Monday, February 6, 2012

Ottawa and Taffy on the Snow



Taffy on the Snow is nature's best candy. Though I usually associate it as a sugar shack tradition, I was excited to see it offered at Ottawa's Winterlude. As part of our skate on the Rideau Canal Skateway, which is the world's largest skating rink, we stopped to indulge in this sweet treat.

While talking to the taffy maker, I learned that in one week he has gone through 300 kg (over 600 pounds) of maple syrup! For the "snow", he grinds up bags of ice cubes. And each taffy pop costs $3.

The pure maple syrup is boiled to the soft ball stage (about 235˚F).


boiling the maple syrup


Then, it's poured onto the snow and allowed to cool slightly. Using a popsicle stick, the taffy is rolled around the stick into a ball.


pouring the maple syrup

placing the popsicle sticks

letting them cool

rolling the taffy


The crunchy snow crystals on the taffy make an unstable but delicious marriage of ice and warmth. And it just might be a better business idea than a lemonade stand!

Click here for more ideas about baking and cooking with maple syrup.

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    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Ottawa and BeaverTails



    The best part of Ottawa is the Rideau Canal Skateway, which is the world's largest skating rink. When all sections are open, it stretches 7.8 km (4.8 miles). The season seems short as the ice tends to last for four to six weeks, if we're lucky. And a skate on the canal for me always ends with a BeaverTail. Freshly made bread dough is dipped in hot oil and then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. The line ups are always long, but worth the wait for this bite of sweetness.

    BeaverTail shacks have been around since 1978 and started in Ottawa. Now franchises can be found in other parts of Canada, Colorado and recently in Saudi Arabia!

    I tried making BeaverTails at home, and although they are delicious, they can't measure up to the ones from the BeaverTail shack.











    Recipe

    adapted from Link

    1/2 cup warm water
    5 teaspoons active dry yeast
    1 pinch white sugar

    1 cup milk, warmed
    1/3 cup white sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 eggs
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 cups whole wheat flour, or as needed

    4 cups oil for frying

    Cinnamon sugar (or toast dope)

    Click here for method.

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    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Bringing Mexico Home: Pescado Zarandeado


    Pescado Zarandeado is a signature Mexican dish that varies depending on the chef creating it. It can involve marinating a whole fish in a combination of lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce and lime. The choice of fish is often Pargo, which has sufficient fat content to prevent it from drying out during the grilling process. However, other types of fish such as Snook or Red Snapper can also be used. Then, the fish is butterflied and grilled over an open fire.

    Pescado Zarandeado is thought to have originated on the isle of Mexcaltitan in the state of Nayarit. Today, Diego's in Mazatlan has mastered this national dish without losing sight of its basic roots. His version was a mayonnaise-based sauce with garlic, oregano, soy sauce, herbs and cilantro, which was different from the recipe I tried here.


    Chef Diego Becerra, barefoot on the sand, made us Pescado Zarandeado grilled on the beach outside his restaurant. The smoky aroma of fish as it was slowly being grilled was tantalizing while the sound of the waves and the children playing on the beach made it memorable. Traditionally, mangrove wood was used to smoke this dish, however, now mesquite is used so that the mangrove forests are protected.

    The Pescado Zarandeado was served on a large platter with all the sides filling the table. Everyone dug in to fill their tortilla with the fish, refried beans, salsa, onions, rice, a squeeze of lime and all sorts of other fillings. It was moist, tender, and delicious.


    Recipe for Pescado Zarandeado

    from link

    Serves 6


    For the marinade:
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup lime juice
    6 cloves garlic, minced

    For the fish:
    1 3-pound fillet Snook, Dorado, Bonita, Red Snapper, Pargo or other white-fleshed fish suitable for grilling
    6 tomatoes, deseeded and quartered
    2 green bell peppers, cut into thick strips
    2 red bell peppers, cut into thick strips
    1 purple onion, cut into thick slices
    6 jalepeños, sliced

    Whisk the marinade ingredients. Let steep to blend flavors for about 15-30 minutes. pour over fish and let the fish marinate for 30 minutes.

    If you don't have a grill or fish cage (or if it's winter!), you can put the fish in foil with the vegetables.

    Grill (or bake the fish in the oven at 375° until the meat flakes). The time it takes depends on how large the fish is. My small Red Snapper took 20-30 minutes in the oven.

    Serve with salsa, guacamole, refried beans, rice, limes and tortillas.


    I would like to thank www.gomazatlan.com for inviting me to the 2011 Gran Fiesta Amigos. All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared on my blog are completely my own.

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    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Gingerbread Cookies


    You'd think with all the food that appears on this blog that there would be clouds of flour and aromas of cinnamon wafting throughout my home. But, like everyone, I'm scrambling to find the balance of working, blogging and family life.

    One year, I made over 500 cookies before Christmas for friends and family. This year, I was able to pull off a batch of gingerbread and shortbread!

    My girls love decorating gingerbread cookies. So one night we spread out all the sprinkles I've collected and tinted some white icing with food coloring. We have cute gingerbread men, gingerbread Dr. Seuss characters, ghoulish ones with missing legs, and ones with more icing and sprinkles than cookie for the sweet tooth in the bunch (my youngest).

    So, though our cookie jar isn't overflowing, we have a table that's still sprinkled with dragees, sugar and dried icing. But best of all we have sweet memories.

    Recipe for Gingerbread

    From Epicurious

    Makes about 50 regular-sized gingerbread cookies

    6 cups (about) flour
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    2 teaspoons ground ginger
    1½ teaspoons ground cloves
    ¾ teaspoon salt
    11 tablespoon (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
    2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
    1½ teaspoons grated lemon peel
    1 large egg
    ¼ cup buttermilk
    2 teaspoons water
    1 teaspoon soda

    Whisk 5¼ cups flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a bowl.

    Using a stand mixer, blend the butter and shortening. Add sugar, molasses, and lemon peel and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and buttermilk.

    Blend 2 teaspoons water with soda. Beat into butter mixture. In two additions, beat in flour mixture. Add more flour, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough feels slightly firm.

    Divide dough into three equal disks. Wrap them and chill until firm enough to roll, at least 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Soften slightly before rolling out.)

    Roll out one disk of dough at a time, between sheets of waxed paper.

    Either cut the dough using cookie cutters (or another shape) or press the dough into a heat-resistant shot glass or silicon shot glasses. (See blog post for Gingerbread Cookie Cups.) Chill the dough again before baking. (Cutout cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking time.

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    Head on over to Natalie MacLean's blog to check out my simple but tasty holiday brunch idea: Salmon Dill Crepe Recipe Paired with Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand



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    Here are some other delicious Christmas treats:


    Linzer Sablés

    Rice Pudding
    (which is what we like to have for dessert at Christmas)

    Shortbread

    Spiced White Chocolate Cappuccino
     
    Happy Holidays!


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