September 28, 2015

Cochrane Ontario

There is a constant in life that never seems to fail you. Whatever happens, you know that it will always come. I'm talking about pizza night. Every family has their own version of pizza night as a way to unwind from the week and take a break. In University, a bunch of us started a pizza night tradition where every Thursday night we would stop by our favourite pizza place on the way home, pick up enough pizza for everyone, and walk to someone's house to eat dinner and watch The Office. Yes, that was when The Office was on prime time television. Now, we are not all living in the same city, so we have to go a little farther to share those moments. That's why I went to Cochrane, Ontario for the Labour Day weekend to visit one friend with whom I used to share those pizza night memories. 


We drove about 8 hours from Ottawa, Ontario to Cochrane, Ontario, which is located northeast of Timmins and south of Moosanee. It was the farthest north in Ontario I have ever been. Before that I would say Barrie or Parry Sound was as north as I had traveled in Ontario, so this was my first real experience of northern Ontario. One of the main attractions in Cochrane is the Polar Bear Habitat and Conservation Village. The polar bears Ganuck and Inukshuk were brought there from the Toronto Zoo and live in the habitat where you can see them swim around and play at feeding times throughout the day. As you can tell by the hype around the habitat and the main sign in the town, polar bears are kind of a big deal in Cochrane. 

Cochrane polar bear habitat

With driving there on the Saturday and leaving on the Monday, we only really had one full day in Cochrane. We had a great time catching up with old friends and seeing all the neat things about their life up there. Our lovely host even cooked us a moose roast for dinner. Then it was back in the car for another 8 hours. Thankfully I had some good books, snacks and my Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring book in between assisting navigating duties. 

Secret Garden adult colouring book

A few years ago, we were sharing pizza from the cheapest pizza deal in town (I'm pretty sure it was something ridiculous like 4 pizzas for $25) and now we are all traveling, starting families and living an "adult" life. Growing up, pizza night used to be every Friday night and my parents would put a Delissio pizza on and I would watch TGIF shows on ABC. Who doesn't have fond memories of watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Boy Meets World on a Friday night? No matter what was going on--in both situations--we always knew there was pizza night. 

Delissio Rustico Margarita Pizza

Delissio gave me a chance to try their new Delission Rustico pizzas to liven up pizza nights. There are other nights besides pizza nights in some households. Maybe there's taco night, fajita night, sandwich night or even BBQ night. Whatever it is, Delissio wants to put the excitement back into those nights you need something easy and tasty for dinner by combining pizza and BBQ night.  

Delissio Rustico pizza on the BBQ

Did you know you could cook Delissio pizzas on the BBQ? All you do is turn on the BBQ, wait for it to heat up, place the pizza directly on the grill and close the lid. Half way through cooking rotate the pizza slightly and then after about 15 minutes, take it off the grill. Sometimes you get the BBQ blues and get sick of eating grilled meats. This is a great way to beat BBQ boredom. Unfortunately, the weekend I was going to try cooking the Delissio Rustico pizza on the grill it rained the entire weekend. Then we discovered some technical issues with the BBQ, so I couldn't try this cooking method this time. 


Pizza night

I cooked the pizza in the oven on a pizza stone for optimal crispiness. I forgot how quick and easy it is to throw a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner. Open a bottle of wine, put together a quick side salad and you are all ready to go for pizza night. My favourite wine this summer has been Avelada Vinho Verde. As well as being affordable, it is refreshing, light and slightly spritzy. It is my wine of choice for sitting on patios, BBQing and summer nights. 

Delissio Rustico pizza



I have to admit, I hadn't bought a Delissio pizza in awhile. Sometimes I like making my own pizza and the times I have bought frozen ones I tried other brands. Delissio seems to have changed since the frozen pizzas I remember. They are no longer packed with sodium with enormous cardboard-tasting crusts. In fact, Delissio has reduced the sodium and calories of their frozen pizzas. The new Rustico pizzas have 200 calories per 1/4 pizza with about 480mg of sodium. They taste a little more like Ristorante pizzas with the thinner crusts and smaller size. The Delissio Rustico Pizzas come in a variety of flavours, including Funghi, Pollo Tuscano and Spinaci Fresca. 

Delissio Rustico Margarita pizza

Delissio Rustico pizza

I tried the Delissio Rustico Margherita pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. I thought the taste was all there--not too salty tasting--and the crust and cheese crisped up well. The Rustico pizzas are definitely an improvement over the old Delissio pizzas, and I didn't have to pick off any of the vegetables I didn't like. I would also add a bunch more toppings next time. Adding your own toppings or creating new toppings is another way to liven up pizza night. No matter how much things change or how much the pizza changes, I can always look forward to pizza night. 

pizza and wine

Disclosure: I received free product samples from Delissio for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own based on my own experiences.

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September 17, 2015

Peach jam with bourbon and honey

There is a cool chick bringing preserves back in style, and it's not me. Canning jams, jellies, sauces and chutneys has regained some popularity with a lot more people, young and old, trying out traditional preservation methods. That is not to say that preserving is boring. There are tried and tested recipes out there, and then there are ways to add a little more style, personality and pizzaz to home preserves. That is where the Preservation Society Home Preserves: 100 Modern Recipes comes in to play. The cookbook is written by Camilla Wynne, a former indie rock musician and founder of the Preservation Society based out of Montreal.

Peach Jam Recipe

The Preservation Society is all about using good quality local ingredients for small batch preserves. As they like to say, "these are not your grandmother's preserves, but we're certain she would approve!" Camilla's recipes are easy to make for beginner canners and she uses interesting flavour combinations,such as "Bananas Foster" jam, "Miso Mixed Pickle" and "White Grapefruit Marmalade with Vanilla." that stand out from every other canning book. I mean, there are only so many times I can flip through a canning cookbook and find plain old recipes for strawberry jam, pickles and marmalade even if those are classics every canner should learn. For something a little edgier and modern, I would go for something in this cookbook. 

Preservation Society Home Preserves Cookbook

Surprisingly, something I didn't even know before getting the book, is that her recipes don't use pectin. Pectin is used in canning sometimes as something you can add to thicken jam and make it a little more "jelly" like. Some fruits are high in pectin and this process occurs naturally, however some people still prefer adding some pectin for better results. Her recipes aim to highlight the fruit itself and not overload the recipe with sugar and pectin. Although the sugar content seems high at first (this recipe used 1 1/4 cups) most of her recipes have less sugar content than some canning recipes I have seen and definitely less sugar than store bough preserves. The only downside to this cookbook is that some of the ingredients are a little obscure and may be hard to find depending on the season. 

Preservation Society Home Preserves Canning Cookbook

Peach jam

A neat aspect of the book is that many of the recipes are inspired by cocktails, like "Pina Colada Jam," and "Bitters Blood Orange Marmalade." While it's a neat idea, I didn't have bourbon and didn't want to buy a whole bottle of bourbon for one recipe, so I substituted vanilla. If you want to do this also, make sure to substitute one part vanilla and two parts water for one tablespoon of bourbon. So I didn't get the experience the full bourbon taste. I still liked the addition of honey that made it a little less tart. I always want to do something to preserve those amazing fresh summer peaches that drip down your arm when you bite into them. 

Peach Jam with Bourbon and Honey recipe

Peach Jam with Bourbon and Honey

2.4 lbs peaches (about 8 medium)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
9 oz honey
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp bourbon

Canning Peach Jam

Directions:

1. Chop the peaches into small pieces. In a large pot, combine the peaches, sugar, honey and lemon juice. Cover and let stand to macerate for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
2. Prepare the jars and lids.
3. Bring the peach mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Boil hard, stirring often, until the setting point is reached.
4. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the bourbon.
5. Ladle jam into the hot jars to within 1/4 inch of the rim. Remove any air bubbles and wipe rims. Place the lids on the jars and screw the bands on until tight.
6. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. 

Peach Jam

You may have noticed that another difference in her recipes is that she has eliminated a few steps to make the directions even simpler. Instead of boiling the mixture at the start, you let it macerate to let the lemon juice and sugars combine naturally. This jam would go well on toast, as well as scones, desserts and even cheese. I only wish the recipe would have made more jars. The recipe stated it makes about 5 and I only ended up with three, which can happen sometimes. Canning is a lot like baking in that once you know the science, it is easy to have fun, experiment and try new things while still having good results. Check out the Preservation Society Home Preserves: 100 Modern Recipes by Camilla Wynne to do just that. 

Preserving Peach Jam


Disclosure: I received a copy of this cookbook for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own based on my own experiences.
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