Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, and Asiago Bread Braid

Late last week, the forecast for the weekend was looking great, so we decided to drop everything and catch up on some photo shoots. I had a few costume commissions I hadn’t had pro shots of yet, so we picked two locations and contacted everyone who had costumes suitable to them: one superheroes set, and one wintery location. It was a bunch of work to organize people, logistics, model releases, etc.. but the results were fantastic – I have some preview pics up on my Facebook page, here.


I have a “family discount” with my fabulously talented husband when it comes to his photography. This time, he asked to be paid in homemade bread. Bread that I can’t have, due to my gluten issues… so he’s been deprived of it for a while.

I decided to create a very special bread recipe just for him, utilizing a few of his favourite flavours… all done up in a visually stunning way. I made three different batches of dough, rolled, braided, and coiled them.. and it was a HUGE hit. The technique used for rolling the dough before braiding it results in almost a “pull apart bread”, and the garlic butter adds a great, complimentary flavour to all three doughs.

It’s a bit of effort and makes a ton of bread – 4 decent sized loaves! – but trust me when I say that it’s not hard to find some friends who are excited to take a loaf off your hands! This is totally worth the effort. This makes a soft, flavourful, and gorgeous bread.

Excuse the crappy in-progress photography. I had to take cell phone pics, as my photographer was busy building my kitchen 🙂

Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, and Asiago Bread Braid
Makes 4 loaves

Asiago Dough

1 1/3 cup Warm water
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Yeast
4 cups Flour
1 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp Olive oil

Add honey to warm water, stir till well blended. Add yeast and stir again. Allow to sit (somewhere warm!) for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, cheese, 1/3 cup olive oil, and foamy yeast mixture. Mix on low speed till well blended, then turn speed up a bit and let it “lazy knead” for 5 minutes or so. Dough should ball easily – if it’s too wet, add a bit of flour. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water.

Put 1 tbsp olive oil into a large bowl, add dough, flip over to coat. cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.

Basil Dough

1 1/4 cup Warm water
2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Yeast
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
4 cups Flour

Add honey and salt to warm water, stir till well blended. Add yeast and stir again. Allow to sit (somewhere warm!) for 10 minutes.

While yeast is hydrating, combine 1/3 cup olive oil and the basil leaves in a food processor or blended, blitz until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, basil olive oil, and foamy yeast mixture. Mix on low speed till well blended, then turn speed up a bit and let it “lazy knead” for 5 minutes or so. Dough should ball easily – if it’s too wet, add a bit of flour. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water.

Put 1 tbsp olive oil into a large bowl, add dough, flip over to coat. cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.

Roasted Red Pepper Dough

1 cup Warm water
2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Yeast
4 cups Flour
3 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
1/2 cup pureed roasted red peppers

Add honey and salt to warm water, stir till well blended. Add yeast and stir again. Allow to sit (somewhere warm!) for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, 2 Tbsp olive oil, red pepper puree, and foamy yeast mixture. Mix on low speed till well blended, then turn speed up a bit and let it “lazy knead” for 5 minutes or so. Dough should ball easily – if it’s too wet, add a bit of flour. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water.

Put 1 tbsp olive oil into a large bowl, add dough, flip over to coat. cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.



1 cup butter
1 Tbsp pressed or minced garlic

Put butter and garlic in a microwave safe cup or bowl. Heat until just melted.

Gently knead each of the doughs to deflate slightly, divide each into two equal sized balls. Work with one set of 3 different doughs, while leaving the other set covered with plastic wrap.

Roll one dough ball out to about 12″ x 15″ rectangle – I like to do this on a large piece of parchment paper. Brush with melted garlic butter, leaving a 1″ border unbuttered.

Roll one long side towards the other long side, taking care to keep it tightly rolled, and not just slidding in the butter as you go. Repeat with other two doughs in the set.

Use a sharp knife to cut each long in half, lengthwise. Be careful in handling – each 1/2 log consists of concentric semi-circles of dough now, and can be prone to sliding around. Also, be careful not to stretch them out of shape.

Working with one strip of each colour, secure the three strips together at one end and carefully braid them, taking care to have the cut sides facing up the whole way. Pinch strips together at the end.

Gently coil braid into a round loaf – I like to tuck the start of the coil under itself, to elevate the middle of the loaf a bit. Tuck the end of the coil under the load to secure.

Repeat braiding with rest of cut rolls, starting on a new piece of parchment.

Repeat rolling, buttering, cutting, braiding, and coiling on second set of dough, having each loaf on its own piece of parchment paper.

VERY LOOSELY cover each with plastic wrap. Start timing 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375 F.

Transfer each sheet of parchment / loaf to its own baking sheet. Don’t remove loaves from parchment!

Melt remaining garlic butter, gently brush over each loaf.

One or two loaves at a time, bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown.


Sweet Corn Bruschetta Recipe, from Sweet Corn Spectacular

Hey, remember how I wrote “Sweet Corn Spectacular” – a cookbook all about fresh sweet corn – for the Minnesota Historical Society last year?

Well, guess what? Not only is it sweet corn season once again (*Cough* you should totally buy my book *Cough*), but the book is featured in the August edition of Midwest Living! Check it ouuuuut!


Pretty slick, eh?

Figured I’d celebrate by sharing that same recipe with you all: Sweet Corn Bruschetta!

This recipe is simple, elegant, and easy to tinker with. It’s beautiful and delicious with the most simple of balsamic vinegars… but is *mind blowingly amazing* if you can get your hands on peach balsamic vinegar.

Sweet Corn Bruschetta

4 ears sweet corn, husks removed
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar of choice
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into think strips
1 baguette
~ 1/4 cup olive oil
~8 oz goat cheese

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut kernels off the ears of corn. In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, honey, sugar, and balsamic vinegar, tossing to coat. Stir in basil, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut baguette into 1/4-1/2″ thick slices – I like to cut them at a bit of an angle. Brush both sides of each bread slice with olive oil, arrange on a broiling pan.

Broil bread slices for 3 minutes, flip them all over, and broil for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven, spread each slice with some goat cheese, top with corn mixture. Serve immediately!


– Add in diced fresh tomato
– Try chili flakes, for a bit of a kick
– Try different fresh herbs – dill, tarragon, parsley, thyme, mint, cilantro…
– Add a pressed garlic clove
– Swap the goat cheese for mascarpone, ricotta, or cream cheese
– Add a little finely chopped onion

Biscuits and Gravy… MY Way!

Shortly after I moved to the US, I heard of “biscuits and gravy” for the first time. I have no idea if we have it back home or not, but it was the first time I’d ever been exposed to it.

We were watching TV, and whatever show it was was demonstrating it. The cook lobbed a big chunk of shortening into the pan for making the gravy, and at that point… I think it was the most disgusting breakfast idea I’d ever even heard of. It didn’t even really matter that I later found out that not all biscuit gravy is made like that, the idea of it was gross.

Even without that visual introduction, the idea of anything white being called gravy seemed – and still seems – really OFF to me. Gravy is supposed to be brown! Well… unless you’re Italian, apparently – two of my MasterChef friends schooled me on that one. I digress…

So, I recently decided to make biscuits and gravy for my husband, but with a proper brown gravy. In my personal opinion, if you’re using flour to thicken anything aside from a delicate white wine sauce, you should make a proper roux. Usually “the darker the better”, too!

You see, when it comes to food… browning is flavour. Whether it’s a meat, a crust, a cookie… browning your food is adding all kinds of wonderful flavours to it. Why go with a white gravy, when a brown one takes only a few minutes more? I don’t get it.

So, rather than just looking at the flour as a thickening agent alone, I look at it as a way to add flavour. When you cook the flour and butter together as a roux, it turns into a rich, toasty, almost nutty flavour – it’s the best way to start any gravy, really.

Now, most people recommend cooking your roux over medium or lower heat, and it can take a really long time. If you’re just starting out with rouxs, I’d say caution is probably a good idea… but just as an FYI, I usually cook them on high. As long as you’re careful, don’t stop stirring, and have your liquid pre-measured and ready to go… I find it pretty low risk.

You may find that you need more or less milk than called for here, partially out of personal taste (we like it pretty thick, you may not!), and partially because making a roux isn’t really an exact science, when it comes to thickening. As flour cooks and darkens, it loses some of its thickening power. When you first mix the butter and flour together, it will thicken a LOT more liquid than a smiliar amount of a really dark brown roux. Play around with it, and see where your preferences take you!

Biscuits and Gravy
Serves 3-4

1 recipe Baking Powder Biscuits
12 oz chub sausage of choice *
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1.5 cups+ milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven for biscuits. While it’s heating up, brown the sausage in a fry pan. Remove sausage from pan, set aside.

Put biscuits in the oven, make the gravy:

Melt butter in that same frying pan. Stir in flour until smooth. Cook over medium or medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it’s as brown as you want it.

Slowly add in about half of the milk, stirring until smooth. Add the rest of the milk, stirring once again until smooth.

Add in the cooked sausage, stir well and bring up to a simmer – the gravy will thicken as it simmers. Add a little more milk if the gravy is too thick for your tastes, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Keep gravy warm until biscuits come out of the oven. Split warm biscuits in half, smother with gravy.


* I love using the Papa George’s brand of sausage. It’s about a million times better than anything else on the market, is perfectly seasoned and flavoured, and has almost no fat in it. We’ll use either the regular, hot, or sage flavoured sausage chubs in this recipe. Because this recipe was developed with that particular sausage, you may find yourself wanting to use less butter, if you use a fattier sausage.

Baking Powder Biscuits

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to my grandmother’s baking powder biscuits. We’d eat them with butter and lots of homemade jam, and life was good.

Her recipe eventually became the base for our breakfast pizza, and it’s been one I’ve carried with me in life. Odd, because I don’t tend to use recipes at all… and when I do, I usually tweak the crap out of them each time!

This is a recipe that doesn’t need tweaking, though. Sure, there are minor variations I’ll do – sometimes I’ll use milk (as she did), sometimes I’ll use buttermilk. If I don’t have shortening (as she used) or if I want a richer flavour, I’ll use butter instead. It’s all good!

As long as you don’t over-handle the dough, these biscuits bake up light and fluffy, and are easily split in half. This makes about 6 good sized biscuits, but is easily doubled.


Baking Powder Biscuits
Makes 6 biscuits

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking Powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening or butter
3/4 cup milk or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking powder,and salt.

Measure shortening/butter into the same bowl, and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork(s). The idea is to work it in until it’s evenly distributed throughout, in very small pieces.

Add milk/buttermilk, stir just until dough comes together. Don’t over stir or beat it. If dough is too crumbly, add a small amount of extra milk. If the dough is sticky, add a small amount of flour.

Pull dough together into a ball, place on a lightly floured work surface. Gently roll dough out to about 3/4 – 1″ thick, and cut into rounds with a drinking glass. (I like to use about 3″ diameter).

Arrange biscuits on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Serve hot!

Boozy Raspberry-Peach Bread Pudding

I’ve been really lazy DISTRACTED FROM blogging lately.

Two books off to the publisher this month, one debuting next month, working on a Kickstarter (A gluten free cook book WILL happen!), and then product development for something fun in the new year. WHEW!

Have a recipe 🙂 This one is particularly ridiculous and amazing.. yum!

Boozy Raspberry-Peach Bread Pudding
Makes 8-10 servings

1 Loaf of day old French or Italian bread
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 1/3 cups milk
2/3 cup Peach schnapps
6 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
2-3 fresh peaches, sliced
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 Egg
2/3 cup Chambord

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 9″ x 12″ square baking pan with vegetable shortening or butter.

Rip bread into bite sized pieces (about 6 cups worth). Cover with melted butter and milk, stirring to coat the bread pieces. Allow all of the milk to soak in, then arrange into prepared baking pan.

Combine peach schnapps, beaten eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk until fully combined and smooth. Pour over bread, stirring lightly so that all of the bread is covered. Gently stir in peach slices and raspberries. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until set. Edges should be golden, and easily pull away from the side of the pan.

Combine melted butter, sugar, and egg in a small saucepan, whisking until well blended. Whisk constantly, cooking over low heat until mixture thickens – do not allow mixture to come to a simmer. Whisk in Chambord, remove from heat – sauce should be smooth and creamy.

Serve bread pudding hot, with sauce poured over each serving. Best eaten the same day it is made.

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Breakfast Corn Muffins Recipe

I’m on a “blog an amazing recipe suitable for a weekend brunch every Friday” kick recently, and do I EVER have a treat for you today: These are my breakfast corn muffins, from my latest cookbook, “Sweet Corn Spectacular“!

They’re less a “cupcake without icing” muffin, and more of a “entire breakfast in the palm of your hand” kind of muffin… and a great way to make use of the fresh sweet corn that is popping up at farmers markets everywhere. Because corn is such a versatile ingredient, the possibilities for these muffins are endless. (See below for a few suggestions to get you started!)

Not only are these great fresh out of the oven, they make a great make-ahead breakfast for eating on the go for the rest of the week. Enjoy!

Breakfast Corn Muffins
Makes about 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with cupcake liners or grease well.

Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt, stirring until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and honey until light and fluffy. Add eggs and milk, stirring carefully until well incorporated. Mix in the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut kernels off the ears of corn. Stir corn into batter, just until distributed.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.


• Blueberry: Add 1 cup fresh blueberries along with the corn kernels.

• Peanut Butter and Banana: Decrease sugar to ½ cup. Add ½ cup peanut butter when beating the butter and sugar mixture and 1 chopped banana with the corn kernels.

• Jalapeño, Bacon, and Cheese: Decrease sugar to ¼ cup. Add 1 finely chopped jalapeño, 6 crumbled slices crispy bacon, and 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese along with the corn kernels.

• Sausage: Decrease sugar to ¼ cup. Add 1 cup crumbled or sliced cooked breakfast sausage, ¼ cup finely chopped onion, and 1 cup shredded cheese along with the corn kernels.

• Sour Cream and Onion: Decrease sugar to ⅓ cup and milk to ¼ cup. Add ½ cup sour cream with the milk and eggs. Add ½ cup finely sliced green onions with the corn kernels. This combination is also tasty with bacon!

Chai Cinnamon Rolls

Blogging can be such a funny thing.

When it comes to writing recipes out, I have no difficulty putting words to paper… err, screen. I have my little hand scrawled notes on ingredients that made it into the dish, and I write down what I did to turn them into the food in the photos. It’s very straightforward – “Do this. Then, do this..”. Not a whole lot of thought or effort, I get kind of robotic about it.

When it comes to writing the blurbs that precede the recipes, sometimes I run into a bit of writer’s block. For some recipes, I have a funny story, or recollection of something to do with that recipe, or I can wax poetic on one of the ingredients. It’s more creative writing than the technical-type writing of the recipes themselves, so I kind of have to be in the mood for it.

However, here I am, with little to say about this recipe. I dreamed it up while I slept, woke, and made it a reality for breakfast. That’s… about it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic – cinnamon buns are always great, and chai was always my most popular cake offering back in the day, of COURSE marrying the two will be fantastic – my brain is just elsewhere. I mean really, Convergence is just a couple days away, and I’m loading up a few blog entries to post in my absence, haha!

So yes. Make these. They’re awesome. Excuse my lack of focus on this blurb … Nerd Camp is almost here!


Chai Cinnamon Buns Recipe
(Makes 12 rolls)

1 1/2 cups warm, strong tea – NOT hot!
4 tsp yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp instant black tea (unsweetened – JUSt tea!)


2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp instant black tea
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp hot water
~2 cups powdered (icing / confectioners) sugar

Stir yeast and sugar into warm tea, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine. Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
(OR: mix it in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes or so!)

Once dough is fully kneaded, place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Once dough has doubled in size, roll dough out on a floured surface. Aim to make it a large rectangle, say 15 x 20″ or so.

Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter all over the dough – you might not use it all, that’s ok.

Mix together the sugar, spices, and instant tea, sprinkle evenly over the melted butter, reserving a few Tbsp of sugar mixture.

Starting with one of the longer edges, tightly roll the dough up.

Generously grease or spray a 9x 13″ baking pan. Pour any remaining butter in the bottom, spreading evenly before sprinkling with remaining sugar mixture.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 12 even rounds.

Carefully place each roll into the pan, spacing them evenly.

Cover pan with plastic wrap, allow to rise one more time – about 45 minutes. While waiting for the buns to rise, heat oven to 350F.

(This is what they looked like after the final rise!)

Once final rise is over, pop the pan in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and perfect.

Allow to cool for a few minutes while you make the glaze:

Mix together softened butter, tea, vanilla extract, hot water, and about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, whisking until smooth. Add remaining powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, until you have a thick, smooth paste.

Spead over hot Chai Cinnamon buns, allowing it to melt and ooze a little.


The Canadian Food Experience Project – Memories

The other day I was browsing through a few of Twitter’s recommendations for people to follow, and I came upon a fellow Canadian Foodblogger, @Redawna . I clicked through to her blog Nutmeg Disrupted, and was immediately drawn into the first post that showed up – “The Canadian Food Experience Project”.

What a great post! It brought me back to my childhood in Winnipeg, which – like the author’s hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta – also has a large Ukrainian community. The fact that I’m Irish Canadian (without a drop of Ukrainian in me!) In NO way slowed my access to – or love for – all of the wonderful Ukrainian foods around me. (MMMMm PEROGIES!) More on that in a bit…

I decided to look for more information on this project… partially out of my love for the food of my homeland, and partially because I’m in the throes of a particularly bad bout of homesickness, and I get a bit masochistic when that happens, LOL!

The Canadian Food Experience Project began on June 7 2013. Per the project:

“As we share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.”

Love it… so I did. (Join them, that is!)

This month’s topic is “My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory”.

This was a difficult one for me. They say “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”, but I’ve been realizing that when it comes to Canadian food… it’s more like “you don’t know what you’ve got til YOU’RE gone”.

So much of what I grew up on, I assumed to be what everyone eats… not necessarily seeing it as particularly Canadian. I never would have guessed that my husband – who was born and raised in Minneapolis, just an 8 hour drive from my hometown – would never have been exposed to much of the staples of our local cuisine in Winnipeg.

So, when it comes to pinpointing my first authentic Canadian food memory, it’s a bit difficult. Is it the Honey Dill Dip that was so ubiquitous in Winnipeg (but was almost unheard of anywhere else in Canada!)? The Cretons I was exposed to when visiting my father in Quebec? The French Canadian Pea Soup that was always a highlight of the Festival Du Voyageur festivities every February?

What about the Tiger Tail Ice Cream that we only ever seemed to be able to get when visiting our great aunt in Ottawa? Maybe the Nanaimo Bars that were always served at the holidays?

I would have to say that – much like Nutmeg Disrupted – my first authentically Canadian food memory was actually Ukrainian!

We spent a lot of time – and pretty much every holiday – at my grandmother’s house. Easter was extra special for me, as my grandmother’s next door neighbour was a sweet little old Ukrainian lady who would ply us with her special Ukrainian Easter Bread. Every year, without fail, she would produce these cylindrical loaves of bread (made in coffee cans). They wouldn’t look like much to someone who wasn’t familiar with them, but we knew better.

Yes, we knew that those plain looking loaves of bread were sweet, tender, moist, and full of citrussy flavor. Really more of a dessert than a bread… and we would plow through it with wild abandon.

A few years ago, I asked my grandmother to get the recipe from Mary. It’s always interesting when you’re trying to get a recipe through a game of telephone – especially when the first two passes are through old ladies 🙂 As is usual with my family, the recipe came as more of a formula – no instructions… and I adapted it a little (increased the flour, increased the zest, changed lard to butter, ditched the coffee can in favor of the traditional decorated style), and figured out what the directions would be.

I prefer this bread served warm, either fresh out of the oven or microwaved. It’s a very tender, moist bread, so be sure to keep it from drying out. Also, it makes a TON of bread, so be prepared to make some friends VERY happy. Also: this makes AMAZING French toast: Add a little vanilla, orange zest, and a splash of OJ to the custard… MMMmmm…

Paska Bread
(Adapted from Mary Morin’s Recipe)

1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 packets active dry yeast (4.5 tsp)
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
8 eggs, beaten
Juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
Zest of 1-2 lemons and 1-2 oranges
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups scalded milk, cooled
~12+ cups all purpose flour, divided
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp water

Stir sugar into warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top of sugar water, gently incorporate. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, until bubbly.

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, continue to cream until well incorporated and fluffy once more.

Add juices, zest, and salt to the mixture, mix until combined. Add scalded milk, continue to mix until well incorporated and smooth. Add 4 cups of flour, combine well. Add yeast mixture, mix until well incorporated.

If you have a dough hook attachment for your mixer, affix it now.

Slowly add remaining flour until a good, coherent bread dough comes together. It should be only very slightly sticky to the touch – not super sticky, and not really DRY.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for a few minutes. Dough should be smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky when it’s been kneaded enough.

Put dough into a lightly greased bowl or pot, cover top with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours. Once doubled, beat down the middle of the dough and allow to rise another hour.

Now here’s the fun part. Reserve about 1/3 of the dough for decorations, and divide remaining dough out among the pans you’ll be using (grease them first!). For reference, we used a 9″ round pyrex pot, a large loaf pan, and 3 mini loaf pans to bake ONE batch of this. It makes a *LOT* of bread… this is a good thing!

For the main body of your breads, you’ll want the dough to fill about 1/3 of each baking pan – they’ll rise like crazy. Halfway full if you’re adventurous, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Cover loosely pans and reserved 1/3 dough loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 30 mins.

Once your 30 minutes are up, use the reserved dough to make designs on the top of each loaf. Braids, twists, curls, crosses and rosettes are popular/traditional, but have fun with it. (Google can be a great source of design inspiration.) Toothpicks can be used to help secure designs in place until after baking. Cover loosely with plastic, allow to rise one last time, 30 minutes.

While your dough is rising, whisk together the remaining egg yolks and water to create an egg wash. This glaze will give your finished Paska a shiny, dark brown finish. Beautiful!

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Once final rise is finished, brush entire top of each loaf with egg wash. Bake loaves for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, lower the heat to 325°F and continue to bake for another 40 minutes.

Cool Paska for 10-15 minutes (if you can handle the wait), then gently remove from pans and tranfer to a wire rack or wooden cutting board to continue cooling.

I recommend wrapping and hiding a loaf or two, before cutting into any of them. If you’re planning to bring them somewhere, or share with ANYONE, this step is kind of essential.

Cut into one of your warm loaves, slather with butter, and … don’t plan on going anywhere for awhile. It’s easy to plow through a ton of this, and it will give you a bread coma. SO WORTH IT.

This is even great the next day, reheated with butter. Yum.

PS: I am glad that I double checked Mary’s last name for this post. For some reason, I originally typed “Mallon” instead of “Morin”. Mary Mallon. Yes. How’s that for a food blog screw up? Typhoid Fever is the new Truffle Oil?

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

MasterChef Guest Post – Dahlia Abram’s Orange Mango Banana Poppy Seed Bread (Gluten Free)

Today’s guest post comes from another one of my fellow MasterChef survivors competitors, Dahlia Abrams.

Dahlia is one of the people THAT I didn’t really meet in LA, but have come to know since returning to the real world. You may have heard me mention her on one of my Youtube videos… probably this one, with Matt Orsini. Basically, they’d cooked similar dishes back to back, she got an apron, he did not… so my new baby sister – Christine Kim – and I made a pact right then and there. We HAD to get aprons (you know, because we hadn’t been focused on that before, right?), just so we could somehow “take Dahlia out”.

Christine and I went home the next day, no aprons! LOL, so much for THAT plan, huh?

I still feel a little guilty for the pact… I hadn’t met Dahlia, and had nothing against her personally. I’d JUST found out that Matt had gone home – no goodbyes! – while I was required to go shopping. Trauma and grief will do weird things to a person, LOL!

Luckily, Dahlia seems to be a forgiving person… so here is her guest post! Enjoy!

PS: Be sure to check Dahlia out on her blog – Detroit Tokyo, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

I’ve always loved food but really started cooking three years ago. My passion for it has since grown into an all consuming one. Cooking is my meditation, creative outlet, and the way I express my love for those I share it with. I started my blog two years ago to share that love with you!

“Health food”… Sounds like dirty words. Let’s add “diet” to the list too. When we talk about food, why can’t we just talk about food? As with everything, food is about balance. Balance of flavors and textures surely but also balance in nutrition for balance in your body.

My philosophy on food is strongly influenced by a digestive disorder I suffer from. I do have to mind what I eat but I never want to feel like I’m missing out on what I love. So, I don’t! I do not have Celiac, nor a wheat allergy. Limiting my wheat intake, however, has been beneficial. It could be for you, too! I’ve found brown rice flour to be a great substitute.

Yes, this recipe is gluten free. Yes, this recipe is low-fat. Yes, it is all natural. If those terms put you or those you’re sharing food with off, I’d just advise you to try it for yourself and see how delicious and satisfying healthful eating can be.

Orange Mango Banana Poppy Seed Bread

3-4 small bananas – very ripe, mashed but not pulverized
1 egg
1/2 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup orange mango juice
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp poppy seeds

2 tbsp orange mango juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Yield: 1 loaf/3 mini loaves/12 muffins

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare muffin tin with liners and/or loaf pan(s) with cooking spray.

Place bananas in a large mixing bowl and mash, but don’t pulverize. Add egg, yogurt, sugar, agave, juices, zest, and vanilla. Mix to incorporate. In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add half of dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and repeat. Gently fold in poppy seeds, be careful not to over-mix!

Pour batter into prepared tins/pans and fill 2/3. Place in middle rack of oven and bake:

– For 1 large loaf, bake 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

– For mini loaves, bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

– For muffins, bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack. As they cool, combine juice and sifted powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle or spread onto tops of cooled bread(s)/muffins.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Fromage Fort, or “How to Make Garlic Cheese Bread like a BALLER”

Recently, I woke up from dreaming about Fromage Fort. Literally, I woke up to making a mental list of the bits of cheese that we had in the fridge, if we had any appropriate wine already open, etc.

To be fair, it HAD been a while since I’d made the stuff. It was just an odd thing to randomly wake up to, you know?

Anyway, for those not familiar with it, Fromage Fort (“Strong cheese”) is recycling at its finest. This is a ridiculously delicious cheese spread that you make from whatever odds and ends of leftover cheese you may have laying around in your fridge. Add some garlic, white wine, maybe some fresh herbs… yeah. Awesome stuff!

Our favorite use of the spread is to lightly toast some baguette slices in the oven, spread liberally with fromage fort, and then broil until it’s all melty and insane. That’s actually what my husband woke up to for breakfast, that morning! SO GOOD.

Like some of my other recipes, this is less a “recipe”, so much as “guidelines and suggestions”. This is very much a case of your final product being very much the result of what ingredients you have on hand, and your personal tastes!

The amounts of ingredients that you’ll use will vary, depending on a few factors.

– Generally speaking, for every 1/2 lb of cheese, I’ll use 1/-8-1/4 cup of white wine. This depends on how soft the cheese are that I start with, and how soft I want the final spread. More soft is great for a dip, less soft is great for spreading on a baguette and broiling.

– If I’m using a lot of hard cheeses, I’ll add a couple Tablespoons of butter for every 1/2 lb of cheese.

– I like to use a ton of garlic, maybe 2-3 cloves per half lb. Some people will use as little as ONE clove per POUND of cheese. Do what you like!

– Fresh herbs: Use whatever you like, in whatever amount you like. Start with a little, taste, and add more if desired.

Fromage Fort

Bits of leftover cheese
Fresh garlic, peeled and pressed
Dry white wine of choice
Fresh herbs, optional
Salt & pepper, optional

If any of your cheeses have a rind on it, trim the rind and discard it.

Place all of your cheese into a food processor, blitz it till it’s finely chopped. Add butter and garlic, continue blitzing until finely chopped and well combined.

Slowly stream in your wine, a bit at a time, until the cheese mixture reaches the consistency that you’re looking for. Taste, and add any herbs that you’ll be using, and blitz again.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Cover spread tightly, chill for at least a day to allow flavors to mingle. (Assuming you have patience. We usually do NOT.)