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Partridge Berry Mini Muffins

partridgeberry, mini, muffin, dessert, sweet, berry

If you visit Newfoundland during the summer and early fall you may see people parked by the side of the highway.  They will be sitting there in metal lawn chairs with plastic ice cream buckets at their feet.  Those buckets are probably filled with freshly picked berries.  When we were kids, my brother and I would pick wild blueberries for our nan’s pies.  We would take a plastic margarine tub and was told “Don’t come back until it’s full!”  She still insists we have some pie when we visit.

Newfoundland is unique in that the soil is fairly acidic, making it perfect conditions for acid loving fruit.  The most common fruit one can find is blueberries, raspberries, dogberries, partridgeberries, and bakeapples.  You may not have heard of the last two.  Bakeapples, also known as cloudberries, look like a pale orange raspberry and grows in boggy areas.  Partridgeberries, also known as lingonberries or cowberry, are hearty and the plant can survive temperatures as low as -40C.

partridgeberry, berry, newfoundland,, plant
By Dawn Endico from Menlo Park, Ca.

The fruit is quite tart and can have a slightly bitter aftertaste.  Both berries are perfect as a jam or in a sweet dessert.

That’s why I like these mini muffins.  They are the perfect size for a quick snack.  The partridgeberry jam in the center gives you that little tartness, coupled with the sweetness of the muffin.

If you want to make them as a regular muffin, then you’ll have to bake them a little longer, and of course, add a little more jam.

Check out the recipe below and tell my your thoughts.  If you don’t have partridgeberry jam you can use your favourite flavour of jam you have on hand.  If you’re close to a certain Scandinavian furniture store, they carry lingonberry jam.  It’s the same thing but with a different name.


Partridge Berry Mini Muffins

These mini muffins are a great quick snack when you want something a little tart.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk any fat will do (whole, 2%, 1%, or skim)
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup partridgeberry jam also known as lingonberry

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk. In a medium bowl, beat the milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla extract with a fork until well blended. Add the milk mixture to the the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  3. Using a #30 scoop (1 oz) scoop a level amount of the batter into each mini muffin pan cup. Take a disposable plastic bag and add the jam. Cut a small piece off one corner and squeeze a little bit of jam into the middle of the muffin batter. You'll only need about 1/2 teaspoon per muffin, if not less. Bake for 20 minutes and check with a toothpick for doneness.
  4. Allow the muffins to cool in the pans completely. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve immediately. If you want to serve them later, then hold off on the icing sugar as it will get absorbed by the muffin and disappear.
    partridgeberry, mini, muffins, dessert, sweet

Recipe Notes

You may substitute your favourite jam if you can't find partridgeberry.

Bread Rescue


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What to do when your bread doesn’t turn out the way you expected.

My brother left me a message about some bread that he was making.  I guess it didn’t turn out as well as he had hoped.  It wasn’t rising as well as he’d hoped.  So I wanted to take the time to go over some of the problems that may happen when you’re making bread and possibly how to fix them.

white bread newfoundland
traditional white bread from rockrecipes.com

Bread has a rich history in Newfoundland.  It’s one of the first things many young people learned to do in the kitchen and it’s a staple at almost every meal.  The quintessential bread of choice is white bread made into a loaf with three sections.  Nowadays people are choosing healthier ingredients and using whole wheat flour, but for most of the last century most Newfoundlanders grew up on white bread, myself included.

Alan Doyle, in his book Where I Belong, remembers his mother making loaves of bread two or three times a week.  It was common for women to make their own bread instead of buying it from the store.  And cheaper too.  When you have to pinch pennies, sometimes bread might be the only thing to eat. “Fill up on bread” was heard in many Newfoundland kitchens.

Like Doyle’s mother, making bread didn’t really follow a recipe.  You would throw together the flour, salt, shortening, water and yeast and go by feel.   I’m sure there originally was a recipe, but most seasoned cooks now just know if there’s too much flour, or water, in the dough.  But for the few of us who follow a recipe here are some things that may go wrong with your bread and how to fix it:

  1. Dough didn’t rise enough.

This is the most common problem and there’s a myriad of answers.  First recheck your recipe to see if you followed everything correctly.  Note: a packet of yeast is 2 & 1/4 tsp, so make sure you used enough if you’re measuring from loose.

Yeast is a finicky thing.  Too hot, it will die.  Too cold, there won’t be enough gases produced.  Too much salt, it will die.  Too much sugar, it will slow down fermentation.  If you have more than 1/2 cup of sugar to 4 cups of flour you’ll have to add another packet of yeast to your dough.

To activate the yeast your water should be about 110F.  Rule of thumb is if you can comfortably leave your finger in the water for 5 seconds it’s hot enough for the yeast.  Leave it in longer, the water is not hot enough.  Ideally you should measure the water with a thermometer.

Temperature for proofing, or rising, your dough also makes a difference.  Bread likes a warm, moist environment to proof.  Commercial proofers are basically large walk-in closets where the humidity and temperature is kept constant.  The humidity keeps the dough pliable so it can expand as the yeast release carbon dioxide.  Sweet yeast dough products need to be given full proof with a temperature range of 35C to 37C and with a humidity range of 80% to 85%.

2  Dough is sticky.

Not enough flour was used.  Again, reread the recipe to see if you have the amounts correct.

The flour was too old.  Gluten is the protein found in wheat flour and the protein bonds formed in bread is what gives it a lovely spongy texture.  If you were rustling through your pantry and found a bag of flour leftover from the Smallwood* era those gluten proteins will have broken down and cannot do their proper job.  Check your dates on the flour if unsure.  There’s usually a date stamped on the bag.

Another reason is the dough was overworked.  Imagine you were making your dough and suddenly your child is halfway across the room ready to stick a knife in the wall socket.  Then the phone rings and you’re stumbling over toys and the dog is now relieving himself on the ficus in the living room.  In the back of your mind you can hear a whirring sound.  The dough has been mixing for fifteen minutes and now looks like something that came out of your five-year-old’s nose last Christmas: sticky and messy.

That dough is overworked.  The gluten strands just couldn’t hold on any longer and they broke.  Sorry, that bread dough is toast.  |Ha! Bread pun.| You’ll have to start over and have less distractions.

3. Crust is too thick.

You take your lovely loaf out of the oven, let it cool, and slice into to it only to find the crust is twice as large as you expected.   This can be explained by a few things:

The oven was too low.  If the temperature of your oven is too low the outside of your dough will form quickly, preventing the bread to rise and will form a thicker crust.  Check the recipe for the correct temperature or you may have to re-calibrate your oven.

Too much flour was used.  Again, recheck the recipe to see if you’ve put in too much flour.  Sensing a pattern anyone?  Making sure you know your recipe inside and out, double checking amounts and ingredients is crucial, especially for the beginner baker.

Lastly, the dough was too dry. You know what I’m going to say.  Recheck your recipe.

4. Bread has large holes in the loaf.

Some types of bread have characteristic large holes.  Really wet doughs like ciabatta will have holes in them, and that’s expected.  We’re talking about the plain, unassuming white loaf here.  When bread is kneaded correctly there will be little air pockets formed during the baking.  These air pockets are the result of the yeast releasing gas when they’re breaking down the sugar in the dough.  While it’s really, really hard to under knead bread by hand, it is easy to over-knead if you do it by machine.  Machine mixed dough should be for at least two minutes on low and 4-5 minutes on medium speed.  Careful though, if you leave it too long you will break the gluten strands as noted above.

This bread has been over proofed. See the large holes?

Large holes can also be the result of over proofing the dough.  While your bread is proofing, the yeast is breaking down the sugars and releasing gas.  This will make your final loaf light and fluffy.  If you let your dough proof for too long there are going to be large pockets of gas bubbles hanging around.  As easy method to see if it’s proofed enough is to press your finger in the dough.  If the dough springs back slowly, the dough is ready.  If it stays indented for a longer period you dough may be over-proofed.  If you leave your finger in the dough too long, you have issues I can’t help you with.

Well, those are just a few examples of how things can go wrong.  If you like I can make another post about some other common bread problems, but these are my top picks.  I’ve been making bread for over ten years and I still make the simplest mistakes.   Don’t get discouraged.  It’s always a learning experience and most of the time, even the bad loaves are still usable.   Make croutons or save the loaf for stuffing.  Keep trying and you’ll be amazed how fast it will pick up.  Happy baking.

 

* Joey Smallwood was the premier of Newfoundland from 1949 to 1972.

Cinnamon Bun Rice Krispie Bites

cinnamon bun rice Krispie bitesIt took me a little while to think about what I wanted to write for this post.  Usually I try to connect it with Newfoundland or some childhood memory I have growing up there.  But I got to thinking that this is my blog and I can just post a recipe of something I like to make.  I’m a Newfoundlander, so that’s the most connection you’re gonna get.  If you want something with a stronger history, try my recipe for Twelfth buns or apple pandowdy.  They’ll give you a bit more history of the province as well as something yummy to eat.

One thing businesses are well at doing is marketing.  When you’re walking through the mall and suddenly you’re bombarded with that lovely scent of baking mixed with cinnamon.  You know that there’s a cinnamon bun kiosk somewhere nearby and that heavenly smell is coming from there.  You wander over and see the rows of fluffy cinnamon buns smeared with the rich, smooth cream cheese icing.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I know that I can’t stop at one bite.  Next thing I know there’s an empty plate where that massive cinnamon bun once was.

This rice Krispie recipe will have the same flavours as those wonderful cinnamon buns you can find in the mall, but with a lot less guilt.  The rice Krispie base is spiced with cinnamon and there’s a little more marshmallow than a normal rice Krispie treat to give it that extra soft bite.  On the top of course is the cream cheese icing, except this time it’s in a nice, manageable swirl sprinkled with cinnamon.  The perfect bite.cinnamon bun rice Krispie bites

So you’re going to make the rice Krispie bottom layer like you would with the regular batch of rice Krispie treats.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan under medium/low heat.  Once the butter is melted add the marshmallows and stir occasionally until you see no more bits of marshmallow left.  It should be a smooth consistency.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and rice Krispie cereal.  Working quickly transfer the mixture to a 10X15 parchment lined cookie sheet.   Spread the mixture evenly to the edge of the pan.  You can use a spatula or your hands.  I like to use my hands by just quickly running warm water on them and quickly pressing the mixture down.  You may have to do this a couple of times if your hands become too sticky.  Once you have an even layer set the pan aside for the mixture to set.  About 30 minutes.

cream cheese icing
The batter should be smooth.

While that is setting, make the cream cheese icing.  Both the butter and cream cheese should be at room temperature before mixing.  With your paddle attachment on your stand mixer, or using your hand mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth. You shouldn’t see any lumps in your batter as this will clog the piping tip later.  Turn the speed down to low and slowly add the icing sugar a cup at a time until you have a smooth consistency. Do not be tempted to add the icing sugar all at once, unless you want your kitchen to look like the set of a winter wonderland.  Add the vanilla extract and milk and turn the speed back up to medium.  Mix well until light and fluffy.  If the batter seems too thick add a bit more milk, but only a teaspoon at a time.  Conversely add more icing sugar if it’s too runny.

Back to the rice Krispies.  With a two-inch round cutter, cut out individual circles.  With my batch I got about 48 circles.  You can place the cutter pretty close to each circle as there isn’t any spreading, and you’ll be covering them with the icing anyways.

cinnamon bun rice Krispies
I spread these out, but you can see how close I came when cutting.

Remove the rice Krispie parts from in-between the circles with a knife or small spatula.  They can be used and reshaped for another project if you like, but I just had them as a snack.

Now that you have the little circles ready, grab your icing.  Place a Wilton #6 tip in your piping bag and fill with the icing.  You can also just use a disposable plastic bag with the corner cut off, but your piping may not be as smooth.  Starting at the center, make a spiral going out the edge.  Repeat with the remaining rice Krispie circles.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

As I said before, I got about 48 treats with my batch.  You could use a larger circle which would give you less, of course.  If not serving right away, keep refrigerated for a maximum of three days.  Let them come to room temperature before serving.  Enjoy these cute little cinnamon bun treats.cinnamon bun rice Krispie bites

Cinnamon Bun Rice Krispie Bites

A perfect size to satisfy your cinnamon bun cravings.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 48 bites

Ingredients

Rice Krispie base

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 500 grams miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups Kelloggs Rice Krispies
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese icing

  • 1/2 cup butter unsalted
  • 8 oz. cream cheese one brick
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsp milk any kind will do (skim, 1%, 2%, or whole)
  • 4 cups icing sugar

Instructions

Rice Krispie base

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan under medium/low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted completely.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Quickly add the cereal and cinnamon. Transfer to a parchment lined 10X15 cookie sheet. Press down to evenly spread the mixture to all sides of the pan. You may use a spatula or your hands. Your hands should be slightly damp to prevent the batter from sticking.
  3. Set it aside to cool and set. Minimum 30 minutes.

Cream Cheese Icing

  1. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment under medium speed whip the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and turn the speed to low.
  2. Slowly add the icing sugar a cup at a time until it's all incorporated. Mix on low until incorporated. Add the milk to smooth out the icing.

Building the bites

  1. After the rice Krispies have set, use a two inch round cutter to cut out circles. Remove the excess for later, or to snack on.
  2. Place a Wilton #6 tip in your piping bag and fill with icing. Carefully pipe spirals on the top of each rice Krispie treat. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

Recipe Notes

Kelloggs has not endorsed or compensated me in any way for this post.  All opinions are my own.  All images are property of Gutfounded.  If used please acknowledge the source.

Cranberry Almond Loaf

When we were kids my brother and I would go cross country skiing with my father.  There were many places outside town where we lived.  One could drive about 15 minutes outside town, park the car on the side of the highway, and just go.  Of course, you would look for snowmobile tracks or something similar to help you along.

One weekend afternoon we set out.  It was a beautiful clear winter day.  Not too cold that you’d freeze your face off after ten minutes, but cold enough that you’d have to wear a toque and mitts.  We parked the car by the side of the highway and set off into the woods.  Dad was smart enough to park where he knew there would be a small pond, now completely frozen over.  We were skiing through the trees and came to the edge.  The sky opens up and I looked across the pond to the other side.  I can see the trees on the other side and we start.  The pond was a nice flat surface and we crossed it quickly. Cross country skiing is a great winter sport.  Easy to pick up, you don’t really need that much skill and it’s a small investment in the skis and boots.

We got a good rhythm going and quickly made it across the pond to the other side.  Dad had found a small break in the trees and we cleared a spot to have a little rest and a bite of lunch.  We made a small fire and Dad pulled out some sandwiches.   After a few minutes of rest we set off again back to the car.

This cranberry almond loaf would be great as a treat for that little break.  It’s filled with tart dried cranberries, crunchy almonds and the zest of orange.  A perfect blend for a winter afternoon.

In a large bowl combine the cereal and milk and let sit for about five minutes. Since this is going to all be mixed together I use my stand mixer to soak the cereal, but any large bowl will do.  In another bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  To the cereal, add the beaten egg, oil, and orange zest.  I like to use a micro plane for zesting instead of my peeler.  It gives it a better, finer zest.  If you don’t have a micro plane, then peel off small pieces of the orange peel, but don’t get the white part underneath.  It’s too bitter.  Chop the peel finely and throw into the cereal mixture.  Slowly mix in the flour mixture into the cereal.  If you’re using your stand mixer, add the flour on the low setting.  If mixing by hand, gently fold in the flour mix.  Finally add the cranberries.  The cereal already has cranberries in it, but I like a bit more fruit.  You can leave them out if you like if you think there’s enough already.

Preheat your oven to 350F and pour the batter into a greased 9X5 loaf pan.  I use a silicon liner for my pans.  It’s makes the loaves so much easier to come out and it’s a lot less messy.  Bake for 50 minutes until done.  Use the toothpick method to test for doneness.  Let the loaf rest in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Cranberry Almond Loaf

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Post Cranberry Almond Crunch cereal
  • 1 1/3 cups milk 2% partly skimmed
  • 1 3/4 cups All purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp orange rind
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries optional

Instructions

  1. Stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, or stand mixer, combine cereal and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the cereal. Add beaten egg, oil, and rind. Mix well on low. Add flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Until you cannot see the flour anymore. Fold in optional dried cranberries.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Pour batter in greased, or silicon lined, 9X5 loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes until done. Test with toothpick. Let rest in pan 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

Recipe Notes

Post Cereal has not endorsed or compensated me in any way for this post.  All opinions are my own.  All photos are property of Gutfounded unless stated differently.

Apricot Coconut Curry Rice Krispie Squares

It’s funny how little things make you think of a blog post.  We were invited to a pot luck dinner a couple of weeks ago to another city about 45 minutes away.  I brought my Santa’s shortbread and chocolate chip cookies that I made last month and conveniently kept some aside in the freezer for such an occasion.  This is why you should always make a little extra for moments like this.

Anyway, we were driving along and I see a poster for the International Comedy Festival at the Tilt theater.  This year they have Shaun Majumder.  For those of you who don’t know Shaun is of Indian heritage and is from a small town in Newfoundland.  His father was a doctor, settled in Newfoundland for his practice, married and the rest is history.  Shaun is probably most noted for his work on This Hour has 22 Minutes and the many characters he creates for the show.

Add that thought to another CBC show I was listening to on the radio this week.  Lenore Newman was being interviewed about her new book Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey and she was talking about how Canada’s food has become a creole.  Usually attributed to languages where two languages are combined to make a new language, Newman expanded this to mean a blending of food from different cultures.  Canada is rich with this tradition, especially now with the proliferation of fusion restaurants.

Those two things reminded me of a recipe I tried a few years back.  I love Rice Krispie squares.  To me they remind me of childhood.  They can be crammed with all sorts of different ingredients, like chocolate chips or peanut butter.  Even the plain version with just the butter, marshmallow and rice Krispies is perfection.  I started to explore with the flavours one could use in a square.  Could the square be slightly savoury instead of sweet?

Seeing the poster and hearing the radio program caused a chain reaction in my head and brought me back to this recipe.  The curry is subtle, so you’re not smacked in the face with just curry flavour.  The apricot is such a common fruit for a lot of East Asian cooking and it blends well with the coconut and marshmallow.  Try this treat the next time you’re asked to bring something for a pot luck or want to expand your culinary horizons.

Start with melting the butter in a large saucepan under medium low heat.  When the butter is melted add the spices.  The spices need to cook a little in the butter to release their flavour.  This way you’ll get a nice creamy aroma mixed throughout the square instead of throwing the spices in dry later on.  Add the marshmallows and stir until melted.  Remove from the heat and add the extract.

The next bit will have to done quickly.  Add the rice Krispies, apricot, and coconut and mix well.  Everything should be well distributed throughout.  Transfer it to a greased 9X13 pan and press down to make an even layer.  I just lightly wet my hands and pressed down.  This way the batter won’t stick to my hands and it’s faster than using a spatula.  Refrigerate until firm and cut into squares.

Apricot Coconut Curry Rice Krispie Squares

Indian spices enhance the wonderful fruit and coconut in these squares.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 32 squares

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 400 grams mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 1 tsp butter extract use vanilla if you don't have butter extract
  • 1 cup dried apricots chopped small dice
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium/low heat. Once butter is melted add the spices and stir. Cook the spices for about one minute to let their flavours release.
  2. Add marshmallow and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and add the extract.
  3. Quickly add the Rice Krispies, chopped apricots, and coconut. Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  4. Transfer to a greased 9X13 pan and press down to make an even layer. Refrigerate until set. Minimum one hour. Cut into squares.

Recipe Notes

I have been offered no compensation from the parties mentioned in this post. The opinions given are mine and mine alone.

Fogo Island

Last summer we went back to Newfoundland for my grandmother’s 85th birthday.  She is still as spry as ever and seems busier now than she’s ever been.  Every month she visiting her grandchildren and children who live across the province, or visiting with family and friends in the small town where she lives.  She’s an amazing woman, but I’m a little biased.  She’s my grandmother after all.

So, because of her birthday we decided to go out for a few days earlier and stay a few days later to do some sightseeing.   I must admit that I’ve seen more of the island going back to visit than I ever did when I was living there.  You don’t really appreciate something until you leave it behind.  If you haven’t been to the island, but have seen the tourism commercials, you’ll know what to expect.  In the summer, the island really does look like the commercials.  There are kids playing on the streets, the line of washing swaying in the breeze, and the distinct smell of sea air along the coast.

Deep Bay: view from the Writer’s studio

One of the great gems of Newfoundland is Fogo Island. It’s the largest island off the main island.  You can get to Fogo via ferry near Twillingate, which is in the center of Newfoundland.  A short drive from the Trans Canada will get you to the ferry and it’s only a short ride over to the island.  Of course, Fogo has more recently become famous for it’s new hotel, the Fogo Island Inn. Prime Minister Trudeau took his family there for Thanksgiving a couple years back.  You’ll need a car to get around on the island, but nothing is really that far apart from anything else.

Fogo is rich in history and culture.  The Irish settled there back in the 18th century and the community of Tilting, on the east coast of the island, is a National Historic Site.  We were lucky enough to get a room at a Bed and Breakfast in Tilting for a night.  The weekend we chose to go was the same weekend as the Brimstone Head Music Festival, so all the rental suites were packed.  We called and only got in because someone else cancelled.  We stayed at the Tilting Bed and Breakfast and were treated to a wonderful full breakfast in the morning with freshly made scones.  One could go to Fogo and explore Tilting for the day and have plenty to see from early morning walks along the shoreline to see caribou, or staying in town to see all the historical sites, but we wanted to explore.  Please give them a call if you visit the island.

Squish Studio
copyright Saunders Architecture

One of the great things about Fogo is the Shorefast Foundation.  This foundation was created to help the people of Fogo Island have a livelihood as the fishery was slowly dying.  By creating projects like the inn, all the proceeds from those projects stay on the island and contribute to the social growth of the island. There are four artist retreats located around the island where artists can hole up and create.  In Tilting, close to where we were staying, is one retreat called the Squished Studio.  There was a lovely sea urchin sculpture outside the studio that someone created.  It just added to the uniqueness of the island.  That’s one of the great things about the island: the little surprises that are hidden for people to find.

Another gem is Nicole’s.  It’s located in the community of Joe Batt’s Arm and is within walking distance of the Inn.  It was recommended that we call ahead for a reservation as they were always busy.  Especially since is was the weekend of the music festival. (Remember that?)  Nicole’s got started with a grant from the Shorefast Foundation.  So we called and got a table just before their last sitting.   Owned and run by Nicole Decker, Nicole’s offers the familiar flavours of Newfoundland but re-imagined: a salad with a fresh blueberry vinaigrette, or fresh pasta with pulled salt cod.  And they serve Growler’s ice cream for dessert.  Their menu is seasonal and try to use locally grown products, so go and enjoy.

Growler’s, also in Joe Batt’s, makes their ice cream in house, and incorporates all of Newfoundland’s wonderful flavours.  You can get such flavours as partridge berry tart, jam jam, or raisin bread ice cream.  If you don’t know the first two flavours I’ll have to enlighten you in a later post.  Open seasonally, you’ll have to check them out when you’re back on the island.

One last place we went to was the Flat Earth Coffee Company.  We were jonesing for some caffeine and we saw the store front as we were driving by to get to the B&B.  “Let’s go there after,” I remarked as we were trying to find out where we were going.  The next day we went back.  Three friendly faces greeted us as we opened the door.  Each person behind the counter was working on some delicious looking cupcakes.  We placed our order for coffee and noticed the Society attached to the cafe.  We went in and got a lovely tour and was informed that Brimstone Head is considered one of the corners of the flat earth.  If you stand on top of Brimstone Head and look out towards the sea, it’s easy to see why people would think the earth is flat.  So we enjoyed coffee, the museum, and cupcakes.  A good day all around.

So the next time you visit the island, visit the smaller one too: Fogo.  Take a couple of days and go along the shore to look for caribou, try some local food, check out the museums all across the island, and try not to fall off one of the corners.

Twelfth Buns

And so it ends, Christmastide.  The twelfth night, or Epiphany, has passed and we’re going back to our daily lives.  The kids are back in school, and most of us are back to work.  I just wanted to get one last Christmas post in before the season is over.   Here’s a clip from This Hour has 22 Minutes about mummering:

As I said before Old Christmas day was a big thing in Newfoundland, more so for my parents and grandparents than now, but there are still traditions of mummering and celebrating throughout the province.  Depending on what part of the province you were from sometimes it was called mummering and sometimes called Janneying. The term “mummer” was derived from the fact that those who were mumming remained silent (mum) to prevent those for whom they performed from guessing their identities. The origin of the word “janneying” is uncertain, but some believe it was derived from “jannies,” referring to young boys who disguised themselves to perform mischief during the Christmas season. It’s also thought as another form of Johnnies, a common name for young boys.

I was reading an account about Old Christmas day and there was a mention of Twelfth buns.  This is taken from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English: “Those twelve nights [of Christmas] we’d be at it, and the last night we[‘d] make a pan of sweet buns, twelfth buns, and give ’em to the people. Every house we’d go to we’d give ’em a bun for Twelfth Night.”

I was talking with my father the other night and he remembers going Janneying when he was a boy. Like mummering, the group would go in the house, play a bit, stay for some cake and then move on.  Here’s a great recount of those times taken from the Southwest Arm Historical Society: “Where we lived in St. Jones, Christmas was good because we’d be Jannying for the twelve days of Christmas. We’d go to people’s door and knock. When they come out you’d say, “Any Jannies ‘lowed in?” They’d say come on in now. They’d try to guess who we were. Then they’d give you a piece of cake and a drop of syrup. Sometimes the people would want you to dance.

On Old Christmas night, we’d go around to the different houses. Around 11:00 pm a number of young people would get together and make an old twelve cake. Everyone would bring something to put in the cake like figs, fat pork, berries and whatever you could get. When it was baked, we’d all share. Somebody would bring partridge berries and we’d steep it in the kettle and remove the berries and drink the juice. This was how we made berry ocky.”

So I got to searching about buns, and cakes.  Unlike now sweet bread was considered a treat.  Sugar and raisins were not something you would throw into bread; too expensive.  Bread usually was the plain white loaf, made into the three bun loaves, used for everyday meals.  Sweet breads were for special occasions like the holidays.  Breads such as raisin loaf were only made a few times a year.

A sweet bread is an enhanced dough, usually with eggs and sugar.  Then you can augment the dough by added ingredients like fruit or nuts.  My grandmother’s cinnamon raisin bread is always a big hit when we go visit.  I like it toasted with a slathering of butter. This recipe I have is done in the bread mixer, so I can mix it and walk away and do other things while the bread is proofing (like write blog posts).

This recipe makes a two pound loaf and will be separated into twelve buns.  In the bread maker place the following ingredients in this order:

  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup skim milk powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter (room temp)
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup raisins

Put machine on dough cycle and mix.  I like to have my water a little warm, just to give the yeast a bit of a head start.  The trick is that if you can leave your finger in the water for five seconds comfortably then it’s warm enough.  Longer than that the water is too cool.

Once the cycle is complete remove dough and shape into twelve buns.  I noticed the buns were about 80 grams each.  I measure them because I like to have all the buns about the same size, but you can eyeball it too. Place the buns in a greased 9X13 pan and leave to rise again in a warm place.  About 30-40 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350F and once risen again, bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool on the rack for 20 minutes.  Enjoy with a nice warm cup of tea or coffee, and a little bit of butter.

Cinnamon Raisin Buns

This raisin bun is perfect for a sweet treat in the afternoon.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 12 buns

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups warm warm
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup skim milk powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 tbsp butter room temperature
  • 3 3/4 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Measure all ingredients into baking pan in the order given. Insert pan into the oven chamber. Select "Dough" cycle.
  2. When dough is done in bread machine, remove from pan and shape into twelve equal sized balls. Place into a greased 9X13 pan. Let rise in a warm space for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Place pan in oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the tops of the buns are a golden brown. Once done remove from oven and brush with melted butter (optional). Let cool for 20 minutes on rack.

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

A little while ago I found an article through Flipboard about baking your cookies in a muffin tin.  Here’s one such article from another baker: Chocolate Covered Katie.  Many times I’ve scooped cookies out onto the pan, have them all a nice uniform scoop, only to have them bake and spread.  The bane of many a baker.  While there are a few reasons for spreading (ie. batter not blended well, butter deposits, etc.) this muffin tin method will at least control the spreading.  So I decided to give it a try.

The result: amazing!  The cookies all came out a nice uniform shape and thickness.  They’re on the thicker side, but that gives the cookie a lovely chewy texture with crispy edges.  I used my tried and true chocolate chip recipe and was delighted to see the lovely browned cookie pop of out of the muffin tin.  Needless to say I tried a couple once they were cooled with a glass of cold milk.  Heaven.

One of the great things about cookies is that you don’t really need a special occasion to bake them.  I know that the holidays are done for most of us, but you have to try this method of baking cookies.  Just make one batch and invite some friends over for tea, or slip a couple in your kid’s lunch.   They also freeze well.  Once they’re baked and cooled, put them in one layer on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer.  Once frozen, place them in a plastic container or cookie tin between layers of waxed paper.  That way they won’t stick together.   Then you can grab a couple at a time, throw them in your lunch bag and have thawed cookies by lunch.  Once frozen they are good for up to three months, if they last that long.

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  With your mixer cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla extract.  Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture.  Mix until you can’t see any more flour in the batter.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  I just dump them in and put the mixer on low for a couple of turns.  Just enough to evenly distribute the chips.

I sprayed my muffin tin with a non-stick spray only because I wanted to make sure that the cookies came out.  Using a two tbsp scoop, place an even scoop in each muffin tin.  Press down the batter with the floured bottom of a glass.  Don’t worry about the little excess flour.  That will get absorbed by the cookie.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned along the edges and the center is still soft.  My cookies baked for 15, so I suggest set the timer for 15 minutes, check them and add one or two minutes if necessary.  It’s super easy to go from just baked to over-baked.  Plus the cookies will continue to bake while they rest in the muffin tin as they cool.  Once removed from the oven allow the cookie to cool completely before you remove them from the muffin pan.  At least 20-30 minutes.  I know you will be tempted to take them out early (I was) because of the enticing smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through your house, but persevere.  The waiting will be worth it.  Once they are cooled pop them out with a butter knife or small spatula and put them on a cooling rack.

The result: perfectly round cookies that are thick and chocolaty with nice crisp edges and a soft, chewy center.

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

These deep chocolate chip cookies are the perfect snack.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 3 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs large
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
  3. On medium speed cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, one at a time, until incorporated. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Turn speed of mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Continue mixing until you can no longer see any flour in the batter. Fold in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  5. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray. Using a 2 Tbsp. scoop (#30) place an even scoop into each muffin cup. Press down the batter with a lightly floured bottom of a glass. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The cookie should be slightly brown on the edges with a soft center.
  6. Allow the cookie to cool in the muffin tin: 20-30 minutes. Remove with butter knife or small metal spatula.

Old Christmas Day

While most of us have taken down our decorations for another year, many Newfoundlanders still celebrate Old Christmas Day, or Epiphany, for some. This traditions goes back over 300 years and is meant to enjoy the whole Christmas season, not just a couple of days in December.

Pope Gregory XIII

When Pope Gregory XIII established the Gregorian calendar in 1582, he ushered in an era in which the people of Europe disagreed on what day it was. As a result, they celebrated Christmas on different days. Before the Gregorian reform Europe had adhered to the Julian calendar, which was a full ten days behind the newly instituted Gregorian calendar. Some nations and churches refused to adopt the Gregorian reforms. In these lands people continued to celebrate Christmas on December 25, but did so according to the Julian calendar. Their celebrations fell on Januaryaccording to the new Gregorian calendar. In past eras the English sometimes referred to January 5 or 6 as “Old Christmas Day.”

At the time of its creation, the ten-day gap between the new Gregorian calendar and the old Julian calendar createdsituation in which the peoples of Europe celebrated Christmas on different days. By the time England adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the gap had crept up to eleven days. With the stroke of a pen English legislators ordered that September 2, 1752, be followed by September 14, 1752. Many ordinary people defied this change, fearful that it would adversely affect their livelihood in some way. Although many writers have reported that resistance to the new calendar took the form of riots and slogans, such as “Give us back our eleven days,” recent research has failed to find convincing evidence of these events. Instead, it appears that people resisted the change in less dramatic, more personal ways. Some refused to celebrate the feast days on the new Gregorian schedule and clung instead to the old dates. For example, under the Gregorian reform the day that had been December 25 instantly became January 5. Many called January 5 “Old Christmas Day” or Christmas Day “Old Style.” Correspondingly, December 25 was known as Christmas Day “New Style.” By the nineteenth century Old Christmas Day had crept a day further away from the Gregorian calendar, falling on January 6, Epiphany. As the Julian calendar continued to drift away from the Gregorian calendar throughout the twentieth century, Old Christmas Day shifted yet another day forward in the Gregorian calendar, falling on January 7.

Mummering, the practice of disguising oneself and visiting from house to house, is carried on through the Christmas season. Known in Britain as “mumming,” the name “mummering” long ago became usual in Newfoundland. It usually does not start until St Stephen’s Day (known nowadays as Boxing Day, December 26th). Mummering is sometimes said to be a non-religious custom that should be carried on neither on Christmas Day itself, nor on Sundays during the season. Nonetheless, this is not a universal rule and one can find mummers out visiting even on Christmas Day.  Mummering continues throughout the twelve days of Christmas up to Old Christmas Day.  Groups of mummers would go throughout the village, visiting people while dressed in disguises.  If the homeowner could guess who the mummers were, they didn’t have to give them anything.  If they couldn’t guess, they would have to give them something to eat and drink.

Giving hospitality to strangers is nothing unheard of in any Newfoundland house.  One could link this to the Christian upbringing of many Newfounlanders.  There is the story of angels visiting Abraham in Genesis and he kills his best calf for them and offers food and drink.  Also the verse in Hebrews 13:2 about not hesitating to show brotherly love as you may be entertaining angels in disguise.

While nowadays you may not get as many guests at your door as before, this Old Christmas Day, if you do have someone come knocking, invite them in, sit them down, and enjoy their company.  Enjoy this article from 1989 about the tradition of Old Christmas Day.