Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Strawberry rhubarb pie

The rhubarb plants in my kitchen garden are growing out of control this spring. Some stalks are nearly as wide as the palm of my hand. So, with four family days in a row this weekend, it was time to cut some of those stalks and bring them inside to the kitchen. While rhubarb jam, rhubarb crisp and stewed rhubarb are likely in my near future, the first backyard rhubarb of the season was mixed with some juicy strawberries to fill this scrumptious strawberry rhubarb pie with vanilla butter pastry. The cute polka dot pastry top was made with, get this, a Crayola marker lid. Hey, you do what you gotta do for cuteness!
Before we get to the recipe, congrats to Connie Roberts of Duncan, B.C. who is the randomly-selected winner of the KitchenAid Canada food processor giveaway! Connie commented:
"With the little amount of time that I have to prepare meals in a day, simply put, this would make my life so much easier!!! :) It would be amazing to win this machine!! :)"
Connie wins the powerful new 13-cup Food Processor with ExactSlice™ System for her kitchen! So exciting! Thanks to all of you who entered by leaving a comment on the giveaway post.
I know those of you who didn't win may be feeling a little bit bummed. But that's okay because that's what pie is for. Especially a cheery one like this strawberry rhubarb pie. So delicious. So special. And the recipe is now so yours.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Serves 6-8
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg
2 tsp (1o mL) vanilla extract
3 tbsp (50 mL) cold water
3 1/2 cups (875 mL) hulled and quartered strawberries
3 1/2 cups (875 mL) rhubarb cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated white sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
To make the pastry, stir together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with a hand pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor, or use two knives working across each other) until the mixture reaches the texture of dry oatmeal. In a small bowl, briefly whisk the egg, vanilla and cold water. Pour into the large mixing bowl, stirring with a fork to bring the dough together. Divide the dough in half and form into two balls. On a flour-dusted surface, roll out one ball of dough for the bottom of the pie shell so it's at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) bigger than the pie plate all around. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and set aside (don't trim the edges).
To make the filling, add the strawberries and rhubarb to a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the flour. Pour over the strawberries and rhubarb and toss to coat. Scoop the filling into the pie shell and pat down evenly with the back of a spoon. 
Roll out the other ball of dough on a floured surface. Using a small, circular cutter (I actually used a lid from one of my kids' Crayola markers! The lids are vented, so you can blow through the other end to release any trapped dough), cut out a pattern of small circles. Position the patterned pastry on top of the filling. Trim the edges of the top crust if necessary. Fold the bottom edges up and over the top crust. Flute the edge by pinching the pastry by hand, or press around the edge of the pie with a fork. Bake in a preheated 425° F/220° C oven on the bottom rack for 10 minutes. Move the pie to the middle rack, reduce the heat to 350° F/180° C, and bake another 50 minutes until the filling is bubbling. Allow to cool completely before serving so the filling can set.
What will you make with rhubarb this spring?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A bit of London in my kitchen

I'm dropping in for a quick post today to show you a little something special and new in my kitchen. I absolutely LOVE watching Mr. Selfridge. Oh the fashion, the drama, the elegance! Not to mention Katherine Kelly as Lady Mae Loxley, who was one of my all-time favourite Coronation Street actresses as the fiery Becky McDonald. So when Mr. Feedbag came home from a work trip to London last week he brought home a little something special for me from Selfridges itself. Love!

Now when I watch an episode of Mr. Selfridge, I can sip on my special tea from my special Harry Gordon Selfridge quote mug and escape into the world of London as it was a hundred years ago. Fun!

Have you been watching Mr. Selfridge? Which shows do you adore lately?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bacon Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes + WIN a KitchenAid Food Processor!

Disclosure: KitchenAid Canada provided me with a KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor with ExactSlice System for review at no cost to myself. They are also providing another food processor to give away to one of my readers!

UPDATE: This contest is now closed.

A great side dish is essential for holiday dinners like Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These bacon cheddar scalloped potatoes are a delicious twist on a holiday classic, going perfectly alongside your baked ham or roasted turkey. Layers of thinly-sliced potatoes are smothered in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce with bits of crispy bacon thrown in just to blow your mind. The only thing you may want more right now than the recipe for these creamy, cheesy scalloped potatoes is the chance to win the tool I made them with - the all new KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor with ExactSlice System!

Seriously, guys, I'm giving away a food processor! No, I'm not kidding. For real. One reader will win their very own KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor with ExactSlice System in white, black or silver - you choose! This incredible kitchen tool is all about power and precision. Get the perfect slicing thickness - anywhere from 1 mm to 6 mm thick - with the adjustable lever on the outside of the processor. The 3-in-1 feed tube lets you process large foods like potatoes and blocks of cheese as well as slender foods like carrots and cucumbers. Use it to slice, shred, chop, knead and more. For someone who has gone her entire life without a food processor, I have used this machine every day since I opened the box. And it's not just fun. It's darn pretty, too! See the post with my full review for more thoughts on this awesome food processor from KitchenAid Canada.

I want you to win this food processor! But first, be sure to print or pin this recipe so you can make these incredible bacon cheddar scalloped potatoes. The food processor's shredding disc preps the cheese in seconds. The onions, bacon and thyme are pulsed using the multipurpose blade for the creamy sauce, and the potatoes are precision-sliced to a perfect thickness for even cooking. Bring this to the table all baked and bubbly and your holiday dinner is a guaranteed good time.

Bacon Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes
Makes 6 servings

8 slices of thick-cut bacon
350 g (12 oz) sharp Cheddar
1 medium onion, peeled
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp (50 mL) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) black pepper
3 cups (750 mL) whole milk
3 lb (1.4 kg) russet potatoes, skins on (4-5 large potatoes)

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Cook the bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat until crispy. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside, transferring the bacon to a plate to cool slightly. Using the shredding disc on the food processor, shred the cheese and set it aside. 

In the bowl of the food processor using the multipurpose blade, combine the onion, cooked bacon and thyme. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Scoop the mixture back into the pan the bacon was cooked in. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes to soften the onion. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Pour in the milk. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce comes to a bubble and thickens. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese until it melts, reserving a handful of cheese for later.

Using the slicing disc on the food processor, slice the potatoes thinly. Layer a third of the potato slices in the bottom of a large greased casserole dish. Ladle a third of the sauce over the potatoes, spreading it out evenly. Layer on another third of the potato slices and cover them with another third of the sauce. Layer the remaining potatoes and cover them with the rest of the sauce in the same way. Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 45 minutes. Sprinkle on the reserved cheese, and bake another 20 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Garnish with more fresh thyme if desired.

One reader (sorry, Canadian residents only) will win a KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor with ExactSlice System valued at $299.99!
To enter, leave a comment telling me why YOU want to win, and be sure to leave your email address so I can reach you if you win. A winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014. Good luck, Canada!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor with ExactSlice™ System

Disclosure: For the purposes of this review, KitchenAid Canada provided me with this food processor at no cost to myself. The company is also providing a second food processor as a giveaway to one of my Canadian readers this month. Opinions are my own.
I think it's fair to start out this review by being completely open about my experience with food processors: it's limited. I'm a knife and cutting board cook in the kitchen most of the time. I'm quick and comfortable with knives and it gets the job done. However, there are days when I'm working with large amounts of produce and find myself wishing I could speed up my prep time. There are also times when I wish I could get more consistent results, getting exact thicknesses for even cooking. Also, there are times when I'd like to mix something just shy of a puree such as a pesto, salsa verde, gremolata or chimichurri, and my blender would simply overdo the job. So when KitchenAid Canada offered to send me one of their brand new 13-Cup Food Processors with ExactSlice System for review, I jumped at the chance to try it out and add it to my kitchen toolbox.
My first thought when taking the food processor out of the packaging was what a beast it is. The solid, sturdy parts are the kind of quality manufacturing I've come to expect from KitchenAid. Like my stand mixer and immersion blender, both KitchenAid products, I immediately got the sense that this is no wimpy machine that will break or burn out in a year or two. And now that I've gotten a feel for it, I fully expect to be using this for years to come.
Assembling the bowls - there is a 13-cup work bowl as well as a 4-cup mini-bowl for small jobs - with the blades and slicing or shredding discs was pretty straightforward using the instructions provided. Everything that should have clicked in place, did. Everything that should have whirred and sliced and shredded did so with incredible efficiency. It's almost shocking how quickly you can push food though the feed tube! The results are impressive, getting exactly uniform slices and shreds. And with the ExactSlice System on this new model, there's no need to take the lid off to make thickness adjustments. You can simply slide the lever left or right on the outside of the processor to make slices anywhere from 1 mm to 6 mm thick. I also like the 3-in-1 feed tube for foods of different sizes and shapes to be processed at different angles. 
I tried out the food processor's multipurpose blade in the large bowl in making one of the recipes for my upcoming canning book. The consistency of the mixture turned out perfectly. To test out the performance of the slicing and shredding discs, I grabbed a big bag of carrots and got to work. The results were precise and effortless.
Slicing and shredding discs offer various thicknesses. The new ExactSlice System is externally adjusted, so thickness can be changed without opening the food processor.
Safety is important in any kitchen and this food processor hits the mark for me. If you forget to put the feed tube in place or the lid isn't clicked in place, the processor won't work. We all make mistakes or act without thinking at times, and with those safeguards in place a moment's mistake doesn't do any harm.
I don't have the largest kitchen, which means storage is a constant challenge for me. While this processor is quite big, it does come with an attachments case to neatly store all the pieces. I love that. Obviously KitchenAid wasn't just thinking about how home cooks will use the machine, but also how they will store it.

As with any kitchen appliance, how it looks is also important to me. It's about feeling good when I'm doing the work that feeds my family. This food processor is curvy with clean lines, which also makes it very easy to wipe down with a damp cloth. The parts are dishwasher safe, which I love, but so far I've opted for giving them a quick wash in warm soapy water. I love walking into the kitchen in the morning and seeing the parts all dry and ready for a new processing adventure.

I can't wait to show you the delicious recipe I'm writing using the KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor. I'll share it with you next week and give all my Canadian readers a chance to win their very own food processor! It comes in white, black and silver, by the way, so you might want to start thinking about which colour you'll choose if you win.

What would you like to make with a KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor? Leave a comment and check back soon for the giveaway!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Honey Oat Apple Crumble

This crumble is about simple baking and healthy snacking. With just six ingredients, including naturally sweet apples and liquid honey, this is a dessert or snack that satisfies me and the kids without any refined sugar. Not that I'm all healthy all the time, of course. For me, happiness is found in balance. Somehow, warm cinnamon apples and a crumbly honey oat topping doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice, though.
Mr. Feedbag is away in London at the moment, so I've got the kids to myself for 11 days. That means more time doing:
  • the cooking (Why are these kids hungry ALL the time?)
  • the cleaning (Don't worry, sweetie, it's just an accident.)
  • the laundry (So. Much. Folding.)
  • the driving (Sit so I can buckle you in. Sit. Move your arms. No. Give it to me. Sit.)
  • karate and baseball practice (You mean I have to get TWO kids into jocks?)
  • bath times (Why am I wet, too?)
  • the potty training (Again, why am I wet, too?)
  • bed times (No, you'll have story time together because it's faster and I'm done) 
And less time for:
  • all the fun stuff
So when my 3-year-old asked to make apple crumble, I thought that sounded pretty fun and productive at the same time. And, boy, does he love this stuff. For him, there are never enough apples in this house and never enough crumble. Enjoy.

Honey Oat Apple Crumble
Makes 6-8 dessert or snack servings

6 cups (1.5 L) apples chopped into 1-inch pieces, skins on (about 6 medium apples)
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1/3 cup (75 mL) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup (60 mL) liquid honey
2 cups (500 mL) quick-cooking oats
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Toss the apple pieces with the cinnamon and spread them out in a greased 9 x 9 baking dish. In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and honey with a fork. Add the oats and salt and continue mixing with the fork until evenly combined. Spread the crumble topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 50-55 minutes until the apples are soft and the crumble is golden.

Try your crumble on its own or with a splash of cold milk or cool, creamy yogurt.

What's your favourite use for honey?
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