Bonnie Stern Food News
Bonnie Stern's Food NewsFollow Bonnie Stern on TwitterFriend Bonnie on Facebook
Contents

Bonnie's Book Club

Corporate Services

News and Events

Restaurant Recommendations

Bonnie's Cookbooks

Featured Recipes

Contact

Bonnie Stern

Phone: 416 484 4810

Email:
bonnie@bonniestern.com

Follow Bonnie:

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

YouTube

Website:
www.bonniestern.com

About Bonnie

When Bonnie Stern started her cooking school in 1973 she wanted people to have more fun in the kitchen, eat more healthfully and nourish their families and friends with delicious food. That goal has never changed. Bonnie is still sharing her love of cooking in everything she does.

Bonnie is an award winning author of twelve best-selling cookbooks and wrote a weekly newspaper column for almost 30 years, first for the Toronto Star and then for the National Post. She offers a wide variety of corporate services, cooking workshops and unique book clubs where authors actually attend and dinner is included. Bonnie is the recipient of the 2007 Premier’s Award.

 

 KITCHEN HACKS
(NEW MONTHLY FEATURE)

Although I always put hints and tips within my recipes I thought it would be fun to start a monthly section. Here’s one I put on my Instagram page that people loved!

 

 

February 2018

Is it just me or was everyone so cold this January that you also just wanted to stay home and cook? I made a big pot of Beef and Barley soup three times this month and couldn’t stop eating it – it is pretty much the perfect old-fashioned stick-to-your-ribs kind of dish. I was also testing out my electric pressure cooker (eg Instant Pot or Breville Multi-Cooker) so it was warming, delicious and a learning experience all at the same time. See recipe in the recipe section below for the pressure cooker and traditional method as well as five other of my favourite recipes this month.

Our January book club celebrated Tom Wilson and his astonishing memoir Beautiful Scars. Blizzard-like conditions and bouts of flu did not keep the healthy among us from this book club at the new Indigenous restaurant Ku-Kum Kitchen. The next day, the New York Times ran an article on the Indigenous way of life in Canada and the new interest in their rich food traditions. Ku-Kum Kitchen and Chef Joseph Shawana were included in the article. Read more about our book clubs below.

In my December newsletter we featured trends for the new year and I have a few more to add. Chestnut flour pasta seems to be on every Italian restaurant menu. I remember Giuliano Bugialli making it at my school in the 1980s when he was a guest instructor. It has finally caught on! (Chestnut flour is usually mixed with wheat flour to make the pasta so the pasta is not usually GF.) Date honey (sometimes called date molasses, date syrup or silan) is also an up and coming ancient ingredient. It may even be the honey talked about in the Bible (ie the land of milk and honey). It is a thick, brown syrup extracted from dates and used widely in the Middle East. It is considered a superfood and is now being produced in California. It can be purchased at Middle Eastern stores (eg Ararat in Toronto) but is becoming more available and even carried by some supermarkets. Use it in addition to or instead of regular honey, corn syrup or maple syrup in granola, drizzle it on yogurt or rice pudding, use it in smoothies and its delicious in chicken dishes. It is a little less sweet than regular honey, has a distinct flavour and is vegan. And Arak, the quintessential Middle Eastern spirit is the next big thing on Israel’s food scene and soon to be on ours – with Middle Eastern ingredients being so popular. I often have Arak in Israel. They serve it with a small pitcher of sugar syrup and pink grapefruit juice so you mix it yourself.

Ray and I went to the Chefs for Change dinner the other night and the whole evening, in support of Community Food Centres Canada, was fantastic. Check the news and events section below for information about the remaining dinners.

Keep warm and delicious wishes,

Bonnie

Kitchen Hacks
HOW TO RIPEN AN AVOCADO QUICKLY
HOW TO RIPEN AN AVOCADO QUICKLYIt has always been hard to find a ripe avocado on the day you need it. There are many ways to ripen hard avocados but this is the one that works best for me. I learned it from Dely Baglatas about 20 years ago.

Bury your unripe avocados in your rice canister and cover the container tightly. Even if the avocados aren’t completely covered it usually still works. Depending on how hard they were to begin with they are usually usable within a day or two. If not using when they are ‘perfect’, refrigerate them (not in the rice).

This method works for mangoes too.



Bonnie's Book Club
Bonnie's Book Club is a labour of love. Nothing pleases Bonnie more than to have the opportunity to bring readers and writers together in a truly unique way that offers the rare opportunity to meet some of the country's leading authors, discuss their work and enjoy a delicious meal inspired by the book.

Drawing on her degree in English and her passion for food and cooking, Bonnie Stern invites you to a literary feast you won't soon forget - Oprah's book club never tasted this good!

Small print: All registrations must be paid in full when registering. Please check your schedule carefully before registering. Cancellations can be accepted only up to 14 days before event date, a $50 charge (plus HST) applies to cover the administration fee and cost of the book. At any time you may send someone in your place for no additional charge. It is the attendee’s responsibility to mark their calendar with the date, time and location of the event.

MARCH

TOM RACHMAN: THE ITALIAN TEACHER
TOM RACHMAN: THE ITALIAN TEACHERWith the publication of his debut novel The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman emerged as one of the most exciting new novelists on the literary landscape. A devastatingly funny and perceptive look at the lives of journalists trying to keep an international newspaper afloat in Rome received rave reviews, and became a huge publishing success around the world.

Rachman followed the great success of his debut novel withThe Rise and Fall of Great Powers, the intricately woven story of a young woman’s remarkable journey around the globe to learn about her puzzling past. Once again, Rachman met with raves around the world.

In March, Bonnie is very pleased to welcome Tom Rachman to the Book Club as he makes a rare visit to Toronto to talk about his wise and moving new novel The Italian Teacher.

Rome, 1955. The artists gather for a picture at a party in an ancient villa. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast canvases, larger than life, is at the centre of the picture. His wife, Natalie, edges out of the shot.

From the side of the room watches little Pinch - their son. At five years old he loves Bear almost as much as he fears him. After Bear abandons their family, Pinch will still worship him, striving to live up to the Bavinsky name; while Natalie, a ceramicist, cannot hope to be more than a forgotten muse. Trying to burn brightly in his father's shadow, Pinch's attempts flicker and die. Yet by the end of a career of twists and compromises, Pinch will enact an unexpected rebellion that will leave forever his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy.

A masterful, original examination of love, duty, art and fame, The Italian Teacher cements Tom Rachman as among this generation's most exciting literary voices.

Date: Monday March 19, 2018 (wait list only)
Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Location: 7 Numbers
516 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto
Fee: 165 + HST (includes dinner, beverages, gratuity and a copy of The Italian Teacher sent out as soon as possible)
Advance registration only: Bonnie Stern 416 484 4810



APRIL

KIM THUY: VI
KIM THUY: VIIn April, Bonnie is pleased to welcome back a Book Club favourite, Kim Thuy, as she launches her tremendous new novel Vi. Born in Saigon in 1968, Kim Thuy left Vietnam with the boat people at the age of ten and settled with her family in Quebec. A graduate in translation and law, she has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer, restaurant owner and food commentator on radio and television. She lives in Montreal where she devotes herself to writing. She is a Canada Reads winner and in this new novel once more explores the lives, loves and struggles of Vietnamese refugees as they reinvent themselves in new lands.

The youngest of four children and the only girl, Vi was given a name that meant "precious, tiny one," destined to be cosseted and protected, the family's little treasure. Daughter of an enterprising mother and a wealthy and spoiled father who never had to grow up, the Vietnam war tears their family asunder. While Vi and many of her family members escape, her father stays behind, and her family must fend for themselves in Canada.

While her mother and brothers put down roots, life has different plans for Vi. As a young woman, she finds the world opening up to her. Taken under the wing of Ha, a worldly family friend and diplomat lover, Vi tests personal boundaries and crosses international ones, letting the winds of life buffet her. From Saigon to Montreal, from Suzhou to Boston to the fall of the Berlin Wall, she is witness to the immensity of the world, the intricate fabric of humanity, the complexity of love, the infinite possibilities before her. Ever the quiet observer, somehow she must find a way to finally take her place in the world.

Date: Monday April 16, 2018
Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Location: To be announced
Fee: 165 + HST (includes dinner, beverages, gratuity and a copy of Vi sent out as soon as possible)
Advance registration only: Bonnie Stern 416 484 4810




Book Club Location
 
7 Numbers 2
7 Numbers 3
7 Numbers 1
7 Numbers 7
7 Numbers Rosa
7 Numbers x

7 Numbers

Everything at 7 Numbers is delicious – calamari, lasagna, meatballs, osso buco, sexy duck, everything. So good we are having our March book club there.

516 Eglinton Avenue West
Toronto
416 322 5183

www.sevennumbers.com

Corporate Services

Corporate culinary events are a great way to host a corporate function. Great food always brings co-workers and staff together. People have fun, learn a lot and take home delicious memories.

Events are customized to meet your location, schedule, objectives and food preferences. Bonnie works with nutritionists, food producers, restaurants, etiquette experts and authors to create exciting programs.

All events will be planned and hosted by Bonnie personally.

Corporate Cooking Class
Private Cooking Class

Bonnie Stern has worked with various food manufacturers, grocery chains, restaurants, chefs, health professionals as well as cookware manufacturers, etc., offering a wide variety of corporate services, such as:

Corporate culinary events
Corporate family dinners
Market Tours
Recipe development
Private cooking classes
Product consultation
Menu consulting for parties
Fundraising events

For detailed information,
please call: 416 484 4810

More Featured Products
 
Friday Night Dinners (Paperback)

Friday Night Dinners

Bonnie's latest cookbook with her favourite menus, recipes, photos and stories. Over 170 delicious recipes for every occasion - holidays, barbecues, fast suppers and fabulous feasts - and Bonnie makes sure you can make fantastic meals and still enjoy the food and fun with everyone else. You'll want to use this book every day of the week.

Published by Random House of Canada, 2010, 320 pages, paperback

$29.95

Bonnie Stern's Essentials of Home Cooking
Bonnie Stern's
Essentials of Home Cooking

Winner of the 2004 International Association of Culinary Professionals Award. A beautiful cookbook filled with Bonnie’s personal favourites - dishes that reflect the way we are cooking today.

Published by Random House of Canada, 2003, 208 pages, paperback

$34.95
HeartSmart
HeartSmart
This wonderful compendium is a must for every kitchen featuring over 300 favourite recipes from the bestselling Simply HeartSmart Cooking, More HeartSmart Cooking and HeartSmart Cooking for Family and Friends, as well as 75 brand-new recipes to add to your HeartSmart repertoire. Many of the classic recipes have been fully updated to incorporate current food trends and new nutritional information.

Published by Random House of Canada, 2006, 480 pages, paperback.

$34.95
Appetizers
Appetizers
A very special collection of over 150 mouth-watering recipes including soups, spreads, salads, hors d'oeuvre, pastas and much more. Complete with presentation, entertaining, menu planning tips and over 50 detailed illustrations.

Published by Random House of Canada, 1990, 176 pages, paperback

$22.95
Desserts
Desserts
Over 120 recipes for decadent cakes, pies and pastries, scrumptious cookies, creamy mousses and ice creams – A collection of recipes from a master that stand the test, and tastes, of time.

Also provided are elegant decorating tips, helpful information on equipment and ingredients, and black-and-white illustrations throughout demonstrating basic techniques that will make these recipes absolutely no-fail.

Published by Random House Canada, 1998, 214 pages, paperback

$21
News And Events
WINTERLICIOUS 2018
Winterlicious 2018January 26 to February 8, 2018
Experience Toronto’s diverse cuisine through one-of-a-kind culinary events and delicious three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at more than 200 top restaurants.

Choose your restaurants carefully and you won’t be disappointed. Be sure Winterliciious menu reflects the regular menu of the restaurants you want to try.

For more information, click Winterlicious 2018

CHEFS FOR CHANGE TORONTO
CHEF FOR CHANGE TORONTOJanuary to March, 2018
Leave your winter blahs at home and join some of the city and country’s best chefs at Chefs for Change - five phenomenal nights of food and conviviality at Propeller Coffee Roastery near Bloor and Lansdowne.

Each night features a unique culinary collaboration by top chefs from Toronto and across Canada.

Net profits from Chefs for Change will help Community Food Centres Canada to support food-focused organizations that bring people in low-income communities together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for healthy food for all.

For more information click Chefs for Change

BONNIE'S CHALLAH WORKSHOP
BONNIE'S CHALLAH WORKSHOPChallah is the Jewish celebration bread that is enjoyed at every Friday night dinner except during Passover. You don't have to be Jewish to love challah and now challah is loved by many cultures and enjoyed all week in dishes like French Toast, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and many other favourites.

In this workshop Bonnie will show you everything you need to know to make the most delicious and beautiful braided challah. Everyone will have a chance to make challah dough, knead the dough and get to know the perfect texture at each stage. You will learn to make braids with 3, 4 and 6 strands and also round braided breads. You will learn about ingredients and all the tricks and tips you need for success.

This very popular workshop includes coffee and cinnamon buns, snacks, a delicious lunch or dinner, printed recipes, all ingredients and lots of fun. And best of all - you'll take home your own challah on Bonnie's favourite quarter sheet pan to bake for your family and friends.

PLEASE NOTE: Right now this workshop is for groups only but if you are interested in just one or two spots in an open registration class let me know and if I have enough people I will contact you.

For more information send your name, email address and phone number with subject line: Bonnie's Challah Workshop to bonnie@bonniestern.com

ISRAELI FAMILY DINNER
ISRAELI FAMILY DINNERAt some of our recent workshops, people expressed interest in an Israeli cooking workshop. Israel is an immigrant country and Israeli cuisine is a delicious mash-up of food and flavours from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and Russia. The food in Israel keeps evolving and I will plan my menu when I return from leading my 8th culinary tour there in March. As with Bonnie's Challah Workshop, groups are limited to ten people.

Please send your name, email address and phone number with subject line: Israeli Family Dinner to bonnie@bonniestern.com
Let me know if you are interested in bringing a group or would like to join a group and we will contact you.

Restaurant Recommendations and More
TORONTO
Tabule
2009 Yonge Street
Toronto
416 483 3747
Although they have four great locations in Toronto now (all a bit different) I find myself going to this one (closest to me) the most. This time my husband had an office luncheon there and it is a perfect place to have an event. You can plan the menu ahead and have appetizers and main courses with rice and vegetables family style and it all works perfectly. Reasonably priced yet quality ingredients and fun.
Moderate
Ku-Kum Kitchen
581 Mt. Pleasant Road
Toronto
416 519 2638
Since my meal at Ku-Kum Kitchen in December we had our book club with Tom Wilson there and I had a chance to try more of the menu and introduce it to many more people. We all agreed it was the perfect place to have the book club for Beautiful Scars and everyone felt they would return again soon with family and friends. And the next day it was featured in an article in the New York Times.
Moderate
7 Numbers
516 Eglinton Avenue West
Toronto
416 322 5183
Aren't I lucky to live near my favourite Southern Italian restaurant and have Rosa’s home style cooking when I don’t feel like cooking my own home style food. Everything is delicious – calamari, lasagna, meatballs, osso buco, sexy duck, everything. (So good we are having our March book club there.)
Moderate

Campagnolo
832 Dundas Street West
Toronto
416 364 4785

I have been a big fan of Campagnolo since it opened about 8 years ago. And it has just gotten better and better. At a recent dinner we loved the Castelfranco salad, roasted squash fonduta, spaghetti, cappelletti, trout and pork shoulder. And you cannot leave without the caramel budino with chocolate meringue.
Moderate
Featured Recipes
BEEF, BARLEY AND MUSHROOM SOUP
  • 1/2 oz dried wild mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 lbs bone-in beef short ribs or 2 1/2 lbs boneless chuck, (in about 2" chunks)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled or scrubbed and chopped or sliced
  • 1 rib celery, chopped or sliced
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled or scrubbed and chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 lb fresh cremini mushrooms (brown button mushrooms), chopped or sliced
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 3 cups water, beef or chicken stock (or up to 6 cups if using conventional method depending on how thick you like it)
  • few sprigs thyme
  • chopped fresh parsley to serve
  • BEEF, BARLEY AND MUSHROOM SOUPThis winter has been so cold all I wanted to do is stay home and cook cold weather food. One freezing day, I decided to make my favourite Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup and decided to try it in my new electric pressure cooker. I have the Breville Quick, Slow, Pro which is similar to the Instant Pot. (I have never been a pressure cooker fan because my mother once had to clean soup off our ceiling but because the new electric ones are easier and safer I decided to give it a try.)  Because you have to use less liquid in these machines, it came out thick and chunky and it had turned into a luscious stew instead of a soup. And we loved it that way! But you can always thin it with more hot stock or water.  Just be sure to re-season it after adding more liquid. And when it is refrigerated it gets even thicker.

    Notes:
    - You can also make it the conventional way in a pot on top of the stove - see directions for both below.
    - If you are serving this as soup, cut the beef into smaller pieces either before or after cooking.
    - You don’t have to use dried mushrooms but they add a depth of flavour that is truly wonderful.
    - It was fun using the pressure cooker and I used it for a few other things too. I think it is exciting and makes people want to cook which is always a great thing. But it didn’t save quite as much time as I had anticipated. The cooking time sounds short but it takes time to build pressure, cook and then release the pressure (not to mention browning at the beginning and preheating). But my soup/stew turned out amazing.



    Method:
    1. Soak dried mushrooms in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain liquid through a paper towel-lined sieve and reserve liquid (most flavourful part), rinse soaked mushrooms and chop. Reserve those too.

    2. If you are using an Instant Pot or something similar, turn on saute function and add olive oil. Season meat well with salt and pepper. Brown meat on all sides, in batches if necessary, about 10 minutes or longer.

    3. Remove browned meat and add vegetables to the pot. Cook about 5 minutes. Re-add meat, chopped dried mushrooms, mushroom soaking water, barley and 3 cups water or stock. Bring to a boil. Add thyme and 1 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.

    4. Turn on pressure cooking setting, close lid and seal. Set for 12 lbs pressure and 40 minutes for boneless or 50 minutes if the meat has bones. First the pressure will build (10 to 15 minutes); then will cook (40 or 50 minutes) and then the steam will be released (about 30 minutes). Check your user manual to release pressure faster but I usually let it go on its own although it did take a while. Season to taste. If it is too thick or you want it more like soup, add hot stock or water and re-season.

    Conventional Method: Soak dried mushrooms in boiling water as above #1. Season meat generously. Brown well in olive oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot. Remove meat. Add vegetables and cook a few minutes. Re-add meat, strained mushroom liquid, rinsed soaked, dried mushrooms, barley and 3 to 6 cups water or stock depending on whether you want stew or soup. Bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Cover and cook gently until meat is tender - about 2 hours, stirring now and then and adding more liquid if it is sticking to the bottom of pot or if you want it thinner.

    Makes 4 to 6 servings as stew and more as soup

    ROASTED BEET AND ORANGE WINTER SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE DRESSING
  • 1 bunch red beets, scrubbed and cut into sticks
  • 1 bunch yellow beets, scrubbed and cut into wedges
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 oranges (cara cara, blood or orange or a combination)
  • 5 oz baby arugula
  • 2 tbsp each roughly torn fresh mint and cilantro
  • 1/2 cup whole walnuts, toasted, optional
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds, optional


  • dressing:
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ROASTED BEET AND ORANGE WINTER SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE DRESSINGThis delicious salad is perfect in winter with roasted root vegetables (you can add squash or carrots to this also) and tangy pomegranate seeds and dressing. I make it slightly different every time.

    Method:

    1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place red and yellow beets in separate bowls and toss each with half the olive oil, salt, pepper and maple syrup. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast 30 to 40 minutes until tender and a bit crispy. Cool.

    2. Peel oranges by cutting off the tops and bottoms. Holding the orange in place on one flat end, cut off peel from top to bottom. Slice oranges.

    3. Arrange arugula on a large platter. Scatter with mint and cilantro. Top with beets and oranges (and any other roast vegetables). Scatter on walnuts and pom seeds.

    4. For dressing combine ingredients with a whisk or blender. Adjust seasoning to taste with more salt or honey. Drizzle some or all of the dressing over salad just before serving.

    Makes 6 to 8 servings

    ROASTED ARCTIC CHAR WITH CHRAIME
  • 2 1/2 lbs Arctic char, skinless and boneless in large pieces
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • sprigs of fresh rosemary and fresh thyme
  • grated lemon peel


  • sauce:
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 long red chile, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes (2 pkgs)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (I use Mutti tomato paste in a tube)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ROASTED ARCTIC CHAR WITH CHRAIMEChraime is a spicy Israeli/Moroccan tomato sauce usually served on fish. (Often the fish is cooked in the sauce.) My version is chraime-ish. Not as spicy but very delicious.

    This is also great with halibut, cod or salmon. If the fish is 1” thick or more, it will take longer to cook.



    Method:

    1. Scatter a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary over a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Arrange sides of  fish on herbs in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and more sprigs of herbs and lemon peel. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

    2. For the sauce heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Add onions and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic, turmeric and paprika. Cook about a minute. Add salt and half the chile slices, reserving the rest for the garnish. Cook another minute. Add tomatoes, water and stir in tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until tomatoes split open. (I usually press them a little with the back of a wooden spoon.) Let them cook into the sauce but retain a little of their shape. Season to taste.

    3. Just before serving, roast Artic char in a preheated 450F oven 10 to 12 minutes or until just cooked through. Roughly cut into serving sized portions and top with sauce, reserved sliced chiles and lots of cilantro.

    Makes 6 to 8 servings.

    PERSIAN RICE WITH SAFFRON
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 8 cups boiling water
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • PERSIAN RICE WITH SAFFRONThere are many ways to make Persian rice but this in the method I use. The best part of the rice in the crispy tahdig that forms on the bottom (and becomes the top when you turn it out). The first couple of times you make it, you have to get used to pot, the heat and the timing. The tahdig sometimes comes out in one piece, sometimes it shatters and sometimes I have to scrape it from the pot and sprinkle it on top of the rice - but it is always delicious.

    This rice is good as is or sprinkle with toasted nuts, pistachios, pomegranate seeds, dried rose petals, dried fruit etc.



    Method:

    1. If you have time, soak rice in a large bowl of cold water for one to two hours. Rinse a few times until the water runs clear and drain.

    2. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add rice. Cook 6 to 7 minutes until almost tender and drain well.

    3. Meanwhile, combine saffron and salt in 1/2 cup boiling water. Add 3 tbsp melted butter.

    4. Dry the rice pot and return to heat. Add remaining 3 tbsp melted butter. Heat until sizzling and beginning to brown. Add rice so that it mounds in the middle. With the handle of a wooden spoon make six holes in the rice all the way to the bottom. Drizzle in melted butter/saffron/salt water.

    5. Wrap the lid in a tea towel making sure the tea towel does not hang down at all. Place lid on top of pot. Reduce to low and steam 30 to 35 minutes until a brown crust forms on the bottom. Check after 30 minutes and if a crust has not formed, increase heat to medium and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer.

    6. Fluff rice a little (not the crust!) and add salt if necessary. Loosen around the edges and invert onto a serving platter. If the crust has not come out with rice, lift out of pan, break into chunks and place on top of rice. Sprinkle with toppings if using.

    Makes 6 to 8 servings                                                           

    LEMON BUTTERMILK SCONES
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp very cold butter (5 oz)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten free flour - I use Cup4Cup)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon peel


  • topping:
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • flaky salt or coarse sugar
  • LEMON BUTTERMILK SCONESEveryone has their own secret to making great scones. And even though I am going to give you my secrets - the biggest secret is to make them fresh. Even a few hours can turn them dry and hard so be sure to warm them when serving if made ahead. To make them savory add 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle tops with flaky salt. To make them for afternoon tea, increase the sugar to 3 or 4 tbsp and add 1 tsp ground cardamom (optional), 1/2 cup raisins, currants, dried cranberries or cherries (optional), add 1 tbsp grated orange rind (optional) and sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. For my version of southern biscuits, reduce the sugar to 1 tbsp, omit the lemon peel and bake with nothing on the top and brush with butter when removed from oven. Below is the basic recipe and technique.

    Note: I often make these gluten free and they turn out amazing using Cup4Cup GF flour.



    Method:

    1. Grate cold butter very carefully on a 4-sided grater using the side you would use to grate Cheddar cheese (use a protective glove if available). Freeze at least 15 minutes and use butter from frozen state. (I used 5 oz because every time I grate butter I lose some to the grater and I don't want you to worry if you don't use every last bit of butter.)

    2. In a large-ish bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt about one minute. In another bowl beat egg with buttermilk and lemon peel.

    3. Add frozen butter to the flour and disperse it with your fingertips. Make a well in the centre and add egg mixture. Gently and quickly gather ingredients together to form a rough dough with your fingertips or a wooden spoon. If mixture is too dry to come together, drizzle with one or two tablespoons of buttermilk as needed. Dust counter lightly with flour and pat dough out to a square about 3/4" thick. Fold in half, dust off any flour on top and flatten again, fold again. Repeat once more. (Scones seem to rise more when you pat with your hands rather than use a rolling pin.) Cut dough with a very sharp knife into quarters, cut in half on the diagonal to make 8 fairly large scones or you can cut it into 9 slightly smaller squares or cut out circles. (If making circles, press extra dough together lightly - do not knead - and cut out again.)

    4. Place scones on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Brush tops with egg and sprinkle with salt or sugar.

    5. Bake in a preheated 425F oven 12 to 14 minutes, turning pan after about 8 minutes, until browned and puffed.

    Makes about 8 to 9 scones (or more smaller ones)

    70% CHOCOLATE BARK WITH CHOCOLATE DIPPED STRAWBERRIES
  • 12 oz 55% to 70% chocolate, chopped (or your favourite)
  • 1 cup add-ins (all or a combination of chopped toasted nuts, dried cherries, cranberry or raisins, candied ginger or orange peel etc)
  • 1/2 cup toppings (all or a combination of chopped pistachios, candied nuts, rose petals etc)
  • 1 tsp flaky salt
  • chocolate dipped strawberries
  • 6 oz 55% to 70% chocolate, chopped
  • 20 small to medium strawberries with greens (wiped but not washed)
  • 1 oz white chocolate, optional
  • 70% CHOCOLATE BARK WITH CHOCOLATE DIPPED STRAWBERRIESI was attracted to this dessert for Valentine's Day because it is lovely and delicious but also because it works for a romantic dinner of 2 or a party of twenty. Make these with dark, milk or white chocolate and the add-ins and toppings you like. The bark and strawberries can be served on their own and any leftover bark can be chopped and used for ice cream or cake toppings and strawberries can be chopped for breakfast on yogurt or cereal - who doesn't like a little chocolate for breakfast?

    Note: I like to use Valrhona or Cacao Barry chocolate.

    This recipe was inspired by a photo on Instagram @otello_gelato.



    Method:

    1. Melt chocolate gently in a glass bowl in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until almost melted (or in a bowl set over gently simmering water) but some of the chocolate is still in pieces. Remove from heat and stir to finish melting. Add the 1 cup chopped add-ins. Stir to distribute evenly in the chocolate.

    2. Spread chocolate over a parchment paper-lined 9"x13" baking pan or quarter sheet pan. If you want the bark thicker outline an 8"x10" area for spreading. Sprinkle with toppings and salt. Refrigerate at least 1/2 hour or until firm.

    3. For strawberries melt chocolate in a 1 cup glass measure (see step #1).  Cool chocolate to room temperature and holding strawberries by the hulls, dip into chocolate and arrange on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Melt white chocolate and drizzle lightly over dark chocolate. Refrigerate until firm.

    4. Cut bark into squares or rectangles (don't worry if chocolate shatters a little - eat those pieces or save for ice cream or cake toppings) and top with berries. (You can also let the bark come to room temperature to make cutting easier.)

    Makes about 20 pieces

    © Copyright 2018, Bonnie Stern Cooking Schools Ltd.
    To unsubscribe from this newsletter please visit foodnews.bonniestern.com/unsubscribe

    Please Note: Bonnie Stern does not sell, trade or share her email list.
    © Bonnie Stern. All Rights Reserved