A Tour Down the Eaten Path

The Beats

I grew up in a house filled with music. In 1980, when I was just a few weeks old Mom and Dad dropped a whopping $1600 on the best stereo and record player they could find. We wore that stereo out, playing records and tapes over and over again. For years Dad played harmonica in a successful Canadian country band called Straight Clean and Simple but it’s the rock’n roll bluesy stuff he really likes to rip on. I remember sitting at the piano ‘helping’ him write songs. My personal favourite is “I Don’t Like the Way You’re Lookin’ at My Old Lady”. If you ever bump into me on the street I will be glad to sing it for you.

Often, the first thing I do when I walk into our apartment is put on some tunes. If I’m working in the kitchen, there is always music spilling out of the speakers. The Band makes a regular appearance and so when I heard that Levon Helm passed away last Thursday, I was a little bit heartbroken. You may not know who Levon Helm was but you know his voice. Helm was an incredible drummer and known best for his vocals on “Up On Cripple Creek”, “Ophelia” & “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. 

So I laid down these beets to Levon’s beats and I thank him for sharing a lifetime of musical talent.

Lime & Sea Salt Beet Chips

6 medium red beets

Zest and juice of 1 lime

3-4 Tbls olive oil

1 Tbls Sea salt

Preheat oven to 315 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash and peel beets. Using a mandolin, slice beets very thinly. Toss beet slices in lime juice, zest, olive oil and sea salt.

Lay beet slices out on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake 20 - 30 mins. You’ll need to bake in batches. Keep a close eye on them after about 20 minutes as they may burn easily. Remove beets from the sheet as they are finished, light in colour. They will still be a bit pliable when ready and will crisp up as they cool. Carry on with each sheet until all the beets are baked.

Photos and recipe by Maggie Murphy

Soup City 

Yesterday my ol’pal Andy captured a beautiful image of Calgary in the springtime. It was a soupy day if I’ve ever seen one, both on the roads and in my apartment.

Just as Calgary has a stinky reputation for long winters and sloppy springs, cauliflower has a stinky reputation for being stinky. The key to enjoying both is to find their inherent beauty and highlight it. Also, STOP! drowning cauliflower in water and throwing it on the plate. It’s the equivalent of you soaking in a tub for 2 hours and showing up at a party all wrinkly with no clothes on. If you dress it up a little and do its hair and make-up, that cauliflower will transform into a very attractive party guest. 

Roasting cauliflower is, like with most vegetables, ideal in terms of developing deep and satisfying flavour. The result in this case is a full bodied, filling soup that pretties up cauliflower and helps to make an April snow flurry enchanting.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup & Parsley Pesto

1 medium head cauliflower

4-5 garlic cloves

4 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 Tbls vegetable oil

3/4 medium yellow onion, diced

1 large potato, peeld and diced small

1 Tbls fresh thyme

1/4 tsp red chilie flakes

1 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash and cut cauliflower into medium sized florets. Lay florets out on a lined baking sheet with peeled garlic cloves. Drizzle in olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. Roast for 20-25 mins or until cauliflower has begun to turn a golden brown. 

In the meantime, heat stock in a large stock pot. In a separate saucepan, over medium-high heat, saute onion until translucent. Add in fresh thyme, chilie flakes and a pinch or two of salt, continuing to saute until golden brown. Stir in potato pieces and cook over heat, about 5 minutes. 

Transfer potato onion mixture to the heated broth, add in roasted cauliflower and garlic, simmering until the potatoes are tender.

Turn off heat and puree the soup. Add cream, salt, pepper to taste and serve with a good sized dollop of parsley pesto.

Serves 4-5

Parsley Pesto

2 cups italian parsley

1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup pecorino romano (or parmesan) cheese

1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil 

A squeeze of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Place parsley, almonds, garlic and cheese in a food processor and pulse to combine. Pour in olive oil as you blend, making sure not to over blend and make it too smooth. Add salt and pepper and blend.

Pesto Recipe from Rebar Modern Food 

Soup Recipe inspired by Rebar Modern Food’s Creamy Broccoli Soup

Photos by Maggie Murphy

Apocalyptic Tart

Anyone who knows me fairly well is I’m sure, sick of hearing about all things apocalyptic. For those of you who follow The Walking Dead series, perhaps you’ve been in the same frame of mind. I’ve also just finished a book called Robopocalypse and I haven’t been sleeping well for a few weeks. It’s not fear that keeps me awake but rather the logistical planning of our survival. We’ll need to be ready for anything. If it’s zombies, we really need to stock up on cross bows and axes; robots and we’ll have to construct suits that conceal body heat; aliens and…I don’t know I haven’t read anything on possible alien apocalypses but if they can get to earth, who knows what they have up their sleeves. What am I saying? They don’t have sleeves! They’re much too advanced to sport anything with sleeves. I digress.

We may simply run out of oil and it’ll be back to the drawing board. In the meantime, people will be hungry and likely no one will be making poached pear almond tarts until we’re back on our feet. Especially in Alberta, it’ll be all root vegetables and…well…more root vegetables. For this reason and a few others, I suggest you stop dragging your feet and make a nice dessert to share with people you really like.

This tart may seem like a lot of work but imagine how much work you’re going to have to do when no one is trucking in your food and you have to go out and skin your own badger for dinner. Badgers are bastards. This will seem like child’s play.

The flavours in this tart are subtle and creamy. They contrast beautifully with the lightly salted almond crust and take your mind off anything apocalyptic.

Poached Pear Almond Tart & Cardamom Creme Fraiche

For the Poached Pears:

4 Bosc Pears (firm), peeled, halved and cored

4 cups water

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 heaping tsp cloves

3 thick slices ginger

1/2 a lemon

Add pears and all other ingredients to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down once it reaches the boil.

Take a square piece of parchment and fold one corner over to meet the opposite. Repeat with the opposite corners. Cut away 1/2 an inch of the tip (centre of the parchment square) to create a hole in the centre. Cut the square shape into a circle in order to fit it into the pot over the poaching pears. This is important so that the pears all remain submerged in the poaching process. It will ensure that your pears are poached evenly, all the way through. Let simmer for 20 minutes then remove from heat and allow pears to cool in the poaching liquid. 

Do not throw away poaching liquid. You’ll need that in the final step to glaze the tart.

You can keep the poached pears in the fridge, in their liquid for up to 5 days.

For the Almond Short Dough Crust:

200g butter

150g sugar

2.5g salt

125g almond flour

42g egg

1.25g vanilla

250g cake/pastry flour

In a mixing bowl, blend softened butter, sugar and salt with a paddle attachment. Resist the urge to blend it quickly. You should mix it on low until combined but you do not want it to be creamed until light. 

Add the almonds and combine just until blended.

Add eggs and vanilla in stages until the egg is just absorbed.

Sift in flour and mix until evenly distributed.

The key is not to over-mix this short dough so that it remains tender.

Turn dough out on to a piece of plastic wrap and cover tightly. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours. It’s a good idea to make this the day before you need to bake it.

For the Almond Cream:

90g butter

90g granulated sugar

zest of one lemon

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

2 drops vanilla extract

90g powdered almonds

30 grams cake/pastry flour

In a mixing bowl, using the paddle attachment, cream together softened butter, sugar and zest until it is pale and light in colour.

Add eggs and vanilla in stages until fully absorbed.

Mix in almond and cake flour until incorporated. Set aside in the fridge.

For the Custard:

112g eggs

56g sugar

1/8 tsp salt

4g vanilla

200g milk

100g cream

Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cover and set aside in the fridge.

For the Cardamom Creme Fraiche:

1/2 cup creme fraiche

1/4 tsp cardamom

Combine both ingredients. Set aside in fridge.

Assemble the Tart

You’ll need:

A tart tray with removable base - I used a 14”x4 1/2” rectangle however, you’ll have enough ingredients to make up to a 10” round tart

A rolling pin

A pastry brush

Preheat oven to 385 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove almond short dough from fridge and cut away 325g. Return the rest to the fridge for later use. 

Shape the 325g piece into a small square and warm up the dough a bit with your hands.

Sprinkle bread flour over a clean surface and roll out a piece that will be about an inch wider than your tart shell all the way around. Make sure that you roll the dough evenly, so that it bakes properly in the oven.

Dust off any excess flour and then place dough in tart shell, lifting the edges as you place the dough down into the pan and press the edges. Roll the pin across the top of the tart shell to clear away any excess dough.

Pipe or spread evenly a 1/2” layer of almond cream on the inside of the unbaked tart.

Place unbaked tart shell in the fridge and let rest for 20 minutes before baking. This will prevent too much shrinkage while it bakes.

Move unbaked shell to a parchment lined tray (if you do not have a heavy, aluminium coated steel baking tray, I’d suggest doubling up your pan so as not to burn the crust) and bake for 16 -18 minutes. Regardless of the baking sheet you are using add another one to the bottom at this point.

At the 18 minute mark (edges of the dough should be slightly browned by now) slide tray half way out of the oven and pour in custard, leaving an 1/8th of an inch of dough around the top edge. Return to oven and continue baking until custard is set, about another 15-17 minutes. Give the tray a jiggle to check for doneness.

Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature.

In a small saucepan, reduce 1/2 of the liquid used to poach the pears until it becomes a thick syrup. This should take about 8-10 minutes over medium heat.

Slice poached pears thinly and place in whatever pattern you like around the tart. With a pastry brush, quickly dab syrup all over the tart, sealing in the edges between crust and pears.

Toast almonds and sprinkle on top.

Add a dollop of cardamom creme fraiche as you serve each piece. 

Serves 6-8 

Almond Short Dough, Almond Cream & Custard Recipes from Wayne Gisslen

Poached Pear, Cardamom Cream & Recipe Concept by Maggie Murphy

I’ll Make A Monster Outta You

My pal Grey turned 2 last week. We get along pretty well and managed to get through our cake design session and contract negotiation with only a few minor melt downs. I feel good about solidifying some of our terms, though I know she is still really ticked about having to agree to stay on her own page when we colour together. She’d prefer we collaborate but her ideas are just too far outside the lines for me at this point. 

Her mom is a crafty gal and made the monsters cake pop eye balls (along with a bunch of other great monster stuff) while I did the base. The cake itself was three 9 ” chocolate cakes with a chocolate cream filling. Monsters typically have a dark disposition, so it seemed fitting. I used a #233 Wilton tip to pipe the hair. The teeth are piped white chocolate.

All the kids may or may not have turned into monsters after Grey’s party. I got out of there after the cake was eaten but before sugar leeched from their little bodies triggering the monster transformation. Perhaps they all just had a good afternoon nap. I did.

I hope that when little Grey is old and grey, she’ll have fond memories of her purple monster cake. 

~ Maggie

The Difference a Day Makes

I have three distinct memories of my kindergarten experience. On the first day of school, after what seemed like hours of deliberation outside the washrooms, I chose the boys and was mortified that an older boy caught me. I guess none of my picture books had the words for ‘boy’ or ‘girl’.

One day while sitting at our little tables in our little chairs, a girl named Daphne (I usually spit when I say her name) leaned back on the two legs of her chair, falling directly into me, causing me to slam chin forward into my little table. There was a lot of blood. It took 2 nurses, my mom and the doctor to hold me down as they stitched me up. I still have the scar. 

As an exercise in class, our teacher asked us what our favourite food was. One kid said perogies, I said potatoes (it must be the Irish in me) and every one else said pizza. We had to draw pictures and mine looked like a bunch of crap, literally. From an artistic point of view it became clear to me that I should have gone with pizza.

I never really understood why people loved pizza so much. It was always heavy, greasy and too doughy for me. Just give me a plate of mashed potatoes thank-you very much. Then I discovered thin crust. To actually taste the sauce, meats and veggies, now that is a whole other kind of pizza. In my opinion the dough should act as a vessel not be the whole kit and caboodle. 

As I’ve just discovered, making your own is the path to pizza delight. It doesn’t get any simpler than this no-knead pizza dough recipe from master pizza maker Jim Lahey. One day you have flour and water, the next, a dough that will give you a crispy, chewy crust. My homemade marinara bakes into a lovely sweet, tangy sauce, and goes hand in hand with virtually any topping you can dream up.

This homemade pizza was some of the best I’ve ever had. My six year old self would have been happy to conform had my early childhood pizza experiences been similar.

Fennel Sausage, Leek, Bocconcini and Arugula Pizza with Sweet Marinara Sauce

For the No-Knead Pizza Dough:

7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 tsp active dry yeast

3 cups water

In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Gradually add water and stir with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until all the ingredients are well incorporated. With your hands, mix the dough gently, bringing it together to form a rough ball. Transfer dough into a clean, large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature and let dough rise until it has more than doubled in size and is covered with small bubbles, about 18 hours. 

Scrape the dough onto your floured work surface (bread or ap flour). Gently shape the dough into a rectangle and divide it into 6 equal-ish portions. One at a time, round each portion into a round ball. Dust the dough and set aside on a floured surface or baking sheet. 

Let the dough rest, covered with plastic of a damp towel for about an hour. The dough will be soft and pliable.

*You can make this dough 3 days in advance. Simply wrap the individual balls of dough directly after you have rounded them up and keep in the fridge. Remove the dough 2-3 hours before shaping and baking.

**1/2 this recipe for 2-3 people.

For the Marinara Sauce:

2 med yellow onions

2 Tbls olive oil

7 cloves garlic

1 tin tomato paste 5.5 ounces

1 tin diced tomatoes 28 ounces ( you can substitute fresh for these)

14-16 campari tomatoes (you could use standard vine ripened)

2 bay leaves

2 Tbls sugar

2 Tbls honey

2 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 small bunch basil, roughly chopped

1 large bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Over medium-high heat in large heavy stalk pot, saute finely chopped onions in olive oil. Add the minced garlic once the onions are translucent, saute for an additional 2 -3 mins before adding the can of diced tomatoes, tin of tomato paste, roughly chopped, campari tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar, honey, salt & pepper. Drop the heat to a medium-low so as not to burn the sauce. Let it bubble and simmer for 20-25 mins. 

Blend the sauce either in the pot with a hand blender, or pour it into a standing blender. Make sure you cover the top of the stand blender with a towel and not the fixed top as the heat needs to escape. Pour into a large clean bowl and stir in the fresh herbs. Set aside in the fridge to cool.

You’ll have left over marinara sauce for another meal. It freezes beautifully.

For the Fennel Sausage, Leeks and other toppings (enough for 3 pizzas):

450g hot ground sausage meat

1 tsp ground fennel seed

2 leeks, sliced thinly

2 Tbls olive oil



sea salt

olive oil for drizzling

Heat oil in a medium pan, add ground sausage and ground fennel and brown. Add leeks for the last 2 mins in the pan. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside. Keep in the fridge if you’re more than 20 mins away from baking your pizzas.

Prep your other ingredients so they are ready to go when your dough is.

Making the Pizzas:

40 minutes before you’re ready to bake the pizza, pre heat your oven to 500-550 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re using a pizza stone (highly recommend - $11 at Safeway), place a rack in the upper third of the oven and the stone on top. You want to pre heat the stone as well. If using a baking sheet (crust won’t be as crispy), place a rack in the middle of the oven. You do not need to pre heat the baking sheet.

Working with one ball of dough at a time, dust your work surface with flour and gently press or roll the dough out very thinly to about 10” or 12” round. If you have a pizza peel place the dough on it and generously cover it in sauce and fennel sausage, leeks and bocconcini. Remove hot stone from the oven and shimmy the pizza off onto the stone. If you do not have a pizza peel, remove hot pizza stone from oven, place the dough on top, sauce and top your pizza.

I baked mine at 500 degrees Celsius for 14 minutes, then switched my oven to broil and finished baking for another 3-4 minutes. It had the perfect balance of crispy and chewy.

Remove from the oven and transfer pizza to a serving plate. Sprinkle a bunch of fresh arugula and sea salt on the pizza. Drizzle in olive oil, slice and eat with a cold beer or glass of red for a lovely Friday evening in.

Full recipe serves 5-6 people.

No-Knead Pizza Dough Recipe from Jim Lahey @ Bon Appetit

Photos and all other recipes by Maggie Murphy