A Quiet Afternoon 2: Recipe Guide

Autumn in the Western hemisphere: when thoughts lightly turn to hearty servings of warm, dense calories.

No recipe guide is complete without meandering anecdotes (remember, you can’t trademark recipes, but you can trademark the anecdotes that go with them!), but I am neither a food writer nor blogger nor getting paid for this, so in lieu of lengthy anecdotes I’ll instead encourage you to pick up a copy of A Quiet Afternoon 2 and read those for anecdotal enjoyment instead.

In addition to not being a fancy food writer, I am also not a professional chef. I may, in fact, not be anyone’s first choice for being in a kitchen. I am impatient and easily aggravated. Actually, you know what, here are two anecdotes emphasising the sheer audacity of my putting together a recipe guide in the first place:

In addition to not being a fancy food writer, I am also not a professional chef. I may, in fact, not be anyone’s first choice for being in a kitchen. I am impatient and easily aggravated. Actually, you know what, here are two anecdotes emphasising the sheer audacity of my putting together a recipe guide in the first place:

1. My husband (who does cook for a living, and does it for enjoyment as well) once came home to me thrusting a bowl of cookie batter at him and growling, “YOU DEAL WITH IT.”

2. For my husband’s latest birthday, I had bought him four different varietals of local honey. We did a honey tasting and hot diggity! They did taste different! So when making the anzac cookies (listed below, which I had made before, to excellent results), I thought: Hey. There’s no egg in this recipe and I can easily divide it into four wee batches, each time using a different kind of honey and seeing how the flavour changes. Fun! And it’d make a cute little photo shoot too, matching the cookies to the wee honey jars. I should add photos to this recipe guide! Recipe guides love photos! What a great idea!

So I took the recipe and divided everything by 4. One cup of rolled oats became  a quarter cup of rolled oats. Easy! Four tablespoons of honey became one tablespoon of honey. Ha ha! Three-quarters cup of white sugar became…um…let’s look up how many tablespoons are in a cup! How many grams of butter are in a cup, anyway? Let’s do our due diligence!

I did the research. I did the research. And I wrote it down and measured everything out and my first batch barely qualified as granola. I couldn’t even form it into cookies, it was so dry. I could only squish it into one rough oblong and it crumbled when I tried to break a piece off. Somehow math had failed me. For each subsequent batch I tried tweaking a bit here, adding more there. The last one finally turned out something resembling cookies, but there was no way I could photograph any of them and fake it off as being ‘artisanal’ or ‘rustic’. (Fun fact: this is why there are no accompanying photos for any of the recipes. Also: not a photographing genius with access to decent photography equipment.)

Bamboozled and befuddled, I showed them to my husband when he came home from work and explained my perfectly brilliant system which had nonetheless failed me.

“See, I wrote it down…four tablespoons to a cup.”

Anyway I have other things to offer in a relationship.

Why did I get put in charge of this recipe side project? Because I have moxie, that’s why.

I do apologise if you are a competent chef. The measurements are a terrible hybrid of imperial and metric, cups and grams, pinches and ounces. I’ve tried to be as exact as possible with the baking projects, since baking is much less forgiving than cooking, and I can confidently say that I have in fact tried out all these recipes (well. Not the ones our writers offered. Those I’m taking on faith that they’ve been tested) and they have performed more than admirably (with the exception of trying to quarter the anzac cookies).

The point is, I am not patient or brilliant and these recipes still came out fine. We are all of us Doing Our Best and sometimes that is all you can do.

Happy eating.

IRISH SODA BREAD

From RecipeTin Eats

Inspired by The Irish Luddites. Sometimes I am uncreative.

2 cups white flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 430℉. Have a cast-iron skillet handy nearby.

2. In a large bowl, add dry ingredients. Whisk together.

3. Add buttermilk and stir it in until it is too difficult to stir. Get your hands in there and squish the dough a few times. Do not knead too long or too vigorously.

4. Turn dough lump out onto cast-iron skillet and pat it into basically a circle. With a knife, cut a deep X into the middle, end to end. This is a very dense, wet loaf, so the X is necessary to ensure the bread bakes through.

5. Shove skillet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then turn oven down to 390℉ and bake another 15-20 minutes. The base should sound hollow when tapped in the middle.

6. Transfer to a cooling rack and let sit for 30 minutes before slicing.

You can also add 1 cup of raisins or currants to the dry mix, or ½ cup of seeds to the dry mix. Sunflower seeds turn a disturbingly bright and aggressive green and I don’t see why I should have been expected to just ‘know that’ before trying it out and being subsequently horrified.

SPICED ROOT CAKE

Adapted from The Elder Scrolls® The Official Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel

Inspired by Weathering Boredom, Rab the Giant Versus the Problem Neighbour. No, it’s not banana cake, but close enough eh.

Yield: 9 muffins

¼ cup butter, room temperature (more if you’re buttering the muffin tin)

¼ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup molasses

1 egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup (125 g) shredded carrot

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and prep muffin tin (either by buttering and dusting with flour or lining with silicone cups or whatever).

2. Grate carrots.

3. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Mix in molasses, egg, vanilla and spices. Stir in the grated carrot until evenly distributed. Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt; the batter should be glossy and smooth (aside from, you know, the carrot shreds). Evenly distribute the batter between the muffin cups.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack. Eat plain, drizzled with honey, or topped with carrot halwa.

Mess around with the spice blend. If you don’t like something, take it out and add something else. Or keep adding to it. Throw in a handful of dried currants. Add chocolate chips. Follow your heart.

CARROT HALWA

Adapted from Swasthi’s Recipes

Inspired by A Strange Recipe. Fortunately this recipe does not require blue-tinted water and is much less time-consuming to make than the strange recipe.

Makes 4 servings.

250 g carrots, peeled and grated

3 almonds, chopped

3 cashews, chopped

1 cup 18% cream or milk

¼ cup white sugar

2 tablespoons + ½ tablespoon ghee

¼ teaspoon green cardamom powder (about 1 pod)

1. Peel and grate the carrots

2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan on low heat, roast the nuts until fragrant and remove from heat. Set aside.

3. In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons ghee and raise heat to medium. Add the carrots and sauté until slightly softened. Add 1 cup of cream or milk and stir until the milk evaporates.

4. Once the milk completely evaporates, add the sugar and keep stirring. The mixture will go gloopy again. Stir until moisture is half evaporated, then add the ½ tablespoon ghee and stir some more. Once it thickens, add the cardamom powder.

5. Serve immediately, garnishing with the nuts.

Can be eaten hot or cold. It will taste sweeter when it’s hot. You can also add raisins, or more nuts, or none of either, whatever, I ain’t the cops.

CHOCOLATE BEET CAKE

From Martha Stewart

Inspired by The Unmaker of Cakes. Just savour the mix of horror and disappointment on that child’s face as he reconstitutes the base ingredients.

3 medium beets (you will need 1 ¼ cups beet puree, which is roughly like 150-200 g or thereabouts)

¾ cup warm water

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups white sugar

½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

¼ cup neutral oil (peanut, sunflower, etc)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter to coat the pan

1. Trim and cube the beets, put them in a pot, cover them with water and set to boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Cook beets until tender and easily pierced with a knife. Toss in a blender and puree. *Note: you will likely need to add water to the beets so they actually blend smoothly, so just add the ¾ cup of water here. Of course you will not know how much puree you end up with until everything is blended, and then the extra water will add to that 1 ¼ cups puree you need, but this recipe is fairly forgiving. I just up it to 1 ½ cups of beet-and-water puree and move on with my life.

2. Preheat oven to 350℉. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add beet puree, eggs, oil, and vanilla and stir until everything is incorporated smoothly.

3. Get out a 9-inch round cake pan and coat with butter, maybe line the bottom with parchment paper. Pour batter into the pan. Bake about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Turn out cake from pan, discard parchment if used, and cool completely right side-up on wire rack.

The beet flavour will be most prominent when the cake is warm but mellows out significantly after the first day. Don’t bother peeling the beets, it’s more trouble than it’s worth. This is a dense, hearty cake that freezes well. Can be eaten as is, or topped with fruit or chocolate ganache.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

From Martha Stewart

Inspired by The Future, One Summer Behind. Time and chocolate heal all wounds, unless you don’t like chocolate. It’s more cost effective, at least.

8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1 cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Coarsely chop chocolate and place in a bowl.

2. In a pot over medium-high heat, bring cream to a bare boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate and add salt. Let it sit for 10 minutes and think about what it’s done.

3. Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny, making sure to get whatever chunks might be adhering to the bottom and sides of bowl.

On the assumption you’re glazing the beet cake with this, make sure the cake has completely cooled and that the ganache is lukewarm but still runny enough to pour over the cake. You can put the cake on a wire rack first before pouring the ganache over it, but why?

POTATO LEEK SOUP

origin unknown

Inspired by In the Fullness of Time, because I am not patient enough to make pierogi.

Butter, to sauté leeks and onions

3 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped

1 onion, chopped

4 potatoes, chopped

6 cups stock

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup 18% cream

1. In a large pot on medium heat, add butter and toss in leeks and onions, cooking until tender. Turn up the heat and add stock (chicken or veggie, whatever, homemade if you’ve got it, or prepackaged if not, or just plain water if you can’t be arsed), potatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender.

2. Transfer soup in batches to a blender and puree until smooth.

3. Return soup to the stovetop, stir in cream and heat for about 20 minutes.

I do not fear the skin of potatoes, so I don’t bother to peel them.

What size potato and onion? Small? Medium? Large? All subjective. This is soup. All becomes soup, in the end.

ANZAC COOKIES

Adapted from RecipeTin Eats

Inspired by Neighbours, The Proper Way to Prepare for an Adventure, Welcome to Hauntd… because every apology, adventure and housewarming can be improved with cookies.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup white sugar

150 g butter

4 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and line two trays with parchment paper or Silpats.

2. Combine in a large bowl flour, oats, coconut, sugar and salt.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, place butter and honey. Stir until the butter has melted.

4. Remove from heat, add baking soda and stir to combine. The mixture will start fizzing and foaming. It’s fine.

5. Pour mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

6. Distribute by 1 tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet and flatten into patties, keeping edges about 1 inch apart.

7. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through, for chewy cookies; crispier ones stay in an couple extra minutes.

8. Leave on trays about 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to completely cool.

If you’re feeling extra fancy you can try using different varietals of honey and get some real subtly different flavour notes.

DUMPLINGS

From The Woks of Life

Inspired by Her Mother’s Recipes. While compiling recipes for this post, it turns out that none of us who make dumplings actually has a recipe written down. This recipe is the one that the mom of one of our editors uses.

3 lbs green leafy vegetables (napa cabbage, baby bok choy, shepherd’s purse, etc.)

1 ½ lbs ground pork

2/3 cup shaoxing wine

½ cup neutral oil

3 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon salt

3 tablespoons soy sauce

¼ teaspoon white pepper

2/3 cups water (plus more for assembling)

3 packages dumpling wrappers

1. Wash vegetables thoroughly and blanch in a pot of boiling water. Transfer to an ice bath. Wring out all the water from the vegetables and chop very finely.

2. In a large bowl, add the vegetables, meat, wine, oil, sesame oil, salt, soy sauce, white pepper and 2/3 cups water. Snap on some disposable gloves and start squishing stuff together until it is one glorious homogenous mass.

3. To fill the dumplings, take off those gloves and get yourself a little assembly-line station set up: dumpling wrappers, small bowl of water, dumpling filling. Moisten a paper towel with water, wring it out, and place it over the dumpling wrappers to keep them from drying out during assembly.

4. Now, place a dumpling wrapper in your non-dominant hand and wet the edges with some water. Put a little less than a tablespoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Fold the circle in half and pinch the wrapper together at the top. Then make two folds in each side, until the dumpling looks like a fan. Repeat until all the filling is gone, placing the dumplings on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Don’t let the dumplings stick together. They aren’t union.

            TO COOK IMMEDIATELY:

Boil them via the application of boiling water and let them suffer until they float to the surface and the wrappers have cooked through, or pan-fry.

To pan-fry, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Place the dumplings in a single layer in the pan and fry for 2 minutes. Pour a thin layer of water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow dumplings to steam until the water has evaporated. Remove the cover, increase heat to medium-high and fry a few more minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and crisp and they release easily from the pan.

            TO FREEZE:

It’s easiest to use large clear garbage bags rather than fussing with plastic wrap. Cover, place in a freezer (remember, don’t let them touch or they’ll end up sticking and freezing together) overnight, and once they are well frozen they can be transferred en masse into Ziploc bags and kept in the freezer until needed.

CAMPFIRE TROUT

Christopher Muscato, contributing author

Woolly Bugger: One Decent Cast and the Perfect Superstition.

A trout

Seasonings (butter or lemon slices; sage, rosemary, thyme, mint; wild onion, American plum, chokecherry, wild currants, grouseberries, wild sagebrush)

1. Start a campfire and burn down to coals.

2. Clean and butterfly trout.

3. Along inside of trout, place seasonings.

4. Close fish and wrap tightly in aluminum foil )you can add a little butter or olive oil to the inside of the foil, but this is not necessary). Place foil-wrapped fish in coals. Cook 15-20 minutes or until meat is opaque and flakes easily and skin peels off easily.

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL

Becca Gomez Farrell, contributing author

Fresh Catch of the Day.

1.5 ounces brandy

1 teaspoon St. Germaine

dash of orange bitters

semi-sweet (demi-sec) Champagne or Prosecco

In a flute glass, add the brandy, St. Germaine and orange bitters. Top up to the brim with the sparkling wine.

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