Feed Me! Taking Care of your Sourdough Starter, plus Egg-Free Pancakes

Craving a loaf of sourdough bread? Make it yourself if you have a Sourdough Starter. Learn how to take care of your starter to keep it healthy in this post. And get a bonus sourdough starter pancake recipe too!

I am away on vacation this week but I prepared a quick post for you today about sourdough starters. Before you can make a sourdough bread, you will need to get your hands on a sourdough starter. You can totally make your own starter at home if no one has any to spare (see resource list below). And just like your kids, you have to feed your starter regularly to keep it alive! No one wants a dead starter on their hands 😉

sourdough starter and pancakes

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Curious about a Breakfast with Cattail Pancakes?

Pretty cattail, fluffy cattail, flour cattail! What flour? Turns out flour can be extracted from cattails from which you can make mighty fine Cattail Pancakes.

I have been way overdue for an unusual ingredient post! If you are a regular reader you know how I like to find and cook with unheard of, rare or unusual ingredients…or come up with crazy recipes. I think I have a really good one for you. I was in the foodie shop of an abbey near my cottage with a friend and she spotted a bag of cattail flour. Say what? It was pricey at 10$ for an 8 ounce bag but I had to try it. On the package was included the recipe for these Cattail Pancakes!

cattail pancakes cut vertically

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Mkatra Foutra pancakes with a Coconut Coffee Sauce

Tired of the same old breakfast? These absolutely delicious Comorian Mkatra Foutra pancakes with a Coconut Coffee Sauce will send your morning taste buds in a dizzy and leave you craving for more!

We are in round two of the MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) Cooking Club. Having covered in round one all the cuisines of the countries found in these parts of the world, we are back this time with new recipes and a twist: a secret ingredient revealed monthly must be used! Usually we have two savory recipes and a sweet dish as a suggestion to make but this time we had free range to make anything we wanted. This month we are off to the Comoros islands and the secret ingredient is coffee, for which I prepared a Mkatra Foutra pancakes with a Coconut Coffee Sauce.

Mkatra Foutra pancakes with coconut coffee sauce cut

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Slow Cooker Mu Shu for Two

How many old-school appliances do you have in your kitchen that you use still? I have a handheld mixer, my grandmother’s standing mixer, also her potato masher. Although not an antique, I also enjoy my slow cooker, also called a crock pot. It took a while for me to love it though because the recipes I knew were the ones I grew up with and the results were never really modern.

So now I am always on the lookout for good new slow cooker recipes. And I found plenty in the Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook I received for review. I was surprised to find fun and international recipes to and chose to try out the Mu Shu for Two.

IMG_0868

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Toronto with friends & dodging Niagara’s tourist traps

Here is one of 2 food posts dedicated to the food we enjoyed on our New Year’s escapade. This one will cover most of what we ate but the second post will be a restaurant review….and just you wait and see this place ha!

Now if you expected a gourmet blog post on Niagara here, well sorry to say you will be sorely disappointed. As I have mentioned before Niagara Falls has the Falls and then a fake tourist trap town filled with cheesy attractions. Now don’t get me wrong….go with the right attitude and you will have a blast. We played a round of glow in the dark mini golf, did a haunted house, went on a moving theater ride, played amusement park type games to win tickets in exchange for trinkets.

Food was tricky though: either you get fast food or you pay an arm an a leg. The middle ground is almost non existent and forget finding a quaint little family run restaurant, it is mostly chains. But we managed pretty well and ate well enough with a few awesome surprises. From the falling apart decor and rickety tables to the nice sophisticated places with modern dining room furniture here is my photo essay on some of what we ate.

First place I MUST mention is Tim Hortons. It is in fact the quintessential road trip food. In Canada this is where you get your coffee and sugar rush. They also serve the cheapest lunch I can think of if you take the chicken salad sandwich combo with coffee and a doughnut…like $5.02 tax in. BUT they are everywhere. They plague the scenery I could not handle seeing one more Tim Horton sign. OK its a chip on my shoulder lol.

Our first dinner was at Tony Romas. Nice place, super friendly staff, house wine is from the Niagara region. We had the all you can eat Beef short ribs for $15.99, a rather unbeatable price in Niagara for the meal we had. I did find the short ribs dry but they are short ribs so hard to keep moist.

Remember how gaudy I said Niagara Falls can be on my vineyard touring post? We here is quite the ultimate expression of it. Next to Burger King is the Frankenstein Haunted house….and the birth of a perfect marketing ploy. I LOVE it!

At the Fudge Factory you can watch the guy prepare the fudge before it is packed into molds. Yes (sorry for this bad joke a head of time) he is a fudge packer! We tried a piece of the Bailey’s fudge, yumm!

And now for the breakfast of champions! I insisted kindly not to be dragged to a chain place for breakfast. We eventually stopped at the Continental Pancake House. This is an unpretentious family style restaurant where everything is made from scratch. The pancakes are HUGE and fluffy, Stef loved the sausages. We we very pleased and the service was so friendly. Though there is a limited all you can eat breakfast for like 7$ since we ordered à la carte it somehow ended up costing about $40 for breakfast. A bit steep!

Our second night here was our fancy dinner. I was not told where we were going as it was a surprise. Where did we go? Red Lobster. Wait I know what you are thinking, but remember this is a tourist town and this is a middle ground price restaurant. I mean our main plates were still like $25 each. We are traveling on a budget here. Red Lobsters left Quebec a while back so for us this is a treat. We each had a triple seafood combo plate, coconut shrimp appetizer, and a MASSIVE pina colada for 2. The shrimps were all excellent but my lobster tale, meh, OK.

Our last morning in Niagara was a late departure and we decided on coffee and a doughnut and just have lunch later. Today we would drive to Toronto for New Year’s Eve to my friend’s place. Of wineries were part of the expedition. But back to breakfast. So we ended up stopping at a place called Country Fresh Donuts on the outskirts of town. A really odd ball place apparently specialized in donuts and Asian sop bowls…and popular and run by Asians. Apparently this is a real local gem. And the doughnuts…the BEST EVER. This was a cinnamon twist I shot in the car. So light and so good. I wish we had bought like a dozen.

Ah, finally made it to my friend Susan’s place were we would welcome the New Year over a home meal. She and her roomie prepared a great cheese themed dinner with homemade macaroni and cheese, a lovely phyllo cup filled with goat cheese, garlic shrimps and a cheese cake. Let me tell you around 3 or 4 am the macaroni and cheese came were back out for second helpings!

And we had lots to drink! Some bubbly with the meal, some bubbly at midnight, a bit of wine and a few cocktails. The last shot on the right is bubbly with a strawberry and a Lindt Chocolate. Sounds weird but is was good. Want to try a new cocktail? This is my new fave:

RedHeaded Slut (I swear it’s the official name)

Mix in a glass 1 ounce of Peach Schnapps, 1 ounce of Jagermeister and top off with cranberry juice.

On our final night we all went for a last dinner before our return home the next day. Toronto’s Chinatown was our destination. Our host would not stop talking about Kom Jug Yuen on Spadina as the best place for Chinese with incredible BBQ pork. Very low key decor and simple place. You MUST have the BBQ Pork. This was the best Chinese food I have ever eaten and it cost 60$ with the tip and tax for 5 people.

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of some of the food I enjoyed over the holiday trip. I will have one more Toronto food post coming, a restaurant review, that you will not want to miss so come back soon. A hint: this place has been called Toronto’s least healthy restaurant.

Peachy Summer Nostalgia

As you know I often have friends over participating in my kitchen, especially for the daring kitchen challenges.We always have a blast and the same friends often come back for more. Well this time the tables were turned, so to speak. My great friend Karyn has been my guest sous-chef several times and has performed many stunt appearances on this blog lol. This time she had us over to here place for a whole weekend. Yes this dates back about 6 months already when the leaves were green and coats were laughable. Her breakfast treat was such a hit I asked her to write up a post on it. And finally here it is. Take it away Karyn….

Finally, after talking about it since last summer, the time had come. Evelyne and Raquel were coming to my house for a sleepover! Guest rooms (OK, I only have one) and the couch were prepared, the kitties preened and I made darn sure that the pool was ready to be swam in, since Evelyne had warned me, come Hell or high water, she was swimming! Once I located my guests, at the locations they were supposed to.. or maybe not supposed to meet me at, we went to my place. That night, we had a nice BBQ of my home made hamburgers and hot dogs (veggie burgers and soy dogs for the lovely Raquel), and that hit the spot for all of us, in between the dangerous libations that Evelyne was mixing up in the kitchen.

The next morning, it was a quiet and slow start… I awoke to find one of my guests was missing! Upon some investigations, I realized that Raquel had not been abducted by aliens (because aliens would have left the sheets and blankets right there, and they were gone too!) She had simply moved downstairs during the night as it was cooler in the basement.

Slowly, both of my guests awoke and made their way upstairs and we all sat on the deck, praying to our coffees and trying to wake up. After a few coffees it was time for breakfast, and I had prepared to make the standard fixings of eggs and bacon for my friends, along with cinnamon raisin bagels that we had picked up the day before along with a basket of beautiful perfect peaches, that Evelyne and I agreed to split. While sitting out on the deck and talking about food (duh, what else.. ) I had a thought! I know what I can make with these lovely peaches, that will be so much more impressive than plain ol’ bacon and eggs! I leaped out of my chair and scurried to get my Martha Stewart cookbook. For my special guests, I was going to make Dutch pancakes! Now, my friends are great friends, not only because of their awesome greatness, but also because we are close enough, and cook together often enough, that I knew they would give me a hand in the kitchen. I set Raquel up with a cutting board and the peaches to slice up for me, while I made the batter. Somewhere along the way, Evelyne took over and Raquel later assumed dish washing duty, which was so appreciated. I even noted to them that the last time I made this recipe, it was for a special someone, and that he never offered to wash the dishes… making me reconsider who I should be cooking for in the future.


So this scrumptious recipe is started with some butter and honey in the pan to start, then adding in the peaches (the recipe calls for apples) to caramelize and soften the fruit. Well, I had some maple syrup in the fridge, and decided to mark this special occasion of finally having my friends (and first house guests!) over by making two versions, the first with honey and the second with the maple syrup in the pan. The peaches were laid over top of the caramelized mixture, and then topped with the batter that I had made while the peaches were being sliced, and into the oven they both went. In a little while, the house started to smell like the most wonderful mixture of peaches, honey, maple syrup and just good sweetness.

Raquel set a beautiful table outside for us, and we indulged in some apple cider with our breakfast. The dutch pancakes came out beautifully and we ate to our hearts content, sampling each version. I can’t say that the difference is very noticeable between the two versions, but they were both delicious and make a beautiful presentation.

Served with an apple cider

Dutch Baby Pancake

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges (we used peaches)
  • 1/3 cup honey (we did 2, one with honey and one with maple syrup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add butter. When melted, add apple wedges. Cook until softened and lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in honey and cardamom, and remove skillet from heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients, except confectioners’ sugar, until smooth. Pour over apple mixture. Bake until puffed and brown, about 20 minutes. Slide pancake onto a serving platter. Serve immediately, cut into wedges, with confectioners’ sugar sifted over the top.

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Dutch Baby Pancake – Martha Stewart Recipes

Thursday’s Thingamajig: what the heck?

Back to our regularly scheduled program….almost. I skipped last week’s Thursday edition as I was on vacation. So many food items I bought on my dining room furniture now and pics to sort on the USB key (food trip post coming, be patient). This week I am back but not to introduce you to some new/unknown kitchen gadget. Oh no! This week I will show you 2 pictures of food products I encountered on my trip that made me shout out : “What the Heck”? I am using the nice word online, I did use the bad ones in reality.

Item no.1 Apple juiceS

A bottle of Minute Maid Apple Juice…with apple juice concentrate from how many countries? US, Argentina, Austria, Chile, China, Germany AND Turkey. What? Talk about globalization and saving a buck to get cheaper outsourced juices. What are the farming, pesticides and labor laws in those countries?

Item no.2 100% Pure Natural Syrup

Served with my pancake at Cracker Barrel. OK this one I had to laugh so hard. The print is too small on the bottle but it does say 55% Maple syrup and 45% Cane syrup. I mean come on…I am from Quebec, the Kingdom of Maple syrup. I eat my pancakes with 100% Maple syrup, period!

We actually have a Quebec slang for the fake stuff: sirop de poteau

…which translates to pole syrup – as in the old wooden telephone or electricity poles – meaning diluted maple syrup or corn syrup imitation (like the Aunt Jemima stuff).

But wait till you find out what I did do with that syrup! I will tell you very soon in a future post…but my friend literally FLIPPED OUT on me and looked around in shame to make sure no fellow Southerner should have witnessed my sacrilegious action!