Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Baker's Apprentice: Potato Rosemary Bread

Oh man, I thought that with summer I'd have more time to post things here and more chances to practice taking pictures. So much for that! I can't entirely blame MCAT studying, because though it does take up a hell of a lot of time, I think it just comes down to summer laziness. Which is fine, right? I mean, it is summer (finally. The heat has set in. In true London style, it's been sunny, hot and humid for the last week, with random days after storms when its cool. Gotta love it!).

I meant to bring my camera with me last weekend down to Victoria Park- it was the first food festival of the summer. So many good eats and I wanted to share it, but, unfortunately, I'm forgetful. I didn't remember until I was at the fest. But fear not! Since there is practically a food fest every other weekend during the summer, I'm sure I'll have another chance to grab some pictures.

It was a pretty awesome festival though, I must say. With food ranging from American pizza, to Jamaican ox-tail and everything in between. There were lots of Korean and Vietnamese vendors, as well as a few Caribbean ones as well. I had to go for curry goat with rice a peas. It was just pure Jamaican deliciousness. Made me wish I was in Jamaica still (where it probably would have been cooler).

A few of my old elementary school friends are coming up for a visit this weekend and I am ready for a huge foofaraw! We're having a slumber party Sunday. Which is basically just a cute way of saying we're going to get wasted. Still, there will be lots of eating involved as well. The point is, Monday I wanted to do a breakfast bake, since I could just prepare it the day before and leave it overnight. Which brought me to baking bread, since this is my last week not cramming MCAT into my head. And of course, when going for bread, I turned to my Baker's Apprentice cookbook, since I am determined to try every recipe he has, and chose his potato rosemary bread simply because I had Ontario potatoes lying around.

I even made my own mashed potatoes. Seriously guys, the better your mashed potatoes taste, the better this bread will taste. Mine was full of garlic, green onions, butter and parmesan cheese and the bread tasted awesome. I had to make sure not to eat half the loaf off (like I usually do).

The recipe makes enough for two regular sized loaves, so you could definitely do what I did and use half for a casserole, or even freeze it for later! It does take some preparation, what with having to make the biga (a starter) the night before, as well as letting it rise for a total of 4 hours. But dude, it is very much worth it. Especially if you make it on a day when you're just lazing around the house anyway (though I did do some cleaning while I let it rise, so it wasn't so much as lazing as procrastinating studying).

I used the recipe straight from the cookbook, so if you have a copy, this is me highly suggesting you try the potato rosemary bread next time you open it up. If you don't have The Baker's Apprentice, you can go buy it (here, or here, for Canadians)- which I highly suggest you do. So far, it's been one of the best purchases I've made this summer!- or you can find the recipe online. I love Brown Eyed Baker, so I'd suggest checking out her version here.

Either way, I hope you guys go for it and enjoy it as much as I did! Make it for your family, friends, loved ones or just for your awesome, gluttonous self. NOTHING SAYS I LOVE YOU LIKE A LOAF OF FRESHLY BAKED BREAD.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Daring Cooks: Salmon Cannelloni

Manu from Manu’s Menu was our Daring Cooks lovely June hostess and has challenged us to make traditional Italian cannelloni from scratch! We were taught how to make the pasta, filling, and sauces shared with us from her own and her family’s treasured recipes!

Oh hells yeah, we're doing cannelloni this month! I love pasta and cannelloni is an awesomely satisfying dish that looks impressive but really isn't all that difficult to make. I've been bad these past couple months and haven't had time to do the Daring Cooks challenge, so I made sure to get my butt in gear this month. And, come on, it's cannelloni. No complaints here.

I wanted to do something healthy and low in fat and calories, since it is summer and everyone is trying to lose weight and get into that beach-ready state. I should probably join them in their endeavors, and what better way than making a delicious pasta casserole that's actually good for you?

So this is my cannelloni contribution. I used low fat ricotta in the filling and mixed it with canned salmon and local spinach and peppers (I even resisted topping it with 10000 cups of cheese). Yeah, it was as delicious as it sounds. Though it being low calorie and all, you have to restrain yourself from arguing that that means you can eat half of it.

Salmon Cannelloni
• 2 cans of salmon, drained
• 1/2 cup of low fat ricotta
• 1 red pepper, chopped
• 1 cup spinach, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tsp olive oil
• 18 tubes of cannelloni (depending on the size of cannelloni. I used small tubes)
• 2 cups of your favourite tomato sauce
• 6 slices provolone cheese (about 1/2 cup shredded)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Flake salmon into a medium sized bowl. Add ricotta, red pepper and spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you find it's too dry, add more ricotta (or, if you want, you can use 1 egg).

Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9x13" casserole dish. Using a small spoon (or a piping bag, if you've got the skills), fill the cannelloni tubes, placing them in rows on top of the tomato sauce. Once all of the tubes are filled, top with the remaining tomato sauce. Spread cheese slices on top.

Bake, at 350F, for 20 minutes. Then, turn on your broiler to high and broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Enjoy!