Honey Banana Bread

baked banana loafI sometimes buy too many bananas. Well, more correctly, I don’t eat the bananas I often buy, like I had planned on doing, when I was at the grocery store. Usually, this isn’t a big problem as my son loves bananas at just about any stage of ripeness, but I’m a bit more finicky and once any brown spot develops on the skin, I don’t like to eat them. I prefer them when just as they are starting to ripen up.

My son hasn’t been around for the weekend, so he wasn’t here to eat up the bananas I purchased last week, and that were starting to over ripen for my tastes. But he will be here later this afternoon, and the first thing he does when he arrives is ask for a cup of tea, then wonders aloud if there is any good food for a snack that he can have. So, the kettle is on, while I await his arrival and a loaf of banana bread is cooling on the rack. I didn’t know anything too fancy like add chocolate this time, but I do substitute honey for some of the sugar. And I bake it in a cast iron loaf pan (which I also do meatloaf in – that’s planned for dinner and recipe will follow).

The cast iron gives the loaf a perfect crust, but you should note that I put the loaf pan into the oven while it is pre-heating.  It is greased first, and then allowed to heat up as the oven heats while I am mixing the ingredients.  I think doing it this way (rather than pouring the bread dough into a cold pan and then putting into the oven) goes a long way to a perfect crust as well as reducing the cooking time about five or ten minutes. Most banana loaf bread recipes that I’ve seen call for baking for 60 to 70 minutes, while this is ready in 55 minutes. Your results may vary as not all ovens are the same.

Total preparation time is about ten minutes. You will also want to allow some time for the loaf to cool after you remove it from the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Very Ripe Bananas

    ripe bananas

    When they get too ripe, make them into bread!

  • 1/3 Cup Melted Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Liquid Honey
  • 1 Egg, Beaten
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Pinch of Salt if using Unsalted Butter. If using Salted Butter, you don’t need this.
  • 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Unbleached White Flour

Method:

Grease loaf pan and place in oven. Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Mash up two peeled bananas in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter, and then the egg. Add sugar, honey and vanilla extract and mix well.

Add salt (if using), and then the baking soda. Stir well before finally mixing in the flour.

You should end up with a thick batter like dough.

With oven mitts, remove the loaf pan from the oven and pour in the dough, smoothing it out with a spatula.  Return the loaf pan to the oven and bake for about 55 minutes. The loaf should have a golden brown crust and you should be able to stick a toothpick into the loaf and pull it out without any dough sticking to the toothpick when fully baked.

Allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy! Even though the dough already has butter, I enjoy spreading more onto a slice before eating.

Here’s what the banana bread looks like right out of the oven and still in the loaf pan:

banana loaf in pan

 

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Learn Artisan Bread Making

loaves of bread and irish soda farls

David & I Were Busy Today – No Knead Bread, a Pain de Campagne loaf, and Irish Soda Farls

Many years ago, I would admire the wonderful looking loaves of bread that I would come across in bakeries. They had both a visual appeal and that wonderful fresh baked scent, and I’d dream that maybe someday, I’d have the equipment and skills needed to bake such good bread! I had the erroneous belief that baking artisan and bakery quality bread was difficult, if not impossible, in a home kitchen. I thought you’d need special bake ovens, unique and expensive equipment, and thought it would be a lot of work.

While some artisan breads are a lot of work, you can make high quality loaves with basic equipment you have in your home, as well as that regular home kitchen oven.  I’ve been baking a variety of breads for decades, including sandwich loaves, Irish Soda Farls and Wheaten bread, but was afraid of attempting much more than that.

My first venture into trying artisan breads was about ten years ago, with the publication of the “No Knead” bread recipe in a major New York newspaper. Requiring little effort but lots of time, and only a dutch oven to bake it in, the no knead loaf was an immediate hit with guests and friends, and my son and I even baked about 12 loaves in one day for my mom’s wedding!

In the subsequent years, I’ve picked up a couple of amazing books by Peter Reinhart:

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread &

Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers

Both are wonderful books with lots of information and teaching and my copies are well used! In fact, I may need to replace them as they are always in my kitchen, have been spilled on, and the pages show much use including wear and tear. But even with these books, sometimes it would be nice to see how things are done, either watching Peter work in person, or perhaps in video.

Well, I discovered some time ago that Peter Reinhart teamed up with a crafts site that provides a variety of courses, and one of those courses is Peter teaching how to bake artisan bread with the use of video. I quickly signed up and have been learning ever since!  The course is wonderful as it provides a medium for being able to visualize what Peter is doing when he bakes his breads, and he is a wonderful teacher as well. The course starts out with an introduction to artisan baking along with important information to understand the entire making, baking, and eating of good quality bread. Peter refers to a 12 step process (yes, the last step is eating the bread!) that makes it easier to know what is going on and what makes a good bread, good.

In addition, the course then covers the following:

  • Country Bread Variation & Shaping Options
  • Rustic Breads including Pain a L’ancienne, Classic Ciabatta, Focaccia, and Mini Baguettes.
  • Enriched Bread including dinner rolls
  • Marble Rye (with a lesson on braiding)
  • Making Babka
  • And Much More!

I tried making the Chocolate Babka for a family Christmas event, and while it did not turn out quite as impressive looking, visually, as Peter’s did, I was quite pleased with the many comments about how good it tasted! It was my first time attempting at such a rich bread with chocolate (although Peter uses semi-sweet dark chocolate chips but all I had on hand were milk chocolate chips).

If you are interested in learning techniques for artisan bread baking (or improving on your present skills), I highly recommend this course:

Artisan Bread Making

I know you’ll love the course! Peter is a wonderful instructor, and the course also comes with downloadable resources in PDF format that you can print, including recipes and instructions.

Related:

 Improved Northern Irish Soda Farl

The Trouble With Wheat

Currant Soda Farls

French Pain de Campagne

 

 

 

French Pain de Campagne

pain de campagne bread loaf“David, would you like to do some baking today?”

“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”

Even though he is now 12, he still responds the same way as he did when he was 4 years old and excited about doing something. “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” is an indication that he’s going to be totally interested and will be expecting that his help will be needed, or at least desired. Yesterday and today were no different. It actually started Friday night, when I came across a video of Canadian Dale Calder preparing and baking his style of a French Pain de Campagne loaf. Mr. Calder however, used a multi-grain flour, which I did not have on hand, and the traditional loaf would have used a white flour anyhow.

But nevertheless, it looked interesting and after watching the video with me, David decided it was something he definitely wanted to try.  I should point out that it was quite the busy day for us, as he and I also baked a “no knead loaf” that we also started Friday night, and while David pigged out on my fermented garlic (he eats it like it’s candy to him), we made labneh coated with oregano and basil, and covered with  olive oil. Yes, we make our own yogurt as well…

But getting back to the Pain de Campagne loaf, we started out pretty much following Dale Calder’s recipe and method, at least for the poolish, but when it was time to mix water and flour with the poolish, we had to diverge a bit, in the amount of flour we used. We had to increase the flour quite a bit, and perhaps this is because we were using white bread flour, while he was using multi-grain. But following his directions, we ended with a very very wet and sticky dough that was just crying out for more flour.

If you’re going to try this bread, be prepared – you need to start it the night or afternoon before you bake it, and it is a bit more work than the “no knead” bread. However, like the “no knead” bread, Dale Calder shows how to do this loaf in a Dutch Oven, which is what I bake my no knead (and some other) loaves of bread in.

So here are the steps:

Poolish (Prepared Night Before You Bake):

  • 1 1/2 cups white bread flour (for this, we used Robin Hood brand of bread flour – I’m sure King Arthur all purpose unbleached will work fine).
  • 1 cup luke warm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant rise yeast.

I like to mix the yeast into the water and let it dehydrate for a few minutes first. I know many bakers simply add all the dry ingredients together, but when it comes to salt and yeast, I prefer to add them to the water that will be poured into the dough.

Anyhow, whatever you choose, mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put in a warm place – an ideal temperature is 75F or above – but not too hot. Mr. Calder puts his in the oven with the oven light on. I wouldn’t do that as when I leave my oven light on, the oven will reach a temperature of 110F or a bit higher – perfect for making yogurt, but a bit too warm for bread making in my opinion.

Leave for a minimum of 16 hours to allow the fermentation to take place – time is a wonderful element that brings out flavours in bread, wine, and many things!

By the way, a poolish is a “sponge” that is used in French bread making, and is usually around equal amounts of water to flour.  Italian style baking will often call for a sponge that is referred to as a “biga,” but is not as wet as a poolish. Why is it called a “poolish?” Well, although it is often associated with French style bread making, it was actually originally a Polish method that was introduced to France – hence the name “poolish.”

Bread Dough (The Next Day):

I’ll list Mr. Calder’s ingredients and then comment where we changed a couple of things…

  • 1 cup of poolish (after stirring the poolish and getting air out)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of Himalayan salt (Mr. Calder uses one level teaspoon – but with Himalayan, because it’s not pure salt but also contains additional minerals, I’ll add a bit extra).
  • 1/4 teaspoon of instant rise yeast
  • 1 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour (we found that this was not nearly enough however).
  • A tablespoon or so of olive oil (or other oil – you don’t need to use olive oil if you don’t have it).
loaves of bread and irish soda farls

David & I Were Busy Today – No Knead Bread, a Pain de Campagne loaf, and Irish Soda Farls

Transfer 1 cup of poolish to another clean bowl. Add salt and yeast to water, and stir well, so the salt is dissolved. Add water to the 1 cup of poolish, and stir well, breaking up the poolish as best you can. This could take several minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of flour into the poolish and water mixture. In Mr. Calder’s method, he reserved 1/2 a cup for flouring his wooden board that he kneaded the bread on. We found that we needed to add the full 1 1/2 cups of flour to the poolish and water mixture, and then needed even more flour to dust the board as well as to knead into the bread dough. Probably a good 1/2 cup more, but we did not measure it.

Basically, we kneaded flour into the dough until it was slightly tacky, and then kneaded another 15 minutes.  And this is where David shone! “Is it my turn to knead it now, Dad? My turn!” 🙂

At first, because the dough is wet and sticky, Mr. Calder uses a “baker’s knife” to assist with scraping the dough from the surface. I have a nice sized cleaver that does the job equally as well 🙂

After kneading for 15 or so minutes, put a small amount of oil into the bottom of another clean bowl (large enough to allow for the dough to double in size).

Form the dough into a ball shape and coat it with the oil in the bottom of the bowl, and then coat the sides of the bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours and allow the dough to rise.

After two hours, punch out the air out of the dough, remove it from the bowl and put it on a floured surface and knead for about five minutes, before forming it back into a ball shape.   After the dough has been worked back into a ball shape, place it on a large size piece of parchment paper – large enough that you will use the parchment paper to pick the dough up, and then put it all.. parchment paper and dough, into the Dutch oven.

Cover dough with a damp tea towel and allow dough to rest for 30 minutes, and it will also rise during this time.

After 30 minutes, press out the air, and knead another few minutes before shaping the dough into a ball, and once again, place back on the parchment paper and cover with a damp tea towel. I let the dough rise another 90 minutes.

After one hour, preheat oven to 500F and put Dutch oven into the oven to heat up as well. After another 30 minutes, remove the damp tea towel from the dough, and cut into the dough with a sharp knife – make two cuts along the sides and then two more crossing the two you made, across the top and bottom.

Remove the Dutch oven (be careful, it’s very hot – best to put it on top of your stove), and then grasp the corners of the parchment paper, and lower it and the dough into the Dutch Oven.

Now, to get the effect of steam while the bread is cooking, get about a 1/4 cup of VERY hot water. If you are using cast iron, do NOT use cold water!  Cold water and hot cast iron do not go well together – if you’re water is cold, you could cause the cast iron Dutch oven to break. So get as hot as water as you can, close to boiling, and gently pull on the parchment paper so that you can pour the 1/4 cup of water directly into the Dutch oven. NOT on the bread.

Put a lid on the Dutch oven, return it to the oven and cover with a lid.

Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the Dutch oven and bake another five minutes.

This seems like a lot of work, but it’s not. In fact, the most time you will need to be doing any work is during the phase when you mix the poolish with the other ingredients and knead for about 15 minutes. All of the other steps only take a few minutes, while you let time do most of the work for you.

I highly recommend you watch Mr. Calder’s video to understand the process, and bear in mind the differences noted above as my son and I used white bread flour, while Mr. Calder was using a multi-grain flour.

If you decide to try this yourself, please let David and I know your results! And anything you might have done differently, as well!

Piri Piri Style Chicken Liver

piri-piri-chicken-liverA few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with an acquaintance about my intolerance for fried liver. I had told her that while I love pate, stomaching the traditional “liver and onions” was something that I could not do. I can remember even as a child, being served up fried liver and nearly puking as I tried to eat it.

Oddly though, I adore liver pate! I even make my own “rough cut” pate from chicken livers based on this recipe from gas-tron-o-my.  I don’t have a food processor (Hint, hint, Santa Clause!), but making pate in this manner, the way it’s done at Pizzeria Mozza, is no problem with no food processor on hand. Anyhow, my aquaintance mentioned to me that she sometimes makes up a “Piri Piri” style of fried chicken livers and suggested I try it out.

Piri Piri dishes are South African, and make good use of the Piri Piri, or African bird’s eye, chili pepper. There are a variety of spice blends or sauces that are referred to as “piri piri,” and the blends themselves can vary, but paprika is apparently also an important part of piri piri dishes. I was told to look for something called “Portuguese Chicken Spice,” and after much searching I was finally able to source some here in Ontario, Canada at The South African Store located in Toronto. Thankfully, their website provides for online ordering (with a minimum $50.00 order, so along with the Portuguese chicken spice, I ordered some other things to try, including “Flings,” fig jam, and some dried beef snacks prepared in a South African way).

My friend is kind of like me in that she doesn’t use recipes when she’s cooking, but rather just cooks up meals using amounts of whatever she has on hand at the time, and sometimes varying the ingredients. However, I was able to discover that her Piri Piri style chicken liver dish contains some basics with some optional ingredients. I added my own twist on this by adding a cup of shredded spinach (for the magnesium content as well as the additional green colour). What I ended up with was a dish that I thoroughly enjoyed even though it contained liver! I’ll definitely be doing this again.

So while this is probably not entirely the way some cook chicken livers, but I like it!

Piri Piri Chicken Liverportuguese chicken spice

Ingredients (The Way I Did It):

  • 4 to 5 Chicken Livers
  • 1 Large Diced Onion
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Large Diced Tomato
  • Heaped 1/2 Teaspoon Himalayan Salt
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Portuguese Chicken Spice
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream (I used 35% whipping cream)
  • Large handful of chopped spinach

Method

Heat up enough olive oil to cover bottom of the skillet, then saute the onion and garlic.

Add the diced tomato and cook at medium-low for several minutes. When the diced tomato begins releasing its juice, add in the chicken livers and stir well. Sprinkle in the Himalayan salt.

Add the Portuguese chicken spice, stirring well. Simmer for several minutes.

Stir in the cream, turn heat down to simmer and then add spinach leaves. Simmer for several more minutes.

I really enjoyed this – and can think of a number of other ingredients to try as well. For their part, others will sometimes add sweet green, red and yellow peppers, additional cayenne powder, or a tin of tomato and onion mix.  If you are one of those that can’t stand the taste of the regular old “fried onion and livers,” give this a try! There is still the hint of the liver texture that some find objectionable, but the overall taste is really good!

Liver and other organ meats have high nutritional value and it’s quite likely that most of us do not get enough of it. According to Chris Kesser, liver is “nature’s most potent superfood” and “…that in some traditional cultures, only the organ meats were consumed. ” It’s very high in a form of Vitamin A that our bodies can use and absorb. Some people even claim that after eating liver, their energy and stamina levels increase substantially!

Update

Mmmm! I had some of this left in my cast iron frying pan and got busy doing some things before I could go back for seconds.  When I remembered I had left the heat on (on low), I thought maybe the small amount that was left might have been ruined. While it was dried out some, it had not burned – and so I had the idea to make it into a spread… over a slice of homemade bread I baked today.

It was sooo good on that “No Knead Bread!

 

 

 

Brine Your Turkey! For The Tastiest and Moistest Bird

brinted turkey

Brined turkey provides for very nice crispy skin while ensuring moist, juicy meat.

Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday always lands on the second Monday in October and many of us celebrate in a similar way to Americans, including roasting a turkey.  Up to about ten years ago, whenever I cooked a turkey, it seemed it was a hit and miss thing that I would end up with a moist turkey, especially with the white meat.  I’d try to follow all the basting rules, but still, the turkey might not come out all that great.

Now however, I almost always brine my turkeys before they are cooked. Today was no exception as I had my son with me and he insisted on turkey for dinner.

Many people that brine poultry (yes, you can brine chickens as well, and even breast meat cuts can benefit) have their own way to do it. Here’s mine, which always has guests exclaiming how tasty, moist, and juicy the turkey is:

Turkey Brine Ingredients and Method

Basically, heat up 2 gallons of water (even though I don’t usually use that much of the brine but it keeps the salt, etc standardized).

Dissolve 1 1/2 cups kosher salt, 1 cup honey, and 2 cups of brown sugar into the hot water.

The water doesn’t need to be boiling but does need to be quite hot to ensure salt dissolves into solution.

Then I chop garlic cloves in half, throw them in. How many? At least a full head of garlic. Sometimes 2, if they are small.

Slice up a lemon whole and throw that in.

I usually like to use fresh herbs consisting of sage, thyme and savory if available. Large handful of sprigs of each. More sage than the others though.

If fresh isn’t available, I add about 5 or 6 tablespoons of what is called “Poultry Seasoning.”

Add about ten bay leaves.

Today’s turkey was about 14 lbs. I could fit it in one my stock pots that also fits in my fridge  but in the winter, I’ll just put on my enclosed porch where it is always very cold during winter. You do want the turkey and the brine to remain at below 45F.

Let it brine for about 24 hours.

Roasting A Brined Turkey

When roasting, after 2 hours, check the skin.. the addition of honey and sugar can cause the skin to crisp up quicker. I put a lid on the roasting pan after 2 1/2 hours and let it cook another 30 minutes. 325F.

A few times I’ve made gravy from the drippings and people thought it was awesome.. it’s always better with a brined turkey, but I also thinking getting a free range turkey is also key, as well as using a lard/flour roux to thicken.

The white meat comes out juicy and tender. Very juicy and tender with hints of the spices as well, in the flavour.

I remember the first time I tried brining turkey before roasting it, and was a bit nervous about the process. But I am glad I gave it a try and from now on, that is how I will prepare them, if I’m able.

Do you brine your own? Is your brine substantially different than what I do? Let me know!

 

Home Made Jamaican Beef Patties

homemade jamaican pattyThe first time I ever had a Jamaican beef patty was about 28 years ago. I had been assigned to work a housing project in Toronto which also had a small variety (convenience) store almost on-site.   When I walked into the convenience store, I was quite curious about these pastry looking things that were being warmed in an appliance that looked to me like a multi layered toaster.  When I inquired about what they were, I was told they were “Beef Patties,” and finding out they were only 75 cents, I decided to try one.

Well, after that I was a regular Jamaican patty eater.  I soon found out that there were generally two varieties available – spicy and mild – and I liked them both.  Later, I became acquainted with a Jamaican family that were wonderful people, and I soon discovered that home made Jamaican beef patties were even better than those one could purchase ready to eat in convenience stores.

It’s been a long time since I’ve worked or even lived near Toronto so coming across these tasty ground beef mix inside a pastry snacks is rare, unless I buy them at the grocery store, where they are available in boxes of ten in the frozen food section. They are not as good as the ones I used to eat years ago, but they’re not bad and make for a quick snack. I had never thought to try making them myself until recently, when I came across a photo along with a recipe posted by Mr. Dave Leonard in a Cooking group that we are both members of, on Facebook.

As soon as I saw them, I just knew I had to give them a try!  There are probably quite a few different things you can do with the filling, and it’s quite possible that some Jamaicans might not agree that these are absolutely authentic if they are used to the more spicy beef patties.  But you can try your own thing although I’d recommend you stick with this recipe, or close to it, to start. It is quite delicious!

Another interesting thing about these is that when a good friend of mine from Argentina saw a photo, she referred to them as “Empanadas.” It seems that these pastry type snacks (or they could be full meals too for some) are quite common, with different ingredients being mixed in with the filling of ground beef.

I have very little experience shaping or baking pastries so mine may not have been as pretty as some others who make these regularly. But what the lacked in perfection as far aesthetics, they certainly tasted amazing.

How amazing? Well – I made ten of them today.  There is some curry powder in the recipe and in the past, my eleven year old son David has usually thumbed his nose at curry dishes, so I was a bit concerned he might not like them.  Not totally concerned mind you – “all the more for those that do like them!” is my motto when cooking delicious food that I like and others may not.

So out of the ten I made, how many are left? None!  David ate five and I ate five.  At his first bite, he was not so sure – but then he continued to eat the first patty I had offered him. Within 45 minutes later, and after “May I have another one, Dad?” he had filled his belly and exclaimed that he definitely wanted me to him more of them sometime. “Like, soon Dad!” So yes, they were that amazing.

I’m going to provide the original recipe Dave Leonard provided along with my own “modifications” in BOLD, which were slight:

INGREDIENTS:

Pastry Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening (I used lard instead of vegetable shortening)
  • 1/3 cup water (I needed a bit more water. I am not sure how much more, but with the original amount of 1/3 cup, I had a dough that was too dry to do much with. This is normal – different flours can often require different amounts of liquid for hydration. I just kept adding a bit more until I had a dough that did not flake and break apart on me).
  • 1 Egg, beaten ( optional – for a final egg wash – I did not do this step).

Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (I used finely ground white pepper).
  • 1/2 cup beef broth (I didn’t have any beef broth on hand, so used 1/2 teaspoon of OXO Beef powder in half cup of very hot water, well mixed).
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I used homemade bread crumbs).
  • Three cloves of garlic, minced (Not in the Dave’s recipe, but I thought it would add a nice touch).

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Dough
In a large bowl, combine flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, and pinch of salt.
Cut in 1/4 cup butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Stir in water until mixture forms a ball.
Shape dough into a log, and cut into 10 equal sections.
Roll each section into a six inch circle (approximately 1/8 inch thick).
Set aside.

(My notes: As mentioned above, I had to add more water.. splashing it in with the palm of my hand until I reached a consistency of dough that was not wet, but not so dry it didn’t hold together.

As well, I’ve no experience working with pastry – but I found that pressing down the sections with fingers first, and then using a rolling pin on each one worked well.  It’s possible that some may also have good results simply rolling out the entire dough if they have a large enough surface, and then using a wide mouthed glass as a sort of cookie cutter to make the individual patty sections.  My attempts at rolling out the sections into anything close to perfect circles was… poor. With practice though, I could likely get it better. Not that it really mattered. )

Filling

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
Saute onion until soft and translucent.
Stir in ground beef.
Season with 1 teaspoon curry powder, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
Cook until beef is evenly brown, stirring constantly.
Stir in beef broth and bread crumbs.
Simmer until liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat.

(My Notes: I probably had medium ground beef and ended up with quite a bit of liquid fat after adding the ground beef and cooking it with the onion. I ended up pouring off a good deal of the fat. I probably would want to make sure I’m using extra-lean ground beef next time).

Preparation
Spoon equal amounts of filling into each pastry circle.
Fold over and press edges together, making a half circle.
Use a fork to press edges, and brush the top of each patty with beaten egg.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

(My Notes:

  • I’m not that great at estimating 6″ circles – some of my patty pastry sections were a bit bigger I am sure, while others were a bit smaller. Didn’t matter – you just kind of eyeball the amount of the filling you can use, and I got better at estimating with each one.
  • I also ended up probably using only about 2/3 of the ground beef filling.  However, I might have not filled the pastry as much as I could have and will experiment more.
  • I may also have drained off too much fat – the 1/3 of the filling that was left dried pretty quickly, but it’s in the fridge and I’m sure I will find some use for it tomorrow.
  • I also found that dipping the fork in water before pressing the edges of the pastry seemed to work better for me).

 

Other Things To Consider:

After making these with Dave’s recipe, my mind got to all sorts of things that one could do with the filling. For example – if you wanted spicier Jamaican patties, you could add some hot red chile powder or even add some diced fresh chile peppers.  Green onions or scallions would also be a great consideration if you have some of them. Paprika might also add a nice touch.  How about some chopped mushrooms? Dave even mentioned that there times he added left over mashed potatoes to the filling.

I’m thinking that with ground chick peas instead of the ground beef, you could muster up a wonderful vegetarian style of Jamaican patty as well – would be interesting to try and experiment with.

I imagine the recipe as Dave has provided above along with my addition of garlic might even end up with something you could freeze well, if you wanted to do more of these, all at once.  Whatever the case may be, I can assure you that these are far tastier than the ones you buy in the grocery store (if that’s what you do), and will be a real hit among friends and family.  They were absolutely delicious almost right out of the oven, as well as after they had cooled right off.

Let me know if you try this, your thoughts and your own modifications – and finally, a big huge thank you to Dave Leonard for providing his recipe in the first place! They are absolutely wonderful.

 

Homemade Bread Crumbs

bread crumb making with rolling pinI seldom think to ever purchase bread crumbs at the supermarket or grocery store, so sometimes when I come across a recipe that calls for them, I have none.  A couple of weeks ago when I made my son meatballs was one such occasion. Today, while making Jamaican Beef Patties was another occasion. So.. what can you do?

There are two solutions to not having bread crumbs from a grocery store on hand. The first one is a “premium” or best solution, while the second will do in a pinch.

The Best Homemade Bread Crumbs

If bake your own bread, this is the best – but you don’t need homemade bread for this to work.  It’s pretty easy and you could use this method to make up a large batch of breadcrumbs that you can store in the freezer in a zip lock bag. Or, you can make up just enough, as needed.

What you will need to do is take slices of bread and place them on a cookie sheet. Don’t put them on top of each other, however.  Preheat your oven to 300F. When the oven has reached 300, put the cookie sheet with the bread slices into the oven for ten minutes.

After ten minutes, turn the slices over and return to the oven for another five minutes or so.  Check that your bread slices are dry and have no moisture left in them.  You don’t want to toast the bread – just dry it out.

At this point, you have a couple of options.

1. Break up the bread into smaller pieces and put them into a blender.  Turn on the blender until you have the desired consistency of bread crumbs. In a pinch, you can also use a coffee bean grinder after the bread slices have been broken into smaller pieces.   For me, it’s handy to just throw the bread slices into a zip lock bag to break them up all at once into smaller pieces before putting them in the blender.

2. If you don’t have a blender or coffee bean grinder, you can also use the rolling pin method. My 11 year old son enjoys this. Simply break up the pieces by hand, while they are inside the zip lock bag, as small as you can, and then take a rolling pin over it all several times. You won’t get a consistent crumb size most likely but you’ll end up with something suitable.

For variety, you could try different types of bread including whole grain, or flavoured breads such as roasted garlic as well, for your bread crumbs.

Doable Homemade Bread Crumbs

If you need a small amount of bread crumbs quickly, and don’t have any bread slices you want or can dry out, you can use soda crackers. Either salted or unsalted will work (most breads that I would use already have salt added).  Soda crackers can make for a great bread crumb substitution, especially in a recipe that calls for only a small amount such as 1/4 cup.  They are very easy to crumble into a bread crumb like texture and work quite fine.

So there you go – you have no excuses for not making something you want because it calls for bread crumbs, but you don’t have any on hand.  You could of course think ahead and make up several cups worth ahead of time as well. Simply store them in the zip lock bag in the freezer.

Do you have any other substitutions for bread crumbs that you make yourself?