the required ten minutes, which ended up being longer since the meringue hasn’t firmed. Once they came out I was happy to find they had a nice golden colour to them and came out fine. My mother even had one and said it tasted great.


LemonM2LemonM1


Funny enough I don’t eat any of these things, so yes, my mother is my constant tester. If my husband was here I would be forcing him to eat them too. Ever since school, baking has become more fun for me and I end up with better results. I feel the chefs have given me a better understanding of what I was doing

I imagine this will be the last food experimentation I post until I finally move. The fridge is packed full of pies and my equipment needs to get into a box.

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The Smell Of Bread

Until I started my program I never enjoyed making bread. I made it once when I was younger and hated the flavour (turned out to be sourdough), and then my husband constantly kept making it with a bread maker we received for a wedding present, but those came out small and dense. Well today I decided I wanted to try making bread from home using what I learned from school, also fresh hot bread tastes the best!

For one, the ingredients are extremely easy for french bread. Yeast, salt, water, and bread flour. Metro doesn’t seem to sell fresh yeast so I ended up with instant yeast. Additionally, we have always had a proofer to activate the yeast so today I went with my mother’s suggestion of what she used to do which was cover the bowl with a moist cloth and put it on the oven with the heat on.

To start with I mixed the dough. Like the cookies from Thursday it was quite simple, just a matter of mixing the yeast with water and then pouring it into the salt and flour to begin kneading. The process didn’t take long since I only did half the recipe in case things didn’t turn out right.

Next I tried chef’s window test with the dough; which is taking a small ball of dough then pulling it apart till it is clear in the centre to check the gluten strands. After confirming there was strands, I think, I proceeded to let the dough rest in the bowl with a damp tea towel over top with the oven set to 400.

I was a little nervous this method may not work and maybe I had just wasted the ingredients, but about 30 minutes later I checked the dough and was surprised to find the dough had in fact grown larger.

Once the dough had doubled I then proceeded to roll out the shapes I wanted. I decided to go for a classic baguette, and then some mini ones that I could add meat to for lunches this coming week. For the baguette I weighed out 350 g, and for the mini ones 120 g. I tried to remember the tips that chef had given us to roll out nice baguettes, like once they were rolled to large rectangles fold in the left and right edge by a couple of centimeters which would help with tapering the ends when they were completely rolled.

Again I let them sit for a bit to expand and popped them into the oven. About 15 minutes later everything was finished baking and I was surprised how well they turned out.


FrenchBread2


As you can see the scouring on the top one didn’t come out wonderfully, but the bottom one looks good. Chef’s tip on folding the edges really did help making the ends look better while I was also glad to see I added the right amount of instant yeast to the mixture.


FrenchBread1


Another thing I learned is to not eat the hot bread that comes right out the oven. Apparently the yeast is still doing stuff and it is going to make your tummy feel sick after a while. Well this is why I called it food experimentation, to learn as I go.

Anyways, the recipe is simple and cheap, and making half a batch each Sunday could also supply me with sandwich supplies for the week. So if you’re feeling a little unsure whether or not to try making bread at home, remember all you need is:

875 g of warm water
45 g of fresh yeast or 17 g of instant dry yeast
1500 g of bread flour
30 g of salt

1. Mix the yeast in with the warm water, then pour it into a bowl with the flour and salt.
2. Using your hand, mixing everything together and once combined plop it onto the counter and continue kneading it for a few minutes. You’re kind of looking for a smooth texture.
3. Place the dough back into the bowl, if desired rub the top with a little oil. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and place it on an oven top on high heat. Let sit for about an hour or until doubled in size.
4. Once done roll into the shapes that you want for bread, like a baguette.
5. Again let sit until it has grown larger.
6. Bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes then continuously check until it has turned slightly golden and no longer has a doughy gray look.

Well I hope that was insightful and that you too will try making your own delicious bread.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Or as I always think of it, the day where I stuff myself with delicious food then feel sick for about an hour.

As you can probably see there are no photos this Monday (sorry I’m a day late). When the food was done we surrounded the bird and what was left was no cook book image.

Saturday morning I woke up and began the turkey which had been defrosting since Tuesday. It was still a little frosty but pliable for movement. This was the first time for me to cook a whole bird so I decided not to stuff it. After removing the giblets and checking the cavity for remnants of more I rubbed the outside down in oil and sprinkled the inside and skin with a combination of salt and pepper. I then popped it into the oven to cook for an hour and a half, checked it and repeated, all the while basting every 30 to 40 minutes.

Around three hours into cooking I added mirepoix to the pan. By now there was a good amount of liquid for the gravy I would be making. I decided not to go for the giblet version though, I was still feeling a little off since Thursday’s class of fabrication. By now the bird was starting to brown nicely and I went into making the dressing.

Carefully I diced up the needed vegetables and crumbled up the bread into nice little squares. Everything came together smelling delicious even before being cooked and yet I made the mistake of putting the tray on the second rack of the oven. By the time the turkey and stuffing came out I was devastated to find out the bread had browned to an almost blackened state; the turkey at least had browned beautifully.

Well into the garbage it went and out came the boxed stuffing. I would not be disheartened! I quickly began to make the gravy by sifting out the mirepoix, deglazing the pan and reducing the juices. After adding a cornstarch slurry and sampling I was pleased about the delicious sauce I made.

By now I had finished steaming the green beans, stirred in the boxed stuffing and was about to tackle carving the turkey.

I had never actually carved a bird before. Usually we just purchased the butterball breast box and just slice that into pieces, so I was a little nervous about cutting up the whole thing. I knew I wasn’t being graded by anyone, but it would make for good practice if I could do it properly. So out came Professional Cooking for Canadian Chefs and I began to follow the step-by-step guide. It’s actually a simple process and the slices of turkey looked great.

I suggest if you’re stuck with carving and a little doubtful you should take a look at the book as well. A sharp carving knife and picture instructions helps make the process simple.

It was a great dinner and next time I’ll try a different process to get the dressing cooked; perhaps I’ll actually stuff the bird so it won’t burn again.

Beet Soup Redo

A few weeks ago we were set the task to come up with our own soup and salad recipes using set ingredients. With the internet and my cook books I came up with a couple of plates that I was proud of, but made mistakes with the soup that needed to be fixed. Not wanting to leave it though I decided this weekend to redo the recipe and fix my errors.

To start, the soup I previously made had to have beets, parsnips and apples in the recipe. There were other additional items I could add to the mixture but those three were set. After a few hours of cooking the vegetables and simmering it all in liquid, I had then pureed the mixture and set it up for presentation. The first thing I noticed is when I added cream to make a spiral it did not enter the liquid, more of sat on top. Quickly I washed out my bowl, tried again using a squeeze bottle to actually make a dug in spiral. When Chef (I have multiple chefs so it is not the same one every time I say chef) checked my soup he said it was too thick, and together we decided it had the consistency of apple sauce.

Well today I decided to fix that mistake.


BPASoup


Once again I roasted up my vegetables. A combination of onion, apple, parsnip and beets. As I let it simmer for the required half hour I began to carefully dice up pieces of apple into small squares which I then soaked in lemon juice so it wouldn’t brown right away. From there I tossed the apple cubes into a hot frying pan, adding pinches of sugar and cinnamon to sweeten it up and make it soft. When done I moved it to the fridge to cool down as I continued on with my soup.

Now one thing I forgot is that we don’t have an immersion blender, or even a blender. So I attempted to use a masher, then a mixer. Afterwards I sifted it through a sieve and ended up with a beautiful bowl of thickened wine coloured soup.

During the cooking process I had added a bit of sugar. I didn’t want it to be sweet like a dessert, but not as bland as how I found my previous attempt. The flavour I believe came out with a distinct beet taste but with a tang of sweetness. Additionally, when spoonfuls of the soup had a piece of apple it had a nice tart combination.

What I find interesting about this soup is the lack of herbs. During the task we only had a few herbs offered and many of the recipes I found called for ones we didn’t have, so the dish actually completely relies on the flavours of the vegetables and sugar.

To plate my soup I simply piled the cinnamon cubed apples in the centre, then spiraled the cream around starting from the outside. It is quite easy, and if I was to have something like this for a future restaurant I would probably have the server spiral the cream around once they served the customer, this way the cream wouldn’t wobble in the bowl and make a mess. While with the apples I would also have them already prepared and with each soup order I would have them just quickly tossed in a frying pan to warm up.