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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hamburgers & Buns

Since it's BBQ season here in the northern hemisphere, I figured it was past time to break out a hamburger recipe. I remember my mom making hamburgers as a kid, shaking and squeezing ingredients into a large bowl, deftly mixing everything, then shaping the patties with sure, swift movements, hands moving smoothly around and around. I make them the same way, though my patties always seem to have rough edges. I've received many compliments on my hamburgers and upon reflection and comparison with other recipes I think the secret ingredient is the ketchup. You totally need ketchup. In the patty, on the patty and as dip for the burger. One of my friends buys sugar free ketchup from the U.S., but I like the regular variety.

As for buns, I've tried out a new recipe today since I love those hamburger thins that you can buy. It wouldn't be The Cookery if I hadn't tweaked it, so I made some substitutions based on what I like. The President's Choice ones have a nutty chewy texture, so I added some oats to try to replicate that.



1 lb lean ground beef or bison
1 tbsp. ketchup
3-4 good squirts of Worcestershire sauce (though I was out. Damn! I used soya sauce instead)
1/4 - 1/2 c. bread crumbs (I was out again! I used oats instead)
1 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 egg


Dump everything in your mixer and stir until just combined. Using wet hands, take a handful at a time and shape into patties. This recipe should make 6-8 depending on how thick you want your burgers.

Cook or freeze individually, wrapped in parchment or wax paper.

Hamburger/Sandwich Thins (Whole grain)


1 1/2 c. warm water
1/8 c. sugar
1 tbsp. yeast
1 egg
2 tsp. oil
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. quick cooking oats
1/4 c. lightly pulsed flax seed (to open up the seed)
2 tsp. whole flax seed
1 1/2 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
1 tsp. salt


Mix water, yeast and sugar until dissolved. Add egg and oil and beat lightly.

In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Mix well then add half of the dry mixture to the wet. Let rise 30-45 minutes.

Once risen, add the remaining flour mixture and knead in your mixer for 5 minutes. I ended up having a screaming toddler situation, so it ended up being more like 10 for me. The dough will be very wet and sticky. Weigh it and divide by 16 (mine worked out to just about 2 ounces per bun).

Spread parchment paper on two cookie sheets. Watching your scale, and working with wet hands, shape one bun at a time. One recipe mentioned using a 4 inch biscuit cutter as a guide then smooshing the dough to fit, but I just slapped it on the cookie sheet and spread it around. The edges weren't as pretty, but it worked well.

Once you have all 16 rounds on your sheets, let rise for another 30-45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350F, with the racks in the middle and bottom third positions.

Once risen, poke a few holes in each round using a wet straw or a wet chopstick. If you want fluffier buns, omit this step. Bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden brown.

Let cool on sheets. They'll seem really thin, but they're solid. Cut in half for buns.

And here's the final product! We had leftovers for another meal and it was just as good the second time. Yummah!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Whole Wheat Crackers

Awhile back I made Lavash Crackers and they were great, but I forgot to write a post. When I came to crackers again, I decided to try a different recipe, just for kicks.

Whole Wheat Crackers


2 c. water
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 c. whole wheat flour (I used Graham Wheat Flour)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 c. all purpose flour
Any kind of seeds, nuts, cheese, seasonings you want for the topping


Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in whole wheat flour a cup at a time to make a smooth thick batter. Add salt and oil, stirring well after each addition. Add 1 1/2 cups of the all purpose flour and then turn out onto a floured surface to knead for 5 minutes. I needed the extra flour, so don't be scared to add the extra 1 1/2 cups of flour. Depending on the type of whole wheat flour you use, you may not need as much. Once the dough is smooth and firm and no longer sticky, put aside in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2.5 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 450F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fill a spray bottle with water.

Cut the dough in half and then into 4 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others well covered. Roll out dough to fit in the baking sheet. It will be springy, so if it needs a couple of minutes, let it rest while you roll out a second sheet. You'll be baking two at a time anyway. Spritz with water, then add toppings, pressing gently into the dough. Prick well with a fork, then cut into whatever shapes you want. A pizza cutter works best.

Bake two sheets at a time for 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness of the dough. Your pieces should be golden brown and crispy on the bottom.

Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Cool completely and keep in an airtight container. They'll keep for about a week, but they'll be gone long before then!

I used caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds as toppings. I added a sprinkle of salt to each batch as well.

Granola Chews

I make these all the time, at least every month or so. You can eat two or three as a snack and feel like you've actually eaten something. They give you energy and they're the perfect sweetness. The best part is that you can endlessly change the ingredients based on what you have on hand. You also don't really need to measure, which always gets points from me. Lately I've been using a 500g (2 cup) jar of natural peanut butter. I use my mixer to incorporate the oil because I'm d.o.n.e. trying to mix in the oil with a butter knife. If anyone has figured out a trick to mix it without getting the oil all down the side of the jar, then on the counter, then on the tap as you try to clean it off, kudos to you. I just say to hell with it, and dump it all in my mixer and beat it until smooth.

I've found that the best peanut butter to use with these is the Kraft All Natural peanut butter. If you use sugar added peanut butter you'll be left with puddles of peanut butter at the bottom of your muffin tins.

Granola Chews


1 c. natural peanut butter
1/2 c. maple syrup OR corn syrup OR honey etc.
4 eggs
2 tsp. seasoning (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, whatever you want)
5 c. granola type cereal (I've had great success with Kashi granola, Go Lean and Go Lean Crunch. Just regular no name almond-raisin granola works well, though it's a bit sweet)
1 1/2 c. cranberries, or any dried fruit cut into bite sized pieces (you can sub part of this portion for seeds or nuts too)


Dump everything into your mixer and stir until combined.

Portion out into 24 muffin cups. Bake at 250F for 45 minutes. When you take them out they should be just a bit cake-y when you bite into one. Yes, that means that as an official part of this recipe, you must take a bite upon completion. You're welcome.

Yeah, it's that easy. And good for you. And delicious. I'm telling you, make it happen. These freeze really well too, so I have a bunch in the freezer for those times that I haven't had time to make them fresh.

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

So we're going away for the weekend and I've been packing and baking all week in preparation. We're talking about an 8 hour drive with two children under 18 months. One of whom is a human garbage disposal. I've been scouring the internet for easy, child friendly things to make but I haven't really had a lot of luck.

I needed quick, easy to grab and eat snacks. I didn't want super sticky fingers and since the little man was eating them, I wanted at least a modicum of healthiness. Sure my husband and I can eat chips and chocolate on the road, but feeding a toddler sugar and then strapping him into a carseat? Kill. Me. Now. Given those criteria, this is what I've decided to bring:

hard-boiled eggs
these delish muffins
dried mango and apricots
prepared pb&j sandwiches in manageable pieces (made with Mango-Almond Whole Wheat Bread)
bite-sized cereal (Organic Cinnamon Harvest - like Shredded Wheat, but better)
baking powder biscuits
Granola Chews

I'll probably make a bean dip to go with the crackers, though there's a bar of cream cheese in the fridge that's calling my name.

As for those muffins...

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins


1 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. oats (quick or slow, doesn't matter)
1/2 c. sugar (you could probably reduce this to 1/3 if you wanted)
1 tbsp. baking powder
3/4 c. blueberries

Stir to combine. Add blueberries and coat with mixture. Set aside.

1 egg
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Stir. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

OPTIONAL: Topping. I used the extra bits at the bottom of little man's box of cereal for a crunchy topping. It's sweet and a bit of extra fiber. These muffins don't really need it though, so it's up to you.

Bake at 400F for 30 minutes for the extra large muffins (6 per tin), or 20 minutes for regular muffin tins.

Get up a bit early and make them for breakfast on a weekend, they're wicked good right out of the oven with a hot cup of coffee.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mango Almond Whole Wheat Bread

Don't worry, it's not all baked goodies forever and ever, but I haven't had time yet to go grocery shopping so my meal ideas are still just ideas.

I've been buying mangoes by the dozen, meaning to freeze them so I can enjoy the sweet-sour taste during a January blizzard, but they're so good I keep eating them fresh. I have a noodle recipe for later on with mangoes, but of course it wouldn't be The Cookery if I didn't try to make a mango type bread.

This one uses dried mangoes. Try to make sure you get the sugar free dried mango, no one really needs all that sugar, as delicious as it is. I accidentally bought the sweetened slices, so that's what I ended up using.

Now, full disclosure, I'm not a huge fan of whole wheat bread. It's dry and heavy and usually tastes like cardboard. Well not this one! The dried fruit melts during baking and keeps the bread moist while spreading the flavour around. In the end you have a nice crisp outside with a beautiful fluffy moist interior.

Mango Almond Bread
2 very large loaves (3 regular sized ones)


5 c. warm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
6 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten*
1/2 c. light brown sugar
scant 2 tbsp. salt
3-4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/4 c. dried mango strips, cut into bite sized pieces
1 c. whole almonds


Add yeast to water in a large bowl and stir to dissolve completely. Add the whole wheat flour, 2 cups at a time, until you have a smooth batter. Cover and set aside for an hour, it'll be wicked bubbly and risen.

Sprinkle the brown sugar and the salt on top, then stir to combine. Add the remaining flour a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and beginning to knead as it comes together. Turn out dough on to a floured surface, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking, and knead 10 minutes. I just used my dough hook for 5 minutes on speed 2. Your dough should be smooth and elastic. Cut your dough in half, putting each half in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for another hour.

Press each dough into a rectangle and sprinkle on half the mango and half the almonds. Shape dough into loaves (poke in any escapee mangoes or almonds) and place into 2 buttered bread pans (9x5"). Leave to rise 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400F.

Just prior to putting the bread in the oven, make three diagonal slashes across the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until golden. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom and the corners are firm when pinched. (Why does that sound dirty?) Remove from pans immediately and place on racks to cool. Let rest at least a half hour before digging in.

Vital Wheat Gluten helps the bread rise by creating more strands of gluten; it's especially important in breads with a lot of whole wheat flour like this one. I buy the Bob's Red Mill brand. The directions recommend using 1 tbsp. for every cup of whole wheat flour, though in this recipe only 4 tbsp. are used and that's plenty.

I just had a slice toasted with cream cheese and it was super delicious. The mango gives just a bit of tang. In the future I think I'll stick to sliced or slivered almonds, or maybe even pumpkin seeds since my kid had issues with the whole almonds. It's hardly the point to bake this beautiful bread only to have to rip it apart to find and remove the almonds since they may induce a choking fit. The other issue with this bread is that I wouldn't want to make a sandwich with it; it would be too many competing flavours.

This bread would be perfect for breakfast, or sliced for company, or even as buns with a special (or not so special) supper.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Triple Layer Cake

So, that carrot cake that I was talking about? It's the middle layer in this three layer cake that I made for my parents' visit. I've adapted these recipes from the originals, and the ginger cake one is a special version all my own. The ginger cake idea came from my husband. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday his only criterion was "different". I got to thinking and came up with ginger cake. There are a ton of recipes for this on the internet and a google search turned up a few that sounded really promising. Each one was missing something though, so I made a mash up recipe and it was tasty, but a bit dry I thought. The ginger cake layer in this recipe is a bit different because I lost the first measurements that I used. I made sure to write it down in a place I'd remember this time.

The carrot cake adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe in his "Cook" book. I made it exactly to specifications the first time, but it wasn't quite what I wanted, so this time I tweaked it a bit. Moist and tender, this cake is worth every second spent grating carrots. Or you can be like me and use your Kitchen Aid. I'm telling you: Buy one! It's worth every penny.

The chocolate cake is a stand-by recipe that turns out every time. It's a nice dense chocolatey cake.

I made this cake over the course of a week. I would freeze each layer after it's fully cooled to make sure it remains fresh. If you were feeling ambitious, I'm sure you could do it all in one day!

Triple Layer Cake

Top Layer: Ginger Cake
This recipe makes a 9" cake as well as two decent sized loaves


1 block unsalted butter, softened
2 c. light brown sugar
6 eggs
4 c. flour
2 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tbsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 c. molasses
2/3 c. milk


Cream butter and sugar, adding the sugar slowly until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir together the dry ingredients, including spices. (You'll note this recipe doesn't have any leavener. You can add 1 tbsp. baking powder if you want.)

Mix the molasses and the milk.

Add the dry and wet ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating dry and wet. Beat well after every addition. Your batter should be smooth and creamy, a light brown caramel colour.

Bake at 350F. The cake takes about 35-40 minutes and the loaves take about 50-55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn onto wire rack to cool completely.

Be aware that you're going to want to eat at least one of the loaves that night. I would have either strong coffee or beer on hand to pair with the cake. If you find this too sweet, I think you could reduce the sugar to 1 cup and still have a really nice cake.

Carrot Cake
Makes 1 loaf, or 2 8" pans


1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar
5 eggs, separated
zest and juice of one orange
1 1/2 c. flour
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
pinch of cloves
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
10 ounces carrots, peeled and grated (about 2-3 carrots)


Separate the eggs and allow to come to room temperature.

Cream butter and sugar, adding the sugar slowly until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the orange juice and zest and stir.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture, then add the spices and grated carrots. Mix well.

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, then fold into the batter. Spoon batter into pans.

Bake at 350F for 50-55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn onto wire rack to cool completely.

This cake is moist and chewy, kind of like a really good banana bread. Actually adding a banana instead of a couple of egg yolks would probably yield something delicious. Hmm, maybe I'll try that next.

Chocolate Cake
Makes 2 9" pans


3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
2 c. flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. milk


Allow eggs to come to room temperature.

Cream butter and sugar, adding the sugar slowly until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture and the milk to the batter, alternating dry and wet. Stir until just combined after each addition, scraping down the side of the bowl when necessary.

Spread into pans and bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn onto wire rack to cool completely.

I used cream cheese frosting to ice the cake. I thought it was a great match but my husband wasn't crazy about the chocolate with the cream cheese. I notice that didn't inhibit him from inhaling said cake though.

Alright people, it's drool time. I know, I know. I need to work on my icing skillz.