cooking with JASS

Sugar Cookies

A few weeks ago, an old student of mine came to Jean Augustine Secondary School as a guest baker to show our students how to make decorated sugar cookies. This student is now the proud owner of MistryCo Cakes where she creates stunning, one-of-a-kind designer cakes for any occasion. My students were super excited to have the opportunity to talk to a former student about their pathway in pastry arts — of course, it didn’t hurt they would get to hear someone besides me talk for a few days, either.
The cookie decorating was split up into 3 days. On the first day, the students rolled the dough out to a specific thickness. The dough was then baked at 375F for approximately 10-12 minutes or until it became slightly golden brown around the edges. The cookies were cooled on a rack, ready to be dipped on the following day. The next day, students dipped the cookies in royal icing in the follow colours: Yellow for Pikachu, Green for Bulbasaur, and so on. During the last day, students added the finishing touches with either icing or edible markers.

 Pokemon sugar cookies from MistryCo Cakes. 

Sugar Cookies (Recipe from MistryCo Cakes)
225g unsalted butter (at room temp) / 1 cup of flour
200g sugar / 1 cup
1 egg (at room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
450g flour / 2 3/4 cup
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar 
Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla
Sift all dry ingredients in a separate bowl
Add dry ingredients to butter and egg mixture, beat with paddle on low until the dough comes together
Refrigerate for 30 minutes
Roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness
Using a cookie cutter, cut cookies and place them on a lined baking tray
Chill cookies for 10 minutes
Bake at 375F for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges

Royal Icing (Recipe from McCall’s)
40g meringue powder
5g cream of tartar or lemon juice
190g warm water
1000g icing sugar

Sift meringue powder and cream of tartar
Dissolve meringue powder and cream of tartar in warm water
In a stand mixer, whisk the water mixture until foamy
Slowly add icing sugar, one cup at a time
Depending on humidity, the amount of icing sugar can change.

travel

Copenhagen: Our Trip

The Food:


It likely won’t come as a surprise that food was a big part of our trip. We’ll be sharing some notes on a few of the highlights shortly:

  • Noma (no surprise here)
  • 108
  • Torvehallerne
  • The bakeries
  • Carlsberg Brewery (yes, really!)

     
Sightseeing:
If you read the backstory on our trip, then you’re probably aware that this wasn’t exactly a typical vacation. It wasn’t until after we’d booked our flight that we began some attempt at planning how we would be spending our time in Copenhagen (when we weren’t eating). If I’m being honest, most of this didn’t happen until a week or so before the trip itself.

We were lucky enough to get some recommendations from a friend who had been to Copenhagen a few years back. In addition to that, we picked up a Citix60 guide to help us with planning. For anyone who hasn’t come across this series of guidebooks before, they’re described as “the locals guide to some of the worlds most renowned design hubs cities that lead the world in creative output. Curated by a select group of artists, designers, chefs, architects, musicians, photographers and filmmakers that call each city home,…” Really, we picked up the guide on a whim because it was cute and compact and we were excited about just having booked our trip. It comes off as something of a hipster guidebook, and while it did give us a couple of useful pointers that we might not have discovered otherwise, it also omitted a few of the sights that we really enjoyed. Overall, we found it to be a little short on information (the included maps weren’t too useful either), but I think it would make a nice counterpart to a more traditional guidebook.

A few of the highlights for us:

  • We’re not history buffs by a long shot, but we did really enjoy seeing many of the castles that Copehagen has to offer. There are quite a few of these, so depending on your length of stay you may not have time to see them all. We found that two was sort of the maximum we could reasonably (and enjoyably) do in a day.  My favourite was probably Kronborg, which is about a 20-30 minute train ride from the center of the city. It’s the setting Shakespeare used for Hamlet, and fortunately for us we were there just in time for the annual Hamlet Live event, where key parts of the play are re-enacted throughout the day in the castle (very cool!). Close seconds were Amalienborg (mostly because there was a really great tour guide when we were there), and Frederiksborg (gorgeous, and full of portraits and artifacts — it’s a lot to take in in one visit)

  • Museums: there were a lot of museums that we would have liked to check out had we had more time. We did manage to get to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art on our way back from Kronborg and it was definitely worth it. We loved the ourdoor exhibits, and they had a really nice collection indoors (underground!) too. Another plus it that it’s open pretty late so it was easy to work into our schedule. 

  • Carlsberg Brewery: part museum and historical site, part deliciousness — they had a self guided tour which was pretty cool, but best of all was definitely the sausage and malt bun that we got to go with our beer samples! Fun fact: did you know the iconic mermaid statue was actually a gift from J.C. Jacobsen, the brewery’s founder?
  • The zoo: This didn’t make it on my radar at all during planning, and I would never have thought to go here, but I’m really glad we did! (Thanks Gigi!) It was much smaller (easier to walk) than the zoo we have here in Toronto, and we really enjoyed our time there.

Here’s a video that Royce put together from footage he took throughout our trip:


And finally, some overall tips:

A few things were just not worth the hype (in our opinion). Not to say that any of these was absolutely awful, more like were we to do it again, we wouldn’t sacrifice anything to fit them into our schedule:

  • Tivoli : for us, it felt a little like the CNE, albeit in a much nicer atmosphere; on the other hand it’s free with the copenhagen card so a quick stop in won’t hurt, so long as you aren’t sacrificing anything in your schedule.
  • Christiania: yes, there is a lot of weed there — but not much to see beyond that. I was hoping for some quintessential hippies, I guess.
  • PapirØen (Paper Island): is a collection of creative buildings, but most of the traffic appeared to be for the street food vendors. There’s a pretty big hall (and a nice outdoor space) full of food vendors working out of shipping containers. Definitely a cool concept, but most of the food had a sort of fried/carnival-style feel to it. I should note there was one or two exceptions, a few things really did look delicious.
The Copenhagen Card: very worth it! It’s a time-based card that gives you free access to the transport system, as well as a ton of sightseeing attractions — including everything I mentioned in the above list, plus things like a canal tour and Tivoli Gardens.

Cheap eats: (i.e. when we weren’t blowing our money on dinner) my top picks for would probably be the hot dogs, shawarma (Dürüm Symfoni in particular — a place in Nørrebro where they made the flatbread to order. So good!), and bread & butter (yes, really).

Rental boats: we missed out on these, but they looked like a lot of fun! You can rent a boat and picnic on the water. There are many places along the canal where you can pick up drinks (and maybe food) should you run out.

Dessert

Plum and Almond Tart

With a basket of Ontario plums left over from our recent cottage trip, we have decided to make a plum and almond tart. We used Pierre Herme’s pate sucree recipe from our previous post as a base and added the ripened plums and an almond cream filling . 
The tart is first blind baked at 400˚F for approximately 20 minutes. The almond filling is then added with plum halves and sliced almonds. The tart is then baked at 375˚F for another 45 minutes or until golden brown. We served each slice with a generous serving of vanilla ice cream. 

Almond Cream Filling (Recipe from GBC)

112g butter
112g granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean

87.5g whole eggs

112g ground almond
37.5g cake flour

1. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla
2. Add eggs, scraping down bowl between each addition
3. Add ground almond and flour and mix until combined

travel

Copenhagen 2016: The Backstory

So, Royce and I just returned from an amazing trip in Copenhagen. We have tons of photos and stories to share with you, but I thought it would be best if I started off with a quick backstory on how this all came about.

Towards the end of last year, we would discover shocking news: Noma — the 2-michelin starred, 4-time winner of Best Restaurant of the Year — had announced its plans to close. Granted, the plan is to reopen, but it will certainly be a different restaurant when this happens. Could we really live with ourselves if we missed the opportunity to experience the legendary Noma? (Could Royce?)

Later that year…
My alarm went off at 03:45a.m. on March 28, 2016. It was time — July reservations for Noma were open! Royce and I both crawled out of bed and began to groggily paw away at our laptops. (Copenhagen is 6 hours ahead of us here in Toronto, and the reservations were scheduled to open at 10:00 a.m. CEST.)

Just before 04:00a.m. Royce and I (as well as his sister and cousin, who planned to accompany us on this trip) began to refresh the page anxiously. By this time the website had become noticeably slow, it seemed as though our fears were coming true! The whole world was trying to make a reservation! We’d never get a table! Many failed attempts later and we (along with our travel companions) sulked back to bed, thinking we’d failed.

Later that morning…
A few hours later, I got out of bed and began my usual routine. Traces of the early morning’s failure littered the room: our laptops lay in the middle of the floor in the spot where we’d abandoned our dreams; Noma’s website was still open on my phone. I went to close the window, but first clicked on the online booking link, one last time, out of curiosity. And then –what’s this??? In the queue??? Could it be?? In the queue?!!?!? I was in the queue! My excitement was immediately tempered by doubt upon realizing that I was number one-thousand-and-something in the queue. Wishful thinker than I am, I stayed in the queue as I continued my morning routine. About forty-five minutes later I was approaching the front of the queue — the moment of truth. Lo and behold, there was one time slot available and let me tell you folks, I was on it like white on rice.

Our reservation made, we had just shy of 4 months to plan a Copenhagen; all because of a very special restaurant.

Snacks

Matcha, Sesame Seed and Candied Orange Cookies

Perfect timing for National Ice Cream Sandwich Day: These matcha cookies have a few fun add-ins, and a soft, cakey texture that’s great for cookie sandwiches (recipe below). What better way to eat them then with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?

Matcha Cookies 

133g butter
60g granulated sugar
70g light brown sugar
pinch salt

1 egg
1 tbsp + 1 tsp honey
2 tsp vanilla syrup

150 bread flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
20g matcha powder

1/4 cup candied orange
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tbsp white sesame seeds

1. In a stand mixer bowl, add butter, salt and both sugars
2. Using a paddle attachment, mix on low speed until combine
3. In a separate bowl, combine egg, salt, honey and vanilla syrup
4. Add egg mixture to butter mixture. Mix until combined
5. Sift bread flour, baking soda and matcha powder
6. Fold in flour mixture.
7. Fold in candied orange, black and white sesame seeds
8. Bake at 325˚F for 12-15 minutes