I loved bacon WAY before it was cool to love bacon. And my love is definitely not a secret. I mean, come on - @baconandbaileys?
However, as much as I love bacon, I'm really not picky. I never discriminate when it comes to the pig.
Bacon, prosciutto, sausage, pork tenderloin, porchetta, baby back ribs, pancetta... I want it all.
And so, it seemed only natural, as I was slowly meandering my way through the Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market on a rainy Sunday that I would be drawn to the call of the pig.
Pork Meatballs with Oregano, Feta and Olive Bread wrapped in Westphalian Ham (makes approximately 24 golf-ball sized meatballs)
100g Boulangerie La Vendéenne Olive Bread, torn to bits
1/4C Feta brine + 100g Foxhill Cheese House Feta, crumbled
700g Getaway Farm's Ground Pork
1C Shubie River's Greek Mountain Oregano, loosely packed then rough chopped
1 small or 1/2 of a large Noggin's Onion, finely chopped
1 Organically Fed Egg from Eastern Selected Farms available at Selwood Green
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
24 slices Roselane Farm's Westphalian Ham
- Preheat to 350 - line a 9x13 (or bigger if you have it) baking dish with parchment paper
- Place torn olive bread in a bowl - toss with 1/4C of Feta Brine - set aside
- With clean hands, mix feta, ground pork, oregano, and onion
- In a small bowl, whisk egg, salt and pepper together - pour over ground pork mixture and mix well with hands
- Add olive bread to pork and mix well - form into golf-ball sized meatballs - wrap each meatball with one slice of Westphalian ham
- Place in baking dish close together but not touching - bake 28-30 minutes or until cooked through (less time for smaller meatballs, more time for larger)
I'm not sure if there's a name for these jewel-toned carrots from Noggin's - we got them at the Seaport Market yesterday. I asked Sean to put dinner on hold so I could capture their brilliant colour.
The lead photo of this post is fairly misleading since I'm not actually posting a recipe for French Onion Soup (but I will tell you, I used the Cooks Illustrated recipe with all beef stock, no chicken stock).
I got a number of my ingredients for the soup at the Halifax Seaport Market - beef bones from Getaway Farm's Butcher Shop, onions and carrots from Noggins, baguette from The Seaport Bread Shop and cheese from Foxhill - but this post is going to be all about the glorious gelatinous beef stock I made as the base.
Super Easy Homemade Beef Stock (adapted from Emeril Lagasse) Yields 6 Cups of stock
5 lbs beef bones (if you ask really nice, Ben will give you a wicked assortment including marrow bones which are essential for great stock)
PC Black Label Taste #5 Umami Paste (link here)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 Cups red wine
small handful of black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 L water
- pre-heat oven to 450 - place bones in a turkey roaster and cook 50 minutes - remove from oven, brush liberally with Umami Paste and return to oven until deep brown (almost starting to blacken), another 10-15 minutes
- remove bones from roasting pan and set aside - pour off excess fat into heatproof container - add 1/4 cup cold water to roasting pan and, with a wooden spoon, scrape up as many crusty bits as you can, leaving them in the pan - add onions, carrots and celery to pan and place back in oven until veg starts to brown, about 15-20 minutes
- remove pan from oven and immediately add 2 Cups red wine - again using wooden spoon, scrape up as much of the stuck on crusty bits as you can from the bottom of the pan
- in a large stock pot, combine roasted bones, veg-red wine mixture, peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic cloves and water - bring to a boil - reduce heat and gently simmer 8 hours
- after 8 hours, scoop out all large solids, then strain stock 4 times through a fine mesh strainer - leave stock to cool at room temp then place in fridge - fat will separate from stock and once chilled, will harden into a layer that you can easily scrape off - discard top layer of fat - benaeth should be beautiful beef jelly (don't worry, the stock will turn to liquid again when you heat it)
Chilled stock with layer of fat scraped off of top.
Getaway's beef bones, pre-roasting.
Getaway's beef bones, post-roasting.
I know that lately it's been sunny and warm during the daytime as we head into spring, but the nights are still chilly enough to enjoy a savoury, hearty bowl of soup.
Ok, I need to be perfectly honest and upfront about two things.
1. Earl Grey Buttercream sounds good in theory, to me anyway, but I found it difficult to get the Twining's Earl Grey flavour, which I adore, to shine through without adding too much liquid to my buttercream. I used the Sweetapolita Whipped Vanilla Frosting recipe that I made last week for my Orange Cardamom Olive Oil Cupcakes and added 3 Tbsp of milk that I heated then steeped with two teabags worth of loose Earl Grey for 30 minutes. Alas, it wasn't meant to be.
2. The cookies in my photos are the SECOND batch that I made using Kristin Rosenau's recipe for Lavender Lemon Shortbreads which can be found on her lovely blog Pastry Affair. The thing is, I preferred the taste and texture of the FIRST batch I made in which I modified Kristin's recipe slightly. And so, THAT is the recipe I'm going to post. I should also note, that I made both batches without lemon.
Lavender Shortbread Cookies (adapted from Pastry Affair)
45g sugar (regular white sugar, NOT icing/powdered sugar)*
1 tsp dried lavender buds
1 tsp vanilla powder**
113g butter, room temperature
- crush sugar and lavender buds together with a mortar and pestle until lavender is well ground
- combine everything in food processor and pulse until dough ball forms
- remove dough from processor and do THIS*** then put dough in fridge at least 1 hour and up to overnight
- preheat oven to 350 - slice cookies 1/4 inch thick - bake 10 minutes or until edges just begin to turn golden - cool on sheet
*I loved the version I made with regular white sugar. I found them to be a little more coarse and a little more sandy in texture, plus, I thought the taste of lavender and butter was more pronounced.
**I buy Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Powder at The Paderno Store in Bayer's Lake for $15. It's great because you use it measure for measure like liquid vanilla without adding extra liquid to your baked goods.
***The CHOW Tip is perfect for someone like me who sucks at making cutout cookies. I found it very helpful because the roundness of the paper-towel tube prevents your dough from forming a flat edge while chilling in the fridge.
Lavender Shortbread. Pretty + Easy = Win.
One day, not too long ago, I texted Kris, one of my oldest friends, a photo of a cheese and onion pasty I had picked up at a cute little food shop near my house.
'Look!', I typed, excitedly. 'A delicious Cornish Pasty!'.
'That's not a Cornish Pasty', came the reply.
'Oh', I wrote, rather dejected. 'Then what am I eating?!?'
And here began Kris and my eventual foray into pasty making together.
You see, my friend Kris is from Cornwall, England where the Cornish Pasty is the region's fiercely loved official dish. The story goes, that the pasty was invented for the local tin miners because they could eat them, using the crust as a handle, without having to wash their hands. Kris told me that sometimes the pasties would be filled with meat in one half and jam in the other so the miners could have lunch and dessert all in one neat little edible package.
According to Wikipedia, the Cornish Pasty accounts for 6% of the Cornish food economy, is the food most associated with Cornwall by the rest of the UK, and, in 2011 was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Union. 'In order to receive the PGI status, the entire product must be traditionally and at least partially manufactured (prepared, processed OR produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties'.
In other words, the people of Cornwall take their pasties VERY seriously.
Kris says that a traditional Cornish Pasty can be made with either a flaky crust or a shortcrust - it doesn't really matter because the pastry is not the main debate. Most discussion focuses on what should go inside the pasty - skirt/chuck/flank steak, potato, swede, onion, salt and pepper and that's it - and as Kris told me 'everyone's got an opinion'. When I ask about sauce he says, 'I usually put a bit of butter inside because who doesn't love a bit of butter?'.
'What about carrot?' I ask, thinking about my mum's delicious meat pies.
'It's wrong to put carrot in' says Kris.
'Why?', I ask.
'It's not traditional', he says.
Now, of couse, living in Nova Scotia means we can't actually make a TRUE Cornish Pasty, but we came damn close.
Kris and I drove to the Halifax Seaport Market on a sunny Saturday morning to pick up the ingredients for our pasties - potatoes, onions and turnip from Taproot Farms and a beautiful 1 pound skirt steak from Getaway Meat Mongers.
We used this recipe for the pastry except instead of 75g of shortening, we used 50g of shortening and 25g of butter.
We eyeballed the amount of steak, potato, onion and turnip. We diced each ingredient and mixed it all together with lots of salt and pepper.
Then we rolled out our pastry.
We cut the dough into large circles and filled them with the steak mixture. We topped our steak mix with a few knobs of butter and a sprinkle of flour for thickening.
We then sealed the edges of the pastry with a little water and tried to crimp the edges like we knew what we were doing. The one on the left is my attempt, the one on the right is Kris'. Hmmm...
Brush the top of each pasty with some beaten egg and then bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes, until deep golden brown all over.
No photograph will ever do justice to the moment when Kris and I sat down in his living room, him on the couch, me on the floor, both of us ooohing and aaaahing over each and every bite of our crisp, flaky, golden pasties.
I think the thing I love most is that, not only do I now have an amazing recipe to add to my collection, but, every time I make it for the rest of my life, I will think of my friend.