Crisp – A Guest Post by Jess Roberts

I’m super pleased to announce that this is Superfora’s very first guest post!  Today’s guest writer, Jess Roberts, is renowned for her baking prowess.  Despite living on opposite ends of the country, I constantly hear about her unbelievably delicious feats: ice cream sandwiches, bacon jam, elaborate cakes and irresistible cookies.

Her Peach and Blueberry Ginger Crisp is no different.  I would shave my head for a taste.  Read below for her simple as pie recipe to this healthy, guilt-free dessert.

When I bake with friends, the science of baking goes out the window. “Let’s make it healthy!” they exclaim. They want to add way less sugar than the recipe demands and they’d prefer the butter stay in the fridge, replaced by its lesser cousin — margarine. But I like the science and I’m known to be a little controlling, so I tend to quash any dreams of healthy creations. Luckily for them, with crisp, both creativity and health are possible. It’s the type of dessert that accepts improvisation and emerges unscathed, even improved. Toss a little less sugar in there and swap out the all-purpose flour with barley flour and delicious is still what you get. With Ontario peaches at their optimal ripeness, you can’t really go wrong. Unless you use margarine. That’s always wrong.

Peach Blueberry Ginger Crisp

I’ve based my recipe on a crumbleguide published by The Kitchn. Use it monthly as fruits come in and out of season – it’s awesome!

For the filling:

  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 5 to 7 peaches – cut into medium bite-sized pieces, depending on the size (The blueberries and the peaches should almost fill the pan)
  • 1/3 cup white or brown sugar (I like white sugar with this… tastes lighter)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger or 1 teaspoon dried ginger

For the crisp topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

(Photos by Jessica Roberts)

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Toss the fruit, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and ginger together in your baking dish. I use a 9” glass pie dish, but a 8”x8” or a 9”x9” baking pan will work.
  3. Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter in pieces to the dry mix and toss. Using a fork, a pastryblender or your hands, form a crumble. I bought a pastry blender in one of those look-its-on-sale-and-I’m-going-to-definitely-use-it moments but I always abandon it in favour of my hands. You don’t want a perfectly mixed topping so once your crumble has some pebble-sized chunks, spread it evenly on the fruit mix.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes. I prefer 35 minutes because I like seeing the fruit bubbling up over the topping.
  5. Cool the crisp for at least 15 minutes and then serve with ice cream. I always choose classic vanilla or greek yogurt. For a sweet combination, try fatty lemon Liberte or non-fat honey greek. Or whatever your healthy heart desires (cultured almond milk for you anti-glutenites).

Bonus – You can eat this for breakfast. With fruit, oats and not that much sugar per serving, it’s “healthy.” Besides, it tastes even better the next day.


My Fave Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve spent half of my adult life having people steal my jokes and gain all the credit due to their better joke delivery.  Friend, you know who you are.  I guess it’s some kind of karma then that I’ve been posting others’ delicious recipes on Superfora and reap all of the glory.  Today’s recipe is no exception.  It was passed on to me by the baking genius herself, Lyndsey, when I inquired about an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe for Simon.  In little time, I’ve gone from baking for my man to baking for co-workers and friends.  Frequently.  These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are now semi-famous.

If you do it right, they end up a bit crispy on the edges yet chewy in the middle.  Below is the recipe followed by play-by-play photos so you know how much work to expect.  Note: An over-the-top animal print outfit is optional.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature (take the butter out in advance so it will be room temp by the time you start baking)
  • 1 cup sugar (I add slightly less)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (ditto, I add slightly less than a cup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, maybe a bit more
  • ½ tsp of nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups oats (Quaker quick oat)
  • 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups chocolate chips (eyeball how much you want)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (not necessary if you have not-stick sheets). Either with a mixer or by hand, cream together the butter and the sugars in a large bowl until mixture is light in color. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the milk and the vanilla extract.
  2. Next, in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Either by hand or with the mixer on low speed, gradually beat the flour into the sugar mixture until just incorporated.
  3. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips by hand.
  4. Drop 1-inch balls of dough onto the cookie sheet, placing them about 1 1/2 inches apart so they have room to spread.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown at the edges and light golden at the center.
  6. Cool on baking sheet for at least 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Stuff yo face
(All photos by Simon)
There you have it.  I’ve used these suckers for several occasions and they work like a charm every time.  Now go make your friends happy and bake them some goddamn cookies!
Thank you, Lynds! xo

It’s Been One Motherfuckin’ Year!!

(image by someecards)

It’s our 1-year anniversary at Superfora!  Yes, we’ve been shoving this blog down your throat for three hundred and sixty odd days.  And you still don’t hate us.  Thank you for reading, lovely friends!

To recap this past year, Tomica and I have each put together a list of our favourite places to hit in Van, some of which we blogged about and some of which we haven’t but believe make this city a cooler place to live in.  Here we go:

Sandra

Favourite cafe: Marché St. George.  I love everything about this place; the pretty gold-lined porcelain tea cups, the fresh croissants they make daily and the owner’s thick Quebecois accent. This cafe is charming and comfortable beyond belief.

Favourite French Baguette: Faubourg Paris in Kerrisdale.  After months of searching, Simon and I finally found the most authentic French baguette in the city at Faubourg Paris; crusty outsides and fluffy insides make me inhale whole baguettes at a time.  Now all I need are bratty 13-year olds to egg me on the street and I’m right back in Paris.

Favourite Store Front: A tie between F as in Frank and Front & Company.  Each store creates tableaus that inspire and awe.  Kudos to their talented window dressers.

(photos via Front & Company)

Favourite Stationary Store: The Hach.  They carry everything from vintage alphabet stamp sets to leather-bound agenda books to baby-shaped post-it note pads.  And the owner, Tara Hach, is amazing.  The next time you’re strolling down Main, be sure to check out The Hach just west on 17th.

Favourite Sushi place: Zipang on Main Street.  The perfect neighbourhood sushi spot, this gem is my restaurant of choice to stuff face with my favourite friends.  I always leave Zipang feeling immensely content thanks to to-die-for sushi, lovely staff and a relaxed atmosphere.  Even with several bottles of white, the tab is always fair.  If you go, call me.

Favourite thing to do on a Thursday that doesn’t involve drinking: Typing Night at Regional Assembly of Text.  For the penpals out there!

Favourite Vintage Shop: Community in Gastown.  Amazing selection, super affordable prices not to mention the proceeds go back into the DTES community.  Win win.

Favourite city planning perks: An abundance of safe bike lanes + lack of highways that obstruct our gorgeous views + kilometers of waterfront paths.

Tomica

Eat: Guu
My first culinary experience in Vancouver was at Guu (Robson and Thurlow) and has remained one of my favourites. The moment you walk through the door you are welcomed by the sounds of joyous, incomprehensible Japanese screaming that makes you feel equal parts welcome and slightly afraid. The izkaya style grub is great for sharing and is SUPER affordable (not something that can easily be said in this city). Favourite items include the duck salad and Kimchi-fried rice (it’s not on the menu, remember to ask for it).
Drink: The Narrow
While I still love a good dive bar (and always will), my tolerance for the B.O.+beer+barf odeur that accompanies such establishments has dropped considerably since I entered my thirties. Well the Narrow’s got grit meets glam down to a T. The grimy exterior with spray-painted walls and no sign out front leads to a dimly lit, chandelier-and-antler filled interior playing great indie beats. The narrow space means you still get the occasional beer in the face (kidding!).
Listen: The Biltmore
What do I love most about this place? The fact that it’s 5 blocks away from my apartment? The fact that you can still see great bands in an intimate setting for under $15? The fact that they have Toonie Tuesdays? The fact that they have a Tetris machine? Check, check, check and check.
Play: Stanley Park
You haven’t really lived in Vancouver until you’ve sat on 3rd beach on a sunny day, looked into the ocean and said “this is what makes it all worth it”. We spend most of our days complaining about the rain, but on the rare occasion the sun does appear – you feel lucky to be here. Going for a bike ride along the sea wall and running into everyone you know at 3rd beach making a communal blanket out of their towels = best day ever.
(Photo by Sandra Z)
We’ve come across a lot of good in this city over the last year and we plan on spending the next year uncovering and sharing more.  Throw in a bike bail or two.

Coffee on the Drive?

Everyone knows that when you’re craving a taste of Italy – the Drive’s the place to be. And nothing makes me yearn for Italy more than going out for a killer meal and not being able to finish it off with a mandatory espresso.

Well now I no longer have to walk away in disappointment when all I’m offered is drip coffee. Perche, you ask? Because last weekend I purchased a bag of “the Drive” coffee beans from the Commercial Drive Coffee Company. And I intend to walk around with it in my purse in case of an espresso emergency (just kidding! but only because I think it may be a tad rude to bring my own beans…).

The Commercial Drive Coffee Company was started not too long ago by my good friend Domenico Bruzzese, with the goal of providing locally roasted coffee beans reminiscent of flavours from the old country that continue to be preserved and reinvented in East Van’s Commercial Drive area. If the Bruzzese’s coffee is even half as good as their sandwiches (Dom’s family owns and operates the quintessential Commercial Drive deli – La Grotta Del Formaggio, which holds a strong 4.5 star rating on Yelp), you know you’re in for a treat. You can have your pick between four different types of roast, all named after East Van hoods: The Drive (espresso), Grandview (medium roast), The Continental (medium roast) and Park Drive (dark roast).

The packaging is quite pretty itself – making these bags of beans a lovely gift for locals and visitors alike. (Available at La Grotta Del Formaggio and London Drugs stores).

Image


Feast Van

You want to eat out at a nice restaurant but don’t want to feel like shit about dropping a load of cash so soon after the holidays.  I hear ya.  Someone else hears ya too.  Joe Chaput of Les Amis du Fromage organized Feast Van, a 2-week dining event that combines a prix fixe 3-course meal at one of East Van’s best restaurants with support for the Vancouver Inner City Back Pack Food Program. This student meal program provides healthy snacks and meals to food-insecure children over the weekend.

The event runs from January 20th to February 5th.  Menus start at $20 for lunch and $30 for dinner, $1 of which is donated from each meal.  Participating restaurants include the highly revered Au Petit Chavignol, Cafeteria, Campognolo Roma, Les Amis du FromageLes Faux Bourgeois and more.

So, help yourself and help others: go fill your belly at one these fine establishments and help pay for a student’s weekend meal.


1987

Last night, on my way home from work, a teen stopped me on the sidewalk to sell me a box of chocolate covered almonds.  I used to sell boxes of chocolates to raise money for my high school sports teams and I remember how annoying it was when adults ignored me.  I handed the kid my $3 and almost immediately felt like I had been had.  Why?  The packaging looked like it was literally from 1987.  I half expected Gary Coleman to jump out of the box.  Could the chocolates inside actually be that old?

Afraid to eat them and test my theory myself, I gave the box to Simon.  That boy is fearless.

Whoa!  Not only did he survive his first bite, he is smiling!

Despite my suspicions, Simon said they tasted good.  A little disappointing, I have to admit.


Preetom’s Chocolate Tofu Bailey’s Pie with Oreo Cookie Crust

Tofu.  I normally don’t care for it.  It tastes boring.  Its texture blows.  These are pretty mainstream opinions, I think.

Having said that, I am willing to reconsider my stance on tofu if it’s served to me in an intriguing new way.  My friend Preetom has this uncanny ability to transform tofu into the best food my friends and I have ever tried.  Her infamous “Preetom’s tofu”, a slowly fried version complemented by sesame seeds and Diana sauce, has its own Facebook page, was requested at every party we threw between 2004 and 2007 and is much too coveted for me to ask her for the exact recipe.  It’s hers and it shall remain hers (although I’m pretty sure she’s sick of it after having made it for us upwards of 40 times in a single year).

Instead, I will tell you about another of Preetom’s tofu transformations: an adaptation of a vegan pie recipe that originates from Ithaca, New York.  Originally served to her with semi-sweet chocolate, margarine and Amaretto liqueur on a graham cracker crust, she modified the tofu pie by substituting in milk chocolate, butter, Bailey’s, coffee and an oreo cookie crust.  Below is her version of the tofu pie and my attempt to perfect it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of soft tofu (250 mL)
  • 2 large milk or dark chocolate bars, depending on your preference, or 2 cup of chocolate chips
  •  1 1/2 cups or 14 oreo cookies if you ghetto crush them by hand.  Keep in mind that this is your pie shell so use enough to cover your pie tin, depending on its size.
  • melted butter, 1/4 cup + 1 tsp
  • instant coffee, 2 teaspoons
  • Bailey’s liqueur, two shots + 1 optional shot for the pie shell

You’ll need a blender and a pie crust tin.  This recipe does not require any baking.

Instructions:

  1. Pour Oreo cookie crumbs into pie tin.  Stir in 1/4 cup of melted butter into the crumbs to help seal them together and congeal more easily.  Use a spoon to pat them down evenly.  Optional: add a shot of Bailey’s when you add the butter.  Place in the freezer covered in saran wrap for 2 hours or until it has solidified.
  2. Double boil the chocolate until it has melted completely.  You don’t want lumps.
  3. While allowing the chocolate to cool for 2 minutes, remove the pie crust from the freezer.
  4. Add the melted chocolate and tofu to the blender.  Blend for 20 seconds.  Add instant coffee, Bailey’s and the remaining teaspoon of butter and blend until the texture is smooth and you are able to pour it.  Note: you can adjust the amount of Bailey’s in order to yield the desired consistency.
  5. Pour the blended chocolate tofu mixture into the pie crust.
  6. Return to freezer until it sets, about 4 hours.
  7. Remove from freezer and serve.
(Last photo: Ben M., Hannah Slomp and Simon)
And…the pie was insane.  So delicious.  I had my friends guess what the main ingredient was, aside from the chocolate, and they didn’t even come close (pshhh Ben and Hannah).
So there you go.  Tofu can be great, when accompanied by many delicious ingredients, but great nonetheless.  Thanks for bettering my life, Preetom! xo