If she's lucky, the girl will have one of these with her soup…

  Our daughter is coming tomorrow for a visit, in advance of her anniversary party. She tells me she’s sick, so soup will be in order. If we aren’t too greedy, she might get one of these as well.

These sun dried tomato olive herb buns are adapted from an old favourite, the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook. I love that there is no added sugar or and very little oil. We switched up the flour to 100% whole wheat and added olives when I ran out of tomato pieces.  I also shaped them like burger buns so they would be great for sandwiches of all kinds. All the fresh herbs are from our garden, and we skipped the salt. For a vegan version, simply omit the egg white glaze. Makes 12.

2c/500 ml boiling water

6 sun dried tomato halves, not oil packed, cut in slivers

6 stuffed olives, chopped

1T/15ml yeast

875ml/3.5c whole wheat flour

1/4 c chopped herbs (I used rosemary, oregano and thyme)

1 beaten egg white

In a 2 c glass measure, pour boiling water over tomatoes and let stand about 5 minutes. Then scoop them out with a slotted spoon into another dish and set aside for later. Pour off enough liquid from the measuring cup so you have 310ml/1-1/4c and let it cool to lukewarm.

Sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm tomato water and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Measure flour into a large bowl. Stir yeast mixture with a fork, then with a wooden or silicone spoon, mix it all at once into the flour, stirring until it mostly cleans away from the sides of the bowl. 

Scrape onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 30 times until smooth. Shape into a ball.

Spray your mostly-clean bowl with cooking spray or coat with a very light coating of olive oil. Put your ball of dough in it and cover with a clean tea towel. Let rise in a warm place about an hour, until doubled. (Honestly it was quite chilly in the kitchen today but it worked fine).

Punch down the dough then knead in the herbs, tomatoes, and olives until well distributed. 

Divide into 12 pieces and on a lightly floured surface, pat each into a circle about the size of a burger bun. Place on cookie sheets on parchment or Silpats, about 3 fingers apart, and cover again. Let rise for another hour. Notice how if you are working on something at your desk in the home office, the buns summon you to take a regular break to move around.

Preheat the oven to 400F /200C/ Gas mark 6. Brush tops with egg white if you are using it, and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. 

Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

It's the Great Pumpernickel


This weekend I tried pumpernickel from Jean Paré’s classic cookbook, “Breads”.

It turned out so well I kept looking for excuses to eat it. So lunch had to be a sandwich! Albacore tuna mixed with tomato, dill, grainy mustard and light mayo made the filling tasty enough to hold up to the robust flavour of the bread. And with the whole grain rye flour, the loaf has enough fibre to enjoy without regrets.

Pass the Pesto…

Well, although we had a warm, sunny Thanksgiving, it will turn chilly soon enough. So we’ve been busy gathering what we can from the garden, preserving, freezing, drying and cooking the fruits of our labours so we can enjoy them all winter long.

With a bumper crop of basil, we decided to make some pesto. Here’s what you do:

In the food processor, chop some garlic (1-3 cloves, as you prefer it). Then add a couple of good handfuls of basil leaves, about 1/3 cup of walnuts, and a couple of ounces of parmesan cheese, freshly ground. Traditionalists use pine nuts, but walnuts are always easier to find, especially in the fall. Besides, they appeal to our frugal natures. Pulse it until it’s coarsely chopped, then, with the food processor running, pour extra virgin olive oil in the spout until it reaches a thick, saucy consistency. Store in mason jars, topped with a layer of olive oil, in the fridge for a week or two (add more oil each time you take out some pesto), or in the freezer if you want to keep it longer. Simply thaw it in the fridge the day before you want to use it.

We love the many uses of pesto – as a base for pizza, tossed with some pasta, rubbed on a chicken, or mixed into a homemade vinaigrette. We could go on and on…but instead, we’ll stop for now (and maybe make some more pesto).

Turkey Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow…it's Thanksgiving in Canada!

Thanksgiving around our house means two kinds of pie (pumpkin and apple), cranberry sauce (homemade, of course), squash, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, gravy, and of course, turkey with dressing. Whether it’s held on Sunday or Monday, it’s all about family. (Psst: Happy Birthday, Kathryn!)

Here’s a picture of this year’s succulent bird, before dinner. We’d like to share more photos, but we were too busy cooking, carving, chatting, and eating.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Fish of a Certain Stripe

Mackerel. Slightly mineraly. Beautifully striped. A paradox to those who only know what to do with the pinky, meaty salmon, or the large-flaked cod. But mackerel is such a beautiful, special fish, it’s hard to resist.

The husband bought these beautiful fillets at Hooked. It wasn’t the most pleasant day, so grilling was out of the question. It was cool enough for the oven, though, so a plot was hatched. Pair the oily,mineraly flavour with some Mediterranean influences – olive oil, tomatoes, olives, capers, and oregano.

Everything went in the oven at about 400, for 20 or 30 minutes, just until done. We couldn’t have asked for a better end to the day.

The Urban Farm is Growing!

Back in the winter, we started a few seeds. We’re not willing to accept that city living means you can’t have some self-sufficiency in your food chain.

So here’s our progress so far. Peas are starting to climb up the trellises. Lettuce and chard are growing, with a second crop underway. Radish, carrots and beets are mostly lurking under the ground, with the exception of a few carrot seeds that must have lain dormant over the winder and now are growing.

Not featured in this photo, except for the corner of one leaf, bottom right? Great, Great Grammy Hergett’s rhubarb, imported as a root from Nova Scotia.

Thyme for Simplicity

We like Eggs Benny as much as the next guy. But sometimes you want simple and delicious. With all the fresh herbs popping up in the urban farm, this is a tremendous breakfast, full of flavour. If you’ve just baked a batch of bread to be used for toast, more’s the better.

Start with some great eggs – we like the Rowe Farm ones from Better Bulk. Chop up a couple of tablespoons (30ml) of thyme, and add a splash of milk. Whisk the whole thing together with a fork.

Cook with a dab of butter over medium low heat, stirring, stirring, and stirring. (It’s that patience thing again!) Serve with a tomato, because it just looks (and tastes) great.

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