Bacon Cheddar & Chives Scones // Waking Up Early

Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones
Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones

As Bermuda dips further into fall, the days are getting much shorter and the evenings cooler. What used to be a bright and early rise at 6:00 AM is now dark and quiet, even the feral chicken that roams our property is still fast asleep.  I’m generally a morning person. I’m the type that will get up at the crack of dawn, run 3 miles, check all emails and cook an entire breakfast spread before 9am. But now that little Ollie is around, he pretty much dictates when I’m awake with a loving paw in the face at about quarter to 6. I used to welcome his panting cute head in front of my face, but lately it’s been a real drag to get me out of bed. Sometimes my eyes will open slightly and I’ll see him still snoring away peacefully in the crate. I’ll shut them quickly hoping he didn’t hear me stir, but it’s as if he has a sixth sense! In the next blinking second, there he is pawing at my face to wake up!

Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones
Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones
Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones

So for the days that I’m not so chipper in the morning, making a batch of scones and freezing them for later is a great time saver. I’ve honestly never been a huge fan of scones until I tried a savory one from a bakery near my old apartment in Vancouver. The ones I’ve had in the past have been overly sweet, dry and crumbly, but the cheese & green onion scone from Beaucoup Bakery is just divine, moist and full of flavour. And what early meal isn’t complete without some bacon? So here is my go-to recipe for scones: an easy bacon, cheddar and chives recipe that is the perfect pastry for a quick breakfast and those days when you’ve hit the snooze button one too many times.

Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones
Bacon, Cheddar and Chives Scones

Bacon Cheddar and Chives Scones
adapted from King Arthur Flour 

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg
4 ounces of grated cheddar cheese
1/2 pound of cooked bacon chopped
1/4 cup of chopped chives
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
pinch of pepper

Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, and sugar.

Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly, with some of the butter remaining in larger pieces.

Mix in the cheese, chives, and bacon until evenly distributed.

beat the egg and milk together in a small bowl and then add to the dry mixture. Squeeze and knead dough until it comes together, adding more flour if too tacky or cream if too dry. Transfer the shaggy dough to a well-floured work surface.

Pat the dough into a 7″ disk about ¾” thick. Transfer the disk to the prepared baking sheet.

Use a knife to cut the disk into 8 wedges, spreading the wedges apart a bit on the pan.

Brush the scones with a bit of cream to help brown the crust.

Bake the scones for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool right on the pan before serving warm.

After scones are cool, freeze them in a zip lock bag. To serve, remove and defrost in microwave before slicing and toasting.

 

Earl Grey Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream // Wedding Bells

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photo by Simply Sweet Photography

Last weekend I was honoured to be a part of my big brother’s wedding as a first time bridesmaid. The first in our family to tie the knot, Jasper and Bonnie’s nuptials was the event of the year, it was a lavish wedding of an astounding 470 guests! And I felt so lucky to be able to share the big day with them. The whole day went according to plan without even the slightest hiccup, which is absolutely amazing considering the size of the party.

Earl Grey Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream
Earl Grey Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream

Jasper proposed to Bonnie last year in June while visiting Dan and I. What could be more perfect than Bermuda’s blue water and pink sand as a backdrop while popping the big question? Besides, Bermuda Tourism’s slogan is after all, “Feel the Love”!

Earl Grey Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream
Earl Grey Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream

I couldn’t be happier that Bonnie was officially going to be my sister-in-law. I asked her earlier this month what was her favourite type of cake and she promptly replied, “anything Earl grey”! I wanted to bake a little layer cake in honour of their day and I had the perfect 4-inch cake rings for the job. I had actually bought the moulds from a 100‎¥ store in Tokyo while on vacation with the pair. I knew Bonnie was going to be the perfect sister-in-law to be when she gleefully agreed to join my quest on eating ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner the entire time we were there! No one else in the world can understand my craving for noodle carbs like she does! So here we have it, a little earl grey cake in celebration of the newly wed couple!

Earl Grey Layer Cake with Lemon ButtercreamEarl Grey Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream

Earl Grey Layer Cake with Lemon Buttercream
Adapted from Sift and Whisk

1 Cup milk
4 bags of Earl Grey Tea
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Cups of All Purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon finely ground earl grey tealeaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs

Heat milk up in a small saucepan until a bare simmer. Remove from heat and place the bags of earl grey to seep for 20 minutes. Remove the bags and squeeze out as much liquid back into the milk. Add the vanilla extract. Pour into a measuring cup and add more milk if less than a cup is remaining.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of 2 8-inch cake pans (in my case I used 2-4 inch cake pans a few times!)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ground tealeaves, and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl of a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one egg at a time, scraping down the sides until fully incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the tea infused milk and ending with the flour. Mix until everything is combined and no dry bits are left.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out dry. Cool layers in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes and carefully turn the cakes out to cool completely before icing.

Lemon Buttercream
1 cup of softened butter
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
4 cups of icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of milk

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter with the lemon zest on medium-high until pale. Sift in 1 cup of powdered sugar and add the lemon juice, milk, and vanilla extra. Add the remaining powdered sugar and whip mixture until fluffy, adding more milk if needed until desired consistency.

 

 

Easy No-Knead Artisan Loaf

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ollie-3

Guess what?

Dan and I welcomed a new addition to our home in the form of a tiny four-legged tail wagging monster! His name is Ollie and he’s a working English springer spaniel and behind those adorable floppy ears hides tiny little devil horns. A rambunctious little guy, Ollie is like any young puppy…take your eyes off him for even one second and he’s bound to be up to no good! Chewed shoes aside, it’s hard not to adore his cuddly spaniel face, plus Ollie sure is smart! Within 3 weeks he’s learned a handful of tricks, including a crowd favourite of playing dead at the cue of Bang!

Artisan Boule Bread Loaf

Now that I’m a new Puppy Mama, I’ve realized how much work a pup can be.  I’ve only had family dogs growing up and my mom did all the grunt work of raising our little ankle biters. I was determined to crate train little Ollie the moment we knew we were getting him, dreaming of a perfectly behaved pooch. But alas, the crate training is coming along rather slow…he much rather be my little shadow in the kitchen, flopping down next to my feet wherever I go. Which can make my usual cooking prep a little annoying… or absolutely adorable!

Easy No-Knead Artisan Loaf
Easy No-Knead Artisan Loaf

Usually every week I’ll bake at least one type of bread (which I sometimes shamefully gorge on when alone). And since all my attention in the next few weeks will be making sure Ollie doesn’t get himself into trouble I wanted to bake something easy.  One of the simplest methods I have come across is from Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Yeast Salt. His Saturday Bread requires no kneading and only the four ingredients that the book is named after. The recipe does take some planning (about 6 hours from start to oven), but it doesn’t need much work, just the initial mixing, a few folds a proof, and voila! a crusty boule! So in between chasing after the little rascal, and putting in a few folds of this dough, I was still able to produce my weekly loaf…that I’ll now shamefully gorge on!

Easy No-Knead Artisan Loaf

Easy No-Knead Artisan Loaf
Easy No-Knead Artisan Loaf

note:  It’s best to work with a kitchen scale, but I’ve provided approximate cup measurements for those without.

Saturday 50% Whole Wheat Boule
Adapted from Flour Water Yeast Salt
Makes 1 1/2 pound loaf

250g white flour (2 cups)
250 g whole wheat flour (2 cups)
760 g water (3 ¼ cups)
10 g sea salt (2 teaspoons)
1/2 tsp yeast

In a large tub, mix the flour and water with your hands until the water and flour are incorporated. Cover and let it rest for 20 minutes to let the flour absorb the water.

Sprinkle the salt and yeast over the top of the dough and mix with your wet hands by alternatively stretching it and pinching it to fully incorporate the yeast and salt. This should take about five minutes. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Fold the dough by picking up each side and stretching it, and folding it over the middle like a little package. Re-cover. Fold the dough again after 30 minutes and repeat. When the dough is triple its original volume, about 5 hours after mixing, it’s ready to be proofed.

Heavily flour a proofing basket. You can also use a mixing bowl lined with a lint free kitchen linen that has been heavily floured. Carefully shape the dough into a boule (ball), tucking the sides around tightly. Place the shape loaf seam side down in the proofing basket.

Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 1 hour 15 min, or until the loaves are puffy (it’s about an hour for me in Bermuda). Here is a great tip on checking dough doneness by Ken Forkish that I came across on Karen’s Kitchen.

About 45 minutes prior to baking, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F and place a covered Dutch oven on the middle rack. Make sure your Dutch oven has a knob that is oven safe.

Invert the loaf carefully onto a lightly floured countertop, keeping in mind that the top of the loaf will be the side that was facing down. Being cautious not to let any body parts touch the side of the Dutch oven, use oven mitts to remove from the oven and remove the lid. Carefully place the loaf in the hot Dutch oven and replace the lid. Place the Dutch oven in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes until medium dark brown. Check after 15 minutes in case your oven is hotter than normal.

Remove the Dutch oven and carefully tilt it to turn the loaf out. Let cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Chocolate Lavender Tart

Chocolate Lavender Tart
Chocolate Lavender Tart
I love everything French. Crusty baguettes, rich foie gras, savoury galettes and even all kinds of stinky cheese. I could day dream all day about living in a tiny town in Provence, riding my bicycle to the morning market for groceries and returning home with a belly full of sampled jambon and sweet pâtisseries . It’s a shame that I’ve forgotten most of my high school level French, but some days I like to live vicariously through an imaginary French me, humming along to Francoise Hardy’s Comment te dire adieu? while rolling out perfect croissants in my tiny Parisian kitchen.

Chocolate Lavender Tart

Last fall Dan and I travelled to France, specifically Paris, Lyon and Avignon. For the 2 weeks that we were there I was in culinary heaven. Much to Dan’s dismay, I dragged him to every cookery store that was highlighted in The Food Lovers Guide to Paris. A visit to G. Detou was of course a must. I’m pretty sure I stood in the aisle staring in awe at all the brick-sized blocks of chocolate for quite some time until Dan’s impatient foot tap interrupted my baker’s fantasy. I would’ve purchased the entire shop if I could, but I was already testing the check-in limit with the 2 bottles of wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. So alas, I escaped France with a bag of pearl sugar, jars of floral fleur de sel and a large tart pan that I thought would be perfect for the days I wanted to dream in French.

Chocolate Lavender Tart
Chocolate Lavender Tart

Yesterday was Bastille Day (Vive la France!) and although I’m nearly 3600 miles away from the Eiffel Tower; I still wanted to celebrate in my Bermuda kitchen by making tarte au chocolate with my souvenirs from Paris. A classic pastry of rich chocolate with a hint of lavender, a small sliver is all you need to make your day a little sweeter and perhaps you’ll even dream en francais!

Chocolate Lavender Tart

Pâte Sucrée
1/2 cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup powdered sugar (60 grams)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1.5 cup (195 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg

In a large bowl whisk together flour and salt, set aside. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for a few minutes until mayonnaise constancy. Add flour and continue to beat at low speed until the flour mixes with the butter/sugar and looks like wet sand. Add the egg and mix on low for 30 seconds until the dough comes together.

Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Sprinkle flour over the counter. Take the dough out of the Fridge and bang on it a few times to soften it up. Unwrap the dough and roll it out into a 12-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Carefully roll the dough onto the pin and then roll out onto a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the pan so it fits tightly; press the edges into the sides of the pan. It is important to press the dough evenly into every nook and corner of the ring. Use scraps to patch up any tears or missing areas.

Pierce the dough with a fork and place a piece of parchment paper over the centre of the shell and top with dried beans or pie weights. Place the tart shell in the fridge again for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven for 350°C and bake for 15 minutes, and then remove the beans or weights and bake again for another 15-20 minutes until slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Chocolate Filling
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup)
2 egg
flaky sea salt
dried lavender

Preheat oven to 325°C

Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat cream and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until slightly simmering and pour immediately over the chocolate. Mix well until the chocolate has melted. Beat eggs in a small bowl and add to the chocolate mixture and whisk until completely blended and glossy.

Carefully pour into the cooled tart shell. Bake for 15-20 minutes until set and surface remains glossy. Cool on a rack and sprinkle sea salt and dried lavender buds before serving.

Sweet Onion Focaccia with Rosemary

Sweet Onion Focaccia with Rosemary

Sweet Onion Focaccia with Rosemary

When I was surviving the drag of long distance love, before my inevitable move, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Bermuda on several occasions. I remember first attending one of Dan’s soccer games and by the end of my first match I was subsequently dubbed a WAG (Wives and Girlfriends). Although admittedly to this day, I still don’t fully understand the rules of soccer! The team that Dan plays for is the Flanagan Onions, made up of a great group of guys from all over the world as well as Bermuda. At first, I found it peculiar to have a sports team named after an onion of all things and when I inquired, Dan’s only response was that the Onion was a ‘thing’ in Bermuda.

Sweet Onion Focaccia with Rosemary

Sweet Bermuda Onions were originally imported in from the Canary Islands in the 18th century and were such a heavily exported item to the US, it monikered the Bermudian nickname “Onions”. A high water and low sulfur content make the onion not as pungent, which is great for any teary eyes. Satiny white, with a flat top, they are perfect for caramelization and what better use of them than to top it on something salty and carby.

Following Peter Reinhart’s: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice has been helpful in my journey of perfecting my bread practice. The chapter on focaccia offers 2 options, both require some pre-meditation with an overnight ferment; however, if you wish to have the loaf within a day you still can! I just love the process of a slow ferment to bring out the great flavour in bread. 

PS: A special thanks to my dear friend Melanie of Fiander Foto for gifting me this beautiful Bermuda onion from her In-law’s garden.

Sweet Onion Focaccia with Rosemary

Sweet Onion Focaccia with Rosemary
recipe adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

5 cups bread flour (22.5 ounces)
2 teaspoons salt (.5 ounce)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
6 tablespoons olive oil (.22 ounces)
2 cups water, at room temperature (16 ounces)
½ cup Rosemary Oil
Extra olive oil for the pan
Caramelized Sweet Onions

Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large mixer bowl. Add the olive oil and water and stir with a spoon or paddle attachment for a few minutes until a cohesive dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium for 5-7 minutes until a smooth tacky dough is formed. Additional flour may be added to achieve a dough that will clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom.

Sprinkle a 6-inch square flour bed on the counter and using a scraper transfer the dough and pat into a rectangle shape dusting liberally with flour. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes.

Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough on each end until double the size. Fold it, letter style, over itself to return to a rectangular shape. Mist the top with spray oil, sprinkle with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap to let rest for 30 minutes.

Stretch and fold the dough again and let rest for another 30 minutes. Repeat once more after the rest. Allow the covered dough to sit on the counter for 1 hour until swollen or nearly double the size

Line a 17 x 12 inch sheet pan with parchment paper and drizzle a good amount of olive oil and spread it evenly over the surface. Using oiled hands or a scraper, carefully transfer the dough to the pan maintaining the rectangle shape

Spoon half of the Rosemary oil over the dough and using your fingertips, gently dimple the dough and spread it around until it fills the pan. Be careful not to tear or rip the dough and keep the thickness as even as possible. If the dough springs back, let it rest for around 15 minutes and continue dimpling. Use more Rosemary oil as needed

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight. The dough can keep for up to 3 days at this point. If you’d like to bake the same day, let the dough rest for another hour or until double the size and proceed to the baking stage.

On the day of baking, remove the pan from the fridge and drizzle additional oil and dimple allowing the dough to fill the pan completely. Add the Caramelized Sweet Onions and cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to sit in room temperature for about 3 hours or double in size to proof

Preheat the oven to 500°F

Place the pan in the middle of the oven and lower the temperature to 450°F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway and continue to bake for 5-10 minutes or until a light golden brown. Remove focaccia when done onto a cooling rack and allow 20 minutes to rest before serving.

Caramelized Sweet Onions
1 large Sweet Onion (Spanish Onions work as well)
1 tablespoon butter or Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar (optional)
Water
Salt

Cut the onion into thin slices

Melt butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat and add onions with a pinch of salt.

Continue to cook the onions for 40 minutes, checking every 5-10 minutes adding water or vinegar to prevent burning

Rosemary Infused Oil
1 cup Extra virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh Rosemary
1 teaspoon sea sal

Warm olive oil to about 100° in a small sauce pan. Add chopped rosemary and salt. Allow the herbs to marinate in the oil while you prepare the focaccia. Leftover oil keeps in the fridge for about 2 weeks.