Toby and I talk about food sometimes and one of the things we’ve concluded is that most cultures have some similarities regarding food. Almost everyone has a “meat on a stick” for example. We live near Greektown in Toronto so there’s always souvlaki around; there’s also Turkish kofta, Ukranian patychky, Thai satay, Japanese yakitori, Peruvian antichuchos, Spanish pinchos morunos, American corn dogs 😉, okay, you get my point. And now I’m hungry.
Almost everyone also has a “hand pie.” They run the gamut from hearty empanadas to sweet crostatas; from fish pastels to pop tarts; from spanakopita to pastizzi and, of course, Cornish pasties.
Turnovers are another hand pie and our best friend went apple picking with his kids and sent Toby home with some apples. I also had some puff pastry in the freezer and well, apple turnovers it is! Joy of Cooking apple turnovers to be precise.
Not sure why we have the puff pastry but as it is so not worth making from scratch it’s a good thing we do!
Next comes rolling out the puff pastry. I should have taken more pictures of what it looks like out of the box. The box in the photo above comes with two bricks inside. Once you roll out one of the bricks it looks like the picture below:
Cut that into four quarters and then fill:
Ta dah! Out of the oven and cooling a little before delivering to friends. Because if you’re going to make four apple turnovers you may as well make a dozen and deliver some to other people…
So early July I decided to try the Joy of Cooking chocolate fudge to bring to friends as a treat. But also as an experiment. Why an experiment? Because I used milk chocolate. The recipe calls for bitter-sweet or semi-sweet chocolate.
and now a lesson…
Types of chocolate: There are actually all sorts of different types of chocolate depending on the amount of cocoa in there. In Canada (where I am) we basically have four different types:
Canada has some laws about this – of course we do – including the fact that in Canada you cannot use cocoa butter substitutes. In other words, you cannot have vegetable fats or oils in our “chocolate” (which is allowed in the US). Also – and this I didn’t know – “chocolate” in Canada cannot have artificial sweeteners at all! If it does – that’s why in Canada it would be called “candy” instead of “chocolate”.
back to the fudge…
So milk chocolate has more milk fat and milk solids than bittersweet/semisweet chocolate. And the Joy of Cooking recipe calls for bittersweet/semisweet. So what’s the worst that could happen?
There are a bunch of steps missing but basically next I added the milk chocolate, brought it to a boil and waited until it hit about 240* F. Then I cooled it down to 110* F. Then you are supposed to stir until it loses its shine and becomes stiffer.
This is after 10 minutes of stirring – still shiny. Still pretty liquidy:
This is after 15 minutes. Still pretty shiny but definitely seeing trails in the chocolate:
After 20 minutes of stirring I gave up and put it in the pan.
Using a hot knife, I was able to at least cut it.
But obviously very hard to keep its shape:
The kids all enjoyed it – and the adults too to be fair – but it’s chocolate and edible so I didn’t really think anyone was gonna refuse it. But still.
This week I figured I’d try again, with the nice dark chocolate my mother picked up for me.
Remember: dark, bittersweet, semi-sweet, all have the same basic requirements.
So here are the ingredients this time:
The creamy sugar step was the same but this time I remembered to take more photos so here is the chocolate added.
And then the chocolate heating while I (not so patiently) took its temperature every so often:
Then it cooled in the sink (by putting the entire pot in the sink with cold water) and once it was cool enough I started stirring again:
Oh look – just five minutes later and it already looks very different:
And only 2 more minutes till it was getting less shiny and definitely stiffer:
Five minutes in the damn pan and it was already more set than the milk chocolate fudge ever was in its entire existence!
When I was younger no trip to, or through, London England was complete without a trip to Fortnum & Mason. There wasn’t a lot there we could afford I would imagine BUT they still, in the 1980s at least, sold red food colouring made from cochineal. And my mom loved it and prized it above all others. I wonder if they still make it?
This all came back after I stumbled across this article from the BBC: The insect that painted Europe red. Yep, a cochineal is a bug and an acid in the female is used to make a dye. Originally it was used to colour fabrics, and then paints, and eventually a “natural” food colouring. Natural yes; but still a bug!
I mentioned earlier that I wanted to try and be more deliberate, or at least not so rudderless.
I’ll stop and think before I eat or drink anything.
I’ll focus on work at work and on home at home
I’ve been good with the big picture stuff this week: I may not always have eaten ‘well’ but when I did it was a conscious decision and not just mindless eating. And I’ve been far more productive at work this week, although it is a bit stressful right now.
Buy new LED lightbulbs and replace all the old outdoor light bulbs with the new LED ones; ✅
Send a note to someone;
One load of laundry – this is a never-ending chore but sometimes it gets away from me so I’m keeping it on the list for now; ✅
Practice piano every day;
Wednesday or Thursday I want to do some baking for work as a treat for a co-worker who is going on leave; ✅
Wednesday – take Q swimming! ✅
Thursday – after-work drinks with co-workers. I am almost never able to go thanks to a busy family schedule so I am not bailing out on the one that I can get to!
Also a bigger goal is to declutter so – post at least 2 items for sale on facebook or kijiji (or both). Does anyone ever do well selling stuff on ebay anymore?
Mortgage renewals and leaving the baking for my co-worker to the last minute meant I couldn’t go out for after-work drinks on Thursday, so that’s a bit sad.
And while I did get the new LED light bulbs, I haven’t yet replaced them all. I got rid of a giant bin of duplo and some knickknacks I’ve had since highschool – think about that for a second. I’ve had those things for roughly 25 years years. Why am I holding on to things for 25 years!?!
And yea, practising just hasn’t seemed to happen this week. I really gotta get on that!
What’s gonna happen on the weekend?
I think I can stop writing out the big picture goals until either (a) they change or (b) I’ve started to ignore them.
More practical / everyday things:
send a note to someone
replace the light bulbs & figure out how to properly dispose of the old ones
spend time with family on Sunday 🙂 this is a little out of the ordinary as we all get together at my grandmother’s house for mother’s day. It’s not a holiday our little family of three make a big deal out of but my mom loves it and her family like the tradition of getting together.
My parents host a big Easter lunch every year. It used to involve a big chocolate/candy hunt when they lived in a house with a large backyard and an even larger front yard. Now they’re in a condo it’s lunch with family and close friends. There’s usually quite a feast and Toby and I contribute a bit towards the desserts. This year I made chocolate mousse, so here’s a post about that.
I use a recipe from Cooks Illustrated. It’s a bit of a pain in the a$$ – I’m not sure if it really matters that you add each tablespoon of butter in one at a time or heat the egg whites for a minute or two before whipping them – but it seems to work out exactly the same each time.
First you melt the chocolate – I made a double batch (my co-workers will be happy) so 12 ounces or so of chocolate in a pot over a pot with simmering water.
Next I added in a stick of butter, a bit at a time. Then the pinches of salt, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 4 teaspoons of rum. I think next time I’ll swap out the rum and instead use strong coffee, which is the other option for making this. After all of that, eight egg yolks are whisked in, again, one at a time.
I heated the egg whites for a bit and then whipped them up. Apparently also around here I stopped taking step-by-step pictures! After the egg whites were whipped, they were incorporated into the chocolate mixture a 1/3 to a 1/4 at a time.
Finally, I whipped two cups of cream with four tablespoons of sugar to soft peaks. Then that got folded all in with the chocolate and divided between two lovely glass bowls:
Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight. The recipe recommends at least 2 hours for the flavours to develop but no more than 24 or so before you eat it. We’ve pushed it to 2 days before but I really wouldn’t recommend any longer than that.