Saturday, November 20, 2010

Location, Location, Location!

This story starts the last day of the wine tour I previously wrote about. For the weekend of the wine tour the whole family booked up all 5 rooms at the B&B Domaine des Chutes. At first I wasn't too impressed with the room it was in the basement, and it looked like a room that was in a basement. But as soon as I opened the curtains that didn't seem to mind any more, as I was staring out at "Les Chutes" (the Falls). Each room faced the falls and had a little deck which made up for the fact that the bathroom had a shower curtain for a door. The next day we were sat at their dinning room table which has the same views of the falls but a little higher up, then we had a great breakfast.

The Breakfast started with a fruit salad, local apples and orange segments, tasty but I thought more time should have gone into it. However, this place is good for giving you something out of this world to make you forget the lesser liked things. This local made apple juice was the best apple juice that I have ever experienced. It was so smooth and had just a little more body than its watery (distant) relative grocery store AJ, without the over pulpiness of those organic ones that are shipped in from some part of the US. Out comes the pain doré (french toast), and the rest of the bad memories disappear as we are served these two slices of hearty french toast, with a light creamy chèvre, dried cranberries and pecan segments in the middle. After breakfast, the owner of the B&B Jacques Lajeunesse who is also a painter (a good one at that), showed us his studio, and some of his work.

As great as this breakfast was we had a big day ahead, 2 or 3 wineries and a 3 hour trip to pick up our dog at the kennel, and a stop to pick up some apples. Out of the wineries, I think we only made it to one, L'orpailleur vineyard. There was so much information on wine in this region and pretty much everything else down to the cork. The website has a lot of info too but the displays are very informative. This was the most bilingual place I had been, which is probably why I learned so much there.

After all of this, the trip was coming to an end and with a long trip back, lunch was in order. So as a group we finally decided on a place called, Restaurant Sir Dunn at 3819 rue Principale, Dunham, QC. Which is a cute little place in the little downtown section of Dunham next to a brewery/pub. This place serves the beers that are made next door and better than that for their cream ale they have a nitrogen tap, to make a creamier more old fashion pour. So I had to try a pint, I mean it was noon somewhere, right?

I saw so many things on the menu I would have liked to get, instead I settled on pizza, even then there was 15 or so choices. I ended up choosing a pizza with chèvre, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Although the fries were delicious, it was a little weird getting a big bowl of them with a 10" pizza. I could have shared my lunch the portions were so big. As for the pizza, the dough was memorable it had a nice chewy texture and not too thick. I make pizza at home a lot, so I knew it was chewy because they used beer in the dough, otherwise you end up with a more crispy crust. I needed to know if they used the local beer for the dough, and the chef told me that the dough is made at the bakers down the street with a local beer in it. I liked the pizza but it was a little oily from the sun-dried tomatoes. I would eat there again when I am in town.

That was a great trip, and Its not too far from Montreal. The best part is to spend that time with my new family doing something we all love.

Bonne Appétit!

Friday, November 12, 2010

MMM Bread....

Hello again,

Ok it has been busier than expected lately, and I am little behind on postings. I have a few articles on the docket still. I didn't end up writing anything while on my vacation as I thought I would, and this week was long work-wise. I have just started the winter phase at work, which although not as busy I work 10 hour days 4 times per week. This has proven difficult to do anything on weekdays, but I am sure that I will adjust so it is only temporary. The best part is having 3-day weekends.

I am using the extra day to play catch up, bake a pie with the last of the apples, make a stew, get the Mac and cheese oven ready for Sunday, experiment with new bread making method, and of course blog about it all. I have 2 posts in line before this one; the continuation of the wine tour, and one about pizza. However this one cuts the line. It smells so amazing at home right now, I just got inspired to write about this bread I am making.

About 2 or 3 years ago I caught an episode of Chef at Home, and it was about a no kneading type bread. I was definitely interested in trying this, problem was (and kinda still is) the time it takes. See the catch to this not having to knead the dough is more water, less yeast and 18 hours of letting it sit. Not exactly the spontaneous type of bread. I just kept putting of trying it, mostly because I couldn't commit to the 18 hours ahead of baking. I had a bread maker that took 3 hours and I got a little comfortable (lazy) with that method. Then when I moved in with my wife I couldn't make the bread fast enough, so doing the slow method didn't make any sense.

As this weekend was approaching and my wife is in Vancouver until Sunday, I started to plan what I wanted to make. I thought about the bread that takes so long to do and decided, why not? That at least was the idea. Since so much time had passed I thought I would look it up and see how it was done. I went to Chef Michael Smiths site to get the recipe and read about a method of getting the crust just right. That is where my thoughts went to that rye flour that I just bought and how much I love my rye bread recipe. Not knowing how to change the recipe to the wetter dough required, I improvised a little and combined the best of both, using the bread machine for the dough and the oven method for the perfect crust (and shape).

The oven method is the covered pot method on Michael Smith's site. Now to combine the use of the bread machine for the dough and use of the covered pot takes a little finesse and timing. Timing may vary between machines, for my machine it takes 2 hours give or take for a dough if the temperature of the ingredients are warm enough (about 10 degrees Celsius). Consult your guide for a timing chart if you are not sure. Find out when the last rise is (for me it is 1 1/2 hours in) and just before it the machine will knock it down. Using the directions for covered pot method: Flour a towel well and quickly forming a ball with the dough rest it on the towel, and cover it with another. Let it sit to double in size for about 1 hour, about 30 mins in preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C) with your covered pan (cast iron, ceramic or enamel). Once the dough has doubled in size carefully slide your hand under the towel the dough is on (and using oven mitts) invert the covered pan over it, and flip. Give the pan a little of a shake to settle the dough, and then bake covered for 30 min, and 10 to 15 mins uncovered.

I found that with the amount of dough the bread machine makes (2LB) that the recipe needs a little less time, it was a little dark and I pulled it out 10 mins early.

Well at least the bread is off the list, only problem is now eating it is now on the list...

Bon Appétit!

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