Saturday, March 25, 2006

Pancakes the way I like them

Growing up, my mother always made pancakes this way. It's a fairly simple recipe, as most pancake recipes are, but, to tell the truth, I do this recipe more by feel than by amounts of ingredients. I don't like leaveners in my pancakes, like you find in most North American restaurants, these pancakes end up being more like crepes, except thicker. The added melted butter to the batter reduces the amount of oil or butter you need to fry the pancakes, it's a little trick that works great. This recipe makes about two large pancakes and one smaller half-sized one per person. Pour some maple syrup over them, roll them up, and enjoy! I put Nutella over the smaller one, delicious!

Mom's German-style Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour (per person)
1 egg (per person)
1/8-1/4 cup sugar (no more than 1/4 cup)
enough milk to make a thin batter
1 Tbsp melted butter

Mix first three ingredients with a whisk, then add enough milk to make a fairly thin batter, it should flow freely. Add the melted butter and stir to incorporate. Ladle into a heated skillet on medium heat with more butter. Flip over after top side is dry; bottom should be slightly starting to turn brown. Top with maple syrup or fruit or jam.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Green&Black's Organic Chocolate

I bought this chocolate bar from this Natural Health store I frequent, they often have unusual and interesting foods. I had never seen this brand before, there were several different flavours. The one I chose was the Bittersweet Dark 70% Chocolate with a Soft Mint Centre. According to the information on the inside of the wrapper, they bill themselves as "The Most Heavenly Chocolate on Planet Earth". They use the finest organically grown cocoa beans, and these are called Fairtrade mark Maya Gold Chocolate, which is made by Maya Indian farmers in southern Belize. They have an exclusive long-term contract to buy all that they can produce, and pay them a higher price than that of conventional cocoa. Their cocoa beans include the varieties of criollo and trinitario. Criollo, often dubbed the Prince of cocoas, has a pleasant aroma, while Trinitaro is a hybrid between Criollo and Forasetero varieties. Forastero has a more pungent aroma.

Beyond the good feeling you get from buying a product that helps improve the life of Indian farmers in South America, I can say that their efforts of making the chocolate, including extra time conching the chocolate, something that Lindt also does and is know for, which produces a more intense chocolate flavour, has produced a chocolate bar that tastes wonderful. Conching, invented by Rudolphe Lindt, is a process by which metal beads and heat are used to grind the chocolate and sugar particles to a particle size that is smaller than the tongue can detect, resulting in a smooth product. Oddly enough, I have read that some people think that Lindt overconches their chocolate, but that is all about individual taste.

I far prefer dark chocolate, less sweet chocolate, and this bar has a more subtle mint flavour than other mint chocolate bars that I have tried, that works well for my taste buds. Check them out here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Hiding in My Pantry

I bought a shelving unit at IKEA around Christmas, and moved a lot of my cooking ingredients, to make it a pantry, and my sister-in-law put a bunch of things away, including a box of chocolate, bars and so forth. Hiding in the bottom of this box, I found this delightful Lindt reindeer that I had to take a picture of and post, before it disappeared. Which it did rather quickly. They also sold a large bell to go along with this Christmas offering. This matches their gold Easter rabbit that they sell every year.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Another Unusual Chocolate Bar

I received this as a Christmas present from my Aunt and Uncle in Germany. I haven't as of yet seen this particular flavour in Canada, cranberry over a chocolate mousse as a filling. I can't wait to try it. Really, I have a lot of chocolate and haven't tried it yet!

Filberts and Chocolate I

I was pleased when I found these in this Polish store, these are dark chocolate covered hazelnuts. How could I not like them!

A Sure Sign of Spring

Spring officially starts next Monday here in Canada, though there already have been some signs of Spring. One of them is the snowdrops growing in my Dad's garden. They actually often appear in mid-Winter, if there is a thaw.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Two Unusual Chocolate Bars

These chocolate bars are unusual for several reasons. Hershey Canada, in my experience, is more known for its milk chocolate products, so to have Extra Dark, 60% cocoa, is great. They are also unusual in their choice of the extra ingredients, one of them contains macadamia nuts, which are normally expensive, and both of them contain cranberries, which I have not seen much in chocolate bars. They tasted pretty good, I preferred the one with blueberries, though the other one was a close second. The ingredients are quite good, mostly natural ingredients, though both of them contain sunflower oil and one contains high fructose corn syrup. I prefer European chocolate to North American, they tend to have more natural ingredients, and less of the bad ones.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Himmel und Erde

Later in October brings my favourite apple, the Golden Russet, one of the legacy apples that you can still find sold in many grocery stores. It's not that popular, you have to search it out in your favourite Farmer's Market, but it's worth it. The taste is far superior to any of the designated supermarket apples that are sold because they travel well and keep long without bruising or having spots. Himmel is German for Heaven, it's the apples in this dish, while Erde is German for Earth, it's the potatoes. Quite tasty a combination. My Dad tells of the story of how Germans were tricked into trying potatoes, nowadays they eat their fair share of potatoes, but they are not native to Germany and were rejected by most. So, the King devised a method, where he surrounded the potato patch with high walls and guards, and the peasants, seeing this food guarded, climbed the walls and stole some in the night, and so learned to like potatoes. The vinegar in this gives it a nice bite in contrast to the sweetness of the apples.

Himmel und Erde
1 kg potatoes
325 g apples
375 mL water
Tbsp sugar
Tbsp vinegar
salt to taste

Wash and peel the potatoes, then cube them. Peel and core the apples, then cut into eighths.

Place the cubed potatoes and the water in a pot. Bring the water to boil, add some salt, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the apples, then raise the heat and bring to a boil again. Turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes. Pour off the water.

Stir the potatoes and apples well. Season to taste with salt, a little sugar and some vinegar.

You can also fry up a little bacon and a small diced onion, stirring it into the potatoes.

Bee and Butterfly Christmas Ornaments

These two cuties were left over after we took down our Christmas tree. They were almost too cute to eat!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hazelnut Coffee

I bought this package of Hazelnut Coffee from Winners last Friday, I normally drink only Costa Rican coffee, it really is the best, but I wanted to see whether it would live up to its name, having a fondness for hazelnuts. Now, it's not really coffee made from hazelnuts, though that would be interesting, it's coffee that has just been roasted sprayed with oil or powder concentrates of various flavours, such as vanilla or hazelnut or orange. I've always thought of it as "stinky coffee", my boss enjoys the taste of the vanilla-flavoured coffee from the sandwich shop downstairs, I, on the other hand, thought it smelled too strongly and sweetly, and one time, developed an overpowering hunger for something sweet, a Tim Hortons donut, and found out that I had been smelling the discarded coffee container in my garbage for some time. Too, I suspect that the flavouring is used by manufacturers to cover up the inferior qualities of the coffee itself. I always wonder at how, for such a beloved hot drink, there is so much drunk at work that is quite awful tasting. Perhaps it is the brewing, perhaps it is the water, likely it is the coffee itself and a combination of the other two. So, I made this hazelnut coffee, and the smell pervaded all the rooms in my place, kind of sweet, and sort of hazelnut smelling. Now, to taste it. Well, it tasted about like it smelled, not really what I like in hazelnuts, it was fairly good, the coffee itself was not as good tasting as the Costa Rican I have. I had another this morning, the flavour hasn't grown on me, yet. Too, there is always hazelnut shots that one can put in coffee, found at more upscale coffee shops. I think I prefer the hot hazelnut smoothie at Tim Hortons.