Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Kitchen Adventures: Kouign Amann

Lord knows I love butter (mon péché mignon, as the French call it, along with extra dry gin martinis and chocolate in the middle of the night). We all know the French REALLY love butter. So when my coworker (let's call him A for now) made me this bready, wonderful, buttery-rich dessert, I just KNEW I had to try and make it myself. Hailing from Douarnenez, in the Finistère region of France, this Breton bread-cake is horrible for your heart and waistline but so, so good in your mouth.

The premise is simple - it's a pastry made of basic bread dough laminated (layered) with oodles and oodles of butter. The technique, however, requires practice and very very cold butter (frozen if possible), so that the layers come out nice and even. Mais, ne vous découragez pas! Practice makes perfect.

Here's A's version:

For the Dough (also makes a nice basic bread or pizza dough all by itself)
800g all-purpose flour
25g sea salt
30g butter, softened
15g fresh yeast
400mL water

  1. Prep the yeast. You can take a little bit of tepid-warm (NOT hot) water and a teaspoon of sugar, and mash the fresh yeast gently with a fork in a bowl. Set aside. In a few minutes, this should look frothy and smell a bit like beer.
  2. Combine the salt, flour and butter. Incorporate the water, little by little, and add the yeast (do not add yeast and salt at the same time - the yeast will die), kneading into a firm dough.
  3. Knead into a ball in the bowl; cut a little "X" on top, cover with saran wrap and leave to double in volume in a warm (but not overly hot) place, about 30-60 minutes.
For the Filling
550g butter, unsalted
400g brown sugar

  1. Roll out the dough about 0.5" (1cm) thick.
  2. Cut the butter into slices, and assemble to make a butter "sheet" to fit about half the surface area of the dough from the previous step. Dust with sugar, then fold the dough over. Roll out the dough again.
  3. Repeat the process until you have used up all the butter and the sugar. At this point, your dough should look layered, with butter and sugar in between the layers.
  4. You can cut a square about 6"x6" (15cm x 15cm) and put in a cake pan (fold in the edges to form a circle), or cut strips, roll them up and put them in a muffin pan as I did.
  5. Let the dough rest for about half an hour before baking at 180 degrees Celsius (~350 Fahrenheit), until golden brown. Flip over so the other side can caramelize as well; continue baking until a golden brown color is reached (baking times will vary - a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean).
Et voilà, Kouign Amann. It's seriously so so good. Mine turned out a bit funny looking as the butter got too hot and didn't layer perfectly, but it was delicious nonetheless. Try it with a cup of coffee... You'll be convinced.

As I mentioned before, you can use the basic dough to make bread too, see Exhibit A in all its glory:

Super easy, and quick enough to include as a side to a weekday dinner! Just remember to add a small container of water in the oven for moisture when baking, so you don't get overly crispy bread.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

What to Eat For Dinner Tonight: Stir Fry On a Bed of Vermicelli

We have a super hectic work schedule - and by super hectic I mean we tend to finish work at 11pm, so when it comes to "what to eat" during the week, we want something fast and easy. And what's more easy to make than stirfry?

Here's what's in it: Bell Peppers, Garlic, Beans, Broccoli, Onions and Carrots. And of course, Vermicelli

The vegetables are fried in a little bit of olive oil, and then cooked in a little bit of beef broth, oyster sauce and soya sauce.

In a separate pot, cook the Vermicelli until it's edible, and then drain it in Cold Water. When the vegetables are done cooking, dump the Vermicelli into the vegetables so that it soaks up that delicious sauce.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Food Porn: Les Glaceurs - Ice Cream and Cupcakes

453 Rue Saint-Suplice
Montreal, QC H2Y 2V8

I wouldn't say it's the best cupcake I've ever had, but it was pretty damn good!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Poutine: The Classy Way

Poutine made with Baked fries, Italian Sausages, grated le Petit Québec cheese, and Basil all soaked in Gravy. Yummy Canadian goodness.

Zyng Asian Grill in Mont Royal

I wasn't overly impressed, but the food was decent and fresh, so you know - it was fine. And they had Siracha which makes everything delicious

1371 Mont Royal Est 
Montreal, Quebec H2J 1Y8

Friday, 25 May 2012

Food Porn: For lunch today, Pasta Primavera

Penne, vegetables tomato sauce, sundried tomatos, and a touch of basil. Perfect for a beautiful Summer day!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Hot Pot in Montreal: Fondue Chinoise À Volonté

At the corner of St. Mathieu and Maisonneuve, there's a new Hot Pot restaurant owned by actual Chinese people. Although the food buffet is not terribly fresh, it was delicious nonetheless.

When you sit down, the waiter asks for your drink order, your soup base, and what kind of meat you would like.

They offer Tsing Tao and Heineken Beer (just like a true Chinese hot pot restaurant), and there's all-you-can-drink soy milk and iced tea.

You're offered only two meat choices - lamb or beef, but the food buffet has a large selection of seafood, tripe, beef balls, and everything else you might find a hot pot restaurant.

In terms of soup bases, there are only two choices: spicy and non spicy. The spicy is really really spicy. In retrospect, I should have gotten the non spicy one and added spices from their sauce bar to it.

If you're looking for a good Hot Pot place to go, this is one of the better places I've been to in Montréal. The closest Metro station to it is Guy Concordia.

Bon Appetit!