Rhododendron Gardens

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It was a holiday weekend here in Canada, and the weather was beautiful. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to try running outside. I have slowly built up my time on the treadmill at physiotherapy, but was ready for the next challenge.  I picked a lovely park called Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens on the shore of Lake Ontario in Mississauga.   Becky came along to coach me, and boy, did she ever do a good job. She yelled at me, “come on” and “you can do it”!  I made my goal of 15 minutes. Yahoo!

We walked for a long time and enjoyed the day.

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And here is my favourite photo of the day…

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Becky crossing one of the many bridges.

Hope you had a good weekend too.

Cheryl and Becky

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For Pitas Sake

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This is a simple recipe for pita bread that we use all the time.  It’s from a book called “Essential Mediterranean” published by Murdoch Books.

Put 440g (3 1/2 cups) plain flour in a bowl with 1 tsp sugar and 1 sachet of instant yeast. Add 13 oz (1 1/2 cups) of warm water and 2 tbsp olive oil and mix to a dough.  Knead until smooth and stretchy, cover and leave to rise for 20 minutes.

If you don’t have instant yeast, just mix the water sugar and yeast together and leave for 10 minutes before adding to the flour and olive oil. A note about water temperature: I have read “warm, tepid, lukewarm” descriptions of water.  That’s not very clear is it. We have a book on bread making that gives actual temperatures, which range from 68F to 88F, so we have been using that as a guide.  Yesterday, for some bizarre reason, I read the instructions on the yeast and it states that the water should be between 120F and 130F.  That’s quite a bit higher than we’ve been using.  We used the higher temperature water, and voila, the rising times were exact.  So, read your yeast instructions!!

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a floured surface and punch down. Cut into 12 pieces and roll into balls.  Roll out into discs about 5 mm (1/4″) deep. Put onto greased baking trays, brush with water and leave to rise for 20 minutes. Don’t let the dough dry out. Bake at 250C (500F) for 4-5 minutes. Ours took 5 minutes. They should puff up and be soft and pale. Leave to cool.

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Twelve yummy pita breads ready for hummus, meatballs, salad, souvlaki, or pizza toppings.

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Happy baking!

Cheryl and Becky

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Marmalade Tea Cakes

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Becky found this recipe in “The Great British Bake Off Everyday” book. They are big raisin buns really and not cakes at all.

Put 500g (4 cups) bread flour in a bowl with 1 tsp salt and 50g room temperature butter cut into small pieces.  Rub in the butter, as if you were making pastry, until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add 100g sultanas and a sachet of instant yeast.

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Warm 250ml milk with 150 g (2/3 cup) marmalade and add to the dry ingredients. We used our home made Rhubarb Marmalade.

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Mix together until you have a dough. Turn out and knead for 10 minutes.

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Cover the dough and leave to rise until doubled. Ours took over 2 hours, but it was a cold rainy day. Punch down the dough and divide into 8. Shape each piece into a ball and then flatten until it’s about 2.5cm/1″ high and 10 cm/4″ across. Ours were a little smaller. Cover and leave to prove for 45 mins.  Ours were left a bit longer.  Brush with milk, which we didn’t, and bake at 200C/400F for 20 minutes.  They should be a good brown colour.

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Cut in half, toast and cover with butter and jam!

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They were delicious and were quite fragrant from the marmalade.  I think the idea of adding jams to a bread dough is brilliant.  We have lots of home made jams to experiment with :)

Easy Rhubarb Marmalade

Put 2 oranges in a food processor and chop into small pieces. Leave the peel on. Mix 6 cups of chopped rhubarb with 6 cups sugar in a heavy saucepan. Add the oranges and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, or the mixture sheets off a spoon.  You can also check on a cold plate to see if you get a skin forming. Heat jars at 250F for 10 minutes or use a sterilizer.  Pour marmalade into hot jars and put on lids. Process for 10 minutes or whatever you do for jams.  Makes 4 pints. I think that’s about 8 cups or 2L.

Happy Baking

Cheryl and Becky

 

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Mother’s Day Bake

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Happy Mother’s Day! Becky remembered half way through the afternoon, which made me laugh. That’s okay.  We spent the day together and did some baking, which seems like a good way to spend any day.

I was going to make a quiche, but as the temperature dropped and the rain rolled in, I did a slide to the left and switched to a warm and cozy Homity Pie from Paul Hollywood’s “British Baking”.  Paul notes that this is a recipe from the Midlands and was used by Land Girls during WWII.  I must say, I wasn’t introduced to a leek until I was in my twenties.  Mind you, I don’t think I had a home made pie until then either.  It’s filled with leeks, onions, potato and cheese, although cheese was rationed at the time, I presume they were able to grow all the other ingredients.

We had pastry left over from our Whitby Pie recipe and decided to use it today.  First you need to peel and cut 350g (2 medium) waxy potatoes into 2cm chunks and boil them until cooked.  We microwaved the whole potatoes, left them to cool, peeled and cubed them.  Slice 2 leeks and 2 onions and gently fry them in 1 tbsp of oil.

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Add 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 tbsp of chopped parsley and 1 tbsp thyme leaves.  We used rosemary instead of thyme. Remove from the heat. Put this mixture in a bowl with the potatoes, 1 tbsp cream, 175g grated cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.  Roll out the pastry and line a 20 cm (8″) loose-bottomed cake tin. It needs to be 3-4 cm high. We just used a pie dish.

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Fill your pastry crust with the filling and top with panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.  I have no idea why we have panko breadcrumbs, but we do.  If you don’t, just use anything crunchy. Heat the oven and put a baking tray in to warm up. Put the pie on the hot baking tray and bake at 200C/400F for 40 minutes.  Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the tin.

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We loved it!  I could have eaten the whole thing by myself!  So simple, so good, give it a try.

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Happy Baking!

Cheryl and Becky

 

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A Ride to Remember

Yesterday, Becky and I did something for the first time; we went on a fun ride with a Harley Davidson group.  Becky was supposed to go in a side car with her Dad, but the weather was cold and wet, so the plan was changed, and I drove her in the van behind the group of bikers.  The reason was a good one, the Milton Harley Davidson group were raising money for wheelchairs for the 23rd year running!  Nice people.

First they all met for coffee and donuts. I mean donations.

 

Around 10:30 am we were off. I knew where we going, as we had lived there when Becky was very little, but I had no idea what route they were taking.  Holy moly, we went the very long way, the secret squirrel route, the route where no-one would ever follow us. Two and a half hours later we arrived in beautiful Elora.

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Becky went to the Elora Legion to spend time with her Dad, the other riders, and grab some well-deserved lunch, while I went for a wander.

This really is one of the prettiest villages in Ontario and I can’t believe we used to live here.

I picked up Becky and drove her home, the direct route. It was long day, for a good cause, and we both had a blast.  Many thanks for the Milton Chapter for including us in this wonderful day.

Cheryl and Becky

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Fishing For A Compliment

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We chose Whitby Fish Pie for our eleventh Bake Off challenge.  We adapted the recipe from Paul Hollywood’s book, “British Baking”. We had to adapt it because we live roughly 1,000 miles from the sea.

The amounts for pastry were double what we needed so we’ve popped the rest of it in the freezer for another time.   You need 275g (2 cups) plain flour and cut in 135g (3/4 cup) butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Mix 1 egg with 1 tbsp of cold water and add to the flour mixture.  Work it until you have a dough.  Leave it to rest for 30 minutes.

We chose to make the lattice first, so once the dough had rested, we got the rolling pin out. I drew the outline of the pie dish onto some parchment paper so we knew how big to make the top.  Roll out the pastry into a rectangle and cut into strips.  We used 15.

Becky used a pizza cutter with a baking tin for a guide.

So far, so good.

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Look what we made! We covered it up and put it to one side while we made the filling. We only used 250g frozen cod and 200g frozen prawns, instead of “400g of fresh haddock, 400g smoked haddock, and 175g fresh prawns, peeled and cooked”. Becky likes fish, but I’m not a big fan, so the recipe was WAY too fishy for me, plus it would have cost a fortune to buy all that.  We added 2 cooked potatoes, chopped and 2 boiled eggs, chopped to pad it out a bit.

The recipe calls for 700ml full fat (3%) milk which you heat up with a bay leaf, 4 cloves and an onion, peeled and halved.  You bring to a boil and then leave it for 30 minutes before straining.  Don’t think so.  We cooked the cod in the milk on a very low simmer with a pinch of nutmeg.  It barely took 10 minutes. We ‘fished’ the cod out and flaked it onto the bottom of our pie dish. We put the cooked, thawed, prawns on top, then potato and egg.

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We kept the pot on a low simmer and added chopped broccoli, about 1/2 cup for 5 minutes.  The recipe calls for 75g spinach, but I had added it to a soup the day before by accident. Oops. If you have spinach, just chop it and hold onto it.  In another pot, melt 60g butter (about 4 tbsp) and stir in 60g (4tbsp) flour. Slowly add the hot milk, stirring, and bring it back to boiling. At this point you would add spinach if you had some and 2 tbsp of chopped parsley.  I’m a bit wary of too much parsley due to bad experiences with parsley sauce and fish fingers/sticks when I was growing up. As with any herb or spice, add half the amount and taste before you add any more.

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Pour the sauce over the fish, prawns, potatoes, egg, or whatever you’ve got.

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Now comes the lattice. It was a bit tricky.  I just had to flip it over really quickly.

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Yahoo! With a bit of a trim it looked pretty good.  Brush with egg.

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Bake at 200 C/400 F for 25-30 minutes. I checked after 18 minutes and noticed the filling was bubbling over the top of the pastry.  Disaster!  I looked at the recipe again and noticed one little remark, “leave to cool”.  We should have left the filling to cool before putting the pastry on top.  Lesson learned! Totally my fault. Becky was perfect as always.

The taste test was positive; both plates were clean. It was very tasty indeed! High praise from someone who is not keen on fish. It was clear that the recipe could be adapted to whatever seafood, veggies, or even herbs that you have in stock and like to use.  Plus you will have pastry left over to start another recipe.

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Happy Baking!

Cheryl and Becky

 

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Olives and Thyme

 

Number 10 of our Bake Off challenges is a Black Olive and Thyme Bread from the “Great British Bake Off; How To Bake” book.

Put 250g (2 cups) bread flour and 25g (1 tbsp) whole wheat or spelt flour in a bowl with 1tsp salt and 1 tsp instant yeast.  Slowly add 200ml lukewarm water. We didn’t use all the water. Work the mixture until you have a soft dough.  Knead for 4-5 minutes, cover and leave to rise.  Ours was ready in an hour.

Punch down the dough and place on a floured work surface. press the dough into a rectangle 40 x 20 cm (16″ x 8″). Place 75g of drained olives down the centre third of the dough. We roughly chopped ours and used a mix. Sprinkle 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves over the top of the olives.  We only had dried thyme, so we also used some fresh rosemary.

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Fold one side over the olives.

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Then the other side on top of that and pinch the seams.

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Flip over, cover and leave to rise. At this point, we started chopping vegetables.  When they were ready, we put them in a baking tin with some olive oil and garlic.

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Put the oven on to 230 C/450 F. Put a baking tray or pizza stone in to heat up. At this point, the dough was ready.  We just had to snip the sides with scissors to expose the filling. Cut about a third of the way though on an angle, every 2-3 cm.  You can see we have the dough on parchment paper.  This makes it easy to transfer the dough onto the hot pizza stone.

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The recipe suggests putting a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven to heat up and adding a cup of cold water when you put the dough in the oven.  I’m not really happy doing this. I’ve tried it a couple of times and ruined one baking tin and almost burnt myself.  This time, I just used a spray bottle and sprayed cold water on the dough and around the oven. We put the veggies in at the same  time.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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We had the bread with the roasted veggies, chorizo, cheddar cheese and olive oil.  It was good! We also have veggies ready to throw on pizza, pasta, panini, quesadilla, etc. You can also do root veggies to use in soups, salads, or omelettes.  This was a fairly simple recipe, but it looks quite special.

Happy Baking!

Cheryl and Becky

 

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